Monday, August 31, 2015


You've probably heard that Republicans, particularly from Ohio, have denounced President Obama for officially restoring Mount McKinley's original name, Denali. Conservative anger is quite strong on Twitter:

Never mind the fact that this is a popular move in Alaska, even among Republicans:

Hey, angry conservatives, do you know who calls the mountain Denali?

Sarah Palin.

She called it Denali in her 2009 gubernatorial resignation speech. Go to 1:25 in the clip:

And getting up here I say it is the best road trip in America soaring through nature's finest show. Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun.

Denali was also Palin's Secret Service codename during the 2008 election.

Angry conservatives, why do you hate Sarah Palin?


UPDATE: And since I'm getting some positive reactions to this on Twitter, I'll add it here.


There's yet another Iowa poll with Donald Trump and Ben Carson at the top -- but in this one they're tied:
Ben Carson and Donald Trump are tied at the top of the Republican field in a new survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers with 23 percent each, according to the results of a Monmouth University poll released Monday.

The good news continues for the retired neurosurgeon with his favorability ratings, as 81 percent said they view him favorably, compared to just 6 percent who do not....

Carson leads among Evangelical voters, earning 29 percent to Trump's 23 percent, while non-Evangelicals backed Trump with 24 percent, followed by Carson at 18 percent and Fiorina at 13 percent.
Here are the rankings -- which are quite ugly for Jeb Bush, as well as for former Evangelical favorite Mike Huckabee:
When Iowa Republicans are asked who they would support in their local caucus, Ben Carson (23%) and Donald Trump (23%) tie for the top spot. The next tier of candidates includes Carly Fiorina (10%) and Ted Cruz (9%), followed by Scott Walker (7%), Jeb Bush (5%), John Kasich (4%), Marco Rubio (4%), and Rand Paul (3%). The last two Iowa caucus victors, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, each garner 2% of the vote. None of the other six candidates included in the poll register more than 1% support.
So there may be a limit to Trump's dominance of the polls. Now, what does Trump do when he feels challenged? He lashes out in a crude and nasty way. So far, he's gotten away with every attack -- on John McCain, on Megyn Kelly, and so on. He's certainly not upsetting anyone by attacking Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. It seems as if he can get away with attacking anyone.

Now that Carson is threatening to take the lead from Trump, isn't Trump going to attack Carson, crudely and nastily? And what happens then?

I know that Republicans are awfully comfortable with racism -- send them an email forward with a bone Photoshopped through Obama's nose and they'll send it to ten more friends with the subject line HILARIOUS.

But they're awfully protective of black conservatives. They love Clarence Thomas and Allen West and Thomas Sowell and Mia Love. And Carson, although he severely criticized President Obama in that National Prayer Breakfast speech, is usually not in attack mode. He has a nice-guy image. My sense is that conservatives regard him as, well, saintly.

True, they didn't rally around Herman Cain four years ago. But it seemed clear that Cain was guilty of the behavior of which he was accused -- the National Restaurant Association, of which he was chief executive, paid money to one woman who accused him of harassment. and he acknowledged making payments to a woman who said she'd had a long extramarital affair with him.

Trump will probably attack Carson without provocation. He'll say Carson is "weak." He'll mock Carson's way of speaking or something Crson said. He'll say he's known some of the world's top surgeons -- brilliant doctors, he'll say, but otherwise they're not very bright. That's what Trump does.

I know that the safe bet is that Trump will get away with everything, but I'm not sure he'll get away with this. Too many white conservatives really like themselves for liking Carson. They wield their admiration for him as proof that they're not racist, no matter how many nasty things they say about Al Sharpton and the Obamas and Black Lives Matter. Trump's Teflon will probably hold, but Carson just might be Trump's nemesis.


Today in The Washington Post, Dan Balz and Jenna Johnson are asking, "What happened to Scott Walker?" They blame Walker's decline in the polls on his campaign's stumbles, as well as the rise of Donald Trump:
Walker’s backers see a campaign discombobulated by Trump’s booming popularity and by his provocative language on immigration, China and other issues. They see in Walker a candidate who -- in contrast to the discipline he showed in state races -- continues to commit unforced errors, either out of lack of preparation or in an attempt to grab for part of the flamboyant businessman’s following.
In the latter category are confused statements about immigration -- most recently, he's suggested that we might need a wall on the U.S.-Canada border.

Yeah, he's trying too hard. He's making mistakes. But he'd be struggling even if he were running a flawless campaign.

Walker was supposed to be Trump. Walker was the guy who was going to be smite all the people right-wingers hate. That's what he told them in that January speech in Iowa, the one that, as National Review's Michael Barone wrote at the time, catapulted him into the top tier:
Many activists in the crowd, but by no means all Iowa Republicans, knew that he had battled the public-employee unions in Wisconsin -- and that the Left, which prides itself on compassion and civility -- responded with riots and death threats and a June 2012 recall election. Walker won that contest as he had in 2010 and did again in 2014: three elections in four years in a state that has voted Democratic for president since 1988.

Walker had his applause lines down pat: We celebrate the Fourth of July, not the 15th of April; the safety net should be not a hammock but a trampoline. His emphasis was almost entirely on economic issues, but laced through his text were references that sounded offhand and authentic to family and faith.
Walker was going to crush unions, stop doling out so much government money to them, and get liberals squealing -- he knew how to beat us in elections. Wow! That's slaying a lot of enemies! But Trump has the base believing he can slay all the enemies:

Walker won three elections and hates everyone the base hates -- but Trump seems to hate everyone the base hates and he's a billionaire, which, to the base, means he has the necessary executive experience to do anything he wants to.

Walker isn't a D.C. politician, but Trump isn't a politician at all -- and Trump has now made GOP voters believe they can reject politics altogether in this election. That's helping Ben Carson to rise in the polls as well. Walker was supposed to be the Jesus-loving, soft-spoken Boy Scout who smites all the enemies with his righteous wrath, but voters who like the soft-spoken and God-bothering parts of that formula are gravitating toward Carson, while fans of pure smiting love Trump, who promises to do nothing but smite.

If Walker were what voters really wanted, he'd survive his campaign's awkward moments -- the multiple answers on the question of birthright citizenship, the claim that beating unions means he can beat ISIS. (When Trump claims he can crush ISIS, isn't he also saying you can count on him to triumph because in the past he's bested some foes in stateside wars of wills that are completely unlike geostrategy? And don't the voters nevertheless find him completely plausible?)

Voters liked Walker because he seemed like the best they could do. But now, with Trump (and Carson) they think they can destroy politics altogether. Walker just can't compete.

(Tweet via Paul Canning.)

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Former CNBC host Larry Kudlow says he might launch a Senate campaign:
Conservative economist and media figure Larry Kudlow says he’s talked to national Republicans about running for Senate in Connecticut.

