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Obama Versus Art

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McLinlock Court - Art Institute of Chicago
McLinlock Court – Art Institute of Chicago

What an asinine criticism of the President. There are plenty of valid criticisms of Obama, from both right and left wing perspective, such as drone strike killings without due process, the fact of marijuana still being a Schedule 1 Narcotic, etc., but not doing “more for the arts”? What is he, a Medici?

The Obama image turned out to be misleading. All evidence points to the president being indeed thoughtful, even perhaps too thoughtful, if one believes critics who say he intellectualizes problems that demand more visceral responses. But there is little indication that Obama regularly indulges the particular relationship to art that this photograph implied: solitary contemplation of the inherited canon of paintings, sculpture, music, dance or theater. He is interested in culture, to be sure, but it is the living culture of our time, often the celebrity culture of popular music and commercial theater, but rarely the stuff people used to call “high” culture. Or that, at least, is the image his handlers have crafted.

So Obama didn’t visit the National Gallery of Art during his presidency (at least so far), and first lady Michelle Obama has been only once, and that late in the last term. The Kennedy Center reports that the first family hasn’t taken much advantage of the presidential box, and the president’s visits have been mostly limited to the annual Kennedy Center Honors. The president has also begged off attending an annual gala at Ford’s Theatre that has been a standard for his predecessors. If one adds to this the long periods that he left the chairmanships of both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities empty, his desultory picks for other important cultural positions, his choice of a librarian of Congress who doesn’t come from the tradition of the belles-lettres or serious scholarship, his record on culture is dispiriting at best.

That has caused some significant cognitive dissonance among people in the arts world who are otherwise full-throated champions of the president. Indeed, the arts offer some of the friendliest territory for the current administration, full of mainly left-wing coastal types who cherish values they believe the president embodies: intelligence, education, tolerance, cosmopolitanism, and a welcome embrace of ambiguity and complexity when parsing political and social problems. The dinner party consensus is thus: He is one of us, so why hasn’t he done more for the arts?

(click here to continue reading The arts community embraced Obama — but he never truly embraced the arts – The Washington Post.)

The dinner party consensus? Really, I guess the dinner parties I’ve gone to in the last eight years must have been filled with rubes and philistines, as I’ve never once heard anyone sob tearfully in their hors d’oeuvres that “Obama needs to do more for the Arts”. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, remember him? Big arts guy, right? Bush always listened to Stravinsky and John Cage at high volume while watching football games with the commentary turned off, went to the opera every Wednesday with his daughters, even dabbles in painting himself. And if the universe hates us and Donald Trump becomes the 45th president, the arts will flourish like never before.  

Caravaggio Medusa
Caravaggio Medusa

Written by Seth Anderson

September 15th, 2016 at 9:48 am

Posted in Arts,politics

Tagged with ,

Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling

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Get Out of Jail Free
Get Out of Jail Free.

Just as a placeholder, in case I need to quickly refer to the litany of corruption, fraud, and general sleaziness of Trump…

Paul Waldman has a few links for you to read

But the truth is that you’d have to work incredibly hard to find a politician who has the kind of history of corruption, double-dealing, and fraud that Donald Trump has. The number of stories which could potentially deserve hundreds and hundreds of articles is absolutely staggering. Here’s a partial list:

And that last one is happening right now. To repeat, the point is not that these stories have never been covered, because they have. The point is that they get covered briefly, then everyone in the media moves on. If any of these kinds of stories involved Clinton, news organizations would rush to assign multiple reporters to them, those reporters would start asking questions, and we’d learn more about all of them.

(click here to continue reading Trump’s history of corruption is mind-boggling. So why is Clinton supposedly the corrupt one? – The Washington Post.)

Also, wouldn’t it be fun if the corporate media spent the amount of resources to cover all these stories with the tenacity they’ve devoted to Benghazi and Ms. Clinton’s pantsuits? I know, I know, I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

Written by Seth Anderson

September 6th, 2016 at 9:34 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Echoes of History of The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer In Trump’s Immigration Policy

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Gustav Klimt 046.jpg
By Gustav Klimt – 1. The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. 2. Neue Galerie New York, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153485

I watched the film version of this book, and I should probably read the book one of these days, such a fascinating story.

“The Lady in Gold” is a fascinating work, ambitious, exhaustively researched and profligately detailed. Anne-Marie O’Connor traces the convoluted history of Gustav Klimt’s dazzling gold-leaf portrait of the Jewish society beauty Adele Bloch-Bauer from its commissioning in 1903 to its sale to cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder in 2006. But the book’s title does not do justice to O’Connor’s scope, which includes the Viennese Belle Epoque, the Anschluss, the diaspora of Viennese Jews, the looting of their artwork and legal battles over its restitution, and thorny questions facing the heirs of reclaimed art.

Roughly a third of the book deals with Klimt’s “Austrian Mona Lisa,” its Nazi-era theft and its eventual return to the Bloch-Bauer heirs. The rest provides context and a milieu dense with particulars. The work teems with historical personages who lived in, visited or plundered Vienna during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Mark Twain, Joseph Goebbels and scores of others, both integral and incidental to the story of Klimt’s golden portrait of Adele, appear in O’Connor’s populous and several-branched narrative.

(click here to continue reading “The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer” by Anne-Marie O’Connor – The Washington Post.)

The film was good, not great. Helen Mirren is always spot-on, but her “kid lawyer” Ryan Reynolds (playing Maria Altmann’s young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg) didn’t quite fit in the role, plus there were superfluous scenes with Katie Holmes pretending to be maternal. Still, worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

The back-story of Austrian Jews suddenly, nearly overnight, becoming part of the Third Reich is illustrative. They lost their homes, their businesses, their prized personal possessions, their lives, their freedoms. Donald Trump, and others in the Republican party, like Ted Cruz, others, want to round up and deport all the poorly documented immigrants if gods forbid, a Republican wins the Oval Office. Trump claims there are 11,000,000 people who don’t have permission to be in the US, and on January 21st, 2017, he is going to find them all and send them somewhere else, outside of the US borders, or maybe in camps like the Japanese-Americans during WW2.

Is 11,000,000 an accurate number? Are there more? Less? Probably more, and not all these folks are dishwashers, roofers and field hands. Some are middle class people, or even wealthy, there are multi-generational families involved, and many have been here for decades. In Trump’s vision, a bunch of gold-booted thugs with golden “T” armbands are going to kick in doors, smash storefront windows, and arrest all the undocumented people, without incident, without protest as Americans cheer and jeer in the streets. Will petty jealousy and unscrupulous neighbors make false claims against personal enemies? Does Trump even know what due process is? 

Trump is not a policy person, he is extremely slippery in his positions, when he even understands them, but one theme has been nearly constant: immigrants are the enemy of Trump’s Fourth Reich.

