Monday, June 27, 2016

Is the Worm Finally Turning? Trump Crashes in WaPo Poll

Donald Trump played a brutal game -- as he apparently has throughout his career. Now the bully is being found out.

Trump went to Scotland, where the Scots really didn't want a Trump
golf course, to tell the world how great Brexit is going to be, ignoring
the fact that the Scots were against Brexit. And he did this because?

By now we realize that Donald Trump is not a diplomat. His idea of diplomacy is to go somewhere where he's not wanted and say something that is completely inappropriate and then act as if he's the man of the hour. He definitely did that the day after the Brexit vote passed, standing on his Scottish golf course and praising a decision the Scots hated. Isn't there someone around assigned to keep him on his meds?

Guess not. However, it looks like the American people might impose some discipline on the Donald by expressing their own increasingly negative opinion:
Support for Donald Trump has plunged as he has alienated fellow Republicans and large majorities of voters overall in the course of a month of self-inflicted controversies, propelling Democrat Hillary Clinton to a double-digit lead nationally in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey finds sweeping unease with the presumptive Republican nominee’s candidacy — from his incendiary rhetoric and values to his handling of both terrorism and his own business — foreshadowing that the November election could be a referendum on Trump more than anything else.
At a moment in the presidential election when Donald Trump should be coalescing support around him as he moves toward the Republican National Convention, he instead embarked on The Great Alienation Tour, ostensibly to remind demographic groups why the Republican Party was out of its collective mind to allow such a bullying dolt to become its figurehead.

Now, when a normal candidate would be girding his loins -- a grotesque phrase when applied to the Donald -- for the coming fight, Trump appears, twelve points down, quite nearly already beaten.

The poll, and the article that explains it, goes out of its way to mention Hillary Clinton's unpopularity and Obama's growing popularity, now at 56 percent. This is a most certain double-edged sword. Clinton, regardless of the legitimacy of her unpopularity, will no doubt benefit from having a popular out-going president campaigning for her.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, may have already dug his own grave. If he "pivots" to the general election by reading dull speeches from a teleprompter lacking the fire of his less disciplined screeds, then he'll fail to keep his mob riled up. If Trump decides -- as many expect he will -- to keep his over-the-top rhetoric full of fire and rage, then he risks a growing chorus of complaint from the people he's offended.

Speaking of those he's offended, it seems the entire Republican establishment has no intention of appearing in the national spotlight with him and so intend to ditch the Republican National Convention, a venue most rising political stars would die to achieve. Trump's Trumpness has him Trumped. That's what happened when you're your own worst enemy.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Teleprompter Doesn't Stop Trump's Endless Lies

Politicians lie. Duh. But Donald Trump rarely tells the truth. Plus, his views on issues seem to change at a moment's notice.

The Teleprompter only means Trump's lies are written down.

We've known forever that Donald Trump says whatever the fuck he wants to. Because of his propensity for both exaggeration and outright lying, the truth is only occasionally touched upon.
As Amanda Marcotte noted on Salon already his entire speech was riddled with blatant well-known lies. Trump lied about Clinton being a bigger liar, he lied about starting off “with a small loan” and building a $10 billion  business, he lied about Clinton’s server being hacked by foreign governments, lied about multiple aspects of her immigration policy, lied about Benghazi, lied about his own support for the Iraq War… the list went on and on...
Plus, reporters have already started collecting Trump's "walk-backs," statements he made that he later un-made. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has an extensive list:
On Friday, Donald Trump offered up this comment on the Orlando shooting: "It's too bad that some of the young people that were killed over the weekend didn't have guns attached to their hip....Had people been able to fire back it would have been a much different outcome."
Presumably Trump figured that this was the "strong" pro-gun position, only to discover that even the NRA thinks it's not a great idea to mix firearms and alcohol. So today he Trumpsplained that he was "obviously" referring only to "additional guards or employees."
This is, obviously, a lie, as even the lightest perusal of his original remarks proves. Nonetheless, the term of art for this is that he "walked back" his comment. If that sounds familiar, it's because Trump has practically made a career of walking back his endless buffoonery. The screen cap below of a Google News search for "Trump walks back" displays it in all its glory.
If we want a president who will lie not only at will but also almost any fucking random time, Donald Trump is our guy!

I've made up my mind, though. I don't want to live in a post-truth world. But, hey, whatever floats your boat.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit Happened. What Now?

The most likely obvious political outcome is that a Trumpish clown of a man -- ever so slightly more sophisticated! -- Boris Johnson, will helm the Tories in Cameron's place. The rest is quite more complicated.

Boris Johnson: When I said Trumpish, I was serious.

