This is simply who Trump is

Erza on Trump’s ludicrous and truly shameful response to Khizr Khan’s speech:

Trump’s slander of Ghazala Khan was cruel. It was factually untrue. But it was also deeply, profoundly counterproductive — a man so angry about being cut off in traffic that he crashes his own car in revenge.

The Democratic National Convention was, by all accounts, a rousing success. What Trump needed to do was move on from it as quickly as possible — get the press talking about something else, get voters thinking about something else.

 Instead, he’s managed to not only extend the DNC’s dominance of the news cycle, but to extend the most powerful moment, and the most compelling speakers’, time in the spotlight.

It’s easy to forget now but the Khans didn’t appear in the 10-11pm hour carried by the networks. They were a sensation on Twitter, and I’m sure millions saw their words on Facebook, but the truth is most Americans, as of Friday, had no idea who they were or what they had said. I remember, after the speech, listening to Democrats lament that the Clinton campaign hadn’t put them higher on the schedule: the Khans were clearly the most effective anti-Trump messengers at the convention, but barely anyone would know it.

Luckily for the Clinton campaign, Trump has solved that problem for them. Now the Khans will be in the press for days…

Even aside from its gauge as a measure of Trump’s cruelty, this episode reveals a few important truths about Donald Trump.

First, Trump is great at getting into the headlines, but he’s not great at getting the headlines he wants. He operates off of an all-press-is-good-press strategy that might have worked when he needed to stand out in a crowded primary but is a disaster now that he needs to win over undecided voters in Ohio…

The second thing, as Salam says at the end of his argument, is that Trump is easily baited. He couldn’t swallow his hurt and anger over the Khan’s speech, he had to lash out, to fight back, to smear them in response. This doesn’t make sense if you understand the goal of an election as getting elected, but it does make sense if you understand the goal of an election as playing out an endless series of dominance games.

This is a point TPM’s Josh Marshall has repeatedly made about Trump. A need for dominance, Marshall writes, “is the key to understanding virtually everything Trump does…

The Khans’ speech hurt Trump. He watched it. He read the coverage of it. He felt slighted, inferior, humiliated. And so he needed to rebalance the scales. He needed to regain his dominance. He seems confused that anyone faults him for this — isn’t it obvious that they attacked him, and so he should get to attack them back?

This is the logic of a schoolyard bully, which Trump is. But it’s a dangerous mindset for a president.

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Trade is good

One of the most frustrating things watching last week’s convention and in influence of Bernie Sanders, is the the reflexive anti-trade views.  Can we do free trade better?  Sure.  But we damn sure need to be doing free trade.  Virtually every serious person without a strong ideological agenda is in accord on the issue.  Sure, I expect the post-policy right to ignore things like science and expertise, but it is frustrating to see on the left.  Bill Ayers with one of the better explanations on international trade that I have seen:

Donald Trump has broken that consensus by convincing a group of voters that their troubles (real, perceived, or some of both) are because leaders in Washington have been signing “bad deals” in international trade. “Free Trade”, which used to stand beside mom and apple pie as inherently good things, is now used as an epithet. In short, trade has become a real political issue.

This is unfortunate, because both sides are at least partly wrong on this issue – although one is more wrong than the other.

Trump’s position on trade is almost completely wrong. He frames international trade deals as zero-sum exercises in which one side always wins and the other side always loses. Apparently he slept through the classes at Wharton in which he would have learned that every economist going back to Ricardo and Adam Smith agrees that international trade increases wealth for both sides. Indeed, economic exchange – whether across or within borders – is how the human race has managed to create as much wealth as we have, which is a pretty impressive amount. If all economics were as Mr. Trump describes, we’d still be bartering with rocks and hunting our dinner daily with sharp sticks.  [emphases mine]

What is true is that the benefits of that wealth can be unevenly spread – and this is where the “establishment” (Democrats plus what used to be the internationalist Republican party) drops the ball. All changes create differential effects – in Mr. Trump’s terms, winners and losers. NAFTA may create more jobs net in the United States (most evidence says this is true), but that doesn’t mean that some people in the US won’t lose their jobs to competition in the neighboring countries – just as some Ohio jobs may get destroyed because we have “free trade” with Indiana and Alabama…

The consensus approach, the one championed by Bill Clinton when he pushed for a NAFTA negotiated by his Republican predecessor, was that government would step in and help those displaced by change. Put more bluntly, government’s role would be to redistribute some of the wealth created by trade to make sure that those hurt by shifts in the economy could recover and get back to where they where, maybe even be better off…

Over the last 20 years, freer trade has created vast amounts of wealth in the United States. Unfortunately, at the macro level that wealth has been concentrated in the hands of the few – largely, New York financiers, most of them well-known to Mr. Trump. As someone who claims to “understand the system,” Mr. Trump should understand all of this. His rhetoric to date suggests that he doesn’t.

Short version: Yes, free trade!  Yes, policies that mitigate the very uneven effects.

Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s photos of the day.  This one seems like it should be in a caption contest.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds Kellen Campbell of Denver, right, and Evelyn Keane, of Castle Rock, Colorado during a campaign rally in Colorado Springs.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump holds Kellen Campbell of Denver, right, and Evelyn Keane, of Castle Rock, Colorado during a campaign rally in Colorado Springs.

AP/Evan Vucci

Quick hits (part II)

1a) Ezra Klein argues that Trump’s response to Khizr is “horrifying, even for Donald Trump.”  Sadly, though, it’s not.  For Trump, this is literally par for the course.

Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting “Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim.” This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.

Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character…

Trump also wanted the Khans to know that, like them, he had sacrificed for this country.

“I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” Trump said. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

I honestly do not understand how a human being can respond to a family that lost their son for this country by saying that he has sacrificed too, he’s worked really hard, he’s built “great structures,” he’s had “tremendous success.”

 

1b) And love this from and ABC News story:

Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a non partisan group with close to 200,000 members, called Trump’s comparison of his sacrifices with those of someone like Khan “insulting, foolish and ignorant.”

“For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving,” Rieckoff said. “Our county has been at war for a decade and a half and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.”

2) Interesting 538 piece on how Catholics are moving towards Clinton and Evangelicals towards Trump.

3) David Brooks:

This week I left the arena here each night burning with indignation at Mike Pence. I almost don’t blame Trump. He is a morally untethered, spiritually vacuous man who appears haunted by multiple personality disorders. It is the “sane” and “reasonable” Republicans who deserve the shame — the ones who stood silently by, or worse, while Donald Trump gave away their party’s sacred inheritance.

4) Karen Tumulty and Richard Costa on how we are witnessing a shift in how the political parties talk to the American public.

5) Great NYT feature on new treatments that use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.  It seems that there’s some amazing new therapies that essentially cure previously incurable cancer, but only for a minority of patients.  That’s still great improvement, but frustrating that these therapies seem to be so hit and miss with who responds.

6) Rev William Barber is plenty familiar to those of us who follow NC politics.  Thursday was his big national coming-out party.

7) Was especially intrigued by Jon Haidt’s ideas on how to attack Trump in this Tom Edsall piece:

onathan Haidt, a social psychologist at N.Y.U., told me in an email that Democrats need to adopt a more subtle strategy in dealing with Trump. This, Haidt argues, is because the

mind is divided into parts that sometimes conflict, like a small rider — conscious, verbal, reasoning — sitting atop a large elephant — the other 98 percent of mental processes, which are automatic and intuitive.

The elephant “really runs the show,” Haidt said, Translating this analytic approach to the 2016 election, in Haidt’s view, means that

in matters of politics and morality, you must speak to the elephant first. Trump did this brilliantly in the Republican primary, and in his convention speech.

To counter Trump, Democrats have to get into the electorate’s automatic, intuitive and unconscious level of responding to events before attempting a critique based on reasoned argument, according to Haidt. To do this, he wrote, the goal should be to portray Trump in ways that conflict with “deep moral intuitions about fairness versus cheating and exploitation.”

And how do you do that?

Trump thinks about everything as a zero sum interaction, which he usually wins — and therefore the person who dealt with him loses. I think the Democrats should give voice to a long parade of people — former customers and partners — who deeply regret dealing with Trump. Trump cheats, exploits, deceives. Trump is a con man, and we are his biggest mark yet. Don’t let him turn us all into suckers.

The next step is to present a vision of Trump that violates “moral intuitions about loyalty, authority, and sanctity:”

The psychology of sacredness evolved as part of our religious nature, but people use the same psychology toward kings, the Constitution, national heroes, and, to a decreasing degree, to the American presidency. Trump degrades it all with his crassness, his obscene language, his fear-mongering and his inability to offer soaring rhetoric. What a contrast with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Reagan…

Despite the overt chaos, the competing narratives of the fall campaign — each side’s attempt to define the other as weak or crazy and itself as tough and dependable — are clearly emerging from the conventions. The question is whether the Democratic Party can get emotional enough or reach deep enough into our brains to counter the sheer id of Trump’s primeval appeal.