More importantly, would America (and the world) really allow this to happen in the 21st Century? 

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2016 at 11:09 am

Posted in Books,Film,politics

Tagged with ,

Rot runs much deeper than Republicans are willing to admit

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I Am Going To Eat You - Paul Noth
I Am Going To Eat You – Paul Noth – The New Yorker

There’s a reason Donald Trump swept the primaries, and Ted Cruz came in second: their beliefs are what the Republican base also believes. All the GOP establishment hand-wringing about tone and blah-blah-blah does not change the basic fact that the majority of the Republican voters believe Obama is a secret Muslim, born in Kenya, and that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster to cover up her lesbian affairs, and so forth.

The rot runs much deeper than most Republicans are willing to admit.In the spirit of always fighting the last war, Republicans are kicking around the idea of imposing strict barriers to entry into the Republican presidential primary field four years from now. “Let’s make running for the Republican nomination a truly conservative affair,” writes John Noonan, former adviser to Jeb Bush. “You want it? Earn it. Raise $5 million for the RNC in the years before the nomination and only then do you qualify to run.”

This kind of thing may be necessary if the GOP is to avoid another Trumpening, but also woefully insufficient. Noonan’s specific idea would be difficult to implement for some of the reasons he lays out in the article. It also probably wouldn’t have stopped Trump from running this cycle, thanks in large part to the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon two years ago, which made it much easier for rich people to raise money for official party committees.

But let’s imagine a rule that would’ve foreclosed a Trump candidacy altogether was in place as of 2015—for instance, one holding that to run, you must have won elected office as a Republican within the past 12 years.

Maybe Trump would’ve just sat the whole thing out. But he might’ve driven a near-majority of the GOP’s base into a third party. Or, he might’ve made the qualifying candidates compete for his endorsement by establishing politically toxic criterion: mass deportation, commitment to a border fence, other commitments that would’ve Trumpified the winning candidate.

Remember, it’s not like Trump barely edged out the establishment. The runner-up was Ted Cruz; basically everyone else got no traction at all. Absent Trump, Cruz would’ve consolidated the charlatan wing of the party, and the influencers now propping up Trump would be doing the same for Cruz, only with somewhat less establishment resistance.

(click here to continue reading The rot runs much deeper than most Republicans are willing to admit. | New Republic.)

You'll Have To Bear It
You’ll Have To Bear It

Ted Cruz expected Donald Trump to drop out1 so that Cruz would be the default candidate, which is why Cruz is already gearing up his 2020 presidential bid. At least the Natural Born Citizenship question will get decided if Cruz ever wins the nomination…

Ted Cruz, it appears, has had a dismal time since the Republican National Convention, where his decision not to endorse Donald Trump drew vigorous boos. Cruz’s national favorability rating among Republicans has plummeted from fifty-nine per cent to forty-three per cent. Several Texas Republicans, including perhaps former Governor Rick Perry, are said to be weighing primary challenges when Cruz seeks reëlection to the Senate, in 2018. Cruz has devoted several weeks to travelling around his home state, apparently trying to mend fences and persuade the locals that he hadn’t forgotten them during his long race for the White House. Is Cruz doomed, locally as well as nationally?

Far from it. Cruz is merely taking the next step toward the Presidency in a manner that he previewed when I profiled him for the magazine, in 2014. Cruz may be wrong about Republican and Presidential politics, but he’s consistent, and his rejection of Trump, when every other putative successor as Republican nominee has endorsed him, fits into his master plan. In simple terms, Cruz thinks that conservative Republicans win Presidential elections: Ronald Reagan, in 1980 and 1984; George H. W. Bush, in 1988; George W. Bush, in 2000 and 2004. He thinks moderate Republicans lose: George H. W. Bush, who had agreed to raise taxes, in 1992; Bob Dole, in 1996; John McCain, in 2008; and Mitt Romney, in 2012. Cruz intends—someday—to be that conservative Republican nominee.

Cruz built his 2016 campaign on the principle that he had to be the most conservative candidate in the race. He embraced social issues (opposing abortion and proposing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage) in a way that Trump never did. Although Trump made opposition to illegal immigration the cornerstone of his candidacy, Cruz had the same hard-line approach to evicting people from the United States. On climate change, taxation, Obamacare, and every other issue, Cruz positioned himself at the far right of the Party. Of course, Cruz’s efforts fell short, and he did not become the nominee.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Is Still Running for President – The New Yorker.)

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

  1. as did Donald Trump, probably []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 23rd, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

With nearly half its food imported, who will feed Britain after Brexit?

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Organic Tomatoes Produced in Kent
Organic Tomatoes Produced in Kent, UK.

Trump called himself “Mr. Brexit” yesterday. Funny, almost, in light of the reality of how removing E.U. immigrants is going to drastically change how Britain feeds itself. America too if the anti-immigrant brigade ever gets a modicum of power. Have you ever picked vegetables in the hot sun? It’s not work I’d do voluntarily, even if it paid above minimum wage. Trump’s anti-immigrant army will be spluttering in impotent rage if tomatoes were $50/lb, if lettuce was something you only could afford to eat over the holidays, if a hamburger cost $35 even to make it at home with store-bought ingredients. 

But then Trump’s cult has never had the ability to comprehend facts.

Courgetts (or Courgettes)
Courgetts (or Courgettes) (a/k/a Zucchini)

Anyway, back to Britain, where Carla Power writes, in part:

“Brexit” has sown deep uncertainty in Britain’s food system, which for the last 43 years has been entwined with the rest of Europe’s, relying heavily on the EU for everything from pork to peaches to farm subsidies to the labor that picks its tomatoes. Now, the country is going to have to rethink how it feeds itself, from farm to fork.

“Food is the biggest sector of engagement with Europe,” said Timothy Lang, a professor at City University London’s Center for Food Policy. “It’s hundreds of thousands of contracts, all woven into long supply chains.”

Currently, European laws regulate nearly everything that ends up on British plates: how clean a chicken should be before slaughter, how cold to keep frozen cod, who gets to call their biscuits “gluten free.”

Now, Britain will have to decide all that for itself. Some groups already have begun lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May’s new government for regulations to improve animal welfare and protect soils.

But what Britain can’t do is feed itself. The country imports more than $50 billion a year in food, or nearly half of what it eats. That’s more than double what it exports. Most wine and beef come from mainland Europe, as do about 40% of fruit and vegetables.

The future of food in Britain will depend largely on what sort of trade deals the government can strike with the European alliance it is preparing to abandon.

Germany and other European powers have made it clear that they will not grant Britain the benefits of EU membership if it leaves and that the country probably will face tariffs on many of its imports.

New tariffs on food would drive up prices and potentially change the nation’s diet.

