Monthly Archives: May 2016

Testy Trump Gets Testy When Press Holds Him Accountable

Not long ago, in late January, Trump skipped a GOP debate in Wisconsin.  Instead, he held an event in Des Moines which, he claimed, raised $6 million for military veterans.

Trump, not used to being called out on his lies, had a bit of a problem.  The press, as time went on, started reporting that the $6 million was untrue, and it all came to a head yesterday, Memorial Day.

So today Trump held a press conference to clear up what happened to the “over $6 million” he claimed to have raised when he skipped the GOP debate. Not unexpectedly, the presser became contentious as Trump blamed the media for actually following up on his claim.

Via Politico:

Donald Trump railed against the media on Tuesday morning as he released details of the money he’s raised and distributed to veterans organizations, even calling out one journalist as a “sleaze” during a combative news conference.

Trump has faced pressure to release information on where the money went after he held a fundraiser for veterans in January in lieu of a Fox News debate.

Speaking with veterans behind him at Trump Tower on Tuesday morning, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said his campaign has sent off $5.6 million to veterans organizations, which he named one by one after railing against the media for coverage over the disbursements.

“I raised close to $6 million,” Trump said. “It’ll probably be over that amount when it’s all said and done, but as of this moment it’s $5.6 million.”

He also blasted the Fourth Estate, telling reporters that the media should be ashamed.

“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone said: ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’” Trump said. “And you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing a good job.”

Minutes later, he called out Tom Llamas, a journalist with ABC News.

“I could have asked all these groups to come here and I didn’t want to do that. I’m not looking for credit,” Trump said. “But what I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say, like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC. He’s a sleaze in my book. You’re a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.”

He’s not looking for credit? Really? Then why does he mention it constantly?

As the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza points out, the only reason that veterans got what Donald Trump promised them was because the media followed up on his promises:

1. Trump said, on the night of the event, that he had raised $6 million for veterans groups. This from a CNN report of the speech:

He did it Thursday night, dazzling a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic supporters by announcing that he had raised more than $6 million for veterans in one day — $1 million of it from his own checkbook. “We love our vets,” he said.

2. Trump made the $1 million personal donation to veterans groups a week ago and only after WaPo’s David Fahrenthold did a deep dive into where the promised money went. That was four months after the speech/fundraiser where Trump trumpeted that he had donated the money.

What you saw this morning at Trump Tower was the press at its best, not at its worst, as Trump said over and over again.

Good for the press in keeping on him.  Now if they can only do this regarding his tax returns.

Not ALL the press is giving Trump a hard time.  . In fact, the official North Korean newspaper has all but endorsed Trump:

An editorial published Tuesday heaps praise on Trump as a “wise politician” and a “far-sighted presidential candidate,” according to a report by NKNews.org, which noted that the article referred to many of the presumptive Republican nominee’s statements on foreign policy with respect to North Korea in particular.

“Trump said ‘he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North,’ isn’t this fortunate from North Koreans’ perspective?” the writer of the piece, identified as Chinese North Korean scholar Han Yong Mook, who also referenced Trump’s comments in March saying that he would consider withdrawing United States troops from the Korean peninsula if South Korea does not pay more for its defense.

“Yes do it, now … Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?” Han wrote, according to the report. “The day when the ‘Yankee Go Home’ slogan becomes real would be the day of Korean Unification.”

Well done.

Trump And The Hispanic Judge

Last week, Trump held a press conference on the day that he achieved (unofficially) the number of delegates to become the presumptive GOP nominee for President.  With all the news networks tuned in to his very word because — well, because they can’t help themselves — what did Trump say?  Rather than talk about what he would do as President, Trump unloaded an extraordinarily blistering public attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing the class-action lawsuit against Trump University:

“The judge was appointed by Barack Obama, federal judge. Frankly, he should recuse himself because he’s given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative.” Mr. Trump also told the audience, which had previously chanted the Republican standard-bearer’s signature “build that wall” mantra in reference to Mr. Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, that Judge Curiel is “Mexican.”

What happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine,” Mr. Trump said.

….“I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Mr. Trump said. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK? But we’ll come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I’m president and I come back to do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. OK. This is called life, folks.”

As it happens, Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, but hey, what’s a little race-baiting between Trump and a few thousand close friends and a few million TV viewers?

For his part, the judge did not respond, citing the Judicial Code of Conduct.

But why would Trump do such a thing?  I suspect he had found out what was coming down the pike.  You see, the Washington Post had filed a motion to unseal some documents in the trial, and one of their arguments was that since Trump was now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, that increased the public interest in these documents. And the judge agreed:

As an initial matter, the court must strongly presume the public interest in access. But “the interest in access to court proceedings in general may be asserted more forcefully when the litigation involves matters of significant public concern.” As the Post points out, the Ninth Circuit found that [Trump University] was a public figure for purposes of defamation.

….Subsequently, Defendant became the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue. The Ninth Circuit has directed courts considering the public disclosure of litigation materials to take into account “whether a party benefiting from the order of confidentiality is a public entity or official; and…whether the case involves issues important to the public.”

It will be an interesting read when it is released.  Trump may not have realized that you can’t screw with the judiciary.

Imprisoned Bundy Brothers Are Upset Their Second Amendment Rights Have Been Taken Away

Ryan Bundy, son of Cliven Bundy, was one of several participants in the month-long standoff at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge back in January, which ended up with one dead.  Ryan and his co-horts, which include his brother Ammon, all surrendered to federal authorities and are now in prison awaiting trial.

And apparently, they are not happy in prison.  According to a report (PDF), Bundy writes:

My rights are being violated. My right to life is being violated. All of my First Amendment rights are being violated. My right to freedom of religion is being violated. I cannot participate in religious activities and temple covenants, and wear religious garments. I could wear them at Henderson, but MCDC is depriving me of the right to wear them. My right to freedom of speech is being hampered by monitoring and recording. My right to freedom of assembly is being violated; I am not allowed to see my brother and move about.

Yesterday, I attempted to discuss these issues with the U.S. Marshals, and they said that these were simply the jail rules. I asked them specifically about if there was any reason for the ‘keep separate’ orders. In Henderson, my brothers and father were housed together. Up here, they make efforts to keep us separate. This violates my right to freedom of assembly. My Second Amendment rights are being violated. I never waived that right.

Yyyyeah.  They don’t let you keep guns in prison, Ryan.  You probably should have thought of that before you decided to seize federal property and claim it as your own.

Two Million Pregnant Women At Risk For Zika Virus

So far, the GOP-controlled House has offered a mere $622 million in Zika funding — far less than what will be needed to meaningfully combat the virus. It’s unclear when Congress may reach an agreement on this issue before its long summer recess. And according to an analysis by the Center For American Progress, this delay could be putting about 2 million pregnant American women at risk.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here’s the think tank’s prediction for the number of pregnant women who might be affected by Zika this summer and fall, broken down by state:

Zika-webtable-620x804

We’ve known for months that Zika, which has been ravaging our neighbors to the south, was headed for the United States as warmer weather approached. In fact, it’s already here — there are currently 472 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental US, though so far they are all travel-related. Including U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, which is already being overwhelmed by the virus, so far 279 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus.

These new numbers, however, show just how great the risk is if the United States hits mosquito season unprepared. Preparation takes funding — which is necessary for basic research on the virus, to help develop a vaccine, and take preventative measures like providing mosquito nets and education campaigns about how to avoid getting bitten. Yet despite the clear and present danger, conservatives on Capitol Hill have dragged their feet, haggling over the finances.

Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, said, “The House of Representatives is three months late and more than a billion short of doing what’s necessary to protect the American people.”

This is typical of a Republican-led Congress.  They fail to do enough until it is too late, and then things get really expensive.

Yawn Of The Week: IG Report On Clinton Emails Tells Us Nothing

The State Department’s inspector general has finally issued his report on email preservation and retention practices within the department, and he has little to say.  Let’s start with the fact that it is not unusual practice.

OIG identified multiple email and other electronic records management issues during the course of this evaluation….Insufficient Oversight of the Recordkeeping Process….Print and File Requirements Not Enforced….Limited Ability To Retrieve Email Records….No Inventory of Archived Electronic Files….Unavailable or Inaccessible Electronic Files….Failure ToTransfer Email Records to IPS….Failure To Follow Department Separation Processes….Failure To Notify NARA of Loss of Records

OIG discovered anecdotal examples suggesting that Department staff have used personal email accounts to conduct official business….OIG identified more than 90 Department employees who periodically used personal email accounts to conduct official business.…OIG also reviewed an S/ES-IRM report prepared in 2010 showing that more than 9,200 emails were sent within one week from S/ES servers to 16 web-based email domains, including gmail.com, hotmail.com, and att.net….A former Director of Policy Planning wrote: “State’s technology is so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.”

Emphasis mine.

Okay.  I hear what you’re saying.  91 wrongs don’t make it right in Clinton’s case.

So let’s widen the lens on Hillary Clinton and focus on what she did and didn’t do:

Sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record. Therefore, Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.

NARA agrees with the foregoing assessment but told OIG that Secretary Clinton’s production of 55,000 pages of emails mitigated her failure to properly preserve emails that qualified as Federal records during her tenure and to surrender such records upon her departure. OIG concurs with NARA but also notes that Secretary Clinton’s production was incomplete. For example, the Department and OIG both determined that the production included no email covering the first few months of Secretary Clinton’s tenure.

….With regard to Secretary Clinton’s immediate staff…OIG learned of extensive use of personal email accounts by four immediate staff members (none of whom responded to the questionnaire). During the summer of 2015, their representatives produced Federal records in response to a request from the Department, portions of which included material sent and received via their personal email accounts. The material consists of nearly 72,000 pages in hard copy and more than 7.5 gigabytes of electronic data.

….During Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the FAM also instructed employees that they were expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit SBU [Sensitive But Unclassified] information and that, if they needed to transmit SBU information outside the Department’s OpenNet network on a regular basis to non-Departmental addresses, they should request a solution from IRM. However, OIG found no evidence that Secretary Clinton ever contacted IRM to request such a solution,despite the fact that emails exchanged on her personal account regularly contained information marked as SBU.