During an interview on his radio program with Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., over the weekend, Kudlow said he would mount a challenge to incumbent Sen. Richard Blumenthal if the Democrat supports the international agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
This is not the first time Kudlow has made such a threat. In 2009 he said he might run against Connecticut Senate Chris Dodd the following year. Dodd chose not to run, leaving an open seat, but Kudlow skipped the race. He also considered a run in 2010 in New York against Chuck Schumer, but he passed up that race as well. At the time, both Gawker and The New York Observer asserted that Roger Stone, the veteran Republican dirty trickster and sleazebag, was backing Kudlow.

Kudlow famously spent years predicting that the Great Recession wouldn't happen, and then asserting that it wouldn't really be that bad. This was a serious failing, considering that understanding economics and the financial markets was, y'know, his job. As Salon's Andrew Leonard noted, Kudlow was wrong about this as far back as 2005, when he wrote:
Homebuilders led the stock parade this week with a fantastic 11 percent gain. This is a group that hedge funds and bubbleheads love to hate. All the bond bears have been dead wrong in predicting sky-high mortgage rates . So have all the bubbleheads who expect housing-price crashes in Las Vegas or Naples, Florida, to bring down the consumer, the rest of the economy, and the entire stock market.
(Emphasis added.) I quote this because the sentence in bold is precisely what did happen.

The Huffington Post's Mark Nickolas gathered together some of the pronouncements Kudlow made as the markets were on the verge of imploding. A few highlights:
October 3, 2007:

The recession forecast is all but wiped out....

November 21, 2007:

Too much is being made of both the sub-prime credit problem and the housing downturn.

... It's just not that big a deal.

December 5, 2007:

The recession debate is over. It's not gonna happen. Time to move on.

December 6, 2007:

There ain’t no recession.

December 7, 2007:

There's no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It's not going to happen.... The Bush boom is alive and well. It's finishing up its sixth consecutive year with more to come. Yes, it's still the greatest story never told.

December 10, 2007:

This sort of fiscal and monetary coordination will continue the Bush boom for years to come. Though mainstream media outlets will never admit it, President Bush has kept America safe and prosperous.

February 5, 2008:

I'm going to bet that the economy will be rebounding sometime this summer, if not sooner. We are in a slow patch. That's all. It's nothing to get up in arms about.

April 7, 2008:

And let's also remember that recessions are therapeutic.... If anything, recessions make for clean starts.
And when he's not being wrong about the economy, he's wrong about politics. On August 1, 2008, a few weeks before John McCain announced the identity of his running mate, Kudlow wrote this:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has exactly the high energy, political toughness, and conservative reform message that would boost Sen. John McCain’s presidential run if Big Mac were to put her on the ticket.
After her convention speech, he wrote:
Sarah Palin shows us all that she is a superb communicator, which of course is so essential to a successful politician.... A Western frontier version of Thatcher? Gosh, does the Republican Party need her.

Watching her phenomenal communication skill, and her disciplined yet positive style, I can’t help but be optimistic.
Kudlow will probably go down in history as the only person ever to call Sarah Palin "disciplined."

Yeah, Connecticut GOP? You want to run this guy? A guy who even attacks the Pope when the Pope criticizes capitalism? Be my guest.


So I'm looking at the op-eds in today's New York Times and I see that Ross Douthat, the reform conservative, thinks the deeper meaning of Donald Trump is that his candidacy could be a gateway to reform conservatism:
He won’t [win], of course, but it matters a great deal how he loses. In a healthy two-party system, the G.O.P. would treat Trump’s strange success as evidence that the party’s basic orientation may need to change substantially, so that it looks less like a tool of moneyed interests and more like a vehicle for middle American discontent.

In an unhealthy system, the kind I suspect we inhabit, the Republicans will find a way to crush Trump without adapting to his message. In which case the pressure the Donald has tapped will continue to build -- and when it bursts, the G.O.P. as we know it may go with it.
According to Douthat, if I'm reading this correctly, either Trump's candidacy will lead to Douthat-style reform of the GOP or it will lead to a crisis within the GOP that will destroy it -- and what will emerge from the ashes will be, I suppose, precisely the sort of reform Douthat likes.

That's Douthat seeing his own obsessions and hobbyhorses reflected in the Trump candidacy. What does Maureen Dowd see?
Trump is a manifestation of national disgust -- with the money that consumed politics, with the dysfunctional, artificial status quo and with the turgid return to a Bush-Clinton race, with a less adept Bush and Clinton.

“The prospect of Hillary and Jeb as the nominees created a huge opening for something like this,” said former W. strategist Matthew Dowd. “The American public looked at it and said, ‘I do not want that.’”

... Trump’s “gusto,” as he likes to call it, has thrown into sharper relief the grinding-it-out, impatient entitlement, the overthinking and overcorrecting of Jeb and Hillary.

Both campaign like they are owed, not because of their great national achievements, but because of their byzantine family dynamics....
Dowd looks at Trump and sees ... a pathogen that contains a precise cocktail of antibodies to the things she hates most in the world, Clintonism and Bushism!

Why, it's almost as if both Dowd and Clinton Douthat are looking at Trump and seeing a reflection of themselves! Funny how that works.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Most people are going to focus on the Democratic results in the new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll of Iowa, which show Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by only 7 (though mostly because of positive feelings about Sanders rather than negative feelings about Clinton -- only 2% of Sanders supporters say their backing is primarly a rebuke to Clinton).

But I'm struck by the Republican results. Yes, Donald Trump still has a clear lead. But look who's gaining on him -- fast:

Yup, Ben Carson is only 5 points behind Trump -- and at 18%, he's 10 points ahead of the next two guys, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz, who are at 8%. (Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are tied for fifth, at 6%.)

What's more, Carson has the highest favorable rating among Republicans, at 79%. (Trump's is now a healthy 61% -- so much for Trump being loved by a minority of Republicans and loathed by a majority, at least in Iowa. Jeb is at 45% favorable, 50% unfavorable.)

This is only of several recent GOP polls in which Carson has finished strong. He's second to Trump in the latest Quinnipiac national poll. He's second to Trump in the latest Monmouth poll of South Carolina. He's second to Walker in the latest Marquette poll of Wisconsin. He's second to Trump in the latest Public Policy Polling survey of North Carolina.

And in the new Hot Air/Survey Monkey national poll, Carson ties Jeb Bush for second place, behind Trump.

Which gets to ascenario a lot of people have been pondering: How would Trump do if the GOP race came down to two candidates? In that Hot Air survey, no one does better against Trump than Carson:
... we decided to test Trump’s performance at this point in head-to-head matchups against his Republican opponents, assuming the primary had come down to two choices. Among both Republicans and independents, Trump lost to Bush 47/53, Carson 42/58, Rubio 45/55, and Fiorina 46/54.... When restricted to only Republicans, Trump beat Bush 53/47, Rubio 52/48, and Fiorina 52/48, but still lost to Carson 48/52. Trump beat both Walker and Cruz in both scenarios.

The Trump-vs.-anti-Trump scenario that's been comforting GOP Establishmentarians relies on two assumptions: that 15 also-rans will drop out -- and that the remaining anti-Trump will be a safe, Establishment-friendly, electable candidate.

I don't know if Ben Carson fills that bill. He's not an obnoxious sexist blowhard like Trump, but he's the one other candidate in the race who seems as unqualified and ill-informed as Trump, and, in his quiet way, he says plenty of imprudent, outrageous things. Abortion is comparable to human sacrifice! Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery! President Obama acts like a psychopath! The Advance Placement history curriculum is so bad it would inspire students to sign up for ISIS!

Who's waiting to seize the GOP lead if Trump falters? Not Bush or Kasich or Rubio or Walker. This guy.


Once again, the political mainstream is expecting something to sink Donald Trump's candidacy with a key group of supporters just because it would sink anyone else's candidacy with that same group of supporters. This time it's Trump's indifference to religion, which is presumed to be a dealbreaker for Trump's many evangelical fans:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he attends a church in Manhattan, but the church released a statement saying the real estate developer is not an "active member."

"I am Presbyterian Protestant. I go to Marble Collegiate Church," he told reporters in Greenville, S.C.

Marble Collegiate Church was founded in 1628 and is one of the oldest continuous Protestant denominations in the country. The church is part of the Reformed Church in America denomination and is on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan....

Following Trump's announcement, the church released a statement to CNN about his affiliation.

"Donald Trump has had a longstanding history with Marble Collegiate Church, where his parents were for years active members and one of his children was baptized. However, as he indicates, he is a Presbyterian, and is not an active member of Marble," the statement said.
This follows his refusal to name a favorite Bible verse in an interview with Mark Halperin.

(Veteran Bible-thumper Sarah Palin has declared that this question was unfair, in a Facebook post and in a TV interview with Trump, even though she has made a great show of discussing her own favorite Bible verse with interviewers.)

Let me explain why none of this is hurting Trump with evangelicals by posting one photo:

Do you get it? Right-wingers love American wars. They love the military. Yet they backed a president (and vice president) who'd avoided service during a war, then plunged us into two more wars, including one utterly unnecessary and outrageously foolhardy war of choice.

Right-wingers a decade ago didn't care that Bush and Cheney hadn't fought in Vietnam. Right-wingers propelled them to victory in 2004 against a guy who had fought and won medals. In fact, they mocked John Kerry's service.

So they don't really care about whether a candidate or elected official has lived in accordance with their values. What they want is a candidate or elected official who will use their values (or, frankly, use anything) as a club to beat the people they don't like -- Democrats, liberals, immigrants, Muslims.

At the peak of his popularity, George W. Bush did that -- he waged a war liberals opposed, and seemed to leave us speechless and sputtering with rage after he short-circuited the Iraqi inspections and attacked Iraq. And then he rubbed our faces in it with that plane landing and that flight suit.

Trump is attacking immigrants, insulting women, and generally being an obnoxious, ignorant boor whose attempts to BS his way through questions (about his faith and other subjects, including the details of his policies) are so easy to see through that we can't believe he's getting away with them. And yet he is. He's getting away with them in large part because the right can see he's left us angry and speechless.

But don't evangelicals care about God and faith? I'm not sure white right-wing Evangelicals in America really do care all that much. For many of them, Christianity is mostly a club they use to beat Godless liberals, the less fortunate, and non-Christians. What the faith seems to affirm for them more than anything else is the sense that humanity is divided into the good and the purely evil, and life's main task is to sort everyone into these two categories, and render appropriate punishments on the latter. This worldview isn't limited to God's judgment in the afterlife -- it extends to life on earth, which is why right-wing Evangelicals despise government efforts to aid anyone other than themselves and their kind (the "deserving").

So, in a way, Trump is embodying religion as they understand it when he threatens to round up and wall out immigrants, or bomb Muslims and seize Middle Eastern oil. He's taking things from the undeserving and giving them to the deserving. Isn't that what Christian conservatives think Jesus wants?


UPDATE: There's a lot more on this subject at the Mahablog.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Talking Points Memo reports:
A think tank founded by a notorious anti-Muslim activist is planning to co-sponsor an upcoming rally against the Iran deal headlined by Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Donald Trump.

Cruz and Trump announced Thursday that they were planning the joint event to voice their opposition to a landmark agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program. Tea Party Patriots, the Center for Security Policy and the far-right Zionist Organization of America were expected to sponsor the rally, which is scheduled for Sept. 9 on Capitol Hill, according to The Washington Post.

The Center for Security Policy is an anti-Muslim think tank founded by former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney, who often speaks about the threat of creeping Sharia law and has accused Republican and Democratic officials alike of being Muslim Brotherhood plants in the U.S.
Yup, and in 2010, when President Obama's policies on missile defense and other issues weren't bellicose enough for his tastes, Gaffney declared at Breitbart that he'd discovered a persuasive theory about the relative lack of saber-rattling:
Now, thanks to an astute observation by Christopher Logan of the Logans Warning blog, we have another possible explanation for behavior that -- in the face of rapidly growing threats posed by North Korean, Iranian, Russian, Chinese and others’ ballistic missiles -- can only be described as treacherous and malfeasant: Team Obama’s anti-anti-missile initiatives are not simply acts of unilateral disarmament of the sort to be expected from an Alinsky acolyte. They seem to fit an increasingly obvious and worrying pattern of official U.S. submission to Islam and the theo-political-legal program the latter’s authorities call Shariah.

What could be code-breaking evidence of the latter explanation is to be found in the newly-disclosed redesign of the Missile Defense Agency logo.... As Logan helpfully shows, the new MDA shield appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo.
Gaffney cites this post at the Logan's Warning blog. The following is the "evidence" laid out in that post:
Here is the old [Missile Defense Agency] logo.

Here is the Obama campaign logo.

Here is the Islamic crescent.

Here is the hybrid.

Any questions?
Yes, Gaffney found that persuasive. That's Trump's new pal. Can Pam Geller be far behind?


Right-wingers want to ban the rainbow flag, and are scapegoating calls for racial justice, all because Vester Lee Flanagan, a mentally ill black gay man, murdered two white people this week. But it's clear that Flanagan was not in his right mind, and had a habit of perceiving insults that weren't there, as the New York Post reports:
The words are a part of everyday conversation -- “swinging” by an address and going out in the “field.”

But in the twisted mind of Virginia gunman Vester Lee Flanagan II, they were pure racism -- and saying them became a death sentence for Alison Parker.

The 24-year-old white reporter, who was murdered on live TV along with her cameraman, used the phrases as an intern at ­WDBJ TV in Roanoke in 2012, according to an internal complaint filed by Flanagan, who was black.

“One was something about ‘swinging’ by some place; the other was out in the ‘field,’ ” said the Jan. 21 report by assistant news director Greg Baldwin, which refers to Parker as Alison Bailey (her middle name)....

Trevor Fair, a 33-year-old cameraman at WDBJ for six years, said that the words Parker used are commonplace but that they would routinely set Flanagan off.

“We would say stuff like, ‘The reporter’s out in the field.’ And he would look at us and say, ‘What are you saying, cotton fields? That’s racist,’ ” Fair recounted.

“We’d be like, ‘What?’ We all know what that means, but he took it as cotton fields, and therefore we’re all racists.”
So, according to the right, I guess we have to ban all calls for social justice -- just as, I suppose, we should have banned all calls for social transformation or racial justice, or simply banned all Beatle records, after the Charles Manson murders:

So if Manson misinterpreted a double album's worth of songs -- though he more or less correctly interpreted "Piggies," which was about greed -- and the result was murder, then I guess we should have banned the whole Beatle canon. Right?


Nobody believes Donald Trump's claim that he can actually win the Hispanic vote in 2016, right? Donald Trump doesn't even believe it. When he says that, he's just blowing smoke.

Peggy Noonan believes it.

Or at least she believes that Trump can make serious inroads among Hispanics. Her evidence? Primarily, secondhand reports from her deli guy about one Spanish-language radio show in New York:
Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”

“He’s the man,” Cesar said of Mr. Trump. This week I went by and Cesar told me that after Mr. Trump threw Univision’s well-known anchor and immigration activist, Jorge Ramos, out of an Iowa news conference on Tuesday evening, the “El Vacilón” hosts again threw open the phone lines the following morning and were again surprised that the majority of callers backed not Mr. Ramos but Mr. Trump. Cesar, who I should probably note sees me, I sense, as a very nice establishment person who needs to get with the new reality, was delighted.

I said: Cesar, you’re supposed to be offended by Trump, he said Mexico is sending over criminals, he has been unfriendly, you’re an immigrant. Cesar shook his head: No, you have it wrong. Immigrants, he said, don’t like illegal immigration, and they’re with Mr. Trump on anchor babies. “They are coming in from other countries to give birth to take advantage of the system. We are saying that! When you come to this country, you pledge loyalty to the country that opened the doors to help you.”
Did this happen? Were the callers on this show largely pro-Trump? I'll take Noonan's word for it. But when you look at New York Hispanics by place of origin, you see that they're not representative of U.S. Hispanics overall. Even though the numbers are changing, there are nearly twice as many Dominicans as Mexicans here, and there are more than twice as many Puerto Ricans as Mexicans. And remember that the members of that biggest group, Puerto Ricans, aren't immigrants -- they're U.S. citizens. Maybe that skewed the opinions on the radio show Noonan didn't actually listen to. Or maybe affection for Trump is just boosterism for a fellow New Yorker, a guy with a shared local attitude.

But by contrast with New York, the national Hispanic population is 64% Mexican in origin. Now, remind me: Which specific Hispanic group has Trump repeatedly and viciously insulted? And what did that recent Gallup poll say?

It is noted that a poll this week said Hispanics are very much not for Donald Trump. Gallup had 65% with an unfavorable view of him, and only 14% favorable.
There's a pretty close match between the unfavorable percentage and the Mexican-origin percentage, wouldn't you say?

But Noonan still believes in magic. She puts faith in a poll Trump invoked in his confrontation with Ramos:
Mr. Trump and Mr. Ramos actually got into that, when Mr. Ramos finally questioned him after being allowed back into the news conference. Mr. Trump countered with a recent Nevada poll that has him with a state lead of 28% -- and he scored even higher with Nevada’s Hispanics, who gave him 31% support.
Okay, let's take a look at that poll:
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- One America News Network, "OAN", a credible source for 24/7 national and international news, released today its most recent 2016 Republican and Democratic Presidential Polling Results for Nevada conducted by Gravis Marketing. The results show that GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump has a commanding lead of 27.7%, with recently announced Presidential Candidate Scott Walker in second with 15%. In third is Ben Carson with 7.8% with Jeb Bush a point behind at 6.8%. Marco Rubio rounds out the top five with 5.4%. Undecided voters remain high at just over 20%.

With polled Hispanics, Presidential Candidate Trump received 31.4%, higher than his overall performance of 27.7%.
So Trump didn't score "higher with Nevada’s Hispanics" -- according to this poll, he scored higher with Nevada's Hispanic Republicans. According to an analysis of the 2014 midterms by the firm Latino Decisions, fewer than 20 percent of Hispanics in Nevada identify as Republicans. (More than half identify as Democrats.)

The poll Trump and Noonan are citing was conducted by Gravis Marketing -- a much-maligned company (Fivethirtyeight rating for the pollster: C) that was once called "the worst poll in America" by Dave Weigel (although the company did have a run of good polls in the fall of 2014). The survey was conducted for One America News, an upstart conservative cable news channel (created in collaboration with The Washington Times) that (as National Journal puts it) "is positioning itself to be the next Fox News." It recently hired Sarah Palin to guest-host one of its political talk shows; earlier this year, another on-air host questioned the gender of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren:
At [February]'s Conservative Political Action Conference, a 22-year-old woman named Tomi Lahren walked out on the stage and generated the most memorable sound bite from the conference....

In her speech, Lahren -- who hosts a right-leaning talk show on the little-known cable channel One America News Network -- said there is a misconception among young voters that the GOP is populated by "old, rich, white males," and turned that criticism on the Left.

"Let's look at the top three Democrats for 2016," Lahren said. "You've got Hillary, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden. Old, rich, white, and if the pantsuit fits ... male too?"
So forgive me if I don't think Trump is going to sweep the Hispanic vote on the basis of this, um, evidence.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


It's being reported that a new Quinnipiac poll has Donald Trump expanding his lead over the rest of the Republican field, while Hillary Clinton's lead has shrunk somewhat. But that's not what right-wingers seem to have noticed most about the poll.

* Hot Air's Jazz Shaw: "Uh oh. New poll shows first word people associate with Hillary Clinton is 'Liar'"


* Warner Todd Huston at John Hawkins' Right Wing News: "POLL: Americans Say the One Word That Best Describes Hillary Clinton is ‘Liar’"

So let's look at the poll. What they're all talking about is a free-association question: "What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Hillary Clinton?" Top three answers:

* liar
* dishonest
* untrustworthy

Hmmm, not so great. But let's consider the GOP front-runner: "What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?" Top three answers:

* arrogant
* blowhard
* idiot

In other words: A pox on both your houses.

Oh, and despite inroads made by Joe Biden, Clinton still leads the nomination contest by 23 points, and still beats every Republican rival she's polled against. So there's that.