EU membership has brought them a flexible, energetic and mobile labor force of Romanians, Bulgarians and other Eastern Europeans. While EU-born workers from outside Britain make up 6% of the country’s workforce, they account for more than a quarter of employees in the food manufacturing industry — and 95% of crop pickers.

“Every strawberry eaten at Wimbledon was picked by an Eastern European,” said John Hardman of Hops Labour Solutions, an agricultural recruitment firm in Kenilworth. “Every Brussels sprout eaten at Christmas dinner was picked by an Eastern European.”
If Britain stops free movement of EU workers, farmers may struggle to find replacements. Britons themselves don’t seem keen on the low wages and long hours in the orchards and fields.

(click here to continue reading With nearly half its food imported, who will feed Britain after ‘Brexit’? – LA Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

August 19th, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton So Much

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 Planet Hillary

Planet Hillary.

Here is a question I’ve discussed with a lot of people, and never found a satisfying answer to: why do so many Americans despise Hillary Clinton? What is the cause of it? Is it her personality? Her policy stances? Her DNA? Her microbiome? What?

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been an enthusiastic Clinton supporter, not in the 1990s, not in 2008, nor in the current election cycle. However, I don’t consider her evil, and would never use such strong language as hatred toward her. I’ve often considered the rabid, slanderous attacks on her as the beginning of the end of our country’s bipartisan consensus. Fox News, the Vulgar Pigboy, the Short Fingered Vulgarian and all their friends and cohorts first honed their falsehood machine attacking Hillary Clinton – the so-called Vast Right Wing Conspiracy did and does exist.

Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby - Official Photo
Hillary Clinton Adopts Alien Baby – Official Photo

Michelle Goldberg explores in greater depth:

In 1996, the New Yorker published “Hating Hillary,” Henry Louis Gates’ reported piece on the widespread animosity for the then–First Lady. “Like horse-racing, Hillary-hating has become one of those national pastimes which unite the élite and the lumpen,” Gates wrote. “[T]here’s just something about her that pisses people off,” the renowned Washington hostess Sally Quinn told Gates. “This is the reaction that she elicits from people.”

 It might seem as though nothing much has changed in 20 years. Many people disliked Hillary Clinton when she first emerged onto the political scene, and many people dislike her now. She is on track to become the least popular Democratic nominee in modern history, although voters like Donald Trump even less.

But over the last two decades, the something that pisses people off has changed. Speaking to Gates, former Republican speechwriter Peggy Noonan described “an air of apple-cheeked certitude” in Clinton that is “political in its nature and grating in its effects.” Noonan saw in Clinton “an implicit insistence throughout her career that hers were the politics of moral decency and therefore those who opposed her politics were obviously of a lower moral order.”

Noonan’s view was a common one. Take, for example, Michael Kelly’s 1993 New York Times Magazine profile, mockingly titled “Saint Hillary.” “Since she discovered, at the age of 14, that for people less fortunate than herself the world could be very cruel, Hillary Rodham Clinton has harbored an ambition so large that it can scarcely be grasped,” Kelly wrote. “She would like to make things right. She is 45 now and she knows that the earnest idealisms of a child of the 1960s may strike some people as naive or trite or grandiose. But she holds to them without any apparent sense of irony or inadequacy.” Kelly’s piece painted Clinton as a moralist, a meddler, a prig.

Few people dislike Hillary Clinton for being too moralistic anymore. In trying to understand the seemingly eternal phenomenon of Hillary hatred, I’ve spoken to people all around America who revile her. I’ve interviewed Trump supporters, conventional conservatives, Bernie Sanders fans, and even a few people who reluctantly voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary but who nevertheless say they can’t stand her. Most of them described a venal cynic. Strikingly, the reasons people commonly give for hating Clinton now are almost the exact opposite of the reasons people gave for hating her in the 1990s. Back then, she was a self-righteous ideologue; now she’s a corrupt tool of the establishment. Back then, she was too rigid; now she’s too flexible. Recently, Morning Consult polled people who don’t like Clinton about the reasons for their distaste. Eighty-four percent agreed with the statement “She changes her positions when it’s politically convenient.” Eighty-two percent consider her “corrupt.” Motives for loathing Clinton have evolved. But the loathing itself has remained constant.

Some who loathe Clinton see her as the living embodiment of avarice and deception. These Clinton haters take at face value every charge Republicans have ever hurled at her, as well as dark accusations that circulate online. They have the most invidious possible explanation for Whitewater, the dubious real estate deal that served as a pretext for endless Republican investigations of the Clintons in the 1990s. (Clinton was never found guilty of any wrongdoing, though one of her business partners, James McDougal, went to prison for fraud in a related case.) Sometimes they believe that Clinton murdered her former law partner, Vince Foster, who committed suicide in 1993. They hold her responsible for the deadly attack on the American outpost in Benghazi, Libya. Peter Schweizer’s new book Clinton Cash has convinced them that there was a corrupt nexus between Clinton’s State Department, various foreign governments, and the Clinton family’s foundation. Most of Schweizer’s allegations have either been disproven or shown to be unsubstantiated, but that hasn’t stopped Trump from invoking them repeatedly. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he accused Clinton of raking in “millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers.”

(click here to continue reading The people who hate Hillary Clinton the most..)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 26th, 2016 at 8:29 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Is Trump Complicit in Attacks?

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Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine.

Look, I hope this is not true, and just a figment of my febrile, over-caffeinated mind, but think about this: how many times has a politician or public figure made a huge deal about something that later it turned out they themselves were doing? How many televangelists railing against homosexuality have later been outed as gay? How many times has a teabagger made a claim that really was about themselves? How many times did Bill Cosby criticize fornicators?

After reading Jane Mayer’s piece on Trump and his machinations and duplicitous personality, is it really so far fetched of an idea that Donald Trump and some of his mobster friends are hiring or manipulating hitmen to target police? I would not be shocked to find evidence of this in 2020 or even sooner. 

Last month, as the nation was grieving the mass murder of 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, offered his own analysis of what had led the gunman, Omar Mateen, to open fire. “We’re led by a man who is very—look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said , theorizing as to the real reason President __Barack Obama has not used the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” “There’s something going on.” Those four words returned again this week in the wake of another tragedy—this time, the killing of three police officers by a black shooter in Baton Rouge over the weekend—when the billionaire recycled the same phrase to hint yet again that the Democratic president of the United States might have somehow been involved.


“I watch the president and sometimes the words are okay but you just look at the body language and there is something going on, there is something going on,” Trump said Monday in an interview with “Fox and Friends,” when asked to comment on the assertion made by Steve Loomis, the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, that Obama has “blood on his hands” in the aftermath of the Baton Rouge shooting and another attack by a black gunman on police in Dallas earlier this month. Pressed to explain what he meant, Trump continued, “There is just a bad feeling, a lot of bad feeling about him.”

