“What If Maxine Waters Takes the Gavel and Wall Street Loves It?”

The article informs us that

On Wednesday, signs began emerging that Wall Street might be warming up to Waters who, as the ranking member on the committee in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, is the likely committee chair if the Democrats take over the House in next week’s midterm elections. Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino sent out a soothing tweet: “People close to Waters say she will have a constructive relationship w banks.” Raymond James analyst Ed Mills wrote that Waters’s potential chairmanship poses “more headline risk than actual negative impact,” even given Waters’s “national profile” and her reputation as a liberal Democrat.

And, for the first time in a decade, the securities and investment industries are spending more on Democrats than Republicans ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Optimists and Realists


Dr. Aardvark seems to think that optimism about the midterms will jinx our chances. To put it another way, she doesn’t want another 2016 disappointment. I understand her point of view, but cannot hide my eyes from the horror show.

If we do have a good night on Tuesday, this detailed and persuasive article will explain how and why: Trump’s hate and lies are failing. Two new studies show why.

Or, we might lose.


hate and fear

Well, “Moderates” Is One Word You Might Use

hand behind back

Or You Might Use a Word that Rhymes With “Shore”

But I’m all for it. Right now, we really need the plutocrats to stop backing the Nazis.

Wall Street Tries to Shape Democratic Victory by Backing Moderates:

  • Campaign contributions aim to blunt push for tough regulation
  • GOP remain industry favorite, but giving to Democrats rises
  • Wall Street is opening its checkbook to soften the blow from a blue wave.

For the first time in a decade, the securities and investment industries are spending more on Democrats than Republicans ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Bankers are also giving to Democrats.

A big part of that is anti-Trump, but a lot of the money is flowing to moderate Democrats, a sign Wall Street is seeking Washington allies to temper the impact of progressives such as Representative Maxine Waters and Senator Elizabeth Warren, who are poised to hit the industry with subpoenas and tougher oversight. …

In some cases, the money flow is simply about access to power. Lou Correa, a first-term California Democrat, doesn’t sit on the financial services committee and isn’t particularly engaged in banking issues compared with some of his peers. But his vote will be needed if the House takes up any bills affecting financial institutions, so groups such as the American Bankers Association are running political ads for him.

“I didn’t even know they were running ads for me until you called,” Correa said.

“In Some Cases, the Money Flow is Simply about Access to Power.”

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

One of These Articles is Satire


Honoring Pittsburgh synagogue victims, Pence appears with ‘rabbi’ who preaches, ‘Jesus is the Messiah’

Appearing with the vice president on Monday, Jacobs invoked “Jesus the Messiah” and “Savior Yeshua” — another name for Jesus — as he offered a prayer for the dead and wounded in Pittsburgh. “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, God and Father of my Lord and Savior Yeshua, Jesus the Messiah, and my God and Father, too,” he intoned.

Trump Strips Citizenship from Children of Immigrants, Thus Disqualifying Himself from Presidency

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Donald J. Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order stripping the children of immigrant mothers of their citizenship, thus disqualifying himself from being President of the United States.

The constitutional crisis came to light moments after the signing ceremony, when a fourth grader visiting the Oval Office on a school tour pointed out the far-reaching legal ramifications of the order.

“Hey, wait, wasn’t your mother from Scotland?” the student, Tracy Klugian, asked. “That means you’re not a citizen and you can’t be President.”

Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump and the author of the executive order, quickly grabbed the document from the Oval Office desk, panic spreading across his face as he reread it.

“Oh, my God,” Miller gasped. “What have I done?”

Trump immediately called Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for help in voiding the executive order, but Kavanaugh was unable to take the call because he was “sleeping off a rough night,” an aide to the Justice said.

A Letter to Trump


Letter to President Trump from Pittsburgh Jewish Leaders

President Trump:

Yesterday, a gunman slaughtered 11 Americans during Shabbat morning services. We mourn with the victims’ families and pray for the wounded. Here in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, we express gratitude for the first responders and for the outpouring of support from our neighbors near and far. We are committed to healing as a community while we recommit ourselves to repairing our nation.

For the past three years your words and your policies have emboldened a growing white nationalist movement. You yourself called the murderer evil, but yesterday’s violence is the direct culmination of your influence.  

