By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (6/14/18)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Good news – Caleb Frostman won the Wisconsin 1st state Senate district special election, winning a seat that had previously voted for Trump by a wide margin.
Meanwhile it is clear the GOP is the party of Trump. Before we dive into the specifics, let’s consider why this is important.
Trump believes he can get away with it — that Trump-Russia will not stick. He will achieve greatness and rake in the cash along the way – the greatest con in the history of American politics.
Trump doesn’t have an ideology unless hate can somehow be presented as his ideology. He’s no longer shy about his racism, misogyny, anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic views. Trump operates with a broad vendetta against anyone and anything that is or has the potential to be anti-Trump. He may live in his own personal Hell but he’s dragging all of us there, though many go forward willingly.
Trump, absent ideology and attention to detail, is not a politician; he’s an opportunist and a great marketer. Trump can do whatever he wants as long as he feeds his base: Rep. Mark Sanford Loses Primary To Pro-Trump Challenger.
In a nutshell, Rep Mark Sanford (R-SC), who had more baggage than Kim Kardashian for her visit to the White House, lost in the primary for his path to reelection.
“I think that I’ll end up losing,” Sanford told voters at his election night party. “It may have cost me an election in this case, but I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president.”
To be clear, here’s the message used by the candidate that defeated him – state legislator Katie Arrington:
““We are the party of President Donald J. Trump,” Arrington told supporters at a campaign party in North Charleston.”
That’s all well and good, but Trump and the party of Trump are unapologetically energized enough to do what was presumed to be the unthinkable? As the Washington Post reports, apparently: Trump Just Endorsed An Apologist For White Supremacy. That Could Hurt The GOP This Fall.
Call ’em what they are
“Stewart is indeed a very bad actor. In the wake of the white supremacist rallies and the murder of a young woman in Charlottesville, Stewart “half the violence” on the left and condemned fellow Republicans who apologized for the outcome as “weak,” claiming they had helped liberals associate neo-Nazis with the GOP and adding: “There was no reason to apologize.”
“…In a way, Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement of Stewart is itself a form of deliberate racial provocation. After all, Stewart’s claim that white supremacy didn’t cause the Charlottesville violence, and that “half” of it was caused by the left, shades heavily into Trump’s refusal to unambiguously condemn white supremacy by that Charlottesville showcased hate and bigotry “on many sides.” On this matter, Trump and Stewart basically agree, and Trump is making that clear.”
Stewart is a racist and Trump endorses a racist candidate that validates his own racism. But don’t take our word for it: Stewart is not a “hard-right activist.” Neither is he a “hard-right firebrand.” He is an unapologetic public racist, and damned proud of it, who goes out of his way to associate with other unapologetic public racists, who are damned proud of it, too.
Is there a GOP voice speaking out against Trump? One senator did: Sen. Bob Corker Says The GOP Is Becoming ‘cult-like’ In Its Support Of President Trump.
Every once in a while we’ll hear encouraging comments from Senators Collins (R-ME), Flake (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ), maybe even Rubio (R-FL), or more unevenly, Graham (R-SC). More comments than action, and not many comments. And now Sen. Corker (R-TN) pops up again.
“Sen. Bob Corker lashed out again Wednesday at his fellow Republicans, saying the GOP had become almost like a cult in its support of President Donald Trump.
“”We are in a strange place,” the Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told reporters in Washington.
““It’s almost, it’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? It’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of, purportedly, of the same party.””
So says Corker, as he heads out the door, having announced he will not stand for reelection.
So the Russpublican GOP let Trump off the leash because they are complicit. As reported in the last edition, Senate Leader McConnell is giddy when he considers the end result, “the best 18 months of center-right governance in his Senate career, which began when Ronald Reagan’s second term did.”
Trump is the huckster, the con man, and the GOP/Russpublicans think it’s a win-win marriage. But in the real world…
The Un-comfortable truth about Singapore
As Slate reported: The Kim Con.
As the article’s subhead noted: Trump isn’t trying to win over North Korea’s leader. He’s using him to win over you.
If you want to know what really matters to Trump, click on the link and look at the picture. Here’s a great summary of the convenience of the partnership “between two dictators” as Fox accidently labeled the summit:
As usual, Trump is lying. And he’s happy to enlist Kim in the con.
