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Monday, May 02, 2016

Combustible pants

by digby

Trump's been telling everyone who'll listen that women hate Hillary Clinton and love him. It's far fetched to say the least. Politifact took a look:
During a May 2 interview on CNN’s New Day, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump doubled down on his charge that his potential Democratic rival in November, Hillary Clinton, is playing the "woman card."

"She's playing the woman card," Trump told host Chris Cuomo. "And if she didn't play the woman card, she would have no chance whatsoever of winning."

Trump went on to say that Clinton’s standing among female voters in particular is nothing to write home about.

"Frankly, (Hillary Clinton) doesn’t do very well with women," Trump said. "If you look at what happened recently, … in the last two weeks, including New York. I won with women by vast, vast majorities. I was way, way up with women far above anybody else in the exit polls of the recent election."

Clinton may have gleefully embraced Trump’s "woman card" attack line, but we thought it’s still worth checking whether Trump is right that Clinton "doesn’t do very well with women."

Trump, as it turns out, couldn’t be more wrong.

The recent primaries

Let’s give Trump his due: He has a right to be braggadocious about his own record with women voters in recent GOP primaries.

Trump unquestionably routed his opponents among female voters during the four recent primaries for which exit polls exist. He won 57 percent of women in the New York primary, 55 percent of women in the Connecticut primary, 50 percent of women in the Maryland primary, and 54 percent of women in the Pennsylvania primary.

That said, even among women voting in these GOP primaries, Trump experiences a gender gap: According to these exit polls, women -- by a modest but consistent margin -- supported Trump by smaller margins than men did. In New York, he was six points stronger among men. In Connecticut that gap was five points, in Maryland it was nine points, and in Pennsylvania it was seven points.

And there’s an even more important problem for Trump’s claim: His own success among Republican women doesn’t have anything to say about how well or poorly Clinton is doing with women.

Polling a Clinton vs. Trump matchup 
We found seven April polls at realclearpolitics.com that asked respondents about how they would vote if Clinton faced off against Trump in November. Here’s a rundown:

Clearly, this doesn’t support Trump’s assertion that Clinton "doesn’t do very well with women."

We are still a long way from Election Day, of course, but if this pattern holds, it would represent a gender gap of historic proportions. Here’s how women have split their vote in presidential elections going back to 1980, as collected by Rutgers University's Center for the American Woman and Politics:

So, Clinton’s 19-point average lead over Trump among women -- if it held all the way to November -- would give her the biggest winning margin among women of any presidential candidate since at least 1980.[...]

Our ruling

Trump said, "Frankly, (Hillary Clinton) doesn’t do very well with women."

The evidence he used to support this claim during the CNN interview -- his large margins among women in recent GOP primaries -- is undeniable, but says nothing about how well Clinton does among women. In fact, looking at a cross-section of April polls, Clinton’s average lead over Trump among female voters is bigger than any nominee has registered in an actual presidential election election in at least 36 years. We rate Trump’s statement Pants on Fire.

It's also true that Democrats do not win a majority of white women's votes. Their advantage is with the huge majorities with women of color. Trump might change that this year. He's such a lying pig that I could some percentage of moderate GOP women being unable to hold their noses and vote for him no matter what.

A progressive hero for congress

by digby

A few years back I was privileged to speak on a panel with two of America's most prestigious experts on the Social Security program, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson. If you are grateful that the fight to save Social Security over the past decade has been successful and that Democrats are now running on the proposal to raise benefits, you have those two people largely to thank for it. Their book Social Security Works!: Why Social Security Isn't Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All and the advocacy group Social Security Works have been instrumental in not only battling back the decades long conservative project to destroy the program, but have actually managed to get the ball rolling on much needed expansion.

Now Eric Kingson has decided to leave the hallowed halls of academia to run for congress and Blue America has been thrilled to endorse him. He's in a tough primary and he needs our help.

Blue America is firing up our trusty mobile billboard truck again and taking Eric Kingson's important message to upstate New Yorkers in Syracuse, Manlius, Fulton, Oswego, Auburn, Weedsport and into the eastern suburbs of Rochester. Can you help with a little gas money?

We want the truck to ply the highways and byways-- and city streets-- of NY-24 right up until the June 28th primary. The picture above is a rendering of one of the two billboards on the truck. Our Independent Expenditure Committee already paid for it. We'd like to raise the $12,500 it'll take to keep it on the road until primary day. Any contribution would be awesome; our average has been $46.75.

If you want to contribute to Eric Kingson's campaign directly, you can do it here.

It is very difficult to persuade good people to run for office. It's become a nasty, negative, horrible project and life is short. You cannot blame anyone for feeling their time on this earth might be better spent.

