It’s Alex Jones’ party now

The Florida Republican Party promotes a conspiracy theory spread by InfoWars:

Yes, some Democratic partisans – most notably at Salon, the website where the stuff too kooky for university student newspapers ends up – believed that George W. Bush was wearing an earpiece during the 2004 Presidential debates.  But to the best of my knowledge, the Democratic Party never signed off on such nonsense.

By legitimizing InfoWars, the Florida GOP has legitimized a “news” organization which accuses a GOP President of complicity in the most devastating terror attacks in American history.  That probably doesn’t matter to the neo-Nazis and other fringe characters who’ve jumped on the Trump Train – in fact, it’s probably a selling point – but it does illustrate the degree to which the old Republican establishment have debased themselves.

With a few honourable exceptions like Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney, most Republicans have gone all-in on their barely coherent, conspiracy-addled, deadbeat nominee for President.  Even Ted Cruz, after taking that “heroic” stand against him in Cleveland, had to kiss the ring.  Trump may not be a “conservative” in the traditional sense, but you can’t say he’s not a “real” Republican.  He has redefined Republicanism to mean whatever he says it means – and whatever Alex Jones and the rest of the kook brigade report.

If you had told me in 1994 – or 2004, or even 2014 –  I’d someday support Hillary Clinton for President,  I would have laughed in your face.  But here we are.

The anti-Trump closet

Buzzfeed quotes several Republican strategists who are secretly terrified that their Presidential nominee actually has a shot at winning:

For months, the prevailing wisdom within GOP political circles has been that Donald Trump stands little chance to win in November — and a large number of the party’s consultants, fundraisers, and operatives privately preferred it that way. Though many of them are reluctant to say so in public, they argue that a Trump presidency would fracture their party, decimate the conservative movement, and wreak havoc on the global economy (not to mention their own industry).

But now, with polls tightening and Hillary Clinton’s illness temporarily sidelining her from the campaign trail, those Republicans are expressing alarm at Trump’s sudden electoral viability.

“It’s terrifying,” said one GOP consultant, who like others spoke to BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity. “He’s not qualified … and it’s a massive problem. I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but at least I feel like some of those jobs that are required for president, she could do them.”

“It would be terrible for America, and for the world,” said another Republican strategist, referring to a prospective Trump victory. “I can’t think of one good thing that would come of it.”

A third Republican said that after watching the Clinton campaign’s missteps in recent days, “I’m curled up in the fetal position watching The West Wing and drinking a basketful of deplorable liquor.”

If Trump is a threat not just to American but to the entire world, why won’t they go public with their warnings?

Asked why they wouldn’t go on record criticizing Trump, several Republicans said they were worried about professional repercussions from conservative clients. In the meantime, many of them are preparing to do something they once considered unthinkable: pulling the lever for Hillary.

“I live in a swing state,” said one consultant. “If it’s close, I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton. I’ll regret doing it. It’ll be the first time on a presidential level that I’ll be voting for a Democrat. But I feel like it’s my obligation as an American to do it.”

After Ted Cruz, bless him, struck at King Donald in the most public forum imaginable, I thought we might see more Republicans follow his lead.  Sadly, it looks like most GOP partisans decided their consultant jobs are worth more than their souls.

The blue sunglasses conspiracy

Behold the latest conspiracy theory burning up the pro-Trump twittersphere:


As it turns out, I also have access to the medical encyclopedia known as google, and this is what I found out about blue-tinted sunglasses:

Blue-tinted lenses are endorsed by the USPTA for tennis professionals and were provided to linepersons in the 2000 French Open. Blue is a contrast lens and reduces glare from visible white light (such as light reflected from mist, fog, snow, water).

Team Hillary has handled this past weekend very poorly – in retrospect, her pneumonia diagnosis should have been revealed once she received it. But there’s no more evidence that she suffers from “seizures” than there is that she’s a professional tennis player.

Meanwhile, Trump’s doctor wrote his “medical report” in five minutes, as the candidate’s limo waited outside his office, and admits that he “picked up his kind of language and then just interpreted it to my own.”

Mainstreaming Holocaust deniers

Just a few months after the University of Toronto hosted frothing Jew-hater Ken O’Keefe, the Commons – a “movement building space” in Brooklyn – was the setting for a 9/11 conspiracy presentation by Chris Bollyn:

At a trendy community space in Brooklyn, a controversial 9/11 conspiracy theorist spoke Wednesday to a group of around two dozen listeners about the “Zionist war agenda” that he says was behind the attack 15 years ago that killed 3,000.

The crowd filed past a sleek bar serving drinks, some carrying Palestinian flags and flyers that read, “9-11: Do You Believe? Or Do You Question?” Some said they had come to the author Christopher Bollyn for answers.

