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Bleg: What is the politically correct position in regard to climate change on the American right at this moment?

[ 198 ] August 11, 2016 |


I don’t have the patience to try to figure this out myself, so I’m asking for free help from our learned commentariat. (BTW one of the few times I’ve felt sort of like a lawyer in recent years was when I was watching The Intern a couple of days ago, and kept being bothered by the fact that the movie’s plot is just a giant FLSA violation. Why must Hollywood be so unrealistic?).

My very rough understanding of right-wing orthodoxy on climate change is that it’s slowly evolving along something like the following spectrum of positions:

(1) The earth is not actually getting hotter.

(2) The earth is getting hotter, but human activity is playing no role in this development.

(3) The earth is getting hotter, but human activity is only playing a relatively small role in this development.

(4) The earth is getting hotter, human activity is playing a major role in this development, but any and all attempts to mitigate the situation will do more harm than good.

Does this about cover it? I would expect the next stage would be something like “OK we have to do something, but it should be done through huge tax breaks for corporations, not Wasteful Government Programs.” Or are we there already?


Speaking of conspiratorial thinking

[ 58 ] August 10, 2016 |


At this point, if an “unsuccessful assassination attempt” were to take place against the candidate at a Trump rally my initial presumption — and I assume that of tens of millions of my fellow Americans — would be that it was a publicity stunt, staged by Trump himself.

In this way, we are all slowly becoming Alex Jones.

Kinder, gentler, more thoughtful Trump 2.0 only jokes about shooting Hillary Clinton

[ 154 ] August 9, 2016 |


Remember yesterday, when everyone was amazed that Donald Trump managed to go 24 hours without saying anything in public that would normally end a presidential campaign? Well that was yesterday:

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared to joke about the possibility that Hillary Clinton could be shot in remarks at a campaign rally Tuesday in Wilmington, N.C.

Trump was discussing the possibility that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, would be able to appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court if she wins the race for the White House.

He then said that there was nothing that could be done in that scenario, before mentioning “Second Amendment folks.”

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment,” Trump said to boos from the crowd.

“By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks,” he then added.

“Though the Second Amendment folks, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

On Twitter, a number of observers noted that it appeared that Trump was discussing the possibility, even if he were joking, that Clinton could be shot.


Trump becomes the first person with Secret Service protection to be investigated by the Secret Service.

Kind of hard to imagine this lasting to November, but a lot of things that were hard to imagine have ended up happening in the last year.

. . . in comments, Bitter Scribe flags this perceptive Wonkette piece:

I have a compulsive need to be entertaining… just like Donald Trump.

This compulsion is a keystone of Donald Trump’s personality, yet as far as I can tell, none of the far, far too many “pieces” on Trump’s mental makeup have specifically focused on this as a major reason for the beshitted state of his campaign.

Most long-range analysis of Donald Trump’s peculiar character focuses on three prominent traits: his shameless, constant lying; his Jovian ego (which likely conceals deep insecurity); and his desire for legitimacy and validation in the eyes of his betters.

These are all supposed to be impediments to his political success, but Nixon was a bipedal dozen dump trucks of these traits and they didn’t keep him from getting elected and then re-elected.

But Nixon wasn’t the class clown. Trump is. That’s a key difference. . .

Trump’s not as funny as I am, and he’s a lot richer than I am. These factors make him much more prone to bombing when trying to be funny. People laugh at rich people’s jokes because they want rich people to like them, which has given Trump a warped idea of what’s actually funny. So Trump probably makes bad jokes more often than I do, yet suffers fewer consequences thanks to his status. People pretend they weren’t hurt by the joke. Or if they protest, Trump can write them off because he doesn’t need them.

At least he could, before he ran for president. Now it’s a little different. Now his bad jokes have consequences. Now he can’t play exclusively to his audience of coddled, cloistered white males because they’re not the only ones in the room.

Very Serious People

[ 246 ] August 9, 2016 |


This bit of semi-sourced Politico gossip posing as reporting should be taken with a pillar of salt:

As Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign reaches out to Republicans alarmed by Donald Trump’s national security blunders, there’s a group of high-profile GOP hold-outs whose endorsement would be a major coup if the Democrat could win them over.

Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, George Shultz and Henry Kissinger are among a handful of so-called Republican “elders” with foreign policy and national security experience — people who have held Cabinet-level or otherwise high-ranking positions in past administrations — who have yet to come out for or against Trump.

A person close to Clinton said her team has sent out feelers to the GOP elders, although it wasn’t clear if those efforts were preliminary or more formal requests for endorsement, or if they were undertaken through intermediaries. Clinton campaign aides did not respond when asked if they had solicited endorsements or tried to persuade the elders to speak out against Trump.

However, Pierce has a point that, if there is anything to this, it’s a war criminal too far:

If Hillary Clinton actively seeks, or publicly accepts, the endorsement of Henry Kissinger, I will vote for Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on November 8. (Jill Stein, you might’ve been a contender, but going off to Red Square to talk about Vladimir Putin and human rights? Being an honored guest of a Russian propaganda channel? I don’t think so.) Kissinger is a bridge too far. He is responsible for more unnecessary deaths than any official of a putative Western democracy since the days when Lord John Russell was starving the Irish, if not the days when President Andy Jackson was inaugurating the genocide of the Cherokee. He should be coughing his life away as an inmate at The Hague, not whispering in the ears of a putatively progressive Democratic presidential candidate. I can tolerate (somewhat) the notion of her reaching out to the rest of the wax museum there, but Kissinger is a monster too far. He is my line in the sand. I can choose who I endorse to lead my country, a blessing that Henry Kissinger worked his whole career to deny to too many people.

(Note that he prefaces this with the observation that he’s in the bluest of blue states, so his presidential vote is purely symbolic in any case).

The other thing that’s noteworthy about this is that Bush administration foreign policy figures like Rice, and their hangers-on in the form of whatever Kagan is being quoted in the Politico piece, have somehow retained their Very Serious credentials, even after constructing and cheerleading one of the two biggest foreign policy debacles in US history. By way of comparison, the historical parallel would be George H.W. Bush trying to get Robert McNamara’s endorsement in 1988.

The LGM 2016 Presidential Election Contest predictions

[ 77 ] August 5, 2016 |

In regard to the LGM presidential election contest, the prospect of acquiring wealth uncountable $100 in return for a quick back of the cyber-envelope calculation proved to be a powerful lure to our dedicated and knowledgeable readership. No less than 118 commenters and lurkers came forth, and the results are below. Read more…

Rich Lowry: liberal media bias = reporting

[ 130 ] August 5, 2016 |



Speaking of the media, before Trump wrapped up the nomination I thought–and I know this was very foolish of me–there was at least some chance that the media wouldn’t turn on him the way it does every other Republican nominee. Maybe they would be so desperate to have him on and to keep enjoying the ratings bonanza, he would experience something like the latitude he got in the primaries, when interviewers rarely nailed him down on anything. But the media has clearly squared the circle by giving us wall-to-wall Trump coverage via a continuous anti-Trump feeding frenzy. Of course, Trump has stupidly played into its hands at nearly every turn, but that doesn’t mean the mainstream media isn’t blatantly biased against him.

Note how an “anti-Trump feeding frenzy” consists of “reporting what the Republican candidate for president said today.”

But my favorite part of this is the claim that the absence of liberal media bias consists precisely of the media failing to do their jobs. As soon as they start asking any questions that reveal, inevitably, that the GOP has nominated a psychotic liar, then they’re revealing their “bias,” which apparently they can only avoid indulging in by refusing to report on whatever crazy slander or three Donald Trump has uttered in the last twelve hours.

In other words, the famous Colbert joke isn’t even a joke any more.

Keep talking

[ 242 ] August 4, 2016 |


Hillary Clinton has surged to a 15-point lead over reeling, gaffe-plagued Donald Trump, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

Clinton made strong gains with two constituencies crucial to a Republican victory – whites and men — while scoring important gains among fellow Democrats, the poll found.

Clinton not only went up, but Trump went down. Clinton now has a 48-33 lead, a huge turnaround from her narrow 42-39 advantage last momth.

The findings are particularly significant because the poll was taken after both political conventions ended, and as Trump engaged in a war of words with the parents of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, killed in the Iraq War 12 years ago.

Donald Trump said he’s puzzled as to why he’s not leading Hillary Clinton by large margins at a rally Wednesday night, making no mention of the controversies that have mired his campaign all week.

Speaking to a large crowd at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Florida, Trump boasted about the turnout at his events, citing it as an indicator of his support.
Story Continued Below

“We go to Oklahoma, we had 25,000 people. We had 21,000 people in Dallas. We had 35,000 people in Mobile, Alabama. We have these massive crowds,” the Republican nominee said. “You’ve got thousands of people outside trying to get in [today], and this is one hell of a big stadium.”

Something something yard signs.

Reminder: less than 24 hours left to get your entry into the LGM 2016 Election Contest.

The LGM 2016 Election Contest, technical update

[ 37 ] August 3, 2016 |

TLGM2016EC is off to a fine start. Be sure to get your entry in by 5 PM EDT this Friday.

A couple of technical matters:

(1) Percentage estimates expressed in tenths of a percent will be treated thus: 51.1% will be treated as 51.10%.

(2) Not to name names, but if a prominent and beloved commenter submits an entry with percentages adding up to more than 100%, should the entrant be notified and be given an opportunity to re-submit? What if the entrant isn’t notified but re-submits anyway? (Just trying to stave off litigation here). Opinions expressed will be considered advisory.

(3) It’s been pointed out that the final vote count isn’t official until months after the election. For the purposes of this contest, the final vote count shall be the current vote count as reported by the Associated Press as of noon eastern time, the Friday after the election. (Making someone wait several months for vodka-flavored ketchup raises potential 8th amendment issues).

The LGM 2016 Election Contest

[ 66 ] August 3, 2016 |

alec baldwin

LGM is hosting a prediction contest for the 2016 American presidential election. FAQ below:

Q: How do I enter?

A: Send an email to containing the following:

A prediction of what percentage of the overall popular vote Hillary Clinton will receive.

A prediction of what percentage of the overall popular vote Donald Trump, or his replacement, will receive.

Predictions should be expressed to the hundredth percentile, i.e., 43.31%

A prediction of how many electoral votes the winning candidate will receive.

The winner of the contest will be the contestant whose entry features the lowest deviation from the actual percentages received by the candidates. The electoral vote prediction will be used as a tiebreaker, if necessary.

Note: There is no entry fee of any kind. This is not gambling.

Q: What can will I win?

A: First prize: $100

Second prize: A bottle of vodka-flavored ketchup

Third prize: This is a contest for winners. A loser is a loser, and there is no third prize. We’re actually a little embarrassed you asked, so we’ll pretend you didn’t.

Q: Who is eligible to participate?

A: People who post or lurk on this blog. There is a maximum of ONE (1) entry per contestant. Note: Using more than one LGM handle does not make you more than one contestant.

Q: When is the deadline for submitting my entry?

A: 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -05:00) Friday, August 5th.

Good luck to everyone, and to the Republic.

The symbolic politics of birtherism and “voter fraud”

[ 231 ] August 2, 2016 |


Donald Trump laid the groundwork, consciously or not, for his current presidential run six years ago, when he jumped onto the birther lunacy. It seems likely that Trump himself, like a lot of people who are or were birthers or birther-curious, wasn’t stupid and/or delusional enough to actually believe that Obama was born in Kenya. (Although it’s always dangerous to flout the explanatory power of Trump’s Razor).

For such people, the birther thing was always a form of symbolic politics: Obama isn’t really an American, for the obvious reason that black people, other non-whites, Muslims, etc. etc. aren’t really Americans, except by sufferance, or very partially and tenuously. Claiming that Obama was literally a foreigner was just a kind of twisted metaphor for the idea that America is a white country, which generously tolerates some number of semi-or-not-really-Americans in its midst.

Now some very mean and irresponsible people might term this kind of thinking “racist,” but an idea that is held by an unknown but pretty obviously large percentage of real Americans can’t be racist, because that would imply that American racism, which admittedly existed in some places in America at one time, wasn’t largely if not completely eliminated by the War of Northern Aggression, Jackie Robinson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Cosby Show.

Moving right along, somewhere in Trump’s pre-frontal cortex the realization arose that the amazingly widespread and totally-not-racist idea that Obama wasn’t really an American indicated that it might well be possible to win the GOP nomination by simply taking it as a given that real Americans are white Americans, and that political decisions taken without the support of a majority of white Americans are illegitimate by definition.

Now that this plan has come to fruition, Trump is laying the groundwork for making a subtle claim that a failure to elect him president would mean the election was rigged. See if you can detect that implication somewhere in the quote below:

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, to be honest,” Trump told supporters in Columbus, Ohio.

Asked later by Fox News host Sean Hannity to explain the remark, Trump said “I’ve been hearing about it for a long time,” and he suggested voter fraud by saying that four years ago, “you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican.”

Josh Marshall:

It’s true that Republicans have been very disingenuously pushing the ‘voter fraud’ con for years, especially as the power of minority voting has grown over the last two decades. However, as bad as that has been, there’s a major difference. Republicans to date have almost always used bogus claims of ‘voter fraud’ to rev up their troops and build support for restrictive voting laws, largely focused on minority voters. A number of those laws have been overturned by federal courts in the last week. A notable case was North Carolina where the Court found that the changes were intentionally designed to limit voting by black North Carolinians.

What Republicans politicians have virtually never done was use this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election. This is Donald Trump, not a normal politician. You should not be surprised if he refuses to accept the result of an electoral defeat or calls on his supporters to resist it.

The other point goes to the raced nature of all voter suppression legislation. They focus overwhelmingly on claims that African-Americans commit rampant vote fraud in “inner cities” and that immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants do the same. These are of course two of Trump’s main group enemies. Combining the animosity he has already stoked among his followers toward these groups with the claim that they will now try to “steal” the election through fraud is nothing less than striking a match in a gas filled room.

Whether Trump is starting to lay the groundwork for contesting the election on claims of widespread voter impersonation fraud or some kind of broader effort for election officials to falsify results, we’re entering a dangerous new phase of the 2016 election campaign.

The parallel with the birther nonsense is that what claims of “voter fraud” are really about is not actual voter fraud, which as Marshall has documented exhaustively is extremely rare, but a deeper sort of “fraud,” which is the wrenching away of America from real Americans by the Others, and their white enablers who dominate Democratic party elites, i.e., the race traitors. That’s what Trump’s entire campaign is about, and that’s what the movement that will unfortunately survive him will continue to be built around by politicians far more skillful and less overtly clownish and thuggish than Trump himself.

Was Merrick Garland’s name ever mentioned during the DNC?

[ 64 ] July 29, 2016 |


This guy says it wasn’t, and he has a theory as to why:

[R]ight now the conventional wisdom is that Republicans are blocking Garland’s nomination on the outside chance they can win the presidency and fill Scalia’s seat themselves; and if Clinton wins, they’ll just confirm Garland after the election, during the lame duck session. This plan will work, even if the Republicans lose the Senate, because they’ll still hold the majority until their replacements take office in January. The only way this doesn’t work is if Garland’s nomination is withdrawn. So what if the Garland nomination is withdrawn?

Look, I believe Obama nominated Garland because Garland is who he actually wants on the Court. But the Republican pitch on filling Scalia’s seat is “the voters should decide.” I’ve already explained why that doesn’t make any sense—the voters decided who should fill Supreme Court vacancies when they elected Obama. But a pitch that’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The GOP has handed Obama an excuse to withdraw Garland’s nomination the morning after the election. (Obama: “Guys, guys, you wanted to let the voters decide, and the voters have decided they want Hillary Clinton to fill this seat.”)

Do I think Obama would actually withdraw Garland’s nomination? I didn’t a week ago. But that was before we witnessed an entire week of the DNC, packed with speeches about Democratic goals and priorities—with plenty of talk about Supreme Court decisions that need overturning and plenty of promises to nominate justices who will overturn them—but not a single mention of confirming Merrick Garland.

My theory: If we get deep into August and the polls are showing not only a strong lead for Clinton but also promising leads in enough of those senate races, it will take only credible whispers of withdrawing Garland’s nomination to make the Republicans nervous enough to go ahead and confirm him before the election. And how do you create a credible threat of withdrawal? By taking the stage before millions of viewers for a week to talk about goals and priorities, and the importance of the Supreme Court, without mentioning Garland. There was an effort to rally Democratic voters behind the importance of appointing the right people to the Supreme Court—but no effort to rally Democratic voters behind Garland. Why? Because absenting Garland from the DNC was a signal. The Party didn’t commit itself to Garland. Clinton didn’t commit herself to Garland. Even Obama didn’t push for Garland. The signal: after this week, the possibility of withdrawing Garland on November 9 is real.

This is superficially plausible — and it’s certainly noteworthy that Garland wasn’t mentioned, assuming he wasn’t — but I can’t see the GOP folding on Garland right before the election even if the polls look dismal for them. That sort of show of weakness would just enrage the base further, assuming that particular dial won’t already be cranked up to 11 by then.

Clear and present danger

[ 180 ] July 27, 2016 |


Jill Stein isn’t going to let Donald Trump win the battle to utter the most noxious and irresponsible things during this news cycle without a fight:

Democrats are now accusing Russia of manipulating our presidential election… exactly what DNC was caught doing. #DNCleak

One problem with political rhetoric is that it naturally tends to be hyperbolic. People claim electing somebody as president would be a genuine catastrophe for the country, when in fact that’s not really very likely, given political inertia, institutional checks and balances, informal norms of governance and campaigning, and so forth.

Then Donald Trump comes along, i.e., a candidate who really would be a genuine catastrophe for the country, because he’s an utterly unqualified narcissistic sociopath who is completely unconstrained by ordinary formal or informal institutions and norms. And pointing this out (over and over again) rings rather hollow, because after all people are always making hyperbolic claims of this sort. But in this case it’s not hyperbole. If anything it’s an understatement, because it’s both hard to grasp and hard to express just how crazy and dangerous it would be to elect Trump president of the United States.

Anybody who does anything to help Trump get elected, which is what Jill Stein is working to do every day, is every bit as culpable in regard to increasing the existential danger the nation now faces as Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. That’s the practical and moral reality of the situation. Such people should be treated with the contempt they deserve, and what they did shouldn’t be forgotten once the present danger passes, assuming it does.

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