Something is surely going on.
Salon's "Liberal Case For Donald Trump" mirrors the implicit NeverTrump case for Hillary: Congress will check him or her, Trump is no more a true conservative than Hillary is a true progressive, and President Hillary's eventual embarrassments and betrayals would set back the progressive movement just as President Trump would crush the conservative brand.
Interesting, but I'm still not voting for her. Then again, with my vote or without it, she will be carrying my slice of My Blue Heaven.
And I think a Hillary Presidency will be poor to disastrous but in ways we have seen before and can endure again. The crony capitalists will remain in charge; lacking a credible progressive agenda, President Hillary will rely on contrived, inflammatory, divisive gender and race wars to motivate her base. In other words, four more years like the last six (I'm giving Obama health care back when he had total Congressional control, although climate change, immigration and gun control all were allowed to slide).
Trump, on the other hand, has the potential to be a disaster in ways Obama has merely foreshadowed. Trump just blurts out foreign policy ideas, from 'let Putin handle ISIS' to 'I'll bomb the tar out of ISIS' with no discipline or apparent grasp of the issues. Heaven forbid we should have yet another President routinely doing stupid things such as talking about red lines and then failing to enforce them.
Andrew Ross Sorkin goes back to the West Wing to listen to Obama whinge about the lack of respect he gets for his brilliant management of an epic recovery from a mostrous economic disaster. My goodness - so much to mock and so little time.
Obama has a couple of theories as to why the public has disappointed him yet again by failing to grasp his greatness. First, he was so busy being awesome that he didn't take the time to communicate his awesomeness:
Asked if he was frustrated by all the criticism, Obama insisted that he wasn’t, at least not personally. “It has frustrated me only insofar as it has shaped the political debate,” he said. “We were moving so fast early on that we couldn’t take victory laps. We couldn’t explain everything we were doing. I mean, one day we’re saving the banks; the next day we’re saving the auto industry; the next day we’re trying to see whether we can have some impact on the housing market.”
The result, he said, was that he lacked the political capital to do more. As his presidency nears its end, this has become an increasingly common refrain from Obama, who, despite his prodigious skills as an orator, has come to seem more confident about his achievements than about his ability to promote them. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ok. Marijuana is decriminalized in DC, so we see where that is coming from.
Obama's then blames evil Republicans, Fox News and that nasty Rush Limbaugh:
“How people feel about the economy,” Obama told me, giving one part of his own theory, is influenced by “what they hear.” He went on: “And if you have a political party — in this case, the Republicans — that denies any progress and is constantly channeling to their base, which is sizable, say, 40 percent of the population, that things are terrible all the time, then people will start absorbing that.”
Hmm. If only Obama had a media that would be willing to cheerlead for him a bit. But all he had going for him was the NY Times, the LA Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and all of Hollywood. The Republicans had Fox, Rush and Sarah Palin's Facebook page, so what's a poor guy to do?
And of course, Obama's theory kind of overlooks the fact that we have a major party screaming that most of us have been left behind while in this rigged economy the income gains go to the 1 percenters. Sorkin explains that to his readers and seems to have mentioned the Occupy/Sanders critique to Obama as well:
But as Obama also acknowledged, the public anger about the economy is not without empirical basis. A large swath of the nation has dropped out of the labor force completely, and the reality for the average American family is that its household income is $4,000 less than it was when Bill Clinton left office. Economic inequality, meanwhile, has only grown worse, with the top 1 percent of American households taking in more than half of the recent gains in income growth. “Millions and millions and millions and millions of people look at that pretty picture of America he painted and they cannot find themselves in it to save their lives,” Clinton himself said of Obama’s economy in March, while on the campaign trail for his wife. “People are upset, frankly; they’re anxiety-ridden, they’re disoriented, because they don’t see themselves in that picture.”
Sorkin even addresses a bit of Obama's rich fantasy life:
It is this disconnect that haunts Obama. He has, by his own lights, managed the recovery as well as any president ever could, with results that in many cases exceeded his own best hopes.
The recovery exceeded expectations? Who can forget the famous projection of unemployment maxing out at 8 percent? Not Sorkin!
At first, the results of the stimulus were just as feeble as a stalwart Keynesian might predict. The economy needed a big injection, but it got only a medium-size one, so it continued to falter. A January 2009 report from the president’s Council of Economic Advisers projected that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8 percent. Instead, it climbed to 10 percent in 2009 and only fell back below 8 percent in 2012, leading to criticism that the stimulus was ineffective.
Well, yes, critics gonna critique. And since the topic is failed economic forecasts from Team Obama, let me reprise yet again the Mankiw-Krugman smackdown of 2009-2013. Briefly, Mankiw wondered whether the CEA forecasts were overly optimistic, Krugman denounced Mankiw, tossing around words like "evil" and "obtuse", Brad DeLong explained that slumps are followed by recoveries, Mankiw suspected that DeLong's evidence was somewhat ironic since it was primarily driven by the Reagan tax-cut boom of the early 80's - oh, it was a jolly brawl.
And yes, years went by and Mankiw's suggestion of over-optimism panned out, so score on for obtuseness. As to whether Obama was alerted to this, well, he doesn't like Fox News so who knows.
Cruz constantly reminds me of the old Hollywood aphorism - "the key to this business is authenticity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made". I don't think Trump is particularly authentic and he is utterly unconvincing as a pretend-conservative but he has been projecting this egomaniaical blowhard persona for what, thirty years, so people think that much is real. To be fair, Kasich probably deserves authenticity points too, but getting behind a guy who authentically believes the Republican Party doesn't like ideas is a big ask.
Well. On the other side, Dems are wrestling with the battle between their Establishment Construct and a real human. So far, their establishment is managing the cram-down pretty well.
CARLY'S THE TWO! If this NR reports holds up, no one can say Cruz didn't throw the ball down the field.
MORE: Carly it is.
Polls close momentarily, so we have a few minutes to relax before Trump sweeps the board in the Northeast.
Should Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island be called the Former Big East primary? The ACC Wanna-be primary?
Obama and Merkel were talking up the Trans-Atlantic trade deal still being negotiated. The Times includes this bit of weirdness:
Yet even as he expressed confidence that a deal would be reached this year, Mr. Obama acknowledged that “time is not on our side,” and he offered a thinly veiled warning that a deal could be doomed if politicians like Hillary Clinton, who opposes the accord, are elected this year.
“If we don’t complete negotiations this year, then upcoming political transitions in the United States and Europe could mean this agreement won’t be finished for quite some time,” Mr. Obama said, not mentioning Mrs. Clinton, his former secretary of state, directly.
I haven't checked but I will go out on a limb and guess that Bernie Sanders does not support this deal either. I mean, obvi - if he supported it Hillary would too, right?
And what other politicians might Obama or the Times have in mind? Does Trump support this deal being negotiated by non artist of the deal Obama? Does Cruz?
Hmm, Kasich probably does support it, since he is a predictable Chamber of Commerce Republican. Is Obama backing Kasich then? On this one issue, probably yes.
The new, nuanced Donald recasts his transgendered bathroom BS.
Taylor Millard of Hot Air is cogent on the question of why this is an issue and where the libertarian/fiscal conservative wing of the right comes out on this.
As to Trump's latest - he sensibly notes this should be a matter left to state and local governments. Of course, that completely dodges the history of the North Carolina bill - Charlotte passed a local ordinance that the state overturned.
This is from commentary provided by "Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, speaking in our capacities as two individual
members of the eight-member U.S. Commission on Civil Rights":
North Carolina is one of the few non-home rule states.7 Among other things, the North Carolina Constitution does not permit the state or local governments to enact ordinances governing labor and employment in a local area. See N.C. Const. art. II, §24.8 This was an effort—by creating a single set of laws governing employment—to create a business climate that would produce more jobs for North Carolinians. In the past, some local governments made efforts to circumvent the policy by imposing labor and employment requirements on their public contractors. That practice was then prohibited by the North Carolina legislature, which was also keen to prevent North Carolina from becoming a patchwork of different ordinances.
One can easily imagine reasons for that back in 1971. Setting labor laws at the state level could prevent retrograde communities from attempting to maintain backdoor Jim Crow laws. Of course, it could also prevent avant-garde communities from moving North Carolina into the 22nd century. More broadly, it could save each community from the prospect of being dragged into a bidding war with other communities in an attempt to attract businesses. An out-of-state company might be delighted to shop for the lowest minimum wage laws, for example - the North Carolina constitution would prevent that.
So Trump's suggestion to leave it to the state and local governments answers nothing about the issue. It does answer (yet again) the question of whether Trump actually understands any of this stuff or simply runs his mouth, assesses the reaction, and repeats.
Or is cuffed. Either way. The Bernie Spring continues as bit longer, as hopeful lefties bash Hillary. This is Salon:
Hillary’s primary success is a sham: Bernie Sanders will remain the true Democratic front-runner until the FBI finishes its Investigation
It's not over until the FBI clears Hillary Clinton— which it absolutely shouldn't
The FBI won't clear her but the Justice Department won't indict her either. I back the CW, which predicts that top FBI officials resign in protest.
A stunner from Emmett Rensin of Vox on the progressive adoption of smugness over empathy:
The smug style in American liberalism
There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence — not really — but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.
Wait, is this an essay or the Vox mission statement? Pressing on.
The development of the smug style ties in to the Democratic abandonment of the white working class, which itself has some history:
Richard Hofstadter, the historian whose most famous work, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, this essay exists in some obvious reference to, advanced a similar line in writing not so well-remembered today. His then-influential history writing drips with disdain for rubes who regard themselves as victimized by economics and history, who have failed to maintain correct political attitudes.
But 60 years ago, American liberalism relied too much on the support of working people to let these ideas take too much hold. Even its elitists, its Schlesingers and Bells, were tempered by the power of the labor movement, by the role Marxism still played in even liberal politics — forces too powerful to allow non-elite concerns to entirely escape the liberal mental horizon. Walter Reuther, and Bayard Rustin, and A. Philip Randolph were still in the room, and they mattered.
As to the new members of the Democratic coalition, well...
The consequence was a shift in liberalism's center of intellectual gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.
I would say this smugness piece is sailing in similar waters to those charted earlier by Jonathan Chait in his piece on the return of PC culture and the progressive thought police:
But it would be a mistake to categorize today’s p.c. culture as only an academic phenomenon. Political correctness is a style of politics in which the more radical members of the left attempt to regulate political discourse by defining opposing views as bigoted and illegitimate. Two decades ago, the only communities where the left could exert such hegemonic control lay within academia, which gave it an influence on intellectual life far out of proportion to its numeric size. Today’s political correctness flourishes most consequentially on social media, where it enjoys a frisson of cool and vast new cultural reach. And since social media is also now the milieu that hosts most political debate, the new p.c. has attained an influence over mainstream journalism and commentary beyond that of the old.
Lots to take in. And a certain type of smugness is hardly the exclusive possession of the left. Just off-hand, the "makers and takers" dichotomy alluded to by Romney in 2012 is not a particularly empathetic way of thinking about the large numbers of people for whom the American system of schools and jobs has not working.
John Sexton at Hot Air has more.
Donald and Hillary up! And apparently The Donald is going to serious-up:
The two hometown winners beamed throughout their victory speeches, but it was Mr. Trump who particularly seemed like a different candidate. As he spoke in the lobby of Trump Tower, there were no freewheeling presentations of steaks and bottled water, as in the past. There was no reference to “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”; he called his opponent “Senator Cruz” instead, and made no mention of Mrs. Clinton. He also took no questions from the news media.
And his speech sounded more presidential than any other he has given on an election night — a focused, tightened message about trade and the economy as he prepares to campaign in states hit hard by manufacturing industry losses. The speech reflected the growing influence of Paul Manafort, whom Mr. Trump empowered to help him win the nomination and who has taken on a greater purview, including messaging.
Donald goes all boring and establishment.
Mr. Art du Deal wakes up to the news that running for President is not a weekend-only effort for dilettantes.
Years back I thought that Al Gore's inability to retain a campaign chairman might serve as a clue to how nimbly he would run the White House. Then again, as I recall Bush 43 kept together virtually the same well-oiled machine for his Texas gubernatorial runs and two White House efforts, and how well did that work?
Bill Clinton goes for the har-de-har about Sanders, Wall Street, daft progressives, or something:
“One of the few things I really haven’t enjoyed about this primary: I think it’s fine that all these young students have been so enthusiastic about [Hillary Clinton's] opponent and [Sanders] sounds so good: 'Just shoot every third person on Wall Street and everything will be fine,’” Clinton said in Fort Washington, N.Y., according to CNN.
First, enough already with the talk about shooting people in New York.
Second, shouldn't proper progressives be controlling these guns, not shooting them? Please tell me that at least these imaginary Soldiers of Justice are using revolvers and not dreaded semi-automatics with high capacity magazines or even - shudder - assault rifles.
Finally, back in the good old days Obama was threatening Wall Street with pitchforks. Who knew we'd be nostalgic for his calm good humor?
UPDATE: I stand by "nostalgic" for Obama, although yeah, analgesics are a better idea.
