Author Archive | Partisan

Democrats Don’t Need a National Message

By Steve Israel

On an early morning in June, I joined several dozen Democratic donors in a plush residence on the 64th floor of Trump World Tower to support the reelection of a Democratic congressman. The irony that we were raising money in the president’s building escaped no one, and the congressman took some questions from the audience about Trump’s tweets and Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But most in the crowd wanted to know one thing: What’s the Democratic message?

There, in a building staffed with uniformed doormen, standing on floors so fine that we’d been asked to remove our shoes, the donors demanded to know why their party had no unifying theme. Or, more precisely, why wasn’t the message the specific message that they wanted messaged?

These questions have come up at Democratic gatherings across the country this year, from grassroots fundraisers to posh weekend retreats. Late last month, House Democrats introduced what they hope will be the answer: “For the People,” their new slogan for the midterms. One top Democratic aide told me it’s meant to capture the innate sense among voters that “Democrats are for the people and Republicans are for special interests.” But my fellow Democrats have it wrong that they need a national message template in the first place. Past elections have shown that the most effective messaging is local and specific to each district.

To really understand how we got here, it’s useful to attend a weekly Democratic caucus meeting in Room HC-7 of the Capitol building, as I regularly did when I served for eight terms as a congressman from New York. Sitting on cheap plastic chairs, balancing plates of breakfast foods on their laps, Democrats hash out the weekly agenda. But they all have different ideas on what that agenda should look …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Trump’s Implicit Defense of Alex Jones Is an Echo of Birtherism

By Adrienne LaFrance

The news cameras showed up, like they always do, and Donald Trump was ready for them. He emerged from a helicopter with TRUMP stamped across the side. He grinned. Then he took one of the most absurd victory laps in modern American politics.

With every tweetstorm of his presidency, this is the moment—April 27, 2011, on a tarmac in New Hampshire—that should flicker across the national memory.

Trump’s story that day was about the birth certificate of the man who was president at the time, the man whom Trump would eventually replace in the Oval Office. After years of badgering Barack Obama about his birthplace, after relentless attempts to discredit the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency by falsely claiming Obama wasn’t really born in the United States, Trump had succeeded in getting the White House to release the president’s long-form birth certificate. And there in Portsmouth, Trump took credit for settling the matter—a frenzy of his own creation.

“I’m very proud of myself because I’ve accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish,” Trump said at the time. “I am really honored, frankly, to have played such a big role in hopefully, hopefully, getting rid of this issue.” And then, leaving open the possibility of additional drama, as always: “I want to look at [the birth certificate], but I hope it’s true.”

I hope it’s true! There may be no utterance more quintessential in understanding Trump’s relationship with the truth. His penchant for repeating exaggerations and fabrications is explained away with self-affirmation and hope. (“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud,” Trump tweeted in August 2012, more than a year after that fateful New Hampshire press conference.)

Politicians are infamously casual with facts, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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An Admiral Speaks Out

By Susan Hennessey

This week, retired Admiral William McRaven published an unsparing open letter to President Trump requesting that, in the wake of the president’s decision to strip former CIA Director John Brennan of a security clearance, the president grant him the same honor. It is a startling intervention by a luminary of military leadership—the man responsible for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden—who has not previously publicly criticized this president, nor any other for that matter.

To understand the meaning of McRaven’s intervention, one must recognize the ongoing challenge faced by former national security officials and military officers regarding appropriate responses to this president. National security is supposed to exist apart from politics—the identity of the president might change the list of national intelligence priorities or military objectives, but the job stays the same. This is a realm in which everyone is supposed to be on the same team; permitting cracks in that foundation leads to rapid erosion. Even after retirement, former military officers and similarly situated national security officials typically refrain from overt political participation: What is a formal rule during the period of service transforms into a powerful norm of silence upon return to civilian life. The candidacy and presidency of Donald Trump has upended this tradition.

The president’s detractors are simultaneously applauding McRaven’s statement and lamenting that it will have no impact. They are correct that McRaven’s op-ed is unlikely to change any minds among the president’s base. It will not embolden congressional Republicans finally to take a stand. Certainly it will not shame Trump into ceasing his relentless campaign against any and all who would dare oppose him. But the letter isn’t designed to do any of those things.

McRaven’s intended audience is not the general public, nor the president to whom this letter is addressed. Rather, McRaven is speaking …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Donald Trump’s Unprecedented Assault on the Media

By Dick Polman

Floyd Abrams well remembers the era when Richard Nixon battled the free and independent press. As a young First Amendment lawyer, Abrams was co-counsel for the defense, representing The New York Times in 1971 when Nixon unsuccessfully sought to block publication of the Pentagon Papers. Nixon wiretapped journalists, put some of them on his enemies list, and dispatched his vice president, Spiro Agnew, to threaten broadcast licenses and deride media members as “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

And how benign those actions now seem in retrospect. Abrams, still practicing constitutional law at age 82, says the current president easily trumps Nixon as the most dire threat the press has ever faced. Nixon never borrowed from Stalin to assail “enemies of the people.” Nixon never wrote the way Donald Trump tweets, that journalists “can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!” Nixon at his rallies didn’t goad his followers into hurling abuse at nearby journalists on the scene—and threatening worse.

“No president in our history has been as unremittingly hostile,” he told me earlier this week. “We live in a violent country awash in weapons, and there is good reason to be concerned about the people he attacks so regularly. That is especially true since he has now moved from exclamations about ‘fake news’ to assertions that the lives of Americans are threatened by his journalistic critics.”

Far more insidious is Trump’s unprecedented war on objective reality, a classic tyrant’s tactic. In Abram’s words, “if news is ‘fake’ not because it is untrue but because it is insufficiently supportive of him, the very relevance of truth-telling becomes at risk…Cynical or repeatedly false criticism (of the free press) ultimately leads to an ill-informed and ultimately ill-led people. And when the criticism is often, very often, rooted in a sort of ignorant rage, it …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Parade’s End

By Elaine Godfrey

Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)


Today in 5 Lines

  • Jurors in Paul Manafort’s fraud trial ended a second day of deliberations without reaching a verdict. The judge said he has received threats and denied media requests to release the names of jurors in fear for their safety.

  • Trump refused to say whether he plans to pardon Manafort if he’s convicted, but said that his former campaign chair is “a very good person” and that the trial is “very sad.”

  • Trump blamed the cancellation of his military parade on Washington D.C. officials, saying they had inflated the cost. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser contradicted Trump on Twitter, claiming that she “got thru” to him about the high costs of the parade.

  • Trump said he expects to “very quickly” revoke the security clearance of Brian Ohr, a Justice Department official who has ties to the Russia investigation. More than a dozen former U.S. intelligence officials condemned Trump’s decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance in a letter late Thursday.

  • The U.S. has issued sanctions against four Myanmar security officials and two of its military units for human-rights abuses.


Today on The Atlantic

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Trump’s Risky War of Choice Against the Generals

By David A. Graham

This week, beset by bad news about Omarosa, President Trump decided to launch a war of choice. The White House announced Wednesday that he had revoked security clearance for John Brennan, who was CIA director under Barack Obama and has since become a leading Trump critic. Trump also threatened to take clearance away from a slew of other critics.

But wars, once started, don’t always unfold the way you intend. In Trump’s case, a host of prominent retired military and intelligence leaders have entered the fray opposing him. First, retired Admiral Bill McRaven wrote an open letter to the president in The Washington Post Thursday criticizing the revocation of Brennan’s clearance and asking to join him: “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”

Later on Thursday, another 13 former generals and spy chiefs signed a letter in support of Brennan. Some of them have already been visible Trump critics, including former NSA chief Michael Hayden and former CIA deputy chief John McLaughlin, but others have been less outspoken, such Porter Goss, CIA director under George W. Bush. The real surprises are Robert Gates, the former CIA director and defense secretary, and David Petraeus, who also led the CIA.

McRaven’s column is notable because he is a bonafide war hero, the man who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and has not served in a politically appointed position.

Yet Gates and Petraeus are likely more important. Gates was CIA director under George H.W. Bush, then defense secretary under his son. He then stayed on into the Obama administration. Gates is the consummate Republican public …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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FBI Fires Agent Who Wrote Anti-Trump Texts But Didn’t Leak the Russia Probe

By Natasha Bertrand

The paperwork was signed. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who became a lightning rod for efforts to undermine the Russia investigation, was set to receive a two-month suspension and a demotion as punishment for his alleged misconduct during the 2016 election. Then the FBI’s Deputy Director David Bowdich stepped in.

In a letter spanning just over a page, Bowdich harangued Strzok directly for “undermin[ing] the credibility of the FBI” by sending text messages on an FBI-issued cell phone that were deeply critical of Donald Trump during a period in which the bureau was investigating his campaign. In an unusual reversal of the decision made by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles allegations of employee misconduct, Bowdich fired Strzok on August 10—and with the stroke of a pen, eliminated what has been one of the bureau’s biggest headaches since the Justice Department unusually released the controversial texts to the press late last year, launching material that was the subject of an ongoing Inspector General investigation into the public domain.

