THE TRUMP EFFECT
Many ponder Donald Trump’s persistent voter appeal. Longtime political observer Roger Stone recently suggested the candidate is an “alpha male” who would establish an “alpha male presidency,” which appeals to many Americans, Mr. Stone says. Others cite the billionaire’s blunt style.
“Even though he mangles sentences and his English is imperfect, it’s part of his shorthand. See, he comes from a New York businessman’s background, which you don’t understand unless you’re from the New York area. People speak differently there than in the rest of the country. They don’t waste time with words,” points out talk radio host Michael Savage.
“They start sentences and don’t finish them in New York in high circles. They’re not worried about being perfect, about finishing every little dot. They can telegraph what they’re saying with half a sentence,” Mr. Savage says.
Others sometimes do the talking too. Voters are supporting Mr. Trump as “a means to vent their frustration on the establishment,” theorizes Frieda Birnbaum, a New York-based psychologist and author.
And some find only comedy. Late-night TV talk show hosts on four networks made Mr. Trump the target of 308 jokes during a two-month period this fall, finds a meticulous new study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. And his Democratic rival? Hillary Clinton was the centerpiece of 107 jokes, the study found.
FOR AULD ACQUAINTANCE
Get the party hats ready. Fox News plans an “All-American New Year” celebration from Times Square in New York City on the big night, hosted by Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling — and a special guest. Joining the pair for an hour via live video hookup from his swell home in Florida: Donald Trump, there through midnight to ring in 2016.
HOLLYWOOD ATTACKS REAGAN - AGAIN
He was once one of their own, a matinee star who later became America’s 40th president. Hollywood has not always been kind to Ronald Reagan, his life or his legacy; made-for-TV movies and feature productions often sidestepped his authentic accomplishments for cheap shots and melodrama, or cast in the leading role such liberal-leaning talent as Michael Douglas or James Brolin — husband to Barbra Streisand.
Now along comes “Reagan,” a script by Mike Rosolio, a Los Angeles writer and actor. It has been included on “The Blacklist,” an influential insider list of the top most admired screenplays of the year. And the much admired plot?
“When Ronald Reagan falls into dementia at the start of his second term, an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander in chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie,” is the official short description for the project.
The concept has enraged Craig Shirley, a historian who has written three meticulous books on Reagan, including the recently released “Last Act,” which recounts the president’s years after the White House.
“The Hollywood of Reagan’s era, in which the good guys won and the bad guys lost, and American values and truth were upheld, is a thing of the past. Now Hollywood for the most part is a cesspool of human garbage where the left is venerated and the right is eviscerated,” Mr. Shirley tells Inside the Beltway.
THE GOP WAR CHEST
The mainstream media will likely ignore it: The GOP continues to have record-breaking grass-roots support. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus says the organization has raised $95.6 million this year and is on track for a historic total by year’s end. In November, GOP fans donated $6.3 million; 99 percent of those donations were under $200, the average amount was $61.
“The overwhelming support from people across the country is allowing us to build and enhance our powerful data, digital, and ground game infrastructure to elect a Republican president,” notes the vigilant Mr. Priebus. “All of this is possible because of the enthusiasm for our party and our diverse and qualified field of Republican candidates.”
POTENTIAL PERILS OF A THIRD PARTY
“The Republican Party will have to be very careful to keep Donald Trump happy enough that he sticks by his pledge not to run as an independent in the general election. Early indications are that could be nearly lethal to GOP chances of winning,” predicts Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling, which has released a new poll of 1,267 voters on the subject.
Voters like Mr. Trump better as a Republican than an independent, apparently.
He gets 24 percent of the vote as an independent candidate in a theoretical match-up with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Marco Rubio — but Mrs. Clinton is the victor with 38 percent. Had Mr. Trump run as a Republican, she would have trailed by 1 percentage point instead.
In addition, Mr. Trump garnered 23 percent of the vote if he ran as an independent against Mrs. Clinton and Sen. Ted Cruz. The result? Mrs. Clinton wins again, leading by 16 percentage points — rather than just 3 points had Mr. Trump run as a Republican.
SOME FEDERAL VENISON
A moment of interest to sport shooters: The National Park Service has donated 700 pounds of fresh venison to the DC Central Kitchen in the nation’s capital, “to be used in the thousands of healthy meals” for homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics and afterschool programs. The venison is a result of a deer-reduction operation in the city’s Rock Creek Park.
In recent years the federal parks agency has reduced the white-tailed deer population in the big park by 50 percent each year to allow for recovery of vegetation. “Extensive safety measures” are in place for the project, which continues until March.
“Biologists, who are also highly trained firearms experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be working under the direction of National Park Service resource management specialists and in coordination with the U.S. Park Police and local law enforcement to conduct reduction actions at night when the park is normally closed,” the agency advises.
There was the armed bank robber who filed a $6.3 million claim over injuries he sustained while fleeing the scene, and the inmate who sued a football team over a playoff loss. And don’t forget the diner claiming injury over a “flying dinner roll.” None of these legal actions made the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2015, a n annual judgment call made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.
No, that honor goes instead to PETA, which has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Naruto, a 6-year-old crested macaque monkey. The animal rights group claims that the primate owns the rights to a series of “monkey selfies.” Indeed, Naruto took pictures of himself with a special camera setup supplied by a photographer who later published the images in a book. PETA claims the publication profits belong to Naruto, not the photographer.
Furthermore, the U.S. Copyright Office says it will register copyrights “only for works produced by human beings,” a policy that the animal rights folks consider to be “an opinion.” So it’s complicated.
“These stories will make you laugh, but sadly, frivolous lawsuits are all too common,” says Lisa A. Rickard, president of the legal reform group. “As a society, we’re too quick to sue, and issues that could be settled outside of the courtroom result in expensive and unnecessary litigation and wasted time.”
POLL DU JOUR
66 percent of U.S. voters say the federal government is “broken”; 80 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of independents and 51 percent of Democrats agree.
32 percent say the government works “okay” or “pretty well”; 20 percent of Republicans, 23 percent of independents and 47 percent of Democrats agree.
56 percent overall say 2015 has been a “good year” for them and their family; 45 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 68 percent of Democrats agree.
32 percent overall say 2015 has been a “bad year”; 42 percent of Republicans, 35 percent of independents and 22 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Fox News poll of 1,013 registered U.S. voters conducted Dec. 16-17.
Follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin