Trump survived the week. The Democrats got just about everything they hoped for out of 32 hours of impeachment hearings. Current and former Trump administration officials told different parts of a consistent story, and reinforced a consistent narrative of wrongdoing.
But Trump liked the week, since no cracks emerged in Republican defenses. On to cartoons. The real Impeachment jury:
Hearings gave another platform to GOP conspiracy theories:
Behold the noose of Sondland:
GOP talking points:
Trump and Bibi: Two pleas in a pod:
One if by Facebook! Two if by Twitter:
Prince Andrew will be spending more time with family and less with underage women:
Regarding the omnipresent Trump/Biden news, virtually all Republicans are on the same page:
The Bidens are guilty of something
They should be investigated
Trump committed no crime
The Democrats are out to get Trump
The right has worked with Fox State News to neutralize facts, so every issue is up for grabs, even things you know is true. Global warming? It’s undecided. Biden’s activity with Ukraine? Every newspaper has debunked it. And it wasn’t just Obama and Biden who wanted that Ukraine prosecutor gone, all of the European leaders and the head of the IMF wanted him out too.
But for Republicans, those aren’t facts, because something must have been going on. Now, Biden’s let Trump and the GOP define him. They say he should be investigated, because he must have done something wrong, everyone says so.
You’ve got to fight to win the news cycle these days. We can’t remember what happened yesterday, let alone last month.
But, once again, it looks like the Dems plan to work very slowly, sacrificing the narrative. All they have to say is, “he did it”.
Will they again grab defeat from the jaws of victory? On to cartoons. Here’s the meme of the week:
Views differ on what the Ukraine thingy means:
GOP is strangely silent on Trump’s actions:
New movie hits theaters this weekend. Most would like to wipe this horror show from their minds:
It’s more likely that Trump would say: “It would be unfortunate if somehow, he got shot in the leg“:
Rudy plans a spirited defense of whatever this is:
After our granddaughter’s graduation in PA (summa cum laude), we had a few wines and beers, and talk turned to politics and the mess America is in now. Son-in-law Miles, (dad of next week’s grad) asked a very good question. “Is now really the worst of times? What about when Martin Luther King was assassinated?”
Wrongo immediately flashed back to JFK’s assassination. He was a DC college student when JFK died. But his focus wasn’t on the loss of a president, or what that meant to the country. His focus was on what the loss of JFK meant personally.
That changed in 1968 with the assassinations of MLK and RFK. Wrongo was in the Army, stationed in Germany when Dr. King was killed. There was great tension in the enlisted men’s barracks. For a few days, it took a lot of effort in our small, isolated unit to keep anger from boiling over into outright fighting between the races.
By the time we lost RFK, it was clear that the Vietnam War would drag on, killing many of Wrongo’s friends. But, Wrongo’s job was to defend America from the Russians, with nuclear weapons if necessary.
It was difficult to see how or when Vietnam would end. It was hard to imagine Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, or Robert McNamara doing much to stop young Americans from dying in Asia.
The year 1968 also included the Tet Offensive. Mark Bowen in his book, Hue 1968, says:
“For decades….the mainstream press and, for that matter, most of the American public, believed their leaders, political and military. Tet was the first of many blows to that faith in coming years, Americans would never again be so trusting.” (p. 507)
When Americans finally saw the Pentagon Papers in 1971, they learned that America’s leaders had been systematically lying about the scope and progress of the war for years, in spite of their doubts that the effort could succeed. The assassinations, Vietnam, and Watergate changed us forever.
Our leaders failed us, it was clearly the worst of times. We were in worse shape in 1968 than we are in 2019. Back then, it felt like the country was coming apart at the seams, society’s fabric was pulling apart. Then, May 4th 1970 brought the killings of college kids at Kent State, which was probably the lowest point in our history, at least during Wrongo’s life time.
Last week, we acknowledged the 49th anniversary of America’s military killing American students on US soil. We vaguely remember the Neil Young song “Ohio” with its opening lyrics:
“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own…”
That’s why the decade from 1960-1970 was the worst of times. We got through it, but we have never been the same.
