Thursday Topic – Leftovers – Plate 1

The editor of this humble blog couldn’t think of a good topic to fit the day, instead assigning a day of leftovers. Steaming pile of lukewarm tidbits, most of which you’ve already read on Twitter or in your local fish wrap. Drive-by’s, one-hitters, hot-takes, all basically the same thing. Copy-pasta is what the blogosphere was built with. Without further ado, here are some plates of copy-pasta for your general amusement…

 

Slight Return
Slight Return

First off: I enjoyed the hell out of this book review essay from Scott Alexander, responding to David Hackett Fischer’s book, Albion’s Seed, a history of early American migration patterns.1

90% of Puritan names were taken from the Bible. Some Puritans took pride in their learning by giving their children obscure Biblical names they would expect nobody else to have heard of, like Mahershalalhasbaz. Others chose random Biblical terms that might not have technically been intended as names; “the son of Bostonian Samuel Pond was named Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond”. Still others chose Biblical words completely at random and named their children things like Maybe or Notwithstanding.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

and

These aristocrats didn’t want to do their own work, so they brought with them tens of thousands of indentured servants; more than 75% of all Virginian immigrants arrived in this position. Some of these people came willingly on a system where their master paid their passage over and they would be free after a certain number of years; others were sent by the courts as punishments; still others were just plain kidnapped. The gender ratio was 4:1 in favor of men, and there were entire English gangs dedicated to kidnapping women and sending them to Virginia, where they fetched a high price. Needless to say, these people came from a very different stratum than their masters or the Puritans.

People who came to Virginia mostly died. They died of malaria, typhoid fever, amoebiasis, and dysentery. Unlike in New England, where Europeans were better adapted to the cold climate than Africans, in Virginia it was Europeans who had the higher disease-related mortality rate. The whites who survived tended to become “sluggish and indolent”, according to the universal report of travellers and chroniclers, although I might be sluggish and indolent too if I had been kidnapped to go work on some rich person’s farm and sluggishness/indolence was an option.

The Virginians tried their best to oppress white people. Really, they did. The depths to which they sank in trying to oppress white people almost boggle the imagination. There was a rule that if a female indentured servant became pregnant, a few extra years were added on to their indenture, supposedly because they would be working less hard during their pregnancy and child-rearing so it wasn’t fair to the master. Virginian aristocrats would rape their own female servants, then add a penalty term on to their indenture for becoming pregnant. That is an impressive level of chutzpah. But despite these efforts, eventually all the white people either died, or became too sluggish to be useful, or worst of all just finished up their indentures and became legally free. The aristocrats started importing black slaves as per the model that had sprung up in the Caribbean, and so the stage was set for the antebellum South we read about in history classes.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

and my favorite as an inveterate map lover:

Borderer town-naming policy was very different from the Biblical names of the Puritans or the Ye Olde English names of the Virginians. Early Borderer settlements include – just to stick to the creek-related ones – Lousy Creek, Naked Creek, Shitbritches Creek, Cuckold’s Creek, Bloodrun Creek, Pinchgut Creek, Whipping Creek, and Hangover Creek. There were also Whiskey Springs, Hell’s Half Acre, Scream Ridge, Scuffletown, and Grabtown. The overall aesthetic honestly sounds a bit Orcish.

(click here to continue reading Book Review: Albion’s Seed | Slate Star Codex.)

Line Drawn In Space
Line Drawn In Space

Erick Erickson claims he’ll the flee the GOP. Doubtful, at best. I’m guessing 98% of Republicans will hold their noses and end up voting for Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton, despite what they say now. Maybe higher!

Prominent conservative talk radio host Erick Erickson said Tuesday night he will de-register as a member of the Republican Party if Donald Trump secures the presidential nomination.

“If Trump is the Republican Party nominee, I won’t be a Republican,” Erickson, who founded RedState, told the Daily Beast. “I’m not down with white supremacists.”

(click here to continue reading Erick Erickson Vows To De-Register As GOPer If Trump Is Party’s Nominee.)

The Earth Was Here
The Earth Was Here

Climate Disruption is going to disrupt the planet until it is stopped, or we perish…

In 2006, six years after his presidential bid, Al Gore launched the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The movie made headlines around the world, raising awareness of global warming and its predicted dire consequences for the planet and society.

The movie did more than this, though, as it also politicized global warming to an unprecedented level. It brought the spotlight to an issue that, as the title says, many investors and politicians find inconvenient. If nothing is done to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, temperatures will rise, ice caps will melt, ocean levels will rise and weather patterns across the globe will be disrupted. This truth remains unchanged.

An article in Science News by Thomas Sumner does an excellent job summarizing what we’ve learned since the release of the movie, which predictions panned out and what was off the mark. Lonnie Thomson, the climate scientist whose studies of melting glaciers in the high Andes were featured in the documentary, says: “The physics and chemistry that we’ve known about for over 200 years is bearing out. We’ve learned so much in the last 10 years, but the fact that the unprecedented climate change of the last 40 years is being driven by increased carbon dioxide hasn’t changed.”

(click here to continue reading After 10 Years, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ Is Still Inconvenient : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.)

43
43

Don’t know if this is positive news or negative news for Donald Trump:

Neither George HW nor George W Bush, the only two living former Republican presidents of the United States, will endorse Donald Trump.

In statements released to the Guardian on Wednesday evening, spokesmen for both former presidents said they would be sitting out the 2016 election. Freddy Ford, a spokesman for George W Bush, told the Guardian: “President George W Bush does not plan to participate in or comment on the presidential campaign.”

