Donald Trump And The Hypocrisy Of The Religious Right

trump-grab-them-by-the-pussy

One of the many strange aspects of this election has been how Donald Trump has won over the religious vote. While Trump never appeared to have much interest in religion in the past, Hillary Clinton is one of the most religious politicians in public life. She spent her years in the Senate working with The Fellowship, supporting an increased role for religion in public policy. However, while generally conservative on social and cultural issues, she fails the right wing litmus test on reproductive rights. This is clearly a far greater sin to the religious right than Donald Trump’s admitted abuse of women.

As I noted yesterday, the release of the tapes in which Trump discussed his abuse of women led to the condemnation from many Republicans, but at least one representative of the religious right did not alter his support for Trump: “One of Trump’s most prominent social-conservative supporters, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, told BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray: ‘My personal support for Donald Trump has never been based upon shared values.'”

Buzzfeed found another representative of the religious right who continues to back Trump:

“Voters of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, create jobs, and oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” Faith and Freedom Coalition president Ralph Reed said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “Ten-year-old tapes of private conversation with a television talk show host rank very low on their hierarchy of concerns.”

Asked if he had any comment on the tape itself and if he was definitely standing by Trump, Reed said, “I think the statement is self explanatory.”

Ben Carson also defended Trump:

“Dr. Carson believes that people can change and be better,” Carson aide Armstrong Williams told BuzzFeed News in an interview. “You know, these things happen. I’m sure somebody could find a video of Bill Clinton talking like this — are we gonna say Bill Clinton was the same person as president that he is today? Obviously not.”

Armstrong continued, “People commit adultery. It happens. Ministers. Heads of state. Everyday people. People are human, they do human things. It’s nothing unusual that somebody committed adultery on their spouse. Women do it. Men do it. Should we be shocked by it? No.”

…He concluded the interview by saying, “Hey, the flesh can be weak, my man.”

While it is possible that Bill Clinton has also talked like this, it is worth remembering, as Buzzfeed pointed out, “Republicans frequently argued in the ’90s that Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky was disqualifying in part because presidents should be held to a higher moral standard.”

Several Republicans, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Jon Huntsman have called on Trump to drop out of the race. While this is unlikely to happen, I have previously posted some interesting links in this post on the ramifications of a candidate dropping out.

I think that Trump already had little chance of winning the election (unless something major happened which was favorable to him). The tape therefore probably won’t change the presidential election result. However it does put the entire GOP in a bigger hole. Previously it looked like the nomination of Clinton seriously hurt the chances for the Democrats to take control of the Senate. That might now be a possibility again.

GOP Convention Update: Seth Meyers On Mike Pence; Mark Cuban On Trump; Male Prostitutes Doing Better Than Females At Convention; Donald Trump Is Voldemort; Plus Carpool Karaoke With Michelle Obama

trumpvoldemort

The third night of the Republican Convention was supposed to feature vice presidential nominee (and possible future acting president) Mike Pence. Instead Ted Cruz stole the show by refusing to endorse Donald Trump. Cruz advised people to vote their conscience, which had become the the slogan of those at the convention who wanted to open up the nomination to vote for others. He was booed last night, but if Trump loses badly, he might also be in a position to look like the smart one in the party by November, in contrast to those who backed Trump.

Allowing Cruz to do this prior to Pence’s acceptance speech looks like another act of poor convention planning on Trump’s part–although he did turn the situation to his advantage in the convention hall by entering before Cruz finished speaking. If he was going to have Cruz speak, it might have made more sense to do it the first night (when Clinton is allowing Sanders to speak), or perhaps the second night when all sorts of wacko speeches were already being given.

Cruz also spoke a lot about freedom. Unfortunately he primarily supports the right of conservative Christians to impose their religious views on others.

All the noise following Cruz’s speech distracted from Mike Pence’s speech (fact checking here) and as a result, even after last night not very many people know who Mike Pence is. Seth Meyers took a closer look at Pence in the video above.

Despite the social conservatism from Ted Cruz and Mike Pence, The New York Post reports, Male escorts are making crazy money at the RNC:

It’s been a great week for gay escorts in Cleveland.

Male prostitutes contacted by The Post said business is booming and Republican National Convention attendees — most of them married — are clamoring for their services…

The clientele has included mostly married white men between the ages of 40 and 50, said another escort who’s seen eight johns so far…

“The Republicans have a lot of delegates in the closet, let’s put it that way.”

But ladies of the night weren’t reaping the same benefits.

When contacted by The Post, females for hire said they’re making much less money than normal.

Mark Cuban was initially pro-Trump, but has changes is mind. He joined Stephen Colbert in taking the gloves off to bash Donald Trump last night.

If Hillary Clinton is like Lucifer, at least per Ben Carson, Donald Trump is Voldemort. A study has showed that reading Harry Potter books leads to people being more opposed to Donald Trump:

A new study to be published in a special 2016 election issue of PS: Political Science and Politics finds that reading Harry Potter books leads Americans to take a lower opinion of Donald Trump. In fact, the more books the participants read, the greater the effect…

“Because Trump’s political views are widely viewed as opposed to the values espoused in the Harry Potter series,” Mutz writes in the study, “exposure to the Potter series may play an influential role in influencing how Americans respond to Donald Trump.”

To test that explanation for the Harry Potter effect, Mutz focused on three core themes from Harry Potter: The value of tolerance and respect for difference; opposition to violence and punitiveness; and opposition to authoritarianism.

In each case, Mutz points out, Donald Trump’s messages are opposed to the lessons conveyed in Harry Potter and closer to that of his enemy, Lord Voldemort. Examples abound throughout the series:

Harry and his friends advocate for oppressed house-elves and oppose Lord Voldemort’s quest for blood purity among wizards. Harry himself is of mixed wizard/muggle (non-wizard) ancestry. Trump, by contrast, has called for a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration and made offensive comments about outgroups of all kinds, including women, Mexicans, Asians, and those with disabilities.

The Harry Potter series promotes non-violent means of conflict resolution; while Voldemort is willing to kill many times, the books’ protagonists consistently avoid unnecessary curses for killing, torture, or controlling others. Harry even saves the life of his Voldemort-aligned nemesis, Draco Malfoy. Trump, by contrast, has spoken widely about his fondness for waterboarding, and advocates the killing of terrorists’ families as a means of deterrence. He has praised his followers’ acts of violence against protesters at his rallies.

The Harry Potter protagonists work against authoritarian characters in the books.  “As does Voldemort,” Mutz writes, “Trump portrays himself as a strongman who can bend others to his will, be they the Chinese government or terrorists.”

…Mutz’s data also shows that each Harry Potter book read also raised a person’s evaluations of Muslims and homosexuals, two groups chosen to gauge the respondent’s tolerance and respect for difference. Harry Potter also appeared to encourage opposition to punitive policies — gauged by responses to questions about the use of torture, killing terrorists, and support for the death penalty — though the effect size was small.

But reading Harry Potter also engendered opposition to Trump in ways that surpassed the effect of these two themes.

“It may simply be too difficult for Harry Potter readers to ignore the similarities between Trump and the power-hungry Voldemort,” she writes.

Going into the final night of the convention, Donald Trump has also received a lot of criticism for his comments on foreign policy in an interview with The New York Times in which, once again, he shows how little interest he has in facts or details.

I other news, Michelle Obama played Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and, in followup of yesterday’s post, Roger Ailes has left Fox following the charges of sexual harassment. Apparently at News Corp you can get away with trying to screw American democracy, but not Megyn Kelley.