In 1968, we saw that change can arrive suddenly, fundamentally, and violently, even in America. Bob Woodward spoke at Kent State last week, on Saturday, May 4th. He offered some brand-new information about Nixon’s reaction to the student shootings: (emphasis by Wrongo)
“In a conversation with his chief of staff H.R. Haldeman in September 1971, Nixon suggested shooting prisoners at New York’s Attica Prison riot in a reference to the Kent State tragedy. “You know what stops them? Kill a few,” Nixon says on a tape of the conversation.”
“We now know what really was on Nixon’s mind as he reflected…on Kent State after 17 months….Kent State and the protest movement was an incubator for Richard Nixon and his illegal wars.”
Woodward meant that what was coming was a war on the news media, creation of the “Plumbers” unit to track down leaks, and attempts to obstruct justice with the Watergate cover-up.
Many of us see 2020 shaping up as another 1968. Some see Nixon reincarnated in Trump.
We haven’t faced this particular set of circumstances before, so we can’t know just how it will go. Will it be worse than the 1960s, or just another terrible American decade? Is it the best of times, or the worst of times?
Are we willing to fight to preserve what we have anymore?
Wake up America, you have to fight for what America means to us. Constitutional liberties are under attack. The right to vote is being undermined. Extreme Nationalism has been emboldened.
To help you wake up, listen once again to “Ohio” by Neil Young in a new solo performance from October, 2018. He’s added some documentary footage and a strong anti-gun message:
You may not know that Chrissie Hynde, the future lead singer of The Pretenders was a Kent State student, and was on the scene at the time.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
“Democrats only control who they nominate and what they emphasize in the campaign….On policy, Democrats have a wide variety of subjects that could allow them to make a favorable contrast with Trump: climate change, health care, and economic fairness, just to mention three. The message and the messenger will be critical.”
Sabato points out that the Democrats did not run on the Mueller probe in the 2018 mid-terms, and that for the most part, the announced 2020 candidates haven’t really been doing much of that either.
The biggest fallout from the Mueller investigation is that Trump gets to say he’s an undeserving victim for the next two years. No matter what negative things may come out in the next two years, Trump has been inoculated against real political harm. He can always say it’s the same people who were wrong about him during the Russia investigation. He’s certain to keep saying the media’s coverage of him is “Fake News”.
One victim of Mueller’s non-findings is the main stream media. They were largely anti-Trump and anti-Russia throughout the Russia investigation. Now, they look biased in exactly the manner that Trump has been saying they were for the last two years.
“Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media.”
He means most of the mainstream media. It’s a long read in which Taibbi highlights several media outlets including the NYT. He starts with Monday’s Times editorial: “We don’t need to read the Mueller report”. Taibbi says they make that point because: (brackets by Wrongo)
“We [the NYT] know Trump is guilty, Baker at least [NYT’s Peter Baker] began the work of preparing Times readers for a hard question: “Have journalists connected too many dots that do not really add up?”
He compares the media’s coverage of Russiagate to their coverage of whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when we were making the decision to invade during GW Bush’s administration. In hindsight, the media was badly compromised then when they dutifully reported what the administration wanted them to report.
Finally, the Democrats have to deal with their own fallout. They can continue investigating Trump, looking for some fire behind all the smoke. Or they can move forward, and focus on building a winning campaign for 2020. It’s possible that the ongoing House investigations of Trump may bear fruit, and provide some campaign fodder.
Journalism in 2019 appears to have returned to the way it was in America’s early history. It’s become another partisan element in our politics. And, as the process of journalism has decayed, somehow, people’s ability to contextualize facts seems to have decayed right along with our journalists.
The reputation of the American media as free, independent and truth-seeking was always a myth. Think about our unjustified Spanish-American war (“Remember the Maine”) was more than 100 years ago and it was promoted by the press (Hearst papers).
We do know that Russia conducted a sophisticated information operation to influence the 2016 election. Mueller’s investigation firmly established this. But Wrongo still doesn’t see anything to say their efforts upended the 2016 electoral results.
The various Congressional and DOJ investigations will continue, just as sure as the sun will rise in the east. What is uncovered is likely to be more of the same, and not advance the ball towards the goal line.