The statement by the 43rd president was echoed in one released by his father. Jim McGrath, a spokesman for George HW Bush, told the Guardian: “At age 91, President Bush is retired from politics.

(click here to continue reading Neither George W nor George HW Bush will endorse Donald Trump | US news | The Guardian.)

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

Speaking of idiots, Donald Trump has already began to flip-flop:

“I’ll be putting up money, but won’t be completely self-funding,” the presumptive Republican nominee said in an interview Wednesday. Mr. Trump, who had largely self-financed his successful primary run, added that he would create a “world-class finance organization.” The campaign will tap his expansive personal Rolodex and a new base of supporters who aren’t on party rolls, two Trump advisers said.

The new plan represents a shift for Mr. Trump, who has for months portrayed his Republican opponents as “puppets” for relying on super PACs and taking contributions from wealthy donors that he said came with strings attached.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Won’t Self-Fund General-Election Campaign – WSJ.)

Tribune Tower
Tribune Tower

and speaking of fish-wrappers:

Less than two weeks after the Gannett Company went public with an unsolicited bid to acquire Tribune Publishing Company, Tribune’s board formally responded with a firm answer: No.

On Wednesday, Tribune Publishing, which owns newspapers including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, sent a letter to Gannett saying its board had unanimously rejected the $815 million takeover offer, which included debt and other liabilities and represented a significant premium above Tribune’s share price.

(click here to continue reading Tribune Publishing Says No to Gannett’s $815 Million Offer – The New York Times.)

Prince - A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop
Prince – A Singular, Meticulous Master of Pop

This is just sad news: addiction is a real epidemic…

Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He ate vegan and preferred to avoid the presence of meat entirely. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either.

But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.

Dr. Kornfeld, who runs a treatment center in Mill Valley, Calif., sent his son on an overnight flight to meet with Prince at his home to discuss a treatment plan, said William J. Mauzy, a lawyer for the Kornfeld family, during a news conference on Wednesday outside his Minneapolis office.

But he arrived too late.

(click here to continue reading Prince’s Addiction and an Intervention Too Late – The New York Times.)

Ted Cruz - National Enquirer
Ted Cruz – National Enquirer

On a lighter note, at least Ted “Calgary” Cruz has suspended his campaign. Though I suspect he’ll still try to cause disruption at the Republican Convention in Cleveland, at least enough to get his name in the news again.

Before confronting for the first time the innate chaos contained in the phrase, “Presumptive Presidential Nominee Donald Trump,” let us pause for a moment to bid farewell to Tailgunner Ted Cruz, who probably is not the Zodiac Killer, whose father probably did not drink hurricanes in the French Quarter with Lee Harvey Oswald, and who definitely is not the towering figure in our national history that he fancies himself to be. Nothing became his ego so much as the speech in which he decided that his campaign was, indeed, a dead fish

He brought Carly Fiorina in as a mock running mate. (For the record, she was Cruz’s “running mate” for less time than Tom Eagleton was for George McGovern.) It didn’t work. He played the Urinal Cooties card. It didn’t work. Instead, he probably lost badly on Tuesday night at least in part because Trump deftly played The Oswald Card when it would do the most damage.

That was a bit of mock punditry there on my part, but the fact that Cruz couldn’t resist rising to that idiotic clickbait on the day of the primary is measure enough of the self-delusion that was his greatest weakness against a shameless and vulgar talking yam. It was Jeb (!) Bush who learned the second-worst thing for a candidate to be if he’s running against He, Trump—which is a humorless, privileged fop. The worst thing to be is what the Tailgunner was—a self-important dweeb with delusions of sacred grandeur. In both cases, you are a big bag of hot air in search of a needle. That is He, Trump’s only consistent political skill. No wonder Tom Brady loves him. Nobody is more skilled at deflating people than He, Trump.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz Drops Out of Race After Indiana – The Same Forces That Produced Trump Produced Cruz.)

Footnotes:
  1. more than just the Mayflower folks []

Donald Trump Is A Joke But Nobody Is Giggling

Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988
Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988

The rest of GOP expected Donald Trump to surge for a moment, then implode like all the GOP Clown Car riders in 2012.1

Trump did not, in fact, fall down, instead he exposed the chasm between GOP elites and the rubes who historically voted against their own interests. If given a choice, the GOP rank and file don’t support GOP orthodoxy as much as expected…

But as the results from Tuesday’s Nevada caucuses confirmed again, Trump has built a large constituency inside the Republican Party based on a set of positions that marry two streams of thought not typically brought together by liberal or conservative politicians.

On the one hand, his call to deport 11 million immigrants who are here illegally, his support for a ban on the entry of Muslims into the United States, his invocation of law-and-order themes and emphatic support for the police, his endorsement of even rougher treatment of terrorism suspects — all speak to an authoritarian side of Trump’s appeal that clearly resonates with many on the Republican right.

But Trump embraces positions on economics and foreign policy anathema to most conservative politicians. He is an ardent critic of recent free-trade agreements, opposes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, has been even more vocal than many Democrats in criticizing President George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and even endorses the Democrats’ long-standing call for government negotiations with pharmaceutical companies to drive down drug costs.

This mix has allowed Trump to win votes from self-described moderates and conservatives alike, but his strongest support comes from voters at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. This was true again in Nevada, as CNN reported from an entrance poll: Trump took 57 percent of the vote from caucus-goers who did not attend college but only 37 percent from those with postgraduate degrees.

No wonder that after the Nevada results were known, Trump offered one of the most memorable sound bites of the campaign: “I love the poorly educated.”

The key lies in that rejection of conservative economic and fiscal orthodoxy (except in his endorsement of big tax cuts).

