Archive for Presidential Race

In which Latino voters flex their American muscle. And in which I agree with Team Trump. Politico reviews the part Latino voters will play in the 2016 elections:

Hispanic activists have two words for Donald Trump — thank you.

“I think the greatest thing to ever happen to the Hispanic electorate is a gentleman named Donald Trump, he has crystalized the angst and anger of the Hispanic community,” U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Javier Palomarez told POLITICO in an interview. “I think that we can all rest assured that Hispanics can turn out in record numbers.”

Let’s hope that’s true.

The Trump camp is not worried, and it says it sees more Hispanic voters as a good thing.

“I don’t hear any empirical evidence that that is going to happen,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said about the idea that more Hispanic voters could hurt his chances. “The more people that take part in the election process, the better, and I think it’s clear that Mr. Trump has invigorated people who aren’t traditionally participating in the process.”

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Trump’s T-party

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I took her by her lily white hand
And dragged her down that bank of sand
There I throwed her in to drown
I watched her as she floated down

“Was walking home tween twelve and one
Thinkin’ of what I had done
I killed a girl, my love you see
Because she would not marry me

– from “Banks Of The Ohio” (traditional)

They love their country — it’s THEIR country — and if they can’t have her, nobody can.

Inside Beltway salons, that simply doesn’t compute.

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No sense of decency

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Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?

We all know those as the words of Joseph Welch to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the infamous 1954 Army–McCarthy hearings. When Welch was done, the gallery burst into applause. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and his Communist witch hunt. The Senate censured him in December that year.

Our present (Muslim) witch hunt reached new heights of insanity this week with the arrest of 14 year-old Ahmed Mohammed in Irving, Texas. Known at school as “the Inventor Kid,” the son of Sudanese immigrants brought a homemade electronic clock to school to impress a teacher, only to find himself arrested and later suspended for – what? – inventing while Muslim?

The incident has brought the kid international fame and an even brighter future. Meanwhile, Irving’s mayor, whom the Dallas Morning News describes as “a hero among a fringe movement that believes Muslims — a tiny fraction of the U.S. population — are plotting to take over American culture and courts,” defends the action. And Irving’s police chief had to go on television to explain why officers arrested Mohammed as a suspected bomber, or as a hoax bomber, when they knew the clock was just a clock.

How many times in the last decades have we recalled Joseph Welch’s rebuke and wondered when some contemporary version of Welch would break the spell of the serial mass insanities, conspiracy theories, urban legends, and hoaxes that have beset this country for decades? And we’re not talking just Muslims post-September 11.

We’re talking about moral panic over ritual Satanic abuse in the late 1980s. Or fingerprinting toddlers against unseen abductors. Or a wave of false memory syndrome. We’re talking about the serial confabulations surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton: the Clinton “body count,” the “hit” on Vince Foster, the Clinton “drug ring,” etc. We’re talking about the Birthers and the Truthers and all the others – including the leading Republican candidate for president – who have made it their business to traffic in the kind of propaganda that might make the KGB blanch. We’re talking about the popularity of reality TV that is anything but. We tune in for the spectacle. To borrow from the Bible, we have exchanged lies for truth.

We seem to enjoy being suckered, as Sean Trainor points out this morning at Salon. Donald Trump, he writes, is in the tradition of P.T. Barnum. (I include Minnesota Fats):

Scholars have called this the “operational aesthetic”: a kind of spectacle in which the conversation surrounding the show becomes the show itself. And it was pioneered by P.T. Barnum in the decades prior to the Civil War, long before the showman became a senior partner in the Barnum and Bailey Circus.

What did this operational aesthetic look like in practice? Consider, for example, Barnum’s famous “Feejee Mermaid“: a stuffed monkey’s torso, sewn to the tail of a fish, that Barnum tried to pass off as a mythical sea creature – and which Americans flocked to see in vast numbers.

In Trump’s case, it’s his hair.

As Charlie Pierce says, “This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.” It is one in which there are bogie men under our beds, and bright, brown-skinned kids with science projects might be terrorists. The New York Times this morning observes of the Republican’s presidential field:

And that, America, is frightening. Peel back the boasting and insults, the lies and exaggerations common to any presidential campaign. What remains is a collection of assertions so untrue, so bizarre, that they form a vision as surreal as the Ronald Reagan jet looming behind the candidates’ lecterns.

It felt at times as if the speakers were no longer living in a fact-based world where actions have consequences, programs take money and money has to come from somewhere. Where basic laws — like physics and the Constitution — constrain wishes. Where Congress and the public, allies and enemies, markets and militaries don’t just do what you want them to, just because you say they will.

At long last, when will it end? Where’s Joseph Welch when you really need him?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Just as tall trees are known by their shadows, so are good men known by their enemies. – Chinese proverb

By all accounts I’ve seen, Britain’s new Labour Party leader is further to the left than Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. What they may have more in common than politics are the kinds of attacks they suffer at the hands of their adversaries. Sanders this week faces attacks that try to tie him to Corbin:

WASHINGTON — A super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is going negative, circulating an email that yokes her chief rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to some of the more controversial remarks made by Jeremy Corbyn, the United Kingdom’s new Labour Party leader, including his praise for the late Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader who provided discounted fuel to Vermont in a deal supported by Sanders.

Clinton’s camp has long said it has no plans to attack Sanders. But the super PAC, called Correct the Record, departed from its defense of Clinton’s record as a former secretary of state in an email Monday that compares Sanders with Corbyn. Correct the Record, led by Clinton ally David Brock, also has sent trackers after Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

The Guardian reports:

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Bernie goes to Lynchburg

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Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to speak at Liberty University this morning in Lynchburg, Virginia, following in the steps of Donald Trump and others. That’s one way for Sanders to “generate widespread national media attention“:

Indications from local Democrats show that many Sanders supporters may try to fill in the seats not occupied by Liberty students. Katie Cyphert, the Lynchburg Democratic Committee chairwoman, said she has been fielding many phone calls and emails.

“This is not a Democratic Committee event,” Cyphert said. “By virtue of this being in Lynchburg, we are fielding an exorbitant number of phone calls.”

One of those students, Erin Kotlan, came to further her faith in Jesus and actually found him through Liberty:

Many of my conservative Christian peers are baffled by the idea that my political beliefs could be grounded in my faith in Jesus Christ; but I believe the best way to find any sort of concrete truth among the shifting cultures of Christianity is to go directly to the Bible. From my studies, I have concluded that the Bible clearly indicates all life is valuable. Jesus calls his followers to care for those on the fringes of society: the poor, orphans, immigrants, and other disenfranchised groups. His calling leads me to a strong passion for social justice and an interest in hearing Senator Sanders speak.


For me, applying these truths to my political life puts me somewhere in between the two political parties. There is not a candidate for the upcoming election with whom I fully agree; but the majority of Sanders’s political ideas seem to fit well with my faith. According to his campaign site, Sanders’s political focus is on issues such as strengthening the middle class, racial justice, women’s rights, and a better immigration policy. These types of policies help more people gain equal access to political, economic, and social rights. Sander’s economic policies have the potential to shift our countries’ mindset from profit motive to a focus on communal well-being and equality. A governmental focus on these policies could help America to create a more inclusive community; a community that would allow us to decrease the number of people left on the margins of society.

Oops. Liberty officials must be worrying if it’s contagious.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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Don’t victimize me, bro

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from Pinterest

Plenty of victimhood going around on this Labor Day.

“Being a conservative is all about grievances,” LOLGOP writes at Electablog. That is why Donald Trump’s complaints about Hugh Hewitt’s gotcha questions, rather than hurting him, play right into the sentiments of his base:

To be a conservative enduring the regime of Barack Obama and facing the end of the end of white Americans making up the majority of population is to be a person who is justifiably pissed at everything.

Jonah Goldberg is pissed at the Trump “cargo cult” masquerading as conservatism. He’s got a list of grievances about how Trump represents “the corrupting of conservatives.” The movement isn’t about politicians or even about self-interest. It is about “shaping a conservative electorate that lines up the incentives so that politicians define their self-interest in a conservative way.”

Except the conservative movement has suckered shaped the electorate for decades by feeding its base a steady diet of bluster and bullshit (as Paul Krugman again points out this morning). It’s what the base has been taught to like. It’s what they’ve been taught to want. Trump is just better at delivering it than mainstream conservatives (if that term has any meaning left).

By riding instead of manipulating public opinion like a proper conservative, Trump makes a mockery of conservatism. Goldberg complains: Trump the populist is running on popularity rather than principle; the megalomaniac has no character; he doesn’t care enough about the country to even do his homework, as if homework is for losers.

In this, Trump’s cargo cult seems to have embraced the supposed attitude towards education among “inner city” youth that conservatives have condemned for years. In this, conservatives are on track to elect a president in the mold of the famous pool hustler, Minnesota Fats. “Practice is for suckers.” “Modesty is for suckers.” “Keeping score is for suckers.” Feeling pressure? “Pressure’s for suckers.”

Movement conservatives have long capitalized on low-information voters to get what they want. Matt Taibbi looks at how that is coming back to bite them:

Republicans won middle American votes for years by taking advantage of the fact that their voters didn’t know the difference between an elitist and the actual elite, between a snob and an oligarch. They made sure their voters’ idea of an elitist was Sean Penn hanging out with Hugo Chavez, instead of a Wall Street bank financing the construction of Chinese factories.

Trump similarly is scoring points with voters who don’t know the difference between feeling sorry for themselves and actually being victims. We live in a society that is changing for a lot of reasons, and some of those changes feel annoying to certain kinds of people, particularly older white folks who don’t like language-policing and other aspects of political correctness.

The 2016 election may be, at least for conservatives, Taibbi writes, a “referendum on white victimhood.” Well, there are plenty of victims to go around.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

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These aren’t the answers you’re looking for

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“I will be so good at [blank], your head will spin.” That’s pretty much Donald Trump’s answer to any question he doesn’t know. It didn’t work too well yesterday during a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt:

At one point, Hewitt asked Trump if he was familiar with Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and the Quds Forces. Trump said he was but then appeared to mistake the Quds for the Kurds, a Middle Eastern ethnic group.

“The Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by,” said Trump.

Hewitt corrected him: “No, not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Forces.”

A little tougher question than, “What newspapers do you read?” Read More→

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The Best Vision

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Biden time, or what?

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Speculation in the press about a Biden run for president caught fire after Vice President Joe Biden met with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. But Politico reports that Biden will not attend this week’s Democratic National Committee meeting in Minneapolis. That should dampen the speculation unless Biden turns up by surprise. All the major Democratic contenders are expected.

If Biden decides to run, writes Michael Tomasky, the Warren meeting was brilliant press. But things could get ugly fast. The Obama-Clinton primary fight of 2008 was ugly enough. In the end, Tomasky believes, “Obama had the larger and more morally urgent historical claim to make in the minds of most Democrats and liberals. The woman would have to wait, as women so often do.” Making women wait again while yet another white guy takes the White House could be a gut punch to women who believe it’s now Clinton’s turn. Whatever their policy differences with Clinton, too many of the male persuasion on the left don’t seem to appreciate that. Remember the PUMAs?

The Washington Post offers several more reasons why a Biden run would be risky for his legacy. Also, as pretty much everyone observes, it is pretty late in the game for Biden to get in, unless he is positioning himself, as Tomasky suggests, to be the contingency candidate should Clinton succumb to some new “scandal,” as she never has before.

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Beyond the fringe

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Lazier pundits like to view Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump as fringe candidates. But that’s Village-speak for “not establishment.” What fans find attractive about both is their iconoclastic styles, which couldn’t be more different. Writing for Bloomberg News, Will Leitch attended Donald Trump’s event in Mobile, Alabama last weekend and found that the common thread among those standing in line in the heat was this:

They were sick of all the bulls–t. They were sick of being talked to like they’re idiots. They might not be up on the policy papers or every specific detail of the Iran deal. But they can smell bulls–t.

Trump, the flashy billionaire, the reality show host, the consummate bullshitter, uses bullshit to cut through bullshit. They like that. Leitch explains:

They hate Hillary Clinton, they hate Obama, they hate Jeb Bush, and they hate them all for the same reason: They think they’re lying to them. Many, I found, especially hated Bush for his Spanish-language campaign ads. This came up several times. Bush is “as bad as any of them,” said Tony Hamilton, a truck driver from nearby Pensacola, Florida. “I voted for his brother and his dad, but not him, never. He’s just like the rest of them.”

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