Saturday, September 05, 2015

Trump And Rubio Don't Know Much About Much... But The Base Of The Know-Nothing Party Could Care Less

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"I will be so good at the military, your head will spin" is not the articulation of a foreign policy-- or even a defense policy... unless you're a brain-dead chump and Foxified addict of Hate Talk Radio who got suckered into supporting a wealthy-- and crooked-- TV reality star. And according to the polls of Republican primary voters, that's a big proportion of the GOP's current base.

I opened Twitter Friday morning to find Trump carrying on about right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt-- third-rate and stupid, ambushing him with gotcha questions, all the stuff the Trump bully uses regularly in his predictable tirades against anyone who opposes or even challenges him. Hewitt, I might add, is one of the hosts of the CNN debate coming up in Simi Valley. You can watch the exchange that set Trump off above.

That Trump misheard "Kurds forces" when Hewitt said "al-Quds Force" is nothing. That Trump clearly has no real knowledge of the intricacies of the labyrinthine feuds in the Middle East is something that he can, as he said, hire "the best people" to sort out; it isn't an unreasonable assertion. Instead, the defensiveness and bullying that comes out of this episode is more noteworthy than the little trap Hewitt was trying to set for Trump. The guy will be 71 if he ever gets to the White House, and it's not unreasonable that he doesn't know which one is Khaled Mashall, which one is Hassan Nasrallah and which one is Qasem Soleimani. I doubt that many American politicians do.

And Trumpy was still at it on Saturday morning

Rubio, however, another lunkhead when it comes to foreign policy, but one who insists he knows something about it, tried-- like Scott Walker-- to capitalize on Trump's embarrassing moment with Hewitt, playing the part of concern troll. He told CNN:
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you are not going to be able to serve as commander and chief. This should be part of the reason why you are running because you understand the threats that the world is facing, you have deep understanding and you understand what to do about it. And if someone doesn’t, I think it is very concerning... It is important to have a detailed understanding of the threats we face as a country. You are commander in chief on day number one and you may have to make national security decisions right away. And it takes time and dedication and a natural curiosity and interest in these issues.
Steve Benen wrote that Rubio has a point but that "the trouble is with the messenger."
Rubio, a member of both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, is basing much of his campaign on his alleged expertise on international affairs. The far-right Floridian would love nothing more than to be seen as the candidate who has a "deep understanding" or "the threats that the world is facing."

But Rubio has run into Trump-like problems of his own. Just last week, in a big speech on foreign policy, the GOP senator told an embarrassing whopper about military preparedness, touching on an issue Rubio should have understood far better.

In June, Rubio was asked about his approach towards Iraq. Told that his policy sounds like nation-building, the senator responded, "Well, it’s not nation-building. We are assisting them in building their nation."

Just this year, Rubio has flubbed the details of Iran’s Green Revolution. His criticisms on the Obama administration’s approach towards Israel were quickly discredited as nonsense. His statements of nuclear diplomacy were practically gibberish.

In the spring, Rubio had a memorable confrontation with Secretary of State John Kerry, which was a debacle-- the senator stumbled badly on several key details, and Kerry made him look pretty foolish.

Soon after, Rhonda Swan, a Florida-based journalist, wrote that the Republican senator "should be embarrassed." Swan added, "By his own standard that the next president have a 'clear view of what’s happening in the world' and a 'practical plan for how to engage America in global affairs,' Rubio fails the test."

What’s more, as readers may recall, when Rubio has tried to articulate a substantive vision, he’s relied a little too heavily on shallow, bumper-sticker-style sloganeering, rather than actual policy measures. Rubio declared "our strategy" on national security should mirror Liam Neeson’s catchphrase in the film Taken: "We will look for you, we will find you and we will kill you."

Soon after, the candidate’s team unveiled the "Rubio Doctrine," described by Charles Pierce as "three banalities strung together in such a way as to sound profound and to say nothing."

Rubio covered up his bald spot but he should just embrace the inevitable

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Friday, September 04, 2015

If you know any "special kids" in NYC, the Transit Museum has a special morning for them next Sunday

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For registration information, click here.

by Ken

As regular readers know, the New York Transit Museum is one of my favorite institutions in the city, but I tend to write mostly about NYTM programs that are of direct interest to me, at the expense of others that don't affect me. Notably, the museum makes a major effort to be family-friendly, and it's always great to know that so many parents take advantage of this opportunity to bring the little ones to be entertained and informed.

Next Sunday morning's event, though, is even more special -- a "Special Day for Special Kids," which I think is pretty darned, you know, special. So I'd like to do anything I can to spread the word to families that might be able to take advantage of what looks to be a really special morning. Which means I'm hoping you'll spread the word to anyone you know.

I'd love to see as many kids as possible have a really special time.
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Trump-- Like A Cockroach Under A Magnifying Class

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Thursday morning, Morning Joe took a few moments out of their busy Hillary-bashing routine to interview Bloomberg Business writer Max Abelson, whom one of the Morning Joe idiots introduced as a Wall Street Journal writer, since his beat is Wall Street.

Abelson endeavors to bring his readers inside the Trumpian empire and explain "How Trump invented Trump." None of the people at Morning Joe, who were too preoccupied with their anti-Hillary jihad, had read the piece or were in the slightest bit interested in it or Abelson. The piece happens to be quite revelatory about the Republican Party presidential front-runner who keeps making outlandish claims about himself, his wealth and his business acumen. Ableson discussed business with him, not politics. "After all," he writes, "that’s his central qualification for the job he’s seeking."

When he asks Trump to name a business leader he looks to for advice on managing his company, Trump says, "Me." Does he admire anyone else? "I don't like the word admire," he says. Abelson comes to the conclusion that you can't take Trump's boasts about his empire literally, which seems to me a polite way of confirming that the man is a compulsive liar.
“I’m the biggest developer in New York, by far,” he told Larry King in 1999. “I’m the biggest developer in New York, and I’m not looking for additional work,” he told the New York Post in 2003. “My name’s Donald Trump, and I’m the largest real estate developer in New York,” he said in 2004’s Apprentice pilot, introducing himself in a limo. “Here I am, the biggest developer in New York,” he told a reporter from Scotland in 2007. “The greatest builder is me, and I would build the greatest wall you have ever seen,” he said this May, invoking his plan for Mexico’s border at a speech in South Carolina. He pointed at his chest while rolling his head around. The crowd went wild.


Trump isn’t the biggest New York developer. He isn’t really a skyscraper developer anymore, and he hasn’t been for years. He put up huge buildings and casinos, borrowed to do it, nearly wiped out, came back as a brand name that often needed bigger partners, was smacked by the financial crisis when he tried to again take massive risks, and ended up with a profitable business anyway.

The lesson from the 150-story building he craved is the same one you get from stepping inside the company. It’s not the hugest in the whole world, and it’s not what it was supposed to be, but it’s something. And, like his politics, it can seem much, much bigger than it is.

Trump has crushed his presidential competition by presenting himself as the finest businessman ever to don a suit. Will his career’s blemishes hurt him? Could Americans who love the great, amazing, terrific, perfect version of Trump accept the flawed one? In his office, he tells me that someone said the cool thing about his race to be the leader of the free world is that if he loses he gets to go back to being Donald Trump again-- only an even vaster version.

“So win, lose, or draw, I’m glad I did it,” he says. “Although it’s too early to say that yet.”
Last year his company's revenue was $605 million, a relatively small company with a profit of around $300 million. "[F]or purposes of comparison," writes Abelson, the Trumpian empire is "roughly the size of a company called NN, based in Johnson City, Tenn., which produces tiny steel balls."
Trump isn’t exactly self-made-- he inherited substantial wealth from his father-- but he is definitely self-invented. There’s no model in the political world for how he transformed himself into a campaign megastar without preparation, politeness, policy, or public service. To wander around inside Trump’s kingdom with his deputies, children, lenders, and former executives is to find a New York real estate mogul who stopped building Manhattan real estate and a global hotelier who doesn’t own most of his foreign hotels. Long before he was ignoring basic political rules, he was sailing far beyond the limits of his industry, steering an empire that’s as similar to most corporations as his run is to most presidential campaigns. In the same way that his campaign is post-politics, his company is post-business.

Trump is selling himself to America as the king of builders, a flawless dealmaker, and masterful manager. But he isn’t really any of those things. Trump has built few skyscrapers this century, stumbling twice when he’s tried, and struggled with an array of other projects. Meanwhile, his corporate leadership is a kind of teenager’s fantasy of adult office power. From his Trump Tower desk in Midtown Manhattan he controls the teensiest details, rejects hierarchy, and picks top deputies by following his own recipe for promotion.

None of those things means he’s a sham. The story of how he came to be what he is now-- above all else a landlord and a golf bigwig-- is even weirder than his charge to the White House. Trump rose in the glitzy 1980s on borrowed money, survived early 1990s disasters that nearly brought him down, then transformed himself and his business. His organization is still successful, just not in the way he’s claimed.

“We evolve very much in this company,” Trump says. “See that? I’m just looking while I’m talking to you. See that record?” There’s a plaque across from his desk. “That’s a platinum, that was sent. Mac Miller, did you ever hear of Mac Miller? He’s a rapper. He did a song called "Donald Trump"--100 million hits!” [The song's highest chart position was #75 in the US and #110 in France- ed.] He takes a breath and goes back to his company. “I tell you what,” he says a few minutes later. “Someday before I kick the bucket, somebody is going to get what a great business I built. People don’t know.”



...By then [the 1980s], Trump had already emerged in Manhattan as a fully formed version of himself. When barely 30 he was being chauffeured around town in a Cadillac with his initials on the license plate, and newspapers were noting his dazzling grin and model companions. By the end of the 1970s he had brought his father’s outer-borough apartment company into Manhattan, transforming the Commodore Hotel on grimy 42nd Street into what would become the glassy Grand Hyatt New York. He had political connections helping him nab a new kind of tax deal to save him millions of dollars. He fought the government when the U.S. Department of Justice sued his family company for discriminating against black tenants in Brooklyn and Queens, a case he eventually settled.

...The 1980s was a steroidal decade. Trump bought an airline, a vast Palm Beach estate called Mar-a-Lago, and a yacht so big it inspired a song by the band Queen. He proposed the world’s tallest building and was considered for a job to build a City of God for Hare Krishnas in New Jersey, according to a news report at the time. He became an Atlantic City tycoon instead, calling his Trump Taj Mahal the world’s most expensive casino ever built. He took over a pair of buildings on Central Park South, renamed them Trump Parc and Trump Parc East, and offered to house homeless people in one of them to pressure rent-controlled tenants to leave... He borrowed so much that he ended up guaranteeing, altogether, close to $1 billion, which meant that the banks could have ruined him if something went wrong. Before his run ended, he opened the Taj Mahal in 1990 with a giant genie named Fabu declaring Trump its master and a green laser shooting out to cut the building’s red ribbon. It beat the Verrazano’s opening ceremony. The curtain came down on that era of Trump a year later when the Taj went bankrupt.

Before this year’s presidential race, the grandest triumph Trump had managed was staying on his feet during his 1990s disaster as the economy fell out from under him. He lost the Plaza, the yacht, and the airline, and the casinos filed for bankruptcy-- but he himself didn’t, as he reminds his crowds on the campaign trail. In Trump: The Art of the Comeback, a book with two chapters on his prenuptial agreements and one on his collapse, he chalks up his survival to the timing of his debt negotiation, playing hardball with his lenders, and teaching one holdout banker a better golf grip.

What saved him is that those bankers believed he was worth more to them above water than under it. He fought to buy time until the real estate market could rebound. By 1995, with some but not all of his debt wiped out and a pair of big projects that would use his name under way, limousine mogul Bill Fugazy handed him a boomerang encased in glass at a lunch marking his comeback.


A new empire rose out of the wreckage of the first. The reimagined Trump relied more on partners than on personally guaranteed debt, at least most of the time. His name on a building didn’t necessarily mean that he owned or built it. When our car gets to Columbus Circle, we pass the skyscraper that was remade in 1997 from the Gulf + Western Building into Trump International Hotel & Tower. General Electric put up the money to transform it, but the GE International Hotel & Tower probably wouldn’t have attracted as many guests. A year later, on the other end of Central Park South, even though Trump put in only $11 million to buy the General Motors Building with insurer Conseco, his name went up in 4-foot letters on the white-marble tower. They were taken down overnight and the building was sold off after Conseco’s fall a half-decade later.

...In 2005 he became an education entrepreneur, founding Trump University. “The problem with school is that school is a little academic,” said Roger Schank, its chief learning officer, when the online program started. Trump U gave out no degrees, wasn’t accredited, changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, and was sued by New York’s attorney general for cheating students. Trump denied the allegations and countersued.

The parts of his company that slap his name on other people’s things help explain how Trump can make all that profit from such a modest amount of revenue. Trump can earn millions of dollars when he licenses out his five sparkling letters, that unbeatable verb, to new towers in the Philippines, Panama, India, Uruguay, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S., too. And he doesn’t have to worry about spending money on stuff like concrete.

“It’s not conventional, traditional real estate, but it’s real estate,” says Richard LeFrak, another billionaire son of an outer-borough New York developer. “I mean, if you think about it, his brand is his real estate.”

A year after the university opened, he launched Trump Mortgage with a press release, saying in all-caps it would put the “SUIT AND TIE BACK IN THE MORTGAGE BUSINESS.” His CEO’s work experience, posted on the company’s website, turned out to be embellished, and within a year the company shut down.

Trump began endorsing a multilevel-marketing firm called ACN around that time. “Hey, if you want a nice, easy, OK life, you can be in the pack ... but if you really want to do something, you do have to get out of the pack,” he said in a promotional video. “We do a lot of research on companies before we agree to do something like I’m doing for you, and ACN’s a great company.” ACN, which charges new members $499 to join a system that rewards them for selling digital phone service and natural gas, was featured on 2009 and 2011 episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice, where contestants promoted a video phone. In between, Montana’s securities commissioner accused ACN of running a pyramid scheme, dropping a cease-and-desist order when the company agreed to better training programs. Trump got $1.35 million for three recent speeches to the company.
Time to watch this again? You bet, especially if you're thinking about voting in a Republican primary or caucus.



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How Fatally Flawed Is The Republican Bench? Let's Look At Wisconsin

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Clearly, Trump has crippled Jeb Bush and destroyed Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, and severely damaged Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina and Scott Walker. Walker fans, though, insist, despite his sinking poll numbers in crucial Iowa-next-door and nationally, that he can come back. The new poll Monmouth released yesterday was more terrible news for the hapless Walker. It wasn't just that Trump is slaughtering him by a factor of 10, 30-3%, it was that in a head to head match-up, Trump bests him 53-38%. Worst of all, Walker fell from 11% in August to 3% in September, so he isn't even a second-tier candidate any longer. Even Huckabee and Fiorina are beating now (with 4% each)!

Peter Suderman isn't so sure about that. He thinks Walker's descent into the second or third tier may not be reversible. Once at 17% and in second place (nationally)-- wow, that seems like forever ago-- Walker is now tied for 8th place with Huckabee at 5% and has slid from first place in must-win Iowa all the way down to 5th place.
Why is Scott Walker’s campaign faring so poorly?

One reason is Donald Trump, whose hip-shot populism has arguably done more damage to Walker’s campaign than to any other GOP candidate.

But the other reason is Scott Walker.

Walker is running a pandering, cringe-worthy campaign marked by a consistent inability to clearly articulate, and stick to, his own positions.

After drumming up a ton of attention early in the year by giving passionate speeches about his record as governor of Wisconsin, he’s been unable to sustain his early momentum. Instead, he’s allowed himself to be drawn into a series of news cycle traps, and then handled the aftermath poorly, often by denying that he’d made any misstep in the first place.

Most recently, for example, Walker seemed to suggest that he was open to the possibility of a building a wall along the Canadian border in order to stop illegal immigration. He responded by saying that he’d been asked this question by people in New Hampshire, that the people asking the questions had "very legitimate concerns," and that the idea of building a wall would be "a legitimate issue for us to look at."

It’s not exactly a "damn right we should build a wall!" But Walker’s response clearly takes the idea seriously, and pointedly does not rule it out.

Yesterday, however, he claimed that the talk about it was "just a joke" and that he’s "never talked about a wall at the north."

This is the Walker campaign playbook: Say something awkward or ill-advised, watch as the media swarms to cover it, then insist that there was never anything to see.

...It is difficult, if not impossible, to correctly characterize a candidate’s position on an issue when the candidate himself cannot seem to state it with any clarity.


This sort of flip-flopping, what might generously be called policy confusion, has dogged Walker’s campaign essentially from the moment it began. Back in March, Walker, in what was obviously a sop to Iowa voters, reversed his previously clear opposition to federal ethanol subsidies.

A week later, when asked about the change, he denied that he had flip flopped on the issue. Since then, his position appears to have shifted again, with Walker suggesting to the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney that he supports ending the ethanol mandate after two years.

...Walker started his run as a candidate with a record of accomplishment who would get things done in Washington. He quickly turned into a candidate who couldn't even describe what it is he'd do.

And in the process, he lost what made his campaign take off in the first place. Walker rose to prominence earlier this year not only on the strength of his governing record, but on his ability to clearly and powerfully articulate that record and why it mattered. The natural extension of this, as a candidate, would have been to take the issues that he was already known for at the state level-- public sector union power, budget deficits, state spending and taxes-- and develop them into a coherent national agenda.

Instead, Walker has pandered to Iowa voters, prioritizing issues like immigration and the nuclear deal with Iran that were never core to his appeal, and let his campaign be drawn into the day-to-day absurdities of the Trump circus.

He has not only shifted his policy positions, he has shifted his character-- and in doing so, he has undermined his essential appeal.

Can he get his campaign back on track? He’s certainly going to try: As Bloomberg Politics reports, Walker is out to reboot his campaign by, among other things, attacking rival Jeb Bush for being insufficiently opposed to the Iran deal, despite previously suggesting that he wouldn’t go on the offensive against his Republican rivals. In other words, he’s going to shift his character again.
Maybe it's just a Wisconsin Republican thing! After all, embattled (like in losing) Senator Ron Johnson doesn't have Trump attacking him at all and he's suffering as much as Walker from foot-in-mouth disease. Straight from his ill-received remarks about how there should be no minimum wage at all-- the man is a fanatic, unrepentant Ayn Rand ideologue-- Johnson seemed to go on the warpath against single mothers this week, joking about what caused an increase in out-of-wedlock births in his state. 

Melissa Baldauff, communications director of the state Democratic Party, responded:
The only joke here is Senator Ron Johnson, who has made a habit of insulting all Wisconsin mothers with his dangerous policies and offensive beliefs, but especially those who raise, educate and provide for their children on their own. Senator Johnson's ridicule of Wisconsin women clearly informs his policy beliefs-- his opposition to equal pay for equal work, his desire to let health insurance companies charge women more than men, and his willingness to let his allies shutdown the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Moms in Wisconsin deserve support and respect from our elected officials, not jokes at our expense from a politician trying to score cheap points with extreme conservatives.
Ron Johnson himself is a joke, which is why he's generally considered the sitting senator most likely to lose his seat in 2016. He seems to take great pleasure in referring toSocial Security as a "legal Ponzi scheme." He he was totally into the GOP attempt to hand Social Security over to Wall Street, wistfully saying, "Well, George Bush tried to do that and remember I said he got slaughtered politically. It went nowhere, which I thought was a shame."

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Donald Trump, Bullying & the Very Very Rich

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by Gaius Publius

This is a tale of three videos.

As you know, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed recently in which he discussed Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Here's part of what he said (my occasional emphasis):
Ernest Hemingway once said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have recently tested this proposition. And how each man responded revealed the type of person he is and the type of president he would make: Trump authored his own doom, and Sanders opened immense new possibilities as a compassionate person and serious candidate for president.

Here’s where it went fatally wrong for Trump. During the GOP debate on Fox, when Megyn Kelly famously queried him about his attitude toward women (whom he has called “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “animals”) he hit back by threatening the questioner: “I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.”

Bad enough to alienate women in this way, but there’s even more insidious political crime here: attacking the First Amendment’s protection of a free press by menacing journalists. “I wouldn’t do that,” he said coyly. If you wouldn’t do it, why bring up that you could? For no other reason than to stifle other journalists who might want to ask tough but reasonable questions. If Americans learned that a leader in another country was threatening reporters, we would be outraged. Yet here it is. Right here. Right now.

Later, after Trump had blamed her attitude on her menstrual cycle, Kelly went on what Fox says was a planned vacation. Nevertheless, Trump suggested he may have been the cause. What kind of candidate takes credit for bullying the media? And last week, Trump allowed Univision reporter Jorge Ramos to be ejected from a press conference for asking questions about immigration without being called upon. Ramos was later readmitted and permitted to ask about immigration, during which he said Trump could still deport immigrants compassionately. “I have a bigger heart than you do,” Trump replied. Trump’s non-specific answer to the question ended with a personal insult directed at the reporter.
And:
Trump’s vendetta against the press extended to the Des Moines Register. When the paper issued an editorial calling for Trump to withdraw from the campaign, he refused to give the paper’s reporters credentials to attend his campaign event in Iowa in July. He also called the paper “failing” and “very dishonest.” Other journalists he thinks have treated him harshly he refers to as “losers” or unintelligent, as if the definition of lack of intelligence is to not agree with him.

Attempting to bully the press to silence criticism of him is anti-American.
Unlike Howie, who discussed this op-ed earlier, the part I want to focus on isn't the First Amendment, nor the press, nor Bernie Sanders, nor even Donald Trump as a person. It's the bullying.

Bullying in the World of the Wealthy

Play the clip at the top again (it's just over 40 seconds), and notice the sneering, the arrogance, the presumption of power. Notice also, at the 0:17 mark, how he uses just his lips to signal his — what, bodyguard? — to act like a goon squad and physically force Ramos out of the room. Trump sneers, smacks his lips to summon the goon, and the goon lays hands on the reporter.

This is exercise of power, presumption of power, and comfort with the presumption of power — all three — on Trump's part. It's a way of saying and showing, "I'm at the top, I deserve to be at the top, and I'm going to use all of the power that being at the top provides me."

At the tip of the pyramid, the very top of the U.S. (and international) food chain, this kind of sneering, bullying, and presumption of the right to bully, is almost the norm. This is really the way a surprising number of people in that position regularly act. The fact that we rarely see it, and therefore rarely associate them with this extreme arrogance, isn't a function of their not doing it. It's a function of their invisibility. Until Donald Trump.

The Hidden World of "Our Betters" ...

I wrote elsewhere, in a piece on Deep State and how the U.S. is controlled, that "You can vote for the puppets, but not the puppeteers."


That's obviously true, once you think about it. You can't vote for David Koch, just Scott Walker. You can't vote for Sheldon Adelson, just Marco Rubio. And so on.

It's also true that we almost never see the puppeteers, or their world. We don't see their homes (their gold, crystal and mahogany palaces really), their jets, their yachts, their servants, their private schools, their privileges. We imagine that they have estates. We don't imagine that they have dozens of them, each.

For example, Jeff Greene is a New York billionaire — literally billionaire — who made his money in real estate. This is how he lives, via New York magazine:
It’s incredible, right?” shouts Jeff Greene over the roar of the two-seater dune buggy’s motor. “It’s 55 acres!” Still in his whites from this morning’s tennis match, he’s giving a personal tour of his Sag Harbor estate, barreling at 30 miles per hour through the vast forest of scrubby pines and soft moss of its gated grounds. “Beautiful nature here!” A blur of deer goes by, and the trees break to reveal the summer sun glinting off a grassy lagoon. Greene slows by its shore. “This is our swan pond, and this is our private beach,” he says, gesturing toward a slip of white sand encircling the edge of the North Haven Peninsula. “It goes all the way to the ferry. Three thousand feet of beach,” he adds, a smile spreading across his tanned face.
The punch line?
[2009 is] when he picked up this property for around $40 million (half the 2007 listing price), which he and his wife have christened “Greene Haven.” “I wish we could spend more time here,” he says. “Honestly, we have so many great homes.”
When you imagine great wealth, do you imagine it on that scale? Likely not, because that world is invisible. Until Donald Trump.

... Is Being Revealed by Donald Trump

What's different about Donald Trump? He's not just the puppet, meaning the candidate — he's his own puppeteer. This means that for the second time in modern electoral history, a puppeteer has put himself on center stage. The first was Mitt Romney, he of the "47%" speech. Before him we've had just puppets, financed solely by others.

If it's true that you can't vote for Sheldon Adelson, say, only his puppet Mario Rubio, it's even more true that you can't even see Sheldon Adelson most of the time, or David Koch, or Jamie Dimon. (Do you know what any of their voices sound like, for example?  Do you know if Jamie Dimon is tall or short?)

But occasionally one of them makes an unwanted public appearance, and then we see who they are. This is Sheldon Adelson, courtesy of a must-read 2012 piece by Rick Perlstein in Rolling Stone:
Why GOP Mega-Donor Sheldon Adelson Is Mad, Bad and a Danger to the Republic

... Adelson's company Las Vegas Sands (LVS) spends more on security for him and his family than any other publicly held corporation, $2.5 million – two and a half times more than Dell, Oracle, and Amazon spend on their CEOs. He usually ambles around with an armed former agent of the Mossad, Israel's spy agency – for instance, into a deposition for a lawsuit filed by employees (including security guards!) claiming they hadn't been paid overtime. It was quite a scene – and one that you can see for yourself, because once Adelson tried to have the plaintiffs' lawyers cited for contempt after a TV station received and aired a videotape of the deposition, the publication Vegas Inc. ran the video as part of their coverage of this latest Adelson legal action. It reveals a creepy sourpuss who is a blatant liar: Adelson said he brought in the muscle because he felt threatened when the plaintiff lawyer "attempted to throw books at" him. See for yourself (at 2:40) if such a thing ever happened, then his astonishing petulance when a lawyer objects to continuing a legal proceeding with an armed janissary staring him down.
And here's that video. Feel free to focus on the fact that Adelson brought "muscle," armed muscle, into a deposition. But also focus just on his manner. How like Donald Trump is Sheldon Adelson?


If the above video does not appear or play in your browser, go here, or play this link in a media player. But please do watch; it's a doozy. It's also the second video in this three-video piece.

My point? Donald Trump is peeling the mask off the world of the mega-rich, the very very rich. And far too many of them are like what you see here. Bullies and proud of it.

Conan the Politician

It's almost like they've taken lessons from this man, isn't it?


And that's your third video. If you want the single reason your descendants may be hunter-gatherers, to take one consequence, you're looking at it.

GP
 

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What Florida New Dem Patrick Murphy Did To Undermine Hillary Clinton

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On May 8, 2014, the Republicans rammed through a resolution to establish the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, a committee specifically designed as a witch hunt to drag Hillary Clinton through the mud and sully her name before the 2016 presidential election. Every single Republican voted YES (225 of them) and 186 Democrats voted NO. Seven of the worst Democrats in the House-- the ones who consistently vote for Boehner's agenda day in and day out-- crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans. These were the seven putative Democrats:
Ron Barber (Blue Dog-AZ)
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC)
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)
Nick Rahall (Blue Dog-WV)
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)
If there's a bright side to this ugliness, it's that most of the treacherous Democrats were forced out of Congress just a few months later. Mike McIntyre, knowing he had no chance to win reelection, retired. Barber, Barrow and Rahall were defeated at the polls when Democrats refused to show up and vote for them. Each experienced a gigantic fall-off in his vote from 2012-- Barber from 137,993 to 108,230, Barrow from 138,965 to 75,123 and Rahall from 107,302 to 62,309.

Sinema and Peterson are still in the House, working every day to undermine progressive legislation and destroy the Democratic Party brand as a vehicle for progressive ideas and values. Oh, and so is Patrick Murphy-- but he's also been recruited by Chuck Schumer to run for Florida's open U.S. Senate seat against stalwart progressive Alan Grayson. Murphy would probably have been defeated as well, but he drew a weak Republican opponent, Carl Domino, and Murphy's father and his crooked friends-- three of whom just pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing-- spent immense sums of money to prop him up. Murphy spent $4,924,668 to Domino's $1,498,450. On top of that, his developer father-- a kind of Florida Trump-- persuaded the National Association of Realtors, which gives almost all its money to right-wing Republicans, to spend $875,278 on Patrick's behalf. Steve Israel's incredibly corrupt DCCC threw in another $400,000+. And the shady Blue Dog PAC (Center Forward) put in another 161,770.

Murphy was recently named the least effective Member of Congress-- which is especially embarrassing for Schumer and his Wall Street allies inasmuch as Grayson was named the most effective. Not that Schumer even wants anyone competent or effective in the Senate. He just wants frightened little yes men... like Patrick Murphy.

Meanwhile, Florida journalists, some of whom are on the Murphy family payroll and others of whom are seeking to curry favor with the execrable Schumer, never ask Murphy why he voted with the GOP to throw Hillary to the wolves. Whether you're a Bernie supporter or a Hillary supporter, you can back Alan Grayson's campaign here-- and help make sure Patrick Murphy goes back to his Republican roots.




UPDATE Adam Schiff Suggests Ending The Witch Hunt

This morning, my own congressman, Adam Schiff, who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi, published an OpEd in the NY Times: Disband the Benghazi Committee. I wonder how Patrick Murphy feels about seeing a colleague demanding his handiwork be obliterated. "[T]he Select Committee," wrote Schiff, "became little more than a partisan tool to influence the presidential race, a dangerous precedent that will haunt Congress for decades. This is all the more painful when you consider how grievously the committee has let down those families, along with the rest of the American people."
When I was asked to join the Select Committee, I was deeply skeptical about its true mission, and questioned whether I-- or any other Democrat-- should participate. After eight investigations, what could a ninth contribute? But I was determined to do my part.

Since its formation, the Select Committee on Benghazi has been aimless and slow moving, not knowing what it was looking for or where. It has acted in a deeply partisan way, frequently failing to consult or even to inform Democratic members before taking action, and selectively leaking information to the press. After 16 months and more than $4 million, the committee has gained no additional insight into the attacks in Benghazi. It has nothing new to tell the families of those killed or the American people.

...Whatever their original purpose, the Select Committee’s leaders appear no longer to have any interest in Benghazi, except as the tragic events of that day may be used as a cudgel against the likely Democratic nominee for president.

The committee is solely concerned with damaging her candidacy, searching for something, anything, that can be insinuated against her. With all of the committee’s obsessive focus on Mrs. Clinton, you would think that she was a witness to the killings, instead of half a world away.

Some of my colleagues think this is just good politics. And already, other ambitious committee leaders are hoping to get in on the act with their own inquiries and attacks on Mrs. Clinton. This is a terrible mistake, and it would be no less offensive if it were a Democratic majority going after a Republican candidate. Do we really want to see future select committees ginned up to attack other likely presidential nominees?

A committee that cannot tell the American people what it is looking for after 16 months should be shut down. Otherwise, Benghazi will come to be remembered not for the tragedy that claimed four American lives, but for the terrible abuse of process that now bears its name.


UPDATE 2: The Ties That Bind-- Trump and Patrick Murphy

Spoiled little rich kid and "ex"-Republican, Patrick Murphy, who has refused to agree to a debate with progressive icon Alan Grayson, instead put out one of his childish and unfounded press releases calling Grayson names, this time comparing him to Donald Trump. Ironically, Trump is an associate of the Murphy family and is in business with Murphy's father, a real estate developer and a major GOP donor who has also financed his son's worthless political career. He built 2 major projects for Trump. Grayson's campaign responded to Murphy's attack by telling the media that "Murphy’s family construction business-- where he used to work, where his daddy’s money comes from, and in which he owns a share worth $1 million to $5 million-- has a business relationship with Donald Trump. How much money has Donald Trump put in Patrick Murphy’s pocket?" A Murphy insider whined that he opposed the Trump attack on Grayson but that Chuck Schumer, who is backing Murphy on behalf of the Wall Street banksters, persuaded him to do it. What a mess! No wonder Murphy was recently named "the least effective Member of Congress."

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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Food Watch: 18 grilled-cheese sandwiches made all at once? That sounds like sorcery!

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by Ken

Let's say you saw a tease like the one above. No, let's say you saw the tease above. Are you going to tell me you wouldn't click through? Come on, 18 grilled-cheese sandwiches made all at once! That's not worth a click?

Heck, you don't even have to like grilled-cheese sandwiches to want to see this trick performed. 18 at once? Once you've seen that, is there really anything left to see? Plus, say you have 17 people coming over in half an hour for lunch -- or a nice snack. You've got a couple of loaves of Wonder Bread and a jumbo pack of "American slices," but there's no way you can convert them into 18 sandwiches you can serve nice and hot, is there?

Is there?

Well, not as far as I know. Because by the time you've finished clicking on epicurious.com, this is what you wind up with:



And poor Anna Stockwell, through (probably) no fault of her own, is being booed and hissed before she has a chance to whip out her pair of sheet pans. Now if you had been promised six grilled-cheese sandwiches made at once, you probably wouldn't have gotten as keyed up, but you would probably have thought, "Heck, that's something, six grilled cheeses made at once." I'm not saying you wouldn't have proceeded to check out what's new in breast or penis enlargement, but you would probably have had it in mind to go back at some point and see just how those six grilled cheeses are made at once with a pair of sheet pans.

There's a lesson here for all of us in overpromising.


ANNA, YOU SEE, IS ENVISIONING A MUCH MORE
MODEST HOME INVASION THAN WE JUST WERE


"Sometimes," she says, "you just need a mountain of grilled-cheese sandwiches. And not because you're planning on eating all of them."
Let's say a bunch of hungry kids (or kids-at-heart) are coming over. Let's say there's a pot of tomato soup on the stove. You need to become a one-person grilled-cheese machine. How do you do it?

Maybe if you have a stovetop griddle or get two skillets going at once you can do four, but it starts to get a little tricky to make more than that, and I inevitably end up turning on the oven to keep finished sandwiches warm while I knock out another round on the stove, and quick little lunch of grilled cheese for six people turns into more of a project than I'd signed up for.

But there's an easier, faster way: Cut the stove out of the equation entirely.
What? you say. Cut the stove out of the equation entirely? No way! But you're interested again, right?

If you've managed to rise above the worst of the rancor left from the bait-and-switch that disappeared those other dozen sandwiches, and you still want to know how Anna proposes to pull off this admittedly more humdrum miracle of sexta-grilled-cheese fabrication, here's the secret:
CREATE A GIANT PANINI PRESS IN THE OVEN

The flat metal surface of a heavy-duty 13x18" rimmed baking sheet (or half-sheet pan) is a great conductor of heat, and my favorite tool for getting nice brown and crispy edges on roasted vegetables. So I knew I could get a nice crispy edge on my grilled cheese sandwiches on a rimmed baking sheet, but I wanted to get that griddle-seared crust on both sides of each sandwich without having to flip it. That's where a second rimmed baking sheet comes in—by stacking it on top of the grilled cheese sandwiches then putting the whole "sandwich" in the oven, you mimic the effect of a panini press, searing and crisping both sides of the sandwich at the same time.


Is it my imagination, or do these sandwiches look dry?

As you can perhaps tell, Anna is pretty excited about all this. And she's every bit as excited by her hard-won discoveries after churning out ovenfuls of grilled-cheese sandwiches. Probably you or I would have guessed straightaway that you're going to want to invert the bottom pan but not the top one -- so that you have, you know, a press. Anna gets there eventually, explaining, "Having the bottom sheet inverted and the top one right-side-up yielded the best and fastest melting, since hot air is able to get in on all sides without the rim in the way."

But there's still a problem!
I kept getting unevenly-browned tops and bottoms on my grilled cheeses. So I tried a trick I like to use when I want to get even crispier potatoes, and preheated just the top baking sheet, since the top was consistently less browned than the bottom. Bingo!

ANOTHER BREATHLESS GRILLED-CHEESE
DISCOVERY: MAYO KICKS BUTTER'S BUTT


"First off," we're told, "it's easier and faster to spread than butter (unless yours is completely softened), which makes a big difference when you're making six sandwiches at a time." And an even bigger difference if you thought you were going to be making 18 sandwiches. Of course you could start by working with softened butter. But there's another lesson afoot: "Even more importantly, the mayo grilled cheeses came out of the oven with gorgeously browned, delightfully savory, and shatteringly crisp surfaces. Sold."

"Shatteringly crisp surfaces"? Is this really what you and your five (or 17) guests are looking for?

Now you're probably wondering, "Gosh, Anna, what about the cheese? What kind(s) should I use?" And you'll be glad you asked, because she tested not just lots of cheeses but different kinds,
and the only thing my taste-testers and I could all agree on was that a blend of cheeses, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on those cheeses, is always good. You can use just one kind of cheese if that's all you've got, but you'll get a richer, more complex flavor if you mix together two or three kinds.
We're encouraged in particular "to mix cheeses with different textures" -- for example, "a bit of Parm mixed in with softer meltier cheeses like mozzarella and Monterey Jack." This, you may be startled to learn, "adds deeper umami and saltiness." No, it's not the saltiness that'll surprise you, it's the "deeper umami." Okey-doke.

Or you might moosh some cream cheese, goat cheese, or crème fraîche with some harder cheeses, to get them to "bind together into a creamy filling." And if you want "plenty of melted-cheese strings when bitten into," then "you want a blend of grated mozzarella, cheddar, and Monterey Jack."

Now, for those other 12 sandwiches . . . .
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A Point Of Contention Between A Progressive And A DINO In IL-10: The Iran Deal

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Brad Schneider and Nancy Rotering (IL-10)

When tepid New Dem Brad Schneider lost his House seat in 2014, it became the bluest district anywhere in the country with a Republican representative. The PVI is a daunting D+8. Obama beat McCain there 63-36% and beat Romney 58-41%. But with a Republican-lite voting record that discouraged Democratic base voters (in a midterm), Schneider was beaten by Republican Robert Dold 93,984 to 88,010, 51.6-48.4%. When Dold first won in 2012, 130,941 voters had pulled the lever for him. Almost 43,000 of his original voters just stayed home, many because they knew they were getting an unsatisfactory choice between a Republican and a Republican-lite DINO. 

There are millions of voters all over the country no longer playing the Beltway Democratic Establishment game of forcing them to pick between the lesser of two evils. Brad Schneider was, at best, the lesser of two evils. Now he's looking for another rematch against Dold. But... there is a better Democrat he first has to get through in the primary, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.

In March Rotering told me:
You can't change the gridlock in DC by electing the same people over andover again... The rate of poverty in the suburbs has been growing rapidly-- in this district and across the country-- and that's something that has to be addressed seriously on a national level... To expand the middle class we need to provide constant, sufficient education across the entire district. Fair wages are critical. 81% of SNAP recipients have at least one full time employee in the family. What does that say about wages?
It doesn't matter what Schneider says about this or any other issue-- those are just words crafted to win an election. He has a record for his one miserable term in Congress, a record during which he sided with Big Business and Wall Street against his own constituents... which is why he lost in such a deep blue district just north of Chicago (from Glencoe, Northbrook and Buffalo Grove up through Deerfield, Niles, Highland Park and Lake Forest to Fox Lake, Waukegan and the Wisconsin border).

Yesterday Kimberly Railey, writing for National Journal, contrasted Rotering and Schneider based on one issue: the Iran deal. Both candidates-- and many of their constituents-- are Jewish. Schneider, predictably, is with the Republicans on this. Rotering is sticking with keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of Iran through the deal. AIPAC is already on the warpath to make sure Schneider wins the March primary.
“The people in the dis­trict are as split as people are in the na­tion,” Roter­ing said in an in­ter­view. “People are in­ter­ested in the con­trast between the two of us be­cause they them­selves prob­ably have dif­fer­ent po­s­i­tions on the top­ic.”

In Roter­ing and Schneider’s dis­trict, voters are closely watch­ing the is­sue.

“It’s something the people in the dis­trict are keenly aware of,” Schneider told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “They study it, they fol­low it. We have fam­ily that lives in Is­rael, we have neigh­bors. Our kids spend sum­mers in Is­rael.”

...She has com­pany among Chica­go Jew­ish Demo­crats back­ing the Ir­an deal, too. Chica­go May­or Rahm Emanuel has en­dorsed it, while Demo­crat­ic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is the only Jew­ish mem­ber of Illinois con­gres­sion­al del­eg­a­tion, is also back­ing the agree­ment.

Some Demo­crats sug­ges­ted that Roter­ing’s en­dorse­ment of the deal could en­dear her to more pro­gress­ive Demo­crats in the dis­trict. The can­did­ate who ran closest to Schneider in his 2012 Demo­crat­ic primary was pro­gress­ive act­iv­ist Ilya Shey­man, now the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the lib­er­al group Mo­ve­On, which backs the Ir­an deal.

“[Roter­ing] is clearly go­ing to ali­en­ate some people with this po­s­i­tion,” said one Chica­go-area Demo­crat­ic strategist, who re­ques­ted an­onym­ity to speak can­didly about the situ­ation. “But she has the pos­sib­il­ity to at­tract a lot more.”

Oth­ers said that in a race where both can­did­ates are per­ceived as pro-Is­rael, the Ir­an deal won’t be a de­cis­ive factor among Demo­crat­ic voters. “I think there’s some ne­ces­sity for ob­vi­ously a new face and chal­lenger to try to take some risk on some po­s­i­tion­ing,” said Thomas Bowen, a Demo­crat­ic strategist in Chica­go. “But for­eign af­fairs isn’t usu­ally an is­sue that changes Demo­crat­ic primary out­comes.”

It is, however, the sharpest di­vid­ing line between Schneider and Roter­ing. And their dis­trict, which pays at­ten­tion to is­sues af­fect­ing Is­rael like few oth­ers, has be­come a mini­ature ver­sion of the na­tion­al fight over the Ir­an deal.

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Starbucks Is So Passé! The Marketing of Coffee Takes a Turn

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Supposedly "translated" by Bing: "The café with care given the exposure the white-collar workers on LinkedIn. ‪#‎walterscoffee‬" (Hmm, seems to lose something in "translation." But the link works.)

by Noah

Inspired by Breaking Bad, aka the greatest TV show ever, an astute Turkish food and beverage industry veteran named Deniz Kosan has created what looks to be the "world's first Coffee Super Lab," as reported by TODAY.com, and it's not even disguised as a laundromat, chicken restaurant, ordinary RV, or anything else. Walter's Coffee Roastery brazenly operates, as Gus Fring would say, "hidden in plain sight," in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Turks are known for their love of coffee, always have been, but it took Kosan to see that Breaking Bad was the perfect merchandising opportunity for his coffee, or, as Walter White himself would say, "the product."

Kosan has designed his coffee shop to look like Walter White's beautiful subterranean high-tech stainless-steel meth lab. His employees even dress up in those wonderful yellow hazmat suits and black masks that Walter and his young protégé, Jesse Pinkman, don for every cook of "the product."


That's not you-know-who and you-know-who, is it?

Kosan says that the precise moment of inspiration came to him as he watched Season 3, Episode 6 of the legendary show. That's the episode in which former high school chemistry teacher, now master meth maker, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) discusses fine coffee with Gale Boetticher (David Costabile), his ill-fated assistant. Walter marvels at Gale's brilliantly brewed coffee and wonders aloud, "Why the hell are we making meth?"



Why make meth, indeed! Kosan knows that, in the real world, coffee is a far more popular drug, and it has the extra advantages of not costing as much and being totally legal. Not only that, but you can add sugar -- as much as you want!

Speaking of sugar, Walter's Coffee Roastery also sells a beautiful blue candy that looks, very suspiciously, just like Walter White's classic blue "product." It's even sold over the counter -- again, in plain sight!


Ahem, samples of "the product"?

Unfortunately, Walter's Coffee Roastery only has the one location -- in Turkey. For now, that is. But, just like Walter White's meth spread 'round the world, there's always hope that one day soon there will be a Walter's Coffee Roastery near you. When you have what people want, expansion is easy.

Kosan's move is as good an example of inspired marketing genius as you will ever find. I'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to sell a food or beverage product based on the creepy factor or crime factor of a TV show or movie.  I suppose one could start up a Texas Chainsaw Massacre Steak House. Silence of the Lambs, anyone? Maybe I'll just move to the Gulf Coast and open up a chain of BP Seafood Huts. "The secret is in the oil."


That's definitely not Walter and Jesse (or Skyler).
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Now That It's Been Established That Trump's Appeal Is Fascist, Is It Also Xenophobic?

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I had a very high draft lottery number. There was no way I would be drafted after college. However, it made me sick to see what my country was doing to Vietnam, and it made me sick to imagine that my tax dollars were somehow paying for that. So l wound up living overseas for the duration of the war. I learned a lot-- and I recommend the experience to anyone contemplating any such thing, for myriad reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with this post. 

What inspired me to think back about my years living abroad was an interview Trump did with an extreme right-wing site. In reacting to Jeb having spoken to a crowd in Miami about Trump, where he said, "El hombre no es conservador," Trump went right to his Know-Nothing base about Jeb: "He’s a nice man. But he should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States."

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): Trump's anti-Spanish 
language comments are "modern day fascism."
Why is this such a devastating zinger, which damages Jeb so profoundly? I first started picking up on it in 1969 when I was driving across Asia-- Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. I was on the hippie trail, and so were several hundred, maybe a thousand, other Westerners-- primarily Europeans, with a handful of Canadians, Australians, Japanese and a tiny number of Americans. Overland across Asia was a tough haul, and not for the faint of heart. There was basically only one road-- around 4,000 miles-- and everyone stopped in the same places to rest: the Sultan Ahmet district of Istanbul, Tabriz, Tehran, Meshed, Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, Lahore. So by the time you got to where you were closing in on India, you had basically met and shared experiences with almost everyone on the road that season.

English was the lingua franca. If there were people from Sweden, Brazil, Japan, Italy and Holland sitting around a campfire, there was only one way anyone would assume they could have a discussion: in English. Was I ever lucky! But occasionally-- very infrequently-- you'd be in a group of people, maybe a bunch of Frenchmen and some Canadians and someone from Senegal, say, and they'd be speaking French. Or some people from Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Spain  would be speaking Spanish. You could also find yourself sitting around with a bunch of Afs speaking Farsi or Pashtun. Well, no one minded-- except Americans.

I started figuring it out pretty quickly. Americans, but not Brits or Aussies or Canadians, would get terribly uptight if another language was being spoken. And since there was usually a lot of hash going around, they would also get terribly paranoid. Americans seemed to always think that if two or more people were conversing in not-English, they were either making fun of them or plotting against them. It came to me gradually, and then I thought it was funny-- and sad.



A few years later I was back in Europe from India and working at de Kosmos, a youth center owned by the city of Amsterdam which was based on meditation and Eastern philosophies. It was always packed with young travelers and tourists babbling in every language under the sun. Again, English was the lingua franca-- even over Dutch-- but there were always enough Germans or French or any linguistic group so that there would be conversations going on in those languages. And again, when people were speaking not-English, I noticed the uptightness-- exclusively of Americans.

Years later, back in the States, it was easy to detect that some Americans get uptight when people in restaurants or in stores or in their workplaces speak Spanish. Here in Los Angeles that's over with now, but farther inland it isn't. It's just an awkward and backward part of being part of Fortress America, long associated with the kind of isolationism that breeds nationalism, and hostility towards outsiders (xenophobia), or even toward new ideas. 

Trump knows his audience.


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GOP Front-Runner Donald Trump Defines The Republican Party's "Deep Bench": "Bunch Of Clowns, Bunch Of Real Clowns"

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Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment was, at least superficially, sacrosanct among Republicans... until Trump took over the party. Reagan, from his 1990 book An American Life:
The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. It's a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.
In the video compilation above, Trump is shown doing the kind of takedown of his party's presidential field that Hillary Clinton would never dare. "We have losers, we have losers. We have people who don't have it," the TV reality-show star said of the party's "deep bench." Trump is busy rendering Jeb Bush unelectable, emphasizing a series of ugly, off-putting personality traits that voters will flee from. He has no energy; he's "an unhappy person," as well as being "weak" and "a puppet to his donors." In sum: "How the hell can you vote for this guy?"

Trump has already obliterated Rick Perry, who was governor of the biggest Republican state in America for 15 years. After he famously declared that Perry should "have to have an IQ test before getting on the debate stage," Perry's campaign fizzled out entirely. He never went beyond 1 or 2% in the polls again. 

Then there's this: "This guy Lindsey Graham-- a total lightweight. He doesn't seem like a very bright guy. He actually, probably, seems to me, not as bright, honestly, as Rick Perry." Lindsey is lucky he doesn't have to run for his Senate seat again for five years. (And Trump hasn't even outed him yet!)

And anyone who didn't know that John Kasich was a Lehman Bros managing director when the company went belly up and nearly upended the entire U.S. economy... well, Trump reminded them. As for Carly Fiorina: "She ran Hewlett Packard into the ground; then her stock value tanked. She laid off tens of thousands of people. And she got viciously fired." Many Republicans didn't know that about Carly Fiorina. Now they do.

Nor has he been gentle with the candidate the Koch brothers had originally settled on: Scott Walker. "Wisconsin's doing terribly; the roads are a distaster, the hospitals and education are a disaster." He skewers Rand Paul ("weak on the military... weak on immigration-- he's weak on everything") and Marco Rubio, and then he's back to how much of an unqualified moron Jeb Bush is. Jeb's responses-- his pathetic attempts to "hit back" at the bully-- only underline what a terrible leader he would make. It never pays to roll around in the mud with a pig, unless you plan to use a butcher knife.
Bush does not seem to be radiating much joy these days.

He said last year that he would run for president only if he could do so with a sunny spirit, but Mr. Trump, the unlikely front-runner who gleefully ignores the traditional rules of political engagement, has turned this summer into a miserable one for Mr. Bush.

There is the personal ridicule-- constantly questioning Mr. Bush’s vigor, invoking a since-retracted statement by his mother, Barbara Bush, that “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House, and even alluding to his wife’s Mexican heritage in discussing immigration.

But the torment goes deeper than that. Emphasizing bluster over ideas, Mr. Trump has turned the campaign into a tabloid-style clash of personalities, heavy on provocation and insults. What little policy that has been discussed mostly revolves around Mr. Trump’s appeals to anxious white conservatives: stoking fears about immigrants, gang members and foreign countries that, in his telling, are eclipsing America.

It is a race, in other words, that embodies what Mr. Bush likes least about politics.

Mr. Bush is at his most animated discussing policy. And the only thing he may be more passionate about than issues is his conviction that the Republicans must become an inclusive, big-hearted party that appeals to people’s hopes rather than their resentments.

“It’s got to be difficult,” said John McKager Stipanovich, a veteran Florida lobbyist who has known Mr. Bush for over 30 years. “Donald Trump epitomizes everything that Jeb has spent his political career trying to prevent the Republican Party from becoming.”

...“He attacks me every day with nonsense, with things that aren’t true,” Mr. Bush said in Spanish, before saying much the same in English: “He tries to personalize everything. If you are not totally in agreement with him, you’re an idiot, or stupid, or you have no energy, or blah, blah, blah. That’s what he does.”

...More than annoyance is at stake. Mr. Bush’s advisers say they believe that the relentless mockery by Mr. Trump is contributing to their candidate’s slide in the polls. In a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, more Iowa Republicans view Mr. Bush unfavorably than favorably. Mr. Bush has also slipped in some national surveys, falling into single digits and well back in the Republican pack.

The campaign does not want donors and up-for-grab Republican voters to see Mr. Bush as meekly absorbing Mr. Trump’s blows, so Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, has begun to criticize Mr. Trump aggressively on the campaign trail. This week, he released a video highlighting the developer’s previous liberal views.



Still, seemingly powerless to pull Mr. Trump down, Mr. Bush and his advisers are expressing anger over what they see as the news media’s enabling of Mr. Trump by not scrutinizing his far-fetched plans, such as making Mexico pay for a wall along the United States’ southern border.

“Look, this guy’s the front-runner,” Mr. Bush said last week at a town-hall-style meeting in Norfolk, Va. “He should be treated like a front-runner, not like some kind of alternative universe to the political system.”

At a private fund-raiser the night before in Richmond, Va., Mr. Bush was even more direct when asked by a contributor what he would do about Mr. Trump. Mr. Bush said with a touch of wonder that Mr. Trump’s rise reminded him of reality TV, adding that he was the only candidate taking on the bombastic front-runner and that he hoped the news media would begin aggressively vetting Mr. Trump, according to an attendee.



UPDATE: From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In yesterday's Washington Post Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, author, all-time leading NBA scorer and former cultural ambassador for the United States, opined about how Trump and Bernie Sanders differ.
Ernest Hemingway once said that courage was “grace under pressure.” Two presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have recently tested this proposition. And how each man responded revealed the type of person he is and the type of president he would make: Trump authored his own doom, and Sanders opened immense new possibilities as a compassionate person and serious candidate for president.

...Americans may flirt with the preppy life of the frathouse partier because he’s poked sacred cows, said stuff we all wish we could say (except that reason keeps us from doing it), and acted buffoonishly entertaining. But when you wake up the next morning and he’s saying you’re now in a four-year relationship, reason comes rushing in, and it is time for the “it’s me, not you” speech. With over a year until the elections, there are too many Republican hopefuls that dilute the polls. Once the herd thins out (Rick Perry seems out of money; Bobby Jindal out of breath; Huckabee out of touch), other candidates with more substance will have their voices heard. And when it comes down to just three or four candidates, Trump’s blustering inarticulation and dodging of questions will seem untrustworthy.

Although each absurd, uninformed or just plain incorrect statement seems to give Trump a bump in the polls, there are only so many times supporters can defend his outrageous assault on decency, truth and civility. Yes, a few will remain no matter what. (One 63-year-old woman told CNN that the Republicans were out to discredit Trump: “They twisted what the words were, because they’re trying to destroy him.” No one has to twist his words because what he says is twisted enough. He speaks fluent pretzel.) But voters will eventually see the light.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders faced his own challenge at a political event last month, when two African American women pushed in front of him to use the microphone to demand four and a half minutes of silence to honor the death of Michael Brown. Sanders left the stage and mingled with the crowd. Later, Trump criticized Sanders as being “weak” for allowing them to speak, but truly he showed grace under pressure by acknowledging their frustration and anger. Instead of bullying their voices into silence or ridiculing them as losers, pigs or bimbos, Sanders left. After all, it was not his event; he was a guest. Besides, his voice was not silenced, but came back booming even louder: The next day, Sanders posted a sweeping policy of reform to fight racial inequality. (The timing coincided with Michael Brown’s death and had nothing to do with the two women.)

The two approaches reveal the difference between a mature, thoughtful and intelligent man, and a man whose money has made him arrogant to criticism and impervious to feeling the need to have any actual policies. Trump threatens to run an independent campaign (he won’t; that’s a negotiating ploy). Trump is a last-call candidate who looks good in the boozy dark of political inebriation.

...Two roads diverged in a political wood, and one man took the road of assaulting the Constitution and soon will be lost forever. The other will be a viable candidate who, regardless of whether he wins the nomination, will elevate the political process into something our Founding Fathers would be proud of.
Trump, of course, responded in typical classy Trumpian fashion:



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