That Thing Donald Trump Said About Pat Buchanan

I did a little digging into Donald Trump’s gobsmacking statement on Meet the Press this morning. For those that have not already seen, given the opportunity to disavow the endorsements of White Supremacists as notorious as David Duke, Trump said simply, “I don’t know David Duke.”

As has been commented frequently on social media, anyone under 30 could be forgiven for not seeing any particular relevance to the name David Duke. But a man as politically and socially active as Trump at Trump’s age cannot with any shred of credibility state that they do not know the name David Duke. Not at least enough to know that his is an endorsement no serious candidate to the Presidency could accept. Yet, giving the opportunity, Trump dodged the question.

But there is at least this little nugget of Donald Trump’s colorful political past, wherein he seems to directly refute the candidacy of Pat Buchanan (another name the under-30 set is not obligated to know). Refute, that is, because he believed Patrick Buchanan was a “Hitler-lover.”

Slate (USA)October 26, 1999
Copyright (c) 1999, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC
Record Number: 10-26/services/public/syndication/syndication.asmx/Get_PageId_1003886/index.html
Section: ballot box
Buchanan Cuts Hitler Another Break
Author: Jacob Weisberg

Pat Buchanan’s Holocaust revisionism has never taken the form of his denying that Nazis murdered some Jews. Rather, he has consistently hinted, indicated, and implied that that he thinks the Nazis were somewhat less guilty of the Holocaust than people make them out to be. Today on ABC’s Good Morning America, Buchanan tried shifting the blame for the Holocaust away from the Nazis once again. Asked by Diane Sawyer about Donald Trump‘s comment that he was a “Hitler-lover,” the newest candidate for the Reform Party nomination had this to say:

Well let me explain. In the book I wrote, I referred to Hitler as a monster. I say that he–he behaved like Al Capone in his first days in office and he and Stalin let loose their SS and NKVD killers and set up Auschwitz and perpetuated the massacre.

The Russian NKVD was the 1930s ancestor of the KGB. It helped Stalin to kill many millions in its day. The Jews of Auschwitz, however, were not among them. To be more specific: Russian NKVD killers did not help to “set up Auschwitz.” Nor did they “perpetuate the massacre” there. Auschwitz didn’t even begin operating as a death camp until 1942, long after Hitler ended his non-aggression pact with Stalin by invading the Soviet Union.

Claiming that Hitler and the Nazis weren’t solely responsible for Auschwitz may be the single most extraordinary and outrageous thing Buchanan has ever said about the Holocaust. It isn’t anyone’s eccentric or revisionist view of history. It’s the fantasy of a disturbed person who thinks he can get elected president with the support of the Teamsters, David Duke, and Lenora Fulani.

Yesterday the Republican Party … today his faculties.

So if you’re keeping score at home, shifting blame away from Hitler is beyond the pale for Donald Trump. But getting the endorsement of one of Buchanan’s own favourites is not worth disavowing.


Science at the SCOTUS: Clean Power Plan in the dumpster.

There are many ways in which the sudden and suddenly-political death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has the potential to impact the ordinary lives of every citizen. So far, no one has declared an upside, which is a statement unto itself. We here at DFE decided to take a look from the perspective we know best.

There are a number of cases either before the Supreme Court right now, possibly held up over the threatened year of inaction between now and Election Day, or heard but not yet ruled on. Many of those either rely on the legal interpretation of science or affect interests of the scientific community.

One big story that’s not really getting a lot of play in mainstream channels is the fate of the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan is the Obama Administration’s EPA plan for cutting emissions at power plants. Power plant hydrocarbon emissions make up a substantial 40% of the total for the United States. The Obama Administration plans to leave as its environmental legacy a system aimed at cutting those emissions by 2030.

But the bombshell from just a week and a half ago was that the Supreme Court ordered the program halted pending a hearing in the Court. That hearing could be pending for quite some time if Republicans make good with their post-election nomination plans. And if a Democrat wins the White House, they may find some new excuse to stall longer.

