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I’d vote for this hair.

Someone makes an unironic case for Donald Trump for president. You know, of the United States. And it is awesome:

First, let’s address the “experience” issue. Give me a break. We currently have a president whose political experience includes a relatively short time in his state’s legislature and less than a full term in the U.S. Senate. I think the results of the last six years make that “experience we can’t believe in.”

This argument makes no logical sense. If you want to argue that Obama was unprepared to be president, the conclusion is that we should be electing more experienced people to the presidency, not less. “Obama wasn’t experienced and therefore he sucked, so experience is irrelevant” is less like logic than like words thrown together at random. Also, at least get the fucking slogan right. Yeah, remember Barack Obama’s world famous slogan, “Experience we can believe in“? It was the other guy who talked about experience a lot. Then he picked a hockey mom with some form of aphasia as his running mate. Moving on:

Of course, today Trump has multiple business interests, the vast majority of which have been wildly successful. Always a hands-on businessman, he has dealt with virtually every aspect of life — from business negotiations to being, for many years, one of the nation’s most visible television personalities.

I personally hate the linguistic construction of a range where it’s not a range. If you’re going to put “from ___ to ___” in something you publish, those blanks better be filled by numbers, or some other recognizable sequence, like days of the week, letters of the alphabet, something like that. I hate it because it’s lazy writing that implies a sequence so frequently where none exists: there’s no relationship between being a businessman and a TV presenter, and that’s not granting the premise that these two roles comprise all aspects of life. As for the first part, what failed casinos? Which bankruptcies? What’s that, Atlantic City is dying? “Wildly successful” is a bit too strong there.

During his hugely successful career, Trump has dealt with government, including government regulations, public policy and big-name politicians. He is adept at dealing with media and certainly knows how to handle a crisis.

One could point to his sensitive work on the foremost public policy issue of our time: the exact location of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.

If Barack Obama was considered qualified by a lapdog national media in 2008, then Trump is “uber qualified” in 2016.

See, I tend to remember the question of Barack Obama’s experience being extensively, if not always effectively, questioned during the 2008 campaign, both by the media and his opponents. Given the weakness of the Republican Party and of Hillary Clinton among primary voters, these concerns were not (to use one of my word-hate terms) game-changers. In retrospect, and I say this as someone who voted for him twice, he wasn’t ready. But not in ways that people at the time said. McCain immolated his experience argument the moment he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate, and Hillary Clinton wrongly seemed to think that this ad had something to do with experience rather than being a plain old ad hominem attack on Obama’s character:

The real problem was that Obama had zero understanding of his opposition. He looked at his work with Republicans in the Illinois Senate, his work with two senior Republican Senators on specific issues, and extrapolated too much from it. There was no small measure of arrogance to it too, but he legitimately believed that the culture wars had reached a turning point and that, with some hard work, he could end them altogether and bring about a new, cooperative era of politics. He was right about there being a turning point, but wrong about the direction, and so he built his strategy around things that were impossible. Had Obama won his 2000 House race, say, it’s quite likely he would have had a much more realistic picture of his Republican opposition, though I take it as a given that he would have voted for the Iraq War were he in Congress then and thus would never have become president. (Anyone want to disagree with that after the past six years?) Anyway, this is to say that the issue was very much a live one. It just turned out not to be disqualifying in 2008. Moving on, this might well be the biggest stretch:

Trump probably comes the closest these days to having Reagan’s star quality, mixed with conservative beliefs. He has the ability and the willingness, as did Reagan in his breakthrough moment during New Hampshire’s 1980 primary campaign, to remind folks that he “paid for this microphone” and will darn well be heard. (Interestingly, and by coincidence, both Trump and Reagan were stars at one time for the same company — GE.)

At this point, every Republican comparing themselves to a Reagan of the mind is simply par for the course. But it strains credulity to compare a former two-term governor with a strong record of accomplishment and who consistently demonstrated the ability to work with a wide variety of interests (and a man who damn near primaried a president in 1976) to a guy whose political career consists of pretending to consider running for president quadrennially since the 1990s. Yes, Reagan had great communication skills, but Republicans increasingly seem to be falling into the trap that has ensnared liberals for decades, the Sorkinian trap which says that all we need is a frontman with the right charisma and eloquence that will just SPEAK THE TRUTH and cause scales to fall from everyone’s eyes. It’s feel-good loserspeak, nothing more, and Reagan’s ability to deliver a good speech was only one element of his political skill set. If it were all he had, or all that were needed, then he would have introduced GOP presidential nominee Guy Vander Jagt in 1980, not the other way around. But even if it were not, in what universe would Donald Trump be considered the most plausible contender for this job? And anyone who knows Reagan’s movie career knows that “starpower” is a cruelly ironic way to describe a guy who was washed up during his prime.

Anyway, he goes on to argue that Trump would force other presidential hopefuls to address the issues they “normally don’t have to face” in debates, like conspiracy theories about jobs reports, even more American troop presence in Iraq, and China tariffs. You know what, I agree with this guy. Trump should run. I’d love to have him raise these issues in Republican debates, I think that would be really great for him and for his fellow Republicans. It’s too bad nobody cares about his phony presidential runs anymore.


Kevin Drum makes the case that Democrats actually got some decent concessions out of the so-called “Cromnibus” funding bill, and that all in all it might have been a reasonable compromise. This is a good question:

I understand that trying to defend a messy, backroom bill that trades some dull but responsible victories for a bunch of horrible little giveaways isn’t very appealing to anyone. And who knows? Maybe Democrats were afraid that if they crowed too much about the concessions they’d won it would just provoke the tea party wing of the Republican party and scuttle the bill. The tea partiers were already plenty pissed off about the cromnibus, after all.

Still, shouldn’t someone have been in charge of quietly making the progressive case for this bill? It wouldn’t have convinced everyone, but it might have reduced the grumbling within the base a little bit. Why was that not worth doing?

The obvious answer is that if the Tea Party wing thought that this bill was even less good for them than they think it is, they’d go even more ballistic. Still, while this is tactically sound, strategically it’s simply not realistic for Democrats to swallow endless bitter pills and expect their base not to be depressed and demoralized, and then to not be there on election day. There’s a hint of Braleyism here: Democrats seem to expect the voters to be grateful for them for being so darn responsible and grown-up, which is insane. You gotta do the work. Republicans are good at spinning symbolic victories into major victories, and significant defeats into nearly insignificant losses (or, more frequently, they simply ignore them). It’s important for political movements to feel like progress is being made and everybody is working together. Democrats (Obama very much included) seem to be utterly unaware of this. There is often this sense that the media will sort it all out for them. For the life of me I can’t figure out why Democrats think being defensive and weak is going to win over the hearts and minds of Americans, and yet, it’s what they do, year in, year out.

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I had serious doubts about creating an adult movie about a Bible story that basically only children can take seriously. There are plenty of stories from the Bible that stand up to at least some scrutiny, but the Noah story is simply not one of them. The notion that all species of animal could fit on a small ark, that they could in and of themselves repopulate their populations, that they wouldn’t eat one another on board, that they’d be able to live after the flood in ecosystems completely wrecked are but a few of the holes in this particular story, which I’ve long argued would be a better ground zero for atheists to use rather than the not-quite sacrifice of Isaac. If you wanted to mount an argument that the Bible was written by human beings with very limited understanding of the universe–which one would expect a plausible deity to have–this is the story.

So I don’t really think it’s very good movie fodder, but “improving” the story with big CG battles, sub-Lord Of The Rings touches and tired Joseph Campbell bullshit is one of the more uninteresting ways to take the story. And they warp the most interesting part of the story for me, which is the “apparent madman who has information about the future, shares it and is ridiculed” bit. In this version, Noah is protected by magical rock people, so no faith is required and no skepticism on the part of the people is possible. So rather than being about closely-held faith, it’s about epic quests and battles and all that bullshit:

Does anyone else not get the aura around Darren Aronofsky? I liked The Wrestler and large parts of Black Swan, but I’ve seen more bad stuff than good from him.

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It’s all academic at this point, but I’ll just reiterate that the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” idea is simply not an answer to the problem of torture during the Bush era. It worked for South Africa because, as heinous as Apartheid was, it was the duly passed law of the land. So you couldn’t try those guys under the laws they followed, and you couldn’t try them under laws passed since then, because typically democracies don’t allow ex post facto trials*. So, in that situation, the TRC concept (or something like it) was in fact the best option. What members of the Bush Administration did was actually against the law, back then and today. There’s a much simpler process to deal with that sort of thing–trials. And in any event, this TRC solution would require buy-in from the entirety–not just the handful of Republicans like John McCain and Justin Amash who oppose torture measures, but the entire party, including all plausible presidential candidates–of a Republican Party that has not often proven itself to be inclined to make deals with Obama, or to reevaluate Bush-era security policy, or to be united about much of anything other than opposing Obama. Which is to say that Bernstein’s thinking here is incorrect. There was never any deal to be made here, and even if there were it probably wouldn’t work. Trials were, and remain, the only real answer.

Not that it matters at this point–a Hillary Clinton Administration is certainly not going to take action that Obama’s wasn’t–but the trial solution would have obviously been the best option. Yes, Republicans would have criticized every aspect of it, but in that case they would have been fighting the legal system, rather than just the media. And sure, this would undoubtedly have made the next Republican president investigate their Democratic predecessor for lawbreaking, but that is a feature and not a bug to me. If presidents actually had to worry about being arrested after leaving office for breaking the law, they damn well wouldn’t be so blase about it.

* Unless you happen to be a Nazi middle manager, obviously.

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My guess is that Barbara Boxer does in fact retire this cycle, and that by the beginning of 2019, California’s governor and two senators will be some combination of AG Kamala Harris, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Controller John Chiang. Who will be doing what I don’t know, but going by recent history, those three are the ones who have the strongest sorts of credentials that get those jobs in this state (i.e. statewide officeholders and big city mayors = good, U.S. Reps and state legislators = dicey, famous non-politicians = disastrous). Harris has all sorts of buzz, Garcetti is the rare not entirely repellent LA Mayor (with that big LA base), and Chiang has a history of mammoth wins in the instate counties.

Obviously, you never know. Maybe Harris gets nominated to the Supreme Court, say? Who knows. Some people do worry about Gavin Newsom, though I don’t. You’re talking about a guy who got nowhere running for governor in 2010, when Jerry Brown was considered a vaguely embarrassing has-been, and whose defining moment is over ten years old at this point (but whose d-baggery is much fresher). Given that he has basically no record to run on for the length of his time as Lt. Governor, which by that point will have been the past eight years of his career, and will almost certainly not be Brown’s chosen successor, what’s he going to run on? Being relatively handsome? A record running SF that will be a decade cold by then? Smarm? I just don’t see “winning message” in there anywhere.

I don’t live in a city that has Uber, and even if I did I wouldn’t use it. It seems to be an organization run by douchebags, and I’d just as soon avoid patronizing such groups. And all I know about it is what I got from reading that long, skeptical dissection of Uber’s business model on TPM a little while back. But I feel like this is an emperor has no clothes situation that doesn’t even require that level of knowledge. $40 billion for a fucking cab company that doesn’t even own any cabs? All they really own is an app, and is there an app in the world that is worth that kind of dough? What assets does it have to be worth that kind of money? How is it going to overcome the issues outlined in the TPM piece? Nobody seems to know, and it will be a stock concern to short the shit out of, if the public is ever allowed the privilege of buying stock in it. One gets the sense that the Uber honchos have grabbed ahold of the Wall Street imagination in the manner of a Gordon Gekko, they seem to fill the role of ruthless, dashing, stop-at-nothing businessmen to a tee. If they actually manage to pull this off, it will be yet another obvious clue that Wall Street has no idea what it’s doing, buying into hype and ignoring the substance in a way that should be familiar to anyone who remembers the late 1990s.

