My Converstation with a Trump Nazi

If you tweet in political circles then this may be a familiar story. There you are making some modestly good points, carrying on a conversation, when a Trump supporter comes along, going from zero to anti-semetic in 2.3 seconds! While all Trump supporters aren’t Nazis, it seems that all Nazis are Trump supporters! Certainly this would describe many of his hard-core vocal followers. Trump has done very little to discourage this kind of support, and this is in turn is taken by white-supremacists of all flavors as sly endorsement of their views.

Anyway, Just to give you an example of what I’m talking about, here are tweets I exchanged with a such a Trump supporter. I blocked out his face and name for legal reasons and, foolish as he is to believe such excrement, I hope he comes to his senses and rejects the bigotry that now seems to animates him. This kind of stuff floating around the web could hurt his opportunities, further confirming his already warped belief of his victim-hood at the hands of Jews and Blacks and whatever else he scapegoats. His apparent youth (like many of the alt-righters that I encounter on twitter) only makes his chosen world view that more pitiable.

Trump, lacks any true convictions and, much like Obama, makes himself a screen for people to project their beliefs onto. If you’re a conservative, so is he! If you are a liberal, so is he! If you are Nazi… Trump is giving Hillary a run for her money in bringing out the worst in Americans. The standard bearer of the GOP must never be a Machiavellian who will single-handedly undue all the hard work of conservatives to focus the arguments onto individual liberties and away from group-think and racialism. Well, enjoy.

-Ryan Thorson

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Trump the Magnanimous?

(Trump photo : www.hollywoodreporter.com)

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland *

It is a dark time for the American Republic… Prospects in the race for the GOP nomination have become increasingly dim. It seems now that there is no candidate that will make it to 1237 delegates before the party meets in Cleveland to hold their convention. Trump is currently in the lead. However, because he decided to more or less forego a ground game, he had been trailing Cruz in new delegates since Marco Rubio dropped from the race, losing in UT, CO, WY, WI, and ND. He’s since made up much of that ground by winning his home state, but will shortly run out of states he’s assured to win. Ted Cruz will almost certainly crush him in the West, and do really well in California, perhaps win. ** However, the result will be two candidates with many delegates, but no majority. This means there will be no nominee before the convention and less time to rally the troops for the general election. Additionally in bad news for the Don’s camp, many of Trump’s delegates seem poised to bolt the Trump camp for Cruz on a second ballot. ** This realization has caused a lot of panic on Team Trump. Trump has made accusations of a system rigged against him, *** his once official adviser (Roger Stone) has threatened to release to the Trump mob the hotel room numbers of delegates who might abandon Donald, **** and Trump supporters have become so brazen in their issuing of death threats to low-level GOP officials and GOP delegates ***** that even a fatwa-hurling ayatollah would be hard-pressed to compete! In such an environment, many pundits are predicting disaster extraordinaire for the GOP. There are some that fears the Republican establishment will conspire to give Trump the nomination in order to avoid blood-shed, figuratively and literally, ending with the GOP losing the election to Hillary for its lack of the #NeverTrump wing of the GOP and the other YUGE majorities of just about every demographic that will not vote for Trump. ****** Others say that if Ted Cruz becomes the nominee, Trump will bolt, taking 44% of his supporters willing to leave the GOP ******* and either runs on a third party ticket or endorses Hillary, spitting his last political breath in the face of the Republican Party. Both seem a hopeless business, but there is another possibility. Imagine that Ted Cruz wins, and Donald Trump endorses Cruz! I know! It seems crazy, doesn’t it? But there are reasons that hint at a slim possibility that such a thing might actually happen. In the following, I will present my reasoning for Trump, the magnanimous!

