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“How Much Change Can The Right Take?”: Trump Is Getting Too Much Media Attention

Brent Budowsky is experiencing some exuberance. Whether it’s irrational exuberance or not, we may never know.

Stop the presses! According to a new poll by Quinnipiac University on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) destroys Republican candidate Donald Trump in a general election by 13 percentage points. In this new poll, Sanders has 51 percent to Trump’s 38 percent. If this margin held in a general election, Democrats would almost certainly regain control of the United States Senate and very possibly the House of Representatives.

It is high time and long overdue for television networks such as CNN to end their obsession with Trump and report the all-important fact that in most polls, both Hillary Clinton and Sanders would defeat Trump by landslide margins. In the new Quinnipiac poll, Clinton would defeat Trump by 7 percentage points, which is itself impressive and would qualify as a landslide, while the Sanders lead of 13 points would bring a landslide of epic proportions.

Obviously, polls like this taken eleven months before a general election aren’t worth much. But there’s a point here regardless. There’s a pretty strong assumption in many quarters that a Brooklyn-raised seventy-four year old self-proclaimed socialist Jewish guy from granola-chomping Vermont doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected president of the United States. Yet, this Quinnipiac poll shows he’d schlong the current Republican front-runner, and schlong him like a drum. Not only that, but he’d have more potential coattails than Hillary Clinton.

Maybe that’s true right now–maybe it would even still be true next November–but that’s not the main point that Budowsky wants to make. His point is that Trump is getting too much media attention and Bernie Sanders (especially) and Hillary Clinton are getting too little.

I know a lot of regular voters who are not media-types who would vote for Sanders over Clinton in a heartbeat if only they could be assured that he wouldn’t lose a very winnable election. And who knows what happens when the Republicans bring out all their Willie Hortons and Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth? Does Sanders have the kind of teflon that the Clintons are famous for possessing?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do sometimes wonder if the right in this country will just completely and finally lose their shit if we elect someone like Sanders as president. Putting up with a President Hillary Clinton seems like indignity enough for these folks who have been raised on Vince Foster watermelon conspiracies and Benghazi heat-fever dreams. But, at least the Establishment knows that the Clintons are what happens to you when you lose an election and not some earth-shattering proof that your country has been lost forever and turned over to the communists.

Then part of me just has a prurient interest in seeing just how mental the right will go if it turns out that Sanders can not only win but that he can destroy them in a wipeout landslide.

What I am pretty sure about is that Trump is at least as unorthodox and unacceptable to a huge swath of the electorate as Sanders would be. In a matchup between the two of them, we’d be assured of getting something we’ve never seen before and basically no one thought was possible.

I’d have plenty to write about, that’s for sure.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 23,2015

December 25, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shorter GOP Debate: What Domestic Terrorism?”: Terrorism To Republicans Looks Like Someone Else

About two-thirds of the way through the GOP Debate/Goat Rodeo last night, in the midst of yet another Syrian refugee pile-on, I tweeted, “How about vetting the multiple white guys who committed domestic terrorism in Colorado?”

My friend Tom Sullivan retweeted it with a note, “White college students from CA caused more terror in CO than any refugee ever will.”

Tom, tragically, would know. His son Alex was murdered in the Aurora theater gun massacre.

The debate was billed to focus on national security. You heard lots about Paris and San Bernardino and the threat that shut down the Los Angeles school system Tuesday. Not a word about Charleston. Or Aurora. Or Colorado Springs. Or Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Or Sandy Hook, just a day after the anniversary of what was a most horrific day among so many in the American timeline of mass shootings. A distinction shared by no other developed country, many of whom have seen homeland violence but none with the numbing regularity of ours.

Ben Carson did a moment of silence for San Bernardino – which is appropriate. But nobody said a word about a school full of dead teachers and 6- and 7-year-olds, almost three years to the day since they died.

Terrorism to Republicans looks like someone else. Terrorism to many other Americans looks like someone they know and we know, someone who takes cues from Internet mutterings about baby parts, or a deranged and feeble young man with available mass-killing weapons at home or a white supremacist acting on ramblings from the darkest corners of a disturbed mind.

We actually have met the enemy, which is why there are reproductive health care doctors who go to work wearing bulletproof vests. But Republicans don’t want to talk about it. And frankly, CNN whiffed on bringing it up.