8) I read this “you probably don’t need dental x-rays every year” piece at home while my wife as at the dentist with the kids getting (very likely) unnecessary dental x-rays.

9) Wikileaks has lost the moral high ground.

10) Sure, humans are not the only animals with a theory of mind, but we may be the only ones to understand ignorance:

“We might be the only species that can think about things that aren’t facts we have about the world, about other possible worlds, about states in the past or future, about counterfactuals,” says Santos. “We can simulate a whole fictional world. And if you’re a species that can get outside your own head, you can apply that to other people.” A chimp won’t wonder if it’ll be hungry tomorrow. It only cares if it’s hungry now. An orangutan isn’t going to write a novel, because this is the only reality that it knows…

Based on this work, Santos originally said that while non-human primates don’t understand false beliefs, they can reason about another individual’s knowledge and ignorance. That’s a view shared by other scientists who have done similar studies. But Santos now thinks that she was wrong. She and Martin argue that our closest relatives have no concept of ignorance at all. They know stuff. They can reflect on what they know. They can track if others know the same things as them. But if others don’t share the same knowledge, they’re at a loss. “They just have no prediction about what’s going on,” says Santos.

11) Speaking of animal intelligence, more evidence that crows have lots.

12) Andrew Prokop on how Sanders’ supporters really could become a Tea Party of the left.

13) I think I’ll try and stay healthy as I can without the benefit of starting the day with an icy cold shower.

14) The problem of victim impact statements.

15) Apparently Trump voters just want “respect.”  Somehow respect is conflated with another word that starts with r.

With Trump, they are finding someone who gives them respect. He talks their language, addresses their concerns. Sometimes it is celebrating what defines their neighborhood, what they in Parma have in common: being white. They and Trump are playing in dangerous territory, with the need for respect tipping into misplaced revenge.

In another all-white working-class neighborhood not far away, a collection of retired workers, all Trump voters, gather in the mornings at McDonald’s. When the talk turned to politics the N-word is thrown around with ease, and racial jokes are par for the course.

16) Josh Marshall on how Trump will try and get out of the debates.

17) The more awfulness we’re seeing from Trump, the more I am appreciating all the commentary on the utter moral cowardice of the vast majority of elected Republicans:

Conservatives boasted too that they knew that the old-fashioned virtues of good character mattered as much as a man or woman’s ideology. By this reckoning, Trump’s bragging, vainglory, dark fury and towering vanity should disqualify him from the presidency regardless of his politics. Republican grandees must agree with Hillary Clinton when she said: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons”, not least because Marco Rubio, one of their own, has said as much himself. Yet McCain and Ryan, those enemies of appeasement, have folded and endorsed Trump. Rubio, that piercing judge of his character, has decided that, after all, Trump’s finger should be on the button. Presidents Bush père et fils are bravely abstaining. Bobby Jindal, who described Trump as a “narcissist and egomaniacal madman”, wants him in the White House. Nearly all the Republican names you remember follow suit. The Dick Cheneys, Rand Pauls and Condoleezza Rices are backing Trump or refusing to commit. Confronted with a dictatorial menace in their own time and their own country they lack the courage to risk the unpopularity that Churchillian dissent would bring.

Even when Trump followed his years of promoting the interests of a dictator of a hostile foreign power by urging Vladimir Putin to hack Clinton’s emails, they held steady in their cowardice. The Republicans, the party of red-baiters and Cold Warriors, is now in the pocket of a Kremlin “useful idiot” and the best its national security conservatives can manage are embarrassed mutters.

Only Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz openly oppose him, among prominent Republicans. And when a once mighty political movement relies on Cruz to uphold its honour it is so deep in the dustbin of history it is already composting.

18) All the Back the Future movies are currently streaming on Netflix.  Yesterday was Evan’s (age 10) first exposure.  He liked it, didn’t love it.  This was the first time I paid full attention in a while (I’ll always tune in for a bit if it is playing on TV) and I was just awed at how good the screenplay is.  A near-perfect movie.

…That’s the first 12 minutes of Back to the Future. Twelve minutes. Every single action has a purpose, every piece of scenery has a reason. The dialogue sets up plot, moves the narrative, character is built throughout—and we still don’t even really know what the movie is about.