(click here to continue reading This is how Donald Trump is winning – The Washington Post.)

Don’t forget though, Trump has no real belief in anything other than the brand, “Donald Trump”, so any political rhetoric or promises should be considered suspect. He isn’t running for Supreme Dictator of the Earth, that position isn’t on the ballot.

Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes
Blow Your Own Horn Sometimes

Who is going to stop Trump from winning the GOP nomination? Maybe a Hispanic surge of Democrats?

Those victories came in spite of Trump’s derogatory statements about Mexicans, Muslims, women and plenty more groups and individuals. Pundits and politicians predicted for months that Trump would be unsuccessful and drop out, but his wins indicate large portions of the GOP base support him regardless of his comments.

In other words, everyone, including Democrats, has to grapple with the fact that Trump’s views aren’t necessarily on the fringe, including on immigration.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the only Latino Democratic senator, said he’s “never seen a greater confluence of challenges at one time” for the Latino community.

“When I look at what is happening across the landscape of the political discourse in this country and I hear the language about walls and deportation and no more birthright citizenship and the list goes on and on, I recoil thinking that we are going back to a time and place that none of us want to go to,” he said.

He said he has “learned over a lifetime that [comments about undocumented immigrants] are not about the undocumented alone, they’re about all of us,” referring to Latinos. 

The problem isn’t just with Trump, it’s also with his GOP rivals. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has called for mass deportation, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has said he would immediately end the president’s relief for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted Wednesday those comments represent a shift for Rubio, since he helped draft and pass a bill through the Senate a comprehensive reform bill that included assistance for the same young people.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Durbin, who was also part of the so-called “gang of eight” that wrote the comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013. 

(click here to continue reading Democrats No Longer View Donald Trump As A Joke.)

I doubt Marcobot Rubio is going to stop the Trump train:

What’s particularly interesting here is that Rubio’s new attacks on Trump remain comfortably within the boundaries of GOP orthodoxy: Obamacare is bad, being insufficiently pro-Israel is bad, being weak on terror is bad. All of those arguments will probably have some appeal to GOP voters.

But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that Trump may be succeeding in part precisely because he’s breaking out of conventional ideological categories. Trump does not proceed from the assumption that government is the problem; government mismanaged by stupid and/or corrupt elites is the problem. He is not committed to the idea that free markets and limited government are the solution to people’s economic ills. He promises to destroy Obamacare — reflexively — but he envisions a government role of some kind in making sure everyone has health care. He pledges not to touch entitlements, breaking with the sacred Paul Ryan covenant. He does not genuflect before George W. Bush’s national security greatness; he ridicules it.

Trump combines all this with an even harder line on immigration than most GOP elites can accept, one suffused with explicitly articulated xenophobia. As Michael Brendan Dougherty has shown, this odd mixture, shaped around the basic idea that the global economic order is rigged against you, often by those piously invoking “free trade,” is Trump’s formula. Trump is appealing to GOP voters by arguing that elites are cheating and failing them by rigging the system to help illegals, multi-nationals, and China and Mexico through stupid, shady global deals. Whether this is through corruption or simple incompetence — in which various villains are simply snookering our elites — varies by the day. In Trump’s telling, the incompetence of GOP elites was also glaringly obvious in Bush’s Iraq invasion.

Thus, arguably, Rubio cannot go hard at the very things that may be enabling Trump to succeed. Rubio is largely constrained into launching thoroughly conventional Republican attacks on this thoroughly unconventional politician. Rubio has not yet explained to Trump’s voters why they should prefer conventional Republican economic and foreign policy promises and doctrines to Trump’s overarching story-line, which is that our system and our elites (including Republican ones) have been playing you suckers for decades; that he gets this; and that he will bust things up and set them right.

(click here to continue reading Rubio just launched a searing attack on Trump. Here’s why it may fail. – The Washington Post.)

Forgive Yourself Trump Tower
Forgive Yourself Trump Tower

Paul Ryan and the GOP party leaders are already worried that Trump isn’t going to be a traditional Republican, they cannot control him and Trump’s mouth2 any more than the GOP elite can control the weather in July:

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, chairman of the Republican National Convention, recent vice-presidential candidate and the highest elected Republican in the country, has one goal for this year: to form a conservative policy agenda for the Republican presidential nominee to embrace.

If that nominee is Donald J. Trump, that may be a waste of time.

Panicked Republicans question whether Mr. Trump will be able to unite a Republican-controlled Congress that would normally be expected to promote and promulgate his agenda, an internal crisis nearly unheard-of in a generation of American politics. On nearly every significant issue, Mr. Trump stands in opposition to Republican orthodoxy and his party’s policy prescriptions — the very ideas that Mr. Ryan has done more than anyone else to form, refine or promote over the last decade.

Mr. Ryan’s positions embody the modern institutional Republican Party. He has been a crucial promoter of free trade on Capitol Hill, which Mr. Trump opposes. Mr. Ryan supports taking away money from Planned Parenthood — a central target of Republicans for years — while Mr. Trump has said the group provides needed care to women. Eminent domain, the right of the government to seize private property for public use? The concept is despised by Republicans. Mr. Trump, who has used eminent domain to try to demolish an older woman’s home in Atlantic City to build a parking lot, calls it “wonderful.”

There is more: Mr. Ryan is the architect of his party’s plan to rein in spending on entitlement programs, which Mr. Trump has said is the reason the party lost the White House in 2012, name-checking Mr. Ryan in his swipe. Mr. Ryan supports all forms of domestic energy development, but Mr. Trump has called for colonizing Iraq’s oil reserves through military intervention.