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you fully denounce white nationalism.

Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted.  You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.  

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you stop targeting and endangering all minorities.

The murderer’s last public statement invoked the compassionate work of the Jewish refugee service HIAS at the end of a week in which you spread lies and sowed fear about migrant families in Central America. He killed Jews in order to undermine the efforts of all those who find shared humanity with immigrants and refugees.

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you cease your assault on immigrants and refugees.

The Torah teaches that every human being is made b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.

This means all of us.

In our neighbors, Americans, and people worldwide who have reached out to give our community strength, there we find the image of God.  While we cannot speak for all Pittsburghers, or even all Jewish Pittsburghers, we know we speak for a diverse and unified group when we say:

President Trump, you are not welcome in Pittsburgh until you commit yourself to compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us.


Bend the Arc: Pittsburgh Steering Committee

Add your name to the demands from Pittsburgh Jewish leaders to Trump and the Republican Party after the Tree of Life massacre

I signed it. With my real name.


He is Trampling Out the Vintage Where the Grapes of Wrath are Stored

Some suggested reads for today:

E.J. Dione, Trump’s grip on power depends on splitting the nation in two

Jonathan Chait, However the Midterms Go, the Republican Party Is Going to Get More Extreme

James Russell Lowell, Once to Every Man and Nation

Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address

We gaze in horror at the scenes from Pittsburgh. Our hearts are heavy. We hold our breath as we wait for the election.

E.J. Dione writes,

The failure of Republican leaders to denounce a president who is devoting himself to ripping us apart reflects a ground-level truth about Republicanism in 2018: The party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has been consumed — temporarily, one devoutly wishes — by a narrow and exclusionary form of identity politics.

That which Dione devoutly wishes, Jonathan Chait is confident will not transpire:

“This is the play,” Scott Reed, a strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told the Washington Post. “It’s a standard tactic to use fear as a motivating choice at the end of a campaign, and the fact is the fork in the road is pretty stark.” …

The degree to which Trump’s party has molded itself in his image is worth bearing in mind when contemplating what the next two years might bring. If Democrats win the House but not the Senate, they will be working with an even more hardened foe: The Republicans who will have lost, or who are retiring, are those most vulnerable to outside pressure; the surviving core, from the reddest districts, will be the most Trumpian. They will be much less likely to abandon their president in the face of incriminating evidence than were Richard Nixon’s Republicans in 1974, and much more likely to escalate his attacks on the rule of law into a full-scale culture war.

And, of course, as Chait goes on to point out, one can only imagine the horror show that will ensue if, contrary to predictions, the Republicans make a clean sweep of the elections.

What Chait Gets Right, and What He Misses

He’s right to point out that the actual Republican agenda—upward distribution of wealth, drastic cutbacks to New Deal programs, and deprivation of health care—is dreadfully unpopular, and can only win by aligning itself with racists primed to believe its plethora of lies. But, IMHO, his analysis is misleadingly incomplete.

First of all, we the American people have a surprising amount of evil in us, but, taken as a whole, we are not nearly as evil as Trump damned soul believes.

Second, our collective gullibility takes away the breath, but even the highly gullible have limits to their credulity.

Third, the progressives among us are pumped up to a high degree.

In consequence, the election is likely to turn out well.

And, most of all, I place my confidence in the utter amorality of the Republican Party’s paymasters. See, e.g., Mr. Scott Reed, “strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “This [racist hatemongering] is the play.”

When the lies don’t work, and the racist hatemongering can’t get you over the top, the plutocrats will not double down on their losing tactics. Instead, they will change their strategy.

The one percenters and their spokespuppets will remember what our elders used to tell us in my early days as a Wall Street lawyer: Don’t be a pig. Pigs get eaten for breakfast.

Chait predicts that the trumpiest Trumpian politicians in the reddest red states will survive the midterms. But I think the plutocrats are going to drop them like a hot potato, and instead find politicians to buy who might actually win elections.

It’s a hard time. The American Civil War was a hell of a lot worse. And so, for that matter, was the push to end legally required segregation.