Republican Convention Day 2: Republican Party And Their Chief PR Outlet (Fox) Both Self-Destructing

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey speaks during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

At the second night of the Republican Convention, low lights include Ben Carson comparing Clinton to Lucifer and Chris Christie holding a kangaroo court to convict Hillary Clinton. He was correct on some charges and incorrect on others. If Donald Trump wanted an attack dog as running mate, perhaps Christie should have been the choice. The New York Times has a different take on what Trump was looking for based upon when John Kasich was previously offered the job:

…according to the Kasich adviser (who spoke only under the condition that he not be named), Donald Jr. wanted to make him an offer nonetheless: Did he have any interest in being the most powerful vice president in history?

When Kasich’s adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father’s vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

“Making America great again” was the casual reply.

We don’t know how accurate this is or if the Trump camp made the same offer to Mike Pence, but it is consistent with how I think of Trump. I am not at all surprised that Trump would want to act out the role of President on television, and perhaps have the final say on some matters, but is not interested in the day to day hard work of the job. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. Presumably Pence would know better than to proceed with some of Trump’s strangest, and most unconstitutional, ideas. On the other hand, Pence is far more conservative in some areas where many question how conservative Trump really is, including social issues and foreign policy. It would be a good thing if Trump keeps Pence from meddling in matters such as abortion and gay rights, but there is no way to predict what will happen.

Trump’s convention entrance on Monday provided good material for the late night comics. Stephen Colbert used it inspire his entrance on the show last night.

Jimmy Fallon mocked the entrance, and then went on to give his version of Trump’s speech.

Stephen Colbert also had Melania Trump on to explain the plagiarism charges.

Ailes

As the Republican Party dies on national television, the head of the voice of the GOP, Roger Ailes, is also in serious trouble. Megyn Kelley has joined other women at Fox in accusing Ailes of sexual harassment, and the Murdoch family clearly appears to be siding with Kelley and the others making the accusations. I have long considered Ailes to be far more responsible than Rupert Murdoch for the extreme partisanship of Fox, and as Murdoch’s children are taking an increasingly more significant role in News Corp, we might be seeing the end of Fox as we know it. There is also speculation that some of Fox’s biggest names (i.e. idiots) might leave if Ailes leaves.

Daily Show & Saturday Night Live Mock Clinton, Trump, Carson, and Sanders

Trevor Noah mocked Hillary Clinton for three of her recent gaffes last night, including her bizarre view of history at Nancy Reagan’s funeral:

Clinton’s revisionist assertion — made at Nancy Reagan’s funeral last week — that the Reagans started a national dialogue about AIDS earned her zero points. Instead, Noah said, “The correct answer was any other combination of words.”

“There are so many nice things she could have said about Nancy Reagan, but for some reason she brought up the worst thing,” he continued. “Hillary, you need the LGBT community. They’re the people who started the discussion on AIDS. And because they’re active Democratic voters, they should be your natural ally.”

He also mocked Clinton for denying Bernie Sanders’ role in supporting health care reform in the 1990’s with a picture of Sanders literally standing right behind her, and for telling coal miners she would be putting them out of work, as opposed to saying they would be getting better jobs in renewable energy.

Saturday Night Live showed how Clinton panders to voters by pretending to be a progressive, often copying ideas from Bernie Sanders. She transformed into Sanders during the course of the mock commercial. It ends with, “I’m whoever you want me to be, and I approve this message.”

The cold open on Saturday Night Live began with a mock news report on Ben Carson’s endorsement of Donald Trump, but also included reaction from Larry David as Bernie Sanders. The skit mocked both Sanders and his supporters:

“I want to thank everyone who voted for me, and apologize to everyone else for making your Facebook feed so, so annoying,” Sanders says after CNN’s Jake Tapper (played by Beck Bennett) congratulates him.

“I mean, I love my supporters, but they’re too much, right?” he continues. “I’m great, but I’m not ‘five posts a day’ great. With all due respect to my supporters: Get a life.”

Tapper points out that, Facebook enthusiasm aside, Sanders is still trailing his rival Hillary Clinton, who’s got the advantage in both delegates and “mediocre” superdelegates.

“I have the voters,” Sanders assures Tapper in the clip. “My message is resonating with a very diverse group of white people. And I’ve got supporters of all ages — 18-year-olds, 19-year-olds… eh, that’s it.”

Previous visits by Larry David impersonating Bernie Sanders can be seen herehere and here.

An expanded version has been cross-posted at The Moderate Voice which includes several jokes from late night comics on the candidates, which have also been previously posted here.

Stephen Colbert On Ben Carson & Marco Rubio At The GOP Debate

The top moments of the last Republican debate were Ben Carson’s entrance and Marco Rubio’s robotic repetition of a single line, even after Chris Christie had already started mocking him for this. Stephen Colbert mocked all three Republicans in the video above.

It remains to be seen whether this will hurt Rubio in today’s New Hampshire primary but with the results in as I am posting this it looks like he will do at best third, and possibly worse. However, at the moment, he is leading Christie.

Update: Now that the New Hampshire results are in, we know that this could have been the moment which destroyed Rubio’s chances at winning the nomination.It also might have been a case of murder/suicide for Chis Christie, who has dropped out of the race.

Quote of the Day: Conan O’Brien on Lying Republicans

Conan  Monologue

“Sarah Palin accused Ted Cruz of lying about Ben Carson and stealing the Iowa caucus. This is my favorite thing in politics, when people lie and cheat to get the evangelical Christian vote.” –Conan O’Brien

Down To One Liberal And One Defender Of Civil Liberties In The Presidential Race

Colbert Hungry for Power Games

The number of presidential candidates should drop quickly now that voting has begun. It is not surprising that many of the candidates are waiting to see if they do better than the polls have predicted, which is reasonable considering how poorly polls often are at predicting primary results. Some of the more mainstream candidates are putting their hopes on New Hampshire. For other candidates, a loss in Iowa was enough to tell them that they had no chance.

On the Democratic side, Martin O’Malley announced that he is suspending his campaign while the Iowa caucus was in progress. It has been clear for months that O’Malley had no real chance with the conservative/establishment voters going for Clinton and the liberal/pro-insurgent voters going for Sanders. There was no middle lane for O’Malley, who certainly would be a far better choice than Clinton. He campaigned hard in Iowa, and there was no point in continuing once this failed to result in support at the caucuses. This leaves Bernie Sanders as the only liberal or progressive left in the race from either party.

For the Republicans, the Iowa caucus is the best shot for a candidate from the religious right to win, as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have done in the past. Republicans this year are bucking their usual trend of backing the next in line, with Ted Cruz winning this year. Huckabee at least deserves credit for realizing there is no hope and not dragging it on any longer. I wonder how much longer Rick Santorum and Ben Carson will stay in the race.

Rand Paul dropped out today, realizing it made more sense to work at holding on to his Senate seat, especially when he is increasingly being excluded from the Republican debates. While I disagree with Paul on many things, I did like having Paul criticizing the other candidates for their conservative positions on military interventionism, civil liberties, and the drug war. For that matter, while he has done so at times, I also wish Bernie Sanders would do the same regarding Clinton’s views.

With Paul out, this leaves Sanders as the only candidate opposing unnecessary foreign intervention, the only candidate opposing the surveillance state and other restrictions on civil liberties, and the only candidate who opposes the drug war. By concentrating on economic issues, where he also differs substantially from all the remaining candidates, other issues are receiving too little attention this year.

Stephen Colbert did not do his usual segment on Hungry For Power Games last night, concentrating on the caucus instead. Now he has three candidates to mock tonight.

Update: Rick Santorum is also dropping out.

Iowa Caucus Comes Down To Turnout & Peculiarities Of A Caucus Versus A Primary

Iowa Caucus

(This is based upon Saturday’s post with major updates, also posted at The Moderate Voice  earlier today)

The Democratic caucus in Iowa is too close to call and will come down to turnout, along with other factors seen in a caucus as opposed to a primary. The final Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Poll before the Iowa Caucus showed Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders with 45 percent compared to 42 percent. The three point lead is within the poll’s margin of error at four percent. Martin O’Malley trails at three percent.

The final Quinnipiac University Poll, coming out this morning, has Sanders leading Clinton by three points, also within the margin of error.

While I have often pointed out the limitations of polls before primaries, the final Des Moines Register poll is probably the most likely to be predictive. Among its virtues, it does not exclude voters based upon past lack of participation in the caucuses as many other polls do. While it has a better track record than other polls, it still suffers from the same problem of all pollsters in not knowing who will actually turn out. Traditional Democratic voters favor Clinton while more independent voters strongly favor Sanders, but we don’t know how many of them will participate in the caucuses. Higher turn out than usual would increase the chances of a victory for Sanders.

Being a caucus rather than a pure primary vote creates additional questions. A candidate has to meet a fifteen percent threshold for their vote to count towards selecting delegates in the Democratic caucus. If they do not meet this threshold, then the second choice becomes crucial. Greater support for Sanders than Clinton among O’Malley supporters nearly erases Clinton’s lead if the votes go to Sanders. However, Buzzfeed reports on how the Clinton campaign is trying to game the system by having some of their supporters back O’Malley so that he will meet the fifteen percent viability requirement to keep his supporters from going to Sanders. Of course plotting such a strategy and getting Iowa voters to go along are two different things. I recall how Clinton protested over similar actions by the Obama campaign eight yeas ago.

Bloomberg has more background on Clinton’s strategy in Iowa–basically doing the opposite of what she did in 2008.

Another question is the consequence of the difference in date for the caucus this year compared to 2008, when Obama came in first and Clinton came in third. The 2008 caucus occurred on January 3, when many college students were still on vacation, and possibly out of the state. Will having the caucus occur after students have returned to school provide an additional benefit to Sanders? On the other hand, will college students be more likely to caucus near their campus as opposed to at homes throughout Iowa. There is the danger that this will lead to Sanders having huge leads in some areas, such as Iowa City and Ames, while not doing as well as Obama did in other parts of the state. This could result in Clinton picking up more delegates statewide even if Sanders narrowly wins the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is urging students to “Go Home for Bernie” to vote throughout the state but such travel plans might be complicated by a major storm expected to hit Iowa later tonight.

With turnout so important, Sanders supporters hope that the large turnout at his events indicate a greater likelihood of turning out to caucus.

Donald Trump leads among the Republicans at 28 percent with Ted Cruz in second place at 23 percent in the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Poll. However, Trump has a weak ground game making it possible for an upset. I also wouldn’t be surprised if candidates such as Rubio, or even Ben Carson, do better than expected. The usually confident Trump is admitting to being a “little bit nervous” going into tonight’s vote.

Bernie Sanders On The Nightly Show

Bernie Sanders was on The Nightly Show last night, coming out right after a brief segment on the skywriting about Donald Trump at the Rose Parade. Above is the extended version of  Larry Wilmore’s interview with Sanders.

Above is the extended video of the panel, with Bernie Sanders included.

The usual serious topics from interviews with Sanders came up on the show, including his views on income inequality, ISIS, climate change, gun control, and social justice. Sanders pointed out how he is taking on the establishment and compared himself to Hillary Clinton on Iraq and foreign policy, also warning of the danger of perpetual warfare in the middle east.

Less serious subjects also came up, such as a mock promise to put a Ben and Jerry’s bar in every household as opposed to a chicken in every pot. Referring to Donald Trump (during the interview) and Ben Carson (during the panel discussion), Larry asked Bernie whether Donald Trump should be “schlonged” and if Bernie every stabbed anyone.

