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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The grift goes on

by digby

So Fiorina and Christie have both dropped out. But one dogged campaigner will stay in the race until the money dries up completely:
Despite a disappointing finish in New Hampshire, Ben Carson says he is not feeling any pressure to exit the Republican race, predicting a strong finish in South Carolina.

“Not getting any pressure from any of our millions of supporters. You know, I’m getting a lot of pressure to make sure I stay in the race," he said in an interview on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. "You know, they’re reminding me that I’m here because I responded to their imploring me to get involved. And I respect that and I’m not just going to walk away from the millions of people who are supporting me."

Carson finished behind Carly Fiorina and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday night, both of whom had suspended their respective campaigns by Wednesday evening. The retired neurosurgeon won three delegates with his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, but he drew a blank in New Hampshire, winning just 2.3 percent of the votes in the Republican primary.

"I think I can win South Carolina,” he told CNN. “The people here align extremely well with the kind of philosophies that I have, and I think you'll see the evidence of that."

If I were a political vendor in South Carolina I'd be very careful about extending credit to this campaign. It's very doubtful they'll ever get paid.

Chris Christie sits down and shuts up

by digby

Another one bites the dust:

I ran for president with the message that the government needs to once again work for the people, not the people work for the government. And while running for president I tried to reinforce what I have always believed - that speaking your mind matters, that experience matters, that competence matters and that it will always matter in leading our nation. That message was heard by and stood for by a lot of people, but just not enough and that’s ok. I have both won elections that I was supposed to lose and I’ve lost elections I was supposed to win and what that means is you never know what will happen. That is both the magic and the mystery of politics - you never quite know when which is going to happen, even when you think you do. And so today, I leave the race without an ounce of regret. I’m so proud of the campaign we ran, the people that ran it with me and all those who gave us their support and confidence along the way. Mary Pat and I thank you for the extraordinary display of loyalty, friendship, understanding and love.

I dunno who paid him to take down Rubio, but it was worth every penny.

Christie was supposed to be the dude who took on the prude. It didn't work out that way. Trump made Christie look like one of those kindergarten teaches Christie likes to scream at on the stump by comparison.

I can't say I'll miss him. He's one of the most repulsive characters in politics. And that's saying a lot in a world that includes people like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

How Trump wins the nomination

by digby

You might be wondering how Donald Trump gets the GOP nomination without having a majority of the GOP behind him. This article by Sam Wang from a couple of months ago explained that it's all about the delegate math. The Republicans have put in place a byzantine system that was supposedly designed to keep long drawn out 2012 battles from happening and it's resulting in something very, very different.

I'll leave it to you to read the piece with all the charts and graphs explaining the mechanics. But the upshot is that if he can keep his 35-40% he can win it. Wang concludes his piece with this:

If no candidate gets to an outright majority, the convention becomes genuinely suspenseful. Party insiders should not necessarily be consoled by this idea. Delegates are usually selected for loyalty to their candidate. If current trends were to persist, the convention floor in Cleveland would be filled with close to 1,000 Trump delegates. These delegates won’t be from the usual pool of party loyalists. They seem like an unpromising starting point for elites to work their magic.

Is it wrong for me to hope so strongly for this shitshow?

Yes, actually it is. You don't play around with the presidency and these people are all very dangerous, especially Trump and Cruz who are the most likely to come out the winners in my opinion. The stakes are just too high to be cavalier about handing power to fanatics.

Bye Bye Ms Fiorina

by digby

She's out:

This campaign was always about citizenship—taking back our country from a political class that only serves the big, the powerful, the wealthy, and the well connected. Election after election, the same empty promises are made and the same poll-tested stump speeches are given, but nothing changes. I've said throughout this campaign that I will not sit down and be quiet. I'm not going to start now. While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them.

Our Republican Party must fight alongside these Americans as well. We must end crony capitalism by fighting the policies that allow it to flourish. We must fix our festering problems by holding our bloated, inept government bureaucracy accountable. Republicans must stand for conservative principles that lift people up and recognize all Americans have the right to fulfill their God-given potential.
To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you're a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn't shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership.

As I have said to the many wonderful Americans I have met throughout this campaign, a leader is a servant whose highest calling is to unlock potential in others. I will continue to serve in order to restore citizen government to this great nation so that together we may fulfill our potential.

I think we'll all remember her most for this, don't you?

A feminist for our time.
Jeb's big move

by digby

You simply will not believe this:
Jeb Bush is already laying the groundwork for a brutal South Carolina campaign against establishment rivals John Kasich and Marco Rubio.

In an internal memo circulated late Tuesday evening, the campaign distributed talking points to top campaign aides and surrogates, highlighting lines of attack they plan to take against both candidates.

The memo suggests that Kasich, who campaigned extensively in New Hampshire, does not have a realistic path to winning the Republican nomination.

“Governor Kasich has little to no chance in South Carolina, and does not have a national organization that can compete,” the memo says. “Kasich has consistently supported gutting the military and has no viable path in the Palmetto State.”

The memo also outlines hard-hitting avenues of attack against Rubio, who for months has been in Bush’s crosshairs: “Senator Rubio has lost momentum and has been exposed as completely unprepared to be president,” it says, repeating an argument that Bush has used frequently against Rubio.

It adds: “Rubio has demonstrated no respect for the nomination process and expects this to be a coronation.”

The memo also claims, "Jeb also did well because he remains the only GOP candidate willing to take on Donald Trump and willing to stand up for conservative values."

"As we saw in the last week, this race is increasingly coming down to who has a proven record and who is best prepared to be Commander-in-Chief, and that is not an unserious reality television star or backbench senator who has never made a tough decision."

What planet are these people living on? What's it going to take for them to realize that there are two frontrunner and neither of them are named Kasich or Rubio?

After all this, Jeb is training his firepower on those two pipsqueaks when it's Cruz and trump who are running away with this thing. And if he thinks they can't compete in South Carolina, he's even stupider than we think.

That's just sad. but I guess it's good for the economy. All that billionaire money goes to line the pockets of GOP functionaries and local media so I guess you could call it a sort of stimulus --- like paying people to dig holes and then fill them up again.


About last night ...

by digby

I wrote about last night's GOP primary for Salon this morning:

I’ve been writing about the Donald Trump phenomenon several times a week for seven months now. As his candidacy evolved from a bizarre spectacle to a serious campaign, it’s become clear that this is a pivotal moment in American politics. It’s not just that we have a shocking demagogue or a profane performer topping the polls in the Republican presidential race. It’s the alarming notion that a crude authoritarian white nationalist is appealing to a very large section of the American people. Even worse is the realization that there is a path for him to actually win the presidency.
Last night he won the New Hampshire primary and he won decisively. His effect on the GOP electorate is already  profound:

Only 40 percent of New Hampshire Republicans support deporting millions of Latinos, so that’s what passes for good news in all this. They didn’t ask about summary execution or torture or killing terrorist suspects’ families, but it stands to reason that at least the 35 percent who voted for Trump are for it. Those aren’t the kind of issues people easily overlook when they vote for someone.
Most surprisingly, he won substantial support across all classes, educational status, gender and ideology. He is a true frontrunner now and is highly likely to gain support as people see him as actually able to pull it off. After all, he may be crude, but when you strip away the bluster, many of his proposals and promises — particularly when it comes to law and order, immigration and national security — are supported by a whole lot of Republicans.
Last night in his victory speech, Trump proclaimed,
“We’re going to make America great again but we’re going to do it the old fashioned way. We’re going to beat China, Japan, beat Mexico at trade. We’re going to beat all of these countries that are taking so much of our money away from us on a daily basis. It’s not going to happen anymore.”
Essentially, he has promised to kick out foreigners who are here, ban foreigners from coming here and beat foreigners that are “taking so much of our money.” But then, if he and his followers believe real unemployment is possibly above 40 percent as he claimed last night, drastic action would understandably be in order. The number is completely daft, of course. He undoubtedly got it from sources like World Net Daily which commonly flog ridiculous statistics such as that.

There's more at the link.



Experience: 0 percent

by Tom Sullivan

By Michael Vadon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

President George W. Bush was not a mistake. The conservative movement worked for decades to put him there, or someone else just like him. That movement conservatives didn't like it when they got what they wanted seems not to have sunk in.

"Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," Ronald Reagan declared in his first inaugural address. The movement had its marching orders and set off double time. By the end of the Reagan years, Rush Limbaugh had arrived to bring the message daily into millions of households across the country. It was a Two Minutes Hate that lasted for hours. By the mid-nineties it was, "America Held Hostage: Day (Number of days in Clinton's term)." Government is the problem. Government cannot be trusted. Put us Republicans in charge and we'll prove it. They did.

Even after the September 11 attacks, it persisted. Only now we were a country with a case of collective PTSD (that has yet to subside). Bush was president when the towers fell, but somehow it was not "on his watch." Then he and Dick Cheney lied the country into invading Iraq where the promised WMDs never appeared. They proved the case that government is the problem. Despite the fact that many a good conservative will never admit error — Conservatism never fails; it can only be failed — conservatives knew they'd been had. The sense that the government cannot do anything right (except kick other country's asses) deepened.

Then a frustrated but hopeful American public elected a black president. The economy collapsed from financial fraud of biblical proportions and Wall Street got a bailout, yet the “malefactors of great wealth” never faced justice. They showered in gold while turning families out into the street and the only trickle down was to grasping politicians. Mission accomplished. Reagan's case was made. The nativists grew restless.

And here we are. One of their kind, Donald Trump, has won the Republican primary in New Hampshire and appears on track to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016. With zero percent experience as a legislator or in government service.

"When Americans have more faith in the military than the political class, democracy is in trouble," read the subhead on Glenn Reynolds' piece last month in USA Today. A longtime purveyor of "government is the problem," Reynolds is now worried by his own partisans, and with reason. Reynolds knows his readers:

If this were just one-sided anger at the Obama Administration, then it would be troubling, but not dangerous. But if, as seems plausible, a majority of Americans don’t think a Republican administration would represent a substantial improvement, then we’ve got a bigger problem. If voters think that they can’t vote their way out of a problem, then they may look to other solutions.

A much-hyped YouGov poll from last fall found that 29% of Americans could imagine supporting a military coup. That poll probably overstated popular support — it didn’t ask if people favored a coup right now, just whether they could imagine supporting one, including in the instance of the government violating the Constitution — but there was also this, as Newser reported: “Some 71% said military officers put the interests of the country ahead of their own interests, while just 12% thought the same about members of Congress.“

NBC News examined a Pew poll back in November. It revealed the lowest levels of confidence in government in a half century:

Just one month after 9/11, 60 percent of Americans said they could trust the government. But confronted with the Iraq War and economic uncertainty, trust began to decline. By July 2007, it had fallen to 24 percent. Since then, the survey found that public trust remains at historically low levels.

Distrust of government also varies along party lines. Twenty-six percent of Democrats say they can trust the federal government nearly always or most of the time, compared with just 11 percent of Republicans. Since President Obama took office in 2009, Democrats have expressed greater trust in government than Republicans.

Pessimism over politics has pervaded the public's perceptions in a number of ways. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say that on issues that matter to them, their side loses more often than it wins. Even for millennials, the future seems bleak: only about four-in-ten adults younger than 30 say they have "quite a lot" of confidence in the nation's future.

The poll results are here.