Trump doesn’t really want to be President

In the midst of the clowning that is the Trump circus, many might have missed the departure of a few advisors from the Trump campaign. One of these had been there from the very beginning, Stephanie Cegielski, and in her open letter announcing her departure, she made an interesting claim: Trump doesn’t want to be President. “Almost a year ago, recruited for my public relations and public policy expertise, I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.” ******** To emphasize this point, Stephanie added, “He doesn’t want the White House. He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House.” ******** But now, “[Trump’s] ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters.” ******** If true, this would explain why Trump seems so reticent in learning the issues, winging it so often. From his domino effect gaffes on abortion to not understanding what the Nuclear Triad is, Trump has been far removed from expertise on the issues and has shown little interest in learning about them. After all, if you don’t really want the job, why prepare for it? Donald may be in a place where he’s looking for a way out, a plan to withdraw with some semblance of dignity. If Donald goes into Cleveland almost matched with Cruz in delegates, and if Cruz bests him on a second ballot, that might be fair enough for Trump to give in gracefully. If Donald loses to Cruz, his supporters will rage and rail, but Donald might utter a huge sigh of relief, as someone who has just dodged a bullet!

Trump’s thin skin is only skin deep

Anyone who has been paying attention to this campaign season is familiar with the legendary sensitivity of Donald Trump. For a tough guy who tells it like it is and loves to dish out copious amounts of insults on his opponents, Donald doesn’t seem to take criticism well. Trump can go from zero to victim in less time than it takes for a fouled NBA player to flop dramatically on the court. However, there is good reason to believe that Trump doesn’t entirely mean what he says. This is a major reason why I defended Trump, saying that I didn’t believe him to be truly racist, but rather reckless and Machiavellian. That’s small consolation, to be sure. Continuing, some have observed a pattern in Donald, in that he seems to do much of his campaigning with a wink and a nod, almost as if Trump is breaking the fourth wall of the reality series Celebrity GOP Nominee to let us know that it’s all part of the show. This is true of many of his policy ideas, such as his supposed assurance to the New York Times that his bluster on illegal immigration is just a little something for the crowd. ********* Or consider, after denigrating Wisconsin governor Scott Walker during the WI primary, Trump later suggested that Walker would make a good running mate. ********** Even his advisors are telling us that Trump may not be 100% serious. ********** These are good indicators that Trump, once he realizes that it’s over, won’t seek a vendetta on the GOP, let alone try to start a bloody riot that will keep him from getting his next TV gig and generally hurt his name in business forever. In fact, Trump might even help them consolidate support behind Cruz rather than going home to sulk or even endorse Hillary. Even if he thinks he was out-cheated by Cruz, which is doubtlessly a position he holds solely for strategic purposes. Much like Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo from The Godfather, he understands that it’s not personal, it’s only business.

Trump loves his money way more than his chances at a third party run

In the event of a Cruz nomination, many of the affectionately named Trumpkins will want him to run third party. Certainly, doing so would appeal to Trump’s huge ego, but there are problems with this that even Trump must see. First of all, with only approximately 16% of the GOP possibly willing to follow Trump into a third party run (Trump support is around 37% ************ of GOP, with only 44% of them willing to abandon if Trump doesn’t get the nomination *******), Trump would be destined to fail. He might cause the GOP to lose enough votes to throw the election to Clinton in a perverse re-run of Perot’s presidential ambitions, but he would not be the winner himself. Also, many states have sore loser laws; as many as 45. ************* Trump would either have to invest a lot of time and money challenging these laws or promote a longshot write-in campaign. In either event, he would probably lose. All of this would amount to Trump spending a lot of his own money, something he has been hesitant to do thus far, preferring media appearances to TV spots and ground-game. I have no doubts that Trump would risk his donor’s or investor’s funds on such a foolish venture, but he’d never leave himself unprotected. Huge monetary investment in his own independent campaign may be a bridge too far for Trump, even with his large ego. I’d bet that he’d rather make nice with the GOP than sink money into a guaranteed failure. Also, there’s a good chance that many of his hard-core supporters, folks that live by the maxim that “Trump said it. I believe it. That settles it,” would accept this and not flee the party.

