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“Trump’s Palin-Like Word Salad About Tonights Debate”: Trump And Sarah Palin Had The Same English Teacher In School

As of this writing, it looks like Donald Trump will not participate in tonights Republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News. I qualify that because – knowing the two sides involved in this battle – it wouldn’t surprise me to see further developments throughout the day. But here is Trump answering questions about all this yesterday at a press conference.

What struck me as I listened to it was that – based on his sentence structure – I’m guessing that he and Sarah Palin had the same English teacher in school. They both seem to have an appetite for the same kind of word salad.

The best I can make of Trump’s diatribe was that he has three problems. The first, of course, is that he doesn’t like Megyn Kelly. He also talks repeatedly about how “they” should donate money to Wounded Warriors. Those sound like excuses to me. What he really didn’t like is the statement Fox News issued when one of his spokespersons issued this threat.

In a call on Saturday with a FOX News executive, Lewandowski stated that Megyn had a ‘rough couple of days after that last debate’ and he ‘would hate to have her go through that again.’ Lewandowski was warned not to level any more threats, but he continued to do so.

Here is the Fox News response that Donald is so upset about:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

That last part has to do with the fact that Trump asked his twitter followers to weigh in on whether or not to participate in this debate. But what it comes down to is that Trump tried to bully Megyn Kelly and the folks at Fox News made him the brunt of their joke.

What seems clear to me about all of this is that the best way to get under Trump’s skin is to challenge his “testicular fortitude.”

I don’t offer that as any serious political commentary – after all, when it comes to a battle between Donald Trump and Fox News, I don’t have a dog in that fight. But it is a perfect example of just how dumbed-down this whole spectacle has become.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 28, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Sarah Palin | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Bernie Sanders And The God Factor”: Less A Matter Of Sanders’s Own Behavior Than That Of His Most Avid Supporters

The “S-word” — socialist — hangs over Bernie Sanders’s campaign like a spectral question mark. His self-identification as a “democratic socialist” is a matter of indifference to most supporters — especially the young — and even to many conservatives who assume all Democrats are socialist these days (remember the weird effort at the RNC a few years back to insist on labeling the opposition the “Democrat Socialist Party”?). But it’s certainly a new thing historically in a country where socialism never really caught on as a mainstream ideological tradition.

While Sanders is asked about the S-word regularly, another first he would represent has not really come into focus: his religious identity. He would definitely be the first Jewish president (or major-party presidential nominee), using the standard ethnic definition of that term. But he might also be the least religious president. Are either of these a real problem for his candidacy?

That question was posed in the Washington Post on Wednesday in an extensive article that quotes Sanders as confessing a rather vague belief in some sort of deity but no connection to organized religion. During his upbringing in Brooklyn by parents who immigrated from Poland, his Jewishness was “just as uncontested as saying you’re an American,” according to his older brother, who also recalls himself and Bernie listening to World Series games outside a synagogue where his father was attending Yom Kippur services. His first wife was from a similar background, while his second was raised Catholic.

According to public-opinion research, Sanders’s Jewish background shouldn’t be much of an issue. According to a Gallup survey in 2012, 91 percent of Americans (up from 46 percent when Gallup first asked this question in 1937) say they would vote for a Jewish president. Only 54 percent would vote for an atheist, however. So for Christians and Jews, at least (Muslims are another matter), having a religious affiliation is better than spurning God altogether.

That’s a good example of American exceptionalism. Just as center-left parties and leaders in Europe have no problem calling themselves “socialists,” the religious affiliation of politicians is not terribly significant. Last year Ed Miliband led the British Labour Party into a general election. That he was a professed atheist (like many if not most Labour politicians) from a Jewish background wasn’t an issue. In sharp contrast to American standards, Tony Blair’s religiosity was something of an oddity in the U.K.

So it could be that Sanders’s Jewish-socialist background and nonreligious identity represents a combo platter of associations that just don’t seem terribly American, at least to older swing voters (it is assumed that conservatives would reject Sanders on so many separate grounds that religion would hardly stand out).

