Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Trump almost certainly no longer has any chance to win Florida, the northern third of which is chock full of families connected with the military. [UPDATED.]

TRUMP: I think I’m going to to do great in Ohio, we’re going to do great in Pennsylvania, I think I’m going to do great in Florida and I think I’m going to do great in states that some people aren’t even thinking about. Because I’m different than Republican candidates, than other Republican candidates. I’ve got states that we can win that other Republican candidates wouldn’t even stop over for dinner.

— Donald Trump, during an interview yesterday with Washington Post political reporter Philip Rucker

As a native Midwesterner who had always thought of “Florida” as consisting of south Florida, the Tampa Bay area, the Orlando area, and the parts that connected them, I had no idea that northern Florida is pretty much a world unto itself.  Or that it even existed.

But I’ve become familiar with it and therefore know it definitely exists.  I also know that with the exception of its two major state college towns both of them very liberal it is politically beet read. And that one significant reason for it (albeit not the primary reason) is that scads of families in northern Florida have close ties in one way or another to the military: An immediate family member is active-military, retired career military, or is a veteran.  Many families have more than one such tie.

This is true even in the two major college towns, one of which has a large Veterans Hospital connected to the University of Florida medical complex for medical training and for research.

I’m guessing that the same is true of North Carolina, but Trump theoretically could lose that state and still win if he manages to win Rust Belt states (he won’t, but I’m speaking theoretically here).  He cannot win under any theory, though, if he loses Florida.

I’m well aware that the Trumpers who are his base in the South—the Trumpers who believe that Muslim terrorists are streaming into this country by the thousands, not the Trumpers who believe Trump will restore manufacturing to the Rust Belt—get literally all the political things they believe are fact from talk radio (I don’t mean NPR), Facebook and Twitter.

That of course is not limited to residents of former Confederate states.  I know that. But it appears to be intensely prevalent in those states.  Last week a man I know shocked me when he told me he planned to vote for Trump as “the lesser evil,” because “at least he’ll stop all those Muslin terrorists from coming into the country.”  I thought he was joking, and laughed.

But then he told me that a house guest of his, from rural southern Missouri (who, this man also mentioned, was frustrated because his recent application for food stamps had been denied), had told him that Muslims have been beheading people in this country.  Using swords.

I assumed he was joking, and chuckled again, but he said, “In Michigan.  It happened in Michigan.”  I joked, “In Michigan? Just in Michigan?  Why are they picking on Michigan?”

He said, “Oh, it’s all over the country.  In Arizona, in …”  “In Arizona, too?”, I said.  “Yes. All over the country.”  John (his house guest) has told him.  John saw it on his Facebook page.

I was starting to realize that this man was serious.  He believed his house guest.  I said, “And you don’t think this would been, maybe, a really big news story?”

“John says the news media just reports what it wants to report.  They’re just not reporting this.”

I laughed—really laughed.  I pointed out that the victims’ families probably would have reported this to the police, who probably would have contacted the FBI, and also probably would have mentioned the death to, say, other family members, the victim’s employer or work colleagues, neighbors, and the like.  There probably also would have been a funeral home involved that would have noticed the severed head or the deep slash at the neck if the head was not completely severed.

Lots and lots of people, in Michigan, in Arizona, and elsewhere around the country would have to have been silent.

And then there was he question of how John’s Facebook contacts learned of this.  Did they know victims or a member of the victims’ families?

This man began to laugh—at himself and at John.  “Guess it didn’t happen, did it?”, he said.  “No,” I told him.

The incident shook me.  I hadn’t realized how widespread the susceptibility to profoundly illogical conspiracy theories and the like is.

But I digress.  Talk radio folks are smart enough to know that here are limits even to what most of their credulous audience believe.  And they also know that the larger media would report that the talk radio host was pedaling this.

So, back to the very large presence in northern Florida of families tied to and highly sympathetic to military families.

The Trump v. Khan story has broken through even the talk radio bubble for people who normally are encased in it, partly because of Facebook, I’m guessing.  And it’s unlikely to be treated as media-bias-against-Trump.  Is is instead likely to be a bridge too far for a good many of these families with military ties, whose members now are likely to simply sit out this election, I’m betting.

The next round of polls in Florida and North Carolina will be significant, but not necessarily fully accurate regarding these voters, some of whom may not be ready to tell pollsters that they’re dumping Trump but who already know they will do that by sitting out this election.

I suspect also that Rust Belters who have been considering voting for Trump for despite rather than because of Ban Muslims and Build the Wall–some of them Sanders supporters in the primaries–are unabashedly done with Trump, because of a slew of high profile Trump comments and actions in the last two weeks.

Even apart from the specifics–NATO, Putin, the Khan family, bizarre claims about crime and his decision to try to piggyback on the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge (Law and Order!)–there is now a cascading recognition that Trump is severely mentally ill. This awareness, I suspect, is acute among military families and people whose ancestors are from former Eastern Bloc countries.

But I think it probably is spreading across a broad spectrum of voters, suddenly. The frequency of what appear to be public displays of actual insanity are increasing and probably will continue to increase.

Which raises the question, I guess, of a Republican third-party candidate or possibly Pence becoming the nominee somehow.  In any event, Clinton will be the next president and is freed to campaign as whatever, ideologically, she wishes.

Courtesy of the Trump Trojan horse, albeit not in the way I had warned of.

____

UPDATE:  The New York Times has an in-depth report online today about this.  Titled “Donald Trump Risks Alienating Military Communities in Swing States,” reporters Alexander Burns, Noah Remnick and Nick Corasaniti, in Portsmouth, NH, Jacksonville, FL, Colorado Springs, Virginia Beach and Tucson interview (apparently) mostly fairly elderly veterans, a few of them retired career military, about this.  (I think active-military folks are prohibited from speaking publicly about presidential candidates or the about the president.)

Added 8/4 at 6:22 p.m.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (23) | |

There’s a Palpable Fear Amongst Kansans, All Across That State, That the Farm Subsidy Levels They Love, and Cherish, and Honor, Will Be Reduced or that the Program Will Be Eliminated. (Or, in light of their senior senator’s comments earlier this week, there should be.)

Post has been cut-and-paste-typo-corrected. 9/28 at 11:43 a.m.

—-

There’s a palpable fear amongst Kansans, all across this state, that the America that we love, and cherish, and honor, will not be the same America for our kids and grand kids. And that’s wrong. That’s very wrong.

As a result, unfortunately, people are losing faith in their government. And turn it around: Government is losing faith in our people. That is a bad situation to be in.

And I will tell you that one of the reasons—I’m not [edit: my initial transcript did not include ‘not’ because I misheard Roberts, which makes this even funnier] going to get partisan here—but one of the reasons I’m running is to change that. To change that. There’s an easy way to do it. I’ll let you figure it out. But, at any rate, we have to change course, because our country is headed for national socialism. That’s not right. Changing the culture, changing what we’re all about.

— Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, Sept. 23

Some political reporters and pundits kinda wondered whether this 78-year-old man, who unlike, say, most thirtysomethings, surely knows that “national socialism” has a very particular meaning—and knows what that particular meaning is—actually meant to invoke that particular meaning.  The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, however, figured that Roberts really meant to call Obama a socialist rather than a Nazi.  So Rucker asked him yesterday whether he actually thinks Obama is a socialist.  To which Roberts responded, um, yes.*

Or, precisely:

I believe that the direction he is heading the country is more like a European socialistic state, yes. You can’t tell me anything that he has not tried to nationalize.

Actually, you can tell him that there are a few things that Obama has not tried to nationalize.  Farming, however, is not amongst them, since that was nationalized around the same time as low-level retirement benefits were nationalized: The mid-1930s.

Get your government hands off my farm subsidies!

Yes, there probably is a palpable fear amongst Kansas, all across that state, that the America we love, cherish, and honor, will not be the same America for their kids and grandkids.

Some of them may fear a permanent return to the Dust Bowl days–although the ones now enjoying that socialized pension program and the socialized healthcare program for the post-65 crowd enacted when they were in their 20s and 30s may not cherish and honor the Dust Bowl era all that much.

Some of them may fear collapsing infrastructure, and a failure to construct needed additions to existing infrastructure.

Some of them should have feared the repeal of the Depression-era banking-regulation laws, such as the Glass-Steagall act, when it might have mattered, but now would like to see those laws reenacted as a step toward returning America to the one they love, cherish, and honor.

Which, not coincidentally, also was the America that funded its national government through far more progressive taxation than the one that Roberts claims is the America that Kansas love, cherish, and honor.

It also was the America that funded its local governments through means other than outlandishly disproportionate fines and fees, and that had not yet privatized–a comically accurate description, if ever there was one–government functions and services.

And it was the America–not at all coincidentally–whose income and wealth inequality had not yet spiraled completely out of control.

It was, in  fact, a pre-Reagan Revolution America.  An America whose political system was not yet thoroughly in the chokehold of the likes of the Koch brothers—who are Kansans who do have palpable fears, but not necessarily the ones that a majority of Kansans all across that state have. Or even across the Wichita metropolitan area, where the Kochs live.

Maybe sometime before the election, some reporter will ask Roberts whether there should be a palpable fear amongst Kansans, all across that state, that the farm-subsidy levels they love, and cherish, and honor will be reduced or that the program will be eliminated.  And then ask a similar question about Social Security and Medicare.

And then they should ask–clearly, specifically, outright–what exactly it is that Republican politicians promise a return to. And what it is that Americans who want to return to the old days really want America to return to.

There’s a palpable fear amongst progressives that no reporter will ask these questions, though.

—-

*Paragraph cut-and-paste-typo-corrected (finally). Aaaarrrgghh. 9/28 at 11:43 a.m.

Tags: , , , , , , Comments (5) | |

Did Romney’s Foreign Policy Team Indicate That He Would Try to Establish Autocratic Puppet Regimes In the Middle East?

The headline on the Washington Post’s opening Web page was irresistible: “Romney aides: No Mideast turmoil if he were president.”  The headline of the actual article, by Philip Rucker, though, is headlined “Romney team sharpens attack on Obama’s foreign policy.” 

Both headings are accurate. Romney’s foreign policy team—drawn, apparently, entirely from the farthest-right faction of George W. Bush’s foreign policy advisors—issued a series of written statements yesterday.  And among them, if I understand correctly, is one in which they suggest that the Obama administration should have established a puppet government in Libya after Gadhafi fell last year. Oh, and probably one in Egypt, too.  And in Yemen, and in ….

Y’all know: Like the puppet government that these very same folks, then Bush administration officials, tried to establish in Iraq back in 2003.  The effort that worked out so well.  Remember?

It’s time now for Obama and the news media to make it far better known than it is now who Romney’s foreign policy team members are—and to remind people of what happened when last they directed this country’s foreign policy. 

As for the fact that Romney has delusions of autocratic grandeur, or at least of mystical powers over Middle Easterners to cause them to happily acquiesce to our efforts to control them, Romney himself is taking care of that just fine, thank you. 

And at least he’s finally making clear where all that extra money for defense spending will go.  If not where that money will come from.  

Romney’s sons all are too old to be subject to any new military draft necessitated by his and his policy team’s  desires, and his grandchildren all are very young.  So the Romney family is save.  Many other families, though, probably not so much.

Tags: , , , , , Comments (10) | |