There are few analogues to today’s Presidential contest. The conventional wisdom could be right, and the GOP could be headed for disaster, even if Hillary is able to keep Bernie Sanders supporters from feeling disenfranchised when she wraps up the nomination. However, since the conditions are so different from other election years, perhaps the results too can be very different from what you might expect. We can from this moment on despair and mourn the fall of the Republic and the Republican Party, or we can be cautiously optimistic that cooler heads will indeed prevail after passion has run its course. Imagine, if you will, a spot light opens on the podium at the convention that nominates Cruz, Trump takes the stage and begins, saying, “I’ve gone up against a lot of guys, KILLERS, believe me, and beaten them all; out-played them all! ‘Cuz I’m a player. Ask anyone. But I got to hand it to Ted, frankly, he outplayed me. ME! Donald Trump! That’s why there’s no one better to endorse for President of the United States than this guy! Now, let’s go and make America great again!” Perhaps we can take a page out of Alice’s book and try to believe a few impossible things before breakfast. Either that, or spend the next three months with Pepto handy to sooth our anxious stomachs as we wait for Armageddon.

– Ryan Thorson

 

* http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/alice-in-wonderland

** http://www.redstate.com/diary/creinstein/2016/04/20/new-york-never-mattered-ted-cruz-won-presidency/

*** http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/trump-whines-about-a-rigged-system-but-the-blame-lies-with-him/

**** http://www.redstate.com/absentee/2016/04/05/vote-trump-else-bestie-roger-stone-threatens-send-angry-trump-fans-delegates-hotel-rooms-video/

***** http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/death-threats-trump-supporters

****** http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-fenn/articles/2016-03-21/trump-has-deep-demographic-problems-come-the-2016-general-election

******* http://hotair.com/archives/2016/04/09/poll-66-of-trump-supporters-say-theyd-vote-for-the-gop-nominee-if-trump-is-denied-at-the-convention/

******** http://www.xojane.com/issues/stephanie-cegielski-donald-trump-campaign-defector

********* https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/02/29/did-trump-tell-the-new-york-times-he-doesnt-believe-in-his-immigration-policies/

********** http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/04/trump-walker-rubio-kasich-veep-221811

*********** http://www.redstate.com/leon_h_wolf/2016/03/23/trump-advisor-dont-believe-things-trump-says/

************ http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-is-the-weakest-gop-front-runner-in-the-modern-era/

************* https://ballotpedia.org/%22Sore_loser%22_laws_for_presidential_candidates

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Good DC Movies?

Well, after a couple of interesting teasers and one horrible, HORRIBLE, trailer, the much anticipated/dreaded Batman v Superman has finally been released. Early reviewers, from what I gleaned, absolutely hated this one, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in seeing it on opening day. However, I found, strangely enough, that I liked it! I say “strangely,” because I was underwhelmed by Man of Steel, its predecessor, and was dismayed by that one trailer for BvS that gave away too much about the film, even the fact that our two titular heroes eventually set aside their differences to fight a common foe. I know that last part should be a given, but if you call it BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN, that’s still a conclusion that should have probably been left up in the air. Anyway, here’s my review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice!

First of all, let me get some of my dislikes out of the way. It has become very trendy to be against CGI, and let me assure you that I am not one of those who have any prejudice against its ongoing use in films. However, it’s painful for me to see CGI being used where practical effects could have been employed more credibly. Over all, BvS has excellent production values, but there are moments where you wonder what they were thinking. Case in point, there is a scene where Batman (Ben Affleck) avoids a cop by climbing up a corner of a room, and then performs an almost Spider-Man like escape when he’s noticed and engaged by the cop and his shotgun. Setting aside for the moment that Batman, a sans superpowers hero, does a very good imitation of a superhuman, perhaps too good, the CGI model of the Batman just hanging out near the ceiling in all of his waxy glory just did not look very good. It would have been much better if the director had Affleck hoisted up there for the initial shot, and transitioned to CGI as he made his escape.

Next, I didn’t care much for Ben Affleck as Batman, but he was a lot better than I expected him to be. You will always run a risk in casting a character like Batman with a well-known actor, and while this has almost always been standard operating procedure for Hollywood Batmen, often to great success, in this case it was a slightly mixed bag. While there are plenty of times where Affleck is quite good as Batman/Bruce Wayne, there are also scenes that are so jarring and Affleck-ish that you’re taken out of an otherwise good moment. It would have been better if they had used a lesser known actor, but all in all, he wasn’t horrible. I give him a B- in his portrayal.

Last on the list of flaws is Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Never mind the ridiculous business of making this Lex superfluously the son of another Lex Luthor (which doesn’t appear in the film), the new Lex is not the confident and cold-blooded villain that most of us liked from the comics, the early movies, or the Superman animated series. No, Eisenberg’s Lex is a quirky, slightly insane character with a hinted at past of being abused (let’s feel sorry for the bad man). Also, this characterization of Luthor with his ticks and exuberance bares more than a passing similarity to the Riddler than any Luthor that I’m familiar with. As a stand-alone villain, he would’ve been otherwise fine, but Eisenberg was playing the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis, and his performance was just too different for such an iconic character, even to the point of being distracting.

Now that the warts are all out of the way, let me tell you about what made this movie good. First, Batman v Superman made Man of Steel a better movie. Many people, like this reviewer, were a little disappointed with MoS because we didn’t get to see much of the hero that is Superman. Instead what we got to see was a lot of excessive destruction with little real assessment of the humanity lost. It’s fine to take a good character to a dark place, that’s drama, but as a first act of an ongoing saga, it is odd that MoS starts dark, remains dark, and ends dark. However, when paired with BvS, suddenly we get to see the cost of what happened in MoS. Most of the movie focuses on Bruce Wayne’s conviction that Superman (Henry Cavill) is a threat, a decision he reached after the Zod-Superman fight (from the first film) destroyed a Wayne tower in Metropolis. Though Bruce did everything he could to save his employees, he ultimately watches helplessly as they die with a prayer on their lips. Bruce acknowledges little of the stakes of the last film, his concerns are that Superman contributed to the deaths of his friends and he, by his great powers, represents an existential danger to every man woman and child on the earth… a danger that Batman alone must deal with. Without the events of MoS, BvS wouldn’t have had its central struggle, and without BvS, MoS wouldn’t have had much meaning to its massive display of destruction. So, MoS improves just for having this next chapter.

Next, it didn’t feel to be crowded with characters nor have a cobbled together story, as I feared it would. A big worry was that DC was going to rush to catch up with the Marvel movies by forcing this one to be a de facto Justice League movie, with a ton of DC heroes thrown in. Thankfully, this did not happen. Other than some blessedly short video clips of 3 other heroes, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is the only other hero/heroine to appear, and she’s limited to a few scenes where she helps the plot move forward rather than appear as so much window dressing. And although this film borrows some from the comic story lines of The Dark Knight Returns and another that I won’t name for fear of giving away the film’s ending, it remains its own story that flows quite well. You end up caring about these characters beyond their nostalgic appeal, which is a testament to a well written screenplay and the film maker’s skill.

Additionally, the film has a great humanity and moral exploration to it. It deals quite well with theme’s such as whether or not morality is a negotiation or an absolute, what the source of legitimate authority is,  the possibility of  morality apart from God, and of course the long pondered proposition of whether or not the ends justify the means. The thematic discourse in this film adds a level of seriousness to it that sets it apart from your average summer movie or comic book film.

Lastly, in a small but important point, I was pleased to see that BvS was the first Batman movie to give credit to Bill Finger. For those that don’t know, Bill Finger was the co-creator of Batman along with Bob Kane in 1939, * but was never given credit for his efforts in his lifetime. His contributions included the look of the Batman costume that endures until this day * and key contributions to the creation of the Joker and Robin. * Knowing about Bill and the raw deal he got for the important work he did on one of the most iconic characters (an old song in the comics industry), it was pleasant to see him get his due, if only posthumously.

In conclusion, I highly recommend Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It is a thrilling film that holds one’s attention despite its length, its production values are largely top-notch, its story was well crafted and interesting, it was thought provoking and even emotionally evocative, and its lesser parts aren’t strong enough to overwhelm the excellence of the rest of the film. This is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in months and I think this could show that the DC film franchise to has the potential to be every bit as good as the successful Marvel one. I give it a four out of five.

– Ryan Thorson

 

* http://www.legionsofgotham.org/HISTORYfinger.html