Trump Did Not Defend The LGBTQ Community


Not the roots of a new coalition, ok?


In his excellent and lacerating takedown of the inherent un-Americanness of Trump’s acceptance speech, Franklin Foer strikes a strange note.

Aside from his quite striking defense of the LGBTQ community, there was nothing that hinted at expanding freedom to new quarters of the country.

I’ve seen that in a few places, described as “surprising” or “heartwarming” or some other such terms, that seemed to describe his outreach and inclusion to the one community. That was in response to this.

Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.

(When delivered, Trump added “Q”)

It got applause, and Trump said how glad he was to hear a room full of Republicans applaud that. But come on. It is entirely about pitting that community against the Muslim hordes. To be sure, Islam, especially Wahabbi-influence, are terrible to the LGBTQ community. Murderously so. But this was not a defense of the LGBTQ community at all.

This wasn’t a pledge to overturn the overtly retrograde and dehumanizing GOP platform. He didn’t promise to work to overcome prejudice, hatred, and the staunch opposition to civil rights inherent in the party he took over. He didn’t say that he would fight to make sure that people in the LGBTQ community could lead lives unencumbered by the hatred they face, by the bullying and tormenting. He didn’t call the suicide rate among transgendered people a national tragedy. Remember, he alone can solve all our problems, but these problems are outside his concern.

The tell is obviously “hateful foreign ideology”. That’s all that matters. The yolwing jackals in Cleveland, with their gay conversion therapy fetishes and their emotional inability to recognize any “non-straight” for of love as real don’t have to adjust at all. It was all about recruiting new people in his war against everyone else.

Omar Mateen’s swirl of confused insanity, which surely had multiple sources, manifested itself in a hurricane of violence against a community. To Trump, that means that LGBTQ Americans only have one enemy. His exploitation of that is one of his most cnical and hateful maneuvers. I don’t think it is going to persuade anyone though. They are smart enough, and know the long history of oppression against them, to know that his phony compassion is insincere. I’m not worried about the media convincing them. But in looking for a reed to try to grasp onto, to find some sliver of sanity and decency in an outwardly apocolpytic speech, they inadvertnetly grabbed the thinnest one of all.



Zika, Planned Parenthood, and the Escherian Cynicism of Mitch McConnell


“V” Is For Whatever I’m Told It Is For Today


Mitch McConnell might be the purest, most craven politician working today, a man with nearly zero principles other than power. Chris Christie’s speech was one of the more dishonest pieces of political theater you’ll see, but Mitch’s was pure nonsense politics. He illustrated perfectly the reasons why most people detest everything that has to do with politics.

For Mitch, that’s not a bug: the whole point is to make sure that people despise the government, and don’t want to get involved, and see it as a waste of time. That way he can do the only thing that really animates him: accumulating power so that he can siphon it off to the wealthy.

If that sounds like an exaggeration, don’t forget the tapes of his meeting with the Kochs and other billionaire donors, wherein he basically promised them the store. That made when he said last night that “More than anything though my job has taught me the value of trust. How to distinguish between people who are in this to serve others, and people who are in it for themselves.” the most honest line of the night. Mitch is in this to serve others: just not, you know, anyone who doesn’t use an ivory pen to write a 7-figure ivory check.

(All quotes come from Time transcript)

The rest of the speech was unbearably cynical, and in increasingly twisted and frustrating ways. To wit:

Two years ago voters delivered a clear verdict on the Obama years by sending a freshman class of rock-star Republicans to the Senate, and delivering us a majority that I promise to make you proud of. We never hesitate to confront the President, but we also do the hard work of tackling urgent problems head on. And, we delivered on that promise.

Oh cool: tackling huge issues like inequality, the environment? Well, that’s silly. And unfair. You weren’t elected for that. So: jobs, national security, borders?

We put Obamacare repeal on the President’s desk, he vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

Oh- well, that’s not really urgent, is it?

We passed a bill to finally build a Keystone Pipeline, Obama vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

That’s…not at all urgent either, even if you think “energy independence” is the most important thing in the world, and that the only way to get it is more oil. Keystone wouldn’t have helped at all. And if you thought it was about jobs, why not pass a jobs bill?

We passed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, Obama vetoed it. Donald Trump would sign it.

That’s like the least urgent problem in America. You would have to define “access to health care for poor women” as an urgent problem for that to qualify. You people…

And finally: here’s the most urgent problem they were elected to solve!

