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April 29 2016 11:40 AM

A Number of Prominent Republicans Have Decided That a Trump Nomination, Like Death, Is Inevitable

Based on his current delegate totals and the way he's polling in states that have yet to vote, it now looks likely that Donald Trump will be selected as the Republican Party's nominee for president on the first ballot at its July convention. He's also pretty widely disliked by the general population and trails Hillary Clinton in every head-to-head general-election poll. At this point, though, the Washington Post reports, the kind of Republican figures who've been working to defeat Trump for the past six months appear to be coming around to the idea that, like the sweet release of death, Trump's nomination is truly inevitable.

This is the kind of story that's sometimes based only on a few quotes and a reporter's vague feelings about the national mood, but the roster of establishment-type Republicans that the Post's Philip Rucker cites on the record either expressing their own support for Trump or asserting that they believe he's won the nomination fight is pretty long:

  • Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who endorsed Marco Rubio
  • A former Colorado party chairman named Dick Wadhams who says "fatigue is probably the perfect description of what people are feeling. ...  People just want this to be over with." 
  • A New Hampshire operative named Mike Dennehy who says Republicans "just want it done" ("It" = Trump's nomination and/or the blissful feeling of floating into nothingness)
  • A California consultant named Reed Galen
  • A Georgia consultant named Tom Perdue
  • A Florida lobbyist named Brian Ballard
  • A Massachusetts Republican National Committee member named Ron Kaufman
  • Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, chairman of the House Transportation Committee
  • Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott

That's a lot of people! Trump 2016! Someday, we will all die.

April 29 2016 9:59 AM

New Oregon Poll Has Great News for Donald Trump, Horrible News for John Kasich

We now have our first public poll of the Republican race in Oregon, one of three states Ted Cruz and John Kasich divvied up last weekend as part of their delusional, desperate, and likely doomed gambit to derail Donald Trump. The Hoffman Research Group survey will only add insult to injury to the crumbling #NeverTrump movement:

  • Trump: 43 percent
  • Cruz: 26 percent
  • Kasich: 17 percent

It’s only one poll—its margin of error is 4.2 percent; usual caveats apply—but it offers some particularly bad news for Kasich. The pollsters found that 17 percent of GOP voters said they had never heard of the Ohio governor, compared with 2 percent who said the same thing of Cruz and the 0 percent for Trump. Another 24 percent said they had “no impression” of Kasich, compared with 19 percent for Cruz and 11 percent for Trump.

This, remember, is in one of the two states that Cruz agreed to effectively cede to Kasich, ostensibly under the theory that his more moderate brand could prove popular in the state in a one-on-one matchup with Trump. (Though in reality, Cruz was likely more motivated by his desire to clear his own path in Indiana, where Trump’s lead was in the mid–single digits before Kasich agreed to pull out of the state.) According to one of the pollsters, the deal appears to be backfiring in Oregon. “I think that just got a lot of people fed up,” Tim Nashif told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kasich is running out of time to introduce himself to Oregon voters. The state primary is conducted entirely by mail, meaning many voters will return their ballots well in advance of the May 17 deadline. And Kasich didn’t help his case, either, when he missed a deadline to have his name listed on an informational flier the state sends out to voters.

To be fair, Oregon isn’t one of the most important contests of the 10 remaining on the GOP primary calendar. State Republicans will hand out their 28 delegates proportionally, making it unlikely to swing Trump’s fortunes drastically either way. (If this poll proves accurate, Trump would walk away with a plurality but not a majority of delegates.) Still, Kasich’s weak polling could convince Cruz to rethink his position—which would further damage a nonaggression pact that has already morphed into a passive-aggressive one. And either way, Trump looks poised to claim a victory in a state where his rivals have attempted to openly coordinate against him, a result that would only further energize his anti-establishment base.

April 29 2016 7:58 AM

Massive Protest Outside Trump’s O.C. Rally Ends With Roughly 20 Arrests

The aftermath of a Donald Trump rally in Southern California on Thursday turned particularly messy. Hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets outside the Orange County venue to make their feelings about the Republican front-runner known. While there were no reports of major injuries, the demonstrations were far from peaceful.

Several protesters were captured on video throwing rocks at passing cars, one was recorded jumping up and down on the roof of a cop car, and—according to the Associated Press—at least one scuffled with a Trump supporter who was trying to drive away from the rally, leaving the Trump supporter’s face bloodied. Local police said they made roughly 20 arrests.

Dozens of cars—including those of Trump supporters trying to leave—were stuck in the street as several hundred demonstrators blocked the road, waved Mexican flags and posed for selfies. Police in riot gear and on horseback pushed the crowd back and away from the venue. ... The crowd began dispersing about three hours after the speech ended. …
Earlier in the evening, a half-dozen anti-Trump protesters taunted those waiting to get into the venue. Trump supporters surrounded one man who waved a Mexican flag and shouted "Build that wall! Build that wall!"—a reference to Trump's call to create a barrier between the United States and Mexico to stop illegal border crossings.

And a few choice shots from Twitter:

While there was a scattering of mostly peaceful protests in the lead-up to the event, tensions appear to have boiled over after Trump was done speaking at the Pacific Amphitheatre. (The size of the crowd inside is in some dispute: The AP pegged it at 18,000 while the Los Angeles Times estimated the figure to be only 8,000.)

The celebrity demagogue, who briefly feigned in the direction of acting more “presidential” earlier this month, instead went with a set list of his greatest xenophobic hits. According to the Times account, Trump surrounded himself on stage with people carrying photos of family members they say were killed by immigrants in the country illegally and had the crowd cheering with his promise to make Mexico pay for a wall along the U.S. border. He also touted the benefits of torture, fearmongered about Syrian refugees, and repeated a made-up story about a U.S. Army general executing Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pig blood more than a century ago.

April 28 2016 11:01 PM

Suspicious White Powder Mailed to Trump Campaign Office

An envelope containing white powder was mailed to the Trump presidential campaign office in the Trump Tower Thursday. A Trump staffer opened the letter and informed authorities, according to police. Emergency medical crews responded around 8 p.m. to the call, evacuating six people, five of whom were Trump campaign staff, according to the Associated Press. The rest of the building was not evacuated. Trump was in California campaigning at the time.

April 28 2016 10:09 PM

Top NFL Prospect’s Draft Stock Plummets Thanks to Inopportune Bong-Smoking Video

NFL Draft night was supposed to be the best day of Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil’s young life. The 21-year-old was projected to go as high as the top five on Thursday night before disaster struck. But just minutes before the draft was set to begin, a video tweeted out from Tunsil’s own account showed him wearing a gas mask connected to a bong.

Deadspin reports that the video had been shopped around previously, presumably to media outlets, by an unknown source. Tunsil’s agent Jimmy Sexton told ESPN, “It is BS. Somebody hacked into his account.”

Nevertheless, ESPN’s Jon Gruden blamed Tunsil for the Twitter indiscretion, saying “this whole social media scene makes me sick.”

It’s worth noting that Tunsil has been embroiled in a nasty family legal battle. The Clarion-Ledger reports:

A lawsuit filed late Tuesday afternoon at the Lafayette County Courthouse by Starkville attorney Matthew Wilson of behalf of Miller alleges that Tunsil attacked Miller last June and that Tunsil defamed Miller’s character. The lawsuit alleges these two things were an “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Tunsil was ultimately selected by the Miami Dolphins with the No. 13 pick in the first round.

April 28 2016 8:40 PM

New York Times CEO Sued for Allegedly Promoting Age, Gender, and Racial Discrimination

The chief executive of the New York Times was hit with a multimillion-dollar class-action workplace-discrimination lawsuit on Thursday alleging that he cultivated a culture of discrimination in the paper’s advertising department based on race, gender, and age. The suit was filed in New York by two black female employees in their 60s, according to the Guardian, and accuses CEO Mark Thompson of encouraging the ad department to progressively get younger and whiter during his tenure, which began in 2012 after he joined the paper following a controversial rein as director-general of the BBC where he faced similar allegations.

From the Guardian:

The class action lawsuit, seen by the Guardian, alleges that the Times, which promotes its liberal and inclusive social values, preferentially favours its “ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family)” at the expense of older female and black employees. “Unbeknownst to the world at large, not only does the Times have an ideal customer (young, white, wealthy), but also an ideal staffer (young, white, unencumbered with a family) to draw that purported ideal customer,” the lawsuit, which the women’s lawyer said could be extended to up to 50 similar alleged victims, states … Thompson is said to have hired Meredith Levien, the company’s chief revenue officer and a co-defendant, to “carry out his vision of the ideal workforce”. The lawsuit claims that under Thompson, who was paid $8.7m (£6m) last year, and Levien, who was paid $1.8m (£1.2m), “age, sex and race discrimination became the modus operandi at the Times”. In speeches to staff, Levien is said to have made it clear that she wanted a workforce with “fresh faces” populated by “people who look like the people we are selling to”. She is alleged to have told staff that “this isn’t what our sales team should look like”. The advertising staff, many of whom are older, black and female, said Levien’s comments were “shockingly rife with racially charged innuendos”.

A spokesperson for the Times denied the allegations saying: “This lawsuit contains a series of recycled, scurrilous and unjustified attacks on both Mark Thompson and Meredith Levien. It also completely distorts the realities of the work environment at The New York Times.”

April 28 2016 6:32 PM

The Thursday Slatest Newsletter

Today's biggest stories:

Have a good night out there.

April 28 2016 6:13 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: The Coveted Bobby Knight Nuclear Death Endorsement

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

Not much doing with Trump today except for the uniformly bad reception his foreign-policy speech got, even from macho conservative outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the National Review. I also found a general election poll that put Hillary Clinton ahead of Trump by 11 points, slightly assuaging the panic I felt yesterday after seeing the George Washington poll that had him only trailing by 3 percent.

Trump also continued to campaign in Indiana with notoriously ill-tempered basketball coach Bobby Knight, who said today that one of the things he likes about Trump is that Trump would have no problem ordering the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Bobby Knight saying he appreciates how close Trump keeps his finger to the nuclear death button is probably not the kind of endorsement that is going to help convince independent voters that he has the demeanor and judgment they're looking for in a president. Ironically, in fact, Knight's statement (along with the lack of enthusiasm for Trump's foreign-policy speech) has convinced me to lower today's Apocalypse Watch danger level back down to two horsemen.


Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

April 28 2016 5:30 PM

Bobby Knight Praises Donald Trump for Being Willing to Start a Nuclear War

Here's what Bobby Knight had to say today in Evansville, Indiana about Donald Trump's qualifications to be president and the question of whether his demeanor is "presidential" enough:

"We gotta talk about this presidential crap just for a moment here. I'll tell you who they said wasn't presidential. I don't even know what the hell presidential means, but they told him he wasn't presidential. And that guy they told all these people that wanted to say, you're not presidential, that guy was Harry Truman.
"And Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944 saved, saved millions of American lives. And that's what Harry Truman did. And he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here's a man who would do the same thing, because he's going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States."

When Harry Truman "became one of the three great presidents of the United States" (?!?) by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States was the only country that had nuclear weapons. Now at least nine countries have them, a list which includes Russia, China, Pakistan (!), and North Korea (!!FML!!!!1). There is not any nation-state with which the U.S. could conceivably be engaged in large-scale, existentially threatening conventional warfare (as we were with Japan) that we could drop a nuclear weapon on without inducing an instant retaliatory strike that could possibly itself lead to the end of all life on Earth. Meanwhile, the members of groups like ISIS and al-Qaida are intentionally dispersed across the world among civilian populations so that we can't induce their surrender by vaporizing some particular location with a hydrogen bomb.

It's possible that we should not take Bobby Knight's advice about nuclear warfare.

April 28 2016 4:50 PM

Kenyan Socialist President Once Again Betrays Secret Admiration for Capitalism

The New York Times Magazine has published a long article derived from several interviews with President Obama about the U.S. economy and his handling thereof. It's a smart, clear overview of what has gone right economically during Obama's term and what might have gone better, and you're encouraged to read the whole thing. Specifically, though, I'd like to highlight one comment the president made to writer Andrew Ross Sorkin:

Often in our conversations, the president expressed a surprising degree of identification with America’s business leaders. “If I hadn’t gone into politics and public service,” Obama told me, “the challenges of creating a business and growing a business and making it work would probably be the thing that was most interesting to me.”

Now, it has been a well-known fact since the time of his 2008 campaign against John McCain that Hussein "Barack" Obama is a socialist who is trying to turn our country into the 1930s-era Soviet Union. (A Georgia Republican actually bragged in 2013 about being "the first Member of Congress to call [Obama] a socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies.") Obama hates businesses and wants them to suffer, so it's strange that he would express an interest in starting one, right? It reminded me of another weird riff the president went on in a reflective recent interview, namely one that he did with the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg about foreign policy. Said Obama while discussing the broader context of the war on terror:

“Right now, I don’t think that anybody can be feeling good about the situation in the Middle East,” he said. “You have countries that are failing to provide prosperity and opportunity for their people. You’ve got a violent, extremist ideology, or ideologies, that are turbocharged through social media. You’ve got countries that have very few civic traditions, so that as autocratic regimes start fraying, the only organizing principles are sectarian.”
He went on, “Contrast that with Southeast Asia, which still has huge problems—enormous poverty, corruption—but is filled with striving, ambitious, energetic people who are every single day scratching and clawing to build businesses and get education and find jobs and build infrastructure. The contrast is pretty stark.”

Obama continued on this theme, contradicting his core Communist principles by speaking as if the incentives of capitalism can be among the building blocks of a just and humane society: 

In Asia, as well as in Latin America and Africa, Obama says, he sees young people yearning for self-improvement, modernity, education, and material wealth.
“They are not thinking about how to kill Americans,” he says. “What they’re thinking about is How do I get a better education? How do I create something of value?

Truly, the more that our outgoing president talks about his legacy and his worldview at length, the more one gets the sense that he might not be a heavily indoctrinated Communist sleeper agent who was planted in the White House by Bill Ayers and the Black Panthers in order to destroy the American way of life.