They Haven’t Learned

The media showered Donald Trump with unnecessary attention all last week in honor of his re-election rally kickoff in Orlando, Florida. The coverage was so reminiscent of 2016, that it raises fresh concerns about whether the news media has learned anything from previous campaign about covering a whiny bully like Trump. Will journalists still view him through the lens of celebrity and hold him to almost no substantive standards, while echoing his lies and bogus attacks on his enemies?

Coming off the monumental failure of 2016, the press seems poised to stumble through another campaign to failure. Especially since, following the 2016 debacle, many in the press refused to concede that any mistakes had been made, let alone offer up much serious self-reflection.

It’s likely the White House loved how rally week played out, with an avalanche of coverage that mostly regurgitated Trump’s stale, familiar rally speech, which leans heavily on victimhood. One of the media themes regarding Trump’s event was that, with his endless attacks on Hillary Clinton, he’s stuck in the past.

But the same point can be made about the press, which seems determined to hit rewind for 2020. And that means a return of the circus-like, spectacle-type campaign coverage Lord Dampnut loves.

Last week the press sent some 500 journalists to Orlando for the indoor event. But what exactly was the point of the endless media attention, considering that Trump has held more than 50 rallies since taking office?

Trump talking = news is a ridiculous formula for newsrooms to be using in 2019. Yet last week, ABC News adopted the premise, when the network aired an hour-long prime-time special of, well, Trump talking. There was no news hook for the unusual programming event, which featured ABC’s George Stephanopoulos shadowing Trump over the course of two days and recording Trump lying relentlessly. Not surprisingly, it was a ratings flop.

Still, the press seems committed to the idea that every Trump utterance is wildly important and newsworthy. Here’s how The New York Times reported Trump’s rally:

“President Trump delivered a fierce denunciation of the news media, the political establishment and what he called his radical opponents on Tuesday as he opened his re-election campaign in front of a huge crowd of raucous supporters by evoking the dark messaging and personal grievances that animated his 2016 victory.”

Subtract the phrase “opened his re-election campaign,” and that paragraph could have easily been published during any month in the last four years. We’ve seen this Trump show over and over and over, to the point where it’s quite obviously not news. Weirdly enough, the Times acknowledged that fact in its report, “in the end, it was not so different from the dozens of rallies he has held during the past two years” yet they still treated the rally as front-page news.

In fact, lots of other journalists commented on the ho-hum nature of the event. CNN’s Betsy Klein wrote on Twitter, “I was promised new material.” The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty added, “When Hillary Clinton runs in 2020, Trump is totally ready for her.”

In others words, Trump hyped up the rally as a huge event. The press played along and treated it that way, even though reporters in real time conceded the rally was something of a big fat nothingburger. Guess who walks away the winner in that scenario. To its credit, MSNBC did not carry Trump’s rally live Tuesday night, while CNN broke away after five minutes (although they did show his empty podium for a while). Naturally, Fox News aired the event in its entirety.

And yes, the rally coverage featured the hallmark media whitewashing that so often protects Trump supporters from the harsh glare of reality. Trump was met in Orlando by “cheering and chanting supporters,” reported USA Today, and by “thousands of adoring supporters,” according to Politico.

Both of those cheerful descriptions remind me of the bland, innocuous ways his supporters were often described in 2016. What has traditionally been missing from the nonstop deluge of Trump voter stories? A look into the dark nature of Trump Nation, and an open acknowledgment that his base is often fueled by racism.

Trump’s candidacy was driven by immigrant-bashing, and so too has his presidency. But when journalists profile his faithful supporters, acknowledgment of Trump’s racist rhetoric rarely comes up. The problem with that type of whitewashing is that the Orlando rally attracted throngs of white nationalists, who clearly have become part of the Trump’s political coalition, and whose presence was not mentioned in most press reports. The whole fascist vibe of the rallies is badly underplayed by the press.

Trump spouting off doesn’t qualify as news. But will the press acknowledge that before 2020?

The Beast is Freed

Over the last few months, we’ve have grown accustomed to Donald Trump in his cornered-rat mode, lashing out and ruminating obsessively over the possibility of his impeachment. But his tweets so far this week have been surprisingly cheerful, and a cheerful Trump is bad news for everyone.

First, overcome with the pleasures of racist sadism, Trump tweeted o Monday night that “ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens.” No reason to think that’s not going to be horror show.

Trump’s gleeful sadism continued a few hours later, when the always highly caffeinated Gröpenführer wrote, at 1:10 a.m. on Tuesday, “Only a few people showed up for the so-called Impeachment rallies over the weekend.” “The numbers were anemic, no spirit, no hope,”

As painful as this is to admit, Trump is right that the impeachment rallies attracted poor turnout. That’s not due to a lack of public support for an impeachment inquiry however. More than half of Americans support at least an impeachment investigation, which is much higher than support for impeaching Richard Nixon was before the Watergate hearings began. Instead, as Trump correctly diagnosed, the low turnout was because liberals and progressives are demoralized, since it seems the House Democratic leadership is determined to do nothing to shine a light on Trump’s extensive corruption and criminal behavior.

After Trump admitted on camera that he’s open and eager to keep doing crimes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained as firm as ever on her refusal to start an impeachment inquiry. If Trump telling us that he plans to commit more crimes won’t move the needle, a bunch of people in a plaza with witty-but-angry slogans on a placard isn’t going to do it either. So of course the only people who showed up are the insufferable types who actually enjoy protests.

Trump has realized that he can do whatever he wants and no one is going to stop him. Which is clearly his greatest pleasure in life, one that even outstrips buying the silence of porn stars whom he pressures into underwhelming sex.

Half the reason Trump does bad things is because he gets off on getting away with it, as demonstrated by the innumerable contractors he’s screwed over and the wives he’s cheated on (all of them). He infamously bragged, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Apparently, it also won’t’ convince Nancy Pelosi to allow an impeachment inquiry.

Pelosi’s reaction (continue to do nothing) to Trump’s admission to Stephanopoulos that he would be happy to commit more election fraud in 2020 lets him know there are no limits. There’s nothing he can do, no crime so big that he can admit to doing, or say he would do again, that will actually propel Democratic Leadership to allow an impeachment inquiry.

Starting the inquiry and taking stronger measures to arrest witnesses who refuse subpoenas would go a long way towards wiping the gloating smirk off Lord Dampnut’s face. But for some reason, Democratic leaders seem more interested in complaining that no one cares about their go-nowhere health care bills than in taking the fight to Donald Trump.

So it’s no wonder Trump is feeling good. He realizes that accountability for his abundant misdeeds isn’t coming and he’s free to do what he wants with no danger of facing any consequences. Trump has slowly become more emboldened over the past couple of years, but now he’s coming into the realization that the Blue Wave of 2018 was not the threat to his power he thought and feared it was. Now there’s reason to worry he’ll conclude the same about the prospect of losing the 2020 election.

What happens when a man who has no moral compass realizes he can do whatever he wants without consequence?

A Quick Guide to Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz

The first GOP candidate to declare their intentions to run for president was Dr. Ben Carson, who followed his announcement with a disastrous interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show during in which he erroneously cited the origins of Islam and suggested the Baltics weren’t part of NATO. Not a very strong start for the first candidate to hop into the clown car.

Next up: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is set to ride shotgun, announcing his candidacy on Monday at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Let’s talk about Cruz by way of a refresher on what he’s all about.

Doh! Canada

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1970 to an American mother and a (insane) Cuban father. Sound familiar? The only difference between the presidency-related birth circumstances of President Obama and Ted Cruz is that Obama was actually born in the United States and Ted Cruz was not.

Of course this doesn’t matter because Obama is black with a funny-sounding name and Cruz is a white guy named “Ted,” so it’ll be assumed that Cruz is totally a natural born citizen while Obama isn’t. That seems fair.

Legally-speaking, Ted Cruz is perfectly eligible to be president based on the citizenship status of his mother, just like Barack Obama, especially given how the latter was born in Hawaii. But don’t expect a (fake) investigation by Donald Trump or any mass freakouts by a legion of conspiracy theorists over Cruz’s eligibility to be president because, again, he’s a white Republican. Anything is okay if you’re a white Republican.

No Experience Necessary

We have to wonder whether the GOP will retract its argument that a first term senator with no business experience shouldn’t be president. Cruz just completed his second year in the U.S. Senate, almost exactly the same amount of time Barack Obama had served before declaring his campaign for the Democratic nomination back in 2007.

Furthermore, Cruz has roughly the same private sector experience as Obama, having worked in law before entering public service. Beyond that he has no business experience to speak of, which is pretty astonishing given how Obama was relentlessly attacked in 2008 for only serving in Washington for two years and not accumulating any business management experience.

Green Eggs and (Very) Stupid

Ted Cruz’s biggest claim to fame came when he filibustered the removal of Obamacare de-funding language from a continuing resolution to fund the government. During the all-night self-beclowning, Cruz famously read the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham, obviously for the “I do not like it” line, correlating it to how he doesn’t like Obamacare.

He read it cover-to-cover, and must’ve been shocked by the ending when the main character ends up (whoops!) loving green eggs and ham after finally trying it. That’s right, Cruz fumbled a Dr. Seuss metaphor. Put another way: screw the 3 a.m. phone call litmus test, we now have to ask whether our presidential candidates can accurately comprehend the moral of a children’s book.

Ted Cruz the Prop Comic

Last year, Ted Cruz went on rampage against net neutrality. I know. Yawn. But in lockstep with the conservative entertainment complex, Cruz repeated all of the opposite-day lies about how net neutrality would lead to something, something, government tyranny.

One day, he decided to start his very own talking point, rather than just robotically repeating the off-the-shelf talking points. Cruz suggested that net neutrality would somehow restrict technological expansion and innovation, and used the iPhone as an example of technology that wouldn’t have been discovered if it had been regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. He even held up an iPhone as a prop during a speech to a group of young people and said:

When you regulate a public utility, it calcifies it — it freezes it in place. Let’s give a simple contrast. The Telecommunications Act of 1934 was adopted to regulate these [brings out an old rotary-dial phone]. To put regulations in place and what happened? It froze everything in place. This is regulated by Title II. [pulls out an iPhone] This is not.

Again, Cruz fumbled the demonstration. Of course the iPhone is regulated by the federal government. How do we know this? Look at the back of your iPhone and you’ll see several logos including an Apple logo and, yes, an FCC logo.

Reckless Ted

According to the Republicans and the press during the Ebola scare last year, we should all be dead now. The fact that we’re not is enough evidence that the panic was falsely amplified for the sake of dramatic flair. At one point CNN even hosted a medical-fiction author to discuss how quickly Ebola would become airborne and kill everyone.

In terms of the Republicans, it became abundantly clear that they were exaggerating the threat as a means of attacking the Obama administration for not, I don’t know, not exercising enough big government? That moment of clarity came when the Senate Republicans refused to approve Obama’s nominee for surgeon general in the middle of what we were being told was a massive public health crisis.

Leading the charge against the nominee was Ted Cruz. And why was Cruz holding up the nomination in the midst of the Ebola “crisis?” Because Dr. Vivek Murthy, who was eventually confirmed, once tweeted something about gun control. Cruz said:

Of course we should have a surgeon general in place. And we don’t have one because President Obama, instead of nominating a health professional, he nominated someone who is an anti-gun activist.

In other words, screw the (alleged) Ebola threat while we genuflect before the altar of Wayne LaPierre and the NRA. Priorities, right?

Clairvoyant Ted

Ted Cruz has his own coloring book just in case your kids are creepily into coloring a doughy tea party homophobe who knows less about the moral of Green Eggs and Ham than they do.

One of the pages features the following line:

Speaking with clairvoyant precision, it was as if Ted could see the immediate future of the quickly approaching Obama Care disaster.

Now, I know it’ll be difficult, but make sure your kids don’t fight over this page too viciously. But yeah, Cruz is apparently clairvoyant. You know how I know he’s not? Because Obamacare isn’t a disaster at all, in fact it’s quite the opposite.

For one, it’s responsible for the fewest uninsured Americans in 40 years. Costs are being controlled. The exchanges, including the Healthcare.gov exchange, are working fine and the second open enrollment period went off without a hitch, even though we didn’t hear much from the “liberal media” about it. Cruz is no more clairvoyant than a “guess your age and weight” carnie, and the carnies are right a lot more often.

No One’s Forcing Ted Cruz to Marry a Guy

Finally, Ted Cruz is leading marketer of the “same-sex marriage is a threat to religious liberty” nonsense. Simply put, Cruz believes that marriage equality will strip anti-gay religious people of their First Amendment rights. Cruz and others believe that, for example, a business should be able to refuse service to gay people because the Bible forbids homosexuality. Just a few days ago, Cruz said:

[T]he federal government and unelected judges cannot set aside the democratically-elected legislatures’ reasonable decisions to enact and protect traditional marriage. […] If the courts were following the Constitution, we shouldn’t need a new amendment, but they are, as you put it quite rightly, making it up right now and it’s a real danger to our liberty.

It’s a wafer-thin argument that we’ve seen before. First of all, the Bible forbids a lot of mundane things (eating shellfish, trimming your beard), and permits a lot of really awful things (slavery, child abuse).

Furthermore, no judge or lawmaker is pushing a law that mandates Christian men to have sex with other men, the so-called “abomination” that the Bible forbids. Conversely, there’s nothing in the Bible that forbids Christians from selling cakes or otherwise doing business with homosexual people. So anti-discrimination laws aren’t forcing Christians to violate biblical dogma in any way, thus these rulings aren’t violations of religious liberty. And Ted Cruz is an idiot.

Anything Else?

Yes, he’s also an insane conspiracy theorist:

Ted Cruz is a hardlined paleoconservative who represents the GOP’s harrowing conjugal union with the tea party. He’s a political demon whose soft-spoken persona and sad-clown eyebrows allow him to get away with the most poisonous Obama Derangement Syndrome fappery in Congress. He represents the new GOP cynicism, elevating anti-Obama pandering to his unglued base above actual governing.

But worry not. Ted Cruz isn’t win a damn thing other than a bump in his speaking fees due to his newly ordained status as a “presidential candidate” which is why he’s running in the first place.