The Art of the Election – How Trump is Winning

From sometime in 1964:

Barry Goldwater is a patriot and he loves his country too much to allow himself to become President.

I was in high school when my friend read that to me. We laughed. It was funny because the premise was true. Barry Goldwater was indeed a patriot. And it was funny because the conclusion was absurd.

The logic seems less absurd today.

Something keeps Donald Trump from running an effective national post-primary campaign. It is possible that it has something to do with patriotism. After all, who can read the mind of another? I suspect it is something more obvious.

News reporters have counted heads. They say that the Trump organization employs 30 staffers to run a national campaign. With one widely publicized firing, and one subsequent resignation, that number may well be a couple less. I do not pretend any special knowledge about national campaigns. But I have come to trust the judgment of some political experts.

Those experts tell me that the country is, in fact, composed of 50 states.

So we have 30 staff people covering 1 states each, on average. The root of the staffing problem may be money. Even devout followers like to be paid.

The Trump campaign does have money problems. I confess 1.2 million dollars seems like a lot of money to me and that’s what the Trump campaign says is on hand. If some beloved relative died and left me that much, I’d like to think I would be overwhelmed by grief. Family, church acquaintances, and personal associates, those I believe be good judges of character, seem to have a different opinion of my likely reaction. It is truly a lot of money.

Imagine giving your spouse 1.2 million dollars with the understanding that exactly $1,000 a day had to be spent, no more and no less. And you would not see each other again until your spouse had spent every last dime. If you made that gift next January, January 20, 2017 – that date comes to mind for some reason – you would not see each other again for three years, sometime in May 2020.

That’s a long time, and that’s because 1.2 million dollars is a lot of money.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign reports 42 million dollars on hand. Scientists tell us that 42 million is more than 1.2 million. If you gave your spouse 42 million dollars on January 20 with the same agreement, one thousand a day, you wouldn’t be apart for only 3 years.

You would see each other again 115 years later, in January 2132. 3 years with Donald Trump, 115 with Hillary Clinton.

So….what’s going on with Trump and the money?

Some reports say donors are holding off because they see Donald Trump as a phenomenal loser. That could be true.

Donald Trump says the reason is actually that he has not yet begun to fight. So maybe it’s all part of a Trump master plan to make Democrats everywhere over‑confident – right down to our socks.

One report may strike a special note of insight. The word is that the Republican National Committee impressed on the Trump campaign the special need for a fund raising effort: a personal effort by the candidate. So they gave Donald Trump a list of 24 names of those most likely to give huge amounts that would keep your spouse away for many hundreds of years. Mr. Trump promised to call all 24 large donors.

He called 3 of them and stopped, leaving the other 21 without a call.

Why would he do that? I think there is a plausible reason why he gave up on them. He would have had to tell 24 successful people that he needs their money, that he needs them, that they and their efforts are valued. Donald Trump doesn’t sing the It’s‑All‑About‑You song. It’s always about Donald.

News analysts speculate about what sort of campaign is needed this year to win. The overwhelming fact, the elephant everyone sees, is that both candidates are viewed negatively. The outcome may hinge on which candidate becomes less unpopular than the other.

Even Fox News analysts, who normally could be counted on to be more Republican than Republicans are, don’t pretend their guy is likable.

Look, we’ve never had a general election with two candidates that are as unliked, by as many American people. These contests are often a referendum on who would rather have a beer with on election night. There’s gonna be a lot of voters drinking alone.

Alex Conant, May 17, 2016

If that is true, and it stays true, the election will not depend on the issues, or even on personalities. It will depend on focus. If the election is about Donald Trump, 2017 will see the inauguration of a new President Clinton. If the election is about Hillary Clinton, it will be President Trump.

Political PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidates. But that doesn’t mean they can’t read the papers or stare at an internet browser. I suspect those committees do take a few cues from news reports.

Those siding with Hillary Clinton have begun promoting her in more humane settings during quieter moments. She seems to be taking some some of Joe Biden’s strengths, speaking in conversational tones, leaving Donald Trump to scream at his crowds.