A hero like Eric Kingson is someone whose contributions already put him in the progressive hall of fame and he could easily rest on his laurels.  Instead he's putting himself out there to run for congress to try to make our government more progressive and more decent.

If you think that's important, as I do, please consider helping us to help him get there. 


QOTD: Richard M Nixon

by digby

Rick Perlstein wrote in to point out that the Nixon quote I featured yesterday is actually much more interesting:
I don't think any woman should be in any government job whatsoever. I mean I really don't. The reason I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional too but the point is that women are more likely to be.


"The second problem is that in terms of the Court I know that that's like living with somebody inside a spaceship.


"See, you're just one little group of people"


"What about that poor Burger? What he'd have to go through? So from the standpoint of that I just think we shouldn't have a woman. There should never be a woman there."

He did go on to game out whether it might buy him some votes and concluded that if it could get him a couple of points it might be worth it.

You don't hear a lot of that sort of talk these days among politicians although Donald Trump is coming close when he says something like this:

"Frankly, all I'm doing is stating the obvious. Without the woman's card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to run for city council."

As we watch the Republican party start to coalesce around their self-declared presumptive nominee keep in mind that he's an unreconstructed Nixon on this particular issue (and plenty of others.) And millions of Republicans don't seem to mind.

Cruz goes into the belly of the beast

by digby

This is a fascinating exchange between Ted Cruz and a Trump supporter in Indiana today. I urge you to watch the whole thing. I think it perfectly illustrates two of the fault lines in the GOP today:

Cruz deploys all the usual right wing talking points and exposes Trump as the liar and hypocrite he is. But it does little good. Trump's supporters show exactly why they love Trump: he distills politics down to zingers and attitude. Cruz is a completely different animal.

These supporters are clearly following this election very closely and know all the controversies and details. Trump is hero to them, speaking for them. It has absolutely nothing to do with policies or even politics. This is about winning, just like the Donald always says.

Here is some of the stuff that was said or shouted to Cruz in that scrum:

Lyin' Ted!

The Wall.That's the main thing!

He'll take down ISIS, he'll take down the whole damn thing

Career politicians have killed America!

Ok Lyin' Ted

You are the problem, politician, you are the problem!

Where's your Goldman Sachs jacket at we know your wife works there.

I believe in Trump he's the only one who's gonna put us where we need to be

What are you gonna do about the 2nd Amendment?

You're lying like you always do

Indiana don't want you ...

Personally I think it takes some guts to do that. Cruz is a nerd and it shows and these aren't the kind of people who are going to be persuaded by his arguments. But if they show it on TV in Indiana tonight a few people might think to themselves that Cruz has a little more intestinal fortitude than they realized.

I don't know how many of those Trump folks exist in the country but it numbers in the many millions I'm sure. They don't respond to arguments. They respond to dominance. And Trump's delivering it.


Imperialist thug

by digby

I wrote about Trump's foreign policy for Salon this morning:

So Maureen Dowd officially weighed in on the probable general election match-up this past week-end with her standard take on everything: politics as a never-ending battle between macho men, effeminate boys and masculine girls. Normally this breaks down for Dowd as the tiresome Daddy and Mommy party split with the swaggering, manly Republicans vs the timorous girly-men Democrats. She flips the script when a Democratic woman is running, portraying her as a steely battle-ax squaring off with a needy, epicene male.  This is how Maureen Dowd arrived at the laughable notion that Donald Trump is a "dove" compared to Hillary Clinton's  "hawk".

Maureen Dowd's puerile, genderized cartoon version of American politics is nothing if not predictable. In fairness, however, others have come to the same conclusion for different reasons.  But however it's arrived at, it's completely absurd. Hillary Clinton may be hawkish, depending on your perspective. But Donald Trump, by any comparison, is not a dove. He's not even a hawk. He's a bloodthirsty, prehistoric bird of prey.

Let's first dispense with Trump's main claim to dovish "prognostication", the insistence that he spoke out against the Iraq war when everyone else was enthusiastically jumping on the bandwagon. That's a very brave tale except for the fact that nobody found a scintilla of evidence of it being true.  Here's what Trump was saying in January of 2003, before the invasion:

Cavuto: If you had to sort of breakdown for the president, if you were advising him, how much time do you commit to Iraq versus how much time you commit to the economy, what would you say?
Trump: Well, I’m starting to think that people are much more focused now on the economy. They are getting a little bit tired of hearing, we’re going in, we’re not going in, the — you know, whatever happened to the days of the Douglas MacArthur. He would go and attack. He wouldn’t talk. We have to — you know, it’s sort like either do it or don’t do it. When I watch Dan Rather explaining how we are going to be attacking, where we’re going to attack, what routes we’re taking, what kind of planes we’re using, how to stop them, how to stop us, it is a little bit disconcerting. I’ve never seen this, where newscasters are telling you how — telling the enemy how we’re going about it, we have just found out this and that. It is ridiculous.
That's hardly a scathing indictment of the war. In fact it sounds like he's for it he just thinks they should do it more efficiently. Indeed, that concept forms the basis of his "unpredictability doctrine" in which the most powerful nation on earth transforms itself into a guerilla army that only travels at night, "takes out" the enemy and then sends the world the bill.  That line of criticism is common in his stump speech today in which he extols the virtues of maverick Generals MacArthur and George Patton as men who can get the job done and get it done quickly. And the job, you may have heard, is winning. He's not particular how they do it.

But perhaps you think he means something other than military victory when he says that. And you'd be  right. He wants to "send messages" too and let's just say they aren't messages of peace. In California this past week-end he repeated this lurid tale about another of his favorite Generals who knew how to win, "Black Jack" Pershing in the Spanish American War. The story goes that Pershing was trying to put down a Muslim insurgency in the Philippines and Trump likes to tell th story of how Pershing easily dealt with the problem:
“They took the 50 [Muslim insurgents], they lined them up. They took a pig and then took a second pig and they cut the pig open and they took the bullets from the rifles. And they dumped the bullets into the pigs and they swashed it around. Then they took the bullets and they shot 49 of the 50 people. The fiftieth person, they said, ‘Take this bullet and bring it back to all of the people causing the problem’ and tell ‘em what happened tonight. And for 42 years they didn’t have a problem with radical Islamic terrorism, folks, OK believe me.”
There is no word on why they needed two pigs to get the job done. And there's also no word on why he says at some stops that they didn't "have a problem" for 25 years and at others for 42 years. But it doesn't matter since the story is apocryphal at best and a hoax at worst.  Regardless, you have the front runner of the Republican Party openly celebrating a war crime.  But then, he's all for summary execution of American soldiers too if they get out of line too so it's not as if he's unusually bigoted about it.

That is not the only war crime Trump endorses, of course. This is a man who reiterated his full support for torture, just last week in Indiana: 
 “They asked me, What do you think about waterboarding, Mr. Trump?’ I said I love it. I love it, I think it’s great. And I said the only thing is, we should make it much tougher than waterboarding, and if you don’t think it works folks, you’re wrong."
Somebody finally told him that torture is illegal so he now adds a disclaimer about how we have to "strengthen" the laws to allow for more torture. It's unknown if he understands the history of "legalizing" torture in the Bush administration but it doesn't really matter. One can be fairly sure there will always be some people who are willing to do such wet work if some kind of legal authority can be produced. After all, no members of the Bush administration or the CIA were ever so much as reprimanded and they left a long paper trail showing how to legalize it, so there is little exposure for those who carry out such orders.  Torture has been illegal in America for a very long time but it didn't stop them from doing it before and it's reasonable to assume that a President Trump will find a way.

His love for war crimes knows no bounds:
"ISIS is our No. 1 threat. I would knock the hell out of them. I like to do one thing at a time." 
Asked about the possibility of civilian casualties, Trump initially pointed to civilians being used as human shields before suggesting the families of terrorists should be targeted. 
"I would do my best, absolute best — I mean, one of the problems we have or one of the reasons we're so ineffective, you know, they're trying to, they're using them as shields. It's a horrible thing But we're fighting a very politically correct war. And the other thing is with the terrorists, you have to take out their families. 
When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself. But they say they don't care about their lives. You have to take out their families." 
That speaks for itself.

And then there is the nuclear issue. He has confusingly said that nuclear proliferation is the world's greatest challenge while also suggesting that countries such as Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia should have them so as to save the US from having to provide military protection.  And he won't rule out using them. Even against Europe:
"Look, nuclear should be off the table, but would there a time when it could be used? Possibly," Trump said. 
Matthews asked Trump to tell the Middle East and Europe that he would never use nuclear weapons, but Trump continued to evade. Asked again if he'd use nuclear weapons in Europe, Trump held firm. "I am not—I am not taking cards off the table," Trump responded.
This does not sound like a dove. Or a sane person.

Some people will undoubtedly try to separate these violent, sociopathic comments from what they hopefully perceive as his more "isolationist" worldview. (The fact that he plans to vastly increase military spending escapes their notice.) But this January article in Politico by Thomas Wright  shows that his foreign policy philosophy something else entirely.

Wright went back over three decades and examined Trumps rhetoric and found that Trump has been saying exactly the same things in exactly the same way for 30 years. He's not opportunistically jumping on the zeitgeist or following a trend. For instance, he gave an interview 26 years ago to Playboy and was asked what a president Trump would do if he were president. He said:
“He would believe very strongly in extreme military strength. He wouldn’t trust anyone. He wouldn’t trust the Russians; he wouldn’t trust our allies; he’d have a huge military arsenal, perfect it, understand it. Part of the problem is that we’re defending some of the wealthiest countries in the world for nothing. ... We’re being laughed at around the world, defending Japan. 
We Americans are laughed at around the world for losing a hundred and fifty billion dollars year after year, for defending wealthy nations for nothing, nations that would be wiped off the face of the earth in about 15 minutes if it weren’t for us. Our ‘allies’ are making billions screwing us.”
In that Playboy article he said he thought Gorbachev didn't have a strong enough hand and expressed disgust for the Tienanmen Square protesters,“when the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak ... as being spit on by the rest of the world.” His admiration for Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un is well known.

In 1988 he told Oprah Winfrey that "Kuwait should pay the United States 25 percent of their oil profits because the United States “makes it possible for them to sell it" and “the United States would make a hell of a lot of money from those nations that have been taking advantage of us.” Quite simply, it appears that Donald Trump wants to "make deals" for the US to sell its "protection" to the world. And if they refuse to pay, well the world will just have to bear the consequences.

This is certainly a break from the post WWII foreign policy consensus which should always be subject to reassessment and adjustment. But he was saying exactly the same things at a time when the world was in a completely different place. These ideas are not responsive to globalization or a need for post-Cold War realignment. He literally hasn't had a new thought about any of this since the 1980s.

They certainly aren't dovish and they aren't isolationist and it would be a mistake to confuse them for anything but what they are: a belief in American global dominance:
“The first thing you have to do is get them to respect the West and respect us. And if they’re not going to respect us it’s never going to work. This has been going on for a long time. I don’t think you can do anything and I don’t think you’re going to be successful unless they respect you. They have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country right now.” 
This is the simple-minded philosophy, formed decades ago and suspended in amber, of an imperial thug. It's hard to imagine anything more dangerous.

Making it easy

by digby

This is a terrible problem. Someone on twitter pointed out that the rural west appears to be hardest hit. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons why that would be and maybe they've controlled for this in the studies. But gun culture is very big there. And people tend to be successful when they attempt suicide with one.

Update: I just found this...



Some things are timeless

by Tom Sullivan

This was at the top of my news feed when I got home. Borrowing this wholesale from a Facebook post by Rick Perlstein:

One of the letters Senator Thomas McIntyre got in 1978 after voting for the Panama Canal treaties: “Quisling Traitor Senator McIntyre: Conservative Republicans have added your despicable name to the list of TRAITORS in our stench-producing Senate tainted by those on the Radical Left and representing your ilk. Your refusal to be swayed by either reason or eloquence indicates your leftist orientation…An awesomely large mass of information can be mobilized to invalidate your fuzzy left-wing thinking. Traitors of your gutter orientation abound in our corrupt Senate dominated by the scum and vermin of the Marxist Democrats/ Rest assured, Commissar McIntyre, that you will be classified as insidious and corrupt. Americans who care t stand u in your Marxist behalf are to be sledge-hammered as QUISLINGS and odious incendiaries. We will concentrate on your vicious leftist VOTING RECORD and your excessive loyalty to the liberal pig in the tainted WHITE HOUSE. My qualifications: Washington Unviversity postgraduate and honor student. You are unquestionably one of the most DISHONEST AND VICIOUSLY CORRUPT hucksters and charlatans in our thieving Senate controleld by vermin of your Far Left views. We will work assiduously to damn you in scathing terms. YOU ARE AIDING AND ABETTING your beloved communist cause. conservatives ARE BEING ENLISTED TO STOMP OUR WAY THORUGH OUR COMMUNIZING SENATE WHIHC DARES TO STAND UP TO ITS conservative betters. Rest assured that we deem you to be on THE same plane as the COMMUNISTS. You are vermin."
Currently seeing similar sentiments (only with better spelling) among local T-party types over this:
The N.C. Republican Party ousted its chairman Saturday in a two-thirds majority vote after months of infighting that has mirrored divisions in the national GOP.


Harnett was the state party’s first black chairman. He was elected last year with Tea Party support, beating a candidate who had endorsements from nearly every GOP statewide elected official.
That prompted this comment on one T-party blog:
What conservative wants anything to do with the NCGOPe these days? It is chaired by a member of the liberal Ripon Society, Robin Hayes, with the real power being exercized by former Karl Rove front man Dallas Woodhouse, and with a central committee dominated by those who only pushed supporters of establishment presidential candidates for the chairmanship and condoned David Lewis’ financial backstabbing of the party. They wanted to keep Lewis but get rid of Harnett. There is no room for conservatives with that bunch of establishment flunkies.

They could have offered someone with a background to bring people back together but instead chose to ram one of the most obnoxious establishment hacks in the party down our throats. Sadly, our candidates will suffer from this disgusting power play come November.
One can only hope. Where else is this happening?

