AlterNet.org: Simon Maloy http://awww.alternet.org/authors/simon-maloy-0 en Ignorance or Paranoia? Trump Links Three Unrelated Attacks in His 'Us vs. Them' Worldview http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/ignorance-or-paranoia-trump-links-three-unrelated-attacks-his-us-vs-them-worldview <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1069185'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069185" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Based on zero information, our president-elect lumps distinct acts of violence into a struggle for civilization.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/5440604654_42e18de586_z.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>On Monday, three discrete acts of international violence captured media attention: the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/12/20/watch-turkish-cop-assassinates-russian-ambassador-and-demands-attention-for-aleppo/" target="_blank">assassination</a> of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey in Ankara, a truck <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/20/berlin-terrorist-attack-what-we-know-so-far" target="_blank">plowing through a Christmas market</a> in Berlin and (with <a href="https://thinkprogress.org/zurich-shooting-7955cdeb7ba0#.8tnhcnh96" target="_blank">far less notoriety</a>) a <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-shooting-idUSKBN1490TF" target="_blank">shooting</a> at a mosque in Zurich. We still don’t know much about who committed these acts and why, but President-elect Donald Trump has a theory that links all three together. Per Trump, they’re all part of a war on the “civilized world” that is only worsening.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en" xml:lang="en">Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany - and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!</p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/810988379051610112">December 19, 2016</a></blockquote><script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>At the risk of challenging this holistic theory about why these incidents took place, let’s step back a moment to review the available information.</p><p>Russian ambassador Andrey Karlov was murdered by a Turkish police officer who shouted statements about the Syrian civil war and the siege of Aleppo, which is being conducted by the (Russian-backed) regime of Bashar al-Assad.</p><p>In Berlin 12 people were killed and many more were wounded after a large truck drove through a public market. German police quickly detained an <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/20/europe/berlin-christmas-market-truck/" target="_blank">asylum seeker</a> who was “probably from Pakistan” in connection with the attack but <a href="http://thehill.com/homenews/news/311205-suspect-in-berlin-christmas-market-attack-released" target="_blank">have since released him for lack of evidence</a> and are still looking for suspects.</p><p>In Zurich, a man walked into a mosque and opened fire, wounding three worshippers before committing suicide, according to news reports. Swiss authorities initially withheld information about the suspect, but today <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-shooting-idUSKBN1490TF" target="_blank">police said</a> he was “a 24-year-old Swiss man with Ghanaian roots and no apparent links to Islamist radicalism.”</p><p>That’s not a lot to go on — and not nearly enough to lump all three incidents together into one easily digestible package. But Trump has it all figured out, even going so far as to <a href="https://greatagain.gov/statement-from-president-elect-donald-j-trump-on-the-attack-in-berlin-62ab3af41c17#.vo9f6vjfv" target="_blank">link the Berlin attack</a> to the Islamic State (something authorities in Berlin have not done, since the one person they had detained has been released and the perpetrator appears to be unknown).</p><p>Trump even has a remedy: “The civilized world must change thinking!” Presumably this means that the “civilized world,” however he defines it, has to come around to the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/06/14/donald_trumps_war_with_islam_a_campaign_rooted_in_pernicious_religious_discrimination/" target="_blank">Trumpian position</a> that adherence to the Muslim faith makes a person a possible terrorist.</p><p>Once again, we are thrown into the “clash of civilizations” rhetoric. As a presidential candidate, Trump was a big believer in framing the “War on Terror” as a struggle between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds, even going so far as to say “<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/09/politics/donald-trump-islam-hates-us/" target="_blank">I think Islam hates us</a>.”</p><p>Now that rhetoric is about to become official policy: Trump’s incoming chief strategist, Steve Bannon, <a href="http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/11/17/13653822/trump-chief-strategist-steve-bannon-worldview" target="_blank">said</a> in 2014, “We’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.” Michael Flynn, the retired general whom Trump tapped as his national security adviser, has <a href="http://qz.com/841197/islam-is-a-malignant-cancer-the-hateful-rhetoric-of-michael-flynn-trumps-new-national-security-adviser/" target="_blank">described</a> the Islamic faith as “a malignant cancer.”</p><p>All this talk about a global conflict between Islam and “the West” sounds terribly serious and frightfully tough. But it actually does an enormous favors for extremist groups like the Islamic State who base their propaganda on the idea that the terrorist “caliphate” is the only true expression of the Muslim faith. One of the Islamic State’s core messages is that an apocalyptic showdown is coming between Islam and the West. “References to the End Times fill Islamic State propaganda,” wrote Brookings scholar William McCants in “<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015JRV20K/?tag=saloncom08-20" target="_blank">The ISIS Apocalypse</a>.” He added, “It’s a big selling point with foreign fighters, who want to travel to the lands where the final battles of the apocalypse will take place.”</p><p>Getting back to Monday’s acts of violence and the information vacuum in which they currently exist, the only way one can possibly tie them all together is to do what Trump did: Cast all three acts as part of a broader, vaguely Muslim attack on the “civilized world.” The president-elect sees no need to wait for facts to come out or information to be verified. He would rather capitalize on fear and uncertainty, while shoehorning these seemingly unconnected events into his preferred narrative.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1069185'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1069185" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 20 Dec 2016 15:00:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1069185 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 World berlin attacks istanbul assassination zurich attacks foreign policy. donald trump Donald Trump's Trying to Give His Kids Top Secret Security Clearance, Making Sure His Conflicts of Interest Are Extra Bold http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/donald-trumps-trying-give-his-kids-top-secret-security-clearance-making-sure-his <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1067294'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067294" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Reports that Donald Trump wants top secret clearances for his kids show how ethically disastrous his transition is.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_386609965.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>We’re not even a week into the still-indigestible reality of President-elect Donald Trump and the incoming administration is already up to its armpits in conflicts of interest, internal squabbling, heavy-handed recriminations, and absurdist incompetence.</p><p>To pick out just one representative example of all this is difficult given that the Trump transition is predictably shaping up to be a vast substrate for corruption and scandal, but if forced, I’m going to have to go with the report that Trump wanted to give his adult children top secret security clearances.</p><p>The Trump transition team is <a href="https://mic.com/articles/159454/president-elect-donald-trump-has-requested-security-clearances-for-his-children#.yyTW2au8o" target="_blank">denying</a> that such a request was made, but several media outlets have <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-team-seeks-top-secret-security-clearances-for-trump-children/" target="_blank">reported</a> that this move was <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/politics/donald-trump-children-security-clearance/index.html?eref=rss_topstories" target="_blank">under consideration</a>. And it’s by no means outlandish to think that Trump and his cronies would consider going down this route. After all, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump are all part of the transition team that is responsible for staffing the incoming administration and setting the policy agenda.</p><p>Mike Rogers, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who was <a href="http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/11/mike-rogers-resigns-trump-transition-231401" target="_blank">reportedly ousted</a> from the transition effort as part of a broader “<a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-transition-shake-part-stalinesque-purge-christie-loyalists-n684081" target="_blank">Stalinesque purge</a>” of non-loyalists, issued a <a href="https://twitter.com/frankthorp/status/798510635529207808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" target="_blank">statement</a> saying that his national security work would be passed off, in part, to “the Trump family.”</p><p>There is, of course, no practical reason for Trump’s kids to be involved in any way with national security or foreign policy decisions. Not one of them has any experience in the field. They are executives in their father’s company, which has substantial overseas interests and thus numerous potential conflicts of interest. As the Daily Beast <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/14/trump-wants-secret-clearance-for-kids.html" target="_blank">has reported</a>, there are anti-nepotism laws in place that were designed to prevent precisely this sort of toxic intermingling of personal and governmental business.</p><p>But even if the Trump denials are true and the president-elect is not requesting formal access to classified information for his children, what reason do we have to think that they won’t still be “advising” him and roped into national security discussions anyway? Trump has already tipped his hand as to how he intends to run his administration: He’s going to defy the norms and practices intended to prevent conflicts of interest and stonewall anyone who questions him.</p><p>The mere fact that Trump’s children are on his transition team at all is a testament to how little respect the newly elected president has for the basic concepts of good government and ethical administration. Remember: Trump’s kids are going to be assuming control of the sprawling Trump Organization once their father takes office. The <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-blind-trust-is-neither-blind-nor-trustworthy/2016/11/15/6eeca1fc-aaa5-11e6-a31b-4b6397e625d0_story.html" target="_blank">laughable explanation</a> for how this will work is that the kids will operate it as a “blind trust.”</p><p>Even if you were to stretch credulity to well past the breaking point and assume that someone’s children can be considered “independent” trustees of his assets, the whole arrangement would still fall apart because Trump’s children are, at this very second, helping him craft high-level government policy as part of his transition.</p><p>There is no good outcome from all of this. It’s an unprecedented conflict of interest that will absolutely result in ethical breaches, irresolvable conflicts of interest and unseemly scandals.</p><p>And do not make the mistake of extending any benefit of the doubt to the Trumps regarding this arrangement. Do not grant them the unearned presumption of good faith. Loyal Trump surrogate <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/11/the-trumps-are-already-monetizing-the-presidency.html" target="_blank">Rudy Giuliani</a> said on CNN over the weekend, “You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president.” No, actually, we don’t.</p><p>Just look at how the Trump campaign was run: The whole enterprise was designed, in part, to funnel money from donors and bundlers into <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-rnc-self-dealing_us_57cdcba0e4b078581f13b262" target="_blank">properties owned by Donald Trump and his children</a>. The issue of Donald Trump’s taxes — which is still unresolved because he won’t release his tax returns — also undermines this presumption of financial integrity, given that he <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/26/politics/donald-trump-federal-income-taxes-smart-debate/" target="_blank">boasted</a> of skirting the legal edge of tax laws to dodge paying income tax for two decades. And let’s not forget the fact that the president-elect is <a href="http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/11/donald-trump-university-lawsuit" target="_blank">staring down a court date</a> as part of a class-action lawsuit against him for massive fraud related to his bogus “university.”</p><p>The Trump modus operandi has always been to extract as much personal enrichment as possible in defiance of the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. The two personality characteristics that drive Trump are vengefulness and greed, both of which have already found expression in the gross dramas surrounding his week-old transition effort. Now Trump and his kids will have the power and resources of the federal government at their fingertips, and the presumption that they can get away with pretty much anything. If there’s a scenario by which this won’t end in disaster, I can’t think of it.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1067294'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1067294" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 15 Nov 2016 16:01:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1067294 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing World donald trump The Right’s Sean Hannity Problem: Conservatives Loved the Fox News Host Until He Became Trump’s Hatchet Man http://awww.alternet.org/media/rights-sean-hannity-problem-conservatives-loved-fox-news-host-until-he-became-trumps-hatchet <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1064679'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1064679" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;Nobody calls Sean Hannity&quot;—but everyone fears him. How a right-wing media icon became Trump&#039;s towel boy.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_1582410_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s amusing to see portions of the conservative world recoil in horror at the behavior of Sean Hannity. The mega-popular Fox News host, one of the biggest stars of the right-wing media, has been absorbing sustained criticism from certain pundits and radio hosts for his overt and unseemly activism on behalf of Republican nominee Donald Trump. Hannity’s critics view Trump (correctly) as a threat to Republican politics, the health of the conservative movement and the country itself, and for Hannity to devote his energies and influence to electing him is, in their view, beyond the pale.</p><p>As Robert Draper <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/magazine/how-donald-trump-set-off-a-civil-war-within-the-right-wing-media.html?_r=0" target="_blank">writes</a> in the New York Times Magazine this weekend, Hannity’s boosterism has made him the chief target of conservative media criticism over Trump, and Hannity is responding to the attacks with defiance in equal measure. He name-checks #NeverTrump conservative pundits and warns that he’ll blame them should Hillary Clinton win the presidency. Hannity has hosted town halls for Trump, has appeared in a Trump campaign ad, and has reportedly been offering pro-bono strategic and communications advice to Trump’s team. Every time Trump makes a sexist or racist gaffe, Hannity throws open his studio doors to give Trump the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/06/09/trump_gets_hannitized_facing_down_a_media_frenzy_trump_seeks_out_some_fox_news_love/" target="_blank">safe space he needs</a> to get his talking points out.</p><p>When Trump’s not on the program, Hannity takes it on himself to do the spinning. The candidate spent most of this week lashing out at former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, which meant Hannity, the good foot soldier, was <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/09/29/who-does-sean-hannity-even-work-for-now-fox-news-or-donald-trump.html" target="_blank">also on the attack against the beauty queen.</a> “She may have starred in an adult film, and available apparently on multiple free porn websites,” Hannity told his radio audience (<a href="https://mic.com/articles/155372/alicia-machado-porn-star-rumors-are-conservatives-latest-smear-tactic-against-her" target="_blank">falsely</a>).</p><p>What’s amusing about all this conservative criticism of Hannity’s vitriol and nonsense is that nothing Hannity is saying is out of character for him, or appreciably worse than what he’s been saying for years. Hannity’s brand of venom used to be met with approval or determined silence from the same people who criticize him now. The difference this time around is that Hannity’s behavior is damaging to their own interests, so they’re finally saying something in protest.</p><p>The quintessential Hannity moment, in my opinion, came eight years ago as Barack Obama was on his way to winning the presidency. In keeping with the broader conservative attack on Obama’s allegedly radical secret past, Hannity cobbled together a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/07/us/politics/07fox.html?_r=0" target="_blank">special weekend program</a> that purported to examine all the dangerous extremists who supposedly occupied Obama’s circle of friends. One <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdbfjD-9oGo" target="_blank">segment</a> of the show explained how Obama’s past as a community organizer was actually part of a “grand scheme” perpetuated by former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers. The guest Hannity had on to explain this was <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/2008/10/07/on-fox-news-hannity-hosted-andy-martin-who-has/145485" target="_blank">Andy Martin,</a> a crank conspiracy theorist and fringe figure in Chicago politics who had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/10/06/hannity-quotes-anti-semit_n_132236.html" target="_blank">once argued in official court documents</a> that “Jew survivors” of the Holocaust were “operating as a wolf pack to steal my property.”</p><p>It was conspiratorial, soaked in discredited innuendo and without question one of the worst things Fox News has ever aired. But it did nothing to tarnish Hannity’s reputation within the conservative movement or the right-wing media — because he screwed up in the right direction (according to their worldview). Conservatives kept silent because ultimately they either agreed with what Hannity was saying about Obama’s supposed radicalism or they figured that even if he was crossing lines and behaving reprehensibly, it was in the service of taking down their shared enemy. The movement had no incentive to stop Hannity from shooting wildly, because he hadn’t hit anyone inside the tent yet.</p><p>That same dynamic was at play in 2011, when Donald Trump was on his quest to force Obama to release his birth certificate. There was <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/02/27/sean_hannitys_birther_humiliation_how_donald_trump_exposes_his_hypocrisy/" target="_blank">no greater enabler</a> of Trump’s birtherism in the media than Hannity, who hosted softball interviews with Trump and gave him all the challenge-free airtime he needed to expound on whatever conspiratorial angle he had mined from a far-right chain email that day. It was counterfactual and deeply embarrassing, and the political clout Trump gained from it ultimately did great damage to the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Again, it was aimed at a common nemesis — Obama, of course — so no one on the right protested or thought twice about what Hannity represented.</p><p>To put it simply: Hannity is just being Hannity. He’s an influential cog in the conservative media machine, and he got where he is in part because other influential conservatives blessed the noxious product he creates through their active support or salutary neglect. His shameless embrace of Trump, and his attempts to kneecap anyone on the right who puts up any faint resistance, are all part of the same package.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1064679'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1064679" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 12:01:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1064679 at http://awww.alternet.org Media Election 2016 Media The Right Wing 2016 elections birtherism conservative media conservatives donald trump Editor's Picks fox news media criticism sean hannity talk radio ELECTIONS NEWS media news politics news Trump's Immigration Muddle: He's 'Softening' Without Actually Moderating and Confusing Everyone http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/trumps-confusing-immigration-policy <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1062820'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1062820" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">After so many contradictions and reversals, Trump&#039;s upcoming immigration speech likely won&#039;t provide much clarity.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_196597046.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>No one seems to know what Donald Trump’s position on immigration is anymore. That’s a bit of an imprecise assessment, as his position was never really fleshed out to any great detail beyond “build a wall” and “get tough.” But Trump (in concert with his campaign staff and advisers) has done much of late to further obscure his already uncertain position, which he’s ostensibly planning to flesh out in a <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/28/politics/donald-trump-immigration-explainer/">big speech in Arizona</a> on Wednesday.</p><p>Much of the recent analysis of Trump’s immigration maneuvering puts forward the idea that Trump is “softening” on the issue, which is true in the sense that he no longer speaks quite so openly about pursuing a flagrantly illegal and unconstitutional enforcement policy that would create a massive humanitarian disaster. A year ago, Trump’s <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2015/08/16/trump-would-deport-children-illegal-immigrants/0k8tnLoq6mlOygt3oGV67M/story.html" target="_blank">stated position</a> on deportations was that he would deport all undocumented immigrants and their family members, even if these people were U.S. citizens by birth. (He based this on an <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/gops_heartless_xenophobic_crusade_how_the_birthright_citizenship_debate_will_test_the_2016_candidates/" target="_blank">exotic and tendentious reading of the 14th Amendment</a> that would, in Trump’s view, negate claims to birthright citizenship.) That was the sort of hardline posturing that endeared him to the Republican primary electorate and helped him sink candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz, whose own immigration extremism just couldn’t keep pace with Trump’s.</p><p>Now with the general election a scant two months away, Trump’s immigration position is under scrutiny as a result of some contradictory statements emanating from his campaign. Trump <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/24/trump-says-hes-open-to-softening-immigration-laws-in-hannity-town-hall.html" target="_blank">told Fox News host Sean Hannity</a> that he was open to “softening” on immigration while also still being “aggressive” in the application of deportation laws. The candidate floated the idea of a <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-immigration-touch-back-227430" target="_blank">“touch back” policy</a> (undocumented immigrants who are deported can re-enter and be put on a path to legalization) while his campaign manager <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/donald-trump-immigration-touch-back-227430" target="_blank">definitely ruled out that option</a>. On birthright citizenship, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence <a href="http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1608/28/sotu.01.html" target="_blank">said on CNN this past weekend</a>, “The whole question of anchor babies, as it’s known, the whole question of citizenship, of natural-born Americans is a subject for the future.” And after briefly expressing openness about “softening” on immigration, Trump reversed himself a few days later and suggested that he was actually “<a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/trump-cnn-hardening-immigration" target="_blank">hardening</a>” his stance.</p><p>Perhaps Trump has come to the (belated) realization that the general electorate doesn’t have the same appetite for immigrant bashing that Republican primary voters do, and he’s trying to deliberately sow confusion so that voters can simply pick and choose which statements they want to believe. Either that or his campaign is fantastically inept and confusion is the by-product of good old-fashioned incompetence. (With the Trump campaign, incompetence is usually a stronger bet than strategic guile.) Whatever the explanation, Trump’s muddling of his stand on immigration has left policy experts unconvinced that he’s moderating and they are clamoring for something resembling clarity.</p><p>“We haven’t really seen much change at all,” said Jacinta Ma of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “We would really just like [Trump] to be more clear about the immigration policies that he’s talking about.” With Trump’s big immigration speech in Arizona set for later this week, Ma said, “The expectation should be that, as president, he should be able to articulate the policies in a clear manner so that we understand what . . . he wants to do in terms of the direction of the country as it relates to immigration policy.”</p><p>Other experts aren’t so sure that such clarity is even possible at this point, given how deeply Trump has dug himself into the anti-immigrant hole. “A lot of what [Trump] is saying is either completely wrong or completely contradictory,” said Ben Johnson of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “I don’t see a way out for him on this issue unless he makes a really significant, clear change in [his] policy position because so much of the language he’s been using so far has just been unworkable and broadly opposed by the majority of the American people. I don’t know how he undoes that.”</p><p>Based on conversations I’ve had with Trump supporters, the Republican nominee should have a bit of wiggle room when it comes to his die-hard fans, since the aspect of his immigration policy that they seem to care about the most is building “the wall.” I’ve had pro-Trump people tell me they sympathize with undocumented immigrants who are already in the country and leading productive lives but a wall must be constructed to stop new immigrants from crossing the border. So if sticks to his guns about his plans to build a 20- , 30- or 40-foot wall along the southern border, he might be able to ratchet back a few of his other more draconian ideas without angering too many individuals in his base.</p><p>But those hardliners are already in his corner. His articulation of slightly more moderate rhetoric or making minor tweaks to his policy platform aren’t going to help him much at this point, as he’s been running for 14 months now as a anti-immigrant, “law and order” candidate. So even if Trump has it in mind to moderate his views ahead of Election Day, it’s way too late for this to make any sort of difference.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1062820'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1062820" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:25:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1062820 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 donald trump immigration immigration policy xenophobia election 2016 'Election Fraud': Steve Bannon's Residency Issues, Explained by Breitbart News Articles http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/election-fraud-steve-bannons-residency-issues-explained-breitbart-news-articles <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1062657'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1062657" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Trump campaign chief&#039;s voter registration problem is extremely serious, according to his own website.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/7146211033_cf883e8137_o.