Also, count me really dubious about this:

Raising yet more cash is another step in Uber’s plan to become the world’s premier logistics service, capable of transporting people to places they want to go as quickly and seamlessly as possible. The company has also signaled its ambitions to be a one-stop shop for delivering anything, anytime, anywhere — even groceries — perhaps one day rivaling the likes of Amazon, eBay and Google, all of which run nascent delivery services.

I really am burnt out on people just quoting the underpants gnomes from South Park–it’s not original, damn it!–but this might be the application most deserving of the reference. I can see step one, and obviously I can see profit, but what is step two? Seriously, these guys not only think they can eliminate the taxicab industry–something which they have notably not yet done–but also take on the biggest online retailers in the world? This is madness is what it is. Not just trying to dominate one heavily competitive domain, but multiple? I can only hope it blows a huge hole in the banksters’ pockets when the whole thing flops.

I’m somewhat on the fence as to whether we’ll see another tech crash–at this point the phenomenon could be more accurately described as rich people wasting their money buying fancy online toys that by any plausible accounting aren’t worth the price, than anything genuinely economy threatening–but a few more Ubers and I think the probability rises significantly. Irrational exuberance is rising again, my friend.

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I have to hand it to Hillary Clinton: her crew is just as adept at getting the media to write whatever they want it to as President Obama’s team is not these days. Let’s take a look at today’s nonsense (via Political Wire):

Clinton World believes Paul has run the best “pre-campaign” of the group. And the fact that the Republican senator from Kentucky has worked to attract Republicans and Democrats to his cause has made him someone to watch.

Much of the article talks about a Jeb Bush run, and though he gives off the distinct whiff of a has-been, there’s little doubt he has money connections and such. But there’s quite a bit of this Rand Paul stuff that I find difficult to actually buy. I find it extremely odd that any Democrats are really worried about a Rand Paul candidacy, but apparently some are actually going on the record:

Mitch Stewart, a senior adviser to the Ready for Hillary PAC who served in key roles in both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns, acknowledged that two contenders in particular jump out to him: Walker and Paul.

“Rand Paul in a primary could be someone that excites a group of people who would not normally participate,” Stewart said.

At a Ready for Hillary fundraising event in New York two weeks ago that drew hundreds of staunch Clintonites and donors, Paul was discussed as someone Democrats needed to watch.

Paul has “demonstrated a charisma and a presence” in the lead-up to a potential run, said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who worked in the Clinton White House and attended the meeting in New York.

They sound like the scouts from the beginning of Moneyball. I have no idea why intangibles are considered so critical here. I am not Hillary Clinton, just for the record. But if I were, I think I’d see I’d see a Rand Paul nomination as one of the best possible things that could happen to me. I mean, come on, a Paul candidacy would easily unite virtually every part of the Obama coalition while dividing much of the conservative coalition. Worried about minority participation rates and Democratic victory ratios dropping without Barack Obama on the ballot? Well, don’t, since the opponent has vocally opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and vociferously condemns any kind of immigration reform. Sure, he’s offered some half-hearted criticism of voter ID laws, too little to offset those major issues I think. Problems with with the upscale suburban types? Rand Paul is an extreme social reactionary of a sort that should make those people easy pickings for Hillary. Want to improve with older folks and downscale whites? Paul seems to oppose pretty much every federal program they rely on, and has a record of voting accordingly, voting for budget offerings vastly more extreme than even Paul Ryan’s. Plus, he’ll be the most internally divisive GOP nominee since Goldwater, unpalatable to the hawks in a way that will be difficult to paper over. And pretty much the only thing he brings to the table–some millennial-friendly stances on privacy and security issues–are a big question mark in terms of being able to move votes (which is mostly unfortunate, IMO, though perhaps not in this hypothetical). Nominating Paul would be a huge risk for the Republican Party, especially if that fabled “recovery summer” actually happens, and/or if Hillary is able to juice a couple more points out of the woman vote due to the historic candidacy. Obviously fundamentals are most important in this conversation, and nothing is impossible, but being preoccupied over Paul makes little sense. By my reckoning he’s one of the people to be least worried about.