We’ll leave the debate of the merit of the Singapore accord to others, but by way of a few comments by former Republican strategist Rick Wilson for the Daily Beast: Trump’s Negotiating Style Is Pure Art of the Moron.
The article subhead sums up the ugly reality: Even by this blowhard’s YUGE standards, it’s been an exceptionally bad and destructive week of terrifying our allies and legitimizing our enemies.
Rick Wilson is a never-Trumper who opens with an acknowledgment of how “often I’m on the receiving end of the Trumpentariat’s criticisms…”. We admit to a bias, anyone that critiques Trump’s self-serving leadership with terms like “dick-waving” can’t be all bad. Wilson does conclude with this summary:
“So congratulations, Mr. President. You spent the week deliberately wrecking American alliances and leadership, allied yourself with one of the most egregious enemies of freedom in the world, and abandoned the shared values of our friends like Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany.
“You must be so proud.”
Trumputin wins the linguistic war … every time
The problem is, as we reported last edition, “Trump Keeps Lying – Because It Works”
While Democrats struggle to find a message other than “Anybody But Trump”: Trump Has Turned Iords into Weapons. And He’s Winning The Linguistic War.
As the Guardian article subhead notes: From ‘spygate’ to ‘fake news’, Trump is using language to frame – and win – debates. And the press operate like his marketing agency.
This from a Commoner Call reader, the article is written by George Lakoff and Gil Duran. Lakoff is “an American cognitive linguist and philosopher” and author of the book every progressive needs to read, “Don’t Think Of An Elephant.”
Lakoff’s message mirrors the concerns registered by David Corn from the last edition of the Russia Monitor. The headline was “Donald Trump Is Getting Away With the Biggest Scandal in American History”. And Corn’s concern was how the media inadvertently feeds Trump’s con. Here’s Lakoff:
“ has been a salesman for nearly half a century. He is now selling himself, his worldview and his self-serving views of the law and the truth. His principal tools are language and the media. By faithfully transmitting Trump’s words and ideas, the press helps him to attack, and thereby control, the press itself.”
There’s a market for opinions from commentators that like to offer up the worn Trump-is-a-dummy views. Lakoff is not one of those people and credits Trump with strategic messaging and controlling the media.
Lakoff does offer cautions: 1) the media needs to understand propaganda; 2) understand American democracy is under attack; 3) stop letting Trump control the news cycle, and; 4) don’t spread lies.
With Trump returning from his Singapore con with co-con partner Un, where are we with Trump-Russia?
Let’s apply Lakoff’s cautionary lessons as a first step in an update: Poll Shows Mueller’s Public Image At All-Time Low.
The meeting in Singapore had more to do with Trump-Russia than it did denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s public image has sunk to an all-time low since he began his probe into possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.
“Months of sustained conservative attacks led by President Donald Trump and his allies has harmed Mueller most among Republicans, with a record 53 percent now saying they view the lead Russia investigator in an unfavorable light. That’s a 26-point spike since July, when the poll first started asking voters whether they viewed Mueller favorably or unfavorably.”
How important is this? Let’s put it to a test: Former Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Likely To Cooperate As His Attorneys Leave Case.
Here’s what triggered the news and analysis:
“As attorneys for Michael Cohen rush to meet Judge Kimba Wood’s Friday deadline to complete a privilege review of over 3.7 million documents seized in the April 9 raids of Cohen’s New York properties and law office, a source representing this matter has disclosed to ABC News that the law firm handling the case for Cohen is not expected to represent him going forward.”
Cohen now has no legal representation. This in advance of a Friday deadline for Cohen’s attorneys to complete their review of any remaining seized documents.
So what you say? Is Cohen important with Trump-Russia? Take a look here if you want a summary of the risk to Trump, the risk is substantial.
Aside from Cohen, who is a huge risk to Trump and family, there is this: Michael Cohen Dumps Lawyers, Sends ‘smoke signal’ To Trump.
The article notes: Lots of people are suddenly familiar with Michael Cohen’s thinking.
This latest development of Cohen without legal counsel follows a report by Vanity Fair reporting (comment with link):
Here’s the payoff.
“A source told Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman suggested this narrative was planted in the media by Cohen himself, calling it a “smoke signal” to Trump.”
