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dajoki

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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,541

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

The Long Shadow of the Reagan Years

The Long Shadow of the Reagan Years
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/10/opinion/donald-trump-reagan.html

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The upheavals of our current era did not begin with Donald Trump, nor will they end now that he has been defeated. Nov. 4, 1980, was 40 years ago, a long time ago now. But in so many ways the cataclysms of 1980 created the world we live in today.

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For the life of me I have never been able to understand how so many Republicans talk about their patriotism and their love of the flag and at the same time despise the very government the Constitution created. Is that what patriotism means now — hating governance, but getting all teary-eyed and sentimental about Exxon Mobil?

It’s this enduring frame of mind that still eats away at us. It explains, just to pick one example, Republicans’ hatred of the Affordable Care Act — and why they’ve been trying to repeal it for all these years, even while swearing that they’ll protect so many of its provisions.

Because since Mr. Reagan, it’s been apostasy to suggest that good governance could ever do anything to improve people’s lives. Even the resistance to mask-wearing can arguably be traced back to November 1980: Just look at all the people who find that a mandate to wear a mask to keep other people from actually dying is somehow suppression of their freedom.

Sure, blame Donald Trump for his inept pandemic response. But blame Ronald Reagan for encouraging people to hate their own government, or to view an individual sacrifice for the common good as some kind of tyranny. The pending erasure of Mr. Trump from the White House means that the tone will change in January, from cruelty to kindness, from narcissism to empathy. But Joe Biden will find it a greater challenge to alter the core belief, now held by so many Americans, that their government is the gravest threat to their freedom.

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A Bill Barr politicized investigation altered documents...We should assume it will happen again.

THE LAST TIME BILLY BARR ORDERED A POLITICIZED INVESTIGATION, DOJ ALTERED DOCUMENTS FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION
https://www.emptywheel.net/2020/11/10/the-last-time-billy-barr-ordered-a-politicized-investigation-doj-altered-documents-for-public-consumption/

It is a fact that someone (or someones) who were part of the Jeffrey Jensen review of the Mike Flynn prosecution altered documents for public consumption. That is not speculation. It is not hyperbole. It is a fact, one that other outlets had better start replicating and enhancing if they want to prevent Barr’s green light on investigations into election irregularities, announced last night, from doing the same.

At a minimum, DOJ removed protective order footers from a set of documents shared with Sidney Powell on September 23, in advance of the first debate.

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But those aren’t the only pieces of evidence that the Jeffrey Jensen investigation evolved from inventing an excuse to blow up the Flynn prosecution into an opportunity to set up campaign attacks for the President. Pro-Trump FBI Agent Bill Barnett gave an interview that was materially inconsistent with his actions during the Flynn investigation (and that claimed to be unaware of key pieces of evidence against Flynn). When DOJ released it, they redacted it in such a way as to hide complimentary comments from Barnett about Brandon Van Grack that would have completely undermined DOJ’s claimed reasons to throw out Flynn’s prosecution.

There are more signs of irregularities with this “investigation.” But this list by itself proves that DOJ, in an investigation personally ordered up by Billy Barr, used the “investigation” to package up propaganda to help Donald Trump. The package even seems to have served to tee up an attack Trump made on Joe Biden in the first debate.

As noted, last night Barr authorized what had previously been forbidden for over forty years, DOJ’s conduct of investigations into claims of irregularities ginned up by the very same lawyers — Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani — who invented the complaints about the Flynn prosecution. One of Barr’s investigations has already altered official documents to sustain false claims. That means there’s reason to believe he would do it again, to serve the same cause. Indeed, Trump’s election loss gives Barr’s a greater incentive to repeat the process, to ensure he is not replaced by someone who would treat these alterations as a crime.

A Bill Barr politicized investigation altered documents to serve propaganda in the past. We should assume it will happen again.

If McConnell pushes through a nominee, President Biden should pack the court

If McConnell pushes through a nominee, President Biden should pack the court
Republicans have put party over principle. Biden can do something about it.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/19/mcconnell-biden-pack-court/

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Democrats have only one play here: If Trump and McConnell jam an appointee through, it is not enough for Democrats to raise hell about the hypocrisy, the duplicity and the Republican refusal to play by McConnell’s own rules. It is not enough to target every Republican senator who goes along. It is not enough to have voters bombard their Republican senators’ offices with phone calls and protests. Because those things have been happening for four years, and none of them have persuaded the GOP to put the stability of the country or the obligations of office ahead of that party’s thirst for power.

So Democrats should threaten to pack the court. And, if McConnell pushes through a new justice and then Joe Biden wins, they should follow through.

<<snip>>

With an election looming, Democrats can give voters a say. If they vow to expand the court, then Americans can cast their ballots with that in mind. Key to the message should be that McConnell and Senate Republicans have so repeatedly broken the rules, rigged the game and stolen victories that it’s become impossible to play on neutral turf. As Murkowski put it, fair is fair.

It’s a shame we’re here. But to restore a democracy that has been battered, bruised and robbed blind by the president and his party, Democrats will need to fight harder. If Republicans steal this seat, the only reasonable response is to change the number of judges on the bench.

The Media Learned Nothing From 2016

The Media Learned Nothing From 2016
The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/media-mistakes/616222/?utm_source=twitter&utm_term=2020-09-15T10%3A15%3A01&utm_medium=social&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_campaign=the-atlantic

We’re seeing a huge error, and a potential tragedy, unfold in real time.

That’s a sentence that could apply to countless aspects of economic, medical, governmental, and environmental life at the moment. What I have in mind, though, is the almost unbelievable failure of much of the press to respond to the realities of the Trump age.

<<snip>>

Also in pursuit of the ritual of balance, the networks offset coverage of Donald Trump’s ethical liabilities and character defects, which would have proved disqualifying in any other candidate for nearly any other job, with intense investigation of what they insisted were Hillary Clinton’s serious email problems. Six weeks before the election, Gallup published a prophetic analysis showing what Americans had heard about each candidate. For Trump, the words people most recognized from all the coverage were speech, immigration, and Mexico. For Clinton, one word dwarfed all others: EMAIL. The next two on the list, much less recognized, were lie and Foundation. (The Clinton Foundation, set up by Bill Clinton, was the object of sustained scrutiny for supposedly shady dealings that amount to an average fortnight’s revelations for the Trump empire.) One week before the election, The New York Times devoted the entire top half of its front page to stories about FBI Director James Comey’s reopening of an investigation into the emails. “New Emails Jolt Clinton Campaign in Race’s Last Days” was the headline on the front page’s lead story. “With 11 Days to Go, Trump Says Revelation ‘Changes Everything,’” read another front-page headline.

Just last week came a fresh reminder of the egregiousness of that coverage, often shorthanded as “But her emails!” On Wednesday, September 9, Bob Woodward’s tapes of Trump saying that when it came to the coronavirus, he “wanted to always play it down” came out, along with a whistleblower’s claim that the Department of Homeland Security was falsifying intelligence to downplay the risk of Russian election interference and violence from white supremacists. On the merits, either of those stories was far more important than Comey’s short-lived inquiry into what was always an overhyped scandal. But in this election season, each got a demure one-column headline on the Times’ front page. The Washington Post, by contrast, gave Woodward’s revelations banner treatment across its front page.

Who knows how the 2016 race might have turned out, and whether a man like Trump could have ended up in the position he did, if any of a hundred factors had gone a different way. But one important factor was the press’s reluctance to recognize what it was dealing with: a person nakedly using racial resentment as a tool; whose dishonesty and corruption dwarfed that of both Clintons combined, with most previous presidents’ thrown in as well; and whose knowledge about the vast organization he was about to control was inferior to that of any Capitol Hill staffer and most immigrants who had passed the (highly demanding) U.S. citizenship test.

Now it’s four years later. And we’re waking up in Groundhog Day, but so far without Bill Murray’s eventual, hard-earned understanding that he could learn new skills as time went on. For Murray, those were things like playing the piano and speaking French. For the press, in these next 49 days, those can be grappling with (among other things) three of the most destructive habits in dealing with Donald Trump. For shorthand, they are the embrace of false equivalence, or both-sides-ism; the campaign-manager mentality, or horse-race-ism; and the love of spectacle, or going after the ratings and the clicks.

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the party increasingly radicalized in every election cycle...

How Donald Trump canceled the Republican party
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/23/how-donald-trump-canceled-republican-party-sidney-blumenthal-lincoln

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The Republican party has been on a long journey away from being the party of Abraham Lincoln, accelerating since Barry Goldwater and rightwing cadres captured it in 1964 in reaction to the civil rights movement. After Richard Nixon embraced the southern strategy and won the nomination in 1968 with the help of Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, the Dixiecrat segregationist presidential candidate in 1948, the party increasingly radicalized in every election cycle and became gradually unmoored. In 1980, Ronald Reagan opened his general election campaign at the Neshoba County Fair, the place where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964. Surrounded by Confederate flags, he hailed “states’ rights”. As brazen an appeal as it was, Reagan felt he had to resort to the old code words.

Central to Trump’s unique selling proposition is that he dispenses with the dog whistles. His vulgarity gives a vicarious thrill to those who revel in his taunting of perceived enemies or scapegoats. He made them feel dominant at no social price, until his catastrophic mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis. Flouting a mask is the magical act of defiance to signal that nothing has really changed and that in any case, Trump bears no responsibility.

But there has also been a political cost to Trump’s louche comic lounge act that still transfixes a diehard audience lingering like late-night gamblers for the last show. Trump is the only president since the advent of modern polling never to reach 50% approval. Despite decisively losing the popular vote in 2016, he said he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”. This time, fearing an even more overwhelming popular rejection, he says the outcome will be “rigged” and he has pre-emptively tried to cancel the US Postal Service, to undermine voting by mail.

From Reagan onward, even as the fringe moved to the center and took it over, the party did not anticipate that it was slouching toward Trump. Conservatives have consistently failed to grasp the unintended consequences of conservatism. Even when Reagan fostered the evangelical right, George HW Bush appointed Clarence Thomas to the supreme court, George W Bush invaded Iraq and neglected oversight of financial markets that collapsed, and John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate, Republicans believed they were expanding the attraction of the conservative project. When Newt Gingrich, Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh methodically degraded language, it seemed a propaganda technique to herd supporters. When the dark money of the Koch family and the wealthy reactionaries of the cloaked Donors Trust bankrolled the lumpen dress-up Tea Party to do their bidding on deregulation of finance and industry, the munificently funded conservative candidates did their bidding as retainers of privilege.

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Republicans Resume Fear-Mongering About The Debt. Don't Believe Them

Republicans Resume Fear-Mongering About The Debt. Don’t Believe Them.
Helping working people will not hurt the economy.
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/forget-the-debt-republican_n_5f248bb2c5b6a34284bac085

Senate Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) last week gave an ominous speech prophesying the economic horrors facing America as a result of its terrifying national debt.

Relief spending on the coronavirus crisis pushed the country into uncharted territory, Enzi warned. By next year, we will surpass even the debt burdens imposed by World War II, he added. Inflation will rise like a beast from the depths to devour household savings. The economy will collapse, and future generations will be ravaged.

“Our grandkids will find all their money has been spent, and all they can do is pay more taxes,” Enzi argued.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) reiterated the message on C-SPAN Wednesday, calling the public debt “the greatest threat to our country right now.” Not COVID-19, not terrorism, not rising authoritarian political movements abroad. “It is our national debt that will take us down,” Buck said.

Both Buck and Enzi are following through on a rhetorical strategy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled back in April when — after overseeing accelerating deficits throughout Donald Trump’s presidency — he suddenly cautioned that coronavirus relief must be limited out of “genuine concern” about the national debt. Conservative media are already attacking Joe Biden as a big-spending debt addict in thrall to the far left.

This is an old game, dishonest and unsophisticated. When Republicans have power, they cut taxes for wealthy people and spend like crazy on the military. (And banks and oil companies.) When Democrats are in power ― or when proposals to help working people are on the legislative table ― Republicans suddenly insist that adding to the national debt will bring a swift cataclysm.

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Nobody, no company, no individual or nation state has ever been held to account.

If you’re not terrified about Facebook, you haven’t been paying attention
Facebook and America are now indivisible, says the Observer journalist who broke the Cambridge Analytica scandal – and the world is a sicker place for it
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/26/with-facebook-we-are-already-through-the-looking-glass

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In Facebook’s case, the worst has already happened. We’ve just failed to acknowledge it. Failed to reckon with it. And there’s no vaccine coming to the rescue. In 2016 everything changed. As for 2020… well, we will see.

We have already been through the equivalent of a social media pandemic – an unstoppable contagion that has sickened our information space, infected our public discourse, silently and invisibly subverted our electoral systems. It’s no longer about if this will happen all over again. Of course, it will. It hasn’t stopped. The question is whether our political systems, society, democracy, will survive – can survive – the age of Facebook.

We are already through the looking glass. In 2016, a hostile foreign government used Facebook to systematically undermine and subvert an American election. With no consequences. Nobody, no company, no individual or nation state has ever been held to account.

Zuckerberg says Black Lives Matter and yet we know Donald Trump used Facebook’s tools to deliberately suppress and deny black and Latino people the vote. With no consequences.

And though we know the name “Cambridge Analytica” and were momentarily outraged by Facebook’s complicity in allowing 87 million people’s personal data to be stolen and repurposed including by the Trump campaign. A $5bn fine was paid but no individuals were held to account.

And that’s just in America. For us here in Britain, there’s an even bigger reckoning that has not come. If it wasn’t for Facebook, there would be no Brexit. The future of our country – our island nation with its 1,000 years of continuous history of which we’re so proud – has been set on its course by a foreign company that has proved itself to be beyond the rule of parliament.

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Anyone who thinks Romney's an honorable repub better get straight

GOP coronavirus relief package to include Romney bill that would ‘fast-track Social Security and Medicare cuts’
https://www.rawstory.com/2020/07/gop-relief-package-to-include-romney-bill-that-would-fast-track-social-security-and-medicare-cuts/

Shortly after publicly ditching one attack on Social Security—the payroll tax cut—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed Thursday that the Republican coronavirus relief package will include legislation sponsored by Sen. Mitt Romney that one advocacy group described as an “equally menacing” threat to the New Deal program.

In a speech on the Senate floor, McConnell touted Romney’s TRUST ACT as “a bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Senate Democrats, to help a future Congress evaluate bipartisan proposals for protecting and strengthening the programs that Americans count on.”

“In the midst of a catastrophic pandemic, they should be focused on protecting seniors, essential workers, and the unemployed. Instead, they are plotting to use the cover of the pandemic to slash Social Security.”
—Nancy Altman, Social Security Works

Ostensibly an effort to “rescue” America’s trust fund programs, Romney’s bill—first introduced last October with the backing of three Democratic senators—would initiate a secretive process that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits, a longtime objective of lawmakers like the Utah Republican.

Romney celebrated the inclusion of his bill Thursday and pointed to statements praising the legislation from a slew of right-wing advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity.

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Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case

Inside the Failure: 5 Takeaways on Trump’s Effort to Shift Responsibility
President Trump and his top aides sharply shifted their pandemic strategy in mid-April after seizing on optimistic data suggesting the virus would disappear, a Times investigation found.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-failure-takeaways.html?

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Dr. Birx was more central than publicly known to the judgment inside the West Wing that the virus was under control and on a downward path.

But her model-based assessment of the outlook failed to account for a vital variable: how Mr. Trump’s rush to urge a return to normal would undercut the social distancing and other measures that were holding down the numbers.

During the morning meetings in Mr. Meadows’s office, Dr. Birx almost always delivered what the new team was hoping for: “All metros are stabilizing,” she would tell them, describing the virus as having hit its “peak” around mid-April. The New York area accounted for half of the total cases in the country, she said. The slope was heading in the right direction. “We’re behind the worst of it.”

During much of mid-April, Dr. Birx focused intensely on the experience that Italy had fighting the virus. In her view, it was a particularly positive comparison, telling colleagues that the United States was on the same trajectory as Italy, where there were huge spikes before infections and deaths flattened to close to zero.

Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case. “We’ve hit our peak,” she would say, and that message would find its way back to Mr. Trump.

<<snip>>

"the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing" for decades

The Lincoln Project, the rogue former Republicans trying to take down Trump, explained
The Lincoln Project’s goal is to get Trump out of office. But some argue its members helped him get in.
https://www.vox.com/2020/7/17/21316641/trump-lincoln-project-gop-2020

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But as historian Eric Foner argued in 2016, Trump can be seen as “the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing” for decades, with predecessors like Richard Nixon’s “law and order” presidential campaign, rife with racist implications, and populist appeal as a businessman railing against Washington corruption. To many liberals, Trump isn’t an aberration; he’s the culmination of a decades-long political project.

The Lincoln Project and its GOP exiles, writer Eric Higgins argued on July 12 in the newsletter Welcome to Hell World, are an example of a “memory hole” in action: Everything that happened before Trump (like the Iraq War or the existence of the Bush administration or the murder of Trayvon Martin) has been forgotten by liberals allying with the group and sharing their ads in service of getting Trump out of office.

The fact is that the coalition is made up of people who until very recently were happily ensconced in the GOP—meaning that it’s not the policies pursued and beliefs espoused by Trump that are the issue. It’s just his delivery. This is not an abstract issue. The president is part and parcel of the entire Republican project and its logical conclusion after five decades of cultivating an increasingly enraged white base filled with economic and cultural grievances for which the GOP has blamed on the uneven but inexorable march to greater equality in American society.


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Higgins told me that the Lincoln Project’s ads were an appeal to liberals who believe that conservatives are their ideological opponents but not their enemies. “The commercials are part of a general effort by LP to present Trump as an aberration, a mistake, something out of the right-wing mainstream,” he said, “rather than the logical endpoint of the GOP and the direct ideological heir of the movement that began in earnest with Ronald Reagan.”

When I asked him about the ads themselves, he said, “Frankly all they do is make me angry by pretending there’s any major difference between Reagan [or] George W. Bush and Trump other than style.” He added, “I’m clearly not the target audience."

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