September 20, 2018

Bookmark: http://www.directzine4dems.com

Please share this newsletter with your like-minded friends.

Subscribe to this FREE eZine! Email jellison3@me.com with "subscribe" as the subject.

ON THE RECORD.....

“There’s absolutely nothing unusual about it. The conversation I think he really ought to be worried about is Paul Manafort with Mueller.” — Former Secretary of State John Kerry responding to President Trump’s criticism of his conversations with Iranian diplomats.

“Two things motivate almost 100 percent of his behavior: Self-preservation or self-aggrandizement. There never is a strategy because he’s not a strategic thinker.”-- Trump biographer Tim O’Brien

“I think you look to judges to be the arbiters of right and wrong. If they don’t have a moral code of their own to determine right from wrong, then that’s a problem. So I think it’s relevant. Supreme Court nominees should be held to a higher standard.” -- Russell Ford, the husband of Christine Blasey Ford.

“This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water. Rarely have we had an experience like it and it certainly is not good.” — Donald Trump on Hurricane Florence.

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Satire from The Borowitz Report; Trump’s Calls to Manafort Going Straight to Voice Mail
2. ‘Never give an inch’: Trump keeps touting perceived failures as successes
3. U.S. Loses Track of Another 1,500 Migrant Children, Investigators Find
4. New Polls: Tight Senate Races Across the Sun Belt
5. Opposition to Kavanaugh grows, support at historic low: Reuters/Ipsos poll
6. Spanish Official: Trump Suggested Building a Wall Across the Sahara
7. Deficit hawks are dead, and few in Washington can muster any outrage
8. Why college students don’t vote absentee? They don’t know where to buy a postage stamp
9. Smearing the wrong Christine Ford 
10. Grim warnings for White House, Republicans ahead of election
11. Democratic Party Has More U.S. House Candidates on November Ballot than Any Party in Previous U.S. History
12. Who Says Mueller Is Writing a Report?
13. Trump Orders Declassification of Russia-Related Material
14. Lies and Truth in the Era of Trump (Video)
15. The DAILY GRILL
16. In Trump’s trade wars, China’s unexpected win: More friends
17. Puerto Rico residents see a failure at all levels of government
18. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)
19. From the Late Shows
20. Late Night Jokes for Dems
21. CNN Poll: Democrats' midterm advantage holds among likely voters
22. President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims
23. The Daily 202: Preexisting conditions take center stage in Democratic attack ads
24. Trump administration draws fire for ‘misleading’ report linking terrorism, immigration
25. Trump’s “Enemy of the People” Rhetoric Is Endangering Journalists’ Lives


OPINION

1. Dana Milbank: The Trump albatross
2. Gabriel Sherman: “Trump Believes There’s A Coup”: Freaked By The Times Op-Ed, The President Is Seeing Enemies Everywhere
3. Tina Nguyen: Facing A Midterm Wipeout, Trump’s Alternate Reality Comes Crashing Down
4. Ryan Cooper: Republicans' hurricane hubris
5. Allan Ripp: Trump's Groundhog Day presidency
6. Jonathan Chait: It Takes More Than ‘Adults in the Room’ to Control a Petulant Leader Like Trump
7.  George Packer: With “Fear” and Trump, Bob Woodward Has a Bookend to the Nixon Story
8. Tina Nguyen: Facing A Midterm Wipeout, Trump’s Alternate Reality Comes Crashing Down
9. Conor Lynch: How Americans came to their senses about climate change
10. Hillary Rodham Clinton: American Democracy Is in Crisis
11. Richard Cohen: The GOP is about to hurl itself into the sea

FYI

1. Satire from The Borowitz Report; Trump’s Calls to Manafort Going Straight to Voice Mail

Donald J. Trump placed “a large number” of phone calls to his former campaign manager Paul Manafort on Friday morning, and all of them went straight to voice mail, White House sources have confirmed.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the number of voice-mail messages that Trump left for Manafort was somewhere in the range of twelve to three hundred.

Trump reportedly continued to leave messages for Manafort until his mailbox was full, after which Trump hurled his phone across the room, narrowly missing Mike Pence’s head.

Speaking to reporters, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, downplayed the significance of Manafort’s failure to pick up after Trump called him several hundred times.

“Phones can be tricky sometimes,” she said. “You saw what happened when he tried to call the President of Mexico.”

While other Administration officials were mum on Manafort’s deal to coöperate with Robert Mueller’s investigation, Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said that it was “actually fantastic news,” because “it means I’ll get to be on TV a lot.” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. ‘Never give an inch’: Trump keeps touting perceived failures as successes

It’s a frequent tactic of the president — elevate a widely perceived failure or mistake and defend it as a great triumph while attacking his critics. His detractors say it is shameless and sometimes comical gaslighting; supporters say he is just a master marketer who uses hyperbole and always shows strength.

Aides say that Trump’s tendency to focus on and defend his perceived failures is fueled by a mix of potent factors. He obsesses over negative news coverage sometimes long after the topic has changed. He often marvels that he can make the cable news chyrons change. And he is constantly selling himself — regardless of who is in front of him and no matter the topic. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/never-give-an-inch-trump-keeps-touting-perceived-failures-as-successes/2018/09/12/12801b80-b6a9-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html

3. U.S. Loses Track of Another 1,500 Migrant Children, Investigators Find

The Trump administration is unable to account for the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 migrant children who illegally entered the United States alone this year and were placed with sponsors after leaving federal shelters.