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Paul Ryan’s failure

Why pick on Paul Ryan?  Because even though the media has an over-inflated sense of his policy seriousness (he has such a low bar being compared to the typical Republican politician), he really is better than most and a pretty good example of the kind of thoughtful Republican I wish we had more of.  Therefore, his failure is all the more magnified.  Will Saletan:

In his address to the Republican convention on Tuesday night, House Speaker Paul Ryan accused Democrats of inciting ethnic resentment. “Let the other party go on and on with its constant dividing up of people, always playing one group against the other, as if group identity were everything,” Ryan charged. “In America, aren’t we all supposed to see beyond class, see beyond ethnicity? Are all these lines drawn to set us apart and lock us into groups?”

 It was a remarkable sermon, delivered on behalf of the most egregious racist nominated to the presidency by a major party in at least half a century. Ryan spoke every word with his usual earnestness, unencumbered by shame. Looking back at history, we tend to focus on villains, men like Donald Trump who use hatred to gain power. We forget the importance of cowards. [emphases mine] Every Trump needs his Ryan.

I’ve always liked Paul Ryan. He talks about opportunity and empowerment, not scapegoats. He focuses on fiscal responsibility and self-reliance, two of my favorite Republican themes. He strikes me as constructive and sincere. It’s not his fault that the Republican Party, during his tenure as speaker, nominated Trump.

But Trump’s nomination confronted Ryan with a terrible dilemma. As the head of the Republican Party, Ryan had to decide whether to reject Trump and lose the election, or embrace Trump and lose the party’s soul, as well as his own. Ryan made the wrong choice. He decided that the Republican Party would criticize race baiters, but it would also tolerate and support them…

Ryan, unlike Romney, didn’t see racism as a character issue. He treated Trump’s latest slur as a mysterious outburst. It “was out of left field, [to] my mind,” Ryan sputtered in a radio interview on June 3. “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to.” Sometimes, Ryan conceded, Trump “says and does things I don’t agree with.” But Ryan stuck with him, arguing that Trump would sign Republican bills into law…

Ryan, like Romney, offered three arguments about race-baiting. But Ryan’s arguments weren’t for banishing it. They were for tolerating it. First, Ryan said it was unacceptable to divide the GOP…

These three arguments guarantee that the Republican Party, under Ryan, will accept bigots. They might be criticized or chided, but not excluded, even from the top of the national ticket. To exclude them would divide the party. It would disrespect the Trump-friendly voters who now control the Republican nominating process. It would impose absolutist judgments on a party in which the taboo against ethnic and religious slurs has been set aside as just another form of “political correctness.” …

“Everyone is equal,” he said. “Everyone has a place. No one is written off, because there is worth and goodness in every life. … That is the Republican ideal. And if we won’t defend it, who will?”

Indeed, who will? Not Paul Ryan. Not the party of Lincoln. Not anymore.

Photo of the day

Wired’s photo of the week:

sakurajima_02.jpg

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN/GETTY IMAGES

MOUNT SAKURAJIMA ERUPTED in Japan on Tuesday, sending a plume of smoke rising more than 16,000 feet into the air. It was an astonishing sight, followed by something equally amazing.

This remarkable image shows a dirty thunderstorm raging within Showa crater on the southeastern side of the 3,665-foot volcano. Such storms occur when immense bubbles of gas pop inside the volcano, causing small but powerful explosions of incandescent rock and ash that fly hundreds of feet per second. All that ash creates friction, which creates static electricity. And that is what causes the lightning encircling the eruption.

Dirty thunderstorms typically are rare, but they’re common at Mount Sakurajima. The volcano has been at alert level three (out of five) since February, when authorities closed a 1.2-mile radius around the crater, and has seen nearly 50 eruptions this year. So the odds are it won’t be long before the mountain puts on another amazing show.

Lies, damn lies, and NC Republicans on voter ID

Rick Hasen highlights the response of NC Senate leader Phil Berger:

Here’s the inflammatory statement:

Since today’s decision by three partisan Democrats ignores legal precedent, ignores the fact that other federal courts have used North Carolina’s law as a model, and ignores the fact that a majority of other states have similar protections in place, we can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud, potentially allowing fellow Democrat politicians like Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper to steal the election. [emphasis mine] We will obviously be appealing this politically-motivated decision to the Supreme Court.”

Seriously?!  That is just offensive.  Republicans pass a law that by every metric has the potential to disproportionately affect the voting of Black citizens of the state and undoing it they go right to stealing elections.  And, of course, the Court ruling was quite clear that this whole fraud(!!) issue is created almost entirely of whole cloth.  If actual in-person voter fraud were a thing, I’d be fine with a reasonable Voter ID statute that did not seem designed to disproportionately impact certain groups.  However, that’s not a thing and that’s not how the law was designed.

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