Truth be told, I am a bit nervous about the upcoming presidential election. I may be cracking jokes about the possibility of Trump winning the election, but I am nervous about it. There are a lot of low-informatation voters in the US. Long-time readers of this space realize I am no fan of Ms. Clinton’s politics, but the choice is nonetheless clear: a vote for her is a vote against the Crotch-fondling slab of rancid meatloaf, and of course I’d suggest you vote for Hillary Clinton, even if you don’t subscribe to her particular brand of consensus-building centrisism.
Otherwise, there will be dire consequences.
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:
Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.”
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.”
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…
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.”
Seems like Ted Cruz and his sour band of Christian Taliban won the primary after all. Sad!
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.”
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.
Paul Ryan reads a Bedtime Story – drawing by Barry Blitt
Paul Ryan and other believers in Republican orthodoxy, ie, faith in the Laffer Curve, Supply Side economics, tax cuts for rich, expansion of military, ad nauseam, seem to be deluded about many things1 but the most amusing is their belief that they will be able to tame Donald Trump. Good luck with that buddy.
Ryan Lizza writes, in part:
There are essentially two Republican parties right now: the Party of Donald J. Trump and the Party of House Speaker Paul Ryan—who has, nonetheless, endorsed Trump for President. One of the ways in which members of the Ryan faction delude themselves is by believing that Ryan’s policies would dominate if Trump were President and Ryan remained Speaker of the House.
As with Ryan’s optimistic predictions about House Republican unity, there is no reason to believe that a future Republican President would share the House G.O.P.’s view of Congress’s role. But it’s an especially absurd assumption when it comes to Trump, who has displayed authoritarian instincts and has argued that he will exceed Obama in using the powers of the executive branch.
More important, Trump’s agenda is not Ryan’s. The Speaker has been regularly unveiling policy reports on the Republican House agenda, and Trump, who seems oblivious to the Ryan project, has been shredding the ideas with his public comments. Two weeks ago, Trump argued that Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge, couldn’t do his job because his parents were born in Mexico. A few days later, Ryan was scheduled to speak in a predominantly black neighborhood in Washington, D.C., about his new and much-touted policy proposals to address poverty. He ended up using the event to describe Trump’s claims about Curiel as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He immediately added, though, that he was still supporting him for President, in part because he thought that Hillary Clinton was worse.
There was a fat contestant who was a buffoon and a fuckup,” recalls the midlevel producer. “And he would fuck up week after week, and the producers would figure that he’d screwed up so badly that Trump would have to fire him. But Trump kept deciding to fire someone else. The producers had to scramble because of course Trump can never be seen to make a bad call on the show, so we had to re-engineer the footage to make a different contestant look bad. Later, I heard a producer talk to him, and Trump said, ‘Everybody loves a fat guy. People will watch if you have a funny fat guy around. Trust me, it’s good for ratings.’ I look at Chris Christie now and I swear that’s what’s happening.”
Paul Krugman asks a question I’ve been asking for a while: why did the “Deep Bench” of 2016 Republican presidential candidates do such a collectively horrible job vetting Donald Trump? Did none of the Deep Bench staffs include an opposition research team?
This is not a column about Donald Trump.
It’s not about the fraudulent scheme that was Trump University. It’s not about his history of failing to pay contractors, leading to hundreds of legal actions. It’s not about how he personally profited while running his casinos into the ground. It’s not even concerned with persistent questions about whether he is nearly as rich as he claims to be, and whether he’s ever done more than live off capital gains on his inheritance.
No, my question, as Democrats gleefully tear into the Trump business record, is why rival Republicans never did the same. How did someone who looks so much like a cheap con man bulldoze right through the G.O.P. nomination process?
I mean, it’s not as if any of this dirt was deeply hidden. The Trump U. story was out there long before it became the big deal it is today. It took some real reporting to flesh out the details of Mr. Trump’s other business practices, but we’re talking about ordinary if skillful journalistic legwork, not revelations from Deep Throat.
So why didn’t any of Mr. Trump’s primary opponents manage to make an issue of his sleazy business career? Were they just incompetent, or is there something structural about the modern Republican Party that makes it unable to confront grifters?
Sarah Palin, and her crew, Glenn Beck selling gold shares and end-of-times survival gear, Ron Paul selling his “curriculum”, Paul Ryan’s mission
to repeal the so-called “fiduciary rule” for retirement advisers, a new rule requiring that they serve the interests of their clients, and not receive kickbacks for steering them into bad investments.
You get the idea, Donald Trump is just another GOP snake-oil salesman, one of many. I guess the Republican party does have a deep bench of grifters and con artists.
Medicine is sometimes Not Enough
Really, the main premise of the modern conservative party is that Supply Side Economics is valid – cutting taxes for the wealthy is going to start trickling down krugerands for the rest of us, any day now! Just look to Governor Brownback’s Kansas. So if your political party insists the Laffer Curve is science, and simultaneously claims the earth is but 6,000 years old, is it any wonder that Donald Trump will win primary voters?
Or as Krugman puts it:
Then there’s the issue of ideology. If your fundamental premise is that the profit motive is always good and government is the root of all evil, if you treat any suggestion that, say, some bankers misbehaved in the run-up to the financial crisis as proof that the speaker is anti-business if not a full-blown socialist, how can you condemn anyone’s business practices?
In the months ahead Republicans will claim that there are equivalent scandals on the Democratic side, but nothing they’ve managed to come up with rises remotely to the level of even one of the many Trump scams in the news. They’ll also claim that Mr. Trump doesn’t reflect their party’s values. But the truth is that in a very deep sense he does. And that’s why they couldn’t stop him.
It seems odd that after an overwhelming litany of crude, demagogic insults over the course of the last year, Republican leaders have suddenly recognized that Donald Trump is a racist whose reckless rhetoric is likely to destroy the Republican Party. Evidently, the “Mexicans are rapists” comments in his announcement speech a year ago didn’t ring any alarm bells. But better late than never. Party leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan both decided they needed to denounce his blatant bigotry although they made clear it wasn’t a deal breaker. Better an unfit, racist, authoritarian megalomaniac than a Democrat in the White House. You go to Hades with the devil you have not the devil you wished you have.
There have been a few prominent Republicans who have publicly withdrawn their endorsements. Senator Mark Kirk said he could no longer support Trump because he doesn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief. This has also been obvious for the last 12 months but again, it’s to his credit that he’s belatedly decided that it’s a disqualifying characteristic. He’s decided to write-in the name of General David Petraeus which he may want to re-think considering the news this week that Petraeus was not only found guilty of “mishandling” classified information by sharing it with his mistress, he also shared Top Secret information with reporters. It’s really tough finding a decent Republican to vote for these days.
The GOP were fine with Trump up until very recently, and if you examine their various statements, very few are going as far as saying Trump shouldn’t be the GOP standard-bearer, they just want him to tone down his language a bit so as to not rile up the rubes and television bloviators. Not his ideas, not his actions, just his language describing GOP shibboleths like we must be very, very afraid of undocumented Mexicans pouring over the border by the millions, and other fact-free positions.
Or else what?
The problem with this scenario is that these elite Republicans are failing to take something very important into consideration: their voters. It’s certainly possible that they are in danger of losing some faction of the party over Trump’s repugnant behavior. But there is little reason to believe it’s a majority. This week, millions of them went to the polls and voted for him even though he had already won the nomination. Granted, he’s not the electoral juggernaut he pretends to be, but he is the legitimate winner of the Republican nomination and his voters will not take kindly to having their wishes ignored.
Moreover, the Republican rank and file doesn’t agree with the premise that Trump is out of bounds in the first place. This YouGov survey done after Trump made his bigoted comments about the judge show 81% of Democrats and 44% of independents believe they were racist. But only only 22% of Republicans agree. In other words, 78% of GOP voters are just fine with Trump and seem to agree with his statement that “people are tired of this political correctness when things are said that are totally fine.”
Amusing, in an odd way, how many Republican leaders decry Trump’s blatant racism, sexism, nativism, whatever-ism, yet make sure to mention that Hillary is somehow worse, without explaining why. Profiles in courage, 2016 edition. I may be unenthusiastic about Ms. Clinton, but she isn’t a racist bully with tiny hands and a tiny brain. The truth is Donald Trump is only saying what the rest of the GOP says and thinks, only louder, and with less big words. The Combover Caligula is the GOP.1
Some Republicans, including Ryan, employed the “Trump is still better than Hillary Clinton” defense. Several asserted that Trump “isn’t racist in his heart” line or variations on that theme. Still others refused to comment or grew angry when pressed to comment on the GOP presidential hopeful.
McConnell was asked every which way about Trump’s comments at his weekly Q&A with reporters, as his leadership team tried in vain to talk about national security and a defense bill pending on the Senate floor. The Kentucky Republican faced not a single question about his plans to pass annual spending bills or to overhaul the Senate and make it a better-functioning body.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) went on CNN to discuss Trump and ended up calling President Barack Obama a racist. “You can easily argue the president of the United States is a racist with his policies and rhetoric,” Zeldin claimed. Zeldin later added that “my purpose here isn’t to just go through the list and call everyone a racist.”
When asked later for details on Obama’s allegedy racist policies or rhetoric, Zeldin apologized to Obama.
“I abhor racism in any form and it has no place in our country,” Zeldin said in a statement. “I was disappointed and disagree with Donald Trump’s statement.”
Zeldin added: “With that being said, I apologize to anyone who interpreted my comments as calling the president a racist. I am not calling the president a racist.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an unabashed Trump critic, said the issue isn’t so much Trump as the future of the GOP. Backing Trump just because he’s the Republican nominee doesn’t cut it, Graham said.
“There are a lot of people who want to be loyal to the Republican Party, including me,” Graham told MSNBC. “But there’ll come a point in time where we’re gonna have to understand that it’s not just about the 2016 race, it’s about the future of the party. And I would like to support our nominee; I just can’t.”
The one-term Senator from Illinois, Mark Kirk couldn’t quite square the circle, at the moment anyway. Come November, I’m sure he’ll be sure to support the GOP’s nominee:
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk said Tuesday that Donald Trump “does not have the temperament” to hold the job of president, saying he “cannot and will not support” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
It was sharp criticism from an incumbent who had previously insisted he would support the GOP nominee. The Illinois Republican, who faces a tough challenge this November from Illinois Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, tweeted Tuesday that based on his background in the military, he does not have faith in Trump to lead. “Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal,” Kirk wrote. Given my military experience, Donald Trump does not have the temperament to command our military or our nuclear arsenal.
— Mark Kirk (@MarkKirk) June 7, 2016 Kirk, who told CNN that he would write in former CIA director David Petraeus this fall, followed up with a statement saying he objects to Trump’s recent comments about a federal judge’s Mexican heritage.
I doubt we’ll see much more than tiny pockets of Clinton support among the powers that be in the GOP. It has been astonishing to watch one Republican leader after another call out Trump’s racism this week and yet say they still support him because they hate Hillary more. Keep in mind that these are some of the same so-called leaders — typified by Paul Ryan — who were in a tizzy months ago when Trump didn’t immediately disavow David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. They are the same leaders who had to wait several days to see which way the political winds were blowing before they called for the Confederate flag to come down in the aftermath of the Charleston church massacre. You have to wonder: Do Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus, et al, have even a single testicle among them? It doesn’t seem that way. McConnell’s cowardly strategy for criticizing Trump, for instance, was to demand that he “get on message.” What the hell does that mean? Trump is on message: It’s the nativist, birther message that the GOP has embraced throughout the Obama era, and that John McCain (who also continues to endorse Trump) legitimized by putting Sarah Palin on his ticket eight years ago. Trump’s misogyny is also consistent with a party whose favored Establishment candidate this year, Rubio, opposed abortions for victims of rape and incest. It may be only a matter of days before Trump declares that his idea of an impartial judge is Aaron Persky, who presided over the Brock Turner rape case.
But we are beginning to see a few signs of panic, if not courage, among GOP elites this week. They are starting to remember history. The Republican Party lost African-American voters in seeming perpetuity from the moment it nominated an opponent of the Civil Rights Act, Barry Goldwater, for the presidency in 1964. In the 1990s, the GOP lost California — once Ronald Reagan’s secure domain — after the Republican governor Pete Wilson unleashed the forces of bigotry on Hispanics by campaigning for Proposition 187, a punitive strike against undocumented immigrants. It’s finally beginning to dawn on the party elites that, yes, Trump could drive away America’s fastest-growing demographic group for as many decades as Goldwater drove away black people. Trump could turn red states blue just as Wilson did in California.
It is here where we point out that Republicans have been holding up Zika funding in the Congress because the Republicans in the House of Representatives are completely insane, and beyond anyone’s control, and perfectly representative of the forces that produced the presidential nominee who makes Burr and Cornyn and the rest of them so uncomfortable.
For their part, of course, these same jamokes in the upper chamber are keeping the Supreme Court playing shorthanded because they don’t like the twice-elected president of the United States and are content to hold one seat on the bench open to be filled by the guy about whom they’d rather not talk.
Incoherence as a strategy does not seem like a plan.
The forensic accountants digging into Trump’s alleged wealth is an intriguing 2016 story-line, I’m assuming Hillary Clinton’s people are working full time on the project.
Donald Trump claims a net worth of more than $10 billion and an income of $557 million. But he appears to get there only by overvaluing properties and ignoring his expenses.
POLITICO spoke with more than a dozen financial experts and Trump’s fellow multimillionaires about the presumptive Republican nominee’s latest financial statement. Their conclusion: The real estate magnate’s bottom line — what he actually puts in his own pocket — could be much lower than he suggests. Some financial analysts said this, and a very low tax rate, is why Trump won’t release his tax returns.
An interesting subtext is how often anonymous quotes are used because even these Masters of the Universe types realize Trump has a thin skin, and a need to sue everyone who ever blinks at Trump wrong. Such as these courageous high-net worth individuals…
“I know Donald; I’ve known him a long time, and it gets under his skin if you start writing about the reasons he won’t disclose his returns,” said one prominent hedge fund manager who declined to be identified by name so as not to draw Trump’s ire. “You would see that he doesn’t have the money that he claims to have and he’s not paying much of anything in taxes.”
“If he is swimming in so much cash for all his holdings, why is he selling this stuff to raise cash?” asked another ultra-high-net-worth individual who also reviewed the filings and declined to be identified by name to avoid Trump’s wrath.
Anyway, this is the part of Hillary Clinton’s mind that irks me and many others who want to be able to vote for her in the general election. Rather than tell West Virginians the truth that coal is the energy source of the past, not the future, Ms. Clinton apologized for speaking the truth in front of a different audience.
Voters in Appalachian coal country will not soon forget that Democrat Hillary Clinton told an Ohio audience in March that she would “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
“It was a devastating thing for her to say,” said Betty Dolan, whose diner in this mountain hamlet offers daily testament to the ravages that mining’s demise has visited upon families whose livelihood depends on coal.
Mine closures, bankruptcies and layoffs are staples of lunchtime conversation for those who have not fled town in search of work. Like many fellow Democrats in the region, Dolan, 73, favors Republican Donald Trump for president, however rude he might seem to the proprietor of a no-frills restaurant known for its graham cracker pie.
“I’m going to go for the person who wants coal,” she said.
front-running Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton in West Virginia, where a pledge the former U.S. secretary of state made two months ago to kill coal miners’ jobs in favor of renewable energy continues to haunt her.…She had added that she doesn’t intend to abandon workers “who did the best they could to produce the energy we relied on” and apologized directly last week to an out-of-work foreman who confronted her in Williamson, West Virginia, but the general sentiment hasn’t played well in coal country.
“That was really a devastating comment,” said Robert DiClerico, a professor emeritus of political science at West Virginia University. He said he believes Clinton’s remark more than any other factor has boosted Sanders.
Solar Panels – Chicago Center for Green Technology
Mining coal is not even that big of a part of the Appalachian economy! 5% or something close to that per Wikipedia – $3.5 billion / $63.34 billion = approximately 5.5%
[West Virginia] has a projected nominal GDP of $63.34 billion in 2009 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis report of November 2010…Coal is one of the state’s primary economic resources, first discovered in the state in 1742. The industry employs 30,000 West Virginians directly, resulting in $2 billion in wages and a $3.5 billion economic impact
In other words, coal is not that big of a slice of West Virginia’s current economy, more important for intangible reasons, like “optics”, and “tradition”, and “tradition” and other empty words. Ms. Clinton shouldn’t worry about putting coal miners out of business, she ought to suggest re-education programs to train coal extraction employees to work in solar and wind and other alternative energy fields instead! They get to keep being productive members of the 21st Century, and we make advances towards ameliorating global climate change.
Instead, she said this:
The exchange during a visit to a health center in Williamson, West Virginia, highlighted the challenge Democrats will face in November winning over working-class voters in states where that have lost jobs in manufacturing and mining.
“I don’t mind anybody being upset or angry” about the struggles of the industry, its workers and their families, Clinton said. “That’s a perfect right for people to feel that way. I do feel a little bit sad and sorry that I gave folks the reason and the excuse to be so upset with me because that is not what I intended at all.”
“I don’t know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context from what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time,” she responded at the start of several minutes of back-and-forth with Copley. “I understand the anger and I understand the fear and I understand the disappointment that is being expressed.”
and also, most maddening, Hillary Clinton’s pandering is not even necessary – West Virginia is not going to suddenly vote for a Democrat in the general election! They are a reliable Republican state!
David Myers, an out-of-work miner, echoed the profanity Trump has repeatedly used on Twitter to repudiate global warming. Like Trump, Myers and others in coal country say misguided plans to stop it are costing jobs.
“A man of my caliber should be able to get a job in a blink of an eye, but there’s no jobs to be had,” said Myers, 49, who wore miner coveralls to Trump’s rally.
Trump has dismissed global warming as a “canard,” “hoax” and “total con job,” citing cold weather snaps as evidence.
On the day of Obama’s 2012 reelection, Trump tweeted: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” In September, he told CNN, “I don’t believe in climate change.”
update: both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton already have retraining proposals, fwiw:
“We just don’t want to be forgotten,” said Betty Dolin, who co-owns a restaurant in Danville, about 20 miles southwest of Charleston, where customers tucked into hearty meals like meatloaf and country fried steak with gravy.
She pointed out the empty tables that would once have been filled. “We can’t have coal? Bring us something else,” she said. “And I don’t mean job training. A lot of these men are too old to train for another job.”
Presidential primaries tend to bring attention to local issues as candidates move from state to state, and as the candidates have come to West Virginia to campaign, coal has been no exception.
“These communities need help,” Mr. Sanders said last week at a food bank in McDowell County. “It is not the coal miners’ fault in terms of what’s happening in this world.”
In some ways, Mr. Sanders is not a natural candidate to be courting the votes of coal miners: He is outspoken on climate change and advocates moving away from fossil fuels. But his message of economic fairness has been embraced by white, working-class voters.