Saturday, February 27, 2016

Finally Going After Trump, And Other Stuff

Jonah Goldberg's latest G-File includes his priceless reaction to Trump's claim that he's being targeted by the IRS because of his "strong Christianity".

I was only half listening when Donald Trump came into the spin room on CNN to explain why he’s been audited every year for twelve years.

“I’m always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair — I don’t know, maybe because of religion, maybe because of something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo immediately following the 10th GOP debate on Thursday night.

Cuomo cut in: “What do you mean religion?”

“Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias,” Trump said.

Cuomo cut in again: “You think you can get audited for being a strong Christian?”

“Well, you see what’s happened,” Trump said. “You have many religious groups that are complaining about that. They’ve been complaining about it for a long time.”

“Spit take” doesn’t even come close to describing my reaction. As it was, I gagged so hard my spleen almost came out my nose. It was nearly the first recorded instance of spontaneous self-mummification. I scared the cats because I reacted like members of Delta House when the picture of Flounder appeared on the screen.

There are two possibilities here. Either Donald Trump believes what he said, or he doesn’t. If he does believe this, he’s sufficiently delusional to disqualify himself for public office. If he doesn’t believe this, he thinks his conservative Christian supporters are morons.

Jonah goes on to further mock Trump's "Christianity". He also explains his Trump aversion.

I’ll be as honest as I can about why I dislike Trump. A big part of it is I think he’s a fraud. I think he’s part of the grand and glorious tradition of bunk artists in American history. I think he’s always lied about how rich he is and is lying to this day. And bear in mind, I don’t care how much money he has. The point is he cares. Specifically, he cares that other people think he’s really rich. In fact, that’s his business model. Most long cons require convincing marks that the con man doesn’t actually need the mark’s money. That’s his schtick to a T.

But I can actually get past that. That con-man aspect of him is also kind of charming. It’s not remotely presidential, but as an American character, I can see why some people are amused by Trump, and on occasion I am as well.

The thing I don’t find amusing is that he’s an insecure bully. He really does strike me as Biff from Back to the Future (Part II). His cheap macho posturing and boasting is simply tacky. I see him as a sad and insecure man. And what I truly find so depressing is that millions of Americans see the same blowhard overcompensation and mistake it for strength.

And the notion he’s Reaganesque is bizarre. Reagan was quietly self-confident, largely immune to flattery, and he knew what he stood for thanks to years of thoughtful introspection and deep reading. Moreover, he was a gentleman. Is there anything gentlemanly about Donald Trump? I’ve heard stories that in private he can be a nice guy. Good. But it’s always easy for the richest guy in the room to seem magnanimous, particularly when he owns the room. Regardless, the public Trump is an insecure bully and a boor, and I can’t help but believe that is the truer face of the man.

This is all true but what Goldberg doesn't mention is Trump's vacuity. Whether it's stupidity or, more charitably, just intellectual laziness, it's clear that Trump is not a deep thinker. His coarseness, lack of policy knowledge and an inability to string together clear, grammatically correct sentences (or even one!) reflects this striking lack of erudition. All of which was laid bare by both Rubio's and Cruz's aggressiveness in Thursday night's debate. Trump reacted like an unprepared student questioned by his teacher on the previous night's assignment. He was reduced to begging the moderator to stop asking him so many questions.

To overcome Trump in the upcoming primaries and caucuses, the attack will need to be sustained. Based on follow-up campaign speeches, it looks like it will. Again, I just hope it isn't too late.

BTW, here's a tweet directed at Jonah from a Trump fan -- "Tell me Jew, are you against the wall Israel put up to 'protect' from Palestine the same way you're against Trumps in Mexico?" (He gets lots of these).

Goldberg responded -- "I was in favor of a wall before Trump was. Tell me how long have you been a moron bigot? (Rhetorical Q)."

The blogger at Ace Of Spades HQ derides Trump's intellectual deficiencies as well as his lack of principles. He also makes the point that as far left as Trump seems now, this is as conservative as his campaign is going to be. A surprisingly good post by someone who agrees with some parts of Trump's message.

Chris Christie is in for a big letdown if he thinks he has a chance at being the next VP or AG. As for his backup plan - defection to the jackass party - Good Riddance! He couldn't possibly hurt the GOP more as a Democrat than he already has in 2012 and 2016 as a Republican.
Steve Hayes gives the overstuffed slimeball a well deserved verbal thrashing.

A Wall Street Journal editorial takes note of the belated anti-Trump offensive just initiated by his opponents and suggests some points of attack.

Start with his policy knowledge, which is thinner than topsoil and not as rich. Mr. Rubio challenged Mr. Trump to go beyond his stock line that he’d replace ObamaCare by allowing competition across state lines, which is a good idea but hardly sufficient as a reform. Yet Mr. Trump couldn’t come up with another specific idea to expand private health coverage.

This is typical of Mr. Trump, who told us in November that the voters don’t care about policy details. But Americans want a President to know something about the biggest problems, and Hillary Clinton wouldn’t let him get away with a simple soundbite. The exchange revealed that Mr. Trump doesn’t like to work all that hard to learn anything new. He gets by on instinct and insult.

Speaking of which, in Texas Friday Mr. Trump took his attacks on the press corps to a new level by promising to change the libel laws. “We’re going to open up those libel laws. (John Podhoretz notes that there are no Federal libel laws). So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” he said, sounding like Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ripping the press is old political hat, but it’s not every day that a potential President promises to use government power to punish critics. This follows his attack earlier this week on the Ricketts family of Chicago for donating to a Super Pac that has criticized him. “They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!” he tweeted. Does he plan to sic the IRS on them?

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump for the first time invoked the IRS as his reason for not releasing his tax returns. “For many years, I’ve been audited every year. Twelve years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me,” he said in the debate. “I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three years.”

So is it 12 years of audits, or only two or three? And no matter the years, an audit doesn’t mean he can’t release his returns. The IRS explains on its website that “most audits will be of returns filed within the last two years” and “if a substantial error is identified, the IRS will not go back more than the last six years.” So even if Mr. Trump wanted to keep his returns confidential during an audit, he could still release returns from the last decade. His resort to the IRS—an agency most conservatives loathe—is a political excuse and diversion. This reached almost comic proportions when he told CNN that he might be audited so much because he’s “a strong Christian.”

...Most surprising perhaps was Mr. Trump’s stumble on what is supposed to be his signature issue, illegal immigration. For months Mr. Trump has railed about illegals for committing crimes and stealing American jobs. Well, Mr. Trump doesn’t practice what he’s now preaching.

According to a New York Times report, some 300 Americans have applied or were referred to work at Mar-a-lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida, but 94% were turned down. The resort filled the slots with foreign guest workers. Mr. Trump explained there aren’t enough “qualified” Americans to go around, especially in season, and that without these foreign workers “you hurt your business.” Wait a minute. That’s our argument for immigration reform and more legal immigration. Mr. Trump fails his own immigration test.

Sen. Rubio also brought up the illegal Polish workers Mr. Trump brought in to demolish the New York building replaced by Trump Tower. Mr. Trump has said he didn’t know these workers were illegal, and that he wouldn’t settle the legal claim against him on principle. But settle he did, in an agreement that remains under seal.

The lawyer, Hillary Clinton, made the following comment regarding Second Amendment rights --

"We’ve got to say to the gun lobby, you know what, there is a constitutional right for people to own guns, but there’s also a constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that enables us to have a safe country where we are able to protect our children and others from this senseless gun violence."

The lawyer, Hillary Clinton apparently can't tell the difference between The Constitution and The Declaration of Independence.

Conservative commentator Kurt Schlister is also a lawyer who never misses an opportunity to point out that the lawyer Clinton flunked the D.C. bar exam. He marked her dubious achievement with the following zinger, "To do that, you literally have to answer the question, “What is a tort?” by drawing a picture of small cake."

Following lawyer Clinton's recent display of ignorance he again raised the issue of lawyer Clinton's failure to pass the bar. "Doing that is like studying Spanish for five years and then not being able to order a burrito."

For her sake, the lawyer Clinton would be well advised to become better acquainted with the U.S. Federal Codes she violated with her e-mail shenanigans than she is with our founding documents.

Oh yeah, one more thing. What if Bush said it?

Mark Hemingway at The Federalist takes another crack at explaining the Trump phenomenon, laying the blame squarely on the decline of America's work ethic and the corresponding reaction from the blue collar working community. Hemingway observes that a large portion of the Sanders - Clinton crowd sees work as a journey to self-fulfillment rather than as a necessary means for earning a living by producing products and services of value. He points to this asinine exchange on a Hillary Clinton Facebook Q and A --

Q - Secretary Clinton, what advice would you give to your younger self in college that you didn’t know then?

A - You never know what’s going to happen in life. Get the best education you can, learn as much as you can about the world around you, and take opportunities as they come. And most of all, do what you love. Don’t take a job just for money – take a job because it’s meaningful. Find time for family. Find time for relationships. All of that adds up to a life that can provide a lot of satisfaction.

One of my favorite lines is, ‘I’ve loved and been loved. All the rest is background music.’ I never would have understood what that meant when I was in college. -H

While this reads like so much Hallmark pablum we take for granted, if you think about it, it’s hard not to be offended by this Forest Gumpery. Seriously, did she just say “don’t take a job just for the money”? Is that why Clinton and her husband spent a decade giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $300,000 and a favor to be named later? Or struck million-dollar deals with shady post-Soviet oligarchs with terrible human rights records?

But if there’s another piece of advice here that absolutely disqualifies Clinton for the presidency, it’s “do what you love.” The truth is, that is simply not an option for most people. When it’s 39 degrees and raining in February, do you think the guy who picks up your trash is staring at your acrid, bacteria-laden refuse at 6 a.m. and saying, “Thank God, I love what I do”?

Our ‘follow your bliss’ culture doesn’t begin to appreciate coal miners even as it obsessively venerates people whose contributions to society aren’t very tangible.
Indeed, it is precisely this cultural disconnect about the value of work that explains why there’s an open revolt in both parties and the future seems so uncertain.

A thoughtful and well-written essay.

Kevin Williamson assails the idea of stimulus packages to boost economies, taking particular aim at the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 --

In Herbert Hoover’s America, we could build the Empire State Building in 410 days. In Barack Obama’s America, seven long years and a half-trillion bucks won’t fix a damned bridge over Podunk Creek in East Stank, Arkansas.

...Robert Conquest’s first law of politics is that everyone is a conservative about what he knows best. Former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman illustrated that when he observed about his chosen profession: “Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder, but nobody wants to lift no heavy-ass weights.” Stimulus spending is the triple espresso of economic policy: It might give you a short-term energy boost, but it’s no substitute for eating right, sleeping eight hours a night, and going to the gym from time to time.

Added 2/28 --

KW lets Trump know what he thinks of his threat to "open up" libel laws, making it easier to sue media outlets for criticizing politicians like himself. Kevin dares the orange-faced buffoon to sue him.

Because a claim must be false to be libelous, truth is an absolute defense against libel. So, for instance, if I write that Donald Trump is a blazing jackass who has driven his companies into bankruptcy four times, mainly because he doesn’t know how to handle debt, Trump can’t do anything about that, because it is true. If I write that Trump is poorly positioned to take on Wall Street because he owes practically every bank on the street enormous sums of money, I’m golden, because it is true. If I write that Donald J. Trump is a lowlife who has cheated on his wives and betrayed his own family and the families of others through his remarkable personal commitment to adultery, Trump has no recourse, because this is true. If I write that the fact that Melania Trump was a client of Trump’s dopey little modeling agency strikes me as creepy indeed — I advocate the separation of sex and payroll — I’m on solid ground, because the facts of the case are not in dispute. If I write that you credulous yokels who believe that Trump is self-funding his presidential campaign have fallen for an obvious lie, I am protected by the fact that this is documented truth.

The Resurgent's Erick Erickson precisely expresses my view --

Yes, Trump voters are right.  If Donald Trump gets the Republican nomination for President and conservatives sit it out, Hillary Clinton will get elected.
That is the point of getting the disclosure out there in the primary that we won’t vote for Donald in the general.  Trump voters need to understand that a Hillary Presidency will be on them.  If they want to gamble that they can get Donald across the finish line without us, let them.  It is their choice.
As much as they will want to complain that those of us who refused to support Donald got Hillary elected, the fact is that we gave them plenty of time to realize what would happen and they still chose Donald Trump as the GOP nominee.
So a Hillary Presidency is theirs.  They went with a guy knowing so many of us would never support him.  Their choice.  I will never, ever support Donald Trump.  Ever.

And I'll add --


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