If I am right, her unpopularity, the cloud that hangs over her, comes from decades of endless smoke blown by the eternal conservative smear machine. So the soft breeze of the positive side will help immeasurably. But what do I know? I’m a knee-jerk liberal jerk. Just ask my conservative friends. Hip pie leftist to the bone, just short of a comm‑eye pre‑vert.

Even if Secretary Clinton goes positive, the negative will predominate. The consensus seems to be solidifying: in a negative climate, the candidate who becomes the focus will lose.

Both candidates have begun attacking the other. But it does not take a discerning ear to detect a difference.

Hillary quotes Donald Trump, offering critique along with evidence in the form of his own words. It is not a dispassionate analysis, this being a campaign. But it is analysis. Here’s the charge, here’s the evidence. These are his own words.

Donald is reduced to “crooked Hillary” for candidate Clinton, to “Pocahontas” for Elizabeth Warren. His attacks are direct and, to the untrained ear, unconvincing.

Hillary Clinton highlights Donald Trump, arguing that he lacks the temperament and motivation to serve the people well. Donald Trump attacks Hillary Clinton, and Elizabeth Warren and President Obama and other Republicans, often in spectacular and controversial fashion. Hillary puts the spotlight on Donald. Donald puts the spotlight on himself.

His motivation became explicit a few days ago as he basked in the glow of another public appearance. I think his words tell us exactly why he could not continue calling donors to explain his need for their help, making them the focus, even for the length of time a telephone conversation might take. I think it explains the overblown rhetoric that discourages Republicans and motivates Democrats.

He is having the time of his life. He glories in each precious moment. He lives for that moment.

I’ve been on the cover of ‘Time’ magazine so many times. And the cover of everything. I feel like a super model, except like times ten. Okay?

It’s true. I’m a supermodel. I’m on the cover of these magazines. I’m on the cover of the biggest magazines I don’t even know about and I can’t even read the story because if I did, I wouldn’t get any work done. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Donald Trump, June 18, 2016
   at a rally in Phoenix, AZ

The Republican nominee will not make the Democratic nominee the central figure for the same reason he can’t make each donor feel special.

It’s a classic convergence of interest, the win-win outcome everyone wants:

The Clinton campaign would like Donald Trump to be the center of public attention.

Donald Trump craves that attention even more.

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State Power, GOP Trumped, NRA Worship, Lazy Middle

  • A hundred people are gunned down in Orlando, nearly half fatally. Capt. Fogg at Human Voices responds with his usual hopeless addiction to blame-both-sides.
    One side blames Obama for not attacking Islam. The other blames assault weapons, thereby leaving the shooter blameless.
    Our fearless middle-wing writer focuses his stern glare on the gun-safety side. Seems we are wrong because so many of us inaccurately describe the assault weapon as military grade rather than merely as deadly, and because prevention of the widespread violence would not prevent, say, arson. Or something. Besides, banning all guns, which as Capt. Fogg knows is what every gun safety proponent suggests, won’t make us safe.
    This is the reflexive world of truth-is-always-at-the-midpoint. Jokers to the left of him, clowns to the right, Capt. Fogg laments both, being stuck as he is at the precise middle.
    If we want an intelligent, non-lazy argument on guns, an argument with which many of us can disagree, we can start with Infidel753. That is one way to get an alternate viewpoint, yet avoid false equivalence and stale murder-is-already-illegal propositions that offer little return for the time investment. 
  • Confronted with preventable tragic violence in Orlando, Max’s Dad is too angry for his usual rant and defers to Samantha Bee.
  • The Big Empty takes a illustrated look at how the NRA good-guy-with-a-gun solution would work.
  • MyCue23 reappears after all this time at Random Thoughts to suggest that the right answer to violent tragedy may be something other than helpless inaction.
  • Abuse of power is one thing. Abuse of power to help steal from the public is another. Doing all that to steal retirement funds? Yellow Dog at Blue in the Bluegrass calls our attention to a governor who uses police to threaten those in charge of those retirement funds into letting said governor’s allies get their hands on those funds.
  • tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors seems not to find this reassuring. Representative Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House and occasional supporter of Donald Trump explains to those nervous about Mr. Trump as President why they actually have nothing at all to be scared about. Nothing at all.
  • nojo at Stinque confesses to a guilty pleasure: contemplating the possibility of a Trump-Gingrich ticket.
  • Conservative T. Paine is back (Yay-y-y-y), at Saving Common Sense, with a conservative point-by-conservative-point of conservative distaste for Hillary and Donald. Did I mention that my excellent friend is a conservative arguing a conservative point of view at a conservative website?
  • driftglass examines the hilarious transformation of Michael-Gerson-speak as he uses a small change in the written word to move the Republican party away from himself.
  • Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post guides us through history with an appreciative review of the life and career of the first woman member of the U.S. cabinet Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins who worked in the Roosevelt administration to lift the nation out of the Great Depression.
  • Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes rediscovers that human experience is surrounded by something transcendent, beyond the day-to-day, and that religion, as it is used for other purposes, sometimes diverts us from that critical knowledge.

