Rachel Maddow had Twitter excited yesterday evening when she tweeted: “BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC. (Seriously)” I was immediately suspicious as to whether she really had anything. After all, MSNBC pretends to be a news channel. If they really had a major scoop, they would have announced it at the time on whatever show was on. Instead they used this to build excitement for Maddow’s show, and then waited until after the first break to show what they had.
It turned out that she had virtually nothing. All she had was two pages from Trump’ 2005 tax return which showed that he reported an income of $150 million and pain $38 million in federal income taxes. If anything this helps Trump, debunking claims from Hillary Clinton that Trump has “paid nothing in federal taxes.” There was certainly nothing here linking him to Russia. The little information released was so favorable to Trump that some are speculating that Trump was behind the “leak” of these two pages.
We did learn that Trump has taken legal deductions to legally minimize his taxes. Shocking. I do that too (even if not on the level which Trump is able to). He has also supported elimination of the alternate minimum tax. A wealthy Republican wanting to change the tax laws to reduce taxes on the wealthy is hardly a scoop.
Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia remains an open question. There have certainly been some items to raise questions, such as the incidents involving Jeff Sessions and Mike Flynn. It does appear that many who have spoken with the Russian ambassador, including advisers to Clinton as well as Trump, have been Retconned into forgetting the meeting.
Thomas Wood has put together an impressive “Russiagate Timeline.” There is certainly enough smoke to demand an investigation, including a review of Trump’s tax returns. However, despite claims from Clinton supporters, there is zero evidence of the key question of whether there was any coordination between Trump and Russia to influence the election.
Are more likely than those in other ideological groups to block or “defriend” someone on a social network – as well as to end a personal friendship – because of politics.
Are more likely to follow issue-based groups, rather than political parties or candidates, in their Facebook feeds.
It certainly comes as no surprise that conservatives are likely to follow Fox, which essentially means they are receiving the talking points of the Republican Party, with little regard for facts. While only 47 percent specifically cite Fox, I often find that conservatives are reciting the exact same talking points even if they deny watching Fox. Most likely they are following other conservative media which repeats the exact same message.
It also is no surprise that liberals are more interested in finding objective information and turn to a variety of sources such as NPR and The New York Times. Conservatives distrust media which doesn’t echo their viewpoints (even though, as Stephen Colbert has explained, “reality has a well-known liberal bias”). It is also not surprising that, while conservatives follow outlets with more overt political propaganda, liberals do not show as high an interest in MSNBC, and paid even less attention to Air America before it went out of business. This is not to say they are a mirror of Fox. MSNBC is far more factual when presenting liberal views. The point is that liberals are much more likley to seek an objective news source as opposed to listening to opinion.
When media outlets are examined by the ideology of viewers and readers, MSNBC’s audience is barely more liberal than the audience for CNN and the broadcast networks. Conservative outlets such as Politico and The Economist have a more liberal following than MSNBC. This might be because, while we generally think of MSNBC’s liberal evening shows, the network carries more objective news during the day. In the morning it runs a show hosted by conservative Joe Scarborough and, until he moved to Meet The Press, Scarborough was followed by another conservative, Chuck Todd. MSNBC’s overall audience is presumably different from their evening audience.
Buzzfeed is the least trusted source, but I suspect that this is because of not being well-known, or perhaps not being taken as seriously, as opposed to an ideological divide. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck follow as the least trusted, and Ed Schultz’s show is the least trusted liberal program.
As the Republican Party is now an ideological conservative party, it is also expected that conservatives are more likely than liberals to follow a political party. The authoritarian mind set which is common on the right might also make them more likely to follow a party, although conservatives have never been shy about complaining when they think the GOP is not conservative enough. Lacking a consistent liberal party in this country, it is expected that liberals are more likely to follow issues as opposed to the Democratic Party.
Initially I was surprised to see that liberals are more likely to defriend based upon ideology, but it makes sense as I think about my own experiences. I have some conservative Facebook friends who I have no reason to consider defriending, but have defriended other conservatives (along with some on the left). While I have certainly run into some on the left who are every bit as obnoxious as those on the right, ideologues on the right are often more likely to attempt to spread their views with a religious fervor. Arguments coming from the right are less likely to rely on facts or logical arguments, and much more likely to resort to insults.
This difference extends to the real world. While I have never ended a true friendship over politics, there are neighbors who I could never be friends with due to politics. I certainly have no use personally for those neighbors who have told my wife that she would go to Hell for having a Kerry sign in our front yard, or who have harassed my daughter in parking lots due to the Darwin Fish sticker on her car. While the experience of others might differ, I don’t see this type of fanaticism from liberals.
Hillary Clinton appears to have unofficially begun her campaign in Iowa over the past weekend, and the response from the right is loud and clear: “Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi.” The right wing Heritage Foundation put out an old, meaningless story by Sharyl Attkisson which made it to the top of Memeorandum thanks to all the right wing blogs repeating it.
Even Glenn Beck’s web site, The Blaze, did a better job of giving the other side of the story:
The State Department on Monday rejected a report saying that senior officials purposely withheld sensitive documents from the group that was investigating the 2012 attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Earlier in the day, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal reported that senior officials worked to identify and withhold potentially damaging documents from the Accountability Review Board, which was investigating the incident. That story said former Deputy Assistance Secretary Ray Maxwell watched State Department officials and even some top aides to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sift through documents.
But when asked about that report, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf rejected the entire story, and said the ARB had open access to all documents.
“The ARB had full and direct access to State Department employees and documents,” she told reporters. “Any accounts to the contrary, like that one you mentioned, are completely without merit, completely ill-informed.”
“These reports show a complete lack of understanding of how the ARB functioned,” she added.
Harf said the ARB had the authority to collect documents directly from “anybody in the department,” and said everyone in the department was told to provide documents to the body directly.
“That’s what happened,” she said, adding that ARB’s own cochairmen have said they had “unfettered access to all the information they needed, period.”
Otherwise reporting fell along ideological grounds as expected. Fox reported this as being news, and Media Matters debunked the story:
…Attkisson’s report has several flaws. It is based solely on conjecture from Maxwell, who does not claim and cannot prove that any documents were withheld from the ARB in its investigation, but rather only speculates about the fate of the documents that were reviewed.
The State Department has already denied Maxwell’s speculation in a statement to Attkisson — State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach called “the implication that documents were withheld ‘totally without merit,'” emphasizing that the “range of sources that the ARB’s investigation drew on would have made it impossible for anyone outside of the ARB to control its access to information.” Other allegations that the ARB investigation was biased have been repeatedly disproven.
Maxwell himself is a dubious source. He was placed on administrative leave after the Accountability Review Board’s investigation found a “lack of proactive leadership” and pointed specifically to Maxwell’s department, saying some officials in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs “showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi’s security issues.” A House Oversight Committee report released findings from the classified version of the ARB report, which revealed that the ARB’s board members “were troubled by the NEA DAS for Maghreb Affairs’ lack of leadership and engagement on staffing and security issues in Benghazi.”
Disgruntled over being “the only official in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which had responsibility for Libya, to lose his job,” Maxwell spoke to The Daily Beast in May 2013 in an attempt to “restore” his “honor.” Maxwell, who had filed official grievances regarding his treatment, expressed anger that Mills — the same staff member Maxwell speculated was involved in hiding potentially damaging documents — “reneged” on a deal to eventually bring Maxwell back to the NEA after his leave.
Attkisson, too, has been roundly discredited and is well known for her shoddy reporting, both during her time at CBS News and after leaving the network. Attkisson supported CBS’ disastrous Benghazi reporting, for which the network ultimately had to apologize and retract. And CBS executives reportedly saw her as “wading dangerously close to advocacy on the issue.”
