Sunday, March 27, 2016

Obama roasts Republicans

Obama roasts Republicans
Obama had to have been a stand up comedian in another life...Like ---> Freddie B!!!
Posted by Freddie B!!! on Sunday, March 6, 2016

This was posted on Facebook three weeks ago. I don't know any of the details, I'm afraid. But I like this new Obama, who doesn't seem as desperate for Republicans to like him. Maybe he's finally given up on that?

Thanks, Jim, for the link!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fact-checking the fact-checkers

Interesting, isn't it? How about the fundamental message here, that Republicans control the Senate despite getting far fewer votes than the Democrats did?

The House of Representatives is the same way - or has been, at least, in the last examination of the numbers I've seen. Indeed, it's even worse. But that's mostly because the Republican Party has gerrymandered election districts to guarantee Republican wins, despite the will of the people.

So, two different reasons for the same results. Congress is controlled by the minority party. It's not hopeless, since we can overcome that if everyone votes. But then, that's why the GOP has been pushing hard to suppress the vote. They want to discourage voting, because that's the only way they can win.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How we got here

Donald Trump says what Republican politicians and propagandists have been saying for years. That's why he's leading in the Republican Party. Duh! It's no coincidence.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Seth Meyers: Kansas tax cuts

It's really a shame that Republicans don't care about reality, isn't it? This isn't the first time trickle-down economics has failed - far from it. For one thing, nothing the Bush administration promised us has come true.

But evidence means nothing to right-wing Republicans. They have faith in their dogma, and that's it. Even in Kansas, they wouldn't throw out the governor for getting them in a mess like this. Reality means nothing to people whose ideology isn't based in the real world in the first place.

Monday, March 21, 2016

John Oliver: border wall

Wouldn't we prefer a country that smells like breakfast? I know I would!

And we can get Belgium to pay for it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Still a clown, though a fascist clown

More humor about Donald Trump's "Make America Hate Again" campaign for President of the United States. (I still have trouble believing it. What has happened to my country?)

Of course, as I mentioned yesterday, Seth Meyers made that joke at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner where the attendees expect to be the butt of jokes. (Here again are links to his and President Obama's routines.)

And here's Trevor Noah again, with how ISIS is targeting Donald Trump:

Crazy, isn't it? Funny, but crazy. Scary, but crazy. Well, lots of things, but always crazy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

John Oliver: encryption

Convincing, isn't it? You know what surprises me the most? That I agree with Lindsey Graham about something!

Hmm,... maybe it's two things. After all, he did compare Donald Trump and Ted Cruz to the choice between "being shot or poisoned." (Admittedly, he didn't acknowledge his own role in bringing those choices into being.)

Make America violent again

Welcome to 1916, huh? As the Republican Party moves back in time, I have to wonder when they're going to starting burning 'witches' again...

Donald Trump: "Part of the problem is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore." Really. That's an exact quote.

As Trevor Noah says, "That's not a problem. That's civilization."

Noah is right about Bernie Sanders supporters, too. Oh, not all of them. Of course not. And those protests were not organized, supported, or even approved by Bernie Sanders. But many of his supporters are so completely clueless that I just have to wonder what I'm missing about Sanders himself.

Those protesters are helping Donald Trump. As Trevor Noah points out, they are feeding into the exact same narrative that Trump is pushing.

Again, not all of them. At first, those peaceful protesters getting pushed around and even attacked by Trump supporters were not the problem. But the longer this continues, the more angry idiots show up who also want to fight. That gives Trump supporters the excuse they wouldn't have otherwise.

Violence begets violence. The problem is, it's Donald Trump who's pushing violence. It's Donald Trump whose narrative excuses violence. And it's Donald Trump who benefits when violence erupts, as long as it's not completely one-sided.

I doubt if I'm the only one who likes Bernie Sanders less the more I see of his supporters. But at least I won't vote for Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz) because of that. (And to hear Sanders supporters talk about Hillary Clinton,... well, let's just say that I can easily see progressives blowing this one. Again.)

You don't fight idiocy with idiocy. If that's what you want to do, you'll have to do it without me.

In a way, this reminds me of Republican support of torture and even of deliberately killing innocent people (which Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have actually promoted as a way to stop terrorism). You don't stop the worst people in the world by turning yourself into them. We did not stop the Nazis by becoming Nazis.

