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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.

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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All we need to do is to Tuvix Trump and Carson, and suddenly, we’d have a Republican frontrunner!

Also, in case you’re not familiar with Voyager, Captain Janeway commits cold-blooded murder at the end of this episode. It wouldn’t be the last time.

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“When you look at Trump, he’s an easy sell because you can sell him as the guy who worked his way up from nothing. And I think if you’re a ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ candidate, people would identify with that.” Actor Anthony Mackie

It had to be tough out there for the favored son of a New York real estate tycoon.

Trump was born in New York City in 1946, the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Fred Trump’s business success not only provided Donald Trump with a posh youth of private schools and economic security but eventually blessed him with an inheritance worth an estimated $40 million to $200 million. It is critical to note, however, that his father’s success, which granted Donald Trump such a great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental financing programs. In 1934, while struggling during the Great Depression, financing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allowed Fred Trump to revive his business and begin building a multitude of homes in Brooklyn, selling at $6,000 apiece. Furthermore, throughout World War II, Fred Trump constructed FHA-backed housing for US naval personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast.

Update — Anthony Mackie says he was joking:

Actor Anthony Mackie on Monday took to Twitter to clarify that he does not support Donald Trump’s presidential bid despite his statements in a BET interview. “Sorry Donald, that wasn’t an endorsement,” the star said on Twitter. “Just a bad attempt at a joke, I guess?”

MV5BMTUzMjAzMjMyMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTUzNDIyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_A couple of observations:

  • An hour and a half in, and neither Rubio, nor Walker, nor (especially) Bush has had the Big Night that they were said to need. Bush in particular managed to diminish himself on almost every exchange, often trying to hit Trump but frequently and never really threatening the latter’s control on things. Walker really doesn’t belong here, and most likely won’t be for much longer. Easily the most inert thing on stage, including his podium.
  • Obviously, I’m a wildly biased observer, so take this with whatever quantity of salt you wish. But Carly Fiorina has to have one of the least appealing personalities of any politician to reach this point I’ve ever seen. Obviously, she can talk, and she has some command of details and specifics. She sounds credible even when saying nutty things. But there is a brittleness and a coldness that is frankly remarkable in such a public-facing role, not to mention an unfortunate tendency toward sour looks (i.e. defensiveness) when being challenged, and further not to mention that she is clearly a member of the club of people who should never, ever, ever smile (which also includes Bob Filner and Steve Buscemi). No trace of humor or charm (which Christie possesses in spades), and no apparent ability to project hope or optimism, even (especially?) when launching furious attacks. Their beloved Reagan could pull that off, recall. Obviously personality isn’t the only or most important characteristic in a potential president. But let’s face it, most people connect to politicians through personality, or at least the personality projected to the public. Fiorina is well suited to be an attack dog but I can’t imagine she has any real fans. Say what you will about Trump, but he can do all the things she can’t.
  • I don’t get Ben Carson at all. But I do get Trump. Even if you think of him as a racist, vulgar buffoon as I do, there’s no denying that he’s fun to watch. “Higher energy today Jeb, I like it!” Come on, that’s fucking funny.
  • Kasich did fairly well, and should probably continue to rise. Christie did pretty well as well–this is definitely his arena–but he has no chance. Everyone else both boring and crazy, a uniquely modern Republican combination.

All in all, not a ton of surprises–Tapper intended to stir up conflict and aside from Trump, none of the other candidates took the bait. Trump definitely seems to have taken some steps forward as a candidate–even though the topic of the first twenty minutes was basically, “Is Donald Trump a joke?” it is now patently clear that he isn’t one, nor is he the craziest person on stage. It’s passe to think of him as any more of a joke than Huckabee or Cruz or Carson. They’re all jokes. Except maybe for Kasich? I dunno. I can’t believe they expect people to sit through three hours of this.

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Is why Republicans, despite knowing full well that the best (only?) way to stop Donald Trump is to simply ignore him and freeze him out, have chosen not to do so. I honestly don’t know why this hasn’t happened, it seems so utterly obvious that this has to happen. Partly I think it’s a collective action problem: for it to work everybody would have to do it, and the media wing of the party has shown no interest in doing this whatsoever, so individual candidates have been unable to ignore him. Roger Ailes may or may not desperately want a non-Trump Republican President, but he indisputably wants ratings. Perhaps it’s the whole toughness/The Last American Male thing that leads doughy middle-aged desk-pushers like Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal and Bill Kristol–men who between them may have one successful arm-wrestle in their lives–to show that they do indeed possess cojones by refusing to take a passive, wussy strategy that might work and instead going on the attack, which is of course in keeping with Kristol’s past. At any rate, we keep hearing about Jeb Bush attacking Trump and Bobby Jindal attacking Trump and Billy Cristal attacking Trump and the Grand Republican Plan to attack Trump, coming out in a Friedman Unit or two, no doubt. It’s done not a goddamn thing. Apparently his fans don’t care that he held (holds?) some lefty positions, since his tone is correct and he has the right priorities (to them). And Jindal’s attacks were not merely ineffective, but immediately damaging to himself, simply reminding people of what a goddamn dork he is.

I’m not sure I’m ready to think that these clowns are actually going to fail to stop Trump from wrecking the entire party, but I must admit, if these guys would rather spend their time trying to convince some unknown audience that they’re all tough macho men while on their way to losing, it does give a person hope.


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