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The Guardian dropped an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/26/steve-bannon-florida-registered-vote-donald-trump?CMP=share_btn_tw" target="_blank">interesting scoop</a> Friday morning about newly ensconced Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon, who apparently “is registered to vote in a key swing state at an empty house where he does not live, in an apparent breach of election laws.” The “swing state” in question is Florida, where Bannon used to live in a rental property in Miami-Dade County that, per the Guardian, has been empty and abandoned for months. Florida state law requires that voters be legal residents of the state in order to register to vote there, but Bannon apparently makes his home in California.</p><p>It’s a fascinating story, given that Bannon until recently served as chairman of Breitbart News, a <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/stephen-bannon-donald-trump-alt-right-breitbart-news" target="_blank">very bad alt-right media outlet</a> that relentlessly hypes the dangers of voter fraud. So, in the spirit of public-interest trolling, let’s try to figure out just how serious Bannon’s alleged infraction is, according to Breitbart News’ voter fraud reporting.</p><p>In June 2012, Breitbart published an <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2012/06/22/election-fraud-california-union-official-voted-in-wi-recall/" target="_blank">article</a> under the screaming headline “ELECTION FRAUD: CALIFORNIA UNION OFFICIAL VOTED IN WI RECALL” that seems relevant to Bannon’s residency issues:</p><blockquote><p>Wisconsin state law requires that before a person cast their ballot in a Wisconsin election they be a resident of the state. Specifically, residence is defined as the place “where the person’s habitation is fixed, without any present intent to move, and to which, when absent, the person intends to return.” [Wis. Stat. 6.10(1)]</p><p>Shansky’s move to California in March, nearly two months before the election, and acceptance of a job out there would almost certainly mean that he does not qualify as a Wisconsin elector and should not have cast a ballot. He no longer lives in the state and he does not appear regard his move as a mere temporary absence from Wisconsin.</p></blockquote><p>Hmm. This seems like it’s a pretty serious problem for Bannon, given the “ELECTION FRAUD” headline, but let’s dig a little deeper. A few months later, as the presidential election loomed, Breitbart ran <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2012/10/17/no-need-to-prove-residency-to-vote-in-battleground-wisconsin/" target="_blank">another piece</a> on Wisconsin residency requirements that made the case that non-resident voters in a battleground state were a direct threat to democracy:</p><p><iframe class="reuters-vidembed" height="394" src="http://www.reuters.com/assets/iframe/yovideo?videoId=367995586" width="700"></iframe></p><blockquote><p>This vulnerability, due to the current state law, has many concerned over the integrity of the upcoming election. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board has even promoted this gap of assurance in a fair election through its Twitter feed, encouraging people to register by today, October 17, with no need to prove residence.</p><p>[…]</p><p>This presents a very real concern regarding the efforts of community organizers and political activists moving into the state of Wisconsin, no doubt a battleground in the presidential race between Barack Obama (D) and Mitt Romney (R), as well as the very tight race between Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) and former Governor Tommy Thompson (R).</p></blockquote><p>Oh my. Not looking good for Bannon here. Could he be part of an <em>organized</em> effort to skirt residency laws in Florida? It seems irresponsible not to ask, given his website’s reporting on the issue.</p><p>But let’s keep spelunking. Here’s a July 2012 Breitbart <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2012/07/19/new-media-victory-seiu-subpoenaed-the-war-on-voter-fraud-goes-on/" target="_blank">article</a> taking a victory lap for “new media” after a Wisconsin DA issued subpoenas relating to residency issues involving SIEU organizers who had registered to vote in the state:</p><blockquote><p>Just as we have to do the work of the mainstream media in order to force them to cover the news accurately, it is more than clear, we must also do much of the groundwork of local law enforcement, and investigate these fraudulent occurrences with even more vigilance.</p></blockquote><p>Oh dang. Look out, Steve Bannon. Breitbart News has a moral obligation to dig into the story and, if necessary, alert local law enforcement regarding their findings. This could get ugly for the Trump campaign CEO.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1062657'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1062657" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 11:03:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1062657 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing bannon Hillary’s Economic Pitch: She’s Recommitting to Progressive Policies and Dismantling Trumpism http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/hillarys-economic-pitch-shes-recommitting-progressive-policies-and-dismantling <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1061827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Speaking on the economy, Hillary Clinton eased the concerns of progressive activists and lit into Donald Trump.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_458090434.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Heading into Hillary Clintons’ big economic speech on Thursday, there was some<a href="https://mic.com/articles/151231/hillary-clinton-s-aggressive-outreach-to-republicans-is-making-progressives-nervous#.sK8L8z8qV">concern among progressive groups</a> that the Democratic presidential nominee was going to use the opportunity to nudge her policy agenda towards the center. She’d secured the nomination and no longer had to worry about Bernie Sanders’ challenge from the left, and her campaign was in the middle of a high-profile push to recruit Republican defectors away from GOP nominee Donald Trump, which left open the possibility that she might start moderating for the general election.</p><p>Well, Hillary’s speech seems to have put those concerns to rest. At least for the moment. She also put together an effective line of attack against Trump’s economic agenda, separating his populist rhetoric from the reality of his policy proposals.</p><p>Clinton hit a number of progressive themes and issues during her remarks in Warren, Michigan: she called for a large boost in infrastructure spending and the creation of an <a href="http://progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/09.2010-Ehrlich_A-National-Infrastructure-Bank.pdf">infrastructure bank</a>, she committed to connecting every household in the country to broadband internet by the end of her first term, she offered a strong defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she backed tuition-free college for everyone except the wealthy.</p><p>Perhaps most importantly, she offered an unequivocal statement of opposition regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she said. “I oppose it now. I’ll oppose it after the election. And I’ll oppose it as president.”</p><p>This is the stuff that activists want to hear, and the progressive groups that were slightly wary of Clinton heading into the speech were pretty ebullient over Hillary’s TPP remarks. “These were Hillary Clinton’s strongest words yet against the TPP,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said in a statement. “For the first time, Clinton signaled she will personally work to kill the corporate-written TPP if it comes up after the election in an unaccountable lame-duck Congress.” The Roosevelt Institute also lauded Clinton’s speech in a statement released in conjunction with Democracy Corps: “With this economic speech, Secretary Clinton has made this election a choice about whether our economy works for all, not just the few, and that allows progressive economics to win a mandate in November.”</p><p>Heading into Hillary Clintons’ big economic speech on Thursday, there was some<a href="https://mic.com/articles/151231/hillary-clinton-s-aggressive-outreach-to-republicans-is-making-progressives-nervous#.sK8L8z8qV">concern among progressive groups</a> that the Democratic presidential nominee was going to use the opportunity to nudge her policy agenda towards the center. She’d secured the nomination and no longer had to worry about Bernie Sanders’ challenge from the left, and her campaign was in the middle of a high-profile push to recruit Republican defectors away from GOP nominee Donald Trump, which left open the possibility that she might start moderating for the general election.</p><p>Well, Hillary’s speech seems to have put those concerns to rest. At least for the moment. She also put together an effective line of attack against Trump’s economic agenda, separating his populist rhetoric from the reality of his policy proposals.</p><p>Clinton hit a number of progressive themes and issues during her remarks in Warren, Michigan: she called for a large boost in infrastructure spending and the creation of an <a href="http://progressivepolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/09.2010-Ehrlich_A-National-Infrastructure-Bank.pdf">infrastructure bank</a>, she committed to connecting every household in the country to broadband internet by the end of her first term, she offered a strong defense of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she backed tuition-free college for everyone except the wealthy.</p><p>Perhaps most importantly, she offered an unequivocal statement of opposition regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” she said. “I oppose it now. I’ll oppose it after the election. And I’ll oppose it as president.”</p><p>This is the stuff that activists want to hear, and the progressive groups that were slightly wary of Clinton heading into the speech were pretty ebullient over Hillary’s TPP remarks. “These were Hillary Clinton’s strongest words yet against the TPP,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green said in a statement. “For the first time, Clinton signaled she will personally work to kill the corporate-written TPP if it comes up after the election in an unaccountable lame-duck Congress.” The Roosevelt Institute also lauded Clinton’s speech in a statement released in conjunction with Democracy Corps: “With this economic speech, Secretary Clinton has made this election a choice about whether our economy works for all, not just the few, and that allows progressive economics to win a mandate in November.”</p><p>On child care policy, her anti-Trump message was very much the same, given that Trump’s child care plan is a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/08/10/donald-trumps-awful-child-care-plan-the-gop-nominees-favorite-think-tank-weighs-in/">pro-wealthy heap of flaming trash</a> that no one thinks is a good idea. “His plan was panned from the left, from the right, the center, because it transparently is designed for rich people like him,” Clinton said. “He would give wealthy families 30 or 40 cents on the dollar for their nannies, and little or nothing for millions of hardworking families trying to afford child care.”</p><p>These are sharp attacks because they strip away the absurd patina of populism that Trump likes to coat himself in with his protectionist ranting and broadsides against foreigners who steal our jobs. Those rhetorical flourishes have little to undergird them, and whenever Trump actually wades into policy details, he invariably ends up churning out proposals that explicitly reserve the lion’s share of benefits for people who do not need them. That contradiction undermines the core of Trump’s “populist” pitch, and Hillary’s hammering away at it, pointing out that Trump can’t be a man of the people while primarily looking out for the interests of his own tax bracket.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1061827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 12:10:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1061827 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 hillary clinton The GOP's Youth-Vote Disaster: Donald Trump's Nomination Could Hurt Republicans for Years to Come http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-nomination-will-hurt-republicans-years <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1061703'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061703" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republicans were already at risk of sacrificing a whole generation of younger voters, and then they nominated Trump. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-06-13_at_5.16.08_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>There’s really quite little in the world of political polling that shouldn’t scare the hell out of Republicans right now. Their presidential candidate, Donald Trump, celebrated his first two weeks of official nominee-dom with an extended and baffling implosion that drove down his numbers nationally, in battleground states and even in some states that a Republican shouldn’t have too much difficulty carrying. As of this writing, he’s hovering around 40 percent in the national polling averages. The recent state-level polling shows Hillary Clinton is eating Trump’s lunch in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Florida. And Trump’s struggling in reliably red states like <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/ga/georgia_trump_vs_clinton-5741.html">Georgia</a> and <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/az/arizona_trump_vs_clinton-5832.html">Arizona</a>. Pretty much everywhere you look, it’s ugly.</p><p>But there’s one polling trend in particular that should have Republicans feeling frigid stilettos of panic pricking their necks: Young voters absolutely loathe the uniquely toxic Republican nominee.</p><p>Attracting the young ‘uns has been a problem of mounting significance for Republican presidential candidates for some time now. Back in 2004, a comparatively high <a href="http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html">45 percent</a> of 18-29 year olds voted to reelect George W. Bush. Four years later, John McCain took home a measly <a href="http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#val=USP00p1">32 percent</a> of those votes. Mitt Romney <a href="http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#val=USP00p1">performed slightly better</a> among younger voters in 2012, but he still got blown out by Barack Obama in that age cohort.</p><p>Newly christened Republican nominee Donald Trump, however, is comically underperforming even McCain’s awful showing. The <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article93789227.ece/BINARY/Complete%20data%20for%20the%20McClatchy-Marist%20Poll">most recent McClatchy-Marist poll</a> shows Trump running fourth among 18-29 year olds – behind both Green Party nominee Jill Stein and libertarian candidate Gary Johnson – with a miserable 9 percent. Fox News’ <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2016/08/03/fox-news-poll-aug-3-2016/">latest poll</a> puts Trump’s support among voters under 35 at 23 percent, just ahead of Johnson. He’s at 15 percent with voters under 30 in the <a href="https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/kzew9twjin/weekly_presidential_election_tracking_report.pdf">latest Economist/YouGov poll</a>. That’s obviously bad news for Trump’s chances in November, but the longer term implications of having a presidential nominee who so effectively repels younger voters could be a big problem for the GOP.</p><p>To explain why, let’s turn to the 2002 book, “Partisan Hearts and Minds,” by political scientists Donald Green, Bradley Palmquist and Eric Schickler. The thesis they lay out treats political partisanship as a facet of voters’ social identities, similar in many respects to their religious identifications. And once a voter’s political identity is developed, they write, it endures for a long time:</p><blockquote><p>Partisan attachments form relatively early in adulthood. … When people feel a sense of belonging to a given social group, they absorb the doctrinal positions that the group advocates. However party and religious identifications come about, once they take root in early adulthood, they often persist. Partisan identities are enduring features of citizens’ self-conceptions. They do not come and go with election cycles and campaign ephemera. The public’s interest in party politics climbs as elections draw near, but partisan self-conceptions remain intact during peaks and lulls in party competition.</p></blockquote><p>Assuming this thesis bears out, the problem facing the GOP becomes obvious. They’ve already had two consecutive elections marked by massive enthusiasm among younger voters for a Democratic president who is both politically popular and pop-culture savvy. Many of these voters have no memory or strong attachment to the scandals of the Clinton years; the backdrop for their political awakening was the Iraq catastrophe and the economic meltdown of the Bush years. To the extent that they’ve been exposed to Republican governance, it’s been typified by John Boehner’s bungling in the House, Ted Cruz’s shutdown antics and the general dysfunction that has attended the GOP’s hard lurch to the right.</p><p>And now, after all that, the Republican standard bearer for the 2016 election is Donald Trump, who is proving especially adept at driving young voters away from the GOP. With each successive election going back to 2008, the GOP has been alienating younger voters and giving new voters who are just forming their political identities compelling reasons to vote against them. That’s eight solid years of bad first impressions that will reverberate for years to come.</p><p>The risk for the Republicans is that they’ve given away an entire generation of voters to the Democrats. Undoing that damage will take a long time, and Republican officials are well aware of how bad this could be for them. The Republican National Committee’s “<a href="http://goproject.gop.com/">Growth &amp; Opportunity Project</a>,” commissioned in the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, spelled it out in stark terms.</p><p>“For many of the youngest voters and new 2016 voters, their perception of the two parties was born during the Barack Obama era, and that perception will help determine their worldview moving forward,” it said. “The RNC must more effectively highlight our young leaders and fundamentally change the tone we use to talk about issues and the way we are communicating with voters.”</p><p>Instead of doing that, they nominated Donald Trump.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1061703'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061703" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 14:51:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1061703 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing donald trump republican party young republicans election 2016 republican national committee Far Too Little, Way Too Late: The Hopeless Anti-Trump Candidacy of Evan McMullin http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/evan-mcmullin-too-little-too-late <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1061597'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061597" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Months after the horse left, #NeverTrump Republicans have finally chosen someone to close the barn door. </div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-08-09_at_12.52.09_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>After months and months of fruitless searching (papered over with the vigorous tweeting and determined production of self-righteous blog posts) the #NeverTrump movement has finally—finally—found its “independent conservative” candidate for the 2016 presidential race: <a href="http://www.vox.com/2016/8/8/12401642/evan-mcmullin-president-trump">Evan McMullin</a>. Who the hell is Evan McMullin? He’s a congressional staffer, former CIA officer, and <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9pNKTNlp6w">TED Talk deliverer</a>—which is to say that he has precisely zero national profile. But he has all the trappings of a protest-vote candidate: McMullin’s <a href="https://www.evanmcmullin.com/">newly launched campaign website</a> insists that “it’s never too late to do the right thing.”</p><p>That’s a lovely sentiment, but in some very real and tangible ways, it is indeed far too late for Evan McMullin (or anyone else) to put together a credible presidential campaign. As I’ve been <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/06/02/nevertrumps_final_gasp_william_kristol_completes_the_anti_trump_movements_downfall_by_pushing_david_french_for_prez/">pointing out</a> for the duration of this #NeverTrump exercise, one simply doesn’t just up and decide to run for president. It is a massive undertaking that encompasses months—or years—of careful planning, coalition building, securing of commitments, fundraising, and the like. Even if McMullin manages to attract a handful of big donors and experienced campaign operatives, he is coming into the race cold, with no name-recognition outside his personal and professional circles, no established political presence, and less than 100 days left on the election calendar.</p><p>Speaking of the calendar, if offers yet another compelling reason for why it is indeed “too late” for this candidacy to go anywhere meaningful. Deadlines for ballot access have already passed in Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, George, Delaware, Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. If you’re not keeping score at home, that’s 294 electoral votes—24 more than the total needed to win the presidency—off the table. The deadlines for Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Ohio, the District of Columbia, California, and Utah are all within the next week.</p><p>The #NeverTrump people insist that these deadlines are effectively meaningless and can be thrown out through various court challenges. Even if that’s true, already you’re talking about a massive and expensive legal undertaking spanning well over half the states. So if you’re an Evan McMullin donor, you’re signing up for dumping money into a series of lawsuits that, even if they succeed, still will not produce a successful candidate.</p><p>But, as Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins <a href="https://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/anti-trump-republican-launching-independent-presidential-bid?utm_term=.lukKa3JjZa#.kcZY193kZ1">writes</a>, the aims of the McMullin insurgency may be much narrower:</p><blockquote><p>But people close to the effort suggested McMullin would have the backing of serious Republican donors and fundraisers. They also pointed to his ties to Utah, a state where polls show Trump badly underperforming with the Mormon-heavy electorate. McMullin, a Mormon and an alum of Brigham Young University, plans to aggressively contest the state.</p></blockquote><p>Utah! The candidate needs only collect signatures from 1,000 Utahns before August 15 to get on the ballot, then he can just set up camp in the state with an eye on denying Donald Trump the state’s six electoral votes. (One of the more interesting subplots to the 2016 race has been the degree to which reliably conservative Mormon voters <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/08/why_mormons_don_t_like_donald_trump.html">actively shun the GOP nominee</a>.) But, again, that isn’t “running for president” in any meaningful sense.</p><p>The McMullin candidacy is mainly a vehicle for frustrated Republican elites to pretend they’re doing something positive for the party as it falls apart under the weight of Trumpism. Meanwhile, the increasingly influential portion of the party that has given itself over to Trump’s warnings of rigged systems and illegitimate elections will see in the McMullin campaign proof that the conspiracy is real.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1061597'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1061597" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 09:42:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1061597 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing evan mcmullin donald trump gop election 2016 #nevertrump Elizabeth Warren’s Devastating Trump Hit: She Drew a Straight Line from Jim Crow to Donald Trump http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/elizabeth-warrens-devastating-trump-hit-she-drew-straight-line-jim-crow-donald-trump <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1060848'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060848" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Elizabeth Warren&#039;s DNC speech made a crucial point about Trumpism&#039;s racial hatred: nobody benefits except the rich.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-05-20_at_9.00.17_pm.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Democratic National Convention got off to about as rough a start as you could imagine, with the party committee chair abruptly resigning and her replacement<a href="http://www.politico.com/video/2016/07/marcia-fudge-i-intend-to-be-respectful-of-you-and-i-want-you-to-be-respectful-of-me-060076">fending off choruses of boos</a> from delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders. But the proceedings eventually settled down and the acrimony steadily waned as the primetime slate of speakers all turned in strong performances. There are plenty of potential highlights to choose from, but there was one passage from <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eC2hMsX1P2U">Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s speech</a> that stood out to me as one of the more effective and damning indictments of GOP nominee Donald Trump offered up thus far.</p><p>Warren’s speech had all the familiar attacks on Trump that we’ve all heard countless times already – he cons people out of their money, he’s filed for bankruptcy several times, he’s a predatory goon who celebrated the 2008 collapse of the real estate market, etc. But after laying all that out, Warren delved into “the really ugly underside” to Trumpism:</p><blockquote><p>That’s Donald Trump’s America. An America of fear and hate. And America where we all break apart. Whites against blacks and Latinos, Christians against Muslims and Jews, straight against gay, everyone against immigrants. Race, religion, heritage, gender – the more factions the better.</p><p>But ask yourself this. When white workers in Ohio are pitted against black workers in North Carolina, or Latino workers in Florida, who really benefits? Divide and conquer is an old story in America. Dr. Martin Luther King knew it. After his march from Selma to Montgomery, he spoke of how segregation was created to keep people divided. Instead of higher wages for workers, Dr. King described how poor whites in the South were fed Jim Crow, which told a poor, white worker that, quote, “no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man.” Racial hatred was part of keeping the powerful on top.</p></blockquote><p>All too often, attacks on Trumpism focus on the people and groups it specifically targets: the immigrants (and their families) who will be rounded up and deported, the Muslims who will live under constant government-encouraged suspicion of involvement in terrorism. What Warren did with this speech is make the critical point that the people who think they stand to benefit from Trumpism’s hatred and division are being fed a lie. They’re being led to believe that they will profit from a zero-sum game in which the declining fortunes of immigrants and Muslims will necessarily redound to their favor.</p><p>As Warren pointed out, using the apt and devastating example of Jim Crow, it’s all just demagoguery in the service of distraction. The real beneficiaries of Trumpism are the moneyed elites who want to stoke nationalist fervor and tribal divisions as a way to attain power, which will then be used almost exclusively for their own benefit. Donald Trump’s proposed tax plan stands as a bright, gaudy testament to this truth. The fruits of his tax-cut proposals would be enjoyed <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxvox/trump-would-slash-taxes-top-01-percent-average-13-million-add-nearly-10-trillion-debt">almost exclusively by the rich</a>, with the top 0.1 percent of earners taking down an extra $1.3 million on average. Those at the bottom of the economic ladder, meanwhile, will get about $130. The broader fiscal impact of those cuts would be to starve the government of trillions in revenue, which would have to be made up somewhere – most likely with deep, gouging cuts to social programs.</p><p>That’s the point Elizabeth Warren made last night: Trumpism’s bilious racial attacks and gross factionalism are part of a distressingly familiar pattern in American history, and their overall impact will be to screw over everyone who doesn’t already run in Donald Trump’s social circle. There are no winners, and those who are spared Trumpism’s direct assaults are merely being taken for a ride.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1060848'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060848" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 26 Jul 2016 23:07:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1060848 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 trump warren The Tim Kaine Effect: What does Hillary Clinton’s VP pick bring to the race? http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/tim-kaine-effect-what-does-hillary-clintons-vp-pick-bring-race <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1060678'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060678" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Yes, the Virginia Senator was seen as the safe pick, but he represents a big bet on one issue: competence.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/tim_kaine.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s official: Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate is Tim Kaine. <a href="http://nyti.ms/2a41nHQ">The New York Times reported the news</a> late thus evening, citing a senior campaign official. The Virginia senator had reportedly been Clinton’s top pick going down the stretch, and he’s long been viewed as the “safe” pick for Hillary: he’s a relatively moderate middle-aged white guy from a swing state and he speaks Spanish. Kaine reportedly narrowly missed out on being Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008, but now he’s finally made it to the big stage.</p><p dir="ltr">So what does Kaine bring to the ticket? Well, he has a ton of experience in politics and elected office having served Virginia as senator, governor, and lieutenant governor. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee a few years back and has a close political relationship with Barack Obama, who nearly picked Kaine as his own running mate back in 2008. And he hails from a swing state, which theoretically should help nudge Virginia’s electoral votes into Hillary’s column.</p><p dir="ltr">What Kaine doesn’t do is excite the Democratic Party’s restive liberal base. Kaine isn’t a gormless moderate in the Evan Bayh model, but he’s certainly not the first choice of progressive activists who had hoped that Bernie Sanders’ vigorous challenge to Hillary in the primaries would have impelled her to pick a more left-wing running mate. His record on abortion issues is<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/tim-kaine-abortion-predicament-225053&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHlB1HbLZPBjd20dpH2juGq1IVgSA" href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/tim-kaine-abortion-predicament-225053" target="_blank"> a bit muddled</a> (Kaine supports pro-choice policies even though he describes himself as “personally” opposed to abortion) and he recently<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=https://theintercept.com/2016/07/20/tim-kaine-possible-hillary-clinton-pick-for-vice-president-signals-support-to-banks/&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNH7n8VJL4j0ZbyzUgaM-81-_1OyRw" href="https://theintercept.com/2016/07/20/tim-kaine-possible-hillary-clinton-pick-for-vice-president-signals-support-to-banks/" target="_blank"> irked progressives</a> by<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tim-kaine-clinton-vp_us_578fc8e3e4b0bdddc4d2c86c&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNGrtOTZ1yKgQbpSyCnXJW-KIAxceg" href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tim-kaine-clinton-vp_us_578fc8e3e4b0bdddc4d2c86c" target="_blank"> signing two letters</a> supporting deregulation of large and small banks. Kaine also favors<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.vox.com/2015/11/23/9780136/isis-tim-kaine-interview&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHoa4j9LefdaZNz5gq5G6R2fgineQ" href="http://www.vox.com/2015/11/23/9780136/isis-tim-kaine-interview" target="_blank">expanded U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war</a>, which dovetails with Clinton’s call to establish a no-fly zone over the war-torn nation.</p><p dir="ltr">At the same time, Kaine does have a record of progressive activism he can draw from. As Mother Jones’ Patrick Caldwell wrote in his<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/tim-kaine-vice-president-hillary-clinton-virginia-senate&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNFrVAO5ddIO5juFqq6iX2lXdQNQMw" href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/07/tim-kaine-vice-president-hillary-clinton-virginia-senate" target="_blank"> recent profile</a> of Kaine, the senator is “driven by the gospel of social justice” and spent his pre-political career as a civil rights attorney fighting against housing discrimination in Richmond. He did missionary work in Honduras and he provided legal representation to death-row inmates. Even still, he’s not going excite the party’s left wing in the way that Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would have.</p><p dir="ltr">In fact, would-be vice president Kaine isn’t really going to excite anyone. He’s not an ideologue, and he’s certainly not an attack dog – Kaine<a data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&amp;q=http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/tim-kaine-vp-audition-hillary-clinton-225559&amp;source=gmail&amp;ust=1469320881878000&amp;usg=AFQjCNHh4fEEfxErlMNA-wjTgMwIUFT-sw" href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/tim-kaine-vp-audition-hillary-clinton-225559" target="_blank"> tried taking a few swipes</a> at Donald Trump last week, and the meanest thing he could come up with was to call Trump a “trash talker.” He’s an unassuming and quietly accomplished public official. By selecting Kaine, Hillary is making it clear that her overriding priority is projecting an image of competence.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1060678'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1060678" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 23 Jul 2016 09:55:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1060678 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 2016 HILLARY CLINTON democratic convention dnc election news elections ELECTIONS 2016 hillary clinton tim kaine vice president ELECTIONS NEWS news politics news Why Is the Corporate Media Taking Trump's Nonsense Seriously? http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/stop-normalizing-trump <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1057166'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1057166" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Somehow we&#039;re at the point where one candidate obliquely implicating a rival in a murder conspiracy is no big deal.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/hands030916not_2.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>It’s only May, which means we have about five months before the presidential election. There are conventions to be had, running mates to be selected, debates to be overhyped, and an obscene amount of money to be spent on an equally obscene quantity of advertising. The general election campaign hasn’t even really begun yet, on account of it being so damn early in the cycle still. Hell, we don’t even have official nominees yet for either major party.</p><p>And yet, we find ourselves in a peculiar situation. Specifically, the presumptive nominee for one of the major parties has already given a soft endorsement to a long-since discredited theory that his likely opponent is complicit in the covered-up murder of a political associate. When you strip all the names from this situation and view it through the lens of established political norms, that looks crazy and desperate. It’s the sort of thing you’d expect to drop as a late-October Hail Mary, a desperate candidate’s last-ditch effort to ward off likely defeat. But it’s May, and we’re already being forced to discuss one candidate obliquely suggesting that his rival was complicit in a murder.</p><p>I’m talking, of course, about Donald Trump and his casual “just asking questions” <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-escalates-attack-on-bill-clinton/2016/05/23/ed109acc-2100-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html" target="_blank">reference</a> to the 1993 suicide of Vince Foster, who was deputy White House counsel to Bill Clinton. Wild accusations about the Clintons orchestrating and/or covering up Foster’s death have persisted in conservatives circles for years and even caught the attention of <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/election2012/great-moments-in-dan-burton-history" target="_blank">some of the crazier members of Congress</a>, but they never went mainstream because they are obviously insane. In a “normal” election setting, diving into the Vince Foster nonsense would be treated as a lethal self-inflicted wound for a candidate. But for Trump and the media that cover him, it’s just another day on the trail.</p><p>At this point, Trump has successfully conditioned reporters to the point that they continually expect him to “go there,” and because he’s set that expectation, his embrace of crazy bullshit is treated almost as routine. Consider the Washington Post<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-escalates-attack-on-bill-clinton/2016/05/23/ed109acc-2100-11e6-8690-f14ca9de2972_story.html">article</a> that first reported that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency, had given a soft endorsement to a crazy conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton murdering an old friend. The headline? “Trump escalates attack on Bill Clinton.” Trump’s quotes about the Clintons and Foster were included at the end of the article, buried under analysis about how “the race already appears to be teed up as a referendum on the two candidates’ pasts rather than their visions for the country’s future.”</p><p>Or you can take a look at this Politico <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/trump-hillary-clinton-past-223520" target="_blank">article</a> on Trump’s comments. It noted that Trump is “trying to lend credence to conspiracy theories suggesting that the Clintons somehow had a hand in [Foster’s] passing, which was ruled a suicide.” From there, Politico arrived at this takeaway:</p><blockquote><p>The insinuations and stark allegations are proving once again Trump’s ability to dominate headlines and airtime, and show the challenge Hillary Clinton will be up against as she tries to make her argument against the real estate mogul.</p></blockquote><p>Again, we’re talking about one candidate backhandedly making the allegation that his opponent <em>was an accessory to murder</em>, and the press reaction is “boy, that Trump sure can drive headlines – better watch out, Hillary!”</p><p>This is precisely what I was talking about I <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/05/05/dont_normalize_trump_treating_him_as_a_normal_political_candidate_obscures_everything_that_makes_him_so_dangerous/">wrote earlier this month</a> about the danger in normalizing Trump. He wants all the craziness to be taken in stride, and he’s succeeding. He’s being abetted in this by a Republican Party establishment that is happy to bite its tongue so long as they get their tax cuts and conservative judicial nominations. But that’s no reason for the press to buy into Trump’s game and treat his crazy mudslinging as a mere campaign tactic rather than a disqualifying character flaw.</p><p>And it’s only going to get worse as the election cycle wears on. Trump met a few weeks ago with <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/05/03/trump_meets_ed_klein_americas_least_credible_journalist_has_an_inside_line_to_the_2016_gop_frontrunner/" target="_blank">Ed Klein</a>, an infamous source of salacious and discredited Hillary Clinton bullshit. Just this week, Trump <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/735117032060899328" target="_blank">promoted</a> Klein’s latest book, which is <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ed-klein-hillary-clinton-unlikeable_us_5613ece6e4b022a4ce5f8ae2" target="_blank">full of insane nonsense</a>. None of this is normal, so stop treating it like it is.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1057166'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1057166" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 25 May 2016 10:30:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1057166 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 Media The Right Wing donald trump gop nomination media trump and the media election 2016 Donald Trump’s Flip-Flops: He’s Banking on Bigotry and Ditching Right-Wing Economic Orthodoxy http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/donald-trumps-flip-flops-hes-banking-bigotry-and-ditching-right-wing-economic <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1055997'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1055997" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Donald Trump is making some rapid, careful policy shifts and trusting that his core group of supporters won&#039;t care.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/pjimage-2.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday night, and he wasted literally no time in shedding some of the policy positions he laid out in the primary. He hasn’t exactly been the picture of consistency to date, and he’s built an entire political persona around erratic and unpredictable behavior, but the issues that Trump is flip-flopping on give some indication of how he views his own base and the sort of pitch he’ll make in a general election.</p><p>Before we get to the flips, let’s take a look at the issues Trump stood firm on since becoming the nominee-in-waiting. The morning after the Indiana primary, Trump went on MSNBC and stated in no uncertain terms that he <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/278645-trump-to-stick-with-muslim-ban">would not back off</a> his proposal to halt Muslim immigration into the United States. “I don’t care if it hurts me,” he said. “I’m doing the right thing when I do this.” Trump also <a href="http://insider.foxnews.com/2016/05/04/trump-mexican-pres-get-your-money-ready-cause-youre-gonna-pay-wall">stuck by his plan to build a giant wall</a> on the border with Mexico, and he taunted former Mexican president Vincente Fox, telling him to “get your money ready, because you’re going to pay for the wall.”</p><p>So the wall and the Muslim ban aren’t going anywhere. But on taxes and the minimum wage, Trump <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/donald-trump-flip-flops-taxes-wages-he-turns-focus-general-election">flipped and he flipped hard</a>. The Trump tax plan, which you can <a href="https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/tax-reform">read on his website</a>, is a <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/22/460743371/analysis-trump-tax-plan-boosts-the-rich-could-be-a-drag-on-the-economy">massive boon for the wealthy</a>. According to the <a href="http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/analysis-donald-trumps-tax-plan/full">Tax Policy Center analysis</a> of the plan, “the highest-income households would receive the largest cuts, both in dollars and as a percentage of income.” People at the bottom of the economic ladder would receive, on average, a $128 tax cut under Trump’s plan, while the top 0.1 percent would take home an extra $1.3 million. But on Thursday, Trump shied away from cutting taxes for the super rich. “I am not necessarily a huge fan of that,” he said on CNBC. “I am so much more into the middle class who have just been absolutely forgotten in our country.”</p><p>On the minimum wage, Trump spent most of the Republican primary railing against the minimum wage, saying at one point that “<a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/donald-trump-wages-too-high">wages are too high</a>.” Asked specifically about plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 hourly, Trump said “we cannot do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it.” But that was all thrown out the window this week as Trump said he was open to a minimum wage increase. “I’m actually looking at that because I am very different from most Republicans,” Trump said on CNN. “You have to have something that you can live on.”</p><p>What this shows is that Trump believes his core group of supporters are more invested in the cultural resentment portions of his platform than they are in Republican economic orthodoxy. He sees more power in motivating Republican voters through appeals to nativism, xenophobia, and anti-Muslim demagoguery, so he’s hanging on to those parts of the Trump platform and betting that GOP voters won’t care too much that he’s waffling on tax cuts.</p><p>The one flip Trump made that might actually do real damage among his core supporters is his reversal on self-funding. Trump’s primary campaign never was truly “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/21/donald-trumps-self-funded-presidential-campaign-is-1-very-thrifty-and-2-not-that-self-funded/">self-funded</a>” – he took in several million dollars in donations, and the majority of his money came in the form of loans to himself – but the image he projected of an independent candidate who would not be beholden to outside interests was a large part of his appeal. He railed against the corrupt campaign finance system, and, in a bit of bizarre Trumpian political kung-fu, offered himself as an example of that corruption. “When they call, I give,” he said at that first Republican debate. “And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me and that’s a broken system.”</p><p>But it turns out that running a national political campaign against the absurdly well-funded Clinton political machine is prohibitively expensive, even for a man of uncertain billions like Donald Trump. So he’s giving up on self-funding and <a href="http://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-wont-self-fund-general-election-campaign-1462399502">putting together a fundraising operation</a> and hiring Steven Mnuchin to be his campaign finance chairman. Who is <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-mnuchin-idUSKCN0XW1LY">Steven Mnuchin</a>? He’s one of those “hedge fund guys” Trump rails against. And he worked for Goldman Sachs, the same bank <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-booed-conservative-crowd-after-attacks-ted-cruz-n498081">Trump attacked Ted Cruz</a> for taking loans from. And he used to be a donor to <a href="https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/05/05/19634/donald-trumps-new-finance-guru-once-clinton-donor-soros-employee">Hillary Clinton</a>.</p><p>So with one sweeping gesture, Trump has undermined his claims to donor independence, ripped the floor out from underneath his pseudo-populist railing against Wall Street, and hampered his own ability to attack Clinton as a stooge of the big banks. That’s an impressive amount of self-inflicted damage for someone who’s been a presumptive nominee for less than half a week.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1055997'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1055997" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 06 May 2016 08:01:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1055997 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 2016 elections anti-muslim bigotry donald trump gop anti-immigration Trump Has Insane General Election Optimism About States He Can’t Possibly Win http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-has-insane-general-election-optimism-about-states-he-cant-possibly-win <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1055185'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1055185" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Can a broadly reviled candidate like Donald Trump win Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut? Hah... no.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_307005062.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If there’s one quality the Donald Trump presidential campaign does not lack, its <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/04/21/trump_has_a_reason_to_feel_great_again_the_gop_nominating_contest_shifts_to_his_turf_and_the_delegate_goal_is_well_within_reach/" target="_blank">confidence</a>. In the days since Trump barreled through the New York primary, his team has been making a deliberate show of strength intended to discourage his rivals and win over skeptical Republicans. And, in characteristic Trump fashion, their pitches have an eye-catching, over-the-top quality intended to distract from the obvious lack of substance behind the product.</p><p>As I wrote earlier this week, Trump’s people are boasting that he’ll come into the convention with more than 1,400 delegates in his corner, a number that far exceeds outside estimates. And now, according to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/us/politics/donald-trump-to-reshape-image-new-campaign-chief-tells-gop.html?smid=tw-share&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">New York Times</a>, Trump campaign underboss Paul Manafort is making the case to high-ranking Republican officials that Trump is uniquely capable of tearing down the so-called “blue wall” – states that are all but guaranteed to vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election.</p><p>From the Times:</p><blockquote><p>Mr. Manafort, citing “the unique magic of Trump,” said the candidate could be in a “very competitive situation in states that by the end of September you say goodbye to the presidential candidate. He singled out Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. The three states last voted for a Republican presidential nominee in 1988.</p></blockquote><p>Let’s just nip this in bud right now. Maryland and Delaware are two of the most Democratic states in the country – in the 2012 election, Obama won Maryland with 62 percent of the vote, and he won Delaware with 59 percent. Maryland’s population centers (Baltimore, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County) are full of liberals and minority voters, which means they’re extremely hostile territory for a candidate like Trump. These are not states Donald Trump will win. These are not states Donald Trump will be competitive in.</p><p>As for Pennsylvania, it is the quadrennial dream of Republicans everywhere that their presidential candidate will poach Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes from the Democrats, and it always fails to come to fruition as Democrats mobilize their supporters in the state’s urban centers. Mitt Romney spent the final weekend of the 2012 race campaigning in Pennsylvania, giving hope to the faithful that a Republican landslide was in the works. He <a href="http://elections.nbcnews.com/ns/politics/2012/pennsylvania/president/#.VxpD3vnyvX4" target="_blank">lost the state by five points</a>. How a broadly reviled and organizationally incompetent candidate like Trump will succeed where his predecessors have failed is unclear, though I’m fairly certain “magic” is an insufficient explanation.</p><p>Continuing on, Manafort painted a still rosier picture for Trump’s 2016 chances:</p><blockquote><p>As Republicans ate oysters in a dim, stuffy conference room overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, [senior Trump campaign operative Rick] Wiley walked them through a slide show that predicted victory for Mr. Trump not just in swing states with large Hispanic populations like Nevada, Colorado and Florida, but in states that Republicans have not captured since the 1980s: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Connecticut.</p></blockquote><p>It’s difficult to convey just how ludicrous much of this is. The idea that Trump will perform strongly in “swing states with large Hispanic populations” is a fantasy – Donald Trump very well might be the mot hated candidate among Hispanic voters in American electoral history. New polling of Latino voters puts Trump’s <a href="http://www.latinodecisions.com/files/7014/6125/7781/AV_Wave_1_2016_Natl_Posted.pdf">unfavorable rating</a> at 87 percent (79 percent are “very unfavorable”). In a head-to-head match-up with Hillary Clinton, Trump takes <em>11 percent</em> of the Latino vote. To put that in perspective, Mitt Romney took 27 percent of the Latino vote on his way to losing Nevada, Colorado, and Florida. Regarding the Rust Belt states, it’s <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-03-24/donald-trump-s-tough-but-plausible-path-to-winning-the-white-house">not entirely inconceivable</a> that he could outperform expectations across the industrial Midwest, but it would be a monumentally difficult task.</p>advertisement<p>As for Connecticut, I think Trump is being a little too conservative here. If he can flip a deeply blue state Obama won by 18 points in 2012, why not also throw Illinois in there? Hell, they should toss New Jersey into the mix while they’re at it.</p><p>Oh wait, I’m sorry, they do:</p><blockquote><p>And in other solidly Democratic states, like Illinois and New Jersey, [Wiley] said Mr. Trump could force Mrs. Clinton to spend money defending herself.</p></blockquote><p>Who’s to say where the Trump “magic” will stop?</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1055185'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1055185" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 07:57:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1055185 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 trump salon election gop voters voting bernie clinton dems cruz Obama’s Popularity Is Spiking—Further Destroying the GOP’s Chances of Saving Its Sinking Ship http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/obamas-popularity-spiking-further-destroying-gops-chances-saving-its-sinking-ship <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1053295'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053295" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republicans argue that Barack Obama is a uniquely disastrous president, but his approval rating is on the rise.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/p090814ps-07503.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Barack Obama is getting more and more popular of late. A new Bloomberg Politics <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-03-24/democrats-evenly-split-over-clinton-sanders-in-bloomberg-poll-im63yb0w" target="_blank">poll</a> puts his job approval rating at an even 50 percent, a six-point jump from the survey they conducted in November. His favorability rating spiked nine points, all the way up to 57 percent. On specific issue areas that have been troublesome for the president in the past, like the economy and health care, his approval rating is inching up towards 50 percent. He’s getting positive marks for nominating Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia, and nearly two-thirds of the country supports his push to have the Republican-controlled Senate hold hearings on the nomination.</p><p>Those numbers are in line with what other polls are showing. A look at the Huffington Post’s poll aggregator shows that Obama’s <a href="http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/obama-job-approval" target="_blank">average approval rating</a> is just a hair under 50 percent and rising. After spending about two and half years with his approval ratings underwater, his numbers began to tick upward starting in December 2015, and they’ve been rising ever since. That’s pretty decent news for a two-term president in his final year of office, when voters tend to register fatigue with the administration and the party in power.</p><p>It’s difficult to pinpoint a precise explanation for why Obama’s numbers are on the rise. A president’s numbers typically rise and fall in line with economic indicators, but not a whole lot has changed on the economic front over the past few months – job growth continues along at a decent clip, but wage growth is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/business/economy/jobs-report-unemployment-wages.html" target="_blank">just barely staying ahead of inflation</a>. The timing of his approval spike, however, suggests that it might have something to do with how the presidential primaries are shaking out.</p><p>On the Democratic side, there’s been no real effort by either candidate to distance themselves from Obama. Quite the opposite, in fact. Hillary Clinton has been running hard on the idea that she represents a continuation of the Obama policy agenda. Bernie Sanders, while more critical of Obama on trade and health care, still makes clear that he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-obama_us_56bd55d6e4b08ffac124a349" target="_blank">broadly supports the president and his policies</a>. Having both candidates embrace the president and promote his agenda helps remind Democrats why they liked him in the first place. It’s a vastly different dynamic from 2008, when the Republican candidates went to great pains to keep <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3450587&amp;page=1" target="_blank">their two-term incumbent president at arm’s length</a>, which in turn only deepened his already staggering unpopularity.</p><p>Speaking of Republicans, it’s probably safe to assume that their primary is also helping Obama. The frontrunner is galumphing about on the national stage and insulting just about every minority group as he encourages violence at his rallies and picks petty fights with women on TV. It’s all but impossible to take Donald Trump’s chief rivals for the nomination seriously, given that they’ve spent the past several months trying to emulate Trump’s style and policy proposals, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/marco-rubio-donald-trump-penis-size_us_56d989c1e4b0000de40428d4" target="_blank">making dick jokes</a>, and <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/128808/everybody-hates-ted" target="_blank">being Ted Cruz</a>. The entire process has been dominated by petty squabbling, personal attacks, and unguarded extremism, most of it driven by Trump’s Twitter feed. Even if you’re not inclined to be of fan of Obama’s, you probably can’t help but look at the GOP primary and think “well, he’s not as bad as these fools.”</p><p>Whatever the explanation for Obama’s surge in popularity, it’s bad news for his Republican critics. The underlying premise of the GOP primary is that the Obama presidency has been an unrivaled disaster that brought the country to the brink of collapse. “This country is running out of time,” Marco Rubio declared at an <a href="http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=110906" target="_blank">October debate</a>. “We can’t afford to have another four years like the last eight years.” That line was actually borrowed from Barack Obama, who said in his <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/us/politics/28text-obama.html" target="_blank">2008 speech</a> accepting the Democratic presidential nomination: “We are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight.” The difference, of course, is that it was true when Obama said it – the country was spiraling towards disaster at that point with a bloody quagmire of a war and a weakening economy that would soon implode on itself. But we’re not at that crisis point right now, which is why Obama’s approval ratings aren’t in the toilet the way George W. Bush’s were. And the higher Obama’s job approval rating creeps, the more ridiculous Republicans look arguing that he’s a historically disastrous president.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1053295'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1053295" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 25 Mar 2016 08:40:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1053295 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 barack obama gop 2016 elections Stuck With Ted: The GOP Establishment Is Grudgingly, Reluctantly Joining Team Cruz http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/stuck-ted-gop-establishment-grudgingly-reluctantly-joining-team-cruz <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1052827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Lindsey Graham and his establishment pals are gritting their teeth and backing the only viable non-Trump option.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/8570524219_6fda50508f_o.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>If you were to pick one Republican senator out of the many who serve in Congress who would be least likely to throw his support behind Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, it would have to be Lindsey Graham. The South Carolina senator is the living embodiment of everything Cruz inveighs against: He’s an establishment barnacle, he cuts deals with Democrats on big issues like immigration, and he’s a big supporter of neoconservative foreign policies. And the two have publicly clashed before. On foreign policy, Graham has called Cruz “just as wrong as Obama, if not worse.” Graham has <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/12/02/lindsey_graham_ted_cruz_has_done_more_to_help_isis_than_any_senator_other_than_rand_paul.html">said</a> that Cruz is an “opportunist” with “no credibility.” They’ve <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-02-08/ted-cruz-and-lindsey-graham-at-odds-over-boots-on-the-ground-">fought</a> on everything from presidential nominations to healthcare to government shutdowns. A few weeks ago, Graham <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/26/politics/lindsey-graham-ted-cruz-dinner/">joked</a> that “if you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”</p><p>And yet, just Thursday, Lindsey Graham <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2016/03/17/lindsey-graham-ted-cruz-donald-trump-republican-race/81918250/">announced</a> that he was going to do everything he can to help Ted Cruz win the presidency, including fundraising and… well, at this point it’s just raising money. But still, for Lindsey Graham of all people to bite the bullet and sign up for Team Cruz is a pretty strong indicator of how thoroughly desperate Republicans are to stop Donald Trump.</p><p>Cruz hasn’t exactly been a popular presidential candidate on Capitol Hill. For a while he was the only candidate who had not been endorsed by a sitting senator (even Donald Trump had Jeff Sessions in his corner). Senate Republicans were instead rallying around Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, and this suited Cruz perfectly well. His whole political identity is that of the anti-establishment rebel, the guy Republicans in D.C. love to hate. He <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/09/29/ted_cruzs_humiliation_strategy_appealing_to_conservative_voters_by_publicizing_his_failures/">deliberately provoked the ire and disrespect</a> of his Senate colleagues to prove to conservatives that he was standing up to the establishment and fighting for conservative causes. But now that both Jeb and Rubio have slinked off the presidential stage, victims of the Donald Trump insurgency, Cruz is emerging as the <a href="http://www.nationalreview.com/article/432892/donald-trump-divides-congressional-gop-party-insiders">reluctant choice for establishment Republicans</a> who still hate him but don’t know where else to turn.</p><p>That may seem like good news for Cruz, but he actually finds himself in a precarious position here. If Cruz had run a stronger campaign for president, he could welcome the trickling support of the Republican establishment by making the argument that he had fought his way to the top of the party and earned their respect and loyalty as the leader of a conservative revolution. But that’s not what is happening now.</p><p>Cruz is losing to Trump, and he’s losing pretty badly. He put up some disappointing results in the March 15 contests, where he’d hoped to steal a state or two from Trump, but instead ended up <a href="https://twitter.com/Taniel/status/710536874977267712">taking fewer delegates than John Kasich</a>. He hasn’t conquered the party; he’s lasted long enough that the party is reluctantly bolstering him as the only plausible alternative to Trump. And people like Lindsey Graham and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are making clear that Cruz is not their preferred candidate even as they lend Cruz their support. “The only thing I can say now is my hope and my prayer is that Sen. Cruz can come through this,” Haley, a former Rubio supporter, <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/nikki-haley-endorses-ted-cruz-n540366">said this week</a> in getting behind Cruz. “That’s who privately I’m fighting for. I do see a path for him, because I think he’s been solid and strong the entire way. I think that he’s been disciplined in the way that he’s done it.”</p><p>Lindsey Graham was even blunter when describing the political calculations he’s made. “I think he’s the best alternative to Donald Trump,” Graham said of Cruz on CNN, hurriedly spitting out the words as if they were ashes on this tongue. “He’s certainly not my preference, Sen. Cruz is not. But he’s a reliable Republican conservative of which I’ve had many differences with.” Asked if he was actually endorsing Cruz, Graham hedged. “What I’m saying, you know, John Kasich, I think, is the most viable general election candidate,” Graham explained. “I just don’t see how John gets through the primary.”</p><p>Cruz doesn’t look like the conquering hero here. He looks like the candidate of last resort, the “break glass in case of emergency” option. He’s being bolstered by the people who loathe him only because he’s still slightly more tolerable than the voters’ preferred candidate. It’s precisely the sort of alliance of convenience that Cruz has railed against as a senator. He wanted to win by being the Republican establishment’s worst nightmare, not by being the tool of a Republican establishment that is scared of something much more dangerous than Ted Cruz.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1052827'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1052827" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 18 Mar 2016 08:59:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1052827 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 2016 elections ted cruz lindsey graham gop donald trump us senate To Take Down Trump, Clinton Has a Secret Weapon That Cruz and Rubio Missed Out On http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/take-down-trump-clinton-has-secret-weapon-cruz-and-rubio-missed-out <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1051748'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051748" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Clinton is doing what pretty much every Republican in the country failed to do — she’s taking Trump seriously.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_155865416_0.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Hillary Clinton is doing what pretty much every Republican in the country failed to do – she’s taking Donald Trump seriously. After last night’s Super Tuesday romp, it’s looking highly likely that Trump is on track to capture the Republican nomination. According to the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/us/politics/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-general-election.html?hp&amp;action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;clickSource=story-heading&amp;module=b-lede-package-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;_r=1">New York Times</a>, Team Clinton doesn’t want to get caught flat-flooted in a potential race against Trump and is already gaming out different strategies for taking on the Republican front-runner and neutralizing whatever appeal he might conceivably have in a general election. And that’s wise! The GOP underestimated Trump and the party’s determined neglect allowed him to engineer a coup within the Republican electorate. And it’s <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/02/26/is_president_trump_possible_the_obvious_answer_is_no_but_itd_be_silly_to_underestimate_him_again_if_he_faces_hillary_or_bernie/">not inconceivable</a> that Trump could pose a significant threat to core Democratic constituencies in electoral-vote rich Midwest states. Regardless of what happens, they’re smart to be prepared.</p><p>As for the actual anti-Trump strategy, here’s what the Times writes:</p><blockquote><p>The plan has three major thrusts: Portray Mr. Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against the interests of the working-class voters he now appeals to; broadcast the degrading comments he has made against women in order to sway suburban women, who have been reluctant to support Mrs. Clinton; and highlight his brash, explosive temper to show he is unsuited to be commander in chief.</p></blockquote><p>There’s absolutely no shortage of material to work with on any of these fronts. Painting him as a predatory businessman shouldn’t be too difficult – Trump is already taking heat for his flagrant “<a href="http://thinkprogress.org/education/2016/03/01/3755253/fraud-case-trump-university/">Trump University</a>” scam, and we still haven’t even really gotten into the “<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-mortgage-failed-heres-what-that-says-about-the-gop-front-runner/2016/02/28/f8701880-d00f-11e5-88cd-753e80cd29ad_story.html">Trump Mortgage</a>” scam and the “<a href="http://www.statnews.com/2015/11/04/donald-trump-vitamin-company-went-bust/">pee in a cup so Donald Trump can send you special vitamins</a>” scam. On the anti-women front, you can hardly take a step in any direction without stepping in some misogynistic pile Trump has deposited on the public airwaves. BuzzFeed mined Trump’s many, many appearances on Howard Stern’s radio program over the years and pulled out a <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/andrewkaczynski/donald-trump-said-a-lot-of-gross-things-about-women-on-howar#.vrB4x8qewx">heaping mound of sexist quotes</a>, any one of which can be the fulcrum of an attack ad. As for Trump’s temperament, that’s a bit trickier to go after given that Trump has a knack for turning accusations of anger into <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/01/15/a_terrifying_gop_debate_amid_all_the_fearmongering_and_lies_donald_trump_came_out_on_top/">positive affirmations of his political identity</a>. Pointing out that Trump is “brash” and angry might not be so disqualifying in an electorate that<a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html">overwhelmingly believes the country is on the wrong track</a>. </p><p>It’s not a half-bad strategy, but might be overlooking a couple of key points. You can call Trump a sexist con-man and enjoy the satisfaction of being correct, but that’s no guarantee that his supporters will abandon him. As my colleague Elias Isquith has written, the key to undermining Trump is <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/01/attack_his_strength_the_only_way_republicans_can_stop_donald_trump/">making him look weak</a>. A good chunk of his appeal is derived from his image as someone who will go to Washington and just start busting shit up for all the incompetent losers who currently run the government. The moment you make Trump look powerless and lost, the illusion evaporates.</p><p>Marco Rubio has been trying his damnedest to do exactly this over the past week, literally questioning the size of Trump’s manhood and calling him a pants-wetting coward. But those attacks have no credibility because Rubio consistently loses to Trump, and the over-the-top character of the jabs feels desperate. The Times notes that the Clinton campaign is enlisting President Obama to “gleefully portray Mr. Trump as incapable of handling the duties of the office,” which is well and good, but they also might consider having him take Trump down a peg or two. One of Obama’s underappreciated strengths is his knack for mocking humor, and he has some experience when it comes to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8TwRmX6zs4">humiliating Donald Trump</a>.</p><p>Another way to damage Trump is to beat him at his own game. The Rand Corp. <a href="https://www.rand.org/blog/2016/01/rand-kicks-off-2016-presidential-election-panel-survey.html">found recently</a> that the biggest predictor for whether someone will support Donald Trump is if they believe that “people like me don’t have any say about what the government does.” To keep people from defecting to Trump, you need to make them feel like they have a stake in your campaign, which is probably where the Clinton people could learn a thing or two from Bernie Sanders’ campaign. </p><p>But the most important factor in all this is time. Rubio and Cruz are scrambling to beat back Trump because they waited too long and let him take control of the primary. Neither Republican has the luxury of testing out messages and building an anti-Trump campaign narrative. They have to throw everything they can and hope something sticks. If Trump becomes the nominee, Hillary will have at least a few months to figure out what works and what doesn’t. And as the Republican experience makes clear, time is a valuable commodity in a fight against Donald Trump.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1051748'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1051748" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 02 Mar 2016 07:13:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1051748 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 hillary clinton donald trump marco rubio Trump v. Pope: How Are We to Interpret the Papal Comments on Border Walls and Christianity? http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-v-pope-how-are-we-interpret-papal-comments-border-walls-and-christianity <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1050972'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1050972" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Did the Pope question Trump&#039;s faith? Or did he slam every wall-building Republican?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2016-02-19_at_3.34.43_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>I suppose it was inevitable that something like this would happen. Here we are, in the lead-up to the South Carolina primary, and front-running Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is locked in an epic battle with the pope. He’s grown tired of the puny political adversaries who can hardly dent his lead in the polls and is itching for a larger fight. Ted Cruz? He’s a distraction. Marco Rubio? Hardly worth a press release. Trump wants to crush the Vatican beneath his very expensive, very classy wingtips. He wants to scale the mountain, reach high towards the heavens, and extend a stubby middle finger at God.</p><p>Now, to be clear, Pope Francis kind of brought this on himself. While on a visit to Mexico, the Pope was asked about Trump’s draconian immigration proposals – mass deportations, removal of American citizens who are children of undocumented immigrants, and the construction of a massive border wall. The Pope <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/19/world/americas/pope-francis-donald-trump-christian.html?_r=0">responded</a> in a very pope-ish fashion. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the pontiff said.</p><p>There are a few ways to interpret this response. He was speaking vaguely and in metaphors, and so it’s possible – likely, even – that he was simply expanding the scope of the question to reinforce a broader message of Christian morality. But, then again, he was asked specifically about Trump, and his response was about “a person” who wants to build a wall and thus “is not Christian.” Whatever the case, Trump does not deal in subtlety and nuance. He viewed the comments as a direct attack on his faith and responded by calling the pope “disgraceful” and claiming that the Vatican will be <a href="https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-response-to-the-pope">destroyed by terrorists</a> unless he’s elected president. The tone of the media coverage also fostered the Pope-versus-Trump interpretation, casting the pope’s comments as an implied rebuke of Trump’s Christianity.</p><p>If that’s the interpretation we’re going with, though, I’m not entirely sure why the pope’s critique is being viewed as purely about Trump. Yes, it came in response to a question about Trump’s plan to build a border wall, but pretty much every one of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination also wants to throw up some sort of wall-like structure on our frontier with Mexico. At the <a href="http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2015/09/16/cnn-reagan-library-debate-later-debate-full-transcript/">Reagan Library debate</a> last September, Marco Rubio said the first step towards immigration reform is “we must secure our border, the physical border, with – with a wall, absolutely.” Ted Cruz says all the time that “we’re going to build a wall” and jokes that he’s going to get Trump to <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/02/06/ted-cruz-were-going-to-build-a-wall/">build it for him</a>. Ben Carson thinks “the border wall is a <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/immigration/2015/08/21/dr-ben-carson-current-border-fence-certainly-wouldnt-keep-me-out/">good start</a>” but is also open to other security measures, like <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/08/19/ben_carson_takes_immigration_debate_to_insane_new_low_floats_drone_strikes_at_border/">drone strikes</a> along the border.</p><p>So there’s lots of enthusiasm for wall-building on the Republican side. It’s basically been the conservative position on immigration since forever. So if we’re going to go with the “Pope questioned Trump’s Christianity” interpretation, then we have to expand that out to pretty much every Christian in the Republican Party, which is a lot of people. That’s why you’re seeing Republicans like <a href="http://www.bradenton.com/news/politics-government/election/article61072982.html">Rubio</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/LisaMascaro/status/700388629777137665">Jeb Bush</a> – Catholics both – pushing back against the pope’s statement, even though it’s being widely interpreted as an attack on their chief rival for the GOP nomination. The way they see it, the pope didn’t attack Trump, he attacked a key policy platform of the party.</p><p>But, given the vagueness and sweeping nature of the pope’s comments, one could also expand it to encompass pretty much every politician in Congress. The immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 called for <a href="http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/special-reports/guide-s744-understanding-2013-senate-immigration-bill">700 miles</a> of additional fencing to be constructed along the border as a prerequisite for opening up pathways to permanent residency for undocumented immigrants. Every Democrat in the Senate voted for that bill, and it was strongly supported by President Obama. Does that qualify as un-Christian wall-building, or does it get a pass because it also called for some bridge-building with the undocumented immigrant community?</p><p>I don’t know. Perhaps we shouldn’t be interpreting these things so literally. Whatever the case, all of us – maybe even His Holiness, too – can agree that Donald Trump, Christian or not, is an asshole.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1050972'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1050972" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 19 Feb 2016 09:00:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1050972 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Belief Election 2016 donald trump Pope Francis christianity Ted Cruz's Health Care Deception: Asked How He'd Protect the Uninsured, He Dodges and Lies http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/ted-cruzs-health-care-deception-asked-how-hed-protect-uninsured-he-dodges-and-lies <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049808'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049808" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Repealing Obamacare would leave lots of people uninsured, and Cruz would help them with free-market pixie dust.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_358800059.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The general consensus is that Ted Cruz had a poorly timed weak showing at Thursday night’s Fox News debate. Brian Beutler had the <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/128677/ted-cruz-cant-take-heat">best summation</a> of what went wrong for Cruz: he spent the entire night being targeted by the moderators and his opponents, and he mixed together a potent cocktail of personal repellence, bad jokes, and unconvincing attempts to simultaneously emulate and disparage Donald Trump. He got roughed up a bit on immigration (though he certainly <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/01/29/debate_night_immigration_free_for_all_four_gop_candidates_burn_each_other_down_arguing_over_amnesty/">wasn’t the only one</a>), and presented with the opportunity to seize the initiative in Trump’s absence, he <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/01/ted_cruz_lost_the_fox_debate_to_donald_trump.html">whiffed</a>.</p><p>But there was one portion of Cruz’s performance Thursday night that was especially bad: His answer on healthcare reform. He was asked by moderator Bret Baier what he would do with the millions of people who would lose their coverage if Ted Cruz got his wish and the Affordable Care Act were repealed. This is a critical question that gets right to the heart of the Obamacare repeal “debate” – Republicans like Cruz want to eliminate the law, but they don’t really explain how they’ll help all the people who would be hurt by repeal. And so Baier asked him flat out: “What is your specific plan for covering the uninsured?”</p><p>Cruz’s answer was lies and nonsense from start to finish. He began with a rote recitation of anti-Obamcare talking points, calling it “the biggest job-killer in this country,” which is <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/01/cruz-claims-%E2%80%9Cmillions%E2%80%9D-have-lost-their-jobs-because-obamacare">thoroughly and completely wrong</a>. He said “millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work,” which is <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/22/news/economy/employers-obamacare-jobs/">false</a>. And he said that millions lost coverage and saw their premiums “skyrocket” – two claims that are, at best, <a href="http://www.factcheck.org/2014/04/millions-lost-insurance/">wildly</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obamacare-premiums-open-enrollment_us_562e8c3fe4b0c66bae59088d">misleading</a>. Having run through all of that, he promised to repeal “every word” of the Affordable Care Act. The practical effect of eliminating the law would be to throw millions of people off their newfound health coverage as they lose their federal subsidies and money for expanded Medicaid suddenly evaporates.</p><p>As for what he would put in Obamacare’s place, Cruz offered three proposals that, if you’ve paid just cursory attention to the Republican healthcare policy debate, you’ve almost certainly heard before: selling insurance across state lines, health savings accounts, and decoupling health insurance from employment. “I think that’s a much more attractive vision for healthcare than the Washington-driven, top-down Obamacare that is causing so many millions of people to hurt,” Cruz said.</p><p>That may be ideologically appealing, but it didn’t answer Baier’s question, which was how he would cover the people who would lose their coverage after Obamacare gets nuked. Selling insurance across state lines would <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/03/06/ted_cruzs_healthcare_sham_repealing_obamacare_and_replacing_it_with_nothing/">push insurers into the most lightly regulated states</a> so that they can sell cheap, bare-bones policies that cover next to nothing. That might make for a low-cost insurance plan, but it doesn’t do you much good if you’re old, sick, poor, or in need of serious medical care – you know, the people healthcare reform is supposed to help. Ditto for health savings accounts, which are a fine idea if you have <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/04/23/health-care-experts-rip-ben-carsons-near-worthl/198985">extra income to sink into one</a>, but for people with limited incomes and high medical bills, they won’t be much of an advantage.</p><p>This gets to the heart of the GOP’s health care policy dilemma. The Affordable Care Act expands coverage because it balances mandates, subsidies and regulations to make sure insurance is available, reasonably comprehensive, and reasonably affordable. The Republican alternative is to strip all that away and replace it with something that will necessarily leave more people uninsured and with less generous coverage. But they won’t come right out and say that because it would, for obvious reasons, be bad politics.</p><p>So if you’re someone who is at risk of having your insurance taken away by an Obamacare repeal, what you heard from Ted Cruz Thursday night was not a reassurance that you won’t fall through the cracks. He promised a return to the pre-Obamacare days of coverage denials based on pre-existing conditions and junk insurance policies that don’t do much good, but he papered over that grim truth with a banal suggestion that the free market will somehow fix everything.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049808'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049808" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 30 Jan 2016 00:00:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1049808 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing ted cruz politics election healthcare Why Hillary’s Baffling Bernie Attack Strategy Could Backfire, Bigtime http://awww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/why-hillarys-baffling-bernie-attack-strategy-could-backfire-bigtime <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1049513'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049513" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">On Iran and healthcare Clinton hits Sanders as unrealistic and callow — strange way to win a Democratic primary.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/f21820851667e0252de4c5467309e7f91fd37e93.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>As we get closer to the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is doing its level damnedest to frame the race between herself and Bernie Sanders as a choice between a naive, callow idealist and a seasoned, hard-nosed realist. You can guess which candidate they want to shoehorn into each role – Clinton’s leaning heavily on the “experience” argument to make the case that she’d be a stronger candidate in the general election and better prepared to serve in the White House. Right now they’re taking this fight to Sanders on two fronts, healthcare policy and national security, and the way they’re doing it is politically baffling.</p><p>On healthcare, Clinton is <a href="http://www.salon.com/2016/01/21/the_democratic_healthcare_brawl_its_hillarys_ruthless_pragmatism_vs_bernies_unmoored_idealism_with_the_gop_looming/">whacking Sanders</a> for wanting to “tear up” the Affordable Care Act and “end all the kinds of healthcare we know” in favor of a single-payer system. She says, with some justification, that single-payer is too politically fraught to stand any chance of passage, but she’s also attacking Sanders simply for advocating it as a position. And she’s being explicit in calling out Sanders for being detached from reality. “Now in theory, there is a lot to like about some of his ideas,” she <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hillary-clinton-jabs-bernie-sanders-ideas-make-real/story?id=36427762">said</a> at a campaign event last week. “But in theory, is it enough? A president has to deliver in reality.” Busily mocking Sanders for espousing a policy goal that is broadly shared within the Democratic Party seems like an odd way to win the Democratic presidential nomination.</p><p>But that’s the strategy the Clinton people have settled on, and they’re doing much the same in the foreign policy realm. At the last Democratic debate, Sanders said American policy should be to “move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran,” proceeding along the same lines as we have with Cuba. He praised the nuclear deal with Tehran as “a very positive step” and said he’d like our relationship to become more positive, but acknowledged that it will take time.</p><p>Clinton’s response at the debate was measured and non-confrontational: She was happy with the nuclear deal as well, but said that “we still have to carefully watch them” and “we have to go after them on a lot of their other bad behavior in the region.” But as last week wore on, Hillary the hawk emerged to attack Sanders for advocating greater diplomatic engagement with Iran. “Senator Sanders doesn’t talk much about foreign policy,” Clinton said, “but when he does it raises concerns, because sometimes it can sound like he hasn’t really thought it through.” The campaign <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpanzGLYArw">released a video</a> featuring Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan attacking Sanders for his comment about normalizing relations with Tehran. “Iran seeks the destruction of Israel. Iran is a leading sponsor of terror in the region,” Sullivan says gravely. “Secretary Clinton supports diplomacy with Iran… but normal relations with Iran right now? President Obama doesn’t support that idea. Secretary Clinton doesn’t support that idea. And it’s not at all clear why it is that Senator Sanders is suggesting it.”</p><p>But Bernie didn’t suggest that. He specifically said that Iranian support for terrorism and anti-American rhetoric is “not acceptable.” And he said outright that normalized relations cannot be attained right now. “Can I tell that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should.” Clinton’s team is lying about Sanders’ position and attacking him from the right when he proposes diplomacy with Iran – again, how is this a good idea in a Democratic primary?</p><p>It’s also risky for Clinton in that it invites blowback from Sanders, who can highlight those instances in which hawkish policies backed by Hillary, like the interventions in Iraq and Libya, have resulted in drawn-out, unresolved conflicts. He can point out that Hillary backs a no-fly-zone over Syrian airspace, but <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/hillary-clintons-baffling-foreign-policy-problem">won’t directly answer</a> the question of whether she would shoot down a Russian jet that violated it. Hillary assumes she’s operating from an obvious position of strength on national security, even though that assumption has burned her in the past.</p><p>We’re also seeing another bit of 2016 conventional wisdom take a hit. It was broadly assumed that a strong challenge from Sanders would impel Hillary to tack to the left for the primary to keep liberal voters from flocking to the Vermont senator. But now she’s doing just the opposite and attacking Sanders for holding positions that, in her view, are too liberal, too academic, and not rooted in reality. Maybe she’s determined that it’s too late to shore up her left flank and thinks it’s more useful to just tear down Bernie in the eyes of primary voters.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2016 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1049513'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1049513" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 07:23:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1049513 at http://awww.alternet.org News & Politics News & Politics clinton sanders election The GOP's Bleak Demographic Destiny: How to Win the White House When All Your Voters Are Dying http://awww.alternet.org/gops-bleak-demographic-destiny-how-win-white-house-when-all-your-voters-are-dying <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047917'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047917" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republicans have two paths to overcoming their 2016 demographic troubles: Naked resentment or outright deception.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_353116895.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>A big part of what made the 2012 election so much fun was the fact that Mitt Romney and pretty much every Republican and conservative who supported his candidacy were utterly and unshakably confident that they had the election in the bag. Gallup and Rasmussen had Romney up, the campaign’s internal polling said Mitt was going to win, and all the state-level polling that portended an Obama blowout could be easily <a href="http://www.thewire.com/politics/2012/11/whole-romney-ticket-believed-unskewed-polls/58852/">unskewed</a>to show that Romney was actually on track for a glorious victory. It was a done deal, no reason to fret, so Mitt said “the hell with it” and went ahead and <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/11/01/romney-to-campaign-in-pennsylvania-on-sunday/">campaigned in Pennsylvania the weekend before the election</a>because at that point it was all about running up the score. Romney hadn’t even bothered drafting a concession speech.</p>  <p>Then the voting started and everyone from Mitt Romney on down had a collective “oh shit” moment as they realized that the electorate had <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/11/why_romney_was_surprised_to_lose_his_campaign_had_the_wrong_numbers_bad.html">far more young and minority voters</a> and far fewer white voters than they’d assumed. The Obama team outhustled Romney where it mattered, and shifting voter demographics helped the president cruise to reelection.</p><p>This demographic shift is ongoing and, as a <a href="https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/16133227/Pathto270_2016.pdf">new report</a> from the Center for American Progress makes clear, will play an important role in the 2016 election. Historically speaking, the Republicans should be the favorites to capture the White House next year – it’s rare for the party controlling the White House to win a third consecutive presidential term, owing to voter fatigue and a general desire for change. These factors are exacerbated by President Obama’s middling popularity and the fact that the economic recovery hasn’t been spectacular across the board. But the changing complexion of the electorate will, per the CAP report, help to insulate the party against the effects of economics and history – but only up to a point.</p><p>Put simply, the Democratic edge among minority voters, younger voters and educated voters keeps getting stronger as each group comes to represent a larger and larger share of the electorate. And that edge will only be more pronounced heading into 2016. At the same time, the Republican base of non-college-educated white voters continues shrinking as a portion of the electorate. What keeps the Republicans in the game is the fact that their voters are more politically active than the Democrats’ key constituencies and can be better relied upon to actually show up and vote. As my colleague Sean Illing <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/17/r_i_p_gop_party_of_old_disillusioned_white_people_is_dying_a_slow_death_report_says/">has written</a>, this is a lethal trend for the GOP given that the party is outwardly hostile to minority voters’ interests and keeps trying to wring more and more votes from a demographic that is slowly, inexorably disappearing from this earth.</p><p>But they’re not out of it yet, not by any stretch. And CAP’s report lays out two paths to victory for the GOP that could possibly get them over the demographic hump in 2016. The first is to “put all its cards on a nominee and policy strategy that seeks to maximize conservative anger at President Obama and disgust with Washington while appealing to similarly agitated and concerned independent voters in key swing states.” The second is “a strong and compelling case to voters that their nominee and party agenda is sufficiently moderate and inclusive to represent a full range of Americans while simultaneously changing the direction of Washington and turning the corner on the Obama years.” If you were to sum these strategies up, you could call them, respectively, “rage and resentment” and “apathy and bullshit.”</p><p>The “rage and resentment” strategy is, as CAP notes, the less promising of the two, but it is more in line generally with what Republican base voters think and believe. Donald Trump is commanding the polls with a xenophobia-laden campaign message that preys on economic anxieties and feeds off the general feelings of disgust Republicans have cultivated toward Washington during the Obama years. Ted Cruz’s explicit strategy is to rail against the “Washington Cartel” and mobilize a supposedly dormant army of conservatives to “vote their values” and power him to the White House.</p><p>The path of “apathy and bullshit” is likely what you’re going to see from a candidate like Marco Rubio. The apathy component is critical, as Republicans really need young and minority voters to stay home and eliminate the Democrats’ electoral cushion. “Republicans will hope that… economic pessimism and disappointed expectations will lower youth turnout below its 2012 levels and/or drive youth support to the GOP,” CAP notes. The “bullshit” will come in pitching the GOP agenda as “moderate,” when it is anything but. A candidate like Rubio, for example, is proposing a massive upward redistribution of wealth through the tax code, an aggressive expansion of the defense budget to facilitate overseas military adventurism, a rolling back of gay marriage rights, and the precipitous withdrawal from international climate and nuclear non-proliferation agreements. And he makes no secret of the fact that he intends to <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/can-rubios-biography-trump-rubios-agenda">obscure the reality</a> of his far-right policy agenda with his inspiring personal history.</p><p>That’s the better hope for the GOP when it comes to overcoming the demographic realignment and capitalizing on economic anxieties in 2016. And whoever the Democratic nominee is will have to work diligently to re-create the Obama coalition, or at least prevent it from degrading too much. The Republicans aren’t doomed by demographics yet, but the fact remains that the GOP’s policy platform is broadly out of step with the interests of the fastest-growing demographic groups, and it’s only going to get more difficult to defend that agenda with each passing national election.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047917'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047917" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 26 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1047917 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 News & Politics The Right Wing 2016 Presidential Election gop republican Carly Fiorina Is a Liar: Everyone Should Finally Just Say It...Loudly http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/carly-fiorina-liar-everyone-should-finally-just-say-itloudly <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047593'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047593" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">There&#039;s no need to dance around the fact that Carly Fiorina lies about stuff.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_310704290.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Carly Fiorina is unique among all the candidates in the Republican presidential field for her visceral, aggressive hatred for anything resembling truth. Other candidates lie, of course, but they at least go to the trouble of dressing up their lies with weasel words and other forms of qualifying language that allow them to squirm their way out of fact checks. Fiorina doesn’t care about any of that. She makes firm, declarative statements that are unquestionably inaccurate, and when confronted with inarguable facts that prove her wrong, she insists against all evidence that she is correct and bristles at the very notion that anyone might challenge her. She does not care. She does not pretend to care. As far as Fiorina’s concerned, the fact that she said it is what makes it true.</p><p>Up until this week, the prime example of this phenomenon was the Planned Parenthood video she claimed to have seen showing “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’” That video <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2015/09/carly_fiorina_lied_about_planned_parenthood_video_gop_debate_fact_checking.html">doesn’t exist</a>, and when confronted with the truth, she insisted her lie was true and lashed out at her critics with wholly un-righteous umbrage. “I’ve seen the footage. And I find it amazing, actually, that all these supposed fact-checkers in the mainstream media claim this doesn’t exist.”</p><p>That already egregious example of gross fibbery has, implausibly, been supplanted by an even larger whopper. At this week’s Republican debate, Fiorina listed off a number of retired generals – “Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn” – whom she would “bring back” into service. “Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear,” she said. Citing David Petraeus made absolutely no sense – he retired because Obama nominated him as CIA director, and then he <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/david-petraeus-resigns-as-cia-director/2012/11/09/636d204e-2aa8-11e2-bab2-eda299503684_story.html">resigned</a> because of a security breach related to the extramarital affair he was having. But invoking Gen. Jack Keane was the real howler of the bunch, given that he retired in 2003, a full five years before Obama was elected president. Keane confirmed to Fox News that he’s <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/16/thats_not_accurate_fox_news_military_analyst_blows_up_carly_fiorinas_latest_debate_lie/">never even spoken to President Obama</a>, and that Fiorina’s assessment was “not accurate.”</p><p>The easily checked historical record says Fiorina was wrong. The person she name-dropped said without qualification that she was wrong. It doesn’t get any clearer cut than that.</p><p>And yet, Fiorina <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/16/politics/carly-fiorina-generals-obama/">insists she was correct</a>:</p><blockquote><p>Talking with reporters Wednesday after a town hall [in Nevada], Fiorina was asked if she misspoke about Keane given the timing of his retirement.</p><p>“No, I didn’t misspeak,” she said. “But he has been someone of great experience who has been highly critical of the way this administration has not taken threats seriously and unfortunately he hasn’t been listened to. I would listen to him.”</p></blockquote><p>The irony here is that Fiorina is at this very moment not listening to Gen. Keane, because he’s trying to tell her she’s wrong and Fiorina is having none of it.</p><p>I’m fascinated by this pathological commitment to dishonesty, and also by the treatment it receives from the press. Reporters tend to be gun-shy when it comes to labeling untrue statements from politicians as “false” or “lies” because it’s assumed to be a form of improper editorialization. But in an instance like this, there is no way to plausibly interpret what Fiorina is doing as anything other than lying. And yet, the press still dances around the unquestionable dishonesty on display here.</p><p>CNN reported on Fiorina’s stubborn mendacity with the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/16/politics/carly-fiorina-generals-obama/">hilarious headline</a>: “Despite facts, Carly Fiorina stands by claim about retired generals.” ABC News <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/carly-fiorina-digs-claim-generals-retirement-due-obama/story?id=35808113">reported</a>: “Carly Fiorina Digs in on Claim That General’s Retirement Was Due to Obama Dispute.” Just call it false! Call it a lie! That’s what it is. The best headline I’ve seen on this story came from Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, who wrote: “<a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/12/carly-fiorina-really-likes-make-shit">Carly Fiorina Really Likes to Make Shit Up</a>.” That’s an accurate, concise explanation of what’s going on here, and no one should hesitate to call Carly Fiorina a liar when there is no doubt that she’s lying.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047593'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047593" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 18 Dec 2015 08:30:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1047593 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 News & Politics fiorina gop republican The GOP Debate Fear Cauldron: According to the Republican Candidates, You’re Going to Die http://awww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/gop-debate-fear-cauldron-according-republican-candidates-youre-going-die <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1047442'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047442" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The GOP debate was about whipping up public anxiety over terrorists, who are apparently seconds from murdering you.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/screen_shot_2015-12-16_at_11.20.38_am.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate was the first since the Islamic State-inspired terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California, and not surprisingly, most of the questions tossed out by CNN moderators dealt with national security and terrorism. In the days since San Bernardino, <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/nbc-wsj-poll-terror-fears-reshape-2016-landscape-n479831">public fears over terrorism have grown</a>, and President Obama has been <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/12/07/obama_calls_for_reason_the_presidents_nuanced_take_on_terror_post_san_bernardino/">doing what he can</a> to tamp down anxiety and encourage people not to give in to the fear that terrorists work to inspire. But as the CNN debate made painfully clear, the Republican presidential candidates have quite the opposite goal in mind: They want everyone to be scared witless by the looming terrorist menace and worried that they will be the next to die.</p><p>New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, back on the main stage thanks to CNN’s expansive inclusion rules and his own improved poll numbers in New Hampshire, did the most to actively scare the shit out of every person unfortunate enough to be watching. In his opening statement he announced that “America has been betrayed” by “the leadership that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have provided to this country.” As proof of that betrayal and treason, Christie pointed to yesterday’s closing of the Los Angeles Unified School District “based on a threat.” He never got around to mentioning that the “threat” had <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/12/15/credible-terror-threat-prompts-closure-all-la-public-schools/">long since been revealed as a hoax</a>. But still Christie was worried about the “children filled with anxiety,” and the “mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop,” and the “the fathers of Los Angeles, who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.” They live in terror, these nameless gendered stereotypes, because Obama couldn’t protect them from the threat posed by “<a href="https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20151215/15415733091/credible-email-bomb-threat-shuts-down-la-schools-sent-madbombercockli.shtmlmadbomber@cock.li">madbomber@cock.li</a>.”</p><p>Asked what he would do to ensure that fear does not “paralyze” American in the aftermath of terrorism, Christie explained that paralyzing fear is, unfortunately, “the new normal under Barack Obama.” “Everywhere in America is a target for these terrorists,” he said, giving everyone a reason to be afraid always. Christie’s closing statement was a riff on 9/11. “Many of our friends and others in our neighborhood lost their lives that day.” Christie even offered himself as a menacing presence, leaning forward and shifting back and forth behind his lectern like a rhinoceros sizing up a Jeep full of safari tourists. His message all evening was blunt and terrifying: you will die, unless you vote for me.</p><p>Not far behind Christie was Sen. Marco Rubio, who made a point of spelling out in detail the menacing nature of the Islamic State. “This is the most sophisticated terror group that has ever threatened the world or the United States of America,” he warned. “This is a very significant threat we face. And the president has left us unsafe.” He made a special point of noting the Islamic State’s sophistication: “This is a radical jihadist group that is increasingly sophisticated in its ability, for example, to radicalize American citizens… This is not just the most capable, it is the most sophisticated terror threat we have ever faced.” He warned about “the next time there is an attack on this country” while pushing for reinstatement of metadata collection provisions in the Patriot Act.</p><p>Sen. Ted Cruz went a slightly different route, linking Republican panic over Syrian refugees to both the San Bernardino terrorist attack (which had nothing to do with refugees) and the 2013 Senate immigration reform bill to score a bank-shot hit on Rubio:</p><blockquote><p>CRUZ: Because the front line with ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria, it’s in Kennedy Airport and the Rio Grande. Border security is national security. And, you know, one of the most troubling aspects of the Rubio-Schumer Gang of Eight Bill was that it gave President Obama blanket authority to admit refugees, including Syrian refugees without mandating any background checks whatsoever. Now we’ve seen what happened in San Bernardino. When you are letting people in, when the FBI can’t vet them, it puts American citizens at risk.</p></blockquote><p>All in all it was a grim, bleak, and frightful debate that saw several leading candidates try to stoke heightened public anxiety over terrorism. There were no acknowledgements that acts of terrorism are <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/12/10/why-do-we-freak-out-about-terrorism-anyway-heres-why-we-shouldnt/">exceptionally rare</a>, with just “45 Americans killed in jihadist terrorist attacks” since 9/11. (More Americans have died as a result of homegrown right-wing terrorism, but that threat <a href="http://mic.com/articles/130562/the-one-deadly-threat-to-america-that-wasn-t-discussed-at-all-at-the-republican-debate#.Xm4eWmvso">didn’t earn a single mention</a> at the debate, even though one such attack took place just days before San Bernardino.) This was more about resurrecting the national security politics of the Bush years, when Republicans would conjure the threat of imminent terrorist slaughter on American soil to cast Democrats as weak and to justify the rollback of civil liberties in the interest of safety. A scared voter is a motivated voter, and Republicans have every interest in keeping people as terrified as possible.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1047442'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1047442" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 16 Dec 2015 07:51:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1047442 at http://awww.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics gop debate republicans election 2016 GOP’s Self-Made Trump Dilemma: Understanding the Monster of Their Own Creation http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/gops-self-made-trump-dilemma-understanding-monster-their-own-creation <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1046815'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046815" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republicans spent months pushing for maximum deportations, now they can&#039;t grasp why their party loves Donald Trump.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_321867806.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This week has been one of self-reassurance for Republicans and conservatives of all stripes. They’ve come together to say to themselves and to anyone who may be listening: calm down, get it together, it’s okay… Donald Trump will not be our 2016 nominee.</p><p>New York Times columnist David Brooks <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/opinion/no-donald-trump-wont-win.html?_r=0" p="">writes this morning</a> that the campaign is still in the “casual attention stage” and compared it to a recent rug-shopping experience he had – a very Trump-like pink rug temporarily caught Brooks’ eye until “a subtler and more prosaic blue rug grabbed center stage.” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol also urges the jittery to calm down, <a href="http://www.weeklystandard.com/not-to-worry/article/2000079" p="">writing</a> that “while Trump has defied gravity so far, it’s hard to believe that, as voting gets closer, his support will go up rather than down.” Of course, that’s coming from the same guy who said <a href="http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/12/edward_kennedy_frederick_smith.html" p="">almost exactly nine years ago</a> that “Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.”</p><p>So are they right about Trump? Who the hell knows! The common theme in their analysis is that Trump is merely a bauble, something glitzy and eye-catching with transient appeal. That argument is belied somewhat by the fact that Trump has been the dominant frontrunner for five months running, he’s beaten back a challenge from Ben Carson, and his support is higher than it’s ever been. There’s still time for the Trump collapse to happen, but people have been wrongly predicting his collapse since July.</p><p>And as Greg Sargent has been <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/12/04/morning-plum-sorry-lindsey-graham-republican-voters-want-mass-deportations/" p="">diligently pointing out</a>, there’s a more satisfying explanation for why Trump is so stubbornly popular among Republican base voters: they really like his anti-immigrant proposals and promises to deport all undocumented immigrants. The <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/04/politics/full-results-poll-republicans-2016/index.html" p="">latest CNN poll</a> of the Republican primary bears this out. It found that 53 percent of Republicans, 51 percent of conservatives, and 52 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters believe the government “should attempt to deport all people currently living in the country illegally.” Strong pluralities of all three groups also believe that deporting all the immigrants will help the U.S. economy. This lines up perfectly with what Trump proposes, which may also explain why 48 percent of those polled say Trump is the best candidate to handle immigration.</p><p>Even if this doesn’t end up translating into a Trump nomination, it’s still a huge problem for the GOP, given its oft-repeated concerns about expanding the party’s demographic appeal beyond old, angry white people. Republicans and conservatives may soothe themselves with the idea that voters will eventually abandon Trump, but any attempt to explain why he’s risen in the first place would require the GOP to confront the unpleasant truth that they took an active role in creating this monster.</p><p>As Trump endures in the polls, I think more and more about the political significance of the child migrant crisis of the summer of 2014. With the midterm elections coming up and the GOP poised to make gains, the thousands of unaccompanied minors coming across the southern border offered a ripe opportunity to demagogue on immigration and bite back against some of Barack Obama’s executive orders granting deportation relief. The House GOP took full advantage and passed legislation that would have expedited deportations of children crossing the border, and separate legislation that would have ended the White House’s deferred-action program for undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. They targeted people who had nothing to do with the migrant crisis as part of a broader message that the <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/08/04/wing_nuts_run_the_gop_now_tea_party_haters_got_everything_they_wanted_on_immigration/" p="">Republican policy position</a> was “throw ‘em all out.”</p><p>That ugly display was followed up by a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/02/26/gops_amazing_shutdown_debacle_doomed_dhsimmigration_strategy_enters_final_throes/" p="">&gt;government-funding fight</a> in which Republicans in the House and Senate threatened to shut down the Department of Homeland Security if Obama didn’t roll back is executive orders halting deportations for certain classes of undocumented immigrants. There was no chance of either of these legislative gambits working. They were all about sending a message: deport everyone.</p><p>And now the party’s voters are flocking to a candidate who is the loud, crude embodiment of that message. Republicans may worry that Trump could be their nominee, but they’re the ones who set him up for success.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1046815'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046815" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 05 Dec 2015 00:00:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1046815 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 The Right Wing gop trump donald trump republican Why Donald Trump Is Giving the Conservative Establishment a Splitting Headache http://awww.alternet.org/election-2016/why-donald-trump-giving-conservative-establishment-splitting-headache <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1046468'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046468" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Republicans and conservatives happily encouraged the ugly forces that buoy Donald Trump, but they won&#039;t admit it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/donald.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Donald Trump 2016 freakshow keeps on gaining momentum as it slides deeper into the pit of human misery and despair. For those who haven’t been following, the <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/11/donald-trump-a-fascist.html">proto-fascist</a> and nakedly xenophobic Republican presidential front-runner found a new way to broadcast his utter lack of human emotion: <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/us/politics/donald-trump-says-his-mocking-of-new-york-times-reporter-was-misread.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&amp;smid=nytcore-ipad-share&amp;_r=0">mocking a New York Times reporter</a> for his physical disability. Trump denies he did any such thing, which is just another lie to throw on the pile. And if history is any guide, the whole episode will merely cement his supporters’ affection for him.</p><p>In one way or another, Republicans are struck with Trump. The durability of his support means you can’t just brush him off as a non-credible threat to win the nomination. And even if he does collapse at some point, he’s already succeeded in dragging the primary down to his own level. Other candidates in the race are reacting to Trump, shifting further rightward to better align themselves with his extremism, and eschewing direct criticism of the man so that they can position themselves to poach his constituency. Like it or not, the GOP is the party of Trump.</p><p>What’s remarkable, though, is how many Republican and conservative elites deny this reality even as it screams “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” right in their faces. On Friday morning, the consistently wrong and bafflingly influential William Kristol <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/670245014291816448">tweeted</a> that Trump, despite all outward indicators, lacks “genuine staying power.”</p><p>It’s an amusing take for several reasons. First off, Trump has been the dominant front-runner in state and national polling for four months running, which would seem to indicate that he has some measure of “staying power.” The Atlantic’s Molly Ball went to a <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-ecstasy-of-donald-trump/417870/">Trump rally in South Carolina</a> and came away with the impression that Trump’s people are clear-eyed and determined in their choice of candidate: “Perhaps the people who first glommed on to his celebrity got bored and drifted away. But if so, they didn’t find anybody else they liked. And they came back. And now, they are not leaving.”</p><p>Also, there’s the inconvenient fact that Kristol has been incorrectly predicting Trump’s collapse for a long time now, going back to his July <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/622444475101650944">warning</a> that Trump’s attack on John McCain’s military service would be “the beginning of the end.” In the months since, he’s said that we’ve <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/623848295832666112">passed Peak Trump</a>, that Trump’s political stock was <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/629606874212642816">poised to crash</a>, that “normal Americans” had <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/630531344376987652">grown sick of him</a>, that he’d <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/662599360841166848">begun to fade</a>, and that Trump had <a href="https://twitter.com/BillKristol/status/665158120415580160">once again reached</a> “the beginning of the end.”</p><p>Lastly, it was Kristol, you may recall, who gave the GOP <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2008/10/10/palins-talent-scout.html">the gift of Sarah Palin</a>. Palin’s and Trump’s political styles are very similar – policy-light, resentment-heavy, personality-driven – and after the former Alaska governor was vaulted to the top of Republican politics in 2008, she won the adoration of conservative activists and mainstream Republicans alike with her folksy, inane, “you betcha” shtick. She was an early beneficiary of the same conservative backlash against establishment Republicans that Trump is currently profiting from. You could rightly argue that Palin differs from Trump in that she actually held elected office and had something of a political background to undergird her rise, but she remained popular well into the cartoonish, “death panel” phase of her post-government career. So it’s a bit strange that after he helped make a conservative star out of Palin, Kristol can’t believe that the party would also coalesce around Trump.</p><p>That gets to the conservative denialism surrounding Trump: The elites of the movement and the Republican Party happily encouraged and nurtured the same forces that have empowered Trump because they offered the promise of short-term political gain. The Trump phenomenon shows how those forces have grown beyond their control. As Brian Beutler <a href="https://newrepublic.com/article/124632/gop-finally-emerging-trump-denialism">writes</a> at the New Republic, some Republicans and conservatives are, at this late hour, recognizing the threat posed to them by Trump and starting to grapple with the fact that they are the authors of their own political misfortune. But there’s still a sizeable contingent of right-wing power brokers who just can’t believe that Donald Trump is the candidate they deserve</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1046468'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1046468" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 28 Nov 2015 15:05:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1046468 at http://awww.alternet.org Election 2016 Election 2016 donald trump Republicans vs. the Constitution: Would-be Presidents Endorse Kim Davis’ Brazen Illegality http://awww.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/republicans-vs-constitution-would-be-presidents-endorse-kim-davis-brazen <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1041861'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1041861" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Which 2016 GOP candidates are lining up behind a Kentucky clerk&#039;s illegal and discriminatory behavior?</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/kim_davis.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p style="">Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis will appear in federal court today to explain why she believes that God and her personal convictions empower her to break the law and deny gay people their constitutionally protected rights. Ever since this summer’s Supreme Court ruling in <em>Obergefell v. Hodges</em>, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, Davis has been refusing to issue marriage licenses – to any couple, gay or straight – citing her religious beliefs. She was ordered by the governor to do her job, but she refused. She was ordered by a federal judge to do her job, but she refused. This week, the Supreme Court rejected her appeal of the federal judge’s decision, which should have been the final word on the matter, but she’s still refusing to the job she was elected by the people of Kentucky to do. And so now she’s being hauled before a judge to determine whether she’s in contempt of court.</p><p style="">There is no debate on that question: Davis is flagrantly in contempt and should be punished for what she’s done. After the Supreme Court rejected her appeal, a gay couple confronted Davis and asked her to explain what authority she had to continue denying them their rights. “God’s authority,” she <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-ignores-court-rulings-cites-gods-authority" target="_blank">shot back</a>, which is the absolute wrong answer for a government employee to provide. The Constitution is the governing power in Kim Davis’ office, and she is bound by oath to adhere to the law. She is breaking that oath, defying the Constitution, abusing her authority, and insisting that she suffer no consequences for her behavior.</p><p style="">Davis’ illegal and morally dubious stand against gay marriage does appeal, however, to the slice of the conservative movement that is hell bent on restoring the good old days of godly virtue when you had the state’s blessing to discriminate against gay people. It just so happens that there are a number of Republican presidential candidates who are trying to motivate that highly politically active segment of the population to get behind their campaigns, and that’s led us to a situation in which people running for the nation’s highest elected office are cheering on a rogue government employee’s defiance of the Constitution.</p><p style="">If you were forced to guess which 2016 Republican candidate would line up behind Davis, you would of course choose Mike Huckabee, because Mike Huckabee is a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2015/05/07/gops_gay_marriage_dilemma_concede_to_reality_or_go_all_in_on_bigotry/" target="_blank">crazy person</a> who says things like “the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and they cannot overturn the laws of nature or of nature’s god.”</p><div class="toggle-group target hideOnInit" data-toggle-group="story-14063611" style="opacity: 1;"><p>And you would be 100 percent correct. Here’s Huckabee in South Carolina calling Kim Davis a hero for defying the tyrants of the Supreme Court:</p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A6RhL-UkkVk" width="560"></iframe><p>“I salute her today, and I stand with her,” Huckabee said, explaining that he called her up to thank her for standing up to “judicial tyranny.” Huckabee added: “I thank God for Kim Davis, and I hope more Americans will stand with her.”</p><p>Davis also got an attagirl from her home state senator and increasingly hopeless presidential contender, Rand Paul. Rand wasn’t quite so effusive in his <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-paul-kim-davis" target="_blank">praise of Davis</a> as Huckabee, but he did say: “I think people who do stand up and are making a stand to say that they believe in something is an important part of the American way.” He is correct that American history is full of people who left their mark by controversially standing up for their beliefs in defiance of the law – people like <a href="http://www.blackpast.org/1958-governor-orval-e-faubus-speech-school-integration" target="_blank">Orval Faubus</a>, and <a href="http://www.archives.state.al.us/govs_list/schooldoor.html" target="_blank">George Wallace</a>. Rand explained that his preferred policy would be to get states out of the marriage business altogether, which would potentially resolve the issue but doesn’t really speak to the immediacy of the problem at hand.</p><p>Davis also got a hearty endorsement from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bobby-jindal-kim-davis_55e76740e4b0aec9f355e064?r3yds4i&amp;ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067" target="_blank">Bobby Jindal</a>, who is somehow still running for president despite polling in the <a href="http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/pollster/2016-national-gop-primary#%21selected=Jindal">mid to low zeroes</a>. “I don’t think anyone should have to choose between following their conscience and religious beliefs and giving up their job and facing financial sanctions,” Jindal said in a statement to the Huffington Post.</p><p>Not every Republican candidate is behind Davis – Carly Fiorina, for example, has urged Davis to <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/2016-election-candidates-react-to-anti-gay-marriage-kentucky-clerk/" target="_blank">either give up or resign</a>. But the situation could be complicated further depending on how harshly Davis is punished by the courts. It’s possible that Davis could <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/122701/put-kentucky-clerk-kim-davis-jail" target="_blank">land in jail for contempt</a>, and as ThinkProgress’ Ian Millhiser <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/09/02/3697931/heres-what-the-courts-can-do-to-that-anti-gay-clerk-as-long-as-she-refuses-to-obey-the-constitution/" target="_blank">notes</a>, as a prisoner she “could inspire others to defy the Constitution if she is perceived as a martyr.” Were that to happen, we could see more would-be Republican presidents championing brazen illegality in the service of anti-gay discrimination.</p></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2015 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1041861'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1041861" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 03 Sep 2015 06:59:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 1041861 at http://awww.alternet.org News & Politics Election 2016 News & Politics Video Kim Davis election 2016 same-sex marriage Mike Hucakbee bobby jindal Republicans’ Real Enemy Is Their Base: What's Behind Their Latest Offer to Obama http://awww.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/republicans-real-enemy-their-base-whats-behind-their-latest-offer-obama <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '1027829'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1027829" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">GOP couldn&#039;t sell Obama on vague promises of immigration action -- maybe they can convince conservatives!</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/mcconnell_0.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>The Republicans have a pitch for you. It’s a very simple pitch: do what we want now, and maybe – just maybe – we’ll consider the possibility of doing something you want later. No guarantees, no promises, and don’t quote us on that, but rest assured that if you agree to what we want now, then we’ll definitely think about it. Definitely maybe. Perhaps.</p>That was the offer House Republicans made to Barack Obama in anticipation of his executive action on immigration. Hold off on the unilateral action, they said, and there might be a chance that the Republican-controlled House (the same legislative body that denied George W. Bush immigration reform and killed the most recent bipartisan legislation) would defy all the odds and expectations and pass a bill of some sort. Obama, quite sensibly, refused their entreaties and plowed ahead. The GOP claimed that in doing so, Obama “poisoned the well” and precluded any chance of real reform passing – an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/upshot/obama-immigration-act-doesnt-prevent-legislation.html?_r=2&amp;abt=0002&amp;abg=1">absurd and stupid argument</a> that, not surprisingly, is very popular with pundits.<p>One of the political impacts of Obama’s decision was to drive a huge wedge between the establishment Republicans who want to prove the GOP can govern and the hardcore conservatives who want to burn the government down to stop Obama’s “executive amnesty.” This posed a <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/11/21/gops_outrage_trap_how_to_confront_obama_on_immigration_without_making_themselves_look_crazy/">big problem</a> for Republican leaders who want to show that they’re really mad at Obama, but also want to avert the political suicide of a government shutdown. And so to get themselves out of this jam, Republican leaders are making basically the same pitch to conservatives that they made to Obama: give us the government funding we want now, and we’ll see what happens next year.</p><p>Politico <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/republican-leaders-shutdown-immigration-113149.html?hp=lc2_4">reported</a> yesterday that the brilliant minds of the Republican leadership were coalescing around a novel approach to the immigration fight: fully fund most of the government until late 2015, but carve out a short-term continuing resolution for “immigration enforcement related funding.” That continuing resolution would expire at some point early next year, after the GOP takes control of Congress, at which point they can have the immigration funding fight that conservatives are pushing for. They’ve apparently taken to calling this hybrid monstrosity the “Cromnibus” – CR, plus “omnibus.” And they’re doing this because everything, as a rule, is terrible.</p>“The strategy is designed to keep the government open,” Politico notes, “while satisfying the base, which is livid with President Barack Obama for issuing an executive order that ends deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.” And the base is indeed livid. The Tea Party, once a movement that espoused low taxes and strong opposition to government-sponsored healthcare, is now basically powered by <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/26/us/obamas-immigration-action-reinvigorates-tea-party.html?smid=tw-share">nativist, anti-immigrant sentiment</a>. The only victory they scored over the GOP establishment in the 2014 midterms was Eric Cantor’s shocking primary upset, which saw his Tea Party-backed challenger successfully (and hilariously) paint Cantor as a pro-“amnesty” RINO. If they’re going to be irrationally angry over something, it might as well be something that produces results.<p>But if I’m a conservative, I’m as skeptical of the Republican leadership as Obama was. The heavy lifting and political risks that come with a funding fight over immigration are clearly on the minds of top GOP officials. A new Quinnipiac poll found that while the public is divided over Obama’s actions, they’re <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/finance/225284-poll-plurality-of-gop-voters-oppose-shutdown-to-block-immigration-action">dead-set against shutting down the government</a> – two-thirds of registered voters oppose a shutdown as a means of combating Obama’s executive action. Even a narrow plurality of Republicans think it’s a bad idea. Delaying a government funding fight by a few weeks, or a few months, won’t change this political dynamic.</p><p>More practically, it’s not even clear the “Cromnibus” would have the intended effect of halting Obama’s immigration action. As Roll Call <a href="http://www.rollcall.com/news/price_pushes_plan_to_separate_immigration_funding_from_omnibus-238234-1.html?zkPrintable=true">points out</a>, “it’s not possible to use a strictly written appropriations bill to defund the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the key agency responsible for implementing many of the newly announced immigration executive orders.” Any conservative who buys into this scheme from the leadership has to have faith that the fight will actually happen, and that their preferred outcome is attainable under this scenario. And given that the conservative hard-liners in the House have already demonstrated the ability to force Speaker John Boehner’s hand when it comes to immigration policy, it’s not clear why they’d accept this uncertain proposal rather than just try to force the issue.</p><p>It’s looking more and more like the GOP’s best play on Obama’s immigration action is to pander to the base by going through the motions of defiance while avoiding an actual showdown with Obama and letting the issue slowly fade. And as Paul Waldman <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2014/11/25/why-congressional-republicans-are-losing-the-battle-against-themselves/">observes</a>at the Washington Post, the more time Republicans spend trying to find ways to keep their own members happy, the less effective they’ll be in actually standing up to the Obama administration. When it comes down to it, if Republican leaders really wanted to have this immigration fight, then it seems odd that they’re trying to create freakish, “Island of Dr. Moreau”-esque funding monstrosities in order to avoid having it.</p><a href="http://www.salon.com/writer/simon_maloy/" title="Simon Maloy"></a> <p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '1027829'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=1027829" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 11:52:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Salon 1027829 at http://awww.alternet.org The Right Wing News & Politics The Right Wing immigration reform Republican base mitch mcconnell ted cruz The Right Is Folding on Obamacare—Even Arch-Conservative Governors Are Coming Around http://awww.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/right-folding-obamacare-even-arch-conservative-governors-are-coming-around <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '994516'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=994516" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The politics of Obamacare have transformed.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/christie_5.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>It’s fair to say that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has thrown Obamacare politics for a considerable loop. Pence, a staunch conservative and opponent of the Affordable Care Act, plans to use money made available by the ACA to expand Indiana’s program for insuring low-income residents. Pence will deny up and down that he’s made himself a party to Obamacare, but federal money flowing into Indiana to provide health coverage for Hoosiers would make those denials fairly hollow.</p><p>The governor is already taking heat from conservatives who say he’s betraying conservative principles and not being forthright about it (an on-point critique!), but Pence’s apostasy could have ramifications beyond ticking off a few Heritage Foundation fellows.</p><p>Pence is not the first conservative leader to ask for Obamacare funds to expand health coverage in his state. John Kasich, Chris Christie and Jan Brewer all expanded Medicaid in line with the Affordable Care Act’s original intent. Other Republican governors have successfully implemented customized expansion programs, like <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/10/the-feds-sign-off-on-expanding-medicaid-to-72000-iowans/">Terry Brandstad</a> in Iowa and <a href="http://kff.org/medicaid/fact-sheet/medicaid-expansion-in-michigan/">Rick Snyder</a> in Michigan.</p><p>Pence is different, though. He’s a conservative darling with <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/health/2014/05/15/3438209/gop-governor-embrases-key-tenet-of-obamacare/">well-established ambitions</a> to run for the presidency. And he’s mapping out a strategy to claim the benefits of Obamacare while purporting to keep the law at arm’s length. That strategy requires a fair bit of willful obtuseness and chutzpah – his office’s <a href="http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&amp;eventidn=171492&amp;information_id=201108&amp;type=&amp;syndicate=syndicate">announcement</a> of the expansion plan claims that it “will alleviate the coverage gap created by the Affordable Care Act,” even though it was Pence himself who created that gap when he chose not to expand Medicaid. But that’s largely beside the point.</p><div>When a committed and high-profile Obamacare foe like Pence indicates he’s going to find a way to work within the new reality of the Affordable Care Act, he’s doing two things. First, he’s making the die-hard “repeal Obamacare” crowd look unreasonable. If Mike Pence can learn to live with the ACA, then anyone can. Second, he’s sending a message to Republican leaders in other states that it’s possible to take advantage of the law’s benefits while saving face as a small-government conservative. As the New York Times’ Aaron E. Carroll <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/17/upshot/indiana-plan-would-expand-health-care-coverage.html?_r=0">put it</a>: “If Mr. Pence can find a way, it’s likely some of the 23 holdout states will eventually follow.”</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13677353"><p>People who support expanding healthcare access to as many people as possible will happily overlook Pence’s hypocritical shadowboxing routine and welcome some <a href="http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2014/May/16/indiana-medicaid-expansion.aspx">350,000 low-income Indiana residents</a> to the ranks of the insured. But for conservatives who resent Pence for giving up the ghost, this is a problem.</p><p>Specifically, it’s a problem for Republicans who still hope to make the Affordable Care Act a deathly toxic issue for Democrats in 2014. Yes, the issue has receded lately as a streak of ACA victories sucked the wind out of the anti-Obamacare movement, but it will return in time for Election Day. If the feds give Pence the thumbs-up to go ahead with his expansion plan, Republican candidates fulminating against the law could find themselves asked to explain why they can’t tolerate Obamacare when the ultraconservative governor of Indiana found a way.</p><p>Looking beyond the 2014 elections, the question of anti-Obamacare activism gets even thornier. The conservatives at the Federalist credit Pence with making <a href="http://thefederalist.com/2014/05/16/mike-pence-makes-medicaid-a-presidential-issue/">Medicaid expansion a national issue</a> for 2016:</p><blockquote><p>Two camps are emerging among GOP governors: those who oppose the Obamacare expansion, and those who pretend to. Pence has now officially joined the pretender camp.</p><p>While senators who aspire to be president can easily duck the Medicaid issue by simply opposing Obamacare in toto, gubernatorial aspirants like Pence cannot. Medicaid is a state-run program (albeit with a lot of federal funding and red tape) and is the largest item in most state budgets. More importantly, it’s a state-level hot potato these days, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts’s 2012 decision to make the Expansion optional for states.</p><p>How governors handle this particular hot potato reveals a lot about their governing philosophy and their views on health care, balanced budgets, and federalism.</p></blockquote><p>If Pence does indeed decide to run for president, his use of federal money to expand health coverage would be an obvious point of contention in the Republican primaries. If he succeeds in reducing the ranks of the uninsured in his state, would he run on that accomplishment, or would he fall victim to accusations of colluding with Barack Obama’s big government agenda? Would the dreaded RINO label prevent him from even making it to New Hampshire and Iowa?</p><p>The answer will depend largely on how long Obamacare retains its potency as a political issue. By moving to embrace the Affordable Care Act – albeit as cynically and backhandedly as possible – Pence is actually helping ensure that anti-Obamacare sentiment does not endure.</p></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '994516'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=994516" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 20 May 2014 11:11:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 994516 at http://awww.alternet.org The Right Wing News & Politics The Right Wing obamacare Governor Mike Pence Terry Brandstad Rick Snyder michigan John Kasich chris christie Koch Brothers Learn How to Fake Concern for the Poor, an Expensive Lesson http://awww.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/koch-brothers-learn-how-fake-concern-poor-expensive-lesson <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '992180'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=992180" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Having figured out voters are compassionate, the right makes odd plan to act on it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/koch2.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div><p>Last week, Politico’s Ken Vogel <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/koch-brothers-americans-for-prosperity-2014-elections-106520.html">got his hands on a memo</a> circulated among major donors to Americans For Prosperity, the conservative group that functions as Charles and David Koch’s primary outlet for political activism. It lays out the group’s strategy and budget heading into the 2014 midterms, which represent a key test for the Koch-funded network. After dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the campaign to take down Barack Obama in 2012 only to see the president skate to reelection, the Koch brothers were left trying to figure out what went wrong.</p><p>The answer they came up with is actually kind of hilarious. “If the presidential election told us anything,” the memo reads, “it’s that Americans place a great importance on taking care of those in need and avoiding harm to the weak.”</p><p>I read that and I picture Charles or David Koch watching the Romney “47 percent” video for the 34th time and slapping his forehead in a eureka moment that could only happen to a billionaire libertarian whack-job. “Don’t treat the poor like garbage… Of course! It’s so simple!” Taken alongside Paul Ryan’s <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/04/30/paul_ryans_deplorable_poverty_lie_how_hes_caught_selling_a_phony_new_line/">sudden concern for America’s impoverished</a>, you get the sense that the right is finally starting to realize that perhaps they might have a problem when it comes to low-income voters.