Monday, November 30, 2015


On ABC's This Week yesterday, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona uttered a Sunday talk show heresy:
At this point, I don't see a path where Donald Trump probably doesn’t become the nominee.
Matt Bai was having none of it. He assured us that Trump's numbers will never get better than they are now, and once other candidates drop out, it's over for Trump:
BAI: -- no, the question, look, we know what we've got with Trump now. You have an inelastic base of support that maybe 25-30 percent of the party -- he couldn't shake that if he went out and, you know, killed a bunch of people today.

The question is -- the question is, you know, can he grow it?

He's shown no capacity to grow it and I think the things he's done in the last couple months make that impossible.
Apparently Bai is unaware of the recent Economist/YouGov poll in which Trump was pitted one-on-one against Marco Rubio. In that poll, Trump trounced Rubio, 57%-43%.

So, yeah, Trump can "grow" his voter base.

Bai tells us to chill out -- the GOP Establishment has got this:
BAI: ... So the -- so what you're really looking at is -- the question you have to ask yourself is can the governing establishment of the Republican Party at this point be like the Tea Party in 2012, in which they just remained split, choose a bunch of different candidates in different states and can't coalesce?

That's the scenario under which you're talking --

CARDONA: That's right.

BAI: -- that you're talking about. I don't think establishments behave that way. I think ultimately, they do congeal around one or two candidates. And if that's the case, they will eclipse Donald Trump because he can't grow 25 or 30 percent in the election...
Except that the GOP Establishment isn't "congeal[ing] around one or two candidates." The Establishment likes Rubio, but it also can't quit Bush, or give up on Kasich. And now Chris Christie has won the endorsement of New Hampshire's Union Leader newspaper, and the ABC panel thinks he's having a "moment" -- not just because of that endorsement but because of terrorism:
[COKIE] ROBERTS: -- and Chris Christie, regardless of the "Manchester Union-Leader," is in a little moment because of what happened in Paris. And -- and terrorism, once it becomes the primary issue, it really does sink everything else, because if people don't feel safe, nothing else matters, so.

BAI: Well, he's also the best pure...


BAI: -- he's the best pure...

[MARTHA] RADDATZ: Very quickly, Matt.

BAI: -- retail candidate in the field. And that's why I think "The Union Leader" endorsement does matter at this point, because I think the establishment does have to congeal somewhere and he's got a lot of strengths as a candidate.
It's so typical that panel made up of Northeast Corridor elitists thinks that the guy most likely to be seen by voters in Iowa and South Carolina and Texas as a terrorism fighter is ... a mouthy lawyer. It's the Giuliani fantasy all over again. These people are approximately as dumb as the Trump voters, except that they think writing legal briefs is almost like being a war hero and Trump voters feel that way about getting golf courses and casinos built.

And Bai is telling us that the GOP Establishment will "congeal around one or two candidates," but a renewal of phony Christiemania will make them more likely to remain divided. Christie? Kasich? Rubio? Bush? The longer the Establishment remains indecisive, the better life gets for Trump (or possibly Ted Cruz).

And if Christie may be having a "moment," the voters seem not to have noticed: He's still in seventh place in New Hampshire, with 5.3% of the vote, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average. He's at 2.3% in Iowa, 1% in South Carolina, and 1.5% in Florida. He's at 1% in the only Nevada poll conducted this fall. He's going nowhere.

But you keep waiting for that Christie "moment," GOP Establishment. Donald Trump thanks you.

(Via Karoli at Crooks & Liars.)


At BuzzFeed, McKay Coppins tell us that the Jeb Bush political operation has persisted in spreading old rumors of Marco Rubio's infidelity -- even though the rumors never check out. Team Jeb started this as the presidential campaign was getting under way, in the hope of keeping Rubio out of the race:
Jeb and his team recognized the threat posed by Rubio nearly a year ago, and took aggressive action to knock him out of 2016 contention -- with some in Bush’s circle trying to smear the senator by allegedly circulating lurid, unsubstantiated rumors of infidelity.

... The same day Mitt Romney bowed out of the 2016 race -- marking the first and last real victory for Jeb’s “juggernaut” campaign -- a California bundler who was being courted by Bush’s team told me, “They’re going after Rubio next. It’s like whack-a-mole. They’re going to try to take out everyone before the primaries even start.”
Of course, Jeb's crew didn't "take out everyone." With the exception of Romney, Jeb's crew didn't "take out" anyone.

But that won't prevent the GOP from allowing Jeb to keep trying, no matter what the consequences to the party's chances in 2016.

Rubio's team hired researchers who specialize in vetting the candidates they're working for, probing for possible vulnerabilities. Certain rumors persisted, but no evidence could be found that they were true. However, they continued to circulate -- spread largely by pople who claimed to like Rubio but would eventually identify themselves as Jeb supporters:
... a couple of rumors were particularly persistent in political circles.... One that reporters in Florida had repeatedly tried to run down over the years dealt with a Tallahassee politico who Rubio had supposedly taken on several romantic out-of-state trips and paid for them with the state party’s credit card. Another, even more pervasive rumor, held that Rubio was hiding a secret second family somewhere, and sending regular cash installments to support them (and keep them quiet).

... Acting on explicit instructions, the research firm investigated the rumors and determined that they lacked concrete evidence, which was enough to give Rubio’s advisers peace of mind. But along the way, the firm encountered enough dishy Miami-Dade politicos hocking titillating gossip to fill the entire newsroom of a supermarket tabloid. The firm concluded that, in many cases, the rumors were being fanned by the same South Florida Republicans who claimed to be Rubio’s supporters.

And unfortunately for him, many of those Miami gossips would, come 2015, join the cutthroat ranks of the Jeb Bush juggernaut.
You can say that this is Jeb being a cutthroat pol in the storied, Corleone-esque Bush family tradition. But think about it: What the Bushes and their affiliates did to Mike Dukakis in 1988, John McCain in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004 actually worked. Those years saw Bush victories. This year, Jeb is flailing. People who've seen what he's peddling about Rubio dismiss it with contempt:
... Jeb’s messengers tried to convince a number of influential figures in political media that they had the goods on Rubio. Among these was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. A former Republican congressman from Florida who remained tapped into the state’s politics, Scarborough was skeptical whenever somebody tried to convince him that Rubio had an explosive career-ending secret lurking in his past. “Everybody who runs against him says he has girlfriends, or financial problems. They throw a lot of shit at the wall,” Scarborough told me. “It’s the same thing from the Jeb Bush camp. They keep telling me, ‘Oh, we’ve got the thing that’s going to take him down.’ But nobody’s ever produced anything that we all haven’t read in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Marco Rubio is the best the GOP has this year. He's the only potentially strong general election candidate who could conceivably win the nomination. The party should be lining up behind him. Instead, the party appears ready to stand back and let Jeb do this to its most promising newcomer, even though the party's voters despise Jeb and will never give him the nomination.

Why is the party establishment allowing this to happen? I understand that politics has become much more "entrepreneurial" these days -- candidates (and the billionaires who own them, or at least make their super PACs possible) are now running the show, not the parties themselves. This is particularly true in the GOP.

And the result is the rise of Donald Trump (who's his own billionaire), Ted Cruz, and (thanks to a grifty and well-developed fundraising apparatus) Ben Carson. But, beyond that, the result is Jeb positioning himself as the guy no one will cross even though his presence in the race continues to damage the one candidate who's both nominatable and electable.

People who think Trump will fade rely on the poli-sci notion that "the party decides" -- mainstream donors, top elected officials, and other insiders inevitably coalesce around a plausible nominee. That should be happening with Rubio -- but, instead, the party is unwilling to tell Jeb to get the hell out of the race and stop being nothing more than a stumbling block for a better candidate. And so the party can't decide on Rubio -- and Trump, Cruz, and Carson are really grateful for that.


And speaking of party endorsements, Politico tells us that Republican members of Congress are coming around to Rubio -- or are they?
Ted Cruz has built his Senate career and presidential campaign on his willingness to stick it to the Republican establishment. And now that he’s gaining momentum in the primary, his many GOP nemeses in Congress are returning the favor by quietly coalescing behind Marco Rubio.
Quoted in the piece are veteran senators John Cornyn, Dan Coats, and John Thune. All have nice things to say about Rubio (or not-nice things to say about Cruz). But not one of them has actually endorsed Rubio.

Why? Oh, this is pathetic:
Cornyn, Thune and Coats have not endorsed in the presidential primary, and lawmakers interviewed for this story said many senior Republicans do not want to embarrass long-shot presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham by endorsing Rubio while the South Carolina senator is in the race.
Yes, that's right: Trump, Cruz, and Carson are winning and party muckamucks won't endorse Rubio because it might hurt Lindsey Graham's feelings. Their party is a building on fire and they're afraid to grab the phone and dial 911 because Crazy Old Grandpa isn't done using it to talk to clouds.

This party deserves Trump/Cruz 2016.


Last week, before the Planned Parenthood shooing took over the news cycle, the Washington Free Beacon tried to anger and infuriate its readers with this:
Hotel rooms and car service for Vice President Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving trip to Rome and Croatia cost over $300,000, according to recently released government contracts.

The vice president, his wife, Jill, and other relatives are spending the holiday abroad. Biden is first making a stop in Zagreb, Croatia, for meetings, before heading to Italy on Wednesday.

The State Department issued four contracts for hotel rooms in Rome from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29, for a total cost of $208,582.

The government also spent $7,676 for “ambulance support” for Biden’s Rome trip.

For the Croatia leg of the trip, the government issued multiple contracts for car services....
Omigod! $300,000! What a massive tax expenditure! Why, that means every one of the 300 million-plus U.S. citizens had to kick in ... approximately one tenth of a penny!

But the conservative political media knows that its audience won't do that math. Angry consumers of right-wing news sources interpret any amount of non-military government spending in excess of a typical middle-class annual income, whether it's $4 trillion or $2 million or $300,000, as "a large number," and all such spending infuriates them.

But what was Biden doing on this trip? On Wednesday, there was this:
Former Balkan rivals on Wednesday pledged joint efforts with the United States and the European Union in protecting European borders from a record surge of asylum-seekers amid fears that Islamic militants may have infiltrated the flow.

Southeast European leaders met at an urgent summit in the Croatian capital attended by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the crisis....

Biden's trip came amid a heated debate in the U.S. about whether to admit Syrian refugees following the Islamic State group's Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead and hundreds wounded.
And in Rome, on Friday:
Vice President Joe Biden met today with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, energy security, and other global issues. The Vice President thanked Prime Minister Renzi for Italy's contributions to international security, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Mediterranean basin. The two leaders discussed our common efforts to degrade and defeat ISIL, counterterrorism cooperation, and efforts to counter violent extremism. On Ukraine, the Vice President and Prime Minister agreed on the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements. Finally, the Vice President and Prime Minister also discussed energy security and the importance of diversification of sources, supply routes, and fuel types.
Afterwards, the Vice President [held] a bilateral meeting with Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See.
So, y'know, just chillin', right? Just indulging himself.

Is overseas travel typical for Biden over Thanksgiving? No.
For the last four decades, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has made a tradition of spending Thanksgiving with his family in Nantucket, Mass.

But just six months after the death of his son Beau, he could not bring himself to go to the island this year, and so he is skipping the holiday altogether....

Mr. Biden will bring his wife, Jill, and some other relatives as well [to Europe]. He hopes the change in scenery in a part of the world that does not celebrate Thanksgiving will allow the family to avoid the emotional pain that a long weekend in Nantucket might have brought.
Um, I'm pretty sure that if the vice president of the United States were spending Thanksgiving weekend in Nantucket, a number of security personnel would need to accompany him and his family, at some expense to the taxpayer, because, y'know, that's what we do for presidents and vice presidents. We'll do it for the next Republican president and vice president, and the vast majority of Americans will understand.

But this became a scandal in the right-o-sphere. Here's a story at Newsmax. Here's another one from England's Daily Mail, which publishes a lot of material aimed at the U.S. right.

The stupidest response came from Allen West, a former Florida congressman and Iraq War veteran who had to resign from the military to avoid a court martial on charges that he abused a prisoner. On his website, West wrote:
ThanksTAKING: What Joe Biden did for Turkey Day is simply disgusting

... maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll have leadership in America that doesn’t spend taxpayer dollars for a Thanksgiving boondoggle....

One of the great traditions in America is principled, servant-oriented leadership -- and it is sorely missing.
So what would West propose as an alternative to this trip?
I think it would have been lots cheaper to spend Thanksgiving with our troops, here stateside or abroad. There’s my first duty station, Vicenza Italy, which isn’t that far from Croatia. Or how about visiting our men and women serving in the unilaterally declared “end of combat operations zone” combat zone, Afghanistan? I’m of the mindset that it would have been lots cheaper to take a C-17 and visit as many troops all over the globe as possible in a 24-hour Thanksgiving period....

Can any of you imagine how awesome it would be to some troops at a distant Forward Operating Base (FOB) to have the commander-in-chief or vice president fly in on a CH-47D helicopter to serve them a hot Thanksgiving meal and take pics with them to send back to their families back home? Perhaps if Barack Obama and Joe Biden were out there and saw what it’s like to be on the front lines, they wouldn’t take such a dismissive tone with our troops.

Why not visit those deployed into Iraq for...well, maybe Obama and Biden could see what they’re doing and fill in that blank.
Oh, right, that "would have been lots cheaper" -- especially if Biden had taken West's advice and decided to "take a C-17 and visit as many troops all over the globe as possible in a 24-hour Thanksgiving period," including troops in or near active war zones. Granted, it probably wouldn't have been necessary to take quite as many precautions as the ones described in this story about a brief 2006 visit to Iraq by President George W. Bush, but I'm sure a fair amount of advance prep would have been necessary at every stop (forgive the lengthy quote):
At approximately 7:45 on the night of June 12, Bush left the presidential retreat at Camp David by helicopter. Leaving from Camp David increased operational security (OPSEC)....

Bush traveled from Camp David to Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, D.C., where the 89th Airlift Wing maintains aircraft for transporting high-ranking U.S. government officials.... By 9:07 p.m., the president was airborne aboard Air Force One -- in this case, a VC-25, a military version of the Boeing 747 modified for use as a VIP transport and fully outfitted with communications gear and defensive systems.

Any time the president flies, a secure air corridor patrolled by fighter and surveillance aircraft supported by aerial refueling craft is established, and normal air traffic is routed away from the corridor....

Once it was over Baghdad, Air Force One descended to Baghdad International Airport (BIA) in a "corkscrew" maneuver designed to thwart surface-to-air missile (SAM) attacks. Also, the VC-25 is equipped with a full suite of countermeasures designed to defeat heat-seeking and radar-guided SAMs. These include decoy flares that burn hotter than the aircraft's exhaust and laser systems to turn heat-seeking SAMs off course, and strips of metal that eject from the aircraft to confuse radar-guided SAMs....

Throughout Bush's visit, the USSS would have been at the center of security operations, with support from U.S. military units in Baghdad. At BIA, Delta Force, military countersniper teams and other specialized units working with regular units would have secured the airport's perimeter. The USSS would have provided a secondary internal ring and had much the same functions as the units on the perimeter. The Technical Services Division of the USSS would have been on site to provide hazardous material response, explosives disposal and countersniper teams.

The helicopter flight to the fortified "Green Zone," where Bush met with al-Maliki, was the most dangerous part of the visit. The flight, in a heavily armored U.S. military helicopter, took approximately six minutes. Decoy flights departing BIA at the same time as Bush's aircraft could have been used to add to OPSEC. The U.S. helicopters would have flown low and fast over Baghdad's rooftops in order to minimize exposure to potential attackers.

Delta Force would have facilitated movement to and from the Green Zone. Inside the Green Zone, Bush would have been surrounded by an inner core of USSS agents from the Presidential Protective Detail, with additional security provided by U.S. military units. An armored motorcade would have been standing by to evacuate Bush in an instant in any emergency.

The security precautions implemented in Baghdad would have required advance planning and coordination between the USSS and U.S. military authorities in the city....
Hey, you could have something similar to this for Biden in multiple global locations, including several hot spots, for pocket change! It would have cost way less than $300,000!

By the way, Biden does visit troops -- in Iraq this past July, at Pearl Harbor in 2013, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 2011, in Afghanistan in 2011, in Iraq in 2010 ... need I go on? However, it ain't cheap.

Oh, but I always forget: to conservatives, the military is always free. Only civilian spending is high-cost "big government."

Sunday, November 29, 2015


So I think I know where Ted Cruz got this assertion about Robert Dear, the man charged with the Planned Parenthood shooting:
When a reporter reminded Cruz it has been reported Dear made a comment about "baby parts" while being apprehended, Cruz retorted, "It’s also been reported that he was registered as an independent and a woman and transgendered leftist activist, if that’s what he is. I don’t think it’s fair to blame on the rhetoric on the left. This is a murderer.”
It was reported not long after the shooter was ID'd that his voter registration form refers to him as "FEMALE" -- a fact a lot of right-wingers pounced on, even though it's probably an error on the part of whoever entered his name on the rolls, or perhaps the paranoid Dear's attempt to confound the authorities in some incomprehensible way. (One ex-neighbor has said that Dear urged him to get a metal roof so the government couldn't spy on him. Maybe Dear thought putting the wrong gender on his voter form would keep the feds' radio transmissions out of his dental fillings.)

But how did Cruz leap from that report to "transgender"?

I suspect Cruz reads a popular wingnut blogger named Soopermexican, who posted this yesterday:
Was The Colorado Shooting Actually ‘Transgender Terrorism’?

So this is really freakin’ weird. According to voting records that people are finding on the internet, the Colorado shooter Robert L. Dear, identifed as a woman....

Now this could be a mistake because this dude does not look like a transgender anything....

Then again maybe he/she is just really good at it. Who knows?
Soopermexican doesn't seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, but he can accurately boast that his posts over the years have been quoted and cited by Rush Limbaugh, Dana Perino, Michelle Malkin, and other mainstream members of the right-wing commentariat. Soopermexican, therefore, is practically an establishment figure -- and now we have a guy who's considered a credible political-professional alternative to Donald Trump in the GOP presidential race, and Soopermexican is apparently one of his sources for fast-breaking news.

There's no longer any line between the consumers of this swill and the politicians they're being gulled to vote for. We should have realized that after Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson, but Ted Cruz is supposed to be an educated guy who knows what he's talking about, even if he comes to insane conclusions. Sorry, no: There's no effective difference between Cruz and the others I've listed. This is what the GOP is now, from top to bottom.


NBC News reported this last night:
The day after a gunman killed three people and shot nine others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office, officials tell NBC News a motive remains unclear, but say the suspect talked about politics and abortion.

Robert Lewis Dear, a North Carolina native who was living in a trailer in Colorado, made statements to police Friday at the scene of the Colorado Springs clinic and in interviews that law enforcement sources described as rantings.

In one statement, made after the suspect was taken in for questioning, Dear said "no more baby parts" in reference to Planned Parenthood, two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case told NBC News.
That was followed by this, from The Washington Post:
The gunman suspected of storming a Planned Parenthood clinic and killing a police officer and two others used the phrase “no more baby parts" to explain his actions, according to a law enforcement official, a comment likely to further inflame the heated rhetoric surrounding abortion.

The attack on the clinic, allegedly by Robert Lewis Dear Jr., was “definitely politically motivated," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is still underway.
And this, from The New York Times:
... the authorities shed no light publicly on whether they believed Mr. Dear, 57, had deliberately targeted Planned Parenthood. But one senior law enforcement official, who would speak only anonymously about an ongoing investigation, said that after Mr. Dear was arrested, he had said “no more baby parts” in a rambling interview with the authorities.
So whatever else Dear might have said, at least three major news outlets are telling us that he said, "No more baby parts" -- according to one or more law enforcement sources. NBC attributes the statement to "two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case." The Times attributes it to "one senior law enforcement official." The Post cites "a law enforcement official" -- who is also willing to assert definitively that Dear's motive was political.

Now, how does Fox News handle this? Here's the lead story at right now:

The head of the Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic where a gunman killed three people and injured nine others said in a statement Saturday that the man held anti-abortion views.

“We are learning that eyewitnesses confirm that the man who will be charged with the tragic and senseless shooting that resulted in the deaths of three people and injures to nine others at Planned Parenthood’s health center in Colorado Springs was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain CEO Vicki Cowart said.

“This is an appalling act of violence targeting access to health care and terrorizing skilled and dedicated health care professionals.”
Yes, the Fox story, in paragraph #4, cites one of the law enforcement sources:
A law enforcement official also told the Associated Press that Richard Lewis Dear, 57, made a “no more baby parts” remark following his arrest in the deadly rampage Friday. The official told AP he couldn’t elaborate about the comment and spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
And yes, that is what the AP story says.

But do you see what Fox has done here? It's understood at Fox that a lot of people don't read past the first one or two paragraphs of a typical online news story, or (especially in the social media age) even read past the headline -- so this headline says that the person ascribing anti-abortion politics to the shooter is the evil head of an organization devoted to legalized mass murder. The people at Fox hope that's what the Fox audience remembers. The point is to create doubt about the assertion.

Will it work? Well, maybe not, but Fox regards itself as in an ongoing war against liberalism. So Fox isn't going to leave any ammo unused.

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Republican presidential candidates still haven't said anything about the Colorado Planned Parenthood shootings, with the exception of Ted Cruz (in a tweet, as I noted in my last post) and now John Kasich:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is the other GOP contender to discuss the attacks, offering his prayers for the affected families and saying "senseless violence has brought tragedy to Colorado Springs."
This seems odd:

That's right:
Garrett Swasey, 44, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs police officer who was shot and killed while responding to a shooting at a Planned Parenthood office, was described by his fellow church members and friends as a courageous man and loving father who drew strength and inspiration from his Christian faith.

He was married, with two young children, and had been on the campus police force for six years. He also spent seven years as a co-pastor at Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs. “Here’s a guy who worked full time as a police officer, and then gave a great amount of time to his local church and didn’t get a dime for it,” said Scott Dontanville, a co-pastor who knew Officer Swasey for 15 years. “He did it because it was the thing that he felt he needed to do.”
But if we think that should matter to Republicans, we're making the same error we made when we thought insulting John McCain was going to end Donald Trump's presidential campaign. We thought at the time: McCain's a veteran! He's a war hero! He suffered for years in a brutal POW camp run by commies! Surely Republican voters will be appalled! But Republican voters hate immigrants, and McCain has been a sometime advocate of immigration reform. McCain has also been a RINO on campaign finance reform. And he lost to the hated Barack Obama in 2008.

So hatred of McCain trumped love for veterans of anti-communist wars.

In this case, Republicans hate abortion and hate Planned Parenthood. They hate gun control, and the shooting has already led to another call for new gun laws by President Obama. These hatreds are much more important to the right than love of the police, even when the dead police officer was also a Christian minister. In this case, blue lives don't matter, and this wasn't part of the war on Christianity. The killer wasn't a member of any group conservatives hate, and his main target was a group conservatives absolutely hate.

So hate wins. Therefore, the right is never going to denounce this incident with any enthusiasm.


As of midnight last night, after the Colorado Springs gunman was in custody, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had already tweeted words of solidarity with Planned Parenthood. But none of the fourteen Republican presidential candidates had issued a public statement on the incident, as Emily Atkins of Think Progress noted:
The lack of response from presidential candidates may have been because of the Thanksgiving holiday. However, some candidates tweeted about other topics as details of the shooting unfolded Friday evening....

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), for example, sent out a tweet about his campaign merchandise.

... Rubio’s tweet was likely scheduled in advance....

Donald Trump was also tweeting during the Colorado shooting, though he steered clear of the topic entirely. Instead, he tweeted about his polling numbers and how he “cannot be bought.

Shortly after the shooting suspect was apprehended, Trump also released a statement insulting a New York Times reporter he had made fun of earlier in the week. The reporter suffers from a physical disability.
It's my understanding that this radio silence still holds.

Abortion rights supporters are horrified at what Illinois congressman Adam Kinzinger said yesterday on CNN while the siege was still under way, but trust me, any statements by the presidential candidates of Kinzinger's party will sound a lot like what he said. No, maybe not this part:
It was while that siege was still going on, though, that Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger decided to take to CNN’s air and demand an apology from Vicki Cowart, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, if the perpetrator turned out not to be an anti-abortion terrorist:
“When I heard that statement, I thought that was very premature. We may find out this person was targeting Planned Parenthood. If we find out he was not targeting Planned Parenthood, I would fully expect an apology from the Planned Parenthood director for saying that.”
But certainly the rest of the statement:
" ... But regardless, if somebody is targeting Planned Parenthood, it’s not indicative of what folks that are opposed to some of the practices Planned Parenthood commits, how we feel, you know? We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to take guns and walk into Planned Parenthood clinics. Obviously, this is a person that has a mental health issue, that’s to some level psychotic and crazy. And if he’s targeting Planned Parenthood -- and again, we don’t know -- if he is, he has taken a legitimate disagreement with the practice and turned it into an evil response, which is to go in and shoot people. But again, we don’t know that answer yet, and I’m sure we’ll be finding out shortly.”

The GOP presidential candidates are going to say that this attack was evil, but Planned Parenthood is also evil. They'll say, however, that they absolutely oppose launching a violent attack on Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that they've repeatedly described Planned Parenthood as an agent of mass murder.

They probably won't attack the head of Planned Parenthood for saying this in her statement:
We don’t yet know the full circumstances and motives behind this criminal action, and we don’t yet know if Planned Parenthood was in fact the target of this attack. We share the concerns of many Americans that extremists are creating a poisonous environment that feeds domestic terrorism in this country.
But they are waiting for what they'll consider a lucky break -- a dearth of anti-abortion and conservative material in the gunman's home and on his computer, and possibly evidence that he's profoundly psychotic or schizophrenic. Then they'll pounce on others who (they'll say) "rushed to judgment" and tried to slander Christians and conservatives by linking them to this deeply troubled man and this unfortunate incident that shows how much we need to reform mental health care in this country. (If it's discovered that he is, in fact, deeply political, the candidates will just double down on "genocide doesn't justify a violent response.")

But they don't even want to start the process right now. In part, that's because they hope they can pigeonhole the shooter as a crazy man -- but it's also because nobody wants to be first out of the gate even with a statement that passes right-wing litmus tests by condemning both the shooting and Planned Parenthood's work. Just saying something at all about this incident would be read in Iowa, South Carolina, and other states full of religious-right Republican voters as a sign of excessive sympathy with baby butchers.

So they won't say much -- at least not now.


UPDATE: Ted Cruz breaks the silence:

Well, it's a start.

Friday, November 27, 2015


The gunman who shot eleven people at a Colrado Planned Parenthood office has been apprehended -- but while the siege was still taking place, as Gawker notes, Fox News identified the real villain: President Obama.

There's a clip in the Gawker post that I can't embed; in it, Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle blames the siege on the fact that evil Obama wants to restrict the use of military-style hardware by police, a point enthusiastically seconded by former New York cop and regular Fox contributor Bo Dietl. Yes, folks, that was the big problem today, not the fact that a guy went into a Planned Parenthood, shot cops, and terrorized a community.

In the clip, Guilfoyle says to Dietl:
Yeah, Bo, we were getting some reports earlier and talking about the Justice Department and, you know, stripping local law enforcement officers of that, you know, much-needed tactical supplies, military-style equipment, Ferguson and whatnot, and the investigations that happened, and you just think about a situation like this where the police need every available resource to put down an active shooter situation, especially someone that seems to be heavily armed, doesn't make sense to me why we would handicap our police officers when we need them in a crisis situation like this.
Dietl's reply, as the Gawker post notes, is war-porn word salad -- but the point he makes is clear enough. It's also clear that Dietl isn't going off on a rant on his own volition -- the segment is set up to raise this issue. Dietl is replying to Guilfoyle's question, which is asked in order to get the Fox message across:
Again, this is our president acting like a fool again. I mean, to see something like this, we noticed when the attacks occurred in Paris, when the cops were in their car getting attacked. We have to prepare ourselves. This is a war. We’re against... terrorists are against this country.

It’s going to open up here in America, and we’ve got to be prepared. And we’ve also got to start training all our officers in the use of high-powered equipment. We’re dealing with bad people here. Our little 9 millimeters are not going to do anything against somebody with an AK-47. So let's [unintelligible] the belief that we're in fairyland here. This is an attack on us; it’s going to be for the next generation. We have to deal with it. We have to prepare ourselves for the worst, and pray that the worst don’t happen.
So the Obama administration expressed some skepticism about police militarization, therefore a Planned Parenthood siege proves that Ialamicists are going to kill us all.

In reality, as the Denver Post reports, heavy equipment was used to deal with this situation:
Throughout the late afternoon, the encounter could be heard on the police scanner, with the authorities describing how they had driven a BearCat armored vehicle into the building, smashing through two sets of doors into the lobby and rescuing some of those inside.
That would be this vehicle:

But this is what Roger Ailes considers the most important mission of Fox News: to mine every single news story for a real or imagined examples of liberal evil and perfidy. If a planet-destroying meteorite someday approaches Earth, the Fox take will be: Could this have been prevented if President Obama hadn't insisted on those NASA cutbacks? This is what Fox is all about.


Molly Ball of The Atlantic has seen Donald Trump's supporters up close and has concluded that they're not going to change their minds:
Four months into his crazed foray into presidential politics, Trump is still winning this thing.... The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, which some hoped would expose Trump’s shallowness, have instead strengthened him by intensifying people’s anger and fear....

Some observers still think Trump’s support might be soft. Trump has dipped in the polls a couple of times, after a listless debate performance, for example. 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.

“I have got my mind made up, pretty much so,” says Michael Barnhill, a 67-year-old factory supervisor with a leathery complexion and yellow teeth. “The fact is, politicians have not done anything for our country in a lot of years.”

These people are not confused. They are sticking with Trump, the only candidate who gets it, who is man enough to show the enemy who’s boss....

“I look at the pictures of those refugees and they all look like able-bodied young men, 18 to 30 years old,” says ... Patrice Matthews, a 62-year-old retired school-district worker....

I hear versions of the point about able-bodied young men from five different people. I hear, over and over again, that illegal immigration is the biggest problem we face....
And of course Republican voters respond to Trump -- as Josh Marshall notes, he's just saying on the campaign trail what conservatives have been saying to one another for year:
It's not too much to say that there's nothing Trump has said in recent weeks that you couldn't hear any given Monday on the Rush Limbaugh Show, from various backbench House conservatives or a million other places in conservative media. If you pay attention to any of these three fronts, you know this. These are the same themes, enemies, and swear lines that have run right at the water line of conservative politics for years.
So what could beat Trump? David Frum argues that Trump should be attacked as an immigration flip-flopper:
... if you want to take down Trump, there is only one line of attack that will work....

Right now, construction crews are at work completing the new Trump hotel in Washington D.C.’s Old Post Office. In July, a reporter for the Post interviewed 15 of those workers.
[M]any of them had crossed the U.S-Mexico border illegally before they eventually settled in the Washington region to build new lives.

Several of the men, who hail mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, have earned U.S. citizenship or legal status through immigration programs targeting Central Americans fleeing civil wars or natural disasters. Others quietly acknowledged that they remain in the country illegally.
A spokesman for the Trump organization noted that construction workers on the site were employed not by Trump himself, but by subcontractors. That answer may constitute a valid legal defense -- but it’s no defense at all for attack ad purposes.
So Trump is a hypocrite -- but this has already been reported and it hasn't hurt him. Why might it hurt him eventually? Frum thinks it's because he came late to this issue, and could be portrayed as someone who might change his mind again:
Until he read Ann Coulter’s book this spring, Trump seemed to have been a perfectly conventional business Republican on immigration. In a 2012 interview, in fact, he blamed Romney’s loss on taking a too-tough line on the issue:
...“He had a crazy policy of self deportation which was maniacal,” Trump says. “It sounded as bad as it was, and he lost all of the Latino vote,” Trump notes. “He lost the Asian vote. He lost everybody who is inspired to come into this country.” ...
If Trump said those things in one interview, recorded only in print, it’s likely he said them in others, recorded in video and audio, the raw material of the attack ad.
I don't buy it. Trump supporters desperately want to believe. They know that in the past he's been pro-choice. He's been pro-single payer. He's been pro-Clinton. They don't care. Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat. David Horowitz was once a leftist. They want to believe in conversions.

But those undocumented workers on Trump's job site could provide a means to attack Trump -- if Trump opponents are willing to be extremely amoral even by the usual standards of attack politics.

What might give Trump voters pause is news that an undocumented Trump construction worker committed a violent crime. That's the primal fear of all anti-immigrant right-wingers: a fear that all or most of the undocumented are untraceable, uncontrollable, feral criminal sociopaths. (Trump on Mexico in his announcement speech: "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.")

Is it likely that a Trump construction worker is going to commit a violent crime? Statistics show that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native born, so the answer is no.

Which is where the amorality of political operatives would have to come in.

If GOP Establishmentarians could cruelly and cynically persuade someone in local law enforcement to charge an undocumented Trump worker with an unsolved violent crime, and if they could sustain a cover-up of the worker's innocence, this could become a multi-day story and might genuinely hurt Trump. It would no longer be enough for him just to bellow that you should ignore his past statements on immigration and pay attention to the new ones, because now he'd be pressured to answer for an indefensible deed.

Arresting an innocent man would be an awful thing to do, of course, though it would hardly be the first time a law enforcement agency acted with this degree of moral bankruptcy.

The point is, it might work.

Or maybe Trump would successfully shift the blame to the nominal employer of his construction workers and emerge unscathed.
But trust me, the only chance the GOP Establishment has of beating Trump is by offering real evidence, phony or otherwise, that he's part of the problem. The Establishment will have to out-Trump Trump.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


This is where I'm supposed to tell you all the things I'm grateful for, but it just doesn't feel like that kind of year. For instance, here's the guy who's supposedly the sane, rational, moderate alternative to the crazies dominating the Republican presidential race:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says religious believers are called to “ignore” laws that violate their faith.

“In essence, if we are ever ordered by a government authority to personally violate and sin -- violate God’s law and sin -- if we’re ordered to stop preaching the Gospel, if we’re ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it, we are called to ignore that,” Rubio said in an interview with CBN on Tuesday.

“So when those two come into conflict, God’s rules always win,” he added.
Do you see what Rubio did there? He's asked about tolerating legal same-sex marriage and he responds by imagining an America in which Christians are "ordered to stop preaching the Gospel" and "ordered to perform a same-sex marriage as someone presiding over it." Who's ordering Christians to stop preaching Christianity? Who is even trying to force religious denominations to perform same-sex marriages, any more than we force Catholics to offer church weddings to divorced people?

But if conservatives like Rubio tell themselves these are the real threats, they feel justified in lashing out. They're the victims, based on what they say is being done to them.

There's a huge difference between this and the way blacks in America are treated by police departments and their law-and-order enablers -- black people are actually killed and brutalized by cops on a shockingly routine basis -- but the principle is similar: Again, the response is justified by the false claim that the attackers are the victims. We see this in the case of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald in Chicago:
It was just about a year ago that a city whistleblower came to journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman out of concern that Laquan McDonald’s shooting a few weeks earlier “wasn’t being vigorously investigated,” as Kalven recalls. The source told them “that there was a video and that it was horrific,” he said....

In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times -- as Van Dyke unloaded his service weapon, execution style -- while McDonald lay on the ground.

The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops.
The story that McDonald "lunged at" cops was not just ass-covering -- it reinforces a narrative that enables the police to act with impunity when dealing with young black males. They're feral! They're psychotic! They want to kill cops! We have to do these things!

One policy after another is justified by conservatives with a Big Lie. Syrian refugees are unvettable terrorists. Undocumented Mexican immigrants routinely murder and rape. Black Lives Matter protesters are thugs who want all cops to die and seek a violent race war. And on and on.

Conservatives are always the victims. The peril is always a threat to life and limb, or at least to their mortal souls. So we have to let them do whatever they want in response, right?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


President Obama met with French president Francois Hollande yesterday and expressed solidarity with Hollande:
This barbaric terrorist group -- ISIL, or Daesh -- and its murderous ideology pose a serious threat to all of us. It cannot be tolerated. It must be destroyed. And we must do it together. This is the unity of purpose that brings us here today.
Obama also spoke of the climate conference that will begin next Monday just outside Paris:
And next week, I will be joining President Hollande and world leaders in Paris for the global climate conference. What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.
This, of course, is hilarious to right-wingers. Here's Aleister at Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit:
Get 'em, Barack!

... Yeah, that’ll show ’em.
And Here's Dana at Patterico's Pontifications:
... Showing that steel spine of resolve and the slick strategery we’ve come to expect from President Obama as he steadfastly works to contain, degrade and destroy ISIS, he threw down the gauntlet and reminded ISIS just who it is they are messing with....

This is the same world leader who believes there is no challenge that poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. You might ask, but what about the Barbarians at the Gate??? Meh. What’s a few heads rolling here and there and the destruction of Western civilization compared to fresh, clean air for the future Caliphate of the West living that awesome 7th century lifestyle?
And Pam Geller:
Jihad chaos. But no worries, Obama is taking control and going after the real villain, weather....
Oh, sorry, I forgot. It doesn't take real courage for Obama (and 137 other world leaders) to attend a conference in a suburb of a city that suffered a massive multi-stage terrorist assault just this month, with the likelihood that not all suspects are dead or in custody. It's not courage to attend this conference, which will stretch out over twelve days. That won't be recognized as a rebuke to intimidation.

For that according to the right, you need something serious.

Like this:

Baseball -- that's what evildoers take seriously. Remember Bush spending a few minutes on the mound throwing that pitch (in a bulletproof vest) in October 2001? Remember how that terrified our enemies so much that they immediately surrendered, and we didn't have to fight any wars during the Bush years? Remember how our foes were especially impressed that Bush's pitch was said to be a strike? Bin Laden immediately committed suicide after he saw that! Do you remember?

Yes, folks, that's what you do if you want to show resolve to terrorists: throw a ball, not attend a silly conference about the fate of the earth.


I keep thinking about the speculation that the Republican presidential race will come down to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump -- an idea inspired by a Quinnipiac poll of Iowa in which the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat.

Ever since Trump rose to the top of the polls, we've been told by some pundits that there'd be a "firewall" in the latter part of the nomination contest -- in blue and purple states with lots of delegates, a sensible moderate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio is sure to do better than an angry wild man like Trump. As FiveThirtyEight's David Wasserman pointed out a few weeks ago, every congressional district awards three delegates, regardless of the district's redness or blueness. This favors a moderate candidate, Wasserman wrote:
The average blue district awards one convention delegate per 28,912 Romney voters, while the average red district awards one delegate per every 56,714 Romney voters. Thanks to this disparity, if a hard-right candidate like Cruz dominates deeply red Southern districts in the SEC primary, a more electable candidate like Rubio could quickly erase that deficit by quietly piling up smaller raw-vote wins in more liberal urban and coastal districts.
(The "SEC primary" is the "super Tuesday" that will take place on March 1, when a large number of mostly Southern states will vote.)

But if the field gets winnowed down and it's a race between Trump vs. Cruz, with states such as New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey voting late, the "moderate" who'll be favored in those states is likely to be ... Trump.

Cruz's strength, beyond the fact that he's as crazy as Trump, is that he appeals to conservative Christian voters as a fellow evangelical. That's a big reason he's gaining ground as Ben Carson, another religious-right favorite, fades.

But that's why the states that were supposed to be the GOP Establishment's firewall could be Trump's firewall. The more urbane states are wary of candidates who stress Christian conservatism -- that's why Trump has consistently had a bigger lead in New Hampshire, where religiosity is much less of a selling point, than in Iowa, where it's a huge selling point. Trump still does well in states with a lot of religious Republicans -- fascist authoritarianism playes well anywhere Republicans gather -- but he does better in the secular states, and Cruz does much worse. (Cruz may be close to the lead in Iowa, but he's still a distant third in New Hampshire, as he is in a new Suffolk poll of Massachusetts, where he's 22 points behind Trump.)

Cruz's top surrogate in heavily religious states is his father, Rafael, a fire-and-brimstone wingnut preacher who argues that evolution is Marxist and gay marriage is satanic. Those messages that have a lot less appeal in states where there are still country-club Republicans, some of whom even support gay rights.

So the guy that establishmentarians were counting on to stop a crazy front-runner could turn out to be ... the crazy front-runner himself.


Oh, and I'm not particularly impressed by Philip Bump's gloss on the latest Suffolk/Boston Globe poll of New Hampshire:
Suffolk and the Globe added something to the mix. If we added Mitt Romney to the list, they asked, would you switch to him? For 30 percent of respondents, the answer was "yes." Romney leads all other Republicans by a two-to-one margin. Trump loses a third of his support.
Yup -- but Rubio, Cruz, Kasich, Fiorina, and especially Bush lose big as well, and Trump still has a huge lead among all non-hypothetical candidates:

Bump suggests that this means Trump's support is extremely soft. He writes:
When news of this survey first came out over the weekend, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver noted that this reinforced the idea that much of Trump's support comes from name recognition. Give voters another name they know, and that name gets a lot of support, too.
"Another name they know"? They don't know the name "Bush"? And why has Ben Carson done as well as he has in the polls? Does he have Trump-level name recognition?

Mitt Romney isn't doing well in this New Hampshire poll because he has name recognition. Romney is doing well because he was the governor of a neighboring state who owns a house in the state and remains popular there. Try polling Mitt in Iowa or South Carolina (or Texas or Mississippi) -- I bet you get a very different result. Meanwhile, the strongest challenge to Trump from an actually existing candidate could be from a crazier one than Trump.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


It looks as if certain members of the Republican Establishment are actively trying to offend angry pro-Trump voters. I'm not sure why Establishmentarians would want to do this -- it's likely to just push more voters into the Trump camp -- but they're doing it anyway:
CONCORD, N.H. -- The state Ballot Law Commission on Wednesday quickly threw out a former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman's challenge to Donald Trump's eligibility to be on the GOP first-in-the-nation primary ballot.

After a hearing that lasted about two minutes, the five-member commission voted unanimously that the challenge filed by Fergus Cullen was without merit because New York state election records clearly show that Trump is a registered Republican in that state.

"Why are we here?" commission chairman Brad Cook asked Cullen....

"You are challenging someone's filing," Cook said. "This commission is not the forum for speeches or electioneering or advancing any other candidate. If you have any information that he is not in fact a Republican, then share it with us."

Cullen replied, "I do not have that information."
Fergus Cullen, the former head of the New Hampshire's Republican Party, is currently a columnist for the state's influential Union Leader newspaper as well as the founder of a pro-immigration group called Americans by Choice. His genius idea was to try to get the guy who's leading the New Hampshire polls by double digits thrown off the ballot, claiming he's not really a Republican, even though voter registration records show that he is. And there's reason to suspect Cullen wasn't acting alone:
Cullen said he filed the complaint on his own behalf. He also said a super PAC promoting Ohio Gov. John Kasich for president, A New Day for America, was aware that he would be filing the complaint before he did so and is “on the same page” believing that Trump is not a true Republican.” Cullen, however, said he is not supporting Kasich, or any candidate, for president at the moment.
The Trump campaign believes there's a Kasich-Cullen link:
Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, in a statement to the Union Leader, suggested that Cullen works for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican rival far behind Trump in the polls....

In response to Lewandowski's claim, Cullen said he is not working for Kasich, and that he so far remains uncommitted. He and his wife Jenny held a house party for Kasich last weekend. He has also held events for Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham.
New Day for America, as I told you yesterday, is both a super PAC and the epicenter of a major effort to bring down Trump using $2.5 million is right-wing billionaire cash.

Is Trump a "true Republican"? He wasn't in the past -- but by now Republicanism and Trumpism are pretty much the same. Roughly a quarter of GOP voters love Trump and plan to vote for him -- and this GOP Establishment figure's response to that is to try to deny those people their democratic choice, based on an evidence-free assertion that Trump isn't eligible. And the guy throwing out this allegation is a pro-immigration activist.

Is this a deliberate attempt to make Trump bolt the GOP and run third party, as he's threatening to do again, with the distinct possibility that he'll take angry voters with him? Is that what Cullen wants? Is that what Kasich and the folks at his PAC want?

Well, if they keep this up, that's what they'll get. Pass the popcorn.


Turkish warplanes have shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Su-24 was hit by air-to-air missiles fired by Turkish F-16s while it was flying over Syrian territory.

But Turkish military officials said the plane was engaged after being warned that it was violating Turkish airspace.

Mr Putin described the incident as a "stab in the back" committed by "accomplices of terrorists".
It’s a tough day for Moscow. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that Syrian fighters destroyed a Russian helicopter with a missile, shortly after they forced it to make an emergency landing in a nearby government-held area in Syria’s Latakia province.

A Syrian insurgent group, which receives US Tow missiles, said its fighters hit the helicopter with an anti-tank missile while it was in the air and put out a video showing the helicopter being blown up after one of its fighters struck it with another missile.
Regarding the pilot of the Su-24:
Shadi al-Ouwayni, an activist in rural Latakia Province, where the pilot’s body was recovered, said one pilot was shot as he drifted to the ground in his parachute while the other was captured by a local militia called the 10th Brigade. He said the pilots landed in different rebel-controlled, locations. His account could not be independently verified.

“One of the Russian pilots was shot as he was trying to land,” he said. “The other was injured and captured.”

A tape of one bloodied pilot lying on the ground began circulating on the Internet, with an activist saying that, “This is a Russian pilot and killer of men, women and children who was killed today after his plane was shot down in Syria.”
And the helicopter?
General staff spokesman Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, added that rebels in Syria fired on a Russian helicopter that was searching for the two pilots of the Su-24.

The shooting killed one crew member on the Mi-8 helicopter and forced it to land in neutral territory, he says.
I'm not the one you want to turn to for expert geopolitical analysis of all this. But I'm recalling that American conservatives regard Vladimir Putin as an omnipotent demigod, a strongman able to walk into any situation and enforce his will against lesser, weaker men.

Bill O'Reilly told us last year, "Putin sees himself as a macho man who's going to do pretty much what he wants. The president sees himself as a renaissance man who wants to accommodate." Sarah Palin said, "People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates." Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle wanted Putin to become president of the United States for 48 hours, because, as she said, "I just want somebody to get in here and get it done right so that Americans don’t have to worry and wake up in the morning fearful of a group that’s murderous and horrific, like ISIS." (This is assuming that Putin actually might want to take on ISIS.)

But there's been no heavy breathing about Putin's manliness to equal Victor Davis Hanson's:
... there is a value for us in Putin.... I refer to Putin’s confidence in his unabashedly thuggish means, the brutal fashion in which a modern state so unapologetically embraces the premodern mind to go after its critics....

... what is Putin? He is a constant reminder to the postmodern Western mind that the human condition has not yet evolved beyond the fist....

Bare-chested Putin gallops his horses, poses with his tigers, and shoots his guns -- what Obama dismisses as “tough-guy schtick.” Perhaps. But Putin is almost saying, “You have ten times the wealth and military power that I have, but I can neutralize you by my demonic personality alone.” Barack Obama, in his increasingly metrosexual golf get-ups and his prissy poses on the nation’s tony golf courses, wants to stay cool while playing a leisure sport. It reminds us of Stafford Cripps being played by Stalin during World War II. “Make no mistake about it” and “Let me be perfectly clear” lose every time. Obama’s subordinates violate the law by going after the communications of a Fox reporter’s parents; Putin himself threatens to cut off the testicles of a rude journalist....

Putin is a reminder not just of our dark past, where raw force, not morality, adjudicated behavior, but, more worrisome, perhaps of a dark future as well, in which we in the West will continually overthink, hyperagonize, and nuance to death every idea, every issue, and every thought in terror that it might not be 100 percent fair, completely unbiased, absolutely justified. We will do anything to have the good life above all else; Putin prefers the bad life on his own terms.

... Putin is the evil hired gun, Jack Wilson (“Prove it!”), in the movie Shane, whose only law is what he believes he can get away with. We are the Hamlet-like sodbusters who one day are ready to pack up and leave, the next terrified lest we really have to....

For Putin, being weak is worse than being wrong.
Does Putin look weak right now? He certainly doesn't look like the ubermensch American conservatives have told us he is. If those shot-down aircraft were American, right-wing pundits would be proclaiming (triumphantly) that Barack Obama looks fatally weak at this moment. But they won't say it about Putin -- because love is blind.


UPDATE:Jeffrey Czerniak has a point:


Hot Air's Allahpundit, who can sometimes be a surprisingly sensible political analyst, tweets this:

To which Bill Kristol replies:

So this is how the right now fantasizes about rescue from Donald Trump? Jeb was going to take his rightful place at the top of the polls using money and breeding, but that didn't happen. Fiorina was going to be the candidate who had outsider appeal but had actually read a couple of briefing books; that didn't happen. Sensible people were going to flock to that thoughtful, experienced John Kasich. Nope. Rubio? Apparently not. So now it's Cruz?

I should acknowledge that Allahpundit and Kristol are probably genuinely rooting for Cruz -- in effect, he's their Trump, a guy who, unlike Trump, will apply government experience, a working knowledge of the lawmaking process, and a knowledge of American history to the project of smashing everything to bits.

I know Cruz is making gains in the polls, but Trump, for voters who aren't professional pundits, is what Cruz wishes he could be, someone seen as capable of remaking everything without limit. Cruz has been in the arena, and has failed to destroy liberalism; therefore, he's suspect. Trump has no such problem.

But just think about this. The GOP is so crazy now that the new "insider vs. outsider" fantasy of the primary race has Ted Cruz as the establishment choice. And who knows? That may be an accurate read on the party.

Oh, and if you think Trump would refrain from running third party in the fall if running third party means running against Cruz, you're delusional. Trump surely believes he'd win that battle. I'd love it if Kristol's scenario played out. And no, Cruz wouldn't seem centrist by comparison -- the two of them would out-wingnut each other all the way to November.


CLARIFICATION: This is presumably in response to a Quinnipiac Iowa poll in which Cruz is surging:
Donald Trump gets 25 percent of Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants in a too-close-to- call race with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas who is at 23 percent, double his support from four weeks ago, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Dr. Ben Carson has 18 percent, with Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 13 percent.

Monday, November 23, 2015


This is how frivolously you can spend your money when you're conservative and richer than God:
Nearly a dozen big Republican donors backing different presidential candidates are coming together to help fund an advertising campaign attacking front-runner Donald Trump....

Matt David, spokesman for the group planning the attack, a Super PAC called New Day for America, which is supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich's presidential bid, said 10 new donors had pledged money in the two days since Politico reported Thursday evening the group's plans to attack Trump in New Hampshire....

David said New Day for America's plans to spend $2.5 million on anti-Trump ads in New Hampshire meant the group's message would achieve something near "saturation" in the state.

It has already received "hundreds of thousands of dollars" from the new donors, and pledges over the past two days add up to more than $1 million, according to David.
And what are these richies getting for their money? Well, here's the first ad -- an ad consisting of stuff that was already supposed to bring down Trump's poll numbers already and utterly failed to do so:

John McCain attack? Check. Megyn Kelly attack? Check. Trump saying if Ivanka weren't his daughter he'd date her? Check. Attack on Ben Carson? Check.

Bringing all this up didn't work before, but rich people are footing the bill, so why not try the exact same thing and hope for a different result? That usually works, doesn't it?