Cohen is signaling Trump, asking for help.
“Help from Trump, at this point, would likely take the form of the pardon. Trump has made a point of exercising his pardon power conspicuously in recent weeks, in what some observers interpret as who are currently considering cooperating with prosecutors.”
It remains to be seen how Trump will react.
But the ‘con’ is all about earning political capital at the expense of enemies like Mueller and the FBI with just such events, or crossroads in mind.
So will Trump spend some of his political ‘con’ capital earned to date, or will he keep his hands in his pockets in advance of bigger battles? As an army of sub-contractors, bankers and business partners have learned in the past, betting on Trump being there when needed have learned that is a fool’s bet.
So what other battles are shaping up?
Well, to begin with, The Hill reports: Mueller Requests 150 Blank Subpoenas In Manafort Case.
Mueller can’t bluff, he can’t make his case publically, he has to follow strict legal steps forward – or he puts his entire investigation at risk of dismissal. This is as it should be, but it’s a far cry from Trumpster assurances that it’s not against the law to lie to the media. But Mueller’s actions are open to the public:
“The request would cover 75 potential subpoenas for witnesses, , which added that recipients must appear on July 25 to testify.
“… The special counsel a request for 70 blank subpoenas in May.”
Mueller doesn’t just get subpoenas because he asks. Also worth noting, “Manafort will appear in court Friday”. Will Cohen and Manafort both make court appearances on Friday?
Trump associates Manafort and Cohen are in hot water. Both could be sent to jail on Friday ahead of their trials. Some read Cohen’s actions as a “help” signal to Trump that his only choice short of a Trump pardon is to cooperate with prosecutors.
There is much more happening. Esquire reported more details around Russian money laundered by the National Rifle Association to benefit Trump’s campaign.
The Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, that is Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, testified to “the threat from Russia” and the ongoing threat to mid-term elections. This was offered against a backdrop of Trump’s stated desire to welcome Russia back to the G7/G8.
In the UK there are stunning admissions of Russian money and influence leading up the Brexit vote to benefit the Leave campaign. The Guardian reports not only does this read as an exact parallel to the Russian influence to benefit the election of Trump, there are ties between the persons implicated in the UK to the Trump campaign, one big happy family. Meeting with Russians, denials of meetings with Russians, a “multibillion dollar” financial quid pro quo and much more. The same persons implicated in the UK, Leave campaign leader Nigel Farage, multimillionaire businessman Arron Banks and Leave spokesperson Andy Wigmore campaigned for Trump in the U.S. Here’s one example of the parallel:”
Ambassador Yakovenko (Russian ambassador to the UK) met Wigmore and Banks on 19 August, the day Steve Bannon became Trump’s campaign manager. It was days before they travelled to Mississippi with Nigel Farage for a rally on 25 August at which Donald Trump introduced him to the crowds as “Mr Brexit”. He said a Trump presidency would be “Brexit plus”.”
There is even news of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein finally saying “enough” and now requesting “the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct” after being threatened with contempt by House Intelligence Chair Nunes (R-CA) and other Russpublicans.
But by far, the best summary of Trump-Russia is offered by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight. He uses Rudy Giuliani to explain why we should understand where we are right now, “eventually the decision will be impeach or not to impeach… our jury is the American people”.
That’s right, we ultimately, collectively, will decide our own fate. We believe it’s best to pay attention and be informed: John Oliver Asks Us to Do the Unthinkable: Pay Attention To Sean Hannity.
Lakoff would be proud of Oliver’s dissection of Sean Hannity’s “counternarrative” as an appeal to the jury on behalf of Trump. Credit to Hannity – polls say he’s moving the needle on behalf of Trump.
But, you get to decide. On the other hand, if you don’t care, keep in mind there are others that are willing to decide for you: Former Trump Adviser Roger Stone Is Ready for Civil War.
““There’s white-hot hatred for Trump,” Stone answers, “and there is white-hot opposition to an attempt to [re]move him. Anything that is judged to be doctored or cooked up, it’s not going to go well.”
“Who, then, will fire the first shot in this civil war? “Who[ever] wins the House,” he says.”
Tim to pay attention.
(Commoner Call cartoons by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )