Trump: A (Disgusting) Play in Three Acts

Act the First:

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good,” he added.

Act the Second:

In a 2006 interview, Stern asks Trump, “Do you think you could now be banging 24-year-olds?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Trump says.
“Would you do it?,” asks Stern.
“I’d have no problem,” Trump said.
Stern then asked Trump if he has an age limit.
“No, I have no age — I mean, I have age limit. I don’t want to be like Congressman Foley, with, you know, 12-year-olds.”

Act the Third (Finale):

Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.

“I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” said Mariah Billado, the former Miss Vermont Teen USA.

Trump, she recalled, said something like, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”

Three other women, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of getting engulfed in a media firestorm, also remembered Trump entering the dressing room while girls were changing. Two of them said the girls rushed to cover their bodies, with one calling it “shocking” and “creepy.” The third said she was clothed and introduced herself to Trump.

 

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Great Moments in Campaign Advertising: Confessions of a Republican

Often overshadowed by LBJ’s infamous “Daisy” ad, “Confessions of a Republican” is great mostly because it’s so weird. It’s also really long—four minutes and change. I haven’t been able to figure out when exactly it aired, or how really, because four-minute ad breaks aren’t particularly common even now (and TV commercial breaks have stretched drastically in recent years).

In the ad, an actor (although the ad doesn’t say as much) talks about how he’s always been a Republican, but the party’s candidate that year, Sen. Goldwater, is too extreme for his comfort. Sure, this is mostly an artifact of the era during which party affiliation was determined more by lineage than political ideology. He goes on to light a cigarette (!) and say that if the KKK is supporting the candidate, either they’re not a Republican or he isn’t. Anyway it’s a fun ad to watch, so enjoy.

So what’s next?

This morning, we went over the preordained Republican takeover of the Senate. So, other than having to hear “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says” over and over, what will the next two years look like?

For the most part, you’d be correct in assuming that it’d look a lot like the last four years: With Democrat Barack Obama still the president, and a Republican-controlled House and Senate, it’s going to be a loud not much. Yet even with that caveat, we can still look into what a unified legislature is going to at least try, and perhaps succeed in.

The Staffing of Government

The past six years of the Obama administration have been particularly hard to staff. A significant portion of the government is appointed by the president, but needs to be confirmed by the Senate. The Senate has not been very kind about this during this administration. If you look over here, you’ll notice that there are still over 200 (!) nominees awaiting confirmation, and this is after the Senate changed its rules to kill the filibuster for nominees!* We currently have no surgeon general—despite Ebola!—because the nominee said something about gun control.

This is not to mention judges, who have been particularly difficult for the president to get confirmed.

You can expect that the next two years will see no progress on this front. The only nominees that will likely see office are those to fill cabinet-level posts, and those will be battles. It’s not clear who President Obama’s choice to be the next attorney general will be, but I certainly don’t envy them.

* Nearly half of all filibusters of confirmations in history have been Obama nominees.

Environment

The president is not without his victories, but probably his best overall achievement is environmental. During his administration, the EPA has issued strong rules limiting carbon emissions and gas mileage for cars. The stimulus program at the start of his term and an activist Department of Energy brought about an entire new and flourishing industry surrounding renewable energy. Wind power has doubled and solar power has grown six times. In a largely symbolic effort, he has pulled all stops to block the building of the Keystone XL pipeline that would funnel Canadian shale oil to the Gulf of Mexico.

Naturally, Senate Republicans aren’t such fans of this progress. They’ve been nothing but vocal about Keystone XL being a top priority for them, and that they’d overturn the EPA rules given the chance. Expect them to use whatever leverage they can muster (which is a lot) to force the administration’s hand on Keystone and chip away as much as they can against the EPA rules. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the president’s environmental legacy dampened.

Reproductive Rights

Sure, David Brooks thinks that women don’t care about affordable contraception. But you know who really does? The Republicans in Congress. They rail against the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to cover contraception, for surely it’s for sluts and not preventative medicine? Senator-Elect Cory Gardner largely neutralized Sen. Udall’s pro-women campaign by saying he is for making birth control over the counter. That sounds good, right? Well, over-the-counter means expensive and not covered by insurance, so there’s that. Expect that to be a battle in the next Congress.

Remember that the last time Republicans held both chambers they banned late-term abortion. In many of the states in which they control the legislature, they’ve enacted so many seemingly small anti-rights laws that it’s almost impossible for women to get reproductive care in those states. Why would you not expect them to bring that to the federal level?

The Rest

Sequestration (remember that?) cuts go into effect in 2015. Don’t expect this congress do to anything about that. This, of course, means draconian program cuts, government employee layoffs, and less help for the needy. Oh, and some choice tax credits also expire.

Speaking of, how about some shut-downs? Well, hopefully the lame-duck session will extend the debt limit—because it expires in March. But don’t expect the next Congress to let the debt limit extension pass cleanly like they did this year. Probably have to give up Keystone for that one.

And more budget and tax and debt ceiling argument will probably paralyze the economic recovery again. Which won’t hurt the new Republican senators, because President Obama will get the blame.

And don’t think cuts to Social Security will be off the table, because, well, that’s what they always have said they want to do.

 

Voters decide the government is doing too much to help them

A hearty number of column inches (so anachronistic!) are being devoted today to explaining various reasons Democrats lost yesterday and Republicans won. It’s the long-running day-after tradition, and it’s rarely illuminating. But, you got to fill the papers, they say.

Truth is, we all knew this was going to happen two years ago. Hell, we were all pretty sure even six years ago, when this class of senators was elected. Without a presidential election to buoy them, these unlikely Democratic faces representing deeply conservative states would not be long in their seats.

The reason why is not surprising. The olds, the racists, the government-haters, and the other various undercurrents of resentment always come out to vote. They don’t need to be excited by their candidates; they don’t need to be convinced by grand visions of leadership or policy agendas. They just know something’s rotten in Denmark, and better off just checking off the box next to the guy (almost always the guy!) who represents that cynicism.

There’s millions of them, and they always vote. They’e a given. Unfortunately, not a given are everybody else. They’re sick of shitty campaigns and need to be convinced and inspired to come out to vote. They show up on presidential years because presidential candidates bring with them a cohesive policy agenda and some kind of inspiring campaign message.

It’s this impulse that leads them to be disappointed two years later when that policy agenda goes nowhere and the inspiration turns to a petulant and irritating waling. And, of course, they decide it’s not worth bothering and stay home.

Basic mathematics would foretell this result every single four years, and it does. Of course, it’s not helped when this is the Democratic party’s campaign message:

It’s the message they carry every time they’re sinking: Run away from your party, run away from your unpopular president, and don’t, for one second, mention guns or poverty or women’s reproductive rights or anything that might be divisive. No! Make sure that the only thing anybody knows about you is that you don’t support your own party’s agenda: that’ll inspire voters!

At the end of the day, though, the numbers were probably never going to work out. However, it needs be noted: Democrats did pretty well! What? Yes! Can you believe they ran two competitive state-wide races…in Georgia?! That they almost unseated an incumbent governor in Wisconsin? They did unseat a governor in Pennsylvania? That for some reason, people thought North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana were even in play? Sure, they lost. But they were in the game. Which is more than I can say about the University of Michigan football team or Aston Villa FC this fall.

One interesting thing of note: Because of a mistake of history, this particular Senate class (Senate Class II, to be pedantic) by far represents the lowest number Americans of the three. Class I includes states that represent 75% of Americans and Class III includes states that represent 73% of Americans. Class II? 52%. That’s right: Only 52% of Americans got to vote for a senator yesterday. What’s more is that Class II is absurdly conservative as well. Every Deep South state has a Class II senator with the exception of Florida. Go ahead, look at this map and tell me it doesn’t look almost like a presidential election map.

There, you have my uninteresting election Monday Morning Quarterback story. Go ahead and share your glee, ennui, or crushing sadness down there in the comments.

Politics are Stupid, Moderates Edition

There is no reason this sentence should ever exist:

Wyllie (the Libertarian) gets his strongest support from independent voters who back Crist (the Democrat) over Scott (the Republican) 45 – 38 percent in a two-way matchup, but split with 36 percent for Crist and 34 percent for Scott, with 12 percent for Wyllie, in the three-way race.

In other words, moderates are pretty much just people who have no fucking clue what the hell they’re voting for.

V+V Endorses: Adrian Fenty for the Mayor of the District of Columbia

Last December, according to multiple sources, [D.C. Mayor Adrian] Fenty kicked a trash can, slammed a door, and screamed, “I’m the fucking mayor,” after learning that some much-hated New Jersey Avenue NW billboards were being removed without his being present for a photo-op.”

Four years ago, then-Councilmember Adrian Fenty swept into the mayor’s office promising to take on the city’s biggest problems: an education system that was failing the city’s most disadvantaged youth; crime that, while lower than its 1990s peak, was still stubbornly high; and a city bureaucracy still weighed down by incompetence and entropy.

Big tasks demand big action, and big action is almost always divisive. It is not for the faint, and it is not for one who would be popular before effective. But, the work had to be done, and it is getting done. That is why V+V is endorsing Adrian Fenty for another term as the mayor of the District of Columbia.

Unfortunately for the mayor, personality has become a major component of this race. Were it based on results alone, he might win in a landslide, but his characteristic aloofness, irrationally protecting the privacy of his travels, proneness to outbursts, and famous  aversion to taking advice has haunted him enough that, were polls to be a judge, he may not win reelection. He has also—either through recalcitrance, naivete, or by simply not paying attention—tripped into silly, and sometimes unsubstantiated scandals, such as refusing to share with the city council baseball tickets, donating a fire truck to the Dominican Republic, or engaging in cronyism by awarding contracts to personal friends or political allies.

We are, of course, concerned about these flaws, and they would be a major hindrance to our support for the mayor if they indeed interfered with the governance of the city. But, they have fed into an almost paranoia regarding the future of the city, and fears that Fenty’s policies may favor the few over the many. His top opponent, City Council Chair Vince Gray, has pounced on this fear, who has made at-best vague policy proposals but seems to be running solely on a platform of “One City.” When Gray met with the Washington Examiner editorial board, he mentioned, “Politically, I think he sees his base as over there, and he wants to maintain his base….That is not to suggest anyone’s a racist.” It’s a shame that Vince Gray, a dedicated and personable public servant, would stoop to such cynicism.

Again, we would be concerned if Fenty’s personality flaws, obvious as they are, overshadowed his results in the almost four years he has served as mayor, but they have not and should not. One would hope he was elected to bring results, and he has performed. Education is, by far, the most important issue facing this city, and Fenty has handled it masterfully and confidently. As promised, he mirrored New York City’s proved successful approach of bringing the school system under the purview of the mayor’s office and appointed a chancellor to push for and oversee progress. He appointed Michelle Rhee, young but experienced in urban education, who brought common sense to a school system that had for decades been a warehouse of inept teachers and principals and a stubborn bureaucracy. It was not a pretty process—firing teachers and closing schools never would be—but it has brought results. The proficiency rate of D.C.’s public school students in math has increased 17% since 2007, and 45% in reading.

A better education system is vital to the growth, vitality, economy of this city. It also is a major component of any push to lower crime, another success story for the Fenty administration. Fenty appointed Cathy Lanier, an improbable candidate, to lead the Metropolitan Police Department, and she has proven herself an excellent, if not inspired choice. Crime has dropped incredibly, which may or may not be the total credit to the police department, but the fact that the police department is closing three out of four cases—far and above the national average—absolutely is.

People are moving back into the city, and the population has exploded in the past decade (and not just because President Obama made D.C. “cool”). Instead of this new influx of residents overwhelming the city’s bureaucracy, the city’s various departments have been upturned and now work significantly more efficiently than before. It should be noted, in particular, Fenty’s inspired choice of Gabe Klein to run the city’s Department of Transportation. Klein, a businessman who formerly worked for Zipcar, smartly brought business acumen and strategy to a department that sorely needed it. While some could castigate his push for bicycle lanes or Circulator buses, these have resulted in less congestion on the city’s roads. The roll-out strategies, which favored action over community input, may be unpopular, but they have resulted in lanes being built all over the city efficiently and effectively.

The job is not by any means completed, but his second-term priorities are clear. He wants to continue fixing schools, which, while improving, are still substandard in many cases. He wants to fix the multitude of problems in public housing. However, the results that Fenty has fought for and won so far show that he is deserving of a second term, and give us hope for what he could accomplish.