Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Response to To Be Perfectly Honest

(See: Just Above Sunset: To Be Perfectly Honest)

Here's Stephanie Cegielski, writing in xojane.com about being hired for Donald Trump's SuperPAC, "Make America Great Again":
Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count.
Her article, an interesting appeal from a disillusioned former employee, asks fellow Trump supporters to stop supporting him, and tells of the original intention of the PAC to just help raise his awareness, apparently mostly to give him bragging rights -- "Hey! I ran for president," he could tell the world, "and I did really well!" -- that ended up exceeding everyone's expectations, including probably those of Trump himself.

But hidden within that story is another, that of Trump and his campaign giving the appearance of illegally coordinating with a SuperPAC he has denied knowing anything about, even though it appears Stephanie, the Trump defector who worked for the PAC, reports having that PAC meeting in Trump Tower.

This summer [2015], Trump appeared at at least two events for the Make America Great Again PAC, which took his campaign slogan as its name and received financing from his daughter’s mother-in-law.
That mother-in-law's name is Seryl Kushner, and one of those two events was at her house! Maybe she forgot to tell him who was throwing the party?

In fact, her contribution to the PAC was $100,000. After a number of embarrassing news stories last year, Trump asked the PAC to close itself down, and totally coincidentally, it did! -- with much of the money having been sent back to donors by the end of the year, including $1-million from Las Vegas investor Phillip Ruffin. Still, the forms the PAC filed with the Federal Election Commission at that time don't show whether she ever got her 100-k back.

Mind you, up to the time candidate Trump somehow persuaded this PAC he didn't know about to shut itself down, he had been bragging that he was the only candidate without such a PAC, and according to the Post article, so had his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who's memory was dodgy about knowing anyone over there:
Mike Ciletti, a Colorado-based operative who told Politico in August that he is a consultant for the super PAC, was at the Trump campaign offices repeatedly in May and June, according to two people familiar with the visits. ... 
In one of several interviews with The Post, Lewandowski first denied knowing Ciletti or anyone connected to the super PAC. “I don’t know him,” Lewandowski said. 
Two days later, when confronted with the campaign’s payments to Ciletti’s firm, Lewandowski acknowledged he was familiar with Ciletti. 
“I know a lot of people,” he said. “I know of Mike Ciletti.” 
After being pressed for more details, he hung up.
The Post article mentions that, before he announced his candidacy, Trump was deeply involved in setting up the PAC, and according to NPR:
Donald Trump filed in 2012 to trademark the phrase Make America Great Again for use with a political action committee. He first used it this past May – an essential step in the application process – and the Patent and Trademark Office registered it in July.
So Donald Trump holds the trademark for the name under which the PAC operates? It's amazing that the PAC has been able to use that name without coordinating with the guy that owns the trademark.

(By the way, the PAC may have stopped operating -- although Ballotpedia.com has been reporting that "no official termination reports have been filed with the FEC", and its website is still up at https://www.makeamericagreatagainpac.com/, with a phone number (908-583-4379) and email address (info@makeamericagreatagainpac.com) and a street address (208 E 51st Street, Suite 157 New York, NY 10022) -- which, I think, is probably a private mailbox in a UPS store, located just off 3rd Avenue in Manhattan.)

Yes, I know, this is no big scandal. I wouldn't be surprised if someone found suspicious coordination between other presidential campaigns and "their" PACS (except, I think, Bernie's, since I don't think he has one).

But nor is there much consequence for breaking this law, even if a whistleblower were able to make the case, since the FEC -- which the American Constitution Society has called "An Agency Flawed by Design", has pretty much been non-functional lately. In short, the FEC is deadlocked with 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans, and in these partisan times, that pretty much says it all.

Still, while Donald Trump keeps wondering out loud -- as he is wont to do over lots of things -- about whether Hillary will get indicted for probably imaginary email shenanigans, it might not take too much work to dig up some actual campaign violations against him.

And when that day comes, of course, his favorable poll numbers will undoubtedly hit the roof.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Response to Escalating Testosterone

(See: Just Above Sunset: Escalating Testosterone)

God, this Trump guy is the Antichrist -- something which, until maybe just now, I didn't even believe in.

And this whole election is a battle for the soul of the nation, since the only thing keeping us in peril is all these Republicans who are voting for him, something they will need to stop doing.

Our only hope is that the general election will give this brat the comeuppance that someone forgot to give him when he was a kid, back when it would have done the most good:
“You are a king,” his father would tell Donald, according to his biographer Michael D’Antonio. His son took that to mean he could set his own rules. In elementary school, he gave one teacher he didn’t like a black eye; others were pelted with erasers. At birthday parties, he would fling cake. ... 
At the age of 13, he was shipped off to the New York Military Academy, which employed brutal tactics for the remaking of delinquent character, even resorting to violence to assert control over the boys. “In those days they’d smack the hell out of you. It was not like today where you smack somebody and you go to jail,” Trump has recalled. The struggle for domination permeated the culture of the place, especially the manner in which boys treated one another ... he would laugh while his classmates spoke, putting them in their place. 
But Trump’s primary method for asserting dominance was sex. ... It’s an entirely Darwinian view, where the alpha male has his pick of females, both as a perk and a means of flexing his power over lesser men. It’s the mindset that made his assertion of his penis size in a national debate almost an imperative – if he let the attack on his manhood slide, his entire edifice might crumble.
So, yeah, I guess when you're someone who's made his whole life building huge edifices, you really don't want any of your erections to collapse.

And I suppose Hillary, and all those millions of American women who can't stand the sight of the guy, could just possibly end up being Donald Trump's ultimate deflator. Now that would be an example of cosmic justice!

But also, if he loses, it's also just possible Americans will finally come to realize that, whatever problems they think they have with their country, the Republican party is nowhere near to having the solutions.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Response to Another Winnowing

(See: Just Above Sunset: Another Winnowing)

There's political metaphor and there's political metaphor:
Yes, the Republican Party may blow away in the breeze. It was only straw anyway, and everyone knows the only thing that straw is good for – soaking up hot steaming bullshit.
Okay, that explains fairly well how the party got this way, but the question remains what they -- and, for that matter, we Democrats -- are prepared to do about it. 

I'm betting that, by election day, Hillary's "indictment" problem will have been clarified, and am assuming we find out all of those "classified" items were classified after they were sent, and were so minor that they shouldn't have been classified in the first place. But I am wondering if that will even make any difference to those who say they can't trust her because of her so-called "email problem".

Unless something radically new pops up by then in the Vince Foster case, it's just possible that most voters will find they have essentially nothing more to keep them from voting for Hillary than the rest of us have -- that is, that she's a somewhat boring and predictable centrist drudge who will just keep things going pretty much they way they've been going -- as long as she's able to get past the fact that she's a woman, that is. (It's easy to overlook that, while there are probably millions of Americans who refuse to admit they don't like the idea of black American presidents, we may discover there are just as many secret bigots who don't like female ones.)

So the calculations will have come down to whether we can trust that all those Republicans who have been saying that if Trump is the candidate, they'll vote for Hillary -- or even the 30% of Ohio Republicans last night who said they will not vote for Trump under any circumstance -- will actually do what they say. Would they be more likely to vote for Cruz instead of Hillary? Would they vote for Ryan as a last-minute convention compromise?

I'm wondering if Donald will even bother doing the third-party route if the convention goes for someone else, despite him have a plurality of delegates. And I keep wondering when the cut-off point is for third-parties to get on ballots in all those states. Can it even be done?

But as hilarious as it all is, I once again hesitate to take too much enjoyment in the chaos amongst the Republicans since, in the long run, it never seems to do any of us any good. Assuming the country even survives the implosion of one of its two major political parties, will the election of 2020 be threatened by some new Trump-like "disruptor", or will we, by then, find some way back to normal government?

In fact, all this recent business of Trump shouting "little Marco" and "Go home to your mommy!" -- and that so many Americans treat that stuff as acceptable -- may be signs that the two-hundred-plus-year "Great American Experiment" may be coming to an end.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Response to A Red-Hot Friday

(See: Just Above Sunset: A Red-Hot Friday)

During this "violence" phase of Trumpmania that we seem to be experiencing, I've come to realize another metaphor for him that's been hanging around in the back of my brain.

