Democrats 2016

An American Lamentation (Two by “Huh?”)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

Americans often lament the fact of their essentially two-party political league, and the top of the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson, is capable of providing spectacular reminders of why we tend toward the binary. The former New Mexico governor and middle-tier celebrity stoner has managed to reduce a human atrocity to yet another icon of American stupidity, which really is no good legacy to build. Yet it is true, in the American discourse, “Aleppo” is … well, Matthew Kitchen tries to explain for NBC News:

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson struggled to name a single foreign leader when asked who his favorite was during an MSNBC town hall Wednesday night.

“Any one of the continents, any country. Name one foreign leader that your respect and look up to. Anybody,” host Chris Matthews pushed during the event, causing Johnson to sigh loudly as his VP pick Bill Weld tried to jump in.

“I guess I’m having an Aleppo moment,” Johnson finally said, referring to his recent gaffe on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when he asked “What is Aleppo?” after he was questioned about how he would handle the conflict in the Syrian city.

So, yeah. Aleppo is … Gary Johnson being inexcusably stupid. (Look, dude, I mean, you’re, like, running for president, you know, like, aren’t you?)

And then there is Donald Trump.

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The Donald Trump Show (Troll Dumb)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Sometimes we think we notice something. Sometimes we know we see something. But even that setup is a bit overdone, because the truth is that proving the point often requires a lot of effort, and many of us live in a modern, twenty-first century America in which such effort is considered suspect. To the other, right now Donald Trump is making it easy.

Trump framed his campaign as a serious White House bid, one that could be his only shot at the presidency, while dismissing Clinton’s run as the most “unserious” campaign in American history.

The detail from Nolan McCaskill of Politico is just one small paragraph amid a litany of trumptastic absurdity, but it does remind that Donald Trump is the candidate of internet trolls.

Basic rubber-glue retort is a bizarre tactic in any allegedly adult conversation, but one that has been around pretty much the whole time, and the only really strange thing about the internet version is that it is so straightforward. There is a variation where one pretends to not understand the difference, for instance, and then there is straightforward rubber-glue; both require the retort to ignore the accuracy of the perceived insult such that if you catch one in a lie and call it out, whether the retort is to call you a liar or an asshole, the justification will be the same, that you insulted someone by calling them a liar, therefore they are returning the favor. That is to say, that you caught someone in a lie makes no difference; as far as this behavior is concerned, if one is offended by an accurate description of behavior―e.g., racist, sexist, bigoted, dishonest, &c.―the perception of offense is the only relevant aspect.

We’ve been seeing bits of the trolldom percolating up the discourse, and especially from the right wing.

Think of it this way, if the question was white supremacism, and the white supremacist retorted, “Yeah? Well … well, you’re just … just … just racist!” it wouldn’t be the familiar canard about how refusing racism is itself bigoted, or refusing racism is racist against the white race. This would be a racist calling you a racist because you called out racism. This isn’t calling you an asshole because you’re an asshole, per se. This is about calling you an asshole because calling white supremacism racist isn’t nice, and since you said something not nice the white supremacist gets to say something not nice in return.

Yes, it really is this … this … well, that’s the thing. We might say “infantile” but what did infants ever do to deserve the insult?

This is Donald Trump, and he expresses traditional American values. And I’m not joking about that; this is what the bullies always were, and it’s all they ever had, and now that they are losing their traditional privileges under law and custom, now that nobody else is nodding and winking along with them this is all they have left.

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Image note: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump holds a rally in Fredricksburg, Virginia, 20 August 2016. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)

Gauthier, Brendan. “Pepe’s post-debate identity crisis: Online alt-right turns on Donald Trump after his presidential debate fiasco”. Salon. 27 September 2016.

McCaskill, Nolan D. “Trump calls out Clinton’s ‘unserious’ campaign”. Politico. 29 September 2016.

The Donald Trump Show (Confiscate the Guns)

Donald Trump: "I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically, you understand, you have to have, in my opinion, I see what's going on here, I see what's going on in Chicago, I think stop-and-frisk. In New York City it was so incredible, the way it worked. Now, we had a very good mayor, but New York City was incredible, the way that worked, so I think that could be one step you could do." (Photo: Carlo Allegri/Reuters, 2016)

“When Trump recently told African-American communities, ‘What do you have to lose?’ he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.”

Steve Benen

Or, more specifically:

At a Fox News event this week, Donald Trump seemed to endorse taking “stop-and-frisk” policies to a national level to address urban crime. “I would do stop-and-frisk,” the Republican said. “I think you have to. We did it in New York, it worked incredibly well and you have to be proactive and, you know, you really help people sort of change their mind automatically.”