The Clean Power Plan is a fairly modest proposal that doesn’t even set the goal of the program for another four years. It stipulates that emissions in 2030 will not be more than 16% less than those in 2020. Legally loopy enough for you? Well, get ready for the reason the SCOTUS put the Clean Power Plan on hold:

The various parties challenging the Clean Power Plan, which include multiple states and energy companies, raise several disagreements with how the EPA has interpreted its own authority to regulate under the Clean Air Act. The most difficult question presented by this case, however, isalso the most absurd. A quarter-century ago, Congress enacted two conflicting amendments to the Clean Air Act. One of these amendments arguably prevents the EPA from moving forward with the Clean Power Plan, the other does not.

It is as if Schrödinger’s cat were written into the United States Code. The cat is both alive and dead. The Clean Power Plan is both legal and illegal.

In other words, there is nothing about the letter of the law that is unconstitutional. This is only a matter of which cat gets to exist, based on neither random chance nor on cosmic coincidence. Purely – exclusively – based on politics. And now the politics of the Supreme Court may be changing. Will be changing, one way or the other.


Do Republicans plan to campaign on the SCOTUS nom?

As if their prospects weren’t already looking, well,.. a little mealy in the first place,.. it really begins to seem like Republicans are planning to campaign on the SCOTUS vacancy. Like it or not, without confirmation hearings, SCOTUS will be a big part of the campaign. For a really long time.

Almost a year. Through all the debates. Every single time you hear a Republican speak or be interviewed, the question will come up. One will accuse the other of wanting to appease Obama. The other will complain about a negative attack advert featuring Scalia’s face. Over and over and over again.

How long before the public is just straight-up bored and filled with resentment of the topic by Election Day? How soon before late night comedians are making snarky, “just get it over with” jokes on a nightly basis?

If anyone on the Democratic side chooses to use the topic to highlight the profound lack of appointments in the Republican-led Senate, people might start asking questions. Why is this almost OCD obsession with obstruction necessary?

It just seems like a long-term loser, to me.


Bite mark forensics bite the dust in Texas

Way back when, monsters like Ted Bundy were taken off the streets in part because of a relatively new scientific field called bite-mark forensics. The idea was that the arrangement of teeth in a suspect’s mouth would leave a signature bite mark. If that bite mark could be traced back to a suspect, then this was proof that the bite had to have come from his or her mouth.

The only downside to that concept was that it never had a single shred of scientific proof that it worked. Nothing at all.

The problem with bite mark analysis is that, while it is true that a mouth full of teeth will leave a distinct pattern on something flat and immobile, most things in this world are not quite so perfectly constructed for bite mark analysis. in the particularly ghoulish case of tooth marks in flesh, the flesh tends to bend and warp and flesh does. This renders what little reliability bite-mark forensics has moot.

So, this is another one of those cases where forensic science is getting gut-punched while case after case is overturned on the basis of evidence once presented to us as infallible.

Bite mark forensics is the study of how bite marks can be used to identify the dental “signature” of an individual. Such evidence has been used to convict Ted Bundy, among others.

Source: Texas bans the use of bite mark forensics in court cases – DragonFlyEye.Net


Are Cons really ready to let Donald Trump nominate the next SCOTUS Justice?

I have no illusions that either I understand the Trump movement nor that my sense of logic is shared by any of them. But it does make me wonder, now that Antonin Scalia is gone: does the Conservative Movement really let Donald Trump call the shots on the next SCOTUS Justice?

Because the problem mainstream Conservatism has had with Donald Trump is also his greatest electoral strength: his willingness to go his own route at any expense and come out smelling like a rose. His “Brand,” to which I am sure he has great fidelity, wouldn’t suffer being told who to pick.

Or maybe it would, if Cons strike the right bargain. But I don’t think they planned for more horse trading.

The extreme poles of any political argument are usually the worst deal-makers. And it’s clear from this article that a great deal of Conservative wish-list ruling hangs in the balance. Is there a better option among the field of candidates?

Bush will say yes to anything, I’m pretty sure. Nobody likes Cruz except his mysterious voters. Carson is… oh, hell no. I wouldn’t trust Carson with a bag of old oranges. Kaisich seems an unlikely choice for pretty much anything more ambitious than County Clerk.

On second thought, maybe the Cons really don’t have a reliable horse in the race, anymore.

It is reasonable to believe, then, that the Supreme Court will try to avoid a 4-4 split when it can by getting a majority of the eight justices to agree on some sort of a comprise that either makes a decision that is narrower, takes a more moderate course or sends the case back down to the lower court for further consideration. Chief Justice John Roberts can also opt to have certain cases reargued once a ninth justice is confirmed, though the calculus for that route is complicated by Senate Republicans’ vow to delay any nominations until after the 2017 inauguration.

Source: Scalia’s Death Came As Conservatives Were About To Seize Historic Legal Gains


Rubio invokes the Butterfly Effect to blame Clinton for 9/11

Technically, because the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797 was signed by John Adams, President Adam’s act of cowardly capitulation is probably what lead to 9/11. But don’t tell Marco. He’s on a roll.

“No, he made a decision not to take out its leader, which I think ended up being there, the situation that happened with 9/11. And as this was a response to an attack, that the reason why 9/11 happened was because of George W. Bush,” Rubio said. “And my argument is, if you’re going to ascribe blame, don’t blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.”

Source: Rubio Clarifies Whether He Thinks Bill Clinton Is Responsible For 9/11


Post-debate thoughts: wrapping it up.

I hope that if you read my blog tonight, you enjoyed the Marshallesque debate blog. I’ve avoided these things all season because frankly, there’s just so much a healthy person can take of politics for whom politics are not a second nature. No offense to those who enjoy it. It’s just not my bag. Anymore.

But Antonin Scalia’s passing just made the debate too important not to take a first-person temperature test of the fever swamp. Just how bad is bad, these days?

I think that South Carolina’s decisiveness as a primary state meant that everybody was at their wonkiest best tonight. No matter how fired up the debate got, it was based on facts. Whether those facts were relevant – as in the case of Rubio’s attack on Cruz’s amendments, where it was not – probably doesn’t much matter. They’re arguing over issues of substance.

Trump is definitely tracking to the center, as well as towards the sane. His criticisms of the Bush Administration were considered and accurate. Much of the reporting tonight will be about his attack on the Bush Administration. But in reality, he gave cover for everyone to make harsh criticisms of the Bush Admin. Even Jeb.

What made the whole debate worth watching was how hard the second tier of the race bent towards the sane donor class. It’s part of what makes Trump’s simultaneous scornful joking about the donor class and obvious bowing towards the donor class so interesting. Whether he’s trying to assuage their fears or elicit their money remains to be seen, but any business man would be a fool not to accept willful support and financial donation.

Trump’s political career, such as it is, relies on being independent from the establishment and by extension, the donors. But if he’s going to appeal to the great swath of Middle America, he may need more money than is reasonable for one man to lay out.


Debate Blogging

http://f9:03: “Brilliant legal scholar” and a moment of silence. GAME ON!

9:07: Trump decided to go Google a few good options for SCOTUS. But otherwise, he seems resigned to the idea that Obama will nominate.
Kaisich doesn’t want this to run into politics, and thinks the best idea is to either not nominate, or else nominate someone everybody just love, l0ve, loves. Good idea.
Carson: doesn’t think lifetime appointments are a very good idea. Also, we don’t need to be political, we need healing, fuck Obama.
Rubio: pretty boy studied some talking points. Says it’s not unprecedented, but cites a completely bogus idea that lame duck presidents don’t nominate. Forgetting the God of Republicans, Reagan.
Bush: Surprisingly lucent argument that nominating justices with no record isn’t working. Better to fight for the nomination you want. We need concensus, so fuck Obama..
Cruz: “80 years of not confirming.” Getting the facts straight gets a boo from the audience. But the grandstand on the SCOTUS is actually very effective and sounds legitimately heart-felt. Really, I think he comes off a lot better than Trump, whom to the crazies, probably sounds too soft.

9:18: Trump’s commentary on our overall foreign policy is lucid and effective. Not specific, but very few politicians are in this context. Rubio is the best speech maker on the stage. But I don’t hear a lot that is any less robotic than it was before. Carson just sounds wobbly in the beginning, but his idea of being an experimental doctor is interesting. Not sure if interesting gets across in this environment. Kaisich is way too wonky. Bush sounds schooled and informed. His answers sound rational and considered, not posed and rehearsed.

9:27: Trump says you can’t fight two wars in front of a room full of people who supported fighting two wars for how long? Oh, and he tries the “special interests” joke a second time. Bush rises to the “bitch-slap politics” of Trump pretty decent, in my view. He still sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. Trump just sounds angry. Cruz argues against regime change in front of a room full of people who have supported regime change for how long? He also supports air attacks, which generally is received as pussy work by Republicans.

9:32Vomiting child break. Sorry. I won’t be continuing this live blog. But the statements on the SCOTUS were what I was after.

9:50: Ok, I’m back. Kaisich sounds informed. But in being informed, he’s required to accept the expansion of Medicare, which is an anathema. “Repeal and replace” is the Bush line. I’m not sure that the “replace” thing works anymore for Republican audiences. Kaisich cites Reagan. It becomes a Traditional Conservative-off. Probably not a winning strategy. I don’t know what the hell Ben Carson just said. Absolutely no idea.

Commercial break thoughts: It is genuinely breathtaking how little sanity seems to matter in this primary. Kaisich and Bush have substantive differences on real policy issues. And they’re fighting an uphill battle against pure id and bitch-slap. How does any of that anger play out against an electorate made up of people who actively support the things Republicans are so pissed off about?

Trump seems a lot more focused on genuine answers to policy questions than in the past. He’s got his applause lines. He’s not letting go of the Republican Screaming Id’s hand. But he’s also getting just serious enough to be taken seriously by the people who want him out, the Republican establishment.

Also: what does “vicerous” mean?

10:04: Cruz tries to get in on the “donor class” schtick. Trump can do that. Cruz needs those dollars. Cruz’s debate skills are showing through, though. Somehow, Rubio backs Cruz up on his record on immigration and it backfires against Cruz. Bush is a lot less informed on this issue, or else doesn’t know how to communicate it. Least of all to this red-meat crowd.

Jeb Bush’s defense against Trump was laughably weak. But Trump’s whole “take his pants off” thing is weirdly weak as well. Kaisich argues for less negative adverts. In a Republican primary. What is he smoking?

10:14: Shorter Carson: Financial execs committing crimes? We need less regulation! Because reasons! Cruz can’t even complete a sentence when the question is about helping the poor and minorities. Trump gets asked a basic question. He spins it into a crap argument about “deal making.” He was asked how he could promise taxes on companies leaving America like he promised his supporters.

Commercial break thoughts: Trump is way off right now. It really seems like he’s trying to pivot to the general right now by offering solutions that sound cogent. This is exactly what most observers have always assumed he would do eventually. But right now seems way too early. What is he seeing in South Carolina that the rest of us don’t? He’s four points ahead and falling in SC. Arguments among the second tier seem focused on seeming rational to the Republican donor class, which has yet to fully commit to anyone specifically.

10:24: Trump is now a “common-sense Conservative.” Fully in pivot mode. Meanwhile, Cruz hits Trump on abortion. Trump responds with bitch-slap about lying.


The Datagram: Valentine’s Day is damned unfair

Life’s not fair. Your mom told you that. But take a look at these numbers. It’s bad enough that men outspend women on Valentine’s Day – it’s bad enough that we’ve let the Hallmark Corporation get away with this Valentine’s Day bullshit for as long as we have in the first place – but it’s clearly not being spent on anything we men can enjoy.

And before you say it, any sex that happens on this day was absolutely not either paid for nor expected nor even wished for too earnestly. We’re just trying to survive, here, fellas.

[posts post_type=”datagram” loop=”datagrams” taxonomy=”post_tag” tax_slug=”valentines” posts_per_page=”100″]


Messaging in a Time of Micro-celebrity

I mentioned this on social just a little while ago, but I wanted to expand on my thoughts here. Watching the below-linked video, it occurred to me that what separates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the minds of lots of Internet-aware voters is that Hillary is ready to find a message and pound it into your head the old fashioned way. Sanders has shown a willingness to let his supporters define their own versions of the message.

In a world where every individual with a smartphone – including yours truly – can become a celebrity in their own minds, is it self-defeating to try to define your own message at those voices’ expense? We hear a lot about Hillary’s lack of authenticity, but it seems like the real problem is that she’s trying too hard to get the old Clinton mojo back.

Even if she could play sax, showing up on a late night show to play an instrument didn’t do Mike Huckabee shit, so why would she expect that we’ll all behave as we did in the 90’s? Maybe it’s because, as a career messenger and “triangulator” in the parlance of our day, she can’t afford the messiness of an off-message supporter.

Bernie Sanders has no such hang-ups. He’s been willing to say “we don’t need you.” And he can do so without irony, because he’s not secretly huddling up with them in some bank-funded private luncheon.

The Senator didn’t reach out to me all of a sudden because he needs help with Black people. He didn’t put out a press conference announcing that we would be working together. He didn’t force me to frame my support of him around a subject matter that special interest groups that support him can get behind. They said we are glad to have your support, how do you want to plug in. You will see a lot of Black leaders handing out endorsements, think to yourself, have they historically been a rubber stamp for the establishment? I hope this expresses why I think Bernie is our guy!

Source: Erica Garner’s Commercial Endorsing Bernie Sanders for President – Erica Garner


The Flaming Id: a theory of Republican primary lunacy.

Last presidential election season, it was easy to spot. A seemingly endless stream of candidates ascended to the top slot on a weekly basis. From Herman “Nein-nein-nein” Cain to a desperate attempt to get the now-deceased Fred Thompson into the race, the clown car never seemed bereft of options.

This season, it’s been harder to spot because one name has managed to dominate the sideshow so long. Many of us braced for an entire general election season of The Donald. Trump did to lock up the crazy vote; a vote which to the dismay of many – not least the crazy people – wasn’t nearly enough to carry the day in Iowa.

Donald Trump got taken down by predictable means: Religious Right members who’ve raised enough children not to be gulled by his idiocy. Cruz will likely be hobbled by New Hampshire Republicans to whom his gross brand of ur-Conservativism is an anathema.

But there is a common thread between these two primary seasons and many before them. It’s what I think if as The Flaming Id.

The Flaming Id

Deep within the breast of every die-hard Conservative, there is a spoiled child that’s as certain they’re being cheated by someone less Conservative, as they are that the sun will come up tomorrow. They’re not sure if it’s The Blacks®, The Gays®, some sort of terrorist/Muslim/Kenyan cabal… but they’re damned sure it’s someone. Someone, of course, wrapped up in the iron-clad Politically Correct® armor Liberals built for them.

And they’re just as certain that if they breathed a word of any of this at work, they’d be fired. If they breathed a word of it in public, they’d be shunned. But that doesn’t mean they can’t cheer on a candidate to the presidency who says it!

Fundamentally, Democrats and Republicans think of and experience primaries completely differently. For Democrats, the challenge is always to get through the primaries with the sharpest elbows and the sweetest tongues. You don’t need to go about winning primaries by pissing off core constituencies. Primaries are awful things to the weak coalitions built of such disparate interests.

But primaries are like a $300 car to Republicans. They don’t mean shit except as an excuse to go joy riding through the mud. Cheerlead anyone you like: you know they won’t win. There’s no need to assume any responsibility for the way the primaries turn out, because one way or another, you know who will win. The man that will win will always be the stock Republican.

He’ll be the company man. The former governor. The business exec. And no, he won’t be whore-mongering, loud-mouthed Donald Trump. He’ll be someone that Establishment Republicanism can bank on for incremental change on taxes and due platitudes to religiosity.

Rubio is probably not the best stock candidate you’ve ever seen. He’s not very experienced. He’s pitifully inept on immigration. In general, he really doesn’t look that tough. But just because he’s not the best, that doesn’t mean he might not do the job. Time will tell. But the primaries? The primaries have nothing to do with it.

Crime Technology

Body Cameras in Rochester. 5 questions yet to be answered.

Now that the City of Rochester has accepted a vendor for the body-worn cameras (BWC) City police officers will be wearing, they should now be fully-ensconced in the process of writing up policy documents for their full-time use. This is according to the City of Rochester’s timeline of events here. The City offers many “model policies” as envisioned by the ACLU and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as actual policy docs from similarly-sized cities in the US.

But while we wait for the formal policy document to be announced, I’m left with 5 big questions about what I’m seeing.

#5. Who are the RPD’s policy-writing partners?

The timeline notes that throughout the months of January, February and March, “RPD is working with its partners, to include the Rochester Police Locust Club” to develop a policy document for BWC use in the field. The RPD and the Locust Club – cops and more cops – we know about. Who else? How will the concerns of the public, ably voiced in community input sessions, be represented in policy meetings?

#4. What makes video “evidentiary?”

Standard in the model policies is the clause that video should be kept only if the information contained in it is considered “evidentiary” to an ongoing investigation or trial. This makes sense. But the question is how “evidentiary” is defined, and in relation to what?

If a BWC is used in a traffic stop on East Ave while there is a simultaneous investigation of underage drinking on the same street? Does evidence get stockpiled in the name of the second investigation, at the expense of the people involved in the first?

#3. Under what circumstances can “non-evidentiary” video be reexamined?

The public comments make clear that local residents are OK with keeping video on file that is currently being used in an investigation or trial. They even seem to be OK with allowing non-evidentiary video to be kept on hand. The ACLU recommends allowing non-evidentiary video files to be kept up to 6 months. But why allow the video to remain at all, if there’s no immediate reason to find the video evidentiary? The obvious answer would be to reinvestigate the video in the event that some other crime might be solved with it.

By whose authority is that video reopened? Is a warrant required to reopen the archived video? Some other benchmark? In fact,

#2. Does a subject of a BWC video get notified of the video’s status?

We can guess that the answer to this is, ‘no.’ But that raises more questions. Are we all supposed to just believe that local police have disposed of video? Or can we be informed in keeping with our right to privacy? If there is a reason to keep a tape of a resident beyond the retention policy, that certainly seems like something they should be made aware of, yet doing so just as obviously could endanger important police investigations.

#1. Can policy ever match reality?

We invest a lot of faith in our institutions: it’s a cornerstone of a functional democracy. The effectiveness of local police is no less critically based on faith and trust – even if that trust is tested on a moment-by-moment basis. But a casual read of even the most conservative model policy on body worn cameras reads like a buffet of civil rights violation.

You don’t have to fear the “dirty cop,” the “rogue,” the “out of control sargeant” nor any other made-for-TV cop bad guy to understand that the models seem like a problem. A liberal reading of even the ACLU’s model policy could lead to perpetual video records of Rochester, one side to the other. Unless Rochester’s policy ends up being a lot more conservative than the models, how well or poorly body cameras are implemented is going to come down to trust.

And it’s trust that the body cameras are supposed to improve. A tall order.