Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Ah, just a day in the life of the 2016 election campaign:

  • FBI Director James Comey feels the need to put out a statement that the FBI is reviewing more Clinton emails because they now have a device used by Anthony Weiner and his wife. They may be among the exact same emails they’ve already reviewed, who knows? Certainly Director Comey doesn’t. I’m sure pretty much no one ever wanted to hear from Anthony Weiner again–kind of like we hope the same for Donald Trump after November 8–but isn’t this perfect for 2016? Weiner seems to be intent on proving that they were right all along: excessive masturbation really is bad for ya!
  • National Review Senior Editor Jonah Goldberg tweets, “When Wikileaks releases the emails at the DNC/Clinton campaign from today, they’re going to make for some fantastic reading.” I’m sure it would be to Goldberg. But let me ask: Does Goldberg think everyone’s emails, including his and National Review‘s, should be made public? That’s what he’s implying. I mean, why the pretense that it’s only fair game if a hacker does it (to people he doesn’t like)? And why stop at emails? Heck, if wikileaks or some other hacker gets ahold of any of Goldberg’s private information, then I guess his attitude is, “Hey, have fun with that!” I personally think that all official government business should be conducted with government email accounts. But the DNC and the Clinton campaign are not a part of the government anymore than National Review is.
  • What would a day be without yet another example of Donald Trump humiliating a woman coming to light in the form of a video recording? Before he get’s to the humiliation part, he first tells an audience that his personal philosophy is, “Get even with people. If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard. I really believe that.” Sounds like a good person. Then he hauls one of his former Miss Universe winners up in front of a live audience for a does of Trump-administered humiliation. He tells the audience that he intended to embarrass her (this is to get even because of a minor misunderstanding) by lying that she was stupid when in reality she is not. Then Trump makes a sexual pun, and lingers on it until the audience gets it: “And you know what? She came tonight, she came — came, she came, she came.” Once the audience finally laughs, Trump adds: “See, so they have the same filthy minds in Australia.” Stay classy, Donald. Finally, Trump abruptly grabs Hawkins around the waist and goes in for a kiss. She turns away and puts her arm between them, and the kiss lands on her cheek. No one can blame her for not wanting to be kissed by Donald Trump. What an asshole.
  • Donald Trump throws out a supporter at one of his campaign events today because he’s black, so naturally Trump assumed he was a “thug” protester.
  • Trump supporters attempt to commit voter fraud, probably because they’ve heard how easily it can be done. Sadly, they got arrested. Where were the Oath Keepers to keep an eye on these people?!
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The New York Times talks to some Trump supporters. And they are revealed to be fearful people who think they may have to subvert democracy because of their fear, convinced that the election is rigged because Donald Trump told them so and because they see Trump lawn signs.

COLORADO SPRINGS — Big crowds still mob Donald J. Trump when he comes to town, with fans waiting in long lines to attend his rallies, where they eagerly jeer his Democratic rival and holler happily at his message.

But beneath the cheering, a new emotion is taking hold among some Trump supporters as they grapple with reports predicting that he will lose the election: a dark fear about what will happen if their candidate is denied the White House. Some worry that they will be forgotten, along with their concerns and frustrations. Others believe the nation may be headed for violent conflict.

Jared Halbrook, 25, of Green Bay, Wis., said that if Mr. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton, which he worried would happen through a stolen election, it could lead to “another Revolutionary War.”

“People are going to march on the capitols,” said Mr. Halbrook, who works at a call center. “They’re going to do whatever needs to be done to get her out of office, because she does not belong there.”

“If push comes to shove,” he added, and Mrs. Clinton “has to go by any means necessary, it will be done.”

“Any means necessary.”

More Trump supporters:

“It’s not what I’m going to do, but I’m scared that the country is going to go into a riot,” said Roger Pillath, 75, a retired teacher from Coleman, Wis. “I’ve never seen the country so divided, just black and white — there’s no compromise whatsoever. The Clinton campaign says together we are stronger, but there’s no together. The country has never been so divided. I’m looking at revolution right now.”

“You go through any neighborhood and see how many Trump signs there are and how many Hillary signs there are, and I guarantee you it’s not even going to be close,” said Bill Stelling, 44, of Jacksonville, Fla. “The only way they’ve done it is by rigging the election.”

“Unfortunately, I’m not a man of vigilante violence,” said Richard Sabonjohn, 48, of Naples, Fla. “I’m more of a peaceful person. But I do think there will be a large amount of people that are terribly upset and may take matters into their own hands.”

“If she comes after the guns, it’s going to be a rough, bumpy road,” Mr. Swick said. “I hope to God I never have to fire a round, but I won’t hesitate to. As a Christian, I want reformation. But sometimes reformation comes through bloodshed.”

By the way, Mr. Swick. People like you said Bill Clinton was going to take away your guns. He didn’t. People like you said Barack Obama was going to take away your guns. He didn’t. Now you’re afraid Hillary Clinton will take away you guns. Hint: She won’t.

“I am not going to take my weapon to go out into the streets to protest an election I did not win,” Mr. Weegens said, “but I think that if certain events came about, a person would need to protect themselves, depending on where they lived, when your neighborhood goes up in flames.”

From today’s Boston Globe:

Anger and hostility were the most overwhelming sentiments at a Trump rally in Cincinnati last week, a deep sense of frustration, an us-versus-them mentality, and a belief that they are part of an unstoppable and underestimated movement. Unlike many in the country, however, these hard-core Trump followers do not believe the real estate mogul’s misfortunes are of his own making.

They believe what Trump has told them over and over, that this election is rigged, and if he loses, it will be because of a massive conspiracy to take him down.

At a time when trust in government is at a low point, Trump is actively stoking fears that a core tenet of American democracy is also in peril: that you can trust what happens at the ballot box.

His supporters here said they plan to go to their local precincts to look for illegal immigrants who may attempt to vote. They are worried that Democrats will load up buses of minorities and take them to vote several times in different areas of the city. They’ve heard rumors that boxes of Clinton votes are already waiting somewhere.

And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.”

He then placed a Trump mask on his face and posed for pictures.

It’s been a while since I’ve been inclined to post anything about politics, but I can’t let the occasion of the official destruction of The Deep Bench go unnoticed. The vaunted “deep bench” of Republican presidential contenders was today officially vanquished by an amateur. It’s about the only good thing to come out of Donald Trump’s impending nomination as the Republican candidate. But good lord, what a disastrous field the Republicans put forward this year.

I got a bit of a chuckle out of Ross Douthat’s column today, in which he writes that “Republican voters didn’t want True Conservatism any more than they wanted Bushism 2.0.” A longer quote (emphasis mine):

Trump proved that many evangelical voters, supposedly the heart of a True Conservative coalition, are actually not really values voters or religious conservatives after all, and that the less frequently evangelicals go to church, the more likely they are to vote for a philandering sybarite instead of a pastor’s son. Cruz would probably be on his way to the Republican nomination if he had simply carried the Deep South. But unless voters were in church every Sunday, Trump’s identity politics had more appeal than Cruz’s theological-political correctness.

Trump proved that many of the party’s moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all.

Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part. From Fox News’ 10 p.m. hour to talk radio to the ranks of lesser pundits, a long list of people who should have been all-in for Cruz on ideological grounds either flirted with Trump, affected neutrality or threw down their cloaks for the Donald to stomp over to the nomination. Cruz thought he would have a movement behind him, but part of that movement was actually a racket, and Trumpistas were simply better marks.

I’m not big on predictions–I’ll leave that to Mark Edward Noonan and his sorry track record–but I hope that Hillary trounces Trump. Nevertheless, one thing we should have learned by now is to not underestimate The Donald, nor the appeal that he generates. I think that appeal is too limited to win the general, and that the demographics are against him, but you never know. I may have to go work for another presidential campaign…

Meanwhile, to engage in a bit of schadenfreude, the comments at Blogs For Victory are just delightful. They’ll get with the program and support Trump because, ultimately, the only thing they all have in common is their hatred of President Obama, and now their hatred of Hillary Clinton. For example, see Amazona: “I’ll have to vote for Trump if he is the nominee, unless we come up with a third party before the election, which I think is probably impossible. I can’t just let the election go to Hillary because our party is infested with a bunch of fake conservatives who get all giddy and pee down their legs in glee if someone appeals to their issues while ignoring the fact that his promises all seem to depend on him out-Obamaing Obama when it comes to ruling rather than leading.”

Noonan hopes for a new party called the Christian Democrats. Yeah, that’s a great idea. Amazona suggests the Constitutional Party. “[A]nd I like Federalist except for the fact that it will confuse a lot of people when the party then comes out in favor of restricting federal size, scope and power.” She should read Douthat’s column.

Casper makes pretty much the same prediction as Noonan, and Amazona calls him a “good little Liberal footsoldier you.”

Eisenhower accurately lists the five cycles of grief (as seen on B4V as they come to grips with Trump) and gets jumped upon. Acceptance? No way, they cry. Except, well, yeah, we’re all gonna vote for him. Sure sounds like acceptance to me.

Cluster wants to “welcome this opportunity and work with the Trump coalition, educate it, and help navigate the party back to constitutional governance.” This after he admits that “it’s time that conservatives, and I include myself, recognize the reality of the political landscape and start to realize that our ideological brand is in the minority.” Um, Cluster, you don’t get it either. The Trump coalition doesn’t want or need your educational help. Does it occur to Cluster that his reaching out to educate them might come across as a tad condescending? Nah…

From a Trump supporter at a Ted Cruz rally in Houston:

“Nationalism is the new thing, man,” said Jordan Voor, 30, a Trump supporter who works nearby and wore a longhorn belt buckle the size of a miniature football.

“I just kind of want to watch the establishment burn,” Mr. Voor added. “What’s the point of being conservative anymore? It’s a failing ideology.”

Kinda sums it up in a nutshell.

Yup. He won second place in the Nevada caucus last night. Which is like winning first place in Rubio-land. He said on the TV this morning that he feels “good about our second-place finish.” Congratulations!

Meanwhile, in the real world, Trump won again. The inevitability of his nomination is beginning to seem, well, inevitable. But a glimmer of hope for sane Americans can be found in the 1992 presidential campaign, where Bill Clinton lost the first four primaries, and nine of the first ten. Bob Dole lost four out of the first five on the Republican side in 1996. So I guess Rubio isn’t out of this thing entirely.

How about Ted Cruz? Hard to see a path for him.

John Kasich today: “Of course I’m staying in. Why would I drop out when I’ve got the best chance to be the nominee outside of Trump?” Memo to John: You’re gonna need to win at some point. Or at least come in second so that you can claim you won.

And we can’t forget Ben Carson, another card carrying member of the deep bench. Apparently he’s finally come to the realization that his campaign is nothing but a scam. “We had people who didn’t really seem to understand finances,” a laughing Carson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on “CNN Newsroom,” adding, “or maybe they did—maybe they were doing it on purpose.”

And lastly: Whomever is the Democratic nominee had better not take Trump lightly, assuming he is the Republican nominee. Paul Waldman outlines Trump’s potential strengths in the general election.

So Dr. Ben Carson is a winner, too! Never mind his last place finish in South Carolina.

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Yes, Marco is the big winner of the night! By coming in third. Or maybe second. And he’s not talking participation trophy here. No, he’s a winner, yes he is! Sheesh. At least he’s getting a lot of practice delivering his victory speech for when he actually needs it. If he ever does.

The big news, of course, is that the Donald Trump felled another member of The Deep Bench, namely Jeb! Bush. The Deep Bench was so deep–remember?–that a complete novice of a politician has laid waste to most of them. I feel a little sad for Jeb!. I mean, he was always supposed to be the smart one, but in the end he was bested by his dumb brother. That’s gotta sting. You know it does. But I’m also a little sad for Jeb! because he was really just about the only one to pushback against Trump’s ugly bigotry. So now the Republicans get to own Trump. He is them and they are him.

And we might be better off with him than Rubio, anyway–that is, assuming either one of them can beat Hillary. Matt Yglesias had an interesting piece on Vox the other day, titled “Why I’m more worried about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump.”

Yglesias explains that Rubio’s budget math is “ridiculous.” Remember: Republicans are supposed to be the ones who know how to manage budgets. You’d never know it from their presidential candidates.

Rubio has proposed a tax cut that will reduce federal revenue by $6.8 trillion over 10 years. Numbers that large don’t mean anything to people, so for comparison’s sake let’s say that if we entirely eliminated American military spending over that period we still couldn’t quite pay for it.

But of course Rubio doesn’t want to eliminate military spending — he wants to spend more. He also promises to avoid any cuts to Social Security and Medicare for people currently at or near retirement. For good measure, he is also proposing a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. You could eliminate the entire non-defense discretionary budget and you’d still need $100 billion to $200 billion more per year in cuts to make this work.

This is, of course, totally unworkable. And the process that led Rubio to this point is telling and troubling.

Rubio entered the Senate at a time when an intellectual movement known as “reform” was hot in conservative circles, which argued that Republicans should concentrate less on supply-side tax cuts and more on tax policy focused on the working class. This originally took the form of a $2.4 trillion tax cut plan crafted by Utah Sen. Mike Lee that Rubio signed on to but then kept transforming into a larger and more regressive tax cut, as Rubio came under pressure from the supply-side wing of the party and it became clear that the constituency for “reform” conservatism was limited to a handful of media figures. Eager to prove that his dalliance with the reformocons was over, he actually ended up proposing to entirely eliminate taxes on investment income, meaning that billionaire captains of industry could end up paying nothing at all.

The upshot is a plan that is costly and regressive, yet paired with other commitments around entitlements, military spending, and constitutional amendments that make it completely impossible.

Trump’s tax plan is even costlier than Rubio’s by most measures. But in his defense, he barely ever talks about it and hasn’t compounded the cost problem with a balanced-budget amendment or a firm commitment to enormous quantities of new military spending.

Then there’s Rubio’s foreign policy:

Rubio’s approach to world affairs essentially repeats the “let’s have it all and who cares if it adds up” mentality of his fiscal policy. His solution to every problem is to confront some foreign country more aggressively, with no regard to the idea of trade-offs or tensions between goals or limits to how much the United States can bite off at any particular time.

There’s more in the article. I guess we shouldn’t worry too much until Rubio actually wins something.

I got a chuckle out of this article the other day. It seems that even Rubio’s Senate colleagues and fellow Republicans can’t think of a single thing Rubio has, er, accomplished. Rick Santorum appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, where host Joe Scarborough, who seems to be in the tank for his pal, The Donald, asked Santorum a simple question.

Asked repeatedly to name a single one of Sen. Marco Rubio’s accomplishments while serving five years as a U.S. senator representing Florida, Rick Santorum – who just endorsed the GOP lawmaker after bowing out of the presidential race himself on Wednesday – struggled to come up with any during an appearance Thursday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Santorum floundered right off the bat when asked to list Rubio’s “top accomplishment” while in office. “Well, I mean, I would just say that this is a guy who’s been able to, No. 1, win a tough election in Florida and pull people together from a variety of different spots. This is a guy that I think can work together with people,” he said. “That’s the thing I like about him the most.”

Yet host Joe Scarborough didn’t ask which personal quality of Rubio’s Santorum liked the most. He asked for just one standout accomplishment – so he pressed the former Pennsylvania senator again: “So he can win, but he’s been in the Senate for four years. Can you name his top accomplishment in the Senate, actually working in the Senate doing something that tilted your decision to Marco Rubio?”

Santorum danced around the question for a second time, concluding that “I guess it’s hard to say there are accomplishments” when a junior senator is working in a government “where nothing gets done.”

“Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski called the exchange with Santorum “disturbing.”

Meanwhile, Scarborough brought up the fact that Republicans have been in the Senate majority for the past two years, and asked for a third time: “Can you name one thing that he’s passed in the last two years?” eventually pleading with Santorum to “like one accomplishment – just one, just one – that Marco achieved.”

Santorum then blamed President Obama for Rubio’s lack of accomplishments in the Senate, saying “he spent four years in the United States Senate being frustrated like everybody else that nothing got done, and then you can’t point to him and say nothing got done and therefore he has no accomplishments. The problem is we have a president who doesn’t work with people.”

Eventually, however, Santorum did offer an example of a Rubio achievement, albeit a vague one.

“Well, I know he included something that went after the insurance companies in the most recent omnibus. He fought for that, to stop bailing out insurance companies. That’s one thing I’m familiar that I just saw recently, ” he said. “But – and again, he was on the campaign trail and accomplished that. The bottom line is there isn’t a lot of accomplishments, Joe, and I just don’t think it’s a fair question to say.”

Oh. It’s Obama’s fault. And Rubio was on the campaign trail and, you know, didn’t have time to actually accomplish anything. Also, it’s not fair to ask about Rubio’s accomplishments. Got it.

So at the Republican debate last Saturday night, Donald Trump went hard at Jeb Bush in his usual aggressive, bullying style. “Obviously, the war in Iraq is a big, fat mistake, all right? George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.” And, “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.” Trump continued that line of thought on the Sunday talk shows, and he’s kept it up on Twitter today:

Trump was booed at the debate, but the lingering question is, will his performance hurt him in South Carolina? I suspect not, and the reason is that Trump is speaking some unspoken truths that many conservatives know to be true in their gut. Deep down, they at least suspect that they were lied to about the Iraq war, and they know it was a mistake. They actually do know that the World Trade Center towers came down during the George W. Bush administration. They do know that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And yet, they stick to the party line. Why?

Well, first of all, to begin questioning the party line would be to admit that they themselves were wrong. That’s a problem for people who pride themselves on being, say, intelligence analysts. But it’s also because the thought leaders within their bubble continue to insist that the World Trade Center bombing was actually President Clinton’s fault, that the Iraq War was necessary because Saddam Hussein posed an existential threat to the United States, and that WMD actually were found, just like President Bush said they would (and even though President Bush has admitted they weren’t found). So it’s easy to just stick to the party line and keep the doubts beneath the surface, left unspoken. It’s a form of peer pressure.

We need to remember that a lot of conservatives have isolated themselves from anyone they think may be a liberal. This includes most of mainstream thought, not just true liberals. A perfect example is our friends at Blogs For Victory. Not only are they afraid to have anonymous discussions with individuals who challenge their opinions, their fear even extends to their daily, non-Internet lives. We know this because of the many times they have explained that they no longer speak to friends, or even relatives, who they deem to be “liberals.” They simply can’t stomach the thought of their worldview being challenged. Of course, the biggest challenge to them has been the election and re-election of Barack Obama. Sometimes these conservatives explain that they actually have healthy disagreement amongst themselves, but in saying so, they leave out what truly unites them, which is their shared hatred of President Obama and their belief that he is an illegitimate president.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of the mistakes of the Bush presidency–they’re just not willing to accept them being pointing them out by people who aren’t their thought leaders. Now along comes Donald Trump, who, at the Republican debate of all places, just comes right out and says it: Bush lied, the Iraq war was a horrible mistake, etc. Yeah, some people booed, but a lot of them know he’s right, even if they’re afraid to say so. An actual Republican candidate is giving legitimacy to some unaired thoughts.

They also believe he’s right when he says that Social Security and Medicare should be saved, not slashed. This particularly resonates with many of the bubble people because, well, they do or will shortly depend on Social Security and Medicare. See, conservative politicians can carry on about the Constitution and all, but conservative voters are a bit more pragmatic. It’s just that they generally won’t deviate from the party line until someone representing the party gives them permission to. And that’s what Donald Trump is doing. Conservatives would never accept it from a Democrat, but Donald Trump is running as a Republican, so he’s giving voice to their private thoughts.

You’ll continue to hear the usual conservative thought leaders bashing Trump for his apostasy. But silently, conservative voters are hearing things from Trump that they’ve thought about in their private moments–thoughts they wouldn’t admit to other conservatives, and would certainly never admit to a liberal–that is, if they even talk to any liberals anymore. But they do vote. We’ll soon see if Trump gets nicked by his outbursts or not.