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Oh Ted

by digby

He doesn't even notice:

Sunday Funnies

by digby

Via Kos: 

Campaigning by lizard brain

by digby

Chris Wallace challenged Donald Trump this morning. It didn't shake his confidence one little bit:
WALLACE: You were the target of sometimes violent protests in California this week, opposing your hard line immigration policy. Are you concerned that if you are the Republican nominee these demonstrations could disrupt your campaign?

TRUMP: No, we were at that particular moment we had 31,000 people in the stands, it was packed, they have never had a crowd like that, it's the biggest crowd they’ve ever had.

We had 31,000 people. We didn't have a riot. We didn't have anybody even raise their hand. It was a love fest for an hour and a half. It was incredible.

I didn't even see the riot. You know, these are wise guys that stomp on policemen's cars. And it’s terrible thing that people are allowed to get away with this.

These were professional agitators. They were wearing masks. The cops tell me, anytime you see a guy with a mask, you know he's a professional. And they were wearing masks.

These people have to be dealt with very strongly, because you can't allow that to happen to a police car, you know, essentially.

That's your "dovish" center-left Donald Trump for you. Move over Dennis Kucinich.

Seriously, if you aren't hearing what Trump is saying about police authority you aren't listening. We have not heard anything like this since George Wallace. He gets huge cheers from his followers for it.

And, by the way, the Pacific Amphitheater where he allegedly had a 31,000 person crowd holds less than 10,000 people. They only handed out 8,000 wristbands to get in. His lies about the size of his crowds are right up there with his lies about size of his hands.

This was good too:
WALLACE: Let's talk about your standing with women, too. In that same poll that showed you overwhelmingly negative among all Hispanic voters 24 percent of women have a favorable view of you, 75 percent unfavorable.

And yet in your victory speech on Tuesday night, here is what you had to say about Clinton.


TRUMP: I think the only card she has is the woman's card. She's got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote.


WALLACE: Now, I’ve got to tell you, strategists in both parties say if you consciously went about it, if you specifically planned you couldn't have said anything that would drive your numbers among women even lower.

TRUMP: Really? OK. Well, I’m my own strategist and I like that -- what I said and it's true. I only tell the truth and that's why people voted for me.

WALLACE: Well, wait -- wait a minute.

TRUMP: And don't forget, in the Republican primaries which I just beat by Cruz by numbers -- like 50 percent, I was up by so much, I had 62 percent in New York and I was 63 percent and 64 percent --


WALLACE: Mr. Trump, with all due respect, whether or not you like -- let me just ask the question.

TRUMP: But, Chris, all of the polls coming out, I won with the women by landslides, I beat Cruz and I beat Kasich --


WALLACE: I understand, but Hillary Clinton is a different --

TRUMP: I won with the women by landslides, you don’t mention that.

WALLACE: -- is a different deal.

And regardless of whether you like her or not, or think that she should be president or not, to say -- I mean, she was a senator, she was secretary of state for four years. To say if she were a man, she'd get 5 percent -- isn't that kind of dismissive?

TRUMP: Well, Bernie Sanders said a lot worse than that. He said that she almost shouldn't be allowed to run, that she's not qualified to run and she's not capable.

I mean, Bernie Sanders, what he said was a lot worse than what I said and I’m going to use that. We’ll have that teed up. But Bernie Sanders said she shouldn't be allowed to run, that she's not capable.

And, you know, what he said is incredible. It's a sound bite. It’s an -- in fact, as soon as he said it, they broke in and they said, I can just imagine Donald Trump watching these statements Bernie Sanders has made -- is making about Clinton.

So, look, she's a strong person. She's going to have to be able to take it. The fact is, the only card she has is the woman's card. She's done a lousy job in so many ways and even women don't like her. They don't like her.

But it is the woman's card and she plays it, and I’ll let you know in about six months whether or not she plays it well. But I don't think she'll play it well. I don't think she'll play it well at all. And it's true, if she were not a woman, she wouldn't even be in this race.

Wallace let all that go and moved on. I guess you can't blame him. When someone spews that many lies and nonsensical comments in such a short time it would take the whole show to unravel it especially since Trump continuously interrupts and trainwrecks the conversation.

But out of all that ignorant dreck this does stand out:
Well, I’m my own strategist and I like that -- what I said and it's true. I only tell the truth and that's why people voted for me.
It's not true. He lies constantly about everything. But he is his own strategist, which is to say that he has no strategy. His campaign is run by his lizard brain and he's connected it to millions of other people's lizard brains. It's worked well for him in the lizard brain party. It remains to be seen if his lizard brain connection reaches beyond the Republicans.


Trump's mentor

by digby

Nixon was a big fan:

I've said this before but the madman theory isn't supposed to be deployed by an actual madman. Unfortunately they seem to be the only ones who think it's a good idea.