The revelation echoes an admission in April by the Department of Health and Human Services that the government had similarly lost track of an additional 1,475 migrant children it had moved out of shelters last year. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/18/us/politics/us-migrant-children-whereabouts-.html

4. New Polls: Tight Senate Races Across the Sun Belt

A series of new Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics polls found close races in the key Senate battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Texas.:

AZ-Sen: Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47%, Martha McSally (R) 44%

FL-Sen: Rick Scott (R) 46%, Bill Nelson (D) 45%

NV-Sen: Dean Heller (R) 46%, Jacky Rosen (D) 43%

TX-Sen: Beto O’Rourke (D) 47%, Ted Cruz (R) 45%

And the governor’s races in the same states:

AZ-Gov: Doug Ducey (R) 51%, David Garcia (D) 39%

FL-Gov: Andrew Gillum (D) 50%, Ron DeSantis (R) 44%

NV-Gov: Adam Laxalt (R) 43%, Steve Sisolak (D) 40%

TX-Gov: Greg Abbott (R) 50%, Lupe Valdez (D) 41%

http://crystalball.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/articles/new-polls-tight-senate-races-across-the-sun-belt/

5. Opposition to Kavanaugh grows, support at historic low: Reuters/Ipsos poll

The Sept. 11-17 poll found that 36 percent of adults surveyed did not want Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court, up 6 points from a similar poll conducted a month earlier.

Only 31 percent of U.S. adults polled said they were in favor of Kavanaugh’s appointment.

If support for his nomination remains this weak, Trump’s pick would rank among the lowest-supported Supreme Court nominees to later be confirmed, according to historical data from Gallup.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-kavanaugh-poll/opposition-to-kavanaugh-grows-support-at-historic-low-reuters-ipsos-poll-idUSKCN1LZ1WT

6. Spanish Official: Trump Suggested Building a Wall Across the Sahara

Donald Trump is not having much luck getting his “big, beautiful border wall” off the ground, with his own party refusing to fund the vanity project that would be wildly ineffective and way too expensive. But that hasn’t stopped him from suggesting other countries take a shot at building their own.

Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell revealed this week that Trump proposed Spain build a wall across the Sahara to stem the flow of migrants into Europe. When diplomats brushed aside the idea and pointed out that the desert is 3,000 miles long, Trump pushed back. “The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico,” he reportedly said. It is, in fact, bigger. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/09/spanish-official-trump-suggested-a-wall-across-the-sahara.html

7. Deficit hawks are dead, and few in Washington can muster any outrage

Their demise technically came Tuesday when the Congressional Budget Office calculated the federal deficit at $895 billion for the first 11 months of fiscal 2018 — a stunning gap that was met with a collective shrug on Capitol Hill.

But the real death of the deficit hawks came late last year and early this year, as Republicans such as Speaker Paul Ryan who had railed against deficits in the first years of the Obama administration pushed through a massive tax cut despite CBO projections of a surge in federal borrowing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/deficit-hawks-are-dead-and-few-in-washington-can-muster-any-outrage/2018/09/14/1d6e95b0-b840-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html

8. Why college students don’t vote absentee? They don’t know where to buy a postage stamp

A Fairfax County focus group this summer found many college students who have gotten an absentee ballot simply fail to send it back because a U.S. Postal Service stamp seems to be a foreign concept to them.

One thing that came up, which I had heard from my own kids but I thought they were just nerdy, was that the students will go through the process of applying for a mail-in absentee ballot, they will fill out the ballot, and then, they don’t know where to get stamps,” Lisa Connors with the Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs said.
“That seems to be like a hump that they can’t get across.” https://wtop.com/local/2018/09/why-college-students-dont-vote-absentee-they-dont-know-where-to-buy-a-postage-stamp/

9. Smearing the wrong Christine Ford 

Right-wing media outlets on Monday used incorrect information to smear Professor Christine Ford. The Drudge Report, Gateway Pundit, radio host Mark Levin, and others weaponized reviews from RateMyProfessor to question Ford's character. These outlets/people pointed to reviews that said, among other things, Ford has "something wrong with her."

Only problem? It turned out these right-wing outlets and personalities were using reviews from the wrong Christine Ford. Of course, by time the error had come to light, the story had already gone viral in the right-wing media universe. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/far-right-news-sites-smear-california-professor-after-misidentifying-kavanaugh-n910471

10. Grim warnings for White House, Republicans ahead of election

Even if those voters do show up in large numbers, Republicans could still come up short. The polling presented to White House officials, which was commissioned by the Republican National Committee, showed that Trump’s loyal supporters make up about one-quarter of the electorate. Another quarter is comprised of Republicans who like Trump’s policies but not the president himself and do not appear motivated to back GOP candidates. And roughly half of expected midterm voters are Democrats who are energized by their opposition to the president.

