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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump's GOP

by digby

No need for civility anywhere:

As a junior ranking senator, [Arkansas senator Tom] Cotton spends lots of his time presiding over the Senate. And, as a result, a lot of time listening to Reid. And on Wednesday, Cotton had enough of it, leaping to the defense of Sen. John McCain after Reid bashed the GOP for rushing through a massive defense bill.

"I'm forced to listen to the bitter, vulgar, incoherent ramblings of the minority leader. Normally like other Americans I ignore them, I can't ignore them today," Cotton said of Reid's complaints. "When was the last time the minority leader read a bill? It was probably an electricity bill."

Then responding to Reid's protestations over the Senate GOP's schedule, which appears headed toward working the least days in session in 60 years, Cotton said there is a silver lining.

"Whatever you think about that, the happy by-product of fewer days in session in the Senate is that this institution will be cursed less with his cancerous leadership," Cotton said.

Reid then came on the floor, mostly to engage with McCain on a back-and-forth over the proper procedure of handling the big defense policy bill. But he did fire a shot at Cotton, the youngest senator who has served for a year and a half in the chamber.

"I think it would distract from what we're doing here today to go into the statements by the very junior senator from Arkansas," Reid said.

There is obviously no love lost between these two.

I still think Tom Cotton looks eerily like this guy:

Back to the future, Whitewater edition

by digby

So, one of Trumps press people screwed the pooch and sent a request to the RNC for some juicy dirt on Whitewater to a member of the press. Apparently, Trump was too busy trying to curry favor at the time to follow the details. Anyway, as it happens, the Whitewater Javert, Ken Star is also in the news this week, having been revealed to have covered up a sex scandal and to have seemingly changed his mind about the person whose presidency he relentless tried to destroy. Get out you Alanis CDs and find yourself some Seinfeld re-runs because we're gonna do the 90s Time Warp.

Michael Tomasky has helpfully written a primer on Starr and Whitewater with all the good stuff you need to know in case you were in diapers during the period or have made the intelligent decision to  erase the idiotic details from your mind. An excerpt:
Ken Starr isn’t exactly in Bill Cosby territory, but with the revelation that he’s apparently being canned from the presidency of Baylor University for ignoring charges of sexual misconduct by football players, he has made himself into one of the most exquisite hypocrites of our age. (I should note that the university, responding to reports Tuesday of Starr’s impending dismissal, refused to confirm the news, although it didn’t deny it either.)

Here is morality according to Starr, who by the way is (of course) a great Christian. It’s appropriate to expose sexual misconduct (wrong, but consensual) when it gives you a shot at bringing down a president you loathe and creating a constitutional crisis over a few blow jobs. But when sexual misconduct risks messing with the football team, well by God, you brush it under the rug! You’re in Texas, boy.

A lot of you reading this may be too young to remember what I’m even talking about, and many of you who were around forget the appalling details. You may have seen the other day that Starr had some kind words for Bill Clinton, to which we’ll return. But don’t be deceived, and whatever you do, don’t go soft on Starr. He’s one of the monumental sleazeballs of our era.

Some innuendo-rich reporting in the Times and elsewhere during the 1992 campaign suggested that both Clintons may have behaved inappropriately with regard to a land investment known as Whitewater. They did not, as time would prove, but the right pushed the story hard, and the mainstream press sensed that surely something happened, because this was how things had to have worked in a hayseed state. By 1994, President Clinton, succumbing to external and some internal pressure, agreed to appoint a special prosecutor to delve into the facts.

Attorney General Janet Reno appointed a Republican named Robert Fiske. Fiske was finding no evidence of wrongdoing and was about to say so. Then, a twist of fate: It so happened that the special prosecutor law was coming up for renewal. Clinton considered it bad law (as did Antonin Scalia) and didn’t want to sign, but he knew it would look suspicious, so he signed. His renewal of the law had a crucial consequence: It transferred oversight of the special prosecutor from the Justice Department to the D.C. Court of Appeals, and specifically to a three-judge panel thereof. This panel consisted of two arch conservatives. Immediately, the panel fired Fiske on flimsy, trumped-up conflict-of-interest grounds, and appointed Starr.

Starr at that point enjoyed a grand reputation in Washington. He’d been a judge and Ronald Reagan’s solicitor general, and he and his wife glided through the social circuit with apparent grace. But he had well concealed the partisan knife that he now began to unsheathe.

To make a really long story really short, he turned up nothing on Whitewater. He spent three years subpoenaing everyone he could think of, squeezing witnesses; he jailed a woman, Susan McDougal, for nearly two years, trying to get her to lie about Clinton, keeping her for a time in solitary confinement, even in a PlexiGlas cell, on display like an animal. The ACLU of Southern California called her treatment “barbaric.” But he had nothing. He even quit the gig in 1997, because he knew he had nothing, but The Wall Street Journal editorial page and Times columnist and GOP propagandist Bill Safire hounded him back into the job.

Meanwhile in 1997, Monica Lewinsky met Linda Tripp, who, at the suggestion of conservative provocateur Lucianne Goldberg, started secretly taping Lewinsky’s discussions of her and Bill’s liaisons. Also, Paula Jones, who had a sexual harassment suit going against Clinton, fired her regular lawyers and hired very political, right-wing counsel. Goldberg got word to these lawyers that she had information that might be useful to them, so they connected, and in short order, in late 1997, a connection was made to Starr’s office.

Jackpot! He had nothing on Whitewater, but now here was evidence of a presidential affair. And, in his fevered dreams, maybe obstruction of justice to boot, he hinted to the Justice Department (with no hard evidence). And so the Lewinsky story broke in January 1998, and Starr possessed the power to bring down a president. 
Clinton’s behavior, both the act and the lying about it, was of course indefensible. But funny thing—the public was far more repulsed by Javert than Valjean. In March 1998, just two months after the scandal broke, Clinton’s approval ratings were pushing 70, while Starr was at 11 percent. That September, Starr released his famous report, a 445-page doorstopper that went into completely unnecessary detail—the word “sex” or a variant thereof was used 581 times, the word “Whitewater” just four times.

His conduct was reprehensible. He put dozens of totally innocent aides through legal hell. His office illegally leaked grand jury material left and right to friendly reporters. He lied repeatedly and publicly about Madison Guaranty, Susan McDougal and her ex-husband’s bank. And he wrapped himself in a cloak of self-righteousness the entire time, and the media, which had turned into a mob, was almost wholly on his side.

And now he comes to praise Clinton? Please. No thanks, says longtime Clinton aide Betsey Wright ...

That's the character assassination machine that tarred both Bill and Hillary Clinton as "dishonest" and "untrustworthy." Great work by the wingnuts. They are justifiably proud. The only problem is that they keep stepping on their own feet and the Clintons survive and go on because a majority of the American people see through this nonsense.  This drives them crazy. 

Read on, there's lots more. Starr is one of America's most notorious villains whose name should forever be synonymous with out-of-control political witch hunts right up there with Joseph McCarthy.