Hopefully soon, we’ll see a press conference by AG Barr and Mueller. That will be must-see TV.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone NP – 2018 photo by dontyakno
Wrongo hasn’t written much about the Trump/Russia investigation. Most of those pieces have shown skepticism about Russian interference in our election process. There is, however, clear evidence that the Trump campaign reached out to the Russians more than 100 times. While that’s unusual, it isn’t on its face, criminal, although the Trump campaign failed to alert the FBI about those contacts.
There are investigations underway by Mueller, the Southern District of NY, and several House committees. Trump has castigated each, calling them a witch hunt and fake news. Nearly all Republicans have sided with him about these multiple investigations.
It isn’t unusual that the GOP is indifferent to the range of possible Trump wrongdoing. On Tuesday, the WaPo’s Greg Sargent helpfully cataloged the things that Republicans in Congress think should not be investigated about Trump by the Democrats in Congress:
Materials relating to any foreign government payments to Trump’s businesses, which might constitute violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause.
Materials that might shed light on Trump’s negotiations about a real estate project in Moscow, which Trump concealed from the voters even after the GOP primaries were in progress. Michael Cohen is going to prison for lying to Congress about the deal.
Parenthetically, and not part of Greg Sergeant’s list, Marcy Wheeler thinks that the most important crime in the Trump era is a probable quid quo pro in which the Russians (and Trump) seemed willing to trade a new Moscow Trump Tower for sanctions relief should Trump win the presidency.
Materials that might show whether Trump’s lawyers had a hand in writing former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress that falsified the timeline of those negotiations.
Materials that might illuminate/prove Trump’s suspected efforts to obstruct the FBI/Mueller investigation.
Materials that would shed more light on the criminal hush-money schemes that Cohen carried out, allegedly at Trump’s direction, and on Trump’s reimbursement of those payments. These most likely violate campaign finance laws.
But, they close by saying that Trump may survive all of it, and that Republican voters seem basically unmoved by the mounting evidence.
Why is it so difficult for people of both parties to coalesce around either his guilt, or innocence? How is it that we just forget about the breathtaking corruption of Trump Cabinet Secretaries Scott Pruitt, or Ryan Zinke?
Many of the Federal judges on the Russian investigation who have ruled against Trump’s associates. The judges say the Trumpies were selling out the interests of the US. That has consequences for Americans, including the constituents of the Republican members of Congress who want us to stop investigating.
It’s depressingly clear that 2020 will be another close presidential election. The Republican Party is willing to condone bad behavior and criminality when the perpetrator is one of their own.
How can America rectify this problem? Even if a Democrat wins the presidency, it is unlikely the Dems will win a majority in the Senate. So, the GOP will again use the same obstructionist game plan we saw during the Obama administration.
It turned out that most people agreed with the statement, until they are told that it was said by someone in the other political party. Then they disagreed. If people can only agree with a meaningless statement when they think it was said by their political party, what hope do we have to find agreement when the stakes are high, like in the Mueller investigation?
Given the Republicans’ disinterest for seeking the truth behind the Trump scandals, the outlook for our democracy is grim.
We need to be clear-eyed about how much work, and how long it will take, to right the ship.
The Cuernos del Paine in Chile – photo via Live Science. The 4,300-mile-long Andes, the longest continuous mountain range in the world, didn’t form slowly by one geologic plate sliding under another. They grew in two growth spurts helped by volcanic action. (Hat tip to Ottho H.)
What Trump said about El Paso in the SOTU:
“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and (was) considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities,”
Local politicians weren’t happy with Trump’s false claims that the city was violent and dangerous before a border wall was built. Trump was repeating bogus information from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. And, he had made the same claim at the American Farm Bureau convention in mid-January.
Here is an example of the local outrage. Jon Barela, the chief executive officer of the Borderplex Alliance, which leads economic development efforts in the El Paso region, tweeted:
Texas Monthly reports that El Paso has made lists of the nation’s safest cities for almost two decades. But what are facts when you have a wall to build on the back of a racist narrative?
Wrongo lived in El Paso for a time when he was in the military (Vietnam era), back before there was talk of a wall, before the Maquiladora factories became a part of NAFTA, when Ciudad Juarez was probably far more dangerous than it is today. But back then, El Paso couldn’t be considered dangerous for someone who went to college in Washington DC, and lived on the outskirts of NYC.
One state over in New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has ordered the withdrawal of the majority of National Guard troops stationed at the US state’s southern border, denouncing as “a charade” President Donald Trump’s warnings about migrants swarming the border, saying:
“I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country,”
Are you getting the theme here? Two of the states closest to “the problem” say there isn’t a problem.
Kevin Drum at MoJo gathered the El Paso statistics. He shows that Trump cherry-picked the data, looking at 2005-2009. There was a spike from 400 crimes/100,000 people in 2005 to 450 crimes/100,000 people in 2008. Here is a chart showing the same statistics from 1993 to 2013:
Do you see the big reduction that came with the Wall? The Wall had almost no effect on crime in El Paso. It’s also important to remember that crime rates have come down throughout the US since the 1980’s.
Border cities are among the nation’s safest: Phoenix and other large border (and near-border) cities have some of the nation’s lowest crime rates, including San Diego, El Paso, and Austin
Border counties have low violent crime rates: Counties along the southwest border have some of the lowest rates of violent crime per capita in the nation. Their rates have dropped by more than 30% since the 1990s.
There’s no evidence of “spillover” of violence from Mexico: El Paso, Texas, has three bridges leading directly into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a city which has suffered a significant percentage of the national death toll brought on by the Mexican war on drug cartels, which approaches 23,000 today.
El Paso experienced only 12 murders in 2009, which was actually down from 17 in 2008. San Diego, California saw 41 murders in 2009, down from 55 in 2008, and Tucson, Arizona experienced 35 in 2009 a significant decrease from the 65 murders committed in 2008.
We should remember that Trump is from Queens, an outer borough of New York City. He lived there during the 1970s and 1980s, so he knows first-hand what living in a high crime city feels like. He also knows that the high crime he (and Wrongo) experienced, wasn’t caused by immigrants. That was when the Guardian Angels were founded in NYC. Trump lived there the whole time, he probably even took the subway.
His argument is false, and is clearly purely political. He’s playing to the fears of those suburbanites too intimidated to visit NYC, even if they live less than 25 miles away. His audience is suburbanites in the Midwest and Northern states.
These same people believe European cities like London and Paris are full of Muslim “no-go” zones. You can show them evidence that those cities are safer than their own suburbs, but that’s not the point.
Maybe “safe” really means “white”, so any place with too many non-whites is just too dangerous.
Plague Fort (or Fort Alexander), St. Petersburg, RU. It was built between1838 and 1845 on an artificial island in the Gulf of Finland. From 1899 to 1917, the fort housed a research lab focused on plague and other bacterial diseases.It was abandoned in 1983.
The Economist has an 8500-word interview with the documentary film maker, Adam Curtis. For 30 years, Curtis has produced documentaries on politics and society. Apparently, he has emerged as a cult-hero to the UK’s young thinkers trying to comprehend our chaotic world.
His latest film, “HyperNormalisation” (you can view the trailer here, or watch the entire 2+hour documentary here) argues that governments, financiers, and technological utopians have, since the 1970s, structured a simple “mostly fake world” for us, run by corporations, and kept stable by politicians.
Wrongo was attracted to this in part because Curtis takes the title of his documentary from work by a Russian historian, Alexei Yurchak, now a professor at Berkley. He introduced the word in his book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (2006). Yurchak says that in the 1980s, everyone from the top to the bottom of Soviet society knew that it wasn’t working. They knew that it was corrupt. They knew that the bosses were looting the system. They knew that the politicians had no vision. And they knew that the Party bosses knew they knew that.
Everyone knew it was fake, and they just accepted the fakeness as normal. Yurchak coined the term “HyperNormalisation” to describe that feeling. When Wrongo was in Russia in October, he heard a few Russians express this exact idea about the end stages of the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
The fall of the Soviet Union didn’t stop them from despising Gorbachev, who ended the state economy and replaced it with a less-than-functioning market economy. They longed for the simpler state of affairs, with less to think about, and less to worry about. Where everyone knew that the system didn’t work, but they all had jobs, and there was food in the markets.