White House aides say Trump is getting regular briefings on the political landscape and is aware of the increasingly grim polling, even though he’s predicted a ‘red wave’ for Republicans on Twitter and at campaign rallies. Aides say Trump’s sober briefings from GOP officials are sometimes offset by the frequent conversations he has with a cadre of outside advisers who paint a sunnier picture of the electoral landscape and remind the president of his upset victory in 2016. https://apnews.com/63c4fccca46841bdad47257f9776c361

11. Democratic Party Has More U.S. House Candidates on November Ballot than Any Party in Previous U.S. History

In the November 2018 election, there will be Democrats on the ballot in all but two U.S. House districts. No party in the history of government-printed ballots has ever before had candidates on the ballot in that many districts. Even in the 1930’s, the Democrats did not have that many nominees. The Republican Party has never had that many candidates. http://ballot-access.org/2018/09/13/democratic-party-has-more-u-s-house-candidates-on-november-ballot-than-any-party-in-previous-u-s-history/

12. Who Says Mueller Is Writing a Report?

As Paul Manafort’s plea was being unveiled, a number of legal observers were shocked by how detailed the criminal information <https://www.justice.gov/file/1094141/download> was, complete with 38 pages of exhibits. <https://www.justice.gov/file/1094146/download> Hopefully, this will stop me from having to bitch incessantly about how many journalists have swallowed Rudy Giuliani’s claims about Mueller writing up a report. As I keep saying (and as Mueller’s boss Rod Rosenstein has said in testimony), there won’t be a report, there will be indictments. https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/09/15/paul-manaforts-modus-operandi-accuse-the-female-politician-of-crimes-she-didnt-commit-then-dodge-sanctions/

13. Trump Orders Declassification of Russia-Related Material

Trump’s move was clearly aimed at fueling a theory that has simmered for months in right-wing media and on Trump’s Twitter feed: That the FBI’s investigation into Russian election meddling, which began in July 2016, was tainted by "corruption" from its very start.

Trump argues, wrongly, that the investigation began based on the information gathered by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who created a so-called dossier.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the order a “clear abuse of power” and said that based on his conversations with federal law enforcement officials, the FBI and Justice Department would consider the release of these materials “a red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods.”

“This is evidently of no consequence to a President who cares nothing about the country and everything about his narrow self-interest,” Schiff said in a statement. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/extraordinary-move-trump-declassifies-documents-related-russia-probe-n910486?cid=public-rss_20180917

14. Lies and Truth in the Era of Trump (Video)

David Remnick talks with Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, and Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for the paper, about reporting on Trump and the perils facing American democracy.
http://video.newyorker.com/watch/the-new-yorker-interview-lies-and-truth-in-the-era-of-trump

15. The DAILY GRILL

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”.... "This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” -- Trump

VERSUS

An estimated 2,975 people died from September 2017 through the end of February 2018. This estimate was determined using a mathematical model based on historical patterns, with adjustments made for age and sex. -- Independent study, from George Washington University's (GWU) Milken School of Public Health, was commissioned by the Puerto Rican government.

16. In Trump’s trade wars, China’s unexpected win: More friends

Under pressure from President Trump’s tariff war, China has embarked on a charm offensive on the diplomatic circuit, smoothing over old disputes and courting partners who could help Beijing weather the storm with Washington. Germany, which perennially harangued Beijing over market access restrictions, recently let Chinese investors hold bigger shares in joint ventures in a significant concession. South Korea, the target of withering Chinese boycotts last year over its deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, is seeing Chinese tourism revenue and automobile sales return.

This week, China’s relations with its heavyweight neighbor, Japan, reached its highest level in years. After meeting at a summit in Russia, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that China will welcome Abe on his first state visit to Beijing next month after he was frozen out for years over territorial disputes and the Japanese leader’s visits to a controversial shrine for wartime dead. The two men smiled for a photo together, a stark turnaround from four years ago, when they could barely face each other for a memorably grim snap. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/09/14/trumps-trade-wars-chinas-unexpected-win-more-friends/

17. Puerto Rico residents see a failure at all levels of government

Puerto Ricans sharply rebuke President Trump, along with the federal and local governments, for last year’s response to Hurricane Maria, a devastating storm that created an enduring humanitarian crisis affecting nearly all aspects of life on the island territory, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll

Key takeaways: 93% of residents said their roads and highways remain dangerous and 50% said their households lacked an adequate supply of drinking water.

Nearly a year after Maria hit Puerto Rico, people say they are still struggling with basic necessities. Fully 83 percent reported either major damage to their homes, losing power for more than three months, employment setbacks or worsening health problems, among other effects of the storm. The power is spotty, and many are leery of drinking the water. Roads are damaged, dangerous and difficult to navigate — like “the surface of the moon,” according to one resident — and in some places, the roadways remain impassible. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/09/12/feature/residents-see-a-failure-at-all-levels-of-government/

18. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

Hannity invites climate denier Joe Bastardi on his show to deny link between climate change and extreme weather -- again. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/14/Hannity-invites-climate-denier-Joe-Bastardi-on-his-show-to-deny-link-between-climate-chang/221314

Fox Business panel dismisses link between hurricanes and climate change, says "the left" uses climate change to "control everything else." Tammy Bruce: "The thing about climate change is that it is so malleable. You can blame everything on it. It becomes the excuse. And this is what's so great about it for the left." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/14/fox-business-panel-dismisses-link-between-hurricanes-and-climate-change-says-left-uses-climate/221316

Alex Jones says Trump should have the military storm Google’s facilities because it's a criminal organization. https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/14/alex-jones-says-trump-should-have-military-storm-google-s-facilities-because-its-criminal/221315

There is no bottom. Free of oversight and enabled by toadies, the president disappears Puerto Rico’s dead. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/09/14/there-no-bottom/221311

Sean Hannity reacts to Manafort plea deal by attacking the "cancer" growing in "every single intelligence agency."  Hannity: "These once great instituitions tonight are hanging in the balance." https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/14/sean-hannity-reacts-manafort-plea-deal-attacking-cancer-growing-every-single-intelligence-agency/221322

NRATV's Dan Bongino claims Puerto Rico death toll numbers are a conspiracy timed for release as another hurricane approached. Bongino: "Why was this information being released right before another hurricane made landfall?" https://www.mediamatters.org/video/2018/09/14/nratvs-dan-bongino-claims-puerto-rico-death-toll-numbers-are-conspiracy-timed-release-another/221320