Related Posts:

Late Night Television: Jon Stewart Does Donald Trump Impression & Presidential Candidates Condemn Trump For Proposed Muslim Ban

Stephen Colbert, Larry David, and Bill Maher On Bernie Sanders & The Democratic Race

Outrageous Statements From Donald Trump Distract From Serious Flaws In Other Conservative Candidates (Including Clinton)

Trumps and Clintons

One of the many problems with Donald Trump’s outrageous statements (undoubtedly made more to attract attention and support from a certain segment of the Republican Party than out of conviction) is that it might be making people fail to realize that many other candidates running also have positions which in a normal year might disqualify them from serious consideration. This is most clearly true within the Republican Party, but Hillary Clinton also benefits from the non-stop vulgar and sexist attacks on her from Trump. Donald Trump’s views make the flaws in the other candidates look far less significant in comparison, but there remains reasons why other candidates would be unacceptable as president.

Politico looked at The Wild Ideas You Missed While Donald Trump Was Talking, finding that many people are not noticing extreme views from other Republican candidates when Trump gets most of the attention:

The good news for Republicans, arguably, is that their rhetoric has been so consistently over-the-top that it has started to sound routine; academics call this “shifting the Overton window,” the range of what’s considered politically acceptable. I’ve watched all the debates as well as the undercards live, but when I reviewed the transcripts, I was amazed how many radical statements had slipped under my radar. Ted Cruz called for putting the United States back on the gold standard. Marco Rubio accused President Barack Obama of destroying the U.S. military. Huckabee said Bernie Madoff’s rip-offs weren’t as bad as what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare. Lindsey Graham said his administration would monitor all “Islamic websites,” not just jihadist ones. I had even forgotten Trump’s claim that vaccines caused autism in a 2-year-old girl he knew.

Vaccines do not cause autism. Goldbuggery is crackpot economics. The U.S. military is still by far the strongest in the world. And what the government has done to people on Social Security and Medicare is give them pensions and health care. But none of those statements drew any pushback from the other Republican candidates, or, for that matter, the media moderators. Neither did Ben Carson’s assertion that if the United States had set a goal of oil independence within a decade, moderate Arab states would have “turned over Osama bin Laden and anybody else you wanted on a silver platter within two weeks,” which is wackadoodle on multiple levels.

On the other hand, the Republican debates do present an extremely distorted view of Obama’s record, with nobody present to present the facts:

These are presumably winning messages in a Republican primary. It’s not clear whether they would be in a general election. The reality of the Obama era, for all its warts, is that unemployment has dropped to 5 percent, the deficit has shrunk by two thirds, illegal immigration has plateaued, far fewer U.S. soldiers are dying abroad and Americans are more likely to be killed by lightning than by terrorists at home. The question is whether the run-for-your-lives talking points will crash into statistical reality, or whether they will gradually help create a new political reality.

The Republicans do deserve some credit for being willing to display their views in public. The article does chastise the Democrats here in concluding that the Republicans are “acting like a confident party—perhaps an overconfident party—while the Democrats are acting like they’ve lost their feck.”

In reality, it is the Clinton campaign (which only wanted four debates) and the DNC, which expanded the number to six but hid most of them on nights when few would be watching, which are acting cowardly. Both Sanders and O’Malley have been pushing for more debates. I also think that Clinton has benefited from the exaggerated coverage paid to Trump. If not for his unexpected success in the Republican race, the big story of the year might be Sanders’ challenge to Clinton. After all, Sanders does beat Trump in head to head contests–and often by a larger margin than Clinton does.

Clinton benefits in other ways from Trump being in the race. The large number of lies from Trump dominated the year-end report from Factcheck.org. This led to a fairly long list of lies from Clinton being less obvious, posted further down in the story after Trump’s lies.

The concentration by the media on outrageous comments from Trump distracts from talk about the unethical conduct from Clinton, as well has the poor judgment she has shown throughout her career. Most importantly, it distracts from a more thorough look at Clinton’s views, including her neoconservative views on foreign policy, her conservative views on social/cultural issues, and her turn to the right on economic issues and health care. It also might be kept in mind that, with all his unacceptable statements and views, Donald Trump did oppose the Iraq war which Clinton pushed so hard for, and which turned out to be a disaster.