On the Democratic side last night, millennials in New Hampshire chose an anti-establishment candidate, Bernie Sander, by over 3 to 2.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from December yielded similar results:

Perhaps most vexing for the dozen or so candidates vying to succeed President Barack Obama, the poll indicates widespread skepticism about the government's ability to solve problems, with no significant difference in the outlook between Republicans and Democrats.

"They can't even seem to get together and pass anything that's of any importance," said Doris Wagner, an 81-year-old Republican from Alabama who said she's "not at all confident" about seeing solutions in 2016. "It's so self-serving what they do," said Wagner, who called herself a small-government conservative.

In Texas, Democrat Lee Cato comes from a different political perspective but reached a similar conclusion. She allowed for "slight" confidence, but no more. The 71-year-old bemoaned a system of "lobbyists paid thousands upon thousands of dollars to get Congress to do what they want" for favored industry. "They aren't doing anything for you and me," she said.

In Donald Trump, Republicans have reaped what they've sown. After 25 years of Clinton smears, Hillary Clinton has gotten caught in the fallout. Plus, whatever her lefty bona fides, if transcripts of her speeches to Wall Street groups come out, she's toast with Millennials who came of age during the Great Recession and face life in an unforgiving, metastasized capitalism.

It's an anti-establishment electorate out there. Buckle up.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

In honor of the past frontrunner Ben Carson

by digby

I already miss him.

Rubio melts under the spotlight

by digby

My God, are people really saying that Marco Rubio's nervous tic is him trying to be consciously poetic? Yes they are:

Uhm no. As I wrote in this piece for Salon, this is in keeping with his other weird nervous tic he cannot seem to resist doing in public, particularly when he's stressed: the water thing. I mean, he did that when he was on national television rebutting the State of the Union!

He's got some kind of issue.  I doubt that in and of itself it's disqualifying. But when you combine it with his general inexperience and his lack of gravitas it's a problem. You can't show that kind of lack of control over what you say and how you act in public and be president.

Anyway, here's Jonathan Chait on why that particularly stupid argument about his "poetry" is daft:

Okay, I looked it up. Anaphora is the “deliberate repetition of the first part of the sentence in order to achieve an artistic effect.” For instance, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.” Or, “We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air …”

Repetition of the first part of a sentence is a poetic device. Here is what Rubio said:

We are taking our message to families that are struggling to raise their children in the 21st century because, as you saw, Jeanette and I are raising our four children in the 21st century, and we know how hard it’s become to instill our values in our kids instead of the values they try to ram down our throats.

In the 21st century, it’s becoming harder than ever to instill in your children the values they teach in our homes and in our church instead of the values that they try to ram down our throats in the movies, in music, in popular culture.

That is not anaphora, because it is not the repetition of the first part of the sentence. This important difference explains why Dickens did not write, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” and why Churchill did not say, “We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, and we shall fight in … France.”

Nor is it part of some poetic device that makes sense if you watch the context of the speech, which I did, and which is just Rubio cycling through his standard stump lines rather than repeating them for some kind of literary effect.

And this is why Rubio visibly hesitates when he is about to say “throats” for the second time. It is the horrified panic of a candidate who realizes he has just done the one thing he desperately needs at this moment not to do.

And when you look at his glitch on Saturday it's even more obvious. He wasn't giving some soaring speech. He was responding to Chris Christie's accusation that he only spoke in soundbites by repeating his soundbites! There wasn't even the slightest bit of poetry in any of it.

This is silly. Rubio has an issue. Maybe he's too sped up --- too much caffeine or something --- and his brain gets ahead of his mouth. But he's been giving speeches daily for many, many months now and it's downright weird that this is happening at a time when he was on the brink of success. At his greatest moments of scrutiny, Rubio blows it. This is a problem.

New Hampshire's xenophobe voters get another shot

by digby

I wrote a little bit about Trump and New Hampshire for Salon today:

