Trump-Sanders Debate, Dog Help Us (Updated)

So last night on Jimmy Kimmel, Donald Trump kinda agreed to debate Bernie Sanders “for charity,” and Sanders tweeted, “Game On. I look forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7th primary.” Two questions — the first rhetorical, the second sincere:

1) Is Sanders out of his fucking mind?
2) Any chance this debate actually happens?

Fox News is the network that was going to sponsor the California Clinton-Sanders debate before Clinton declined to participate, which is what frontrunners do when they develop an insurmountable lead. I’m sure Fox News would field impeccably impartial moderators with 100% fair questions that advanced no partisan agenda whatsoever. Not.

Trump left himself plenty of wiggle room in his comment to Kimmel, but if I were him, I’d damn sure try to make this thing happen – what a golden opportunity to ingratiate himself to Sanders dead-enders while bashing Clinton nonstop. It’s all upside for Trump.

Oh, and let’s pause for a moment and imagine the ear-splitting hissy fit the Sanders people would pitch if Hillary Clinton agreed to debate Trump before the primary ends. This kind of shit right here is what made me evolve from “I’m glad Sanders is in the race — he’s pulling Clinton to the left” to “STFU and go away, Bernie.”

UPDATE: From CBS: “Multiple sources told CBS News Thursday morning, however, that the presumptive nominee [Trump] was just kidding about debating Sanders — it will never happen, they said.” H/T: Commenter Mike J.

Liking Their Way to Victory

I thought this was a parody at first, but now I think it’s actually real. (This election season has Poe’d even seasoned cynics):

like for victory

Found it by following a link from a post at Booman’s joint about the upcoming March on the DNC, which is totally gonna happen, y’all.

Any thoughts on how much that kind of crap might help the Orcs capture the White House? My guess is that it will be a fart in a whirlwind like the PUMA phenomenon. Just wait until President Obama weighs in…

Open thread!

“Small, Insecure Money-Grubber”

Senator Elizabeth Warren takes a break from skewering Donald Trump on Twitter to eviscerate him in long form via a speech yesterday:

Words like “small” and “insecure” get under Trump’s skin because they contradict the grandiose image of himself Trump markets so industriously. But I like what Warren has done with “money-grubber” angle here to frame Trump’s conduct as a vulture real estate developer eager to pick clean the bones of regular folks who lost their homes.

Trump has carefully crafted a brand as a fabulously wealthy, self-made winner, and Warren paints him as a rich man’s heir who grew up to be a twisted greedhead like Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” It’s a brilliant way to turn an opponent’s strength into a weakness, and I hope Senator Warren keeps it up from now to November.

[H/T: TPM]

Trump’s Two-for-the-Price-of-One Clenis Strategy

trumpster fire

Josh Marshall over at TPM says Trump is going all-in on blaming Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton’s past sexual indiscretions / alleged abuse as a form of dominance politics, which is what he (Trump) has practiced all along:

As I mentioned yesterday, the three big networks and in fact the major national dailies continue to blast out Donald Trump’s charges that Hillary Clinton’s husband raped or assaulted other women. And yet, CNN, MSNBC, let alone Fox refuse to discuss that at least twice Trump has himself been accused of sexual assault or rape in sworn statements – once by his wife and again a decade ago in a lawsuit brought by a woman named Jill Harth. But in discussing how to approach the issue of how to approach Trump’s history of accusations of sexual violence or harassment the question came up, what exactly is Trump trying to accomplish by using Bill Clinton’s past against Hillary?


In a sense, how galling it is for Clinton to be attacked for her husband’s infidelities or transgressions is, to use the tech phrasing, a feature not a bug. It makes his demonstration of power all the more vibrant and bracing. It kind of takes your breath away. And that’s the point.

This is the ultimate gendered election. As Frank Foer explained in March, denigrating attacks on women are the one consistent theme throughout Trump’s entire public life. They’re not tactical or opportunistic. They’re part of his essence. What makes the general election contest more volatile and febrile is that not only is Trump basically the embodiment of ‘dominance politics’ and assertive violence. But Clinton, for all the toll the last two years has taken on her public popularity, is still seen as strong and a strong leader by a majority of the public. As I’ve written in similar contexts, when we look at the messaging of a national political campaign we should be listening to the score, not the libretto, which is, like in opera, often no more than a superficial gloss on the real story, mere wave action on the surface of a deep sea. You’re missing the point in trying to make out the logic of Trump’s attacks on Clinton. The attacks are the logic. He is trying to beat her by dominating her in the public sphere, brutalizing her, demonstrating that he can hurt her with impunity.

That’s part of it, but I don’t think it’s the whole story. Trump realizes he’s deep underwater with women voters. He knows he can’t win without enticing a significant number of women to vote for him. And he’s trying to neutralize any gender solidarity advantage Hillary Clinton might enjoy by making her a party to Bill’s bad behavior, not a mere victim of it.

The need to dominate and humiliate is a sign of the bully that is ever-present in Trump and essential to understanding his actions. But there’s a strategy there, too, and if the media continue to give Trump a pass on his own behavior while allowing him to accuse Bill Clinton with impunity and implicate Hillary Clinton too, it may work better than it should.

Smarter to be Lucky Than Lucky to Be Smart*

Years ago, a NYC cabbie gave me this sage piece of advice: “The only way to get crosstown during rush hour is to be born there.”

Apparently this is truer than it seemed at the time. Economist Robert Frank has a piece in The Times detailing the strong link between luck and success:

One’s date of birth can matter enormously, for example. According to a 2008 study, most children born in the summer tend to be among the youngest members of their class at school, which appears to explain why they are significantly less likely to hold leadership positions during high school and thus, another study indicates, less likely to land premium jobs later in life. Similarly, according to research published in the journal Economics Letters in 2012, the number of American chief executives who were born in June and July is almost one-third lower than would be expected on the basis of chance alone.

Even the first letter of a person’s last name can explain significant achievement gaps. Assistant professors in the 10 top-ranked American economics departments, for instance, were more likely to be promoted to tenure the earlier the first letter of their last names fell in the alphabet, a 2006 study found. Researchers attributed this to the custom in economics of listing co-authors’ names alphabetically on papers, noting that no similar effect existed for professors in psychology, whose names are not listed alphabetically.

Particularly interesting that bit about econ departments, given that many economists no doubt consider themselves exemplary Rational Actors.

Much of this will be familiar to those who have read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers. But it can never be said enough–especially as the people who most need to hear it are the ones most resistant to hearing it. Sadly, the problem isn’t just whiny billionaires; the article’s comments section is filled with a lot of, “Yes, but I work harder than all those other guys.”

*The bloody-but-wise Charlemagne, from the original cast album of Pippin.

But It’s Nervous Laughter… (UPDATED)

Trump’s general election outreach to Hispanic voters began yesterday with an address to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference delivered from TrumpForce One:

There’s a distinct student council election vibe to it — the speech is all outlandish promises with nary a clue on how to accomplish them: We’re gonna make the cafeteria serve free pizza and ice cream every day and abolish pop quizzes!

Trump did utter one truth in the speech: “The world is laughing at us right now.”

Yes, I’m quite sure they are.

ETA: BC in Illinois in comments below points out that Hillary Clinton sent a video to the same organization:

She also managed to capture her remarks in landscape!

Ooooo! Oooo! I know! I know! Call on me! Call on me!

silly sully

Why? Because he’s a hysterical, pants-soiling drama bear? Let’s not forget, this is the same Sully who, after President Obama had a subpar debate performance in 2012, covered himself with beagle shit and ran through the streets of D.C. bellowing doom and woe (okay, only in my imagination, but it’s just a slight exaggeration!).

And Sully likes Obama. He hates Hillary Clinton, with such an irrational intensity that it’s as if he thinks she’s the evil harpy who personally circumcised him with a rusty teaspoon in a squalid NHS clinic. So of course he’s sure she’s going to lose to Trump, though Sully says he’ll vote for Clinton if there’s no palatable third party alternative.

[An aside: before all you puling BernieBabies show up in comments to shriek about how much Hillary sucks, we get it! You hate her! Go read the Sullivan interview — you’ll get a righteous stiffy, and maybe you’ll forget to crap all over the comments section.]

There was also something in the Slate interview that reminded me of Adam’s post last night. If you haven’t read Adam’s post yet, do. You won’t enjoy it as it is a compendium of the slime extruded on Twitter by pro-Trump, anti-Semitic creepy-crawlies who emerged when a journalist turned over a rock. Horrifying.

But anyhoo, the Slate article addressed the incident Adam talks about and also a headline at the Trump-friendly Breitbart site earlier this week that refers to Bill Kristol as a “Renegade Jew.” Now, it’s important to bear three things in mind when considering the Breitbart headline:

1) Kristol is a loathsome piece of shit
2) Breitbart is a flophouse for unemployable wingnut morons rather than a legitimate media organization
3) The person who called Kristol a “Renegade Jew,” David Horowitz, is himself Jewish (and a nasty wingnut hysteric of the WND variety)

But all that said — damn. As Michelle Goldberg notes, “the Trump campaign has been associated with white nationalism and a resurgence of raw, violently threatening anti-Semitism. Breitbart’s headline suggests that the Jew baiting popular on pro-Trump social media feeds is creeping toward the mainstream.”

That’s scary shit. Several weeks ago on a thread here, I expressed a thought I’ve heard many fellow American liberals express since Trump clinched the GOP nomination, something along the lines that the fact that Trump will top a major party ticket makes me ashamed even though I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life.

A commenter (I’ve forgotten who — sorry) replied that one advantage she enjoyed as someone who was raised by African American parents was never having to feel ashamed about something a white fool like Trump does. I don’t think I replied — didn’t know what to say.

Because honestly, it never occurred to me for a second to be ashamed because Trump is a fellow white person; rather, I felt shame as an American, that such a vile, bigoted dunce had captured the nomination of one of only two relevant political parties in my country.

That’s an aspect of white privilege, no doubt — the freedom from feeling any responsibility for what some random white shithead does, the certainty that it doesn’t reflect in any way on me. But as this white nationalist aspect of the Trump campaign asserts itself, I do feel a special responsibility to respond to it, as an American of the WASP variety.

I’m not sure how, aside from doing everything I possibly can to help elect Hillary Clinton. Maybe grab the lapels of fellow Saltine-American friends, relatives and neighbors who say they might vote for Trump and shake some sense into them? I don’t know.

But I do feel responsible. And more determined than ever.