Portland Police Chief Shoots Friend In Back, Calls It 'Self Inflicted.' Is Placed On Leave

by Spocko

On a hunting trip April 21, Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea shot his friend in the back, then suggested that the wounded man accidentally shot himself.
Portland police chief misled investigator about hunting accident, sheriff says
Larry O'Dea, pictured at the Police Bureau 
in October when Mayor Charlie Hales announced
he had selected O'Dea to succeed retiring 
Chief Mike Reese. Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian

Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea On Leave Amid Probe He Covered Up Shooting NBC News May 25 2016, 10:15 AM ET

Wow. That's some serious hubris. O'Dea thought that the police would back him up when he said the gun shot wound in the guy's back was "self inflicted." Who did he think he was, Dick Cheney?

Too bad O'Dea didn't have a friend like Harry Whittington. After Cheney shot him in the face Whittington apologized. I still remember thinking what an amazing display of power that was.
"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than we have had to deal with this week. We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves."
   -- Whittington apologizing for getting in the way of Cheney's        shotgun pellets. YouTube 
Not everyone can get away with this level of blame acceptance. At least Whittington had knowingly put himself in that situation, but what of tens of thousands of people who were injured by gun accidents who don't?

What if they were just minding their business in a store when an incompetent guy with a gun accidently shot them?

When there is a gun accident the gun lovers want people to say,
"Well, he was carrying the gun legally. He must have training in gun safety before the state would have allowed him to carry a gun, right? Plus, the store gave them permission to bring the gun in the business. If they didn't want to have "good guys with guns" in the store they would have said something, right? Put up a sign, right? 
I mean nobody would let incompetent people with guns into their business, unless they trusted them, or the state certified their worthiness to carry a gun, right? He didn't intend to shoot anyone, so he's not a bad guy. I guess there is no one to blame for an honest gun accident."
This is the logic customers are using now if they go into stores that allow guns. This is illogical and dangerous.

The first mistake people make is believing the gun lovers when they lie about how much safer people are with guns as "protection."

You know what will protect you from a gun shot? A bullet proof vest, a ballistic helmet and body armor. The guns everywhere crowd want the gun for its retaliatory features.  You don't hear guys bragging about their COOLMAX® Bullet & Stab Proof Vest.

At $210 you could buy two for the price
of one Glock.  

When long time professionals trained in guns and gun safety have accidents, what does that mean for the people who aren't trained? This week West Virginia removed any requirements for people carrying concealed weapons to get a permit or training. I'm sure that they will take this responsibility seriously...yeah right.
When people without training have an "accident" that is really negligence, that incident needs to be pushed in the faces of the people who got rid of training and certification. Each toddler death, each dropped gun in a store needs to be tweeted at the legislators. 

Some of the, "I gotta have my gun with me everywhere" people are going to screw up. If we are lucky they will only hurt themselves, but we aren't always lucky. So far this year 951 haven't been

I wouldn't choose to go hunting with these people, so I sure as hell wouldn't choose to go shopping with them. It's not the "bad guys with guns" I'm afraid of, it's the incompetent guys with a guns.

No businesses should take their word for their competence either. Hell, the one thing these businesses could point to was the line, "Well, they had a permit." They were hoping that it meant some level of competence. Now even that is gone.

Why should I trust untrained, uncertified people roaming the aisles with deadly weapons? We get understandably pissed off over mass shootings. They make the national news. We should also get pissed off over multiple gun accidents every single day.

I see 3-5 every day and those are just the ones that make the news. Link to Gun Violence Archive West Virginia incidents the last two years.

 I'm tired of people, especially police, making excuses for negligent behavior when it comes to storing, handling and transporting weapons. Maybe they are thinking "There but for the grace of God go I." since they know more stories like Chief O'Dea's.

 No, police chief Tyler Brewer, it's not a “knucklehead situation” when a 37 year old man playing with the gun in his sock shoots someone during graduation ceremonies at Augusta High School in Kansas. (BTW, Kansas is another state where no concealed carry permit is required.)

If states are changing laws to make what was illegal, legal so there is no criminal case following someone's gun negligence, then we need to make it a civil case.
Of course the NRA is already preparing for this. They just convinced the Tennessee legislation to make the public universities immune from any liability now that teachers can carry guns on campus. And they didn't require the teachers to have any training or extra insurance. The Tennessee NRA people aren't stupid, but the legislators who believed there wouldn't be any problem with guns on campus are.
What is also astonishing to me is that these "no permit, no training" changes were passed against the wishes of the majority of the people in the state. More guns in the hands of more people with no training and no certification is a bad idea. 

Laws can be changed that make negligence an "accident" so no criminal charges are filed. But criminal law isn't the only area to look at. When all those untrained, unlicensed "responsible" gun owners screw up it's time to make them pay up.

 Maybe start with the Oregon police chief. Do you know how much the helicopter ride from the remote town of Fields, Oregon to Boise Idaho's hospital to help his injured buddy was? Between $35,000 and $55,000. Do you think that is going to come out of his $153,605 yearly salary?

About the hair

by digby

Normally I wouldn't stoop to writing about someone's hair, but in the case of Donald Trump it seems worth doing simply because he's so cruel about everyone else's looks and thinks he's some kind of adonis.  This piece of investigative journalism about Trump's weave is very impressive. In fact, if I had to guess, the man who appears to keep it up for him --- a con artist --- may very well be the "Muslim friend" he's always talking about who allegedly tells him how right-on all his Muslim bashing is.

Anyway, it will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Trump's weird hair but there is some relevance to bringing it up in that one of the most disturbing, violent stories about Trump came out during his divorce from his first wife Ivana. And it had to do with his hair:
After a painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot, Donald Trump confronted his then-wife, who had previously used the same plastic surgeon.

“Your fucking doctor has ruined me!” Trump cried.

What followed was a “violent assault,” according to Lost Tycoon. Donald held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation. He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants.

“Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified… It is a violent assault,” Hurt writes. “According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘he raped me.’”

Following the incident, Ivana ran upstairs, hid behind a locked door, and remained there “crying for the rest of night.” When she returned to the master bedroom in the morning, he was there. 
“As she looks in horror at the ripped-out hair scattered all over the bed, he glares at her and asks with menacing casualness: ‘Does it hurt?’” Hurt writes.

Donald Trump has previously denied the allegation. In the book, he denies having had the scalp reduction surgery.

“It’s obviously false,” Donald Trump said of the accusation in 1993, according to Newsday. “It’s incorrect and done by a guy without much talent… He is a guy that is an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person.”
She later said it was just a marital spat and that she never really considered it to be rape, but she never said the incident didn't happen or that Trump wasn't enraged over his baldness.

The man has so many issues it's hard to keep track of them.

Also, this:

She needs to answer for his pants

by digby

John Amato helpfully caught this doozy from yesterday:

Most of the media hasn't indulged Donald Trump's use of Bill Clinton's behavior, but it only takes one, and yesterday on MTP Daily, Chuck Todd took the bait when he asked HRC's spokesman Brian Fallon this lame question:

"Do you feel as if Hillary Clinton needs to respond to at least explain why she forgave her husband?"