Tonight we will see if Donald Trump can win the New Hampshire primary by being totally himself. It’s true that he seems to always just say whatever comes into his head, but the Iowa campaign actually marked a show of restraint for the blustery billionaire. He didn’t swear on the stage. He talked a lot about the Bible. He carted his family all over the state and especially showed off his 8 months pregnant daughter Ivanka as a show of family values. He did his best to prove that he could represent true-blue ultra-conservative family values Republicans.
Alas, no one can out-conservative Ted Cruz, so Trump came up a little bit short. But Iowa was never a slam dunk for him in the first place. Trump was telling the truth when he said that he had been told he couldn’t win and hadn’t put a lot of effort into it. When the polls showed him neck and neck with Cruz he spent more time there, but he knew it wasn’t really his kind of state.
New Hampshire, by contrast, is a place where he can really let it all hang out. After all, 20 years ago Pat Buchanan made a run at it there with almost exactly the same message as Trump’s. Take a look at this New York Times article from February of 1996:
Mr. Buchanan revels in controversy. But as he assails illegal immigration as an “invasion” and refers to Mexicans en masse as “Jose,” his critics are accusing him of taking controversy a step too far. They say Mr. Buchanan is speaking in code, using xenophobic images like those or anti-Semitic references to excite bigots without alienating mainstream voters…
Trying to shout down a heckler in Gila Bend on Friday, for example, Mr. Buchanan said of illegal immigrants: “They’ve got no right just because you have a lousy government down there to walk across the borders of the United States of America, because this is my country.”
But Marciano Murillo, 18, a native-born American whose father was a naturalized illegal immigrant, replied: “They help your economy as well as any American here helps it.”
Mr. Buchanan shot back:”They’ve got no right to break our laws and break into our country and go on welfare, and some of them commit crimes.”
 “There isn’t any name in American politics Pat Buchanan hasn’t been called,” he told the crowd. “Not one. But let me tell you something. I’m not intimidated. I won’t back down. I’ll stand my ground, you’ve got my word. No matter what they say about me, I will defend the borders of the United States. I will stop this massive illegal immigration cold. Period, paragraph.”
In an interview on Friday night, Mr. Buchanan rejected the idea that he rhetorically winks and nods to bigots. “It’s silly,” he said. “There are people out there with anxieties and concerns about their future and their children’s future. What I’m saying is, ‘Don’t turn your back on politics. Don’t despair.’ I’m offering them something besides the back of my hand.”
He also made anti-Semitic comments and his version of the tough guy mantra “Make America Great Again” was a promise to the far right:
“When I raise my hand to take that oath of office your New World Order comes crashing down.”
(The New World Order is a doozy of a right wing conspiracy theory that’s still around today. It’s been more or less supplanted by terrorist fear-mongering in the popular imagination but the Bundy militia types are still at it.)
Buchanan ran in 1992 and didn’t make much of a splash. But he gave a notorious speech at the convention, about which the late great Molly Ivins famously quipped: “It sounded better in the original German.” Then in 1996, Buchanan gave the presumptive nominee Bob Dole a run for his money by winning a straw poll in Alaska, the Louisiana caucus, and then taking a surprise win in New Hampshire. His message was resonating with a certain group of Republicans. He won with 27 percent, just about the percentage most polls are predicting Trump is likely to have.
Buchanan and Trump are not the same. Buchanan was a man of the right and a political professional. But you can tell from those quotes that his pitch was very much the same as Trump’s. He didn’t even try to hide his xenophobia, he didn’t dog-whistle it all. (He was a little more subtle with this anti-semitism although it was obvious.) The main thing was that he was tough, he took no guff and most importantly, he was going to do something about foreigners who were destroying the American way of life.
Trump is today’s glossier version of the same phenomenon. He’s a celebrity “outsider,” which is in vogue this year. (In that way he has more in common with the other wealthy populist of the 1990s, Ross Perot.) He’s crude and non-ideological, Pat Buchanan’s id without the intellect. But the basic appeal is much the same: macho, nativist nationalism for white people worried about having to share their country with people who don’t look like them. And as of this morning he’s still leading everyone in the polls.
Trump has been looser in New Hampshire, more himself after the strained effort to appear pious in Iowa. The granite state appreciates a little down and dirty and they like a man who speaks his mind. He’s back to swaggering around and bragging about how he’ll make American great again by banning, torturing and deporting people.
He’d broken the profanity barrier already when he said “I’d bomb the shit out of ISIS” last year, but this past week he repeated it and then promised to “kick [China and Mexico’s] asses” on trade and tell companies that left New Hampshire for Mexico that they can “go fuck themselves” (only mouthing the F word rather than saying it out loud. This is unusual, to say the least. But last night he thrilled the audience with this:
You heard the other night at the debate, they asked Ted Cruz, serious question, what do you think of waterboarding? Is it ok? And honestly I thought he’d say, “absolutely” and he didn’t. he said well, it’s .. you know he’s concerned about the answer because some people…
[shout from the audience. Trump points to her]
She just said a terrible thing. You know what she said? Shout it out because I don’t want to say it.
[shout from the audience — Trump laughs]
You ‘re not allowed to say and I never expect to hear that from you again.
She said, “He’s a pussy.”
Twitter went crazy and the networks went with it as breaking news. Everyone was shocked that Trump had used the “p” word in public. Sadly, nobody was shocked that he was criticizing his rival for failing to be properly enthusiastic about committing war crimes — or that the audience cheered. Afterwards a reporter tracked down the woman who shouted the epithet:
She declined to tell us her name or be photographed, but agreed to answer a few questions. The 52-year-old woman from Salem, New Hampshire, said the Trump event was her first political rally of the cycle, but described herself a “huge Trump supporter.”
“I watched the debate, and [Ted Cruz] just comes across as a pussy,” she told Mic on the floor of the Verizon Center. “He doesn’t have the balls to stand up to Putin. He doesn’t have the balls to stand up to other leaders of others countries.”
When asked whether she trusts Trump, she answered, “He’s got the balls the size of watermelons, whereas the other ones got the balls of little grapes.” She then specified the size of other candidates’ testicles. “The other one, Rubio, [has balls] like a raisin.” When asked about the other candidates, she answered, “They’re nobodies.”
Trump has turned into his pro-wrestling persona and his supporters are playing along. (Apparently they haven’t that Trump thinks of Vladimir Putin as a good guy he can work with.)

Normalizing torture one interview at a time

by digby


Yesterday Chris Matthews interviewed Donald Trump. It was very friendly.He asked him about waterboarding and the following exchange occured:

Chris Matthews: You said you'd go further than waterboarding. Your're gong to be commander in chief if you. Your going to be responsible for every enisted person in the Army, you're going to be responsible. They get captured, there's always been the concern in our government and the reason why we don't torture prisoners, people in uniform is because our guys are going to be captured and we don't want them tortured. Now aren't you worried as commander in chief that you will legitimize torture?

Trump: It came up in thedebate, they asked Ted Cruz about waterboarding. And he was very tentative with that answer. I don't think he had a good night. He was very tentative tentative with that answer, you saw that. Then they looked to me, what do you think?" I said I'm all in favor and the reason I said I'm all in favor

Matthews: So you're with Cheney

Trump: I prefaced it with, the reason I'm in favor is because they're chopping off heads. Not since medieval times. You know when you and I used to ...

Matthews: By the way, it's not since medieval times, the French Revolution they did a lot of guillotining

Trump: All right, I used medieval times

Matthews: They did drawing and quartering in England in the 19th century...

Trump: You're right. But medieval times made more of an impression on me I guess. I said, not since Medieval times have we seen chopping off heads. I know the parents of James Foley I see what they've gone through...

Matthews: let's talk about that guy. I carry his picture in my wallet and I think we share that.

Trump: Great guy

Matthews: To me he is a man of noble courage

Trump: great parents

Matthews: noble courage right to the end. he saw what was going to happen to him when he reached his end on this earth and he stood his ground and never buckled. What a great man

Trump: Hundred percent

Not to take anything away from James Foley who died a terrifying death at the hands of ISIS psychopaths. All the people face that horror are courageous and he was too. But Matthews seems to have adopted some Hollywood version of what happened to him that isn't quite right. But that's him. The world is a western movie as far as he's concerned.

But what about this idea that the reason the United States doesn't torture out enemies in uniform (as Matthews carefully detailed) because we don't want our soldiers tortured in return? It's true that this is often cited as one concern, but it's hardly the prevailing reason for not doing it. After all, we tried Japanese soldier for war crimes for torture and yet in Vietnam our prisoners of war were badly tortured. It's true that the ban on torture was a leverage point to use against the North Vietnamese and many people think it was helpful in keeping it from being any worse (although it's very hard to say how it could have been. It was very bad.)

But setting all that aside, torture is illegal because it's the mark of a barbaric society and civilized people have evolved to understand that it is immoral. Trump has no problem with that. He is a barbarian. Over the week-end he didn't rule out using beheading himself! This is not just a practical choice is a moral choice, exactly like banning drawing and quartering which Matthews brings up in the interview. Does he think that was done because all the blood and guts on the ground was a health hazard?

Torture is a barbaric practice of the past that we have determined is unacceptable and immoral. Or, we had accepted that. Now, it's just another argument like whether we should have eminent domain or fracking. We know what side Trump is on. Matthews didn't seem to have a problem with it except that it might cause out troops to be tortured. If he did, he failed to articulate it. Indeed, his main concern seemed to be that trump didn't realize that beheading is more recent than medieval times.

I['m sickened, literally, whenever I hear Trump say this stuff and get huge cheers. but why wouldn't he? The media doesn't see it as a problem. At this point I don't know what depravity Trump could recommend to deal with terrorism that would make the press confront him to his face. It's true they did get worked up about his making fun of a disabled reporter, which was revolting, so that's promising. But they have a ways to go.

Update: A proud son weighs in:

Eric Trump defended his billionaire blowhard dad's Sunday night statement that he would "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding" if elected president, bizarrely claiming that the banned torture tactic is "no different" from everyday fraternity hazing rituals that have routinely made headlines across the nation over the past year.

“You see these terrorists that are flying planes into buildings, right? You see our cities getting shot up in California. You see Paris getting shot up. And then somebody complains when a terrorist gets waterboarded, which quite frankly is no different than what happens on college campuses and frat houses every day,” said Eric Trump, the executive vice president of The Trump Organization, during an interview with "On the Record" host Greta Van Susteren.

Nixon in New Hampshire

by digby

I've been saying that Cruz is the new Nixon --- which is scary because Nixon won two presidential elections and came within a hair of winning a third. He was creepy just like Cruz but he had brains and political skills and made it happen.

If you haven't seen him as a candidate before, check it out. This is from 1968:

How much do I love Samantha Bee?

by digby

This muuuuuuch:

I only wish it was 5 days a week. But I'll take it!


And they're off!

by Tom Sullivan

The New Hampshire primary is underway. They have already hand counted the nine paper ballots in Dixville Notch. And it seems as if Paul Krugman will be tweeting the New Hampshire primary. There's a metaphor in there somewhere, but as with significance of the Dixville totals, it escapes me. Bernie Sanders jumped out to an early lead. Surprised?

For Republicans, New Hamphire is a race for second place.

Charles Blow this morning notes a key difference between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. Sanders has energized younger voters while at a Clinton event Blow attended in New Hampshire there were "more heads of white hair in that room than a jar of cotton balls." The problem with Clinton and younger voters is, as someone on social media commented, "Clinton is running an I-Have-Half-A-Dream campaign." Blow writes:

Young folks are facing a warming planet, exploding student debt, stunted mobility, stagnant wages and the increasing corporatization of the country due in part to the increasing consolidation of wealth and the impact of that wealth on American institutions.

Young folks are staring down a barrel and they want to put a flower in it, or conversely, smash it to bits. And they’re angry at those who came before them for doing too little, too late. They want a dramatic correction, and they want it now.

They want their shot at a 1960s social upheaval. The problem is Clinton's message is, "I have more modest ambitions, but they are more realistic." The problem with Sanders, writes Blow, is he is better at setting goals than achieving them.

A problem both face, Jamil Smith wrote last week at the New Republic, is that while both largely agree on issues, there is a glaring gap in focus on voting rights. Sanders could win over more minority voters if he worked harder at filling that gap:

While Sanders and Clinton now see eye to eye on abortion and reproductive access, he has effectively ceded that issue to the Democratic frontrunner with his own sluggishness on the call for a Hyde repeal and her endorsements by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America. But just as Clinton has placed a heat lamp over the issue of environmental racism in this campaign by seizing the Flint water crisis issue (including a planned trip there on Sunday), Sanders can and should do the same for voting rights.

Economic reforms and Wall Street prosecutions mean a great deal to black and Latino Americans, surely, especially to those who have been foreclosed upon or otherwise left behind in the Obama recovery. But Sanders has not shown yet a full grasp that there are issues involving racial and gender inequality that do not hew so closely to economics. Doing so would be a good first step for Sanders towards a more intersectional campaign. He needs to more effectively address issues that are particularly important to communities of color through their lens on American life, not his.

I think that's right. Otherwise, Sanders cedes ground on minority rights issues as well as on women's rights. Women's rights, minority rights, and voting rights are (for me) what are most at stake in this election, especially with Supreme Court picks on the line. Economic inequality matters, but fixing it will go nowhere without the votes to make it happen. If Sanders' revolution is to be triggered by November voting, a little more focus on voting itself is in order. From Hillary Clinton's campaign as well.