“The Zionist war agenda waged by the U.S. was the primary reason for 9/11,” Bollyn told the crowd at the Brooklyn Commons, a “movement building space” in the gentrifying Boerum Hill neighborhood. Bollyn led the audience through a plodding, footnoted slide show which lasted more than two hours.


Inside, Bollyn made his way through his talk, showing what he believes are patterns showing that Israelis and Zionist Jews have been key people at every point in the 9/11 story.

“When you look at the 9/11 crime, the creation and promotion of the war on terror and the cover up — the key people are Zionist or Israelis,” he said earlier. “Why are these high-level American Zionist and Israelis covering up the crime?”

To be clear, Chris Bollyn isn’t just a conspiracy theorist or even just a Holocaust revisionist.  He’s an actual neo-Nazi:

Bollyn has also written numerous other articles on his website that accuse Jews of controlling the media and government. Bollyn has attended Holocaust denial conferences in the U.S. and one in Russia in 2002.  He is a former writer for the anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented newspaper American Free Press and its predecessor, The Spotlight, both published by anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Willis Carto.  American Free Press fired Bollyn in 2006, after accusing him of submitting false stories and of disloyalty to the paper.

Chris Bollyn was too crazy for Willis Carto, but he’s acceptable for the Brooklyn Commons.  Several progressive activists protested his appearance, but the founder doesn’t see what the big deal is all about:

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow each issued individual statements calling on the Commons to pull the speaker. But Melissa Ennen, who founded the space in 2010, stuck by the decision to host Bollyn, saying the Commons was never meant to be a “cozy space” only for progressives.

Let’s see the Young Republicans try to book space at the Commons, then.  Mind you, in 2016, Bollyn might have received a warm reception from them, too.

In 2016, there really is a wolf

In a column written before Donald Trump’s apocalyptic speech at the Republican National Convention, Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham describes her new appreciation for the last GOP Presidential nominee:

I criticized you for throwing Massachusetts under the bus in the service of your presidential ambitions. I gave you a hard time for grandstanding on immigration and flip-flopping on other issues. I joined in the ridicule over your decision to strap your dog Seamus to the roof of the family car on a road trip. I have called you overly stage-managed, even boring.

And I hammered you for that 47 percent speech, in which you wrote off almost half the nation as moochers, saying it was no use going after their votes because you’d “never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

OK, that was pretty bad. Or so I thought at the time.

Now I long for those days. Because now I see how bad bad can be.

Your party has nominated an ignorant narcissist for president. His vile rhetoric has brought racists, anti-Semites, and misogynists out into the open. Our political discourse has not been this base in decades. It’s difficult to fathom, but the folks who nominated you just four short years ago are now willing to have this orange study in amorality yell “You’re fired!” at nuclear missiles.

Here’s an ironclad rule of politics: the latest conservative standard-bearer is always a scary fascist who’s going to end democracy as we know it.  Meanwhile, the last conservative standard-bearer – preferably a defeated one – earns strange new respect from the commentariat.

(This isn’t just an American phenomenon.  Mark my words: the Toronto Star columns declaring the next Conservative Party  of Canada leader “more extreme than Stephen Harper” are already written, with just the name to be filled in.)

The thing is, Donald Trump really is as awful as his opponents say.  That should have been obvious to anyone watching last night.  But when everyone right-of-center is deemed a fascist, don’t be surprised when people eventually tune out your warnings.

Andrew Sullivan* correctly says the right – especially an increasingly obstinate Republican Party – bears most of the blame for the rise of Trump, but the left is not blameless:

We have to answer this core question: how is it that liberal democracy in America is now flirting with strongman, ethno-nationalist authoritarianism? What happened to the democratic center?

It seems to me that the right bears the hefty majority of responsibility, moving from principled opposition to outright nullification of a presidency, trashing every important neutral institution, and now bad-mouthing the country they hope to “govern.” But the left’s abandonment of empiricism and liberalism – its rapid descent into neo-Marxist dogma, its portrayal of American history as a long unending story of white supremacy, its coarse impugning of political compromise and incrementalism, its facile equation of disagreement with bigotry – has also played a part. Liberal democracy needs liberal norms and manners to survive. Which is why it is now on life-support.

*Sullivan lost me with his Trig Palin conspiracy-theorizing years ago.  That I’m back to voluntarily reading him again says a lot about 2016, and how Trump’s campaign is shifting my political views almost as much as 9/11 did – albeit in the other direction.

Trump is always the victim


Louise Mensch belives the Melania Trump’s plaigiarism was set up to take the focus off all the other disasters befalling the GOP convention and the Trump presidential campaign:

Look, of course Melania Trump didn’t write the speech. And of course a speechwriter plaigiarized Michelle Obama. But this wasn’t a mess-up or a foul.

Let’s assume the speechwriter has Michelle’s speech in front of him. He chuckles as he lifts a paragraph practically word for word. He knows perfectly well that this is the age of the internet and that it will instantly be found online.