2018 America is far from being the Soviet Union, but this is exactly the way the US is today. In most ways, everything the government touches, like elections, environment, tax policy, and health policy, could be substantially better for all of our citizens.
We all know everyone is unhappy, but everyone just says, “It’s the system. We can’t change it.”
A quote from Curtis:
There is a sense of everything being slightly unreal; that you fight a war that seems to cost you nothing and it has no consequences at home; that money seems to grow on trees; that goods come from China and don’t seem to cost you anything; that phones make you feel liberated, but that maybe they’re manipulating you, but you’re not quite sure.
He talks about the concept of “risk”, and how it entered our discussion, migrating from finance to politics in the 1980s. Today, everything has become about risk analysis, and how to stop bad things happening in the future: (emphasis by Wrongo)
Politics gave up saying that it could change the world for the better and became a wing of management, saying instead that it could stop bad things from happening. The problem with that is that it invites all the politicians to imagine all the bad things that could possibly happen—at which point, you get into a nightmare world where people imagine terrible things, and say that you have to build a system to stop them.
Can the people take power back from corporations and their captured politicians? Maybe, maybe not. People like stability and they fear instability. We saw that with Gorbachev in Russia in the 1980s.
But if we are to move past the collusion of corporations and politicians trying to keep us accepting things we know are unacceptable, we need to have better politicians.
The job of a master persuader is to tell a story that says, “Yes this is risky, but it’s also thrilling, and it might lead to something extraordinary”. The persuader must say, “Yes, I understand your fears but look, what’s happening isn’t right. We can do better than this”.
People are asking, “What is our future? What is this existence for?”
If you live in West Virginia surrounded by people taking opioids, you surely want to know what all that sorrow is for
If you are a recently laid-off GM worker, you’re asking the same thing
If you’re a student with $75k in student debt, and a cog job, you’re asking the same thing
If you’re a plumber with no health insurance and pancreatic cancer, you’re asking the same thing
If you’ve worked hard to elect someone who just lost because of ballot-stuffing, you’re asking the same thing
These are the questions that our politicians should be answering.
Do you see someone who can bring people together behind a better vision?
In fall 2016, Mark Zuckerberg…was publicly declaring it a “crazy idea” that his company had played a role in deciding the election. But security experts at the company already knew otherwise.
They found signs as early as spring 2016 that Russian hackers were poking around the Facebook accounts of people linked to American presidential campaigns. Months later, they saw Russian-controlled accounts sharing information from hacked Democratic emails with reporters. Facebook accumulated evidence of Russian activity for over a year before executives opted to share what they knew with the public — and even their own board of directors.
The company feared Trump:
In 2015…presidential candidate Donald J. Trump called for a ban of Muslim immigrants…Facebook employees and outside critics called on the company to punish Mr. Trump. Mr. Zuckerberg considered it — asking subordinates whether Mr. Trump had violated the company’s rules and whether his account should be suspended or the post removed.
But…Mr. Zuckerberg…deferred to subordinates who warned that penalizing Mr. Trump would set off a damaging backlash among Republicans. Mr. Trump’s post remained up.
Most disturbing was FB’s disinformation and lobbying campaign:
Facebook hired Senator Mark Warner’s former chief of staff to lobby….Ms. Sandberg personally called Senator Amy Klobuchar to complain about her criticism. The company also deployed a public relations firm to push negative stories about its political critics and cast blame on companies like Google.
Those efforts included depicting the billionaire liberal donor George Soros as the force behind a broad anti-Facebook movement, and publishing stories praising Facebook and criticizing Google and Apple on a conservative news site.
But the lobbying and disinformation was dark and wrong. FB used a Republican opposition-research firm Definers Public Affairs, and its connections to the Anti-Defamation League to link the anti-FB movement to George Soros and claim that some criticism against FB was anti-Semitic.
A research document circulated by Definers claimed Soros was an “unacknowledged force” behind the widespread condemnation of Facebook.