Strzok headed the FBI’s counterespionage division during the election and was one of the top officials overseeing the criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information while she was secretary of state. The 48-year-old, who had helped conduct a multi-year FBI investigation that in 2010 exposed a Russian spy ring being run out of Boston, was asked to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference last year. Mueller pulled him off the team after the texts were discovered by the IG, and the bureau parked him in its human resources department, far removed from the probe that Trump has relentlessly attacked. But that didn’t stop the president from assailing Strzok in tweets nearly two-dozen times before he was fired—a fact that has left many former agents, some …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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Why the FBI Fired An Agent Who Wrote Anti-Trump Texts

By Natasha Bertrand

The paperwork was signed. Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who became a lightning rod for efforts to undermine the Russia investigation, was set to receive a two-month suspension and a demotion as punishment for his alleged misconduct during the 2016 election. Then the FBI’s Deputy Director David Bowdich stepped in.

In a letter spanning just over a page, Bowdich harangued Strzok directly for “undermin[ing] the credibility of the FBI” by sending text messages on an FBI-issued cell phone that were deeply critical of Donald Trump during a period in which the bureau was investigating his campaign. In an unusual reversal of the decision made by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles allegations of employee misconduct, Bowdich fired Strzok on August 10—and with the stroke of a pen, eliminated what has been one of the bureau’s biggest headaches since the Justice Department unusually released the controversial texts to the press late last year, launching material that was the subject of an ongoing Inspector General investigation into the public domain.

Strzok headed the FBI’s counterespionage division during the election and was one of the top officials overseeing the criminal investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information while she was secretary of state. The 48-year-old, who had helped conduct a multi-year FBI investigation that in 2010 exposed a Russian spy ring being run out of Boston, was asked to join special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference last year. Mueller pulled him off the team after the texts were discovered by the IG, and the bureau parked him in its human resources department, far removed from the probe that Trump has relentlessly attacked. But that didn’t stop the president from assailing Strzok in tweets nearly two-dozen times before he was fired—a fact that has left many former agents, some …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Trump’s 92 Million Dollar Baby

By Elaine Godfrey

Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)


Today in 5 Lines

  • Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide to President Trump, released a recording of Lara Trump offering her $15,000-a-month job after she was fired from the administration. Manigault Newman told NBC the offer was an attempt “to buy my silence.”

  • Trump’s November military parade will reportedly cost $92 million, $80 million more than initially estimated.

  • In a blistering op-ed for The New York Times, former CIA Director John Brennan called Trump’s claims of no collusion “hogwash” and said Trump revoked his security clearance to scare “others who might dare to challenge him.”

  • Jurors began their deliberations in the fraud trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

  • Trump criticized the “fake news media” as being “the opposition party” after hundreds of newspapers around the country published editorials condemning his attacks on the press.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Watch the Women: There’s one group of voters that could make or break the midterm elections for the Democrats: working-class white women. (Ronald Brownstein)

  • ‘Why a Free Press Matters’: The free press is in an unprecedented state of crisis, write Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner: “This is a test, not only for those of us who work in journalism, but also for the nation as a whole.”

  • Where Is the Collusion?: As dull as Paul Manafort’s trial was, it “answered that question again and again.” (Natasha Bertrand)

  • Aretha’s Revolution: The life of Aretha Franklin “bookended a grand arc of tumult, letdowns, progress, setbacks, terror, and hope in American history,” writes Vann R. Newkirk II.


Snapshot

A border patrol agent apprehends men from Brazil after they crossed into the U.S. border from Mexico in Los Ebanos, Texas. (Adrees Latif / Reuters)


What We’re Reading

Don’t Believe It: The medical industry is running a propaganda campaign against universal health care, …read more

Via:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/Fv0GDBYajhQ/ class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Trump’s 92 Million Dollar Baby” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

      

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Trump Can’t Even Honor Aretha Franklin Properly

By Vann R. Newkirk II

Donald Trump isn’t particularly nice to anyone. His standard demeanor and language in disagreement or debate resemble the union of a road-rage incident and a bad game of the dozens. Even in agreement, he’s not a person for whom respect—of others or of the office he holds—is necessarily a guiding light. He does not run out of venom for opponents, and rarely has a word of unqualified praise for people who haven’t praised him first.

But if one pattern in his remarks about other people has crystallized in the past few months, it’s that the president employs a particular species of dismissive language when he’s talking about black women. After spending a good chunk of his first year in office attacking black men, his sophomore year has involved high-profile verbal attacks against high-profile black women. And, as evidenced by his recent remarks on the death of the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, his need to subordinate black women, even without enmity, is a primary drive.

“I want to begin today by expressing my condolences to the family of a person I knew well,” Trump said Thursday during a Cabinet meeting. “She worked for me on numerous occasions. She was terrific—Aretha Franklin—on her passing. She brought joy to millions of lives and her extraordinary legacy will thrive and inspire many generations to come.”

It’s hard not to find effusive praise for a woman who managed so much in three-quarters of a century, and Trump’s comments indicate he has some sense of the scope of what she’d done. But with four simple words—“she worked for me”—he ruined most of that. With that clause, he turned the stunning career achievements of a woman who was nominated for at least one Grammy award in 24 of the 27 years from 1965 to …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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