Two things seem to get the conservative media riled up like nothing else: laws that force people and businesses to stop polluting, and pretty much anything that liberal California does. When those two things come together, as with the state’s growing plastic straw crackdown, it’s like catnip for the national right-wing media. They just can’t help but go a little nuts.
Witness the overwrought response to an effort by Santa Barbara to adopt a wide-ranging law limiting on single-use plastic takeout ware — to-go cups and containers, forks, knives, stirrers and straws. “California city OKs jail time for defying plastic straw ban,” read the FoxNews.com headline, and many like it from outlets across the nation.
For a group that loves to make fun of triggered oppressed snowflakes, no one has a bigger victim complex these days than people affiliated with the party that controls all three branches of federal government.
President Trump took to Twitter on Thursday morning for his regularly scheduled airing of grievances. In a refreshing change of pace, it was a meta-grievance with Twitter itself.
Employing his signature all-caps-because-I-really-mean-it style, Trump wrote:
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
On Wednesday, 11 House Republicans, led by Freedom Caucus hysterics Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod J. Rosenstein.
It’s likely that this outrageous idea isn’t going anywhere. Still, it’s an alarming escalation of the attempt by President Trump’s loyalists in Congress to undermine the man who oversees the investigation of possible collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia (or the WITCH HUNT, as Trump refers to it). And it could give the president ideas.
The articles of impeachment are a grab bag of allegations ranging from a lack of responsiveness to congressional document requests to a bogus conflict of interest on Rosenstein’s part to familiar complaints about the surveillance of former Trump advisor Carter Page. There’s even an allegation that “the Department of Justice, under the supervision of Mr. Rosenstein, unnecessarily redacted the price of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s $70,000 conference table because it was potentially embarrassing information.” Talk about “high crimes and misdemeanors”!
When Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, some senators seemed skeptical — who wouldn’t be? — that the hard line he was laying down on policy toward Russia was shared by President Trump.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the committee, told Pompeo that after Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, “we saw an American president who appeared submissive and deferential.”
Pompeo also was questioned about what Putin and Trump discussed in their one-on-one meeting. “We don’t know what the truth is, because nobody else was in the room when it happened,” complained Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the panel’s ranking Democrat.
The Trump team is pushing back against an audio recording obtained by CNN of a conversation between then-candidate Donald J. Trump and his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, about Karen McDougal, in September 2016. The conversation is elliptical and muddled at times, but Cohen can be heard bringing Trump up to speed on his efforts to set up a corporation to acquire “all of that info regarding our friend David” — presumably a reference to David Picker, the owner of the National Enquirer, who’d bought the rights to McDougal’s life story for $150,000 the previous month.
That life story includes McDougal’s claim that she and Trump had a 10-month affair that began in 2006, not long after his wife Melania gave birth to their son. Hence Cohen’s involvement.
When the Commerce Department first floated the idea of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, it couched it in altruistic terms. The most anti-immigrant administration in modern American history, and the most indifferent (to put it mildly) to racial discrimination, said the Justice Department wanted the question added to collect data it could use to better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Facebook's battle against fake news is off to a rocky start. Days after Mark Zuckerberg was publicly flogged for saying Holocaust denialism wouldn't be removed from the platform, radio host Alex Jones created another PR nightmare for the company by using its platform to say Robert S. Mueller III is involved with pedophilia, before pantomiming shooting him "politically."
A taste of Jones’ rant:
"Everyone's so scared of Mueller. They'd let Mueller rape kids in front of people, which he did. I mean, Mueller is a monster, man. God, imagine. He's even above the pedophiles, though. The word is he doesn't have sex with kids. He just controls it all.”
It can be hard sometimes to measure the corrosive effects of President Trump’s continuous assaults on American institutions, from the media to the courts to the government he runs. Discourse has coarsened, facts are ignored and truth is relative.
To quote the band Drive-By Truckers, “We're standing on the precipice of prejudice and fear / We trust science just as long as it tells us what we want to hear / We want our truths all fair and balanced as long as our notions lie within it.”
Even when he’s trying to spin the Russia story against his political opponents, President Trump can’t bring himself to acknowledge the reality of what his BFF Vladimir Putin has been doing. En route to the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ national convention (and a fundraiser) in Kansas City, Mo., the president tweeted:
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!
I suspect that a long line of presidents would dispute Trump’s “tougher on Russia” claim, particularly Ronald Reagan. And no matter what Trump tweets today, he can’t erase the words of his Russian presidential counterpart in Helsinki last week.
When asked whether he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election, Putin replied, “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.” (Putin apparently ignored the second half of the question, which was whether he directed any Russian officials to help Trump prevail.)
Today is my first day back at work after more than two weeks of vacation — my time off started July 4, fittingly enough (a few weeks of independence beginning on Independence Day). The news, of course, doesn’t go on holiday when we do (nor, evidently, do President Trump’s efforts to destabilize everything he comes in contact with).
Now that I’m back, I thought I’d check in with the Gun Violence Archive to see whether gun violence took a holiday too. It didn’t, of course. Our fellow Americans continued to kill themselves and others with abandon, from toddlers shooting siblings to violent criminals killing police officers.