Sanders is probably dealing with it as best he can by expressing sympathy with religious motives for political action, and most of all by not exhibiting that allergy to religion that besets a lot of highly secular people, including the kind of activists who are heavily represented in his base of support. That was probably the real value of his startling appearance at Liberty University last year. He didn’t make many conversions to his brand of politics. But he showed he did not consider himself as coming from a different moral universe from people with an entirely religious frame of reference. And interestingly, a new Pew survey shows that Sanders is perceived as more religious than the Republican candidate currently leading among conservative Evangelicals, Donald Trump, and roughly equal in this respect to the pious Methodist Hillary Clinton.

There may be a temptation in the Sanders camp to compare him to Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, who were great presidents not identified with any organized religious group (the former claim is a bit off since Jefferson, for all his heterodoxy, was an Anglican vestryman). But that could be a false analogy, since Jefferson was strongly interested in religious speculation and polemics (with his own highly expurgated version of the New Testament), while Lincoln’s rhetoric and thinking were saturated in a sort of nondenominational folk piety.

Perhaps the smartest tactic for Sanders is to remain authentic and more generally stress his distinctively American credentials. Every time he says with great frustration that he wants this country to “join the rest of the world” in providing health care as a right or in offering some other commonsense benefit, he simply reinforces the impression that his values are exotic and perhaps even suspect.

For the kind of Americans who administer religious litmus tests, there’s nothing Sanders can or should do. Many conservative Evangelicals and some traditionalist Catholics, after all, deny Barack Obama’s Christianity, and some deny fellowship with liberal Christians generally. It’s not an honest standard, as was made evident in 2004 when the occasional churchgoer George W. Bush inspired great passion among conservative Evangelicals via various verbal tics and dog whistles, while the very regular Mass-goer John Kerry was regarded as a bloodless, faithless liberal elitist.

But for people of faith who do want to find common ground with Bernie Sanders and the movement he represents, it’s important that he doesn’t view religious motivations for social action as cheap imitations of the real thing or silly superstitions that real grown-ups have overcome. This may be less a matter of Sanders’s own behavior than that of his most avid supporters, who sometimes strike others as a mite superior. While God may rightly have no formal place in Bernie Sanders’s world, he needs to find a place for God’s followers among his own.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 27, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Religious Beliefs | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Fun Never Ends”: Fox News Statement Taunting Trump Was ‘100 Percent’ Roger Ailes

As the war between Fox News and Donald Trump ratchets up, Roger Ailes is fighting off criticism from his senior executives over his handling of the crisis. According to one highly placed source, last night, Ailes sent out the now-famous statement mocking Trump as being scared to meet with the “Ayatollah” and “Putin” if he became president. “That was Roger 100 percent,” the source explained. “A lot of people on the second floor” — where top Fox executives work — “didn’t think it was a good idea.”

Fox executives are also troubled that Ailes’s principal adviser right now is his longtime personal lawyer and Fox & Friends contributor Peter Johnson Jr. “He wrote the statement with Peter,” the source explained. “Peter is running the war room,” another Ailes friend told me. Fox executives are worried that Ailes is relying on an attorney with scant communications experience as the network is reeling from the biggest PR crisis in recent memory. Historically, during a crisis like this Ailes would have huddled with his veteran communications guru Brian Lewis. But Ailes fired Lewis in 2013 over his concerns that Lewis had been a source for my 2014 Ailes biography. Since Lewis’s ouster, Johnson has taken on the role of media counselor.

Fox spokesperson Irena Briganti did not return a call. When asked about his role advising Ailes, Johnson responded to me with an ad hominem statement. “If you were ever actually fair, any semblance of integrity was swamped by your reaction to the failure of your critically panned hit job on Fox and Ailes,” he said. “Just like your latest tweets and articles, your questions today are based on your own malicious fabrication.”

New signs emerged today at just how frantic Ailes has become to get Trump back to the table. The two men have not spoken since yesterday, sources told me. This morning, Joe Scarborough reported that Ailes called Trump’s daughter Ivanka and wife, Melania, to get through to the GOP front-runner. But Trump is saying he’ll only talk to Rupert Murdoch directly. In a further challenge to Ailes’s power, Bill O’Reilly is scheduled to host Trump. Last night, Ailes directed Sean Hannity to cancel Trump’s interview. O’Reilly’s refusal to abide by a ban adds a new dynamic to the clash of egos. For O’Reilly, this is an opportunity to take back star power from Kelly. Sources say O’Reilly feels he made Kelly’s career by promoting her on his show, and he’s been furious that Kelly surpassed him in the ratings.

Meanwhile, Fox producers are scrambling with the practical matter of how to program the debate without Trump. “Right now, it is about how the moderators handle Trump,” one producer said. “They do not want to be seen either directly criticizing him since he’s not there, and they don’t want to seem like they are drumming up criticism by letting the candidates attack Trump rather than stake out their own positions and debate one another. For all the talk of the optics right now, the bigger issue is how to program a debate without the front-runner. Remember, Fox may be a political machine, but it is still a damn good television programmer.”

For Ailes, the internal dissent over his handling of the crisis would seem to only weaken his grasp on the helm of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch has become more hands-on at Fox since questions about Ailes’s faltering health have been raised. Now Murdoch has to wonder why Ailes, who runs the most valuable asset at parent company 21st Century Fox, is getting PR advice from a lawyer Ailes personally pays.

A spokesperson for Murdoch did not return a call.

 

By: Gabriel Sherman, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 27, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fox News, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Biggest Threat To Carson’s Campaign”: Low-Information Candidate Worried About Low-Information Voters

On Wednesday afternoon, Ben Carson told Wolf Blitzer that his biggest threat in the presidential election isn’t Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, the two candidates who happen to be beating him right now.

No, Carson, whose poll numbers have dropped so far that he could grab a toboggan and slide down them into irrelevance, thinks the biggest barrier to his victory is “the fact that people sometimes are not well educated.”

Back in October, when Carson was in second place, he was doing much better among voters without a college degree than he is doing today with any voters.

“They don’t have a clue what you’re talking about,” Carson, who was once described by his former campaign manager as “just living in an alternative universe,” said, “and yet these are people who vote … I implore people to really inform yourself about who the candidates are, inform yourself of what their positions are.”

Ben Carson — a very good neurosurgeon who reportedly doesn’t understand foreign policy even though people keep trying to explain it to him over and over — for example, believes that free college will destroy our nation; that pyramids were used to store grain instead of dead bodies; that the minimum wage is good or bad; that Muslims shouldn’t be president; that it is okay to take a break from your presidential campaign to sell copies of your book; that gun control helped the Nazis; that people in mass-shooting situations should yell, “Hey, guys, everybody attack him!“; that prison turns people gay (“So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question.”); that spending a lot of money to raise money is a great idea; that Hamas is pronounced “hummus”; that New Hampshire is actually pretty far away from Vermont; and that “Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Hopefully this list will inform voters of who Ben Carson really is — and inform Ben Carson that the biggest threat to his campaign is actually the fact that he just isn’t a very good candidate.

 

By: Jamie Fuller, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 27, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Ben Carson, GOP Presidential Candidates, Voters | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Democrat That Can Win Is What We Need”: Translating Values Into Governance And Delivering The Goods

In my estimation, there’s only one presidential candidate in 2016 fully capable of doing the job, and she’s anything but a natural.

As Hillary Clinton has also been the target of maybe the longest-running smear campaign in American history — including roughly a dozen partisan Congressional investigations and a six-year leak-o-matic “independent counsel” probe led by the fastidious Kenneth Starr — it’s no wonder some voters mistrust her.

Overcoming that suspicion is her biggest challenge.

Republicans have predicted her imminent indictment for 20 years. You’d think by now they’d have made something stick, if there was anything to it. But it didn’t happen then, and it’s not going to happen now for an obvious reason: in a democracy, political show trials endanger the prosecution as much as the defense.

Anybody who watched Hillary’s one-woman demolition of Rep. Trey Gowdy’s vaunted Benghazi committee should understand that.

Meanwhile, one of the best things about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is his unwillingness to smear his opponent. Too bad many of his most passionate supporters aren’t so fastidious. With Iowa’s make-or-break moment approaching for Sanders, it’s getting nasty out there.

It’s not so much the tiresome attacks on anybody who disagrees with them as a corrupt sellout. (My corporate overlords, of course, dictated that sentence.) It’s the seeming belief that people can be browbeaten into supporting their guy.

Some are a bit like Trump supporters–although normally without the threats. That too may be changing. Recently a guy visited my Facebook page saying people like me deserve “to be dragged into the street and SHOT for…treason against not only our country and our people, but the ENTIRE [BLEEPING] WORLD.”

My response — “Settle down, Beavis” — sent him into a rage.

But no, Hillary’s not an instinctive performer, although her stage presence strikes me as improved since 2008. A person needn’t be “inauthentic” (pundit-speak for “bitch”) to be uncomfortable in front of an audience.

As for authenticity, few Democrats could work a crowd like North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

President Obama nailed it during a recent Politico interview:

Hillary does better with “small groups” than big ones, he observed, before putting his thumb heavily on the scale. He described Hillary as a fighter, who’s “extraordinarily experienced — and, you know, wicked smart and knows every policy inside and out — [and] sometimes [that] could make her more cautious, and her campaign more prose than poetry,” he said.

Even so, she came closer to defeating Obama in 2008 than Republicans have. “Had things gone a little bit different in some states or if the sequence of primaries and caucuses been a little different,” the president said, “she could have easily won.”

Indeed. As non-endorsements go, the president’s remarks couldn’t have been more complimentary. “She had to do everything that I had to do, except, like Ginger Rogers, backwards in heels,” he added.

Obama wisely said nothing critical about Bernie Sanders, but nothing particularly warm either. “Bernie came in with the luxury of being a complete long shot and just letting loose,” he observed. The president said he understood the appeal of Sanders “full-throated…progressivism.”

Well, Mr. Hopey-Changey as Sarah Palin calls him, certainly should.

Seven years of trench warfare with congressional Republicans, however, have brought out the president’s inner pragmatist. Which Democrat is best-positioned to consolidate the Obama legacy and move it forward?

First, one who stands a good chance of being elected.

Look, there’s a reason Karl Rove’s super PAC is running anti-Hillary TV ads in Iowa. Bernie Sanders “radical” past makes him a GOP oppo-research dream. Never mind socialism. Did you know he once wrote a column claiming that sexual frustration causes cervical cancer?

That in the 1970s, he called for nationalizing oil companies, electric utilities, and — get this — TV networks? Asked about it, he deflects by noting that Hillary once supported Barry Goldwater. Yeah, when she was 16. Bernie was in his mid-30s when he called for confiscating the Rockefeller family fortune. How most Americans hear that is: if he can take away their stuff, he can take away mine.

Sure, many people went off the rails during the Seventies. Most aren’t running for president. Bernie strikes me as a fine senator and a decent man. However, the current U.S. Congress has voted 60 times to repeal Obamacare. And he’s going to give us single-payer “Medicare for all?”

No, he’s not. Assuming he could find a sponsor, it’d never get out of committee. I doubt I’ll live to see single-payer health insurance in the USA. And I’m younger than Bernie. A complete retrofitting of American health care simply isn’t in the works. The votes just aren’t there, and they won’t materialize by repeating the magic word “revolution.”

President Obama says Hillary represents the “recognition that translating values into governance and delivering the goods is ultimately the job of politics, making a real-life difference to people in their day-to-day lives.”

Hard-won reality, that is, as opposed to fantasy.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, January 27, 2016

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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