While the real-estate mogul has long played into right-wing conspiracy theories about the nation’s first black president, Trump’s racial dog whistle has in recent weeks grown louder and more explicit. In June, after Trump came under fire for suggesting that Obama didn’t use the term “radical Islamic terror” because he sympathizes with America’s enemies, the G.O.P. nominee revoked The Washington Post’s press credentials for what he called a “dishonest” headline about his comments. Shortly thereafter, however, he doubled down on his insinuation by tweeting a Breitbart story in support of his outlandish claims.

(click here to continue reading Trump Again Suggests that Obama Is Complicit in Attacks | Vanity Fair.)

Just saying I hope it isn’t true because police shouldn’t be pawns in Donald Trump’s vanity campaign for emperor. 

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:58 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Trump’s Boswell Tony Schwartz Would Rename Book to The Sociapath

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Spy Magazine - Donald Trump - Trumps final days
Spy Magazine – Donald Trump – Trump’s final days.

Tony Schwartz, the actual author of Trump’s opus, The Art of the Deal, has a few regrets about writing the book, and feels strongly that Donald Trump is a sociopathic bully who should not be anywhere near the nuclear codes of the United States. I’ve never read the book, but apparently it was a sensation that put Trump on the national stage for the first time.

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker interviews him:

Starting in late 1985, Schwartz spent eighteen months with Trump—camping out in his office, joining him on his helicopter, tagging along at meetings, and spending weekends with him at his Manhattan apartment and his Florida estate. During that period, Schwartz felt, he had got to know him better than almost anyone else outside the Trump family. Until Schwartz posted the tweet, though, he had not spoken publicly about Trump for decades. It had never been his ambition to be a ghostwriter, and he had been glad to move on. But, as he watched a replay of the new candidate holding forth for forty-five minutes, he noticed something strange: over the decades, Trump appeared to have convinced himself that he had written the book. Schwartz recalls thinking, “If he could lie about that on Day One—when it was so easily refuted—he is likely to lie about anything.”

It seemed improbable that Trump’s campaign would succeed, so Schwartz told himself that he needn’t worry much. But, as Trump denounced Mexican immigrants as “rapists,” near the end of the speech, Schwartz felt anxious. He had spent hundreds of hours observing Trump firsthand, and felt that he had an unusually deep understanding of what he regarded as Trump’s beguiling strengths and disqualifying weaknesses. Many Americans, however, saw Trump as a charmingly brash entrepreneur with an unfailing knack for business—a mythical image that Schwartz had helped create. “It pays to trust your instincts,” Trump says in the book, adding that he was set to make hundreds of millions of dollars after buying a hotel that he hadn’t even walked through.

In the subsequent months, as Trump defied predictions by establishing himself as the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Schwartz’s desire to set the record straight grew. He had long since left journalism to launch the Energy Project, a consulting firm that promises to improve employees’ productivity by helping them boost their “physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual” morale. It was a successful company, with clients such as Facebook, and Schwartz’s colleagues urged him to avoid the political fray. But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.

“I put lipstick on a pig,” he said. “I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.”

At the same time, he knew that if he took Trump’s money and adopted Trump’s voice his journalism career would be badly damaged. His heroes were such literary nonfiction writers as Tom Wolfe, John McPhee, and David Halberstam. Being a ghostwriter was hackwork. In the end, though, Schwartz had his price. He told Trump that if he would give him half the advance and half the book’s royalties he’d take the job.

Such terms are unusually generous for a ghostwriter. Trump, despite having a reputation as a tough negotiator, agreed on the spot. “It was a huge windfall,” Schwartz recalls. “But I knew I was selling out. Literally, the term was invented to describe what I did.” Soon Spy was calling him “former journalist Tony Schwartz.”

(click here to continue reading Trump’s Boswell Speaks – The New Yorker.)

Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

Trump sounds even more petulant and without inner life than former president George W Bush, if that’s possible. Trump’s only concern is himself, and lies, manipulations, exaggerations, bullying, whining are all part of plastering over the empty hole in the middle of Trump.

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

But Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.

Other journalists have noticed Trump’s apparent lack of interest in reading. In May, Megyn Kelly, of Fox News, asked him to name his favorite book, other than the Bible or “The Art of the Deal.” Trump picked the 1929 novel “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Evidently suspecting that many years had elapsed since he’d read it, Kelly asked Trump to talk about the most recent book he’d read. “I read passages, I read areas, I’ll read chapters—I don’t have the time,” Trump said. As The New Republic noted recently, this attitude is not shared by most U.S. Presidents, including Barack Obama, a habitual consumer of current books, and George W. Bush, who reportedly engaged in a fiercely competitive book-reading contest with his political adviser Karl Rove.

Trump’s first wife, Ivana, famously claimed that Trump kept a copy of Adolf Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in a cabinet beside his bed. In 1990, Trump’s friend Marty Davis, who was then an executive at Paramount, added credence to this story, telling Marie Brenner, of Vanity Fair, that he had given Trump the book. “I thought he would find it interesting,” Davis told her. When Brenner asked Trump about it, however, he mistakenly identified the volume as a different work by Hitler: “Mein Kampf.” Apparently, he had not so much as read the title. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them,” Trump told Brenner.

I shudder to think of a Trump occupied Oval Office. Read the entire piece if you can spare a few moments, or if you know anyone who is considering voting for Donald Trump because he’s such a great business success…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 18th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Posted in Books,politics

Tagged with ,

GWB Among the Worst US Presidents

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Stop Bitching Start a Revolution
Stop Bitching Start a Revolution

Jean Edward Smith has a new biography of George W. Bush coming out soon. I’ll probably read it eventually, whenever I want to remember how horribly The Shrub screwed up the world…

Thomas Mallon of The New Yorker reviews the bio:

Jean Edward Smith’s biography of George W. Bush goes on sale a day before the former President’s seventieth birthday, and it’s safe to say that no one will be bringing it as a present to the ranch outside Crawford. Smith, a well-regarded practitioner of military history and Presidential-life writing, comes straight to the point in the first sentence of his preface: “Rarely in the history of the United States has the nation been so ill-served as during the presidency of George W. Bush.” By the book’s last sentence, Smith is predicting a long debate over whether Bush “was the worst president in American history,” and while the biographer doesn’t vote on the question himself, the unhappy shade of James Buchanan will feel strongly encouraged by his more than six hundred pages.

Smith points out that Bush attended no meetings of the National Security Council in the seven months prior to September 11, 2001. In her reports on these gatherings, Condoleezza Rice—Bush’s national-security adviser, workout partner, and something of an alter ego—tended to synthesize disagreements among the participants, leaving Bush with a false feeling of consensus. The President’s own focus was chiefly on matters like stem-cell-research regulation and the sort of educational reforms he had pushed through a Democratic legislature as governor of Texas. On the morning of 9/11, Laura Bush was in Ted Kennedy’s Senate office, having come to testify for the No Child Left Behind Act; the White House she returned to later that day was a wholly different place, a domestic cruise ship that had become an aircraft carrier.

In Smith’s view, the military and moral calamities began right then. If he is moderately critical of the President for being “asleep at the switch” in the period before the terrorist attacks—Bush felt no particular alarm when an August 6th C.I.A. briefing indicated that Osama bin Laden was up to at least something—the biographer is simply aghast once Bush seizes the controls. Within three days of September 11th, he says, the President had acquired a “boundless” confidence that put the country on a “permanent war footing” and the White House into a “hothouse climate of the President’s certitude.”

In another anti-superlative, Smith suspects that the invasion of Iraq will “likely go down in history as the worst foreign policy decision ever made by an American president.” The thirteen-year legacy of “preëmption” makes this a hard prophecy to counter, and Smith’s well-ordered scenes on the subject—Paul Wolfowitz pushing for war against Saddam on September 12th, just as he’d been pushing for it in April—do dismaying work. James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, the wise men of his father’s Administration, tell Bush to go slowly or not at all, but George Tenet, the holdover C.I.A. director from the Clinton years, assures him that convincing the public of the need to invade Iraq over W.M.D.s will be a “slam dunk.” As persuasively as anyone before him, Smith presents a strong story of how a successful military mission quickly unaccomplished itself; turned into quite something else (“the United States was going to bring democracy to the country”); and then festered into what Donald Rumsfeld himself, in his memoirs, judged to be “a long and heavy-handed occupation.”


(click here to continue reading W Is for Why – The New Yorker.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 9:13 am

GOP Platform Hypocrisies 2016 Edition

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Another entry into the This Would Be Funny If It Wasn’t So Sad file, and also another entry into Aren’t The Culture Wars Already Over? curtesy of your local un-friendly GOP party platform writers. 

Via Amanda Marcotte:

While the final draft of the 2016 Republican platform won’t be finalized until next week, the drafting committee’s meeting is public and reporters have been sending out a steady stream of reports on platform items approved by the committee and therefore likely to be made the official party positions next week.

The list so far is a grab bag of right-wing obsessions, urban legends, and bigotries, one that would be comical if not for the depressing realization that a lot of people believe this nonsense. Marijuana, national parks, the IRS, and mythical electromagnetic pulses are all condemned in dramatic terms appropriate for signs of the apocalypse.

And, even though their presidential nominee is a thrice-married playboy who bragged on Howard Stern that avoiding STIs was his “personal Vietnam” — because of all the sleeping around, ha ha — the platform committee is extremely interested in policing what everyone else in the country is doing with their genitals. Cohabitation, homosexuality, abortion, even using the bathroom while trans: If it’s not hetero married sex performed in the dark no more than once a month for the reasons of procreation, they are probably against it.

And sorry, fellas, but as much as Republicans love male privilege, when it comes to the sex police, even your private habits are going on the Thou Shalt Not list. Porn, according to what will likely be the official GOP platform, has been declared a “public health crisis” and a “public menace.”

(click here to continue reading GOP war on porn: The same party that nominated a libertine for president is now calling your porn a “public health crisis” – Salon.com.)

Seems like Ted Cruz and his sour band of Christian Taliban won the primary after all. Sad!

The Devil and Pope
The Devil and Pope

Jack Holmes has a (partial) list of some of the horrors:

The Republican Party has always been against things. In Lincoln’s day, it was slavery; for the last seven years, it’s been a functioning federal government. But the Republican Party Platform, rewritten every four years before the party convention, is where things really run wild. That’s especially true this year, as presumptive nominee Donald J. Trump has stepped back to let the Ted Cruz-esque purists have their fun with the party’s official statement of principles. What follows is a list, likely non-comprehensive, of the things the GOP has declared itself against so far.

(Keep in mind, these are initiatives that have passed the platform subcommittees and are awaiting approval as a collective.)

(click here to continue reading Republican Platform – Things the Republican Party Is Against in 2016.)

Reefer songs
Reefer songs

like that oldie but goodie: reefer madness…

Even the medical kind. Among other reasons, ganja was linked to mass shootings (!):

RNC delegate: “All of the mass killings that have taken place, they’re young boys from divorced families and they’re all smoking pot.” — Molly Ball (@mollyesque) July 11, 2016

(click here to continue reading Republican Platform – Things the Republican Party Is Against in 2016.)

You know, that evil weed, Cannabis:

Just days after the Democratic Party endorsed the rescheduling of cannabis and a “reasoned pathway to future legalization” of marijuana, delegates with the Republican Party voted against a more conservative platform that would have endorsed medical marijuana.

At a GOP Platform Committee meeting in Cleveland, Republican delegates on Monday just said no to endorsing medical marijuana.

But a number of delegates rose in opposition to the measure. A member from Utah claimed scientists have a “long way to go with research” on marijuana and argued that studies, which she did not provide, showed a link between it and mental health issues.

Another delegate absurdly claimed that people who commit mass murders are “young boys from divorced families, and they’re all smoking pot.” Yet another delegate claimed marijuana triggered schizophrenia, and is funded nationally by Democrat and New York financier George Soros. “Let’s think a little bit what happens with Percocet, with OxyContin,” claimed a third delegate, who drew a connection between the ongoing heroin epidemic and teenagers smoking marijuana.

(click here to continue reading After Dems back rescheduling, GOP votes against medical marijuana.)

Homosexuals at Biograph
Homosexuals at Biograph

Gays, of course, and anything having to with civil rights, adoptions, etc.

Delegates added to the pile of hot-button topics by unanimously adopting an amendment that called pornography “a public health crisis” and “public menace” that is destroying lives. The measure went further than the 2012 GOP platform, which mainly focused on problems with child pornography.

FRC’s Perkins also succeeded in introducing an amendment to the platform affirming “the right of parents to determine the proper treatment or therapy, for their minor children,” a reference to gay conversion therapy, which has been banned in a number of states.

(click here to continue reading GOP Platform Committee Bucks 21st Century, Reaffirms Anti-LGBT Stance.)

Even people like me, living in sin (i.e., unmarried) are targeted:

Meanwhile, on cultural issues, the committee showed no inclination to temper its traditional views. Multiple references to the horrors of abortion and the sanctity of human life were inserted; a reference to “aborted fetuses” was changed to “aborted children”; opposition to “policies and laws that create a financial incentive or encourage cohabitation” was adopted. “A traditional two-parent household” was deemed best for children, and women’s “exemption from direct ground combat units and infantry battalions” was urged. (In a departure from 2012, however, the platform did not call for amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage; it urged instead that an amendment allow states to determine their marriage laws.) The platform condemned the Obama administration’s “edict to the States concerning restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities” for transgender people.

Tony Perkins, the head of the socially conservative Family Research Council and a delegate from Louisiana, pronounced himself exceedingly pleased with the result. “This is one of the most conservative platforms the party has ever had, and I didn’t think we could get more conservative than 2012, which was probably one of the most conservative platforms in our history,” he told me.

(click here to continue reading The Party of Donald Trump? – The Atlantic.)

6000 years ago
6000 years ago

Can’t forget the 6,000 Year Old Earthers, gotta give them a tickle:

Teach the Bible as literature: The committee labored for a long time on Monday over whether to encourage public schools to teach the Bible as a literature elective. Ultimately, they decided that yes, public schools should do that. And on the subject of education, the committee decided to take a stand against early childhood education because, as one delegate put it, it “inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life.” 

(click here to continue reading The Porn Crisis, Gay Conversion Therapy, and Other Notable Elements of the GOP Platform | Mother Jones.)


On the subject of religion, the delegates have reportedly included an amendment calling for the Bible to be taught in schools as part of “American history.” Maybe the Garden of Eden really is in Missouri, after all?

GOP Platform amendment calls for teaching the Bible as part of “American history”

— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) July 11, 2016

(click here to continue reading GOP 2016 platform full of crazy ideas | Fusion.)

Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame
Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame

and the Christian Taliban basically are in control of the GOP:

And while Republicans continue to warn about the non-existent threat of Sharia Law, their platform insists that religious law isn’t an option—it’s required.

The platform demands that lawmakers use religion as a guide when legislating, stipulating “that man-made law must be consistent with God-given, natural rights.”

It also encourages the teaching of the Bible in public schools because, the amendment said, a good understanding of its contents is “indispensable for the development of an educated citizenry.” Who interprets God-given, natural rights? Conservatives, of course, and their interpretation presents an incredibly strict, incredibly narrow, and quite detailed picture of what it takes to be a Real American.

The Republicans: Preventing Sharia Law, by imposing Sharia Law.

(click here to continue reading The Republican platform hates gays, puts women back in the kitchen, and insists on religious law.)

You get the idea. Sheesh, what a bunch of twats. The head twat is Kris Kobach, who you’ve probably never heard of, but he has some plans for you and me:

For years, Kris Kobach has led an effort to pull the Republican Party to the conservative extreme. But in this election cycle — as evidenced by the platform pulled together by him and his fellow convention delegates in Cleveland this week — he doesn’t have a presidential candidate who is going to stand in the way.

The Kansas secretary of state was on the convention committee responsible for finalizing the proposed planks of the Republican party platform, which the full convention delegation will vote on next week. Normally, the process doesn’t get wide public attention because the platform is seen as little more than aspirational, something for party activists to rally around as they ramp up for the general election.

Enter Kobach, a Trump supporter with some experience pushing the Republican Party to the far right. With a nominee who has isn’t steeped in movement conservatism and doesn’t much seem to care, Kobach and conservatives on the committee appear to have had a long leash.

(click here to continue reading Forget Trump! The GOP’s Convention Platform Makes It The Party Of Kris Kobach.)

How any free-thinking person who believes in civil liberties could support the GOP in any form baffles my mind.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 14th, 2016 at 8:43 am

Posted in politics

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Rudy Giuliani – Professional Racist

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What Up, G

What Up, G 

Rudy “9-11” Giuliani, one of the very worst mayors the city of New York has ever suffered through, makes a living these days partly by going on cable news to spew racist nonsense. His most recent rant is disgusting, even by his previous standards. When even a center-left establishment newspaper like the New York Times editorializes against Rudy G’s fact-free assertions, and hate-mongers like Rush Limbaugh are supportive, hmmm…

For a nation heartsick over the killings of black men by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, and the ambush murders of officers by a gunman in Dallas, here comes Rudolph Giuliani, bringing his trademark brew of poisonous disinformation to the discussion.

In his view, the problem is black gangs, murderous black children, the refusal of black protesters to look in the mirror at their “racist” selves, and black parents’ failure to teach their children to respect the police.

“What we’ve got to hear from the black community,” said Mr. Giuliani, in a Sunday morning talk-show appearance that seemed to double as a lecture to black America, “is how and what they are doing among themselves about the crime problem in the black community.” He added, “We wonder, do black lives matter, or only the very few black lives that are killed by white policemen?”

Here’s a better question: How, we wonder, will the country ever get beyond its stunted discourse about racialized violence when people like Mr. Giuliani continue to try to change the subject? Those who remember Mr. Giuliani as the hectoring mayor of New York know what he has to offer any conversation on race and violence — not a lot. In case you’re unconvinced, here is what Mr. Giuliani on Sunday said he would tell a young son, if he were black: “Be very careful of those kids in the neighborhood and don’t get involved with them because, son, there’s a 99 percent chance they’re going to kill you, not the police.”

Mr. Giuliani’s garbled, fictional statistic echoes a common right-wing talking point about the prevalence of “black on black” violence in America. Homicide data do show that black victims are most often killed by black assailants. (They also reveal that whites tend to be killed by whites.) This observation does not speak to the matter of racist policing and police brutality. Killings of the police have, mercifully, been on the decline during the Obama presidency. But unwarranted shootings by police officers remain a persistent problem, ignored for generations, exploding only now into the wider public consciousness because of bystander videos that reveal the blood-red truth.

There is Mr. Giuliani’s ludicrous suggestion that black people don’t know they need to be careful around cops, or somehow are complicit in their brutalizing. Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, and Philando Castile, in a St. Paul suburb, were posing no threat when they were shot. (Far from being ignorant of the ways of the police, fearful black parents long ago learned to impart the advice that Mr. Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said she gave her son: “If you get stopped by the police, comply. Comply, comply, comply.”) Eric Garner, on Staten Island, was unarmed and outnumbered by the officers who swarmed and smothered him.

In 1999, when Mr. Giuliani was New York’s tough-on-crime mayor, Amadou Diallo reached for his wallet and was cut down in a hail of police bullets. Patrick Dorismond was minding his own business on a Manhattan street in 2000 when Mr. Giuliani’s undercover officers confronted him and shot him dead. In one of the disgraceful acts of his or any mayoralty, Mr. Giuliani smeared the victim’s reputation and released part of his juvenile police record, as if to suggest that he deserved to be murdered.

(click here to continue reading Rudy Giuliani’s Racial Myths – The New York Times.)

A Friendly Spotted Pig
A Friendly Spotted Pig Is Smarter than Rush Limbaugh

The vulgar pig-boy loved it, predictably:

Well Rudy Giulani tried the truth on CBS this morning, and he’s catching hell. He’s catching hell for things he said on TV yesterday. He’s catching hell for going after the squeegee guys again. He’s catching hell for stop don’t frisk, or frisk don’t stop, whatever. He’s catching hell for the broken windows policy. He’s catching hell for everything he ever did because he said — and I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t have it right in front of me. He said: if black lives really mattered, then they would be concerned about all the black lives lost in inner cities like Chicago that result from black crime. But I don’t think that Black Lives Matter cares about any of that, so, and he went on to call them an inherent racial or racist organization by virtue of their title, Black Lives Matter. If you’re going to start segregating things like that, doesn’t it make you racist. Now they’re coming after Rudy full-throttle, full-throat, but he made an accurate statement.

(click here to continue reading Limbaugh Defends Giuliani Calling Black Lives Matter Racist: It’s An “Accurate Statement”.)

Gee, thanks, Rush, for your insight into the Republican mindset.

Friendly Conversation
Friendly Conversation

Rudy Giuliani’s reign of error is part of the underlying problem, to be fair.

Terrence Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, who appeared on the same show, was quick to dismiss Mr. Giuliani’s comments. “I wouldn’t make that connection,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s Black Lives Matter that put a target on those police officers,” Mr. Cunningham continued, adding, “Unfortunately, I think, you know, people have really polarized this issue. If we really want to work towards solutions, we need to work together.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who also appeared on the show, suggested that Mr. Giuliani was partly to blame for the rift.

“He actually presided over one of the most discredited areas and periods of policing in the City of New York,” she said, “which is, in fact, responsible for a lot of the tension that exists between police officers and people in African-American communities.”

(click here to continue reading Rudolph Giuliani Lashes Out at Black Lives Matter – The New York Times.)

Finally, from a former NYC Officer

EUGENE O’DONNELL: It is important to say Rudy Guiliani is in a special category. This is a person that made a study out of the most divisive, inflammatory rhetoric with the African-American community, and sadly, is a two term mayor. So we’re not talking about crazy people speaking in the recesses of social media or somebody saying, you kill one of us, we’ll kill two of you in a crowd, we’re talking about somebody who every time he speaks on race hits a new low. I’m not even an African-American, I find one of the things — because I know his playbook — that I find particularly offensive is when he pretends to be talking to the African-American community when he’s really talking at the African-American community, and has nothing to say to them. He poisoned race relations in New York City almost irreparably. We’re trying to get a handle on this. He is one of the most extremist, divisive people, I think I remember when he contemplated running for Senate against Mrs. Clinton, I believe the poll showed the African-American community, he had zero percent. David Duke would have 1 percent. That’s the kind of mayor he was. And people who saw him in action — we can talk about how he destroyed the police profession as a labor mayor — but people of good faith should be calling this guy out. And what’s scary is — we have people running for high office here. If they said what they’re saying out loud on Facebook as cops, they’d be terminated tomorrow morning.

(click here to continue reading On MSNBC’s All In, A Former NYC Officer Says Giuliani “Hits A New Low” “Every Time He Speaks On Race”.)

I’d be happy if I never heard from Rudy Giuliani again, on any topic, but specifically on race and police.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 12th, 2016 at 8:11 am

Posted in politics

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The Struggle to Vote in Kansas

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We Will Vote
We Will Vote

I would be more sanguine about Trump’s odds of winning the presidency if not for a few nagging thoughts. Hillary Clinton is a plodding centrist, not a natural politician. I’m still unconvinced the electronic voting machines are immune to shenanigans, and Trump is motivated to explore cheating so as to avoid an embarrassing loss. And the GOP has been methodically undermining voting rights in state after state after state. 

Like in Kansas:

The right to vote is turning into a tooth-and-claw saga in Kansas, thanks to right-wing ideologues’ determination to force new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship.

This is unheard-of in most of the nation, where aspiring voters are required only to swear to being citizens under penalty of prosecution for fraud. But in Kansas, the requirement that citizenship be documented has become a grave electoral impediment that is being challenged on two legal fronts.

In the first, a federal district judge in May ordered the state to register thousands of people who had been denied federal voting privileges because they did not produce proof of citizenship when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the requirement violated the National Voter Registration Act provision that “only the minimum amount of information” is needed to certify a voter. The state is appealing her ruling.

Judge Robinson found that 18,372 qualified voters had been unfairly barred from federal elections — about 8 percent of new applicants. She also found that between 1995 and 2013, there were only three instances in Kansas when noncitizens had voted. This was a humiliating setback for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been a major proponent of the Republican fantasy that voter fraud is rampant.

A separate lawsuit, also in Kansas and brought by voting rights groups, is focused on a brazen attempt to force prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in state elections as an addendum to the federal government’s voter registration form.

So goes the weakened state of democracy in Kansas. As the courts thrash through the Republicans’ “voter fraud” myth, it is shocking that thousands of qualified Kansans still have no certainty that they will be allowed into the voting booth.

(click here to continue reading The Struggle to Vote in Kansas – The New York Times.)

We can all laugh and roll our eyes at the thought of President Trump, and yet…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:24 am

Posted in government,politics

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Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run

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Might be worth saving this magazine…

Oh, joy. Being a Senator must be too boring for “Calgary” Cruz, he’d rather have a permanent presidential campaign instead. Well, on the bright side, maybe that Natural Born Citizen case will get settled this time.

Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign ended just two months ago. But his campaign for next cycle is already getting started.

According to a report Wednesday in National Review, the Texas senator is making big changes inside and outside of his Senate office to ready his political operation for a 2020 run. Cruz has been “conspicuously silent” recently, the report notes, but behind the scenes has “supervis[ed] the vast expansion of his electoral enterprise, integrating the operations of his campaign team,” and has instituted staffing changes to reflect his long-term goals.

Among them is Cruz’s decision to bring on a longtime Republican campaign operative—with no Hill-office experience—as his Senate chief of staff. His current chief is departing to work as a senior adviser to two new Cruz-aligned nonprofit groups:

Central to [Cruz’s] plans is the creation of two new affiliated nonprofits, their names to be announced in the coming days, which will effectively keep Cruz’s political machinery humming over the next four years. These groups, one a 501(c)3 and the other a 501(c)4, will be responsible for everything from championing Cruz’s legislative priorities to maintaining his donor database and coordinating his early-state travel. They will be an outgrowth of Cruz’s existing campaign apparatus, the nucleus of which has remained active in the aftermath of his departure from the race on May 3.

(click here to continue reading Texas Senator Ted Cruz Prepares for 2020 Presidential Run – The Atlantic.)

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:14 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with

Trump Running For President Like He Ran DJT – Into the Ground

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Pope Doesn't Want to Wear Her Make Donald Drumpf Again Hat for some reason


Poorly, in other words, for everyone except Trump.

Reading between the lines, sounds as if Donald Trump is flailing. The GOP could call his bluff, and let Trump twist in the wind a bit. Trump may be rich, but he’s no billionaire, hence he needs the GOP to make it rain.

Frustrated by flagging donations and criticism from GOP leaders on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he “may go a different route” in funding his general election campaign if need be.

“I need support from the Republicans,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends,” noting that some in the party, including Republican National Committee officials, have “been terrific.”

“But it would be nice to have full support from people that are in office, I mean full verbal support,” he said. “Now with all that being said I may go a different route if those things don’t happen.”

“I can just spend my own money,” he said, likening the strategy to the one he used in the primaries. “I have a lot of cash. So I can do like I did with the others, just spend money on myself and go happily along and I think I’d win that way. There are many people who think I’d do better that way by being a little bit of the insurgent, the outsider and you know not working along. But I want to work along because the RNC has been terrific, Reince Priebus has been terrific and it’s all coming together.”

(click here to continue reading Trump: If GOP Doesn’t Support Me, Fine, ‘I Have A Lot Of Cash’.)

Will the RNC fund him? I wonder. One the one hand, if Trump gets beaten badly by Clinton, the GOP might lose the Senate and even the House, but on the other hand, Trump…

The reasons are many, Trump is horrible with money; a crappy businessman, and stingy with his own money, but the bottom line is that either he needs to sell a building or two, if possible, or set up a Kickstarter…

I Heard You Trying Not To Cry
I Heard You Trying Not To Cry

Donald Trump loves to talk about how rich he is. But according to the latest campaign-finance report, his presidential bid is very, very poor. In the month after clinching his party’s nomination, the “billionaire” businessman raised just $3.1 million and has loaned his campaign $2.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The campaign has also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump’s own businesses, on products branded with his name and in direct payments to members of his family. His cash on hand is a paltry $1.3 million. That stands in stark contrast to the Clinton campaign, which announced a haul of nearly $26.4 million. Her cash on hand rang in at $42 million. Even Bernie Sanders, whose campaign is all but over, ended the month with $9.2 million cash on hand—seven times more than Trump—after raising $15.6 million in May. In fact, former candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson still have more cash on hand, as do House members running for re-election, including Peter King, Joe Kennedy, and Lee Zeldin.

(click here to continue reading Trump’s Campaign Is So Broke It Couldn’t Afford a Condo in Trump Tower – The Daily Beast.)

Just Around The Turn
Just Around The Turn

Trump’s one publicly traded company, i.e., the only company of his with financials that outsiders can examine, did horribly, and lost money for everyone except the Trump clan.

Drew Harwell reports:

It was promoted as the chance of a lifetime: Mom-and-pop investors could buy shares in celebrity businessman Donald Trump’s first public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.

Their investments were quickly depleted. The company known by Trump’s initials, DJT, crumbled into a penny stock and filed for bankruptcy after less than a decade, costing shareholders millions of dollars, even as other casino companies soared.

In its short life, Trump the company greatly enriched Trump the businessman, paying to have his personal jet piloted and buying heaps of Trump-brand merchandise. Despite losing money every year under Trump’s leadership, the company paid Trump handsomely, including a $5 million bonus in the year the company’s stock plummeted 70 percent.

Many of those who lost money were Main Street shareholders who believed in the Trump brand, such as Sebastian Pignatello, a retired private investor in Queens. By the time of the 2004 bankruptcy, Pignatello’s 150,000 shares were worth pennies on the dollar.

“He had been pillaging the company all along,” said Pignatello, who joined shareholders in a lawsuit against Trump that has since been settled. “Even his business allies, they were all fair game. He has no qualms about screwing anybody. That’s what he does.”

(click here to continue reading As its stock collapsed, Trump’s firm gave him huge bonuses and paid for his jet – The Washington Post.)

Trump is used to running his business deals like a tin-pot dictator, siphoning funds off the top and letting everyone else pick up the expenses. So there is no surprise his presidential campaign is exactly the same model. 

Trump campaign expenses in May, per @FEC report:

Hats: $208k

Online advertising: $115k

Data management: $48k

Communications consulting: $38k

(click here to continue reading Kenneth P. Vogel on Twitter: “Trump campaign expenses in May, per @FEC report: Hats: $208k Online advertising: $115k Data management: $48k Communications consulting: $38k”.)


Recipients of payments from Trump campaign with “Trump” in name, through May 31. Doesn’t include Mar-a-Lago/planes.

Trump expenses
Trump expenses.jpg

(click here to continue reading Derek Willis on Twitter: “Recipients of payments from Trump campaign with “Trump” in name, through May 31. Doesn’t include Mar-a-Lago/planes. https://t.co/JF6skaWYGF”.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2016 at 10:14 am

Posted in politics

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Why Paul Ryan Can’t Quit Donald Trump

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Circular Reasons

Circular Reasons

Paul Ryan’s ideas are so toxic to the voting public, he can never articulate these ideas. He’s been a flim-flam man for so long, he’s probably forgotten what it is like to be honest. Perfect for the party of Donald Trump, in other words.

The details of Ryan’s vision have always remained somewhat foggy. The conservative revolution Ryan has in mind isn’t a popular or cultural one; it is entirely legislative. And the predicate for enacting it isn’t to sell a set of ideas to the public, but to steel the spines of legislators to vote for Ryan’s ideas no matter what the public thinks.

Ryan’s revolutionary ideas themselves aren’t entirely clear, either, though that wasn’t always the case. Before he became the undisputed intellectual leader of the conservative movement in the Obama era, he laid out a series of specific and radical reforms–including Social Security and Medicare privatization–in a 2008 bill called the Roadmap for America’s Future. When it fell to him as chairman of the House budget committee to draft a governing agenda for the whole party, though, many of the details vanished.

Ryan still wants to devolve Medicare into a subsidized system of competition between insurance carriers, but only for seniors in the distant future. He still wants to hand Medicaid over to the states and slash its budgets by hundreds of billions of dollars. He still wants to cut income tax rates for the wealthy to about a third of their current level. He still wants to spend lavishly on the military. But when asked how to pay for it all, he’s exceedingly vague. He promises to cut tax expenditures, but doesn’t say how or which ones. He promises to slash the domestic discretionary budget (which disproportionately benefits the poor), but won’t say which programs, or by how much.

All of that was to be decided after Republicans won the White House. That was Ryan’s game plan when he was budget chairman; it remained his game plan as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee in 2012. And the plan seemed to be well within reach when Republicans finally consolidated control of Congress in 2015, and a raft of talented candidates were lining up to fill the last piece of the puzzle: the presidency.

It’s impossible to fully grasp Ryan’s thinking without understanding how close he feels he’s come to realizing a decades-old dream. That dream, as Grover Norquist told CPAC four years ago, culminates with the election of a figurehead. “We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget…We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate…Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Why Paul Ryan Can’t Quit Donald Trump | New Republic.)

In a just universe, Donald Trump will lead to an overwhelming loss to the Republican Party, putting the GOP as the minority party for decades in both House and Senate. 

Written by Seth Anderson

June 20th, 2016 at 7:43 pm