So…. nothing new. The Department of State apparently has espically bad email systems. Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton should have consulted with State’s IT staff about her personal email account. She didn’t. She should have turned over her work emails sooner. She didn’t. Ditto for her staff.  Bad bad Hillary. But seriously, if this is what disqualifies her from being president, then the bar is too high for Trump too.

Quote Of The Week

“Donald Trump cares about exactly one thing: Donald Trump,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, opening up with both barrels in a speech on Tuesday:

“Donald Trump was drooling over the idea of a housing meltdown because it meant he could buy up a bunch more property on the cheap,” Warren said at a Washington, D.C. gala for the Center for Popular Democracy Tuesday night.

“What kind of a man does that?” an incredulous Warren asked. “Root for people to get thrown out on the street? Root for people to lose their jobs? Root for people to lose their pensions? Root for two little girls in Clark County, Nevada, to end up living in a van?”

“What kind of a man does that?”

“I’ll tell you exactly what kind,” Warren continued. “A man who cares about no one but himself. A small, insecure money-grubber who doesn’t care who gets hurt, so long as he makes some money off it. What kind of man does that? A man who will never be president of the United States.”

I would love to hear more from her this campaign season.  Veep?  Would be nice but I doubt it will happen.  We’ll lose the Massachusetts Senate seat.

Spot-On Review of Maria Bamford

Forget Amy Schumer.  Yes Amy is funny, but she’s becoming a bit of a Johnny One-Note. (Yes, we get it, Amy — you are beautiful even if you’re not a size 4, but how many times do we have to applaud your body and being “brave” about it?).

But for my money, the real edge-y woman of comedy is Mario Bamford.

Which is why I am pleased she is finally getting some credit with her new show:

There’s a great song in the musical “[title of show]” that asserts, “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing / Than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.” For two decades, that’s been Maria Bamford’s brand. She’s played small roles on sitcoms; she was the spokeswoman for Target. But the purest Bamford essence could always be found in her dreamy, destabilizing standup routines, which dealt head on with time spent in mental institutions, struggling with a bipolar II diagnosis and an assortment of crippling O.C.D.-ish compulsions. In her YouTube series “The Maria Bamford Show,” which was set in Duluth, Minnesota, where she’d retreated after a breakdown, Bamford played not only herself but various family members, frenemies, and dates—while crooning to her psychiatrist, “If I keep the ice-cube trays filled, then no one will dieeeeeeeee.” In her self-distributed show, “Special Special Special,” she performed in her living room, with only her parents as an audience.

When I first heard about “Lady Dynamite,” Bamford’s new Netflix series, I felt apprehensive, having been burned, in recent months, by too many floppy, over-extended dramedies produced by streaming neworks, such as “Love” and “Casual.” These shows, like “Lady Dynamite,” often dealt with dysfunctional, single Los Angelenos, often on the fringes of the entertainment world, unable to commit to love. But then I watched the first “Lady Dynamite,” and the second, and the third, and soon the weekend was gone and I had to start watching the show all over again, from scratch. Like “Arrested Development,” whose creator, Mitch Hurwitz, co-produced “Lady Dynamite” with Pam Brady (a longtime collaborator with Matt Stone and Trey Parker), the series is not a dramedy but a true comedy. Despite (or because of) the show’s serious themes, it’s stuffed with jokes, visual and verbal, to the point that it’s like a tottery Jenga game. The pilot leans a bit heavily on the meta-comedy—it features a debate between Bamford and Patton Oswalt about how to structure the series—but after that it becomes a real joyride. In certain ways, “Lady Dynamite” shares ground with the terrific “BoJack Horseman,” another comedy about the difficulty of distinguishing ordinary Hollywood misery from genuine mental illness. But it has a distinct vibe, somehow at once celebratory and melancholic, with a hallucinogenic edge. It performs a small miracle by expanding Bamford’s story just enough to make it feel sitcom-like while still maintaining her voice.

The central plot of “Lady Dynamite” tracks Bamford’s Pilgrim’s Progress toward a balanced life in Hollywood, braiding together three separate timelines, each filmed in a slightly different style. There’s “Past,” a bright-neon era from before her nervous breakdown, when Bamford was doing that high-paying gig for Target (satirized, scathingly, as the union-busting Checkmark) but was also careening through bad friendships and awful relationships, ascending toward full-blown hypomania. There’s the gray-blue “Duluth,” set after Bamford moved back in with her Midwestern parents, having been institutionalized for suicidal depression. And there is “Present,” in which Bamford is medicated, gamely trying to restart her Hollywood career, and dating again, while struggling not to repeat the choices she’s made in the past. Each episode ends with a plaintive strain of Dean Martin, with the resonant lyrics, “I don’t know what I’m doing / More than half of the tiiiime.” As with H.B.O.’s “Enlightened,” “Lady Dynamite” is a show that frequently satirizes New Age and therapy speak but that nonetheless has faith in their bedrock ideals.

None of this complicated blend would work without Bamford’s fascinating, hard-to-describe, explosively brittle performance style. A tiny, tense figure in her forties, Bamford has scared-looking eyes and a pointy nose and straw-like (or, sometimes, crazily permed) blond hair, and she holds her shoulders hunched as if in eternal apology; she’s a bit like a comedic Cindy Sherman, using her unthreatening Hollywood-blonde blankness as a screen to project something that’s far stranger and more out of control. She’s fragile, but her jokes are hard. She’s also a skilled shape-shifter who can perform multiple voices—a sexy rich lady, a shrieking cartoon character—who nonetheless seems trapped in her own spasming physicality. In the tradition of performers like Andy Kaufman and Paul Reubens, she’s constantly wincing and screaming and contorting her face, yet she’s also quite sweet, almost deceptively so. One of the smartest things about “Lady Dynamite” is that it doesn’t rely on a self-pitying portrait of Bamford as a pure victim of those around her. Yes, she is a people-pleaser who gets bullied by false friends and crazy agents. Sure, she gets engaged to a newly divorced stuntman with bad credit. But she is also pathologically passive-aggressive in response to any sign of conflict—during one relationship, she hides in the shower and stuffs a sponge into her mouth so that she can scream after every phony, awful interaction. As the episodes elapse, the show builds a fascinating and nuanced portrait of a woman whose magical gifts aren’t all that inseparable from what makes her a little bit impossible.

Maria simply is a pleasure to watch, simply because of her shape-shifting face.  And while she is upfront and honest about her bipolar disorder (bipolar two, she would stress), she doesn’t beat it over the head with the audience.  It is a thing she has; it is a thing she deals with.  Every day.  And she does it with humor and grace and, uh, stress.

Looking forward to season two.

And if you don’t know Maria and her style of comedy, here’s a 2 minute sample:

You’re Going To Hear A Lot About Gary Johnson Soon

US Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

He’s the former governor of New Mexico, likely Libertarian candidate for president, and he’s polling at 10 percent in two recently released national polls against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

He’s Gary Johnson.

A Morning Consult survey published today has Clinton getting 38 percent of the vote, Trump 35 and Johnson 10, with 17 percent undecided. A Fox News poll conducted from May 14-17 showed Trump leading over Clinton, 42 percent to 39 percent, but Johnson at 10 percent as well. Lest you think this is some fluky May development, a Monmouth University survey conducted in mid-March — while the political universe was still busy wringing its hands over the Republican nomination — found that in a three-way race, Clinton would get 42 percent, Trump 34 percent and Johnson 11 percent.

If we assume that Johnson gets 10 to 15% of the vote in every state, that’s enough to tip the election.  And probably in Clinton’s favor.

Johnson ran as the Libertarian candidate in 2012, and won about 1 percent of the national vote, becoming the most successful Libertarian candidate ever; in polls done in May and June of 2012, he was polling at 2 percent. Bob Barr, the Libertarian nominee in 2008, also polled at 2 percent in the late spring of that year.

It must be noted that Johnson is not yet the Libertarian nominee. The party will be holding its nominating convention this weekend in Orlando, where he will face Austin Petersen, a young party operative, as well as former fugitive millionaire businessman John McAfee, who was once called “extremely paranoid, even bonkers” by the prime minister of Belize.

Sam Bee On The Sanders Kerfuffle

I have largely stayed out of the whole Sanders debacle, largely because I think it will be old news in a month or two when Sanders concedes and throw the full weight of his support behind Hillary Clinton (or at least, against Donald Trump).

That said, his supporters are really acting like dicks and yes, I think the fish is rotting from the head.  The term “sore loser” comes to mind.  Many (certainly not all, but many) of Sanders’ supporters openly take the position that anyone who supports Hillary Clinton is either an idiot or an innocent waif duped by the establishment machine or a shill merely repeating talking points.

The truth is that many of the Bernie supporters are themselves being duped by their own naivete about how to bring about change (not to mention parroting talking points that don’t even make sense).

There are rules to a democracy.  They may be bad ones, and they may need to be changed, but you just can’t ignore them and then complain the game is rigged.

Sam?  Explain it….

It’s very sad, but there is a section of the left that is just as uninformed and argle-bargly as the Tea Party.

Are We At The Mercy Of Stupid People?

David Harsanyi, senior editor at the Federalist, opens his op-ed at the Washington Post:

Never have so many people with so little knowledge made so many consequential decisions for the rest of us.A person need only survey the inanity of the ongoing presidential race to comprehend that the most pressing problem facing the nation isn’t Big Business, Big Labor, Big Media or even Big Money in politics.

It’s you, the American voter. And by weeding out millions of irresponsible voters who can’t be bothered to learn the rudimentary workings of the Constitution, or their preferred candidate’s proposals or even their history, we may be able to mitigate the recklessness of the electorate.

No, we shouldn’t erect physical barriers to ballot access. Let’s purchase more voting machines, hire additional poll workers, streamline the registration process, mail out more ballots for seniors and produce more “Rock the Vote” ads imploring apathetic millennials to embrace their civic duty.