Swag slag

by digby

This is brutal:

Beltway power brokers leaving a White House Correspondents Dinner party at the St. Regis Hotel on Friday night if they would donate the pricy swag bags doled out at the party as charity to the organization. (The dinner itself is on Saturday evening, but parties and other events associated with it take place all weekend.) 
The nonpartisan group caught many of the interactions on camera. 
The six-and-a-half minutes of footage the foundation released on Saturday don’t flatter the members of the media, entertainment and political elite attending the lavish affair. 
Donations were not exactly forthcoming. Many people can be seen studiously ignoring the Sunlight staffers as if they were panhandlers.

I can't believe these people actually wanted to keep this shitty swag bag. It's not like it had expensive watches and wine like the Hollywood swag bags do. But if there's one thing that's true whether in LA or DC --- celebrities want their free stuff no matter what it is.

On the other hand, there was this:

For an event held at the soaring U.S. Institute of Peace building in Foggy Bottom, the swanky afterparty hosted by MSNBC following the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner sure saw some conflict.

In the early-morning hours of Sunday, a scuffle broke out between Fox News correspondent Jesse Watters and Ryan Grim, the Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief. The fight — unusual among a tuxedo-clad crowd more used to venting their differences with Twitter snarks — briefly caused ripples in the party, where political staffers and journalists were grooving to tunes spun by DJ Biz Markie and noshing on mini servings of chili cheese fries.

Here’s how it went down, per several witness: Grim and Watters were among a group located in a heated tent just outside the main party area. The two apparently don’t have a personal relationship, but Grim realized who Watters was and recalled a beef he had with the “O’Reilly Factor” correspondent that dated back to 2009, when Watters, known as an “ambush journalist,” had engineered an on-camera confrontation of writer Amanda Terkel, now a HuffPo colleague of Grim. Terkel’s account of the incident was headlined “I Was Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed By Bill O’Reilly’s Producer.”

Grim decided to give Watters a taste of his own medicine, whipping out his camera phone and filming him. Watters didn’t take well to this, eventually snatching the phone away from Grim and putting it in his pocket. Grim set out to retrieve it, and a scuffle ensued. No cinematic sparring or broken beer bottles, witnesses said, but the two flailed around a bit, upending a table and bumping into several people.

“Punches were definitely thrown,” said one witness.

Before any damage was done, several bystanders, including RNC executive director Sean Spicer, separated the two. Spicer said he didn’t see the lead-up to the fight and said he was just attempting to stay true to the party venue. “Just trying to keep the peace,” he said.

Watters couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but reached for comment, Grim was unrepentant. “Ambush guy can’t take getting ambushed,” he said. “Maybe he should think about his life choices.”

Bravo Ryan Grim. Jesse Watters is a truly malevolent piece of work and it's good to see someone turn his stalker game back on him. Like most bullies he can dish it out but he can't take it.

The GOP's Solomon's choice

by digby

It looks like the GOP establishment actually is deciding it will be better to get thumped with Trump than lose with Cruz:

The most dramatic example of anti-Cruz sentiment came from former House Speaker John Boehner, who told an audience at Stanford University that Cruz was "Lucifer in the flesh" and that he would never vote for that "miserable son of a bitch" in a general election. He would, however, support Trump.

Former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg also blasted Cruz as a "demagogue's demagogue" in an interview with WMUR and said he would vote for Trump in November but write in House Speaker Paul Ryan if Cruz won the nomination.

Nor is this problem limited to party elites — Kasich supporters drawn to his message of steady bipartisanship have stubbornly refused to unite behind Cruz to stop Trump even as their candidate sits fourth in the delegate count in a three person race.

Perhaps even more shocking than Boehner's brutal dismissal of Cruz was Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker's warm embrace of Trump the same day.

Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and often a key player in brokering bipartisan agreements, including the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill that Trump and Cruz have each vilified on the campaign trail.

"I just hope that we don't let demagogues prevail and that we finally deal with this issue and put it behind us," Corker said after the 2014 election, in which a number of Republican candidates won races while railing against "amnesty."

Not surprisingly, Corker has been a sharp critic of Trump at points in the race, most notably saying his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States ran "completely counter to the values and principles of our great nation."

After Trump delivered an often contradictory foreign policy speech that was widely panned by experts, Corker issued a statement gushing over the remarks and told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell he was excited Trump "challenged the foreign policy establishment here in Washington."

It's too bad for them. This won't break the fever. If Cruz loses, it would take the starch out of the conservative movement once and for all.  They'd try to excuse the loss with some cockamamie explanations but they will not be able to say it was because the candidate wasn't conservative enough. I guess the GOP establishment figures it's better to keep putting up with the congressional freedom caucus and the Tea Party than it is to take a chance on electing an ignorant madman. Maybe they're patriots in their own twisted fashion.