If you turn yourself into your enemy, your enemy has won. If we become terrorists, the terrorists win. If we become idiots, the idiots win. I know they say "fight fire with fire," but if your thinking only extends to four words on a bumper-sticker, the idiots have clearly won you over to their side already.


PS. Incidentally, here's an interesting article in the New York Times about Donald Trump's reasons for getting serious about politics. According to that, it was at least partly a result of the humiliation he felt at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, where he was the butt of jokes from both Barack Obama and Seth Meyers.

As I said at the time, "what I think I like best about both of these is the expression on Donald Trump's face as he's ridiculed. Man, he looks furious!"

Apparently, he was.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The problem with establishment Democrats

This is one thing that really, really pisses me off about "establishment Democrats" - they keep helping right-wing Republicans rewrite history.

Why is that? Well, as far as I can tell, they're simply so eager to bend over backwards appeasing right-wingers that they just 'go along to get along.' And Nancy Reagan is dead, so you have to say nice things about her, right? Even when they're not true?

Hillary Clinton has faced nonstop Republican opposition for an even longer period of time than Barack Obama has. At what point will they realize that it's hopeless, that Republicans will never like them no matter what they do?

I don't know. Is there any other explanation for this? Hillary Clinton has since apologized - more or less - but how could she be this clueless, anyway? She lived through the 1980s, just like I did. How can she remember the Reagan years like that?

I'm not one of the Clinton-haters. I'd be happy with either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton as president. But I certainly understand how maddening "establishment Democrats" can be. I don't get as hysterical about it as Sanders' supporters, but I certainly understand the feeling, I really do!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where were they when we needed them?

Here's a great column by Neal Gabler at (Thanks, Jeff, for the link.)
Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals.

The media have been acting as if the Trump debacle were the biggest political story to come down the pike in some time. But the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless.

It is a story you didn’t read, hear or see in the mainstream media, only in lefty journals like The Nation and Rolling Stone, on websites like People for the American Way, and in columns like Paul Krugman’s. And it wasn’t exactly because the MSM in its myopia missed the story. It was because they chose not to tell it – to pretend it wasn’t happening. They are still pretending.

It is hardly a surprise that the GOP establishment and their enablers in the media are acting as if Trump, the Republican frontrunner, is a break from the party’s supposedly genteel past. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, who was “shocked, shocked,” to find gambling in Rick’s establishment, the GOP solons profess to be “shocked, shocked” by Trump’s demagogic racism and nativism. Their protestations remind me of an old gambit of comedian Milton Berle. When the audience was applauding him, he would shush them demonstratively with one hand while encouraging them gently with the other. ...

I don’t think the media would deny their indifference. They would say they don’t take sides. They’re neutral. They just report. Partisanship is for Fox News and MSNBC.

Of course, this is utter nonsense. Accurate reporting means taking sides when one side is spouting falsehoods. I am still waiting for the media to correct the GOP pronouncements that Obamacare has cost us jobs and sent health care costs skyrocketing – both of which are screamingly false. I am not holding my breath.

But even if it were true that the media are not referees, not taking sides against extremism is just another way of taking sides by legitimizing extremism and making it the new normal, which it now is – so long, apparently, as you don’t shout it. In any case, objectivity is a rationalization. We know the media are afraid of a right-wing backlash. We know that they protect themselves by insisting that our two major parties are equidistant from the political center – more nonsense. And we know that every story is framed by its political consequences, not its human ones. We see that every day. ...

Something happened in American politics over the last 25 or 30 years to release our demons and remove our shame. The media didn’t want to look. Now Trump has come along to reap what the conservatives had sown, and stir up those demons, and the media are suddenly in high dudgeon. Where were they when America needed them?

Good question, isn't it?

Of course, our media are corporations with a primary goal of making money. They were not there when we needed them, because...

1) The "mainstream" media does not wish to offend nearly half the country, because then they would lose too many paying customers (niche companies like Fox 'News' make money by deliberately appealing to Republicans, but that's not the business model of the MSM);

2) That "he said/she said" bickering, fostered and encouraged by a media which referees and treats both sides as legitimate, whether one side is flat-out lying or not, fits with their entertainment model; and

3) The CEOs, board members, and large stockholders of the corporate media are wealthy people who directly benefit from low taxes on the rich, which is one thing the Republican Party has stuck with for decades.

Of course, the "something" that happened in American politics in recent decades is that notorious 'Southern strategy,' where the Republican Party deliberately began to woo white racists, after the Democratic Party (finally) took a principled stand for civil rights.

That's why it's been the Republican Party, rather than the Democratic Party, which has gone completely off the rails into racism, faith-based thinking, and xenophobia. It could have been the other way around. (Although, the Dixiecrats wouldn't have had big business on their side in that alternate history, unless they'd also started pushing tax cuts for the rich. And the South was already Democratic, so all the Democrats would have gained by pushing racism was to maintain the status quo.)

Well, I've posted plenty about that 'Southern strategy' already, so there's no need to repeat myself here. That explains what happened, but not why we let it happen. It's easy to blame someone else (in this case, the media). But we Americans let it happen.

We're in this together, you know. One way or another, this is going to affect all of us. Fascism won't be defeated without us, and if fascism wins, we'll all suffer.


Is it just coincidence that this cartoon was posted on my birthday? :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Donald Trump's latest infomercial

Surprise, surprise! Donald Trump was lying. Is anyone really surprised by that? Does anyone care? Not his supporters, certainly.

Cage match: Mac Miller vs Donald Trump

I've never heard of Mac Miller before, though I have to admit that he makes sense here. And I feel the exact same way about 'moving to Canada.' There's nothing wrong with Canada, but I'm not going to let fearful, ignorant bigots take my country away from me.

Of course, the fact that a candidate - a leading candidate - for President of the United States is feuding with a rapper, just demonstrates what a circus Donald Trump has made of our democracy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

What's below rock bottom?

You have to admit that Republicans are classy, don't you? They really know how to uphold the dignity of the office of President of the United States - you know, just the most powerful nation on Earth.

What's below rock bottom? Rock bottom doesn't exist, apparently. At least, every time I think the Republicans have hit rock bottom, they sink even lower.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Provocation is a feature, not a bug

Josh Marshall at TPM is a smart guy and he's been observing our political system closely for some time. I've posted his commentary before, and he's always worth listening to.

Here he explains how the dynamic driving Trump's candidacy is all about his target audience, and why it's not likely to work as well in the general election (though he could still win, of course):
The key to understanding the Trump phenomenon - his ability to do all these things and pay no price - is that it has very little to do with Trump and almost everything to do with the portion of the electorate he is currently operating. The current Republican party is built in large part on roughly 25% to 30% of the voting electorate which is radicalized and revanchist - a topic I discussed here. We can think about the the nature of Trump's appeal in three basic ways.

First is simple political substance. TPM Readers are entirely familiar with that the fact that a large segment of the American right is animated by a belief that 'their' world, their America is being taken away from them - this includes everything from declining white racial dominance, having to choose whether you want to hear the phone tree message in English or Spanish, changing cultural mores. The whole package. This is the essence of Trump's campaign - beating back the external threat - the harsh anti-immigrant policies, Muslim bans, flirting with white supremacists, etc. This is the most visible and literal part of Trump's appeal.

Second is the appeal to power and force. Trump is the master of GOP 'dominance politics', the intrinsic appeal of power and the ability to dominate others. All of this has an intrinsic appeal to America's authoritarian right, especially in a climate of perceived threat, which has been growing over the last two decades - something political scientists are now catching on to. We might think of this as the embodiment and acting out of the policy drives noted above. The phenomenon of the imperiled, resentment right is something you're well familiar with if you're a close observer of American politics, certainly if you're a regular reader of TPM. ...

The third factor is I think the least obvious but for these purposes the most important. On the radicalized, revanchist right, provocation and transgression of norms isn't simply indulged. It functions as a positive good. It is a feature, not a bug, to use the tech phrase. What the mainstream electorate might view as an 'outrage' is actually signal of the willingness to tear down a corrupt order that is unwilling (Democrats and elites) or unable (RINOs, mainstream GOP) to turn back the tide of threat. So whether or not you think it's a good idea to kill terrorists families, saying you will is a signal that you won't accept limits. How can Trump break all the rules and pay no price? What's his magic? Changing your positions, obviously lying, taunting enemies - none of these hurt Trump because his core supporters are not seeing them through the same prism you likely are. They're not signs of deception, bad character or untrustworthiness. They all signal a refusal to accept the norms of the threatening order and thus a willingness to overturn it.

To put this more simply, you're being too literal. While the Trump movement is heavily tinged by racial backlash, it's not like all Trump backers would embrace outright white nationalists. But that's not the point. Provocation is a feature, not a bug. But this isn't how the great majority of the American public approaches the world or our national politics. Indeed, the divide is what's tearing the GOP in half at the moment. Because it's a very big chunk of the Republican party. To put this concretely, most Democrats will never support Trump for simple policy reasons, even if there are segments of the Democratic coalition that might. But what we are talking about here is a distinction between policy and political mentality, specifically a view of politics based on resentment and desire for revenge. And that operates with a large minority but not close to a majority of the electorate.

Well, I hope not, at least. Certainly, the people whose politics are based on resentment and desire for revenge are the most noticeable right now. They're certainly the loudest.

And Republicans are going to vote for Trump anyway, if he's the nominee. There's no way a large percentage of Republicans will vote Democratic, just because their nominee is a racist, fascist clown.

If racism really bothered them, they probably wouldn't be Republican in the first place. And Republicans tend to be very authoritarian, even if not actually fascist. Besides, Americans are polarized, and much of that polarization tends to be along party lines. Even those Republicans who despise Trump are likely to hold their nose and vote for him anyway.

On the Democratic side, resentment and the desire for revenge aren't completely absent, and I've been hearing a lot of angry talk by Bernie Sanders' supporters that they'll vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, if she wins the nomination.

I doubt if that's a significant number of Democrats, but it doesn't have to be. This election, like most of these elections in our polarized country, will be decided on the margins. Most Republicans, and most right-wing leaning voters, will vote Republican. Most Democrats, and most left-leaning voters, will vote Democratic. The result will depend on turnout and on the decisions of a relatively-small group of people who aren't already invested in a particular candidate or political party.

Democrats are notorious for being unreliable voters. Usually, they do vote in presidential elections, at least, which is why Barack Obama has won twice. But this time, if Bernie Sanders loses the nomination,... who knows? (Note that there's no question about Hillary Clinton supporters. I've never heard one of them say that he'd vote Republican, or just not vote at all, if Clinton didn't win the primary.)

Also, how appealing is resentment and the desire for revenge? How angry is the typical American voter? Angry enough to risk destroying our country, just to overthrow the 'establishment' (whoever and whatever you consider the establishment to be)? There are crazy people on the left, too, you know, and Hillary Clinton is nothing if not an establishment candidate.

Maybe Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic primary, but that brings other problems. His young supporters love him, but just how willing will mainstream America be to vote for an atheist socialist Jew (which is exactly how Republican propaganda will describe him, when they turn their well-funded attacks on him)?

The GOP propaganda machine has attacked Hillary Clinton nonstop for two decades now, and she has the scars to prove it. But they haven't even started on Bernie Sanders yet. Mud-slinging does work, you know. That's why they do it.

This is a frightening election. Donald Trump has done that much, at least. Ted Cruz would be at least as bad as president - probably even worse - but he wouldn't worry me nearly as much as a candidate. Even Republicans can't stand Ted Cruz, and he's such an extremist that I can't see him winning a general election.

Donald Trump is a clown, a bigot, and a fascist. He should be a complete joke. But,... we've stopped laughing, haven't we? If Republicans aren't willing to stop him - and they certainly haven't limited themselves to anything else in their desire for political power - America could be back in the 1930s again. Only on the wrong side, this time.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Who's to blame for the KKK?

I see that ridiculous argument online, too. It's the "big lie." There's a kernel of truth in it, but only enough that it needs some explanation.

Of course, liars rely on that. It's far easier just to repeat the lie over and over and over again than to explain why it's a lie,... and to keep on explaining it. It takes a lot less time, too.

At the same time, even if it were true (which, again, it's not), it wouldn't excuse anything. If Republicans are racist, it's not an excuse to say that the Democrats are also racist - even if it were true.