At the same time, let’s also remember that checking a box for the candidate whose campaign ads you like best is one of the most overrated obligations of the self-governed. If you have no clue what the hell is going on, you also have a civic duty to avoid subjecting the rest of us to your ignorance.

Unfortunately, we can’t trust you.

Harsanyi then goes on to suggest that the way to weed out ignorant voters is to have everyone take the citizenship civics test. After all, if prospective citizens are required to know about our nation’s history, the Constitution, and the government, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the people actually deciding the fate of our nation also be equally well informed? And obviously, with the internet, all the necessary information is readily available to study up on. In other words, there is little excuse to remain uninformed.

And in light of some awful statistics he cites, it’s clear that at the very least, brushing up wouldn’t be a bad thing:

When Newsweek asked a thousand voters to take the official citizenship test a few years back, nearly 30 percent couldn’t name the vice president. More than 60 percent did not know the length of U.S. senators’ terms in office. And 43 percent couldn’t say that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights.

Only 30 percent knew that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

Further, only one-third could name all three branches of the U.S. government!

Harsanyi also addresses the inevitable accusations of elitism and unfairness to minorities and the poor:

Unlike the many who depend on ignorant voters to wield and secure their power, I refuse to believe that working-class or underprivileged citizens are any less capable of understanding the meaning of the Constitution or the contours of governance than the supercilious 1-percenters. I believe this despite the widespread failure of public schools to teach children basic civics. It’s still our responsibility as voters.Of course, we also must remember the ugly history of poll taxes and other prejudicial methods that Americans used to deny black citizens their equal right to vote. Any effort to improve the quality of the voting public should ensure that all races, creeds, genders and sexual orientations and people of every socioeconomic background are similarly inhibited from voting when ignorant. For the good of our democratic institutions.

Amusingly, an incredulous Jake Tapper asked if this was serious, and Harsanyi answered:

@jaketapper well, actually: yes-ish.

A sampling of questions on the test, which Harsanyi describes as running from the “very easy to the preposterous”:

“If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?”

“There were 13 original states. Name three.”

“What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?”

“What is freedom of religion?”

The idea of a test for voters is frightening, and invokes the dark days of civil rights violations when blacks in the south were denied voting because of tests.  Obviously, I don’t support them, and they would be constitutional.  But I suspect that Harsanyi, writing for the conservative The Federalist, thinks that if we had more educated voters, we would have a more conservative government (because all those uneducated blacks would not vote for Obama and Hillary).  But I don’t think so.  Over and over again, the polls show that a higher education leads one to vote liberal.  Heck, even Trump knows that his bread-and-butter supporters are uneducated.

It’s unconstitutional and abhorrent to the idea of a democracy, but it would be nice if only people with a basic knowledge of civics were allowed to vote.

Trump DoubleSpeak

A classic example of Donald Trump’s relentless double-speak.

First he denies he ever advocated having guns in classrooms, then, within seconds, says “teachers should have guns.”

Then, incredibly, he backs up, does another denial about advocating guns in the classroom, and then adds that some teachers should have guns.

I don’t care what your politics are on guns… can’t we all agree this guy is talking out of both sides of his mouth?

Meet Another Trump Delegate

…. with a perfectly innocent Twitter handle.

Lori Gayne

.She is Chicago mortgage banker Lori Gayne:

“With all the racism going on today, I’m very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we’re punished as if we’re racists. I’m tired of it. I’m very proud,” Gayne said.

“I’m so angry I don’t even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control,” she said.

Gayne isn’t the first Trump delegate to embrace white power. William Johnson, a Trump delegate in California, resigned last week after Mother Jones revealed that he was the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. And the anti-Muslim pastor Guy St-Onge resigned as a Trump delegate after being questioned about his views by the Guardian. The AFP now claims that it has other members who are Trump delegates but has declined to release their names.

Disenchanted With Bernie

I’ve always been in the Hillary camp, but I always liked Bernie Sanders as well.  I liked what he was saying, I liked the direction he wants to take the country.  I just didn’t think he was the man, and I thought he harped on one or two issues too much, while neglecting others.

I have been reading many reports lately about people who have been firmly pro-Bernie becoming disillusioned with him.  This may be the most poignant.  It is an extraordinary piece by a former fervent Bernie Sanders supporter, whose attempts to reach out to his campaign on disability rights and policy were met with indifference and condescension, and whose experience with the Team Hillary were very different.

The feeling of devastating disappointment and betrayal sank in. The thought of considering Clinton felt hypocritical of me. I told myself, “How can I support someone who probably cares more about Wall Street than me?” But I certainly couldn’t consider Donald Trump, who mocks disabled people and assumes we’re stupid enough to think that’s not what he was doing. So, begrudgingly, I told a Hillary supporter with a disability that I was now considering supporting Hillary. He immediately introduced me via email to a blind Clinton staffer. Within literally minutes, she emailed me at 9 p.m. saying she would like to speak to me about the campaign. I was so encouraged by how quickly they responded, after the months I was ignored by Bernie.

She didn’t treat me like a nuisance like the Bernie campaign did but rather an asset. She wanted to know my legal and advocacy opinion on disability policy. She explained in detail how Hillary planned to initiate change for us with sophisticated, legal political strategy. And, then she asked me to come on board and help the campaign best meet the needs of the disability community through, inter alia, writing for the campaign after they were able to officially vet my credentials. I soon realized that the Clinton campaign didn’t just care about the disability community; they hired us and treated us like the intelligent people we are.

My conversation with the Clinton campaign regained my hopefulness but also made me incensed that Bernie is maliciously lying to democrats about Clinton’s uncaring regard for the 99%, while destroying the party from within. Bernie is adamant that Hillary only cares about corporate interests and not the typical marginalized American. But, in fact, the opposite is true.

…Coming to terms with these realizations was very difficult for me. I literally grieved and cried when I discovered that I had been so maliciously misled by someone I believed to possess such a high moral compass.

I feel so badly, and such great sympathy, that she was so terribly disillusioned by a candidate in whom she believed, and also I’m really glad, for her and for us all, that Hillary Clinton’s team was so responsive, took her concerns seriously, and recognized she had something important to contribute.

I know there are still many enthusiastic Sanders supporters.  Many of them are young, and simply wrong — very wrong — about Hillary.  I hope when Sanders loses — and of course he will — they will open there ears and eyes and learn more about the candidate they summarily have rejected.

Trump Supporters Are Really Really Ugly

On Thursday evening, New York Times Washington editor, Jonathan Weisman tweeted out a link to a Robert Kagan editorial in the Washington Post. Kagan’s editorial explained the relationship between what’s happening with Trump and fascism.

It’s a common — and common sense — argument, i.e.., that patriotism becomes nationalism becomes fascism, with the rise of a charismatic figure with no regard for laws or history, and creating an “us vs them” environment. What they have is anger, militancy, and the cult (yes, cult) following of a single strongman leader. What they have is racism, a simplistic nationalism, a concept of governing both domestically and internationally that is based on bullying and threats. What they have is the mindset of children pulling the wings from flies.

As Kagan wrote:

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as anyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.”  …

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society.

So what happened?  The response that Jonathan Weisman received did nothing to dispel the connection between Trump supporters and those of earlier fascist movements.

Check out Weisman’s timeline.  I’ll put a small sample of the vileness below the fold….

The Angry Voter

Pundits say that America is mad with the government this election cycle, and that informs how they will vote.

The Cook Political Report examined this theory and found that Americans are no more “angry at government” now than they were before:

In fact, according to data from the Pew Research Center, the percent of Americans who say they are “angry at the federal government” has remained rather consistent over the last six years, ranging from a high of 32 percent in October 2013, to a low of 13 percent in March 2011. Today, 22 percent of Americans say they are “angry.” Even when asked their feelings about the broader category of “politics” just 21 percent say they are angry.

So, why the obsession with anger? Well, like just about everything else we talk about this year, it has an association with Donald J. Trump. Among Trump supporters, Pew found in March, 50 percent said they were angry with the federal government. Forty percent said they were angry with politics. Meanwhile, just 30 percent of Cruz and 18 percent of Kasich backers described themselves as angry with government. Even those who support Sanders, who is often described as the angry candidate on the left, are not any angrier about “politics today” than Clinton supporters are – 18 percent to 14 percent.

Americans are – and quite frankly have been for a while – frustrated. According to the same Pew data, 57 percent of Americans consider themselves “frustrated” with the federal government. But, this 57 percent isn’t that out of the ordinary either. In fact, since 1997, a majority of Americans – between 51 percent and 62 percent – have described themselves as frustrated. The one dip, of course, was in the immediate wake of 9/11.

So how does anger/frustration affect the vote?

[P]eople who are angry with government (21 percent of all voters) have their candidate – Trump. People who are content with government (20 percent of all voters) have theirs – Clinton. But, for the vast majority who are frustrated, Clinton has a small edge. Or more accurately, those who are frustrated with government view Trump more negatively than they do Clinton.

There is a racial component to this as well.  The ones who tend to be angry are the white voter, while black voters seem to be more content.  Party and education level make a difference.

Point being, that different groups of people are angry, other groups are frustrated, and they might be angry/frustrated at different things.  Or as Cook says:

Trump’s anger message has limited appeal. But, with most Americans disappointed in both the direction of the country as well as the frustrated with government in general, a “stay the course” message isn’t a winning one for Clinton. The challenge for the media is to avoid characterizing those voters who are throwing chairs or punches as typical. Or that what frustrates or challenges Americans is universal. It looks different to different groups of Americans. There is no “real America” but a series of real Americas. Americans are indeed looking for change, and frustrated with the system. But, please stop saying they are all angry.

Read the whole thing.

Texas GOP Platform

It’s no fun to live in North Carolina sometimes, with its backward state legislature.

But at least it ain’t Texas.  Check out the Republican Party of Texas Platform below.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Rights of a Sovereign People- The Republican Party of Texas supports the historic concept, established by our nation’s founders, of limited civil government jurisdiction under the natural laws of God, and we oppose the humanistic doctrine that the state is sovereign over the affairs of men, the family, and the church. We believe that government properly exists by the consent of the governed and must be restrained from intruding into the freedoms of its citizens. The function of government is not to grant rights, but to protect the unalienable, Godgiven rights of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Texans should be free to express their religious beliefs, including prayer, in public places

which is right on the same page as….

United States Senators- We support the repeal of the 17th Amendment of the United States Constitution and the appointment of United States Senators by the state legislatures.

So much for government existing by the consent of the governed.

And then there is

Unelected Bureaucrats- We oppose the appointment of unelected bureaucrats and we support defunding and abolishing the departments or agencies of the Internal Revenue Service, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Interior (specifically, the Bureau of Land Management), Transportation Security Administration, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and National Labor Relations Board. In the interim, executive decisions by departments or agencies must be reviewed and approved by Congress before taking effect.

And the internally contradictory:

Voting Rights- We support equal suffrage for all United States citizens of voting age who are not felons. We oppose any identification of citizens by race, origin, or creed and oppose use of any such identification for purposes of creating voting districts. We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965, codified and updated in 1973, be repealed and not reauthorized

They are in favor of equal suffrage, but want to do away with the Voter Rights Act, which enforces equal suffrage.  Makes sense?

Homosexuality?  Same-sex marriage?  Forget about those…

Homosexuality- Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans. Homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, in public policy, nor should family be redefined to include homosexual couples. We oppose the granting of special legal entitlements or creation of special status for homosexual behavior, regardless of state of origin. We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.

As Texas Monthly rightly points out, the first sentence in the section above actually says that homosexual behavior “has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.”  That’s probably not what Texas Republicans meant.

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And ..

“Climate Change” is a political agenda promoted to control every aspect of our lives.

Lots more in here… enjoy:

 

Trump And “Apprentice: Race War”

Buzzfeed has the audio:

In early 2005, Donald Trump explained to radio host Howard Stern that he had considered hosting a version of his show The Apprentice pitting black contestants vs. white ones.

Trump thought the concept, which BuzzFeed News reported Thursday Trump pushed the idea on his syndicated radio show, would be the highest rated show on television.

“On The Apprentice there was a concept, okay, thrown out by some person, nine blacks against nine whites,” said Trump. “And it would be nine blacks against nine whites, all highly educated, very smart, strong, beautiful. Do you like it? Do you like it, Robin?”

“I think you’re gonna have a riot,” Stern co-host Robin Quivers said, after Stern said he liked the idea.

“It would be the highest-rated show on television,” interjected Trump.

Stern went on to ask Trump a series of questions.

“Very dark blacks, or light-skinned blacks?” Stern asked.

“Assortment,” Trump responded, “against whites.”

When a laughing Quivers asked how many blondes, Trump added he wanted all nine whites to be blonde.

“This was a thought that was given to us, and I don’t think NBC is thrilled with the idea, with the concept,” says Trump.

“Wouldn’t that set off a racial war?” asks Stern.

“Actually, I don’t think it would,” responded Trump. “I think it would be handled very beautifully by me. Because, as you know, I’m very diplomatic… Also, I think you’d have 35 million people a night watching.”

Stern said that on some level the idea was wrong, but he’d watch it. “You’d have to, because you want to know when the riots start,” Quivers said.

“There’s something wrong with it, but I don’t know, maybe we should think about it,” Trump said.

On His Deathbed, Bob Bennett Apologizes For What He Wrought

Bob Bennett was a rightwing conservative senator from Utah.  He served in the US Senate for 18 years, and I rarely agreed with him on anything. He was consistently earning high ratings from conservative activist groups such as the National Rifle Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Conservative Union.

But in 2010, something happened — the emergence of the Tea Party.  They deemed Bob insufficiently conservative.  Despite an enthusiastic endorsement from Mitt Romney, Bennett was denied a place on the primary ballot by the 2010 Utah State Republican Convention, placing third behind two Tea-Party-backed candidates.

He never practiced national politics again.  He died two weeks ago of pancreatic cancer.

And how did he spend much of his last few days?  Feeling regret for what the GOP had become, regret for Trump, and regret for the hand that he had in its creation:

Former GOP senator Bob Bennett lay partially paralyzed in his bed on the fourth floor of the George Washington University Hospital. He was dying.

Not 48 hours had passed since a stroke had complicated his yearlong fight against pancreatic cancer. The cancer had begun to spread again, necessitating further chemotherapy. The stroke had dealt a further blow that threatened to finish him off.

Between the hectic helter-skelter of nurses, doctors and well wishes from a long-cultivated community of friends and former aides, Bennett faced a quiet moment with his son Jim and his wife Joyce.

It was not a moment for self-pity.

Instead, with a slight slurring in his words, Bennett drew them close to express a dying wish: “Are there any Muslims in the hospital?” he asked.

“I’d love to go up to every single one of them to thank them for being in this country, and apologize to them on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump,” Bennett told his wife and son, both of whom relayed this story to The Daily Beast.

The rise of Donald Trump had appalled the three-term Utah senator, a Republican who fell victim to the tea-party wave of the 2010 midterms. His vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, had alienated many conservative activists in his state, who chose lawyer Mike Lee as the GOP nominee for Senate instead.

But as Bennett reflected on his life and legacy in mid-April, following the stroke, he wasn’t focused on the race that ended his political career. Instead, he brought up the issue of Muslims in America—over and over again.

He mentioned it briefly in a hospital interview with the Deseret News, a Utah news outlet. “There’s a lot of Muslims here in this area. I’m glad they’re here,” the former senator told the newspaper in April, describing them as “wonderful.”

In the last days of his life this was an issue that was pressing in his mind… disgust for Donald Trump’s xenophobia,” Jim Bennett said. “At the end of his life he was preoccupied with getting things done that he had felt was left undone.”

Trump’s proposal to ban Muslim immigrants from America had outraged the former senator, his wife Joyce said, triggering his instincts to do what he could on a personal level. They ultimately did not canvass the hospital, but Bennett had already made an effort in his last months of life.
As they traveled from Washington to Utah for Christmas break, Bennett approached a woman wearing a hijab in the airport.

“He would go to people with the hijab [on] and tell them he was glad they were in America, and they were welcome here,” his wife said. “He wanted to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party.”

“He was astonished and aghast that Donald Trump had the staying power that he had… He had absolutely no respect for Donald Trump, and I think got angry and frustrated when it became clear that the party wasn’t going to steer clear of Trumpism,” his son relayed.

Emphasis mine.

Not the first time this has happened.  I remember Lee Atwater — the creative mind behind the “Southern strategy” — doing the same thing.  Isn’t it interesting that as people get closer to seeing their God, they become liberals?

 

Watch As House Republicans Go Out Of Their Way To Discriminate Against LGBT

A chaotic scene unfolded on the floor of the U.S. House today as a measure to ensure federal contractors can’t discriminate against LGBT people was defeated by a single vote.

It initially appeared that the measure — an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would’ve nullified a Republican “religious liberty” provision allowing federal contractors to discriminate against LGBT employees — had enough votes to pass. But Republican leaders kept the vote open and persuaded a handful of members to change their votes, which ultimately resulted in the LGBT protection being defeated by a single vote.

As you can see in the clip below, Democrats could be heard booing and chanting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” as seven Republicans changed their votes.

Following the fiasco, the author of the amendment, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), released a statement saying Republicans “literally snatched discrimination from the jaws of equality.”

“In the past day, House Republicans have gone out of their way to rig votes and block bills that prevent discrimination against LGBT people,” he added. “When they break their our own rules to make sure taxpayer dollars can go to folks who discriminate, they showed who they truly are – bigots and cowards.”

My cousin weighs in:

Texas Republicans Debate Whether A Muslim Can Be A Republican

A Texas pastor stood up Monday in a local GOP meeting to vocally oppose one precinct chair’s appointment because he is Muslim, the Washington Post reported.

Trebor Gordon, the chaplain for the Harris County Republican Party, said Syed Ali should not be able to serve as a leader in the local GOP “on the grounds that Islam does not have any basis or any foundation.”

Watch:

You know, in the current Republican party,.maybe a Muslim can’t be a member.

Speculative Theories On EgyptAir MS804

As I write this, we don’t know much about what happened to MS804, which disappeared off radar last night (our time).  The wreckage has not even been found yet.

But if I may be allowed to speculate (and it’s my blog, so why not), I think we can conclude that the loss was due to an explosive device.

Why do I say this?  Process of elimination.

We know that MS804 was flying in clear weather.  So that possibility is out.

We know that it was flying at a steady altitude of 37,000 feet, and did not change direction or altitude in the minutes before it “disappeared” from the radar.  This would suggest that whatever happened, it happened quickly.  If, say, a cargo door had blown off and the cabin depressurized, the aircraft would have stayed aloft for many minutes, as the pilots struggled to keep control.  That didn’t happen.  Nor was any radio or distress signal sent.  From all this, we can rule out some sort of mechanical error with the craft or its maintenance.  It is highly unlikely that a mechanical error would result in a sudden disappearance (and plummet) of an aircraft.

That leaves explosion.

There are a couple ways an aircraft could explode.  It could have been hit by another aircraft.  But this would have been known by now (if another aircraft was downed or missing).  It could have been hit by a missile (ground-to-air), as in an act of terrorism.  This is unlikely because the airplane was so high (37,000 feet) and 100 nautical miles out to sea.  It could have been an explosion due to some dangerous explosive cargo, but we know it was carrying none.

What we are left with then…. is an explosive device.

If true…. that is disturbing, since it clearly indicates a breakdown in security, either at the Paris airport (deGaulle) or one of the previous airports.

Trump Releases List of 11 Potential SCOTUS Justices

Breaking:

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump’s picks include Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.

Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas.

Trump said in March he planned to release the list to ease concerns about his conservative credentials in the Republican primary.

Let the vetting begin.

Trump Lauds Ignorance

Here’s what Obama said at Rutgers University commencement:

Although not mentioning Trump by name, Obama said, “In politics, and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.”

Trump responded with this tweet:

So, what is the message here? Isn’t he saying that a rejection of ignorance is the primary reason Obama is the worst president in U.S. history?  Let’s reflect on that: the presumptive Republican presidential nominee suggests that ignorance IS – in fact – a virtue.

Well, I guess you have to run on your strengths.

Trump Was Sockpuppeting But It Was A Long Time Ago

A recording has surfaced of Trump pretending to be his own publicist in a 1991 call with a reporter. That’s something Trump did regularly back in the day, but of course he doesn’t want to admit it now, because “yes, I pretended to be my own publicist to fluff myself even more to the press than I’m comfortable doing under my own name, even though I’m a total narcissist” is not the most flattering thing to say about yourself, and again, narcissist.

Asked about that recording by the Today show Friday morning, Trump repeatedly denied having posed as publicist John Miller. That’s moderate chutzpah, considering we can all listen to the recording and hear for ourselves that it’s Trump talking, but here’s the real deal:

When was this, 25 years ago? Wow, you mean you’re going so low as to talk about something that took place 25 years ago about whether or not I made a phone call I guess you’d say under a presumed name … let’s get on to more current subjects.

Why are you asking me about stuff from 25 years ago, says the man who’s made clear that one of his major lines of attack against Hillary Clinton will be over stuff her husband did in the 1990s. Her husband was the one who cheated, but hey, she was, says Trump, a “nasty, mean enabler.” But while Clinton’s response to her husband’s actions is fair game as a campaign centerpiece, reporters asking Trump about his tawdry habit of pretending to be his own publicist is “so low.” Trump better get used to being asked about things from 25 years ago, though, because there is plenty in his record that’s worthy of scrutiny.

File under IOKIYAN (It’s okay if you’re a narcissist)

I Would Like To Know More About This

From National Review:

A friend of Donald Trump’s recently approached him to suggest that he will eventually have to release his tax returns, as every presidential nominee has for decades. The friend told Trump that he should do it before the GOP convention to ensure everyone can process what’s in the returns and help make any revelations “old news” by November. If Trump didn’t do that, he was warned, the odds of politicized leaks from his returns were high, citing several examples from the Obama era, including the illegal leaking of some of Romney’s tax information by the IRS in 2012.

“What will you do if the returns come out as part of an October surprise?” Trump was asked. Trump pondered the question and replied, “I’ll say they aren’t mine.” That stunning answer is the essence of Donald Trump. “It’s exactly what I’d expect him to say,” Fox Business’s Charlie Gasparino, who has known Trump for decades, told me.

Sometimes The Simplest Answer Is The Right One

Jonathan Chait wins:

Why did almost everybody fail to predict Donald Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries? Nate Silver blames the news media, disorganized Republican elites, and the surprising appeal of cultural grievance. Nate Cohn lists a number of factors, from the unusually large candidate field to the friendly calendar. Jim Rutenberg thinks journalism strayed too far from good old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting. Justin Wolfers zeroes in on Condorcet’s paradox. Here’s the factor I think everybody missed: The Republican Party turns out to be filled with idiots. Far more of them than anybody expected.

UPDATE:  

Atrios responds:

I’m tired of reading think pieces about WHY WE ALL THOUGHT DONALD TRUMP WOULD LOSE (I’m looking at you, Chait). First of all, we all didn’t, you and your circle jerk did. Secondly, I don’t care what your prior beliefs about the Republican party were. If you were an alien anthropologist sent to study this election but otherwise didn’t know a damn thing about about the American electorate, you would have looked at the polls and predicted a Trump win. Thirdly, to the extent that your knowledge of Republican voters might have added a bit of special sauce to your poll analysis, we hippie liberals have been telling you for years that a sizeable chunk of Republican voters are absolute blithering idiots. Also, racist. This is not news.

Polls, Polls, Polls

I don’t think any Democrat is complacent about the general election.  After all, most Democrats — pundits, politicians, and laymen alike — are still surprised by Trump’s nomination.  But most seem to believe that a Hillary Clinton victory will be the likely outcome.

Do the first round of polls bear that up?  Not as well as I had hoped. A new PPP Poll shows Republicans quickly unifying against Donald Trump.  Yes, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a modest lead — raising the real prospect that Bernie Sanders supporters who decide to stay home and teach their party a lesson could be helping to elect the next President (Trump). Sanders continues to do better than Clinton when matched up against Trump.

Details:

PPP’s new national poll finds that Republicans have quickly unified around Donald Trump, making the Presidential race more competitive than it has previously been perceived to be.

Hillary Clinton leads Trump 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%. In a match up just between Clinton and Trump, her lead expands to 47-41. That’s because supporters of Johnson and Stein would prefer her over Trump 36-18. Although there’s been a lot of talk about third party candidates drawing support away from Trump, they’re actually taking a little bit more from Clinton at this point.

Clinton leads Trump 78-9 among Democrats in the full field at this point, while Trump leads Clinton 78-7 among Republicans.

And there’s the important point: the Republicans are JUST as unified now with some who don’t like Trump as the Democrats are with some who don’t like Clinton:

Although much has been made of disunity in the GOP, it is actually just as unified behind Trump as the Democrats are behind Clinton. 72% of Republicans now say they’re comfortable with Trump as their nominee to only 21% who they aren’t. Those numbers are little different from the ones among Democrats that find 75% of them would be comfortable with Clinton as their nominee to 21% who say they would not be.

Bernie Sanders continues to do the best in general election match ups, leading Trump 47-37 with Johnson at 3% and Stein at 1% in the full field, and leading Trump 50-39 head to head. The difference between how Clinton and Sanders fare against Trump comes almost completely among young people. In the full field Clinton leads 46-24, but Sanders leads 64-18 with voters between 18 and 29. In one on ones with Trump, Clinton leads 49-27, but Sanders leads 70-14.

The undecideds in a Clinton-Trump match up right now support Sanders 41-8 in a match up with Trump, so the bad news for Clinton is that she has work to do to win over a certain segment of Sanders supporters in the general, but the good news is that they are at least somewhat Democratic leaning and she has the potential to increase her advantage over Trump by a couple points if she is eventually able to get them in her corner. Democrats lead a generic question about which party people would vote for President 49-41, so that may be somewhat of a forecast for where the race could be headed if/when Sanders supporters unify around Clinton for the general.

The poll also checked to see what Trump supporters thought of various conspiracy theories about Obama and found this:

-65% think President Obama is a Muslim, only 13% think he’s a Christian.
-59% think President Obama was not born in the United States, only 23% think that he was.
-27% think vaccines cause autism, 45% don’t think they do, another 29% are not sure.
-24% think Antonin Scalia was murdered, just 42% think he died naturally, another 34% are unsure.
-7% think Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK, 55% think he was not involved, another 38% are unsure.

Plus this aside:

And closing the loop on the greatest conspiracy theory of this election- a rare one that Trump didn’t embrace- 5% of voters nationally think Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer, 18% are unsure, and 77% find Cruz not guilty of the charge of being a serial killer in diapers. So at least he has that going for him.

And how do voters think Trump compares with various maladies or unpleasant experiences?

Do you have a higher opinion of Donald Trump or

________________

Results (Trump +/-)

Hemorrhoids — Trump, 45/39 (+6)

Cockroaches — Trump, 46/42 (+4)

Nickelback — Nickelback, 39/34 (-5)

Used Car Salesmen — Used Car Salesmen, 47/41 (-6)

Traffic Jams — Traffic Jams, 47/40 (-7)

Hipsters — Hipsters, 45/38 (-7)

DMV — DMV, 50/40 (-10)

Root Canals — Root Canals, 49/38 (-11)

Jury Duty — Jury Duty, 57/35 (-22)

Lice — Lice, 54/28 (-26)

Yup, Lice beat out Trump by 26 percentage points.

But all silliness aside, Trump can still win this thing. A 4 to 8 point margin is not a lot.

And then there are the latest Quinnepeac polls in three important swing states:

RCPpolls

Those are all within the margin of error.

But NBC/WSJ/Marist battleground polling  looks better for Clinton:

FL: Clinton 49, Trump 41
OH: Clinton 48, Trump 42
PA: Clinton 54, Trump 39

but that looks at the past 2 months.  Clearly, the unification thing has happened.

Obviously, if Trump keeps what Romney took in 2012, and adds Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, he’s won.

But can he?  Florida has a heavy Hispanic population, larger now than it was four years ago.  And more liberal.  And (one hopes), more motivated.

Ohio… I say Hillary can take care of that by nominating Sherrod Brown.

There are other purple states in play.  I live in one.  North Carolina’s electoral votes are nothing to sneeze at, and we have a local elections to contend with.  HB2 has got the electorate charged, which means a good voter turnout (just 36% of voters in the state support HB2, to 45% who are opposed)

But the point is…. this thing is not a done deal.  Trump is unpredictable, and even though the GOP rank and file are not all lining up behind him, there does seem to be some unity among the GOP voters.  Dems need to work to win this, and not just depend on Trump to implode and offend.

A Reminder

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

Prevalence of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—10 million, or 4.2%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8

Social Stats

  • An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.9
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.10
  • 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.11
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.8
  • Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.12
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.13
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.14

Consequences of Lack of Treatment

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.15
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.16
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.17 Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.18
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.19
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–2421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.23
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.24

Citations

  1. Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-mental-illness-ami-among-adults.shtml
  2. Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/serious-mental-illness-smi-among-us-adults.shtml
  3. Any Disorder Among Children. (n.d.) Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-disorder-among-children.shtml
  1. Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/schizophrenia.shtml
  2. Bipolar Disorder Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/bipolar-disorder-among-adults.shtml
  3. Major Depression Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/major-depression-among-adults.shtml
  4. Any Anxiety Disorder Among Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/any-anxiety-disorder-among-adults.shtml
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, NSDUH Series H-50, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 15-4927. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015 from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FRR1-2014/NSDUH-FRR1-2014.pdf
  6. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development. (2011). The 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/2010HomelessAssessmentReport.pdf
  7. Glaze, L.E. & James, D.J. (2006). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs Washington, D.C. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf
  8. National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. (2007). Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System. Delmar, N.Y: Skowyra, K.R. & Cocozza, J.J. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.ncmhjj.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/2007_Blueprint-for-Change-Full-Report.pdf
  9. Use of Mental Health Services and Treatment Among Children. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/use-of-mental-health-services-and-treatment-among-children.shtml
  10. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2010). 2010 National Healthcare Disparities Report. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. Retrieved January 2013, from http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/nhqrdr/nhdr10/index.html.
  11. Kessler, R.C., et al. (2005). Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of 12-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbitity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62(6), 593–602. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=208671
  12. Insel, T.R. (2008). Assessing the Economic Costs of Serious Mental Illness. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 165(6), 663-665
  13. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, The Department of Health & Human Services. (2009). HCUP Facts and Figures: Statistics on Hospital-based Care in the United States, 2009. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/factsandfigures/2009/pdfs/FF_report_2009.pdf
  14. Colton, C.W. & Manderscheid, R.W. (2006). Congruencies in Increased Mortality Rates, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Causes of Death Among Public Mental Health Clients in Eight States. Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy, 3(2), 1–14. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1563985/
  15. National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Council. (2006). Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness. Alexandria, VA: Parks, J., et al. Retrieved January 16, 2015 from http://www.nasmhpd.org/docs/publications/MDCdocs/Mortality%20and%20Morbidity%20Final%20Report%208.18.08.pdf
  16. U.S. Department of Education. (2014). 35th Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2013. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www2.ed.gov/about/reports/annual/osep/2013/parts-b-c/35th-idea-arc.pdf
  17. Suicide Facts at a Glance 2015 (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf
  18. Suicide Prevention. (2014, January 9). Retrieved March 24, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/youth_suicide.html
  19. U.S.A. Suicide: 2013 Official Final Data. (2015, January 22). Retrieved March 24, 2015, from http://www.suicidology.org/Portals/14/docs/Resources/FactSheets/2013datapgsv2alt.pdf
  20. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1999). Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/NNBBJC.pdf
  21. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Mental Health Services Suicide Prevention Program. (2012). Suicide Data Report, 2012. Kemp, J. & Bossarte, R. Retrieved January 16, 2015, from http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/Suicide-Data-Report-2012-final.pdf

– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers#sthash.vnHwqtTp.dpuf

HB2 Cease And Desist Deadline Is Today

Today is the deadline the U.S. Department of Justice has given the state of North Carolina to cease and desist its enforcement of the HB2 transgender discrimination law.

Gov. Pat McCrory had asked federal officials for an extension of today’s deadline to declare that North Carolina will not comply with its newly enacted law restricting anti-discrimination protections.  McCrory said the U.S. Department of Justice declined his request unless he was willing to admit that House Bill 2 was discriminatory.

Which he wouldn’t do.

State Rep. Paul Stam, one of the bill’s sponsors, told NPR yesterday he hoped that the governor would stand firm against the federal government enforcing an “Obama-type” bathroom policy.

After a Twitter debate with N.C. House Majority Leader Mike Hager about North Carolina’s HB2 transgender discrimination bill and whether the NBA All-Star Game would take place in Charlotte, former TV talk show host Montel Williams last week sent Hager a cake festooned with “#lovewins” and “#repealHB2” written in icing. Williams, a conservative who campaigned for Republican candidate John Kasich, opposes the law.

So….. as I write this, news is breaking that North Carolina has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department.

UPDATE — Here it is:

Here, to me, is the problem that the state has.

Bodpriv

I’m not sure how one’s “bodily privacy” is affected by the presence of transexuals in the same restroom.  That is, unless you hold the belief that transsexuals are “checking you out”.  Which would be an interesting allegation to prove.

UPDATE #2:  

Here’s what happened at McCrory’s press conference earlier today:

In a press conference, McCrory said he did not seek out the issue but was responding to policies being made at the local level in the city of Charlotte.

Which matters…. how?

The governor also said that after DOJ sent a letter last week informing him the legislation violates civil rights law, the state was given just five days to reply.

So…. five times as longer than it took the NCGS to write, “debate”, vote on, and then have the governor sign the law.

He added that DOJ refused his request for an extension unless he publicly said he agreed with the agency’s interpretation of federal law.

“That is why this morning, I have asked a federal court to clarify what the law actually is,” McCrory said. “I anticipate our own legislature, other private sector entities from throughout the United States and possibly other states to join us in seeking this clarification because this is not just a North Carolina issue, this is a national issue.”

Yeah.  I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for other states to chime in.  Mississippi, maybe.

UPDATE #4 – 4 pm — 

US Atty General Loretta Lynch (from North Carolina, coincidentally) says the DOJ retains the right to withhold federal funds from NC.  The lawsuit is against the state as well as the university system for violations of Titles VII and IX.

Her speech was actually very human and touching.  She reassured transgender people that the federal government has their back.  Nice.

Trump Says He Would Allow America To Default On Its Loans

He didn’t actually say the word “default”, but what he is describing here is a default (“not repaying loans in full”):

One day after assuring Americans he is not running for president “to make things unstable for the country,” the presumptive Republican nominee,Donald J. Trump, said in a television interview Thursday that he might seek to reduce the national debt by persuading creditors to accept something less than full payment.

Asked whether the United States needed to pay its debts in full, or whether he could negotiate a partial repayment, Mr. Trump told the cable network CNBC, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

He added, “And if the economy was good, it was good. So, therefore, you can’t lose.”

Such remarks by a major presidential candidate have no modern precedent. The United States government is able to borrow money at very low interest rates because Treasury securities are regarded as a safe investment, and any cracks in investor confidence have a long history of costing American taxpayers a lot of money.

Experts also described Mr. Trump’s vaguely sketched proposal as fanciful, saying there was no reason to think America’s creditors would accept anything less than 100 cents on the dollar, regardless of Mr. Trump’s deal-making prowess.

“No one on the other side would pick up the phone if the secretary of the U.S. Treasury tried to make that call,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP. “Why should they? They have a contract” requiring payment in full.

This is unprecedented, as is many of things Trump says and does.  This would lower America’s credit rating and our future ability to borrow.

This is precisely why business acumen does not translate into political acumen.  Defaulting on a loan is a business decision.  So is bankruptcy.  It can be done and the company can bounce back. But you can’t think that way with a country.

Oh my God. I don’t understand how even fiscal conservatives can swallow this.

The Business Insider headline reads: “Donald Trump is floating an insane idea that would tank the American economy” —

“I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts,” he said. “I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal.”

Some corporate finance deals really do work like this: You issue risky debt, and the lenders know you might not be able to pay them back in full if something really bad happens. But that kind of debt bears a high interest rate, because the lenders know you might not be able to pay them back in full if something really bad happens.

US Treasury bonds have very low interest rates because investors are extremely confident they will be paid in full, even in poor economic conditions. Trump — by openly saying that he would keep partial payment on the table as an option — could spark a crisis in the Treasury markets if he became president. Investors would cease to see Treasurys as a safe asset, and they would demand higher interest rates in exchange for risk.

This, of course, is a terrible idea, and a good reason for Republicans to hesitate in coalescing around Trump.

Maybe Trump should read Section 4 of the 14th Amendment that says this:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

UPDATE: 

Pressed to elaborate on his remarks, Mr. Trump did appear to step back. He said that he was not suggesting a default, but instead that the government could seek to repurchase debt for less than the face value of the securities. The government, in other words, would seek to repay less money than it borrowed.

Jesus.  Is this what a Trump presidency will be like?  Him doing things and then walking them back?

Trump’s Awkward Outreach To Hispanics

Because when one thinks of Hispanics, of course, one thinks of tacos.  That’s what their culture is all about, right?  Tacos?

The number of things wrong with this tweet is astounding.  Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday.  Taco bowls aren’t Mexican, nor is Trump Tower Grill.  And in my experience, Mexicans prefer to be called “Latinos”, not “Hispanics”.

No matter.  This isn’t an outreach to “Hispanics” anyway; it’s an outreach to Trump’s white base.  They don’t like being painted as bigots and racists by policies like “the wall” and believing that the Mexican immigrants are “rapists”,etc.  So they say, “I’m not racist!  I love tacos!”  It’s basically an affirmation to Trump’s voters that they aren’t racists.

UPDATE:  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus responds to Trump’s tweet:

“He’s trying. Honestly, he’s trying,” Priebus told Politico’s Mike Allen at a breakfast event on Friday. “I honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the party is the only way we’re going to win. I think he gets that.”

Yes, he’s trying not to be a bigot.

Listen, if that’s how you describe the actions of your party’s nominee, then your party has a problem.

My Brilliant Prediction

From this blog on July 2, 2015, I wrote:

Trump will not be a candidate for President.  Like Michele Bachmann in 2012, he’s enjoying a very early leap in the polls.  Also, like in 2012, I suspect many of the candidates will enjoy a brief moment in the sun before the drop out.  This is Trump’s.  But if it were up to Democrats, his moment in the GOP would last forever and ever.  He’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Just wanted to fess up to my prognostication skills, or lack thereof.

And less than two weeks later:

7-13-15

Of course, many were wrong.

Confrontation Looms

Charlotte Observer:

Republican state leaders were in no hurry Thursday to respond to the Obama administration’s determination that North Carolina is discriminating against transgender people – and didn’t even agree on whether to adhere to a Monday deadline.

House Speaker Tim Moore said Thursday that legislators won’t meet the Department of Justice’s Monday deadline to declare that House Bill 2 will not be enforced.

The department sent state leaders a letter Wednesday saying that the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding. Those laws ban employment discrimination and discrimination in education based on sex.

“We will take no action by Monday,” Moore told reporters Thursday. “That deadline will come and go. We don’t ever want to lose any money, but we’re not going to get bullied by the Obama administration to take action prior to Monday’s date. That’s not how this works.”

Actually, it is how it works.

Moore said state leaders are trying to determine their next steps. “Right now we’re talking with our attorneys to see what our options are,” he said. “We’re going to move at the speed that we’re going to move at to look at what our options are.”

Maybe he should consult the NC Attorney General, the highest attorney in the state, who agrees that HB2 violates the Constitution.

Graham Wilson, a spokesman for Gov. Pat McCrory, said via text message that the governor does plan to have a response to the Justice Department order by Monday’s deadline. He did not offer further details.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest distanced President Barack Obama from the order in his news briefing Thursday afternoon. “These kinds of enforcement actions are made independent of any sort of political interference or direction from the White House,” Earnest said. “Those are decisions that are made entirely by attorneys at the Department of Justice.”

Democrats in the legislature said the Department of Justice order gives lawmakers plenty of time and should be addressed now.

“HB2 became law in less than 12 hours,” Rep. Cecil Brockman, a High Point Democrat, said in a tweet. “Five days should be more than enough time to decide how to clean up after it.”

Boom!  Yes!

Senate leader Phil Berger was less clear on what might happen – or won’t happen – before Monday. “Obviously there’ll have to be some response – you’ve got the deadline – but I don’t see the legislature, as the legislature, taking any specific response,” he said Thursday morning.

Maybe a TRO.  Or a request to extend the deadline.

The Department of Justice takes issue with House Bill 2’s provision requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate. The bathroom rule applies to state government facilities, public universities and schools, while private businesses are allowed to set their own policies. A letter to state agencies said that the law represents “a pattern or practice of discrimination against transgender employees.”

An executive order issued by McCrory addressed some of the impacts of the law on state employees. McCrory expanded nondiscrimination protections for all state employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And he ordered Cabinet agencies to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees and visitors who request single-occupancy restrooms, locker rooms and showers.

Moore said that despite the deadline, North Carolina won’t risk an immediate loss of federal education funding if it doesn’t comply. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million. In 2014-2015, the University of North Carolina system got $1.4 billion.

“They can’t just – through an administrative action by the attorney general’s office – issue a decree that has the force and effect of law over this state,” he said. “That’s not how this works. What they would have to do is initiate litigation at that point.”

No.  Wrong.  They can take away the money through administrative action, and the North Carolina has to start the litigation.

Berger also said he doesn’t think the Department of Justice has “the legal right” to stop House Bill 2. He says North Carolina residents should be “frustrated” by the order.

Didn’t we go through this with George Wallace?

“This might be part of what you’re seeing with both the Bernie Sanders and the Trump pushes,” he said, referring to the presidential candidates. “People are angry, and one of the reasons they’re angry is because of the failure – particularly of the federal government – to do the things that the people know need to be done, and yet they go off on a tangent like this and push radical social engineering.”

Bad choice of words.  Bernie Sanders is against HB2.  Even Trump thinks it is bad.  Even TRUMP!

In Washington, though, North Carolina’s Republican lawmakers weren’t eager to join the fray. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr didn’t appear ready Thursday to get personally involved in the HB2 controversy. His spokesman suggested it remained a state and local matter even with the involvement of the Justice Department.

“It sounds like the issue will be revisited at the state and local levels, and Sen. Burr encourages our state and local officials to do so,” said Burr campaign spokesman Alex Johnson. “In the meantime, Sen. Burr will remain focused on his responsibilities of heading up the American intelligence community and keeping North Carolinians safe.”

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis didn’t respond to inquiries about the federal order Thursday.

Also Thursday, one of the primary backers of House Bill 2 – the Christian Action League of North Carolina – called on state leaders to fight the federal action.

“At the hands of his henchmen in the U.S. Department of Justice, King Obama has delivered his message of intimidation to the state of North Carolina,” executive director Mark Creech said on Facebook. “The Great Pontiff of Political Correctness holds the educational futures of our state’s children hostage, while dangling the money bags of federal funds over their heads, demanding in exchange North Carolina bow to the madness of obliterating male and female distinctives.”

Ah.  So it isn’t about privacy after all.  It’s about the “madness of obliterating” the difference between male and female.  You just revealed your hand, you bigot.

Breaking: US Govt to NC — Fix HB 2 Or Else

This may end sooner than even I thought:

U.S. Justice Department officials Wednesday notified Gov. Pat McCrory that House Bill 2 violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act. 

The department gave state officials until Monday to address the situation “by confirming that the State will not comply with or implement HB2.”

The letter says HB2, which pre-empted Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ordinance, violates Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination in education based on sex.

If that determination is upheld, North Carolina could lose millions in federal school funding. During the current school year, state public schools received $861 million in federal funding.

The Race Ahead

Trump has an uphill battle.

theraceahead

Interestingly, North Carolina is in play.  As is Ohio and Florida.  This will make vice president choices important.  Hillary can sew up Ohio, and take it out of play simply by picking Sherrod Brown as VP.  He’ll bring in the Bernie supporters; he’ll bring in Ohio; he’ll bring in blue collar workers.

Panicky RedState: Confirm Garland Now

From Think Progress:

RedState, the influential conservative blog that has often helped shape the outcome of Republican primary elections and congressional Republican strategy, says its now time for Republicans to end their blockade of Chief Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “Now that Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, this is not even a close call,” the site tells its readers, adding that “there is absolutely no reason to drag this out any longer.”

The conservative site’s new position, penned by RedState managing editor Leon Wolf, is hardly a robust endorsement of President Obama’s nominee. “Garland is not a great choice,” Wolf writes, “but he is not a terrible one, either.” Wolf sees Garland’s primary virtue as the fact that he is unlikely to remain on the Supreme Court for very long — “he is old (for a modern Supreme Court appointment) and will be up for replacement in probably 10 years instead of 20 or 30.”

That fact, Wolf writes, argues in favor of confirming Garland before he is replaced with someone else:

“Republicans must know that there is absolutely no chance that we will win the White House in 2016 now. They must also know that we are likely to lose the Senate as well. So the choices, essentially, are to confirm Garland and have another bite at the apple in a decade, or watch as President Clinton nominates someone who is radically more leftist and 10-15 years younger, and we are in no position to stop it.”

This unqualified call for Republicans to change strategy could be an important development in the battle over the Supreme Court.

The New Dynamic

Nate Silver, who has been as wrong about Trump as, well, everybody, explains why he thinks he was so wrong, in a single tweet:

Let me take each in reverse order.

Media is worse than I thought.  By this, Silver is saying that the media bias for covering Trump, and not holding him to the fire in terms of his vetting his claims, is unprecedented.  Trump has exploited these weaknesses.  Read more here.

GOP is weaker than I thought.  Silver here is referring to GOP, the party, not GOP, the voters.  “The elites” might be a way to put it.  Usually, the party establishment has some control, and while the voters have influence over who IS the “establishment”, they are mostly along for the ride on any given election.  That paradigm fell apart for the GOP this cycle.  Trump is the candidate who finally figured out how to exploit the fact that much of the Republican voter base does not share the policy preferences of the Republican donor class, and that it is therefore possible to win the nomination without being saddled with their unpopular policy preferences.  Read more here.

Voters are more tribal than I thought.  This is the most intriguing for me.  We may have entered a world where the left-right paradigm no longer exists.  Silver explains it this way:

But whereas Cruz offered a mix of anti-establishment-ism and movement conservatism — and whereas Marco Rubio offered movement conservatism plus a strong claim to electability — Trump’s main differentiator was doubling down on cultural grievance: grievances against immigrants, against Muslims, against political correctness, against the media, and sometimes against black people and women. And the strategy worked. It’s a point in favor of those who see politics as being governed by cultural identity — a matter of seeking out one’s “tribe” and fitting in with it — as opposed to carefully calibrating one’s position on a left-right spectrum.

There is a tribe of aggrieved electorate — not necessarily conservative but (I would argue) weened on conservative talk radio and media.  That’s the tribe that Trump has tapped into, and it is a large one.  Large enough, it seems, for him to win the nomination.

Should we stop looking at the electorate on a left-right spectrum, and start thinking of it as “tribes” to appeal to?  Or is the Trump phenomenon a one-off thing?  Time will tell.

Yes, This Is Happening

Funny, the chattering heads in the media.  Trump gave a victory speech last night, which many called “presidential” simply because he didn’t call anybody a childish name, and didn’t mention his penis.  Seriously, that’s how low the bar is now for this guy.

But I noticed something else.

Since Trump’s win (and Cruz’s exit) in Indiana last night, the media is talking less about the Trump candidacy and more about the Trump presidency… and what that would look like.  Welcome to reality, folks.  Yes, this hasn’t been a race; it’s been actually about something — the presidency.  And yes, Trump is the GOP candidate.

Polls suggest a Clinton wipeout of Trump, but you’re not hearing any champagne corks popping on the left.  I am among the many who has been saying, “Trump would be the best GOP nominee that the Democrats could ask for”, but now even I am a little nervous.  I know there is a solid block of Republicans who say they will never vote for Trump, and these are conservative stalwarts like George Will, Eric Erickson, WIlliam Kristol [Update: maybe not so much], Glenn Beck, Jonah Goldberg and Most of the NRO people, and so on.  But I don’t know how representative they are of the Republicans or conservatives.  I just don’t know.

And then I see things like this, this morning:

ChndZgqWMAAx56h

That’s NRO’s Mark Krikorian.  And I am left to wonder how much more we will see like that.  The title of the article is #NeverHillary, and the gist of his opinion is that Trump, while awful, is still better than the alternative.  Fortunately, if you look at the comments section, most of the NRO readers are still in the NO column for Trump.

I suppose the question is this:  Do conservatives and libertarians really REALLY oppose Trump, or are they just disgruntled that someone better isn’t the nominee?  At this point, it it hard to gauge.  And it will be interesting to see whether they will try to make themselves like Trump, or become more cemented in their opposition.  And maybe more importantly, maybe we can get a read on their numbers.  I am encouraged, however, by numbers like this:

You can also count me among those who say that the chicken has come home to roost.  Trump is the product of years of right wing radio, fomenting at “the establishment” and elitism, and politicians and expertise. Not to mention the xenophobia and misogyny.  Now, having been weened on this stuff, the brain-dead on the right (they aren’t all brain-dead, of course) are rallying around Trump in greater numbers.

McCain’s campaign adviser, Steve Smith, knows this. Here’s what he said on MSNBC last night, talking about how Trump is the end result of conservative talk radio “cancer”:

STEVE SCHMIDT: A lot of commentators say — they scratch their chins — they say, my God, the tone of this election. Have they not listened to talk radio for five minutes in this country that reaches 50 million people a day for a moment in the last ten years? The tone is disgusting around our political discourse and Trump has been a reflection of that tone in this steel cage match Republican primary. You look at the intellectual collapse of the conservative movement, the fading of giants like William F. Buckley, the replacements of purveyors of blogs and polemics that — and it’s all collapsed.

CHRIS MATTHEWS (HOST): Who won when Trump won? Did Mark Levine win? Did Michael Savage? He’s still on the air. Who are these people?

SCHMIDT: Mark Levine is decrying this tonight. He’s series-A round investor in the demise of the conservative movement in the Republican Party. He, very famously, a woman calls up his show and has the gall to just disagree with Mark Levine, who calls himself the great one. Talk about narcissist, talk about self-aggrandizers. Mark Levine asked do you have a gun in the house, go find it and blow your brains out. This is the tone that has emanated from talk radio and this cancer has spread and that tone has infected the whole of the party. And so this moment that we’ve arrived at, where there’s been a severability now between issues and conservatism, and the test of who is the conservative in the race is who has the loudest voice of opposition.

Yup.

Looking at my usual conservative blogs, I see despair.  At Patterico, Mr. Patterico himself writes:

As of today, I no longer consider myself a Republican.

I’ve had these feelings before, but today it’s official. Republicans are now “them” and not “us” to me. I’ll stay registered as a Republican at least through the primary to vote for Ted Cruz in California, even though it’s now clear it will be a futile gesture.

I will still support and vote for Republicans, but only Republicans who demonstrate that they will adhere to limited government, constitutional principles. No longer will I vote a straight party-line ticket.

I am not a “NeverTrump” guy because that implies support for Hillary Clinton, and I cannot support Hillary Clinton. But I cannot support Donald Trump, a leftist con man with an “R” after his name. At this point, I am a disinterested observer. I believe Donald Trump would be better for the Supreme Court, because he doesn’t care about the Court and might pick someone good if his advisers tell him to. I believe Hillary Clinton would be better on almost everything else — because I believe the GOP would fight her more than they would fight Trump. I can’t choose between “the Court” and “everything else.” So I’m just someone who doesn’t care about the presidential race any more.

William Brennan was not a good Supreme Court justice because he was appointed by a Republican. Affirmative action is not a good policy because it has been pushed by many Republicans. And continuing entitlement programs, growing federal interference in health care, imposing disastrous tariffs, and other Trump-style policies are not good policies even if they are pushed by a “Republican.”

So do not expect me to “unify” or to jump on board because HILLARY MUST BE BEATEN!!!1! If you can’t deal with that, the time to stop reading is now.

If you believe in limited government, constitutional principles, and liberty, stick with me. There are others like us. We’ll figure out what to do next. It won’t be supporting Donald Trump, but it will be supporting our natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Later, through a surrogate, he adds:

So the classless boor probably loses to the sea hag. Not that it matters too much, since they’d both govern as authoritarian democrats, only one has more nationalist rah rah thrown in.

Spare me the nonsense about lesser evils and SCOTUS judges. He won’t make it that far. And by some miracle, like Hillary has a stroke, this rambling ignoramus wins, he would still screw that up somehow in his one term. Big question is does he suck enough to take the GOP with him?

And if you think he is going to actually build a wall, you are a sucker.

Did I love Cruz? No. Because I was hiring an employee, not a god. He was the least likely to rape the Constitution. Instead we get an authoritarian, who is either lying, or made it to 70 before understanding basic American principles about liberty.

You ignorant low information bastards. Motivated by fear and anger, you overlooked every gain made over the last few cycles, and traded it in to a lying huckster democrat for some magic beans. So you could stick it to the establishment, by electing the shit bird who funded them.

(Emphasis Patterico)

Well, at least he’s certain of a Hillary win. 

Other conservatives are fleeing from the GOP too.  A Republican foreign policy expert from the American Enterprise Institute tells Think Progress:

“If a conservative emerges that approaches foreign policy in a principled, coherent manner, and that understands and values the important role that America plays in world affairs, I will support them,” he wrote in a text. “Otherwise, I have faith that Clinton’s foreign policy would align with what I’m looking for, and she would have my vote.”

Philip Klein, the conservative Washington Examiner’s managing editor tweeted:

Perhaps the most dramatic response came in the form of a mea culpa posted to Red State Monday night, nearly 24 hours before Indiana polls closed. “Donald Trump is my fault as much as anyone else’s,” wrote Ben Howe. He explained that he had built alliances with people with whom he fundamentally disagreed out of expedience:

I justified it quietly to myself the way we had at the beginning of the tea party when such things would happen. People would say outlandish things and I would find myself nodding my head and awkwardly walking away, not calling them out for their silliness.

After all, there were more pressing matters.

And so, as I said, I kept quiet about these allies in new media and in Washington. People who I thought I agreed with only 70% of the time. Which normally is a great reason to consider someone an ally, but not when the other 30% is cringe-inducing paranoia and vapid stupidity.

I chose peace over principle. I chose to go along with those I disagreed with on core matters because I believed we were jointly fighting for other things that were more important. I ignored my gut and my moral compass.

The result is that, almost to a man, every single person I cringed at or thought twice about, is now a supporter and cheerleader of Donald Trump.

And:

That’s Ben Shapiro, for crying out loud.

The next few primaries will mean little.  I don’t expect surprises at either convention, although it will be interesting to see who shows up (and more importantly, who doesn’t show up) to the GOP convention.  The Vice Presidential selections will be something to look forward to.

And everyone is wondering how Clinton will fight Trump.  Will she stoop to his level?  I tend to think she should not.  She needs to be the adult and play to those strengths of experience, etc.  Let Trump bite down hard on being crass and believing in conspiracy theories.  He’ll get the low information voter votes.  But they are not a majority.

UPDATE –  The New York Daily News:

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It’s a liberal paper though….

Breaking: Ted Cruz Drops Out

Well, well, well. I guess there still could be a contested election but I doubt it. I think the humiliation was too much for Ted.

I think the nation could use a politics break before the general election campaign. Don’t think we’ll get one with this Trump obsession. 

I just want him off the TV.

The Weirdest Attack Of The Weirdest Campaign Season (So Far)

Today is the Indiana primary, and for those who still think there is a race in either party, this is the do-or-die moment.  It’s really not – the races are over and it is Trump and Clinton.  Cruz has banked everything on taking Indiana, and polls suggest he won’t.

Which makes this new Trump attack even more bizarre:

Donald Trump on Tuesday alleged that Ted Cruz’s father was with John F. Kennedy’s assassin shortly before he murdered the president, parroting a National Enquirer story claiming that Rafael Cruz was pictured with Lee Harvey Oswald handing out pro-Fidel Castro pamphlets in New Orleans in 1963.

A Cruz campaign spokesperson told the Miami Herald, which pointed out numerous flaws in the Enquirer story, that it was “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.”

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”

Don’t ignore that this accusation comes from the National Enquirer, and that tabloid is run by Donald Trump’s buddy, David Pecker.

enquirer

cruz-oswald

Even still, it’s hard to think of a reason why Trump would launch into this bizarre attack. There are only two explanations for Trump’s behavior: Trump either believes virtually every conspiracy theory that he encounters, which makes him unqualified for living outside a mental institution, or he knows a significant number of his followers will believe it which should makes his followers ineligible to vote (if there was any justice).

I tend to think the former.  Trump, after all, is a birther.

Cruz is naturally taking advantage of this.  Moments ago:

“While I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my Dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” the senator joked.

He went on to say the story originated with the David Pecker-run National Enquirer, which has become a “hit piece” for his friend Trump’s campaign.

“This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth,” Cruz said of Trump.

To be continued?

Last Laugh

He always kills at these things:

“This one is from two weeks ago,” Obama joked, showing a photo to show how much he’s aged.

On being a lame duck: 

(referencing the Supreme Court vacancy) “I think we got Republican senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They are in the house, which reminds me: Security, bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland, come on out! We are going to do this right here and right now. It’s like the Red Wedding.”

“Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.”

“In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”

On his future: 

“It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last White House correspondents’ dinner.”

“If this material works well, I’m gonna use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.”

“Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray and grizzled, and counting down the days to my death panel.”

On Hillary Clinton: 

“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing in this very spot, and it’s anyone guess who she will be.”

“Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. ‘Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.’”

On a very bad joke that Bill de Blasio recently made with Hillary Clinton: 

“I know, I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for ‘jokes that white people should not make.’”

On the 2016 race: 

“Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific.”

[on former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg] “It’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and The Donald. After all Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in-depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money he says he is.”

[on Bernie Sanders] “I am hurt, though, Bernie, that you have been distancing yourself a little from me. I mean, that’s just not something you do to your comrade.”

“Meanwhile, some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight.” [the screen shows an image of John Kasich]

“He went to Indiana — Hoosier country — stood on a basketball court, and called the hoop a ‘basketball ring.’ What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one. . . ”

On the media: 

“Savannah Guthrie, she’s left the White House press corps to host the ‘Today’ show. Norah O’Donnell left the briefing room to host CBS’ ‘This Morning.’ Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.”

“I also would like to acknowledge the some of the award-winning reporters who we have with us tonight. Rachel McAdams, Mike Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, thank you all for everything that you’ve done. I’m just joking. As you know, ‘Spotlight’ is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources, the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy film since ‘Star Wars.’”

“Every year at this dinner, somebody at this dinner makes a joke about Buzzfeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year The Washington Post laughs a little bit less hard.”

On Joe Biden: 

“I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.”

On Donald Trump: 

“I am a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. You got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras, and he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump Steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel?”