In honor of his birthday, veteran Republican dirty trickster (and, now, Trump backer) Roger Stone gets a puff piece in the Styles section of today's New York Times:

He also gets delighted best wishes from good pals at NBC, Politico, and the Times:

Yes, it's wonderful when political operatives and the media have such a cozy relationship! Especially politically operatives like this guy:
Notorious Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone has launched a 527 political organization called Citizens United Not Timid (aka CUNT) to educate the public about “what Hillary Clinton really is.” The organization’s sole purpose? To sell $25 T-shirts emblazoned with the organization’s charming name and its red, white and blue logo.

That, from the 2008 campaign, is just one highlight of a career that goes all the way back to Watergate. Ending the career of New York governor Eliot Spitzer was another, as was a subsequent threateningphone call he made to Spitzer's father ("you will be arrested and brought to Albany - and there's not a goddamn thing your phony, psycho piece of s--- son can do about it") while working for New York state Senate president Joe Bruno (now a convicted felon). And then there was this:
The capstone of Stone’s career, at least in terms of results, was the “Brooks Brothers riot” of the 2000 election recount. This was when a Stone-led squad of pro-Bush protestors stormed the Miami-Dade County election board, stopping the recount and advancing then-Governor George W. Bush one step closer to the White House.
And possibly this:
Some pointed the finger at him as having a role in the scandal over forged documents related to George W. Bush that were the undoing of Dan Rather. But Mr. Stone denied any involvement.
But, y'know, he's an insider, and he's good copy, so his boon companions in the media don't hold him at arm's length. To them, he's a good pal. Ain't politics grand?


I posted this on Twitter when we first learned about Vester Lee Flanagan's murder video:

As I predicted, National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke has called the killing "America's first social media murde,r" and the New York Times editorial board has lamented that "the outlet provided by social media appears to have whetted" the killer's "murderous appetites." But no one has fretted like Farhad Manjoo of the Times, who believes that we literally have no control over our own reactions to what's on the Internet:
... unlike previous televised deaths, these were not merely broadcast, but widely and virally distributed, playing out with the complicity of thousands, perhaps millions, of social networking users who could not help watching and sharing.

The horror was the dawning realization, as the video spread across the networks, that the killer had anticipated the moves -- that he had been counting on the mechanics of these services and on our inability to resist passing on what he had posted. For many, that realization came too late. On these services, the killer knew, you often hit retweet, like or share before you realize just quite what you have done.
(Emphasis added.)

Really? I admit I watched both the unedited broadcast version of the shooting and the killer's video, but I didn't go into a fugue state and wake up an hour later having retweeted and favorited the clips a dozen times with no memory of having done so. That seems to be how Manjoo thinks we act when we witness violence on viral video, but I think we have a bit more self-control than that.

Manjoo goes on to write:
There was uncertainty in the sharing. Users expressed reservations as they passed on the gunman’s profile and his tweets. People were calling on Twitter and Facebook to act quickly to pull down his accounts. There were questions about the journalistic ethics of posting WDBJ’s live shot and the killer’s own document of the shooting....
Well, yes, exactly. There wasn't an uncontrollable wave of mindless, compulsive voyeurism -- if anything, the public cried out for suppression of the videos.

But that doesn't comfort Manjoo:
Over the course of 20 minutes on Twitter, the shooter updated his status a half-dozen times, culminating in a post showing the video of the killings. He quickly amassed a following of thousands, the sort of rapturous social media welcoming that is usually reserved for pop stars and heads of state.
Wait -- I follow a lot of people I don't like or admire on Twitter. I follow Donald Trump and Michelle Malkin and Michele Bachmann and Mark Levin and David Brooks and Judy Miller and Joe the Plumber, and that's just off the top of my head. After the Charleston shootings, I started following the Council of Conservative Citizens. I'm hate-following these people. What's wrong with that, apart from what it might do to my blood pressure? I want to know what these SOBs are up to. Is that so wrong? (And since when is having "a following of thousands," rather than hundreds of thousands or millions, particularly impressive on social media?)

If you've ever seen a wreck on the highway and not looked, you're a better person than I am. That's not the same thing as having an ongoing prurient obsession with violence. It's just that something extraordinary has happened, and it's an understandable human impulse to want to comprehend the event.

I agree with Manjoo that self-produced videos are likely to become a regrettable feature of future murders:
The videos got out widely, forging a new path for nihilists to gain a moment in the media spotlight: an example that, given its success at garnering wide publicity, will most likely be followed by others.
But I think ISIS has already made that inevitable, as has modern technology's ease of use. What the cynic in me thinks is also likely to happen is that we'll simply become bored with murder videos, the way we've become bored with gun violence in general -- within a decade there'll probably be a murder video a week uploaded to Facebook and Twitter or their future equivalents, and we'll pay attention only to the ones that are exceptional in some way. Which gets back to our real problem: the fact that we'll never deal with the level of violence we have in America, which is a much more important issue than the fact that we're interested in learning more when a particularly striking crime happens.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


From the Daily Beast:
Vester Lee Flanagan’s bosses called 911 on the day they fired him from WDBJ because of his volatile behavior. ...

At a February 2013 meeting, WDBJ managers told Flanagan he wasn’t a good fit and would be terminated. Flanagan -- who went by the on-air name Bryce Williams -- became “agitated,” then issued a threat, according to documents obtained by The Daily Beast that were filed in Flanagan’s lawsuit against the station in 2014. (Flanagan lost.)

“He repeated … his feeling that firing him would lead to negative consequences for me personally and for the station,” former station manager Dan Dennison said. The manager said Flanagan “said he had to go to the bathroom, stood up abruptly, stormed out of the room, and slammed the door” -- prompting a frightened sales team to take shelter in a locked office. During the episode, Flanagan told police there was a watermelon in a station hallway and that was akin to someone calling him the N-word. Flanagan flipped off employees and swore at them....

Finally, Flanagan handed his boss a small wooden cross and warned, “You’ll need this.”
Could a guy like that legally buy a gun? No problem!

U-S-A! U-S-A!


This is a revised version of a post I briefly had up speculating on the mental state of Vester Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, the man accused of shooting a TV reporter and photographer during a live broadcast this morning, who's now died of self-inflict gunshot wounds. In the original post I expressed skepticism about the belief that race was the principal motivation for the shooting, despite these messages from his now-suspended Twitter account:

Flanagan was black. Alison Parker and Adam Ward, his victims, were white. Now, however, based on a fax sent to ABC News by Flanagan, it's undeniable that race sent him over the edge -- though there's clearly more going on than that:
In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them."

... He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.
Note: Flanagan's Twitter makes clear that he was a Jehovah's Witness, at least as a child.

But we can see from this manifesto that Flanagan has been thinking about mass shootings for a while, that he was psychologically unhealthy by his own admission, and that he felt personally discriminated against as a gay man, not just as a black man.
Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'"

... He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work

He says he has been attacked by black men and white females

He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man...

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily...I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”
He really does seem to have been "a human powder keg" -- and it's possible that some of the discrimination he's describing didn't happen as he claimed it did. The New York Times tells us:
The Twitter account of Mr. Williams, who is black, referred to a complaint he had filed against the station with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming to have been subjected to racist comments in the workplace.