Of course, what Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that stop-and-frisk didn’t work “incredibly well” at all, and when challenged in the courts, the policy was ruled unconstitutional.

When Trump recently told African-American communities, “What do you have to lose?” he neglected to mention the answer: Fourth Amendment rights.

Nor is the punch line the whole of it. The msnbc producer continues:

Trump, who’s never demonstrated any real understanding of criminal-justice policy, apparently likes the idea of police being able to stop-and-frisk Americans―including those who’ve done nothing wrong and have been accused of no crimes―effectively at the discretion of individual officers. If the police find a gun, under Trump’s vision, it will be taken away.

In other words, the NRA’s favorite presidential candidate―the Republican who’s benefiting from millions of dollars in NRA campaign money and claims to be a great champion of the Second Amendment―is on board with a policy in which government officials approach random American pedestrians and confiscate their firearms without due process.

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Not the Name of My Next Band (Lester Holt and the Wicked Elements)

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt arrives at the 9th Annual California Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the California Museum in Sacramento, 28 October 2015. (Photo by Jose Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee)

Acknowledging that the filters or priorities by which one notices anything else are entirely unto that individual, and thus a psychological mystery generally describing anyone’s particular expression, there are also days when, you know, whatever, because I sure as hell didn’t―

• The Perfect Christmas Morning

• Talk About Your Grandmother

• Achieving Erection

―put those elements in that order. Talk to Jason Linkins about that.

Nor am I volunteering to psychoanalyze the fact that he’s on about Lester Holt.

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Image note: NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt arrives at the 9th Annual California Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the California Museum in Sacramento, 28 October 2015. (Photo by Jose Luis Villegas/The Sacramento Bee)

Commission on Presidential Debates. “Moderator Announces Topics for First Presidential Debate”. 19 September 2016.

Linkins, Jason. “First Presidential Debate To Focus On Vague Platitudes”. The Huffington Post. 20 September 2016.

The Deplorable Basket (Scary Mexican Mix)

Marco Gutierrez, founder of Latinos for Trump, explains to 'All In' host Joy Reid what is wrong with Latinos: "My culture is a very dominant culture. And it's imposing, and it's causing problems. If you don't do something about it, you're going to have taco trucks every corner." (via msnbc, 1 September 2016)

“For what it’s worth, I have no idea why that’s supposed to sound scary.”

Steve Benen

It is, of course, easy enough to wonder why more taco trucks would be a bad thing; it is also easy enough to remember that Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump supports a Republican, and heaven knows the one thing Republicans can’t tolerate is the prospect of safe taco trucks. Perhaps Mr. Gutierrez thinks Mexicans are really into deregulation, or something.

JOY REID: Marco, you know, I’ve heard this Trump moment described as a “Barry Goldwater moment”, which is of course the tipping point when African-Americans became so identified with the Democratic Party that it essentially became almost impossible for Republicans to win more than ten percent of them. I’ve heard it described as a “Prop 187 moment”, when the California law that went after undocumented migrants there really harmed the Republican Party―it’s never recovered. Are you not at all concerned that Donald Trump is so alienating people with his tone last night, that yelling into the prompter speech, and just the tone toward undocumented migrants, toward immigrants in this c‎ountry, that you are now facing a Barry Goldwater moment for your Party?

MARCO GUTIERREZ: Yes, but, you know, Donald Trump’s a genius of delivering the message, and yes, it was a tough message to deliver, but he did it in a way that has shown us that we have a problem, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few; and different times, different problems. Yes, indeed, there’s a lot of people―my colleague, here, he would not be here―but we need to understand that this is a different time and we’re having problems here.

REID: What problems? What problems are you talking about?

GUTIERREZ: My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks every corner.​

(msnbc)

There is always at least one. There is an Alan Keyes or, more recently, Ben Carson. There is a Wendy McElroy or Janet Bloomfield. That is to say, there will always be someone who will serve the marketplace by advertising why we should be afraid of them. Or, if not them, others like them. See, we’re not supposed to be afraid of Marco Gutierrez, because he’s telling white people the truth about Mexicans, which in turn is that Mexicans are terrible people, or at the very least, “a dominant culture” that is “imposing” and “causing problems”, or something approximately like that. Marco Gutierrez found a job telling white supremacists what they want to hear about hispanics. Just like Janet Bloomfield will tell rapists what they want to hear about women. I know a guy like Mr. Gutierrez, a registered and participating Republican, a man of Mexican descent who worked hard and bootstrapped and scrimped and saved and got himself a career as an optometrist in the midwest and became a respectable person, not like that army of invading Mexicans he tells me I should be afraid of. Then again, it’s not just hispanics he hates; he also has a thing against blacks. He’s the Republican who once explained to me that Obamanoia was really just a policy discussion, and if the president wasn’t so terrible, all these wonderful, unracist, good, decent American people wouldn’t be forced to say racist-sounding things.

No, seriously, something about deplorable goes here.

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The Gary Johnson Trip (Legacy)

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson botches a foreign policy question about Aleppo, Syria, on msnbc's Morning Joe, 8 September 2016.

This is perhaps the greatest contribution former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson’s presidential bid offers our society:

On the surface, the low approval ratings for Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump present a prime opportunity for a candidate like Mr. Johnson, who is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Even so, that intriguing blend of policies has made it difficult for the Libertarian ticket, which includes William F. Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, to attract stray Democrats or disenchanted Republicans in large numbers.

“He’s had issues coalescing the anti-Trump Republican crowd, partially because it’s a mix of social conservatives and moderates, and partly because at times he’s seemed more keen on appealing to the Bernie bros,” said Tim Miller, a Republican and a former aide to Jeb Bush, referring to the supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Mr. Miller opposes Mr. Trump and is considering voting for the Libertarian ticket this year.

Mr. Miller added that Mr. Johnson’s flub about Aleppo did not make him a riskier bet on foreign policy matters than is Mr. Trump. But, he said, it does highlight the problem that many Republicans have with Libertarians. “It reinforces my top policy difference with him, which is his relative isolationism” on foreign affairs, he said.

(Rappeport)

That is to say, Aleppo is no longer the name of a human atrocity, but, rather, an emblem of atrocious American stupidity.

Then again, it clarifies the remainder for the the Johnson/Weld effort: That would be a hell of an unfortunate legacy.

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Barnicle, Mike. “Gary Johnson asks: What is Aleppo?” Morning Joe. msnbc. 8 September 2016.

Rappeport, Alan. “Gary Johnson’s ‘What Is Aleppo’ Flub Amplifies Skepticism of Republicans”. The New York Times. 9 September 2016.

How She Runs Against Herself

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at her presidential primary election night rally, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

This is a curiosity, or maybe not. Think of it this way: Former Secretary of State, United States Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton is not, in her presidential election campaign, running against Donald Trump. She is, instead, running against any number of ideas, some about being a Democrat, some about being a woman, and some about being a Clinton, though I’m uncertain about the order of priority, and the fundamental question of whether we, the People, think she deserves to be president. No other presidential candidate has ever run in this context.

Consider the basic proposition: Hillary Clinton is so widely recognized as a potential president that people hold this fact against her; Bernie Sanders would pretend to disrupt Clinton’s “coronation” as nominee, but it turns out the movement didn’t have a platform.α Now Donald Trump must disrupt Hillary’s (ahem!) coronation as president. And that’s how this election is being fought and judged:

▸ Donald Trump is not qualified to be president.

▸ Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president, but we’ll give the job to Trump unless she satisfies us as no candidate before her ever has.

Republicans, who have spent the last two terms saying and doing everything they can think of to maintain the pretense that Barack Obama’s presidency is somehow illegitimate, are already looking past Mr. Trump’s defeat, considering how to delegitimize Hillary Clinton.

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Something About the Way She Swoons

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton addresses delegates during the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 28 July 2016. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Dante Chinni’s unfortunate obsession with a swooning Hillary Clinton frames an interesting context that does not inherently detract from any assetion of wisdom about the NBC News analysis―

The key word for 2016 poll-watchers this week has been “tightening” as a series of national and state polls have shown Donald Trump drawing nearer to Hillary Clinton.

But look at the numbers closer and any tightening looks more like a mini Clinton swoon, than a mini Trump boom.

―but does, in fact, frame an interesting context by cheapening the whole thing to better suit Meet the Press in the Chuck Todd era.

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The Donald Trump Show (Dehumanization)

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

“In this election, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out who believes in humanity and who is subhuman.”

Jonathan Allen

So … yeah. Jonathan Allen has something to say:

It can be hard to tell how Donald Trump thinks. The man switches directions with all the forethought of a cat chasing a flashlight spot.

For days, Trump’s top campaign aides seemed to be making pronouncements based on what they hoped he’d say about immigration in Phoenix on Wednesday night, not out of any real knowledge of his plans. He then proceeded to make anyone who had said anything about what he’d do―including himself―look foolish.

In talking about immigrants, he offered everyone a Windexed view of his blackened soul and the morally bankrupt way he thinks about people.

Ouch. Damn.

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