Open Thread: At Prey in the Fields of the Lard

While Don “Il Douche” Trump was out this weekend riling up the Southern rubes for the tv cameras, the rest of the Repub candidates were busy smarming Iowa’s god-botherers. Mr. Pierce reports on “A Particularly Ugly Dinner with Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and the Gang“:

DES MOINES—On Friday night, seven of the Republican contenders for president gathered around a mock Thanksgiving table on a stage at the front of an enormous ballroom, which was filled to the gunwales even though the year’s first winter storm had come rolling out of Nebraska that afternoon. “Satan,” joked Bob Vander Plaats, “is trying to disrupt our plans tonight. But it was laid on my heart that the people who would show up tonight were the people who really love this country.”

Vander Plaats is the head of the Family Leader Foundation. If you are a Republican candidate for president, and you run afoul of Vander Plaats and his legions, you are not going to get out of Iowa alive. They shake the hay with more enthusiasm, they bang their Bibles more vigorously than just about any group of people anywhere in the country, and they control the caucus process, if anyone does. Which is why the seven people who want to be president were sitting there at the table behind papier mache autumn leaves with Frank Luntz sitting in the Daddy chair at the end…

And, at the beginning, when the gathering was disrupted several times by immigration rights protesters, Mike Huckabee took advantage of the situation to remind people that this never happens at liberal gatherings, as though the Republican party wasn’t the breeding ground in which the very concept of ratfcking was born, and as though there weren’t all those patriots showing up at events early in the president’s term with questions about health care reform and automatic weapons. But the whole point, according to Luntz and the other folks at table, was to demonstrate Christian civility in the campaign, and to show those showboating Leninists at CNBC how to run a political discussion…

There was unction in the extreme, and no little sanctimony, and the now very familiar recitation of the dystopian landscape created by eight years of the Obama Administration and of the nearly unstoppable acceleration of the handbasket taking the country to hell. The Savior was summoned on a number of occasions, not all of them relevant to his gospel mission on Earth. But the real meat on the Thanksgiving table got served up when Luntz wrenched the discussion away from sacred platitudes and into the realm of national security and foreign affairs. The clouds of incense were dispersed. The preacher masks all dropped. To a person, the seven Republican candidates came right up to the edge of accusing the president of the United States of treason and of being in sympathy with the murderers in France and in Mali. Right up to the edge, they all walked. Then they winked and took baby steps back, but everybody in the hall, all of the good Christians who’d come out in the snow, got the message…

Steve Benen, at his MSNBC blog:

… Right Wing Watch explained this week a little about the man who ran the show: “”Not only does Vander Plaats want to remove from office or defund the courts of judges who find in favor of marriage equality, he believes that anything, like gay marriage, that ‘goes against the law of nature’ is by definition unconstitutional . He argues that the government is an institution of God and therefore its purpose is ‘to promote righteousness’ and to apply ‘God’s principles and precepts.’”

And it’s against this backdrop that seven contenders for the Republican presidential nomination – Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rick Santorum – appeared at last night’s gathering, hoping to earn an endorsement. (In 2008, Vander Plaats backed Huckabee, who won that year’s Iowa caucuses, and in 2012 he backed Santorum, who won that year’s Iowa caucuses)…

So, as I’m sure you’re as happy as I am to note: Losers. Very sanctimonious pious losers, though, who can be counted upon to deplore how all Muslims are hate-driven cultists who let their “faith leaders” trap them in medieval squalor in the name of an authoritarian god. Read more



Open Thread: Trump’s Fans Go Full Brownshirt

At last, an experiment to answer the plaint, “How come those #BLM protestors aren’t disrupting Trump rallies?” Per NYMag, “Black Lives Matter Protester Tackled by Crowd at Trump Rally in Alabama“:

CNN reports that a black protester who tried to disrupt Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Alabama Saturday was involved in an altercation with several crowd members. The man was shouting “black lives matter” and wearing a shirt adorned with the same statement, and members of the crowd apparently took it upon themselves to intervene. The Montgomery Advertiser notes that he was one of three protesters who had entered the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex about 35 minutes into Trump’s speech in an attempt to disrupt it.