</p><p>Now, I should be clear that the Kochs view this is a messaging problem, not a problem rooted in policy. They’re still firmly wedded to their beliefs that government assistance programs engender laziness and that the federal government should be slashed down to just the army and the patent office. What they’re trying to do is find a way to convince the less fortunate that cutting taxes for billionaires and blocking minimum wage increases will lead to the sort of shared prosperity that will lift them out of economic hardship. “We consistently see that Americans in general are concerned that free-market policy — and its advocates — benefit the rich and powerful more than the most vulnerable of society,” the memo observes. “We must correct this misconception.”</p><div>It’s not clear what “misconception” they believe is at play here. The last three decades of American governance can hardly be described as a nightmare descent into socialism, and they’ve witnessed a <a href="http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/tax-reform/report/2012/04/19/11404/the-federal-tax-code-and-income-inequality/">dramatic increase</a> in economic inequality. Charles and David Koch, however, choose not to see that reality. They <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/05/09/one_percents_ideological_crusade_for_kochs_and_adelson_its_not_just_money/">truly believe down to their core</a> that they are on a mission to save America from Saul Alinsky-inspired collectivism.</div><div data-toggle-group="story-13671802"><p>While they may sound slightly bonkers and have a mission statement that’s laughably out of touch, the resources they’re bringing to bear in pursuit of its fruition are the very definition of serious. According to the AFP memo, the group plans to spend $125 million this election cycle. And they consider that a conservative estimate.</p><p>To get a sense of just how significant a bundle of cash that is, take a look back at the totals the Democratic and Republican party committees <a href="http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/index.php?cmte=&amp;cycle=2010">spent in the last midterm election</a>. AFP’s $125 million investment is nearly double the amount spent by the NRSC in 2010 ($68 million), and just shy of the cash outlays of the DSCC ($129 million) and the NRCC ($132 million).</p><p>That’s a lot of money for a group that is not technically affiliated with an established party.</p><p>Obviously this is not good news for Democrats. Vulnerable Democratic incumbents in districts and states across the country could find themselves up against two well-financed and well-organized political machines. “Democrats aren’t running against a rival party,” Steve Benen <a href="http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/2014-its-two-parties-against-one">observed</a>, “they’re running against two rival parties that happen to be ideologically aligned.” The combined spending might of the two operations means a barrage of ads and get-out-the-vote efforts that the Democrats – already defending a large and unfriendly map – may not able to match.</p><p>But the Koch spending also <a href="http://www.salon.com/2014/03/24/koch_brothers_next_victim_the_republican_party/">poses risks</a> for the Republican Party. As Benen noted, right now the Koch machine and the Republican Party are relatively simpatico in terms of electoral goals and policy outcomes. Both want the Democrats out of power in the Senate, and both want Obamacare burned to the ground. If they succeed in giving control of the Senate to the GOP, suddenly the Koch machine would have the sort of political, ideological and financial clout that the official party committees currently enjoy.</p><p>There would be two centers of political gravity within the party competing for the same donors. And while the Kochs are free to be as ideologically rigid and activist as they please, the Republicans would be necessarily hemmed in by the realities of governing. Even if the Republicans take control of the Senate, the Democrats would still have filibuster power, and if the Republicans wanted to get any serious legislation passed they’d have to broker deals with the opposition. (Assuming they actually want to get serious legislation passed.) AFP doesn’t take well to compromises with Democrats, and there’s always a more conservative primary challenger waiting in the wings to take down a RINO in Congress.</p><p>Of course, all this assumes that the GOP does actually take the Senate from the Democrats in November. Right now the consensus is that their odds are better than even, and while a lot could happen between now and Election Day, having $125 million in Koch money on their side certainly doesn’t hurt their chances.</p><div> </div></div></div><div><p> </p><div> </div></div><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2014 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '992180'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=992180" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 13 May 2014 11:50:00 -0700 Simon Maloy, Salon 992180 at http://awww.alternet.org The Right Wing News & Politics The Right Wing koch brothers americans for prosperity Romney campaign Tucker Carlson Defends Fake Menendez Prostitute Story http://awww.alternet.org/tucker-carlson-defends-fake-menendez-prostitute-story <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '805078'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=805078" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Conservative commentator reveals total hypocrisy about when sex lives of pols should be covered.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/menendez.png" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Tucker Carlson <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/03/05/tucker-carlson-stands-by-daily-callers-menendez/192926">has defended</a> The Daily Caller's reporting on Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronizing prostitutes in the Dominican Republic as "traditional, straightforward journalism" as that story has come under fire. But when Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,288868,00.html">accused</a> of patronizing prostitutes in 2007, Carlson defended Vitter and lambasted the media for digging into what he described as private matters that were no business of theirs.</p><p>In their initial much-hyped pre-election bombshell, the Caller <a href="http://dailycaller.com/2012/11/01/women-sen-bob-menendez-paid-us-for-sex-in-the-dominican-republic/">reported on allegations</a> from two Dominican prostitutes that Menendez had paid them for sex. Menendez has <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/bob-menendez-denies-prostitute-smears-87168.html">repeatedly denied</a> the allegations, and the FBI has <a href="http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02-15/politics/37120570_1_menendez-and-melgen-florida-eye-doctor-fbi-agents">reportedly found no evidence</a> of their veracity. </p><p>This week the story has unraveled after the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/escort-says-menendez-prostitution-claims-were-made-up/2013/03/04/31299fe2-8514-11e2-999e-5f8e0410cb9d_story.html?hpid=z1">Washington Post</a> and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/woman-paid-lie-claim-sex-senator-menendez/story?id=18653773">ABC News</a> reported that one of the prostitutes who alleged that she had sex with Menendez has recanted her story in an affidavit and claimed that she was paid to lie about the senator. ABC further reported that they also looked into the story last year but decided not to run it because they doubted the women that they and the Caller had spoken to were telling the truth.</p><p>As Carlson comes forward to defend the journalistic value of his publication's deteriorating story, it must be pointed out that after Vitter was linked to prostitution and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/story?id=3361462&amp;page=1">admitted to a "very serious sin"</a>, he had no more strident defender in the media than Tucker Carlson, who dismissed Vitter's personal life as immaterial to his performance as a senator and attacked the media for invading Vitter's private affairs and "destroy[ing] his life."</p><p>On the July 11, 2007, edition of his since-canceled MSNBC program Tucker, Carlson attacked Michael Rectenwald of Citizens for Legitimate Government, the group that first published the <a href="http://www.legitgov.org/dc_madam_phone_records_090707.html">phone records</a> linking Vitter to Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "DC Madam," demanding of Rectenwald: "How could you justify doing something like this? Why is it your business?"</p><p>Carlson said Rectenwald was taking a "sleazy shortcut" and insisted that if it were then-Senator Russ Feingold in Vitter's place, he would be "making the same argument that Russ Feingold`s personal [life] ought to be off limits from creeps and scandal mongers like you who profit from digging into other people's sex lives. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."</p><p>Two days later, on the <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19790029/ns/msnbc-the_ed_show/t/tucker-july/#.UJJsCsXA-CY">July 13, 2007</a>, edition of Tucker, Carlson again insisted he'd defend a Democratic senator in the same position as Vitter, saying: "I wish David Vitter were a Democrat.  I wish he were a liberal Democrat.  I wish he were Russ Feingold, because then I would defend him every bit as zealously as I am defending not what David Vitter did, but his right to be unbothered by the rest of us for something that's none of our business." Carlson also specifically targeted the media for hyping the Vitter story:</p><blockquote><p>CARLSON: It's not really the Democrats who are doing it; it's the press. It's us. It's the media. After humiliating David Vitter, putting his wife's picture on television, as many of us have, which is almost indefensible in my opinion, because she did not do anything -- the guy has four kids. We have helped destroy his life. We publicized this thing he did.</p></blockquote><p>As for the criminal aspect of what Vitter is alleged to have done, Carlson dismissed it as not that significant: "It's against the law in the sense that double-parking is against the law. Let's be real here."</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '805078'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=805078" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 06 Mar 2013 09:03:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, MediaMatters 805078 at http://awww.alternet.org Media News & Politics tucker carlson menendez pols prostitutes hypocrisy Republicans Are Split Over How to Catch up to the 21st Century (But Both Sides Have it All Wrong) http://awww.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/republicans-are-split-over-how-catch-21st-century-both-sides-have-it-all-wrong <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '775435'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=775435" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;Pirate time&quot; and &quot;gutted&quot; welfare: the conservative schism in two columns.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/pegnoonan.jpg" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>As President Obama gears up for a reinauguration that, right up to Election Day, conservatives truly believed would never happen, the right is trying to figure out what went wrong and what can be done to set things right. A schism has emerged between those who think Republicans and conservatives simply need to tweak their messaging (a majority of Republicans <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/12/21/republicans-have-a-message-problem-not-a-messenger-problem/">believe this</a>) versus those who think the party needs to update its policies (a majority of all Americans agree on this point). Both these factions get find their voice in separate columns from prominent conservatives today.</p><p>Jim DeMint, fresh off his resignation from the Senate to take over the Heritage Foundation, plants his flag firmly in the "messaging" camp in a Washington Post <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jim-demint-conservative-ideas-need-a-new-message/2013/01/10/9d0054e8-5b54-11e2-9fa9-5fbdc9530eb9_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage">op-ed</a>. Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan writes in the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324081704578234210851129172.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop">Wall Street Journal</a> that Republicans in Congress should raid the Democratic policy chest like seafaring privateers: "Really: It's pirate time."</p><p>Both columns, though, demonstrate that the lessons of 2012 have been ill-learned, and the intractability of the problems facing conservatives.</p><p>Let's start with DeMint and his missive in support of message tweaks. Here's what DeMint saw in 2012:</p><blockquote><p>Unfortunately, welfare reform and missile defense have something in common beyond Heritage's intellectual paternity. They both have been gutted by President Obama. Always faint-hearted about missile defense, the president in his first year dismantled our programs in Poland and the Czech Republic. He disabled welfare reform last year, when he took away the work requirements that were at the heart of that law's success.</p><p>How could the president get away with hobbling two successful programs with barely a peep from the media or backlash from the millions of Americans whose lives are made better and more secure by these initiatives? That's a question and a challenge I take very personally.</p></blockquote><p>DeMint's solution is to do "research" to make sure going forward conservative messaging on topics like missile defense and welfare is more effective. Of course, anyone who paid even casual attention to the 2012 race knows that Mitt Romney's attacked Obama relentlessly-- and falsely -- for "gutting welfare reform," and those attacks were covered extensively by the political press. The problem with the attack (which <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/spin-and-counterspin-in-the-welfare-debate/2012/08/07/61bf03b6-e0e3-11e1-8fc5-a7dcf1fc161d_blog.html">originated with Heritage</a>) was that it was over-the-top and wrong, and undermined by the fact that Republican governors were<a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/romney-again-puts-gop-governors-in-delicate-spot/2012/08/07/fa15e2d6-e0c7-11e1-a19c-fcfa365396c8_blog.html">embracing the welfare policies</a> Romney was attacking.</p><p>And really, the welfare attack was effective insomuch as it achieved its purpose: stoking <a href="http://www.nationaljournal.com/2012-election/why-and-how-romney-is-playing-the-race-card-20120829">racial resentment</a>among white, blue-collar voters against the president. The problem is that those voters don't make up quite the share of the electorate that they used to. That speaks to a deeper problem within conservative politics that can't be patched over with a little PR.</p><p>Meanwhile, at the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan is <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324081704578234210851129172.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop">pushing for much more sweeping changes</a> within Republican politics and writing about pirates:</p><blockquote><p>Now is the time to fight and be fearless, to be surprising, to break out of lockstep, to be the one thing Republicans aren't supposed to be, and that is interesting.</p><p>Now's the time to put a dagger 'tween their teeth, wave a sword, grab a rope and swing aboard the enemy's galleon. Take the president's issues, steal them--they never belonged to him, they're yours!</p><p>In political terms this means: Reorient yourselves. Declare for Main Street over Wall Street, stand for the little guy against the big interests. And move. Don't wait for the bill, declare the sentiments of your corner..</p><p>Really, it's pirate time.</p></blockquote><p>One can glean from Noonan's argument that she's either an incurable optimist with a soft-spot for the dramatic, or she hasn't been paying attention. One of the pirate-time reforms she encourages the GOP to embrace is closing the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/15/what-is-the-carried-interest-loophole-and-why-doesnt-romney-want-to-close-it/">carried interest loophole</a>, a sneaky bit of tax code that allows investment bankers to tax their wage income at the lower capital-gains rate. It disproportionately favors the wealthy, and Noonan spies an opportunity to seize the populist mantle: "If congressional Republicans care about their party they'll want it to get credit for fairness, as opposed to the usual blame for being lackeys of the rich."</p><p>It's not clear what has led her to think that congressional Republicans would have any interest in doing this. Indeed, very recent history would suggest that Republicans aren't at all eager to take up this advice. Look no further than the ridiculous storm and stress over the fiscal cliff, most of which stemmed from a constitutional unwillingness on the part of the House GOP to raise taxes one red cent on the wealthy. When John Boehner proposed his "Plan B" bill to raise tax rates on millionaires, it failed because he couldn't generate enough support from within his own caucus. After the Senate passed the compromise bill raising rates on household incomes exceeding $450,000, it passed the House with only one-third of Republicans voting in favor.</p><p>This is the party Noonan thinks would pale at being seen as "lackeys of the rich?" (To be sure, her grasp of the fiscal cliff wrangling <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/01/04/peggy-noonans-fantastical-cliff/192026">hasn't been all that strong</a>.)</p><p>But let's assume the improbable and stipulate that Republicans take Noonan's advice and once again bump up taxes on the rich -- what happens then? Well, if we look to recent history again, utter bedlam within the rank-and-file. Last month a group of influential conservative activists <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/12/12/conservative-activists-take-bold-stand-against/191825">wrote an open letter</a> to congressional Republicans exhorting them not to compromise one iota with the Democrats, and threatening that primary challenges await those that do. In that time the Senate GOP did indeed hammer out a compromise on the fiscal cliff with the White House, and now Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is <a href="http://www.foramerica.org/2013/01/conservatives-target-mcconnell-in-first-ads-of-2014-cycle/">under fire from conservatives</a> over "his capitulation to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden."</p><p>This divide between DeMint and Noonan neatly sums up the quandary conservatives and Republicans find themselves in the moment: they can hold fast to their increasingly unpopular policies and try and message their way back into power, or they can enact policy change and alienate the base. Neither is a particularly appealing choice.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '775435'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=775435" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 11 Jan 2013 14:51:00 -0800 Simon Maloy, Media Matters for America 775435 at http://awww.alternet.org The Right Wing Media The Right Wing republicans 5 Craziest Conspiracy Theories Spread By Rush Limbaugh http://awww.alternet.org/story/154494/5_craziest_conspiracy_theories_spread_by_rush_limbaugh <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '669847'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669847" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Limbaugh poaches material from obscure conservative writers and disseminates their feverishly conspiratorial and racially charged content to his national audience.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>One aspect of Limbaugh's radio career that often goes overlooked is his role as a conduit for wild and pernicious conspiracies born on the right-wing fringe to migrate to a broader audience. Limbaugh frequently poaches material from obscure conservative writers and enthusiastically disseminates their feverishly conspiratorial and racially charged content to his national audience. </p> <p><strong>1. Vince Foster</strong></p> <p>On July 20, 1993, the body of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster was found in Northern Virginia's Fort Marcy Park. According to <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Fwp-srv%2Fpolitics%2Fspecial%2Fwhitewater%2Fdocs%2Ffosteri.htm" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">multiple investigations</a>, Foster died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. But conservatives, led by Rush Limbaugh, incessantly cast doubt on Foster's suicide, suggesting instead that the Clinton White House had murdered Foster and covered it up. On the March 11, 1994, broadcast of his television show, Limbaugh reviewed "some of the key questions" surrounding Foster's death:</p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: His body was found lying face-up and straight. His head was at the top of an incline; his feet at the bottom, an unusual position for someone who had shot himself while standing on an incline. Looked like he was ready for the coffin, in other words. [via Nexis]</p></blockquote> <p>Neither time nor the end of the Clinton administration has dampened Limabugh's ardor for Vince Foster conspiracy theorism. During the 2008 Democratic primary, Rush <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/200807080009" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">often</a> <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/200711140013?f=s_search" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">invoked</a> Fort Marcy Park when commenting on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign:</p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: In the meantime, the National Transportation Safety Board said yesterday that they are going to investigate what caused Obama's dinky little MD-80 to make an unexpected landing in St. Louis. He was traveling from Chicago to Charlotte aboard Fort Marcy Airlines when the pilot's first officer announced that they were experiencing controllability issues with the pitch of the MD-80. And so Fort Marcy Airlines had to put down at Lambert Field in St. Louis. And we found out that one of the things that happened during the flight was that in the back of one of these dinky little old MD-80s is a rear door underneath the fuselage, and it'll come down, and you can put out -- you can put the exit slide, the emergency slide. It deployed. It deployed in flight. And, of course, that would -- at altitude and speed, that would have a demonstrable effect on controllability issues. And I don't know if the pilots knew that that was the case at the time. Probably warning lights in the cockpit, even on MD-80, would indicate that.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>2. The Soccer Conspiracy</strong></p> <p>On April 13, 2010, <em>American Thinker</em> writer Cat Corben posited an <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanthinker.com%2F2010%2F04%2Fobama_attends_nonexistent_socc.html" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;">elaborate conspiracy</a> that involved Obama "venturing out to a soccer game that didn't exist in a high-crime area" of Washington, DC. Corben wanted to know why Obama lied to the press and the Secret Service so he could hang out in this high-crime area by himself, writing: "Something is most definitely wrong."</p> <p>Indeed something was wrong: <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201004140040" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">everything with Corben's story</a>. The soccer game <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/jaketapper/status/12171089490" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">did happen</a>, the area was most assuredly not high-crime, members of the press <a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/markknoller/status/11953549352" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">saw Obama at the game</a>, and he was under Secret Service guard the whole time.</p> <p>Nonetheless, Limbaugh picked up Corben's story and repeated it on-air:</p> <p><object width="320" height="240" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl59.swf"></object></p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: It doesn't make sense because there was no soccer game scheduled on the Sidwell Friends soccer schedule on their website. Sidwell Friends would not be playing a soccer game in this neighborhood. The American Thinker's posted a picture. There is a soccer field at this neighborhood, but it's not -- Sidwell Friends wouldn't send their kids there to play. It's Clinton-esque, but it is curious. What was he doing out there?</p></blockquote> <p><strong>3. Canceling The Elections</strong></p> <p>On September 30, 2011, Judi McLeod of the Canada Free Press published a <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.canadafreepress.com%2Findex.php%2Farticle%2F40802" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">column</a> warning that President Obama was planning to suspend the 2012 elections in order to remain in office. The column, which swerved into birtherism and the absurd theory that Obama's autobiography was ghostwritten by Bill Ayers, counseled: "Patriots who want their grandchildren to grow up in a Marxist-free America should start the counter revolution called the 'Revolution for an Obama-free America' and they should start it 'like yesterday.'"</p> <p>The author has a <a href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201110060022" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">colorful menagerie of conspiracy theories</a>, including a stemwinder about mafia involvement in the September 11 terrorist attacks. And she had her election-canceling column read on the air by Rush Limbaugh:</p> <p><object width="320" height="240" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl59.swf"></object></p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: Remember now, "nothing is impossible when all the control is held by a tyrant." This is in a Canadian publication. "Obama and his masters already pulled the biggest scam on any country in modern times by making it to the White House without legitimate I.D. A dangerous new chapter is being written in American history that, if successful, is destined to impact the history of the West.  It's called "Re-Election by Suspended Election Revolution." This babe, Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press, actually thinks this is a strategery, that it is a stratagem, that it is a gambit! That is being hatched in the darkest corners of the Oval Office in the White House. I find it fascinating. I'm fascinated. This is what happens, folks, this is exactly the kind of thing that happens when you get tyrants and authoritarians in office.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>4. Obama The African Colonial</strong></p> <p>On June 25, 2009, the <em>American Thinker</em> published a <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americanthinker.com%2F2009%2F06%2Fobama_the_african_colonial.html" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">piece</a> by L.E. Ikenga arguing that "the key to understanding [Obama] lies with his identification with his father, and his adoption of a cultural and political mindset rooted in postcolonial Africa." Ikenga's overlong and poorly informed analysis of Obama's political psyche includes the following:</p> <blockquote> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.3em; padding: 0px; line-height: 20px;">My friends, despite what CNN and the rest are telling you, Barack Obama is nothing more than an old school African Colonial who is on his way to turning this country into one of the developing nations that you learn about on the <em>National Geographic Channel</em>.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.3em; padding: 0px; line-height: 20px;">[...]</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.3em; padding: 0px; line-height: 20px;">Obama has been living on American soil for most of his adult life. Therefore, he has been able to masquerade as one who understands and believes in American democratic ideals. But he does not.</p> <p style="margin: 0px 0px 1.3em; padding: 0px; line-height: 20px;">[...]</p> <p>Barack Obama Sr. was an African colonial to the core; in his case, the apple did not fall far from the tree. All of the telltale signs of Obama's African colonialist attitudes are on full display in the book -- from his feigned antipathy towards Europeans to his view of African tribal associations as distracting elements that get in the way of "progress".</p></blockquote> <p>Ikenga concluded with a flourish: "Understand this: the African colonial who is given too much political power can only become one thing: a despot."</p> <p>Limbaugh was taken with Ikenga's "special piece" and <a href="http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200906260019" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">read most of it on the air</a> on June 26, 2009.</p> <p><object width="320" height="240" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl59.swf"></object></p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: I share all this with you because it is -- she's nailed who the guy is. Americans look at Obama, the first black president, and they go "oh we're shedding some of our guilt here, look how enlightened we are, what a great country we are," when in fact we've elected someone who's more African in his roots than he is American, loves his father, who was a Marxist, and is behaving like an African colonial despot.