Politics and Reality Radio: What the Economy of Star Trek Says About Our Future; What’s Next for Sanders’ Movement?

by Joshua Holland

This week, Joshua Holland begins with a rant about some ridiculous claims that the Democratic primaries are being rigged. There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Then we'll be joined by Manu Saadia, author of Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek. It's two nerd tastes that taste great together!

Finally, we'll speak with Stacey Hopkins, a grassroots team leader for Brand New Congress, a new PAC that hopes to move Bernie Sanders' agenda forward after the 2016 campaign.

Alexander Courage: "Theme from Star Trek"
David Bowie: "Ziggy Stardust"
De La Soul: "Buddy"

As always, you can also subscribe to the show on iTunes or Podbean.


Suckers and the suckers who sucker themselves

By Tom Sullivan

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katerina Slivinske.

What could be simpler and more intuitive than telling people that countries are just like people, that we have to stand up to this bully or we'll get our lunch money taken again? — Max Fisher at Vox
Remember the "I don't think anybody could have predicted" defense Condoleeza Rice used to explain why the Bush II administration failed to stop the September 11 attacks? Look again at the quote in italics. Now ask yourself whether it is predictable that we'll hear the "stand up to this bully" argument deployed to sell America's next foreign military adventure.

Foreign intervention is another place where facts don't matter, according to Max Fisher. In a fascinating article at Vox, Fisher argues that American military intervention is often sold on the false belief that American "credibility" will suffer if we fail to intervene in this or that conflict regardless of our objective national interests. Regardless of the fact that this theory of credibility "does not appear to be real. Political scientists have investigated this theory over and over, and have repeatedly disproven it."

But it sells. Planes, drones, rifles, etc.

Reputation theory is "a compass that only points in one direction." Invoking credibility is a sucker move foreign leaders use to get the U.S. to intervene for them. Besides being an emotional argument and essentially unfalsifiable, the reason this version of the embolden-our-enemies argument serves foreign policy elites is it is easy to explain:
"The credibility argument is simply an easy (and hard to disprove) way for elites to sell the foreign policy they're most interested in to the American people, whether that's domino theory, primacy, or intervention in some conflict," Emma Ashford of the Cato Institute pointed out.

"Credibility is an intuitive and hard to refute argument, even if larger studies show it to be false," she added.
Plus, the credibility argument plays to America's inflated sense of its own importance:
It portrays the world as a place where the world turns on American power, whose assertion is inherently a force for justice and stability.

It's a world where the United States is the protagonist of every story — because every conflict is a test of our credibility, we are at the center even of events that seem to have nothing to do with us — and where the US is best served by personifying the characteristics of a Hollywood action movie hero.
Remaining 2016 presidential candidates (particularly of the Republican persuasion) are sure to entertain us this election season with how tough they are by repeating some version of the Ledeen Doctrine. Some already have. Fisher explains:
"The toughness fascination emerges from a variety of gender tropes that extend back pretty far that associate toughness with manliness," he wrote. "This understanding manifests in diplomacy through the obsession with reputation. Combine that with the regular diplomatic over-emphasis on the effect of US action, and you get a compulsion to look at every event in terms of whose dick is longer."
I can't imagine who among the presidential candidates might act out militarily just to prove that, can you?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Night at the Movies

We’re here, we’re soccer moms, get used to it: Gayby Baby***

By Dennis Hartley

NEWS FLASH: Just like the Russians, same-sex parents love their children, too.

And…their daily lives are virtually indistinguishable from any other typical family!

The parents feed, clothe, nurture their kids, have jobs…some even attend churches!

The kids go to school, play, laugh, cry, dream about their future…like normal kids!

I know, I know…I was just as shocked (shocked!) as you to learn all of these things.

Of course, I’m being facetious; although the sad fact remains that in the 21st Century,  there are still those who would be shocked to learn life for kids in same-sex households is in fact, not tantamount to a forced “indoctrination” into some ungodly type of  “lifestyle”.

Australian filmmaker Maya Newell sets the record straight in Gayby Baby, her documentary portrait of four kids who are growing up in same-sex households. Actually, the director herself doesn’t set the record straight; she just aims her camera, and the kids tell the story (that is to say, tell us their stories). Out of the mouths of babes, and all that.

This was a smart move, because children don’t view the world as a political battleground. They haven’t lived on the planet long enough to formulate any specific agenda. Ask them a direct question, and you’ll usually get an unadulterated answer (unless it’s “Who ate the cookies?”). Naturally, they are all aware that having two moms (or two dads) is atypical from their schoolmates…but that’s not something that any of them seem to obsess over.

They are mostly concerned with…kid stuff. A 10 year-old is preoccupied with all things WWF (and earns a stern talking-to when a wrestling match with his younger sister gets a bit too rough). One dreams of being a pop star; we watch her prepare for her audition that could get her into a performing arts school (warning: this likely will not be the first, or the last time you’ll weather a preteen girl’s approximation of “Rolling in the Deep”). An 11 year-old boy who grew up a foster child struggles with literacy. Another 11 year-old boy is dealing with a crisis of faith, pondering surprisingly deep issues for one so young.

Newell’s observational, non-judgmental approach is reminiscent of Paul Almond’s 7 Up, a 1964 UK documentary profiling 7 year-olds from varied socioeconomic backgrounds, sharing their dreams and aspirations. 7 years later the same subjects appeared in 7 Plus Seven, with director Michael Apted taking over. Updates continued with 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up, 42 Up, 49 Up and 2013’s 56 Up (my review). Newell’s subjects here are equally unfiltered and forthcoming; they leave you wonting for a similar update down the road.

In fact, I became so absorbed in the universal everyday travails of these families that I forgot all about any political subtexts until a brief jostle at the very end of the film where Newell inserts footage of some of the kids participating in a pride parade with their parents. Even in this arguably pointed coda, there is no palpable sense of proselytizing. At the end of the day, the film is not about being gay, or straight. It’s about being human.

(Currently playing in event screenings nationwide; available on VOD beginning May 1).

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

Prince doodling on the keys

by digby

Following up on jazz day, this is just awesome:

Prince playing piano over 'Summertime' at Soundcheck, Koshien, Hyogo Prefecture (1990)

He could do it all.

Wash your troubles away: A Jazz Day mixtape

By Dennis Hartley

Today is International Jazz Day:

International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. Each year on April 30, this international art form is recognized for promoting peace, dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of youth in enacting social change.

Sounds like a good plan to me. In honor of this day, I’d like to share 10 of my favorites:

1.  Pat Metheny and Anna Maria Jopek- “So It May Secretly Begin” – This has always been my favorite Metheny instrumental; but it got even better when I recently stumbled onto this breathtaking live version with added vocals, courtesy of the angel-voiced Jopek.

2.  Gil Scott-Heron- “Lady Day and John Coltrane” – Gil’s poetic tribute to two greats.

3. Digable Planets- “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”- I caught these guys at a Seattle club in 1993; they were a unique mashup of hip-hop with traditional jazz instrumentation.

4. Gato Barbieri- “Mystica” – I missed the news about the passing of this Argentine jazz man earlier this month (sadly, we’ve lost so many musical greats in a row lately that it’s getting hard to keep up). To be honest, I’ve never been a big sax fan, yet something about Gato’s sound and expressiveness has always grabbed me (he won a Grammy for the Last Tango in Paris soundtrack). This lovely number riffs on a classic Eric Satie composition.

5. The Style Council- “The Whole Point of No Return” – Spare, beautiful, jazzy, and topped off with his most trenchant lyrics, I think this is Paul Weller’s greatest song, ever.

6. Barry Miles- “Hijack” – Memorable track from the keyboardist’s self-titled 1970 LP.

7. Takuya Kuroda- “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” – The Japan-born, NYC-based trumpet player’s hypnotic cover version of a Roy Ayers tune (with vocals by Jose James).

8. Brian Auger and Julie Tippetts- “Nothing Will Be As It Was” – I’ve been an Auger fan forever; it’s hard to believe “the godfather of acid jazz” is still gigging after 50 years. This cut is from Encore, the keyboardist’s excellent 1978 album with vocalist Tippetts.

9. The Mahavishnu Orchestra- “Open Country Joy”— What I like the most about jazz is that it’s the most amenable of musical genres. Put it next to anything else: rock, soul, hip-hop, whatever…and then just watch how quickly it absorbs, adopts, and then shapeshifts it into something else altogether. John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Rick Laird and Jerry Goodman understood this. Here’s a perfect example. As the title implies, it begins as a nice country stroll, then…then, it blows your fucking mind.

10. George Duke & Feel - “Love”— The late keyboardist extraordinaire George Duke was a versatile player; in addition to the 40 or so albums in his own catalog, he was equally at home doing sessions with the likes of Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Third World, and most famously played with Frank Zappa for a number of years. This cut is from Duke’s 1974 album, Feel. Zappa (credited as “Obdwel’l X”) contributes lead guitar.

UPDATE: ABC-TV is broadcasting "Jazz at the White House" tonight (Saturday, 8pm ET). The one-hour prime time special features highlights from an event taped Friday night, hosted by President and Michelle Obama. Billed as an "all-star global concert",  artists include Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Sting, Diana Krall, Trombone Shorty, Pat Metheny, Al Jarreau, Wayne Shorter and more. How cool is that?

More on music from Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

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