Jeffrey A. Marks, president and general manager of the station, confirmed that the complaint had been filed, but said it was dismissed as baseless. Of the racist comments, “none of them could be corroborated by anyone,” he said. “We think they were fabricated.”

... Mr. Marks described Mr. Williams as someone prone to angry outbursts without much provocation.

“Eventually, after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him,” he said. “He did not take that well, and we had to call the police to escort him from the building.”
This may well have been a pattern in his life. An on-air host for a San Diego TV station has tweeted this ("ND" = news director):

And there's this:
The Tallahassee Democrat published this story on Flanagan's lawsuit in 2000:

A local television anchor-reporter, slated to lose his job with Tallahassee's NBC affiliate in two weeks, has filed a racial discrimination suit against the station --- alleging that news producers and other managers made offensive remarks about blacks and fired him for complaining about it....

Vester Flanagan, who has reported for WTWC-TV since last March, said he and another black employee were referred to as "monkeys" and that a supervisor once told him that "blacks are lazy and do not take advantage of free money" for scholarships and economic opportunities. He said when he cited his own background of nearly seven years in television, going back to internships at San Francisco State University, the supervisor told him he was an "exception."
Could he have been a victim of discrimination and racist remarks at every place he worked? It's possible. But I think the tell is the word "bizarre" in that tweet -- it's a word people use to refer to behavior that's incomprehensible, not merely angry. Also see the reference to "angry outbursts without much provocation" in the Times story.

And I wonder about this, from the suspended Twitter feed:

Worker's comp? For what? WDBJ let him go two years ago, for unstated reasons:
Flanagan was fired from the station, though the reason was not made public, the ex-employee said.

"Two years ago, we had to separate him from the company. We did understand that he was still living in the area," WDBJ General Manager Jeff Marks said.
More, from Adweek's TVSpy column:
TVSpy spoke with former WDBJ reporter Orlando Salinas who said Williams often complained about racial discrimination at the station.

Salinas said that on Williams’ last day -- in February of 2013 -- he created a “ruckus” by berating people in the newsroom. Salinas said employees were put in a room for their protection and police were called. Police then escorted Williams from the station. Salinas said the station provided security for station employees for an unknown time after the incident.
He was unemployed as of this morning, according to his now-suspended LinkedIn page.

I suspect he had anger issues, possibly as the result of schizophrenia. I also wonder if he'd internalized the Witnesses' disapproval of his homosexuality. He said he'd been discriminated against as a gay man, but he also said Jehovah told him to commit the murders -- if you're a Jehovah's Witness, you're not supposed to act on homosexual impulses. He was killing in response to discrimination, but he was also killing on behalf of a God that discriminates.


But, as Media Matters notes, Breitbart wants to make this all about race:
Breitbart News reacted to reports that two Virginia journalists were shot to death on-air by a disgruntled former co-worker by publishing an article with the headline, "RACE MURDER IN VIRGINIA: BLACK REPORTER SUSPECTED OF EXECUTING WHITE COLLEAGUES - ON LIVE TELEVISION!"

... The piece was widely condemned by other members of the media, many of whom pointed out Breitbart News' lengthy history of racially charged reporting and commentary. The headline has since been changed.
Actually, the headline was still up at the Breitbart homepage when the Media Matters item was published; the current headline is "‘RACE WAR’: MANIFESTO RELEASED OF VIRGINIA MURDERER."

This is going to be the right's takeaway from this incident. The reaction is going to be overwhelmingly racial, to judge from what I'm seeing at Free Republic:
He was a protected class. Of course he’s not going to be prohibited from purchasing a firearm.


The classy lady he murdered probably shunned his disgusting advances.


This is one of the first shots of a slow motion race war that has been fanned from the fruits of Ferguson and Baltimore by the liberal academic/media/government/shakedown complex.


When do the riots begin?
When does the REVERUND Al Sharpton show up?
When does the Justice Department being their phishing expedition and witch hunt for racism at WDBJ in rural redneck southwest Virginia?


A highly privileged member of a government-certified victim class has everything handed to him free. He then sets his reptilian eyes on on a beautiful woman, but can’t have her.
The "polite" version will be that, yes, he needed mental-health treatment, but he was driven to act on his unhealthy impulses by the liberal culture of victimization. Bet on it.

UPDATE: Breitbart tops itself.


I've reworked this post to reflect new information. The revised version is here.


You already know about this, I'm sure. No, I'm not going to post the video.
A television reporter and cameraman were shot to death on the air during a live broadcast Wednesday morning from a shopping center in Virginia.

Jeffrey A. Marks, general manager of CBS Roanoke affiliate WDBJ-TV, identified the two killed as Alison Parker and Adam Ward....

Virignia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told WTOP-FM in Washington that authorities believe the shooter was a "disgruntled employee" and that the shooting was "not a case of terrorism."
So the gunman wasn't an undocumented Ebola-infected ISIS terrorist gangbanger from Mexico? Because I keep hearing that those are the people we really need to worry about the most in America. Or at least I'm told (by, for instance, the leading Republican candidate for president) that the major source of American violence is undocumented immigrants:
[JORGE] RAMOS: One question, is there one question I want to ask --

TRUMP: Okay. The one thing we're going to start with immediately are the gangs, and the real bad ones, and you do agree there are some bad ones. Do you agree with that or do you think everyone is just perfect? No, no, no, I asked you a question. Do you agree with that? We have tremendous crime, we have tremendous problems -- I can't deal with this. Listen, we have tremendous crime, we have tremendously, we have some very bad ones. And I think you would agree with that, right? Okay. There's a lot of bad ones. Real bad ones. Because you know, they looked at some of the gangs -- excuse me.

They looked at some of the gangs in Baltimore, they looked at some of the gangs in Chicago, they looked even in Ferguson. They got some rough, illegal immigrants in those gangs. They're getting out. You mind if I send them out? Now, if they come from Mexico, do you mind if I send them back to Mexico? No, no, do you mind if I send them back to Mexico?
Right -- that's supposedly our #1 problem.

Or we're told this by a guy who was once asked by John McCain and other Republicans to run for the Senate in Massachusetts:

Regular old angry Americans who assume they can redress whatever grievances they have with a blaze-of-glory shooting spree are just a force of nature we have to tolerate. (2014 Onion headline: "‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.")

Nothing will change. We'll have more of these. And we'll still be peeking under the bed for members of ISIS and undocumented Latino rapists, not our own crazies.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


At the Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky tells us that "Hillary vs. Biden Would Get Ugly Fast." I don't see it. I can' imagine that it would be as bad as Tomasky believes.