A news site called NTK Network, an affiliate of Definers, also published articles that bashed Google and Apple for “unsavory business practices.”
The Times reports that while NTK Network did not obtain large audiences, its content was picked up by Breitbart.
FB also called on the Anti-Defamation League to flag a sign used to depict Zuckerberg as an octopus encompassing the globe as anti-Semitic.
There’s more. After The NYT, The Guardian and others published a joint investigation into how user information was used by Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters, Facebook executives tried to contain the damage. FB hired a new chief of lobbying to quell the bipartisan anger in Congress, Kevin Martin, a Bush administration veteran, and former FCC Chair.
Just before Sandberg’s Congressional testimony, Facebook’s lobbyists asked Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Intelligence Committee chair to limit questioning to the topic of election interference. It worked. Burr issued a stern warning to all committee members to stick to that topic.
There are three big picture take-aways from the Times article about Facebook.
First, nearly everyone in America hates the media, but without them, we wouldn’t know anything about these FB actions. We wouldn’t know that FB was willing to distribute disinformation to save its skin. So, let’s not give up on the media and journalism.
Second, America needs to learn from how Europe is fighting Google and Facebook on privacy and content, and do the same. They have created very specific rules and guidelines and have issued very expensive fines to these companies.
Third, why do these high-tech executives fail to see the big picture? Sandberg and Zuckerberg have had huge financial success, but their business is an ethical and moral failure.
The Times article shows that they value power, their egos, and their money far more than whatever good the Facebook service can deliver.
Trump is the story in America. I would bet that ninety-eight percent of all Americans mention his name at least once a day. And when it’s come to that, when you focus on one man, I know Donald 40 years — I know the good side of Donald and I know the bad side of Donald — I think he would like to be a dictator. I think he would love to be able to just run things. So, he causes a lot of this. Then his fight with the media and fake news. I’ve been in the media a long time….And at all my years at CNN, in my years at Mutual Radio, I have never seen a conversation where a producer said to a host “pitch the story this way. Angle it that way. Don’t tell the truth.” Never saw it. Never saw it.
I know, you weren’t sure that Larry was still alive. He is, and he’s not wrong. Here are more of King’s quotes:
So when CNN started covering Trump — they were the first — they covered every speech he made and then they made Trump the story. But, they covered him as a character. They carried every speech he made. They carried him more than Fox News, at the beginning. And so they built the whole thing up and the Republicans had a lot of candidates and they all had weaknesses.
Larry has a point. We spend waay too much time talking about what Trump talks about. People haven’t been addicted like this to the news before, and it isn’t healthy for us as individuals or as a country.
Sure, it would be terrific if people knew all the facts about issues before they voted, but social media, the internet and cable news no longer trade in truth. They’re in it for the money, not for the news.
We can’t uncover the truth without serious digging.
Think about the Jim Acosta affair at Trump’s Thursday press conference. Acosta confronts Trump, Trump wants to move on, but Acosta doesn’t think they are done, and wants to follow up with another question. A young female intern tries to take the microphone away from Acosta without success, and the WH says Acosta laid hands on the intern, then sends out a video to shame Acosta.
But, the video was doctored, according to the WaPo:
And the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, defends releasing a doctored video.
Hold that thought. On Friday, Trump says that he doesn’t know Matt Whitaker, the guy he just appointed as Interim Attorney General. That sounds strange, no executive appoints a person that he/she doesn’t know. So, here are two quotes from Trump about Whitaker. They are both as uncomplicated as a statement can be:
The truth is that he clearly knew Matt Whitaker when he said he didn’t know him. The sad part for America is that he has no guilt, and no shame, when he contradicts himself on something knowable.
There is little truth from Trump, or in his administration, so why does the media cover him so slavishly?
Wrongo recommends that the Main Stream Media immediately reduce their coverage of Trump by 50%. By cutting it in half, two wonderful things will happen:
First, the country’s obsession with his lies will weaken. People’s stress levels will be reduced.
Second, it will drive Trump crazy. He will say even bigger whoppers to try and get America to reconnect, and mainline more Trumpiness.
Both outcomes would be completely acceptable to Wrongo.
