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It isn’t being said much, but while the Republican Party deserves the lion’s share of credit/blame/mockery for creating Donald Trump–“grown-up establishment” just as much as the Bircher types, if not moreso–the media deserves a significant amount of it as well. There’s the obvious sense in which it’s true: the media has loved giving coverage for decades to a man who would, under normal circumstances, be a local celebrity at best, best known for ruining Atlantic City, having a ridiculous outsized personality, and erecting a bunch of buildings that nobody likes. But they asked what he thought about issues. They patronized his presidential non-runs. And the coverage they gave him at the outset of his current campaign turned him from a guy with terrible approvals into a very strong Republican contender. But apart and aside from that, Trump’s just playing the incentives of the system as well as anyone. Sure, he’ll get criticism from some quarters of the media for making shit up about Muslims cheering about 9/11. But most outlets will print his claims in a larger size font than any criticism. Headlines like “Trump Wrong About 9/11 Claims” might not be so great for Trump (or they might be), but come on, we’re not going to see those. Trump knows that he can basically say anything he wants and at most he’ll have to deal with a little bit of “opinions differ” stuff, while he will get to set the emphasis thoroughly. Because the media buys so thoroughly into a very specific notion of civility, it cannot help but be complicit in turning itself into a vehicle for untruth, and it clearly has no idea how to stop:

At least in the eyes of the political press, Trump is by far the campaign’s worst offender when it comes to exaggerations and falsehoods. According to fact-checking project Politifact, Trump has so far clocked in with 41 percent of his statements rated as “false” and 21 percent as the most egregious level, “Pants on Fire.”

He’s also still leading Republican primary polls.

More mild untruths are hardly limited to one candidate, or one party, either.

Politifact rates Trump’s closest contender, Ben Carson, as having 43 percent of his assertions rated “false” and 13 percent rated as “Pants on Fire.”

For Hillary Clinton, it’s 11 percent false and 1 percent “Pants on Fire,” although she’s also racked up 16 percent of statements dubbed the insidious “mostly false.”

So taking Politifact’s ratings arguendo, Trump and Carson lie almost half the time, Clinton a little over one tenth of the time, but hey, no party is to blame here, clearly! One twentieth the “pants on fire” whoppers of Trump, but hey, she has some “mostly false” (i.e. less untrue) claims too! Admittedly, not as much as Trump and Carson’s outright lies, but I put “insidious” in there, so nobody can suspect me of being biased! (Except, spoiler alert, they’re definitely going to, because conservatives’ belief in media bias is a first principle, inherently believed among the masses and furthermore propping up a multi-billion dollar entertainment venture.) Nobody’s to blame because everybody’s guilty! That this bit of CYA comes before a long list of data points about the public’s mistrust of the media makes it even more delicious. I don’t think that Joe Sixpack has a sophisticated view of how the media has failed to point out the truth, but I think he understands overall that people are being wrongly protected and misinformation is being aggressively pushed. Which is true.

Also, relatedly, Steve Doocy insists that he saw Muslims cheering on 9/11 too. Remember when conservatives were obsessed with George Orwell for a minute? Oh, the irony!

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God what a horrible week. Here’s an underappreciated David Bowie gem that remains relevant:

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New poll shows Trump getting his gaudiest numbers yet. This was predictable, and predicted: Trump is very well trusted by Republicans on these issues, moreso than Rubio and the others. And unlike Rubio, who understands that there are some limitations he has to follow to keep him electable with the general electorate (and that he has an interest in preserving the reputation of the party he wants to lead), Trump has no limits and doesn’t worry about going too far. So while this could be a moment for Rubio to shine, there’s Trump, advocating for frankly fascist measures to be taken against a suspect class. Rubio cannot top that, cannot match it, without seriously harming his reputation as a serious person. I guess the thinking is that “the base” will recognize that Trump is just insane on these issues, and that they need Rubio. Instead, the opposite is happening.

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Further to Lev’s post, even though I know there are always deeper depths of depravity to which Republicans will inevitably sink, sometimes I really do get blindsided by how much worse it’s gotten:

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump believes that the war on terror will require unprecedented surveillance of America’s Muslims.

“We’re going to have to do thing that we never did before,” he said during a Yahoo interview. “Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said… “We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Trump would not rule out warrantless searches in his plans for increased surveillance of the nation’s Muslims, Yahoo reported Thursday. He also remained open toward registering U.S. Muslims in a database or giving them special identification identifying their faith, the news outlet added.

We’re so used to hearing about the insane things these sociopaths say. But things like this are really horrifying. Why not a scarlet letter? Yellow armbands? Internment camps? How far can we go?

It’s awful enough for Republicans to say these things, it’s even worse that they aren’t a fringe far-right party with poll numbers in the single digits. We Americans can be a truly awful people sometimes.

Man, how bad must the book of Scent Of A Woman have been if the movie is one of the best adaptations of a novel of all time, going by the relative difference of ratings between the two?

The cliche is that the book is always better, but I can think of plenty of times the movie was better. The first three Jack Ryan movies (though Patriot Games is kinda sucky either way). The Rules Of AttractionManhunter (sorry Metavirus). The Tailor Of Panama (great book, but the movie has a fun, hangout vibe that the book doesn’t, and Pierce Brosnan is marvelous). Obviously The Godfather–although that’s in the article it cannot be stated enough. And while it’s not a great film by any means whatsoeverDisclosure the film is vastly better than the Crichton book because it does not lump in unrelated complaints about alimony and child support and paranoia over women making false sexual allegations as Crichton did–not to mention the deeply misogynistic portrayal of women–and ultimately produce an indefensible, nasty portrait of male privilege. The movie is just a bad movie that makes a small point about sexual harassment and includes a hilariously cheesy virtual reality sequence. See also.

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Is making the refugee issue a white-hot political football good politics? Opinions differ. In the long run, the Democratic Party is better off standing up for pluralism and toleration than caving to polling, which is not to say they won’t. Mornings cannot go un-won, people. Even in the short run, though, is doing this really good for the Republicans? I have my doubts:

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One of the worst things about terror attacks now–aside, obviously, from the deaths and suffering they cause directly, and the upheaval–is that we get a few days or even weeks of wingnuts saying that this vindicates them on everything, and far too many people just sort of going along with them. I like this as a start. It seems absurd to me why Democrats should just accept that they need to take some punishment when there’s a terror attack–even if there’s no conceivable way they could plausibly be blamed for it–and wait it out. The electorate doesn’t hand out civility bonuses–quite the opposite in fact, if it’s still even on their mind in a month. Call out the cheap xenophobia of the refugee “pause”. Call out the triple-bank shot of using a terror attack in another country as just another attempt to bash a president they hate, with logic that makes even less than the usual no sense. If leaders don’t act petrified, the public may well decide not to be. Most likely there’s no long-term cost, and maybe it makes lefties like me a little proud to be part of this party. Obama himself has got the right idea. But you know it won’t happen. The Democratic officeholder is never more comfortable than when he/she is in a defensive crouch, even when there’s no need to be. It’s the Way of Braley. There are times when I think just dumping them all and starting over may not be the worst idea. Or at least the worst of the worst.

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