Saturday, October 8, 2016

Not surprised at Trump's vulgar talk about women.

The 2005 recording from a hot mic of Donald Trump, entertaining guys on a bus with vulgar talk about the way he can treat women now that he's a star, is not really surprising.   Yes, it's shocking when you actually hear his graphic description.   It's even more shocking that he wants to dismiss it as 'locker-room talk in private' that can be erased by a non-apology:  "if anyone is offended."

But, really, are we surprised?   Isn't this what we've been talking about when we say that he "doesn't respect women"?    And no amount of his saying, "I have the greatest respect for women," can convince us otherwise.   We've known who he is;  it's just now a little grosser and a little more impossible not to think graphically about what amounts to sexual harassment and sexual assault.   Yes, from what he said on that tape, he is describing sexual assault -- groping women sexually against their wishes.   Further, although he talks about it in terms of sex, he's really describing his pleasure in power and his pride in domination.

Should he resign?   Yes, he should never have been nominated.   But I say make him stay on the ticket, make the Republicans own him, and then vote in the biggest landslide victory in history.

Punish him in the only way he understands:   humiliating defeat.


Harry Reid tries to shame Republican colleagues; Obama shines despite GOP opposition

On the eve of Congress leaving on its eight-week election break, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid addressed the senate on the unprecedented obstructionism that has prevailed during the past eight years.
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"History will look back and note that the Republican Congress treated President Obama with unprecedented disrespect. . . .  A day or two after President Obama was elected the first time, Republicans met here in Washington . . . . [and agreed] that they would oppose everything President Obama tried to do. . . . 

"President Obama is the first president to be denied a hearing on his budget.  He is the first president to be denied a hearing on his Supreme Court nominee.   President Obama is the first president to be asked to show his birth certificate.  President Obama is the first president to face over 500 filibusters.

"The only thing Republicans have done this year was to prove that they are the party of Trump. . . . They would have us believe that Trump just fell out of the sky and somehow mysteriously became the nominee of the party.  But that's not the way it is.  Everything he has said, stood for, done, in this bizarre campaign . . . has filtered up from everything that has been done here in the Republican Senate.   Disagreeing with everything, anything that President Obama wanted  -- they filibustered even some things they agreed with, just to slow things down.   Trump is no anomaly.  He is the Frankenstein monster they have built.  They own him."

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Harry Reid is right, of course, and it must be frustrating for him to be ending his career as a senator on such a sour note.   On the other hand, President Obama is also ending his career as the president on a high note -- despite congressional opposition.    His latest approval rating is 55%, which may not sound great;   but it is when compared to other presidents' exit ratings and when you consider the odds against which he had to work , both at home and abroad.


Friday, October 7, 2016

Anti-Trump campaign for Americans living abroad

A Canadian friend sent this announcement of an effort in Vancouver to get Americans living abroad to vote against Trump.
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"This Wednesday, Avaazers are hitting the streets of Vancouver in a giantStop Trumpbus to let Americans across Canada know that it's essential they register and vote. . . .   We need everyone to join in to show how much Canada cares about keeping Donald Trump out of power!

There are millions of Americans living abroad -- up to one million of them in Canada . . . but only 12% vote. We can reach all of them with an urgent call to register and vote. . . .  If you're American, come register for your overseas ballot! If you're not, join us and help reach out to as many Americans as possible."
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Thanks to Avaazers (whoever they are) and to my friend Alan, a good Canadian who enjoys ribbing me about our politicians. 


Climate change agreement formally adopted, making it safe from Trump's vow to "tear it up"

The Paris climate change agreement that was completed last December, with nearly 200 countries participating, had requirements under which it would be ratified.  A minimum of 55 countries responsible for more than 55% of global greenhouse emissions had to formally adopt it;  when that number is reached, it would then take effect in 30 days.

Nations were slowly working toward that signatory goal by getting their governments to support the ratification.   Suddenly on Wednesday, the European Union moved up its vote and approved the measure.   Given the number of countries the EU represents, this brought the total to 73, well beyond the 55 needed.

Thus the first really effective measure to limit global temperature rise will be in effect before the U.S. election on November 8th.    It will be much more difficult for the U.S. not to live up to its agreement once it is in effect.

Why the stepped up pace and the connection with our election?   Donald Trump has vowed to "tear up" the Paris agreement, and he trashes China as the big offender.   So maybe the EU wanted to get this done before he could possibly do that.

It's true that China, along with the U.S., are the two biggest contributors toward human-caused temperature increase.  It's also true that the U.S. and China have been cooperating on preliminary steps, and it was this progress that largely led to convening the Paris Climate Change meeting in the first place.    China has in many ways become the leader in production and utilization of renewable energy equipment and production.   Both China and the U.S. signed the accord in September.

For global climate change to become politicized would be a tragedy that we probably can't survive.   It requires cooperation from nations that are enemies in other respects.   President Obama understands this;   our next president must continue this attitude and work.   Donald Trump will not.   Hillary Clinton will.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Kaine better truth-teller than Pence

PolitiFact fact-checked controversial statements by Tim Kaine and Mike Pence on Tuesday night's debate.   Of the ones they checked, Kaine scored 79% either "true" or "mostly true."  The combined score of those two categories for Pence was 31%.

I want to add that Kaine's stretches were mostly hyperbole and exaggerations, while Pence told some huge whoppers that have previously been debunked by fact-checkers, like saying the Clinton Foundation uses only 10% of its donations for charity and that the Clintons themselves have gotten millions of dollars from foreign donors.   Those are black and white, proven lies that Pence chose to repeat before 34 million tv viewers.

I want to add another comment about those who thought Pence had a more presidential demeanor in the debate, where Kaine was more focused on being the Trump attack dog and fact checker.    I agree that Pence has a more presidential demeanor than Donald Trump.  But so does Kaine.  We've seen the Kaine presidential demeanor before.  A dignity and calm leadership that come from deep inside him.  Just go back and read about his handling of the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting when he was governor.   Obama himself couldn't have been better as disaster-comforter-in-chief.


"The Real Scandal in Trump Paying No Taxes" -- Robert Reich

Robert Reich, Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley, former Labor Secretary in Bill Clinton's cabinet, and Hillary Clinton supporter, had this piece on Huffington Post.

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"According to the New York Times, Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 tax returns — which could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for 18 years [you can offset income up to $50 million each year].  The loss stemmed from Trump’s investments in the early 1990s.

"Ordinary investors in Trump’s business empire saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, bondholders got pennies on the dollar, and scores of contractors went unpaid.  But Trump got a bonanza because the tax code allows “net operating losses” to cancel out taxable income in future years. And the bankruptcy code allows wealthy people to stiff the people they owe by reorganizing their debts under Chapter 11.

"Trump didn’t do anything illegal. Real estate losses are notoriously easy to create. Trump bought buildings with borrowed money. He could then deduct interest paid on that debt. On top of that, he could take depreciation deductions, even when his real estate was appreciating in value.  Presto! Trump claimed almost a billion dollars of losses that would cancel his gigantic income gains for years to come. . . . 

"The real scandal here is that Trump and other hugely wealthy people can get away with this, and do so all the time. It’s just another way the system has been rigged — by rich people who buy off politicians to alter tax, bankruptcy, and other laws and regulations to their advantage, just like Donald Trump has done.

“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July 2015. “As a businessman, I need that.”

"Trump isn’t and was never a smart businessman. He was and is smart at gaming the system. There’s a difference."
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Reich didn't go as far as others have in calling Trump the "Real Welfare Queen."  Republicans love to deride the "takers" of society who benefit from the taxes paid by the rest of us (Romney's "47%," Reagan's "Welfare Queen").  But now people are beginning to realize how much "welfare" wealthy people and corporations get -- in tax loopholes, tax incentives, carry-forward deductions that help create paper "losses" that ultimately let the wealthy avoid taxes, just as Trump has done here.

Trump and his Three Stooges (Giuliani, Christie, Gingrich) want us to trust Trump to fix the broken system because he understands it better than anyone (a "genius" according to the Stooges), having mastered how to work it for himself.   The key there is "Trust Trump."    Why would anyone trust him to fix a system that he has admitted to using "brilliantly" to benefit himself, to the detriment of ordinary taxpayers?

Well, he says, "I'm working for You now;   back then I was working for myself."   Why should we believe he would make this shift when he proves every day that words coming out of his mouth have a shelf life that lasts only until saying the opposite will benefit him more?   Truth has no meaning to him;  utility in advancing his own cause is the only criterion in the Trump lexicon.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Second thoughts on the response to the VP debate

Here on the morning after the Vice Presidential debate, pundits' reaction are falling into two camps.  Those who are judging it on the content of what was said think Kaine did the better job.  He landed blow after blow against Trump, with Pence failing (or unable) to defend Trump.   This group also focuses on number of lies and debunked distortions that Pence made -- which will be the subject of post-debate discussion.

On the other hand, those who judged it more on process and demeanor praised Pence's calm, presidential demeanor -- especially in what that conveyed to Republican party elites who are so uneasy voting for Trump.  And those people were critical of Kaine's aggressively interrupting Pence and his seeming unease.

I empathize with Kaine, because what got him so animated and led to his interrupting was the need for a fact-checker on Pence.   Kaine was trying to get in all that fact- checking as well as making the positive points about Clinton's policy positions.  Bottom line for me:   While the Pence-favoring ones have a point about demeanor, I will stick with the content-oriented truth-teller, Tim Kaine.

The bottom line, politically, is that Vice Presidential debates rarely make any difference in the course of the race.   There is another Clinton-Trump debate coming up five days later, and this one will be forgotten by then.


Thoughts on the VP debate

Despite the RNC's posting a claim, more than an hour before the debate began, that Mike Pence had won the debate (and then quickly taking it down), there was no clear cut, big winner.    Those who lean right will say that Mike Pence did;   and those that lean left will say that Tim Kaine did.   Put me in the latter group.   Here are some particulars:

1.  Tim Kaine was slightly, annoyingly too wound up and began right away interrupting Pence.   I understood that he just couldn't sit there and wait while Pence repeatedly misstated facts, made wild, false accusations, and veered way off course.   I was having trouble with that in Pence too.  But Kaine seems to have put off even the anchors on MSNBC by his behavior.

2.  That aside, Kaine gave crisp, concise answers that were fact based and accurate.   He was obviously extremely well-prepared.  He was challenging -- repeatedly calling on Pence to defend what Trump had said.  And, if the debate were judged on points they made and on crispness of arguments, then Kaine won hands down.

3.  Pence had the harder job of defending Donald Trump.   He didn't even try, really.   Mostly he tried to get by making generalized statements praising Trump but avoiding real commentary about anything substantive he has said.   And he repeatedly denied that Trump has said what fact-checkers (plus everyone's memory) will easily prove.

4.   Differences in policy were often highlighted, especially at the end when the topic turned to abortion.   Each man was not just stating talking points, then, but was sharing his deeply held beliefs and his obvious, thoughtful consideration over time of the subject.   Both men are personally opposed to it, both have deeply held religious beliefs that oppose it;   but Kaine puts his own beliefs aside and doesn't think any one religious belief should be imposed as public policy.   Pence, every bit as personally and religiously committed to opposing abortion, thinks that it should be public policy to "protect the vulnerable" and that "includes the unborn."

5.  The moderator, Elaine Quijano of  CBSN, did not, in my opinion, do a very good job.   She was unable to keep them from talking over each other and even talking over her.   At times, all three of them were talking at the same time.   I also thought she tried to cover too much ground with her questions, with far too little time on each to allow them to get beyond talking points -- except at the end on abortion

6.  In the post-debate days, Pence is not going to look as good as some think he does tonight;  because much of the news will be about his denials of Trump's saying what he actually said -- and, in one notable case, even denying that he himself had said what he said.    MSNBC anchors were extolling their view that Pence is playing the long game, that he established himself tonight as the leading conservative contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2020.    Thus, as one said, Ted Cruz was the big loser.

7.  In the end, I go with the policy positions and the clear, concise answers that Kaine gave.  I though he ran circles around Pence and scored point after point by challenging Pence to defend Trump -- and he couldn't.   Except for being overly aggressive and interrupting, I thought Kaine's performance was stellar.   I just wish he had had twice as much time to rebut Pence's false claims about Clinton.  I'm puzzled to find the MSNBC anchors in disagreement with that opinion.


