Thursday, July 09, 2015

Trump is going down (but not soon enough)

By Richard Barry

Here's a good chuckle for the day. Chuck Todd and the team at NBC News note that although Donald Trump is doing well in the short term it won't last due to past statements sure to piss off the base. For example:
His comment to NBC's Tim Russert in 1999 that "I'm very pro-choice." (That '99 quote is striking, especially considering what he told CNN last month: TRUMP: "Right, I'm pro-choice." CNN: "You're pro-choice or pro-life?" TRUMP: "I'm pro-life. I'm sorry.") Exhibit B: His remark on not opposing gays serving in the military in that same 1999 interview. "Hey, I've lived in New York City and Manhattan all of my life. So my views are a little different than had I lived in Iowa." (Expect that line in a TV ad to Iowa voters.) Exhibit C: Another 1999 quote from Trump via Buzzfeed. "I'm very liberal when it comes to health care," he said. "I believe in universal health care." Make no mistake, GOP rivals and outside groups will make Iowa and New Hampshire voters know about those lines if Trump is still riding high in the polls by November or December. And remember, our own NBC/WSJ poll from last month found 66% of Republicans saying they couldn't see themselves supporting Trump.

Yes, it's a sideshow. We know it. Trump knows it. But the attention continues, which further validates the American delusion that great wealth has something to do with great wisdom. 

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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

That's Gilmore with a "G"

By Richard Barry

I was a little tired this morning as I went through various news sites for my daily infusion of political information, so I can probably be forgiven for thinking, if only for a second, that comedian, television host, and Colbert replacement Larry Wilmore was running for the GOP presidential nomination. After blinking a few times I realized the headline I had just read was actually "Gilmore Will Run for President." You can understand my confusion.

If you didn't know, there is a former governor of Virginia (1998-2002) by the name Jim Gilmore, and he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he's joining the cast of thousands currently vying for the Republican nomination, a move only slightly less implausible than a Wilmore candidacy, and far less entertaining.

According to the Times-Dispatch story Gilmore said he's running because "he does not think any other Republican candidates have addressed what he considers the vital national security and economic concerns facing the nation."

Sure he doesn't, but he may have the shortest campaign in history as he is unlikely to make the cut for the first debate in August and therefore get left in the dust before anyone has a chance to figure out who he used to be.

It's been said that the GOP race is incredibly flat, which is supposed to mean there is no front-runner or group of leading candidates, but that's just not true. If it were true it might make sense for obscure no-hopers to jump in because, you know, what the heck.

Still, as long as the media reports the race like literally anything could happen, the Gilmores of the world will be tempted for one more moment in sun.

Just wondering what or who is next.


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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Donald Trump's diabolical plan to own centre stage

Just try to have an intelligent conversation
with me around. 

I think everyone is noticing what Steve Benen wrote about a few days ago, which is that Donald Trump is driving the debate amongst Republican presidential candidates.

It reminds me of something a counsellor friend once said to me, which is that in any group of people, whether family or friends or co-workers or whatever, one person frequently gets the lion's share of attention. It's usually because the behaviour is so outrageous that everyone needs to talk about it, complain about it, or devise ways to deal with the mayhem created by said individual. Importantly, this person doesn't even have to hold a prominent position within the social group. The only thing required is outrageousness or inappropriateness. You know what I'm talking about.

Donald Trump is now that person for Republicans, as we have seen, for example, in the reaction to his comments on immigration.

Ted Cruz said that Trump may have a colourful way of speaking but he has a point.  Huckabee also distanced himself from the way Trump said things but not from his general argument. Santorum said he didn't like Trump's "verbiage" but cited illegal immigration and its impact on American workers. Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Jeb Bush are all talking about Trump, though the latter two have been critical of Trump's characterization of Mexicans.

The point is that Trump's stock-in-trade is saying outrageous things, which he will continue to do. And candidates will be asked to agree or disagree with what has been said if only because of the absurd way in which Trump has said it. 

Cruz, Santorum, and Huckabee don't want to be too far off side of Trump's basic point of view because it plays well with their base. Bush in particular wants to put some distance between himself and Trump because Bush wants to position himself as the adult in the room. In all cases Trump is increasingly setting himself up as the standard against which candidates are judged, the dispenser of opinions that have to be embraced or rejected.

Trump can't win, but he'll get way too much attention and have an out-sized impact on the way issues are framed.

Is there any way that can be good for the Republican Party?


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Monday, July 06, 2015

Ted Nugent and cruelty to black bears

By Frank Moraes

I was over on No More Mister Nice Blog the other day, and I learned, Some of Ted Nugent’s Best Friends Are Illegal Bear-Penis Traffickers, Allegedly. It’s all about that strange little man and his hunting activities. The main thing involving Nugent dates back to 2009 when he was hunting black bears with a bow up in Alaska. But he apparently isn’t that good. He hit one, but it only wounded the bear, who ran away. Undeterred, Nugent found another bear four days later, which he shot and killed. This was illegal because once he wounded the first bear, his license was for that bear alone. He had no license to kill the second bear.

I’m not a vegetarian, so I certainly understand that animals die for the sake of my life. Still, I’ve always found “pleasure” hunting to be awful. Killing another animal shouldn’t be something one takes pleasure in. But it isn’t part of my culture and I don’t dismiss the practice altogether. I do, however, think that whatever thrill or joy one gets out of it should go along with a great deal of seriousness. To give you some idea of where I’m coming from, I will not swat a fly if I can’t get a clean hit. I don’t wish to be cruel to a house fly and I would hope that hunters would feel the same way about their quarry.

What Nugent seems to have done strikes me as especially vile. If you wound a black bear, you should move heaven and earth to track it down and end its suffering. I often wonder if house flies have the same connection to pain that I do. But there is no doubt that a black bear does. Now according to Nugent’s lawyer, Wayne Anthony Ross, the arrow just grazed the bear. He said, “They’ve got apparently some crazy law in Southeast that says if you even touch an animal with an arrow, it becomes your animal… [Nugent] looked to see if he had hit it and didn’t believe that he’d hit it fatally.”

So Nugent’s arrow just “grazed” the bear. They’ve got a law that if you “touch an animal” it’s yours. The lawyer goes on and on to indicate that it was nothing big. But there are problems. There was blood at the site. I assume the arrow was stillin the bear because no mention was made of finding it, which would have been exculpatory. But there was no trail of blood, which might be a sign that the the bear was moving fast — you know, adrenaline and all. And Nugent and his “buddies” looked for the bear but didn’t find it. Ross’ conclusion: “The bear didn’t die.” My conclusion: Nugent and his “buddies” aren’t good trackers and they didn’t care enough to track the bear anyway.

The form of hunting that Ted “real man” Nugent takes part in is pathetic anyway. They set up a “bait station” and wait for the bears to come by and then kill them. Now I see this as totally reasonable for those people who are hunting out of need. But for the sport hunter, it doesn’t seem very sporting. It sounds to me like a bunch of guys just sitting around drinking beer waiting for animals to be prone and then blowing them away. It’s about as sporting as the buffalo shoot in Bless the Beasts and Children.

For Nugent, apparently, the whole incident is about the law. His lawyer claimed, “He only took one bear.” But it really should be about his incompetence causing a fellow mammal to suffer. All in the name of Ted Nugent feeling like a real man to make up for the fact that he refused to go to war when he had the chance. It’s just pathetic and horrible.

(Cross-posted at Frankly Curious.)

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No path to socialism for America, but we can dream

By Richard Barry

When will this "road to serfdom" nonesense end? Probably never. Republicans love it too much, along with the claim that America is becoming just like Europe, and not in a good way.

The latest is Bobby Jindal, another GOP presidential hopeful with absolutely no reason for hope. On a radio program in New York on Sunday Jindal accused President Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton of dragging America to socialism.
“I’m running [for president] because I want to stop President Obama and Secretary Clinton from turning the American dream into the European nightmare . . . We are on the path towards socialism. It’s not too late but the hour is late.”

Oh, please. You are not on the path to socialism, and I say that as someone who wishes you were. Americans can't even wrap their heads around the need for a single-layer-health-system like so many other civilized countries.

The hour is indeed late, but not in the way Jindal thinks.

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