It's Friday 🎉 We made it. Here's how you can help out with rescue, relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas — stay safe this weekend. The Post staff is closely monitoring Hurricane Dorian's path into the Carolinas. See you (and Congress) on Monday.
MARIANNE UNFILTERED: Marianne Williamson deleted the tweet. But she's not happy about it.
The Democratic presidential candidate wants to be taken seriously and not always literally. But she's learning that's an even tougher challenge as a spiritualist and New Age guru in the age of Twitter. Her suggestion this week that the masses could use prayer, visualization and meditation to change Hurricane Dorian's course caused a firestorm.
But the candidate who is campaigning on the “politics of love” is now blaming an increasingly secular left for demonizing her spiritual rhetoric. Williamson tells Power Up the backlash to her tweet about this "creative use of the power of the mind" — and to her out-of-the-box, psychic campaign-isms more broadly — is the fault of elitist Democrats, liberal condesension and even "corporatist dominance."
- “People don't like to feel that their values are invalidated and people can feel when they're being condescended to,” Williamson told Power Up. “I was in South Carolina last weekend and Georgia. And you better believe that there were people there praying that the hurricane would turn around — that doesn't mean that they're stupid. That doesn't mean that they don't believe in science or climate change. The fact that you pray, the fact that you visualize, the fact that you meditate, doesn't mean you're stupid, or ignorant or uninformed.”
- She blasts changing attitudes on the left: “There had been many within the Democratic Party who have tilted in a strangely, what I perceive to be, an overly secularized conversation,” Williamson said.
- Williamson says the “patronizing” attitudes toward people of faith are “heartbreaking”: “I'm a Democrat, I'm a progressive because of my spiritual values. I often say: the Republicans have the elitist policies but an oddly more egalitarian relationship to its own constituency. The Democrats have the more egalitarian policies but an oddly more elitist relationship to its constituency.”
Williamson gave her unvarnished views on a variety of topics in a wide-ranging interview with Power Up while waiting for her flight to New Hampshire for this weekend's Democratic state convention. Here are some other highlights.
On the need for a U.S. Department of Peace to “promote a culture of peace both at home and abroad” — especially in the wake of mass shootings that killed 53 people in August alone: “Peace builders should not be seen as peripheral” to the military, Williamson argues. “They should be equals at the table.”
- Dark psychotic forces are a national security risk: “I see large groups of desperate people as a national security risk. Because desperate people do desperate things. Desperate people are also more vulnerable to ideological capture by genuinely psychotic forces.”
- 'Healing the world': “So we need to apply, in a much more potent way, the same kind of preventive measures when it comes to healing the world that we now recognize as important in healing the body. There is preventive health, there is exercise, there is nutrition, there are all kinds of ways that you cultivate your health. And we need to have that same kind of perspective so that we can cultivate peace.”
On what she meant when she warned at the debates that President Trump himself was emboldening a “dark psychic force”:
- “When you see people marching through the streets of Charlottesville shouting 'Jews shall not replace us,' you are witnessing a phenomenon that goes beyond the rational. It is more than irrational. When you look at the power of collectivized hatred, you are witnessing an emotional force that rational argument and intellectual analysis alone cannot counter. And whether it is Nazis or other white supremacists or terrorists of any kind — anyone who thinks that traditional political strategy alone is enough to override that, is either very naive or deeply uninformed.”
She's hopeful some Trump voters will defect in 2020 (and declines to call the president a white supremacist as some other candidates have):
- “He has clearly given comfort to white supremacists. That's undeniable. But in terms of what he is — I don't want to comment on how other candidates choose to run their campaigns,” Williamson said.
- The label is not the best way to win over Trump voters, she says: “There are many people who voted for Trump, who might be open to voting for us next time. But if we just make them feel guilty for the choice they made. That's not the way to compel them to vote for us. That's shaming them. That's not the path I'm taking.”
What she'll be doing on next week's Democratic primary debate night — for which she did not qualify:
- Counterprogramming: “I'm doing my own live stream immediately. I will be live in Los Angeles and live-streaming my own presentation right after the debate … I want to be respectful of people who are in the debate. I don't want to be taking attention away from the debate. I think I will probably save my commentary for right after the debate is over.”
Williamson, who met the donor threshold but not the heightened polling requirement, is irked she's forced to sit this one out:
- Paging the Democratic National Committee: “I think it's been very healthy that there have been so many candidates. I think it's been healthy for democracy. And that's why I'm sorry to see the DNC shutting down the conversation so fast. I would prefer it to go on.”
- Voters need time to consider their options, she says: “I'll tell you what's frightening and chilling: it's to consider what will happen if that man [Trump] gets four more years. The last thing we should be doing is rushing through the process of trying to figure out what it will take to defeat him. We should all be thinking about this so deeply and with so much reflection. The last thing it should be is rushed through.”
She insisted that candidates singularly focused on policy plans are just planning to fail in November:
- It's not a plan competition, she says: The conversation needs to go beyond “not just who has the biggest plan, but who has the best of the greatest ability to harness the excitement, the enthusiasm and the inspiration of the American people in such a way as to override the anti-democratic forces that confront us.”
- Motivation matters: “One day, I heard someone say almost derisively that … I know how to motivate and inspire people. And I thought to myself, you might want to think about that.”
To Mr. or Mrs. Wing Ding, Americans are not too “emotionally constipated” to buy into her message of love in politics, Williamson insists:
- Her rebuke to the anonymous candidate quoted in a recent New York Times profile: “The American people are not stupid and no, the American people are not emotionally constipated. The American people, if you speak to them, like adults, and you are real with them, then it's amazing how much intelligence there is to harness.”
- A call to action: “That's what a president should be — someone who is honest with people about what's actually happening and calling people to the task that faces us, the challenges that faces us, to rise to the occasion and to change what needs to be changed and atone for what needs to be atoned for and make amends for what we need to make amends for in one aberational chapter of American history and do what it takes to make a new one. That's what the abolitionists did. That's what the women suffragists did. That's what the civil rights movement did. In all of those cases, the conventional political establishment of the time did not repair itself. What first happened was that the people rose up and the people stepped in. And the conventional political establishment, the political status quo today similarly is not going to repair itself.”
On Trump's Sharpie-gate:
- “I don't presume to be able to analyze what is going on inside the president's mind. I just know how important it is to make him irrelevant as soon as possible.”
TRUMP’S SWEEPING PLAN TO CHANGE THE HOUSING MARKET: “The Trump administration released a sweeping plan Thursday that could remake the U.S. housing market, starting with ending more than a decade of government control of two massive companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, that back half of the nation’s mortgages,” our colleague Renae Merle reports.
- Why it matters: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a critical part in the housing market, buying mortgages from lenders, then packaging them into securities to sell to investors,” Renae writes. “The housing giants back half of the United States’ mortgages, and housing experts have warned that allowing them too much freedom again could lead to higher mortgage costs for consumers while enriching Wall Street investors.”
- A key Democrat slammed the proposal: “Trump’s housing plan will make mortgages more expensive and harder to get. I’m urging the president: Make it easier for working people to buy or rent their homes, not harder,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee.
- Democrats and Republicans support ending government control of the companies, but so far those bills have stalled and many are cautions about how move forward. “President Barack Obama’s administration shied away from the topic, fearful that a wrong move could disrupt the housing market and the availability of 30-year mortgages,” Renae writes.
- The plan’s release comes at a crucial time: “Many U.S. home buyers are already struggling to find affordable homes,” Renae writes. “Prices have been rising for years, and there are not enough moderately priced homes for sale, according to National Association of Realtors data.”
A POSSIBLE CULPRIT IN THE VAPING ILLNESSES: “State and federal health officials investigating mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping have found the same chemical in samples of marijuana products used by people sickened in different parts of the country and who used different brands of products in recent weeks,” our colleague Lena H. Sun reports. “While this is the first common element found in samples from across the country, health officials said it is too early to know whether this is causing the injuries.”
- The chemical in question: “An oil derived from vitamin E. Investigators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the oil in cannabis products in samples collected from patients who fell ill across the United States,” Lena writes.
- Why vitamin E can be harmful: “Vitamin E is found naturally in certain foods, such as canola oil, olive oil and almonds. The oil derived from the vitamin, known as vitamin E acetate, is commonly available as a nutritional supplement and is used in topical skin treatments. Its name sounds harmless, experts said, but its molecular structure could make it hazardous when inhaled.”
- The investigation has been difficult because “states are not required to report possible cases of vaping-related illnesses to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is leading the investigation,” Lena writes. “As of Aug. 27, there were 215 possible cases reported by 25 states.”
#SHARPIEGATE CONTINUES: Yes, we're still talking about this. “For a fourth straight day, Trump’s White House sought to clean up the president’s mistaken warnings to Alabama from Sunday, seeking to defend Trump’s tweets by releasing statements, disseminating alternative hurricane maps and attacking the media,” our colleagues Toluse Olorunnipa and Josh Dawsey report last night of the president’s insistence that Alabama was actually in Hurricane Dorian’s path.
- The end of a not-so-long whodunnit: “It was Trump who used a black Sharpie to mark up an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map, which he displayed during an Oval Office briefing on Wednesday, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations,” Toluse and Josh write.
- This quote 👀: “‘No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,’ the official said of the map, which added Alabama into the hurricane’s potential pathway inside the loop of the marker."
- By the numbers: Trump posted nine tweets and five maps about Alabama and the storm, Toluse and Josh tally. And the White House also released a 225-word "statement from Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, Rear Adm. Peter Brown, that sought to defend Trump’s statements and his use of days-old maps." Trump even invited a Fox News reporter to the Oval Office to double down.
Twitter had a field day with all this:
From a Florida political cartoonist: