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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}


As His Numbers Drop, Trump Says Polls Should Be ‘Illegal’

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.


Trump’s approval ratings have been pathetically low since he took office, and on Monday night, he decided that he would like to just make polls illegal altogether.

Trump spoke at a campaign rally for incumbent South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in West Columbia Monday night, and ran through his usual mixture of lies and tantrums, while also managing to misidentify the Appalachian Trail as something he called “The Tallahassee Trail.”

At one point, Trump decided to simultaneously brag and complain about his poll numbers.

“We’ve never had higher polls than we have now,” Trump said. “Even Gallup. Even Gallup, who treats me horribly.”

“You know polls are fake news also, you know?” he continued. “What they do, it’s called suppression. They put out these horrible polls, and then they hope that everyone’s going to say ‘Hey, I like Trump, but he’s got no chance of winning.’ Suppression. It should be illegal, actually.”

As it turns out, though, Trump isn’t actually doing all that well in the Gallup poll, where his approval dropped sharply this week, from a pathetic-yet-high-for-Trump 45 percent, back down to 41 percent. Trump’s approval has never exceeded 45 percent in Gallup’s weekly poll.

Trump’s approval ticked up a little when he managed to wring some positive press out of his disastrous summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but reality quickly set in when Trump returned home and continued to oversee the ripping of children away from their parents.

When combined with the spike in his disapproval rating, which grew by five points this week to 55 percent, the nine-point rating change was the largest weekly drop yet in overall support for Trump.

Unfortunately for Trump, he can’t make public opinion polling illegal, and Americans have not been fooled by his attempts to evade responsibility for the child confiscation crisis he created. Like the free press and due process of law, polls will remain a fact of Trump’s life no matter how desperately he wishes they weren’t.


Have You Ever Seen A More Cynical Political Pivot Than Donald Trump Trying To Avoid Electoral Disaster?

Published with permission from AlterNet.

If, like me, you think that a President Trump would be (not to coin a phrase) a total disaster, Hillary Clinton’s widening lead in the polls gave you about five minutes to breathe easier, until Trump replaced his campaign chairman with honchos blunt enough to admit that his ugliness was killing him with undecided voters, and pushy enough to make him pretend to almost apologize for it.

Was last week a true turning point for Trump? Did it signal a transformation from the man-baby who won the Republican primaries to someone with the temperament to be president? In the word of the moment, is this the “pivot” that Clinton’s supporters have most feared?

There are more strata of cynicism in the idea of a pivot than layers of pastry in a mille-feuille.

Start with the presumption of two kinds of Americans. Some of them – political insiders, media junkies, savvy citizens – know the score. They’re hard-boiled enough to get that candidates can sometimes lie with impunity; that everything can come down to image and optics; that in an era of post-truth politics, narratives can matter more than facts.

The other Americans are the useful idiots whose gullibility is what pollsters measure. When a candidate pivots from one message in the primaries (e.g., Blacks are scary), to a contradictory message in the general (Blacks are suffering), or when a nominee torques from bullying (smearing a Gold Star mother, say) to sensitivity (I regret causing personal pain), his or her campaign calculates that the base and the undecideds will just roll with it. They’ll bend themselves into pretzels, believe the character swings, dissolve the flip-flops in the solvent of amnesia.

So when insiders speculate whether the Trump pivot has at long last arrived, what they’re really asking is whether Trump has the discipline to maintain the masquerade that he’s changed. If he doesn’t consistently act as though he can get his id under control, too many voters may conclude that the pathological liar and narcissist they saw in the primaries – whom the elite knows is the real Trump – is in fact the real Trump.

The cynicism of the pivot ploy came into sharp focus when Trump, under the tutelage of his new chieftains — Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway —declared in Charlotte, N.C., “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that.”

If you saw him say that, you couldn’t mistake the meaning of the smirk on his face: “This is an act, people. I’m bluffing.” No wonder the crowd laughed at the preposterousness of it. “And believe it or not,” he continued, “I regret it.” Trump’s signature catchphrase is “believe me,” so when he says “believe it or not,” it’s a tell, a hostage video. “Or not” is the equivalent of blinking “I’m lying” in Morse code. The only disclaimer missing was putting air quotes around “regret.” No wonder his mea quasi culpa was met with even more laughter, and a Trump-Trump-Trump chant from the crowd; it was their way of saying they knew he was faking it.

