The longest-serving Republican state legislator in, of all places, Iowa announced Tuesday that he'd had it with the behavior of President Donald Trump. Next year, he's running as a Democrat. Rep. Andy McKean told The Washington Post that Trump sets "a poor example for the nation and particularly for our children by personally insulting, often in a crude and juvenile fashion, those who disagree with him, being a bully at a time when we're attempting to discourage bullying."
McKean, whose district is in the Cedar Rapids area, also chided the president for "reckless spending and shortsighted financial policies," and his "destabilizing" foreign policies.
"I believe his actions have coarsened political discourse, have resulted in unprecedented divisiveness and have created an atmosphere that is a breeding ground for hateful rhetoric and actions," said McKean. "Some would excuse this behavior as 'telling it like it is' and the new normal. If this is the new normal, I want no part of it."
Other Republicans who have defected since the midterms include four female state lawmakers in Kansas. But given how closely watched Iowa is ahead of any major election, McKean's departure from the GOP ranks carries more weight than normal.
Bye to the Bots
When President Donald Trump hosted Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in the Oval Office Tuesday, Dorsey was hoping to fill Trump in on Twitter's efforts to fight the opioid epidemic. As the president of a nation facing a public health crisis on that topic, you'd think Trump would have been interested in hearing Dorsey's insights.
But, no. What the leader of the free world wanted to talk about, according to sources in the closed-door meeting, was why he, Trump, was losing Twitter followers. Earlier that morning, Trump complained (yes, on Twitter) that the media platform was "playing political games," a reference to the conservative myth that social media platforms discriminate against conservatives.
In fact, the major platforms are under increasing pressure to weed out spam, fake accounts and bots — which, as Dorsey reportedly explained to Trump, is why Trump has been losing followers.
Trump reportedly is furious that former President Barack Obama has more Twitter followers (almost 106 million as of mid-week) than Trump (about 60 million).
Hanging Up the Robocallers
Missouri spoofing legislators are moving to crack down on telemarketers who mask their identities by displaying fake numbers on the recipient's caller-ID that are similar to their own numbers. Confronting this annoyance can't come fast enough. These telemarketing robocallers call cell phone users while making it appear the calls are coming in from the same area code and prefix as the recipient has.
Known as "spoofing," the idea is to fool the recipient into thinking the call is coming from a friend or relative, thus increasing the chances the person will answer and give the telemarketer a chance to make a sales pitch.
Since the numbers the marketers use aren't their regular numbers and change all the time, the ploy has allowed them to sidestep no-call lists. "I was getting about five a day," said the sponsor of the measure, Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield.
His legislation, Senate Bill 144, would automatically add use of fake numbers to the state's no-call list, making violations easier to prosecute.
Right, Wrong and Rudy
To the long list of head-spinning utterances that have come from the mouth of former New York mayor turned presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani, add this gem: "There's nothing wrong with taking information from Russians."
Giuliani — who for some reason is still allowed by President Donald Trump to speak for him in public — had yet another bizarre television interview, this time with CNN's Jake Tapper. Referring to that infamous 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Trump campaign officials and a Kremlin-connected source who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, Giuliani said it would've been just fine even if said dirt had materialized. (It apparently didn't.)
Legal scholars debate whether Donald Trump Jr.'s enthusiastic arrangement of a meeting with a representative of an adversarial foreign government peddling campaign help was, in itself, collusion. Or whether such information, had it exchanged hands, would have constituted an illegal campaign contribution. Or whether Trump's personal role in concocting a public lie to explain the meeting constituted obstruction.
But the notion that there was "nothing wrong" with the whole sordid episode — in the basic wrong-versus-right sense — is new territory. Which is where Mayor Rudy always seems to take us.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH