Trump-West 2020: Why Trump will dump Draggin’ Energy Mike for Dragon Energy Kanye on the ticket

 

 

 

Good day Austin:

I was there at the NRA annual meeting in Dallas Friday to hear Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump, in that order, speak.

By the time Pence and Trump were finished I wondered how Trump would deliver the news to Pence that he was replacing him as his running mate in 2020 with Kanye West.

A tweet a/la Rex Tillerson would be the traditional way to go.

But who knows with what kind of flourish Trump will send Pence back home again to Indiana.

I figure, though, that Pence has been elected to office a bunch of times. He is vice president of the United States. His political antenna must be in good working order. So I’ve got to believe that he left Dallas knowing he was doomed.

In his introduction, Pence lavished praise on President Trump, going so far as describing Ronald Reagan as “my second favorite president.”

I don’t remember what if anything Trump had to say about Pence.

But I do remember what he had to say about Kanye West.

Trump:

Kanye West must have some power because I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 [percent] to 22 in one week. Thank you, Kanye. Thank you. When I saw the number, I said, ‘That must be a mistake. How can that have happened?’ Even the pollsters thought that must be a mistake.

From The Wrap:

Kanye West’s total embrace of President Donald Trump may be starting to have real-world implications beyond Twitter.

According to the results of a Reuters weekly tracking poll released this week, support for the president among black men doubled from 11 percent, for the week ending April 22, to 22 percent, for the week ending April 29. The approval numbers are the highest Trump has enjoyed in the survey among black men all year.

The timing is noteworthy since the rapper began to go public with his pro-Trump views on April 21, first tweeting support for right-wing pundit Candace Own on April 21. Four days later, he proclaimed “love” for POTUS and his “dragon energy” — and posted a selfie in which he wore a MAGA hat.

Pence must know he’s about to go the way of  Henry Wallace and Nelson Rockefeller, vice presidents who got dumped by the presidents they served – FDR and Gerald Ford – for presumably more dependable and  useful running mates, like Harry Truman and Bob Dole, and now, Kanye West.

At first, the idea sounds cracked.

But think about it.

There is simply no reason for Trump to hang on to Pence.

He served his purpose, such as it was, but he doesn’t serve it any more.

It can be asked of Pence as it was of war –  What is it (he)  good for? And the answer is exactly the same:  Absolutely nothing.

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he  good for?

Absolutely nothing

Pence, huh, yeah.

What is he good for?

Absolutely nothing

Say it again, y’all

Seriously.

Is there a single American voter, not named Pence, who is more likely to vote for Donald Trump for president because Mike Pence is on the ticket?

I don’t think so.

Pence was added to the ticket to assure conservative, mostly evangelical Christian voters that Trump, the candidate from Sodom and Gomorrah, could be trusted, and to keep an eye on him.

But Trump, who carried the evangelical vote running against Ted Cruz, didn’t turn out to need any vouching for.

Evangelical Christians seem, by and large, to love him.

And, ever since he’s been president he has only solidified his standing with those voters.

Every odd and aberrant aspect of Trump, right down to having an affair with a porn star and paying her hush money, is simply evidence that God works in mysterious ways.

Trump is now so secure with his base, there is nothing I can think of that would shake it.

I guess there might be some white nationalist Never-Westers, who would balk at a Trump-West ticket as a betrayal. But not too many, and many times more voters might vote for Trump with the addition of Kanye than would depart on his account.

I mean, if you’re Donald Trump, how can the draggin’ energy of Mike Pence compete with the dragon energy he shares with fellow master of the universe Kanye West?

And if you think a Trump-West ticket is just too crazy, it is clearly less crazy than Trump getting elected in the first place, and to pick, in West, his brother in narcissism and branding, is the logical, inevitable outcome of Trump’s presidency and politics.

And, have you heard Ultralight Beam?

I mean, President Obama’s Amazing Grace in Charleston, S.C., was quite something.

But West is next level, and Obama’s performance is precedent that there is no reason that Kanye couldn’t continue to tour and perform as Veep.

As West raps in Ye vs. the People:

I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President.

Or vice president.

In any case, you think we’re going to go through the Trump administration only to Return to Normalcy with Mike Pence, like Warren G. Harding after those chaotic Woodrow Wilson years?

Now, you might ask, will the Grand Old Party accept dumping Pence for West?

Here’s the real-time thought process on that: No, of course, well  …. Hell yeah!

Why wouldn’t they?

Apart from those scattered party poopers like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Neocon Czar William Kristol, most of the rest of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in America has thrown its lot with Trump, overlooking every shocking and bizarre permutation of his presidency in favor of an awed allegiance to what Jeff Roe, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager for president and for re-electionto to the Senate, recently described in a New York Times op-ed, as the maddening brilliance as Trump.

If somehow Trump’s choice of a black man as his running mate is the one thing Trump has done that they don’t fall in line behind, well …  they can’t do that.

Vice does indeed do  a comprehensive job of identifying the right-wing losers who suddenly love Kanye.

The only critique I would offer is that these right-wing losers won in 2016..

 

 

On Friday, Alex Jones snuck a little time at home before the start of his daughter’s first birthday party to deconstruct what was going on with Kanye and Trump.

Jones:

I don’t pay attention to pop culture. I really should because that’s where the brainwashing is going on. And I saw like the gay fish stuff, whatever, five years ago, but I listened to (Kanye’s) music, and I’m thinking, this is some pretty good, relaxing rap. Every Kanye song is good, not great, some are great, but they’re all good. Some music, like Metallica, Led Zeppelin – some’s great, all of it’s good. Kanye’s in that class. That’s my opinion.

But I’m not into celebrities. I’ve already seen it. I’ve already done it.

OK. Let’s skip ahead.

Jones doesn’t like what Snoop Dogg had to say about Kanye.

Snoop Dogg, Jones says, is like Urkel, and a fraud.

Kanye is real folks, Urkel is not.

Jones:

You know why people love Trump so much? It’s about the energy. He doesn’t care what color you are.

Oh, if I even told you, they would go crazy with that.

Trump likes black people. He likes their energy, but I’m gonna leave it at that.

 

 

Then there’s Dilbert cartoons Scott Adams, a leading Trumpologist and the author of Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.

Scott Adams Tells You How Kanye West Showed the Way To The Golden Age

What follows are notes, not the complete text, of what is on this video:

Scott Adams:

We keep seeing things that don’t seem possible based on our old way of thinking.

We’re seeing more signs of the Golden Age  …. when all the big stuff is going right, heading in the right direction … the tealization many of our problems are psychological, not physical.

A President Trump comes on the scene. One of the things that defines him more any … he doesn’t see limits on what he can do. His marriage. What level he can rise to. How much money he can make. What he can say on Twitter.

“You can’t do that. You can’t say that.”

Hold my Diet Coke. I am going to do this in front of you. I am going to give this nickname. I am going to insult this person.

And it all seems impossible. Until it works out.

The economy is blazing. North Korea is starting to go in the right direction. And if North Korea goes it will be the biggest signal of the Golden Age. It will be the biggest success in history that was a psychological problem that was solved by psychological means, short of war.

It feels like there’s something big happening.

People are breaking out of their mental prisons, things that used to hold us back.

The best example of that recently …  Yes we are going to the white board.

President Trump is not in a mental prison. He knows that history doesn’t repeat itself. Where did he get that. Same place I did. Norman Vincent Peale and The Power of Positive Thinking.

Another mental prison – the problem has to be the solution.

With slavery, white people were the problem and white people were the solution.

Same with civil rights. White people are the problem and the solution.

But now you get to this “last mile fog,” where things are much better but could be better still, and people don’t agree what the problems are.

We are coming to the point where we are separating the problems from the solution.

And what I mean by that is you are sort of seeing the philosophy represented by Candace Owens.

And you can Google her if you’re not familiar with her. She is a conservative African-American woman who has become a very important voice, because she represents a point of view that you don’t see as much as you will in the future.

The conservative view ,which Candace holds,  is that society has done what it can do, meaning that white people have done what they can do to make the laws as close as possible, to enforce the laws, and the last mile, no matter who causes the problem – doesn’t matter whether white people are the cause or not the cause of the last-mile problem, they can’t fix it. They can do what they can do but they’re not really the solution.

So Candace’s realization is the problem and the solution are disconnected.

Only the people who have the problem can fix it. Not the people who did cause it you think they caused it. Even if they wanted to, which they probably do.

Candace says we’re in the Golden Age already, because the biggest problem is the way we think about the problem. If we think about it differently we can get to a better place.

What was the big news of the last week? Kanye West, who is famous for saying things like, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

For getting on stage with Taylor Swift and making the statement that Beyoncé  should have won and racism was probably part of the voting, somebody who has strong credentials for being an advocate for black people and against racism.

So Kanye probably has good credentials from that point of view, and what did he tweet? He tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.” Seven words. And he ripped a hole in reality with seven words.

Because Kanye is supposed to be over here. And Candace is supposed to be over here. And they are never supposed to say the other one said something right. That’s not supposed to happen

But Kanye did it anyway. Kanye knows history doesn’t repeat. He is not a prisoner of the mind. He knows the problem is not the solution. Whatever you want to say about Kanye’s politics, and I don’t even know what his preferred politics would be, I’m not even sure what party he would run for if he ran for president at this point.

Whatever else you want to say about him, and I don’t know enough about his actual management skills or political ability, but he did something that you could rarely see. He actually just altered reality. He just made the entire conservative twittersphere go WRUMP.

What did I just see? Did I really see this?

Forget about if you think Candace has everything right or everything wrong. That’s not the story. The story is  that these two people that shouldn’t be in the same conversation, and Kanye just changed that, in seven words. And he just freed a lot of people from a mental prison. Kanye unlocked a mental prison, and is bringing you to the Golden Age.

But then, of course, there was this contribution to the public dialogue from Kanye.

A little background

The big difference between a white liberal and white conservative is the liberal has some sense of guilt.

The best thing ever for some white conservatives is when some black people say they have absolutely nothing to be guilty about.

(Maybe it’s Jewish thing, but I associate religion with guilt. Yet it seems for some, confessing sin and begging forgiveness is way better than feeling guilty about it.)

So, per Kanye, or at least the soundbite of Kanye, if slavery was a choice that slaves somehow accepted – who are white people to get all judgmental and say that black people made the wrong choice.

I am sure that a lot of people at the NRA annual meeting would have been pleased with the shorthand of what Kanye had to say.

Otherwise, they might have considered giving posthumous life memberships to John Brown and Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey who sought to use guns in the name of freedom..

Instead, here, in segments tweeted by NRA-TV, so you know they thought they were especially choice, are Trump superfans Diamond and Silk, dropping some really lame but crowd-pleasing lines of argument.

 

Kruse is a Princeton historian who is pretty active on Twitter.

In the meantime, Kanye and T.I. have put out Ye vs. the People (starring T.I. as the People), in which Kanye explains what he is up to with Trump and MAGA and is cross-examined by the rapper T.I., playing the part of the skeptical Kanye faithful.

It’s at a far higher level than Diamonds and Silk.

Oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh
I had for us
You turned my dreams into dust

KW: I know Obama was heaven sent
But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President

TI: Yeah, you can, at what cost though?
Don’t that go against the teachings that Ye taught for?

KW: Yo, Tip, I hear your side and everybody talk, though
But ain’t goin’ against the grain everything I fought for?

TI: Prolly so, Ye, but where you tryna go with this?
It’s some shit you just don’t align with and don’t go against

KW: You just readin’ the headlines, you don’t see the fine print
You on some choosin’side shit, I’m on some unified shit

TI: It’s bigger than your selfish agenda
If your election ain’t gon’ stop police from murderin’ niggas, then shit

KW: Bruh, I never ever stopped fightin’ for the people
Actually, wearin’ the hat’ll show people that we equal

TI: You gotta see the vantage point of the people
What makes you feel equal makes them feel evil

KW: See that’s the problem with this damn nation
All Blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain’t made it off the plantation

TI: Fuck who you choose as your political party
You representin’ dudes just seem crude and cold-hearted
With blatant disregard for the people who put you in position
Don’t you feel an obligation to them?

KW: I feel a obligation to show people new ideas
And if you wanna hear ’em, there go two right here
Make America Great Again had a negative perception
I took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction
Added empathy, care and love and affection
And y’all simply questionin’ my methods

TI: What you willin’ to lose for the point to be proved?
This shit is stubborn, selfish, bullheaded, even for you
You wore a dusty-ass hat to represent the same views
As white supremacy, man, we expect better from you
All them times you sounded crazy, we defended you, homie
Not just to be let down when we depend on you, homie
That’s why it’s important to know what direction you’re goin’ now
‘Cause everything that you built can be destroyed and torn down

KW: You think I ain’t concerned about how I affect the past?
I mean, that hat stayed in my closet like ’bout a year and a half
Then one day I was like, “Fuck it, I’ma do me”
I was in the sunken place and then I found the new me
Not worried about some image that I gotta keep up
Lot of people agree with me, but they’re too scared to speak up

TI: The greater good of the people is first
Have you considered all the damage and the people you hurt?
You had a bad idea, and you’re makin’ it worse
This shit’s just as bad as Catholic preachers rapin’ in church

KW: Y’all been leadin’ with hate, see I just approach it different
Like a gang truce, the first Blood to shake the Crip’s hand
I know everybody emotional
Is it better if I rap about crack? Huh? ‘Cause it’s cultural?
Or how about I’ma shoot you, or fuck your bitch?
Or how about all this Gucci, ’cause I’m fuckin’ rich?

TI: You’ll deal with God for the lack of respect
Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that
What’s it mean to gain the world if you ain’t standin’ for shit?
Okay I gotta say it, Ye, you sound high as a bitch
Yeah, genocide and slavery, we should just try and forget
And all that free thought shit, find a better defense
But if Ye just stuck in his way, he can leave it at that
Fuck it

KW: Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

Returning to Kevin Kruse, the Princeton historian, here is an extensive thread: Since @kanyewest’s tweets have apparently made this topic unavoidable, some thoughts on the history of the parties’ switch on civil rights.

First, it’s important to note that, yes, the Democrats were indeed the party of slavery and, in the early 20th century, the party of segregation, too.

(There are some pundits who claim this is some secret they’ve uncovered, but it’s long been front & center in any US history.)

Indeed, as @rauchway once noted, one could argue that *the* central story of twentieth-century American political history is basically the evolution of the Democratic Party from the party of Jim Crow to the party of civil rights.

At the start of the 20th century, the Democrats — dominated by white southern conservatives — were clearly the party of segregationists.

President Woodrow Wilson, for instance, instituted segregation in Washington and across the federal government. (See @EricSYellin’s work.)

That said, both parties in this period had their share of racists in their ranks.

When the second KKK rose to power in the 1920s, it had a strong Democratic ties in some states; strong GOP ones elsewhere.

There’s a meme purporting to show the 1924 Democratic convention was known as the “Klanbake” but — wait a second, you should sit down for this — that internet meme is not in fact historically accurate.

See @pashulman & @CleverTitleTK for a breakdown: washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-h…
This, then, was a period when the two parties’ IDs were in flux.

Democrats still had a base of segregationists in the South, but increasingly some liberals in the North.

Republicans, liberal & even radical in Lincoln’s era, had more conservatives joining, often in the West.
With the New Deal, FDR brought new big-government liberalism to the Democrats, but found sharp resistance from southern Dems on two issues: unions and civil rights.

(Among dozens and dozens of great books on this, see Ira Katznelson’s Fear Itself:
‘Fear Itself,’ by Ira KatznelsonIra Katznelson examines how Franklin D. Roosevelt won approval for the New Deal, and at what cost.https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/books/review/fear-itself-by-ira-katznelson.html)

Importantly, despite some small gestures, FDR’s brand of liberalism was purely focused on economic issues.

Though some in the administration (Eleanor Roosevelt, progressive Republican Harold Ickes, etc.) were racially liberal, the Democrats as a whole were not.

As Nancy Weiss Malkiel and others showed, African Americans began voting Democratic not because of the New Deal’s record on race, but in spite of it.

Blacks stayed loyal to “the party of Lincoln” in 1932, but shifted in massive numbers to FDR in 1936. (~76% of northern blacks)

Over the next two decades, Democrats had an uneasy coalition that combined white southern conservatives and African Americans in the north, plus a growing number of white liberals.

This tension came to a head in the 1948 election, under the leadership of President Harry Truman.
Outraged at reports of black WWII vets being assaulted, Truman launched a presidential commission on civil rights in 1946-7.

Then — to the nation’s shock — he pressed hard for all its recommendations, including protecting black voting rights and desegregating the military.

Liberal Democrats rallied around Truman’s call, with then-Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey urging the 1948 DNC “to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.”

After Humphrey’s speech, the convention adopted a strong civil rights plank.

It was a turning point for the party, the first major fight on civil rights in which northern liberals beat back southern conservatives and took control of the party on race relations.

Famously, of course, Southern Democrats bolted the party in anger, forming the States Rights Democratic Party — “the Dixiecrats” — under the leadership of avowed segregationist Strom Thurmond.

Thurmond and the Dixiecrats took four Deep South states (notably, all places where local allies kicked Truman off the ballot) but Truman still won re-election that fall.

The Dixiecrats came back into the coalition, but increasingly saw that they were on the losing end of things.

The Democratic Party was still the only party in the South, where the Republicans — “the party of Lincoln” — were still reviled and, as a result, virtually non-existent.

In his classic 1949 study, the famous political scientist V.O. Key judged that the Republican Party in the South “scarcely deserves the name of party. It wavers somewhat between an esoteric cult on the order of a lodge and a conspiracy for plunder.”

In fact, Republicans were so rare in the South that in the 1950s they told a story in East Texas about a sheriff who threw out the only two votes for a Republican candidate on the assumption that the candidate himself must have voted twice.

Both parties vied for the southern white vote during the 1950s, and thus took a fairly hands-off approach to civil rights.

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, his Dem opponent in 1952 & 1956, both tried to duck the issue whenever possible. As president, Ike sympathized with southern whites.

After Brown v. Board, he said appointing Chief Justice Earl Warren had been “the biggest damfool mistake I ever made.” He refused to urge compliance with Brown, allowing southern Democrats to wage “massive resistance” to it.

Eisenhower reluctantly intervened in Little Rock, but only belatedly, when Democratic Governor Orval Faubus’s defiance of the Supreme Court — and, by extension, Eisenhower’s own authority — got dangerously out of hand.

JFK was a lot like Ike on civil rights. He made symbolic efforts in the 1960 campaign, calling Coretta Scott King when MLK was in jail and winning key black votes in the North.

But until the Birmingham protests in 1963 he was generally reluctant to act, just as Ike had been.
In June 1963, after the Kennedy administration secured the desegregation of the University of Alabama — over the objections of Democratic Gov. George Wallace — JFK issued this stirring call for the legislation that would become the Civil Rights Act.

When JFK was assassinated, Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t simply continue to push for the Civil Rights Act, but went further, making it even stronger than originally planned.

He signed it into law in July 1964 with Martin Luther King at his side:

Now, Republicans were pivotal in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It *was* a Democratic admin’s bill, but Southern Dems in the Senate blocked it at every turn, so Democratic leaders reached out to Minority Leader Everett Dirksen to get GOP votes to help pass it.

Despite that GOP support for the Civil Rights Act, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee, voted against it.

Personally, Goldwater wasn’t a bigot. He opposed not integration itself, but federal intervention to achieve it.
For most Southern whites, however, the nuances of Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he stood against it, while LBJ stood for it.

Goldwater carried four Deep South states that fall, with segregationists rallying to the GOP.
Notably, Senator Strom Thurmond — the original Dixiecrat — bolted from the Democratic Party to join the ranks of the Republicans.

Importantly, he secured a rare deal with the GOP whereby he’d keep his seniority, and all the congressional power that came with it.

The Goldwater/Thurmond moment was transformative in how Americans understood the two parties on civil rights.

Until 1964, it seemed clear that Democrats were the party of economic liberalism and the GOP economic conservatism, but civil rights had been left out of the picture.

Indeed, as @edsall has noted, as late as 1962, polls asking which political party was “more likely to see to it that Negroes get fair treatment in jobs and housing” showed that Americans saw virtually no difference between Democrats and Republicans.

But in 1964, when asked the same question, 60% said Democrats were more in favor of fair jobs and housing for blacks; just 7% said Republicans.

Asked which party was more likely to support school integration in 1964, 56% pointed to Democrats while 7% did so for the Republicans. There was a stark change in popular perception about the two parties on civil rights.

But, that said, there was *not* an immediate, massive change in party affiliations for elected officials in Washington. The “realignment” that scholars write about didn’t happen overnight.
Strom Thurmond’s deal — in which he kept his seniority and thus, in the era of strong committee chairs, his real power — proved to be a one-off.

Most of the other old Dixiecrats in Congress didn’t switch parties themselves, but oversaw a transition for the next generation.

Take former Senate Maj. Leader Trent Lott. He served as an aide to Rep. William Colmer (D-MS), head of the House Rules Committee.

When Colmer retired in 1972, he handpicked Lott to fill the seat — but told him to run as a Republican. He did & won.
 

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867113643143168

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867103241105409

https://twitter.com/KevinMKruse/status/991867105149640704

Returning to Kruse’s thread:

Or consider Jesse Helms. He’d grown up a southern Dem, getting his first taste of politics helping Democrat Willis Smith run a race-baiting campaign for a NC senate seat in 1950 (see the ad below).

 

When Helms ran on his own in 1972, though, like Lott, he ran as a Republican.

Ah yes, Jesse Helms.

From Jennifer Bendery at the Huffington Post, on September 14, 2013.

Ted Cruz: ‘We Need 100 More Like Jesse Helms’ In The Senate

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that the country would be better off if the Senate was full of people like Jesse Helms, the late senator who was ardently opposed to all kinds of civil rights measures and even tried to block the Senate from approving a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

During remarks at a Heritage Foundation event dubbed the “Jesse Helms Lecture Series,” Cruz told a story of Helms receiving a $5,000 political donation from actor John Wayne, who apparently later told Helms he liked him because “you’re that guy saying all those crazy things” and that there needed to be 100 more of him.

“It’s every bit as true now as it was then,” Cruz said. “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”

Helms, the conservative North Carolina Republican who served in the Senate for 30 years, was known for his efforts to stop progressive polices relating to gay rights, abortion and race. He opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which he referred to as “the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.” When the Senate acted in 1983 to create a federal holiday honoring King, Helms staged a 16-day filibuster to try to block it. He ultimately caved in exchange for action on a tobacco bill.

In 1988, Helms opposed the Kennedy-Hatch AIDS bill, stating that there “is not one single case of AIDS in this country that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy.”

Helms passed away in 2008.

Cruz said the first political donation he ever made was to Helms — $10 — and praised the late senator for his outspokenness. If Helms were alive, Cruz said, he would be taking a more aggressive stance against “radical Islamist terrorism” than President Barack Obama has been taking.

“If Jesse Helms were still with us, he would not shy away from this fight,” Cruz said.

Cruz spoke at the NRA meeting after Pence and Trump, Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.

The tone of the NRA meeting was angry and defiant, at once crowing about how gun owners have never enjoyed as many rights and privileges as they have today, thanks to the NRA, but also haranguing that gun rights have never been more imperiled and under siege.

In his column, Ken Herman, who I went to Dallas with, wrote:

The part I don’t get about gun culture is the part that says I should have one to defend myself against my government. I feel no such need.

Well, that’s easy for Ken to say.

He probably knew all along that the (Alex Jones fueled) conspiracy theory back in 2015 about the Jade Helm military exercises being a prelude to the Obama administration declaring martial law in Texas was really early evidence of beta testing by the Russians of a disinformation campaign in the United States.

But, the NRA, it seems is always on Jade Helm alert.

From Ken’s column:

dStrategically placed throughout the convention center are big (really, really big) banners featuring the meeting’s slogan — “A Show of Strength” — and a challenging, menacing, come-and-take-it oversized visage of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

His welcome message in the program reminds NRA members, “Forces from the extreme left in the political class to anti-Second Amendment extremists in the academic community to the ever more aggressive, deceitful national media have joined together in a massive conspiracy to seize control of the U.S. House and Senate in the next election.”

The goal of that cabal, he says, is nothing less than “to pervert our great nation into their European-style socialist utopia.”

It made we wonder about staunch defenders of the Second Amendment who might not necessarily buy into the whole LaPierre agenda – there must more than a few of them – which seems to go well beyond defending the Second Amendment.

If not as stern of visage as LaPierre, Cruz was also combative in his remarks:

We understand the Second Amendment right is not about hunting,” Sen. Cruz said. “It’s not about target shooting. The Second Amendment is about the fundamental, God-given right each and every one of us has to defend our lives, to defend our homes, to defend our children, to defend our family, and when the Second Amendment says ‘shall not be infringed’ it means exactly that: shall not be infringed. That’s what the men and women here are standing up and defending.

And:

In 1776, 56 patriots affixed their names to the Declaration of Independence. Signed their lives, fortunes and sacred honors. When they made that commitment those were not empty words. Those were the words that launched a revolution, the greatest experiment in freedom that the world has ever known. Today, in this gathering, we are once again in the presence of patriots. From the minutemen at Lexington and Concord to civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Americans have long understood that the right to keep and bear arms is fundamental for preserving our liberty. And the men and women here are committed to standing up for freedom..

