Monday, August 03, 2015

REPUBLICANS HAD A HUGE BENCH -- THEN ALONG CAME TRUMP

There are seventeen Republicans running for president, but because Donald Trump is in the race, only three of them -- Trump himself, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker -- are in double digits in the latest Monmouth University poll. The latest Fox poll has only two candidates in double digits:



The newest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has four, Trump, Walker, Bush, and (barely in double digits at 10%) Ben Carson. Everyone else is an also-ran.

Today The New York Times told us that Jeb Bush's people see Donald Trump's campaign in a positive light: They assume he'll fade eventually, and meanwhile he's preventing other candidates from getting traction.
... for the moment he is depriving many of the other 16 Republican candidates of the political oxygen they need to win attention from grass-roots supporters in early nominating states and commitments from fence-riding donors.

That mainly helps Mr. Bush, who can quietly continue to build his daunting advantages in money and organization while his would-be challengers struggle to break through.
I bring all this up because a few months ago we were hearing that the Democrats were struggling with a weak bench. Whether it was because Hillary Clinton had frightened off potential challengers or because the 2010 and 2014 midterms had ended the careers of rising Democratic stars, the Democrats seemed to be in trouble. They might eke out a 2016 presidential victory thanks to their one superstar, but the future looked grim. Where were the prospects for the future?

Well, the GOP has a hell of a lot of prospects -- but they're all (or nearly all) getting crushed by Trump.

I actually think the GOP appears to have a deep bench because the right-wing hype machine is well oiled and efficient, and the mainstream media takes that hype machine's claims of stardom-in-the-making very, very seriously. Think of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. They're all callow neophytes with no real accomplishments. Yet they were all being declared superstars by the GOP's Mighty Wurlitzer before they'd hung the artwork in their Senate offices, and the MSM believed the BS.

But now they're all screwed -- Trump has stolen their thunder. Next time they try to run for president, they'll be the miserable failures who fell woefully short of expectations back in 2016.

Yes, the GOP had a bench. But it's been Trumped.

CRUZ STEALS INFANTILE STUNT FROM TEXAS SECESSIONIST CHRISTIAN GUN NUT

While the mainstream media is trying to persuade you that, apart from that awful Donald Trump, the field of Republican presidential candidates consists solely of mature, thoughtful citizens who are eminently qualified to be leaders of the Free World, Ted Cruz worked with the right-wing site IJReview to produce a video in which he cooks bacon by wrapping it around the barrel of a machine gun:



Cruz didn't originate this stunt -- I was hoping to be the first to tell you that, but Talking Points Memo beat me to the punch. However, TPM doesn't tell you much about Cruz's (unacknowledged) source:
Although Cruz and IJR didn't mention it, they seem to be borrowing the concept from YouTube user Dustin Ellermann, who uploaded his own gun grill to the Internet in March. Ellermann's video, in which he whispered "so much America right now" while wrapping bacon around a silencer, has been watched more than 920,000 times.

Watch the original video below:


Ellermann is not a mere "YouTube user." He was the winning shooter on Season 3 of the History Channel's Top Shot. He also runs a Christian camp:
Before he was the “Top Shot” champion, he was (and remains) the director of Camp His Way a summer Christian kids camp and year round retreat facility. He and his wife are also foster parents and have 3 children of their own....

“Shooting is fun to me and I thank the Lord for the opportunity to be on “Top Shot” and to now be able to share my passion for shooting through clinics, range days and other appearances. Putting God and family first, I look forward to seeing where this journey leads.” ~ Dustin
At the camp, marksmanship is one of the ways kids glorify God:





To support the camp he sells a lot of gear that links God and shooting:



On social media, he posts the usual gunner boilerplate, plus (at least once) some Texas secessionism:







He writes for Texas Fish & Game magazine and, well, his posts what you'd expect. The church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina? Title of his column: "Another 'Gun Free Zone' Mass Murder." A couple of years ago, he posted a video of helicopter hunting of hogs in Texas, done to the tune of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World":



Oh, and do you want to see a prairie dog blown to bits? He's got that! (Don't worry, it's pixilated out, but you can "Click for the uncensored version.")

And, of course, he thought that fake Craigslist help-wanted ad for "Attorney General," posted after Eric Holder announced his resignation, was "one of the funniest things ever":



I'm sure his bacon video was Cruz's inspiration -- after all, it was shown on Fox & Friends and linked at Breitbart. And I have to say that he and Cruz seem to be a perfect match. Maybe President Cruz will appoint him to head the ATF.

****

Oh, and of course he's a Bundyite:




(More responses to this at Memeorandum.)

ADMINISTRATION SELLING IRAN DEAL TO PUBLIC ABOUT AS WELL AS IT SOLD OBAMACARE

A lot of people seem to believe right now that President Obama has found his stride after a term and a half in office. They say he's had a string of victories lately and is finishing his presidency with impressive shows of strength. Obamacare has survived two Supreme Court challenges! Gay marriage is the law of the land! There's a nuclear deal with Iran!

There's truth in that. But on that Iran deal, I'm seeing the old Obama -- the one who struggled though his first six years in office, and who found himself continuing to battle even when he thought he'd won a fight. I remember hearing confident assertions that the public would grow to love Obamacare once it was in place -- a belief that led the administration not to promote its benefits in the long period of time between enactment and full implementation, thus giving the right an opportunity to portray it relentlessly as the worst piece of legislation ever passed by Congress. That one-sided battle for the public's hearts and minds still hangs over the health care law; the public is warming to Obamacare, slowly, but the law still isn't popular.

The administration never really sold Obamacare to the public. And now the administration is failing to sell the Iran deal:
American Voters Oppose Iran Deal 2-1, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds...

American voters oppose 57 - 28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition for Republicans and independent voters, the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Voters say 58 - 30 percent the nuclear pact will make the world less safe....

Opposing the Iran deal are Republicans 86 - 3 percent and independent voters 55 - 29 percent, while Democrats support it 52 - 32 percent. There is little gender gap as men oppose the deal 59 - 30 percent and women oppose it 56 - 27 percent....
Nobody could have foreseen that a $1.4 million ad campaign opposing the deal would have this effect, right? Especially when there's no pro-deal ad campaign whatsoever, from any pro-administration group?

What has the president done to defend the deal? Has he given a prime-time speech? Oh, sorry, I forgot: The administrtion doesn't like prime-time speeches, and all the smart poli-sci types sneer at them, arguing that they're not effective. Oddly, the administration and the smart poli-sci crowd never sneer at presidential press conferences held at 1:30 on weekday afternoons -- the president had one of those shortly after the deal was finalized. The political insiders could watch it, but ordinary people who have jobs didn't get to see it, though they might have caught tiny soundbites from it on the news. Result: It's had zero effect on public opinion.

I'm surprised the president didn't go on a tour of the heartland to promote the deal at (again) midafternoon rallies in Ohio and Michigan and wherever -- the other utterly futile selling tactic that modern presidents inexplicably put faith in. Again, all the average American ever sees of these is brief soundbites on the news, so they're useless.

This deal needed a better selling job. The president doesn't need congressional majorities to uphold the deal, so maybe he he's been betting that he doesn't need to worry all that much about public opinion, but that may turn out to be a bad bet.

And if he does get the deal past Congress, there'll be another right-wing propaganda campaign pointing out every seemingly scary thing Iran is doing, all intended to make the deal is a top issue in the 2016 elections. The White House probably won't see that coming, either -- but, of course, the White House never would have believed that the right would still be fighting Obamacare tooth and nail in 2015. The right rarely thinks any fight is over, and Democrats frequently forget that, and pay the price.

****

Oh, did I mention that the antis are playing the Jackie Mason card?



You laugh, but this makes it harder for Chuck Schumer to vote yes. Possibly Cory Booker, too.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

CHUCK SCHUMER, GUTLESS WONDER

It looks as if Senator Charles Schumer, likely the next Democratic leader of the Senate, is going to sell his president out:
Chuck Schumer is getting an earful from opponents of the Iran nuclear deal.

More than 10,000 phone calls have flooded his office line the past two weeks, organized by a group looking to kill the deal. Another group has dropped seven figures on TV in New York City to pressure Schumer and other lawmakers to vote against the plan. The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee has put its muscle behind an effort to lobby the New Yorker against it.

And Dov Hikind, a state assemblyman from Brooklyn, was arrested for disorderly conduct while protesting the deal outside Schumer’s office.

People who have spoken with the senior New York senator believe the pressure campaign is having an effect: They say there is a growing sense inside and outside the Capitol that Schumer will vote against the deal when the Senate considers it in September....

Schumer is one of about 15 Democratic senators who will decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal in Congress. The president can afford to lose no more than a dozen Democrats on the Senate floor, and as the next Democratic leader, Schumer may be the most critical of them all.
This is from Politico, and the way the story is spun is that Schumer will vote no, but not lobby other senators to oppose the deal, so it's not as if he's really, really opposed. (A couple of senators are quoted as saying his vote won't affect theirs, to give him cover.)

There's no reason for him to knuckle under on this. I'm a New Yorker -- yes, I know there are a number of voters who loyally vote Democratic but worry greatly about this deal. (The state assemblyman who got arrested outside Schumer's office is a Democrat.)

But even if a yes vote were to ocst him support, Schumer wouldn't lose his next race, as The Wall Street Journal recently noted:
A prolific fundraiser with nearly $19.8 million in his campaign war chest, Mr. Schumer has won his previous re-election bids with overwhelming margins....

“He ain’t going to lose the Senate race in New York when he’s up next,” [Baruch College political science professor Doug] Muzzio said. “He’s too New York. He’s too established.”
Right. He won his last race 67%-33% -- and that was in 2010, when Democrats had an abysmal midterm election. He's up next in 2016, a presidential election year, when Democratic turnout will be high (especially if, as expected, the ticket is topped by Hillary Clinton, who's still very popular here). The last time Schumer ran in a presidential election year was in 2004 -- and he won 71%-25%.

So he's not going to lose in 2016. He should do the right thing. But he'll do the cowardly thing.

RUN IT THROUGH THE FOXOMETER! HOW A NUANCED STORY BECOMES A RIGHT-WING PARABLE

Did you hear the one about the socialist hippie fool who jacked up every employee's salary at his company and destroyed his business? Well, here's FoxNews.com to tell you that right-wing cautionary tale, accurately or otherwise:
The Seattle CEO who reaped a publicity bonanza when he boosted the salaries of his employees to a minimum of $70,000 a year says he has fallen on hard times.

Dan Price, 31, tells the New York Times that things have gotten so bad he’s been forced to rent out his house.

Only three months ago Price was generating headlines -- and accusations of being a socialist -- when he announced the new salary minimum for all 120 employees at his Gravity Payments credit card processing firm. Price said he was doing it, and slashing his $1 million pay package to pay for it, to address the wealth gap.

“I’m working as hard as I ever worked to make it work,” he told the Times in a video that shows him sitting on a plastic bucket in the garage of his house. “I’m renting out my house right now to try and make ends meet myself.”

The Times article said Price’s decision ended up costing him a few customers and two of his “most valued” employees, who quit after newer employees ended up with bigger salary hikes than older ones.
See? This sort of generosity is a terrible trait for a CEO to have! Nothing but harm comes from it! You do anything as a CEO other than endeavor to maximize profits and terrible things will result!

Except that that's not what the Times story says. The Times story says that some good things have happened to Price's company, but the changes have been ... well, more unsettling than disastrous:
... a few customers, dismayed by what they viewed as a political statement, withdrew their business. Others, anticipating a fee increase -- despite repeated assurances to the contrary -- also left. While dozens of new clients, inspired by Mr. Price’s announcement, were signing up, those accounts will not start paying off for at least another year. To handle the flood, he has already had to hire a dozen additional employees -- now at a significantly higher cost -- and is struggling to figure out whether more are needed without knowing for certain how long the bonanza will last.

Two of Mr. Price’s most valued employees quit, spurred in part by their view that it was unfair to double the pay of some new hires while the longest-serving staff members got small or no raises. Some friends and associates in Seattle’s close-knit entrepreneurial network were also piqued that Mr. Price’s action made them look stingy in front of their own employees.

Then potentially the worst blow of all: Less than two weeks after the announcement, Mr. Price’s older brother and Gravity co-founder, Lucas Price, citing longstanding differences, filed a lawsuit that potentially threatened the company’s very existence. With legal bills quickly mounting and most of his own paycheck and last year’s $2.2 million in profits plowed into the salary increases, Dan Price said, “We don’t have a margin of error to pay those legal fees.”
The Fox story doesn't mention the influx of new business, which the Times calls a "bonanza." And Fox doesn't quote any still-satisfied old customers, like this one quoted by the Times:
Early on, [Price] signed up Pure Food Fish. The shop was a backdrop in the film “Sleepless in Seattle,” but more important, it was run by the 86-year-old Solly Amon, who inherited the pocket store from his father and is lovingly known as the “cod father.” When other merchants heard Mr. Amon trusted Dan, they did too.

“They give us tremendous service,” Mr. Amon said. He remembered an incident years ago when Mr. Price had a new credit card machine up and running within three hours after his old one died.

In addition to providing the devices and software that merchants use when a customer whips out a credit card, Gravity makes sure the money shifts securely and quickly among buyer, bank and business. In an industry dominated by global banking giants and mammoth processors, the company last year processed $6.5 billion in sales for 12,000 clients, most of them small and medium-size businesses.

Was Mr. Amon bothered by Mr. Price’s new payroll policy? “He takes care of his business, and I’ll take care of my business,” he declared.
The Fox story gets the word "socialist" into paragraph 3 (admittedly, the word shows up in the Times story, too), but it never mentions an aspect of Price's upbringing that ought to impress a member of the Fox audience: He was raised as a right-wing Christian.

From the Times story:
If there was a 19th-century thinker Mr. Price drew inspiration from, it would be not Karl Marx, but Russell Conwell, the Baptist minister and Temple University founder, whose famed “Acres of Diamonds” speech fused Christianity and capitalism. “To make money honestly is to preach the Gospel,” Mr. Conwell exhorted his listeners. To get rich “is our Christian and godly duty.”

Growing up in rural southwestern Idaho, Mr. Price frequently listened to a recording of the speech on tape.

Every day he and his four brothers and one sister rose as early as 5 a.m. to recite a proverb, a psalm, a Gospel chapter and an excerpt from the Old and New Testaments. Home-schooled until he was 12 and taught to accept the Bible as the literal truth, Mr. Price also listened to the Rush Limbaugh show for three hours a day -- never imagining he would one day be the subject of a rant by the host.
Also:
He did not actively oppose Seattle’s minimum-wage increase, but a reason he urges other business owners to follow his lead on pay is to avoid more government regulation.
The Fox story quotes the dismayed owner of "a family restaurant":
Brian Canlis, co-owner of a family restaurant, already worried about how to deal with Seattle’s new minimum wage, told Price the pay raise at Gravity “makes it harder for the rest of us.”

“It pains me to hear Brian Canlis say that,” Price said. “The last think I would ever want to do is make a client feel uncomfortable.”
You probably read "family restaurant" and imagined a down-home place serving unpretentious food at reasonable prices. The Times story, by contrast, describes Canlis as "a co-owner of his family-named restaurant." The restaurant isn't what you'd call "a family restaurant" -- there's a $22,500 bottle of wine on the 90-page wine list -- and while dinner isn't expensive by Manhattan standards ($85 for a three-course prix fixe, $100 for four courses), it ain't cheap.

Price really might get through this rough patch, and if he doesn't, as the Times story makes clear, it might be because some customers think he's going to raise fees or scrimp on service, even though he's working hard not to. That's clear from the Times story. You'd never know it from Fox.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

NICE JEB VS. NASTY HILLARY: A MEDIA NARRATIVE BEGINS TO TAKE SHAPE

It's being reported that Hillary Clinton attacked Jeb Bush in a speech yesterday to the National Urban League, and that Jeb chose not to respond in kind. But please note how it's being reported, because we're watching a 2016 media narrative in the early stages of formation.

Here's the Politico story:
Appearing Friday at the National Urban League Conference here in the country’s most important swing state, Hillary Clinton didn’t mention Jeb Bush by name, but tore apart the entire premise of his “right to rise” mission statement. Striding onto that same stage less than an hour later, Bush acknowledged Clinton’s presence at the conference in order to thank her for appearing there, then proceeded to ignore her attacks and campaign altogether.

... Clinton and Bush demonstrated the starkly different ways the two candidates are addressing each other on the campaign trail, despite their shared commanding advantages.

“I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a right to rise and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare, or repealing Obamacare,” Clinton said, a jab at Bush’s well-known PAC slogan, “Right to Rise.”

“People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care,” she continued. “They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you can’t seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote.” The crowd cheered.

When Bush finally took the stage to address issues of race and repairing American cities, he didn’t hit back. “I’m pleased to see other candidates here as well,” Bush said, even acting like a host in his home state and thanking Clinton, as well as the three other candidates who spoke, by name.
We're told that Bush didn't attack Clinton because he probably would have been booed by a pro-Clinton crowd. But there's also a suggestion that we're seeing the nature of the two campaigns, particularly Bush's:
He’d made a point of attending this conference of several thousand African-American leaders to offer a unifying message to a traditionally Democratic audience, one “that laid out how his record of success in Florida, increasing minority income and student achievement -- can be replicated nationally and give people facing unjust barriers to success the opportunity to rise up,” said Bush’s spokesman, Tim Miller, after the speech. “He didn’t see a value in delivering divisive, false cheap shots like...Clinton did.”

... while Clinton often singles out Bush as her No. 1 target to flog on policy issues such as voting rights, women’s rights, entitlements and the economy, Bush’s critiques of Clinton are less pointed....

Comfortably near the top of the GOP field, Bush doesn’t have to ratchet up the rhetorical red meat; moreover, doing so would undercut his effort to distinguish himself from his party’s unrestrained grievance-based politics with his self-described “optimistic” and “joyful” message....

Clinton, however, has been less restrained, eager to draw comparisons with Bush....
But what does the supposedly more restrained Bush say about Clinton?
When he does take swipes, Bush typically raises questions about Clinton’s character and fitness to lead.

In an interview on Fox News the day after he announced in June, Bush raised questions about Clinton’s record. “As secretary of state, in all honesty, the things she’s known for, the reset [with Russia], the pulling back of our commitments, Libya, put aside Benghazi, Libya in general, it turns out was a complete failure,” he said. “I honestly don’t know what her successes are.”
Wait -- calling her Cabinet term "a complete failure" is a sign of his restraint? Of his reluctance to go on the attack?
Last week, he mocked Clinton for keeping her distance from reporters while emphasizing his own openness with the press. “You’re not going to see me rope-lining myself off with people,” Bush said, referencing the rope that was used to hold reporters at bay while Clinton marched in a July 4 parade in New Hampshire.

On Friday, an hour after he left the stage here without criticizing Clinton, Bush’s campaign issued a news release blasting her support for lifting the embargo on Cuba as “politically expedient.”
Oh, and, as we learn from a New York Times story, the campaign of the high-minded, non-attacking, above-the-fray Jeb Bush is not above attacking Clinton for attacking:
Mr. Bush’s aides, however, could barely hide their disgust over Mrs. Clinton’s remarks, which they spoke of, bitterly, as uncivil and uncalled-for.

On Twitter, Tim Miller, Mr. Bush’s communications director, called it a “Clintonesque move to pass over chance to unite in favor of a false cheap shot.”

Allie Brandenburger, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bush, followed up with an email saying, “The Urban League deserved better.”
Assuming that these two are the nominees, this is going to evolve into a key media narrative of the campaign: Jeb is restrained and good-natured, Hillary is harsh and mean-spirited. Never mind the fact that there's nothing ad hominem about anything Clinton said in her speech -- she's attacking his policies and the policies of his party. That's the purpose of a presidential campaign -- to draw out the distinctions betwen the candidates in order to inform the electorate.

But when Clinton does it, she's vicious. When Bush refrains from doing it -- strategically in this one instance, after having gone on the attack in the past -- then compensates for his restraint by sending his people out to be nasty on his behalf (much as his brother routinely did when he was president), he gets to call himself a nice guy. And the media may decide that's the correct characterization of both.

OH, LOOK! TRUMP'S MATURING! (NO, HE REALLY ISN'T.)

Yesterday, Hunter Walker of Business Insider unearthed some racist Facebook posts by a top Donald Trump aide:
Sam Nunberg, one of Trump's political advisers, has a personal Facebook page that features notes he's posted since 2007.

These updates ... contain many racially charged statements including one instance on August 25, 2007, where Nunberg wrote about calling Rev. Al Sharpton's daughter "N---!"

... Nunberg called Obama a "Socialist Marxist Islamo Fascist Nazi Appeaser" and "Farrakahn's Messiah." Some of Nunberg's posts about Obama contained seemingly mocking references to the president's race and background including updates where Nunberg implied Obama is a "Kenyan" and "Muslim."

Three days before Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Nunberg joked that "there still are tickets available for the Hip Hop Inaugral Ball."
Reached for comment, a Trump spokesperson told Walker that Nunberg would be fired -- which led Walker's boss, Business Insider editor and CEO Henry Blodget, to fall for the "maybe Trump can grow and mature!" delusion:
What was surprising, at least to this Trump campaign observer, was the campaign's response to this revelation.

Within an hour after being alerted to Nunberg's Facebook's posts, a Trump campaign spokesman told Business Insider that Nunberg will be "terminated immediately" once the posts' authenticity is verified.

This reaction, of course, is the reaction that might be expected from any serious candidate for the US presidency.

Until now, however, Trump has not behaved like a serious candidate for the US presidency.

Rather, he has behaved like a schoolyard bully who feels entitled to say and do whatever he likes and attack anyone who criticizes him for any reason, no matter how valid such criticisms might seem.

... This move, along with what seems to be other modestly more "presidential" behavior on Trump's part in recent days, suggests that he is now taking his campaign for president more seriously.

... it seems like Trump might be thinking that he could actually make a serious go of this thing. And, thus, that he should begin to behave -- modestly -- more presidential.
Oh, please.

Trump isn't acting in a more responsible manner. He's just throwing a subordinate under the bus because the subordinate got caught embarrassing him, something he's always reserved the right to do. Trump already fired Nunberg once, earlier this year, after Nunberg was instrumental in arranging for a BuzzFeed profile that turned out to be highly unflattering to Trump. And earlier this week Trump distanced himself from lawyer Michael Cohen's attempted bullying of Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak and from Cohen's assertion that marital rape is legal.

But Trump is still reserving the right to be a bigoted blowhard himself. There he was on Thursday In Scotland, demanding an apology from BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter for questions about his Mexican-bashing. Trump continued to defend the remarks (hat tip: Paul Canning):


TRUMP: ... What I said in the United States turned out to be true. It was right. We're talking about illegal immigration.... What I said about, not Mexicans -- 'cause you said it very improperly, because obviously you're not, you don't want to be an accurate reporter, like many others -- but nobody's gonna say what I said about illegal immigration because I happen to be right. And I've been proven right since the statements were originally made, and people have apologized to me. Maybe one day you'll apologize, too.

So Trump's not "maturing." He's still an arrogant racist jerk. Don't be fooled, Henry.

Friday, July 31, 2015

NO, THIS IS NOT THE NICE, NORMAL HUCKABEE TRYING TO SEEM NASTY FOR EFFECT

Mike Huckabee has said a lot of extreme things recently, in what seems like an attempt to change his nice-guy image, but this is really just the old Huckabee:
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee indicated Thursday that if elected, he wouldn’t rule out employing federal troops or the Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop abortion from taking place in the United States....

The comments came at two public speaking stops on a tour of Iowa.

In response to a question from the audience at the Pizza Ranch in Jefferson, Iowa, Huckabee said he would “invoke the 5th and 14th amendments for the protection of every human being.” ...

“Would that be a huge controversy?” the former Arkansas governor asked. “Yes.” ...

At his next stop, in Rockwell City, Huckabee answered follow-up questions from the correspondent, saying: “All American citizens should be protected.”

Asked by another reporter how he would stop abortion, and whether this would mean using the FBI or federal forces to accomplish this, Huckabee replied: “We’ll see if I get to be president.”
Let's not forget that in 1996, early in his tenure as governor of Arkansas, Huckabee defied federal law to block a Medicare payment for a teenage incest victim's abortion:
Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas today refused to authorize a Medicaid payment for an abortion for a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest, despite a Federal judge's order that such payments were required by Federal law.

Through a spokesman, Mr. Huckabee said his first obligation was to obey the Arkansas State Constitution, rather than Federal law. The State Constitution includes an amendment banning the use of public money for abortion except when a mother's life is endangered; the Federal statute requires that Medicaid pay for abortions that are performed on poor women in cases of rape or incest or a threat to the mother's life.
The girl, by the way, was reported to be mentally retarded.

In 2007, when he was first running for president, Huckabee packed an offensive reference to the Holocaust and a bizarre reference to immigration into a a two-sentence comment on abortion:
Sometimes we talk about why we're importing so many people in our workforce. It might be for the last 35 years, we have aborted more than a million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed Supreme Court ruling in 1973.
That's the old Huckabee -- the one David Brooks described in 2007 as "the most normal person running for president" and "too neighborly to seem presidential." He's not suddenly becoming nastier -- even though people like Brooks never noticed, he always was this nasty.

THEY ATTACK YOUR RIGHTS JUST FOR SHOW

This story (from the anti-abortion LifeSiteNews) is getting a lot of attention on the right:
Until the eve of his presidential campaign, Jeb Bush was director of a philanthropy that gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and financed its advocacy of "unrestricted access to abortion" around the world. The charity also approved money to global abortion providers while he sat on its board.

In 2010, Jeb was named one of the founding directors of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, established as a tax-exempt foundation to advance the vision of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He resigned from the board at the end of 2014 to prepare his presidential campaign.

While a Bush spokesman has responded to concerns by saying that Bush would not have voted on every initiative of the foundation, a pro-life leader told LifeSiteNews it "stretches credibility" that Bush was unaware of the foundation's pro-abortion work, given the centrality of such work to the foundation's mission, and its scope....

In March of 2014, the Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a $50 million undertaking to expand "reproductive health," including lobbying foreign nations to loosen restrictions on abortion....

Bloomberg clarified how the partnership would work while receiving Planned Parenthood's Global Citizen Award at its annual gala last March 27.

"I am happy to say our major partner in this project will be Planned Parenthood - Global," Bloomberg said. "In some countries, our funding will help advocates work towards better sexual health policies for teens and better access to contraceptives. In others, we'll help push for less restrictive abortion laws and more government funding for high-quality, accessible services." ...
I don't know if this is going to damage Bush's status as a GOP front-runner -- I think he's appealing to the non-zealots in the GOP electorate, who might find this a deviation from their principles but who'll probably take him at his word when he says he'll be fervently anti-abortion if he becomes president.

I take him at his word on that, too, because he's always made that part of his political brand:
... Jeb ... declared in 2003 that he was "probably the most pro-life governor in modern times." As governor, Bush signed a law to create "Choose Life" license plates in Florida, the proceeds from which flow to anti-abortion advocacy organizations. He also aggressively intervened in two high-profile cases to prevent a mentally disabled rape victim and a 13-year-old girl from being able to have abortions.

In the former case, involving a 22-year-old rape victim who was both pregnant and developmentally disabled, Bush asked a court to appoint a guardian to represent the woman's fetus. The woman had been raped while living in state-supervised facilities, but did not have the mental capacity to identify her attacker....

In 2005, Bush fought to prevent a pregnant 13-year-old girl, who was a ward of the state, from having an abortion. He was overruled by a judge, and CNN later reported that Bush's "abortion activism shocked some state officials who believed he was reaching beyond the powers of his office."

... The former governor recently embraced a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy....
He'll undoubtedly pursue similar policies if he's president. He'll pick a fervently anti-abortion running mate. He'll make opposition to abortion a Supreme Court litmus test.

And yet he signed on to be part of a Bloomberg initiative that he knew was pursuing reproductive rights. Why? Because, really, he doesn't particularly care about abortion. Being anti-abortion is just obvious positioning if you're an ambitious Republican. Never mind the fact that this positioning has real-life consequences for real people -- he did it because that's what he assumed his voters wanted, and what the voters he's hoping to attract want.

Apart from (perhaps) Rick Santorum, I don't know if any of the eight thousand Republican presidential candidates really care about abortion deep down. And yet I think every one of them would, if elected, pack the Supreme Court with the judges who'll overturn Roe v. Wade.

Hey, it's just politics, right?

VILLAGERS ARE DESPERATE TO BELIEVE THAT AMERICA DOESN'T HAVE A TRUMP PROBLEM

In The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Nick Carasaniti write about Donald Trump and the upcoming Fox News debate -- and give us what might be the stupidest paragraph of the week:
Mr. Trump could come away a winner if he makes cogent points without sounding too hostile, presenting himself as more of a serious-minded, anti-establishment voice in a primary crowded with career Republican politicians. But there are risks for him if he turns the debate stage in Cleveland into another episode of the reality show his campaign has sometimes resembled.
That couldn't possibly be more wrong.

HIn reality, how is Trump going to "come away a winner"? Precisely by "sounding too hostile," and by not seeming "serious-minded" as political insiders define that term. Trump's fans like him because he's not Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, because he doesn't come off as a grind with his nose in a briefing book on Saturday night. If Trump "turns the debate stage in Cleveland into another episode of the reality show his campaign has sometimes resembled," what are the "risks for him"? That he'll go to 35% in the polls?

Oh, I guess these are the risks:
“He’s gotten away with just blustery criticisms and sweeping generalizations until now,” Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney in 2012, said in an email. “It will be interesting to see if the Fox moderators, who are trusted validators among Republican primary voters, force him to provide more specifics on important policy issues.”

“He can’t just complain about the media to a Republican audience when it’s Bret Baier asking the question,” he said, referring to a Fox News anchor.
He can't? Sure he can. Yes, the right-wing base loves Fox, but the base is more than willing to denounce Fox in the rare moments when Fox deviates from wingnut orthodoxy. Spotted at Free Republic when Fox's Martha McCallum asked Ted Cruz a few months ago if he was too conservative to win independent voters:



See also "Is Fox News Also a Leftist Propaganda Outlet?" (posted after Carl Cameron said Obama's birth certificate was legitimate) and "FOX NEWS Officially RINO Liberal Central" (posted after Glenn Beck left Fox). Trust me: If it's a battle between a Fox moderator and Trump, unless Trump seems on the defensive, the crazies are going to side with Trump.

But here's where I think we see what's really going on in the Times article:
It is possible, of course, that Mr. Trump could choose to disarm his opponents not by finding new ways to humiliate them but by being statesmanlike and courteous.
Well, actually, no, it isn't possible. But go on.
“If we live in a world where he is a serious candidate and intends to prove that he’s a serious candidate, then it is a real opportunity,” said Stuart Stevens, another former Romney adviser. “I think for Donald Trump, a boring debate would probably help.”
Ahh, there we go. What these people are rooting for is a Trump who makes nice. Why? Because that would quell their anxieties about Trump's rise and what it says regarding American politics. If Trump becomes just another politician, then we no longer have to worry that a significant percentage of the public wants a racist know-nothing demagogue as president. If Trump were to do what Stevens prays for, the Beltway insiders could say, "See? The kids are all right. They just like this harmless eccentric. We no longer have to worry that years of escalating extremist rhetoric from the GOP and the right-wing media have primed a third of the electorate to want the country run by an ignorant tyrant on a balcony. Phew!"

*****

A different version of the "Trump's all right, really" worldview comes today from Peggy Noonan, who turns his rise into a sort of Song of America:
He was born to wealth and went to Wharton, yet gives off a working-class vibe his supporters admire. He’s like Broderick Crawford in “Born Yesterday”: He comes across as self-made. In spite of his wealth he never made himself smooth, polite. He’s like someone you know. This is part of his power....

He never served in the military yet connects with grunts. He has lived a life of the most rarefied material splendor -- gold gilt, penthouse suites -- and made the high life part of his brand. Yet he doesn’t come across as snooty or fancy -- he’s a regular guy. A glitzy Manhattan billionaire is doing well with Evangelicals. That’s a first.

His rise is not due to his supporters’ anger at government. It is a gesture of contempt for government, for the men and women in Congress, the White House, the agencies. It is precisely because people have lost their awe for the presidency that they imagine Mr. Trump as a viable president....

Mr. Trump’s supporters like that he doesn’t in the least fear the press, doesn’t get the dart-eyed, anxious look candidates get. He treats reporters with courtesy until he feels they’re out of line, at which point he calls them stupid. They think he’ll do that with Putin. His insult of John McCain didn’t hurt him, and not because his supporters have any animus for Mr. McCain. They just saw it as more proof Mr. Trump will take the bark off anyone.

They’re not nihilists, they’re patriots, and don’t experience themselves as off on a toot but pragmatic in a way the establishment is not. The country is in crisis, we can’t keep doing more of the same. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” We have to do something different. He’s different. If it doesn’t work we’ll fire him.
Of course, we wouldn't be able to just "fire him." I'm not even sure we could impeach and convict him if it came to that -- he'd probably sue. (And by the way, Peggy, Trump's followers have plenty of "animus for John McCain.")

One way or another, we can remain in denial that Trump's rise says something bad about the country. Either Trump will get himself under control because he's really not a bad guy or America is egging him out of the best possible motivations. But relax, folks: America is just fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.

****

UPDATE: I should not that Matt Bai of Yahoo Politics is an exception to this -- he thinks Trump's rise shows that we have a dangerous tendency to "amuse ourselves to death." Bai doesn't worry that Trump will win, but he does worry that someone more dangerous will learn the formula from Trump:
Somewhere out there right now is some business magnate or TV celebrity, someone whose resources and audacity may vastly exceed his intellect or compassion, whose ambition may be more of the Napoleonic variety than the P.T. Barnum kind, who’s better skilled than Trump at making demagoguery look like a half-palatable governing vision.

And that person is probably sitting by a pool ringed with limestone goddesses, watching all this unfold and asking the question any of us might reasonably ask in that situation.

“Hey, why not me?”
And then we're sunk.

What Bai ignores, however, is the specific content of Trump's demagoguery. I say in the headline to this post that America has a Trump problem. I should be more specific: Right-wing america has a Trump problem, in that vast numbers of right-wingers are primed to fall for an ignoramus like him. The rest of America has a problem with those right-wingers. Bai misses that.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MOST BELTWAY INSIDERS STILL HAVE NO LEARNING CURVE REGARDING GOP EXTREMISM

At Vox, David Roberts writes about a just-published report on the extremism of right-wing media and the political harm it does. The message of the report -- which was written by Jackie Calmes of The New York Times and grew out of her recent fellowship at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government -- is summed up in its title: "'They Don’t Give a Damn About Governing': Conservative Media’s Influence on the Republican Party."

Calmes, Roberts tells us, discusses the report in a podcast, in which she admits that she didn't know much about the right-wing media before beginning her research:
The first thing she says is that before launching her research project, she wasn't really aware of right-wing media beyond Limbaugh and National Review and was surprised at the size and radicalism of the right-wing media/activist network.
Well, Roberts says, at least she gets it now. And then he says that it's getting harder and harder for journalists and others to remain ignorant of right-wing extremism:
One of the longstanding critiques of mainstream media on the left, from the very beginning of the blogosphere, was that reporters in the Beltway "Village" failed to grasp modern conservatism and wrote about it in such a way as to sand down and mute its extremity. Their attachment to a certain mental model of politics -- "both sides" with their mirror-image extremes and centers -- made them blind to "asymmetrical polarization." In fact, people are still making that critique; here's Paul Krugman from just a few days ago.

... there are still plenty of mainstream political reporters who cling to the both-sides illusion to this day, imagining politics as a sober business conducted by Very Serious People in suits, premised on a shared set of facts and assumptions. But as the far right sends the Republican Party through an ever-more-absurd series of showdowns and tantrums, the illusion is fading. Now lots of established journalists seem to have moved on to the bargaining stage of grief, holding out hope that the Adults will once again take charge.
But is that really what the typical mainstream journalist believes -- that, yes, the right is crazy now, but cooler heads ought to prevail any minute now?

I think it's worse than that. I think every flare-up of extremism that's the Village can't simply ignore is treated as an isolated incident, the work of an unrepresentative "lone nut" or collection of lone nuts. It certainly never reflects the nature of the party as a whole! The demonization of Sandra Fluke? That was just that awful Rush Limbaugh! "Legitimate rape"? Todd Akin, speaking solely for himself, and not in any way expressing a widely shared belief on the right! The government shutdown in 2013? Blame Ted Cruz, and only Ted Cruz (or maybe a tiny band of Tea Party legislators who are very, very different from the vast majority of Republicans)! The Trump phenomenon? It's just Trump! As soon as he fades, Republican voters will be delightedly embracing their true heroes, folks like Jeb Bush and John Kasich!

The Villagers never think "the Adults will once again take charge" because they never truly believe that the crazies are in charge. Every extremist flare-up is a fluke. And that's what they're going to believe when the Trump phenomenon ends, even though the crazies will be clamoring for Jeb (or Scott or whoever) to be as extreme as Trump. That thirst for the crazy is unslakable -- but to the Village, most of the time, it's invisible.

WHY YOU SHOULD BE SKEPTICAL OF THAT TRUMP-LEADS-FLORIDA POLL (AND WHY MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T BE)

I'd love to believe this, though I'm skeptical:
Shock poll: Donald Trump leads Jeb Bush 26-20 percent … in Florida

For the first time this year, Donald Trump tops a state poll of GOP presidential candidates in Florida.

A St. Pete Polls survey released on Wednesday shows the New York businessman with 26 percent support, with Jeb Bush in second place with 20 percent.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is in third place with 12 percent, and Marco Rubio is in fourth place with 10 percent. He’s followed by Dr. Ben Carson at 5 percent, Ted Cruz and John Kasich at 4 percent, and Rand Paul at 3 percent....
There are reasons for skepticism. Last year, Daily Kos's David Nir criticized the track record and methodology of St. Pete Polls :



Nir specifically criticized St. Pete for having a pro-Republican lean and for conducting one-day robocall surveys. But a pro-GOP bias wouldn't matter in this case because it's just a poll of Republicans, and the pollster tells us this survey was conducted over the course of eleven days, not one.

But that's the only criticism of the pollster. When this story broke yesterday, Dave Weigel tweeted a link, and some of his readers picked apart the numbers:





Does it make sense in Florida that the 92% of the Republicans surveyed were white, or that (to be specific) 79.9% were 50 or over, and 32.5% were 70 and over?

Well, maybe it does make sense. The respected Edison Research exit-polled the 2012 Florida Republican primary, and 78% of its respondents were 45 or older, while 36% were 65 and older. Also, 83% were white (1% each were black, Asian, and "other," while 14% were Hispanic, of whom 8% were Cuban). So the St. Pete numbers aren't that far off.

The St. Pete gender skew is weird, however -- 61.9% male? Really? (Edison's 2012 exit-poll respondent poll was 51% male.) However, in the St. Pete poll, Trump wins among women as well as men, though men like Trump more (men: 28.2% Trump, 20.3% Bush; women: 23.2% Trump, 19.6% Bush).

So, yes, Trump may really be leading in Florida.

THE RIGHT-WING PROPAGANDA MACHINE IS NOT A CLOWN CAR

A temporary restraining order issued in Los Angeles Superior Court now prevents the shady anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing any additional secret videos concerning StemExpress, which works with Planned Parenthood affiliates in California to provide fetal tissue to researchers.

I doubt this will slow CMP's video release plans for very long. CMP has released three videos so far; the group's David Dalieden says there'll be a total of twelve. I'm sure the restraining order won't hold for very long -- this court will lift the ban, or another court will, or videos that don't involve StemExpress will move up in the release schedule. (UPDATE: A fourth video was just released, not involving StemExpress.)

CMP has released videos at the rate of one a week, so the plan has been to release them into the fall. I'm struck by the timing: carefully planned to coincide with the months when the presidential campaign is heating up, but distant enough from the election that the whole stunt could be flushed down the memory hole if public reaction turned out to be as negative as the reaction to Todd Akin's rape remarks or Rush Limbaugh's smearing of Sandra Fluke.

As it happens, CMP has somewhat of a hit on its hands: Right-wingers are complaining about what they see as inadequate coverage in the mainstream media, but the story is firing up the right -- at a time when, Donald Trump notwithstanding, the still-likely GOP nominee is the extremely uninspiring Jeb Bush, who'll need something to goose base voters if he's to have any hope of winning the presidency.

And the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has been defensive about the videos, even as she sticks up for Planned Parenthood as an organization. The organizers of this campaign knew years ago -- we all did -- that Clinton was the likely 2016 Democratic nominee, and that she's linked in most Americans' minds to feminism, and thus to reproductive rights. Getting her into a defensive crouch on this ("The videos coming out about Planned Parenthood are deeply troubling to say the least") is a pretty big win.

And the right is clearly going to build on all this, not just in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail, but in the states. (Here's Florida governor Rick Scott ordering inspections of Planned Parenthood facilities in his state.) That kind of thing is likely to keep happening in Republican-run states (especially if they're presidential swing states). So this story might have legs.

Was this the plan all along -- to target the presidential election? I'm struck not just by the timing of the video releases, but by the history of CMP, which has links to Operation Rescue and Live Action but is a relatively new group.

The first CMP video was released a couple of weeks ago -- and when it came out, we were told that the release was part of "a 30-month-long investigative journalism study." Count back thirty months from July 2015. You end up at January 2013 -- just about the time when conservative activists stung by their failure to unseat Barack Obama in the 2012 election might have finished licking their wounds and decided they were ready to start planning for another election cycle.

You can snicker all you want at Trump and the GOP candidate "clown car," but the right is very good at forcing what seems to be a minor issue, or even an irrelevancy, into the national debate -- remember ACORN and the Swiftboated John Kerry. I think this was intended as a hit on Hillary. And I think it might be working.

****

UPDATE, SATURDAY, 8/: Tying into this is Karoli Kuns's article about Groundswell, the secretive right-wing group formed -- yes -- in early 2013, with founders including Clarence Thomas's wife and Ted Cruz's chief of staff. Go read what Kuns writes about how Groundswell's work syncs up with CMP's. This is just one of Groundswell's interest areas. But, yes, this is an election-season hit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DEAR GOP: I FOUND A WAY TO KEEP TRUMP OUT OF FUTURE DEBATES

The Republican Party is fretting over Donald Trump's appearance in the upcoming presidential debates on Fox and CNN -- but there'll be another candidate forum soon, and Trump is insisting he won't appear in that one:
Trump tells Union Leader: No endorsement, no show

Donald Trump is still not participating in next Monday’s Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire, but now he says it is because he thinks he is unlikely to get the New Hampshire Union Leader’s endorsement and, besides, he thinks there are too many candidates for one event.

Given a deadline of last Friday, Trump’s office had said he would not participate because of a Union Leader editorial critical of him for questioning U.S. Sen. John McCain’s Vietnam war record....

But Tuesday, in a letter to Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid, Trump wrote: “...knowing you as I do, I feel it is unlikely I will be getting the endorsement from you and the Union Leader. I have made a great fortune based on instinct and that, unfortunately, is my view. Therefore, and for other reasons including the fact that I feel there are too many people onstage to have a proper forum, I will not be attending.”

There will be 14 Republican presidential candidates at the forum, which is being co-sponsored by news media in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina, home of the first three GOP primaries and caucuses.
Trump's saying he won't appear in the forum because he intuits that the Union Leader won't endorse him, but his original reason was that a Union Leader editorial attacked him -- which, GOP, suggests how you might keep him out of future debates, if you're smart.

You know all that Trump opposition research you and the candidates are sitting on? All the sleazy, scurrilous stories? Just start leaking them to any news organization planning to sponsor an upcoming debate. Obviously you won't get very far with Fox News, which loves Trump, but maybe you can leak something to CNN before the September 16 debate. Make it nasty and juicy. If Trump gets angry enough, maybe he'll refuse to do the CNN debate. Then move on to the sponsors of subsequent debates.

The guy doesn't like to be attacked, and he enjoys acting as if he can exact vengeance on anyone he thinks is attacking him. So take advantage of that. Hey, it might work.

I GUESS YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A COP TO CHARGE PEOPLE WITH "CONTEMPT OF COP"

Deadly police misconduct is a tremendous problem in America right now, but here's a case of a public servant who isn't on a police force deciding that his right not to be "disrespected" outweighs another human being's life. To me, this reaction derives from the same mindset as "contempt of cop" brutality:
An Albuquerque Fire Department dispatcher has been reassigned after he allegedly refused to help a distraught woman asking for assistance on a 911 call as her friend was dying after being shot, fire officials said.

In audio released Tuesday, a dispatcher identified as Matthew Sanchez appears to get frustrated by a woman tending to Jaydon Chavez-Silver, a 17-year-old who was shot by a gunman who opened fire into a house where a party was being held at around 10 p.m. on June 26, authorities said.

Chavez-Silver was pronounced dead at a hospital, and there have been no arrests, Albuquerque police said Tuesday.

Sanchez asks several times whether the victim is breathing, and the caller says, "He's barely breathing. How many times do I have to f---ing tell you?"

Sanchez is heard responding, "OK, you know what, ma'am? You can deal with yourself, I'm not going to deal with this, OK?" The caller pleads, "No, my friend is dying! I …" and the line disconnects.
Here's a partial transcript:
Caller: I’m keeping him alive…

Dispatcher: Is he not breathing?

Caller: Barely. Take one more breath -- there you go, Jaydon. … Stay with me, stay with me, ok. Good job, Jaydon.

Dispatcher: Is he breathing?

Caller: He is barely breathing. How may times do I have to f**king tell you?

Dispatcher: Ok, you know what ma’am? You can deal with it yourself. I’m not going to deal with this, ok.

Caller: No! My friend is dying! …
And here's the audio:



I don't want to suggest that I see this as more important than the many cases of appalling behavior by "respect"-obsessed cops. The police cases are worse because cops always have the power of life and death over the people they detain.

But cops defend themselves by saying that they have to seize control of every situation in order not to be victims of violence themselves. Yes, that's a consideration in some cases of violent misconduct. In many cases, though, there's no obvious threat (an unarmed fleeing suspect shot in the back, a clearly unarmed teenage girl in a bikini slammed to the ground), and still they do it.

And now here's a 911 dispatcher who lashed out at a citizen even though he had no reason whatsoever to feel that he was experiencing any threat, expect to his precious dignity. Don't tell me that this isn't happening to cops. Don't tell me that every outrageously disproportionate reaction is the result of fear. Sorry, guys -- you serve the public. It's about service. It's not about your manhood.

****

UPDATE:




HEY, MAYBE DONALD TRUMP IS LEAKING ALL THOSE TRUMP STORIES

I assume that most of us believe we're seeing a Donald Trump opposition-research dump -- either the Republican National Committee is passing Trump stories along to the media or the campaign of one of his opponents, probably Jeb Bush, is doing it. But the stories aren't having the intended effect -- yesterday's Daily Beast rape story failed to harm Trump, because the claim that Trump raped his then-wife Ivana was denied a couple of years after the fact by Ivana herself, and was denied by Ivana again after the story broke. Trump fans saw the publication of the story as a nefarious plot to destroy their hero, and they rallied around him even more.

And now there's this, in The New York Times:
Donald J. Trump seemed irritated. He had been grilled for two hours in a lawsuit over a failed Florida real estate project, and he told the lawyer that her questions were “very stupid.”

When the lawyer, Elizabeth Beck, asked for a medical break, Mr. Trump and his lawyers objected, demanding that the deposition continue. Ms. Beck said it was urgent -- she needed to pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter, and she took the pump out to make her point.

Mr. Trump erupted.

“You’re disgusting,” he told Ms. Beck, in a remark that is not disputed by either side. He then walked out of the room, ending the testimony for the day....
Seriously, Jeb (or Reince)? That's supposed to be disillusioning to Trump's supporters? That he didn't want a deposition interrupted while the lawyer pumped breast milk?

I went to my usual barometer for this --- a Free Republic thread linking the New York Daily News version of this story. I see that some of the Freepers are actually modern enough to accept (discreet) public breastfeeding. Milk-pumping is another matter. From a commenter named biff:
Mrs. Biff nursed all three of my boys. Real subtle she was and when flying and kiddos ears would bother them she could breastfeed on the plane with a light blanket over babies head and nobody even knew. Baby ears cleared, baby with happy stomach, everybody on plane happy with no screaming kid.

On the other hand, breast pumping during a deposition is a little slovenly.
More:
Not breastfeeding...pumping milk...DURING a deposition. That is weird.

****

It is weird, but I wouldn’t call it disgusting. “Inappropriate” is what I would call it; Not the act itself, but the setting in which she chose to do it.

****

breastfeeding is a lot different than pumping milk with from ones breast. One is natural but not appropriate in a deposition the other is inappropriate anywhere but in a private room.
For others, as you'd imagine, it's all too much:
I like scratching my butt, but not in public....

****

The culture and liberals over the last 50 years have wanted the “ In your face “ approach of pushing the envelope as far as they can take it to see what they can get away with.

Society once knew a word, it’s called decentcy.

****

The woman is disgusting--pumping as if she were a cow--instead of at home caring for the needs of her child which includes true breastfeeding and intimacy. That event is for the mother/child “trust” bonding--not some plastic, artificial container held by anyone and no skin on skin contact, which actually reduces the mother to a cow without a calf.

This “Marxist” removal of a mother--having her “pumped” is disgusting. Such a sad dehumanizing culture for babies now--left to strangers since “work” is more important than shaping and caring for the next generation which is the true “work” of mothers with young children.

****

... Trump could have gotten the upper hand had he just said, “Sure. Have at it.” and taken out a penis pump.
All in all, this falls under the heading of "You come at the king, you'd best not miss." The Freepers are just enraged by this -- even the Trump skeptics. Trump is becoming what they love most: a defiant victim of liberal evil. He's the new Sarah Palin! Oh, and ... and ... Planned Parenthood!
Obama voted for infanticide as a state senator.

****

Wow.

How long has it been since lefties have tried the “Throw EVERYTHING at it” approach?

****

Last time Palin drew breath.

****

I betcha all these people looking for dirt on Trump are great with those metal detectors looking for a rusty St Christopher Metal at some park somewhere.

****

The news media is out to destroy Donald Trump. The liberal mainstream media fears that Trump will ruin their dreams of a socialist paradise (really hell hole)

****

... The left supports the killing and dismembering of babies and the selling of their body parts. I hardly think Trump’s reaction to the possibility that the woman was getting ready to pump breast milk right there (or even that she pulled out the pump and showed them) is a anything at all.

If that’s the best they can do they’ve got nothing.

****

... When you receive maximum flak, you are over the target!


****

but selling baby parts isn’t even news.
If it were possible to imagine him playing 11-dimensional chess, it might almost seem plausible that Trump himself was leaking these stories, just to induce a backlash (and keep his name in the press). But that's really not his style. So I blame whichever Republican is stupid enough to think these leaks will do Trump harm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

OH, POOR, NAIVE BRUCE BARTLETT

I don't really want to criticize Bruce Bartlett when he's using this Politico column to make good points about the extremism of the modern Republican Party -- but if he thinks a Donald Trump general-election loss would discredit the GOP's extremist wing, he's sadly mistaken:
As a moderate Republican who voted for Obama, I should be Donald Trump’s natural enemy. Instead, I’m rooting for him.

The Republican establishment foresees a defeat of Barry Goldwater proportions in the unlikely event Trump wins the Republican presidential nomination. As Trump’s lead in the polls grows, so too does their panic. Yet, for moderate Republicans, a Trump nomination is not something to be feared but welcomed. It is only after a landslide loss by Trump that the GOP can win the White House again.

Trump’s nomination would give what’s left of the sane wing of the GOP a chance to reassert control in the wake of his inevitable defeat, because it would prove beyond doubt that the existing conservative coalition cannot win the presidency. A historic thrashing of the know-nothings would verify that compromise and reform are essential to recapture the White House and attract new voters, such as Latinos, who are now alienated from the Republican Party.

A best-case scenario would see the nation souring on the Democrats after three victories in a row, the most either party has achieved in the post-war era, and the election of a pragmatic Republican in 2020, unencumbered by the right-wing baggage essential for winning the nomination that dragged down John McCain and Mitt Romney....
If you nodded in agreement at that reference to "the right-wing baggage essential for winning the nomination that dragged down John McCain and Mitt Romney," congratulations: you're not a wingnut. You know that Mitt Romney talked about "self-deportation," denounced Obamacare the way Ahab denounced the whale, and picked granny-starving Paul Ryan as his running mate; you also know that John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate and said it would be just ducky if U.S. troops were in Iraq for a thousand years.

But to wingnuts, these guys were liberals -- or RINOs, which, to the right, is exactly the same thing. Every wingnut "knows" why Romney and McCain lost: because they weren't conservative enough! If Trump were somehow to win the nomination and he went on to lose the presidency in a landslide, even with someone like Ted Cruz (or, God help us, Palin) as his running mate, these same wingnuts -- the ones thrilling to his every word right now -- would say he lost because he was too liberal.

Hell, it would easier to make that case with Trump -- he's given money to Democrats and praised single-payer healthcare, and he occasionally says conservatively incorrect things even about immigration. So we'd be back at square one: Next time, if we want to win, we have to run a conservative! And if no Republican wins the presidency for a generation, it will be because none of them actually were conservatives. Because, to the wingnuts, conservatism can never fail -- it can only be failed.

YES, THIS CALM, MEASURED ARGUMENT OUGHT TO CHANGE A NUMBER OF MINDS

A Free Republic thread directs me to a post at the Young Conservatives site with the headline "This Sign Delivers Epic Burn to Liberals Who Support Iran Deal."

"Epic burn" -- really? Wow, what the heck does the sign say? Unless the headline is exaggerating, it must say something amazing!

Um, here it is:



This isn't an "epic burn." It doesn't even make sense. It just takes one momentary right-wing obsession and turns it into a metaphor for another momentary right-wing obsession, in a way that's utterly illogical. This sign exists solely to give other right-wingers the thrill of having two hate-erogenous zones massaged simultaneously. That's the principal thing right-wingers want, all the time -- to have their anger stoked and their sense of moral superiority affirmed.

The pleasure this sign brings is the pleasure of Trump trash talk. It doesn't have to be coherent. It doesn't have to offer solutions. It just has to affirm the goodness of us and the across-the-board evil of the liberal them.

WILL THE TRUMP RAPE STORY HURT HIM? I DOUBT IT.

First, regarding the old news in the Daily Beast's Trump rape story: If this were going to hurt Trump's reputation, it would have done so long ago. The story's been out there forever, and the accuser, for better or worse, walked it back. It's not a Bill Cosby situation -- there aren't dozens of other women making similar accusations. So I suspect the old report will do no damage:
... [Donald Trump's] ex-wife Ivana Trump once used “rape” to describe an incident between them in 1989. She later said she felt “violated” by the experience.

... Ivana Trump’s assertion of “rape” came in a deposition -- part of the early ’90s divorce case between the Trumps, and revealed in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump.
Go to the link for a description of violent marital sex -- which I'd certainly consider rape. (More on that below.) But Ivana qualified her accusation at the time the book was published:
When Lost Tycoon was about to be printed, Donald Trump and his lawyers provided a statement from Ivana, which was posted on the first page of the book. In it, Ivana confirms that she had “felt violated” and that she had stated that her husband had raped her during a divorce deposition. But Ivana sought to soften her earlier statement.

“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me,” the Ivana Trump statement said. “[O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage. As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense."
Yes, right now that brings to mind the settlements and confidentiality agreements that have kept Bill Cosby out of prison. But unless other women come forward with similar accusations against Trump, his fans will believe what they want to believe.

Especially because they're going to regard the dredging up of this story as a plot against their hero by the liberal media -- or the Republican establishment. Also: What about Bill Clinton?!?!

Thus, we have Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:
The liberal media and GOP elites couldn’t take down Trump with their nonstop attacks.
Trump is up in the polls.

Now this...

So Clinton screwed anything that moved and now they’re making an issue out of a nasty divorce.
They have no shame....

So, who fed this to the Daily Beast, the Bushes or the Clintons?
Also see Robert Stacy McCain -- who, unlike Hoft, hasn't been rooting for Trump:
So what? When a rich man’s wife divorces him, she always accuses him of awful things. It’s a shakedown: “Give me the money I want or I’ll drag your name through the mud and make an ugly spectacle of it.”

Who knows if it’s true? And who cares? Ivana got her money and Trump moved on with his life. It’s over. Ancient history.
I think these arguments are going to be persuasive to the Trumpites.

And now to the aspect of this story that's attracting much of the
media attention:
Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, defended his boss, saying, “You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

... That is not true. In New York, there used to be a so-called marital rape exemption to the law. It was struck down in 1984.
The fact that Trump's lawyer doesn't know the law in his own state will be treated as yet another a sign that Trump lacks the judgment to be president. But do you think his fans will care that the lawyer is ignorant? I've watched these folks for years. I think they hate genuinely smart, sophisticated lawyers. I think they very much agree with Antonin Scalia's critique of the federal judiciary (and, implicitly, the entire universe of elite lawyers) in his same-sex marriage dissent:
... the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
And I think Trump fans will savor the fact that Michael Cohen is the most Trump-esque lawyer ever:
Trump’s lawyer then changed tactics, lobbing insults and threatening a lawsuit if a story was published.

“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Cohen said. “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?”

“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up...for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet...you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added.
There'll have to be more incidents of this kind for this story to leave a mark on Trump. Meanwhile, I'm just savoring the detail that Trump was said to be angry at Ivana because he felt mistreated by a plastic surgeon she'd recommended -- for an operation described in the Daily Beast story as "painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot." Yes, Trump was going bald, and instead of getting hair plugs or trying the then-new drug Rogaine, he had his scalp surgically shrunk. The rich really are very different from you and me.

*****

And if you're thinking what this tweeter is thinking about the first GOP debate...



Don't forget how a question to Newt Gingrich about his marital troubles backfired on CNN's John King in 2012. I don't think I'd go there. (And do you think Reince Priebus wants that question asked in a GOP debate in the Todd Akin era, even if it's asked of Trump?)

*****

UPDATE: In a new interview, Ivana disavows the rape allegation and says Trump "would make an incredible president." End of story.