Tomasky's first reason for dread is understandable: the possibility that "an old white guy is going to saunter in and step on" Hillary Clinton's long-delayed chance to be the first female president. Obviously, that's a problem. But Tomasky thinks the style of Biden's campaign will inevitably make matters far worse, and that's where I disagree with him:
... if he’s going to do it, he’s not going to be able to do it politely, which brings us to reason number two why this would get ugly. Biden is not going to get anywhere with a campaign that says: “I have better ideas than Hillary Clinton does,” because he probably doesn’t, and she has perfectly fine and laudable ideas, even if a lot of liberals don’t want to admit that yet.

No. He’s going to have to run a campaign that says, sub rosa: “I’m a stronger and safer nominee because she’s corrupt.” Because that’s the only argument, is it not? He can’t out-populist her, really.... He can maybe say he has more experience, but she’s got plenty of that....

Biden would have no choice but to build a run around the idea that she’s too risky. He or his surrogates will need to press the idea that the party could nominate Clinton and then next fall, Trey Gowdy finds that Holy Grail email that brings the whole thing crashing down. In other words, his candidacy is going to have to be built around what is in essence a Republican Party talking point.
Tomasky assumes Biden will figure out that this is the way to beat Clinton, then do what's necessary. I don't believe that, for the simple reason that Biden has never shown that he knows how to win a presidential nominating campaign. He's not going to do whatever it takes to win because, as we saw in 1988 and 2008, he doesn't have an instinct for that; he just runs as himself, so far unsuccessfully.

That's not to say he won't try to throw some punches -- but they're not likely to land. The best-known interview of his campaign for the 2008 nomination took place in early 2007. The interviewer was The New York Observer's Jason Horowitz, and Biden went negative. But his criticisms of his opponents weren't particularly damaging:
Addressing Mrs. Clinton’s latest proposal to cap American troops and to threaten Iraqi leaders with cuts in funding, Mr. Biden lowered his voice and leaned in close over the table.

“From the part of Hillary’s proposal, the part that really baffles me is, ‘We’re going to teach the Iraqis a lesson.’ We’re not going to equip them? O.K. Cap our troops and withdraw support from the Iraqis? That’s a real good idea.” The result of Mrs. Clinton’s position on Iraq, Mr. Biden says, would be “nothing but disaster.”

... he thinks that at such a precarious point in the nation’s history, voters are seeking someone with his level of experience to take the helm.

“Are they going to turn to Hillary Clinton?” Biden asked, lowering his voice to a hush to explain why Mrs. Clinton won’t win the election. “Everyone in the world knows her,” he said. “Her husband has used every single legitimate tool in his behalf to lock people in, shut people down. Legitimate. And she can’t break out of 30 percent for a choice for Democrats? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in a place where 100 percent of the Democrats know you? They’ve looked at you for the last three years. And four out of 10 is the max you can get?”
He's so in the weeds here. On Iraq, he's debating what an average voter would regard as fine policy points; then he talks about Clinton's polling numbers. This isn't the kind of talk that gets voters' blood boiling.

In the same interview, there's a passage about Obama that might be the best-remembered thing Biden said during the nomination campaign:
Mr. Biden is equally skeptical -- albeit in a slightly more backhanded way -- about Mr. Obama. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

But -- and the “but” was clearly inevitable -- he doubts whether American voters are going to elect “a one-term, a guy who has served for four years in the Senate,” and added: “I don’t recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic.” (After the interview with Mr. Biden and shortly before press time, Mr. Obama proposed legislation that would require all American combat brigades to be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of March 2008.)
The part of this that everyone remembers is the first part -- which was meant to be a compliment, and which was instead a significant gaffe. The second part -- the insult of Obama -- was immediately forgotten.

Still concerned? Watch this clip, from a debate in September 2007. I've cued it up after Judy Woodruff's question, which is about single-payer health care. The response is a classic jazzy Biden riff -- it really seems as if he picked up his debate style from watching the Rat Pack banter in Vegas -- and far from being an attack dog, he actually has Bill Richardson laughing, and hardly seems to be offending Clinton and John Edwards. Really, watch this and try to imagine Biden as the guy who draws blood:

He's a comedian! He likes being a comedian. He wants to be thought of as a guy with reserves of gravitas, but he has no interest in suppressing his jokey side. He's really not going to be capable of making this thing truly ugly.

A Biden race makes sense only if he's going to be the middle-of-the-road alternative to a very wounded Hillary Clinton. He's not going to win the race on his own; he'll win if she's seen by Democratic voters as no longer a viable choice, and if they prefer an Establishment liberal to Bernie Sanders. But no, he's not going to beat her up.


So I'm supposed to believe that this is a sincere expression of Roger Ailes's rage, and that Boss Rupert had nothing to do with it? Oh, please:
On Tuesday, Fox News Chief Roger Ailes said in a statement Donald Trump should apologize for a tirade of tweets aimed at Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

"Donald Trump's surprise and unprovoked attack on Megyn Kelly during her show last night is as unacceptable as it is disturbing. Megyn Kelly represents the very best of American journalism and all of us at Fox News Channel reject the crude and irresponsible attempts to suggest otherwise," Ailes statement reads....

Late Monday night Trump tweeted several times about Kelly, who had just returned to hosting after a vacation, writing that he "liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly. Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!”

Trump also tweeted that Kelly was "really off her game" and retweeted a tweet that called Kelly a "bimbo."
It just seems way too coordinated:
Fellow Fox News hosts soon came to Kelly's defense.

"Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade said Tuesday morning that Trump is "totally out of control" and that his attacks on Kelly are "totally unwarranted."

Host Bret Baier, who moderated the GOP debate with Kelly and Chris Wallace, tweeted "It's been 19 days since the debate - @realDonaldTrump has made his feelings clear. But THIS needs to stop," adding the hashtag "#letitgo."

Sean Hannity, who has one of the first interviews with Trump on Fox after the debate and initial Kelly flare-up, also tweeted his support of Kelly, though he called Trump a "friend."

"My friend @realDonaldTrump has captured the imagination of many. Focus on Hillary, Putin, border, jobs, Iran China & leave @megynkelly alone," he wrote.
There have also been tweets critical of Trump -- some of them less bridge-burning than others -- from Kirsten Powers, Bill Hemmer, Geraldo Rivera, Dana Perino, Fox contributor Michelle Fields, and even Fox meteorologist Janice Dean.

Here's the thing: Rupert Murdoch is clearly freaking out. He tweeted this on Sunday night:

I assume he's been thinking that Bloomberg might take voters away from the Democrats the way Trump would likely take them away from Republicans.

But wait, there's more -- look at what Ailes biographer Gabriel Sherman spotted:

When questions arose about whether Murdoch would renew Ailes's contract, which was set to expire in 2016, Ailes reportedly said, "Rupert is going to need me to elect the next president." Ailes got that contract renewal -- but clearly his job is to get a Republican elected. And not that kind of Republican -- Ailes is supposed to get someone elected who'll pursue an agenda somewhere between Establishmentarian and Kochian. Trump threatens that. So Ailes, on Murdoch's behalf, is clearly expected to rein him in now.

