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(950 posts)
Fri Mar 29, 2024, 09:18 PM Mar 29

Friday Talking Points -- Old Man Misinformates

From the "stop me if you've heard this one" file, we suppose: An old man is running for president who is saying increasingly bizarre things... except that you might not know about it because the mainstream media only goes into a frenzy of breathless reporting when his opponent misspeaks.

We wish that were actually the punchline to a joke, but it really is no joke at all. Just think how the media would have reacted if President Joe Biden had said any of the following in the past week:

You can't have an election in the middle of a political season.

We just had Super Tuesday, and we had a Tuesday after Tuesday already.

[Vows to] ...bring crime back to law and order.

That's all straight from Donald Trump's mouth. Haven't heard about it? We're not too surprised.

To top it all off, on his pet social media app (which went public this week), Trump also accused someone named "Joe Buden" of some mental nefariousness. Well... we think. It's hard to tell:


When George W. Bush said something like this ("misunderestimated" ) we all had a big laugh, and even Bush himself cracked jokes about it later. But nobody should really be laughing now. The moral of this story is: Sure, Joe Biden's old. But then again so is Donald Trump. And only one of them will ever admit he made any kind of error in speaking -- the other clings to his own idiocies even when defending them is just downright ludicrous (remember "Sharpiegate"?). Which one would be more dangerous to have as president? The answer seems pretty obvious.

In other Trumpian news, his grifting has (as one online commenter aptly put it) now reached truly biblical proportions. He's out there hawking $60 Bibles to his army of rubes, because he never passes up a chance to make a quick buck off his own name. Add this to the $400 tacky gold sneakers he recently unveiled. What will be next? Your guess is as good as ours -- maybe Trump-branded sets of the Emperor's New Clothes? We certainly wouldn't put it past him... come to think of it, that'd be even better than the champion all-time grifting product ever (the "pet rock" of the 1970s, of course)... all Trump would have to do would be to send out completely-empty boxes! Pure profit!

Joe Biden, meanwhile, is out there actually campaigning. He appeared at the most lucrative fundraiser of all time this week, alongside Bill Clinton and Barack Obama (and plenty of big stars to entertain the crowd). He reportedly pulled in an astounding $25 million from this single event -- which is more money than Trump raised in all of February. We sincerely hope to see both Obama and Clinton at some future rallies for Biden, since they were somewhat of a forgotten Democratic resource the last time around.

Also good news: Biden has been pushing back hard on Trump's attempt to recycle Ronald Reagan's: "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" campaign line. The problem for Trump is that, well... no we weren't better off four years ago! Four years ago is when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire world hard -- and the United States hardest, due to Donald Trump's attempts to just "wish the whole thing would go away" rather than showing the slightest leadership or even just an ounce of human compassion for his fellow citizens.

Contrary to four years ago -- which was just the start of the "COVID times" -- things are indeed better. Crime has come down from the pandemic peak, the job market went through the greatest and fastest recovery in American history, complete with unemployment levels at historic lows for an absolutely historic span of time, the stock market is setting record highs again and again, and life in general is undeniably better than when we were all lining up to buy toilet paper only to be greeted by empty shelves.

Biden is even making a bid for Nikki Haley's voters, which is a smart thing to do (since Trump doesn't seem interested in courting them at all). In fact, Trump is more interested in purging the Republican Party of anyone who doesn't fully believe in his Big Lie (which would include many Haley voters, one assumes). If a significant slice of Republicans wind up voting for Biden, it could mean the difference in many close states, so this is indeed a smart thing for Biden to attempt.

There was one big political story this week that was rather insular, because it came from the political media itself. Ronna (née Romney) McDaniel, after getting forced out from her stint running the Republican National Committee, followed a well-trod path toward accepting bundles of money to become "an on-air contributor" at NBC News. Ex-pols are hired by the political media all the time, and some of them do well and some of them don't (for various reasons).

McDaniel didn't even last "a half-Scaramucci" (as one article put it, following the quip originally made by journalist Aaron Rupar, to give credit where it is due). After a stormy few days of virtually all the political reporters and commentators on both NBC News and MSNBC (including some memorable comments by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow) absolutely ripping into the decision by the network bosses, they finally relented. By midweek, McDaniel was un-hired (so to speak).

