I had a dream, I had an awesome dream

It looks like the media has decided to resume its regularly scheduled Hillary bashing. Got to have a horse race to cover!Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 3.03.40 PM

In a way, maybe it’s just as well, given that the alternative is two months of Paul Ryan white knight fan fiction:

That basically allows the RNC to come up with any reason to declare the spot vacant. For example, they could, following President Obama, deem him unfit for office – as in, mentally unfit. Or they could hold a vote of no confidence. No doubt, if Trump is fighting them, that would be a bumpy road, possibly involving litigation. It might be easier for leaders to endorse Gary Johnson and move on. But because of that word “otherwise,” it’s likely within the RNC’s power to dump Trump even without his consent. Then they would be able to fill the “vacancy” by majority vote.

Interestingly, that person could be anyone. Mike Pence does not automatically move up the ticket. On the contrary, unless Pence drops out (or is similarly found to be unfit, which seems impossible), he remains the nominee for Vice President, which, after all, is a separate office and a separate nomination. Most likely, the GOP’s knight in shining armor, House Speaker Paul Ryan, would be a leading candidate for a last-minute substitution.



Only love can break your heart

I’ve been impressed by how many right-wing pundits — George Will and Robert Kagan stand out — are so freaked out and upset about Trump that they’re willing to be anti-Trump all the time and note devote any columns to fragging Hillary. Meanwhile, the professional centrists continue to treat Trump and Hillary as two sides of the same coin:

Why is the convention so negative? For the same reasons next weeks’ Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia likely will be an anti-Trump orgy.

[….]

Shouts of “fascist” from the convention floor, for example, would be the Philadelphia analogue of “Lock her up!” Smug dismissals of Trump’s populist approach and policies might be viewed by undecided voters as an indictment of them.

Ron Fournier and Matt Bai aren’t upset that the country could devolve into a fascist dictatorship under Trump (note: I don’t think it probably would, but some on the right make a good case that it might). It would just be further proof of the corrupt duopoly derp derp and, anyway, they have plenty of money so it probably wouldn’t hurt them much.

A lot is made about how the country has become too polarized and angry. Well, fury can be misdirected but being mad as hell is at least a sign that you give a fuck.

In the comments a few times, some of you have mentioned studies that show that people can’t make decisions if the part of the brain that deals with emotion is incapacitated. I hate to go into Boboish pseudoscientific gibberish here, but I do think that sober-minded, nonpartisan, objective blah blah blah analysis has its limits. That it’s not just that Ron Fournier is a sociopathic asshole but that the whole nonpartisan project is doomed to failure.



Tell that fucking bullshit to the tourists

I often tell people that national American politics primarily about race, that no one cares about smaller government or individual rights or any of that crap, and that the proof of this is that white southerners voted overwhelmingly for Democrats before the Civil Rights era and now vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. This George Wallace quote tells you all you need to know:

“You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor.”

There’s other stuff around the edges, people like a good economy and dislike disastrous wars, but when it comes to basic party allegiances in the main, everything boils down to race and attitudes about it. The end.

The southern strategy was the smart move (Nixon was always smarter). But it was a strategy and let’s not pretend it’s a coincidence that the Republican party became dominated by white identity politics.

When I say this out loud in real life, anyone who has even a little bit of totebagger in them looks at me like I was Ward Churchill. I don’t mean just the “David Brooks has a good point” dead-enders, I mean even the moderate totebaggers (the ones we should arm).

So fuck all that “oh no, Donald Trump is such a sad turn for the party of Lincoln”. Atrios says it well:

You know, they haven’t actually been hiding it. Even that nice Mr. Brooks isn’t, you know, nice. Respectable demeanor is not the same thing as nice. They’ve been all about kicking the poors and the blahs and the gays and the whoever they can get the press to see as a “sides disagree” issue (are black people stupid? the two sides disagree) that week as long as I can remember. Trump just isn’t as well-trained and he does not give a fuck. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Trump, but most of those are reasons to dislike most Republicans. With Trump, the people who think they should and do run the country worry they’ll lose control. That’s the main difference.



Open Thread: Trump’s Just In It for the Lulz

On beyond farce here, people. From the NYTimes article:

Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

“I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

It is, of course, entirely possible that Mr. Trump is playing coy to earn more news coverage. But the notion of the intensely competitive Mr. Trump’s being more interested in winning the presidency than serving as president is not exactly a foreign concept to close observers of this presidential race…

…[A]s the race has turned toward the general election and a majority of polls have shown Mr. Trump trailing Mrs. Clinton, speculation has again crept into political conversations in Washington, New York and elsewhere that Mr. Trump will seek an exit strategy before the election to avoid a humiliating loss.

Now he is refusing to rule out an even more dramatic departure, one that would let him avoid the grueling job of governing, return to his business and enjoy his now-permanent status as a news media celebrity.

Told of Mr. Trump’s noncommittal comment, Stuart Stevens, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012 who has become one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics, said that Mr. Trump was “a con man who is shocked his con hasn’t been called” and that he was looking for an emergency exit.

“He has no sense of how to govern,” Mr. Stevens said. “He can’t even put together a campaign.”…

But the only person who could truly put any doubts to rest seemed instead to relish the idea of keeping everyone guessing, concluding the recent conversation with a you’re-on-to-something grin and handshake across his cluttered desk.

“We’ll do plenty of stories,” Mr. Trump promised enigmatically. “O.K.?”

I’m really beginning to think that organic brain disorder is a genuine possibility. What would’ve happened if voters had known Reagan was developing Alzheimers before his re-election? Would it have made any difference for the hardcore Repubs?



Empty Promises: #Deadbeat Donald Cheats Charities

If anyone was wondering why the Trump scampaign banned the Washington Post from its press pool, here’s David A. Farenthold’s latest – “Trump promised millions to charity. We found less than $10,000 over 7 years”:

In May, under pressure from the news media, Donald Trump made good on a pledge he made four months earlier: He gave $1 million to a nonprofit group helping veterans’ families.

Before that, however, when was the last time that Trump had given any of his own money to a charity?

If Trump stands by his promises, such donations should be occurring all the time. In the 15 years prior to the veterans donation, Trump promised to donate earnings from a wide variety of his moneymaking enterprises: “The Apprentice.” Trump Vodka. Trump University. A book. Another book. If he had honored all those pledges, Trump’s gifts to charity would have topped $8.5 million.

But in the 15 years prior to the veterans’ gift, public records show that Trump donated about $2.8 million through a foundation set up to give his money away — less than a third of the pledged amount — and nothing since 2009. Records show Trump has given nothing to his foundation since 2008…

In recent years, Trump’s follow-through on his promises has been seemingly nonexistent.

The Post contacted 167 charities searching for evidence of personal gifts from Trump in the period between 2008 and this May. The Post sought out charities that had some link to Trump, either because he had given them his foundation’s money, appeared at their charity galas or praised them publicly.

The search turned up just one donation in that period — a 2009 gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of New York City…

What has set Trump apart from other wealthy philanthropists is not how much he gives — it is how often he promises that he is going to give….

These promises seemed designed to reassure potential customers and voters and to reconcile two sides of Trump’s public persona. On one hand, Trump said he had so much money that he didn’t need more. But on the other hand, he was always selling something.

The explanation was that the money Trump was making wasn’t for him to keep…

Apparently it was for him to to pass on to his creditors– a forty-year game of financial musical chairs, which bears some resemblance to what economists call a Ponzi scheme, IIRC.

… Trump’s representatives have repeatedly said there have been many charitable donations from Trump in recent years but that he has purposely kept them under wraps.

This year, The Post got the same response when it probed a separate claim that Trump had made about his charitable giving. At the launch of his campaign, Trump said that he had given away $102 million in the past five years. That figure turned out to comprise mostly land-use agreements and free rounds of golf given away at Trump’s courses.

Trump’s campaign said that none of the $102 million it had counted was actually a cash gift from Trump’s pocket. Such gifts existed, Trump’s staff said. But they were private. If so, those gifts are remarkably difficult to find.

Of the 167 charities reviewed by The Post, 39 declined to comment. Forty others — including the Eric Trump Foundation — did not respond to The Post’s inquiries.

An additional 77 charities had no record of receiving a personal donation from Trump.

That left 11 that acknowledged receiving the kind of personal donation that Trump claims to be giving all the time.

The most recent of those was the gift to the Police Athletic League in 2009.

Insert your own jokes about the Policeman’s Ball.

Much more detail at the link. Joking aside, it looks like the late great Tunch (through his minions in the Balloon Juice community) might’ve funneled almost as much money to animal charities as Donald Trump has actually donated to charities not intimately connected to his own family (his son’s private school, his daughter’s ballet school). And Tunch never tried to use his celebrity to run for higher office.



The Wizard of Haws

wizardoftrump

In a country with a working press and sane electorate, this would simply be the end of the Trump candidacy:

In blunt testimony revealed on Tuesday, former managers of Trump University, the for-profit school started by Donald J. Trump, portray it as an unscrupulous business that relied on high-pressure sales tactics, employed unqualified instructors, made deceptive claims and exploited vulnerable students willing to pay tens of thousands for Mr. Trump’s insights.

One sales manager for Trump University, Ronald Schnackenberg, recounted how he was reprimanded for not pushing a financially struggling couple hard enough to sign up for a $35,000 real estate class, despite his conclusion that it would endanger their economic future. He watched with disgust, he said, as a fellow Trump University salesman persuaded the couple to purchase the class anyway.

“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Mr. Schnackenberg wrote in his testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”

Combined with the fact that he refuses to release his tax returns (nice troll-fu, DNC), this theory that Trump is basically broke by Josh Marshall makes a lot of sense:

This was interesting, too:

The idea that Trump is wealthy to the tune of his oft-claimed $10 billion dollars, combined with his utter lack of transparency regarding his fantasy financial statements left little to go on. For political professionals, due diligence required we assume he could bring serious cash to the game.

By August of last year, I was working to convince major donors that Trump would be a destructive force and likely throw the race to Hillary Clinton. One moment from that period sticks with me as a turning point in my thinking about Trump’s money; a major Wall Street donor laughed when I told him we’d need to mount a serious and fully-funded effort to take on Trump if he chose to self fund.

My friend scoffed at the very idea that Trump was worth even a quarter of the mythical $10 billion, much less that he was liquid to the tune of more than $200 million. “He’s not a billionaire. I’m a billionaire. He’s a clown living on credit.”

***

The evidence is mounting, and quickly, that his promises to fund his campaign are just one more Trump con; a shell, a hollow edifice of fake-it-til-you-make-it. Trump, is by the standards of 99.9% of Americans, a wealthy man, but he’s not liquid enough to fund an actual modern campaign. It’s not simply that he doesn’t have the money; it’s that his mythos requires that no one ever figure out that he doesn’t have the money.

The press seriously should stop asking him any questions except for those related to his release of his taxes.



Internet Pile-On Open Thread: Frying French

Roy Edroso, of Alicublog, casts a cold eye on David French:

I have followed French’s career at National Review for years and will just quickly tell you that he’s not only against gay marriage, he’s also against Griswold v Connecticut, the decision that invalidated laws against contraception (“Is there a single legal doctrine that can stand against the quest for personal sexual fulfillment?” French thundered); that he denounced the widespread mourning of Prince’s death on the grounds that “Prince was ultimately just another talented and decadent voice in a hedonistic culture… notable mainly because he was particularly effective at communicating that decadence to an eager and willing audience”; that he has compared Kim Davis, that crazy clerk who refused to sign gay marriage licenses, to “men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox — the men who first put the ‘protest’ in ‘Protestant'”; that he — well, I’m out of time for the moment, but you can peruse the archive for more if you can stand it. The point is, he makes Trump look like Eisenhower…

So, even if this brief moment of pixellated notoriety has faded by evening (the Washington Post has a dutiful synopsis on an interior page, while the NYTimes settled for reprinting a couple of paragraphs from Reuters), Mr. French seems to have earned his stint as a chew toy…

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