Fox’s adoption of this story as a major new development is not surprising given the network’s history of relying on discredited Benghazihoaxsters and using “bombshell” to describe everything but new developments in the story.
There are plenty of real reasons to criticize Clinton, but the right wing is hardly going to criticize her for being overly hawkish, conservative on civil liberties, or for being too cozy with Wall Street. Instead they have to resort to continuing to raise the disproven Benghazi attacks.
Polls have generally showed self-identified conservatives outnumbering liberals, with a recent slight increase in the number of liberals. I have often speculated that this is largely due to the success the right wing noise machine has had in demonizing the word liberal. Americans come out more liberal than would be expected by these poll findings when we look at individual issues.
While the pendulum swings both ways, the trend has been toward more liberal policies over the years. Most people wouldn’t think of returning to the days of child labor. Medicare and Social Security are deeply entrenched, to the point that even when Republicans vote for ending Medicare as we know it they realize they have to hide what they are doing. Recent polls show increases in the number of people who support legalization of same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana. A majority even supports the individual components of Obamacare when asked without identifying the policy as Obamacare.
John Sides reviewed a recent book to argue that many conservatives are really liberals:
In Ideology in America, Christopher Ellis and James Stimson describe a striking disjuncture. When identifying themselves in a word, Americans choose “conservative” far more than “liberal.” In fact they have done so for 70 years, and increasingly so since the early 1960s.
But when it comes to saying what the government should actually do, the public appears more liberal than conservative. Ellis and Stimson gathered 7,000 survey questions dating back to 1956 that asked some variant of whether the government should do more, less, or the same in lots of different policy areas. On average, liberal responses were more common than conservative responses. This has been true in nearly every year since 1956, even as the relative liberalism of the public has trended up and down. For decades now there has been a consistent discrepancy between what Ellis and Stimson call symbolic ideology (how we label ourselves) and operational ideology (what we really think about the size of government).
Looked at this way, almost 30 percent of Americans are “consistent liberals” — people who call themselves liberals and have liberal politics. Only 15 percent are “consistent conservatives” — people who call themselves conservative and have conservative politics. Nearly 30 percent are people who identify as conservative but actually express liberal views. The United States appears to be a center-right nation in name only.
This raises the question: why are so many people identifying as conservative while simultaneously preferring more government? For some conservatives, it is because they associate the label with religion, culture or lifestyle. In essence, when they identify as “conservative,” they are thinking about conservatism in terms of family structure, raising children, or interpreting the Bible. Conservatism is about their personal lives, not their politics.
But other self-identified conservatives, though, are conservative in terms of neither religion and culture nor the size of government. These are the truly “conflicted conservatives,” say Ellis and Stimson, who locate their origins in a different factor: how conservatives and liberals have traditionally talked about politics. Conservatives, they argue, talk about politics in terms of symbols and the general value of “conservatism” — and news coverage, they find, usually frames the label “conservative” in positive terms. Liberals talk about policy in terms of the goals it will serve — a cleaner environment, a stronger safety net, and so on — which are also good things for many people. As a result, some people internalize both messages and end up calling themselves conservative but having liberal views on policy.
Ideology has two faces: the labels people choose and the actual content of their beliefs. For liberals, these are mostly aligned. For conservatives, they are not. American conservatism means different things to different people. For many, what it doesn’t mean is less government.
This idea that nearly 30 percent of self-identified conservative are really liberals would explain the increased support for liberal positions despite a majority identifying themselves as conservatives.
There are some limitations to this, largely due to problems with these labels. It seems to use a simplistic definition of liberals as being for more government and conservatives being for less, but that does not really explain the differences. There are many areas where I am for less government. There is nowhere that I support more government for the sake of more government.