Oh, and what else does the PAC have in mind?
David said his group plans to use ads on TV and radio as well as direct mailings to New Hampshire voters to show them what a Trump presidency would look like, depicting details like the complicated, expensive bureaucratic operations behind efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants and get all Muslims in the United States to register in a database.
Oh, brilliant: You're going to tell angry Republican voters that Trump really can't deport all the undocumented immigrants and register all the Muslims, policies those angry voters desperately crave? While you're at it, why not tell some pre-schoolers that there's no Santa Claus? That'll go over equally well.

This is one more reason we ought to raise taxes on the rich: because when it comes to spending money on politics, the rich have no damn sense. We need to save them from themselves.


A new CBS poll says that Americans are split on whether to allow Syrian refugees into the country -- "47 percent say they should be allowed to enter as long as they go through a screening process, but slightly more - 50 percent - say they should not be allowed to come to the U.S. at this time." Republicans, needless to say, oppose admitting the Syrians, while Democrats are in favor.

But on the question of screening, there's no partisan divide:
... there is widespread agreement on a stricter screening process for Syrian refugees. Nearly eight in 10 Americans (78 percent) - including majorities of all partisan stripes - say it is necessary for Syrian refugees to go through a stricter security process than they do now.
So, America, you say the current screening process is inadequately strict. And you believe this because it consists of what exactly? And is done at what speed?

I'm being facetious, of course -- how many Americans do you think realize the vetting process tends to take about two years, and consists of approximately twenty separate steps?

The New York Times made this clear in an infographic posted on Friday -- but what percentage of Americans read the Times? And what other news sources have made clear that this is a long, painstaking process? For the matter, how hard have the Obama administration and Democrats in general worked to get this across?

Here are the steps, as listed by the Times: 1. Registration with the United Nations. 2. Interview with the United Nations. 3. Refugee status granted by the United Nations. 4. Referral for resettlement in the United States. 5. Interview with State Department contractors. 6. First background check. 7. Higher-level background check for some. 8. Another background check. 9. First fingerprint screening; photo taken. 10. Second fingerprint screening. 11. Third fingerprint screening. 12. Case reviewed at United States immigration headquarters. 13. Some cases referred for additional review. 14. Extensive, in-person interview with Homeland Security officer. 15. Homeland Security approval is required. 16. Screening for contagious diseases. 17. Cultural orientation class. 18. Matched with an American resettlement agency. 19. Multi-agency security check before leaving for the United States. 20. Final security check at an American airport.

And there are additional steps for Syrians.

If CBS isn't going to report this, could the polling unit at least poll it? Ask respondents how long they think the process takes. I bet the most typical answer is a few days, if not mere hours or minutes.

We need to know if people know these things. Most of the media doesn't seem to regard keeping the broad public informed as part of its mission. The administration is staffed almost exclusively by people who've been high-achieving brainiacs all their lives, up to and including the president. All the people they know are well informed, so they seem incapable of imagining that other people aren't.

Here's another result in the CBS poll:
Just over a week after the terrorist attacks in Paris, only 23 percent of Americans think President Barack Obama has a clear plan for dealing with the militant group ISIS, the lowest number yet recorded in the CBS News Poll. Sixty-six percent do not think he has a clear plan - a new high.

Large majorities of Republicans and independents say the President doesn't have a clear plan, and almost half of Democrats (40 percent) agree. More Democrats (45 percent) say he doesn't have a plan than say he does.
Americans are saying that the plan isn't "clear," and I wonder what they mean by that. Do they think it's not clear because they couldn't sum it up in one sentence? Or are they substituting "successful" for "clear" because the good guys don't seem to be winning?

Again, the president doesn't seem to want to explain what he's doing to the public -- and, again, neither does much of the news media. But does the public even know what's being done? I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but I want the public polled on the air campaign. How many U.S. airstrikes do most Americans think there have been against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria? The answer, as of last Thursday, is 8,289. I'd bet money that that's at least 8,000 more than most Americans think there have been.

Is the president's strategy effective? Is it adequate? It's certainly reasonable to argue that a strategy focused on airstrikes isn't adequate -- but Americans at least ought to know what's being done.

Do they? We don't know. And apparently the press and the administration don't care to know.


Yes, this is a Drudge Report link, but the story (from England's Telegraph) makes a point worth considering:

The story:
Once the dust has cleared, the Belgian police service is likely to face heavy scrutiny over how the Paris gang were allowed to go undetected and how [suspect] Salah [Abdeslam] managed to give them the slip, writes Matthew Holehouse.

In Brussels, a city of 1.2 million people, policing is divided by six rival forces, while the city is governed by 19 different mayors....

Eddy Lebon, of the police union Sypol, told La Libre that the Belgian forensics service is "anaemic". Laboratories are being cut from 23 to 14, and may go down to 5. "They don't have the white powder to reveal fingerprints at the scene of a crime."

"Last fall, we stopped the recruitment of 600 police officers, 15 days short of their entry to the academy. If this absurd economy had not happened, today they would be entering service..."

"I could tell you about our cars that have 230,000 kilometres on the clock and tremble above 80 kilometres an hour, but I prefer to discuss our IT issues, the obsolete equipment we use for wiretaps and the state of our weapons."

Vincent Gilles, president of the SLFP Police union, said: "In the federal police, there is not enough money to buy new trousers for police officers, and young recruits make do with old overalls. Some teams are armed with 20 year-old rifles, with too few to go around, not to mention the lack of body armour."
So here's a thought: What if ISIS isn't really all-powerful? What if it's not an unstoppable band of international terrorists able to strike anywhere in the Western world at will, all because mom-jeans-wearing Obama gave the group the leeway to develop superpowers out of an overabundance of political correctness? What if ISIS has been able to strike several times in France this year not because it's the most terrifying threat ever, but because France is just across the border from Belgium, a country where the authorities are struggling to take the most obvious steps to combat it?

An AP story from a couple of days ago tells us more:
Until 2006, Belgium had a very permissive gun law by European standards, and many weapons used in the 1990s Balkan wars easily found their way into the Belgian criminal underworld. At the same time, the Justice Ministry was hurt by austerity measures, rendering it powerless to dig into the root causes of the problem.

"It is relatively easy to get your hands on heavy arms in Brussels," said Brice De Ruyver, a professor of criminology at Ghent University, who was security adviser to the prime minister from 2000 to 2008. "That applies to terror and serious crime. That is because the illegal arms trade has been neglected far too long. ... And once you have a reputation, it is tough to get rid of it."

... The number of police zones has been reduced from 19, but the current six is still considered an anachronism given the need to unify forces in combating extremism....

Extremist ideology has also been allowed to thrive due to police neglect. For years, the leader of Islamic radical group Sharia4Belgium directed one of Europe's more potent recruitment machines for fighters in Syria. Yet it was only this year that he was sentenced to 12 years in prison as the leader of what a court determined was a terror group. "Sharia4Belgium has been able to act with impunity for too long," said De Ruyver.
Oh, and there's this problem across the EU:
Add to that a system in which policemen are often blocked from crossing borders -- lacking jurisdiction to work in neighboring countries -- while criminals can take advantage of Europe's open border policy, and it becomes clear why Belgium is attractive for terrorists.
The message we're hearing right now, particularly from conservatives, is: ISIS is unstoppable and we're all going to die. Thanks, Obama! But obviously there's are plenty of sensible, non-controversial steps that could be taken to stop the group that haven't being taken yet in Belgium, or in Europe as a whole. It's reasonable to assume that more than just an intervening ocean makes America less vulnerable -- yes, conservatives, under President Obama.