Like me, many people were dumbfounded by this question, because it validates Trump's use of lies, nonsense and conspiracy theories, in his attempt to discredit his opponents.

Fallon's response was correct, but Todd didn't let go of Trump's line of questioning.

"Chuck, I think that the country remembers these issues from two decades ago. They recognize these issues as having been litigated and fully aired then."

TODD: So, she doesn't believe (INAUDIBLE)...

FALLON: ... She's written two autobiographies in the years since then. She's given numerous sit-down interviews where she's talked about that, dating back to 2003. She was asked about it by -- in 2000 Senate debates. She's answered that question multi...

TODD: ... Do you feel as if she owes no more explanation, period?

FALLON: Again, I don't think that the public is clamoring for this issue to be re-litigated, that's why I think it's a failed strategy on Donald Trump's part.

But as you can see from Chuck's insistence, Cokie's Law had been activated by the Meet The Press host, and Trump has been rewarded for his despicable behavior.

I saw that exchange yesterday and tweeted it. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

But it's par for the course. Clinton has been asked to answer for her husband's personal behavior for years, as if it says something about her.

I'm sure they'll keep asking though. They can't quit the sex stuff. It hasn't benefited Republicans in the past but who knows, maybe voters today will be shocked by Bill Clinton's sex life --- and will be moved to vote for the pious, morally upright Donald Trump instead.

Trump's intimidation strategy

by digby

I wrote about why he's partying like it's 1999 right now for Salon this morning:

Throughout the GOP primary people have been shocked at the cretinous behavior of Donald Trump. From the very beginning when he claimed Mexico was sending rapists over the border to saying Megyn Kelly was bleeding "from wherever" to talking about the size of his penis on national television to calling Ted Cruz a pussy and accusing his father of being in on the JFK assassination it's been clear that he has no limits. And yet, for some reason, the media is shocked each time he proves it again.  This week was no exception. Yesterday all anyone could talk about was the audacity of his latest atrocious comments to the Washington Post's Robert Costa:

One issue on Trump’s radar is the 1993 death of [former Clinton administration official Vince] Foster, which has been ruled a suicide by law enforcement officials and a subsequent federal investigation. But some voices on the far right have long argued that the Clintons may have been involved in a conspiracy that led to Foster’s death.

When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail.He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”

“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

He doesn't think it's fair. And he's only repeating that he's heard the former president and his wife, the probable presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, are murderers. He's just sayin'.

For the record, this case was investigated by the police, several congressional committees one of which famously staged a shooting of a watermelon in the backyard of the committee chairman as some sort of homemade forensic experiment. It was investigated by two independent prosecutors with unlimited funds and mandates and they were all forced to admit the obvious --- that Vince Foster had committed suicide. And he committed suicide because he was depressed about being hounded night and day by the Republicans who acted like rabid dogs from the moment Clinton was inaugurated. The endless disgusting airing of the issue was extremely painful for the Foster family as one might imagine.

None of that ever quelled the gossip in the dank waters of the fetid right wing fever swamps where it mixed with a toxic brew of purported drug running, numerous murders and assasinations, sexual perversity, love children and anything else that emerged from the gothic imaginations of small town Arkansas and found its way to the nation's gullible press corps.  Many rightwingers still believe it was all true, every last bit of it and they're never going to admit otherwise. To the media it was a tabloid bonanza and ratings gold --- just like Donald Trump.

It's been clear that Trump was going to dredge up all this stuff for months so nobody should have been surprised. His close associate, the professional character assassin Roger Stone has said so openly, frequently appearing on Alex Jones's conspiracy program announcing that Trump himself was paying some of the women from the old days to hit the circuit once again and tell the stories that have also been thoroughly investigated and ultimately discredited. And he's written a fictional scandal primer, especially for the campaign, called "The Clintons' War on Women" which is serving as Trump's main source of dirt and slime.

But it's fair to ask why he would decide so early in the general election campaign to lob something as incendiary as a murder charge. One might have assumed that he would start more slowly and build up to it. I think there are a couple of reasons for his doing it now. Trump is a gut player but when it comes to the tactics of mud-slinging there is good reason to believe that he thinks it through.

Right now his most important task is to consolidate the Republicans, and in particular bring the conservative movement types into his camp. The polls show that the voters are falling in line but he needs talk radio and Fox and the movement groups like the Tea Party to be enthusiastic and the best way to do that is to viciously attack their common enemy. He's also now in the fundraising business and he has a good feel for what will work to get the folks all riled up. They love the Mexican and Muslim hate, but there's nothing like a good old fashioned Clinton bashing to get their blood up.

Needless to say, this is also an effort to nullify his own myriad weaknesses.  He likes to say that he's a counter-puncher but it's not precisely correct.  He hits his rival not only when they take a shot at him but when the press takes a shot at him. It's his way of deflecting the attention away from his vulnerabilities to what he sees as his strength --- his willingness to bludgeon his enemies.

But these are not the main reason he's hitting now and hitting hard with on of the ugliest accusations from back in the day. It's about intimidation. And we know this because the has telegraphed his intentions for some time, going all the way back to December when he tweeted at Clinton to "BE CAREFUL" and shortly thereafter went after Bill Clinton for being an "abuser" and Hillary Clinton for being an "enabler".  He has bragged on the stump ever since that this one-two punch "gave them a very bad week-end" and seems to think it scared Bill Clinton off the campaign trail.

Now that he's vanquished all of his Republican rivals after having used similarly degrading comments, he is convinced that this is the key to his success and believes he wins through sheer dominance, looming over his rivals with his big hair and his big hands and his big brass ego. (And don't kid yourself, that's exactly how he plans to "make America great again" around the world as well --- through belligerence and bullying.)

This is primitive stuff. And Trump isn't the first one to use this cheap ploy. Read any Maureen Dowd column for the last 20 years to see how simple stereotypes have been used to portray Democratic men as effete and feminine leaders compared to the macho swashbucklers on the right. From poor Mike Dukakis in a tank to John Kerry's flaccid flip-flopping to Barack "Obambi" these tired tropes have been deployed in election after election.

But doing this with an actual woman as the nominee is tricky requiring something a little bit more complicated than the typical bully behavior.  He first has to justify his attacks by portraying her as an archetypal evil woman -- a conniving, manipulative harpy who stood by her husband for professional reasons but brutally punished the women he pursued. (There is zero evidence for this but it makes dramatic story.) But once he establishes that narrative he then has to subjugate her with ruthless efficiency by attacking her for her husband's failings and rendering her mute with audaciously inappropriate gendered insults. The point is to make her look powerless and weak. He wants to attack her repeatedly and with such force that we feel ill and just want it to end.  That's how he wins.

It's going to be an ugly six months, uglier than anything we've seen in politics for a long time --- perhaps ever. One cannot help but marvel that our country is about to nominate the first woman on a major party ticket in its long history and it has produced the most boorish, retrograde openly misogynist man it could find to oppose her. What does that say about our our culture and our country? Nothing very edifying that's for sure.