I supported the Affordable Care Act because financing of health care is an area where the market has failed, as insurance companies found it more profitable to find ways to collect increased premiums while finding ways to avoid paying out claims. Conservatives opposed the Affordable Care Act based upon greatly-exaggerated arguments that it is more government (ignoring its similarities to health plans previously advocated by conservatives). Republicans widely supported an individual mandate to buy health insurance until this became part of the plan supported by Barack Obama (who ran against Hillary Clinton opposing the individual mandate). Similarly, conservatives previously supported ideas comparable to the health care exchanges.
On the other hand, conservatives support more big government when it comes to military spending, mandatory vaginal probes, and other intrusions into the private lives of individuals. Even Ron Paul, who voted no on virtually any spending by the federal government, would allow for far greater government restrictions on individual liberties if it came from the state or local level.
Another problem is a concentration on economic issues and the size of government, as misleading as those issues can be in assigning labels. How would they classify someone who wants to ban abortion, limit access to contraception, opposes same-sex marriage, and supports everyone carrying a concealed weapon, but doesn’t follow the entire Republican line on economic policy? I bet a lot of self-identified conservatives would have no real opposition to a modest tax increase on the wealthy and increasing some government economic regulations (especially if they don’t affect them personally) while holding a number of other conservative positions.
Today many are self-identified conservatives based upon social issues. This didn’t always identify conservatism. Barry Goldwater was a strong opponent of the religious right. He sure called it right in 1994:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
Or maybe they just like being members of the club. They like to listen to people like Glenn Beck and agree with what they say. However Beck has previously described himself as “a rodeo clown” and conceded, “If you take what I say as gospel, you’re an idiot.”
The New York Daily News reports that trade organizations are warning of an impending national clown shortage, blaming it on a “lack of wannabe Bozos.”
I fail to see a problem here. There are plenty of wannabe Bozos out there. Just turn on the radio. Glenn Beck has even described himself as a rodeo clown. What about Limbaugh? Plus there’s pretty much the entire “news” department at Fox, not to mention almost the entire Republican Party.
Texas Republicans, with their usual strong support for owning guns and opposition to women owning their own bodies, recently tried to push through a bill to restrict abortion rights. When Democrats pushed for an exception in case of rape or incest, Republican Representative Jody Laubenberg made this claim for why it is not necessary: “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
Let the kids be innocent. Let them dream. Let them play. Let them enjoy their life. You don’t have to force this sexuality stuff into their life at such a point. It was never intended to be that way. They’ll find out soon enough. And, in fact, … mankind has existed for a pretty long time without anyone ever having to give a sex-ed lesson to anybody. And now we feel like, oh gosh, people are too stupid to unless we force them to sit and listen to instructions. It’s just incredible.
And there is a natural law that parents should be involved in education, they should know about, they should be part of the training – that’s a law of nature; Alan Keyes was just talking about it this weekend when we were together. That is such an important part of nature and yet that is the very thing that some of these liberals want to take away.
And it reminds me so much of the summer that I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union back in the Seventies and I was shocked when they were saying ‘no, the children don’t belong to parents, they belong to the state.’ And if any parent said anything in front of their children negative about the wonderful Soviet Union, then we will take their children away and give them to somebody more deserving. And I just thought how horribly shocking that was, that of course parents were the ones who love the children, not the state. And I thought thank God that we don’t have that in our country.
And now I’ve seen this coming with a lady from MSNBC saying “hey, children belong to the state” … and it just sent chills because it took me back to the Seventies when that’s what the Soviet Union used to say and we know how well that worked out.
Ignoring the idiocy about the Soviet Union, is Gohmert aware of all the misconceptions floating around about contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases? Mankind dealt with lack of education for a long time. It was bad enough when this led to syphilis. Now we have to contend with HIV.
Those who haven’t watched Hannibal may want to skip down below as there are some major spoilers here. The first season of Hannibal ended with a scene which was sort of a reverse image from Silence of the Lambs with Will in the prison for the criminally insane. Looking back, this ending seemed almost inevitable, but I am glad we didn’t actually see Abigail’s death. As for Will, it appears that having been framed for her murder is a problem which will not be resolved quickly. Bryan Fuller gave some hints as to where next season will go:
Jack conveniently comes in after Will accuses Hannibal of all the murders. Would Jack have been swayed if he had heard Will’s thoughts? Fuller: In Season 2, Jack will be investigating those accusations. I think after Will woke up from getting shot by Jack and before he was put into the institution, he shared his theories about Hannibal. Now it’s up to those characters and Hannibal Lecter to either support or deny those accusations in a properly investigated way.
Do you intend to keep Will locked up for a while?
Fuller: He will be incarcerated, and we will be dealing with all of the threads of that. We need to see all of the things happen that would happen in that scenario. Will Graham needs to go on trial for the murders that he may or may not have committed. Jack has to be brought before a review board for his participation in what happened to Will, and Hannibal, as Will’s psychiatrist, is going to continue to try to help Will see the truth that Hannibal wants him to see. The ball is up in the air in so many ways for Jack and Hannibal and Will. The fun of Season 2 will be spiking those balls…
From the beginning, you made it clear you were telling your own story, but do you fear that this choice will alienate some of the diehard Red Dragon fans?
Fuller: If you look at the scant two pages that talk about Will Graham’s back story, they tell us that Will was so psychologically compromised from investigating the Minnesota Shrike that he had to become institutionalized. So, I feel like I’ve got a car jack and I’ve wedged it in between those lines. I’ve just opened them up for room to tell more between the lines than what you may have anticipated. But we’re also sticking to the canon. We will deliver what we’ve come to expect in Red Dragon of Will Graham, but he’ll just have a longer, harder journey to get there. I gave myself room to wiggle, so we’re going to see some wiggling in the next two seasons.
Bryan Fuller revealed his seven year plan for Hannibal, getting into the novels by season four. Beware, this contains spoilers for the books as well as future seasons.
AX: How many seasons do you have plotted?
FULLER: I can see pretty clearly seven seasons. I think that there are always shifts and alterations and course corrections that you have to take, because you’ll be cruising along and then you’ll hit an idea and go, “Oh, wow, that’s a great idea, we have to do that now.” That being said, I can see the structure for a seven-season arc for the show, but then I also am very open to course corrections along the way to adapt to changes.
AX: If you don’t get to run for seven seasons, are you going to make available to the public in some form what the unaired seasons would have been?
FULLER: Well, when you get into Season Four, you get into the literature. And so Season Four would be RED DRAGON, Season Five would be the SILENCE OF THE LAMBS era, Season Six would be the HANNIBAL era, and then Season Seven would be a resolve to the ending of that book. HANNIBAL ends on a cliffhanger. Hannibal Lecter has bonded with Clarice Starling and brainwashed her and they are now quasi-lovers and off as fugitives, and so that’s a cliffhanger. It might be interesting to resolve that in some way and to bring Will Graham back into the picture. So once we get two more seasons, say, of the television show, those are the aren’t-novelized stories, and then we would get into expansions of the novels after that and kind of using the novels as a backbone for season arcs that would then be kind of enhanced.
AX: Assuming you cover the eras of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL, when Will Graham isn’t a character in the books, what do you do with Hugh Dancy for those two seasons?
FULLER: Well, it would be about incorporating him in a way that he hasn’t been incorporated in the books, because Will Graham was only mentioned in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, he was not seen, and so I would be curious to see what happens to Will Graham after RED DRAGON. By the time of RED DRAGON, he’s married to Molly and has her son from a previous marriage, but doesn’t have any children of his own. And then that relationship is more complicated by Francis Dolarhyde and there were suggestions that there was a not-so-happy ending for Will Graham after RED DRAGON because he has his face carved up and you wonder what’s going to happen to Will now, and I’m curious to see what happens to Will after that.
Last month, BBC One set Matthew Rhys to play Mr. Darcy in Death Comes To Pemberley, the three-part serial based on P.D. James’ suspense novel which revisits Jane Austen’s most iconic characters. A vast lineup of British TV talent has now been added to the cast, including Doctor Who star Jenna-Louise Coleman as Lydia Wickham, the sister of Austen’s Pride And Prejudice heroine Elizabeth Bennett. As previously announced, Anna Maxwell Martin is playing Bennett and Matthew Goode is George Wickham, Lydia’s husband. The story picks up six years into Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage as they prepare for their annual ball. When Lydia arrives, she brings a shocking halt to the proceedings and a murder investigation unfolds.
It looks like there may be no truth to the rumors reported last week of finds of more lost episodes of Doctor Who. They are being described as destroyed rather than lost, which doesn’t sound very encouraging.
Joss Whedon says Loki won’t be appearing in The Avengers 2. More importantly, Robert Downey, Jr. will be back for The Avengers 2 and 3. Like we really thought there was any chance they would do it without Tony Stark, or anyone else could replace him. At present chances don’t look good for another Iron Man movie. More Marvel movie news here.
Shailene Woodley’s role as Mary Jane Watson has been cut from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and MJ won’t appear until the third film. Maybe this means that the rumors that Gwen doesn’t get killed off in the second movie are true.
Filming on the Veronica Mars movie has begun. I’m looking forward to getting my digital copy when the movie opens due to contributing to the Kickstart campaign.
The scene went to black for James Gandolfini in the past week. It looks like he was way too busy to die. Here’s a list of his unfinished work. Apparently the Grim Reaper isn’t a fan. Some of Tony Soprano’s best quotes can be found here.
Last week we looked at the combination of Disney and Marvel characters. This week we’ll look back at prints by Karen Hallion combining Doctor Who and Disney princesses and other stories. (More here). Incidentally, Disney recently had a coronation for their eleventh princess. Eleven Disney princesses. Eleven Doctors. Sounds suspicious to me. Glenn Beck has devised elaborate conspiracy theories based upon less.
Rush Limbaugh received a lot of criticism for calling Sandra Fluke a slut and many advertisers dropped his show. I hadn’t heard anything about this in a while and thought that over time the issue might have been forgotten. According to Medialite, major advertisers are still avoiding Rush Limbaugh:
As we reported earlier this morning, Rush Limbaugh is allegedly in the midst of a battle with Cumulus Media, the distributor of his radio show. The company’s CEO has blamed ad revenue losses on the conservative talkers’ controversial 2012 “slut” comments about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke.
Mediaite’s own sources confirm that the ad troubles in connection with Limbaugh’s show are, indeed, severe. In fact, one source within the radio advertising world with direct knowledge of the ad buys on Limbaugh’s show confirms the extent of the problem: “The vast majority of national advertisers now refuse to air their ads during Rush Limbaugh’s show,” our source tells us.
Limbaugh’s contract with Cumulus runs through 2013. Will he suffer the same fate as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin at Fox? If Limbaugh leaves Cumulus he presumably will have other opportunities, but driving away advertisers would reduce his appeal to other radio outlets.
“I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” — Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell (R)
Right Wing Watch quotes Glenn Beck on a rant about a cover-up of a Saudi tie to the Boston Bombings and quotes Bryan Fischer as proposing an immigration policy to ban anyone who believes the “Quran is the holy book of God.”
“Con men like Rush and Beck are one reason the Republicans are in such dire straits today. Because they don’t care about winning elections. They care about separating rubes from their money. They’ve discovered there’s a fortune to be made by keeping a small portion of America under the illusion that they are always under attack. From Mexicans, or ACORN, or Planned Parenthood, or gays, or takers, global warming hoaxers; it doesn’t matter. They don’t want a majority. They want a mailing list, a list of the kind of gullible Honey Boo Boos out there who think that there’s a War on Christmas, and that the socialist policies of our Kenyan President have been so disastrous that the end of the world is coming.” –Bill Maher