Not just in his manner of speaking, but also in what it is he's been saying about violence reminds me of Robert Di Niro's portrayal of Al Capone in that mostly-fictional 1987 "Untouchables" movie. This is from the very first scene, with a chummy Capone, surrounded by sycophantic reporters, taking a shave in a barbershop:
Reporter: [to Al Capone] An article, which I believe appeared in a newspaper, asked why, since you are, or it would seem that you are, in effect, the mayor of Chicago, you've not simply been appointed to that position. [other reporters laugh] 
Capone: Well, I'll tell ya, you know, it's touching. Like a lot of things in life, we laugh because it's funny and we laugh because it's true. Now, some people will say - reformers, they'll say, 'Put that man in jail! What does he think he is doing?' Well, what I hope I'm doing, and here's where your English paper's got a point, is - I'm responding to the will of the people.
That same scene is the one in which Capone says:
Capone: [to reporters] Yes! There is violence in Chicago. But not by me, and not by anybody who works for me, and I'll tell you why -- because it's bad for business.
Here's a quote, said to be from the real Al Capone, but one that I can't authenticate, which means chances are, it's a fake. Still, it's supposed to be Capone warning people he'll be nice to you only if you're nice to him, and I can even imagine Trump saying it:
Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.
Sometimes, it's Benito Mussolini, but lately, the more I see and hear Donald Trump speaking on television, the more I find myself thinking of Al Capone. In fact, all three of those guys remind me of each other.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Response to The Other Two

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Other Two)

I watched the Clinton/Sanders debate last night, at least half of it. I agree with Josh Marshall that the two seemed to be looking for something to argue about.

They shouldn't have, since it's probably what forced Hillary into ridiculously accusing Bernie of siding with right-wing Minutemen, or to keep pushing her point about Bernie having voted against the auto bailout, another ridiculous argument that apparently most Democrats can see through, given all the criticism she's taken for it after she launched that balloon a week or so ago -- and which, it could be argued, helped her lose Michigan on Tuesday. That kind of foolishness may help her during the general election, but probably hurts her in the primary season, when you're mostly just talking to 
people who know better.

(An aside: This is not to say I agree with Bernie's stated reason for voting against the funding bill that included the auto industry bailout -- that it included the bailouts of the banks, which he opposed. I did not oppose the bank bailouts, which I saw as probably necessary for keeping the economy from going over the edge -- although I do find unlikely the notion that no individuals committed any fraud that contributed to the whole collapse, and that nobody deserved to go to jail. And yes, all this stuff is complicated! We need to just accept that, deal with it, and get on with the elections.)

While this debate may not have had much new to offer, it did serve to remind us that the younger of the two candidates still comes closest to representing the "old" way of doing politics, which may still hold sway among Republicans, who famously never did "nuance", and still don't. It's left to the older candidate to appeal to the cut-the-crap young voters who, having not grown up with it, are less accepting of the idea of overlooking the obvious bullshit claims of politicians, simply because everybody knows all politicians lie.

Which may be why I -- respectfully, me being a truly boring liberal -- disagree with this reaction to Hillary's saying about the claim of the Benghazi relative that Hillary misled her, “She’s wrong. She’s absolutely wrong", and “This was fog. This was complicated":
That was a mistake. Americans don’t believe anything is complicated, really. There’s always a simple answer, even if there isn’t...
Correction: Conservatives don't believe anything is complicated. Democrats tend to me more accepting of complication.

That's why polls show that, despite what Republicans would have you believe, Barack Obama is still a very popular president among the many of us who don't see him as a wimp because he refuses to carpet-bomb Syria or "torture" people, just to show how tough he is.

In fact, it's hard to imagine what Hillary's "simple" answer should have, or even could have been. In fact, her deciding to go with what she sees as the truth (and it's too difficult, at this point, to determine whether she's right) is really the best argument against the Republicans' attempts to over-simplify her role in the so-called Benghazi "scandal".

Truth is good. Whenever possible, it's best to go with truth, if for no other reason than it helps bolster our brand.

So then we are left with this question:

Between the old-style politics of Hillary Clinton, or the straight-talking politics of Bernie Sanders, which would make the better president, given the age we live in?

On the one hand, maybe her boring pragmatic experience of working within the system would be more effective that his head-in-the-clouds idealism, to get done what needs to be done.

On the other hand, if he defeats Donald Trump, it's just possible that The Donald's ex-followers, oddly enough, might become part of Bernie's coalition, especially in regards to trying to undo the damage done to the blue-collar working class by the so-called elites.

While I'm sure I'll be okay with either one of them winning the election -- they both have their plusses -- I also realize that they both have their minuses, and also that, except for my anxiety over the possibility of some Republican winning, I'm not all that enthusiastic this year.

What could possibly make me feel better? Maybe this scenario: One of the candidates chooses Barack Obama as his or her running mate! Then, at some point part way through the first term, the president resigns!

Or maybe, how about both candidates selecting Obama for vice president? Hey, why should the Republicans have all the fun this election year?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Response to In Medias Res Again

(See: Just Above Sunset: In Medias Res Again)

This Thomas Frank guy, with his Trumpsplaining in the Guardian, sort of hits the nail on the head -- especially in knocking all those overused racism charges down to manageable size -- although, still, he leaves off too early, before answering the main question:

If Donald Trump were to win the presidency, what sort of country would he try to transform us into that would satisfy all his followers?

I myself have been, without success, looking for more accurate descriptions of the real people who back Trump, other than that they all believe, deep down in their dark souls, that America just shouldn't have a black president.

Yes, there is the occasional white supremacist who says nice things about Trump, and there are those that surround protestors at his rallies, shouting "Trump! Trump! Trump!" or "USA! USA! USA!", but when the cable networks find someone unafraid of having the words "Trump supporter" beneath their face as they sit on a panel, they are always reasonable and articulate and not at all wild-eyed spigots of unintelligible trash-talk, and when field reporters put Trump supporters on camera, they, too, seem gentle and rational and no more gun-totingly dangerous than your kindly and shy brother-in-law -- who, while he may not be packing heat, he still intends to vote for Donald Trump.

(Why? He says he just feels we need to "break things up.")

In Thomas Frank's view -- we may remember him as the author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" (which, tellingly, was apparently published in Britain and Australia as "What's the Matter with America?") -- the answer has much to do with the fact that the message Mr. Tell-It-Like-It-Is is delivering his following is not being heard by the rest of us, that message having to do with trade -- specifically that America's elite Controllers of the Universe have sold the country out with a program of "free trade" that helps big business but hurts the American working family.

Frank is probably right, but while the fact that Trump might be talking actual substance, not trash, may surprisingly elevate him somewhat, this still shouldn't lead us to conclude that he's actually "telling it like it is", or that the Wharton School graduate, with his BS in Economics, even really knows what he's talking about. There's reason to believe he isn't, and doesn't.

For example, there is Trump's common spiel about China's currency manipulation, as found on his website:
President Obama’s Treasury Department has repeatedly refused to brand China a currency manipulator – a move that would force China to stop these unfair practices or face tough countervailing duties that level the playing field.
Maybe our surprise at Trump actually talking specifics about the economy creates a diversion that keeps us from asking whether the Wharton BS in Economics is keeping up with the latest in his chosen field, which we get in the New York Times from Paul Krugman, someone who makes a living as an actual economist:
Five years ago the Trump complaint that Chinese currency manipulation was costing U.S. jobs had some validity — in fact, serious economists were making the same point. But these days China is in big trouble, and is trying to keep the value of its currency up, not down: foreign exchange reserves are plunging in the face of huge capital flight, to the tune of a trillion dollars over the past year. 
Nor is China alone. All around the world, capital is fleeing troubled economies — including, by the way, the euro area, which these days tends to run bigger trade surpluses than China. 
And much of that flight capital is heading for the United States, pushing up the dollar and making our industries less competitive. 
It’s a real problem; U.S. economic fundamentals are fairly strong, but we risk, in effect, importing economic weakness from the rest of the world. But it’s not a problem we can address by lashing out at foreigners we falsely imagine are winning at our expense.
And it's not just about currency. There's also that question of "trade deficits", which an economic naif might think would be bad for a country, but which, as Scott Lincicome explains in late January in The Federalist, a conservative publication, might not be necessarily so:
There really is no sugarcoating it: almost everything that Donald Trump has proposed on U.S.-China trade—for example, during last Thursday night’s GOP debate, in a recent the New York Times interview, and on his website — is wrong. 
Very, very wrong. 
First, the entire premise of Trump’s plan to retaliate against China is erroneous. Trump cites the U.S.-China trade deficit as proof that the dominant Chinese, via pernicious currency manipulation, are taking weak America’s manufacturing jobs, thereby justifying his tariff plans. 
However, as I explained in The Federalist last fall, the U.S. manufacturing sector has been (until the last month or so) setting production (and export!) records, and almost 90 percent of the decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010 was caused by productivity gains (robots and computers), rather than import competition. 
In fact, a recent Ball State study found that, “Had we kept 2000-levels of productivity and applied them to 2010-levels of production, we would have required 20.9 million manufacturing workers. Instead, we employed only 12.1 million.” So unless Trump wants to destroy all the robots, those jobs just aren’t coming back, tariff or not.
He then cites Dan Griswold of Cato, the libertarian group:
An examination of the past 30 years of U.S. economic performance offers no evidence that a rising level of imports or growing trade deficits have negatively affected the U.S. economy. 
In fact, since 1980, the U.S. economy has grown more than three times faster during periods when the trade deficit was expanding as a share of GDP compared to periods when it was contracting. Stock market appreciation, manufacturing output, and job growth were all significantly more robust during periods of expanding imports and trade deficits.
Trump has sworn he would add a 35% tariff to Ford products imported from its new plant in Mexico:
Trump said he would call Ford CEO Mark Fields — whom he identified only as “the head of Ford” — to explain the “bad news.” 
“Let me give you the bad news: every car, every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35 percent tax — OK?,” Trump said. “They are going to take away thousands of jobs.” 
In April, Ford said it would add 3,800 jobs in Mexico as part of a $2.5 billion investment — on top of the 11,300 Ford already employs in Mexico.
He may not bring jobs back from Mexico, but for every job he destroys in Mexico, you think there just might be created a Mexican family thinking of heading north, toward us? I suppose that shouldn't be a problem if we build a high enough wall around us.

I don't know that much about free trade, but I do know the idea behind it is to help spread enough income around the world so that everybody, not just sellers but also buyers, will benefit.

And I also sense that it takes time and patience for that sort of thing to take hold. For example, Japan used to have such low labor costs that it helped attract manufacturing there, but after their wages rose enough to lift them out of poverty, the jobs went to Korea, and when Koreans started making enough to be consumers instead of just producers, there was Taiwan and Thailand and China.

Yes, we could stop that in its tracks, if we chose. All we'd have to do is refuse to buy anything from them, which theoretically would keep them having the money to buy anything from us. We could just keep ourselves safe, insulated in our "gated community" nation, behind our huge wall -- which should be okay, since who wants to do business with a bunch of Muslim rapists anyway?

All we need is a strong man to lead us, not some woosie Democrat, like Obama or Hillary or Bernie, who never went to Wharton to get their BS, so they don't know how to make great deals.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Response to Political Disintegration

(See: Just Above Sunset: Political Disintegration)

I disagree with Josh Marshall and anybody else who thinks Mitt Romney's spiel yesterday was feckless, and only helped Donald Trump.

Like Marco Rubio's, Romney's attack was really good, and sometimes in history, when all hope seems lost, we don't find out how effective some Hail Mary move was until afterwards. I personally think Romney, plus Team Fox, plus Team Cruzio, all struggling together, did do some damage -- which I think is fine, as long as it all didn't work too well.