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>5. No, Wait: Obama The <em style="font-weight: inherit;">Anti</em>-Colonial</strong></p> <p>In September 2010, Dinesh D'Souza published a book called <em>The Roots Of Obama's Rage</em> which argued (seriously) that the president inherited an "anti-colonial" mindset from his father, which explains Obama's actions in a way "that no rival theory can even begin to do." D'Souza's book was based largely on <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/201010040030" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">egregious and easily debunked falsehoods</a>, and his theory <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theatlanticwire.com%2Fpolitics%2F2010%2F09%2Fcharge-of-kenyan-anti-colonial-obama-draws-wide-criticism%2F23071%2F" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">courted denunciations</a> from all corners as "<a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.salon.com%2F2010%2F09%2F13%2Fnewt_dsouza_obama_kenyan_con%2Fsingleton%2F" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">pseudo-academic divorced-from-reality conspiratorial garbage</a>" and "<a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.frumforum.com%2Fgingrich-obama-wants-whiteys-money" style="text-decoration: none; color: rgb(38, 86, 153); outline-style: none; font-weight: bold;" target="_blank">a brazen outburst of race-baiting</a>."</p> <p>For Rush, however, D'Souza's "anti-colonial" theory was "very consistent with the way I've analyzed" Obama:</p> <p><object width="320" height="240" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org/static/flash/pl59.swf"></object></p> <blockquote> <p>LIMBAUGH: Dinesh D'Souza has a book out, and a cover story in Forbes magazine, what really motivates Obama is his father. And his father hated colonialist America, hated colonialist Great Britain, and had profound influence on Obama. And Obama's anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, and looks at the United States as colonialists. And I think this is very consistent with the way I've analyzed this guy from the get-go.</p></blockquote> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '669847'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669847" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 08:00:01 -0800 Simon Maloy, Media Matters for America 669847 at http://awww.alternet.org The Right Wing The Right Wing limbaugh right wing Shareholder Activists (Including a Beastie Boy) Win Net Neutrality Victory Over AT&T http://awww.alternet.org/story/154309/shareholder_activists_%28including_a_beastie_boy%29_win_net_neutrality_victory_over_at%26t <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '669732'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669732" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Beastie Boys may have finished what the FCC started. One Beastie Boy, anyway. And Phil Kerpen of Americans For Prosperity is not happy about it.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/images/managed/storyimages_1330290879_screenshot20120226at4.13.57pm.png" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p> The Beastie Boys may have finished what the FCC started. One Beastie Boy, anyway. And Phil Kerpen of Americans For Prosperity is <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fopinion%2F2012%2F02%2F24%2Fsec-joins-running-for-worst-rogue-agency%2F">not happy about it</a>.</p> <p>First, the backstory. On February 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fsec.gov%2Fdivisions%2Fcorpfin%2Fcf-noaction%2F14a-8%2F2012%2Ftrilliumasset021012-14a8.pdf">informed</a> AT&amp;T that they would not be allowed to block shareholders from voting on a proposal requesting that the telecom giant commit to operating its wireless data network in accordance with net neutrality principles. That proposal was put forth by an asset management firm <a href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.techdirt.com%2Fblog%2Fwireless%2Farticles%2F20120214%2F15212117762%2Fbeastie-boy-mike-d-forces-att-to-let-shareholders-vote-net-neutrality.shtml">representing Michael Diamond</a>, a.k.a. Mike D of the Beastie Boys, and other AT&amp;T investors.</p> <p>The SEC's ruling was significant because the net neutrality order passed by the FCC in December 2010 contained a <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201109230010">huge carve-out</a> for wireless broadband. Wireless providers were exempted from the "unreasonable discrimination" rule which prevents fixed broadband providers from discriminating against or favoring certain forms of content based on political or financial considerations. The FCC argued they needed to "better understand how the mobile broadband market is developing before determining whether adjustments to this framework are necessary."</p> <p>In the past the SEC has allowed wireless carriers to block shareholder votes on net neutrality, agreeing with the companies that it was a matter of "day-to-day" business and thus outside shareholder oversight. In the February 10 letter, the SEC argued that net neutrality had become AT&amp;T's "most significant public policy issue," owing to the many legislative and regulatory battles it has sparked over the past year, and is thus "appropriate for shareholder consideration."</p> <p>Enter Phil Kerpen. In a FoxNews.com op-ed published today, Kerpen lambasted the SEC as a "rogue agency" and lashed out at the usual suspects:</p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Left-wing activists</strong> have long viewed corporate boardrooms as an alternative venue to accomplish radical policy objectives that lack the public support needed to advance through the legislative process. <strong>Extreme environmentalists</strong> have pushed their philosophy through that mechanism, as have <strong>union bosses</strong>, through the use of so-called corporate campaigns to strong-arm and intimidate corporations. [...] The strategy was outlined by<strong>Saul Alinsky</strong> in his classic "Rules for Radicals." [...] Last week, the SEC handed <strong>the Alinkskyites</strong> a very surprising victory, up-ending all relevant precedents that preclude shareholder questions on routine business matters. [...] The ideological godfather of the so-called media reform movement, <strong>an avowed Marxist college professor named Robert McChesney</strong>, founded the pressure group <strong>Free Press</strong> to push for these regulations. McChesney's group receives considerable funding from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the left-wing funder that sponsored the network neutrality shareholder proposals approved by the SEC.</p></blockquote> <p>Kerpen was shooting kind of wildly, and thus missed the real target. The advocacy group behind the shareholder initiative was actually the <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fopenmic.org%2Fnode%2F284">Open Media and Information Companies Initiative</a>, which is a project of the Tides Foundation. Kerpen went after Free Press simply so he could play the Marxism card. (Attacking McChesney is a <a href="http://mediamatters.org/research/200910210026">prerequisite</a> for conservative commentary on net neutrality.)</p> <p>Even though we're already awash in culpable parties, I might suggest one more: Phil Kerpen. After all, the SEC justified their shift on net neutrality by saying that it was "a consistent and hotly contested topic of policy debate in Washington, in the press, in academia, and in local communities throughout the country," and Americans For Prosperity has done more than any other right-wing group to elevate the battle over net neutrality.</p> <p>When describing the national relevance of the net neutrality debate, the SEC specifically cited:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The House of Representatives voted to prohibit the FCC from using funds to carry out net neutrality regulations created in December 2010." (AFP sent <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americansforprosperity.org%2F021611-house-key-vote-continuing-resolution-amendments-0">letters to House members</a>encouraging them to support the Walden Amendment, which would have cut off funds to the FCC, "or any amendment with a similar effect.")</p> <p>"A Joint Resolution in April 2011, under the rarely used Congressional Review Act, which would have prohibited the FCC from regulating how Internet service providers manage their broadband networks." (AFP <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fprosperityactions.com%2Fsiteapps%2Fadvocacy%2FBillDetails.aspx%3Fb%3D6074229%26c%3D5oJELSPwFhJWG%26BillID%3D1065975">backed the joint resolution</a> and sent <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.americansforprosperity.org%2F021711-letter-support-hutchison-walden-fcc-disapproval-resolutions-sjres6-and-hjres37">letters of support</a>to its authors.)</p> <p>"Over the course of October and into November, network neutrality was vigorously debated in the Senate as the chamber took up the Congressional Review Act joint resolution which sought to kill the FCC net neutrality regulations." (Kerpen wrote a November 8 <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fopinion%2F2011%2F11%2F08%2Fcrunch-time-to-stop-fcc-internet-takeover%2F">op-ed</a> for Fox News, titled "Crunch Time to Stop the FCC's Internet Takeover," and wrote: "If you're ever going to contact your senator about a vote, please do it now.")</p></blockquote> <p>Kerpen devoted an entire chapter of his 2011 book, <em>Democracy Denied</em>, to lambasting the FCC's open internet rule while <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/blog/201110250014">studiously avoiding any discussion</a> of what it says/does. He wrote <a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.foxnews.com%2Fopinion%2F2011%2F03%2F14%2Fphil-kerpen-house-stands-regulatory-tyrrany%2F">op-eds for Fox News</a>  and the <em><a target="_blank" href="http://mediamatters.org/rd?to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.washingtontimes.com%2Fnews%2F2011%2Foct%2F25%2Fthe-congress-optional-president%2F">Washington Times</a> </em>on net neutrality. He did everything in his power to get people engaged to try and kill the policy, and thus contributed to the shift that may now enshrine net neutrality as corporate policy for wireless providers.</p> <p>When you think about what Kerpen may have done to his own efforts to kill the push for internet freedom, one word comes to mind.</p> <p><object width="420" height="315" data="http://www.youtube.com/v/z5rRZdiu1UE?version=3&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></object></p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2012 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '669732'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=669732" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 26 Feb 2012 10:00:01 -0800 Simon Maloy, Media Matters for America 669732 at http://awww.alternet.org News & Politics Media Culture media internet net neutrality broadband at&t boys att sec wireless beastie The 10 Stupidest Moments in Glenn Beck's New Novel http://awww.alternet.org/story/147187/the_10_stupidest_moments_in_glenn_beck%27s_new_novel <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '662541'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662541" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Turns out, Glenn Beck is not a very good novelist. But his efforts are inadvertently hilarious.</div></div></div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://awww.alternet.org/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg" alt="" /></div></div></div> <!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The opening lines of Glenn Beck's yet-to-be-released novel, <em>The Overton Window</em>, read as follows: "Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it's really only moments that define us."</p> <p>In a quirk of convenience, this line also describes the best way to deconstruct <em>The Overton Window</em>, a copy of which <em>Media Matters</em> obtained and read -- nay, devoured -- with great relish. As we slogged through its many plot holes, ridiculous narrative devices, and long-winded limited-government sermonizing passed off as dialogue, we singled out ten moments that define <em>The Overton Window</em> as the truly and remarkably awful novel that it is.</p> <p>First, a quick summation of the plot, such as it is. The protagonist, Noah Gardner, works for an impossibly powerful public relations firm in Manhattan that has been the driving force behind pretty much every political and cultural movement of the 20th century. Their latest and grandest scheme is the culmination of a lengthy plot to change the United States into some sort of ill-defined progressive plutocracy, and the catalyst for this change is a nuclear explosion that will occur outside the home-state office of "the current U.S. Senate majority leader," which happens to be at the same address as Harry Reid's Las Vegas offices. The nuclear attack is to be blamed on the Founders Keepers, a Tea Party-like group -- led by Noah's love interest, Molly Ross -- that is working to foil the plot.</p> <p><strong>1. Rule number one is: "Don't tease the panther"</strong></p> <p>Noah and Molly find themselves in bed together early in the book after a harrowing experience at a Founders' Keepers rally. They agree to sleep in bed together because Molly is too scared to sleep at home, but Molly insists that nothing sexual will take place. Noah agrees, on the condition that she "not do anything sexy." She presses her cold feet against his legs, and Noah responds:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Suit yourself, lady. I'm telling you right now, you made the rules, but you're playing with fire here. I've got some rules, too, and rule number one is, <strong>don't tease the panther.</strong>"</p></blockquote> <p><strong>2. Someone left a voicemail about a mom in a hospital, or something. I deleted it.</strong></p> <p>As the nonsensical plot kicks into overdrive, Noah desperately needs to find Molly, who had been working as a temp mail room clerk at Noah's father's PR firm. When he goes down to the mail room, he is told by an employee that Molly has not shown up for work, but someone had left her a voicemail over the weekend. When Noah explains that he needs the message because it's "important," the employee responds:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I deleted it, and I didn't write anything down, since it was a personal thing. The fellow who called must have just tried all the numbers he had for her. He said her mama was in the hospital."</p></blockquote> <p>So, just to be clear, upon hearing a voicemail message about a coworker's mother being in the hospital, this person decided to delete it and not write anything down, "since it was a personal thing." It really is getting hard to find good help these days.</p> <p><strong>3. ATTN Catering company: Stalin's grandson doesn't want mayo on his sandwich</strong></p> <p>Many of the major plot reveals in <em>The Overton Window</em> hinge on absurdly lazy writing. For example, early on in the book, Noah's father hosts a secret meeting to discuss the evil plot to nuke the Senate Majority Leader's office and blame it on the Founders' Keepers. So how is it that mail room temp Molly Ross comes to know that this meeting took place and who was in attendance? Simple:</p> <blockquote> <p>"I know there was a meeting at the office yesterday afternoon," she said, lowering her voice but not her intensity. "I saw the guest list on the catering order. I know who was there. I know you were in it. And I think I know what it was about."</p></blockquote> <p>See, it's important to make a personalized catering order. The catering company can't do their work properly unless they know the identities of every single person attending this classified meeting. Also, it's important to send this highly sensitive information via regular U.S. mail and let temporary employees handle it.</p> <p>Funnily enough, it's this bit of information that impels Molly and Noah to break into Noah's father's office to do some sleuthing as to what actually took place at the meeting. As they're standing in the office, Molly asks Noah: "Who was in this meeting, do you know?" Remember, Molly had<em>already said she knew who was at the meeting</em> from reading the catering order. Must've just slipped her mind.</p> <p><strong>4. The mail-clerk espionage</strong></p> <p>As we've already seen, Molly was hired on as a temporary mail clerk at the Gardner PR firm, a position which, at first glance, wouldn't seem to enjoy a high level of security clearance. It turns out, however, that this particular PR firm sends and receives all its super-secret and highly classified memos via the U.S. Postal Service. So by that strange quirk, Molly was given the opportunity to steal a classified government memo detailing a nefarious plot to put Americans into concentration camps, as is explained to Noah a couple of days after the office break-in:</p> <blockquote> <p>Landers finessed right past that question. "The first piece," he said, "was that we figured out who leaked the government document to the press last week."</p> <p>"Who was it?"</p> <p>"It was scanned and sent out from right here. About two hours after it came into the mailroom."</p> <p>"I don't believe it," Noah said.</p> <p>Landers picked up a manila folder from the desk and put it in Noah's hands. "Take a look for yourself," he said.</p> <p>The tab on the folder wasn't labeled and the paper inside was still warm from the copier. The top document was the cover page of a dossier, and the bold heading was just a name: Molly Ross.</p> <p>He flipped the page to find a breadcrumb trail of computer activity sent up from the IT department. There was her log-in and some fairly cagey attempts to hide the suspicious actions through a proxy mask, along with the e-mail message in question, addressed to a list of a few hundred recipients outside the company firewall. And there was the attachment that contained a digitized version of the formerly secret DHS memorandum.</p> <p>No question that she'd done it; no question that she'd tried to hide what she'd done.</p></blockquote> <p>Why Noah finds it shocking that Molly would steal this memo is anyone's guess. As noted above, he and Molly had already <em>broken into his father's office </em>in order to obtain this information.</p> <p><strong>5. Never leave your super-villainous PowerPoint presentations lying around</strong></p> <p>After Noah and Molly break into Noah's father's office, they discover several of the intricacies of his father's nefarious plan laid out clearly in a PowerPoint presentation.</p> <blockquote> <p>Down the central hall and adjacent to the conference room they keyed themselves into the locked AV booth, where the presentation files were stored. Molly stood by him as he found the coded folders on the computer, entered their passwords, and prepared the show to be launched from a remote controller at the podium inside.</p></blockquote> <p>It's unclear how Noah knew the password for this folder, but the answer probably has something to do with Woodrow Wilson.</p> <p><strong>6. The co-conspirator wrap party</strong></p> <p>One of the key plot elements of the book, we think, was a police raid on a Founders Keepers meeting which Noah attended with Molly. The NYPD raid the meeting after a bunch of rowdy participants -- really undercover cops looking to purposefully start trouble -- get violent and one of them fires off a gun. After Noah is arrested and taken downtown, he figures out that the whole thing was a set-up when he, quite conveniently, sees every one of the <em>agents provocateurs</em> just hanging out and chatting in the police station, in full view of everyone and still dressed as Founders Keepers:</p> <blockquote> <p>From the sound of it, this new call was either to an assistant district attorney or the DA himself, but before he could pick up the gist of the conversation something grabbed Noah's full attention through the thin window by the door frame.</p> <p>Out in a common area, a dozen or so men were gathered together having coffee and a collegial chat with some uniformed police. He stood and stepped closer to the glass, trying hard to believe his eyes. In this surreal gathering was every heckler, every troublemaker who had made himself apparent during the speeches at the bar. Everyone of them was dressed similarly, the differences being confined to the inflammatory slogans on their clothing and their selection of cracker-chic accessories. When scattered among a larger group they'd been harder to spot as co-conspirators, but all together like this, with their guard down, their costumes were obvious and their mannerisms out of character. It looked like the after-party of a Larry the Cable Guy stunt-double audition at Central Casting.</p> <p>One of them matched a picture in Noah's memory to the very last detail. He was sure this time: the man was wearing a loud flannel shirt, a hunter's vest, a do-rag torn from the corner of a Confederate battle flag, and a shoulder holster.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>7. Love... and the flat tax</strong></p> <p>I don't know about the rest of you, but after I kiss the girl of my dreams for the first time, the very next thing I want to do is discuss with her the virtues of the flat tax:</p> <blockquote> <p>He bent to her, closed his eyes, and her lips touched his, gently, and again more urgently as he responded. He felt her arms around him, her body yearning against his in the embrace, a knot like hunger inside, heart quickening, cool hands at his back under the warmth of his jacket, searching, pressing him closer still. With everything to see and hear around them there at the very crossroads of the world, soaring billboards, scrolling news crawlers, bright digital Jumbotrons that lined the tall buildings and blotted out the whole evening sky, it all disappeared to its rightful insignificance, flat as a postcard. That place was left outside their small circle, and if asked right then he might have stayed there within it forever. But he felt her smile against his lips as they were brought back to where they stood by the brusque voice of a passing man, who advised in his native Brooklynese that maybe they should go and get a room.</p> <p>A light drizzle had begun to fall, and down the block they found a coffee shop with two seats by the window where they could wait out the patch of rain. When he returned from the counter with their cups he found her sitting with a folded newspaper, not reading it but lost somewhere in her thoughts. It was a while before she spoke.</p> <p>"Noah?"</p> <p>"I was starting to worry you'd forgotten I was here."</p> <p>Molly took a deep breath and seemed to collect herself for a moment.</p> <p>"I need to ask you something."</p> <p>"Okay."</p> <p>"If we hired you, your company, what would you tell us to do?"</p> <p>He frowned a bit. "You mean if you and your mom hired us?"</p> <p>"It's more than just the two of us, you know that. A lot more."</p> <p>"I don't know," he said. "What is it you want to accomplish again?"</p> <p>"We want to save the country."</p> <p>"Oh. Okay. Is that all?"</p> <p>"That's where we start, isn't it? With a clear objective."</p> <p>"That's right."</p> <p>"So?"</p> <p>"Okay. Let me think for a minute."</p> <p>Molly had become deadly serious; this wasn't party talk. She didn't take her eyes from his as she waited.</p> <p>"I guess;' he said, "I'd begin by sitting down with all these different groups and trying to focus everyone on the things they agree on -- the fundamentals. A platform, you know? Make it easy for people to understand what you're about. Propose some real answers."</p> <p>"Give me an example."</p> <p>"I don't know-start with the tax code, since your mom is so passionate about that. How about a set of specific spending cuts and a thirteen percent flat tax to start with? Get that ridiculous sixty-seven-thousand-page tax code down to four or five bullet points, and show exactly what effects it'll have on trade, and employment, and the debt, and the future of the country."</p></blockquote> <p><strong>8. In times of stress, it helps to talk about Bill Clinton</strong></p> <p>So after going through the harrowing ordeal of the Founders Keepers raid and a night spent in the lock-up at a New York City police station, Noah and Molly find themselves in a company car on their way home. One would think that they'd want to talk about the evening's events, critical as they were both to the plot and their character development. But instead, they opt for a discussion of Bill Clinton's character:</p> <blockquote> <p>"You know what? New topic. Ask me anything."</p> <p>"Okay. Who's the most fascinating person you've ever met?"</p> <p>He didn't hesitate. "President Clinton. Hands down."</p> <p>"Really?"</p> <p>''All politics aside, you've never seen so much charisma stuffed into one human being. And you brought up the subject of lying earlier -- this man could keep twenty elaborate, interlocking whoppers in his head at a time, improvising on the fly, and have you believing every word while you're holding a stack of hard evidence to the contrary. His wife might be even smarter than he is, but she doesn't have any of that skill at prevarication, and Gore was pretty helpless if he ever dropped his script. But Clinton? He's like one of those plate spinners at the circus: he makes everything look completely effortless. And obviously, in a related skill, he's a total Svengali with the chicks."</p></blockquote> <p><strong>9. Noah vs. the narrator</strong></p> <p><em>The Overton Window</em> is chock-full of characters that don't really do anything, but perhaps the person whose presence is least felt is the editor. Take for example, this passage in which Noah remembers thinking the book's first lines about life's defining "moments." The problem is that this line is actually said in the voice of the third-person omniscient narrator:</p> <blockquote> <p>From behind his tinted visor a nearby man-in-black raised his riot club, ready to cave in the skull of the helpless man at his feet.</p> <p>In this strange, slow procession of vivid snapshots, a random thought made its way back to him from earlier in the day. <em>We stay mostly the same and then grow up suddenly, at the turning points. </em>What came next would either go down as one of those dreaded defining moments, or as the final mistake of a bad night that would top any that had ever come before. It didn't matter which; the die was already cast.</p></blockquote> <p>From the book's beginning:</p> <blockquote> <p>Most people think about age and experience in terms of years, but it's really only moments that define us. We stay mostly the same and then grow up suddenly, at the turning points.</p> <p>His life being pretty sweet just as it was, Noah Gardner had devoted a great deal of effort in his first twenty-something years to avoiding such defining moments at all costs.</p></blockquote> <p><strong>10. "I've got a brilliant plan that involves Star Wars." "Good, because I wrote a midterm paper on Star Wars"</strong></p> <p>Near the climax of the book, Noah and Molly must escape New York City and head to Las Vegas. Since Molly is on the terror watch list at this point, they need to find a way to get her on the plane. Noah unveils what the narrator describes as an "absolutely brilliant idea."</p> <p>Noah's master plan involves buying an entire row of first class seats on a flight out of La Guardia and using his wealth and powerful name to bypass normal security procedures. But how will Molly make it through, you ask? Well, by dressing up as Natalie Portman, of course. No, really. She dresses like Natalie Portman -- complete with Noah's disturbingly accurate recollection of where to draw beauty marks on her face to complete the disguise.</p> <p>But won't airport security recognize her? And what about her not having identification? Noah brilliantly gets around the fact that Molly isn't, in fact, Natalie Portman by having her wear a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses. And he explains that "Natalie" lost her purse during a wild weekend. See, airport security will often let you walk right through as long as you vaguely resemble a celebrity and inform them that you lost your purse.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the plan hits a snag when the snoopy TSA agent is revealed to be a <em>Star Wars</em> fan-boy who would undoubtedly recognize one of the franchise's stars. Uh-oh! How do they get out of this one?</p> <blockquote> <p>She turned to the officer, pulled back her hood and let it settle onto her shoulders, removed the baseball cap and let it fall to the floor at her feet, and then slow and sure, began to walk toward him.</p> <p>"The Force is strong with this one," Molly said, as calm and smooth as a Jedi master. Her accent was gone, and her voice was just breathy enough to obscure any other identifying qualities of the real McCoy.</p> <p>The TSA man's cheeks began to redden slightly. A power shift was under way, and as Noah had learned firsthand, when this girl turned it on your never knew what was about to hit you.</p></blockquote> <p>Yes, she quotes <em>Star Wars</em> to disarm the geeky guard. She later explains that she "wrote a midterm paper on the first two movies in college." And after this incident, we still had to endure fifty pages more.</p> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Ben DiMiero is a senior new media associate at Media Matters for America. </div></div></div> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '662541'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=662541" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sun, 13 Jun 2010 08:00:01 -0700 Ben DiMiero, Simon Maloy, Media Matters for America 662541 at http://awww.alternet.org News & Politics conservatives glenn beck right-wing conservative media overton window thriller