Mr. Trump’s signature issue — deporting millions of undocumented workers — also stands in contrast to Mr. Ryan’s belief that his party needs to change the current system to help some immigrants, and in the process attract them to the party. Not least, Mr. Trump said last week that he would be “a neutral guy” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Mr. Ryan holds the traditional Republican position of strong support for Israel.

(click here to continue reading Republican Race Puts Donald Trump and Paul Ryan on Collision Course – The New York Times.)

Headaches
Headaches

The Republicans seem afraid that Donald Trump will take their lunch money right in front of their home room teacher:

But surely the well-heeled donors within the Republican establishment who are scared of Trump running away with this thing will take care of him while the non-Trump candidates sort themselves out, right? Nope. And nope in large part because they’re scared that Donald Trump will call them mean names. These donors, Politico reported earlier this week, “worry that, if they fund higher-profile attacks, they could come under attack from Trump, who this week fired a warning shot at one of the few major donors to the anti-Trump efforts, Marlene Ricketts, tweeting that her family ‘better be careful, they have a lot to hide!’ ”

The will to stop Trump does not appear to exist, and that is pathetic. Far too many party forces are misreading the “winnowing” theory, which argues that Trump can be defeated if he is positioned in a one-on-one matchup. I think there’s merit to this theory, though less so with each passing contest and day crossed off the calendar. What this theory never entailed, though, is the idea that Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich would let Trump proceed unimpeded while they were sorting the anti-Trump process out among themselves. It is campaign malpractice for the Rubio campaign, in particular, to be holding its fire on Trump, and it’s indicative of that campaign’s glib belief that delegates will naturally funnel Rubio’s way in the long run because … because they just will.

They won’t.

(click here to continue reading Cruz and Rubio are doing nothing to stop Donald Trump..)

Footnotes:
  1. Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, et al []
  2. an independent entity []

South Carolina and Nevada GOP 2016 Results Confirm Trump As Eventual Nominee

Now that the South Carolina primary and the Nevada Caucus results are in, we can probably agree that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. What is going to stop him? other than him becoming bored of “inflating his brand”, which as we know, is the main point of his existence.

In South Carolina, nobody else even won a delegate.

South Carolina GOP Primary Results 2016 02 23

South Carolina GOP Primary Results 2016-02-23.png 

As we mentioned, losers Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz crowed about coming in not-first, as if there was some consolation prize. Maybe in some contests, but not in South Carolina! Delegate count: Trump 50, the rest of the field, zilch.

Jeb Bush blew through hundreds of millions of dollars on the campaign, and netted exactly 4 delegates. If we use the $130,000,000 cited by the NYT, even though I’m sure the actual amount spent by John Ellis Bush! Bush’s campaign was greater than this number, that works out to $32,500,000 spent per delegate acquired. Damn! I should really start a political consulting business, there is some sweet, sweet cash available…

When Jeb Bush formally entered the presidential campaign in June, there was already more money behind him than every other Republican candidate combined. When he suspended his campaign on Saturday night in South Carolina, Mr. Bush had burned through the vast majority of that cash without winning a single state. It may go down as one of the least successful campaign spending binges in history.

(click here to continue reading How Jeb Bush Spent $130 Million Running for President With Nothing to Show for It – The New York Times.)

Why exactly are business moguls and other wealthy people going to keep giving and giving to Super PACs if they get nothing to show for the largesse? David Frum explores this thought in greater detail:

The 2016 super PACs certainly had the funds to do it! In addition to the nine-digit haul at Right to Rise, super PACs aligned with Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Scott Walker all raised amounts somewhere between handsome and staggering. Yet in this Republican presidential contest, “never in the history of political campaigns has so much, bought so little, so fleetingly.”

Or more exactly…

Never has so much bought so little of what it was meant to buy. Obviously the funds expended on behalf of Jeb Bush have bought a great deal for a great many people. Even if the estimate of Mike Murphy’s take is overstated—or possibly confuses gross billings by his firm with net income to himself—the 2016 super PACs have provided princely incomes for their principals and comfortable livelihoods for hundreds more. The question that is bound to occur to super PAC donors is: “Are we being cheated?” Increasingly, super PACs look like the political world’s equivalent of hedge funds: institutions that charge vastly above-market fees to deliver sub-market returns.

Disgust with the costly ineffectiveness of super PACs may explain one of the most important mysteries of the current phase of the 2016 campaign. We keep hearing that Marco Rubio has replaced Jeb Bush as the new darling of establishment Republicans. Yet Rubio’s fundraising has lagged. Rubio’s super PAC, Conservative Solutions, raised $14.4 million in the second half of 2015—the period in which Jeb Bush’s candidacy cratered. In January 2016, by which time Bush was plainly doomed, and Rubio cast by almost all reporters as theoretical front-runner, Conservative Solutions raised only $2.46 million.

And flashing forward in time, one has to wonder: How voluntary, really, were those gifts to Right to Rise? The campaign finance system is often described as organized bribery, but to many of those writing the checks, it must often feel like organized blackmail. How many would have appreciated some way to reply to the call from the Jeb Bush campaign: “Sure! Gladly! Love Jeb! Happy to give the legal maximum!”—in a world in which the legal maximum was $5,000 or $10,000 or $25,000. Like all human beings, multimillionaires have finite funds and infinite possibilities to expend those funds. Some must regard the local hospital or the homeless shelter or the city opera or their alma mater as more deserving causes than the ambitions of this politician or that. But the politician can retaliate, and the hospital, the homeless shelter, the opera, and the alma mater cannot. So it’s the politician who shoves his or her way to the head of the giving queue.

(click here to continue reading The Mystery of the Super PAC – The Atlantic.)

