Author Archives: Jim Swift

Understanding the Trump Trolls of #NRORevolt

Over the weekend, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg poked the bee-hive by writing a great column (or “G-File”) on Donald Trump.

Not only well-written, it was hard hitting. Goldberg concedes early, and correctly, that “there are plenty of decent and honorable people who support Trump.”

Of course, this column sparked outrage among the crowd that is a complete opposite: the Trump Trolls, who immediately started a hashtag cult called #NRORevolt.

Like a right-wing bastard child of Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous, #NRORevolt was popular among the nom-de-plume crowd on Twitter (i.e. cowards). Like OWS, it didn’t have much in the way of stated goals, other than outrage/revolt. But hey, when you have former Enron Adviser Paul Krugman agreeing, what else do you need?

Goldberg did more than just criticize Trump, he criticized the media celebrities who celebrate Trump, and called them out on their hypocrisy:

Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?

Ouch.

Naturally, the Anonymous Trump Trolls of Twitter (ATToT) circled the wagons and went after Goldberg, even going so far as to suggest his dead dog had cancelled its subscription.

Classy!

But who would make such a reference? A prick of a long-time reader of National Review, who would know Jonah’s dog is dead, or a troll who never reads? Consider me skeptical that it’s the former. 

The objections, other than being butt-hurt over Goldberg’s comments regarding Trump, the #NRORevolt crowd was hard to pin down. Many suggested, like Trump supporters often do elsewhere, they would cancel their subscriptions. I found this assertion, that because of Goldberg’s column, that NRO was going to lose a lot of subscribers, a suspect premise.

 

My suspicion was quickly confirmed by none other than fictional television star/radio host Dr. Frasier Crane.

Oh, and if you haven’t delved into the racist underworld of the term “cuckservative”… don’t. If BuzzFeed and RedState agree, well… (Disclosure: I don’t even like Erick Erickson!)

Writer John Tabin chimed in on Twitter.

Quickly called out that none of these anonymous Twitter heroes were actually subscribers who could vote with their subscription dollars, they, like Trump, quickly changed the topic to suggest that conservative magazines like National Review were in danger of going out of business.

Which would be comical if it weren’t so sad that they knew so little of the conservative publishing world. Or the publishing world in general. These publications aren’t around to make money, but they don’t realize that.

Nor do they probably realize Trump himself had a magazine that folded after two years. “IT WASN’T HIS MAGAZINE”, Trump Trolls will tell us, “HE WAS JUST LENDING HIS NAME TO THE OCEAN DRIVE MEDIA GROUP. DONALD NEVER MAKES ANY MISTAKES!”

National Review has been around for how long? Just checking.

Well, these Anonymous Trump Trolls of Twitter remind me, in forming their hashtag cult, of a movie. It’s called Children of the Corn.

scorn Except, for the ATToT, they’re the “Children of the Scorn.”

Donald appeals to them because he is not politically correct, and to some normal people, that is also a part of his appeal. I’ll admit that, if Trump can kill the gaffe–>four day apology media cycle, I’ll be happy. But to the ATToT, it’s different.

Donald, to them, never goes on the offensive. (Not that they bother to check…) He only hits back! And he hits back hard!

Reality aside, these anonymous Twitter trolls are just out to fight with people. They’re the type who wage personal jihads in the comment sections, and get called out. They identify with the Donald because he, like them, is unfiltered, and largely gets away with it when they don’t.

Yet, when somebody, a writer like Jonah Goldberg — who has always been a talented writer without a PC filter — criticizes their hero, they strike.

And since they’re not subscribers, they pretend they are. Until they’re not, because NR, like virtually all political magazines, doesn’t make money.

Then, they resort to racist terms like “cuckservative” and attacks on Jews.

Yeah…

I guess the irony in all of this is that those who love Trump because he’s unfiltered, can’t take it when somebody who has been a part of the conservative movement for decades longer than Trump (Goldberg) criticizes him. Then, they want to muzzle him.

His policy positions aside, there’s a lot to appreciate about a Trump candidacy. Less so, his Twitter cult-following.

My Ideal GOP Debate

After Donald Trump’s embarrassing showing on Hugh Hewitt’s superb radio program, I had an idea for a GOP debate.

Here’s how it would work:

The candidates, however chosen, would appear on stage as they normally do. Except now, they also have a buzzer and a final Jeopardy! writing board.

A random order would be chosen, and the candidates would first be asked to answer a trivia question on something a Presidential candidate should ostensibly know.

Like:

  • Name two types of refundable tax credits.
  • Which is the largest branch of the military?
  • What is the highest marginal tax rate?
  • Under the Congressional Review Act, how many days does Congress have to disapprove of a regulation?

You get the point. Nothing too hard, nothing too easy. Generally, something a 27 year old hill staffer could answer. This is the introductory round.

Get the initial trivia question correct, 30 seconds is added to your clock, visible to the audience. Like money in Jeopardy! (This time is kept on as a point system of sorts.)

For getting a question right, you get a follow-up question about your policy proposals or what you would do in a certain situation, much like a regular debate. You’ll have 30 seconds — not deducted from your clock time — to answer to keep things flowing.

Here’s where it gets fun. After two rounds of each of the ten candidates having the opportunity to get the preliminary question correct, we move to the lightning rounds.

This is where all candidates will be asked a preliminary question, and the first to buzz in gets an opportunity to answer it. Get it wrong, lose 30 seconds. Others can then buzz in if they’re wrong. Get it right? Get 30 seconds.

There would be three lightning rounds with 10 questions, and if any candidate is at 0:00 or negative time after a lightning round, they’re out of the debate.

During the lightning round, there would not be a follow-up question as there was in the introductory round. Only the trivia questions and an opportunity to win time.

After the lightning rounds, there is a single question (like in Final Jeopardy!) where those remaining can wager time and answer the question in writing.

Those who survive move to the last round, which is two more sets of trivia questions / follow-up questions, like in the preliminary round.

And at the end, we would likely have a definitive winner: the person with the most time. And they get to use that amount of time to make a stump speech while the others watch.

Sound fun? I think so. But it will never happen.

 

Josh Earnest Pleads the Fizzifth

A Parody of his press conference.

Of vs. In vs. Adding Words

Over at Politico this morning, Michael Lind has an interesting item out that suggests Donald Trump “exposed the Tea Party.”

One line, very early in the piece, jumped out at me. Lind is quoting Trump here:

“People as they make more and more money can pay a higher percentage” of taxes.

Lind didn’t use an ellipsis (…) after percentage to show that he was cutting up the quote. This is a bit sloppy.

Here’s what Trump actually said on Sean Hannity’s show:

TRUMP: I actually believe that people, as they make more and more money, can pay a higher percentage, OK?

HANNITY: How high?….What’s the cap?

You can read the full exchange here, but Trump doesn’t answer the question, other than to suggest that hedge fund managers can afford a tax increase. (This as some surmised, and later was confirmed, had to do with the “carried interest” tax rate, which is lower than the personal income tax rate a hedge fund manager would typically pay.)

This is not a defense of Trump. He didn’t answer the question with specificity, so we still don’t really know. And specificity is a problem area for Donald.

I know what you’re thinking — who cares? “‘a higher percentage’ of taxes” vs. “‘a higher percentage’ in taxes” are six and one half-dozen of the other, right? Nope, not necessarily.

Since raising taxes is generally a no-no for the political right, a distinction is important.

To say one wants wealthier people to pay “‘a higher percentage’ of taxes” is to suggest — assuming we’re only talking income taxes — that you want their contributions to represent a higher percentage than present of the total amount of taxes that are collected.

Of course, when it comes to income taxes, the top 50% of taxpayers pay 97% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% pay 38% of it.

Now, saying one wants wealthier people to pay “‘a higher percentage’ in taxes” is saying you want to raise rates on individuals as they get wealthier, or change the tax treatment of certain types of income (like carried interest or investment income) so it is treated as ordinary income.

So, what’s the distinction? Well — Trump’s views are still a mystery, but Lind inadvertently put words in Trump’s mouth by butchering the quote.

Conservatives, rightly, claim that when you tax something, generally, you get less of it. It’s not an absolute principle, but it’s generally correct. (To those who disagree, why, then are cigarette sales declining? Could it be a $1 per pack tax increase Obama signed? OK.)

In some instances, raising taxes on certain activities or on certain individuals, could ultimately result in less of that activity or individuals doing less work. It could even result in lower tax revenues than at lower rates.

The distinction between a higher percentage of all taxes and a higher percentage in tax rates is real. But Trump still hasn’t made it clear, and Lind (wrongly, though probably unintentionally) tried to make it clear.

I guess we’ll find out when Trump releases his tax plan. Though, if it’s anything like his immigration plan, don’t expect many specific details.

Meet the One Guy Who Can Make Donald Trump Uncomfortable

Yo, check it Republicans, I have found Donald Trump’s kryptonite. You’re welcome, Jeb!

How Did I Miss Peter Pan?

Thanks to the fine folks at District Trivia and Comcast Sports Net!

If you’re interested in becoming a contestant, you can apply here!

Hillary Feels the Bern

From this week’s “Daily Ledger” on One America News Network.

Good Night, Habanero Ranch

My favorite McNugget dipping sauce is being put out to pasture, at least locally. After securing my six free McNuggets from a recent Nationals win, I was told they’d no longer be carrying the deliciously spicy habanero ranch dipping sauce.

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So, if you’re out in the DMV and can score some habanero ranch in the coming days, be sure to say goodbye.

I asked McDonald’s about my habanero ranch reserve and how long I could sit on it. I’ll update if they reply.

RIP, habanero ranch. You’ll be missed.

UPDATE:

Around the same time, film maker and activist Michael Moore confirmed that he is a Cheetos neocon:

UPDATE 2: Caleb Brown shares this appropriate song for remembrance:

D.C. Parking Enforcement Sucks

A story in three pictures.

D.C. Parking enforcement blocks lane by food trucks around noon on 7/28/15. This is on 12th street NW.

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What is beyond the food truck in front of the D.C. Parking enforcement truck? About four parking spaces.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.08.38 PM

Thanks, guy in truck # 96 9330.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.08.51 PM

 

 

 

Molly Shannon & Free Range Parenting

This evening I saw this Atlas Obscura item posted on This.cm about people mailing themselves places. I don’t know why, but it got me thinking about fellow St. Dominic’s School graduate Molly Shannon.

I had thought she had snuck herself onto a plane via luggage, which is generally similar to mailing yourself.

And NPR did an interesting item on travel, which featured this Molly Shannon story.

Here’s an excerpt:

OK, parents, I would actually warn you not to let your kids hear this next story, except the thing that the children in this next story accomplish would be impossible for any kids to do today. Basically, they go to the airport, and they try to hop on a plane to go to another city. The comedian Molly Shannon told what happened to Marc Maron on his podcast, WTF, which is a great podcast. They did this in front of a live audience in November, 2011.

Molly Shannon

I hopped a plane when I was 12. We told my dad– me and my friend Anna were like, we’re gonna hop a plane to New York. And he was like– he dared us.

Marc Maron

How old were you?

Molly Shannon

We were like 12.

Marc Maron

Oh, good. That’s good.

Molly Shannon

We went to the airport, and we had ballet outfits on, and we put our hair in buns. And we wanted to look really innocent. And this was, again, when flying was really easy. You didn’t need your ticket to get through. And we told my dad, and we were just like– we saw there were two flights. We were either gonna go to San Francisco or New York, and we thought, oh, let’s go to New York. It’s leaving early.

So we went. We said to the stewardess, we just want to say good bye to my sister. Can we go on the plane? And she was like, sure. And then she let us on, and it was a really empty flight, because it was out of Cleveland, Ohio.

And we sat back there, and then all of a sudden, you just hear, like, vroom. The plane takes off, and we were like– And we had little ballet outfits, and buns. And I was like, hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women. And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

And then the stewardess that had given us permission to go say good bye to my sister came by to ask if we wanted snacks or beverages. And she was like, can I get you ladies something to eat? She looked like she was like, oh, mother [BLEEP].

So we wondered if we were going to get in trouble, but she ended up not telling anyone. And then when we landed in New York City, she was like, bye, ladies. Have a nice trip.

Marc Maron

I just, like, I’m– it’s such an exciting story, but the irresponsibility of all the adults in this story is somehow undermining my appreciation of it. You were 12-year-old girls in ballet outfits, and everybody was sort of like, have a good time! What world was that?

Molly Shannon

It was crazy! It was a crazy world.

Marc Maron

What did you do in New York?

Molly Shannon

Well, again, because I had a crazy childhood, we called my dad, and we were like, we did it! And he was like, oh God! Molly! Oh, jeez, well, try to– so, basically, he couldn’t–

Marc Maron

Try to what?

Molly Shannon

He didn’t know what to do. He said, try to see if you can stay– go find a hotel that you can stay in, and me and Mary– my sister– we’ll come meet you. We’ll drive there.

But basically, we didn’t have that much. We just had our ballet bags and a little bit of cash. So we went to a diner, and we dined and dashed, and we stole things. We were like little con artists.

Marc Maron

Wait, did you actually make it to the city?

Molly Shannon

We made it to the city. I was like, how do you get to Rockefeller Center? Because I had just seen TV specials.

Marc Maron

Nobody said, are you girls lost? Nothing like that?

Molly Shannon

No. Nothing. So we did try to go to hotels, and my dad would call and ask, could they just stay there until we get there? And none of the hotels wanted to be responsible. So he was like, all right. You’ve gotta come home. And he was like, but I’m not paying for it, so try to hop on one on the way back. So we tried to hop on many planes, but the flights were all so crowded. So we ended up having to have him pay for it, and he made us pay it all back with our babysitting money. The end.

Marc Maron

So that was the big punishment?

Molly Shannon

Yeah, that was– there was no punishment.

Marc Maron

Well, no, I know. I mean, clearly.

Molly Shannon

He loved that kind of stuff. Like I said, he was wild.

Marc Maron

I love the– the sort of strange, nostalgic excitement you have for– for this borderline child abuse.

Ira Glass

Molly Shannon, talking to Marc Maron on the WTF podcast, which I recommend, and which you can find on iTunes or through an internet search. We spoke with the other girl in that story, who has not talked to Molly Shannon in a while, didn’t know that she was telling that story publicly, who confirmed all the crazy details in the story. She says they held hands and prayed while the plane took off.

Growing up in Shaker, I also had parents who would let me do crazy-by-today’s-standards things. Like walking home from school, or biking all over Cleveland. (In first grade I biked about a mile to my new classmate Liam’s house, and his mom was surprised my mom let me.)

The Shannon story is just pure, unadulterated awesome. And while we think it wouldn’t happen nowadays, it has — though it has to be much less common.

I often wonder what the world will be like when my children are 12. And I worry.