Suffice it to say that Jesse Helms would not have thought to recruit Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both of whom were assassinated with guns, nto the campaign against gun regulation. Nor, I suspect, would Jesse Helms have welcomed Kanye West to a national Republican ticket, as I’m sure Cruz, when the time comes, will.

Fourteen years ago, I covered Kanye West at a hip-hop political summit at Ohio State University.

Forty years after Freedom Summer and the murders of three young civil rights workers in Mississippi, there is a nascent effort to rouse a new generation to activism by transforming hip-hop from a cultural force into a political movement – to bring bling bling to the ballot box.

It was evident in early June at the celebrity-driven Hip-Hop Summit at Ohio State University, credited with adding some 10,000 new voters to the rolls. And it will be in further evidence beginning Wednesday at the three-day National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark, N.J., an issues-driven, grass-roots affair (delegates were required to register 50 new voters to be credentialed) that will try to define just what a hip-hop politics would look like.

“There’s a phrase in hip-hop _ `show and prove,”’ said James Bernard, 39, a pioneering figure in hip-hop journalism who is now devoted to political organizing. The field director for the Newark convention, Bernard has raised $1.4 million for the Hip-Hop Civic Engagement Project, a registration and get-out-the-vote drive that he will direct in 14 key states. “I think we are about to show and prove.”

Freedom Summer flowered amid one of the most fertile periods of social change in American history. Black voting rights were secured, and the voting age was lowered to 18. But in 2000, nearly two-thirds of blacks ages 18 to 24 did not vote, and the turnout among young whites was hardly any better (especially considering how many young black males cannot vote because they are in prison or, once out, in states that deny ex-felons the vote).

Some rappers, like Kanye West, 26, who headlined the Ohio State summit, are pointedly mindful of both the legacy and burden of history for a generation more used to commemorating the black freedom struggle than advancing it.

West’s father was a Black Panther. His mother is a professor of English at Chicago State University who, as he raps in “Never Let Me Down,” was taken by her grandfather to a sit-in where “at the tender of six she was arrested.”

“With that in my blood I was born to be different,” he continues. “Now n—-s can’t make it to ballots to choose leadership, but we can make it to Jacob and to the dealership.” (Jacob is the jeweler designing West’s line of diamond-studded Jesus pendants.)

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In his own conversation with reporters at the summit, Damon Dash, co-chair of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and CEO of Roc-A-Fella Records, the major label whose artists include West, admitted that political rap does not sell and that rappers have to slip wisdom into more commercial work.

“Sometimes it’s not in our best interests to let people know how smart we are,” Dash said.

“That says it all,” observed Mark McPhail, a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he is conducting a course on Freedom Summer on the very campus where civil rights volunteers were trained before being dispatched to Mississippi.

So, it appeared Kanye was using 400 years of slavery to sell an album by selling out his people.

As T.I., as the people, put it:

Startin’ to make it seem like Donnie cut you a check
Now you toyin’ with hot lava, better be careful with that

But, as West replies, Alright, Tip, we could be rappin’ about this all day, man.
Why don’t we just cut the beat off and let the people talk.

So maybe he is just getting the conversation going, per Scott Adams, to liberate some minds and usher in the Golden Age, though I suspect is has more to do with his own Golden Age.

For better or worse, it is world-class branding, something that Trump understands and at which Trump, like Kanye excels.

Think of the ratings potential.

A Trump-West inaugural in 2021 might actually draw the biggest crowd ever.

They are a perfect match.

Bye bye Pence.

P.S.  From PAULA ROGO at Essence:
It appears that President Donald Trump is prepared to start a national discussion on race — and he wants Colin Kaepernick and Kanye West involved.

Cleveland-based pastor Darrell Scott, who is an outside adviser to the president, told PEOPLE that the president had signed off on a series of meetings on race that will include athletes and artists.

“He is 100 percent for it,” says Scott, who said he had spoken with Trump. “He was very enthusiastic about it.”

He added: “It’s not going to be a black-only event. It will be a melting pot.”

Scott also confirmed that Kanye, who has shared his admiration for Trump, has been invited. Though the idea of the summits has been in play for a while, Kanye’s recent controversial tweets may have sped up the process, Scott says.

Kaepernick, who Trump once vilified for his position to kneel during the national anthem, has also been asked to attend. 

“Maybe he should find a country that works better for him,” Trump said of Kaepernick last year, adding that players who kneel for the anthem should be fired.

According to Scott, who will be apart of the organizing team, invitations will also be extended to Jim Brown, Evander Holyfield, Herschel Walker and Mike Tyson. 

Trump also plans to be in attendance, a move that Scott says will help people understand the president better.

“I want them to see and know the Donald Trump I know and they will say, ‘This guy isn’t who I’ve been lead to believe he is.

 

Chaos theory: On the Electoral College, Hamilton Electors and the Donald Trump Show

 

 

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Good day Austin:

One of my earliest memories was being in the back seat of the family car on Election Day 1960. It was pretty late at night and we had been driving a long time coming back from I know not where. We were listening to the Kennedy-Nixon election turns on the car radio, and the news crackled. The election was close, very close, and the outcome was in doubt. It all depended, the voice on the radio kept saying, on  the electoral college. It would all come down to the electoral college.

I assumed this would work to Kennedy’s benefit, because, even at six, I knew that JFK would have an edge with any college crowd.

I finally got to see the Electoral College in action at the Capitol on Monday, and, it turned out that it was not your typical college crowd. Somehow, because Texas was home to the only going-into-it, you-can-count-on-it faithless Trump elector in Chris Suprun of Dallas, the eyes of the nation were on Texas, and the timing was such that the faithful Texas electors got to put Trump over the 270 mark, securing his victory for president.

It was a moment in history, but it was also the latest episode of the Donald Trump  Show, the one in which, amid the chaos, the star somehow always emerges victorious, thanks, in no small part to his enemies, who don’t even seem to understand that they are on the show, playing their dutiful role.

The next day, on Tuesday, Michael Hirschorn, who developed reality TV shows for VH1 and who in the 2007 Atlantic  wrote The Case for Reality TV: What the snobs don’t understand, was on Ari Melber’s show on MSNBC putting this in context.

Of Trump’s election, Hirschorn said:

Trump was speaking to an audience that really understood reality TV. People like us, well-meaning urbanites, tend not to watch reality TV, don’t really understand that language and it is a very different language from the one we’re used to. It’s a language of conflict, of being an alpha male, about dominance and it doesn’t really seek any resolution, and Trump is really the greatest celebrity reality talent of all time.