Can anybody here play this game? New polls confirm our common sense - on the Democratic side, the establishment cram-down of Her Inevitability is not getting any more popular as the Dems approach their date with destiny. Which will be all the more reason for the left to Bring The Hate when the Republicans finally nominate one of their lightly-regarded candidates. Not that the Angry Young Men (and Women! And whatever!) of the left need a reason to be angry, obviously.
Donald Trump forgot to organize his campaign to employ the actual rules in the various states. Ooops! Didn't "Art of the Deal" include a chapter on the importance of understanding the law and reading the fine print in contracts? Guess not!
But I especially like this riposte from The Donald:
NEW YORK — Donald Trump on Tuesday slammed the chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), claiming the party's system for selecting its presidential nominee is a “scam” and a “disgrace.”
During an exclusive interview with The Hill at Trump Tower, Trump said, “It's a disgrace for the party. And Reince Priebus should be ashamed of himself. He should be ashamed of himself because he knows what's going on.”
Reince should be ashamed of himself because he knows what's going on? Trump should be ashamed because he doesn't.
Bonus Query: With this hapazard a conventional effort, what would a Trump third-party run look like?
Leave comedy to the professionals:
Racially Charged Joke by Hillary Clinton and Bill de Blasio Leaves Some Cringing
Leave politics to the professionals
Cruz, Rubio join forces in Arkansas to block Trump delegates
Leave zombie-fighting to the professionals:
Brothers trick sister with zombie attack after wisdom teeth surgery
Now we know.
The Times puzzles over why the good people of the great state of Indiana aren't giving Obama credit for the economic recovery:
Obama Gets Scant Credit in Indiana Region Where Recovery Was Robust
Eventually they get to the obvious answer (Spoiler - they're racist haters! Ahh, you'd already guessed...) but they have a few stumbles along the way:
Billboards proclaim, “Hiring: Welders. Up to $23/hour,” but for all the progress, many people here — like Americans elsewhere — harbor unshakable anxiety about stagnant wages, their economic future and the erosion of the middle class generally. Antigovernment resentments over past bank bailouts linger, stoked by candidates in both parties (though taxpayers got their money back, with dividends). And social issues such as abortion, gun rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and immigration loom larger than any other for some voters.
Uhh, immigration is a social issue now? It surely represents a mix of cultural sensitivities and economic vexation, but even Team Obama notes that there is a strong economic current flowing through the discussion. And even the Times editors have given space to the notion that importing unskilled workers depresses the wages of the native unskilled. But today it is just another social issue like abortion.
For Mr. Obama, pondering his legacy and hearing how it is debated in the contest for his successor, the dearth of credit is plainly vexing. “We avoided a Great Depression,” he interjected during an onstage interview last month in Austin, Tex., adding sardonically, “Thanks, Obama.”
Few people here are thanking him for their recovery, despite benefits from the administration’s $800 billion stimulus package — Mr. Obama came here in August 2009 to personally announce one grant — and from the rescues of the auto and financial industries.
The rescue of the financial industry? Let's nod to the Fed with their multiple QE programs and put The Times reporters among the group that is hazy as to whether TARP was a Bush or Obama program. Of course the GM bailout was begun under Bush as well, but Obama really did take ownership of that, and the company.
As expected, the Times is bringing people together:
Brian A. Howey, publisher of the Howey Politics Indiana newsletter and once a reporter in Elkhart, sounded stumped, even allowing for the state’s conservatism: “I’m a lifelong Hoosier. I’m just amazed that not only do people not appreciate what happened in ’09, but there’s a lot of hostility toward Obama. I think part of it is racial and a lot of it is political.”
President Tee Time doesn't get the credit he deserves because of the haters. Whatever.
The Times notes that some SEALs think that discretion is the better part of SEALdom:
Rift Among Navy SEALs Over Members Who Cash In on Brand
This illustrates a bit of over-promotion:
Eric Greitens’s bid for governor of Missouri hinges on his experience as a Navy SEALs member, which he has chronicled in three books and promotes on his campaign web site, where he is pictured wearing his combat uniform, holding a rifle. “In the SEALs we learned, ‘there is no prize for second place in a gunfight,’ ” he said recently on Twitter.
Golly, he learned that in the SEALs? I picked that up as a casual viewer of westerns, although as a student of the classics I would note that the rule has exceptions.
I am a few days late on this but Obama and the Times joined in so I will too. Here is the Times, noting a recent Trump stink-bomb:
Obama Rebukes Donald Trump’s Comments on Nuclear Weapons
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday questioned Donald J. Trump’s fitness for office after statements from the Republican front-runner that the United States and its allies should move away from decades of constraints on the use of nuclear weapons. “We don’t want somebody in the Oval Office who doesn’t recognize how important that is,” Mr. Obama said.
Here is the Times summary of Trump's remarks [detailed at Red State]:
Mr. Trump said he was open to allowing Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons to deter their rogue neighbor, North Korea. He also declined to rule out using nuclear weapons in a military conflict in Europe, saying, “You don’t want to, say, take everything off the table.”
Let me take the easy one first - nuking Europe may sound extreme but the US has never adopted a "No First Use" policy in Europe because we feared NATO's ability to hold off the Soviets with exclusively conventional arms. Trump may even have a vague recollection of the Pershing missile debates during the Reagan era, and even today, the current Obama doctrine under the most recent Nuclear Posture Review would have the US use nukes against Russia.
The document to be released Tuesday after months of study led by the Defense Department will declare that “the fundamental role” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the United States, allies or partners, a narrower presumption than the past. But Mr. Obama rejected the formulation sought by arms control advocates to declare that the “sole role” of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack.
And since you asked, this was as of 2010:
“We are going to pursue opportunities for further reductions in our nuclear posture, working in tandem with Russia but also working in tandem with NATO as a whole,” [Obama] said.
An obvious such issue would be the estimated 200 tactical nuclear weapons the United States still has stationed in Western Europe. Russia has called for their removal, and there is growing interest among European nations in such a move as well. But Mr. Obama said he wanted to consult with NATO allies before making such a commitment.
Of course, the obvious caveat is that there is virtually noting in the Trump oeuvre to suggest he has any idea what current US policy regarding first use of nuclear weapons is, or what the various arguments might be for changing it. But he does seem to grasp that nukes make a big BOOM, so we have that going for us.
And to be fair to the critics, the Red State transcript (although not the subsequent breathless "analysis") show Trump was initially talking about using nukes against ISIS. The segue to a broader discussion of US nuclear deterrent strategy is not obvious.
Well. As to Trump's suggestion of encouraging Japan and South Korea to go nuclear in order to save the US a few billion of our defense budget, TIME Magazine provides some budget math showing that the numbers aren't there.
However! I have certainly advocated a comparably bold strategy at various cocktail parties, from a different perspective. China, which has its reasons, has never exerted the kind of restraining influence on North Korea that the US and our allies would like to see, and Chinese enforcement of the new UN sanctions does not appear to be energetic. On the other hand, change may be in the wind.
So, somewhere on the border between bold and reckless is this suggestion - remind the Chinese leaders that the US can only promise so much to its allies, but if North Korea remains uncontrolled we won't be able to stop South Korea and Japan from developing their own nuclear deterrent.
The Chinese will never tolerate that. As to how they would express their lack of tolerance for nuclear diversity in eastern Asia, well, the plan would be that they would crack down on North Korea. Obviously, if they instead engaged in a pre-emptive invasion of Taiwan to stave off US containment the bluff would have to be viewed as a disastrous failure. I mean, really disastrous. And given Trump's lack of knowledge and self-restraint, this is a diplomatic gambit I would not like to see him try.
Clinton: 'I'm so sick' of Sanders campaign lying about me
That's a switch! Normally she is blaming Rove and the Evil Republicans. Now she is beset by a Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. Her enemies are everywhere!
“I am so sick of the Sanders campaign lying about me. I’m sick of it,” the visibly angry Democratic presidential hopeful said, pointing a finger in a woman’s face, in a video posted by Greenpeace.
The exchange came as the woman pressed Clinton on taking donations from the fossil fuel industry and asked if she would reject their campaign contributions in the future.
"I do not have — I have money from people who work for fossil fuel companies,” Clinton responded, before calling the rival campaign's claims lies.
Clinton’s campaign has accepted sums from fossil fuel companies. According to a Huffington Post report from July of last year, most of her campaign’s largest bundlers at the time were lobbyists for the industry.
In a statement, Greenpeace Director Molly Dorozenski said: "Secretary Clinton is conflating Greenpeace with the Sanders campaign, but we are an independent organization, and our research team has assessed the contributions to all Presidential candidates. We have not and will not endorse candidates."
A resume that leaves her respected but unloved, at war with the media, ethically challenged, secretive and suspicious - Hillary's The One!