So much to say and wonder about the UK's vote to exit the EU. Josh Marshall is a good start. Richard Haass's and Martin Wolf's pieces in the Financial Times are great, and so is Larry Summers in the WaPo. Go find 'em, or just read Josh. Best graph:
One possible contrary note: the UK referendum is not binding in any way. It is purely advisory. That is as a constitutional matter. As a political matter, British politics watchers appear to believe there's no viable way for Parliament to ignore it. Yet Cameron says his resignation will become effective in October - months off - and he will leave to his successor - inevitably a pro-Brexit Tory PM - to invoke the actual mechanism of departure. That's called Article 50. As I said, there's no legal requirement to leave the EU created by this referendum. There's a democratic legitimacy requirement. If the road gets sufficiently bumpy and public opinion shifts, perhaps shifts dramatically, things could change. But don't bet on it.
Really? Did everybody who voted know that? Hmm.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

We Fight the Republicans with the Democratic Party We Have, Not the One We Wish We Had.

I've watched as ostensibly progressive people, angered over Bernie Sanders' defeat, scream they're leaving the Democratic Party. Bad move.

Shades of the civil rights movement. Finally ready to fight?

I fully understand why a disillusioned newcomer to the political process, drawn into party politics by Bernie Sanders, would stand up at Sanders' defeat and cry, "This is bullshit!"

Problem is, it's not bullshit. It's the way things work. Also, and more importantly, leaving the Democratic Party in protest doesn't give you anything, it deprives you of your voice within the party.

Let's say you go, "Fuck it, I'm re-registering as an independent!" What have you gained? Nothing. Now you're in that Democratic-leaning independent demo that can't vote in primary elections. Wow. Progress.

True, you can say, "Fuck them, I'm voting Green!" Great. You vote Green and get President Trump. Well done!

Moral of the story: Do what you can, where you can. If becoming an independent and stewing in your own juices is the best you can do, fine. But it's not a strategy.

A strategy is getting mad and not taking it anymore, like Democrats in the House did yesterday. Jamelle Bouie in Slate makes clear that the Democratic Party is changing and it isn't Bernie Sanders changing the party:
But more important for us, as observers, is that all of this [the House sit-in] is over gun control, and it’s happening with almost unanimous support from congressional Democratic leaders. This wouldn’t have happened 10 years ago, and for good reason. The Democratic majority of 2007–08—and even 2009–10—was more liberal than previous majorities, but it still spanned wide divides of geography and ideology. Conservative and center-right “Blue Dog” Democrats were still an important element of the party’s support, and they had a voice in Congress. A public protest for gun control would have been near-suicidal for those members.
But then came the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections (and the subsequent redistricting), and suddenly, the Democratic Party was purged of its most conservative members. There’s no doubt Pelosi wants a majority, but while she’s in the minority, neither she nor her caucus has to cater to vulnerable Democrats in the rural South or West. The kinds of voters Democrats once tried to attract by shying away from gun politics are Republicans now. And Democrats don’t believe they need to reach out to them. The politics, they argue, have turned.
Yes, by all means, reject Rahm Emanuel-style politics -- which enables Blue-Dog Democratism -- and embrace Bernie-style progressivism. But realize this: When Bernie Sanders decided to go for it, he didn't try it as an independent, he joined the Democrats.

Why? Because outside the two main parties, you're instantly marginalized. What would Bernie have gotten with an independent run? A three-way race between him, Clinton, and Trump? You're damned right, he would. And what would he have accomplished? A President Trump. Bold move!

So, please, fight the Republicans with the party you have, not the party you wish you had. The Democrats are changing -- and this is important -- and Hillary Clinton is changing with it. More Bernies! More Warrens! More John Lewises!

Not more independents sitting around pissed. The Democratic Party is where progressives belong. Go there and make it better.

Final point: If you're a pissed-off Bernie follower who'd vote for Donald Trump because fuck Hillary, then you are not a real progressive, and, frankly, you can fuck off.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Donald Trump Can't Even Run a Campaign. Should We Trust Him with Our Country?

Donald Trump was a wizard at self-promotion during the primaries, and his opponents were inept beyond measure. When his paper tigers disappeared, reality reared its ugly head. The results haven't been pretty.

Donald Trump's campaign may be breaking the mold. Bad move.

It's becoming painfully clear that Donald Trump didn't learn much from defeating "Lyin'" Ted Cruz, "Little Marco" Rubio, and "low-energy" Jeb! Bush. His opponents' shocking ineptitude left Trump with the feeling that all he had to do was start up the insult machine against "Crooked" Hillary Clinton and "Pocahontas" Elizabeth Warren.

Calling people names in front of packed auditoriums in Texas -- a state you don't need to fight for -- isn't a campaign strategy. A better one is fundraising, setting up staff in battleground states, and running attack ads to define your opponent before they manage to define you. Instead, Trump badmouthed Latino judges and female Republican governors. Excellent!