And, on that sad day when we lost Justice Scalia, I made another pledge that Obama would not fill his seat. That honor will go to Donald Trump next year.

“I swore I’d nullify an election and refuse to do my job. Leadership.”

Ah, but that wasn’t even the worst part. Here’s the part that leaves you in a sputtering rage, impossibly angry at the sheer inhuman smarm and transparently dishonest posturing that makes politics unbearable.

So, my friends, keep the Senate in Republican hands and we’ll continue this work and the remarkable public servants that I’m proud to lead in the Senate will not let you down. But, put Hillary Clinton in the White House and I promise you this, she will double down on the cynical approach that Senate Democrats seem to revel in these days.

Here’s what I mean. As we sit here tonight, a terrifying mosquito born illness threatens expectant mothers and their babies along our southern coast. And, just last week, just last week, Clinton Democrats in the Senate blocked a bill aimed at eradicating that virus before it can spread.

See…the GOP fought against any Zika funding for months, before realizing a tactic which was to tie Zika funding to Planned Parenthood (and a host of other barely-related weakening of environmental laws). The bill would limit funding for Planned Parenthood, even though Zika was largely a sexually-transmitted disease, and PP was best-equipped to help people. They did this knowing that Democrats wouldn’t support it, because it was one of those bills that did way more harm than good. This is not a matter of debate. They never had any interest in funding Zika defense until someone came up with a way to make it seem like Democrats didn’t care about it. There was no reason to bring up Planned Parenthood, which experts agree was in the best position to help in the fight against the weird and terrifying disease, except that A) saying Planned Parenthood riles up the base, and B) it can make Dems look bad.

To an extent, that’s normal politics: poison pills and whatnot. It is monstrous, but not caring about human lives is par for the GOP course. That’s not fine, but it’s the baseline of where we are at. What is amazing, and what makes Mitch who he is, is to rail about the “cynical approach” of the “Clinton Democrats”.

What can you do? What can you do except sputter at the brazenness, the stone-faced dishonesty? You can point out that he knows his position was such bullshit he couldn’t even fully explain it. You can argue, and say how him saying the Dems are cynical while describing his cynical ploy is the most cynical thing of all, but then you are just haggling about who is worse, and that’s how they win. Because then everyone is sniveling and cynical and craven. That’s exactly what the GOP wants: people to despise the government, treat it as an enemy, and ignore it except when they are angry at it because “Washington is broken”.  That’s how they win elections. That’s how they “continue the work” of making sure that government does nothing except monitor ovaries and bomb foriegners. That’s the whole goddamn platform.

And don’t forget, he was booed because he’s seen as not confrontational enough. That’s the party now.

Desultory Liveblogging RNC: Day 2


Pictured: Chris Christie


Ate dinner and watched Vice Principals with the wife right after the Alaska thing, so missed the beginning. Watching Ron Johnson, who has about 5 months left in public life, accidentally forgetting he is speaking on Economy night.

7:56: Chris Cox, of the NRA. Make America Work Again! Seriously, this guy can go jump.

7:58: NRA guy starts with a blood-curdling example of a single mother being preyed upon by a home-invader. It wasn’t a true story, of course. You’d think that he could come up with a non-hypothetical to really bolster his case, but he didn’t even try. It’s more the dumbass “politicians have bodyguards, so they’re hypocrites!” argument. I can’t stand it.

(More after jump)

Continue reading

A Brief List Of What I Didn’t Hear On National Security Night

  1. North Korea
  2. European Union
  3. Brexit
  4. Nuclear weapons
  5. China (save for Jeff Sessions mentioning their “burgeoning economy”, which is a weird way to put it)
  6. South China Sea
  7. South America
  8. Africa
  9. Syria (outside of ISIS)
  10. Russia (unless I missed it)
  11. Turkey
  12. Incirlik Air Force base
  13. Cyberterrorism
  14. Saudi Arabia
  15. Piracy
  16. Ukraine
  17. Transnational crime
  18. Nuclear Preparedness
  19. Pakistan
  20. India

All of these are issues on which you could plausibly hammer Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, if you wanted, to various degrees of fairness. But unless I missed it, nothing about this came up. Again, not a serious candidate, not a serious party, which makes it an intensely serious threat.

(I promise I’ll do the same for the DNC, just to be scrupulously fair)

What the RNC Gets Wrong About ISIS and al-Qaeda


Being tired of the nasty campaign run by “crooked Hillary Clinton who should be in prison” is actually one of the less-misleading things Giuliani said.

So, “Make America Safe Day” is over, and I don’t know about you, but I feel much safer already! I know that all we have to do is elect Trump, and we’ll be fine. Or, as Mike McCaul, the inexplicable Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security said, “It’s time to take back our country and make America safe again!”

That’s a good jumping-off point for not just the emotional reaction, of which there was plenty, but the substantive one as well. Because that was sort of the heart of the night: argument through assertion. That’s common in politics, but it was common in a very dangerous way last night, which perfectly encapsulates the right’s unflinching commitment to not understanding the threat of jihad while spittling that they are the only ones who get it.

Because let’s start with the biggest lie of the night, the one that was the driving theme: Hillary Clinton can’t keep as safe (whatever that actually means), and Donald Trump can. That’s pretty normal, and I think you can argue pro or con on the first half of that, as long as you don’t use “Benghazi” as a data point, because come on.

What you can’t really argue, or, more to the point, that no one actually did argue, is that Trump can keep us safe. It was all just assumed that because Trump talks big, and says he’s going to go get them, he will. McCaul even said he’ll make the ground tremble under the terrorists’ feet. It’s actually amazing that all these people who ostensibly care about national security can bring themselves to pretend that Trump has any genius, expertise, competence, o even basic knowledge of these issues.

But that’s really the problem. He doesn’t need to have any knowledge, because their understanding of ISIS is reduced to talking point about “political correctness” and not calling the enemy by it’s name. Rudy Guliani, who gave the most effective speech of the night, was the clearest on this (all Rudy quotes come from What The Folly).

(On The Fort Hood shooting): The only person who couldn’t figure out this was an Islamist terrorist extremist attack was Barack Obama, who called it workplace violence. This is why our enemies see us as weak and vulnerable!

Donald Trump has said the first step in defeating our enemies is to identify them properly and see the connections between them so we can find them and catch them.

To defeat Islamic extremists, we must put them on the defense.

If they are at war against us, as they have declared, we must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them!

(Wild applause, baying at the moon, a general sense of punchiness)

Rudy used this to segue into the Iran deal, misreading it entirely (as Kaplan points out), and pretending that the money going there is funding ISIS and AQ. Which he didn’t say explicitly, and may or may not believe, but these were his phantom “connections.”

And that’s really the heart of the right’s idea on terrorism: a monolithic enemy that can be defeated merely through the brawny use of strength and the exact right words*. They believe that there is such a thing as “unconditional victory”, which is a strange and grandiose and entirely misleading turn of phrase, since it implies that there is a scenario where conditions would be accepted or not, and that there would even be someone to whom you could deliver the conditions.

The jihadist threat is not one that can be bombed out of existence, nor one that can actually be defeated in a conventional sense. The problem that the right wing has is that they want to fight a war against an enemy that doesn’t exist. They can defeat “ISIS”, in its current incarnation, but have no answer for 1) what comes next in the wreckage of Syria and Iraq, 2) what happens to affiliates around the globe, and 3) what to do with the next mutation. They can’t see this because they are unable to understand that there are root causes of jihadattraction that go beyond good and evil. As Scott Atran said in the NYRB this weekend,

Are we again dangerously underestimating ISIS’s will to fight, and its ability to endure and expand? Although military defeat in Iraq, Syria, and Libya could help make it more difficult for the group to recruit, we will not be able to defeat ISIS itself until we find a way to reconnect the neighborhoods, online communities, and other particularly susceptible social and political settings where attacks like what occurred in Nice continue to find inspiration and support.

“Reconnecting the neighborhoods” isn’t something I heard last night. I don’t think Barack Obama has all the answers, clearly. I don’t think Hillary does, either. But I think they both actually recognize the complex nature of the threat, and are seeing the world as it is. The party of realism is completely unmoored, and want to take our entire national security apparatus along with them.


* Everyone points out their weird and childish fixation with saying “Islamic terrorism”. It’s hard to say if they actually think that will defeat ISIS; it’s entirely possible that anti-PC cognitive dissonance has taken over, and they actually believe it’s a big deal, and that Obama is actively hurting the US by not saying it. What’s weirder is the “define the enemy” thing. It’s very post-modern: you’ll become what words are used to define to. It’s the mutability of the self in the face of the observer. Gombrowicz would totally dig their platform.

Day 1 Quote of the Day: Ted Cruz Might Be Lacking In Self-Awareness



America’s Sweetheart


Politico has a long interview with Ted Cruz, who raised more money than Donald Trump and had a much stronger ground game, but still lost. He has a theory, though, on why that’d happen.  And you’d never believe it, but it was a media-driven conspiracy against the most likeable man in America.

Cruz himself doesn’t exude bitterness or regret — he literally calls himself a “happy warrior” — but he has a deeply jaundiced view of the process that ended with him suspending his campaign after Trump’s big victory in the Indiana primary in May. He sees collusion, if not an outright conspiracy, between the reality TV candidate and the titans of cable news: Their goal, he told me, was to elevate a hard-to-elect Republican nominee while shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself.

First of all, Cruz can go jump for giving himself the same nickname as Hubert Humphery.  Secondly, if you are describing yourself as “the happy warrior” even though literally everyone you’ve ever worked with despises you, and your whole campaign is built on anger and lies, you might not be accurate. And third…I mean…

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

shoving aside more appealing candidates like himself

I think Ted Cruz might be overestimating the idea of himself as appealing. He’s loathed outside his family, and even that demographic is questionable. He’s a nasally, self-righteous hyper-conservative hateful regressive little prick, whose entire career has been self-serving nihilism. The more you get to know him, the more you hate him, and just a glance at his face makes you hate him from the jump.

Look, Donald Trump is literally the worst. But I don’t think that the imaginary liberal media cabal got together and said, “guys, America loves Ted Cruz. I mean, loves him. Like, enough that it’s a pretty sure thing he’ll win every state against Hillary Clinton. We have to act quickly!”

Ted Cruz will have his moment on Wednesday, and it will be glorious. It’ll make Donald Trump look humble. And Cruz will be back: he’s running in 2020 whether Trump wins or loses, I bet. There’s no limit to his ambition, and to his political skills, though they run against the natural limit of his personal and political appeal. Because no matter how many lies he tells, I doubt presented a greater one than the image of himself as being appealing.

1968 and 2016: Convention Violence and Anger in America


Peshtigo, 1871.


For the GOP insiders most concerned about violence in Cleveland, many cited protest groups tied to liberal causes, like the Black Lives Matter movement. Nearly a half-dozen Republicans mentioned the Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, who is a prolific donor to liberal causes. But few thought violence would ensue from an effort to fight Trump’s nomination on the convention floor. “It’s simply too big of a target for the malcontents and violent left to miss,” said an Iowa Republican. “George Soros’ money will pay for thousands of disaffected screaming thugs. Think Seattle [1999], Chicago 1968. Riots and looting. They are the tools of the liberal left.” “I say this with no joy whatsoever,” a Republican in the host state of Ohio added, “but the far-left agitators in Cleveland will make the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago look like a fourth-grade slap fight.

Now, I don’t expect an “Iowa Republican” who thinks that George Soros is bussing anarchists to Cleveland to understand this, or for that matter an Ohio Republican, but it is worth noting that the violence in the 1968 convention did not come from the far-left. It came from the cops. There was provocation, sure, but it was the police that were rioting. As the Walker Report indicated, the refusal to allow permits, the wish to cordon American citizens away from where the powerful were meeting, led directly to the bloodshed.

I would hope that when covering the protests this week, the media remember that. There will almost certainly be Seattle-type violence (and that is the actual far left), but chances are high a lot of the violence will be coming directly from those sanctioned by the state to levy it, and who should take the responsibility seriously.

Or hell, it might come from all the armed lunatics gathering in an open carry state, many of whom feel that these far-left weirdoes and blacks are threatening America and conspiring to ruin Donald Trump’s chances. Would you be surprised if these patriots opened fire? If they saw, incredibly, an anarchist of a Black Panther with a gun, and had to protect themselves? Does any of this seem implausible? A firefight between on-edge police, right-wing militia types, angry protestors, and lone gunmen types like in Dallas and Baton Rouge?  This is Peshtigo in the hot summer of 1871. The sawdust is baking in the heat, and the firestorms are being born.

Cleveland is on Lake Erie, but the closet analogy is up the Great Lakes system, up Michigan, near Green Bay. This is Peshtigo in the hot summer of 1871. We’re on the edge on conflagration. Little fires burst every day. The skies are increasingly choked with soot. The sawdust is baking in the heat, and the devouring and murderous firestorms are being born.