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The art of the con

[ 67 ] February 27, 2016 |

con game

This two-year-old piece from the Atlantic reveals how “Trump University” was an outright bait and switch scam:

Amid the thousands of pages generated by Trump University lawsuits, one document offers a particularly revealing look into the inner workings of Trump’s would-be educational empire: a 41-page “Private & Confidential” playbook printed on Trump University letterhead.

Here are the basics: In cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Dallas, Trump University promoted free seminars as a chance to follow in Trump’s very own footsteps. One ad had Trump proclaiming, “In just 90 minutes, my hand-picked instructors will share my techniques, which took my entire career to develop. Then, just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.”

Guess what happens next:

The playbook, prepared for Trump University seminars in Texas in 2009, might be summed up in one word: sell. Or as the playbook puts it on page 23, “Sell, Sell, Sell!” The playbook posits a “Minimum Sales Goal” of $72,500 per seminar, meaning that the seminars leaders needed to convince at least 20 percent of attendees to sign up for three-day seminars costing $1,495.

Under the heading “Registration Goal & Procedure,” Trump U. staffers are instructed to “Welcome attendees and build a Trump-esque atmosphere,” “Disarm any uncertainty,” and “Set the hook.” The hook in this case consists of selling seminar attendees on increasingly costly additional courses, culminating in the “Trump Gold Elite” package, for a cool $34,995. Pricey, yes, but the playbook notes that the list price of the Trump Gold Elite package is $49,415, a savings to students of 29 percent. Even before Trump University students had made their first real-estate transaction, they had managed to get themselves a deal, of sorts.

The playbook also features instructions on setting the room temperature and the mood music (“For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays; no courses in irony were available apparently) in the hotel conference rooms where “Trump University” had its evanescent existence.

Once seminar attendees were comfortably (but not too comfortably) seated in the no-hotter-than-68-degree meeting room, the lights dimmed and an introductory video featuring Donald Trump began. The video marked the closest any Trump University student would get to Donald Trump. None of the school’s courses, not even those in the pricey Trump Gold Elite level, featured an appearance by the flesh-and-blood Donald Trump.

That didn’t stop Trump University instructors from hinting that Trump might drop by one of the school’s seminars. According to New York State’s lawsuit, Trump U. classes often began with the promise that Trump “is going to be in town,” “often drops by,” or “might show up.” However, Trump never materialized. As consolation, attendees sometimes were offered the opportunity to have their photo taken next to a life-size cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.

At the conclusion of the Trump introductory video, a guest speaker took to the podium and launched into his real-estate presentation. Trump University advertised that its instructors were “hand-picked” by Trump himself, but the state of New York’s complaint asserts that Trump had no role in selecting teachers. “Many instructors came to Trump University from jobs having little to do with real estate investments,” the complaint reads, “and some came to Trump University shortly after their real estate investing caused them to go into bankruptcy.”

The playbook says almost nothing about the guest speaker presentations, the ostensible reason why people showed up to the seminar in the first place. Instead, the playbook focuses on the seminars’ real purpose: to browbeat attendees into purchasing expensive Trump University course packages.

Trump’s “people” who set up this classic ripoff were well aware that he and they were at best walking the often ragged line between the legal scamming of the naive and desperate and civil and criminal fraud:

Every university has admission standards and Trump University was no exception. The playbook spells out the one essential qualification in caps: “ALL PAYMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED IN FULL.” Basically, anyone with a valid credit card was “admitted” to Trump University. . .

Even though Trump University is facing two multi-million dollar fraud lawsuits, Donald Trump continues to defend his educational efforts, calling Trump University “a terrific school that did a fantastic job.” But if Trump had read his school’s own playbook, he might have foreseen the likely outcome of running a university with comically lax standards. At one point, the playbook advises Trump staffers: “If a district attorney arrives on the scene, contact the appropriate media spokesperson immediately.”

A few notes:

(1) The only moral or practical difference between Trump University and a fraud factory such as Corinthian Colleges (which Marco Rubio tried his best to protect two years ago) is the difference between a shorter and a longer con.

(2) The evidence that Trump is actually good at making money, as opposed to self-promotion, is scant. The nature of contemporary capitalism is such that, for a person who starts out with an enormous fortune, making that fortune many times larger over the course of an investment “career” is about as difficult as falling off a log. Trump could have increased his wealth twenty times over in nominal terms, and five-fold in constant dollars, since the mid-1970s simply by passive investment in market-tracking equities funds. Has he done better than that? I doubt it: for one thing if he had, he would have put the evidence up in neon already.

I also doubt that “Trump University” was primarily about making money, as opposed to stroking this despicable man’s insatiable ego. Trump inherited something in the nine figures and basically couldn’t avoid turning that into ten figures without trying to. The money he made off this particular scam was surely trivial in that context. It was an exercise in narcissism, which of course is exactly what his presidential campaign is about.

(3) All of which is to say that the key to understanding Trump is to see him as a classic American type: the con artist who lives to “score” by ripping people off. The money side is almost incidental: again, Trump isn’t stupid, and despite his immense ego he must realize he could have made just as much or more money in more socially respectable ways. But then everybody wouldn’t know his name.

(4) Helmut Norpoth sounds like a made-up name, plus from the story it also seems as if his “predictive” model was actually invented a few months ago and retro-fitted onto previous outcomes (how that counts as “prediction” is probably a question you can get answered at Trump University), but this guy is a political scientist, so there’s a 3.34% chance this might be meaningful.

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Bully for you

[ 177 ] February 26, 2016 |

trump christie

Hey, look over there, the party is deciding!

As the kids say, what is this I don’t even . . .

Almost white man’s burden

[ 163 ] February 26, 2016 |

cruz rubio

LGM commenter Karen24 linked yesterday to this story about a Super Pac associated with the American Freedom Party, that has been funding explicitly racist appeals in the form of robo-calls for Donald Trump. Here’s the full text of the call:

The American National Super PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump. I am William Johnson, a farmer and white nationalist.

The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called “racist.” This is our mindset: It’s okay that our government destroys our children’s future, but don’t call me racist. I am afraid to be called racist. It’s okay to give away our country through immigration, but don’t call me racist. It’s okay that few schools anymore have beautiful white children as the majority, but don’t call me racist. Gradual genocide against the white race is okay, but don’t call me racist. I am afraid to be called racist. Donald Trump is not a racist, but Donald Trump is not afraid.

Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump. (213) 718-3908. This call is not authorized by Donald Trump.

I’ve read a lot of comments on LGM over the past few months arguing about what impact Rubio’s and Cruz’s Hispanic identity is having and will have among GOP primary voters. Many of these comments have asserted that Cruz reads as white rather than Hispanic with these voters, as opposed to Rubio, who, it is often claimed, “looks” Hispanic. Obviously this purported distinction isn’t cutting much ice with the good folks behind these robo-calls, who dismiss the very idea that either Cruz or Rubio are “really” white at all, since they’re both “Cuban.”

I would hope at this late date it isn’t necessary to point out, at least for the regular audience at this blog, that the whole concept of somebody being “really” white in some sort of biological sense is bogus, since people are “white” if a society labels them as such, period. In other words, there’s no other content to the concept than the arbitrary ascription of it to a subset of the population, the residents of which have constantly changing features over time.

So, are Cruz and Rubio “white” in 2016 America? This of course is one variation on the question of whether or rather which Hispanics are “white” in this country at this time. One thing that is perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon used to say, is that both Cruz and Rubio would be unambiguously “white” in Cuba. Ethnically speaking, Cubans are almost all either of Spanish descent, Afro-Caribbean descent, or both (the island’s pre-Columbian population was almost completely wiped out by disease in the 16th century).

People of Spanish descent in Cuba are paradigmatically white within that culture. That describes Rubio’s ethnic background. Cruz’s father’s father was from the Canary Islands (a part of Spain), while his mother was born in Delaware, and is of Irish and Italian heritage. That too adds up to unambiguous whiteness in Cuba, and indeed throughout Latin America.

In the US in 2016, things are still a little more ambiguous. As an official census category “Hispanic” is an ethnic group, rather than a racial categorization, so formally speaking there’s nothing contradictory about white Hispanics (consider the increasingly interesting demographics and epidemiology of the category white non-Hispanic Americans). But obviously there are people — how many is unclear — who consider “white” Hispanics to be imperfectly or not quite or not white at all. Hence: “Don’t vote for a Cuban.”

(BTW, formally speaking, the categories Hispanic and Latino are not synonymous. Latinos include anyone either from or descended from people from Latin America, while Hispanics include everyone from or descended from people from Spanish-speaking countries. This distinction makes Brazilians Latino but not Hispanic, and Spaniards Hispanic but not Latino).

So, how “white” are Cruz and Rubio? My guess, and that’s all it is, is that for the large majority of GOP voters, and the vast majority of Americans, Cruz is “white” (because a Cuban of Spanish descent is very close to “white” and a woman born in Delaware of Irish and Italian heritage is completely “white”), and Rubio is very close to “white,” but not quite all the way there (Hence the many comments even here at LGM that Cruz just “looks” white, in contrast to Rubio, who “looks” Hispanic.).

But there are still people out there who have more restrictive concepts of “whiteness” than this, which explains the robo-calls. How many is an interesting question.

A family secret

[ 133 ] February 25, 2016 |

wallace

For the past 50 years, ever since Richard Nixon realized that the civil rights movement presented a golden opportunity to peel the South away from the Democrats, conservative elite opinion has been in a state of continual denial about the fact that the electoral success of the contemporary Republican party depends to a great extent on catering to and energizing a base that contains a high percentage of racists.

Part of this denial has manifested itself in trying to de-legitimize critiques of contemporary American racism by labeling all such critiques as nothing more than hyper-sensitive “political correctness” and the like, as if “racism” had come to mean nothing more than, say, doubts about the efficacy of affirmative action, as opposed to an enduring belief in white supremacy. Donald Trump’s campaign is piercing that denial, which is why so many conservative intellectuals are so enraged by his success:

Conservatives have treated him as an alien force. Trump is “a pro-abortion liberal masquerading as a conservative, who preys on nationalistic, tribal tendencies and has an army of white supremacists online as his loudest cheerleaders,” as Erick Erickson puts it, or “a pro-gun control, pro-single-payer health care, pro-eminent domain, pro-abortion, and pro-statism liberal,” in Rick Wilson’s terms. Commentary’s Noah Rothman complains that Trump “counts as allies the bigoted and the bloodthirsty.” One might conclude from these reactions that Trump chose the Republican party purely by accident, and that Republican voters have chosen him out of confusion.

In reality, the tendencies on display in Trump’s campaign have constituted a large and growing element of Republican politics. Figures like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace led white Southerners out of the Democratic Party and brought white populist politics into the GOP. Simultaneously, the party’s genteel northern liberal tradition has withered. These trends accelerated during the Obama years. Social scientist Michael Tesler has found that white racial resentment, which has grown steadily as a driving factor in the partisan realignment, has taken on a dramatically greater role in shaping partisan views. White racism is a far greater determinate of Republican loyalty than ever before. A rigorous study originally conducted in 2013 found that the most slave-intensive southern counties in 1860 have the most conservative and Republican white populations today. Recent work by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler finds that authoritarian psychology has also driven much of recent polarization.

I discussed both of these findings, among others, in a story on Obama and race two years ago, and even though the study criticized much of the left’s treatment of race during the Obama years, conservatives dismissed these findings. Their sensitivity is understandable. Conservatism, and the modern Republican party, is the lineal heir of a historically continuous defense of white racial hierarchy that has been written out of the American civic tradition. While conservatism has perfectly non-racist basis in theory — and a great many people subscribe to it without harboring racial motives of either the open or the covert kind — it is simply a fact that white racial fears supply a large proportion of real-world Republican votes. Conservatives, with very few exceptions, refuse to grapple with this reality. They prefer to treat racism as lying completely outside of, or even antithetical to, the American conservative tradition. Intellectuals on the right also habitually dismiss the entire theory of the authoritarian personality as biased claptrap designed to pathologize them.

Yet now they find these studies seem to have a familiar ring.

Understanding racism — that is, a belief in and commitment to, white supremacy — is central to understanding both American history, and America today, but much of American culture and politics remains in a state of denial about the national family secret: a secret that everyone knows, but which must never be mentioned in polite company. Now Donald Trump is exploiting that denial and repression to maximum effect. And Trump’s authoritarian personality is hardly incidental to his success: it is integrally related to his paranoid, nativist, and fundamentally racist message.

The horror

[ 95 ] February 25, 2016 |

brando

The Donald Trump juggernaut rolls into Florida where the GOP front-runner leads native son Sen. Marco Rubio 44 – 28 percent among likely Republican primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 12 percent with Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 7 percent and Dr. Ben Carson at 4 percent.

Hey, man, you don’t talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind. He’s a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he’ll… uh… well, you’ll say “hello” to him, right? And he’ll just walk right by you. He won’t even notice you. And suddenly he’ll grab you, and he’ll throw you in a corner, and he’ll say, “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you”… I mean I’m… no, I can’t… I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas…

Bernie Sanders for president

[ 325 ] February 25, 2016 |

sanders trump

I agree with almost every word of Erik’s post regarding Sanders. Leaving aside questions of electability, I too prefer Sanders to Clinton, because I prefer a New Deal Democrat to a classic Bill Clinton-era establishment triangulator, who has recently shifted her rhetoric a bit to the left for what are pretty obviously tactical reasons.

To be clear, I don’t care whether HRC’s campaign rhetoric is sincere or not. I do care that her basic orientation and instincts as a pol are essentially establishment-regarding. That’s why, at bottom, her taking millions of dollars from banks to give speeches is bothersome. It’s not because she’s going to be literally bought off. Rather, it’s what the decision symbolized. Clinton couldn’t even anticipate that letting financial institutions wire millions of dollars into her personal accounts in exchange for giving some speeches, on the eve of her run for the Democratic nomination for president, might not be a good look at this particular juncture of American history, i.e., the height — let’s hope — of the new gilded age.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Erik’s conclusion that Sanders calling himself a socialist when he’s really not one at all is an almost absurdly inept rhetorical position, from the perspective of someone trying to get elected to the American presidency. (I realize that Sanders was calling himself a socialist for many years before he considered running for president, but still) ETA: I also agree with commenters pointing out that Sanders doesn’t really have the choice to distance himself from his previous statements regarding this. It’s part of the package with him.

Where I differ from Erik is in regard to two related points:

(1) I wouldn’t say a word in support of Sanders if I thought nominating Sanders instead of HRC materially improved the odds that the GOP candidate winning the general, since the differences between the two of them, significant as they are, are nevertheless truly trivial in comparison to the consequences of any GOP candidate winning the presidency rather than Clinton or Sanders.

(2) I think, as Erik does, that there’s a high probability that the GOP candidate will be Trump, but I think Sanders is a better candidate in the general against Trump than HRC.

Electoral politics is all about specific matchups. I think HRC would be a better candidate than Sanders against any even vaguely establishment GOP candidate, and most particularly against Rubio, who at this point is really the only potential alternative to Trump. Again, I agree that the socialist self-labeling is a big problem in a general way, but I don’t think it would be nearly as a big a problem against Trump (Although American voters seem to have a quite negative attitude toward the concept of a socialist — or in this case a “socialist” — president, I’m still somewhat confident that they would be even less inclined to vote for a quasi-proto-whatever-fascist.)

More particularly, Trump winning the GOP nomination will be a powerful sign of just how deep the disgust actually is throughout the electorate toward establishment politics and politicians. In this regard, HRC’s relation to Democratic party politics is disturbingly similar to Jeb Bush’s relation to GOP party politics. Basically, the message is we’re going to party like it’s 1999 — which, it seems to me, is exactly the wrong message to be trying to sell against a Trump candidacy in particular, as evidenced by Trump’s total evisceration of the $130 million man.

HRC is probably going to win the nomination anyway. As Joe from Lowell says in the thread to Erik’s post, the whole idea of Bernie Sanders winning the Dem nomination from the ex ante perspective of all of three months ago was ridiculous. He wasn’t considered a serious challenger, and as Scott has pointed out, part of HRC’s evident strength as a candidate is that she discouraged what would have been more obviously serious challenges — Warren, Biden, Gillibrand — from materializing. But the fact that Sanders has turned out to be a very serious challenger for the nomination speaks volumes.

In short, HRC is a paradigmatic establishment insider figure, which is not at all a good thing to be in a presidential campaign against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. (Get used to that phrase, because it’s happening). I think she would win anyway, because the country has gone only partially as opposed to completely insane, but I also think Sanders would have a better shot against Trump specifically.

Which is why I’m giving the last full measure of devotion to the Sanders candidacy — by which of course I mean I’m blogging about it.

Trumpland

[ 227 ] February 24, 2016 |

trumpland

The Las Vegas caucuses gave Donald Trump his biggest victory yet, as he exceeded the total vote going to his two challengers combined in what is now all but officially a three-person race.

This result seems pretty significant, for several reasons:

(1) It is a caucus, and one with a historically low turnout relative to the three prior contests, meaning Trump’s lack of much of a traditional on the ground organization would figure to hurt him. Turnout ended up being high by historical standards, but still low relative to the three earlier states. It didn’t matter.

(2) Nevada should have been a good state for Marco Rubio. The entire local GOP establishment united behind him, the biggest newspaper in the state is owned by Rubio’s billionaire semi-backer Sheldon Adelson, and Rubio even lived in Las Vegas for a time. (Not sure which way Rubio’s time as a Mormon cuts. There are a lot of Mormons in Nevada). But Rubio was left in the dust, with the only consolation being that he managed to edge out Cruz for a very distant second.

(3) Speaking of which, Cruz is pretty much dead at this point. As in South Carolina and New Hampshire, he’s not only continuing to finish third, he’s also still losing to Trump even among what should be the core of his base:

He carried only 27 percent of the white born-again and evangelical Christian vote, behind Trump’s 41 percent. Cruz also lost this group in New Hampshire and South Carolina. But, unlike in South Carolina, Cruz also trailed among “very conservative” voters in Nevada, 34 percent to 38 percent for Trump. Finally, Cruz continues to struggle among “somewhat conservative” and moderate voters. He earned just 16 percent and 7 percent among those groups, respectively, according to the entrance poll.

Cruz, Huckabee and Santorum might make up an OK personal injury law firm, or the worst folk-rock group ever, but it will be remembered as three-pronged evidence that getting a bunch of Iowa evangelicals to vote for you isn’t a particularly significant step on the way to a hypothetical nomination.

Cruz remaining in the race (as he certainly will for at least several weeks; the idea that he’ll be willing to do any favors for the GOP establishment is laughable) is killing Rubio’s chances, but in fact even if he were to drop out it’s far from clear it would help Rubio much: this Elon poll indicates that Trump would pick up nearly 20% more of Cruz voters than Rubio would.

(4) What’s John Kasich’s game? He has no money, no endorsements, and not even a lottery ticket shot at the nomination, but he can definitely hurt Rubio’s already not very good chances by staying in the race for another three weeks, through several Midwest primaries, most particularly Ohio. He’s more or less an establishment guy, so you would think they would make him an offer he couldn’t refuse. VP on a Rubio ticket? Supreme Court? (I don’t know if he’s a lawyer but at this point does it even matter?)

Anyway for what it’s worth the electronic betting markets currently make Trump a nearly 3 to 1 favorite over Rubio, with Cruz relegated to a 25 to 1 long shot. That seems about right to me.

Some people have to play little games

[ 98 ] February 23, 2016 |

gf2

You can have my answer now if you like.

It’s the end of the Court as we know it (and I don’t feel fine):

But while the Republican blockade may lack any ­precedent, it, too, is probably well within the law. This is the problem. Americans like to imagine our form of government as a perfectly designed system of checks and balances that prevents any one branch from abusing its power. In fact, as the late Spanish political scientist Juan Linz pointed out a quarter-century ago, presidential systems nearly always collapse. Linz attributed America’s unusual ability to make its presidential system operate without violent coups to its weak, ideologically overlapping parties. But that signal observation, which was true when Linz made it, has grown less true over time, as the Democrats have moved somewhat leftward and the Republican Party has lurched far to the right.

It turns out that what has held together American government is less the elaborate rules hammered out by the guys in the wigs in 1789 than a series of social norms that have begun to disintegrate. Senate filibusters were supposed to be rare, until they became routine. They weren’t supposed to be applied to judicial nominations, then they were. The Senate majority would never dream of changing the rules to limit the filibuster; the minority party would never plan to withhold all support from the president even before he took office; it would never threaten to default on the debt to extort concessions from the president. And then all of this happened. . .

If Hillary Clinton wins in November and Republicans retain the Senate, they may feel shamed by their promises to let the voters decide the Court’s next nominee and give her a justice. Or maybe not — maybe some dastardly Clinton campaign tactic, or reports of voter fraud on Fox News, will make them rescind their promise. The Supreme Court could remain deadlocked at 4-4 for the remainder of her term, causing federal rulings to pile up and further fracturing the country into liberal and conservative zones with dramatically different constitutional interpretations. On some of the most contentious issues, there would be, effectively, no Supreme Court at all.

If Republicans win the White House and retain the Senate, Democrats would regard Scalia’s vacated seat as rightfully theirs and oppose any nomination. This will cause Republicans to abolish the filibuster altogether; then they will fill the seat, solidifying their control over all three branches of government.

A world in which Supreme Court justices are appointed only when one party has both the White House and the needed votes in Congress would look very different from anything in modern history. Vacancies would be commonplace and potentially last for years. When a party does break the stalemate, it might have the chance to fill two, three, four seats at once. The Court’s standing as a prize to be won in the polls would further batter its sagging reputation as the final word on American law. How could the Court’s nonpolitical image survive when its orientation swings back and forth so quickly? And given that the Court can affect the outcome of elections directly (like it did in Bush v. Gore) or indirectly (by ruling on the legality of partisan redistricting schemes, laws designed to inhibit voting by marginal constituencies, campaign-finance regulations, or labor’s ability to organize politically), with every election, the stakes will rise and rise.

The Supreme Court is a strange, Oz-like construction. It has no army or democratic mandate. Its legitimacy resides in its aura of being something grander and more trustworthy than a smaller Senate whose members enjoy lifetime appointments. In the new world, where seating a justice is exactly like passing a law, whether the Court can continue to carry out this function is a question nobody can answer with any confidence.

The politics of “grief”

[ 116 ] February 23, 2016 |

granero

Body of Manuel Granero, bullfighter killed in the Madrid ring, May 1922. Hemingway’s caption to this photo in Death in the Afternoon reads: “Only two in the crowd are thinking about Granero. The others are all intent on how they will look in the photograph.”

I

Press release, Georgetown University Law Center

February 13, 2016 — Georgetown Law mourns the loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (C’57), who died in Texas at the age of 79. “Scalia was a giant in the history of the law, a brilliant jurist whose opinions and scholarship profoundly transformed the law,” said Dean William M. Treanor in a statement.

“Like countless academics, I learned a great deal from his opinions and his scholarship. In the history of the Court, few Justices have had such influence on the way in which the law is understood. On a personal level, I am deeply grateful for his remarkably generous involvement with our community, including his frequent appearances in classes and his memorable lecture to our first year students this past November.”

Justice Scalia most recently visited the Law Center on November 16, when he delivered a 20-minute talk on education to the first-year class. His talk was followed by more than 30 minutes of responses to written student questions. How much influence do Scalia’s law clerks have on his opinions? “More than my colleagues,” the justice replied, to great laughter.

“The justice offered first-year students his insights and guidance, and he stayed with the students long after the lecture was over,” Treanor said. “He cared passionately about the profession, about the law and about the future, and the students who were fortunate enough to hear him will never forget the experience. We will all miss him.”

See some of Justice Scalia’s visits to Georgetown Law over the years here. Read more from Georgetown University here.

This press release led Michael Seidman of the GULC faculty to send the following email to the rest of the faculty: Read more…

Lots of salt, light on the butter please

[ 109 ] February 22, 2016 |

popcorn

They all started laughin and I felt kinda sick
And I knew I better think of something pretty quick
So I just reached out and kicked old green teeth right in the knee

Now he let out a yell that’d curl yer hair
But before he could move I grabbed me a chair
And said “Now watch him folks cause he’s a thoroughly dangerous man!”

“You may not know it but this man is a spy.
He’s a undercover agent for the FBI
And he’s been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan!”

He was still bent over holdin’ on to his knee
But everybody else was looking and listening to me
And I laid it on thicker and heavier as I went

I said, “Would you believe this man has gone as far
As tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars.
And he voted for George McGovern for President.”

“Well, he’s a friend of them long haired, hippie-type, pinko fags!
I betcha he’s even got a commie flag
tacked up on the wall inside of his garage.”

“He’s a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys.
He may look dumb but that’s just a disguise,
He’s a mastermind in the ways of espionage”

They all started lookin real suspicious at him
And he jumped up and said “Now just wait a minute Jim!
You know he’s lying I been living here all of my life!”

“I’m a faithful follower of Brother John Birch
And I belong to the Antioch Baptist Church.
And I ain’t even got a garage, you can call home and ask my wife!”

LAS VEGAS – Senator Ted Cruz fired his communications director Monday after the campaign circulated a doctored video that appeared to show Senator Marco Rubio disparaging the Bible, further inflaming the open warfare between the campaigns, with Mr. Rubio saying the episode reflected a pattern of dishonesty by Mr. Cruz.

The decision by Mr. Cruz comes as his campaign has been facing mounting allegations of dirty tricks by Mr. Rubio’s team over the false story. But Mr. Cruz has also been getting hammered for weeks after his allies spread a rumor that Dr. Ben Carson was suspending his campaign – just as voting in Iowa began.

And the dismissal of the aide, Rick Tyler, comes at an inopportune moment for Mr. Cruz, who faces a primary in his home state of Texas a week from tomorrow.

Mr. Tyler, the communications director, had posted a story on Facebook with a video of Mr. Rubio and a transcript that claimed to show the Florida senator saying there are “not many answers” in the Bible. In fact, Mr. Rubio had said it has “all the answers.”

Mr. Rubio’s spokesman, Alex Conant, cried foul, and Mr. Cruz announced this afternoon in Nevada that he was firing the aide.

“I’ve spent this morning investigating what happened and this morning I asked for Rick Tyler’s resignation,” Mr. Cruz told reporters during a news conference here in Las Vegas, Nevada. “I have made clear in this campaign that we will conduct this campaign with the very highest standards of integrity.”

Mr. Cruz went on to call Mr. Tyler a “good man,” but that his sharing of the news story was “a grave error in judgment.”

“It is why, when other campaigns attack us personally, impugn my integrity or my character, I don’t respond in kind,” said Mr. Cruz. But he also dismissed the outrage from Mr. Rubio’s team.

“I understand that Marco’s campaign believes its political advantageous to try to distract the topic from his own record,” he said. But he added, “The standards of conduct in this campaign have been made absolutely clear for every member of the campaign.”

The episode is likely to create another opening for Donald J. Trump, who has used his enormous media megaphone to trumpted allegations of misdeeds by the Cruz campaign, using them as the basis of negative ads.

Mr. Cruz’s quick action was a major difference from how he immediately handed the complaints from Mr. Carson after Iowa, which was to blame a CNN report. CNN has said Mr. Cruz is mischaracterizing their reporting.

Murder spree carried out by middle-aged white man interests Gateway Pundit

[ 48 ] February 21, 2016 |

jim hoft

Jason Brian Dalton apparently randomly murdered six people and critically wounded two others in three shooting incidents in and around Kalamazoo, Michigan, last night (He seems to have squeezed his murders into the gaps in his schedule between collecting Uber fares).

This incident literally hit close to home for me, as my parents have lived in Kalamazoo for more than 40 years (I went to high school there), and two of the murders took place near their house.

Jason Brian Dalton appears to be a middle-aged white man, who seems likely to have committed these killings as a result of having a semi-automatic weapon at hand when he suffered some sort of psychotic break. So these murders would be of no interest or importance to the right wing media, since they constitute an unavoidable tragedy, as opposed to an Attack On Our Freedoms.

Except:

According to the social media scuttlebutt, the purported Facebook account of Dalton might list him as a Progressive employee at one time. The Facebook account whereby that Facebook profile appears certainly seems to fit the photos of Dalton released to the public in his booking photo, with the rotund Jason looking off into the distance in another Facebook photo, sitting on the couch with a woman who is presumably the one listed as his wife on Facebook, with two children. Another “Jason Dalton” Facebook photo shows a young boy at hunting practice with a colorful circular target, with the caption “next deer hunter.”

A different photo on the Dalton Facebook list of photos shows a man similar in appearance to Jason using a shielded snow blower with the caption that describes too much snow on February 28, 2009, which would certainly describe the abundance of snow in Kalamazoo that year, as reported by MTU.

[emphasis added]

The Gateway Pundit saw this, and immediately asked the question that would naturally spring to anyone’s mind:

Police arrested Jason Brian Dalton last night after killing six people in random shootings. Dalton described himself as a “Progressive” leftist on Facebook.
Do you think that will get any headlines?

Now it’s just possible that the phrase “a Progressive employee at one time,” is, given the phrasing and capitalization, referring to an employee of Progressive, the large insurance company. Still, it’s understandable that Jim Hoft, after experiencing the disappointment of not seeing an Arabic or at least Mexican-sounding name attached to the suspect, sought solace in the quoted report.

. . . Hoft’s post actually links to this report, which includes the following quote:

On his Facebook page, Dalton lists his employer as Progressive Insurance, but it’s not clear if he was still working there.

BTW in case you weren’t already familiar with the journalistic talents of Jim Hoft:

Today The Gateway Pundit is a leading right-of-center news website. The Gateway Pundit has 6-7 million visits (Stat Counter – Google Analytics). It is consistently ranked as one of the top political blogs in the nation. TGP has been cited by Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, The Drudge Report, The Blaze, Mark Levin, FOX Nation and by several international news organizations.

Jim Hoft was awarded the Reed Irvine Accuracy in Media Award in 2013. Jim Hoft received the Breitbart Award for Excellence in Online Journalism from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation in May 2015.

[emphasis added for sheer incredulity]

Donald denialism, an ongoing series

[ 275 ] February 20, 2016 |

Commenter Anon21:

I think Cruz could do it. I put it at about Rubio 55, Cruz 40, and the field 5.

I’m not saying Trump is a lock or anything, but to not consider him the favorite at this point seems very unrealistic. Cruz and Rubio are both going to stay in this thing to the bitter end, and Trump will win a plurality of GOP primary voters against those two I think.

I would be shocked at this point if Cruz wins the nomination. South Carolina is an almost ideal state for him and he barely got 20% of the vote. 72% of the voters in the primary tonight identified themselves as evangelical or born again (this is the largest percentage ever), and Trump won the plurality of those voters: 33%, to 27% and 22% for Cruz and Rubio respectively. If Cruz is losing the evangelical vote to Donald Trump he is toast.

Rubio is another story, as the GOP establishment will be all in for him after tonight, but needless to say that cuts both ways in 2016.

Anyway, people who talk as if Trump still has no chance — and there’s still quite a bit of that going around — are flat-out delusional, but the man does seem to have that effect on lots of observers.

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