The Vanishing Witch Hunt: Why Trump Has Been Scared Off of His Fetish with Mueller’s Russia Probe

For most of the past two years Donald Trump has been bellowing like a banshee stuck in a time loop that made him repeat the same tedious whining continuously: witch hunt, Witch Hunt, WITCH HUNT! It’s been a mantra that he hopes the recitation of which will cause his recurring nightmares of treason and prison to subside. But despite his commitment to constant verbal regurgitation of the phrase, he has not found any comfort or relief.

Donald Trump, Witch Hunt

Trump is a trembling wreck whose every public comment is drenched with the fear that consumes him. He is a non-stop fountain of complaints, criticisms, and most of all, whining (Although he also brags about being the “most fabulous whiner”). But there has been a curious change in his recent behavior.

Taking a look back at Trump’s Twitter feed reveals something that requires some explanation. Back in May, Trump tweeted twenty times about what calls the “Witch Hunt.” Of course, he’s referring to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller of his unsavory connections to Russia, obstruction of justice, and other assorted crimes. Mueller has already found numerous “witches” who have been indicted, convicted, and/or pleaded guilty. Trump’s tweets continued in June with twenty-seven more. Then there were twenty in July and twenty-five August.

However, that was the end of the Witch Hunt Tweetstorming. In September Trump tweeted about the Witch Hunt only five times. And in October it was down to one single Witch Hunt tweet. And that one was more about his dissatisfaction with his own Justice Department than with Mueller’s Russia probe. What could have caused this frightened retreat from a refrain that he was singing so incessantly

Well, Politico is now reporting a possible cause of Trump’s backing off his Witch Hunt obsession. And it’s a blockbuster, if true. They are asserting that Mueller may have already subpoenaed Trump to appear before a Grand Jury:

“Since mid-August, [Mueller] may have been locked in proceedings with Trump and his lawyers over a grand jury subpoena – in secret litigation that could tell us by December whether the president will testify before Mueller’s grand jury.”

“We know that on August 16th (the day after Giuliani said he was almost finished with his memorandum, remember), a sealed grand jury case was initiated in the D.C. federal district court before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. We know that on September 19, Chief Judge Howell issued a ruling and 5 days later one of the parties appealed to the D.C. Circuit. And thanks to Politico’s reporting, we know that the special counsel’s office is involved (because the reporter overheard a conversation in the clerk’s office). We can further deduce that the special counsel prevailed in the district court below, and that the presumptive grand jury witness has frantically appealed that order and sought special treatment from the judges of the D.C. Circuit.”

The circumstances surrounding these events suggest that a particularly important witness is the subject of thest court proceedings. Whether or not it is Trump it’s too soon to confirm. But it is more than speculation. And the timing coincides with Trump’s reduced Witch Hunt tweeting. That would make sense because if negotiations like this were taking place, even Trump wouldn’t be stupid enough to foul it up with deranged outbursts on Twitter. Would he?

Plus there’s another peculiar affair that was reported on Tuesday. Some nefarious pro-Trump shills appear to be trying to smear Mueller with phony charges of sexual misconduct. But it’s blowing up in their faces. Note also that Trump’s attorneys, Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, have been mysteriously out of the public eye. And if Giuliani isn’t shoving his way in front of a TV camera, something serious has to be going on.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Time will tell if this story pans out. And the period following the midterm election would be the perfect time for these legal disclosures to take place. Mueller, the consummate professional, would not have interfered with the election within the sixty days that is traditionally a quiet period for these sort of proceedings. But after the election he’s free to make whatever disclosures are appropriate. And that is probably what is giving Trump the frights this Halloween.

Stephen Colbert did a pretty good (and funny) summary of Wohl’s incompetent role in this:

HUH? White House Will ‘Look Into’ Why State TV (Fox News) Stopped Airing Trump’s Rallies Live

Trump delivered another tedious and repetitive stump speech at one of his, now frequent, cult rallies Wednesday in Erie, Pennsylvania. It was a showcase for all of his “greatest hits” featuring “Build the Wall,” “Lock Her Up,” “Witch Hunt,” and many more. However, there was difference with this revival meeting that sets it apart from most of those in the past.

Fox News, Donald Trump

Politico reports that the Trump Broadcasting Network’s State TV (aka Fox News), declined to air the event live and uninterrupted as they usually do. Fox News has been a devoted servant of this administration when it comes to disseminating propaganda via their airwaves. They even promote on air with chyrons that read “Trump Rally Live & Only on Fox News, Other Networks Ignore Presidential Rally.” But it’s possible that Trump’s floundering popularity and financial concerns may be influencing their programming going forward. Politico notes that:

“As he’s ramped up his rally schedule ahead of the midterms, viewership numbers for the raucous prime-time events have been roughly similar to — sometimes dipping below — Fox News’ regular programming, and the network has recently stopped airing most evening events in full.”

That’s right. Trump is losing fans on the network that has been his official fan club for more than two years. This cannot be good news for the President, especially since he is increasing the number of these affairs specifically to boost the campaign prospects of Republican candidates in the cities where he is performing.

Consequently, Trump is compensating for this reduced coverage by calling into Fox News programs by phone. In the past three days he’s done that three times, ringing up his buddies Jeanine Pirro, Shannon Bream, and the “Curvy Couch” potatoes of Fox and Friends. But this is not likely to satisfy the White House. They have grown accustomed to the fawning attention they get from Fox News and expect it to continue. And they aren’t sitting around waiting for Fox to correct the situation. According to Politico:

“One senior White House official was unsure why the network would decide to cut away from presidential rallies, saying officials planned ‘to look into that’ and wouldn’t be surprised if White House communications director Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, was in touch with former colleagues about the trend.”

Let that sink in. The White House believes that they have some sort of right to free airtime on Fox News, and if they aren’t getting it they will take action to set the network straight. Notice that they aren’t talking about looking into CNN or MSNBC. They are focusing on their wholly owned platform for media exposure and dispatching Bill Shine to address this outrageous policy shift. Shine is the former president of Fox News and Trump’s current deputy chief of staff for communications. And if you think that this isn’t explicitly about having an impact on the upcoming midterm election, just take it from the mouth of a GOP campaign operative who worries about the loss of Trump’s TV time because:

“‘It exposes us to a national audience that we normally don’t get to,’ a Senate Republican campaign staffer said of the coverage of Trump rallies. ‘We tend to see lots of new sign-ups and small-dollar donations. There’s obviously folks streaming [rallies] online, but being able to be onstage with the president in front of a prime-time audience is huge for a campaign trying to reach conservatives across the country who will open up their wallets.'”

Among the other observations made by Politico are that Trump’s rallies are drawing fewer viewers. “His events at times popped for more than 4 million viewers on Fox News,” a source said. Which is “a number he hasn’t come close to in 2018.” What’s more, “network officials’ fear was that too much repetition would lead to lower ratings,” and that Fox News could lose millions of dollars in ad revenue because they “can’t take commercial breaks while Trump is speaking.”

Perhaps the decision to cut back on live rally airings led to Trump making a blatant promotional pitch for Fox in order to get more airtime via flattery. He gave a shout out on Wednesday to Foxies who he praised for maligning Democrats as “the Dimms,” saying:

“The great Lou Dobbs, he says that, right? Sean Hannity says that. ‘The Dimms.’ Judge Jeanine says that, doesn’t she? Laura [Ingraham]. Laura. How good has Laura been, right? Do we like Tucker? I like Tucker.”

Actually, only Lou Dobbs says that, but getting the facts straight has never been of much concern to Trump. All he wants is to have his face in front of the Deplorables who are glued to Fox News all day and night. He wants to make sure his perverse and incoherent message is being injected into the already acutely ill-informed brains of Fox’s loyal audience. And if Fox News thinks they can get away with reducing his airtime, they better be prepared for more of this:

Yeah, that’ll happen. More likely Fox will cave in to Trump’s tantrum and resume their live broadcasts. They can make up the lost revenue with the tax cuts Trump will promise them. And their hosts who get preempted by the rallies will all get “exclusive” interviews. That’s how State TV works. Trump is learning well from his friends in Russia and North Korea.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Is Donald Trump Already Sick Of A Job He Never Really Wanted?

Three weeks. While it may seem like a year, that’s all that’s gone by since Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States of America. And the chaos that has characterized his short reign is unprecedented. Trump entered the White House with the worst approval rating of any president on record. And it has actually gone down from there.


So reporting from Politico that Trump is “vexed” by the challenges and scale of government doesn’t come as a surprise. He has shown little interest in transitioning from being a private businessman to a national leader. His absence from security briefings, and his fixation on image and polling, reflect a man who isn’t taking his job seriously. However, Politico’s opening paragraph perfectly describes this cognitive disconnect:

“Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought, according to aides and allies who say that he’s growing increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy.”

Politico’s sources report that Trump has been surprised and frustrated that running government is not at all like running his business. He doesn’t seem to understand the role of the co-equal branches of government and is angered that he can’t simply do as he pleases. And who could blame him? For all the rhetoric from conservatives, government is not remotely similar to business and cannot be run like one.

To appreciate why Trump is having so much difficulty adapting, we need to look at his past. Donald Trump was born into wealth. All his life he has been able to do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. If he felt like jetting to Paris for the weekend, he could. If he was invited to watch the Super Bowl with wealthy friends, no problem. From a business perspective, he could launch a hotel project in Manhattan, or a golf course in Dubai, at will.

Conversely, as president Trump is bound to his office. His duties are not chosen, but thrust upon him. What ever legislation or crisis that lands on his desk demands his attention. And in many cases, those things may not hold any interest for him. Too bad. That’s the job.

What’s more, the trappings of the presidency for him must be stifling. He cannot simply get up and go somewhere when he feels like it. Every presidential outing requires planning, security, and logistics at the destination. There are some places he can’t go at all due to these requirements. And the living arrangements are sub-par from his perspective. The White House is a step down from his gold-encrusted Manhattan penthouse. He can’t travel on his beloved, luxurious private jet.

Given the demands of the job, and the restrictions on his personal freedom, for Trump being president is like prison. And the strains of this “incarceration” are showing in the poorly executed actions he’s taken, and the low morale and in-fighting among his staff. Not to mention his barking at the press and attacks on judges. These cracks in the administration are exposed in Politico’s reporting. Take for example, these excerpts:

“The president and his allies believe career NSC staff assigned from other agencies are out to get them.” […]

“[H]e has also sought refuge from the pressures of the presidency, frequently calling up old friends and sounding them out about golf. […]”

“The interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high.”

This doesn’t sound like someone who is comfortable with the new responsibilities he’s taken on. It doesn’t sound like someone who is even interested in doing the job. He sacrificed a lot of the high life and freedom to which he was accustomed. And all for a job that he had never aspired to or shown interest in.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Considering Trump’s impulsive and erratic behavior, might he just decide that the sacrifices aren’t worth it and resign? Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking. But there are signals from Trump and his closest associates that suggest that he’s anxious to escape and return to his prior life of leisure. Why wouldn’t he want to spend his golden years in his golden palace?

Republicans In Congress Are TERRIFIED Of Trump And His ‘Horde Of Enforcers’

Donald Trump ran roughshod over his GOP opponents in the 2016 Republican primaries. It was a scorched Earth style campaign that left his foes, not just beaten, but humiliated. He didn’t merely challenge their policy positions or leadership skills, he used language meant to shame them. Fellow Republicans were viciously maligned as “Lyin’ Ted’ and “Little Marco.” Eventually Trump succeeded in capturing the nomination, but not without leaving bodies on the battlefield.

Trump/Bannon

Those same tactics are now being deployed against the Republicans in Congress. Many of them are saying privately that they are fearful of taking positions against Trump. That poses a critical problem because their traditionally conservative views are often at odds with Trump’s twisted brand of populism. Trumpulism favors cordial relations with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin. It proposes to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure improvements, mainly benefiting wealthy contractors. It is critical of the U.S. alliance with NATO. It would impose stiff tariffs on American companies with foreign factories. All of these positions are in direct opposition to decades of Republican doctrine.

The problem now is that Republicans are literally afraid to speak their minds. They have been warned by Trump and his surrogates that any diversion from total obedience to his agenda would be viewed as betrayal. As reported by Politico:

“It’s little wonder that Capitol Hill Republicans have papered over their not-insignificant policy differences with Trump, shying away from any statement about the president-elect that might possibly be construed as critical. They’re terrified of arousing the ire of their tempestuous new leader — or being labeled a turncoat by his army of followers.” […]

“Since the election, numerous congressional Republicans have refused to publicly weigh in on any Trump proposal at odds with Republican orthodoxy, from his border wall to his massive infrastructure package. The most common reason, stated repeatedly but always privately: They’re afraid of being attacked by Breitbart or other big-name Trump supporters.”

The threat from Breitbart is a real concern. Especially since its chairman, Stephen Bannon, is currently on leave to serve as Trump’s strategic advisor in the White House. But it doesn’t stop there. As South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford said, “People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.”

Texas Rep. Bill Flores can attest to Sanford’s worries. After he made some rather tame remarks at a conservative conference, the Trump enforcers snapped into action. Breitbart began with an article condemning Flores for plotting to “stifle Trump’s campaign promises.” Sean Hannity of Fox News picked up the story and added his own vitriolic objections. He implied that Flores was using code to tell Trump to “Go to hell.” Subsequently, Flores was showered with complaints that included predictions of the end of his political career and even death threats. Never mind that he is one of the most conservative members of the House and a co-founder of its arch right-wing Freedom Caucus.

The media component of Trump’s Crusaders is a key to their intimidation tactics. They have the power of Fox News as well as dozens of other right-wing media outlets. Strain all of that through Facebook and Twitter and you get a powerful amplification of their defamatory propaganda.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The rest of the GOP caucus is learning a lesson from this. They are choosing to keep their mouths shut rather than risk offending Trump or his defenders. The StormTrumpers stand at the ready to crucify any Republican they view as disloyal or insufficiently resolute. It’s a chilling state of affairs that impinges on the core principles of democracy. And in that regard, it should not be a surprise coming from the Trump camp. His authoritarian leanings have been apparent from the start of his campaign. And since it’s clear that Republicans can’t be relied upon to defend democracy, Democrats better be prepared to do it.

Trump Shill Exposes His Deranged Political Philosophy: ‘There’s No Such Thing As Facts’

America has just endured a campaign marked by an unprecedented flood of deliberate falsehoods emanating from a presidential candidate. While politicians are notorious for stretching the truth, never before has it been taken to these extremes. If nothing else, Donald Trump gets credit for mangling the truth beyond all recognition (see the Trump Bullshitopedia)

Trump / Scottie Nell Hughes

Now we have confirmation from a prominent surrogate that this was a strategy, not merely a character flaw. Scottie Nell Hughes has appeared daily on CNN espousing the Trump doctrine and defending his racist and ignorant outbursts. Like every Trump surrogate, she exhibited no shame when sanitizing his vulgarities and whitewashing his bigotry. Many observers have wondered how she and other StormTrumpers could back him up with a straight face. Wednesday on the Diane Rehme radio show, Hughes cleared up the mystery.

The conversation turned toward Trump’s assertion that “millions of illegal votes” cost him the popular vote. Never mind that there is no evidence to support the charge and that Trump failed to provide any. This is something that he does with reckless abandon whenever he has the urge. And right on cue, Hughes defended him with the same lack of proof. But then then she went further and made a startling confession regarding his political philosophy:

“I hear half the media saying that these are lies. But on the other half, there are many people that go, ‘No, it’s true.’ And so one thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch, is that people that say facts are facts—they’re not really facts. […] Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth, or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore as facts”

Good golly Miss Scottie. That may be one of the most brazenly demented claims since Napoleon said that “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” And to be fair, Trump kinda proves that Napoleon may have had a point. However, Hughes is making a blanket statement that things that are demonstrably true do not exist. That explains a lot about Trump’s record of lies throughout his campaign. If there are no facts, then he wasn’t lying when he said there were thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11; or that U.S. corporations pay the highest taxes in the world; or that climate change is a hoax created by China. All of those statements are provably false.

Hughes went on to say that “amongst a certain crowd” Trump’s claims are true, and therefore it’s as good as a fact. She says that if “people believe they have facts,” then they do. Unfortunately for her, by definition a belief is not a fact. Hughes, and the bulk of Trump’s followers, have succumbed to a cult mentality wherein the affirmations promulgated by the leader are regarded as gospel.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The voice of reason on the broadcast was provided by Glenn Thrush of Politico. He remarked that he had to “pick my jaw up off the floor” before responding. Then he said this:

“There are no objective facts? That is an absolutely outrageous assertion. Of course there are facts. […] I think that what is very revealing – an important thing that Scottie Nell Hughes is saying – is that there are no facts. I think that it is an intended result of this campaign and administration to think that there aren’t any facts. It’s all opinion so we’re gonna sort of manipulate the things that we care about. I believe that the job for the media and civil society now is essentially to say that there are such things as facts. So the line may be drawn here.”

It seems absurd to have to assert the existence of facts. But that’s the world that has been ushered in by Trump and his Legion of Liars. They can’t possibly persuade anyone to support them if they have to rely on reality. Consequently, they are determined to create their own reality and suck the weak into it. Whether or not the media does its job remains to be seen. But they haven’t got much of track record with which to instill confidence. Stay tuned. Or not.