Burr: Whistling past the political graveyard

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by Rachel Sian, via Creative Commons.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told Huffington Post yesterday he has "issues" with his state's HB2 anti-transgender law passed overnight in March:

Burr has largely avoided talking about the law. He previously said he was out of the country when it passed; stated it’s up to the courts to decide if it’s valid; suggested it doesn’t actually discriminate; and declared it a state issue.
It is certainly an issue for Charlotte. The Chamber of Commerce there is under fire from the Human Rights Campaign as an "anti-LGBT bully." The Chamber supported a city council vote for repealing the now moot nondiscrimination ordinance that the legislature gave as the reason for passing HB2. The Chamber nonetheless issued a letter to state lawmakers asking them to allow cities to pass ordinances to protect LGBT citizens.

A report from the Chamber estimates that HB2 has so far cost Charlotte and Mecklenburg County "$285 million and a loss of as many as 1,300 jobs," according to the Charlotte Observer:
The report also says inquiries about new economic development are down 58 percent since lawmakers passed the bill in March, and client visits down 69 percent from last year.
A new PPP poll released yesterday shows just how unpopular HB2 is inside North Carolina:
Only 35% of voters in the state support the bill, to 44% who are opposed to it. We continue to find that there are a lot more Republicans (28%) who are opposed to it than there are Democrats (16%) in support of it. 50% of voters in the state would like to see it repealed, compared to only 38% who think it should stay on the books. That includes a 46/39 spread among independents in favor of repealing it.

The reason for voters wanting HB2 repealed are pretty straightforward- they think it's hurting the state both economically and in terms of its national reputation. Overall only 29% of voters believe HB2 is helping North Carolina, t0 56% who think it's hurting. That includes a 29/53 spread with independents. Specifically on the issue of the economy, only 12% think it's having a positive impact on the state to 50% who think it's hurting. Even among Republicans 14% more think it's negatively affecting the state's economy than positively. And just 24% of voters think HB2 is helping the state's national reputation, to 53% who think it's hurting.
This may account for why Burr finally felt the need to say something mildly negative about the law:
A couple of factors may be softening Burr on the issue. One is that polls show HB 2 is increasingly unpopular in the state. A PPP poll released Tuesday found that half of North Carolina voters want the law repealed, compared with 38 percent who want to keep it. Another factor is that Burr is up for re-election, and his opponent, Democrat Deborah Ross, has been hounding him for avoiding talking about HB 2.

“When HB 2 began hurting working folks and businesses started leaving our state, he couldn’t be bothered. Now that he thinks it’s hurting his re-election chances, he’s changing his tune,” Ross spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement. “Burr’s Washington-style politics of self-interest haven’t worked for North Carolina, and it’s time for a change. Deborah Ross has spoken out against HB 2 and told the truth about its impacts since day one.”
Deborah Ross spoke here at a couple of events over the weekend and appears to be a strong challenger. Ross pulled to within 4 points of Burr in an April PPP poll. A poll by the conservative Civitas Institute puts Ross within 1 point.

"Burr" is the sound an incumbent makes with that kind of cold wind blowing against the back of his neck. Care to make it even colder?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

And yet many of these people say they will vote for him anyway

by digby

The question is, why? According to the Huffpollster:

[A] combined 61 percent say they have reservations (19 percent) or are outright uncomfortable (42 percent) with Trump’s lack of experience in the kinds of positions traditionally held by American commanders-in-chief. To put that number in context: A lower total percentage of voters - 51 percent - expressed concern about Bernie Sanders potentially becoming the first self-described Democratic socialist to lead the country. Those who expressed concern about Trump’s lack of military or government experience included 68 percent of women, 60 percent of independents, 78 percent of undecided voters and about a third of Republican primary voters.”

Only a third of Repubicans care about this.  After caterwauling for 8 years about Barack OBama being unqualified. I guess it's that "I vote for the guy I'd like to have a beer with him" concept. People figure they could do it themselves if they wanted --- and certainly better than any lily-livered Democrat female --- so it's perfectly fine if the president is a know-nothing cretin who has no clue. And he is rich which automatically makes him a genius. Like the Olsen twins. He'll figure it out.


The "populist-conservative" coalition

by digby

Here's an update from the conservative movement fever swamps. There are still some holdouts, but the professional movement conservatives are working the angles hard and are bringing anyone who might find Trump to be a bridge too far around slowly but surely:

Two conservative thinkers for whom we have a great deal of respect, Bill Kristol and Erick Erickson, have finally jumped the shark and entered a bizarre new #NeverTrump political dimension where Mitt Romney is a viable candidate for president and forming a third party five months before the election is a realistic means of electing an alternative to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. 

To be clear, we endorsed Ted Cruz and still believe Cruz is the candidate most likely to restore America to limited constitutional government, and if Senator Cruz had chosen to go to the Convention and challenge Donald Trump on the floor we would have supported him until the final votes were counted.

If Kristol and Erickson were advocating that Senator Cruz stay in the race we’d be there with them.

However, Ted Cruz for the good of the conservative cause, chose to suspend his campaign and he chose not to engage in a final round of political bloodletting with Donald Trump.

This is a harsh reality for many Cruz supporters who wanted to battle Trump until the bitter end, in part as payback for Trump’s scorched earth primary campaign.

The battle we wanted right now was Cruz versus Trump, the battle we’ve got is Trump versus Hillary Clinton, or the pipedream of a third party candidate.

Both Bill Kristol and Erick Erickson have recently made the case that a third party isn’t a pipedream and have pulled numbers from various polls to try to prove the claim that “Half the country is open to an alternative. The ABC poll shows half, basically half, 45 percent saying, we would like to have a third choice,” as Kristol told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

The problem for Kristol and Erickson is that their 45 percent is not ideologically conservative, so there’s no reason to believe that a conservative alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton automatically books that 45 percent of the vote.

So what’s the Kristol and Erickson “unity party” ticket, Mitt Romney and Bernie Sanders?

The idea that movement conservative should join forces with the #NeverTrump establishment Republican perpetrators of what has become a near-treasonous sellout of our country – and the country class citizens who believe in conservative ideas and have fought for them for decades – would be a disaster for the conservative movement and provide no guarantee of a conservative victory in November.

Setting aside the obvious challenge of funding a competitive campaign in an environment where the Democratic and Republican Party opponents would likely spend a combined total of over $2 billion, as they did in 2012, when Obama spent $1.123 billion and Romney spent $1.019 billion, the numbers just don’t add up for a candidate whose sole base is movement and especially cultural conservatives.

In 2012 about 117 million Americans voted in the presidential election, in 2008 about 125 million voted.

In 2008, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians represented 26 percent of the total vote for president, according to the exit polls. In 2012, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians represented 26 percent of the total vote for president, again according to the exit polls.

After four years of Obama’s disastrous anti-religious policies we saw no change at all in the percentage of the electorate accounted for by Evangelical Christians; no net gain, certainly no surge, and no record Evangelical turnout, despite the vast effort expended on contacting and turning out faith-first voters.

What’s more, when you zoom in a bit, according to Joel C. Rosenberg, you find that 21 percent of self-identified, white, born-again, Evangelical Christians voted for President Obama in 2012 – that means more than 6 million self-described “Evangelicals” voted for Obama.

It should also be noted that, despite his war on the Catholic Church, 50 percent of the Catholic vote went for Obama in 2012. This was down from the 54 percent that Obama won in 2008.

Plus, the reality is this cultural conservative #NeverTrump third party would not appeal to all cultural conservative voters; Trump booked forty-two percent of the Evangelical votes in heavily Evangelical North Carolina and in Ohio, 39 percent of Evangelicals voted for Trump.

The final issue to be dealt with in this scenario is the myth of the 17 million (or 10 or 5 million) missing Christian voters.

The argument is made every election that, if only we had a cultural conservative candidate, millions of hitherto absent Christian voters would show up and sweep a cultural conservative into the White House, but history has proven the idea that there are millions of “missing” Christian voters to be a myth.

Putting principled cultural conservative Rick Santorum on the primary ballot didn’t draw them to the polls in 2012, running Baptist minister Mike Huckabee didn’t draw them to the polls in 2008 or 2016, neither did putting high profile TV evangelist Pat Robertson on the ballot in 1988.

The reality is the millions of “missing” Christian voters are not missing.

After thirty-six years, millions of dollars spent on Christian voter guides, hours spent leafleting churches and intense telephone, mail and social media campaigns it is time to recognize that these voters are not “missing,” they are simply Christians who do not vote.

Counting on such people to power a Third Party campaign to victory is not merely the triumph of hope over experience, it is a fool’s errand that would have disastrous consequences for the preservation of constitutional liberty.

This deep-seated discomfort with Donald Trump’s life-style expressed by Erickson and Kristol is real, but from a strictly political perspective it does not constitute a reason for movement conservatives to abandon their natural populist allies to form a coalition with the establishment Republicans whose misrule, lies and betrayals have created the present political environment and enabled the rise of Donald Trump.

History, in the form of the 1980 and 1992 elections is instructive and history tells us that the only winning right-of-center coalition is one of conservatives and populists.

In 1980 the all-but-dead liberal Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party chose to walkout and back the Third Party candidacy of liberal Republican Congressman John Anderson against conservative Ronald Reagan.

The liberal Anderson booked 5,719,850 votes or 6.6 percent of the vote while Reagan won a majority of the popular vote with 43,903,230 votes and 50.8 percent of the total.

In contrast, in 1992, H. Ross Perot running as a conservative populist against the moderate Republican George H.W. Bush booked 19,743,821 votes or 18.91 percent of the popular vote. Bush was soundly defeated even though Democratic rival Bill Clinton did not get anywhere near a majority of the popular vote, booking only 44,909,806 votes or 43.01 percent of the votes cast.

So, on one side of the scale are principles and values, particularly the principles and values of our fellow cultural conservatives, and our desire to have leaders and elected officials who respect and live those values and principles.

On the other side is the white-hot anger of millions of grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives and conservative leaning populists who are not only angry with the leadership of the establishment Republican Party, but disappointed and frustrated with many leaders of the conservative movement as well.

The millions of disenfranchised country class voters who have been turning out for Trump look at the Republican establishment and see enemies who have been complicit in – if not the actual authors of – the three-decade long destruction of their quality of life.

But they have not found relief through many of Washington’s conservative leaders, some of whom have often failed to even try to fight the government policies that have contributed to the degradation of our culture that is enforced by political correctness, the vast increase in the spending and the reach of the federal government and the hijacking of middle class prosperity by crony government policies on trade and immigration.

Country class Americans are now tired of politicians and conservative movement leaders who lecture them about the Constitution, but who have done nothing to fight crime, improve education, prevent Islam from being taught in their schools, control the borders or encourage domestic economic growth.

The country class wants change and an end to the misrule of politically correct elites who are indifferent to their plight, and they may very well trample anyone who gets in the way of that change – even those who have heretofore led the long fight against the progressive Big Government Republican and Democratic establishments.

Don’t get us wrong – Donald Trump’s lack of interest in many elements of the cultural conservative agenda is no small thing – that’s why we preferred Ted Cruz over Trump.

In 1975, Ronald Reagan was approached by a number of leading conservatives, including ConservativeHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie, who wanted to launch a Third Party campaign with Reagan as the candidate.

As Mr. Viguerie recounted in his book TAKEOVER, Reagan heard them out and then told them they were nuts because most of America’s conservative voters were Republicans and he did not believe enough of them were likely to abandon the GOP to allow him to win a general election.

When faced with a choice between Trump’s lack of interest in many issues on the conservative agenda versus the deep and abiding hostility of Hillary Clinton, and the betrayals and lies of the Republican establishment, or a hopeless third party effort, Trump’s indifference to much of the conservative agenda would leave us with a candidate who, unlike John McCain and Mitt Romney, might at least be educable.

We haven’t endorsed Donald Trump, so at this point call us firmly against a third party effort and skeptical on the Trump candidacy, but persuadable if there’s concrete evidence of a Trump commitment to a populist – conservative coalition.

I still think it's so adorable that they tacked on the word "populist" without changing any of the their ideology. But they know their people and so they must believe that's all it's going to take to keep them donating and subscribing and reading and watching.

It just makes me laugh to think of The Club for Growth as "populist conservative."
W. Virginians Can Now Carry Concealed Guns With No Permit Or Training

by Spocko
Not an official West Virginia sign, but it's the thought that counts.

Starting today, May 24, 2016, legislation goes into effect that will allow most West Virginia residents to carry concealed handguns without a permit.

They also aren't required to have any training. At all. As in zero. Nadda. Zilch.

That means no safety training with a gun is required. No live-fire training with a gun is required. They aren't even required to watch a 5 minute video on gun safety.

This is insane.

West Virginia is now one of eight states where no permits are required: Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi and Vermont.

I watched some of the video of West Virginians legislators talking about this decision and it boggles my mind this passed.

Friends who carry concealed guns take the required training very, very seriously. One has explained how dangerous it is for people from states with weak or no training requirements to be allowed reciprocity carry with his state.

West Virginia, no permits, no training and the cheapest guns in America! Credit: Taber Andrew Bain Creative Commons license 2.0

The people in the conceal carry world hammer on the need for training. I was watching a live fire conceal carry training video today. A guy who regularly carries a gun and spends hours at the firing range froze up and screwed up in a live fire training session. And he knew this training was happening!

But apparently the good legislators from West Virginia know better than the experts in the conceal carry world and their own experts in law enforcement.

Incompetent Guys With Guns
I often wonder what it would take to convince legislators to tighten up conceal carry gun laws in states like this. Do they need to see a specific number of gun negligence accidents caused by lack of training? Do they have a certain number of  kids killing themselves with guns they are shooting for? Do they need to see more stories of people with no training with concealed weapons killing innocent people?

It appears to me that all the deaths and injuries are allowable because a few people with no training and no permit once stopped a bad guy with a gun.
Starting tomorrow we can keep track of what this lack of permits and training brings the good people of West Virginia. Link to Gun Violence Archive West Virginia incidents the last two years.