It's hard to feel sorry for her, though, since while head of the R.N.C. McDaniel not only regularly attacked the political journalism industry at large but also fully supported Donald Trump's Big Lie even to the point of assisting him on a phone call to her home state of Michigan to try to browbeat elections officials into throwing monkey wrenches into the workings of a free and fair election. It's one thing to be a lying hyper-partisan, but actively trying to undermine American democracy was a step too far for all the other journalists who work for NBC. Such an open revolt against the corporate bosses is incredibly rare, but at least this one ended with the correct decision: to jettison McDaniel forthwith.

It's also hard to feel sorry for McDaniel since she will be laughing all the way to the bank. She appeared for an interview on Meet The Press this week for approximately 20 minutes, but apparently had signed a contract which promised her $300,000 a year for two years. So... let's see... $600,000 divided by 1,200 equals NBC paying her $500 per second for being on the air a single time. And she's already hired a powerful media attorney, so NBC could wind up paying even more for that sole interview.

Let's see, what else has been going on?

No Labels was decisively turned down by Chris Christie this week, and they're running out of time and running out of names on their list of possible presidential candidates. They also lost one of their founders this week, which we will address in a moment. Let's hope the entire effort collapses in the next few weeks, which would be a fitting end for it indeed.

GOP moderates in Congress are streaming for the exits, because what sane Republican would want to still be in Congress if Donald Trump takes over again? The MAGA-fication of the party continues apace, as now the R.N.C. (under Trump's own daughter-in-law, who instituted mass firings upon her arrival) is asking for a loyalty oath for new hires -- loyalty not just to Trump but to Trump's Big Lie about the 2020 election. The "adults in the room" are quickly vacating the building, in other words.

And finally, let's catch up on Trump's legal woes, shall we? Trump got a sort of split decision on Monday, as a New York appellate court agreed he could only put up $175 million while he appeals the almost-half-billion-dollar judgment against him, but the judge in the porn-star hush-money case swatted down all of Trump's objections and set a trial date of April 15th. That's when the first ex-president in history will go on trial in what will hopefully be only the first criminal trial of such a person ever. Trump got slapped with a new gag order in this case, but quickly exploited the loopholes in the gag order by repeatedly attacking not just the judge in the case but the judge's adult daughter as well.

In the related topic of "Trump's toadies' legal woes," a California judge ruled that John Eastman, an ex-Trump-lawyer, should be permanently disbarred (and thus turn into simply "an ex-lawyer" ), for participating in the whole "subverting American democracy" Big Lie project. Down in Arizona, Senate candidate (and complete nutjob) Kari Lake followed in Rudy Giuliani's footsteps and unconditionally surrendered in a defamation case brought against her by a county election official. Just like in Rudy's case, this will now mean that the only thing the court will have to decide is how much Lake will owe for her vicious falsehood that somehow an election had been stolen from her (spoiler alert: it wasn't, she lost, just like Trump).

So we all have that to look forward to! We wrote about this earlier in the week, speculating what the grand total of damages paid in the fallout from Trump's Big Lie will eventually be (which is now approaching $1 billion -- but which we believe will wind up totalling up to multiple billions of dollars, once all the cases dealing with elections equipment manufacturers are done).

Which is all to the good. Baselessly and maliciously destroying the good name of both individuals and corporations should be prohibitively expensive, after all.

We have quite a few nominees this week, so first let's hand out a couple of Honorable Mention awards before getting to the main event.

This week a horrendous crash in Maryland took down a key bridge (ahem... sorry, we couldn't resist...) and the mayor of Baltimore was thus thrust into the national spotlight. Mayor Brandon Scott was instantly accused by rightwing racists of somehow being a "D.E.I. hire."

For those of you unfamiliar with the term (which stands for "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion" ), this is merely an update to an older slur against minorities -- calling them "affirmative-action hires" in order to delegitimize them.

Scott, however, wasn't "hired," he was elected -- with a whopping 70 percent of the vote. He countered his critics beautifully, by stating: "...what they mean by 'D.E.I.', in my opinion, is 'Duly Elected Incumbent'."


Next up, we have to admit that we are just as much of a sucker for cute cat photos as the next guy or gal, so we were delighted at the news that Jill Biden is going to release a new children's book about how First Cat Willow Biden joined their family (it's an endearing story, to be sure).

However, we did wonder if Dr. Jill is going a wee bit too far in trying to keep everyone happy when we read: "Jill Biden will donate proceeds from sales of the book to charities that support military dogs."

Wait... what? Cat lovers are going to donate to dogs?

Heh. OK, OK, working military dogs certainly deserve all the support they can get and all of that, but even so....

Kidding aside, we certainly wish Dr. Jill well on trying to bridge the cat lovers/dog lovers division out there!

This week we found we could not decide between two finalists for our main award, so we're just going to hand out two Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week statuettes this week.

The first goes to Representative Andy Kim, a New Jersey Democrat who is running to take over the seat of disgraced Senator Bob "Gold Bars" Menendez. Because this week saw two momentous events in the Democratic primary race to replace him (Menendez announced he would not be running for re-election as a Democrat but hasn't ruled out an independent bid).

The first was Kim's major opponent dropping out of the race. Tammy Murphy, wife of Governor Phil Murphy, was supposed to be a shoo-in for the nomination, since she had the powerful weight of the New Jersey Democratic machine solidly behind her. But then Kim showed surprising popularity and he struck back in court, filing a lawsuit against the undemocratic and unfair primary ballot system in New Jersey (which we wrote about earlier this week). The system is so odious that even the state's attorney general declined to defend it in court, calling the ballot "unconstitutional."

Today, a federal judge agreed and drove a stake through the "county line" style ballot for good. This is an incredible achievement which will reform New Jersey politics in a big way -- not just for Kim's primary run, but for every candidate in every future primary race as well (on both sides of the aisle).

That is a very impressive thing to have achieved, before the voting has even begun. With Murphy's exit from the race, Kim is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination as well as the general election in November (even if Menendez mounts an independent bid -- his name is now so tarnished that few voters are going to back him).

Our other winner of the MIDOTW is a new member of the Alabama statehouse, Marilyn Lands. Lands ran in a special election in the state, with a message that should become more and more familiar as more and more Democrats see how effective it can be:

A special election for an Alabama state House seat on Tuesday will serve as an early marker of how politically salient the sudden battle over access to in-vitro fertilization will be ahead of this year's high-stakes contests for Congress and the White House.

Look no further than the divergent strategies of Democrat Marilyn Lands and Republican Teddy Powell, a city councilmember, who are facing off for Alabama's 10th state House District, a competitive seat in the northern part of the state. Lands is basing her message on reproductive health after running (and losing) on education, health care and the economy two years ago, while Powell's team cut an ad on IVF but chose not to air it.

. . .

But her campaign is trying something different this time around: bringing abortion-rights messaging to the forefront -- especially after the state Supreme Court ruling there that imperiled IVF and grabbed national headlines, before the legislature passed a law restoring access.

In a recent television ad, Lands highlights an Alabama woman's inability to get an abortion due to the state's ban, and shares her own experience with abortion. One of the headlines flashing on screen refers to the state court's IVF ruling.

Lands kept with this theme in her victory message:

"Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation," Lands said in a statement. "Our legislature must repeal Alabama's no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception."

Her opponent, Madison City Council member Teddy Powell, focused his campaign on economic development and infrastructure.

Lands spoke openly about her own abortion experience, when she had a nonviable pregnancy that ended in abortion two decades ago. Her campaign ran a television ad sharing that story.

"It's shameful that today women have fewer freedoms than I had two decades ago," Lands says in the ad.

Lands won her election -- in a district where Trump edged out a win in 2020 -- by an astounding 25 points.

That is the potency of supporting women's rights. Other Democrats are also out there telling their own abortion stories, which humanizes the debate in a way not seen before now. The 2024 election could easily become known as "the abortion/I.V.F. election," the issue is so powerful. Abortion rights could be directly on the ballot in as many as 12 states this year, including battleground states like Arizona and Montana. And the Supreme Court just heard another abortion case, meaning the subject will be in the news again in June (when they issue their decision), right before campaign season really gets going.

For her astounding win, for the way she fearlessly ran, and for showing other Democrats how effective such a campaign can be, Marilyn Lands is our second Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award-winner this week.

[Congratulate Representative Andy Kim on his House contact page to let him know you appreciate his efforts; but you'll have to wait for state Representative-Elect Marilyn Lands to be sworn in and get her own official statehouse page up and running to do so for her (since as a general rule we do not link to campaign websites, even after the elections are over).]

We know... we know... De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all of that sort of thing... but...

We'd like to posthumously award our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week (as sort of a negative lifetime-achievement award) to former Senator Joe Lieberman.

We won't speak much ill of the dead, but please remember that for all the kind things said about him this week, Lieberman was the Joe Manchin of his age, who personally killed the public option from being included in Obamacare. Thanks for nothing, Joe.

We sincerely hope that his No Labels plan to spoil Joe Biden's re-election will soon be a thing to be spoken of in the past tense as well.

[We will not be providing contact information, obviously.]