Ailes thinks of himself as a tough guy, but we'll see if he can really handle Trump. Maybe it's going to be total war -- but I think Ailes is going to see a serious hit to his ratings if he succeeds in bringing Trump down. But Murdoch my be giving him no choice.


The New Republic's Jeet Heer thinks we mischaracterize Donald Trump when we describe him as a populist appealing to the working class. Heer says Trump is "the voice of aggrieved privilege":
As The New York Times reported on the weekend, Trump's actual supporters come from a broad demographic swath of the Republican Party. "He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters," the Times noted. College-educated Republicans hardly constitute a populist constituency, so there is good reason to think Trump's putative populism deserves another label.

Rather than a populist, Trump is the voice of aggrieved privilege -- of those who already are doing well but feel threatened by social change from below, whether in the form of Hispanic immigrants or uppity women (hence the loud applause he got at the first GOP debate when he derided “political correctness”). Far from being a defender of the little people against the elites, Trump plays to the anxiety of those who fear that their status is being challenged by people they regard as their social inferiors. That’s why the word “loser” is such a big part of his vocabulary.
That may be true now, but it hasn't always been true -- recall the July Washington Post/ABC poll in which Trump was backed by 32% of non-college-educated Republicans and only 8% of college-educated Republicans. The less well off may not be the core of Trump's support now, but they were early Trump adopters.

Also recall the story of the two brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Mexican man in Boston:
The brothers, Scott Leader and Steve Leader, were being held without bail on charges including assault and indecent exposure....

Scott Leader told troopers after his arrest, "Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported," according to a state police report filed in court....

Court records show Scott Leader served a year in prison for a hate crime against a Moroccan coffee shop worker after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks....
Privileged? I don't think so. And here's more about them:
The two brothers from Boston who were arrested early Wednesday for allegedly severely beating a homeless Hispanic man do not appear to exactly be law-abiding citizens. Steve and Scott Leader of South Boston are now being investigated under suspicion of living illegally in public housing. The Boston Globe explains:
After their arrest, the Leader brothers told State Police that they lived in public housing, but records show that only their mother is listed as a resident. Housing officials said she now faces eviction proceedings.

The Boston Housing Authority requires lease holders to list all residents and to pay their fair share of the rent, because public housing is for needy families whose average income is $14,000 a year. Some 36,000 people are on the waiting list for housing. Police records say Scott is a mason and Steve, 30, is a carpenter.

“Based on the police report and other information, there’s reason to believe that the Leader brothers were living at the Mary Ellen McCormack development illegally,” Lydia Agro, the housing authority chief of staff, said Friday.
These are just two guys, one of whom has expressly praised Trump. I'm not saying they're typical Trumpites. But whatever you might say about them, if they're bunking with Mom in public housing, a few years after one of them spent a year in the joint, they're not exactly living a life of privilege.

But there are a lot of white people in America who aren't living privileged lives but think they should be. They don't just aspire to the middle class, they feel as if they're part of the middle class, even if, economically, they aren't. What they really feel they're a part of, for want of a better term, is white privilege. They may just think of it as American privilege. They think they're entitled because they believe white people played by the rules from the minute our ancestors hit these shores, and while they may have benign feelings for any non-whites they think are similarly playing by the rules (yay Ben Carson!), they generally feel most non-whites have failed to play by the rules, and therefore deserve less. Moreover, they believe the government -- particularly because of liberal Democrats, but also because of "RINO" Republicans -- has cosseted those non-whites in a way white immigrants and their descendants never were cosseted.

I'd say a lot of economically comfortable white people have similar beliefs -- they're doing fine, but they're dissatisfied with their lot. They're sure they'd be doing a hell of a lot better if it weren't for all the damn parasites.

And as Matt Yglesias notes, the European voters who are analogous to the America's Trumpites actually tend to believe in the European welfare state, just as the Trumpites believe in preserving Medicare and Social Security -- they just think too much of their share of government spending is going to people of certain ethnicities who are undeserving:
For example, when I read the platform of the French National Front, I found a genuinely extreme and super-right-wing view of immigration combined with a critique of the Eurozone and the European Central Bank that would be comfortably at home in a Paul Krugman column. They also promised to avoid cuts to France's version of Social Security and indeed to enhance benefits for stay-at-home moms.

* The Danish People's Party and the True Finns are both more friendly to the Nordic welfare state than are the more traditional center-right parties they are currently allied with in coalitions.

* The UK Independence Party manifesto promises to increase NHS funding and to start an early retirement option for Britain's social security system.

* The Freedom Party in the Netherlands blew up a center-right cabinet by refusing to endorse an austerity budget.

... As Lee Drutman detailed for Vox, the policy blend that combines hostility to immigration with support for Social Security and Medicare is actually quite popular.

... many people are both beneficiaries of government programs to support the living standards of the elderly while also being skeptical of the kinds of social change brought about by immigration.
So there may be quite a few privileged people in Trump's coalition. But they have what Barbara Ehrenreich, many years ago, called "fear of falling," and the less well-off Trumpites have it too. They think they deserve more. They think they're owed.

I'll add this: Occasionally a rich guy will fret about the possibility that ongoing economic inequality in the wake of the Great Recession will soon lead to a class-based revolt against the rich. Nahhh. A Trumpite war of insecure whites against non-whites is what we're getting instead.


Politico tells us that a couple of state Republican parties think they have a brilliant plan to tie Donald Trump's hands:
The Virginia and North Carolina parties are in discussions about implementing a new requirement for candidates to qualify for their primary ballots: that they pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee -- and not run as a third-party candidate -- in the general election.
Why would this work? There are too many ways Trump can get around it.

Obviously, he could bolt the party right now and announce a third-party run, which would leach votes from the GOP and all but guarantee a Democratic victory. But short of that, he could just sign the damn pledge and say, "Sure, I'm happy to sign it, because I'm going to be the nominee." If he signs it, fails to secure the nomination, and then runs third-party, what can the party do to him? Can he be arrested? I don't see how. Can he be sued? I know he's not as rich as he says he is, but he's still a fairly wealthy guy. Why would that scare him? Are there even grounds for a suit? And how long would a case like that drag on?

And if Trump doesn't want to lie, what prevents him from just running a write-in campaign? If you have high name recognition, that can work -- remember, we have a U.S. senator, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, who won her last race as a write-in, after she lost her primary to a Tea Party lunatic. Trump has the name recognition and, for now at least, the popularity to mount a serious write-in campaign -- and wouldn't it be humiliating for a state party (and for the national party) if he won this way, or even came close?

Or he could bankroll and endorse some schlub who'd sign the pledge and then run in his stead. If Trump demonstrated that he could get his followers to vote for a complete nonentity as his placeholder, that, too, would be humiliating to the GOP Establishment.

So, no, I don't think this will slow Trump down. By the way, if Trump is the nominee, are all the other canidates willing to pledge their support for him? I hope someone asks that at the next debate.