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God what a horrible week. Here’s an underappreciated David Bowie gem that remains relevant:

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New poll shows Trump getting his gaudiest numbers yet. This was predictable, and predicted: Trump is very well trusted by Republicans on these issues, moreso than Rubio and the others. And unlike Rubio, who understands that there are some limitations he has to follow to keep him electable with the general electorate (and that he has an interest in preserving the reputation of the party he wants to lead), Trump has no limits and doesn’t worry about going too far. So while this could be a moment for Rubio to shine, there’s Trump, advocating for frankly fascist measures to be taken against a suspect class. Rubio cannot top that, cannot match it, without seriously harming his reputation as a serious person. I guess the thinking is that “the base” will recognize that Trump is just insane on these issues, and that they need Rubio. Instead, the opposite is happening.

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Further to Lev’s post, even though I know there are always deeper depths of depravity to which Republicans will inevitably sink, sometimes I really do get blindsided by how much worse it’s gotten:

GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump believes that the war on terror will require unprecedented surveillance of America’s Muslims.

“We’re going to have to do thing that we never did before,” he said during a Yahoo interview. “Some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said… “We’re going to have to do things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Trump would not rule out warrantless searches in his plans for increased surveillance of the nation’s Muslims, Yahoo reported Thursday. He also remained open toward registering U.S. Muslims in a database or giving them special identification identifying their faith, the news outlet added.

We’re so used to hearing about the insane things these sociopaths say. But things like this are really horrifying. Why not a scarlet letter? Yellow armbands? Internment camps? How far can we go?

It’s awful enough for Republicans to say these things, it’s even worse that they aren’t a fringe far-right party with poll numbers in the single digits. We Americans can be a truly awful people sometimes.

Man, how bad must the book of Scent Of A Woman have been if the movie is one of the best adaptations of a novel of all time, going by the relative difference of ratings between the two?

The cliche is that the book is always better, but I can think of plenty of times the movie was better. The first three Jack Ryan movies (though Patriot Games is kinda sucky either way). The Rules Of AttractionManhunter (sorry Metavirus). The Tailor Of Panama (great book, but the movie has a fun, hangout vibe that the book doesn’t, and Pierce Brosnan is marvelous). Obviously The Godfather–although that’s in the article it cannot be stated enough. And while it’s not a great film by any means whatsoeverDisclosure the film is vastly better than the Crichton book because it does not lump in unrelated complaints about alimony and child support and paranoia over women making false sexual allegations as Crichton did–not to mention the deeply misogynistic portrayal of women–and ultimately produce an indefensible, nasty portrait of male privilege. The movie is just a bad movie that makes a small point about sexual harassment and includes a hilariously cheesy virtual reality sequence. See also.

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Is making the refugee issue a white-hot political football good politics? Opinions differ. In the long run, the Democratic Party is better off standing up for pluralism and toleration than caving to polling, which is not to say they won’t. Mornings cannot go un-won, people. Even in the short run, though, is doing this really good for the Republicans? I have my doubts:

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One of the worst things about terror attacks now–aside, obviously, from the deaths and suffering they cause directly, and the upheaval–is that we get a few days or even weeks of wingnuts saying that this vindicates them on everything, and far too many people just sort of going along with them. I like this as a start. It seems absurd to me why Democrats should just accept that they need to take some punishment when there’s a terror attack–even if there’s no conceivable way they could plausibly be blamed for it–and wait it out. The electorate doesn’t hand out civility bonuses–quite the opposite in fact, if it’s still even on their mind in a month. Call out the cheap xenophobia of the refugee “pause”. Call out the triple-bank shot of using a terror attack in another country as just another attempt to bash a president they hate, with logic that makes even less than the usual no sense. If leaders don’t act petrified, the public may well decide not to be. Most likely there’s no long-term cost, and maybe it makes lefties like me a little proud to be part of this party. Obama himself has got the right idea. But you know it won’t happen. The Democratic officeholder is never more comfortable than when he/she is in a defensive crouch, even when there’s no need to be. It’s the Way of Braley. There are times when I think just dumping them all and starting over may not be the worst idea. Or at least the worst of the worst.

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I have to admit, I was thinking he’d pick The Donald. But this is still pretty awesome. Kilgore pulls together some interesting odds and ends, and it does in fact look as though he’s picking up some major Christian right types. Very interesting.

Many people have noted how this election season has been defined by the Republican Party’s chickens coming home to roost, between Trump with his undiluted, counterproductive rage and Carson with his know-nothing, alternate reality, God-knows-I’m-good affect. But Cruz is just another chicken come home to roost, a man whose philosophy of governance is defined by the Boehner-McConnell extreme obstruction tactics, taken to their logical conclusion. The idea at the root of those tactics is essentially, “we’d rather break the government than concede Obama’s legitimacy,” and Cruz’s addition to this is to insist that any moment in which Obama hasn’t already been impeached, disgraced, tossed out of office and hauled to jail is somehow conceding his legitimacy, and that the Republican establishment is complicit for not doing just that–even routine government business is forbidden unless it is somehow being used to destabilize Obama. They’re as much the enemy as Obama for not destroying Obama. Granted, Cruz hasn’t much gotten his way, and when he has, the results were not so great for his party, objectively speaking. But it didn’t hurt him at all. Obama hate is supreme in the Republican Party, and Cruz’s interpretation of it is the purest and most direct of all of them. Republican elites are horrified by all this, but it’s a straightforward interpretation of the game they chose to play.

Cruz’s career has been built entirely around making everyone hate him except for the tiny sliver of extreme-hard right Republicans who happen to be the most feared and influential. Many elite Republicans hate him and, to borrow a phrase, he welcomes their hatred. It’s almost impossible to see how Cruz is able to transition this into a philosophy of government as president, since having poisonous relationships with powerful members of Congress, even ones of your own party, is a sure-fire way to lead to failure (ask Jimmy Carter). Because you can’t pass major legislation with three dozen Congressmen and some talk radio hosts–passing legislation means getting your party’s least extreme and endangered members on board. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, much of the endgame revolved around appeasing the rump of anti-abortion Democrats into supporting the bill. This pissed off liberals to no end, but it had to be done. Cruz is all about obstruction and destruction, and it’s impossible to imagine him being a success at cajoling the least extreme Republicans and even moderate Democrats into supporting his program, like G.W. Bush was often able to do. But unless Rubio ever actually kicks it into gear, or Kasich or Bush manage to get anyone interested in them, Republican elites will have to choose between a candidate who is ideologically unreliable and intemperate, a candidate who isn’t able to answer even the most basic questions about his history, qualifications, or policies, and a candidate whose philosophy is nihilism. Quite a choice. But don’t feel sorry for them: they brought it on themselves.

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