They Will Not Forget; They Will Not Forgive

Tree of Life

Adam Serwer, Trump’s Caravan Hysteria Led to This:

The people killed on Saturday were killed for trying to make the world a better place, as their faith exhorts them to do. The history of the Jewish people is one of displacement, statelessness, and persecution. What groups like [the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society] do in helping refugees, they do with the knowledge that comes from a history of being the targets of demagogues who persecute minorities in pursuit of power.

Ordinarily, a politician cannot be held responsible for the actions of a deranged follower. But ordinarily, politicians don’t praise supporters who have mercilessly beaten a Latino man, as “very passionate.” Ordinarily, they don’t offer to pay supporters’ legal bills if they assault protesters on the other side. They don’t praise acts of violence against the media. They don’t defend neo-Nazi rioters as “fine people.” They don’t justify sending bombs to their critics by blaming the media for airing criticism. Ordinarily, there is no historic surge in anti-Semitism, much of it targeted at Jewish critics, coinciding with a politician’s rise. And ordinarily, presidents do not blatantly exploit their authority in an effort to terrify white Americans into voting for their party. For the past few decades, most American politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, have taken care not to urge their supporters to take matters into their own hands. Trump did everything he could to fan the flames, and nothing to restrain those who might take him at his word.

Many of Trump’s defenders argue that his rhetoric is mere shtick. That his attacks, however cruel, aren’t taken 100 percent seriously by his supporters. But to make this argument is to concede that following Trump’s statements to their logical conclusion could lead to violence against his targets, and it is only because most do not take it that way, that the political violence committed on Trump’s behalf is as limited as it currently is. …

The apparent spark for the worst anti-Semitic massacre in American history was a racist hoax inflamed by a U.S. president seeking to help his party win a midterm election. There is no political gesture, no public statement, and no alteration in rhetoric or behavior that will change this fact. The shooter might have found a different reason to act on a different day. But he chose to act on Saturday, and he apparently chose to act in response to a political fiction that the president himself chose to spread, and that his followers chose to amplify.

As for those who aided the president in his propaganda campaign, who enabled him to prey on racist fears to fabricate a national emergency, those who said to themselves, “This is the play”? Every single one of them bears some responsibility for what followed. Their condemnations of anti-Semitism are meaningless. Their thoughts and prayers are worthless. Their condolences are irrelevant. They can never undo what they have done, and what they have done will never be forgotten.

Everyone Shall Sit in Safety Under His Own Vine and Fig Tree, and There Shall be None to Make Him Afraid


George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport


While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Who is Sending the Bombs?


Inasmuch as all of the bombs’ targets are people whom Trump has vilified, it seems clear that there is a relationship between the bombs and Trump’s vicious rhetoric.

If you took a shave with Occam’s razor this morning, you probably concluded it’s likely that the perpetrator is a deranged Trump supporter.

On the other hand, none of the bombs has gone off. So there is a metaphysical possibility that it’s a crazed progressive with a nutty notion of stirring up the progressive base. Dr. Aardvark was just sharing such a speculation, over our morning coffee.

In a situation where there is no good basis to form a judgment, mature people suspend judgment until the facts are in. I highly commend this course of action.


Hyvää päivää to today’s readers in Finland. I hope you all have the good sense not to send bombs to your politicians.

Clearly, A Brilliant Strategy to Confuse Our Enemies


When Trump Phones Friends, the Chinese and the Russians Listen and Learn

Meanwhile, a psychologist friend has called our attention to this speech delivered on July 19, 2016, in Sun City, South Carolina:

“Look, having nuclear — my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT; good genes, very good genes, OK, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart — you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, OK, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world — it’s true! — but when you’re a conservative Republican they try — oh, do they do a number — that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune — you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged — but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me — it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are — nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right, who would have thought? — but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners — now it used to be three, now it’s four — but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years — but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.”

Where to Send the Bomb—and a Suggested Polling Question


The best address for delivery would be

Arius A. Aardvark, Esq.
425 2nd Street NE
Washington, DC 20002-4914

And, All Seriousness Aside …

I wonder what the result of this poll would be:

“It would be a good idea to assassinate all the leaders of the Democratic Party.”
__ Strongly Agree
__ Agree
__ Not Sure/Don’t Know
__ Disagree
__ Strongly Disagree

When Tyrants Tremble as They Hear the Bells of Freedom Ringing

A friend writes that he hopes that progressive turnout is high—and that his hunch about the midterms proves wrong. My friend is fully entitled to his skepticism about the voters of our great republic. I myself make no predictions. And here at Happy Acres, the progressives, mindful of 2016, have decided not to hold a party on election night but instead to schedule tentative festivities for the day after the election. If all goes well, I think we will join, with our walkers, canes, and wheel chairs, in a conga line around the dining room.

