September 13, 2017

Despite President Trump's epically dismal approval numbers, the Republican Party's infighting, and the Trump administration's multitude of missteps, Democrats still aren't a shoo-in for the 2018 midterm elections. Citing "data from a range of focus groups and internal polls in swing states," Politico on Wednesday delivered the bad news to Democrats that their attacks on Trump simply aren't working:

In focus groups, most participants say they're still impressed with Trump's business background and tend to give him credit for the improving economy. The window is closing, but they're still inclined to give him a chance to succeed.

More than that, no single Democratic attack on the president is sticking — not on his temperament, his lack of accomplishments, or the deals he's touted that have turned out to be less than advertised, like the president's claim that he would keep Carrier from shutting down its Indianapolis plant and moving production to Mexico.

Voters are also generally unimpressed by claims that Trump exaggerates or lies, and they don't see the ongoing Russia investigation adding up to much. [Politico]

Perhaps even more concerning for Democrats, their key messages about universal Medicare, free college tuition, and a higher minimum wage aren't resonating outside the base. Politico reported that people "tend to see those proposals as empty promises, at best."

Anson Kaye, a strategist at the media firm GMMB, warned that if Democrats don't wrap their heads around these facts fast and instead assume, based off of Trump's numbers, that the upcoming elections will be a landslide, they're "going to drive right into the ocean."

Read more about Democrats' problems over at Politico. Becca Stanek

April 20, 2017
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Nobody really seems to like President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. In a recent poll of American voters, more people thought fondly of the widely-ridiculed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer than they did of Ivanka Trump's husband, and the ever-antagonistic Stephen Bannon has reportedly used his worst insults to describe Kushner, calling him a "cuck" and "worse than a Democrat." But seeing as Kushner made Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People on Thursday, the magazine had to find someone to say something nice about him.

The task fell on former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Now, Kissinger is a wordsmith in his own right, having written three memoirs — one of which won the National Book Award — and authored 14 books on public policy. But he was apparently at something of a loss when he was trying to come up with nice things to say about Kushner. Here is the most glowing part:

[…] I first met [Kushner] about 18 months ago, when he introduced himself after a foreign policy lecture I had given. We have sporadically exchanged views since. As part of the Trump family, Jared is familiar with the intangibles of the president. As a graduate of Harvard and NYU, he has a broad education; as a businessman, a knowledge of administration. All this should help him make a success of his daunting role flying close to the sun. [Time]

"Kissinger's write-up of Jared Kushner is colder than a 'H.A.G.S.' yearbook signature," BuzzFeed News' Louis Peitzman dryly remarked. Jeva Lange

August 29, 2016

Donald Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine: While the Republican nominee has successfully branded his political enemies with nicknames like "Lyin' Ted Cruz" and "Crooked Hillary Clinton," Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough came up with a moniker of his own for Trump, and it appears to be sticking.

"A lot of people are calling him Amnesty Don. People are saying it," Scarborough said Monday. "They're calling him Amnesty Don. Amnesty Don, that's what people are calling him, I'm not calling him that. Amnesty Don. Hashtag Amnesty Don. For 14 months, Amnesty Don has been putting illegal immigration at the center of Amnesty Don's campaign... And, yet, nobody in Amnesty Don's own campaign can tell you what Amnesty Don's position is after Amnesty Don won the primaries promising to deport 11 [million illegal immigrants]."

While "Amnesty Don" might not have the same supervillain-like appeal as "Crooked Hillary Clinton," it is a rather brutal mocking of Trump's latest flip-flop. Trump claimed last week that he is "softening" his immigration positions, and would mostly follow President Obama's policies, "perhaps with a lot more energy," except he will eject the "bad" immigrants "so fast your head will spin." This is contrary to Trump's former promise to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

Watch Scarborough's masterful branding — hey, he learned by watching the best — below. Jeva Lange

January 4, 2016

If social media is any barometer then the militia faction that has occupied the headquarters of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Eastern Oregon is earning more mockery for its standoff than converts to the cause. First, Twitter users rallied around the hashtag #YallQaeda, then patted themselves on the back for linking the gang of occupiers — led by Ammon Bundy and other figures from the 2014 armed confrontation at the Nevada ranch of tax scofflaw Cliven Bundy — to Al Qaeda.

Then, Twitter split, perhaps because "Y'all" is more a Southern thing than a Western one or perhaps because the Islamic State is more relevant today than Al Qaeda, or maybe just because, as Wait Wait Don't Tell Me host Peter Sagal suggests, #VanillaISIS is simply funnier:

Many tweeters didn't feel the need to choose:

And then the creative, snarky floodgates opened:

#VanillaISIS waging #YeeHawd is a pretty strong show of contempt, especially toward Malheur occupier Jon Ritzheimer, one of the organizers of last year's Muslim-baiting "Draw Prophet Muhammad" cartoon contests. But surely the internet can come up with something more apt for a group of armed men that so hate the idea of public land that they are willing to occupy the remote office of U.S. Fish and Wildlife workers and thwart bird watchers nationwide for up to a year. Anyone? Peter Weber

October 27, 2015
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Donald Trump isn't so sure about Ben Carson's religion, skeptically telling a Florida rally on Saturday, "I mean, Seventh-Day Adventist, I don't know about." Iowans, however, do.

"For Donald Trump, as a name-only Presbyterian, to be criticizing somebody else for their faith statements is laughable. This is a guy who can't even quote a Bible scripture to someone," Mike Demastus, a pastor at Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, told The Des Moines Register.

Demastus added in a separate interview with the Register that Seventh-day Adventists "believe whole-heartedly in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross," and that, "It's not like Mitt Romney and Mormonism. That's an entirely different issue for Christians in the state of Iowa. Mormonism takes a completely different view of Jesus — they have other scriptures."

"Personally, I think we should look at each candidate individually in regards to their character and their positions on the issues rather than trying to bring up their religious background as a test," Jeremiah Smart, a Des Moines area Seventh-day Adventist pastor, said.

Barbara Nuechterlein, a retiree from Cedar Rapids, is unsure of Seventh-day Adventists but that doesn't make her rule out Carson. "They're entitled to believe what they believe, and that's what makes America great," she said.

Ben Carson has overtaken perennial frontrunner Trump in both the Iowa polls and nationally. Jeva Lange

September 11, 2015

It all started when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ripped Donald Trump in a National Press Club speech in Washington Thursday, calling him "unserious," "unstable," "insecure," and "weak."

"It's been a lot of fun, but here's the problem: Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He's a narcissist. He's an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself. I want to say what everybody is thinking about Donald Trump, but is afraid to say," Jindal told the audience.

He then proceeded to let loose on Twitter with each and every thought he had about The Donald:

Of course, The Donald was none too pleased and, unsurprisingly, he didn't bite his tongue about it.

Finally, nearly 24 hours later on Friday morning, Jindal called the battle over.

Donald Trump didn't appear to get the last word this time — yet. Becca Stanek

February 10, 2015

Pro-ISIS hackers who claim to be part of a "Cyber Caliphate" this morning took control of Newsweek's Twitter account, sending threatening messages to the magazine's 2.51 million Twitter followers. "While the U.S. and its satellites kill our brothers in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan we broke into your networks and personal devices and know everything about you," one message read.

The wife of a U.S. Marine, who uses her Twitter account to promote her nonprofit advocacy organization for military spouses, appeared to have been hacked by the same group, The Hill reports. "We know everything about you, your husband and your children," one message read, "and we're much closer than you can even imagine. You'll see no mercy infidel!" Teresa Mull