The worst scenario, of course, probably involves Trump winning both the primary and the general election, but almost as bad would be if any Republican beats either of our candidates. But yes, I still hope Trump gets the nomination, since I see him as having the best chance of losing the election, with John Kasich having the best chance of winning. Let's hope the Republicans never figure that out. Still, I'm not yet convinced that Trump isn't secretly involved in some Democratic dirty trick to undo the Republican Party. If so, more power to him, but meanwhile, we need to proceed on the assumption that he's not playing that game.

I'm thinking and hoping this is headed for a three-party standoff in November, assuming whichever Republican faction that becomes the third party can find a way to get itself onto the state ballots. Maybe Democrats in the various states, in a spirit of comity, could help pave the way. In any event, if the establishment is forced out of their party, I don't envision a pathway for them coming back later to reclaim it. (Do you?)

Yet, I do see this rooting for Donald as a highly dangerous game of Hearts, a card game in which a player's objective is to end up with either very few hearts, or no hearts at all -- unless, of course, the player opts to "shoot-the-moon":
"Shooting the moon" ... is a very common scoring variant. If one player takes all the penalty cards on one deal, that player's score remains unchanged, while 26 penalty points are added to the scores of each of the other players. ... 
Attempting to shoot the moon is often a risky strategy, as failure to capture every single penalty card will result in the remaining penalty points (as many as 25) being added to one's score.
Which is to say, if we take the chance and succeed in this venture, we win big. On the other hand, if we try for it and fail, the whole country loses the United States of America.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Response to Stopping the Orange-Haired Frankenstein

(See: Just Above Sunset: Stopping the Orange-Haired Frankenstein)

Every now and then, I feel I have to express what many of us liberal Democrats are feeling right now, which is an almost equal mixture of glee and chagrin -- glee over all this enfeebling combat amongst Republicans, but chagrin for our country, fully realizing for the first time that so many of us, just to spitefully shit-can America because it won't give them their way, would vote to make Mussolini its president.

A few observations to think about:

First of all, there's that question of the value of Mitt Romney injecting himself into this election:
Do you really think those Trump fans will listen to a bit of scolding from the most spectacular failure of the Republican establishment in recent memory?
Okay, but Trump fans need to ask themselves, was Romney's failure really all that spectacular? The popular vote margin was only about three-and-a-half million votes out of about 122-million cast -- 51% to 48% -- so Obama didn't really beat him in a huge landslide.

But also, just as Donald Trump will (probably) be this time, Mitt Romney was the strongest Republican and was the choice of most Republican voters last time around, so the Trumpeteers should try not to bring the guy down too much.

On CNN this morning, I heard another one of those ubiquitous attractive Trump-babes opining that Romney should just stay out of it and keep his preferences to himself, since this is a democracy and people can vote for whoever they want -- apparently not realizing that this advice would not only also apply to newly-confirmed Trump-acolyte Chris Christie, but also to herself.

As for other Republicans funding this whole anti-Trump project:
“If you did that I think there’d be deep-seated resentment at a group of wealthy donors telling people what to do,” [longtime Republican donor Fred] Malek said in a recent interview.
That may be true, but is it really true that Trump voters dislike the power of big wealthy donors in elections, as if Trump isn't one of those himself?

But a suggestion worth considering:

Maybe the Our Principles PAC should ask for donations from small donors as well? In that way, you might even get voters crossing the aisle to help out. After all, Trump is not just a Republican problem, he's an American problem.

And by the way, speaking of Trump "funding his own campaign"? According to Glenn Kessler in the Washington Post, that's just another of his fabrications:
Trump keeps saying that unlike his rivals, he’s paying for his own presidential campaign, but that’s largely false. 
At the start of his campaign, he loaned his political operation $1.8 million. As of Oct. 1, he had given his campaign an additional $104,829.27 — but he had also received $3.9 million from donors, which accounted for the vast majority of the $5.8 million his campaign had taken in by then. His campaign website features a prominent “donate” button on its homepage. Trump has spent $5.4 million, and interestingly, about one-quarter of his spending has gone to Trump-owned entities (mainly his private jet company). 
In January, Trump launched an ad campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, saying he planned to spend $2 million. He also claimed that his campaign was $35 million to $40 million below budget. Ultimately, all of his spending — and where the money came from — will have to be disclosed in campaign finance reports. The odds are his personal share of the spending will be less than 50 percent.
So yes, it turns out he does loan his campaign lots of money, but that only accounts for less than half of its funding. Also, why would you say you self-fund, at the same time putting, not just one, but actually two "donate" buttons on your website?

(And also by the way, although he may not actually be funding his own campaign, because he spends so much of the donations on his own companies -- such as paying himself to fly around in his own jet -- he could actually, at least theoretically, make a profit on running for office! Talk about being a wheeler-dealer!)

But why would he even brag that he's self-funded? Not that it really matters, but I would think Bernie's fundraising position is best of all the candidates -- he doesn't have a PAC like Hillary, and he's not some billionaire on a self-indulgent vanity-trip like Trump, but like NPR, he's funded by the small donations that come from a public that believes in him.

And slapping massive tariffs on goods from Mexico and China could dramatically increase prices for U.S. consumers and create destabilizing trade wars.
Not to mention that slapping massive tariffs on goods from Mexico, presumably to "pay for the wall", might cause even more massive unemployment in Mexico, driving many would-be workers down there back toward their northern border-- something, by the way, that they are not really doing under Obama.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Response to Getting Ugly Out There

(See: Just Above Sunset: Getting Ugly Out There)

First, there's this scuffle between a TIME photographer and the Secret Service agent at a Trump rally in Virginia:
Christopher Morris, a photographer for TIME magazine, was attempting to leave the press section to photograph the Black Lives Matter protesters when he was “thrown to the ground in a choke hold,” TIME said, by a Secret Service agent.
And secondly, there's that Trump rally in Valdosta last night:
About 30 black students who were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday night were escorted out by Secret Service agents who said the presidential candidate had requested their removal before he began speaking. ... 
“We didn’t plan to do anything,” said a tearful Tahjila Davis, a 19-year-old mass media major, who was among the Valdosta State University students who was removed. “They said, ‘This is Trump’s property; it’s a private event.’ But I paid my tuition to be here.”
What I really find disturbing is that nobody seems to be questioning the role of Secret Service agents in Trump's campaign.

I remember back in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Robert Kennedy, when it was first decided to assign them to presidential candidates, but it was simply to protect the candidate himself, not to act as ushers or security at his campaign appearances -- something Donald Trump can afford to pay for himself without resorting to the "public teat".

But before going on, I must admit I looked further into these two incidents, and found that USA Today has since updated its story with the information that the "escorts" in Valdosta were not Secret Service, but apparently private security hired by the "host committee", which was presumably "hosting" Trump's visit, along with help of the Valdosta police.

But according to TIME Magazine, the photographer incident, apparently, did involve USSS agents:
Unlike other presidential campaigns, which generally allow reporters and photographers to move around at events, Trump has a strict policy requiring reporters and cameramen to stay inside a gated area, which the candidate often singles out for ridicule during his speeches. 
The entrance to the penned area is generally monitored by the Secret Service detail, which also screens attendees at his events and personally protects the candidate.
The TIME photographer, Chris Morris, ordinarily works at the White House:
“I’ve worked for nine years at the White House and have never had an altercation with the Secret Service,” Morris says in a statement. “What happened today was very unfortunate and unexpected. The rules at Trump events are significantly stricter than other campaigns and make it very difficult to work as a photographer, as many others have pointed out before me. I regret my role in the confrontation, but the agent’s response was disproportionate and unnecessarily violent. I hope this incident helps call attention to the challenges of press access.”
In fact, TIME admits that Morris...
...stepped out of the press pen to photograph a Black Lives Matter protest that interrupted the speech. A video shows that Morris swore at a Secret Service agent who tried to move Morris back into the pen. A separate video of the event shows that the agent then grabbed Morris’ neck with both hands and threw him into a table and onto the ground.
I may be wrong, but I bet the unnamed agent will be ruled out of line after his bosses look into the incident, but my question is, is anybody else looking into USSS agents "moonlighting" as security for political candidate campaigns?