Volume 745 (3/29/24)

Our talking points are somewhat all over the map this week, but then it has been an eventful week. As always, use responsibly!

Enough already!

Just like night follows day....

"Can all the people pushing all the crazy conspiracy theories about the accident which destroyed Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge please just cut it out? It seems there are some people who see a dastardly evil genius at work behind any tragedy, at the drop of a tinfoil hat. Here's an idea: let's all wait for the investigation to figure out what went wrong before we go full-on paranoid, OK? I mean... please... just stop with the uninformed nonsense."

Like a mobster

Rachel Maddow, true to form, had some rather pointed things to say about NBC hiring the likes of Ronna McDaniel to appear on their network. So did a whole bunch of other NBC journalists, but Maddow devoted fully half of her show to the subject, and had the most quotable things to say about it of anyone:

I want to associate myself with all my colleagues, both at MSNBC and at NBC News, who have voiced loud and principled objections to our company putting on the payroll someone who hasn't just attacked us as journalists, but someone who is part of an ongoing project to get rid of our system of government.... You wouldn't hire a 'made man' like a mobster to work at a D.A.'s office, right? You wouldn't hire a pickpocket to work as a T.S.A. screener. So I find the decision to put her on the payroll inexplicable, and I hope they will reverse their decision.

Republican voter-suppression thwarted

This was a big win for Democrats and for anyone else who cares about making voting easier and more fair for all.

"The Montana supreme court this week overturned several Republican-passed voting laws, stating that they 'violate the fundamental right to vote provided to all citizens by the Montana Constitution.' This is big news, as the head of the Montana Democratic Party pointed out:"

Today's decision is a tremendous victory for democracy, Native voters, and young people across the state of Montana. While Republican politicians continue to attack voting rights and our protected freedoms, their voter suppression efforts failed and were struck down as unconstitutional.

"She's right -- Democrats are the ones out here fighting for free and fair elections without putting needless hurdles in the voting process. Republicans tried to end same-day voter registration and eliminate student I.D. cards as valid voter I.D., as well as a few other schemes they came up with to make voting not just harder but almost impossible for some Montanans. Democrats will never stop fighting Republican efforts to make it harder for everyone to cast their ballots."

Total sellout

Hammer this one home.

"I see that Robert F. Kennedy Junior has picked as his running mate -- surprise! -- the same woman who paid millions to run his Super Bowl ad. What a total sellout! He wants to award the second-highest office in the land to the highest bidder -- that's just pathetic. And this woman seems like a good fit for him, since she's got some pretty out-there opinions on in-vitro fertilization -- calling it 'one of the biggest lies that's being told about women's health today.' R.F.K. Jr. doesn't seem to have figured out where he stands on abortion rights or I.V.F., and his veep nominee just confirmed this. R.F.K. Jr. is nothing more than a whackadoodle sellout, and it boggles the mind why any sane person would even consider voting for him."

Where's Trump?

It would be sweetness indeed to turn this one around on him.

"While Joe Biden is out there on the campaign trail explaining what his plans for a second term would mean for all Americans, you know what we haven't seen much of? Donald Trump. Where's Trump? Are they afraid to put him out there because he is now saying so many crazy things all the time? Are they afraid he's going to just completely lose it at a rally -- again? To put it in terms he will recognize: Donald Trump seems to think he can run a campaign from the basement of his Florida golf club. Or maybe that should be 'from inside a courtroom'?"

The universal appeal of one type of joke

OK, this one's a cheap shot, but studies have indeed shown that mother-in-law jokes are somewhat universal across all human cultures and societies, so why not?

"Remember when Donald Trump used to rail against 'chain migration' -- meaning American immigrants sponsoring their own relatives to come over and become citizens too? Trump always had a scathing hatred for the process, although he never did make good on his promises to end it. But you know what was just publicly revealed? Trump's own mother-in-law was able to enter America through this exact same program. So maybe that's the reason he hated the concept so much? I mean... I'm just saying...."

Hannity has on-air "Kinsley gaffe"

What else is new, really?

"Sean Hannity signed off his broadcast this week by tossing it to the next Fox News host, but in doing so he committed a 'Kinsley gaffe' -- he accidentally told the truth instead of what he was going to say. To close his broadcast, Hannity said:"

Let not your heart be troubled. Greg Gutfeld [is] standing by to put a smile on your hate.

"Yeah, that about sums up pretty much the entire Fox News network, wouldn't you say? I'm just astonished Hannity actually came out and admitted it for once...."

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
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