 In Nevada, Trump again won by big margins.

Nevada Caucus Results GOP 2016 02 24
Nevada Caucus Results GOP 2016-02-24.PNG

 Cruz, deep down, knows he is not going to win, but is continuing the grift, to build his own brand, for those post-Senate years ahead…

Instead, Trump trounced the two senators, defeating Rubio, who came in second place, by twenty-two points and beating Cruz by almost twenty-five points. Combined, they still lost.

Rubio had enough good sense to leave the state before the results were tabulated and to stay off the television after Trump was declared the winner, at midnight.

In what has become a new development this campaign cycle, Cruz took the stage to deliver what sounded like a victory speech after a resounding loss. It was like watching a broadcast from North Korea. Cruz came onstage to cheers and applause from smiling supporters, who arrayed themselves behind him. “God bless the great state of Nevada!” Cruz announced. Even though the race had been called for Trump, Cruz said the ballots were still being counted and suggested there was some mystery about the results. “I want to congratulate Donald Trump on a strong evening tonight.” He couldn’t bring himself to admit Trump had won. “The only campaign that can beat Donald Trump is this campaign,” Cruz said, as the chyron next to his face on the cable screens showed him winning fewer than half as many votes as his rival. T

his morning, Rubio similarly tried to make the most of his poor Nevada showing during a round of TV interviews. “We did well, and we picked up delegates there last night, and we move on,” he said in one appearance.

(click here to continue reading The Rubio and Cruz Delusion – The New Yorker.)

So, who are the people who support Trump? Do they realize he cannot fulfill most of his campaign promises, unless he overthrows the US government and become dictator? Doesn’t matter, they are just pissed off at the status quo, and have been trained by years of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, et al, to despise the government, and undocumented workers, and non-Caucasians, and non-Christians, and you get the gist…

At this point, the only thing surprising about Donald Trump winning a Republican primary is the fact that we all—the media, the panicked liberal voters, the GOP Establishment—continue to be surprised. Almost immediately after voting ended in the chaotic Nevada caucuses Tuesday, the networks called the race for the Republican frontrunner, confirming what polls had long predicted in the Silver State. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Trump won 46 percent of the vote, nearly double the total for Marco Rubio, whose second-place finish somehow didn’t stop him from sounding triumphant in interviews.

The breakdown of the vote was similar to what it was in South Carolina days earlier, with Rubio barely edging out Ted Cruz, and Trump wiping the floor with both of them. According to CNN exit polling, Trump dominated across every demographic, even the ones he wasn’t supposed to win. He won among young voters and educated ones, among evangelicals and ultra-conservatives—hell, he even won among Hispanics.

But while Cruz may have the support of far-right state politicians—the sort of new Republican Establishment birthed by the Tea Party—Trump seems to have a solid lock on their rank-and-file. Obviously, this is a bad sign for Cruz, signaling that when conservatives are faced with the choice between him and Trump, they will continue to choose the candidate who’s louder, brasher, and even more of a dick. And should Cruz drop out of the race, it’s hard to imagine those ultra-conservatives deciding to embrace Rubio over Trump.

What Nevada demonstrated is what observers who’ve been dreading a Trump nomination haven’t been willing to admit: Republican voters really love Donald Trump. From the Deep South to the Northeast to the West, voters are angry and have found someone who validates, reflects, and amplifies their anger. It doesn’t particularly matter that he might not share their specific anger about land use rights or whatever.

(click here to continue reading How Donald Trump Won Nevada’s Cliven Bundy Vote | VICE | United States.)

Remember the movie, Idiocracy?

This was the plot of the 2006 cult comedy “Idiocracy,” a satirical movie that poked fun at an imagined dystopian version of America, where everyone — including lawmakers and government officials — were morons. But this week, the film’s writer said the world of “Idiocracy” had become all too real.

“I never expected ‘Idiocracy’ to become a documentary,” Etan Cohen, who co-wrote the film, posted on Twitter on Wednesday.

(click here to continue reading ‘Idiocracy’ Writer Says Satirical Film About Dumbed-Down America Has Become A ‘Documentary’.)

Less-well educated voters are a core constituency for Trump:

“Actually, I won everything,” Donald Trump said this week, after his victory in South Carolina and before his rout in Nevada. “I won short people, tall people. I won fat people, skinny people. I won highly educated, OK educated, and practically not educated at all. I won the evangelicals big and I won the military.”

The Republican presidential frontrunner was, broadly speaking, correct. After his third consecutive victory, one that puts him on course to win the Republican nomination for the White House, it is less useful to ask who is voting for him than who isn’t.

The only state he didn’t win was Iowa, where he came second.

In New Hampshire, South Carolina and, on Tuesday, Nevada, Trump did not just win resoundingly by leveraging one or two types of conservative voters. Entrance polls reveal he triumphed by drawing on a pool of voters as wide as it was deep.

Who are Trump supporters? Insofar as the Republican electorate goes, the answer, for the moment at least, seems to be everyone.

Analysis of recent polling and elections survey data indicates that while his base his broad, its members tend, overall, to be older, whiter, poorer, less conservative, less-well educated and, going by past voting records, less likely to turn out than supporters of rival candidates. Many have spent their lives on the fringes of politics.

(click here to continue reading ‘I won everything’: just who are Donald Trump’s supporters? | US news | The Guardian.)

Is there a ceiling for Trump? Are there enough less-educated voters to sweep him to power? Let’s hope not…

The Short-fingered Vulgarian Named Donald Trump

Donald Trump Is A Swine
Donald Trump Is A Swine

I used to subscribe to Spy Magazine for a few moments in my callow youth, and I remember this epithet of The Donald, but had forgotten about it until recently…

[Donald Trump] has one proven weakness over the course of his four decades in overly public life: stubby fingers.