Enough for today! Time for Wrongo to heed his own prescription. Let’s all take a few deep breaths, and relax. Poke around in the pantry, find your favorite coffee, and brew up a nice, fresh cup, just the way you like it.
Station yourself near a big, south-facing window, and take in the natural world. Here in the northeast, it’s raining for the third weekend in a row, so we’re staying inside once again.
Now, listen to “Spiegel im Spiegel for Cello and Piano”, written by the Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt in 1978. Wikipedia says that since 2010, Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world.
This is a beautiful, although minimalist piece. It is said that Keith Jarrett once said classical music showed him how to play fewer notes and make more music.
This piece proves Jarret’s point. It should calm you down, because it’s so pleasing to the ear:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
We’ll know soon whether all the money and energy spent on the 2018 mid-terms have produced a good outcome for the Dems, or for the Republicans.
And what is the Democrats’ closing argument? The “closing argument” is a cliché for the final messaging of every campaign. Many voters only tune in for the last few days before Election Day, and candidates make closing appeals to those newly opened ears.
Run on issues such as health care, especially the Republican threat to not cover preexisting conditions, to win over independents, and then to rely on President Trump’s daily outrages to stoke Democratic turnout. I am sure that Democrats all across the country have millions of polling cross-tabs that show that the best way to build a winning coalition is not by attacking Trump, but by presenting solutions that help “everyday Americans.”
There is some logic to what Eskew is saying. Yesterday, we showed polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation about the top issues for Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Here it is again:
The top issues for Dems align with the top issues for Independents, but not with Republicans. A report by the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks political advertising, supports both the Kaiser survey and Eskew’s viewpoint:
Trump came up in just 10% of ads from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15 — and only 5.5% of them were negative. That’s by far the lowest proportion of attack ads against a sitting president since the 2002 midterms, when George W. Bush’s soaring popularity after 9/11 made him off-limits for Democrats.
Dems have downplayed dislike of Trump in favor of a closing argument focused on health care, taxes and protecting entitlements. The Wesleyan article suggests why Democrats have chosen to focus on the issues voters care most about, rather than on Trump: Dems think that likely voters have heard enough about Trump, and have made up their minds about whether or not they buy him, or his closing argument.
Meanwhile, Brian Stelter wraps up Trump’s closing argument for the midterms:
— Fear the caravan
— Hate the media
Trump is saying that a vote for Republicans is a vote for Trump, while a vote for Democrats is a vote for higher taxes, open borders, recession, and socialism.
So the question is, do the Dems have a winning closing argument? More from Eskew:
Democrats need to urgently remind their base and independents of the deeper and more emotional stakes of this election. They need to show their base and potential converts that there is a way to convert anger, malaise and resignation about Trump into an affirmative and liberating action.
To win a majority in the House next Tuesday, and have any chance of winning the Senate, Democrats need to raise the stakes of this election higher than simply who better preserves protections for preexisting conditions.
The stakes are very high. If the Dems fail to take back the House, the GOP and Trump will be emboldened to attack Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The Democratic Party should act like those programs are already in play.
With the midterm elections only a few days away, those are the closing arguments from Democrats and Republicans.
Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs will probably decide the mid-terms. Fear for survival and hate of those threatening it are what Trump is using to motivate his base. If you are betting person, take hate. Hate doesn’t always win, but in today’s America, it usually covers the point spread.
If you doubt that, try naming a single compelling emotion that comes to mind when you say “Democratic strategy.” When the NYT is putting photos of the “migrant caravan” on the front page above the fold every day, you’ve got to wonder what the Democrats are thinking.
While Trump inflames the immigration issue, Dems are ducking it. They are refusing to clarify how the US should deal with the caravan when it arrives, except to say that kids shouldn’t be in cages, which is an easy answer.
Should we let the illegals in or not? A few Dems say abolish ICE, but that’s a losing argument. The Party leaders instead change the subject to health care.
Is refusing to be drawn into the caravan debate part of a winning closing argument?
If it isn’t, Wrongo’s message to Democrats is: Reform the party, kick out the dinosaurs, build a platform that truly helps the people.