The beauty of Sanders' appeal to date is that his message is "pretty darn simple, as a Clinton supporter observed. If only life in America were that simple.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Ted Cruz and the 200 lb psychopath in the foxhole

by digby

I must say that I was very surprised the other night to see all those GOP candidates say they would support drafting women into the military. In fact, I was gobsmacked. After all, one of the main reasons the ERA was defeated was right wing demagoguery about women being forced into uniform. I find it very hard to believe that hardcore conservatives want to see women drafted.

Ted Cruz is pretty sure they don't and I think he's probably right:

Ted Cruz said Sunday a proposal to include women in the Selective Service registration was a product of out of control political correctness and warned against putting a woman soldier near a dangerous “psychopath” in a combat situation.

Mr. Cruz’s remark sets him in opposition to rivals Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, all of whom in Saturday night’s debate announced support for registering women in the Selective Service system in case a military draft is ever reinstated.

“As I was sitting there listening to that conversation, my reaction was, ‘Are you guys nuts?’” Mr. Cruz told a town hall audience here on Sunday. “We have had enough with political correctness, especially in the military. Political correctness is dangerous, and the idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in combat, I think is wrong. It is immoral and if I am president, we ain’t doing it.”...

“I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire,” he said. “But the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I'm not sure who the psychopath would be but I'm guessing it's ... a marine? That's a very odd thing to say.

As a matter of fact, it's on the table right now and secretary Ash Carter says the military will make a recommendation to congress soon where I will bet it will languish for a very long time. The polls say that a majority are for it:

A 2013 Quinnipiac University poll showed Americans strongly oppose the draft, 65 percent to 28 percent. But if there had to be conscription, both genders were for equal draft registration mandates — although less so for female respondents.

Men said women should be drafted by a 59-36 margin while women were OK with females in the draft at a 48-45 clip.

There's a bit of a gender gap there. As it turns out many more Democrats favor this than Republicans. However, I'm going to guess that Cruz's conservative movement constituency is not among those who favor this.


by digby

His new ad:

All the ethnic and racial minorities love him! Of course they do!
McCain schools Trump

by digby

John Amato caught that phony soldier ("the kind who gets captured") John McCain on The Five this morning:

Sen. John McCain joined the ladies of Fox News' Outnumbered TV show this morning and offered up a devastating rebuke of Trump's call for legalizing waterboarding and much worse, and former Bush officials who said we got actionable intelligence from torture.

Do we want a President who will violate the law?”

Andrea Tantaros, played the torture loving Conservative, viewed anyone against torture as the "Stephanopoulos view," constantly asked if the Bush officials were liars.

McCain unequivocally said "yes," they were lying about the results they received from torturing prisoners and then explained why Abu Ghraib was a horrible moment and an extremist recruitment story.

McCain then invoked the Most Admired Man in Conservative Circles, Gen. Petraeus, who also has issued a powerful rebuke of torture.

McCain was attacked by Trump weeks ago as not being a war hero because the AZ Senator was a Lindsey Graham supporter, but he had all the facts on his side when discussing this issue.

According to McCain, the information gathered by subjecting suspects to simulated drowning is often flat-out inaccurate.

“They got a whole lot of information that was totally false,” the Arizona senator said of the use of waterboarding during George W. Bush’s administration.

“Do we want to resort to doing things that our enemies do? Do we want to be on the same plane as those people chopping off heads?” he continued.

Asked about waterboarding...McCain said:

"Well, if you believe the Geneva convention, which prohibits it, if you believe the 93-3 vote we took in the Senate, which prohibiting waterboarding and other forms of torture...all of us admire general David Petraeus. Let me give you his quote -- "our nation has paid a high price in recent decades for the information gained by the use of techniques beyond those in the field manual which prohibits it and in my view the price paid fair outweighed the value of the information gained through the use of techniques beyond those in the manual."

Watch the whole exchange. It's quite stunning.

Like this:

Question about Michael Mukasey...is he a liar?

McCain said: "Yes, I know that he is. Even if we had gotten useful information, the propaganda and the image and the behavior of the greatest nation on earth from torturing people is not what we want and it helps the enemy."


And yet, keep in mind that the only one of those who were asked about waterboarding who said they would not do it was Jeb Bush and only because it's been expressly deemed illegal not because he thinks there's anything wrong with it.

The frontrunner Trump wants to get the US into the beheading business.

Dispatch from Wingnut nation

by digby

In case you were wondering, here's what the Cruz loving movement conservatives are saying about New Hampshire:

Theodoric Mayer of Politico reports, “Trump commands 30 percent support from likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, the poll found. John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz were virtually tied for second place, with 14 percent support for Kasich, 13 percent each for Rubio and Bush and 12 percent for Cruz.

“Other candidates were far behind. Chris Christie had 6 percent support, Carly Fiorina had 5 percent and Ben Carson had 4 percent.”

The margin of error for the poll was plus or minus 4.4 points, so there’s little doubt that any of the second place contenders could actually be holding down that coveted position, especially since most of the interviews for the survey were conducted prior to Saturday night’s debate.

Further, only about half of likely GOP voters indicated they were set on their candidate of choice.

There appears to be plenty of room for some last minute surprises, all of which makes the ground game of paramount importance in New Hampshire.

And just like in Iowa, the Cruz GOTV operation is in full swing. Kerry Pickett of the Daily Caller reports, “Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Bob Smith, a Cruz campaign ally, expressed full confidence about the campaign’s ground game overcoming present poll expectations.

“’I’m not knocking polls. They were wrong in my case in 1996, when they said that I lost. I think what we’ve been doing is knocking on doors,’ Smith told The Daily Caller. ‘We’ve been ID’ing voters who are leaners, people who are not sure, and we’ve been knocking on thousands and thousands of doors for literally months and I’ll tell you it feels good out there.’”