Last Friday’s Morning Joe on MSNBC epitomized the media response to the Trump shakeup. The question on the table wasn’t whether Trump had truly changed; no one on the panel thought his pivot meant anything truthful about his temperament. Instead, it was all about performance, stagecraft, illusion – whether Trump’s new minders can make him stick to the new script, whether they can market it with a straight face, whether the audience will buy it. Joe Scarborough called Conway’s TV debut as campaign manager “the best pundit performance of the year.” “It was quite a performance,” agreed Andrea Mitchell, because “it didn’t have performance written all about it – it was natural.” Eugene Robinson thought Trump’s attempting a pivot would “if not gladden the hearts of worried Republicans, at least calm their night sweats.” Chris Cillizza wondered if Trump, a billionaire who managed to depict himself as a populist in the primaries, had already “damaged himself so badly, image-wise, that a change like this is not able to be sold to a skeptical electorate.” Brand maven Donnie Deutsch said no, it wouldn’t work, because “people are not stupid.” The press needs to stop setting the bar so low, “to stop giving him presidential points because he can read off a teleprompter and he’s not insulting anybody.”

Within hours of his Charlotte speech, a Clinton ad collected video of Trump being asked if he regretted taking shots at the Khans (“I don’t regret anything”); if he regretted denying that John McCain was a war hero (“I like not to regret anything”); if he regretted calling Mexicans rapists (“No, not at all); if he wanted to apologize for anything (“No, I don’t apologize”). Will it work? Trump’s tears may be crocodile contrition, but fact checking, even via video, sometimes can’t keep a good charlatan down.

Nor, maybe, will Trump’s message discipline stick any longer than after other reboots. Yesterday Conway tweeted that Trump “doesn’t hurl personal insults.” But during today’s Morning Joe, Trump took to Twitter to call Scarborough and co-host Mika Brzezinski “two clowns,” adding that she’s “a neurotic and not very bright mess.” So much for temperament transplants.

A political pivot is a con that wins wolf whistles from people who think they’re too smart to fall for it.  I wonder what it would take to motivate some connoisseurs of that fakery to volunteer a little time on the vice squad cleaning things up.

Photo: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a Hispanic Small Business Leaders round table meeting at the Trump Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Trump Is A Reminder That Obama Has Made America Greater

He definitely got a bump after the Republican National Convention. And by “he,” I mean “President Obama.”

At the beginning of the Gathering of the Trumppalos in Cleveland, the president’s approval rating had sunk below 50 percent in Gallup’s daily tracking poll, an unusual occurrence this year, with only a +2 margin over his disapproval rating at 47 percent.

Two weeks later, the president is back at 54 percent, with a 11 percent margin, and probably wishes there could be alternating Republican and Democratic conventions for the rest of the year.

It’s hard to say what did more to improve President Obama’s image:

Was it the parade of D-level conservative talent in Cleveland followed by Donald Trump ranting for 76 minutes about how he “alone” can fix an America unrecognizable to those of us who realize that, under Obama, crime has gone down by about a fifth, the stock market has more than doubled, layoffs per capita are at an all-time low, and total employment is at an all-time high?

Or was it the parade of A-list Democrats in Philadelphia, along with various independents and members of the military, followed by President Obama himself arguing that America hasn’t fully recovered from the crises and wars that began under GOP rule, but that we’ve made huge strides to rebuild America by embracing the diversity that so threatens the rotting peach of a lunatic nominated by the other party?

Either way, Americans are more appreciative of the president than at any time during his tenure save the few months after his two victories in Electoral College landslides. And the fact that we’re in the middle of the longest sustained period of private-sector job growth in U.S. history is just one reason.

This president hasn’t been perfect. Hopes that he would reverse the drift of the deep security state have all but evaporated. But the spirit of those expectations has been borne out in the nuclear deal with Iran, the long overdue normalization of relations with Cuba, and the global agreement to take on climate change.

That’s why America’s image with most of our allies has improved drastically under this president.


Obama has done more to advance the fight against global warming and the rights of LGBTQ Americans than all other presidents combined — almost no other president (aside from Clinton) acknowledged that either existed.

But these achievements are all the more impressive given that his predecessor did everything possible to make both worse. And his Republican would-be successor would do the same — or worse, given the growing urgency of the climate crisis and utter inhumanity of threatening to reverse the steady progress toward equality.

Obamacare isn’t single-payer health care. But it has began the transformation of America’s health care system we so desperately need, given the fact we continually pay more for worse results than any country in the world.