CNN bravely trying to put the genie back in the bottle

by digby

We'll see if it works:

The problem is that nobody believes fact checks they don't already agree with. And from what I'm hearing from some of my readers, this is all news to them and they're ready to believe it. Clinton lies about everything so why not about murder?

So, good luck. This is going to be an awful shit show ...


The race to the bottom

by digby

Not that it will matter, but if you haven't seen the clip of Trump defending Clinton back in the 1990s, here it is:

This is how his surrogates defended that tape today:

Top Donald Trump surrogate and attorney Michael Cohen struggled to explain Tuesday why his boss demonized those who accused Bill Clinton of rape and sexual impropriety in the 1990’s but now believes those accusations, saying that Trump was just “being a good friend” at the time.

“He defended Bill Clinton for years. He said the same allegations that you guys are talking about now were a waste of time, were wrong, were hollow, that Bill Clinton was a terrific guy. That he was a great president, that the impeachment was wrong, that it was a waste of time…” the host of CNN’s New Day Chris Cuomo rattled off.

“He was a private citizen who was friendly with the Clintons and he was trying to protect a friend,” Cohen explained. “Now, it’s a different game. It’s 2016, he is the Republican presidential nominee.”

“So he was lying then?” pressed Cuomo.

“He was not lying, he was protecting a friend. There’s a difference,” Cohen insisted. “The difference is he was being a true friend. It didn’t matter to him.”

Cuomo returned to the topic later in the interview. “Why would I trust you if you say all the things you said then were false?” he asked.

“He was a private individual…” Cohen began.

Cuomo cut in: “So you tell the truth when you’re politician but lie when you’re a private individual?”

“…he had no obligation to say anything to anybody,” Cohen finished.

“He said plenty,” Cuomo shot back.

“So what? Because he’s Donald Trump,” Cohen said.

The media keeps saying this shows we're going to have a race to the bottom and laments that both sides do it.


The unpopularity of the workaholic

by digby

I would also point out that whenever she talks about her grand daughter or has a beer everyone says she's a phony so she can't really win. But that's an old story for women trying to gain entry into a closed boys club. You can't go to the strip club or play on the basketball court or on the golf course. If you do something more "woman" oriented, you're not a serious player. Like this, which was criticized as both phony and pandering:

So, any woman who wants to be successful has to be very serious and work focused and for women politicians I'm sure it's even worse because they are supposed to be "men of the people" as well, but if they try, people don't like it.


Newtie's back

by digby

And Trump's got him. I wrote about it for Salon:

It looks as though we've reached that point of the presidential election where the tedious "who will he choose for VP" stories begin. They've really kicked into high gear for the Trump campaign as every meeting between Trump and an elected official is greeted with paparazzi and hours of speculation on cable news. Yesterday the story was all about the highly respected former used car salesman and current Senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker, who was filmed hurrying in and out of Trump Tower as if he were Kim Kardashian debuting a new haircut. Corker played down the VP rumors assuring the assembled press pack that he and Trump were just getting to know each other and chewed the fat over Russia and China.

But Corker isn't the possible VP choice that really got the Villagers tongues wagging. That would be none other than former Speaker of the  House, Newt Gingrich. As my colleague Simon Maloy wrote earlier, the idea of Gingrich being a member of the most "outsider" ticket in American history is ridiculous considering the fact that he's spent his entire adult life either in politics or political media. But then Trump has been saying for months, as he did in a Q & A with Pat Robertson back in February, that he wanted someone "political" because he wants to "get lots of great legislation we all want passed.” As usual, he also elaborated on his own terrific gifts in that department:

I would want somebody who can help me with government. So most likely that would be a political person, because I’m business, and I’m very good at what I do and all of that – and I’m also very, very political – you’ve see me. When you can get zoning on the West Side of Manhattan to build almost 6,000 units of housing and you have to go through New York City politics, believe me, that’s tough. That’s as tough – I don’t say Israel-Palestine but it’s about as tough a deal – the single toughest deal.”

Now why Trump would think Gingrich, who hasn't been in congress for over 16 years, is the mover and shaker who can move his agenda through congress today is a mystery, but he certainly has a working knowledge of how the government functions which is something Trump is completely lacking.  It's unclear if he even knows that there are three branches and what they do. (But then, George W. Bush was famously confused on that as well, saying it is the executive branch's responsibility to "interpret the laws", so it isn't unprecedented.)

And Trump already likes the cut of Newt's jib. According to this article by Eliana Johnson in National Review, he's already one of the campaign's most important advisers:
Gingrich’s influence within Trump World is widespread. Inside Trump’s newly established campaign offices in Washington, D.C., his fingerprints are everywhere. “Right from the minute I joined we were told that Newt will have his hand in every major policy effort,” says one Trump aide. “So one of the things I do when I’m researching or writing anything, in addition to looking at what Trump has said about anything, I look at what Newt has said.”
Back in the 90s after he helped usher in the first GOP House majority in 50 years he was known to muse publicly about the presidency asking no one in particular, "do I have to get into this thing?" as if only he could save the Republic. Unfortunately for him he was run out of the speakership and had to resign his House seat, a casualty of the botched impeachment gambit and his own overwhelming hubris. But he never really went away.

Unlike most politicians whose careers ended so ignominiously, Gingrich didn't go home to Georgia. He landed a nice Fox gig for a while and wrote books and Amazon reviews and ran for president for real in 2012, performing pretty well all things considered. And he's still a member in good standing of the Republican Party with deep contacts throughout the permanent establishment. And that brings us to why Gingrich might be a particularly scary choice for a Trump presidency.

One of the common refrains among those writing about this Gingrich boomlet is the idea that he could be Trump's Dick Cheney, by which they are saying that he could help the inexperienced Trump in the same way Cheney "guided"  George W. Bush. Of course, those who remember the years of Cheney and David Addington and Scooter Libby secretly running half the government with no accountability are appalled at the suggestion. And people should be just as leery of Gingrich as they should have been about Cheney. He's someone you definitely don't want in that role, particularly when it comes to national security.

Gingrich grew up as an Army brat but never served himself.  Nonetheless he has seen himself as a military expert for many years even having 5 active military officers assigned to his congressional staff at one time, which was highly unusual. He has developed elaborate ideas about American power and global strategy based upon theories by "Future Shock" authors Alvin and Heidi Toffler, the futurists Newt considered his mentors.  These ideas have been highly influential in certain Pentagon circles. After he left the congress he served on the secretive "Defense Policy Board", the advisory group that included some of the more aggressive neoconservatives who pushed for the invasion of Iraq.

The conservative columnist Robert Novak reported at the time that there was some resistance in the Pentagon to Gingrich's involvement:
What most bothers the generals is Rumsfeld's preference for outside advice.For example, Pentagon sources say a frequent consultant with the secretary is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an amateur military expert and member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. There is no distribution through the Pentagon of such advice. 
It's unknown what Gingrich has been doing along these lines in the the intervening years other than running for president and writing children's books with his wife, who seems to be strangely attached at his hip since they are together 24 hours a day. But he seems to have provoked the ire of GOP regulars for criticizing the Iraq war. Considering his role in it, it's a typical act of Gingrichian chutzpah.  There's only one politician on the scene who can out-do him in that department and that would be Trump.

But it is safe to assume that even if he now claims to be an isolationist, he has not lost his interest in military affairs and will be in a perfect position as a Cheney-esque Vice President to exercise power in national security and military policy in a crazy Trump administration using the concept of the "fourth branch":
In the past, when he has been asked to comply with various congressional requests and orders, Cheney has claimed executive privilege because he's the Vice President. But last week, he claimed he wasn't a member the executive branch of the government, but was a member of the legislative branch. That was because he's the president of the Senate, and therefore he felt he wasn't subject to the presidential order giving the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office the right to make sure that Cheney and his office have demonstrated proper security safeguards. By the end of the week, he was back claiming that he was actually the vice president, and therefore could claim executive privilege once again as he rejected demands from Congress about information regarding the firing of U.S. attorneys. How does he keep track of which job he's going to claim he has each day? Does he put on a different tie? 
As opposed to the millions of Americans who have more than one job, the vice president didn't do this so he could make an extra buck. He went back and forth with these claims just so he could avoid complying with Congress and the law. 
Since Trump has a shaky concept of the constitution in the first place it wouldn't be too hard for Gingrich to seize power in this way. Trump will be so busy "negotiating" trade deals he probably wouldn't even notice.

And Gingrich has a score to settle. The pinnacle of his political career was the pitched battle with Bill Clinton between 1992 and 1998.  And he lost. Bill Clinton became a respected elder statesman doing global charitable work and Newt Gingrich became an occasional Fox News commentator and failed presidential candidate. This is his last chance for revenge. But Trump might want to think twice. If Newt's luck holds up the way it always has in the past, Hillary Clinton will be in the White House next January.


Not a good look

by Tom Sullivan

Social media has largely taken over the family-and-friends propaganda market from email. I've mentioned my collection of over 200 specimens of right-wing "pass-it-on" emails. You know the ones: the lies, smears and disinformation we all have received from fathers and T-party uncles, the kind with large, colored type and maybe a gif of praying hands above the exhortation to "pass it on." But in-box Izvestia pretty much tailed off as Facebook, Reddit, etc. gained market share. Sadly, what with email was overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the right has shifted left with social media. Not a good thing. We should be better than this.

In the misty past before the dawn of the internet (1980?), I was visiting the home of a friend who told me with some alarm that I should never buy any more products from the Procter & Gamble company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president, she said, was on the Phil Donahue Show and said the company gave money to the Church of Satan. As proof she told me, you could look on their packaging and see a small crescent moon and stars symbol, a "satanic symbol."

"When did you see this?" I asked.

Oh, well, she had not seen it. A friend had told her about it. Except, of course, her friend had not seen it either, because it never happened. But because the news came from a friend and confirmed her darkest fears about how the world worked, she never questioned it.

For its part, P&G had to issue a press statement denying the rumor. It eventually changed its logo and some years later won a lawsuit against Amway for spreading it.. This is one of the earliest urban myths of the sort that gave rise to Snopes.com. Rumors once passed over telephones and in living rooms have since gone digital.

Enter Facebook. "Pass it on" has given way to "Share."

Frank Bruni opined in the Times over the weekend on how Facebook is warping our perception of the world. Bruni writes, "We construct precisely contoured echo chambers of affirmation that turn conviction into zeal, passion into fury, disagreements with the other side into the demonization of it." Appealing to authority, Donald Trump said, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.” Bruni continues:

Those were his exact words, a blithe excuse for his mistaken assertion that a protester at one of his rallies had ties to Islamic extremists. He’d seen a video somewhere. He’d chosen to take it at face value. His intelligence wasn’t and isn’t vetted but viral — and conveniently suited to his argument and needs. With a creative or credulous enough Google search, a self-serving “truth” can always be found, along with a passel of supposed experts to vouch for it and a clique of fellow disciples.

Carnival barkers, conspiracy theories, willful bias and nasty partisanship aren’t anything new, and they haven’t reached unprecedented heights today. But what’s remarkable and sort of heartbreaking is the way they’re fed by what should be strides in our ability to educate ourselves. The proliferation of cable television networks and growth of the Internet promised to expand our worlds, not shrink them. Instead they’ve enhanced the speed and thoroughness with which we retreat into enclaves of the like-minded.


We’re less committed to, and trustful of, large institutions than we were at times in the past. We question their wisdom and substitute it with the groupthink of micro-communities, many of which we’ve formed online, and their sensibilities can be more peculiar and unforgiving.
The presidential primary has enhanced the effect. My feed is filled with caustic posts shared by friends who got it from their friends, gleaned from numerous sites I've never heard of with vaguely credible-sounding names. Shared by partisans as "research," the praying hands are missing, but the point is the same as right-wing talk and chain email. Not to inform, but to inflame. To get people angry and to keep them that way.

For the left, it's not a good look.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Oh man, it's going to be a long six months

by digby

I just ... oy:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is reviving some of the ugliest political chapters of the 1990s with escalating personal attacks on Bill Clinton’s character — centered on past accusations of sexual assault — amid a concerted effort to smother Hillary Clinton’s campaign message with the weight of decades of controversy. 
Trump’s latest shot came Monday when he released an incendiary Instagram video that includes the voices of two women who accused the former president of sexual assault, underscoring the presumptive Republican nominee’s willingness to go far beyond political norms in his critique of his likely Democratic rival. 
The real estate mogul has said in recent interviews that a range of Clinton-related controversies will be at the center of his case against Hillary Clinton. 
“They said things about me which were very nasty. And I don’t want to play that game at all. I don’t want to play it — at all. But they said things about me that were very nasty,” Trump told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “And, you know, as long as they do that, you know, I will play at whatever level I have to play at. I think I’ve proven that.” 
Clinton’s campaign has largely refused to engage the recent attacks directly, instead focusing — as Clinton did Monday during an appearance in Detroit — on Trump’s demeanor and job qualifications.
But you understand that "very nasty" is questioning anything he has said or done or wants to do.
Think about his quote there. "I will play at whatever level I have to play at. I think I've proved that."

In other words, there is nothing he won't do to win. And as he's made clear in the past, he believes that once you have won something, you are given license to bully and dominate:

The coalition building for me will be when I win. Vince Lombardi, I saw this. He was not a big man. And I was sitting in a place with some very, very tough football players. Big, strong football players. He came in — these are tough cookies — he came in, years ago — and I’ll never forget it, I was a young man. He came in, screaming, into this place. And screaming at one of these guys who was three times bigger than him, literally. And very physical, grabbing him by the shirt. 
Now, this guy could’ve whisked him away and thrown him out the window in two seconds. This guy — the player — was shaking. A friend of mine. There were four players, and Vince Lombardi walked in. He was angry. And he grabbed — I was a young guy — he grabbed him by the shirt, screaming at him, and the guy was literally. . . . And I said, wow. And I realized the only way Vince Lombardi got away with that was because he won.”
When are we going to start thinking about this is psychological terms?  That's not a normal way of thinking for a well-balanced, mature adult.

Neither is this thoroughly ridiculous comment:
When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail. 
He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.” 
“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.” 
He added, “I don’t bring [Foster] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
That nasty piece of work is the GOP nominee for president of the United States.

The Mooch is in

by digby

The latest from the new NBC/WSJ poll:

I understand why people think he'll "shake things up", "stand up for America's trade interests" and "stand up for America."  The trade thing is wrong, but I see how they could think it. I do not understand why anyone thinks he'll be better for the economy and dealing with Wall Street unless you automatically assume that the one with the most money has to be the best at doing that.

I guess you could say that his promises to "win" may make some people believe he'll be better at the economy but he is unerringly hostile to Wall Street regulation and promises to repeal Dodd-Frank.

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece for Salon about a finance player by the name of Anthony Scaramucci, affectionately referred to as "The Mooch." He was, at that time, making a move to being a major GOP donor and "adviser" to candidates. I assumed at the time that eccentric rich guys like him were the biggest danger for the GOP but I didn't anticipate Trump. (I did mention him in the article, though...)

Anyway, if you want to know what Trump's position on Wall Street is going to be, this article in Vanity Fair will fill you in. After some hemming and hawing, The Mooch is all in with Trump. And he's being very helpful:

The Mooch expressed to me that he wanted the candidate to be “well organized” and he took comfort in Trump’s successful recruitment of Steven Mnuchin, the former Goldman Sachs banker whom Trump had recently named as his national finance chairman. “For this guy to join forces with Donald Trump says two things,” the Mooch continued. “He’s a very good recruiter of super-talented people and there is something different going on here that could be a potential entrepreneurial disruption in Washington. And whether you like Donald Trump or you don’t like Donald Trump, he is an entrepreneur and he might be able to create an entrepreneurial Washington, D.C.”

During one of his conversations with Trump, Scaramucci said, the candidate explained that he needed his help raising outside funds, and suggested that Scaramucci get in touch with Mnuchin, himself. (While much of Trump’s primary campaign was self-funded, he is widely expected to try to raise more than $1 billion to compete in the general election.) For Scaramucci, this was all good. He knew Mnuchin from their shared time at Goldman. In fact, he had also worked for Mnuchin’s father, the legendary Goldman partner Robert Mnuchin. (Robert is one of the many bankers, like his son, to prove there is life after Goldman. He left to start his own high-end art gallery on the Upper East Side.)

So Scaramucci got on the horn with his old colleague and promptly invited him to SALT, where Mnuchin spent Wednesday trawling the well-heeled crowd for Trumpian-size donations. Mnuchin also attended the dinner Wednesday night, sitting across the oval table from Will Smith, who stars in a new adventure movie, Suicide Squad, that Mnuchin helped produce. (Mnuchin made a fortune after the financial crisis when he bought a piece of a failed bank, IndyMac Bancorp, in Southern California, renaming it OneWest Bank, and then selling it to CIT Group for $3.4 billion and nearly doubling his investment.) “It was easy for me,” the Mooch told me of his decision to align with Mnuchin in support of Trump. “Steve Mnuchin is an accomplished guy. A Wall Street guy! A Hollywood guy! He’s built an incredible career.”
But the vibe in Vegas seemed to be moving in Trump’s direction, especially as the conference unfolded. “We talk all day long about Wall Street,” Scaramucci told me, “but there are two streets: Entrepreneurial Avenue, that’s Donald Trump Street, or the Clinton cul-de-sac. Tell me, which street do you want to live on?”
Update: There's also this from the liberal think tank EPI

It’s pretty clear that pinning Donald Trump down on actual policy specifics is going to be tough. He has released a tax plan (written down on actual paper), and until he decides to tear it up, it’s the best road map we have for what he wants to do with tax policy.

The road map charts the course to really large tax cuts, with the bulk of them going to very-high-income households: At the plan’s core is a mostly-routine Republican tax plan that includes giveaways similar to those intended by Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz. The difference is that the plan throws people off the scent of who it benefits, because it contains some novel (and particularly stupid) detours that make no sense as good policy.

When Trump says things like “But the middle class has to be protected. The rich is probably going to end up paying more,” one might come away with the idea that this is a middle-class focused tax cut. The guts of Trump’s tax proposal, however, reveal how obvious of a giveaway to the already-rich it is. To get an idea of just how much money is being doled out, the Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates that Trump’s plan would cost about $9.5 trillion over a decade. 35 percent of Trump’s tax cuts go to the top 1 percent of households during the first year of his tax plan (TPC estimates that as households making over $732,323 annually). This is more than the combined share that the 80 percent of us making under $142,601 a year can expect to see. And this regressivity actually grows over time: By 2025, the top 1 percent will take about a 40 percent share of the tax cut – almost equivalent to the combined share that the bottom 90 percent will see. The tax cut’s regressivity is highlighted even further by looking at the share within the top 1 percent. About half of the share going to the top 1 percent is actually going to just the top 0.1 percent – households making over $3,769,396 in the first year.

All of this likely underestimates both how large the tax cuts would be and how much would go to wealthy households, because Trump creates a special loophole in his tax plan. Following the lead of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (who is probably not the world’s best authority to turn to on sensible tax policy), Trump caps taxes on income generated by pass-through entities at 15 percent instead of his new 25 percent top tax rate. Pass-through entities are businesses whose incomes are not taxed at the corporate level, but instead “passed through” entirely to the business owners and then taxed at individual income-tax levels. This creates enormous incentives and opportunities for tax avoidance by high-income households, who could simply reclassify themselves as pass-through entities to avoid paying the 25 percent top tax rate on individual income. Adding this loophole to their estimate, Citizens for Tax Justice found that Trump’s tax plan would cost $1.2 trillion more and increase tax breaks for high-income earners substantially.

There is clearly a huge contradiction between Trump’s on-paper tax plan and his rhetoric about taxes on the campaign trail, and it doesn’t seem likely that middle class will come out on top. A quick example:. All of the remaining presidential candidates, including Trump, intend to close the carried interest loophole. And since it often allows hedge fund managers, the top 25 of which earned $12.94 billion last year, to be taxed at the preferable 23.8 percent capital-gains-rate instead of the higher rate charged to ordinary income, it’s easy to see why. Trump has even called out hedge fund managers for not being taxed enough. In doing so, Trump masquerades as a man of the people when the reality of his proposed tax changes will actually benefit hedge-fund managers even more. As TPC points out, the entities that earn carried-interest income—including hedge fund managers—are organized as a type of pass-through entity. This means that Trump is actually proposing to lower the tax rate hedge-fund managers pay from 23.8 percent to the new 15 percent rate his plan introduces for pass-through entities. This hardly sounds like a crackdown on people allegedly “getting away with murder.”

The only details Trump has committed to when it comes to taxes show that he intends to hand out massive tax cuts to the rich.
But sure. He's gonna be great. We're all gonna win so much it'll make our heads spin.


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