Pickett’s article also details the data operation fueling the Cruz effort where the campaign micro-targets individual voters based on information gathered from extensive telephone and in-person interviews.

Most of the campaigns would probably claim they’re doing similar things, but Cruz has already demonstrated that his operation is capable of squeezing every possible vote out of a state.

For his part, Donald Trump also appears to have ditched the “big rally” strategy he unsuccessfully used in Iowa in favor of smaller, more retail-politics type events in The Granite State.

But some are skeptical of Trump’s motives for the switch to more intimate rallies. New Hampshire native Steve Berman of The Resurgent explains, “Could the smaller venues be a result of falling attendance at his super-rallies? Trump claimed 11,500 in Little Rock, but the embarrassing tale of the tape pegs the number in the more dismal neighborhood of 4,000 or less. What’s clear is that the Trump band is no longer as new and shiny as it was a few months ago. Now, he’s just another candidate…

“Trump’s failure to invest in technology and shoe leather, along with his missed targets in Iowa lead me to believe, along with people on the ground in New Hampshire, that Trump will underperform his polls there. By how much? We don’t know yet, but it’s likely Ted Cruz knows.”

Berman’s article was written before Saturday night’s Rubio crash-and-burn, so his conclusions may have changed some over the weekend. But the gist is he believes Trump will underperform and Cruz will do better – perhaps significantly so – than his poll numbers would suggest.

There’s even more evidence that this may be the case. Just because Trump is holding smaller campaign events doesn’t mean his ground game is new and improved. Reid J. Epstein and Heather Haddon of the Wall Street Journal write, “Rival campaigns have spent months identifying supporters and persuadable voters to target and turn out in the closing days before the primary. Mr. Trump’s volunteers spent the weekend working from a list of all registered Republicans…

“At the same time, a group working against the billionaire businessman’s candidacy, Our Principles PAC, is targeting specific New Hampshire audiences in trying to depress the Trump numbers.”

Epstein’s and Haddon’s story prominently notes not only does Trump fail to employ a serious data-driven ground game, he’s not sending out mail either.

The Donald certainly continues to excel in the polls, but there’s also a strong inference he’s going to have a much harder time getting his people to actually vote.

Factoring in Marco Rubio’s debate blunders and Trump’s disappointing second place showing in Iowa without a professional ground game, I’m still predicting Trump will win in New Hampshire. But I’m also thinking the margin of victory will be much smaller than that reflected in the polls -- and other candidates, such as Ted Cruz, will do better than most people think.

If the final numbers are close it will be interesting to see how the networks spin this one. Pundits were gushing in praise for Rubio’s third-place finish in Iowa. Would they be as outwardly giddy about a surprisingly strong Cruz second place showing in New Hampshire?

I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

I wouldn't bet anything on it.

This is the kind of thing partisans tell each other the night before the New Hampshire primary. Anything's possible. Polling in primaries is not much more reliable than going to a fortune teller. And the Republicans really are in a big pile up for second so maybe field will make the difference there especially since Rubio has probably stalled out from his hilariously weird debate performance.

Still, it's now in the "what would I do if I won the lottery" phase where everyone's indulging in a little fantasy since it's really out of their hands. Human nature.


The most potent solidarity

by digby

Ta-Nehisi Coates' response to one of his critics, Cedric Johnson, on the issue of reparations is excellent. Johnson sees the world through a Marxist lens (as we all do to some extent, even conservatives) and attributes all problems of race, indeed, every sort of social marginalization, as an effect of economics. Coates believes otherwise, and is very persuasive. This gets to the nub of it. He quotes Johnson writing this:

Social exclusion and labor exploitation are different problems, but they are never disconnected under capitalism. And both processes work to the advantage of capital. Segmented labor markets, ethnic rivalry, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and informalization all work against solidarity. Whether we are talking about antebellum slaves, immigrant strikebreakers, or undocumented migrant workers, it is clear that exclusion is often deployed to advance exploitation on terms that are most favorable to investor class interests.
Coates points out, correctly, in my view, that this is a cramped view of solidarity that neglects perhaps the most important aspect of social organization:
No. Social exclusion works for solidarity, as often as it works against it. Sexism is not merely, or even primarily, a means of conferring benefits to the investor class. It is also a means of forging solidarity among “men,” much as xenophobia forges solidarity among “citizens,” and homophobia makes for solidarity among “heterosexuals.” What one is is often as important as what one is not, and so strong is the negative act of defining community that one wonders if all of these definitions—man, heterosexual, white—would evaporate in absence of negative definition.

That question is beyond my purview (for now). But what is obvious is that the systemic issues that allowed men as different as Bill Cosby and Daniel Holtzclaw to perpetuate their crimes, the systemic issues which long denied gay people, no matter how wealthy, to marry and protect their families, can not be crudely reduced to the mad plottings of plutocrats. In America, solidarity among laborers is not the only kind of solidarity. In America, it isn’t even the most potent kind.

Coates goes to great lengths to explain his own progressive philosophy which includes all the great political prescriptions of the American left and which I also endorse wholeheartedly. This is not an argument which requires one choose between policies like reparations and universal health care. It's really just addressing an age old question about what motivates human beings to do what they do and how societies organize themselves. Some of it is class, to be sure. But it's too easy to leave it there. As Coates points out with ample evidence, even accounting for class, African Americans are far more economically disadvantaged than whites over a vast period of time. Sexism and homophobia are not functions of class at all and yet one must recognize that they exist.

For me it's simple. My time on this planet has shown me that people are motivated by many things, only one of which is economics. And there is no doubt that economic solidarity (in both the positive and negative sense) are powerful forces. But it's not everything and never has been. And this country, with its history and at this crossroads, what Coates refers to as "intersectional radicalism" is the natural direction for the left to take.

Read Coates' piece if you're interested in this subject. His prose is beautiful as always and he makes the point much better than I ever could.


Rubio drives into the ditch, while Trump goes full barbarian. This is your GOP

by digby

I wrote about the GOP debate for Salon today. Of course.

If anyone wants to know why front runners duck debate, just ask Marco Rubio. He may not have been leading the pack yet but he was cruising at 80 miles per hour in the establishment lane, got sideswiped by a Mack truck and drove right into the ditchon Saturday night. Depending on what happens Tuesday, we may find out that he actually fell over a cliff and exploded in a ball of fire. His debate performance was one for the history books:
Repeating those talking points verbatim as if he was having some kind of brain freeze was striking. I actually wondered if I’d accidentally hit rewind. Each time he said it was equally unresponsive to the moment and was delivered in exactly the same cadence and even repeating the same wrong word:
Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing.
Bizarre is the only word to properly describe it.
It’s fair to wonder what was going on with him. That was a very odd thing to do. Did he actually think inanely repeating his soundbites when getting hammered for inanely repeating soundbites was a good tactic? His appearance on “This Week” yesterday indicates that is what his campaign decided to go with. He essentially repeated the same talking points again, with only slightly different wording.
It may be that Rubio has some issues when he’s under stress. There have been articles written about his odd behavior with his drinking water, which was the original Rubio gaffe back when he did the televised rebuttal to the State of the Union and weirdly reached for his water bottle in the middle of it. This article in Politico examined the problem:
“Marco does have a water thing,” said one longtime Rubio associate who has been affiliated with his past campaigns. “I don’t know what it is. He says he just gets thirsty, but it’s clear it’s just a nervous tic. It’s something he just has to have around, like a security blanket or something.”
When Rubio addressed CPAC in 2012, event staffers failed to stock the podium with fresh water for his speech. At an early applause line, Rubio — who had been visibly struggling with dry mouth and licking the inside of his mouth and his lips, as he often does during speeches — reached down for his water with his right hand, and coming up empty bent his knees and peered under the podium but did not find what he was looking for.
“I remember standing backstage and cursing out loud because there was nothing we could do,” said a person staffing the event. “It caused him some awkward pauses throughout the speech.” Halting his speech again for another applause line several minutes later, Rubio brought his empty right hand up to his nose, lowered it, brought it up again to his lips and rubbed them.
A nervous tic. That might be what happened in the debate as well. He was aggressively confronted by Chris Christie who went right up in his face and Rubio’s stump speech became a sort of nervous tic that he momentarily could not control. It’s doubtful this means anything important about him except that he’s not ready for the presidency which is, to say the least, a nerve wracking job.
Rubio unexpectedly came close to knocking of Trump for second place in Iowa and was on the rise in New Hampshire. Establishment endorsers were coming out of he woodwork assuming they’d finally found their standard bearer. But his performance on Saturday night is now infamous and not in a good way. Mistakes like that are lethal. Think of James Stockdale saying, “Who am I? Why am I here?” Or Dan Quayle being zinged by Lloyd Bentsen for comparing himself to JFK. This may be worse than those. We’ll soon find out.
Meanwhile, the rest of the debate was notable for its return to enthusiastic bloodlust and torture. The real GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump, went for it. When asked about waterboarding he eagerly endorsed it, and more:
MUIR: … Mr. Trump, you said not only does it work, but that you’d bring it back.
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what. In the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off Christians, we have people chopping the heads off many other people. We have things that we have never seen before — as a group, we have never seen before, what’s happening right now.
The medieval times — I mean, we studied medieval times — not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on. I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
This was greeted with ecstatic applause from the audience.
When asked about it further the next morning he was more explicit:
STEPHANOPOULOS: The issue of waterboarding front and center last night as (INAUDIBLE). You said, I would bring back waterboarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
What did you have in mind?
TRUMP: Well, George, you’re not talking about what I said before that. I said we’re living in a world where, in the Middle East, they’re cutting people’s heads off. They’re chopping a Christian’s head off. And many of them, we talk about Foley, James Foley, and you know, what a wonderful young man. Boom, they’re chopping heads.
So then I went into this. I said, yes, I would bring back waterboarding. And I would make it a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
What did you have in mind?
TRUMP: I had in mind going worse than waterboarding. It’s enough. We have right now a country that’s under siege. It’s under siege from a people, from — we’re like living in medieval times. If I have it to do and if it’s up to me, I would absolutely bring back waterboarding. And if it’s going to be tougher than waterboarding, I would bring that back, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: As president, you would authorize torture?
TRUMP: I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding. And believe me, it will be effective. If we need information, George, you have our enemy cutting heads off of Christians and plenty of others, by the hundreds, by the thousands.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do we win by being more like them?
TRUMP: Yes. I’m sorry. You have to do it that way. And I’m not sure everybody agrees with me. I guess a lot of people don’t. We are living in a time that’s as evil as any time that there has ever been. You know, when I was a young man, I studied Medieval times. That’s what they did, they chopped off heads. That’s what we have…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So we’re going to chop off heads…
TRUMP: We’re going to do things beyond waterboarding perhaps, if that happens to come.
“That’s what they did, they chopped off heads. That’s what we have … [to do]
The Republican front runner for president of the United States appears to be endorsing chopping off people’s heads.
When asked what he would do about the fact that it’s illegal, he says you’d “have to have it reclassified, you reclassify and you’ll see what happens.” No, I don’t know what he’s talking about either unless he thinks you can just do things in secret when it’s illegal if you’re president. Which is very likely what he believes. He wouldn’t be the first.
Sadly, the others who were asked about this were not much better. They didn’t suggest we should bring back the guillotine (although Trump was talking medieval times so I’m guessing he would not want to use that method which was invented to make the practice of beheading more humane.)

More at the link...

They are CRAZY.

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