And the results of these imperfect reforms have been spectacular, especially given the extraordinary resistance they’ve faced from Republicans: 20 million Americans have gained coverage, health costs are now predicted to be $2.6 trillion lower than they were before the ACA became law, and consumers are getting better coverage for less money.

Most important, the law has strengthened the social safety net by reimbursing hospitals for coverage they’re obligated by law to offer anyway.

Yet many Republicans widely regard Obamacare not just as something they hate because it has personally inconvenienced them, but as an abomination that is a greater failure than the Iraq War, Katrina, and Scott Baio’s singing career combined — which brings us to what the president likely regards as the greatest failure of his presidency.

He wanted to bring us together, yet we’ve become more and more polarized.

The division in America isn’t based on the two parties. It’s a continental divide connected by a mostly frozen sea. And we see that in the two nominees the parties are running for president, who are aren’t just hated by members of the other party, but despised by them, like mosquitos carrying Zika and audit letters from the IRS.

PPP Polling finds “74 percent of Trump voters think Clinton should be in prison, to only 12 percent who disagree. By a 66/22 margin they say Clinton is a bigger threat to the United States than Russia. And 33 percent think Clinton even has ties to Lucifer, to 36 percent who say they don’t think so, and 31 percent who are unsure either way.”

Is this Obama’s fault?

Did he start a conservative news channel 20 years ago right around the time the Republicans decided that they should impeach President Clinton over offenses similar to those or far worse than those committed by members of the Republican congressional leadership of the late 90s? Did he encourage that conservative news channel to help lie us into war? Did he tell them to give an open invitation to a reality TV clown whose only political qualification was that he was willing to ask the first black president for ID?

Could eight years of progress and soaring rhetoric fix that?

Probably not. Obama’s success has made them only more enraged, as rants about the unemployment rate, gas prices, the deficit, and Obamacare have been contradicted again and again by reality. The GOP base was left with nothing but white hot fire of their hatred for the man, the left, and the brown people they imagine have stolen their rightful legacy. So they nominated a birther.

And what did President Obama say to them on Wednesday night in Cleveland?

He didn’t attack them for empowering a man who has attacked his very identity. He appealed to their better angels.

He noted that what “we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican – and it sure wasn’t conservative.” And his argument against Trump wasn’t personal, it was about the purest American value there is: “We don’t look to be ruled.”

We look to be led. And for eight years, President Obama has led us and we are greater for it.


Clinton Leads Trump By 6 Points After Democratic Confab: Reuters/Ipsos Poll

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton held a 6- percentage-point lead over Republican rival Donald Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll with new wording that was released on Friday, the day after she formally accepted her party’s nomination for the Nov. 8 election.

Nearly 41 percent of likely voters favor Clinton, 35 percent favor Trump, and 25 percent picked “Other,” according to the new July 25-29 online poll of 1,043 likely voters, which overlapped with the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The poll has a credibility interval of 4 percentage points.

The presidential tracking poll reflects a slight change of wording from previous surveys, replacing the “Neither/Other” option given to respondents with just “Other.” An internal review had found the word “Neither” has, at times, siphoned support away from one or the other candidate.

Former Secretary of State Clinton delivered an upbeat keynote address at the Democratic convention on Thursday night, as she became the first woman to accept the presidential nomination from a major party.

In the biggest speech of her more than 25-year-old career in the public eye, Clinton, 68, cast herself as a steady leader at a “moment of reckoning” for the country, and contrasted her character with what she described as Trump’s dangerous and volatile temperament.

Trump, a 70-year-old New York businessman and former reality TV show host who has never held political office, responded in a Twitter post late on Thursday that “Hillary’s vision is a borderless world where working people have no power, no jobs, no safety.”

Both candidates were on the campaign trail on Friday, kicking off what is expected to be a hotly contested general election battle.

A separate Reuters/Ipsos survey that provided respondents with the option to choose from Clinton, Trump, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, has Clinton and Trump tied at 37 percentage points.

Of the alternative party candidates, Johnson came in third with 5 percentage points, followed by Stein at 1 percentage point, according to the July 25-29 survey of 1,426 likely voters, which has a credibility interval of 3 percentage points.


Photo: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton campaigns with vice presidential candidate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) along with former president Bill Clinton at East High School in Youngstown, Ohio, July 30, 2016.  REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein