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“Is Trump’s ‘Campaign’ Just A Scheme To Launch Trump TV?”: Actions Inconsistent With Any Rational Plan To Be President

Donald Trump is the first major-party nominee whose basic motive is the subject of sincere curiosity. Every other figure who secured the nomination of one of the two main governing parties clearly did so as part of a plan to get elected president. It is possible that this is Trump’s plan, too. But it’s also possible that it’s not, which is one of the things that makes his candidacy, or perhaps his “candidacy,” so unusual.

It is increasingly clear that Trump’s actions are inconsistent with any rational plan to become president. He is unpopular on a scale that defies historical precedent, utterly loathed by overwhelming majorities. Some people believed Trump was merely playing the part of a right-wing provocateur in order to stand out from the field and win his party’s nomination, and would “pivot” to the center afterward, but these hopes have been dashed. Trump has only become more hated. Nor is he doing basic tasks required of a nominee. When he was asked to call two dozen major Republican donors, Politico reports, Trump called three of them and then packed it in.

It is entirely possible that Trump is simply in way over his head — he wants to be president but doesn’t know how to go about it, and he trusts his own instincts far too much. The alternate possibility is that he has a different motive. In this scenario, Trump is not completely incompetent, but is shrewdly, or at least rationally, following a plan to enrich or otherwise gratify himself. The trouble has always been discerning what such a plan could be.

Trump’s campaign has not helped his branding business. To the contrary, it seems to be doing enormous damage. He has lost clients already, and will probably continue to do so. If your last name is synonymous with racism and misogyny, you can’t sell your name to golf courses and restaurants, which have dropped him left and right. Being adored by 30 percent of the country and hated by the rest is a recipe unsuited either for winning nationwide office or selling consumer products.

What it could well be is a plan to launch an independent media organ. Sarah Ellison reports that Trump is exploring the possibility of a television or other media venture that would cater to his loyalists. “According to several people briefed on the discussions, the presumptive Republican nominee is examining the opportunity presented by the ‘audience’ currently supporting him,” she writes. “He has also discussed the possibility of launching a ‘mini-media conglomerate’ outside of his existing TV-production business, Trump Productions LLC.” According to Ellison, Trump chafes at the way media have been able to make money off his antics without him getting a cut — a piece of reporting that happens to comport with Trump’s frequent public boasts about the ratings he commands and the money others are making off him.

And if this is Trump’s plan, it makes sense. Perhaps he grasps a truth the official Republican Party has refused to acknowledge: The conservative base is a subculture. It is a numerically large subculture, but a subculture nonetheless. It rejects the moral values of the larger society and wallows within its own imaginary world, in which Barack Obama is a foreign-born agent of anti-American interests, global warming is a lie concocted by greedy scientists or perhaps the Chinese, and hordes of foreigners are rendering the United States unrecognizable. The greater the gulf between the reality perceived by Trump’s supporters and the reality experienced by the rest of the world, the worse for the Republican Party, but all the more profitable for the media that can cater to their delusions. Figures like Rupert Murdoch, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh have grown rich doing so. Trump may have figured out that there’s no reason he should work for them when he can cut out the middleman.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 16, 2016

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Reality Television | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Oh, The Irony”: Donald Trump Just Asked Judge Gonzalo Curiel For A HUGE Favor

Oh, the irony.

After calling Judge Gonzalo Curiel a “Trump hater” and casting aspersions on his objectivity because of his “Mexican” heritage, Donald Trump is now asking Curiel to help him out by not releasing video footage of his depositions in the Trump University wealth seminar lawsuits over which Curiel is presiding.

As reported by Politico, the presumptive Republican nominee’s lawyers are doing everything they can to stop the public from seeing the tapes, arguing that the videos should be kept hidden because of Trump’s status as a presidential candidate. “Undoubtedly, these videos…will be used by the media and others in connection with the presidential campaign,” read a motion filed on Wednesday night with Judge Curiel. From Politico: 

“‘[V]ideotapes are subject to a higher degree of potential abuse than transcripts. They can be cut and spliced and used as “soundbites” on the evening news or sports shows….’ And unlike in other cases where it was unclear that ‘out of context snippets’ would be broadcast because the ‘media frenzy’ around the case had died down…the ‘media frenzy’ surrounding this case is certain to continue through the election,” Trump’s legal team added, quoting cases from federal trial courts in Indiana and New York.

To support their point, Trump lawyers cited several federal appeals court rulings rejecting the release of videotaped depositions by Bill Clinton when he was a sitting president.

“These same cautions and concerns apply with full force here to a presidential candidate whose every move is being covered by the media. Mr. Trump may be a sitting President by the time [one of the Trump University’s suits] goes to trial, in which case these principles apply with even greater force,” wrote Trump’s lawyers, lawyers referring the November 28th trial date that Judge Curiel has set.

The Trump camp’s move comes after a coalition of major media organizations, including The New York Times and Chicago Tribune, filed a motion for the footage’s release on June 11. Even Fox News joined their effort on June 16.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 17, 2016

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gonzalo Curiel, Trump University | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“An Infinite Loop Of Bullshit”: Bernie Sanders Has Some Strange Ideas About Why He Deserves The Nomination

The season-finale episode of Saturday Night Live imagines a bar-stool conversation between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in which the two candidates bond over Sanders’s stupidity in refusing to attack Clinton, and Clinton having rigged the primary system. (Clinton: “Remember all those states like Wyoming where you beat me by a lot, but I still got most of the delegates?” Sanders: “That was so stupid! It’s rigged!” Clinton: “I know. It’s so rigged!”)

The system isn’t rigged. Clinton is going to win the nomination because she has won far more votes. She currently leads with 55 percent of the total vote to 43 percent. That’s fairly close for a primary, but it’s not Bush-versus-Gore close. It’s not even Bush-versus-Dukakis close (the 1988 election, widely seen as a landslide, was settled by less than 8 percent). Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates is proportionally smaller than her lead in total votes because Sanders has benefited from low-turnout caucuses. Yet Sanders has enjoyed astonishing success at framing his narrative of the primary as a contest that, in some form or fashion, has been stolen from its rightful winner. His version of events has bled into the popular culture and fueled disillusionment among his supporters.

Sanders initially discounted Clinton’s success as the product of “conservative” states, which is a technically accurate depiction of the states as a whole, but not of the heavily African-American Democratic voters in them who supported Clinton. As Sanders has continued to fail to dent Clinton’s enormous lead in votes and delegates, his campaign has devised a series of increasingly absurd formulations to defend its theme that Sanders, not Clinton, is the authentic choice of the people.

  1. The activists love Bernie. “Any objective analyst of the current campaign understands that the energy and the grass-roots activism of this campaign is with us,” Sanders said recently. “Not Hillary Clinton.” But that’s not how you decide elections. Energy and activism are definitely part of the election process. But the way you determine the winner is by holding elections.
  2. Bernie has won more a lot of states. Sanders’s “top advisers” tell Politico that he will make “an aggressive pitch” for his nomination because Sanders “will be able to point to victories over Clinton in more than 20 states.” There are two problems with this pitch. First, unless you’re really into states’ rights, the number of states won is not a terribly useful metric — Sanders has done disproportionately well in low-population states, while Clinton’s supporters are concentrated in larger states. That is hardly a democratic basis to award him the nomination.

Also, 20 states is definitely less than half of all the states.

  1. Pledged delegates don’t count because of superdelegates. When presented with Clinton’s insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, Sanders notes dismissively that pledged delegates alone are not enough to win (i.e., “Hillary Clinton will not have the requisite number of pledged delegates to win the Democratic nomination at the end of the nominating process on June 14. Won’t happen. She will be dependent on superdelegates.”).
  2. Superdelegates also don’t count because of pledged delegates. The superdelegate system, he has charged, “stacks the deck in a very, very unfair way for any establishment candidate.” Or, alternately, “The media is in error when they lumped superdelegates with pledged delegates. Pledged delegates are real.”

The nomination is won by adding up pledged delegates and superdelegates. Clinton has a large lead in pledged delegates, and an even larger lead in superdelegates. You could rely entirely on one or the other, or change the weights between them in any fashion, and Clinton would still win. Sanders simply refuses to accept the combination of the two, instead changing subjects from one to the other. Ask him about the pledged delegates, and he brings up the superdelegates. Ask about the superdelegates, and he changes to the pledged delegates. It’s an infinite loop of bullshit.

Sanders deserves some sympathy. He set out to run a message campaign to spread his ideas. At some point, the race became quasi-competitive, and he discovered that he needed a competitive rationale in order to make the news media cover it, and as he has failed to gain ground, his competitive rationale has gone from strained to ludicrous. Meanwhile, his message has attracted fervent supporters who like him so much they actually believe his crazy process arguments.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 6, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 4 Comments

“The Unfuzzy Math”: Bernie Sanders’s Final Few Days of California Dreamin’

So here we are. It all comes down to Calif—hey, wait. No, it doesn’t all come down to California.

That’s how Bernie Sanders has been framing next Tuesday, and the media have completely bought into it. Watching cable news, you’d think that if Bernie wins California, Jerry Garcia’s going to rise from his grave and the Dead will reunite and Sanders will be the nominee.

California’s big, and California’s razor close, and certainly it makes a difference whether Sanders or Hillary Clinton wins it. But not that big a difference. A whopping total of 475 delegates are at stake, but if it’s as close as the polls suggest, the winner stands to net a mere 20 or 30 delegates. Using this excellent delegate calculator, let’s go through all the remaining races and then circle back to the big prize, bearing in mind that right now, among pledged delegates, it’s Clinton up by 268, 1,769 to 1,501.

Saturday June 4, Virgin Islands. Seven delegates are at stake. The U.S.V.I. are three-quarters African American and just 15 percent white. So say Clinton wins it 75-25. She’ll take five delegates to Sanders’s two, netting three.

Sunday, June 5, Puerto Rico. I’ve been banging on about Puerto Rico being important because it has 60 delegates, which is a pretty big prize. Let’s say Clinton wins that one by, oh, 65-35, which doesn’t seem crazy. She’ll win the delegate contest 39-21, netting 18.

Then come all the contests on Tuesday, June 7:

South Dakota has 20 delegates. Say Sanders wins 60-40. He’ll win the delegate race 12-8, netting four.

North Dakota has 18 delegates. Give Sanders another 60-40 win here; again, he’ll win 11-7, netting another four.

Montana has 21 delegates. Give Sanders a third win of about that size. That’s 13-8 in terms of delegates, so he nets five more.

New Mexico is a little more interesting. It has 34 delegates. A poll came out earlier this week showing Clinton with a 26-point lead. I can’t quite believe that, but about half the turnout is expected to be Latino, so give Clinton New Mexico by 14 or 15 and she wins the delegate race 20-14, netting six.

Now we come to New Jersey and its 126 delegates. Not much polling. There was one in early April that showed Clinton +9, but early April was a long time ago. An early May survey had her +28, and a mid-May one +17. Sanders certainly hasn’t been competing there much. Let’s be if anything a little conservative and say Clinton wins it roughly 58-42. That translates into delegate totals of 73-53, so she’ll pick up 20 delegates.

So if these totals are about right, Clinton will win another 170 delegates, Sanders another 136. That would put her at 1,939 and him at 1,637. Which brings us to California.

California’s 475 pledged delegates are awarded in a pretty complicated way (here’s a PDF of the whole plan, if you’re interested). Most of them, 317, are awarded within congressional districts based on who won that district. There are 53 of those. In 2008, according to Bob Mulholland, the veteran California Democratic insider and a Clinton supporter this year, she won 42 of them. “But that’s an eight-year-old race,” as he noted to me, so who knows if it means anything for this year. Another little wrinkle is that all congressional districts aren’t created equal—some have as many as nine delegates, others as few as four. Just 105 delegates are awarded on the basis of the total statewide vote, and then there are 53 elected officials and party operatives who are pledged according to the results. That’s your 475. Then there are 73 superdelegates, from Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer on down.

But put them aside. This is about pledged delegates, right, because that’s what’s up for grabs when people vote. This brings us to one of the great obfuscations of this primary season.

You always read that a candidate needs 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination. And that is true if you include superdelegates. Hang with me here, this matters. There are 4,051 pledged delegates and 713 supers. Add those two numbers together, then divide that by two, then add one (i.e., 50 percent plus one). That gets you to 2,383.

But if you’re talking pledged delegates only, 50 percent plus one is 2,026. You never see that number, and I guess I understand why—2,383 is the number, officially. But 2,026 is a majority of pledged delegates—you know, the ones you win by persuading voters to pull the lever with your name on it. I’ve been mystified as to why the Clinton people aren’t pushing more awareness of the 2,026 number. If the situation were reversed, we can be sure that Jeff Weaver would be all over cable denouncing the mere existence of 2,383, that strutting harlot of a number!

So it’s next Tuesday night in California. The state-by-state delegate scenario that I played out above has occurred. Clinton is at 1,939, needing just 87 delegates out of California to hit 2,026. Do you know how badly Sanders would have to beat her to limit her to 86 delegates? No, you don’t. But I do. He’d have to win by 82 to 18 percent. That would net Bernie 309 delegates out of California and would get him to 2,026, while she’d have 2,025.

That isn’t going to happen. What’s going to happen, even if Sanders wins the state by, say, three or four points, is that he will net about 20 delegates, but she will still have won around 225 or 230, meaning she will exceed 2,026 by about 150 delegates, and Sanders will be short of the magic number by about the same amount. And then there’ll be a little cherry placed on the sundae the following Tuesday when the District of Columbia votes and Clinton wins big and nets another 10 or so delegates.

So that’s the unfuzzy math. It has nothing at all to do with the superdelegates Sanders and Weaver have spent months traducing. It’s pledged delegates, earned in the voting booth (or at the caucus hall). Superdelegates will never, ever, ever undo such an outcome, and they never, ever, ever should. In a season when Sanders people have alleged a rigged system and sometimes outright theft, that would be the only actual case of theft in this season—for superdelegates to tell the voters sorry, you made the wrong choice when you chose your candidate, who is (incidentally) the first woman nominee in our party’s history.

And then California Democrats will meet after the fact at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency on June 19 to formalize everything, just like that recent meeting in Nevada. But let’s not even go there.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, California Primary, Hillary Clinton, Pledged Delegates | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A One-Man Lloyd’s Of London”: If Only Trump Came With A Money-Back Guarantee

Donald Trump makes more guarantees than a used-car salesman. I guarantee you.

He guarantees Mexico will pay for the border wall. “I’ll get Mexico to pay for it one way or the other. I guarantee you that.”

He guarantees that his still-secret tax returns are the hugest ever. “They’re very big tax returns,” he said after the New Hampshire primary. “I guarantee you this, the biggest ever in the history of what we’re doing. . . . But we’ll be releasing them.”

He guarantees that Karl Rove and David Axelrod were more violent with crowds than Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. “I guarantee you they probably did stuff that was more physical than this.”

And, memorably, he guarantees us that his penis isn’t small. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

The guy is a one-man Lloyd’s of London. But how will he make good on all his assurance policies? Are they money-back guarantees? Full faith and credit guarantees?

Some Trump promises are 100 percent guaranteed. When he tells the president of Ford Motor Co. that the company will be taxed if it builds a factory overseas, “I guarantee you 100 percent he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided to build our plant in the United States.’ ” (Trump at another point guaranteed the time by which Ford would capitulate: “I would say by 4 o’clock in the afternoon . . . But I guarantee you, by 5 o’clock the next day.”)

Other guarantees are clearly not 100 percent. “Another plane was blown up, and I can practically guarantee who blew it up,” he said of the EgyptAir crash, even though the cause still hasn’t been officially determined, and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility.

But here’s something you can really take to the bank. Trump’s “guarantees” are like pretty much everything else that comes out of his mouth: The truth is not high on his list of considerations, and he seldom suffers any consequences for the nonsense.

A notable exception came in recent days when The Post’s David Fahrenthold — dubbed “a nasty guy” by Trump for his efforts — reported that Trump hadn’t made good on his promise to donate $6 million to veterans’ charities after a January fundraiser. Trump, asked about the $6 million, said, “I didn’t say six.” Good thing he didn’t guarantee that he didn’t say six. Fahrenthold found video of Trump using the $6 million figure twice at the fundraiser itself and for several days after — including one TV appearance in which he repeated the figure four times in six sentences.

On Monday, the day before he came clean on the donations to veterans, Trump spoke at the Rolling Thunder gathering on the Mall. He claimed there were “600,000 people here trying to get in,” but organizers put attendance at 5,000 — and there weren’t long lines security lines.

I can practically guarantee you Trump knew that line would be in this column. At a candidates’ forum in November, Trump noted the full house and said that “the people in the media will not report that, I guarantee, because I know how their minds work.” If you think that was clairvoyant, consider that Trump, introduced to a 48-year-old mother and told nothing about her health insurance, decreed: “I guarantee you that she probably doesn’t have health care and if she does it’s terrible.”

Trump guarantees are sometimes technical (“I guarantee you they have substandard parts in nuclear and in airplanes because they get them from China”), sometimes audacious (“I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory” over the Islamic State) and occasionally quantitative: “I guarantee you” that if he negotiated with Iran, “a deal would be made that’s 100 times better.”

One hundred times better — or your money back!

Many of Trump’s guarantees will never be tested because they occur in alternate realities. After Ted Cruz and John Kasich tried to team up against Trump, the candidate said, “I guarantee you if they had it to do again [they] would have never done it.”

As for Trump’s uncouth antics, he says: “If I acted presidential, I guarantee you that this morning I wouldn’t be here” on top.

Diplomacy: “I guarantee you our relationships will be far better than they are right now.”

The tariff on Japanese cars entering the United States: “I guarantee you it’s probably zero.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: “Our guys have never even read it. I’ll guarantee you that.”

China and the TPP: “I guarantee you. . . . They’re going to come in through the back door in a later date.”

Hillary Clinton’s email server: “I guarantee you one thing: We’re going to be talking about those emails every moment of every day.”

Trump was guaranteed not to honor that last promise. It would have left him no time to make other guarantees.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Policy, Donald Trump, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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