Trump has presumably had short fingers for as long as he’d had fingers, but it wasn’t until 1988 that anyone called attention to it. That year, Spy magazine began the practice of needling Trump at every  opportunity by referring to him in virtually every story as a “short-fingered vulgarian.” (“Queens-born casino profiteer” would also do.) Trump defended his honor in the New York Post, stating that “my fingers are long and beautiful, as, has been well-documented, are various other parts of my body.”

In an essay last fall, former Spy editor Graydon Carter revealed how much this pissed Trump off: To this day, the Republican presidential front-runner continues to mail Carter photos of himself, and “[o]n all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers.” …

On Friday, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska even joined in on the fun, responding to an insult from Trump by joking, “you’d think I asked Mr @realDonaldTrump abt the length of his fingers or something important like that.”

(click here to continue reading What Donald Trump’s Short Fingers Mean for His Presidency | Mother Jones.)

Short Fingered Vulgarian - Spy - April 1988

and Graydon Carter’s article includes this laugh line:

Like so many bullies, Trump has skin of gossamer. He thinks nothing of saying the most hurtful thing about someone else, but when he hears a whisper that runs counter to his own vainglorious self-image, he coils like a caged ferret. Just to drive him a little bit crazy, I took to referring to him as a “short-fingered vulgarian” in the pages of Spy magazine. That was more than a quarter of a century ago. To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him—generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: “See, not so short!” I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, “Actually, quite short.” Which I can only assume gave him fits.

(click here to continue reading Why Donald Trump Will Always Be a “Short-Fingered Vulgarian” | Vanity Fair.)

Donald Trump in Spy Magazine April 1988

HuffPost to publish anti-Trump footer with all Trump coverage

Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)
Clown Runs For Prez (Trump)

I still tend to avoid reading stories in The Huffington Post, since they seem intent upon running a sort of digital sweatshop for underpaid young writers, but some of their political stances are worthy of note. Like this:

The Huffington Post has started appending an editor’s note to the bottom of posts about Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, calling him a “racist,” a “liar” and a “xenophobe,” and reminding readers of his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

“Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.,” reads the note, which was added to an article about Trump’s feud with Fox News published last night. The note also includes links to prior coverage of Trump’s comments.

A Huffington Post spokesperson told POLITICO that the note will be added to all future stories about Trump.

 “Yes, we’re planning to add this note to all future stories about Trump,” the spokesperson said. “No other candidate has called for banning 1.6 billion people from the country! If any other candidate makes such a proposal, we’ll append a note under pieces about them.”

(click here to continue reading HuffPost to publish anti-Trump kicker with all Trump coverage – POLITICO.)

Huge
Huge

Here’s the footer in a Trump-related story, with the links intact:

Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynistbirther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Tells Bill O’Reilly It’s ‘An Eye For An Eye’ In War With Fox News.)

Trump Will Debate Cruz Once A Judge Rules Him Eligible To Run

Chairman Trump
Chairman Trump

The Donald keeps up his birther schtick, expertly trolling Ted “Calgary” Cruz…

Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said on Thursday that his candidate would be “happy” to debate Ted Cruz once the Texas senator gets a federal judge to rule him eligible to run for president. “Once you’ve gotten that ruling from the federal judge and you’re the last man standing in this presidential contest next to Donald Trump, we’ll be happy to have a debate with you one-on-one, anywhere you want, because that’s the way the system works,” Lewandowski said. “But, as it stands right now, we don’t even know if Ted Cruz is legally eligible to run for president of the United States.” Trump and his supporters have argued that Cruz, who was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen, is not natural born and therefore ineligible to run for president under the Constitution.

“What this is, is a publicity stunt by Senator Cruz who is continuing to fall in the polls in the state of Iowa,” Lewandowski told Boston radio host Jeff Kuhner, before unleashing a slew of attacks at Cruz, arguing that he had used “dark money donors” through his super PAC to offer a donation to charity if Trump agreed to the debate.

“If Ted Cruz were able to disclose the loans that he’s taken out from Goldman Sachs and Citi, then maybe he would use his own money for this, but instead he’s using super PAC money which I don’t even know if he can do legally,” Lewandowski said, referring to loans Cruz took out during his 2012 run for Senate that he did not disclose in campaign filings. “And the bottom line is, you know what we’ve said to Ted Cruz, go into court, seek a declaratory judgment to find out if you’re even legally eligible to run for president of the United States.”

(click here to continue reading Trump Campaign Manager: Trump Will Debate Cruz Once Judge Rules Him Eligible To Run – BuzzFeed News.)

At least this particular Birther attack has the benefit of being plausible, unlike Trumpf’s earlier ridiculousness regarding Barack Obama’s childhood.

Quickies – 11-23-15

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But inside we don’t mind at all…

A few articles you could be reading now instead of playing Pin The Lie On Donald Trump

And as for the idea of the GOP establishment ganging up on him and/or uniting behind another candidate like Rubio, that’s at least as likely to backfire as to work. And even if it works, what’s to stop Trump from then running as an independent?

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

(click here to continue reading Thinking About the Trumpthinkable – The New York Times.)

 Stuffed Girls Heads

Stuffed Girls Heads

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump refused to rule out a third party bid for the presidency in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Trump has signed, along with other Republicans, a vow to run for the GOP nomination.

But, Trump didn’t discount a third party bid when he was asked on Sunday about efforts to unravel his candidacy by some in the Republican party.

“I’m going to have to see what happens. I will see what happens. I have to be treated fairly,” Trump said. “When I did this, I said I have to be treated fairly. If I’m treated fairly, I’m fine. All I want to do is (have) a level playing field.”

(click here to continue reading Trump (Again) Refuses To Rule Out Independent Bid For The Presidency.)

 These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

These Men Didn’t Take Their Atabrine

None of this is to say that the Mac App Store doesn’t offer some valuable services for users: Automatic updates, easily downloading all your apps to a new Mac, and offering a central clearinghouse for finding apps are just a few of the positives. The latter is a big advantage to those who have come to the Mac from iOS and are used to having a single repository rather than hunting hither and yon for apps. For developers, it provides a single storefront and easy purchasing. 

But given that the Mac is doing tremendously well, setting sales records—even if not approaching the sales volume of iOS devices—and given that Apple takes a 30-percent cut of both iOS and Mac app sales, regardless of the disparate support for the two app stores, it might behoove the company to spend a little time bringing the Mac App Store up to snuff.

(click here to continue reading The Mac App Store: Not gone, but certainly forgotten | Macworld.)

 Ms. Potato Head

Ms. Potato Head

Ever wonder why all those folks in rural, “red” America still vote in droves for the same Republicans who brag about gutting the very social programs keeping them alive?  How someone like Matt Bevin can run a winning campaign in Kentucky based on cutting people’s access to affordable health care? How Republican governors can get away with refusing free Medicaid for their own citizens?  Every election it seems that Democrats end up shaking their heads in dismay as yet another mean-spirited red-state Republican manages to defeat the Democrat by essentially promising to make his own constituents’ lives more miserable.  Afterwards we all intone the familiar refrain which boils down to “these people don’t know any better.”  If only the Democrats had a more effective “message” on the issues, we could surely reach those people who by all strands of logic ought to vote blue, and convince them that Republicans don’t have their interests at heart.

In one of the more insightful articles ever written about what motivates the rural poor to vote Republican, Alec MacGillis, who covers politics for ProPublica,  took a tour through deep red America, asking the same questions. In an Op-Ed for today’s New York Times, MacGillis explains that it’s not all about guns and abortion that drives people in economically-depressed areas to vote Republican. In fact it’s something very basic to human nature, which the GOP exploits at every turn. And Democrats ignore it at their peril. 

(click here to continue reading The Most Important Article You’ll Read Today About The Democratic Party..)

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Notice that he’s an admirer of Hitler:

Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache.

And his avatar, that looks like a modified swastika, is the symbol of the neo-Nazi German Faith Movement.

So there you have it. Donald Trump is posting racist imagery that comes directly from neo-Nazis.

I hope you’re not surprised that a guy like Donald Trump, who continually spouts fascist rhetoric, is attracted to fascist memes posted by neo-Nazis. This is where the right wing has ended up in 2015.

(click here to continue reading We Found Where Donald Trump’s “Black Crimes” Graphic Came From – Little Green Footballs.)

Big Dick
Big Dick

The riveting new documentary The Sunshine Makers chronicles two hippies’ quest to bring LSD to every person in America in order to change the world.  Drugs have yet to save the world, but that didn’t stop Nick Sand and Tim Scully from once believing they might. The former a New York-bred prophet of psychedelics who preached their ability to radically improve humanity, and the latter a Bay Area chemist driven to create global “oneness” through mind-altering substances, they were an odd-couple pair who, in the late ’60s, became notorious for manufacturing and distributing enormous amounts of LSD—including “Orange Sunshine,” the hard-hitting tabs that became so synonymous with the counterculture they were even spoofed on Saturday Night Live. Theirs is a story about the marriage of idealism and criminality, and it’s recounted in amusing and thrilling detail by The Sunshine Makers, Cosmo Feilding-Mellen’s astute documentary (which premiered as part of this year’s DOC NYC festival) about the drugged-out duo.

(click here to continue reading Inside the Plot to Get Every American High on Acid – The Daily Beast.)

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Ten anonymous Planned Parenthood patients, along with three Planned Parenthood affiliates, have filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Texas over the state’s attempt to boot the provider out of the joint federal-state Medicaid program.

In court documents, Planned Parenthood argues that Texas’ actions violate the federal Social Security Act, which allows Medicaid patients to choose their own health care provider. According to plaintiffs, Texas’ efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving public funds “will cause significant and irreparable harm” to Medicaid patients who “will lose their provider of choice, will find their family planning services interrupted, and in many cases will be left with reduced access to care.”

The lawsuit comes after the Texas health commission’s Office of Inspector General sent a series of letters to Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates informing the provider of their ouster from Medicaid in October.

(click here to continue reading Planned Parenthood Patients Take Texas Back to Court.)

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Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. …

Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.

(click here to continue reading Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year – The Washington Post.)

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Those resolute voices in American public life that continue to deny the existence of a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy argue that “someone would have talked.” This line of reasoning is often used by journalists who have made no effort themselves to closely inspect the growing body of evidence and have not undertaken any of their own investigative reporting. The argument betrays a touchingly naïve media bias—a belief that the American press establishment itself, that great slumbering watchdog, could be counted on to solve such a monumental crime, one that sprung from the very system of governance of which corporate media is an essential part. The official version of the Kennedy assassination—despite its myriad improbabilities, which have only grown more inconceivable with time—remains firmly embedded in the media consciousness, as unquestioned as the law of gravity.

In fact, many people have talked during the past half of a century—including some directly connected to the plot against Kennedy. But the media simply refused to listen. One of the most intriguing examples of someone talking occurred in 2003, when an old and ailing Howard Hunt began unburdening himself to his eldest son, Saint John.

(click here to continue reading Inside the plot to kill JFK: The secret story of the CIA and what really happened in Dallas – Salon.com.)

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Inflammation occurs when the body rallies to defend itself against invading microbes or to heal damaged tissue. The walls of the capillaries dilate and grow more porous, enabling white blood cells to flood the damaged site. As blood flows in and fluid leaks out, the region swells, which can put pressure on surrounding nerves, causing pain; inflammatory molecules may also activate pain fibres. The heat most likely results from the increase in blood flow.

The key white blood cell in inflammation is called a macrophage, and for decades it has been a subject of study in my hematology laboratory and in many others. Macrophages were once cast as humble handmaidens of the immune system, responsible for recognizing microbes or debris and gobbling them up. But in recent years researchers have come to understand that macrophages are able to assemble, within themselves, specialized platforms that pump out the dozens of molecules that promote inflammation. These platforms, called inflammasomes, are like pop-up factories—quickly assembled when needed and quickly dismantled when the crisis has passed.

For centuries, scientists have debated whether inflammation is good or bad for us. Now we believe that it’s both: too little, and microbes fester and spread in the body, or wounds fail to heal; too much, and nearby healthy tissue can be degraded or destroyed. The fire of inflammation must be tightly controlled—turned on at the right moment and, just as critically, turned off. Lately, however, several lines of research have revealed that low-level inflammation can simmer quietly in the body, in the absence of overt trauma or infection, with profound implications for our health. Using advanced technologies, scientists have discovered that heart attacks, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to smoldering inflammation, and some researchers have even speculated about its role in psychiatric conditions.

(click here to continue reading Medicine’s Burning Question – The New Yorker.)

The Trump Endgame is Disruption

Washing the Trump
Washing the Trump off our shoes…

The truth is that presidential campaigns usually at this stage in the process are tedious affairs, filled with stump speeches that rarely change, and most sane people can safely ignore the process until the primary season actually begins. Donald Trump running as a candidate of the Trump Party1  has upended all that. I don’t see any plausible path for a Trump electoral college victory, thanks be Kant, but I’ll admit Trump has made the 2016 election more interesting. In a gapers block sort of way, but still, more interesting than having to wade through double speak from John Ellis Bush Bush2 and Carly Fiorina and the rest of the clown car.

Trump could change the race by stamping his image upon the Republicans in a way they cannot escape. Trump has made himself the symbol of racism against Latinos in the United States. He is absolute brand poison. Democrats are already airing television ads connecting other Republican candidates to Trump.

Another, more potent way Trump could determine the outcome of the race is by running a third-party candidacy. An independent Trump is the perfectly designed Republican-killer. He appeals to a constituency (white nativists) that forms a crucial component of the Republican base, but which bears almost no authentic support for the party’s anti-government domestic-policy agenda. He has the celebrity and money to sustain such a run. An independent Trump run would virtually eliminate any chance of Republican victory.

Republicans’ success requires the party to steer a course between these two outcomes — one damaging, the other ruinous. They must keep Trump within the party without allowing him to contaminate the party. Such an outcome is certainly possible. It will not be easy. More unnerving for Republican power brokers is the fact that the success of their project lies mainly in Trump’s hands. And what Trump is even trying to achieve is difficult to ascertain.

There are two broad possibilities that explain Trump’s campaign. The first is that he has no real plan. His presidential run is the extension of his broader public persona — a bid for attention and to carry out grudges. Trump is running to spite the reporters and pundits who predicted he would never actually enter the race. Or perhaps he started out trying to grab attention, and simply kept going. Or he actually wants to be president in some vague way, and believes or hopes the force of his personality will carry him through. Or he just hates Jeb Bush a lot — one “Trump associate” told the Washington Post that Trump “has two goals: One, to be elected president, and two, to have Jeb not be president” — and would drop out of the race if Scott Walker or Marco Rubio supplants Bush.

(click here to continue reading What Is the Trump Endgame? — NYMag.)

Fox News and its allies have created the Trump monster, and now it is ravaging their carefully crafted Potemkin villages of Tea Party supporters and rage-fiends. I guffaw. I guffaw nearly to the point of tears…

Footnotes:
  1. and sometimes as a Republican, depending []
  2. Jeb! is a strange name to give oneself – the John Ellis shortening I get, but why put your surname into your nickname? []

Trump Is The Face of the Base of The Base Culture

Autumnal Waste
Autumnal Waste

This paragraph by Paul Krugman made me laugh:

Joe Weisenthal asked me why Donald Trump is riding so high in the polls; as he said, my answer was subtle and nuanced.

But seriously, why is anyone surprised? Year after year the GOP base has been fed fantasies about death panels, senior figures have flirted with birtherism and routinely peddled conspiracy theories whenever good news arrives about health reform or the economy, a centrist president has been portrayed as a socialist who hates America, sitting governors have deferred to craziness over military exercises. Oh, and the unemployed have been blamed for their own plight, food stamp recipients and the disabled portrayed as malingerers. Then along comes Trump, who embodies the base’s values, its intellectual outlook, its deep lack of empathy for the unfortunate. And up goes the cry: “Don’t base voters realize that he’s not a serious figure?”

(click here to continue reading The Face of the Base – The New York Times.)

Donald Trump is the bloviating embodiment of the Tea Party, and all those who supported it for their own nefarious ends. I’m laughing, I just hope I won’t be crying in November, 2016…

Walked On By was uploaded to Flickr

never ending construction

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I took Walked On By on May 20, 2014 at 11:46AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 22, 2014 at 07:30PM