Michael Wolraich's picture

    Trump's Recess Scheme

    Until recently, I believed that President Trump's only option for firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller was a Nixonesque Saturday Night Massacre in which he fired everyone down the chain of command until he reached someone obsequious enough to do his bidding. This may be possible in principle, but it's a "nuclear" option likely to turn even Republican allies against him.

    There is another way, however. Trump's recent contretemps with Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggest that he's working on an alternative scheme to rid himself of that troublesome special counsel. If he can hound Sessions into resigning, Trump could then appoint an obedient, non-recused attorney general to shut down the investigation without technically "firing" anyone. There's a catch, though. Attorney general appointments require Senate confirmation, and even this timid Republican majority won't let Trump appoint whomever he wants.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Someday we'll find it, the Putin connection...

    The AP drew another line in Trump's connect-the-dots puzzle today. We already knew that former campaign chair Paul Manafort had worked for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians. Now we know that he secretly worked on behalf of the Putin regime as well.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Trump-Putin Quid Pro Quo?

    Did Donald Trump agree to a quid pro quo with the Russian government? This is what we know.

    On March 19, 2016, John Podesta received an email, purportedly from Google, warning him of a potential security breach. He clicked the link and inadvertently delivered his email account to state-backed Russian hackers.

    Two days later, on March 21, Donald Trump announced his five-person foreign policy team, which included Carter Page, a previously unknown investment banker with extensive dealings in Russia.

    On March 28, nine days after the hack, Trump confirmed to the New York Times that he had hired Paul Manafort. Manafort had recently returned from Ukraine, where he helped organize the Russian-backed Ukrainian opposition. 

    On March 31, Trump met with his foreign policy advisors at the new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., where they discussed the Republican Party's position on arming Ukraine against pro-Russian rebels.  According to advisor J.D. Gordon, Trump opposed this language in the RNC platform because "he didn't want to go to 'World War Three' over Ukraine."

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    One-State, Two-State, Blue-State, Jew-State

    Donald Trump is an easy-going guy. Just yesterday, he shrugged off the United States' longstanding position on the Israel-Palestine dispute and announced that he's totally open to a "one-state" solution. 

    "So I'm looking at two-state, and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one," he burbled to the press with his friend "Bibi" Netanyahu beaming by his side. "I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two," he continued, "but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians--if Israel and the Palestinians--are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."

    One state, two state, whatever the kids are into these days.

    But what is this one-state solution to which Trump so cheerfully consented? He didn't say. Neither did Bibi. But Yishai Fleisher, a radical settler who presents himself as a spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, is not so circumspect. In a New York Times op-ed, he matter-of-factly rattled off five "credible" plans for appropriating Palestinian land and eviscerating the dream of Palestinian statehood.

    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Mr. Trump, You're No Teddy Roosevelt

    “I think Donald Trump sees himself larger than life,” said former House Speaker John Boehner recently. “He kind of reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt, another guy who saw himself larger than life.”

    As a Roosevelt scholar, I beg to differ. Theodore Roosevelt did not see himself as larger than life; he was larger than life. We don’t celebrate him because of his ego; we celebrate him because he was a hero who embodied and championed the virtues that we Americans admire: honesty, courage, compassion, and resolve.

    Read the full story at The Daily Beast

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Trump’s Filthy Touch

    A few years ago, Donald Trump co-wrote a book called The Midas Touch—named for the legendary King Midas who could turn anything he touched into gold. Mr. Trump also has the power that transform whatever he touches, but precious metal is not his forte. Instead of gold, everything Trump touches turns to shit.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    To Trump or Not to Trump

    You can't spin sexual assault. You can spin sex. You can spin assault. You can spin talking about sexual assault (Locker room talk!) But sexual assault can't be spun.

    Donald Trump's only option is to deny, to call these women liars, which he will do tomorrow.

    And then all the Republicans walking that tightrope between endorsing and denouncing will be forced to choose: Trump or his victims.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Death by Counterpunch

    Six months ago, I wrote:

    Trump's biggest mistake during the primary was to feud with people who were not running against him...Clinton can exploit Trump's propensity to retaliate against anyone who crosses him by deploying surrogates to batter him with a fusillade of insults. If Trump were smart, he would ignore them and focus on Clinton, but his reaction to Elizabeth Warren's tweets suggests he cannot resist the urge to counterpunch, even when it doesn't serve his interests. With every over-the-top smackdown, he will distract voters from his message and deflate whatever presidential gravitas he manages to muster.

    Since then, we have seen this scenario play out repeatedly, most remarkably in the case of Trump's feud with the parents of Humayun Khan.

    Now it's happening again, and I believe that this feud with former Ms. Universe Alicia Machado will finally spell the end of his campaign.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Hillary, Choose Your Trump

    Inquiring minds want to know, which Donald Trump will show up to the debate tonight? The name-calling bully? The xenophobic scaremonger? The misogynist jerk? The entertaining clown? The pathological liar? The dog-whistling bigot? The reckless lunatic? The shallow narcissist? Or some new incarnation of softer, smarter Trump who uses big words.

    Chris Matthews doesn't know. Mark Halperin doesn't know.  Ed Kilgore doesn't know. Some editor at the Atlantic doesn't know. Hillary Clinton doesn't know.

    She literally said, "I do not know which Donald Trump will show up."

    Well, she better figure it out, quick. Because if she hopes to triumph at the debate tonight, she can't wait and see which Trump shows up at the lectern. She must choose her Trump.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Grey Lady Takes the Gloves Off

    "Breaking News," tweeted the New York Times yesterday, "Trump backed off birther claims: 'President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.'"

    Typical of the Times' election reporting, the tweet made no mention of Trump's lies or his dishonest attempt to shift the blame onto Hillary Clinton. (By contrast, the Washington Post called it straight: "Breaking: Trump admits Obama born in U.S. but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors.")

    But today, the Grey Lady took her gloves off. The headline for the lead story on the front page provocatively declares, "Trump Gives Up Lie But Refuses to Repent."

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The New Normal

    Everyone wants someone to blame for the election of 2016. It's the media's fault that Donald Trump is running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton. No, it's Hillary's secretiveness and her Wall Street connections. No, it's the bankers. No, it's the economy, stupid. No, it's sexism, racism, reality television. And so on.

    Many of these factors do affect the race, but none of them really explains the Trump phenomenon. Sure, Hillary would be further ahead if she were more charismatic or if the press were easier on her, but the real mystery is how a man like Donald Trump is in the race at all.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Did Trump fake his own "medical report"?

    The media has been puzzling for months over Donald Trump's so-called medical record in which his doctor declared, "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

    According to Josh Marshall's theory of Trump's Razor, we should conclude "the stupidest possible scenario that can be reconciled with the available facts."

    The stupidest possible scenario is so stupid that it did not even occur to me until now: Trump wrote his own doctor's note and then got his doctor to sign it.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Chasing the Weasel

    How many times will we play the same game? Here's how it goes:

    1. Donald Trump says something outrageous
    2. Outrage ensues
    3. Trump pretends to be misinterpreted.
    4. Pundits argue about whether Trump was misinterpreted

    ...and repeat.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Theodore Roosevelt and the Original War on Terror

    Some years ago, an unstable young man committed one of the most notorious terrorist acts in U.S. history. He was American-born, but his parents were immigrants, and his allegiance to a radical ideology with foreign origins terrified the public. “They and those like them should be kept out of this country,” railed Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, “and if found here they should be promptly deported to the country whence they came.”

    The young man was Leon Czolgosz, a Polish-American anarchist. On August 31, 1901, he fatally shot President William McKinley in the abdomen with .32 caliber revolver. The nation reacted with shock and outrage. McKinley’s successor, President Theodore Roosevelt, denounced anarchy as “a crime against the whole human race” and demanded legislation to restrict immigration and deport suspected anarchists. Congress answered the call with the Anarchist Exclusion Act, which barred anyone “who disbelieves in or who is opposed to all organized government” from becoming citizens.

    Full story at The History Reader

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Can Bernie Sanders Overhaul the Democratic Party?

    One year ago, Bernie Sanders stood in the sun on the shore of Lake Champlain and opened his presidential campaign with a promise “to build a movement of millions of Americans.” Critics scoffed, dismissing his supporters as callow youngsters destined to drift once #FeelTheBern stops trending. But Sanders’s campaign proved more popular and resilient than anyone expected. Ironically, many Democrats now want him to terminate his movement and convert it into a get-out-the-vote drive for Hillary Clinton.

    But that is not how movements work. The celebrated political movements of American history—abolitionism, progressivism, and civil rights—were never subordinate to political parties. Their leaders did not bow to party elites. Great movements transcend partisanship; they are the makers and breakers of parties.

    Read the full story at the Daily Beast

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Tit for Trump

    Donald Trump likes to brag about his negotiating skills, but for a tough negotiator, he's awfully easy to manipulate. There are two types of people in Trumpland: those who are nice to Donald, and those who are not nice to Donald. If you flatter Trump, he'll treat you well. If you criticize him, he'll retaliate. "I'm a counter-puncher," he once told CNN.

    So to win Trump's favor, just say something sweet about him; Vladimir Putin praised him last December, and Trump has been preening over the compliment ever since. And to deliberately draw Trump's fire, say something nasty about him; last week Elizabeth Warren called him a bully and a loser, which dragged him into a distracting and unpresidential tweetfight with someone who is not his opponent.

    Read the full story at RollingStone

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Republican Race is Over

    As I read article after article about brokered conventions and #NeverTrump campaigns and "paths" to the nomination, I'm struck by the sad futility of it all.

    It may still be numerically possible for Trump to lose the nomination, but practically speaking, les jeux sont faits.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Where were you, Senator?

    Any time you leave a bad idea or a dangerous idea alone, any time you ignore what could become an evil force, you wind up regretting it.

    -- Lindsey Graham

    Thank you for these wise words, Senator. I couldn't agree with you more. But pardon me for asking, where the hell have you been?

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Mr. Robot

    You know who I'm talking about. At first, I thought I was experiencing a deja vu. My wife thought there was a technical glitch. After the third repetition, she became convinced that he was suffering from a neurological condition. I just started laughing.

    This was was Rubio's Howard Dean scream. Not just because the performance was cringe-inducing and is destined to be endlessly rehearsed and enhanced on YouTube but because it cemented the perception that he's an automaton.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Two Types

    There are two types of Democrats in this world: Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters.

    If you're a Hillary supporter, then you must be a plutocrat, an angry feminist, or a moron.

    If you're a Bernie supporter, then you must be a naive dreamer, a misogynist, or a moron.

    Conclusion: The Democratic Party is composed of plutocrats, angry feminists, naive dreamers, misogynists, and morons.

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