Now his campaign is broke, and he just fired his campaign manager. Excellent!

So, he asks Reince Priebus and the RNC to run his campaign for him. Makes sense. Republicans love outsourcing!

And then there are the donors that Republicans rely on. uh oh.
A related and intertwined problem is Trump’s lack of fundraising. Although he once said he’d raise $1 billion, his new fundraising team—mostly constituted by the RNC, of course—is working to depress expectations, saying there’s little chance he’ll raise that much. In fact, many members told The Wall Street Journal they haven’t even done any work yet. There’s a vicious cycle at work here, which is that as donors see the Trump campaign in chaos, they’re unwilling to fork over their hard-earned cash. Why back a candidate who’s rending the Republican Party apart, doesn’t follow conservative orthodoxy, and seems to have no idea what he’s doing with the money?
CNN reports that the fear is spreading.
Republican donors who are still willing to give to Donald Trump are increasingly uneasy -- not just about the constant controversy surrounding the presumptive GOP nominee but also the perceived total lack of infrastructure related to his nascent fundraising operation.
The list of problems, according to donors and party officials, is both long and not easy to fix over the course of a short period.
In many ways, it's only natural. Trump rolled through the primary haranguing the donor community, including some of the party's top money men and women by name, as he pledged to self-fund his campaign. Some notable top donors, including financier Paul Singer and Joe and Marlene Ricketts, are sitting out the campaign.
It looks like our first Art-of-the-Deal president is pretty lousy at making deals. Go figure.

Question: If Donald Trump loses, will he sue?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

No, the Republicans Aren't Going Away, but They're Fractured.

I'm astounded that 39% of the American electorate say they're voting for Donald Trump. What does that even mean?

Even those of us who believe that the Republican Party's message for the past four decades is largely deceptive and destructive to American society understand that the fraud has not run its course, and the Republican Party, as shattered as it is, isn't going away.

Why not?
  • The core of the Republican base is essentially racist: Calling the Republican Party the White People's Party is demonstrably true. Those who fear the black and the brown and even the tan will have to find a home with the GOP. They have no choice.
  • The NRA and the GOP have convinced a good number of gun owners that Obama and Clinton want to take away all of their guns. That's not true, but those people who believe some form of the lie have nowhere to go politically but the Republican Party.
  • Welfare for the poor or near-poor doesn't cost very much compared to subsidies to energy giants or tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, but a good number of working-class whites -- and just plain "it's my money, fuck you" people who hide behind "personal responsibility" to underfund public services -- will support the Republican Party simply because of identity politics.
  • Where do the anti-abortion evangelicals go? Asked and answered.
  • Because of the size of the military-industrial complex, there are likely several million people who know which side of their bread is buttered and by whom. Fearing the Democrats might dismantle the MIC -- which of course they wouldn't do to any meaningful extent -- leads some of these national-security hawks to stay with the GOP, if only for self-interest and because where would they go?
Thus the momentum of a political movement built on long-disproven economic, social, and political lies is unstoppable in the near term. However, the Republican Party is in tatters, mostly because the white working class that drank the Kool-Aid have come to realize that the GOP isn't delivering, period. If the Democratic Party can deal with the misconceptions and convince an aggrieved class -- and rightfully aggrieved, I should add -- that they are the party of the working class, then the GOP has a right to fear for its existence.

Until then, the Republican Party will sputter along, coasting on its successes on the local and state level. Even that will come under threat as more minorities achieve citizenship and get registered to vote. But the national GOP voice is weak and getting weaker.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Republicans on the Hill Have a Problem: They Hate Trump

My mom bought me a chemistry set when I was a child and warned me to be careful. But nine times out of ten putrid clouds of poison gas would stream from my room. The Republicans were warned, too, about their toxic politics. Oh well.

Sen. Jim Inhofe -- climate-change denier extraordinaire -- is alone
in admiring Trump's reaction to Orlando. Maybe he can be Veep!

Politico reports that despair is the operative emotion among GOP congresscritters. Donald Trump is not pivoting at all. But then, we suspected he might not.
Senate Republicans have tried to work with Donald Trump. They’ve offered gentle advice and firm guidance, hoping he’ll morph into a general election candidate who won’t kill their chances of keeping the Senate, or better yet, will give Hillary Clinton a run for her money.
None of it has worked. And now a palpable mix of despair and resignation has permeated the Senate Republican Conference. Many lawmakers are openly frustrated, and refusing to defend the comments and actions of their own standard-bearer, the man they’ve endorsed for president.
Don't worry, folks. The Orlando news cycle can't last forever. Surely, the Donald will be presidential at the next inflection point. Oh my God, what if he's not?