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I am Jack’s preschool temper tantrum

[ 83 ] October 20, 2016 |

fight club

Satirical novels always run the risk of going over the top, but this one has become just way too preposterous.

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There are two scenarios in which a Clinton victory will guarantee that Trump disputes the legitimacy of the election

[ 140 ] October 20, 2016 |

sire

If it’s close, and if it’s not.

Over recent days, as Trump’s claims about a rigged election have become ever-more fantastical and unhinged, a lot of commentators have claimed that the key to combating this kind of rhetoric post 11/8 is for Clinton to win by a really wide margin — by say more than the 9.5 million votes by which Obama defeated McCain.

I think this is a naive take. Suppose, as is becoming more likely every day, that the election is a true landslide: that Clinton wins by fifteen percentage points, which would translate into about 20 million more votes (the most one-sided presidential election in American history, in terms of total popular vote margin, was Nixon’s win by just under 18 million votes in 1972).

Does anybody really think that Donald and the Deplorables (buy their first album on Sire Records) will then say, wow, I guess we were really wrong about how millions of dead people and illegals were going to be bused into the “inner cities” (wink wink nudge nudge) to vote for Crooked Hillary? I thinks not, especially given that this highly scientific poll that Matt Drudge conducted on the afternoon of the election shows that Trump actually won by [insert large number here] votes etc etc.

In fact the more one-sided the election is, the louder Trump will squeal about how the “obviously” fake margin proves it was stolen.

Which is all the more reason to simply ignore him and everybody associated with him when he goes on his inevitable post-election tirade. Of course if people are literally rioting in the streets ignoring them is not an option. If some of those people end up getting shot they will have only themselves, Donald Trump, the Republican Party, the media, and American politics, culture, and society as a whole to blame.

Steve Bannon says that Trump is bringing a mystery special guest to tonight’s debate

[ 269 ] October 19, 2016 |

yakov

Besides Obama’s half brother and Pat Smith.

Using Donald’s Razor, i.e., the stupidest possible explanation is generally the best (I prefer the prosody of this phrase to John Scalzi’s formulation), let’s figure out who it is.

Perlstein on Trump, Clinton and the future of the “conservative” movement

[ 109 ] October 19, 2016 |

nixonland

Rick Perlstein, the author of Nixonland, The Invisible Bridge, and Before the Storm (I’ve read the first two; they’re both great books), is interviewed by Isaac Chotiner. A couple of excerpts:

I’m kind of famous for coming up with a little epigram, “Conservatism never fails. It is only failed.” I came up with this during my long experience of studying the right, and realizing that basically anything that is politically successful is kind of labeled conservatism. Any failure is wiped off the books in this bad faith utterance that well, of course it failed because it wasn’t conservative. Romney wasn’t conservative enough. McCain wasn’t conservative enough. “Bush wasn’t conservative,” you began to hear in 2004, when the wheels came off the bus with Iraq, and all the rest.

That’s what we’ll hear, “Of course, Trump lost. He wasn’t conservative.” That allows everyone else in the Republican Party, basically, to push the infamous reset button. I think a lot of what we saw in the last couple of weeks with Trump’s various former supporters jumping ship, ostensibly because of this grotesque tape and the rest, is all about setting up that next move in the chess game. Everyone who has paid any kind of attention knew that Trump was this kind of guy in the first place. I think what we’ll see is the Paul Ryans and the Ted Cruzes, jockeying for the position of King of Conservatism saying, “We need to wipe the slate clean and go back to Reagan.” The dilemma that raises is that Trump has raised energies in the Republican electorate that may not be able to be so easily contained.

My father-in-law escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. My wife pointed out to him that if Trump was a decent family man who was able to discipline himself and was able to execute a smart campaign strategy that was designed by a sophisticated strategist … and my father-in-law cut her off. He said, “He would be a shoo-in.” And that’s the fear. This was the fear that you saw a lot in the decades after the European catastrophe of fascism, the fear that a demagogue who kind of broke the norms of American politics would have it easy, that it really was this sort of scrim of civility that kept the demons at bay.

You see it a lot in the correspondence of Lyndon Johnson when he’s agonizing over going into Vietnam. He would always talk about what happened in 1950 when McCarthy and the rest accused the Democrats of losing China. You saw Richard Nixon saying, “Sure, I’ve got to be tough, and basically do all of these demagogic things, because if I don’t, the real demagogues are going to come along.”

There are these sort of wildfires that can break out unless you have responsible grown-ups in charge of the Republican Party. They always understood that the forces that they were playing with were dangerous. This is why we see someone like George W. Bush going to a mosque the week after 9/11. I think he understood. He blundered into calling it a crusade, but he backed off right away. He wasn’t that smart and didn’t understand this language, but he was very careful not to turn this into a crusade against Muslims, because he knew if it did, we’d be seeing what we’re seeing now. As Sam Rayburn said about politics, anyone can knock down a barn, it’s building a barn that’s hard.

Chuck Berry

[ 35 ] October 19, 2016 |

chuck

Chuck Berry turned 90 yesterday, and announced he’ll soon be releasing his first record since the 1970s.

When the Voyager probe was launched in 1977, it included a “Golden Record,” featuring various sounds from Earth.

When the first communication is finally received from whichever extraterrestrials stumble upon this artifact, their message will most likely be some variant on “Send more Chuck Berry.”

He’s also pretty shiftless and always looking for a handout

[ 27 ] October 18, 2016 |

Already looking forward to the Twitter storm that should be hitting at about 2 AM tonight, Eastern Pharmacological Time:

President Obama said Tuesday that Donald J. Trump should “stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes.”

Speaking at a Rose Garden news conference with Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, Mr. Obama also called it “unprecedented” for any presidential candidate to “discredit the elections” before any votes were even cast, as Mr. Trump has done repeatedly in recent days.

“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.”

Here’s a prompt that could be inspirational:

white power

Accidentally like a martyr

[ 231 ] October 17, 2016 |

trump

Matt Taibbi argues that Donald Trump may turn out to be the best friend our tottering political status quo ever had:

Trump from the start had been playing a part, but his acting got worse and worse as time went on, until finally he couldn’t keep track: Was he supposed to be a genuine traitor to his class and the savior of the common man, or just be himself, i.e., a bellicose pervert with too much time on his hands? Or were the two things the same thing? He was too dumb to figure it out, and that paralysis played itself out on the Super Bowl of political stages. It was great television. It was also the worst thing that ever happened to our electoral system.

Trump’s shocking rise and spectacular fall have been a singular disaster for U.S. politics. Built up in the press as the American Hitler, he was unmasked in the end as a pathetic little prankster who ruined himself, his family and half of America’s two-party political system for what was probably a half-assed ego trip all along, adventure tourism for the idiot rich.

That such a small man would have such an awesome impact on our nation’s history is terrible, but it makes sense if you believe in the essential ridiculousness of the human experience. Trump picked exactly the wrong time to launch his mirror-gazing rampage to nowhere. He ran at a time when Americans on both sides of the aisle were experiencing a deep sense of betrayal by the political class, anger that was finally ready to express itself at the ballot box.
The only thing that could get in the way of real change – if not now, then surely very soon – was a rebellion so maladroit, ill-conceived and irresponsible that even the severest critics of the system would become zealots for the status quo.

In the absolute best-case scenario, the one in which he loses, this is what Trump’s run accomplished. He ran as an outsider antidote to a corrupt two-party system, and instead will leave that system more entrenched than ever. If he goes on to lose, he will be our Bonaparte, the monster who will continue to terrify us even in exile, reinforcing the authority of kings.

If you thought lesser-evilism was bad before, wait until the answer to every question you might have about your political leaders becomes, “Would you rather have Trump in office?”

Trump can’t win. Our national experiment can’t end because one aging narcissist got bored of sex and food. Not even America deserves that. But that doesn’t mean we come out ahead. We’re more divided than ever, sicker than ever, dumber than ever. And there’s no reason to think it won’t be worse the next time.

If you can read the whole linked article without cracking at least one internal smile you may need an anti-depressant or three.

The paranoid style, 2016

[ 218 ] October 17, 2016 |

hofstadter

“We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”

Richard Hofstadter

Here are some things that the current Republican nominee for president has asserted:

(1) That it’s unclear whether Barack Obama was born in the United States.

(2) That “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

(3) That Ted Cruz’s father Raphael met with Lee Harvey Oswald, and may have been part of a conspiracy that assassinated John F. Kennedy.

(4) That “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends, and her donors.”

(5) That President Obama founded ISIS. (When they first heard this claim a lot of people, including me, just assumed this claim had to be some sort of figurative claim — that he meant Obama “founded” ISIS by allowing a power vacuum to grow in Iraq and so forth. Actually Trump meant this claim to be taken completely literally. Only after days of incredulous criticism did he reverse course and claim he was being “sarcastic” [sic]).

(6) That the Department of Labor employment numbers are faked by the federal government, to make people believe the unemployment rate is nearly ten times lower than it actually is.

(7) That the Department of Justice colluded with Hillary Clinton to exonerate her when it investigated her use of a private e-mail server while she was the Secretary of State.

(8) That the American mainstream media are conspiring to deny him the presidency by rigging the election.

(9) That the 2016 presidential election is already being rigged “at many polling places.”

This is a far from exhaustive list, but I’m already tired.

Basically Trump is a Breitbart comments thread personified. (If he is elected, he will be a Breibart comments thread with nuclear weapons.)

The optimistic take at this point is that the Trump campaign is no longer primarily about winning the 2016 election, but rather is morphing into a Steve Bannon scheme to found Trump TV, which will become the media centerpiece of a fascistic ethno-nationalist mass political movement, which will continue to fight to seize complete control of the Republican party. That’s the optimistic take.

It’s an open question whether Trump himself has become paranoid in a clinical sense, or whether he is consciously or semi-consciously taking cynical advantage of Hofstadter termed the “paranoid style” in American political life. An open question, and ultimately not a very interesting one, since the social effects are the same either way.

In the last 24 hours Trump has body shamed Clinton and claimed she’s using PEDs

[ 136 ] October 16, 2016 |

ketchup

At this point he’s got to be trolling LGM. I expect a passionate defense of ketchup shortly.

Portsmouth, New Hampshire (CNN)Donald Trump suggested Saturday that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has been “getting pumped up” with performance-enhancing drugs and challenged Clinton to take a drug test before the final debate next week.

Trump argued that Clinton was more energetic during the beginning of their debate last Sunday, but lost her steam by the end of the debate. He offered no evidence to back up his wild claim.

“I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate,” Trump said during a rally here. “Because I don’t know what’s going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like, huff, take me down. She could barely reach her car.”

Trump appeared to be conflating the debate with last month’s 9/11 ceremony where Clinton struggled to get inside her van on her own due to a bout with pneumonia.

I do like “wild claim” however. It’s nice to see a little bit of a retreat from both sides do it, even if took a literal lunatic winning the GOP nomination for the media to stop Brodering.

Is it realistic to hope that a non-trivial percentage of people who say they’re voting for Trump actually won’t?

[ 371 ] October 14, 2016 |

protest

And by “people” I mostly mean “women.” (I’m not feeling very hopeful about the members of my gender at the moment).

I realize Trump is doing badly with women already, but this is just beyond sickening:

Also:

Kristin Anderson was deep in conversation with acquaintances at a crowded Manhattan nightspot and did not notice the figure to her right on a red velvet couch — until, she recalls, his fingers slid under her miniskirt, moved up her inner thigh, and touched her vagina through her underwear.

Anderson shoved the hand away, fled the couch and turned to take her first good look at the man who had touched her, she said.

She recognized him as Donald Trump: “He was so distinctive looking — with the hair and the eyebrows. I mean, nobody else has those eyebrows.”

At the time of the incident, which Anderson said took place in the early 1990s, she was in her early twenties, trying to make it as a model. She was paying the bills by working as a makeup artist and restaurant hostess. Trump was a big celebrity whose face was all over the tabloids and a regular presence on the New York club scene.

The episode, as Anderson described it, lasted no more than 30 seconds. Anderson said she and her companions were “very grossed out and weirded out” and thought, “Okay, Donald is gross. We all know he’s gross. Let’s just move on.”

Over the years, Anderson, now 46 and a photographer living in Southern California, has recounted the story to people she knew, casually at first.

One friend, Kelly Stedman, told The Washington Post that Anderson informed her about the encounter a few days after it happened.

“We were out at a girls’ brunch” at the Great Jones Cafe in Manhattan, Stedman said, recalling that when she and two other friends heard the story, they found themselves “laughing at how pathetic it was” on Trump’s part. . .

Anderson, who said she doesn’t support Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, did not initially approach The Post. A reporter contacted her after hearing her story from a person who knew of it, and she spent several days trying to decide whether to go public.

Anderson’s decision to do so follows last week’s disclosure by The Washington Post of a 2005 video in which Trump boasted to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush that his celebrity gave him the ability to grab women “by the p—y. You can do anything.”

Trump insisted that his comments were “just words” and dismissed them as “locker room banter.”

. . . and this afternoon Paul Ryan maintained his deeply principled stand of supporting Donald Trump’s presidential bid while very subtly signaling to sympathetic observers that he is not happy about it:

As new sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump emerged Friday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was in Madison, Wisconsin, lecturing college students about why they should vote for Trump.

Ryan didn’t mention Trump’s name, but painted a dystopian picture of America under the rule of Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democrats. In short, Ryan believes America will be a terrible place unless Trump becomes president.

“What vision do Hillary Clinton and her party offer the people? They want an America that does not stand out,” Ryan said. “They want an America that is ordinary — there is kind of a gloom and grayness to things… we are ruled by our betters, by a cold and unfeeling bureaucracy that replaces original thinking.” . . .

The case Ryan made for Trump comes just days after the House Speaker reportedly told Republican caucus members he was done defending his party’s presidential nominee. That decision came in the wake of the October 7 release of a 2005 video of Trump bragging about sexual assault — remarks Ryan said “sickened” him.

But Ryan still hasn’t rescinded his endorsement of Trump. And as he spoke in Madison, news broke of yet another woman alleging Trump groped her. Trump’s camp insists all the women accusing Trump of sexual assault are lying, but many of their stories eerily sync up with behavior Trump bragged about on the 2005 video — forcible kissing and genital grabbing. Many of their accusations are corroborated by people they told about the incidents at the time they occurred.

. . . . also in the same speech from which the clip above is excerpted Trump mocked Hillary Clinton’s body:

[I]n the last couple of days, Trump has sunk to new depths. In a speech yesterday, he charged, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special-interest friends and her donors” — inflammatory anti-Semitic imagery reminiscent of Charles Coughlin. And then Friday, in possibly the most deranged misogynistic moment of the campaign, Trump insulted Hillary Clinton’s appearance, telling his audience, “when she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

Trump has spent decades reducing all women to their appearance. At the same time, his presidential campaign has forced upon him certain disciplines, one them being the need to conceal this habit. During the primary, he dismissed Carly Fiorina — “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” – but, when confronted, backed down with an unconvincing denial. The denial indicated Trump’s awareness that this was a line he could not cross, a side of himself he could not show.

But the recent spate of sexual-assault allegations returned Trump to his natural state, and he has spent days boasting that he would never force himself upon the women accusing him of doing so because they are not attractive enough. He then slipped almost naturally into a dismissal of his opponent. Denying his opponent’s charge that he evaluates all women by their looks has become too exhausting a pose to maintain, and, with his polls submerging, the payoff of forbearance has dwindled to too low a level. The mask has slipped, and Trump is thrusting himself before the country as the grossly bigoted misogynist his critics have always known him to be, a disgraceful excuse for a human being, a monster without restraint.

I’m pretty sure Paul Ryan disapproves very, very deeply of this as well.

This is your occasional reminder that the electoral college is an anachronistic piece of 18th century legal ordnance, lying around waiting to detonate unexpectedly

[ 138 ] October 14, 2016 |

18th century court

Could Washington State have another “faithless elector?” Democratic Elector Robert Satiacum, one of twelve Washington State electors, is conflicted and torn over 2016.

“I’m not going to be forced to go in there and pick out your poison. Not happening. Maybe this will start with something, we’ll all stand up and speak up,” he told KING 5. “This is more than a presidential election; the world is in crisis mode!”

A local activist and member of the Puyallup Tribe, Satiacum supported Bernie Sanders for president and still does.

“We had a great deal of hope with Bernie, because he said that. That we’re going to go back and redress the way we’re dealing with Native American people and their concerns and their needs,” he said. . .

While faithless electors have never altered the outcome of a modern day presidential election, it’s a risk that comes with a $1,000 fine and also [a] moral dilemma.

For various reasons this is never going to get fixed until something goes boom first.

A global conspiracy of international bankers and other cosmopolitan elites who control the media

[ 251 ] October 13, 2016 |

streicher

This all sounds vaguely familiar somehow:

A conspiracy. As we’ve seen in the WikiLeaks hack, Trump said early in his speech, “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”

After this line, the crowd began chanting “lock her up!”

“So true,” Trump responded. “Honestly, she should be locked up. She should be.”

But back to the conspiracy. The vehicle through which this globalist “plot” is carried out, Trump asserted, is the “corporate media,” the “most powerful weapon deployed by the Clintons.” He then went on this rampage:

The corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda. And the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves. And their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy.

For them, it’s a war. And for them, nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation. Believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on November 8th. Remember that. This election will determine whether we’re a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy but are, in fact, controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system. And our system is rigged. This is reality. You know it. They know it. I know it. And pretty much the whole world knows it.

The establishment and their media enablers wield control over this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and morally deformed. They will attack you. They will slander you. They will seek to destroy your career and your family. They will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie. And then, again, they will do worse than that. They will do whatever’s necessary. The Clintons are criminals, remember that, they’re criminals.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Jared Kushner used copious amounts of white-out to remove various references to Zionism from the prepared text.

Josh Marshall:

Is it desperation? The themes and instincts of the anti-Semitic radicals and extremists his campaign stews in? A “global conspiracy” of the political elites, international finance and the media who have “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put the money in the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

Whatever Trump is thinking or means, the white nationalists and neo-Nazis he’s activated will hear his speech with glee because he’s channeling text book anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, with all the code words and emotional tenor. I genuinely don’t know how much of this he even understands or cares about. But his rage and anger is in tune with these movements. And he’ll cast about for the most coherent and resonant storyline that captures it. It doesn’t matter what he thinks. It matters what he does.

It’s possible these are simply the tropes and storylines of international Jewish conspiracies repurposed with the Jews removed from the picture. But it hardly matters. The substrate of traditional anti-Semitism is just as toxic as what grows from it. These are the kinds of conspiratorial, revanchist fantasies that spur violence and attacks on the mundane ordinariness of democracy itself.

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