The GOP Still Doesn’t Understand the Monster It Created in Donald Trump

In many ways, Trump’s rise to GOP superstardom was inevitable. Yet establishment Republicans still don’t get it.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Heather Digby Parton/Salon

Emphasis Mine

The big showdown in South Carolina is over and it came down pretty much as everyone expected. Donald Trump came in first with 32.5 percent, Rubio and Cruz nearly tied for second with Rubio ever so lightly edging Cruz with 22.5 percent to Cruz’s 22.3. The bottom three, Bush, Kasich and Carson all landed with 7-ish points each. The big news was that Jeb Bush dropped out of the race within minutes of the results being called.

So, what does this all mean? Well, nothing new really. Trump declared victory with an odd admission of what really turns him on about running for president, when he said, “It’s tough, it’s nasty, it’s mean, it’s vicious…. it’s beautiful. When you win, it’s beautiful.” He is very, very good at being mean, nasty and vicious. Nobody can say that isn’t working for him.

The pundits are all wondering what happens next, with two rivals still fighting for second place and a couple of others hanging on despite the fact that they are not actually getting anywhere. According to the New York Times, members of the establishment are starting to panic:

Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member from Mississippi, sounded a note of alarm about Republicans continuing to wait to see how the race plays out.

“After Trump has won in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Republicans are crazy and about to blow the White House if we don’t rally to stop him,” he said. “It’s certainly time that we have to consolidate the race.”

He predicted that Mr. Trump’s nomination would not only cost Republicans the White House but also hurt the party’s chances of keeping its majority in the Senate.

If the idea is to stop Trump, then somebody is going to have to drop out and drop out quickly. The delegate scheme that was hatched to prevent a re-run of Romney’s long slog against such luminaries as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum has turned into a formula for a victory for Donald Trump. Recall this New York Times article from last fall:

In the starkest sign of how unsettled the situation is, what once seemed unthinkable — that Mr. Trump could win the Republican nomination — is being treated by many within the Republican establishment as a serious possibility. And one reason his candidacy seems strong is a change by the party in hopes of ending the process earlier: making it possible for states to hold contests in which the winner receives all the delegates, rather than a share based on the vote, starting March 15, two weeks earlier than in the last cycle.

If Mr. Trump draws one-third of the Republican primary vote, as recent polls suggest he will, that could be enough to win in a crowded field. After March 15, he could begin amassing all the delegates in a given state even if he carried it with only a third of the vote. And the later it gets, the harder it becomes for a lead in delegates to be overcome, with fewer state contests remaining in which trailing candidates can attempt comebacks.

They wanted to end it earlier in order to prevent the nominee from being forced so far to the right that he will be hamstrung in the general election as Mitt Romney was. That calculation is no longer operative. At this point they’ll be happy to elect a nominee who won’t cause what’s left of the Republican Party to implode completely.

The assumption among the establishment types is that if only Cruz, Kasich and Carson would get out of the way, all those voters would go to Rubio and they could finally knock out Trump and carry on with the plan. Unfortunately, even if they were able to finally get Rubio a free lane in which to run, there’s no guarantee that he would be the beneficiary of all those freed up votes.  That’s because Trump draws from every demographic. As Ronald Brownstein in the Atlantic pointed out:

On most fronts, the big story in South Carolina was the breadth of Trump’s appeal. Repeating the New Hampshire pattern, Trump in South Carolina ran slightly better among men (36 percent) than women (29 percent). He carried 29 percent of voters who identified as very conservative; 35 percent of somewhat conservative voters; and 34 percent of moderates. That also followed the New Hampshire precedent of little ideological variation in Trump’s support.

In South Carolina, Trump won 33 percent of independents and 32 percent of self-identified Republicans; in New Hampshire he had carried exactly 36 percent of both groups. Trump ran somewhat better last night among voters older than 45 (35 percent) than those younger (26 percent). In New Hampshire, by contrast, Trump’s support varied little by age, though he also performed somewhat better with older voters in Iowa.

(Trump also won a plurality of evangelical voters who turned out in huge numbers to vote. The exit polls don’t delve down quite so deeply, but my suspicion remains that he draws from the “prosperity theology” disco-evangelical crowd, which is a lot less culturally conservative than the more traditional evangelicals who went, as expected, for Ted Cruz.)

Indeed, according to this article in the New York Times, even some Jeb Bush donors are considering joining the Trump bandwagon — or at least letting it carry on without any obstruction from them:

Fred Zeidman, a major Republican donor and longtime Bush family friend who had backed Mr. Bush, said he planned to take a breath and see how things played out. The same was true for Woody Johnson, the owner of the Jets football team, who was Mr. Bush’s national finance chairman. An aide to Mr. Johnson pointed out that he had knocked on doors in early states for Mr. Bush and invested lots of time to help him, and he was not ready to shift allegiances so soon.

Mr. Johnson, who has long been a friend of Mr. Trump, has nonetheless found himself used as an object lesson over the last week by Mr. Trump, who named him at rallies as an example of special-interest donors who supported candidates like Mr. Bush. And in conversations on Sunday morning, there was evidence of interest among some of Mr. Bush’s former donors about possibly backing Mr. Trump.

So what this all adds up to is that the GOP establishment is just as flummoxed about what to do with the Trump phenomenon as before. And this should be no surprise considering that the only thing that changed was a guy who was in 4th or 5th place finally realized he was dead in the water and dropped out.

Still, there is another pundit take-away from the South Carolina results that might be a bit more troubling down the road. One of the more astonishing aspects of Trump’s win in that gothic southern state is that he proved once again that it doesn’t matter what he says, as long as he delivers his lines with that big swinging attitude of his. As Igor Bobic and Ryan Grim point out in a piece at the Huffington Post, over the course of the South Carolina primary campaign Trump summarily executed a number of GOP sacred cows:

Trump declared that former President George W. Bush had lied about weapons of mass destruction to march the country to war; blamed Bush for the 9/11 attacks, arguing that he ignored intelligence community warnings; defended Planned Parenthood; boasted that he was the only Republican who would not cut Social Security or Medicare; said he approved of the individual mandate in Obamacare; and promised to slap onerous tariffs on companies who outsource jobs.

He also vowed to stay neutral in disputes between Israel and Palestine, which is the equivalent of carpet bombing and entire herd of sacred cows.

Pundits on TV and elsewhere were quick to interpret the fact that Trump won so decisively in such a traditional state to mean that all those Republicans were drawn to him because they agree with him on those issues.  They seem to think this might signal that the GOP is becoming a mainstream populist party.

I would argue the opposite is true. They voted for him in spite of his apostasy on all those issues. Indeed, it’s pretty obvious they were willing to rationalize all of it because they believe so strenuously in all the other issues on which he running. They are ecstatic over his anti-“political correctness” campaign to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and their American children and ban 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the country, while putting the ones who are already here under surveillance. These voters cheer wildly for his enthusiastic endorsement of torture, his promise to kill the families of terrorist suspects and his pantomimes of summary executions of soldiers accused of desertion.

His puerile insults and schoolyard bullying are seen as signs of strengthHis profane language is appreciated for its gritty machismoHe treats the press with total contempt, and the voters love it.

Over and over again, when asked to explain what they like about him, Trump supporters exclaim, “He knows what I’m thinking!” And what these people are thinking is that he’s making it safe for them to be “politically incorrect” again, giving sanction to publicly express their resentment toward people who don’t look and act like them. There are certainly reasons why these voters feel that way, but they are not due to populist anger toward the 1 percent. After all, the man they are cheering on with such enthusiasm is a man who spends half his time on the stump bragging about his vast wealth and explaining that it’s perfectly normal for businessmen like himself to bribe and cajole politicians to do his bidding. He’s never promised to change that system, not once. And his fans have never once asked him to.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.


GOP Debate Scorecard: The Big Winner Wasn’t Anyone on the Stage, It Was Democrats

Trump comes off as a sniveling bully; Bush as simple-minded; Cruz as maniacal. And that’s good news for Democrats.

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte/Salon

Emphasis Mine

One thing is certain from Tuesday night’s Republican debate on CNN: Whatever polling data the Republicans are reading, it’s telling them that GOP primary voters are worried that ISIS is sneaking in through the air ducts and that the only thing that will save them now is thumping your chest really hard and repeating, “Radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism” until the magical spell works and the baddies go away.

Oh, and bombing someone. Definitely have to bomb someone.

So who won this debate, clearly aimed at people who, like Lindsey Graham, really miss the Bush administration and those carefree days when it seemed that all the world’s problems could be solved by bombing some innocent civilians half a world away? Here’s an examination:

Winner, Untouchable Division: Donald Trump. Trump came across as a sniveling bully and a consummate bullshitter who clearly just says the first thing that pops into his head and then, when confronted, just doubles down on it instead of admitting he was wrong. But that’s never hurt him in the polls before, and it’s unlikely to do so now.

Bonus points: Trump’s “plan” to bar Muslims from traveling into the U.S. became one of the central points of contention in the debate. Trump continues to amaze with his ability to control the narrative just by flapping his loose jaws while other politicians fail to get a word in edgewise with their carefully constructed talking points.

Loser, Conservatives Are A-Skeered DivisionRand Paul. The crowd was definitely not feeling his attempts to be a maverick by rejecting the security state and (some) war. Paul, never the principled libertarian he plays on TV, did his best to pander to the heightened bloodthirst of the conservative crowd by chasing after Rubio on immigration, but ultimately the moment fell flat, flatter than Paul’s poll numbers.

Winner, Impressing The Political Press Division: Jeb Bush.

Bush’s war-mongering and simple-minded posturing would probably not hold up well in a contest with Hillary Clinton. However, he said a couple of things that were true during this debate, such as noting that all this Muslim-bashing is going to undermine our relationships with Muslim allies we need to fight ISIS. This made him look like a foreign policy genius compared to the clowns on stage pretending Syrian orphans are about to go jihad on us, and he’ll probably get a bunch of kudos for it from the political press.

Loser, Actually Getting Anywhere With The Voters Division: Jeb Bush. The audience loved it when Bush said, “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency,” but only, oh irony, because Trump has trained them over months to react to every feeble insult like it’s the sickest burn they’ve ever heard. But despite landing a couple of blows during the debate, Bush’s concluding remarks were so limp he got bored with them and trailed off. Voters will soon forget that he’s even in this race.

Winners, Tap-Dancing Around The “How Fascist Are You” Question Division:Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. You can’t denounce Trump’s nutty idea of a Muslim travel ban, because you’ll just drive more of your idiot base into his arms. But you can’t endorse it, either, because it’s unconstitutional and seriously a legitimate threat to national security. So both candidates, when faced with the question, rattled off officious-sounding nonsense to run out the clock. Rubio gave us a history of the San Bernardino shooter and Fiorina gave us a history of social media, but both accomplished the main goal of babbling until the buzzer sounded without either of them actually answering the question.

Loser, What’s This Debate About Again Division: Chris Christie. Christie’s Hail Mary pass in the past few months is to paint himself as a “law and order” type, feeding off conservative hostility to the Black Lives Matter movement in hopes of getting some kind of attention. An entire debate dedicated to Syrian politics did not help him in this mission, even though he mentioned that he’s a federal prosecutor roughly 1.2 billion times during the debate.

Winner, Oh God He Might Actually Win DivisionTed Cruz. He was nearly as maniacal as Donald Trump when it comes to racist pandering and was by far the most convincing in the contest to see who is most eager to kill them all and let God sort them out. This is a man who knows how to fight and claw his way to the top of any trash pile you give him, and winning the Republican nomination is what he was born to do. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Loser, Being Able To Sleep At Night Edition: The viewers. Well, at least viewers who still have enough wits about them to know Barack Obama isn’t a secret Muslim and that chemtrails aren’t mind control. Those viewers watched candidates dedicate nearly 2 hours out of a 2 and a half hour debate to the question of Syrian politics and the most immediate takeaway is not a one of them has the first clue about what’s really going on in the unbelievably complex civil war there.

Oh, the candidates know that Bashar al-Assad is on one side and ISIS is on the other and that Vladimir Putin is being a dick, all of which is probably more understanding that the typical Republican voter has regarding the whole thing. But memorizing these little factoids is hardly relevant when you still think the solution to an intricate civil war that mostly isn’t about us at all is to stand around declaring how tough you are.

Winner, General Election Division: The Democrats. The Republicans look for all the world like they’re going to nominate their candidate based on fears about a country most of them can’t find on a map. Better yet, that candidate will not be chosen based on his foreign policy qualifications, but on whether or not he said the nastiest things about Muslims. Either way, it’s going to be fun for the Democrat to run against this impetuous pick 11 months from now, when the issue of Islamic terrorism has faded from the public imagination and journalists have returned to asking questions about issues that are far more immediate to voters than who has a leg up in the Syrian civil war this week.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.”


Trump’s Anti-Muslim Proposal Puts GOP In A Bind

Source:National Memo

Author: Mark Z.Barabak

Emphasis Mine

Donald Trump may be an imperfect candidate — he is coarse, impetuous, antagonistic — but he presents the Republican Party with a perfect dilemma.

For the second straight day, the world of politics was consumed with Trump’s latest provocation, a call for a near-blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, underscoring the billionaire’s continued sway over his adopted party, its presidential candidates and the GOP agenda.

Many Republican were quick to denounce the proposal though, notably, not its progenitor, fearing a backlash should Trump become the party’s eventual nominee. He, is after all, the leader in opinion polls and a favorite of many voters disgusted with more guarded, standard-issue politicians.

“This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday … is not what this party stands for,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Tuesday after a meeting with GOP House members on Capitol Hill. “And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”

Other members of the Republican establishment weighed in with criticism as well, including party leaders in three of the earliest-voting states, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa.

“As a conservative who truly cares about religious liberty, Donald Trump’s bad idea and rhetoric send a shiver down my spine,” Matt Moore, head of the South Carolina Republican Party, wrote on Twitter.

Jennifer Horn, leader of the New Hampshire GOP, called Trump’s proposal “un-American” and “un-Republican.”

But the condemnations went only so far, as Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other Republicans vowed to support Trump, whatever their qualms, should he emerge as the GOP’s standard-bearer.

Even Jeb Bush, who called Trump “unhinged” for proposing a religious test on newcomers as a way to fight terrorism, declined to back off an earlier pledge of support.

“Look, he’s not going to be the nominee,” the former Florida governor insisted when pressed by reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

What, then, was his message to Trump supporters? “I’d love for them to consider my candidacy,” Bush replied.

The exchange captured the quandary that the GOP and its presidential hopefuls have faced ever since Trump bulldozed his way into the race: How to distance themselves from his inflammatory statements without alienating Trump supporters, or provoking him into a ruinous third-party run should he fall short of the nomination.

“A new poll indicates that 68 percent of my supporters would vote for me if I departed the GOP & ran as an independent,” Trump posted on Twitter, citing a Suffolk University poll, as Tuesday’s chorus of Republican criticism grew.

The message, in characteristic Trump fashion, was as subtle as a kick in the shins.

Unabashed, he seized on the furor he created — and the wall-to-wall cable news coverage that followed — to defend his exclusionary plan and brush aside detractors.

“You’re going to have many more World Trade Centers if you don’t solve it. Many, many more and probably beyond the World Trade Center,” Trump said in a CNN interview, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On MSNBC, he said barring followers of the Islamic faith from the U.S. would be as easy as authorities asking them at entry points about their religious affiliation “They would say, ‘Are you Muslim?’” Trump explained.

He cited the precedent set during World War II when the U.S. government investigated people of German and Italian ancestry, and ordered those of Japanese descent to be locked away in internment camps.

“You certainly aren’t proposing internment camps?” asked host Joe Scarborough.

“We’re not talking about Japanese internment camp,” Trump responded. “No, not at all.”

Such distinctions aside, Democrats happily piled on the Republican front-runner and his extraordinary response to the terror attacks on Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., a counter to President Barack Obama’s call to avoid targeting all members of the Muslim faith.

Trump’s emergence comes at a critical time for the GOP, which has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections.

The party’s political base of older whites is aging out of the electorate and Republicans have struggled to appeal to the growing ranks of younger and minority voters, a task that grows more difficult each time Trump gives offense to one ethnic or religious group or another.

While entertaining for some, I and many worry about the long-term damage (among) younger voters, African-American voters, Hispanic voters, working-class voters,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist and political adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “He’s managing to alienate a little bit of everybody.”

Reed, whose focus is congressional contests, expressed concern that Trump atop the presidential ticket could undermine Republicans senators facing tough races in Nevada, Ohio and New Hampshire, which could determine control of the Senate after 2016.

He is not alone.

In a private memo recently quoted in The Washington Post, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee outlined a number of strategies for candidates to follow in the event Trump — “a misguided missile” — won the party’s nomination.

“Let’s face facts,” Ward Baker, the head of the committee, wrote his senior staff. “Trump says what’s on his mind and that’s a problem. Our candidates will have to spend full time defending him if that continues. And that’s a place we never, ever want to be.”

His counsel included urging candidates to mind their campaigns and avoid attacks on Trump, lest they backfire on the GOP.

Not all, however, were given to such restraint.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a presidential hopeful who has frequently tangled with the Republican frontrunner, offered his succinct view in an interview on CNN.

“You know how you make America great again?” Graham said, appropriating his rival’s signature campaign slogan. “Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”

(Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons of the Tribune Washington Bureau and Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.)

©2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Carly Fiorina and the GOP Outsider Boom

Most weeks, New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich speaks with contributor Alex Carp about the biggest stories in politics and culture. This week: Carly Fiorina’s rise, Scott Walker’s fall, and Donald Trump being Donald Trump.

Source:New York Magazine, via RSN

Author:Frank Rich

Emphasis Mine

arly Fiorina has risen faster than anyone in the Republican field since the last debate, while making a series of statements that have some commentators describing her “willful disregard … or ignorance of reality.” How do you explain her rise?

A willful disregard or ignorance of reality is hardly disqualifying in the GOP presidential sweepstakes! If nothing else, Fiorina’s fictional Planned Parenthood video suggests she might have more success cooking up gory B-movie scenarios in the San Fernando Valley than she had running Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley. In that real-life business horror story, Fiorina slashed 30,000 employees, not to mention shareholder value, while mismanaging what had been one of the most fabled corporations in American business.

Fiorina’s rise after the last debate is coming at the expense of the previous “skyrocketing” Republican contender, the retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson. The theory had been that Carson was the kinder, gentler “outsider” who would finally usurp Donald Trump. But, as it happened, the good doctor proved to have all the pep on-camera that one of his patients might exhibit shortly after being given anesthesia. Worse, despite his ostensible prowess as a man of medicine, Carson waffled when confronted with Trump’s debate fiction about a link between vaccines and autism. That both Fiorina and Carson have enjoyed booms, however transitory they may prove to be, makes one thing clear. The base would prefer almost anyone, and so far Trump most of all, to Jeb Bush or any of the other choices that the GOP Establishment has put its big bets on. In new polls out over the past couple of days, from Fox News and Quinnipiac, the results are markedly similar in the spreads separating Trump from Carson and Fiorina, and show that a majority of Republicans favor one of these three outsiders over the rest of the field combined.

Fiorina may be impaled by the Washington shutdown, should it happen; she endorsed what Karl Rove has called the “suicide” strategy of holding the government hostage to the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Should she crater, be assured that she has a strong understudy waiting in the wings: Meg Whitman, the current CEO at HP, who just announced her plan to lay off another 30,000 workers. The similarities don’t end there: Like Fiorina, who ran for Senate against Barbara Boxer, Whitman ran as a Republican for statewide office in California in 2010 (for governor, against Jerry Brown) and lost by double digits. Should she, too, get fired by HP, she’ll have the perfect résumé for entering the Republican presidential race.

Scott Walker, who started his run for the GOP nomination as the reported favorite of the Koch brothers, now says he’s been “called to lead by helping clear the field” of candidates — starting with himself. Does his campaign’s failure show the limits of super-pac politics?

Not necessarily. Walker was a ridiculous candidate and would remain so no matter how much money any billionaires poured into his super-pac. Back in early July, a few days before Walker announced his run, I was at a small gathering in Washington where a prominent Republican political operative (not affiliated with any of the 2016 campaigns, and not speaking for attribution) gave a rollicking tour of the field. Of Walker, he said, “There are two reasons he can’t win. First, he has a bald spot. Second, he’s stupid.”

Suffice it to say that Walker’s presidential run was farce from start to finish, from his three different positions on the issue of “birthright citizenship” to his calling Reagan’s busting of the air-traffic controllers’ strike of 1981 “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime.” At the CNN debate, he had all the charisma of a department-store mannequin. Yet not long ago he was a rock star. He’s “the one guy in the race who has shown how to defeat the media and Democrat coordinated attacks on conservatives,” said Rush Limbaugh as Walker entered the race. He’s “a truly impressive individual,” effused the right-wing Washington Post pundit Marc Thiessen. Fox News hosts fell over themselves to boost him as a union-busting “hero.” At FiveThirtyEight in March, Nate Silver used what he called “totally subjective odds” to rate the first-tier Republican candidates on the likelihood of their getting the nomination and deduced that Walker was on top (at 26 percent), ahead of Bush (24 percent) and Marco Rubio (16 percent).

This week, after Walker dropped out, The Wall Street Journal ran a news story explaining that Rubio would benefit by inheriting much of Walker’s fund-raising apparatus and donors, since he, too, is a “fresh face ready to shake up Washington.” Never mind that Rubio, unlike Walker, is already in Washington (where his strategy for shaking things up seems to have been to miss more Senatorial votes than anyone else in the race). Or that the voters Rubio might inherit from Walker do not even amount to a rounding error; Walker was polling at less than 0.5 percent at the end. In any case, Rubio’s candidacy is almost uniformly described by the press and Republican pols as more substantive than most (especially on foreign policy), and he’s been widely judged as one of the strongest contenders — if not the strongest — at both debates. But with recent polling numbers still averaging at roughly 10 percent, Rubio, like Bush, is thus far a candidate who looks theoretically great on paper to all the professionals in the media-political complex, but not so much to Republican primary voters who are the actual deciders.

Donald Trump again played the (barely) coded racism card when he didn’t contradict a supporter’s birther canards about President Obama. Can he keep doing this without paying a price?

Seems so. The true answer to this question can be found not in Trump’s various outrages — whether the latest or all those that came before — but in the fact that most of his rivals respond to his slurs by either agreeing with him or refusing to take a stand altogether. The only three candidates who immediately criticized Trump this time — Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, and Bush — had nothing to lose by coming out against bigotry. Two of them aren’t polling any better than Walker was, and Bush, though faring somewhat better, is fighting for his political life. The other candidates are cowering as usual or, in Carson’s case, going Trump one better by saying that Muslims should be barred from the presidency.

In 1961, Barry Goldwater advised Republicans that they should “go hunting where the ducks are” by currying favor with segregationist voters in the Deep South. Carson’s campaign manager, Barry Bennett, was similarly unapologetic about his candidate’s intentions in playing the Islamophobia card, telling the Associated Press this week that “Republican primary voters are with us at least 80-20.” Let’s not pretend otherwise.



Jeb Bush Insults Black Voters: All They Want Is ‘Free Stuff’

Source: Occupy Democrats

Author: Sharon Argueta

Emphasis Mine

The Republican Party establishment has said that their party has a new message of “inclusiveness” and claimed that they really “care” about all voters, not just the wealthy, white, Christian males. After the Mitt Romney trainwreck derailed, the Chairman of the Republican National Convention, Reince Preibus told the GOP that they had to engage minority communities full-time — not just during an election season. Unfortunately, the right-wing doesn’t seem to understand that “engage” doesn’t meant to repeatedly insult them and the candidates are quickly dashing any hopes of ever seeing the inside of the Oval Office again. During a campaign stop in South Carolina on Thursday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, channeled his Mitt Romney and told the crowd that he would not appeal to African-American voters by promising “free stuff.”

During the question and answer portion of his event Bush responded to a white man who asked him how he would appeal to African-American voters by saying:

Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” Mr. Bush said. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

Apparently Jeb Bush is just another Republican who believes that the black community are a bunch of lazy moochers who are only interested in taking. This erroneous belief has no basis in reality and ignored the fact that white people make up the largest group of welfare recipients. Even though the statistics are widely available, the GOP continues to perpetuate the stereotypical “black welfare queen” myth. It was the same tactic Mitt Romney deployed during his 2012 election when he told a crowd at a N.A.A.C.P. event:

“Your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this: If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget nothing is really free.”

It was no surprise when President Obama trounced Romney at the polls and received 90 percent of the African-American vote and 71 percent of the Hispanic vote. Romney, of course, blamed his loss on Obama giving “gifts” to black people, women and young voters.

Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, said that the candidate “talks constantly about the need for Republicans to reach out to all voters,” but failed to address the “free stuff” comment specifically. She also said:

“We will never be successful in elections without communicating that conservative principles and conservative policies are the only path to restoring the right to rise for every single American.”

She is absolutely right- the GOP will never be successful if they do not broaden their appeal, but, as usual, they are doing it wrong. The Republican Party has made it very clear that they believe all of the insulting stereotypes that their extremely racist base puts forth. They do absolutely nothing to help these voters and everything they can to trample their rights. The party has consistently passed laws to disenfranchise minority and low-income voters, they support institutional racism, gutted the Voting Rights Act, fought to keep a symbol of racism flying in South Carolina after nine African-American churchgoers were massacred and when the police murder minority citizens, they support the officers. Is it any wonder the vast majority of minority voters are Democrats? 

The Republican Party, including Bush, are not a party of inclusiveness. They are a party of hate and vitriol, filled with politicians who do not care about anyone who isn’t part of the wealthy elite.



Is Donald Trump Showing Republicans Can Win in the Bible Belt Without Being Overtly Religious?

For Trump, a lapsed Presbyterian, religion really isn’t important to his politics.


Author: Zaid Jilani

Emphasis Mine

Historically, the American South has been the nation’s most religious corridor, and politicians courting Republican voters in particular are quick to point to their religiosity. In 2008, deep south states such as Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee went to the pastor Mike Huckabee. In 2012, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee went to the avowed Catholic evangelical Rick Santorum.

But the country has seen a number of shifts in its religiosity. The number of Americans who identify as unaffiliated with any religion grew from 16.1 percent in 2007 to 22.8 percent in 2014, while the share of Americans who identify as Catholic, mainline Protestant and evangelical Protestant declined. This shift is particularly evident among young people; 25 percent of Americans born after 1980 say they are atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular.

This may explain why a candidate who is not religious at all — real estate mogul Donald Trump — is leading the polls in virtually every southern state.

Take Florida, where a recent poll showed Trump in the lead at 29 percent. Digging into the results of the poll, you’ll find that Jeb Bush — who comes from a family that has long courted the Christian right as a political arm — had a remarkable zero percent of support from young voters, while Trump was capturing over half of them. In Alabama, Trump is nearing 40 percent of the vote, eclipsing the second candidate, Ben Carson, who is closer to 17 percent.In Georgia, Trump is at 34 percent and Bush is at 12 percent.

For Trump, who is a lapsed Presbyterian, religion really isn’t important to his politics. When GOP pollster Frank Luntz asked him if he has ever “asked God for forgiveness” over the summer, he responded, “I’m not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.” This caused right-wing blogger and activist Erick Erickson to say that Trump made a “potentially fatal error” in admitting he was not very religious — a prediction that has fallen pretty flat.

When Ben Carson, who has managed an impressive second place in the polls over the past few months, was asked about the differences between himself and Trump, he pointed to religion. “I’ve realized where my success has come from, and I don’t in any way deny my faith in God,” he said. “And I think that is the big difference. By humility and the fear of the lord are riches and honor and life and that’s a very big part of who I am. I don’t get that impression with [Trump]. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t get that.”

This led Trump to fire back, tweeting, “Wow, I am ahead of the field with Evangelicals (am so proud of this) and virtually every other group, and Ben Carson just took a swipe at me.”

From the looks of things, Trump’s point is correct. His candidacy is proving that religiosity is not very important to the GOP voter base. But bluster, candor and cultural affirmation, all of which Trump provides with his broadsides against various liberal boogeymen, from immigrants to Hillary Clinton, are key.

(N.B.: perhaps this is a different segment of the base…)

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.


Paul Krugman: What’s It Going to Take for Voters to Understand How Dumb Republicans Are?

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine

For some reason, it took Hurricane Katrina to expose the utter incompetence and disgusting lack of any semblance of humanity or leadership in the Bush Administration. Paul Krugman wonders in Monday’s column what it will take for Republican voters to see these same features in their favorite tough guys today, like Trump, Christie and Jeb Bush.

Among the lessons that Krugman says should have been learned from Katrina, but clearly wasn’t is “the huge gap between image and reality. Ever since 9/11, former President George W. Bush had been posing as a strong, effective leader keeping America safe. He wasn’t. But as long as he was talking tough about terrorists, it was hard for the public to see what a lousy job he was doing. It took a domestic disaster, which made his administration’s cronyism and incompetence obvious to anyone with a TV set, to burst his bubble.”

Now, we have a Republican field chock full of tough talking “political poseurs,” who are easily exposed by a modicum of digging into their actual record. Of course, Trump is the obvious example, but Chris Christie and Jeb Bush spring to Krugman’s mind as well. On Christie:

Not that long ago he was regarded as a strong contender for the presidency, in part because for a while his tough-guy act played so well with the people of New Jersey. But he has, in fact, been a terrible governor, who has presided over repeated credit downgrades, and who compromised New Jersey’s economic future by killing a much-needed rail tunnel project.

Now that Christie seems pathetic, it is not that he has actually changed, it’s just that the public has seen what he truly is.

Then there’s Jeb, “once hailed on the right as ‘the best governor in America,'” Krugman writes, “when in fact all he did was have the good luck to hold office during a huge housing bubble. Many people now seem baffled by Mr. Bush’s inability to come up with coherent policy proposals, or any good rationale for his campaign. What happened to Jeb the smart, effective leader? He never existed.

Krugman attempts to be even-handed, to find similar examples on the Democratic side, but comes up short. “In modern America, cults of personality built around undeserving politicians seem to be a Republican thing,” he writes.

Obama may not have turned out to be all that “starry-eyed liberals” had hoped he’d be, but he’s not utterly incompetent. Clinton’s e-mail scandal, ridiculous.

Then there’s Trump, whose rise everyone, except perhaps Krugman, seems to find shocking.

Both the Republican establishment and the punditocracy have been shocked by Mr. Trump’s continuing appeal to the party’s base. He’s a ludicrous figure, they complain. His policy proposals, such as they are, are unworkable, and anyway, don’t people realize the difference between actual leadership and being a star on reality TV?

But Mr. Trump isn’t alone in talking policy nonsense. Trying to deport all 11 million illegal immigrants would be a logistical and human rights nightmare, but might conceivably be possible; doubling America’s rate of economic growth, as Jeb Bush has promised he would, is a complete fantasy.

And while Mr. Trump doesn’t exude presidential dignity, he’s seeking the nomination of a party that once considered it a great idea to put George W. Bush in a flight suit and have him land on an aircraft carrier.

Conclusion: Don’t expect America to recognize this Emperor has no clothes for a long time.


The GOP’s contempt for women

Source: WashPost


Emphasis Mine

During the Republican primary in 2012, one of Mitt Romney’s most damaging gaffes was saying that he would “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. If only that were the Republican Party’s biggest problem with women today.

Leading in the early polls, billionaire blowhard Donald Trump ignited a firestorm of controversy when he said that Fox News host Megyn Kelly, who moderated last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Trump was angry that Kelly had the gall to ask, among other things, how Trump justified his lengthy record of misogynist attacks on women. (“The big problem this country has is being politically correct,” he answered, ridiculously conflating political correctness with common decency.)

However, Trump’s ugly bombast is a distraction from a far more serious problem for the GOP. Three years after Romney lost the women’s vote by a double-digit margin, in part because of his support for defunding Planned Parenthood, the presidential debates last week made clear Republicans have only become more disrespectful toward women’s bodies, more deranged in their hatred of Planned Parenthood and more dismissive of female voters.

The rhetorical assault on women began in Thursday’s “undercard debate,” where seven Republican also-rans tried to breathe life into their listless campaigns. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal reflected the party’s disdainful attitude when he promised to investigate Planned Parenthood with “the Department of Justice and the IRS and everybody else that we can send from the federal government.” Carly Fiorina, who was crowned the “winner” of the debate by many observers, likewise attacked Hillary Clinton for “defending Planned Parenthood.” And despite being the only candidate who identifies as pro-choice, former New York governor George Pataki called for defunding Planned Parenthood, which he accused of showing a “hideous disrespect for life.”

But the most deplorable statements came when the top-tier candidates — all men, of course — took the stage in prime time. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio denied that he believes rape and incest victims should be legally permitted to have abortions, adding that future generations will “call us barbarians for for murdering millions of babies.” And Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker went a step further by defending his opposition to abortion even when the woman’s life is in danger, while criticizing Clinton’s “radical position” of supporting Planned Parenthood.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee delivered the most grotesque line of the night. “It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick,” he said. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) echoed Jindal, pledging that he would order the Justice Department to investigate Planned Parenthood on his first day in office.

Finally, there was former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the supposed “moderate” in the race. “As governor of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood,” he boasted, adding, “We were the first state to do a ‘choose life’ license plate.” For Bush, the debate came just a few days after he got himself in hot water for saying, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” And while Bush later said he “misspoke,” insisting that he merely wants to divert funds from Planned Parenthood into community health centers, his record suggests otherwise: In Florida, Bush redirected money from Planned Parenthood into abstinence education and funded “crisis pregnancy centers” that discourage women from having abortions.

Regardless, what Bush meant to say is irrelevant. Women’s health is clearly not a priority for the GOP. Neither are women, in general. On the contrary, the gleeful cheering by the debate audience showed that disrespect for women’s bodies is baked into the party’s DNA. That’s why Republicans are attacking Planned Parenthood — an organization that has provided cancer screenings, birth control and other health-care services to millions of women in the United States — with increasing hostility, and it’s why the position that was once a liability for Romney has now become a litmus test for GOP contenders.

In the short term, GOP primary candidates may benefit from staking out such extremist positions, but they are undoubtedly alienating female voters and making it even more difficult to ever win a national election. As the party gets smaller and more conservative, GOP leaders’ anti-woman vitriol is getting worse and their stances on women’s health issues are getting more dangerous. Unless they change course soon, the party will only continue to shrink, and the cycle will continue. Indeed, with their distorted view of “life,” Republicans may be trapped in a death spiral from which they cannot escape.

Read more from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s archive or follow her on Twitter.


Paul Krugman Drops Epic Truth Bomb on Latest Round of Lies About Iraq War

Source: AlterNet

Author: Janet Allon

Emphasis Mine 

“Mistakes were made” just doesn’t get at the truth about how America was coerced into the disastrous war in Iraq,and the horrific consequences that are still unfolding. Paul Krugman sets the record straight in Monday’s column, beginning with the ironic statement, that “there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House.”

Yep, Jeb Bush has unwittingly ushered in the chance to have an honest discussion about the invasion of Iraq. About time.

Of course, Bush and a whole lot of other people would prefer not to have that honest discussion, or if they do, to make excuses for themselves (Judith Miller.) ,

The Iraq War was no innocent mistake based on faulty intelligence, Krugman argues compellingly. “America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war,” he writes. “The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.”

And we knew it—or certainly should have. Krugman:

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] …sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, “were made” by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. Did the intelligence agencies wrongly conclude that Iraq had chemical weapons and a nuclear program? That’s because they were under intense pressure to justify the war. Did prewar assessments vastly understate the difficulty and cost of occupation? That’s because the war party didn’t want to hear anything that might raise doubts about the rush to invade. Indeed, the Army’s chief of staff was effectively fired for questioning claims that the occupation phase would be cheap and easy.

The harder question is why? Here, Krugman can only speculate. Enhancing American power? Building the Republican brand? It is impossible not to ascribe cynical motives.

So politicians and many in the media don’t want to talk about it. But Krugman argues we should hold their feet to the fire. Some may have been duped. Others bullied. Many were downright complicit. “The bigger the lie, the clearer it is that major political figures are engaged in outright fraud,” Krugman writes. “And it doesn’t get much bigger — indeed, more or less criminal — than lying America into war.”

The media, Krugman concludes, has an obligation to get the story right. Right now.