On reality television, resolution is undesirable. Hirschorn said, They seek endless conflict because conflict is interest.

Of Trump’s assembling his Cabinet as president-elect:

It literally is “The Bachelor,” down to the candlelit dinner with Mitt Romney  after he which he got kicked off the show at the end of the hour right after the commercial break.

So everyone has kind been of sucked in, including this network, CNN, other networks into really covering this presidency or incipient presidency as a kind of reality television show where everyone wins.  It’s a proven formula that’s great for ratings but it’s terrifying for the country  because it has nothing to do with governance.

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And I think the thing I found about reality talent, is that reality talent, really great reality talent either doesn’t know or soon forgets the difference between reality and television and Trump strikes me as someone where we really don’t know if he understands what the joke is or not  and if I came across this guy and i had a chance to put him on the says show, I’d be, “this guy is really awesome, I’m sure he’s a lot of fun at a poker game or  dinner party, but as president he’s kind of terrifying.

xxxxxx

I think were almost like rats in a cage feeding off this.

xxxxxxx

We’re all enabling this guy. We’re also all the saps. On all these reality television shows, the person who breaks down and cries is the loser. For liberals and progressives  who are moaning and upset and  angry, that’s a win (for Trump) in the reality TV production paradigm and giving him that is really what he wants and what people who support Trump want.

xxxxxx

When we go into a pitch meeting with a reality star we say, “Go crazy, do some nutty stuff, it really doesn’t matter what you say,” whereas in the news business people are looking at him based on content. It really isn’t about content, it’s about show, it s about  performance, it’s about what Jeb Bush said,  which is kind  of endless chaos.

Chaos was the watchword of the Trump campaign.

Endless roiling scandal and controversy is much to be preferred to the discrete and episodic.

From the Washington Post’s Dan Balz at the Democratic National Convention this summer.

The big story at the Democratic convention for most of Wednesday was not the Democrats — not Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine or even President Obama, the evening’s star speaker. It was Donald Trump, whose loose and provocative talk about the Russians and Clinton’s emails seemed exponentially beyond even his standards for creating turmoil and controversy.

Trump thrives on chaos and above all else demands attention. When the spotlight falls elsewhere, such as on the Democrats this week in Philadelphia, he looks to shift it back in his direction. He is a candidate who uses disruption as a strategic force. Wednesday was a textbook example — whether for good or ill.

Trump veered into controversy at a Wednesday morning news conference in Florida. He suggested that the Russians should hack into Clinton’s private emails if they have not already and then release publicly those that she deleted before turning over the server to the federal government.

No one could remember a serious candidate for president seeming to urge a foreign power to carry out espionage on the United States and at the same time call on that country to intrude on a presidential election and possibly influence the outcome. It is another example of Trump doing and saying the unthinkable and daring the Democrats and his opponents to make it cost him politically.

The controversy came on a day that Democrats were planning to use their prime-time speeches to frame the contrast between the major-party nominees and attempt to paint Trump as wholly unsuited, temperamentally and by lack of knowledge, to serve as president and commander in chief. 

And from the New York Times” James Poniewozik earlier this month:

His cabinet vetting has been as much “The Bachelor” as “The Apprentice,” complete with luxurious backdrops (Trump Tower, Mr. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J.), public sniping among associates about the suitors and even a candlelit dinner, at Jean-Georges with the secretary of state hopeful Mitt Romney.

romney-dinner

The whole process reflects Mr. Trump’s worldview, which was reality TV before reality TV even existed: to see life, even within a team, as gladiatorial combat. On “The Apprentice,” he relished letting candidates go crabs-in-a-barrel on each other in the boardroom. Now it was Newt Gingrich, an early supporter of Mr. Trump, calling Mr. Romney a potential “disaster” on Fox News.

Mr. Trump and cable news have the same metabolism. Cable news demands a steady stream of excitations and “breaking” updates, a constant instability that keeps you tuning in.

Mr. Trump is glad to supply that, and cable news is glad to respond. This creates a perpetual-motion machine. Mr. Trump sees something in the news; he gets mad; he tweets; that becomes the news; repeat. He’s the Hate-Watcher in Chief.

The last president with a history in entertainment, Ronald Reagan, came from the movies by way of the California governor’s mansion. He knew how to read a script and had already learned to marry politics to smooth stagecraft.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is all stream of consciousness, improv, roll the cameras and we’ll clean it up in postproduction. It’s unsteadying, disorienting. The national narrative becomes a reel of explosions and contradictions with no thread. Controversies follow one another too fast to remember any of them. Last week seems like a year ago.

This chaos may benefit only the president-elect because when there is no certainty, when there is no logic, there remains only the leader — only Mr. Trump.

The effort to block Trump in the Electoral College was a gift to Trump, enabling him to win yet again while leaving the opposition looking feeble, deluded and out of touch.

They were, in Hirschorn’s paradigm, the moaning, upset, angry, crying losers. They were Trump’s enablers.

And, it was a good story, an ongoing source of controversy and speculation even though it had zero chance of success. And, if it had somehow succeeded, the result would have been the destruction of norms that those worried about Trump ought to be seeking to bolster not weaken, leading almost certainly to a convulsion of violence in the streets, followed by the House of Representatives restoring order with the election of  a strengthened President Trump.

And so, in spite of itself, the whole episode was given a relatively serious airing.’

From the Independent last Friday: Harvard law professor says ’30’ Republican electors ready to block Donald Trump win. If it gets close to the 37 needed ‘there will be a very interesting dynamic’, says Larry Lessig

As many as 30 Republican members of the Electoral College are willing to break their pledge and vote against Donald Trump in order to block him from becoming the US President, according to a Harvard University law professor.

Larry Lessig, who was himself briefly a candidate for the 2016 Democratic nomination, has been offering legal support to electors on their right to “vote their conscience” – that is, to reject the mandate given to them by the winner of the popular vote in their specific state.

Most states bind their electors to the popular vote by state law, but Mr Lessig said there was precedent to say these are federal officials, granted powers by the federal constitution, who should “be able to exercise their independent and nonpartisan judgement about who to vote for.”.

 

 

The argument for denying Trump an Electoral College victory was built on what seemed to be two mutually exclusive lines of reasoning.

  1. The Electoral College is an abomination, an anti-democratic relic of the Founding Father’s protection of slavery that ought to give way to the popular vote, the authentic voice of the people.
  2. The Electoral College is a stroke of genius by the Founding Fathers who foresaw the possibility of a bad actor being elected who was so dangerously out-of-bounds that he needed to be stopped by wiser heads.

 

 

 

How cool and righteous to be a Hamilton Elector.

But, the idolization of Hamilton, I think, has a lot less to do with a careful reading of Federalists 68 and a lot more to do with the hit Broadway musical  – the haute cultural cuisine of a cognoscenti that despairs of the bread and circus Trump Show being fed the rabble.

Hamilton is not only a hugely successful production, it is also a cultural touchstone, a signifier of the Obama era.

As described by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker in February 2015, Hamilton was actually born in a White House performance by its creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in May 2009, when the Obama administration was young.

That evening in May, Miranda and the other performers—among them Esperanza Spalding, the jazz bassist and vocalist, and James Earl Jones—were introduced to the President. Miranda asked him to sign a copy of “Dreams from My Father” that he’d bought at the airport. Onstage, Miranda announced that he was working on a concept album about Hamilton—“someone I think embodies hip-hop,” he said, to general laughter. He did not mention that he had written only one song. After Miranda explained that Hamilton represented “the word’s ability to make a difference,” he launched into complex lyrics that condensed the first twenty years of Hamilton’s life into four minutes. Slight of build, with dark cropped hair and thick stubble, Miranda paced the stage with coiled energy, rapping of “the ten-dollar Founding Father without a father / Got a lot farther by working a lot harder / By being a lot smarter / By being a self-starter.” His performance ignited a rising murmur of delight among the audience, and the Obamas were rapt: Miranda later heard that the President’s first reaction was to remark that Timothy Geithner had to see this.

Ah yes, Timothy Geithner and Alexander Hamilton – two peas in the anti-populist pod.

From Mead:

It does not seem accidental that “Hamilton” was created during the tenure of the first African-American President. The musical presents the birth of the nation in an unfamiliar but necessary light: not solely as the work of élite white men but as the foundational story of all Americans. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington are all played by African-Americans. Miranda also gives prominent roles to women, including Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Schuyler (Phillipa Soo), and sister-in-law, Angelica Schuyler (Renée Elise Goldsberry). When they are joined by a third sister, their zigzagging harmonies sound rather like those of Destiny’s Child. Miranda portrays the Founding Fathers not as exalted statesmen but as orphaned sons, reckless revolutionaries, and sometimes petty rivals, living at a moment of extreme volatility, opportunity, and risk. The achievements and the dangers of America’s current moment—under the Presidency of a fatherless son of an immigrant, born in the country’s island margins—are never far from view.

The election of Trump was an affront to Hamilton, and it was, of course,  the cast of Hamilton who lectured Vice President-Elect Mike Pence when he came to see the show, a scene that Pence, who loved Hamilton, accepted with great equanimity.

But for Trump, it was just another opportunity to wring some juicy conflict into a tweet and  dominate the news.

 

 

As for Hamilton, the man and not the musical, here is some of what he had to say in Federalist 68:

The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. And this will be thought no inconsiderable recommendation of the Constitution, by those who are able to estimate the share which the executive in every government must necessarily have in its good or ill administration. Though we cannot acquiesce in the political heresy of the poet who says: “For forms of government let fools contest That which is best administered is best,” yet we may safely pronounce, that the true test of a good government is its aptitude and tendency to produce a good administration

 

The protest outside the Capitol on Monday was hale and hearty with a goodly variety of excellent signs.

 

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I was even reminded of how an errant apostrophe can diabolically turn the meaning of a three-word phrase into its opposite.

As it played out, history was made Monday, but not in the way that the Hamilton Electors had hoped.

 

 

From NPR:

Trump secured 304 electoral votes — two fewer than he earned in November, according to the Associated Press, which tracked results from Capitol to Capitol. That was despite a pitched effort by some on the left who wrote letters to Trump electors trying to persuade them to switch their votes or not vote at all and keep Trump short of the 270 needed.

Not only did it not happen, but more electors tried to defect from Hillary Clinton Monday than from Trump, by a count of eight to two. Three Democratic electors in Maine, Minnesota, and Colorado tried to vote for candidates other than Clinton. The electors’ votes, however, were disallowed because of state rules binding them to the statewide popular vote winner.

Four more electors in Washington state defected from Clinton. Three voted for Colin Powell and one for Faith Spotted Eagle, a Native American who gained some notoriety for her protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

And in Hawaii, an elector successfully cast a ballot for Bernie Sanders instead of Clinton.

 

It was, for Trumpers, a happy ending.

But, in true Trump spriti, not everyone on the winning side was wiling to leave well enough alone.

 

 

 

 

From the Statesman”Ken Herman:

 

I’m unclear on which part of the process Abbott found circusy. I was in the Texas House chamber for Monday’s Electoral College proceedings and saw no circus. It dragged on for three hours, but that’s OK. Outside the Capitol, the anti-Trump protests got a little passionate. Nothing wrong with that. No circus there.

Perhaps Abbott sees circus in the efforts of groups to encourage Electoral College members to go rogue. Did some of that go over the top this year? Maybe. But I’d call it more free speech than circus.

Abbott turned his general thoughts about the Electoral College into a personal attack on one elector at 9:46 a.m. Tuesday when he went Trumpian and tweeted this at Suprun: “YOU’RE FIRED!!!”

First of all, governors can’t fire electors. Second of all, Suprun’s job was over by the time Abbott “fired” him. Third of all, doesn’t Abbott have some important governing or Christmas shopping he should be doing instead of spite tweeting?

 

Maybe it was the fact that his predecessor, former Gov. Rick Perry – unlike the likes of Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz – had secured a spot in the Trump Cabinet after a couple of twirls on Dancing with the Stars,  but Abbott – who is calling for a Convention of the States to rewrite the Constitution – could not seem to resist the impulse to confirm that this really is The Trump Show.

As for binding Texas electors, perhaps a better solution would be for the political parties to do a more serious job of vetting their electors – and making it a position worthy of Hamilton’s faith in them – instead of a political bauble.

Also, if electors can never exercise their free will and best judgment, there is no reason to have them. But, just suppose that Donald Trump on Sunday had declared, “Yes, I am Putin’s pawn and will do his bidding,” it might be nice to have electors who could spare the nation the time, expense and mental anguish of having to wait until he was inaugurated to be impeached.

In the meantime, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who was there for the vote by the Texas electors, struck a different posture, declining to comment on Suprun, or on efforts to legally bind the electors, and saying that the demonstrators outside were evidence of what’s great about America, and God bless them.

As for the Electoral College, Cornyn said, “The winners always seem to like it, and the losers always seem to like it not so much.”

And then there was Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, a potential Trump Supreme Court pick, but the unTrump in his healing and happy use of Twitter, who accompanied his children to the ceremony, in which they played a role.]

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pence-Kaine vice presidential debate and the willing suspension of disbelief

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Good morning Austin:

I believe it was Mrs. Tinkhauser in my 9th-grade mass media class who taught me about something called the willing suspension of disbelief.

Here is a description of that phenomenon from MediaCollege.com.

In the world of fiction you are often required to believe a premise which you would never accept in the real world. Especially in genres such as fantasy and science fiction, things happen in the story which you would not believe if they were presented in a newspaper as fact. Even in more real-world genres such as action movies, the action routinely goes beyond the boundaries of what you think could really happen.

In order to enjoy such stories, the audience engages in a phenomenon known as “suspension of disbelief”. This is a semi-conscious decision in which you put aside your disbelief and accept the premise as being real for the duration of the story.

Suspension of disbelief only works to a point. It is important that the story maintains its own form of believability and doesn’t push the limits too far. There are many factors for the budding story-writer or film-maker to consider, including the following….

The initial premise can be quite outrageous as long as the story maintains consistency within that premise. There are many things about the Star Trek universe which are basically impossible in the real world, but because Star Trek makes an effort to work consistently within its own universe, the stories become believable. For example, as long as you’re willing to accept that the Galaxy is mostly populated by humanoids then there is nothing within the series that will break the believability.

The quality of special effects must be believable. It is harder to suspend disbelief in movies where the special effects appear fake.

The genre will determine the lengths to which you can push believability. Audiences will be willing to believe an action hero can perform super-human feats, but the same feats performed suddenly in a romantic drama would result in confusion and disbelief.

Some stories purposely push the suspension of disbelief to the limit. The Indiana Jones movies were a good example, where the audience was expected to find the improbable antics amusing.

One important area of belief is in human actions and emotion. People must act, react and interact in ways which are believable. In cases where such interactions do require suspension of disbelief, the normal rules of consistency apply. Audiences are very unforgiving if they think a character is behaving in an unbelievable fashion.

A couple of thoughts here.

In one of the least surprising turn of events in history, the people who worked on Star Trek–a show which envisions a future Earth without sexism, racism, religion, and even money–find the thought of a Trump presidency abhorrent. More surprisingly, they all want to be clear that a vote for a third party is a vote for Trump.

 A post on the Facebook group Trek Against Trump (“not endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with CBS Studios Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp or the “’Star Trek’ franchise.”) explains that “Never has there been a presidential candidate who stands in such complete opposition to the ideals of the Star Trek universe as Donald Trump. His election would take this country backward, perhaps disastrously.”
 .

Last night’s vice presidential debate also depended on the willing suspension of disbelief.

By almost all accounts, Pence outperformed Kaine. He was calm, cool, collected, looked vice presidential – or maybe even presidential – in a kind of generic, TV movie kind of way. And he had a Spockian Vulcan calm that served him very well against Kaine’s frenetic, nearly panicked Scotty warnings about where the Enterprise would be headed with Trump at the helm.

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Pence’s performance offered Republicans and conservatives some modeling on how you can be a Trump supporter – indeed you can be his running mate – through a kind of Zen denial, through an assertive  suspension of disbelief, and straight-out denial that Trump is who he is or said the things he has said, and to do it in such a steady and unruffled manner that Tim Kaine ends up looking and sounding like Chicken Little.

 

 

For example, Pence’s very tough words about Russia and Putin sounded more like what a Trump critic would hurl at Trump than what Trump’s running mate would be saying.

Pence, with impressive aplomb and no hint of irony, defended Trump as more the victim then perpetrator of insults in the campaign.

 

KAINE: Six times tonight, I have said to Governor Pence I can’t imagine how you can defend your running mate’s position on one issue after the next. And in all six cases, he’s refused to defend his running mate.

PENCE: Well, let’s — no, no, don’t put words in my mouth.

QUIJANO: All right.

PENCE: He’s going…

(CROSSTALK)

KAINE: And yet he is asking everybody to vote for somebody that he cannot defend. And I just think that should be underlined.

PENCE: No, I’m — look…

(CROSSTALK)

QUIJANO: All right, gentlemen, let’s talk about Russia. This is a topic that has come up.

PENCE: I’m very, very happy to defend Donald Trump.

And:

PENCE: To be honest, if Donald Trump said all those things you said he said, in the way you said he said those things, he wouldn’t have a fraction of the insults that Hillary Clinton leveled when she said half of our supporters were a basket of deplorables.

 

Some stories purposely push the suspension of disbelief to the limit.

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/783526189616992256?lang=en

 

 

Then there was this, which provoke the loudest reaction (laughter) at the Whip In, where I watched the debate.

 

 

KAINE: When Donald Trump says women should be punished or Mexicans are rapists and criminals…

PENCE: I’m telling you…

KAINE: … or John McCain is not a hero, he is showing you who he is.

PENCE: Senator, you’ve whipped out that Mexican thing again. He — look…

KAINE: Can you defend it?

PENCE: There are criminal aliens in this country, Tim, who have come into this country illegally who are perpetrating violence and taking American lives.

KAINE: You want to — you want to use a big broad brush against Mexicans on that?

PENCE: He also said and many of them are good people. You keep leaving that out of your quote. And if you want me to go there, I’ll go there.

 

Sure. Go there.

This is what Trump said when he announced his candidacy for president, a shocking line that vaulted him to the front of the pack.

 When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

There is a difference between “many of them are good people,” and “some, I assume, are good people.”

Not to mention the infelicitousness of Pence’s phrasing, at once dismissive and obscene, which sounded like a line the repressed, uptight white politician would deliver in a John Waters movie before the bit production number, (I Knew it was Love the Moment) You Whipped Out That Mexican Thing.

 

https://twitter.com/eliotnelson/status/783494982896381952

 

 

 

Here is a compendium of reactions to the line from Fusion.

 

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/EWErickson/status/783526189616992256

https://twitter.com/ezraklein/status/783526775489957888

 

So Pence did well, definitely for himself, and maybe for Trump.

But, audiences are very unforgiving if they think a character is behaving in an unbelievable fashion.

In the end, the safest bet is that this debate will have little if any lasting effect.