As the scorecard goes, Jeb Bush finally woke up the fact that yes, he is losing to That Guy, the Short Fingered Vulgarian Donald Trump, about four debates too late. As my friend Mike Gehrke put it, Rand Paul actually sounded sane to drunk Democrats. I don’t understand Ted Cruz’s base, but he appeared to speak to it effectively while attacking Rubio for being soft on immigration. Trump blustered his way through as usual, and his supporters don’t care. Chris Christie seems to have adopted Rudy Giuliani’s “noun, verb, 9/11” approach. The air has gone out of the Carly Fiorina balloon to the point she made multiple “pay attention to me” pleas to the moderators.

The penultimate moment of the whole thing may have been when Ben Carson, having sufficiently malapropped “Hamas” into “hummus” last week, dubbed the Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Pubis. Who knew he had a porn name?

Along with domestic terrorism, the other thing notably absent from the campaign was much mention of Hillary Clinton, which suits her just fine. The longer Republicans stay divided, keep bloviating among themselves and persist in throwing duck-face shade on the split screen, the better for Democrats in what will be a hard-fought 2016 election.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, December 16, 2015

December 17, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primary Debates, Mass Shootings, National Security | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When Liars Debate, The Truth Always Loses”: Endless Prevarication Manipulating The Prejudices Of Ill-Informed Voters

Watching the second Republican presidential debate on CNN and its aftermath, millions of Americans learned again what we already know about the candidates: These people embellish, prettify, and fabricate their own biographies without hesitation, from Donald Trump’s much-parodied boasting about his business acumen to Carly Fiorina’s super-selective accounting of her tenure at Hewlett-Packard to Chris Christie’s highly romanticized account of his appointment and record as U.S. Attorney to Jeb Bush’s wildly inflated claims about the Florida economy when he was governor.

But as Christie himself pointed out – in a remark targeted at Trump and Fiorina – why would anybody even pay attention to the tall tales told by these politicians (or the self-styled political “outsiders,” who sound exactly like politicians) about themselves? While the bickering is sometimes amusing and mostly annoying, does anyone believe that it matters?

For these characters to prevaricate endlessly about their résumés and achievements is neither surprising nor important. Of much greater consequence are the bat-winged lies they emit about issues that affect all of our lives, as well as the future of the United States and the world.

Evidently all of the Republicans on the stage at the Reagan presidential library wanted us to believe that Planned Parenthood should be shut down everywhere because its clinics sell post-abortion fetal body parts for profit. That is a false and outrageous accusation, disproved in the same videotapes that they cited as proof. Attacking the venerable women’s health organization, Fiorina went even further, furiously describing a scene in those videos supposedly showing a “fully formed fetus” with legs kicking and heart beating while someone prepares to “harvest its brain.”

Such horrific practices, she declared, “erode the character of our nation.” What erodes the character of our nation, in fact, is Fiorina’s blatant chicanery, repeated by her the next morning on ABC News. The video she claims to have watched does not exist, according to Vox.com reporter Sarah Kliff, who viewed all 12 hours of those videos.

What exist in reality are hundreds of thousands of women who will lose access to health care if fanatics like Fiorina and her fellow Republican candidates ever succeed in wrecking Planned Parenthood. Having “harvested” tens of millions of dollars from Hewlett-Packard for nearly wrecking the company, however, she doesn’t need to worry about medical care for other people.

Nearly every Republican on that stage brayed his or her opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement – and every one of them falsely described that deal. Typical was Senator Ted Cruz, who warned, “We won’t know under this agreement—there are several facilities in Iran they designate as military facilities that are off limits all together…the other facilities, we give them 24 days notice before inspecting them.”

None of what Cruz said is true or relevant. All of Iran’s designated nuclear facilities will fall under continuous video and electronic monitoring in addition to physical visitation by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who will also monitor any movements of nuclear materials or equipment there. Hostile to scientific facts as they are, Cruz and his fellow Republicans are probably unaware of how easily as little as a billionth of a gram of radioactive dust could be detected by IAEA inspectors, as the Center for National Security at Fordham University noted in a factsheet.

These examples represent only a few of literally dozens of mendacious statements about crucial public issues, usually bordering on absurdity, broadcast by CNN with little contradiction on Wednesday evening. Senator Marco Rubio insisted that we can do nothing about man-made climate change without destroying the economy, when every reputable study shows that the economy and the world will be destroyed if we do nothing. Christie promised to “save” Social Security from insolvency by denying payments to wealthy recipients, when that won’t significantly improve the system’s finances – and the “crisis” he touted is overblown anyway. Trump insisted that life-saving vaccines cause autism, complete with anecdotal “proof” from an “employee” whose “beautiful baby” contracted a fever and then “became autistic” after being vaccinated.

Not only did Trump concoct that sad story, but there is little doubt that his own children, including little Barron Trump, have received proper vaccinations. (Manhattan private schools don’t accept the unvaccinated.) Disgracefully, neither of the two physicians on stage, Rand Paul and Ben Carson, had the guts to forcefully contradict him.

Try as they will to reject Trump, he fits in perfectly among Republicans – and not only because he worships money, spews xenophobic nonsense, and encourages callous bigotry. Like them, he relies on fabrications and falsehoods, manipulating the prejudices of ill-informed voters.

The Republican rejection of reality – which these candidates will act out in debate after debate for months to come – inflicts grave costs on this country every day. It is hard to imagine the damage that will be done if one of these deceivers comes to power.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editors Blog, The National Memo, September 17, 2015

September 18, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, GOP Primary Debates, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“15 Clowns And Counting, Revisionists Reality Show”: The GOP Should Run Its Debates Just Like American Idol

We’re almost certainly going to have more than a dozen Republican presidential candidates in the 2016 race. As The New York Times helpfully points out, six are already in (Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, Huckabee, Paul, Rubio) and seven more are all but certainly running (Bush, Christie, Graham, Jindal, Perry, Santorum, Walker). There are plenty more maybes, too — both serious (Kasich) and clowns (Trump).

This leaves GOP planners with a big and pressing question: How do you stage a debate when you can’t even fit the participants on a single stage?

It’s an unprecedented problem. There’s never been a primary debate — in either party — with more than 10 candidates. And it’s even more disconcerting to Republicans because they made a strong effort to limit the number of debates so it didn’t turn into a circus like it did four years ago… when there were a mere nine candidates.

Fox News, which hosts the first debate on August 6, announced that it will limit participation to the top 10 contenders based on an average of the last five national polls. Maybe that sounds good on the surface… except that formula threatens to leave out a couple of sitting governors, a U.S. senator, and the only woman running.

CNN, which hosts the second debate on September 16, will literally divide the candidates into two tiers. That could lead to some interesting exchanges, as the lower-tier candidates try to get attention with less airtime.

Other proposed formulas, which exclude candidates by the amount of money raised or the number of staffers hired, also have their problems. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, one of the potential candidates who could be left off the stage, has even proposed two back-to-back debates with randomly selected participants.

All of this worrying and rule-making is intended to prevent the GOP presidential debates from becoming a political version of a reality show. But when you think about it, what’s wrong with that?

Imagine if the debates were like American Idol, with candidates “performing” their answers to questions before a panel of “judges” — and ultimately the votes of television viewers across the country. At the end of each round, the poorest performing candidates would be “voted off” and wouldn’t move to the next round.

Viewership of the debates would surge as Americans discussed with their friends and colleagues what happened on the “show” the previous night. And as more viewers voted to keep their favorite candidates around, more people would have a vested interest in the ultimate winner.

Just as the winners of American Idol often go on to became famous singers who sell out their concerts and sell many albums, the winner of the GOP presidential debate would have a ready-made constituency for the general election.

Some might think it’s unseemly to treat a presidential campaign like a game show. But our politics have been evolving this way for more than 200 years. Our earliest presidents thought it unseemly to even campaign at all. They never left their homes.

The Republican Party has its strongest field of candidates in years. There is no fair way to pick those who would be allowed on the debate stage. Even with as few as 10 candidates, the debates will seem like a game show.

Why not just embrace that? A game show format might lead to the strongest general election candidate Republicans have had in years, too.

 

By: Taegan Goddard, The Week, May 26, 2015

May 29, 2015 Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, GOP Primaries | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“It’s Hard For Me To Understand”: Experts; You Can’t Break Your Own Spine Like Freddie Gray

On Wednesday night, The Washington Post leaked an alleged report from the Baltimore Police Department, which claims that Freddie Gray, the 21-year-old who died a week after his spine was fractured while in police custody, “was intentionally trying to injure himself” in the back of a Baltimore Police van.

The report, whose author is unknown, cites a single source: an unnamed second man who was in the van with Gray for a short time, but could not see him.

But if Freddie Gray was trying to break his own spinal cord in the back of a van, according to experts in spinal trauma injuries, it might be the first self-inflicted injury of its kind.

“I have never seen it before. I’ve never seen somebody self-inflict a spinal cord injury in that way,” says Anand Veeravagu, a Stanford University Medical Center neurosurgeon who specializes in traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.

“It’s hard for me to understand that, unless those terms (like ‘intentional’ and ‘injure himself’) are being used incorrectly. It’s hard for me to envision how a person could try to do that,” he says. “It would require them to basically hang themselves in a car where there isn’t anything to hang yourself with.”

Veeravagu says that there are only a few ways you can injure your spine in a similar way to the injuries that ultimately led to Gray’s death. One, he says, is by a sharp injury, which is a direct penetrating injury—either somebody with a knife “who knows what they’re doing, or something else that cuts through, like a gunshot wound.”

The other way, more pertinent to Gray’s case, is by trauma, where the bones are fractured and the ligaments are torn as a result of force or impact.

“It is very difficult to sever your spinal cord without a known fracture,” says Veeravagu. “Often, when patients come in with this kind of injury, you’ll find they’ve been either in a car accident or something similar to that kind of impact.”

There are times where Veeravagu, who is a former White House Fellow, has seen suicide or self-harm by means of a spinal cord injury, but it’s always by hanging, or by using an apparatus Gray couldn’t have on-hand.

“Unfortunately, sometimes people attempt suicide by hanging themselves. It’s one of the only ways I’ve seen where you can (commit suicide or intentional self-harm) by spinal fracture. They kick their chair out, they fall, they snap their neck. It results in immediate spinal cord injury,” he says. “But it’s very hard to see how somebody could attempt suicide by a spinal cord injury without the use of something else.”

But it’s even in those instances, he says, patients often don’t die of a spinal cord injury. And most who are taken to the hospital in time after suffering spinal cord injuries—self-inflicted or not—survive the trauma.

“Most spinal cord injuries are not fatal if patients are taken to the hospital,” Veeravagu says. “Most survive.”

Outlets covering The Washington Post’s leak have called the claims from the unnamed source “a twist” and a “new narrative (that) questions police brutality claim.” On Wednesday night, CNN’s broadcast ran a breaking news banner that read: “BREAKING NEWS: WASH. POST: GRAY TRIED TO HURT HIMSELF,” and the video remains on CNN’s Youtube page.

The Washington Post’s initial report does not reach out to any medical professionals to determine the feasibility of the leaked document’s claims.

The official police report of Gray’s arrest was scheduled to be released publically on Friday, but police delayed the release on Wednesday.

“I’m surprised they released that piece of information without a more detailed account,” says Veeravagu.

Another trauma surgeon, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the political nature of the case and because he is “surprised time and again by what I previously believed to be impossible,” thinks that it’s “highly unusual (if not impossible) to deliberately make yourself a quadriplegic while shackled in the back of a police van.”

There are, Veeravagu says, situations that would make Gray more prone to a fatal spinal injury, however—like if someone or something applied pressure to his spine as it snapped.

“Certain conditions make people more prone to spinal injury. If you were to apply leverage to the spine at certain points, it basically converts the spine to a long bone,” says Veeravagu.

Veeravagu also says it’s possible Gray’s spinal fracture could have occurred before entering the van—and that symptoms of his broken vertebrae could have been delayed until he was placed in the van.

“That is possible: It’s possible to have an injury to your spinal cord that gets worse over time and eventually progresses to complete paralysis,” he says. “Did he have an expanding blood clot in his spine? Did he have an exact fracture to his spine? Both are important to understand. If the family does an autopsy—finding that out, that’s ideal.”

 

By: Ben Collins, The Daily Beast, April 30, 2015

May 1, 2015 Posted by | Baltimore Police Dept, Freddie Gray, Police Brutality | , , , , | Leave a comment

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