Though I don’t know what the midterm results will be, I believe there are a few other things I think I do know.

One, Republicans are scared shitless of progressive turnout. See previous post.

Two, as many have observed, Trump and his merry band have been reduced to fear and lies.

Three, fear is a pretty good motivator, so all is not lost for the Trumpistas.

Four, but there is a limit to lying as a successful political strategy. In particular:

Five, a lie that has some basis in reality—or at least looks like it has a basis in reality, or, as we shysters would say, is “colorable”—works better than a lie you just pull out of your ass.

Six, although their base is gullible, it is not infinitely gullible, and it is not equally gullible on all subjects.

Seven, there is a risk in grievously insulting the intelligence of your own base. Walk into the faculty lounge at Harvard and insult their intelligence? No biggie. They know who they are, and won’t worry about your insults. Walk into Joe’s Bar and Grill a few minutes after the shift change and insult their intelligence? You got Big Trouble in Little China.

And how best to insult their intelligence than by lying about your own voting record on a matter of life and death to your base?

OK, Otto, time to roll the tape:

Yeah, That Could be a Problem

Democratic ticket

Rolling Stone reports, Exclusive: In Leaked Audio, Brian Kemp Expresses Concern Over Georgians Exercising Their Right to Vote:

Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, expressed at a ticketed campaign event that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

Is the Increasing Velocity of Trump’s Lying—Combined with a Complete Absence of Colorable Support for His Assertions—Evidence of Mental Breakdown?

pants on fireThe answer could be yes. Certainly, uncontrolled, pathological lying could result from magical thinking in the form of utter faith in your ability to bullshit your way out of any difficulty.

But, taking the record as a whole, I think the more persuasive explanation at this point is that lying is the only tool he has left. He lacks the mental ability to engage in rational or even semi-rational argumentation. He has nothing to appeal to appeal to the majority of Americans. Uncontrollable lying is the only arrow left in his quiver.

Think of it this way. I’m accosted in a dark alley at night by a gang of thugs. I try to defend myself with my pocket knife. Does that behavior show an irrational belief on my part in the efficacy of pocket knives?

Probably not. What it probably shows is that I’m putting up a feeble effort to defend myself because a pocket knife is all I’ve got.

Scare Tactics, Real and Phony; Ridicule as the Antidote for the Ridiculous


Scaring the Bejessus Out of Them

Health care is the top issue for American voters, and more people like the Affordable Care Act than dislike it. Immigration is an important issue, but health care significantly outranks immigration as a source of concern.

Meanwhile, David Brooks, cluelessly, thinks progressives should be preaching about the evils of Trumpism, not what voters actually care about: health care.

Bad idea. With each new outrage, Trump seems to solidify his support among his peeps. You aren’t going to talk themselves out of their lunacy with logic and facts.

Instead, you have to scare the bejeesus out of them. With actual facts, not stuff you just pulled out of your rear end. Like the fact that the Republicans want to rob them with their tax code and then kill them by taking their health away.

Ridiculing the Ridiculous

And when we’ve finished scaring them, let’s add some humor. The antidote to ridiculous claims is, I submit, ridicule.

Thus Dana Milbank helpfully explains All the reasons the migrant caravan is totally a national emergency. Inter alia,

The migrants in the caravan:

Have his tax returns and are planning to release them.

Are members of Nikki Haley’s presidential exploratory committee.

Have the Russian kompromat on Trump.

Are Russian colluders coming to turn themselves in to Robert Mueller.

Are climate-change scientists.

Have the n-word tape Omarosa claims to have heard.

Are Simon & Schuster employees carrying a reprinting of Bob Woodward’s “Fear.”

Are deported mothers coming to reclaim the detained children Trump lost.

Are accountants coming to put Trump’s businesses into a blind trust.

Are Saudi bankers coming to demand Trump repay their loans.