He also knows that Trump has no money, and that Melania is Trump’s third wife, without accomplishments other than some risqué modeling. He further knows that SOMETHING has to be done to get the media talking about something other than the hellish Trumpster Fire of the RNC convention – Reince Priebus gerrymandering the rules, the WWE style Trump-entrance, the rows upon rows of empty seats, the embarrassing, political pastoral prayer opening – and the total lack of Republican superstars like, say, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He knows that the narrative will be all about Melania’s thick, immigrant accent, making Donald look like a hypocrite, or those poofy chef’s hats she wore on her sleeves, or reprints of Melania’s semi-nude modeling days. The Trump campaign has got to get you talking about something completely different.

Personally, I wonder if this might have been set up for another reason: to get everyone piling on Trump’s wife, giving him yet another opportunity to play the victim card.

As I’ve been saying for months, this world-famous millionaire (I don’t believe he is a billionaire) has based his entire campaign around being a victim and appealing to his followers’ sense of victimhood.  The media is unfair to him.  The Republican insiders are trying to sabotage his campaign.  The Mexicans and Muslims are taking away jobs and making the streets unsafe.  The Chinese are tricking the U.S. government into signing unfair trade deals.  Whine, whine, whine.

If part of Melania Trump’s speech hadn’t been blatantly lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech, today we’d be talking about Chachi and the guy from Duck Dynasty speaking at the convention.  Instead, it’s all about the alleged sins of the candidate’s wife – and I guarantee Trump has speech notes all set to go about how “unfair” and “mean” the media is being toward his wife and family.

Am I reading too much into what might be simple incompetence by a hopelessly compromised campaign?  Maybe.  But we’ve underestimated Trump for over a year, and look where he ended up.

A conspiracy theory: is Trump trying to get fired?

Allahpundit notes that on a day when the GOP nominee for President could have railed against Hillary Clinton and a corrupt system, Donald Trump was ranting and raving about…this:

“A striking display of self-sabotage,” the Times writes of Trump’s rally in Cincinnati last night, at which he ranted about the Star of David kerfuffle from this weekend and his views on Saddam the Terrorist-Killer. Here’s a reality check: Hardly anyone besides political junkies has spent more than 20 seconds thinking about the imagery in Trump’s tweet, assuming they’ve heard about it at all, and lots of Americans doubtless agree that the Middle East would be better off with strongmen in charge in the name of suppressing Islamists. (That’s the story of the Egyptian revolution and counterrevolution, right?) Besides, Trump seems to have already reached his likely floor in national polling of 37-40 percent of the vote, the occasional freaky outlier from Reuters aside. There’s nowhere to go but up.

What was amazing to me about last night’s rally was how devoted to “fan service” this guy still seems to be despite the fact that we’re two months into the general election campaign and he’s trailing consistently. If ever there was a candidate who could afford to stop titillating his hardcore supporters by ranting about how unfair the media is and how cool it was that Saddam got to kill bad guys without trials and due process, it’s Trump. His cult of personality is locked in. Now’s the time to pander to swing voters by leaving his “politically incorrect” material aside and hammering Clinton steadily on her comprehensive rigging of “the system,” from free trade to her above-the-law status courtesy of her cronies in the DOJ. Instead he’s screwing around with this nonsense at his rallies, knowing full well that the media will pick it up and run with it as an excuse to change the subject from the FBI’s shady decision not to charge Clinton. It’s inexplicable that he’d forfeit an easy opportunity to keep the heat on her and win over some undecideds. Some anti-Trumpers on social media retreated into their favorite conspiracy theory, that Trump’s actively trying to lose, to explain why he’d do it but I think it’s more a product of his supreme hubristic confidence in his rhetorical abilities. He’s gotten this far ranting about whatever comes into his head at rallies. Why change now?

(Emphasis added)  I dunno.  I can’t shake the feeling that Trump never intended to make it this far, that he knows he can’t win, and he’s trying to get himself fired.

When you think about it, it would be the best thing that could possibly happen to him at this point.  He is not going to the win the election.  The polls have him consistently behind Hillary Clinton, and his increasingly erratic performance on the campaign trail isn’t endearing himself to many undecided voters.

His bankruptcies notwithstanding, Trump sees himself as a “winner,” and what would destroy that image more than losing a Presidential election to a deeply unpopular, flawed candidate like Hillary?  He’d never live it down.  Trump may not be an easily embarrassed man, but losing this very winnable election would be too much.

But what if he is forced off the Republican ticket before the election?  Then he’s not a loser but a martyr who tried to take on a rigged, corrupt political system, gave the insiders and money men a scare, but had victory cruelly stolen from him.  For the 30-35% of Americans who love him, his legacy would be secure.  He wouldn’t be President of the United States, but he’d get one heck of an ego boost.

And why else does Donald Trump do anything?