Trump Punks America: 15 Broken Campaign Promises Since Election Day

Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump was in a frothing rage against what he insisted was making America a Hell hole. But for all the anxiety he caused, his post-election transformation may indicate it was all a ruse. The blustery ranting about immigrants, ObamaCare, and his despised rivals and critics, has melted into a sappy stew of acceptance.

Donald Trump Stupid

To illustrate that, Politico has put together a collection of “15 Trump Flip-Flops in 15 Days.” Some of these reversals are mind-boggling and sure to send his Deplorables into hysterics (see Politico for more details and supporting links):

On President Obama

During the campaign Trump called Obama the worst president in history and the founder of ISIS, among other things. Now he has “great respect” for him and looks forward to his counsel.

On Protesters

In overnight tweets Trump went from maligning protesters as “professionals” “incited by the media,” to loving their “passion for our great country.”

On ObamaCare

There were few more highly charged demands for Trump than his call to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Now he is cozying up to many of the provisions that define the program. For instance, mandating coverage for people with preexisting conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ policies.

On The Border Wall

Trump was unyielding in his insistence that an actual wall be constructed along the Southern border (paid for by Mexico). Then on 60 Minutes he conceded that he would be satisfied with a plain old fence.

On Gay Marriage

Before the election Trump told Fox News he would appoint judges who would reverse the recent decisions on marriage equality. After the election he told CBS that the matter was settled law and he was “fine with it.”

On Hillary Clinton

Who can forget Trump’s assertion that he would appoint a special prosecutor to go after Clinton and throw her in jail? Or his rallies where he led the crowd in chants to “Lock her up?” Now he’s telling the New York Times that he doesn’t want to hurt the Clintons. “I really don’t,” he said. “It’s just not something that I feel very strongly about.”

On Immigrants

Prior to election day Trump was adamant that all 11 million undocumented residents would be rounded up and deported. Post election day he is saying that his deportation force will only target a couple of million criminals (who are already being targeted by Obama’s DOJ).

On Fighting ISIS

Trump once demeaned the military and famously claimed that he knew more about ISIS than the generals. More recently he has changed his tune to tribute saying “We have some great generals.” Although he later reversed that as well, saying that they aren’t getting the job done.

On Nuclear Proliferation

This isn’t so much a reversal as it is an outright lie. During the campaign Trump advocated for countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia to defend themselves with their own nukes. After taking heat for that foolishness, he tried to pretend he never said it.

On The Electoral College

In another flip-flop-flip, Trump denounced the Electoral College as a “disaster.” Then praised it as “genius.” Then went back to saying that he was “never a fan of the electoral college.”

On Trump University

Trump steadfastly refused to settle with his former students who said they were victims of fraud. Until after the election when he settled for more than $25 million.

On Climate Change

Here is something that Trump once called a hoax created by China. And in any event it wasn’t caused by anything humans have done. Now he says that “I think there is some connectivity. Some, something.” You have to admire his articulate analysis of the science.

On The Paris Climate Agreement

In the same vein, last May Trump declared that he would pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement. But last Tuesday he told the New York Times that “I have an open mind to it.”

On Torture

Trump has long held that torture was an effective tool for fighting terror and that he supported waterboarding and even tactics that were “much stronger.” But he is backpedaling on that position after having met with General Mattis, a candidate for Secretary of Defense who opposes such measures.

On The New York Times

Along with many other media outlets, Trump castigated the Times as liars who were bent on destroying him. He rarely said their name without attaching the prefix “failing.” But in his meeting with them Tuesday he called them “a world jewel” for whom he has “great respect.”

Conclusion

After reviewing these stunning reversals, the inescapable conclusion is that Donald Trump has no moral core. Despite his brash rhetoric on the campaign trail, he is clearly not committed to any ideological agenda. You might expect his supporters to be disappointed upon learning that he isn’t planning on keeping his word. However, if the past is any indication, they are probably too wrapped up in hero worship to care.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It would be interesting to know how he would have fared if he ran on retaining ObamaCare, letting undocumented residents slide, and expressing his respect for Clinton and Obama. That we will never know. But going forward it would be premature for Democrats to get excited about Trump’s policy reversals. He could just as quickly shift back to his previous positions. The only thing that can be expected from him is inconsistency, hypocrisy, and the selfish pursuit of his own best interests.

Politico Nails Donald Trump As A Lazy Old Geezer

Among the favorite insults that Donald Trumps throws around at his rivals is that they lack the vigor required to perform the job of President of the United States. He has called Jeb Bush “low-energy” and accuses Hillary Clinton of not having the necessary “strength and stamina.” However, these are adjectives that more accurately describe Trump himself.

Donald Trump

Politico published a story today that looks at “Donald Trump’s low-energy campaign.” It goes into considerable detail to prove that it is Trump who is so averse to doing any work that he makes all of the other candidates look like film on fast-forward. In the early paragraphs they report that…

“Trump, who once derided Jeb Bush for lacking energy, has done fewer campaign swings than any of his top-tier rivals — 100, versus, for example, Bush’s 172. […] He has held only 27 events in New Hampshire over the course of 22 visits to the state, according to a tally kept by New England Cable News. By comparison, Christie has held 139 Granite State events.”

So Trump is conducting a fraction of the number of events that other candidates are holding. But it’s even worse than that. The events that Trump holds are large rallies that require almost nothing of him. He flies into town on his luxurious private 757 jet, is driven to the hall in the back of a limousine, delivers a speech that he spent no time writing or rehearsing since it’s all off the top of his head (and largely repeats of previous speeches), and then is whisked back to his plane for the ride back to his Manhattan penthouse. He could literally sleep through all of that except for the speech itself (which we sleep through).

This would also explain the complete lack of substance of his campaign. He has not produced a platform other than sloganeering and hollow blathering about building walls, deporting eleven million immigrants, and bombing the hell out of ISIS. In seven months of campaigning he has not explained how he would accomplish any of those goals. He just expects his glassy-eyed disciples to believe in him and nod in agreement. Fortunately for Trump, most of them are more than ignorant and unquestioning enough to do just that.

Trump’s campaign argues that he is reaching more people with his stadium events. That’s true. However, the process of winning primaries involves reaching out to broad constituencies and persuading them to vote for you. The people attending Trump’s rallies are mainly those who are already committed to him in his capacity as a celebrity and are not necessarily voters or even residents of the community or state where the event is held. There is no evidence that he is persuading new people to support him, which would make his rallies virtually pointless. Meanwhile, his opponents are holding smaller events at restaurants and school gymnasiums where they are shaking the hands of locals and working to make converts among people who actually vote and can influence others to do so.

The Trump people also cite the ridiculous amount of media he gets (ridiculous is his word for it). But he was getting that exposure before he started having rallies. And much of his media comes from his interviews on Fox News or Morning Joe. With respect to that, it is further proof that he is a lazy candidate since he rarely appears in the studio, preferring to phone in from his penthouse, in his silk pajamas, and have his intellectually vacant conversations with equally lazy television presenters.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This perspective reveals that the facade Trump is promoting is just more dishonesty from a candidate who is breaking all records for lying about himself and others (see the Trump Bullshitopedia). It is an old tactic of accusing your opponents of the things for which you are most guilty (projection). And it takes some real chutzpah to call Clinton or Bush lazy when you have done far less than any of the other candidates. But that’s the Trump brand that consists mainly of insulting others and bragging about himself. He’s a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and a slothful one at that.

Sunday Funnies: Recently Uncovered Video Of Donald Trump’s Childhood

Donald Trump, the media-designated front-runner for the Republican nomination for president, is said to have attained this status due to his straight talk and authentic style of connecting with GOP voters. Of course, Trump’s alleged lead is a myth that is exacerbated by shallow punditry and the media hunger for ratings.

Donald Trump

Trump has never led more than a small flock of GOP loonies, with 75-80% of poll respondents choosing other candidates. And he has consistently had the highest unfavorables of any candidate, Republican or Democratic. The only reason that Trump is ahead of his rivals now is that there are so many of them. When the roster is whittled down the remaining candidates will all be beating Trump.

As for his so-called plain speaking appeal, Jack Shafer at Politico put Trump’s rhetoric through the Flesch-Kincaid test where Trump scored at the third grade level. That’s probably still somewhat higher than most of his Tea-vangelical supporters. And despite his compulsion to repeatedly remind everyone how smart he is (something actual smart people never need to do), his public utterances invariably contradict him. This morning, for example, Chuck Todd asked Trump from whom he would get advice on the military were he president. Trump said that “I watch the shows,” referring to the Sunday morning news programs in the same way that fans of soap operas refer to their “stories.” He’s still in Reality TV mode.

Nevertheless, with so much of the media spotlight being cast on Trump, it is important to put his life in context. Particularly with regard to his early childhood development that reveals with stark clarity how he came to be the person he is today. As the son of privilege, little Donny was pampered and fawned over by his wealthy parents who set him up in business and eventually bequeathed him a couple hundred million dollars (which his poor business skills squandered). And to further flesh out Trump’s formative years, News Corpse acquired this exclusive video of a young Don expressing himself in much the same way that he does today.

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

The resemblance is obvious. And it doesn’t take much effort to chart the path from Trump’s greedy Narcissism as a juvenile to the political hogwash he espouses now. What’s more, those positions – from immigration, to taxes, to Iraq/Iran, to reproductive rights, to marriage equality, to Climate Change, to guns, to health care – are completely in line with with the Republican Party that he represents. So even when he is ultimately laughed off the stage, the GOP regulars will soldier on with the same agenda, albeit somewhat less foolishly articulated (not much, but somewhat).

What Conservatives (And Politico) Still Don’t Understand About Fox News

Earlier this month Bruce Bartlett published a paper titled “How Fox News Changed American Media and Political Dynamics.” Bartlett is a veteran conservative operative who worked in both the George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan White Houses. His paper’s premise is that Fox News has had a harmful effect on the Republican Party’s electoral appeal by herding its already right-wing flock into an even fringier parish where it is shielded from differing views. Bartlett appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning and said…

“I think many conservatives live in a bubble where they watch only Fox News on television, they listen only to conservative talk radio, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, many of the same people. When they go on to the Internet, they look at only conservative websites like National Review, Newsmax, World Net Daily, and so they are completely in a universe in which they are hearing the same exact ideas, the same arguments, the same limited amount of data repeated over and over and over again, and that’s brainwashing.”

Fox News Bad For GOP

Brainwashing is not too strong a word. Fox News has become the central authority in a cult-like cabal of rightist true-believers who envelope themselves in the scripture as preached by Fox. This has been proven by in-depth studies that show how conservatives have drastically constrained their news sources to a narrow collection of like-minded, far-right outlets. There’s an implicit belief that exposure to a contrary ideological creed would be a breach of faith and a mortal sin.

It is encouraging, therefore, to see a conservative with an open mind and the ability to recognize the toxic role that Fox has played in the media and in politics. Bartlett’s paper is an interesting and well-documented read. However, it took him long enough to come to these conclusions. News Corpse published an analysis of how Fox News Is Killing The Republican Party six years ago, with an update expanding on the theme last year. I wrote in part that…

Fox has corralled a stable of the most disreputable, unqualified, extremist, lunatics ever assembled, and is presenting them as experts, analysts, and leaders. These third-rate icons of idiocy are marketed by Fox like any other gag gift (i.e. pet rocks, plastic vomit, Sarah Palin, etc.) […and that…] Fox is driving the center of the Republican Party further down the rabid hole. They are reshaping the party into a more radicalized community of conspiracy nuts. So even as this helps Rupert Murdoch’s bottom line, it is making celebrities of political bottom-feeders. That can’t be good for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party.

Conservatives, of course, are appalled by the treasonous utterings of Bartlett. A good representative example of the reaction comes from Politico’s Jack Shafer who wrote a column that seeks to reveal “What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News.” However, in his attempt to rebut Bartlett he fails to even grasp the logical concepts being discussed. Nowhere is that more evident than when he writes that…

“Fox in its current incarnation is neither a help nor a hindrance. Fox News — and its Svengali Roger Ailes — aren’t the Republican kingmakers they’re made out to be. […] the network is better at employing presidential candidates than electing them.”

Let’s set aside the fact that this alleged rebuttal actually agrees with Bartlett’s core thesis that Fox is having an adverse effect on Republican politics. Where Shafer really goes off the rails is arguing that Fox’s failure to succeed in electing Republicans is not a negative for the Party. If creating a field of losers is not a hindrance, what is?

Shafer goes on to correctly note that Fox’s power is often exaggerated. What is bragged about as ratings dominance is, in reality, a rather minor victory. Shafer notes that “Fox’s most popular program, The O’Reilly Factor, pulls in about 3.3 million viewers on its best nights.” Once again, Shafer is late to the party. That is something News Corpse pointed out six years ago with some additional perspective:

“[S]uccess in the Nielsen ratings has no correlation to public opinion polling […because it is…] focused on consumers, not voters […and that…] There are many reasons people choose to watch TV shows, the most frequent being its entertainment value. So any attempt to tie ratings to partisan politics is a foolish exercise that demonstrates a grievous misunderstanding of the business of television.”

O’Reilly’s 3 million viewers is less than 1% of the American population. It’s also fewer viewers than World Wrestling Entertainment, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the CBS Evening News (the lowest rated broadcast network news program).

So what ever power Fox has is not vested in its audience. And this where Shafer, and most other conservative media pundits, fall off the wagon. Fox’s viewers were not turned into conservatives by watching Fox. They watch Fox because they are conservatives who need to have their preconceptions validated. Then, by being exposed to the bias and disinformation that makes up Fox’s programming, they become ignorant, radicalized conservatives.

The real power that Fox wields is with Republican office-holders, candidates and party strategists. They have been fooled into believing that Fox’s ratings are an indication of the nation’s political mood. Consequently, they believe that taking positions aligned with the extremist right-wingers on Fox will advance their electoral goals. That has cost the party dearly in the last two national elections. In fact, they were so befuddled by Fox that the election results, which most Americans could have predicted, were a shock to many Republicans and Fox pundits (recall Karl Rove’s tantrum on election night?).

News Corpse Presents: The ALL NEW 2nd volume of
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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All of this should make the next few weeks oodles of fun as GOP candidates seek to please the Fox-gods so that they win a spot on the debate stage. Fox announced that only the top ten candidates in an average of certain polls (that Fox will decide) will be included in the debates. Therefore, between now and then the candidates on the edge will have to take aggressive measures to appeal to the people who they think are likely to be polled.

That means more chest-beating about war with Iran, more hate-speech about gays, more talk of bigger, stronger fences on the border, more promises to slash taxes and government programs, and much more bashing of President Obama and Hillary Clinton. And that competition to become the most extreme wingnut will filter into the campaign strategies of the rest of the GOP field as they struggle to become the Fox favorite.. All of which will result in making them completely unelectable in the fall of 2016.

Politico Reporter Suspended For Telling The Truth: Romney Is More Comfortable Around White Folks

Yesterday on MSNBC’s Martin Bashir program, Politico reporter Joe Williams participated in a discussion about Mitt Romney’s tendency to restrict his public appearances to carefully choreographed events and friendly media outlets. It was noted that he has appeared on the widely reviled Fox & Friends 21 times in the last year. Fox & Friends is an avowedly right-wing mouthpiece for the GOP and a program about which even Fox reporters, producers and executives “roll their eyes” when asked about.

Williams noted that Romney’s preference for Fox & Friends, and similarly partisan settings, was interesting because it was “unscripted and it’s the only time they let Mitt off the leash.” He made the point that for Romeny to be successful he needs to broaden the range of people with whom he interacts.

Williams: Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in some town hall settings, why he can’t relate to people other than that. But when he comes on Fox and Friends, they’re like him, they’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.

That is an objectively true statement. Fox & Friends are indeed white folks and they appear to be very relaxed with one another. It is also true that Romney does appear to be more comfortable with people like himself, and he does exhibit noticeable awkwardness when he tries to connect with average Americans. It is that discomfort that has resulted in his embarrassing himself by saying that he likes to fire people, that his friends are NASCAR team owners, that his wife drives two Cadillacs, that corporations are people, and that he’s not concerned about the poor.

Nevertheless, Politico has suspended Williams for these comments. This is another example of the media punishing people for telling the truth about conservatives. It seems that the only people that are ever held to account are those to whom conservatives object. Earlier this year I documented a list of the “10 People Fox News Should Fire, But Haven’t.” Media suspensions have been handed out liberally (so to speak) to Roland Martin, David Shuster, Mark Halperin, and many others. While right-wing malfeasance is ignored or even rewarded. People like Liz Trotta, Juan Williams, Don Imus, and Lou Dobbs, have managed to escape any repercussions from their bad behavior.

A recent incident involving a reporter from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller illustrates this blatant unfairness perfectly. Neil Munro rudely shouted out questions in the middle of a presidential address. His inappropriate behavior was widely condemned, even by some staunch conservatives. However, rather than suspension, he was defended by Carlson and held up as an exemplary model of journalism. That’s the difference between the right and the left in the media. The right admires and rewards rudeness and dishonesty, and pays tribute to those who engage in it. The left punishes any hint of impropriety, even when there is no substance to it. All that has to happen is for some right-winger to complain.

As for Romney’s reputed comfort amongst his own people, I defy you find a person of color in this photograph taken from his website (click to enlarge), and then explain who he means by “us.”

Romney's White Folks