That's how a three-year-old argues. "Well, Bobby does it, too!" That's not an excuse. If I kill someone, will I escape blame if I point out other people who are also murderers? I doubt it.

For more than a century, the South was solidly Democratic. And, yes, the Ku Klux Klan was Democratic, too. They were still racist and still conservative. The KKK was never 'progressive' (admittedly, political issues - and the labels we use - change as time goes on, too).

But the rest of the Democratic Party changed. Finally, they started doing the right thing. This probably started with Franklin D. Roosevelt - or Eleanor Roosevelt, who seems to have persuaded him - when black people were permitted to take part in New Deal programs, instead of just white people.

Then Harry Truman desegregated the military. Even the initial steps towards that almost cost him re-election in 1948, as Strom Thurmond - yes, the future Republican - ran for president on an explicitly segregationist platform and almost won enough votes in the South (which was ordinarily a gimme for the Democrats) to cost Truman the election.

Incidentally, that's where this photo comes from. Truman was popular enough that he would have won re-election easily without the racist revolt of southern Democrats. As it was, he barely won. It was a clear warning from the Dixiecrats.

Even then, those Dixiecrats couldn't bring themselves to vote Republican (the 'party of Lincoln,' you know). And our next president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, wasn't any better, from the standpoint of those southern racists. So it wasn't as though they really had an alternative,... yet.

Then came Lyndon B. Johnson and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, as Republicans will tell you, many Republicans voted for it,... and those racist Dixiecrats did not. But it was a southern Democrat (Johnson was from Texas) who pushed it through Congress.

President Johnson, and the northern Democrats who supported it, knew that they'd lose the South. They did the right thing, anyway. Say what you will about the Democrats - and their timidity, their fecklessness, their lack of political courage frustrates me to no end, sometimes - this time they did the right thing, knowing that it would hurt them politically.

Republicans reacted with glee. The Republican Party eagerly did the wrong thing, because it would benefit them politically. GOP leaders began their notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists.

It worked great. Southern white racists had an option now. And very, very quickly, the South went from being solidly Democratic to solidly Republican. They were still the same racists, of course. They hadn't changed their minds, just their political party. Strom Thurmond was still the same guy he'd always been.

Well, not entirely, of course. As society changes, even conservatives are dragged along, kicking and screaming all the way. And as a matter of politics, there wasn't much chance of getting segregation restored, anyway (although they were able to maintain effective racial segregation in schools and neighborhoods, even if it had to be disguised a bit).

Besides, those Republican politicians weren't wooing racists for the racists' advantage. They wooed racists for their own political advantage. For the most part, they just threw the racists a bone occasionally, while they used their new political power for what they really wanted to do (primarily, to cut taxes on the rich). It was mostly just rhetoric. It's always easy to say what you want to do, while not planning to actually do it.

In the Reagan years, Lee Atwater explained how it was done. Republicans discovered that racism worked very well in the North, too, as long as they weren't too blatant about it. In the North, they convinced working-class whites to see economics in racial terms, thus getting them to vote against their own best interests. Those were the so-called "Reagan Democrats," and many of them remain in the Republican Party to this day.

As time went on, though, this changed the Republican Party. They'd quickly lost the black vote, of course. And they lost most of the Northeast (except Wall Street, for obvious reasons), which had formerly been the Republican stronghold. Politically, the South more than made up for that, but racism wasn't the only thing the South brought into the Republican Party.

Believe it or not, the Republican Party never used to be anti-science. Indeed, there used to be about as many scientists registered Republican as there were registered Democratic (about 40% in both cases, with the rest Independents). After all, there's no real reason why a scientist wouldn't be conservative economically, socially, or even politically.

But the racists who flooded into the Republican Party were often fundamentalist Christians, too - people who had little respect for science and were frequently antagonistic to it. As time went on, scientists began to leave the GOP, just as those people who had a problem with using racism for political advantage did. Over time, the Republican Party changed - and not in a good way.

The absolute hysteria in the GOP at the election of our first black president really demonstrated how racists had taken over. The fact that so many Republicans still believe that Obama is a Muslim and still believe he wasn't born in America demonstrates both that racism and the faith-based mindset of the GOP base. Evidence means nothing to them. They're simply going to believe what they want to believe, no matter what.

And that leads us to Donald Trump. (And to Ted Cruz as well, of course. Cruz is no better than Trump, not even slightly. It's just that Trump gets all the publicity, since he's so far in the lead.)

Back in Lincoln's time - and for years afterward - the Republican Party was progressive. But not anymore. Of course, it hasn't been progressive for a long, long time. Still, it wasn't particularly racist until Republican leaders saw a political advantage in racism.

For all its faults - and they're legion - the Democratic Party took the high road and did the right thing for America, even when they knew it would hurt them politically. The Republican Party deliberately took the wrong road, cynically taking advantage of racism for political advantage. Decades later, we've got the kind of Republican Party that strategy created.

They brought this on themselves. The crazy, angry, bigoted Republican base didn't happen by accident. That might not have been the original intent of their 'Southern strategy,' but that was the result - not just of the initial 'Southern strategy' but also of the continued use of racism, bigotry, and religious extremism since.

Destroying America, or just destroying the Republican Party?

Believe it or not, these people are running for President of the United States. You know, the most powerful nation on Earth?

"Little Marco"? Of course, that's just standard Trump these days, as they're behaving more like particularly low-class guests on the Jerry Springer Show than candidates for president. (I'm not exaggerating, either. They've actually been arguing about the size of Donald Trump's dick!)

Yeah, that's how juvenile and idiotic it's become. Now, there are real issues here. This is not, actually, a 'reality TV' show, much as that's what Donald Trump and his supporters are making of it. It's real. It's our country. It's America.

The faith-based seem to have lost touch with reality entirely. But then, the Republican Party has been pushing them in that direction - for political and economic reasons - for decades now, hasn't it? You reap what you sow.

And if they were only going to destroy the Republican Party, I wouldn't care. Sure, we need a conservative political party, but we need a rational conservative party. The GOP has become batshit crazy. Sorry, but that's the only way I can describe it. I don't know if sanity is even possible for the Republican Party anymore. And, unfortunately, there's a very real danger that they may destroy America, too.

As bad as Mitt Romney would have been as our president four years ago, that's nothing compared to what we're seeing now. Indeed, even Romney is speaking out against Trump in a truly remarkable way.

Keep in mind that Romney was the Republican candidate for president just four years ago, and this is what he's saying about the current front-runner - and very likely their eventual candidate - this year:
If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession. A few examples. His proposed 35 percent tariff-like penalties would instigate a trade war and that would raise prices for consumers, kill our export jobs and lead entrepreneurs and businesses of all stripes to flee America.

His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

But you say, wait, wait, wait, isn’t he a huge business success? Doesn’t he know what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t and no he doesn’t.

Look, his bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who work for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Mortgage. A business genius he is not. ...

Now let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.

And then what he said about on “60 Minutes”. Did you hear this? It was about Syria and ISIS, and it has to go down as the most ridiculous and dangerous idea of the entire campaign season. Let ISIS take out Assad, he said, and then we can pick up the remnants.

Now, think about that. Let the most dangerous terror organization the world has ever known take over an entire country? This recklessness is recklessness in the extreme. Now, Donald Trump tells us that he is very, very smart. I’m afraid that when it comes to foreign policy he is very, very not smart.

Now, I’m far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president. After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, at the same time he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.

There is a dark irony in his boasts of his sexual exploits during the Vietnam War. While at the same time, John McCain, whom he has mocked, was imprisoned and tortured.

Dishonesty is Donald Trump’s hallmark. He claimed that he had spoken clearly and boldly against going into Iraq. Wrong. He spoke in favor of invading Iraq. He said he saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11. Wrong. He saw no such thing. He imagined it.

He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as a leader. His imagination must not be married to real power. ...

Think of Donald Trump’s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. You know, we have long referred to him as “The Donald.” He’s the only person in the entire country to whom we have added an article before his name, and it was not because he had attributes we admired. ...

Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants. He calls for the use of torture. He calls for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters. He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.

Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.

His domestic policies would lead to recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president and his personal qualities would mean that America would cease to be a shining city on a hill.

Mitt Romney is right about that. Of course, he's also a hypocrite, given his own tax policies, the fact that he also inherited his money, his own reluctance to release tax forms (and absolute refusal to release more than the most recent, when he'd already started running for president), etc.

And much of that has been standard in the Republican Party for some years now (for example, the promotion of torture, scapegoating of immigrants, and religious bigotry towards Muslims). Mainstream Republicans have channeled hate, fear, anger, and bigotry for their own political advantage. Now, when it's come alive and they've lost control of the monster they created, they're worried.

Not worried enough, I'd say. Even Romney has refused to say that he won't support Trump, if Trump wins the Republican Party nomination (which he almost certainly will, don't you think?). Yeah, Trump might destroy America, but Republicans will remain loyal to their party anyway, huh?

Still, that speech is astonishing, don't you think? It's not just standard campaign talk. As Josh Marshall at TPM says:
Romney won't ever be able to walk that back. Yes, people dismiss a lot of campaign bluster as 'Well, things get said in the heat of a campaign. blah blah blah.' But you don't ever come back from the kind of things Romney said about Trump today.

And how did Trump respond? Well, he kept it classy, as always:
It was while Trump was reminding everyone that Romney went out of his way to ask for his endorsement four years ago that Trump did what Trump does best, delivering the type of line that’s tailor-made for Twitter and our outrage age. “I could have said, ‘Mitt drop to your knees,’ ” the former reality TV star said to cheers.

Now, it’s impossible to say for certain that the Donald was making a crass blow-job joke—and that’s the point. Like his “wherever” comment about Megyn Kelly last August, or his “schlonged” remark about Hillary Clinton back in December, Trump’s “drop to your knees” wording lends itself easily to a salacious reading while still offering Trump the chance to deny it was his intent.

Yeah, this is the guy who's leading in the Republican nomination for President of the United States (and, incidentally, getting the evangelical Christian vote, too). This is the clown who's turned our system of government into a circus - and a raunchy circus, at that.

None of that is stopping Trump, though. Again, this is the monster the Republican Party created, the monster they've been nurturing for years, the monster they've continually used to gain more political power. You know that's true (despite the best efforts by some Republicans to... wait for it... blame Obama).

So what's all this mean for our country? It's not good, I'll tell you that. Even if Donald Trump loses, it's not good.

I don't know what more I can say about it, I really don't. So I'll just end with this from Josh Marshall at TPM (referring to last night's Republican debate):
You may have noticed that during the debate audience members in the line of sight behind the moderators were giving thumbs ups, making faces or just aping for the cameras like you'd expect to see as a football game or a wrestling match. We've never seen anything like that. The pro-wrestling mania of the Trump rallies is seeping into debates, like a virus spreading through a host body. And I tend to doubt that those people were all Trump supporters. It doesn't matter. Creeping Trumpism is taking over his opponents from within.

The upshot of the last forty eight hours is that the GOP actually seems to be groping its way toward a strategy of doing anything possible to prevent Trump from getting to the convention with 50+% of the delegates. Just what that gets them isn't clear and I don't think they have any idea. They are on the one hand saying he could destroy the party and grievously damage America while still saying they'll probably support him if he's the nominee. (Note that Romney nowhere ruled out eventually supporting Trump.) Still that seems to be the emerging plan. You'll note that Romney wasn't asking anyone to drop out. Quite the contrary. He wants everyone to stay in and use strategic voting to keep Trump from amassing more than half the delegates. With that strategy this debate made perfect sense, a brutal war of attrition meant to grind down an opponent who cannot actually be beaten.

Right now it's Trump vs the stakeholders of the institutional GOP, represented by Rubio, Cruz and Romney in the wings, like two vast armies wheeling around for a decisive combat over a small town or village. Trump's army is clearly stronger, but not unbeatable. Whatever happens, there's no way the village doesn't get brutalized and probably destroyed in the process.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Seth Meyers: the GOP's schoolyard fight

This is getting more and more embarrassing for America, isn't it? And I'm sure it's showing China and the rest of the developing world how badly democracy works.

You know, regarding Donald Trump's proposed libel laws, I've got to point out that Barack Obama would be the richest man in America by now, if they'd been in effect for his term. And Fox 'News' - not to mention talk radio in general - would be bankrupt, huh?

The hate and nonsense debt has come due

Yesterday, I noted how Joe Scarborough asked if this was how the party of Lincoln dies. Today, Josh Marshall at TPM explains what has happened to bring the GOP to this point.

Note that he doesn't talk about the underlying causes of all this. He doesn't mention the Republican Party's notorious "Southern strategy" at all. But he explains what has happened to create this "Trump problem" for the GOP:
It's a build up of what we might call 'hate debt' and 'nonsense debt' that has been growing up for years.

This crystallized for me after the last GOP debate when Trump told Chris Cuomo in a post-debate interview that the IRS might be coming after him because he's a "strong Christian." Set aside for the moment how this unchurched libertine was able to rebrand himself as a "strong Christian." What about the preposterous claim that he is being persecuted by the IRS because he is a devout member of the country's dominant religion? Republicans simply aren't in any position to criticize this ludicrous claim because they have spent years telling their voters that this sort of thing happens all the time - to Christians, conservatives, everyone the liberals at the IRS hate. And this, of course, is just one example of hate and nonsense debt coming due. Shift gears now and they're "RINOs."

Take Trump's plan to deport 11 million people living in the US illegally or build the planned Trump Taj MaWall. As John Kasich has futilely tried to explain in debate after debate, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, this is simply never going to happen. Such an effort would be more on the order of a post-War World II population transfer than anything remotely like a conventional immigration enforcement action, costing probably hundreds of billions of dollars and perhaps even constituting something approaching a war crime. As for the Wall, of course, in the real world net immigration across the US-Mexico border has actually gone into reverse in recent years. More are leaving than coming. But in the Republican/Fox news world, hordes of feral Mexicans are still streaming across the Southern border - them and a layering of ISIS death squads who fly from Ankara to Belize and then walk to the Arizona border.

But this is just the hate and nonsense debt coming due from 2013. You can either let the status quo go on or you can devise a way to regularize at least the majority of people who are here illegally. There's no other option. Unless you just want to say 'No Amnesty' and pretend the problem will go away with 'self-deportation' or some other such nonsense. And that of course is precisely what Republican congressional leaders did. All Trump did was say openly, clearly, more coherently what Republicans were already saying themselves, while also saying out of the sides of their mouths that somehow they'd get to the mass deportation later.

The truth is virtually Trump's entire campaign is built on stuff just like this, whether it's about mass deportation, race, the persecution of Christians, Obamacare, the coming debt crisis and a million other things. At the last debate, Trump got pressed on his completely ludicrous tax cut plan. He eventually said growth (which if you calculate it would need to be something like 20% annual growth on average) would take care of the huge budget shortfall it created. But Republicans can't really dispute this point since all of Republican campaign economics is based on precisely the same argument. What about Obamacare? Can Marco "Establishment" Rubio really get traction attacking Trump for having no specific plan to replace Obamacare when Republicans have spent the last five years repeatedly voting to repeal Obamacare without ever specifying a plan to replace it with? On each of these fronts, the slow accumulation of nonsense and paranoia - 'debt' to use our metaphor - built into a massive trap door under the notional GOP leadership with a lever that a canny huckster like Trump could come in and pull pretty much whenever. This is the downside of building party identity around a package of calculated nonsense and comically unrealizable goals.

There's more, of course, but that's a pretty significant excerpt. I like the metaphor (which, if you read the entire column, is actually about computer programming).

This won't be a trap for the Republican Party if they win the election, though. They're upset now because they think that Trump won't have a chance (and, admittedly, because Trump is such a loose cannon that they have no idea what he might do).

But this is the same party that used - and still uses - racism for political advantage. Do you really think they'll have any ethical concerns about Donald Trump? No, they'll certainly end up on board with Trump if he ends up as their nominee. And so will most Republicans, I suspect.

Plus, I've already heard young Bernie Sanders supporters say that Trump would be better than Hillary Clinton. It might just be talk, and it's probably just a small number of complete idiots anyway, but... who knows?

I can't help but remember that George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004 after we already knew what a complete disaster he was for our country. After that, I've had zero confidence in the American public. And the off-year elections in 2010 and 2014 bore that out, don't you think? Both because of the people who voted Republican and the people who let the Republicans win because they couldn't be bothered to vote at all.

This is like sitting in a courtroom, charged with a crime you did not commit, and wondering what kind of jury you've ended up with to decide your fate...