A private Facebook group masquerading as an official fan group for Fox News host Sean Hannity is actually run by Eastern Europeans using it to trick fans into clicking on fake news to bring in advertising revenue. The group is the only part remaining of a network of Kosovo groups and accounts  that had also tricked Americans with fake stories for clicks. https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2018/09/18/A-Facebook-group-masquerading-as-an-official-Sean-Hannity-fan-group-is-actually-run-by-for/221349

19. From the Late Shows

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Manafort Flips on Trump; Kavanaugh Accused of Sexual Assault: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/MOAGsQzNI9E

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: S**tstorm Donald Rages on Twitter While Hurricane Florence Hits the Carolinas: S**tstorm Donald Rages on Twitter While Hurricane Florence Hits the Carolinas: https://youtu.be/XG8ulkbNT2Y

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Trump Lies About Puerto Rico Death Toll as GOP Braces for Midterms: A Closer Look: https://youtu.be/WFssTjrIARE

20. Late Night Jokes for Dems

Seth Meyers

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort on Friday struck a deal to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. And then Trump struck a door, two walls, and Eric.

Some analysts are claiming that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may have struck a plea deal with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort to target high-level Russian officials, not President Trump. Because Trump is a LOW-level Russian official.

According to reports, President Trump could impose $200 billion in new tariffs on Chinese goods as soon as next Monday, so don't be surprised if you see prices rise on several Chinese goods — like Trump ties, Trump hats, Trump flags, Trump buttons, Trump socks, or everything else Trump makes.

Jimmy Fallon

This weekend was the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. And today, President Trump hosted an event at the White House to celebrate. He was like, "It's important to recognize this country's great Hispanic people. Dora the Explorer. And that hot chick from 'Modern Family.'"

Trump was at an event celebrating Hispanic heritage. And this is nice — he even brought along Jeff Sessions to be the piñata.

Conan O’Brien

Starting tomorrow a new version of the Emergency Broadcast System is going to allow President Trump to send texts to all of our cellphones. Trump said, "I thought I'd try announcing emergencies instead of just causing them."

A recent poll shows when asked what their favorite Mexican restaurant is, Americans overwhelmingly said Taco Bell. As soon as they heard, Mexico offered to pay for the wall.

21. CNN Poll: Democrats' midterm advantage holds among likely voters

A new CNN poll finds Democrats leading Republicans in the generic congressional ballot by 10 points, 52% to 42% among likely voters.

Among just registered voters, Democrats hold a 12-point lead.

Key finding: “The President is a negative motivator for a majority of voters, according to the poll, with 54% saying they would be more apt to support a candidate who opposes President Trump.” https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/13/politics/cnn-poll-democrats-lead-likely-voters/index.html

22. President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims

Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.

In that single day, he publicly made 125 false or misleading statements — in a period of time that totaled only about 120 minutes. It was a new single-day high.

The day before, the president made 74 false or misleading claims, many at a campaign rally in Montana. An anonymous op-ed article by a senior administration official had just been published in the New York Times, and news circulated about journalist Bob Woodward’s insider account of Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s tsunami of untruths helped push the count in The Fact Checker’s database past 5,000 on the 601st day of his presidency. That’s an average of 8.3 Trumpian claims a day, but in the past nine days — since our last update — the president has averaged 32 claims a day. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/09/13/president-trump-has-made-more-than-false-or-misleading-claims/

23. The Daily 202: Preexisting conditions take center stage in Democratic attack ads

Democrats are pummeling Republican candidates for governor and Senate over a pending lawsuit by 20 GOP-led states that could allow insurance companies to stop covering people with preexisting medical conditions. Underscoring how the politics of Obamacare have changed — even in red states — this issue is being highlighted more than any other right now in Democratic television commercials. Public and private polling validates that it’s an effective line of attack. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2018/09/13/daily-202-preexisting-conditions-take-center-stage-in-democratic-attack-ads/5b99bbb61b326b47ec959597/

24. Trump administration draws fire for ‘misleading’ report linking terrorism, immigration

Eighteen former counterterrorism officials are urging the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to retract or correct a report that implies a link between terrorism and immigration, calling its findings “misleading” and counterproductive.

Released in January, the report says that 402 of the 549 people — almost three out of four — convicted of terrorism charges since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were foreign-born. That’s a data point that President Trump has highlighted as justification for his administration’s hard-line immigration policies — namely his desire to shift from a “random chain migration and lottery system, to one that is merit-based,” as he has tweeted. But critics dubious of the report’s conclusions have said it relies on irrelevant and, in some cases, flawed data.

Failure to correct the document is likely to undermine counterterrorism efforts by fueling misperceptions about the nature of radicalization and stoking societal divisions around immigration, according to a letter released Thursday by the former government officials, including former National Counterterrorism Center directors Nicholas Rasmussen and Matthew Olsen, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former acting assistant attorney general for national security Mary McCord.

“Overall,” their letter says, “the report appears designed to give the misleading impression that immigrants — and even their citizen family members — are responsible for the vast majority of terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-administration-draws-fire-for-misleading-report-linking-terrorism-immigration/2018/09/12/69141908-b611-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html

25. Trump’s “Enemy of the People” Rhetoric Is Endangering Journalists’ Lives

Ever since he campaigned for the White House, Donald Trump has attacked news outlets for negative reporting, singled out individual journalists for scorn, and turned his battle cry against “fake news”—a.k.a. reporting he dislikes—virtually into a personal brand. His hostility has only escalated with scrutiny of his presidency. Whipping up crowds as he points at the press gallery has been a set piece of his political rallies. He describes journalists as “dishonest,” “corrupt,” and “sick.” And Trump has repeatedly echoed the language of 20th century despots, demonizing the American media as “the enemy of the people.”

Presidential disdain for the press is nothing new. Still, political and media experts have long worried that Trump’s uniquely broad and bitter war of words wouldn’t just corrode public trust in reported facts, but could also produce other dangerous effects.

Now there is strong evidence it has. According to half a dozen law enforcement and security leaders I spoke with in recent weeks, the targeting of journalists has steadily intensified in the Trump era, from organized campaigns of personal harassment to bomb threats and vows of assault, rape, and mass shootings. Two sources told me they’ve repeatedly seen explicit evidence of threats directly channeling the president’s rhetoric. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/09/trump-enemy-of-the-people-media-threats/

OPINION

1. Dana Milbank: The Trump albatross

President Trump is getting his wish: It’s all about him.

The election, that is.

New evidence indicates that the midterm elections in seven weeks will be the clearest referendum on a president in at least 80 years.

But while it may delight the narcissistic president that the 2018 midterms are entirely about him, this is precisely what his fellow Republicans were hoping to avoid. With Trump’s support at historic lows — 60 percent overall disapprove of his performance, including 59 percent of independents — Republicans scrambling to hold the House and Senate have been struggling in vain to make the election about other issues: tax cuts, Democrats’ personal foibles — anything to avoid the election being about Trump.

This has failed, bigly. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-tripping-on-trumps-coattails--bigly/2018/09/14/d05dee32-b83b-11e8-94eb-3bd52dfe917b_story.html

2. Gabriel Sherman: “Trump Believes There’s A Coup”: Freaked By The Times Op-Ed, The President Is Seeing Enemies Everywhere

Trump’s anger over Woodward’s book is dwarfed by his continuing fixation on the anonymous New York Times op-ed. Sources told me Trump is “obsessed,” “lathered,” and “freaked out” that the leaker is still in his midst. His son Don Jr. has told people he’s worried Trump isn’t sleeping because of it, a source said. Meetings have been derailed by Trump’s suspicion. “If you look at him the wrong way, he’ll spend the next hour thinking you wrote it,” a Republican close to the White House said. Much of what’s fueling Trump’s paranoia is that he has no clear way to identify the author. One adviser said Trump has instructed aides to call the anonymous author a “coward” in public to shame him or her. “He’s going to continue to shame this person,” a person close to Trump said. “The author will break under pressure or will eventually say, ‘fuck it, it’s me.’” Plans to administer polygraph tests to staff have seemingly died. “Nobody knows who it is,” a former official said.

The West Wing is bracing for the climate to worsen. The increasing likelihood that Democrats will make big gains in the midterms is frustrating the White House’s efforts to get nominations confirmed in the Senate. According to a source, Johnny DeStefano, who’s in charge of personnel, has complained that Mitch McConnell’s staff will only focus on confirming judges before the midterms, leaving many important appointments, such as ones in the Export-Import Bank, unfilled. Ivanka and Jared Kushner,meanwhile, continue to agitate for Trump to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly with a more pliable manager. Ivanka recently asked a friend about Republican political adviser and former lobbyist Wayne Berman, a source briefed on the conversation said. Another name Ivanka has discussed is former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker, who’s serving as Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s chief of staff (Axios reported Whitaker is also a candidate to replace White House counsel Don McGahn). https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/09/trump-ny-times-op-ed-bob-woodward-fear

3. Tina Nguyen: Facing A Midterm Wipeout, Trump’s Alternate Reality Comes Crashing Down

“Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016,” Donald Trump saidat an event hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List back in May, reading dutifully from a teleprompter. Then, he went off script: “Although I’m not sure I really believe that . . . I don’t know who the hell wrote that line,” he said with a grin, as the audience laughed. Trump has maintained this same level of swagger for most of the summer, defiantly smacking down talk of Democrats winning the House in the midterms as more mainstream-media nonsense. (“RED WAVE!” he tweeted at one point.) In doing so, of course, he may have pacified the same voters Republican operatives are eager to rev up. “They’re like, ‘Oh, to hell with this crap, we were told Trump wasn’t going to win [in 2016]. It’s bullshit,’” a worried G.O.P. strategist fretted to Axios.

It’s a problematic dynamic for a president who is allergic to facts that don’t go his way. In reality, all signs point to a crushing wave election, with not even a roaring economy enough to boost Trump’s dismal approval rating. “At this stage of the game, losing the House is the most likely proposition,” a G.O.P. strategist with clients on the ballot recently told David M. Drucker for the Hive. “It’s just a matter of how bad it gets.”

In public, Trump maintains his reality distortion field. But behind the scenes, a grim fatalism seems to be sinking in. “What he’s figured out is that his name is on the ballot in 2018,” a source who’s discussed the midterms with Trump told Axios. “His name is on the ballot as it relates to 2020, but more important he realizes his name is on the ballot as it relates to what life is going to be like for the next two years.” Democrats are preparing to make life a living hell for Trump, if they take back one or both houses of Congress. Republicans have already begun circulating a list of possible Democratic investigations into the administration, which features such bullet points as “President Trump’s tax returns,” “The travel ban,” and “Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance.” The list, Jonathan Swan reported last month, “has churned Republican stomachs.” “If Republicans lose the House, the president will pivot and say it’s not a big deal, and make the case that he won regardless, because he lost fewer seats than past presidents,” a knowledgeable Republican told Drucker. “He will not fully understand the incredible headache it will be, in terms of House oversight, but he’ll quickly realize why it’s idiotic not to care.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/09/facing-2018-midterm-wipeout-trump-alternate-reality-comes-crashing-down

4. Ryan Cooper: Republicans' hurricane hubris

South Carolina isn't quite so obviously self-harming as its neighbor, but that's about all that can be said for it. Its Republican state government and congressional delegation is filled with science deniers and people who automatically vote against any climate diplomacy or regulation. Meanwhile, Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal (R) used to be a full-fledged climate denier in Congress (like the rest of the delegation), but has clammed up on the issue since becoming governor in 2011.

This sort of retreat from denial seems more and more common in conservative politics (perhaps driven by these clockwork extreme weather disasters), replaced mainly by a lot of evasion and double talk. But that is far from good enough. Just like Florida, the Carolinas and Georgia very badly need two things: a massive federal investment program to ruggedize their built environment and an all-out diplomatic push to secure an international agreement on climate policy. Local politicians won't even be able to properly help their own cities alone, much less conduct international diplomacy. The biggest greenhouse gas emitter by far these days is China, so any successful attack on climate change must be international, and hence must be led by the federal government.

Mainly this would mean mounting our own crash decarbonization program, and using that progress to challenge, help, and stimulate other such efforts. Ultimately China is just as doomed as Florida if climate change is not checked, which is why they are making heroic efforts to cut their emissions and build out their renewable sector.

The U.S. has a lot of power and wealth. We could be pulling our weight here, and helping our own citizenry in the process. But instead we're the worst laggard in the world. And when Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, virtually the entire Republican Party either cheered or kept quiet. The citizens of Georgia and the Carolinas — many of whom tried their hardest to get their representatives to pay attention to reality, it's important to note — are about to pay the price. http://theweek.com/articles/795475/republicans-hurricane-hubris

5. Allan Ripp: Trump's Groundhog Day presidency

We are 606 days into Donald Trump's presidency — and I can't stop thinking about Groundhog Day.

In that 1993 film directed by Harold Ramis, Bill Murrayplays a cynical, self-absorbed weatherman sent by his Pittsburgh TV station to dreary Punxsutawney to cover festivities around the local groundhog's mid-winter forecast. Meteorologist Phil Connors (Murray) is disdainful of everyone around him, communicates via caustic one-liners, and treats his production crew with scorn. He even disparages the groundhog, calling it a rat.

Sound like someone you know?

Desperate to get out of town the moment his blah-blah story is filed, Phil encounters a driving snowstorm on the highway, forcing him back to Punxsutawney, where he enters a Twilight Zone wrinkle in time, reliving the same day over and over — from waking to the same grating Sonny & Cher tune on the clock radio in his stuffy B&B <https://youtu.be/OyBSrBqogPY> to getting repeatedly sloshed with icy puddle water by a glad-handing insurance salesman he went to high school with, plus countless other indignities.

As Phil moans of his no-exit dilemma: "What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing you did mattered?"

This is our life under President Trump.

Every day, we awaken to the same mean tweets from the president, the same outraged memes on social media, and the same screeching reports about lies, fake news, impeachment, the 25th Amendment, the wall, idiots and morons, and even treason. Instead of Sonny & Cher hitting us with the romantic "I Got You Babe," we're jolted awake every day at 6 a.m. by the equivalent of Barry McGuire's classic lament "Eve of Destruction."http://theweek.com/articles/795927/trumps-groundhog-day-presidency

6. Jonathan Chait: It Takes More Than ‘Adults in the Room’ to Control a Petulant Leader Like Trump

One of the most blandly unsettling passages in Bob Woodward’s Fear recounts the near resignation of Gary Cohn, one of the book’s likely sources and (therefore) heroes. In August 2017, Cohn, nauseated at President Trump’s equivocation over neo-Nazis demonstrating in Charlottesville, Virginia, attempted to quit. Trump berated Cohn for his weakness and, characteristically equating political loyalty to himself with loyalty to the country, accused Cohn of “treason.” “It was chilling,” Woodward reports.

Then Trump tried another approach. “If you leave now, taxes are over,” he warned. By this he meant the massive corporate tax cuts Cohn had helped to craft and from which he also stood to personally benefit. Cohn’s moral outrage began to drain, and he instead decided to stay on, prioritizing the taxes, or, as Woodward has him selflessly declaring, “helping the country.”

There is no better symbol for the Republican Party elite in the Trump era than Gary Cohn weighing the morality of opposing Nazism against corporate-tax-rate cuts and choosing the latter. But it is also a reminder that Nazism, which several generations of Americans have grown accustomed to thinking of as an exotic symbol of pure, abstract evil, in reality represents a political faction. Trump is not a Nazi. Nor, even, is Steve Bannon. They are, however, Nazi-adjacent, and actual neo-Nazis are excited about Trump, who has emboldened and empowered white nationalists in a way nobody could have fathomed until recently. They are just another part of the party coalition now. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/09/it-takes-more-than-adults-in-the-room-to-control-trump.html

7.  George Packer: With “Fear” and Trump, Bob Woodward Has a Bookend to the Nixon Story

Bob Woodward’s “Fear” belongs on a shelf with the literature of mad kings, next to Robert Graves’s “I, Claudius,” featuring the Roman emperor Caligula, and Ryszard Kapuściński’s “The Emperor,” about the last days in the court of Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie. Those books are masterpieces of fictionalized history, while “Fear” is a remarkable feat of reporting conveyed in prose that couldn’t be called literary. But they resemble one another in their atmosphere of antic dread—the claustrophobic, gut-tightening sense that power has come utterly unmoored from reality, and no one in the palace is safe from the wild impulses of the ruler. There’s nothing comparable in American journalism, except maybe Woodward’s “The Final Days,” co-written with Carl Bernstein, about the downfall of Richard Nixon. Yet even Nixon—drunk late at night and talking to paintings in the White House residence—seems relatively sane and pitiable compared with Donald Trump. You half expect to find Woodward’s Trump ordering the execution of the entire National Security Council, declaring himself a god on Twitter, then anointing his daughter as heir to the throne.