Listen to the Voices 6/18/2016

The Superlative Candidate

Donald Trump describes himself as he sees himself. He is the most successful businessman, the smartest graduate, the toughest candidate, the best thing that ever happened to evangelicals, the most attractive to women.

He is a candidate of superlatives. He believes that makes him a superlative candidate.


More – –

The Superlative Candidate

Twenty years after Richard Nixon announced his resignation, and a few months after the once most powerful man in the world died, iconic conservative William F. Buckley told of his brief contact with the ethic of the Nixon White House. Buckley had been invited to meet with President Nixon in 1970. At that meeting, the President offered to support his brother James Buckley as an independent conservative candidate against New York Senator Charles Goodell.

He then thought to give me some political advice to pass along to Candidate Buckley. “Tell him when he is being heckled at one of his speeches to go right up to spitting distance of the protester. The television cameras will catch that face-to-face encounter and that means votes for the law and order candidate.

Mr. Haldeman took it from there. “Bill, get a couple of guys from Young Americans for Freedom. Tell them to dress up like Woodstock protesters and have them throw an egg or some ketchup at your brother. That will make it into the evening television news.

William F. Buckley, August 8, 1994

Richard Nixon had made into an art form the goading of dissidents. He would climb onto any available makeshift platform, the trunk of an automobile would do, to egg on those who hated what he stood for. As long as news cameras focused on the uncouth opposition, he would come out ahead.

As Buckley later noted, if the angry young could not be tempted into violence, a few supporters in disguise could be counted on to throw whatever was handy.

Along the political spectrum, the more conservative, or the more authoritarian nearly always benefits from violence committed by perceived opponents. It seems natural. It is human nature to want to strike back at the bad guys, and the violent are usually the bad guys. Striking back with votes can mean voting for those most loudly calling for strong action against perpetrators.

All the ingredients are with us today for the Nixon recipe to work.

The indefensible violence against Donald Trump supporters is captured by camera and and documented in credible narrative. Deadly violence by America’s enemies, indeed the enemies of the safety and freedom of modern civilization, is horrific. The death toll is greater with each incident.

With every incident of terror, supporters join the candidate in praising his predictive abilities and his toughness. And they express joyful glee at the success those tragedies guarantee for Donald Trump’s quest for the office of President.

They can wait if they like until next November for the actual balloting, but Donald Trump was elected president tonight.

Ann Coulter, November 13, 2015
   after the terrorist attack on a cafe in Paris.

This is not new. It was not new in the days of Nixon ascendancy.

It did not start with the Reichstag fire, propelling Hitler to power with the promise of exterminating leftists, Jews, and other dangerous undesirables. It did not even begin with the burning of Rome 2,000 years before that. Nero promised to eliminate the dangerous Christians who started the destruction. When rumors became rampant that Nero himself had sent thugs to commit the arson, his opponents promised to eliminate the dangerous Emperor.

It did not end with the riots of the late 1960s, the student demonstrations into the 1970s, or with Richard Nixon’s provocations through that period.

The battle cry never varies.
Enough is enough. We will put an end to it … and to them.

It has always worked.

Until now.

Donald Trump’s approval, as measured in one poll after another does not match the gloating. The predicted rise does not occur.

Part of that may come from the naked partisanship of the reactions. Ordinary people, people capable of any depth of empathy, would not express joy at such tragedy. When there exist human beings who seem incapable of feeling anything beyond political calculation, we add to our mourning for the dead the additional prayer for lost souls.

The death toll of the Orlando night club massacre may stay at around 50, if we are granted a miracle and all of the remaining wounded survive. It is already the most massive single instance of spontaneous gun violence in American history.

Mr. Trump’s initial reaction was only the beginning:

Appreciate the congrats for being right…

Excuse me?

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

Donald Trump, June 12, 2016, via Twitter

Mr. Trump goes on to imply that President Obama is not only weak, but may have a hidden motive for his tepid response.

We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind.

Donald Trump, June 13, 2016

Something else in mind.

There’s something going on — it’s inconceivable. There’s something going on. He doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands. It’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable.

Donald Trump, June 13, 2016

Something inconceivable going on. The President doesn’t get it, or … maybe … he gets it better than anybody understands.

So the President is in on the attack? He is a co-conspirator with terrorists?

For the record, Donald Trump was … not to put too fine a point on it … incorrect when he claimed to have predicted the Orlando attack, except to the extent that every child who has learned to talk could predict that terrorists will continue to attack. There was a prediction, however, that was prescient.

I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I’ve got people who we KNOW have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States – US citizens. And we’re allowed to put them on the no fly list when it comes to airlines.

But because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.

This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer. And if he wants to walk into a gun store or a gun show right now, and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing is prohibiting him from doing that. Even though the FBI knows who that person is.

President Barack Obama, June 1, 2016

That terrorists in the Middle East are motivated by a corrupt interpretation of Islam is not in dispute. No-one is in denial. The refusal to declare, or even imply, some sort of war against Islam is motivated by a fidelity to truth combined with a strategic desire not to insist that all Muslim believers take sides against us.

Even conservative critics of Barack Obama occasionally acknowledge that the President holds the all time record for capturing and killing terrorists and their leaders.

In a country of hundreds of millions there will remain some portion of humanity who will take seriously someone who expresses self-congratulatory glee at deadly violence, and then follow with accusations that cross over some ugly ragged edge into a land of delusional paranoia.

Demagogues of the past knew how to turn human tragedy to their benefit. Donald’s ham-handed approach blows away the advantage that others would have used.

He has described himself in many ways. He is the biggest, the best. And he is the loudest.

Donald is a candidate of superlatives.

He is the most successful businessman, the smartest graduate, the toughest candidate, the best thing that ever happened to evangelicals, the most attractive to women, believe me, believe me.

Each word and phrase goes further, farther, higher, beyond anything expected. He gloats at tragedy, appreciating the congratulations he believes to be flowing his way. He is the most perceptive of prognosticators.

The superlatives do not stop there. The President he opposes is the very worst. The conspiracies Donald imagines are the very best. They go higher and farther than that imagined any anyone else.

He is the superlative candidate, caught in the best trap ever, a trap devised by Trump himself.

Donald is a demagogic captive, limited, made small by his own talk, imprisoned with steel-like bars made of the stern stuff of his highest, loudest, most extreme, most conspiratorial, most extravagant rhetorical excesses.

Believe me. Believe me.

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Donald, Art of Donald Deals, Hillary, GOP, Regulation, Brexit

  • The Big Empty explores the strange similarity between Donald Trump and someone you know.
  • tengrain at Mock Paper Scissors is unimpressed with the art of the Trump deal, which turns out to make money by refusing to pay tiny businesses and lone individuals what they are owed until they agree to lesser amounts.
  • Hillary Clinton is deeply scarred by past controversies. Donald Trump, of all people, calls her a crook. Blue Gal uses one image to provide a wordless perspective on how she got those scars.
  • Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post reveals which party platform from American history accurately reflects contemporary Republican standards, and urges moderate Republicans to reclaim their party.
  • Last Of The Millenniums explains one important reason for government regulation.
  • Vincent at A wayfarer’s notes wakes from a dream, ruminates on how much he supports leaving the European Union, and deals quite rudely with a couple of canvassers who disagree. Sad. Not up to the usual standards of this gifted writer. Update: Vincent calls my attention to the fact, quite apparent in his piece, that his rudeness to the canvassers was part of his dream. No excuse comes to mind, although I do offer the mitigation of not yet having my coffee when I read his piece. See our brief exchange in comments.
  • I suppose you could call it the darker side of affluenza: the too-much-to-lose defense. Max’s Dad rants against the ethic that allows a competitive swimmer at an exclusive ivy-league university to lose a few months of his privileged life for raping an unconscious student, on the theory that anything more severe would impede his future.

Listen to the Voices 6/11/2016

Judging the Mexican Judge

His aggressive approach, traveling personally into the very heart of criminal territory, was becoming too effective. The order came directly from the crime lords. Kill the chief of United States Narcotics Enforcement.

Like some comic book superhero, he went underground, surfacing only to surprise, battle, and bring down those drug cartels.


More – –

Judging the Mexican Judge

Very few of those with whom I work, or with whom I associate after hours, remember the television program  I’ve Got a Secret. It was a panel show in which a group of semi-celebrities asked questions of a guest and tried to puzzle out some secret that only the guest and the television host knew. A couple of those episodes bore some historical significance.

One, aired in 1956, reminds me even today of how close we remain to the history we learned from textbooks as kids. The secret of 95 year old Samuel J. Seymour was that he had been in the theatre audience when President Lincoln had been shot in 1865. Samuel had been 10 years old. He lived to tell about it on national television.

The other episode became part of a different side of history. The show itself resulted in two murders involving organized crime.

The guest on that show in 1952 was Arnold Schuster, a clothing salesman from New York. His secret was that, while riding on a subway from work, he had recognized a wanted criminal. The fugitive was the famous Willie Sutton. Sutton is famous for his answer to a simple question: Why do you rob banks? His answer was simple, “That’s where the money is.”

Willie Sutton had escaped from prison. Arnold Schuster saw him, ran to find a police officer, and pointed him out.

After the secret was finally revealed to the television celebrity panel, and the audience applauded their civic minded guest, Arnold Schuster was murdered on a New York City street.

There was never enough evidence to charge crime boss Albert Anastasia. But one informant told authorities the mobster had happened to be watching the popular television show and had experienced a Donald Trump level of anger. “I can’t stand squealers!” he reportedly shouted. “Hit that guy!”

Public anger was intense and sustained. Nobody knows how much income was lost by crime families, but the crackdown on revenue centers was severe. The financial cost had to have been substantial enough to hurt a lot. Crime bosses had good reason to get really angry at Albert Anastasia for killing that civilian.

When Anastasia was himself assassinated a few years later, that lost income was thought to be the main reason. He should not have had Arnold Schuster killed.

In those days, crime families did not allow the killing of innocent civilians. The cost was too high. The only curb on violence that was stronger than that against killing a civilian was that against killing any member of law enforcement. Public retribution would have been high and profits would go way down for a long, long time. When other crime figures discovered in 1935 that Dutch Schultz had put a contract on the life of New York prosecutor Thomas Dewey, Lucky Luciano and others ordered the execution of Dutch Schultz.

Those were the days, weren’t they?

Times change, and so do the practical calculations of criminal ethics.

Years later, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and future mayor, Rudy Giuliani took down pretty much every top crime leader in New York. To me that, more than 9/11, makes Rudy Giuliani a genuine hero. I would not vote for him, but he is a hero none-the-less. By that time, assassination had become a distinct, though distant possibility.

For some public figures, the possibility of murder has been more distinct and less distant. Harry Reid was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission when he refused to back down to organized crime. His outburst became legend when one figure offered him $12,000 for casino licenses. He yelled, “You son of a bitch, you tried to bribe me!” as he tried to choke the life out of the culprit. Reid was wearing a wire and had federal authorities listening in an adjoining room. FBI agents had to pull Reid off. The suspect was tried, convicted, and sent to prison.

When Harry’s wife Landra experienced car trouble a while after that, she looked under the hood and found a bomb that was improperly grounded and had failed to explode. Even family station wagons, and the families inside, were no longer out of bounds. That was 1981.

Harry Reid eventually became a United States Senator.

20 years later, the trajectory of danger had continued upward. The Chief of the United States Narcotics Enforcement Division had decided to go further than most investigators had ever gone. The agency did not simply cooperate with Mexican authorities in attacking drug cartels. They did not stop at assigning investigators to work on cases in Mexico. The head of the Division traveled to Mexico himself and sat across from thugs with some of the biggest reputations in violent crime.

Although he was born and raised in Indiana, his parents had come to the United States from Mexico more than 50 years before. He was familiar with Mexico, the language, the customs, the nuances of culture. He used that knowledge to hit drug kingpins where it hurt.

And he made progress.

Some of those on his side of the table, Mexican law enforcement officials, were marked for assassination. Some died. With each death, Mexican public opinion turned angrily against the drug trade. That gave law enforcement the pressure they wanted to apply.

As he and his Mexican law enforcement allies destroyed most of the infrastructure of the Arellano Felix cartel in Tijuana and closed in on the leaders, a wiretap picked up a key conversation. It was startling. He had personally been targeted for assassination. The Chief of the United States Narcotics Enforcement Division, Gonzalo Curiel, had been marked for murder by the Mexican drug cartel.

That is how Gonzalo Curiel began operating the United States side of the anti-cartel campaign from hiding. Nobody knew where he was, or when he would briefly show up. It was as if he was some sort of Saturday morning television hero. His orders were consistent. He was in control. His surprise appearances kept the criminal enterprise off-balance.

In the end, he survived and the Tijuana cartel died. Its leaders ended up in prison.

Gonzalo Curiel now presides over the United States Court for the Southern District of California.

One case has become the focus of national interest. A class action against Donald Trump’s Trump University  has not been going well for Mr. Trump. He and his lawyers had demanded that most of the documents presented in evidence against him be kept sealed in order, they insisted, to protect trade secrets. Judge Curiel instead ordered that documents in the case be made public.

It is difficult to see the trade secrets. In fact, the documents seem only to demonstrate multiple instances of deceptive practices that overlap into fraud. The victims range from ordinary middle class people to those on the ragged edge of financial desperation.

A furious Donald Trump says Gonzalo Curiel is not a real American. Curiel was born and raised in Indiana. But because his parents came from Mexico in 1946, he should be considered a Mexican. Because he is a Mexican, he should be prohibited from judging any aspect of the fraud case against Donald Trump, who is an American.

It strikes me as unlikely that the seasoned veteran of that dangerous law enforcement battlefield could be intimidated by no more than the angry bluster of a Presidential contender.

Gonzalo Curiel was a hands-on prosecutor in the fight against a major drug cartel, a cartel famous for the ruthless murder of law enforcement officials. He was not intimidated by the cartel or its orders to assassinate him.

But this public spectacle is not about a powerful group of furious drug lords engaged on a battlefield of violence, and murder, and professional contracts to carry out more assassinations.

This angry attacker is a wealthy businessman accused merely of the mean and petty crime of massive fraud against the financially vulnerable.

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Dictator in Gambia, Sensible Republicans, Ethnic Slurs