PS:   A quote from Josh Marshall's TPM discussion of the debate:
"Kaine landed lots of punches on Donald Trump, while Pence left Trump largely undefended. Pence got in very few hits on Clinton, but not many. Whether Pence made a tacit decision to abandon his boss or simply wasn't up to the challenge I don't know. But the net effect was that he let Kaine land punch after punch on Trump, largely undefended. That's really all that matters."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

New info about the 3 pages of Trump's tax return

On her MSNBC news show last night, Rachel Maddow had the two New York Times reporters who broke the story of receiving those three pages of Donald Trump's 1995 tax return that showed an operating loss of almost a billion dollars.   The pages were mailed anonymously to one of the reporters, Susanne Craig, from an address at Trump Tower.

Fellow Times reporter David Barstow flew to Florida to get the authenticity of the pages verified by Trump's former accountant who had prepared the tax return.   He was able to authenticate these pages, including an explanation for why the numbers did not quite line up:   the computer software he used to fill out the forms did not make room for a 9 digit number in the loss column, so he had to enter that line using his old typewriter.

Barstow also explained that this $915,729,293 loss did not necessarily all occur in one year, since this kind of loss is allowed to be carried forward to subsequent years letting the loss offset future profits.   Craig and Barstow had found other evidence that Trump probably had big losses in 1991 and 1993, which is more plausible since the real estate market had big losses in the early 1990s but had recovered by 1995.   They also said that tax experts found no evidence of illegalities in what could be deduced from just those three pages;  but it would obviously require studying the entire return to clear the overall tax return.   Don't feel too bad for Trump;   that near-billion-dollar loss probably is, in large part, paper losses, such as depreciation -- even when the properties are appreciating.   That's legal in real estate law.

Trump and his surrogates are spinning this as a "brilliant" use of the tax code legally for Trump's benefit.   But the Clinton campaign is emphasizing that this is the problem:   the law does allow this kind of advantage to wealthy people, and real estate dealers in particular.   The average Americans, in contrast, have no such loopholes to allow them to avoid paying taxes.


And then there was this . . Trump Foundation gets shut down order from New York Attorney General

Starting with his disastrous debate performance last Monday, this new week has just gotten worse and worse for Donald Trump.    One big difference is that the media has done a 180 degree reversal in how they cover him.  Before, he was their cash-cow for upping their ratings;   and all the coverage tended to portray his oddity and his outrageousness in a lighthearted, bemused way that, cumulatively, tended to "normalize" it all.   Now, suddenly, they're covering him as a loser, with one scandal after another to expose.

Last week, following the debate, Trump kept the Miss Universe controversy going for another five days by constantly talking about it -- to his detriment.   Then there was the report about violating the U.S. embargo of Cuba by sending an operative down there to look into opening a Trump casino.  Then there was the New York Times blockbuster about him declaring a near-one-billion dollar operating loss in 1995 that would allow him to pay zero federal income tax for the next 18 years.

Over the weekend, one of Trump's Three Stooges (Giuliani, Christie, and Gingrich) got into the bad-week act as well.   Rudi Giuliani was the invited keynote speaker at the "40 Under 40" awards dinner at the Waldorf in New York, sponsored by the Commercial Finance Association.  He was supposed to talk about "Leadership," but instead he veered off into his Trump talking points, including derogatory comments about immigration and the "Mexicans in the kitchen."  It was so shocking that the Association's CEO sent out a note of apology the next day to those attending.  Rudi has always been an excitable, ridiculous, yapping attack dog.   But lately he's gotten worse.   Either being a Trump stooge is going to his head, or his head is not quite all together these days.

Also, over the weekend, David Farenthold, the Washington Post reporter, who has been doggedly investigating the Trump Foundation, exposed the fact that the Foundation had never registered or been credentialed as a charity or non-profit foundation by the State of New York Charities Bureau.

That brings us up to Monday this week.   The New York Attorney General released a letter that orders the Trump Foundation to "immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fund-raising activities in New York" and, within 15 days, to file all delinquent financial reports with the New York Charities Bureau.   The failure to do so within 15 days "shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York."  Attorney General Schneiderman had previously opened an investigation against Trump University back in June, which is ongoing.   At that time he called that venture a "straight-up fraud."

Also on Monday, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 7th Circuit ruled unanimously that Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), Trump's VP running mate, had no authority to withhold funding from refugee resettlement organizations that are guaranteed aid under federal law.   Pence had tried to deny aid to Syrian refugees in his state of Indiana, in an attempt to keep them from settling there.   He cannot legally do that.   This will surely come up in the debate tomorrow night between the two VP candidates.

All of this adds up to big time trouble for the Trump campaign.   It also marks a definite change in tone of the reporting.   No more presenting Trump as an entertaining clown to some, an inspiring strong-man to his base.  The media is less gullible, less easily played by Trump, since he conned them into giving him 30 minutes of free live tv coverage of the opening of his new hotel in Washington a couple of weeks ago.   (See ShrinkRap, Sept 17).  The tv anchors were furious, and I thought then that this was going to be a turning point in the Trump coverage.

So here we are.  And it's only Monday of this second very-bad-week for Donald Trump.


Monday, October 3, 2016

In their blind opposition to Obama, Congress ignores his warnings, overrides his veto, and now our soldiers and diplomats are in danger.

This ranks high up on the list of perfidious acts of blind hatred and opposition to our duly elected president by a congress that cannot see past their prejudice against someone with President Obama's combination of intellect, judgment, temperament, and skin color.

Yes, I'm saying what you think I'm saying.   Racial prejudice -- implicit bias, if you want to be kind -- has to be at the bottom of this Republican congress's stupidity and utter determination not to let this president have any success, if they can possibly stop it.

This is a bit complicated, so stay with me for a moment.  We all know that many of the 9/11 hijackers, including Osama bin Laden himself, were Saudi Arabian nationals.  There are rumors and some evidence that a lot of Saudi money backed them and later al Qaeda as well.    So the families of the 9/11 victims have wanted to be able to sue the Saudi government.    President Obama has resisted that, because that would open up our own military and diplomatic personnel to similar court proceedings from other countries, as well as possible physical attacks or arrest by foreign governments.

Nevertheless, Congress went forward with a bill called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).   Recognizing the risk to us that this would open up, President Obama vetoed the bill.   Then Congress this week voted overwhelmingly, with bipartisan support, to override his veto -- the first of his presidency.

And now, according to political writer Jason Linkins of Huffington Post, they are having morning-after remorse.   House Majority Leader Paul Ryan thinks maybe they might just need to tweek the bill "to protect our service members overseas from any kind of legal ensnarements that occur, any kind of retribution.”

You see, what the bill did, and what Obama warned them about and why he vetoed it, was that to allow our citizens to sue other governments, we have to waive sovereign immunity protections.   And that sets a precedent that other nations can also use against us -- like when we invade Iraq or bomb Syria.   It's why we left no personnel in Iraq when we pulled out.  Despite Republicans blaming Obama for that, it was George W. Bush who negotiated the exit date;  and the Iraqi government would not agree to give our soldiers immunity if we stayed longer.  Republicans ignore this when they blame Obama for the chaos in Iraq now, saying he should have left some troops there.

OK.    Now it gets interesting.   In their morning-after remorse, Republicans are learning from their new leader, Donald Trump.   Never admit a mistake or acknowledge a failure.  Rather than accept responsibility, Republicans are trying to blame it on . . . wait for it . . . on President Obama.   Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called this debacle "a good example of . . . a failure to communicate early about the potential consequences of a piece of legislation [that] was obviously very popular."

In other words, they were rashly rushing forward to ride the wave of popular support for the bill, and it's the president's fault that he didn't explain the consequences of their own bill to them before they passed it.

The trouble with that is obvious.   It's their bill;  they own it and are responsible.   But that's not the issue.   The real truth is that President Obama DID try to tell them.   In a July 15, 2016 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained to reporters why they were opposed to JASTA.

Earnest:  ". . . [T]he way that this law is written could open up U.S. companies and even potentially U.S. personnel to vulnerabilities when they’re engaged in actions or doing business or conducting official government work overseas.  There is an important principle related to sovereign immunity. . . .  So we believe that’s a principle worth protecting. . . .  a specific principle that benefits the United States and private U.S. interests in countries all around the globe."

OK.   But that was a press secretary speaking to reporters.   Did the White House directly communicate this to Congress?   At another press briefing on September 23, 2016, Earnest discussed attempts by the White House to get congress to address these concerns about preserving the immunity of our own people.   He said "that’s the nature of the conversations that we’re having with members of Congress on Capitol Hill."

Congress went ahead anyway and passed the bill without finding the solution, and in his letter accompanying his veto, President Obama wrote to the Senate:

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Veto Message from the President ― S.2040:


"I am returning herewith without my approval S. 2040, the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” (JASTA), which would, among other things, remove sovereign immunity in U.S. courts from foreign governments that are not designated state sponsors of terrorism. . . . 

". . . . JASTA would upset longstanding international principles regarding sovereign immunity . . . could have serious implications for U.S. national interests. . . . sovereign immunity principles protect our Nation and its Armed Forces, officials, and assistance professionals, from foreign court proceedings. These principles also protect U.S. Government assets from attempted seizure by private litigants abroad. . . . 

" . . . .  Enactment of JASTA could encourage foreign governments to act reciprocally and allow their domestic courts to exercise jurisdiction over the United States or U.S. officials ― including our men and women in uniform ― for allegedly causing injuries overseas via U.S. support to third parties. . . . "
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Nothing about this concern was a secret.  Huffington Post put out a podcast on it last week.  And it was discussed on NPR well ahead of the veto override.   Heck, even I knew about the problem without hearing any of those discussions.   So congressional leaders certainly should have known the consequences.

But Republican House and Senate leaders won't take the responsibility of their own rash actions that they were adequately warned about.  Either they don't respect President Obama enough to pay attention to his warnings.    Or they understood fully and their game plan was this:  to force the hated Obama to veto a bill that's very popular with a public unaware of the consequences.  Then they would override his veto, so they could rush home to campaign on having stood up to Obama, who was siding with a foreign Muslim government over the American people.

It worked for a day -- and then somebody began reporting on it, and Ryan and McConnell had to admit there was a problem with the bill as written (as Obama had warned).  So now it's amusing to watch them squirm in their own backfire stew -- and, like their great orange leader, try to blame it on somebody else, namely President Obama.   What?  He didn't make you listen to him the first time, so it's his fault?   It just won't wash, folks.    And it gives voters one more reason to vote Republicans out of office -- and send Donald Trump back to his gold-plated toys.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bombshell: Trump maybe paid no tax for 18 years

The New York Times released a late-night report suggesting that Donald Trump may have paid zero federal income taxes for 18 years.   The Times obtained a copy of his 1995 income tax returns, in which he reported a $916 million business loss.  According to tax experts, he could spread out the deduction over the next 18 years, and it would be large enough to wipe out $50 million of taxable income for each of those years.    So, with that deduction alone, if Trump's taxable income did not exceed $50 million each year, he would have owed no tax.  And it would be perfectly legal.

What is not known is whether Trump did have more than $50 million taxable income in any of those years;  and, given his smart tax lawyers, they probably manipulated the loopholes so that he didn't.    So far, Trump has not denied that this is true, although he did find time to charge that the 1995 document was obtained illegally and that the Times is operating as an extension of the Clinton campaign.


Trump's no good, very bad, absolutely terrible week -- with nobody but himself to blame

Donald Trump does not -- ever -- accept the responsibity for anything, no matter how minor.   That's a fact that he is proud of.   Once asked by a religious conservative if he had ever asked God's forgiveness, he said no.  He'd  never felt he had anything he needed forgiveness for.  Not that he's an atheist, or doesn't consider confession a part of religious practice;  it's that he is blameless.

This week began with a debate performance widely panned as a "disaster."   But it was not his fault.  He blamed the moderator for being unfair, he blamed the mic for being "a bad mic," he blamed a Miss Universe winner from years ago for saying he harassed her for gaining weight, he blames the biased media, he blamed the polls.

So the debate set the stage for his very bad week.   But that's not all.  The investigative reporters are on the job.

1.  Kurt Eichenwald followed up on his blockbuster report in last week's Newsweek  about Trump's entangled business relationships with foreign investors, including Russian oligarchs and others who are influential with foreign governments, plus possibly some criminals involved in his deals.   This week, Eichenwald adds to the story with proof in printed receipts that a man representing the Trump Organization went to Cuba in 1998 to explore setting up a casino there.   No deal was worked out;  but the simple fact of spending money there on a single trip in 1998 was a violation of the U.S. embargo against spending any money in Cuba.  And within weeks of that act in 1998, Trump was giving a speech to the Cuban-American community in Florida, excoriating the Castro regime and denouncing anyone who failed to observe the embargo.    Trump did not himself go to Cuba, but his company paid for an operative to go there -- and thus violated the treaty.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out, the average voter isn't going to care about this, but Cuban-American voters in South Florida -- a key block for Trump to win the state -- are extremely angry, not only for breaking the embargo but also for lying to them about it.

2.  David Farenthold is the dogged investigative reporter for the Washington Post, who broke the story of Trump's misuse of Trump Foundation funds to settle his own business interests.   The Foundation was set up with Trump money, but he has not put any of his own money into it since 2008, getting other business associates and friends to contribute.  Then he uses the money, under the guise that it's his charity.    Now Farenthold has discovered that the Foundation has never registered with New York State and received the credentials necessary to solicit money from others for charitable purposes.   This could result in fines, or a requirement that he return all the money donated, or possibly even shutting down the Foundation.

This has more than background connection to Trump's campaign for president.  Last spring, in a pique with Megyn Kelly and FoxNews, he refused to participate in the next debate.  Instead he held a simultaneous rally nearby to raise money for veterans.  He claimed he raised $1,670,000.   Online contributors were directed to send the money to the Donald J. Trump Foundation.   Now we know that was illegal, since the Foundation is not registered by the state -- which requires periodic auditing.    If a foundation only receives unsolicited donations, registration is not required.   So it may be an oversight or lack of knowledge of the law when it changed from its original status as a family foundation.  But once Trump began directing people to settle various deals with him by giving the money to his Foundation, he was already violating the law even before this solicitation for donations to the Foundation to be used for veterans -- which, by the way, didn't get to veteran charities until months later after investigators reported they could find no veterans groups that had gotten the money.

3.   Trump's post-debate behavior has only made his bad debate performance even worse.   He just will not let the story of the Venezuelan beauty queen go.    He continues to lash back at her, sending out tweets at 3 am and 5 am telling people to look at a sex tape he claims is Alicia Machado.   Investigators of course have been unable to find any evidence of such a tape.  Instead we're getting reports that Trump himself once did an intro for a soft-core porn tape and then tried to persuade his mistress Marla Maples to accept Playboy's $1 million offer to pose nude.   She refused.

Trump does not seem to realize he is only hurting himself with this continued juvenile tirade.  It provides a vivid example of how easy it is to bait him into a bad response, revealing his obsessive vengeance when he is attacked.  Not presidential.  No, not at all.

4.   And on top of all this, and largely because of it, the tension and open fighting within the Trump campaign organization has increased, with rumors that the Trump kids are unhappy that the rough campaign is hurting the business.    Trump hotel bookings are down by over 50% overall, with the two major ones being New York and Las Vegas at over 70% down.   In addition they are said to be blaming the staff for not preparing their father for the debate -- which of course must dismay Kellyanne Conway and others who tried so hard and just couldn't get Donald to sit down and focus.

I'd rather have Hillary Clinton winning on her own qualifications and her campaign, and not depending on the never-Trump vote.  But whatever help she gets in the polls by a self-destructing Donald Trump -- we'll take it and be grateful.


PS:   What a waste that, coming into the last month of the campaign, we're talking about this stuff instead of the candidates' positions on:  immigration reform, infrastructure rebuilding, jobs, the Middle East, national security, police-community relations, and voting rights.