The title of the book comes from Trump’s definition of “real power,” whether in terms of political clout or the ability to bully a woman he has victimized. But the fear around his Presidency has nothing to do with his skillful use of intimidation, and everything to do with the dangerous consequences of his erratic behavior. At Trump’s core lies a need always to look strong, which, of course, makes him look weak. In several scenes, one adviser or another struggles to find the right, flattering words that will keep the President from starting a nuclear war.

No one has any respect for Trump. In the course of the book, his chief of staff calls him “an idiot”; his Secretary of State ups it to “a fucking moron”; his Secretary of Defense compares him to an eleven-year-old; his top economic adviser and his personal lawyer consider him, respectively, “a professional liar” and “a fucking liar.” (Various denials have been issued.) Gary Cohn, the economic adviser, tells the President to his face that he’s “a fucking asshole,” while Trump calls Cohn “a fucking globalist.” When Cohn first tries to resign, Trump mocks him for being under his wife’s thumb, not to mention treasonous. There’s no end to the Cabinet members and generals whom Trump is eager to insult in front of their colleagues, or to fire by tweet. A coarse and feckless viciousness is the operating procedure of his White House, and the poison spreads to everyone. Only snakes and sycophants survive.

Woodward has written a kind of bookend to the Nixon story, and the ghost of the scandal that launched his career haunts the Trump White House. “All the President’s Men,” Woodward’s first collaboration with Bernstein, was at its heart a detective story, and the trail of evidence led the reporters into the Oval Office. We don’t yet know the outcome of Robert Mueller’s investigation into and obstruction of justice, but in a sense it doesn’t matter. The real crime is already in plain sight.  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/09/24/with-fear-and-trump-bob-woodward-has-a-bookend-to-the-nixon-story

8. Tina Nguyen: Facing A Midterm Wipeout, Trump’s Alternate Reality Comes Crashing Down

“Your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016,” Donald Trump saidat an event hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List back in May, reading dutifully from a teleprompter. Then, he went off script: “Although I’m not sure I really believe that . . . I don’t know who the hell wrote that line,” he said with a grin, as the audience laughed. Trump has maintained this same level of swagger for most of the summer, defiantly smacking down talk of Democrats winning the House in the midterms as more mainstream-media nonsense. (“RED WAVE!” he tweeted at one point.) In doing so, of course, he may have pacified the same voters Republican operatives are eager to rev up. “They’re like, ‘Oh, to hell with this crap, we were told Trump wasn’t going to win [in 2016]. It’s bullshit,’” a worried G.O.P. strategist fretted to Axios.

It’s a problematic dynamic for a president who is allergic to facts that don’t go his way. In reality, all signs point to a crushing wave election, with not even a roaring economy enough to boost Trump’s dismal approval rating. “At this stage of the game, losing the House is the most likely proposition,” a G.O.P. strategist with clients on the ballot recently told David M. Drucker for the Hive. “It’s just a matter of how bad it gets.”

In public, Trump maintains his reality distortion field. But behind the scenes, a grim fatalism seems to be sinking in. “What he’s figured out is that his name is on the ballot in 2018,” a source who’s discussed the midterms with Trump told Axios. “His name is on the ballot as it relates to 2020, but more important he realizes his name is on the ballot as it relates to what life is going to be like for the next two years.” Democrats are preparing to make life a living hell for Trump, if they take back one or both houses of Congress. Republicans have already begun circulating a list of possible Democratic investigations into the administration, which features such bullet points as “President Trump’s tax returns,” “The travel ban,” and “Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance.” The list, Jonathan Swan reported last month, “has churned Republican stomachs.” “If Republicans lose the House, the president will pivot and say it’s not a big deal, and make the case that he won regardless, because he lost fewer seats than past presidents,” a knowledgeable Republican told Drucker. “He will not fully understand the incredible headache it will be, in terms of House oversight, but he’ll quickly realize why it’s idiotic not to care.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/09/facing-2018-midterm-wipeout-trump-alternate-reality-comes-crashing-down

9. Conor Lynch: How Americans came to their senses about climate change

For a long time climate change felt far off to many Americans. Though people saw the pictures of melting ice caps and heard the warnings from Al Gore and 97 percent of climate scientists, they never truly felt this long-term environmental trend would threaten their own lives. Maybe it would affect future generations or people in the global south, where climate change will have especially deleterious effects, but not their own communities, not them.

So not only did countless Americans treat global warming like some minor threat that wouldn't hurt them in any major way, but many simply denied that it was even happening. This attitude was promoted by fossil fuel companies and special interests that funded propaganda questioning the scientific consensus, as well as the politicians who supported their views. Thus over the past few decades, the Republican Party — the party that once founded the Environmental Protection Agency — became the party of climate change denialism.

In recent years, however, this refusal to face reality has become increasingly hard to sustain, especially as extreme weather events become more and more common and menace more and more Americans. The latest instance of extreme weather, Tropical Storm Florence, is wreaking havoc on the Carolinas, and as many have already pointed out, there is strong evidence to suggest that climate change made it worse, increasing rainfall by up to 50 percent and slowing down the storm's movement. Florence arrives a little over a year after Hurricane Harvey, which devastated the Houston area, and Hurricane Maria, which went down as the worst natural disasterin Puerto Rico's recorded history.

There is little doubt in the scientific community about the effect that global warming is already having on the weather, and it is clearly making natural disasters more catastrophic than they were previously. Of course, it's not just hurricanes that are growing more deadly. The recent global heat wave that scorched America and left dozens of people dead was also connected to climate change, as were the wildfires that consumed the West Coast this summer.

Climate change is no longer some remote threat that can be dealt with by our great-grandchildren. It is here. Thankfully, more people seem to be waking up to reality. http://theweek.com/articles/795810/how-americans-came-senses-about-climate-change

10. Hillary Rodham Clinton: American Democracy Is in Crisis

It’s been nearly two years since Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president of the United States. On the day after, in my concession speech, I said, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” I hoped that my fears for our future were overblown.

They were not.

In the roughly 21 months since he took the oath of office, Trump has sunk far below the already-low bar he set for himself in his ugly campaign. Exhibit A is the unspeakable cruelty that his administration has inflicted on undocumented families arriving at the border, including separating children, some as young as eight months, from their parents. According to The New York Times, the administration continues to detain 12,800 children right now, despite all the outcry and court orders. Then there’s the president’s monstrous neglect of Puerto Rico: After Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, his administration barely responded. Some 3,000 Americans died. Now Trump flatly denies those deaths were caused by the storm. And, of course, despite the recent indictments of several Russian military intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016, he continues to dismiss a serious attack on our country by a foreign power as a “hoax.”

Trump and his cronies do so many despicable things that it can be hard to keep track. I think that may be the point—to confound us, so it’s harder to keep our eye on the ball. The ball, of course, is protecting American democracy. As citizens, that’s our most important charge. And right now, our democracy is in crisis.
I don’t use the word crisis lightly. There are no tanks in the streets. The administration’s malevolence may be constrained on some fronts—for now—by its incompetence. But our democratic institutions and traditions are under siege. We need to do everything we can to fight back. There’s not a moment to lose.

In 1787, after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a woman on the street outside Independence Hall, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That response has been on my mind a lot lately. The contingency of it. How fragile our experiment in self-government is. And, when viewed against the sweep of human history, how fleeting. Democracy may be our birthright as Americans, but it’s not something we can ever take for granted. Every generation has to fight for it, has to push us closer to that more perfect union. That time has come again. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/09/american-democracy-is-in-crisis/570394/

11. Richard Cohen: The GOP is about to hurl itself into the sea

The Republican Party is in bad shape. The prognosis for the midterm elections is not good for it. The economy is booming, unemployment is about as low as it can get and inflation remains oddly meek. Yet, none of this seems to be enough. For one thing, the tweetaholic in the White House seems intent on diverting attention to himself and his moral and ethical squalor. He cannot stay on message unless the message is himself. For the GOP, this is not good. Trump is the Harvey Weinstein of American politics.

I choose the disgraced Hollywood mogul, ground zero of the #MeToo movement, for a reason. Women are abandoning the Republican Party for its adoration of the piggish Trump, its insistence that a woman’s body is not her own and its tolerance of intolerant cultural figures. Blacks, who have a dissenting view of “very fine” Klansmen, and Hispanics, who might feel that not all Mexicans are rapists, are feeling no different. Among women, Trump has an approval rate of only 29 percent in the latest CNN poll; among nonwhites, it’s 19 percent.

Those dismal polling numbers apply to Trump, not to the Republican Party in general. But Trump has become the party. He’s replaced Thomas Nast’s elephant as its symbol. The president’s ugly tics are mirrored by his party. They are now one on immigration, trade, tax benefits for the rich, hostility to minority groups, a grope-friendly approach to women’s issues and a weakness for conspiracy theories — the foreign birth of Barack Obama, the treason of Benghazi or anything to do with the Clintons, clearly the most felonious couple since Bonnie and Clyde.

The leaders of the party know better. But out of fear of repercussions from ideological droolers, they mostly fail to distinguish themselves from Trump. They have allowed Republican principles — free trade, abhorrence of debt, etc. — to atrophy, possibly thinking they will revive them when Trump is gone.
The Democratic Party once had an analogous dilemma: a Southern wing so recalcitrant on race that it even refused to make lynching a federal crime. But it did have Northern liberals and Midwestern progressives, and so one could remain a Democrat and still retain some pride. The GOP, in contrast, is presenting just one face to the voters — Trump’s. The party is unified — like lemmings about to hurl themselves into the sea.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gop-has-become-trump--and-is-about-to-hurl-itself-into-the-sea/2018/09/17/4147a592-baa9-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html

ARCHIVES

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

DIRECT is a FREE web based weekly eZine. On most Thursday mornings subscribers are sent an email notice with the table of contents and link to the current issue.

To SUBSCRIBE email jellison3@me.com with "subscribe" as the subject. NOTE: Your email address will not be shared - ever!

Send comments/suggestions to jellison3@me.com

For what readers have said about DIRECT go to http://www.directzine4dems.com/comments.htm

Fair Use Notice:

This site contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. "Go to Original" links are provided as a convenience to allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted maynot match the versions our readers view when clicking the "Go to Original" links.