The Republican Internal Class War

Back in January, The Atlantic published an article by David Frum on the internal class war going on in the Republican party. I finally got around to reading it and it’s still very relevant and it’s great.

Here’s a piece:

When Trump first erupted into the Republican race in June, he did so with a message of grim pessimism. “We got $18 trillion in debt. We got nothing but problems … We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money … We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain … The American dream is dead.”

That message did not resonate with those who’d ridden the S&P 500 from less than 900 in 2009 to more than 2,000 in 2015. But it found an audience all the same. Half of Trump’s supporters within the GOP had stopped their education at or before high-school graduation, according to the polling firm YouGov. Only 19 percent had a college or postcollege degree. Thirty-eight percent earned less than $50,000. Only 11 percent earned more than $100,000.

Trump Republicans were not ideologically militant. Just 13 percent said they were very conservative; 19 percent described themselves as moderate. Nor were they highly religious by Republican standards.

One of Frum’s core points is that there’s a disconnect between the candidates the Republican elite want to win (people that are not Trump) and the candidate resonating the most with the non-elite people (Trump).

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Politics

Peter Thiel

Kara Swisher on Silicon Valley tech investor Peter Thiel, who will speaking tonight at the GOP convention:

According to BuzzFeed: “The speech will cover why Donald Trump is better for America over Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s anti-war stance and Trump’s economic credentials. Thiel is also expected to say that he’s proud to be gay.”

The last part is something socially tolerant Silicon Valley will surely cheer. But even the most diehard Republicans in tech — Meg Whitman, Mary Meeker and the always contrarian bear-hugger-of-capitalism Marc Andreessen — think Trump is insane and that any administration run by him will spell doom for the sector.

And while everyone imagines that is because tech people are so liberal, they’re really not deep down — the economic system works very well (thank you very much for the billions!) for Silicon Valley. Its denizens would rather tweak it to their advantage rather than blow it up completely as is Thiel’s bent.

Like Trump standing out from the rest of the GOP, Thiel stands out from the rest of Silicon Valley. An odd dude for sure.

Thiel is the guy who was secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker.

Coded Messages

Interesting question/answer I found on Quora.

Why did Donald Trump use the Star of David in his tweet about Hillary Clinton being corrupt?:

This is called a dogwhistle. A literal dogwhistle is a sound dogs can hear but humans can’t. A metaphorical dogwhistle is a coded message that one part of the audience understands and others do not. Or, as is more common in politics, everyone understands but some people can claim some shred of plausible deniability that it wasn’t meant that way.

Everyone on Donald Trump’s campaign knows that the six-pointed star is associated with Judaism.

This is the first time I’ve heard the term ‘dogwhistle’ used in this context.

I’m a sucker for great metaphors.

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Image

Trump’s Continuous Descent Into Madness

Vice: Why Trump’s Campaign Is Such a Disaster:

Donald Trump seemed to recognize this windfall last week, raising questions about Hillary Clinton’s honesty and truthworthiness in light of the FBI investigation into her use of a private email server. But in classic Trump fashion, he couldn’t quite stay on message, and during a speech, he delivered a deranged defense of a six-pointed star tweet and insisted that Saddam Hussein was “so good” at fighting terrorists.

That Trump would botch such a clear opportunity to reverse his dismal fundraising and sinking poll numbers is remarkable, but also not surprising. In the two months since the real estate mogul effectively locked up the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign has shown a stunning penchant for self-sabotage, ricocheting between catastrophes of its own creation.

Keep up the downward spiral. Keep it up.

There’s Something Going On

Over at The Washington Post, Max Ehrenfreund on the four cryptic words Donald Trump can’t stop saying:

“There’s something going on,” Trump said. “It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”

That phrase, according to political scientists who study conspiracy theories, is characteristic of politicians who seek to exploit the psychology of suspicion and cynicism to win votes.

The idea that people in positions of power or influence are conspiring to conceal sinister truths from the public can be inherently appealing, because it helps make sense of tragedy and satisfies the human need for certainty and order. Yet politicians hoping to take advantage of these tendencies must rely on vague and suggestive statements, since any specific accusation could be easily disproved.

Donald Trump is a master manipulator of language and it’s one of the main reasons he’s made it this far in his presidential campaign (there’s other tools of demagoguery he uses I won’t get into in this post). It clearly has a strong effect on the less educated, but if you have half a brain, you can see right through his bullshit and rhetoric.

I love this detail:

Earlier in the interview, when asked why he called for Obama’s resignation, Trump said, “He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other.”

Trump excels at never committing to a side, but also never appears to be equivocal on a topic. How, you ask, does he pull this off? By starting with the premise that there’s a conspiracy happening. This means he’s free to make as many assumptions as possible, because shit, how am I supposed to know what’s really happening? There’s something going on and they’re not telling us.

If this man gets in office, he’ll continue his habit of never accepting responsibility for his actions because any mistakes he makes will be the result of someone or some group hiding something from him. It’s a sign of poor character and not a quality you want in someone running for president.

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Politics, Words

Nate Silver: Clinton Has an Eighty Percent Chance of Winning

Nate Silver says Hilary Clinton has an 80.3% chance of winning the election.

Obviously, this is a forecast and things could change between now and November 8th, but let’s try and keep it this way.

FiveThirtyEight has some great data visualizations.

Here’s one showing, “…a map of the country, with each state sized by its number of electoral votes and shaded by the leading candidate’s chance of winning it.”:

You can agree or disagree with Silver’s predictions, but you can’t say he isn’t thorough.

“Trump never intended to be the candidate.”

Stephanie Cegielski was Trump’s top strategist but is now a defector.

She’s written an open letter explaining things:

I’ll say it again: Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.

You can give Trump the biggest gift possible if you are a Trump supporter: stop supporting him.

He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House. He’s achieved that already and then some. If there is any question, take it from someone who was recruited to help the candidate succeed, and initially very much wanted him to do so.

The hard truth is: Trump only cares about Trump.

My gut always said Trump didn’t truly want to be president. Being president is a shitty job with a lot of stress. POTUS doesn’t seem like a very Trump-y job.

And:

I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and I found myself longing — aching, really — for policy substance that went beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it. What were once bold — although controversial — statements now seemed to be attempts to please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place. I began to realize his arrogance and isolation had taken over and were now controlling his message.

And here’s what he tapped into: the unprecedented, unbelievable anger.

Because we are all angry — and we all have a right to be. But Trump is not our champion. He would stab any one of his supporters in the back if it earned him a cent more in his pocket.

On one hand I appreciate Cegielski leaving the Trump campaign, but the fact that something inside her told her it was a good idea to support Trump in the first place makes me question how sound her judgement is.

Cegielski is an idiot, but the the problem is she thinks she’s merely a smart person who did a dumb thing.

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Politics

Trump on 9/11

In fact, Trump has not claimed that Bush had specific knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. He said, “George Bush had the chance, also, and he didn’t listen to the advice of his CIA.” That is correct. Bush was given numerous, detailed warnings that Al Qaeda planned an attack. But the Bush administration had, from the beginning, dismissed fears about terrorism as a Clinton preoccupation. Its neoconservative ideology drove the administration to fixate on state-supported dangers — which is why it turned its attention so quickly to Iraq. The Bush administration ignored pleas by the outgoing Clinton administration to focus on Al Qaeda in 2000, and ignored warnings by the CIA to prepare for an upcoming domestic attack. The Bush administration did not want the 9/11 attacks to occur; it was simply too ideological and incompetent to take responsible steps to prevent them.

New York Magazine: Crazy Nut Donald Trump Thinks George W. Bush Was President on 9/11

It is possible for someone you despise to say something you agree with.

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Politics

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Himself Is a Total Dick

Dave Pell on Trump:

Even if you find him contemptible, Trump is doing what no presidential candidate has ever dared to do. He’s being himself. While it’s undeniable that Himself is a total dick, at least he’s presenting the same himself in presidential debates as he does in business and entertainment.

I hate Trump’s politics. And I hate most things he says. But I love that he’s saying it, and even how he’s saying it. He is doing to our absurd political races and the equally absurd way we cover them exactly what needs to be done.

He is making a complete mockery of the complete mockery.

Trump acts like a bratty teenager: He makes fun of peoples’ looks and tweets whatever is in his head, sans filter. This is why I feel like Trump is going to get bored running for president. A mind as petty and immature as his can hold interest in one thing for so long before he moves on to his next thing.

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Politics

What a coincidence!

M.G. on Trump:

What fascinates me about Donald Trump is the psychology behind his presidential run. I’m not even sure he knows what he’s doing or tapping into, but I have to believe someone working with him does. Because there are some flashes of brilliance here. Again, not in message, but in execution.

We live in a United States that could not be less interesting, politically. In all likelihood, we’re about to see a Bush square off against a Clinton for their respective family’s right to be President for a third or second time, respectively. Think about that for a minute. It’s insane. Are we really to believe that the two best people to run this country happen to be directly related to those who ran it recently? What a coincidence! Again, insane.

Yes, insane.

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