According to the Advertiser, event staff asked the protesters to stop, and two then did while the third continued to protest. An anonymous Trump staffer said that “the guy was being disruptive. He was doing the Black Lives Matter thing and saying other phrases that were really firing up the crowd around him. He was throwing his hands around almost punching.” But according to CNN, the protester was shoved and tackled by several people — all of whom were white — and also punched by at least one man and kicked by one woman while he was on the ground. Security officers eventually escorted the man out of the rally, and at least one attendee can be heard chanting “all lives matter” in response. The anonymous Trump staff member insisted the protester’s removal was a safety issue, because “the guy was intentionally antagonizing the crowd.”

The man did not need medical attention. No arrests were made but three people were reportedly asked to leave the rally after the altercation, though it’s not clear if they were protesters or attendees. As the protest happened, Trump responded by ridiculing the protester and saying “get him the hell out of here.”… Trump also differentiated himself from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who Trump says allowed (Black Lives Matter) protesters to take over one of his rallies because Sanders was too politically correct. Trump then assured the crowd that would never happen at one of his rallies…

Gotta say, for wanna-be thugs, these guys seem to be on the same tactical level as a bunch of fourth graders — lots of posing-in-front-of-the-bathroom-mirror MMA-on-the-tv stances, shouting slogans, flailing, a sneaky kick or poke once the professionals swarm the protestor. A suicide bomber wouldn’t even need to set off his vest to take out these noble defenders of FREEDUMB!!! — one look at an actual physical threat and they’d trample each other, shitting themselves in terror.

Interview with protestor Mercutio Southall here.



Open Thread: Ugliest 80s Reunion Band Yet


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At least Jeane Kirkpatrick isn’t around to give us the benefit of her vast foreign policy experience…



Open Thread: The Tire Rims and Anthrax Candidate!

There’s a lot of American voters who just want to blow up the world, per Reuters:

American voters are evenly split between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as their top choice to address the issue of terrorism following the Paris attacks, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Asked to choose from the entire field of 2016 presidential hopefuls, 20 percent of 1,106 respondents surveyed between Nov. 16-17 opted for Trump. An equal share of the electorate picked Clinton.(polling.reuters.com/#!poll/TM743Y15)

Given Clinton’s background as a former secretary of state it is perhaps not surprising that she did reasonably well in the poll. However, Trump’s good showing upends an emerging narrative that the Paris shootings and suicide bombings would prompt voters to rethink their support for the real estate billionaire, who leads the field of Republican presidential candidates…

Glenn Matlosz, 71, of Audubon, New Jersey, said Trump would be the most able to address terrorism because he’s proven to be a straight talker.

“He’s telling it as it is,” said Matlosz, who describes himself as a Democrat. “He’s not mincing any words. There is no gobbledygook there. Everybody else is squawking.”…

Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said voters respond to candidates they perceive as taking a tough stance and aren’t necessarily looking at their biographies…

Trump is talking broadly about his approach instead of bogging voters down with details, said Republican strategist John Feehery.

“He’s the one who is speaking in the simplest language that is most understandable to the average voter,” Feehery said. “He’s not talking about ‘no-fly’ zones. He’s not getting into policy. He’s talking about, ‘Lets go kill ISIS.'”…

Translation: And the permanent Republican “establishment” is totally fine with an ignorant loudmouth whose solution to every world problem is YELL ABOUT BLOWING STUFF UP….

Jenna Johnson, reporting for the Washington Post:

WORCESTER, Mass. — As police officers escorted a shouting protester out of the rally Donald Trump held in a converted ice hockey arena on Wednesday night, the crowd of 10,500 held up their cellphone cameras, booed and then chanted: “USA! USA! USA!”

“Isn’t a Trump rally much more exciting than these other ones?” the presidential candidate marveled as he took in the scene. “And that kind of stuff only adds to the excitement, I tell you. Just incredible.”…

During a press conference before the rally, reporters pressed Trump to explain why he continues to say President Obama plans to resettle 250,000 Syrian refugees in the United States even though the administration has only publicly committed to accepting 10,000. Trump said his larger number comes from a “pretty good source” and is likely accurate because he has correctly predicted a number of other foreign events, including the rise of Osama bin Laden.

“You watch,” he said, “I’ll be right.”

Trump once again cursed as he described what he would do as president to Islamic State terrorists: “We’ve got to knock the s— out of these people. We’ve got to do it. We’ve got to do it.” The crowd once again began chanting: “USA! USA! USA!”…

And Trump continued to warn his supporters that these terrorists could use the Internet as a weapon.

“They’re using the Internet, and they’re recruiting people,” Trump said. “We’ve got to take back the Internet because they are taking people. They’re literally brainwashing people. They’re brainwashing our youth… We can’t let that happen. We have innocent youth, and they are misguided.”… Read more



Hillary Clinton’s Smash Daesh Speech (Updated)

Hillary Clinton laid out her plan to counter Daesh/ISIS/ISIL in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in NYC today. Here are some highlights via articles up at the NYT and CNN:

Hillary Clinton is calling for more allied planes, more airstrikes and a “broader target set” — though no large-scale mobilization of U.S. ground troops — to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. “That is just not the smart move here,” Clinton said.

She called on Congress to approve a new authorization of the use of military force against ISIS, saying that doing so would signal “that the U.S. is committed to this fight. The time for delay is over. We should get this done.”

She also called for a no-fly zone in Syria, saying, “we should retool and ramp up our efforts to equip viable Syrian opposition efforts.”

Clinton, in a major break from her GOP presidential rivals, called for the United States to continue accepting Syrian refugees despite reports that at least one of the Paris attackers entered Europe under that guise.

“Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee — that is just not who we are,” Clinton said.

Clinton sought to ramp up pressure on Iraq’s Shia-led government and on Turkey to set aside old grievances, saying that “the threat from ISIS cannot wait.” She said Qatar and Saudi Arabia “need to stop their citizens from directly funding extremist organizations.” And she acknowledged that the U.S. desire to see the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who she said has slaughtered more Syrians than terrorists have, isn’t a top priority.

In a shot at Republicans who have criticized her for not using the phrase, Clinton said that denouncing “radical Islamic terrorism” amounts to giving “these criminals, these murderers, more standing than they deserve.”

A mixed bag, IMO. I like that she called out the Republicans for fearmongering and echoed the president’s remarks on accepting refuges. I’m pleased she’s not going to cave in to counterproductive GOP language policing.

I was glad she said Qatar and Saudi Arabia need to stop their citizens from funding terrorism — it’s way past goddamn time somebody said that, though it’ll take more than words. I think it makes sense to ask Congress to authorize any further action, even if they are unserious toddlers.

I’m also encouraged that Clinton acknowledged that ousting Assad is a secondary to defeating Daesh. Sometimes I worry that the Obama admin has boxed itself in with the “Assad must go” rhetoric.

I’m concerned about the no-fly zone proposal and reference to arming moderates. What moderates? And do we really want to escalate our role in this conflict? Daesh’s new global terrorism campaign has changed the facts on the ground, so it makes sense to reassess our role. But I remain unconvinced so far that we should stick our noses in further.

PBO has been walking a tightrope, trying to do enough to contain and influence the conflict without violating the “Don’t Do Stupid Shit” doctrine, which was arguably the best of many bad options. Do you think the new turn in the Daesh strategy will cause the administration to review its stance and go hawkier?

What did you find worrying / encouraging about Clinton’s remarks?

UPDATE: Here are links to the CSPAN video of the speech and the transcript. After reading the part about the no-fly zone and objective of toppling Assad, I’m less optimistic than I was from just reading the media summaries. Le sigh.