Saturday, October 15, 2016

Consequences, unless you're running for president

[So much Trump stuff piling up.   So four short ones today, then something different tomorrow.]

Billy Bush was the host of Access Hollywood tv show.  It was he who was laughing with Donald Trump on that studio bus in 2005 when Trump boasted about his predatory sexual behavior with women.  Bush later apologized for taking part in the conversation, but he was indefinitely suspended from his job.  Which led Trevor Noah to observe, on Comedy Central's Daily Show:

"Welcome to the 2016 presidential election.   If you're on TV and you say something that offends the nation, you can lose your job.    But don't worry;  you can still run for president."

Donald Trump as role model for his son

I, for one, am not so ready to heap praise on the Trump children.  What ideas about being a man did the Trump sons learn from their father as a role model?  A 2013 interview on BuzzFeed with Donald Trump, Jr. has been dug up, where the topic of sexual harassment of women in the workplace came up.  His response:

If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. . . .  You should go maybe teach kindergarten. . . .  You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like, you know.”

And then there's the video clip of a 2006 interview by Howard Stern of Donald Trump, accompanied by Ivanka and Don, Jr.   Ivanka was 22 and not yet married at the time.  Stern says something to Trump like, "You know a lot about sexual predators.   You're one."   There's laughter, and Trump smirks and says, "It's true."   This prompted even more gales of laughter, especially from Ivanka, who patted her father affectionately on the shoulder.

Trump refused to let his team do opposition research on him; so they knew nothing of the tape.

It is standard practice for a modern political campaign to do opposition research on its own candidate to find out what they will have to deal with;  because the other side will certainly find everything that's out there.  According to Bloomberg political reporter, Kevin Cirillo, both Corey Lindowski and Paul Manafort requested Trump's permission to do such a forensic search when each took over the campaign -- and he refused both times.

So, here they are, caught flat-footed by the sex-talk tape that surfaced last Friday.  And anything else that's now going to follow.   So far, a cascade of women -- at least ten so far and more are speaking out each day -- have confirmed:  Yes, Donald Trump did to me exactly what he bragged about doing on that tape.

"Indeed," Cirillo says, ". . . his political advisers still do not know the extent of the material his opponents may have prepared to mount against him."  The third, and current, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway also told Fox News, “There’s no way for me to know what is and isn’t out there.”

Powerful imagery of the Republican party and its "stillborn candidate"

Richard North Patterson is a novelist and contributing opinion writer for Huffington Post, whose essays are always rewarding.   This is the final paragraph from his Oct. 11th entry, "Beyond Debate: The Squalid Meltdown Of Donald Trump."

"Never has a political party so richly earned its plight. For months the GOP insisted that this comprehensively ignorant, mentally unstable, narcissistic, racist and misogynist moral midget would save us from the horror of Hillary Clinton. But the real horror is theirs alone, and it is too late for them to escape him. This is not merely poetic justice, it is outright operatic — a soulless, choiceless party forced to carry its stillborn candidate to term."

The whole essay is beautifully written, but it's too long to repost,


Friday, October 14, 2016

"Sexual predator" Trump really is a deal breaker

Want some statistical evidence of how big a deal breaker this sexual predatory meme can be?   The Marquette University poll of Wisconsin likely voters was being conducted from Thursday through Sunday last week.   Midway in that polling, on Friday afternoon, came the news of Trump's explicit sex-talk tape.

The poll reported the overall result from the four days of polling, which gave Clinton a 7% lead in Wisconsin.  But they also broke down the results, day by day, for Thursday, Friday, and the combined Saturday/Sunday.

                        Thursday    Friday     Sat/Sunday
Clinton               40               44                 49
Trump                41                38                 30                

Over the course of four days, with the tape released in the middle, Trump went from plus 1% to minus 19% -- a 20 point reversal.     It may reflect some immediate shock effect and could swing back a bit.   We also don't know whether the same demographic balance was polled each day, which wouldn't matter in the overall result but would on a daily basis -- i.e., men could have been over-represented one day, women another.  But it is undeniable that it is a dramatic reversal and a solid overall lead of 7% for Clinton.

In unrelated prediction ratings:   Predictwise, using market-based, betting methods, puts Clinton's chance of winning is 91%.   In the Huffington Post computer-simulations, she wins 91.6% of the time.  Nate Silver's 538 predict model is more cautious.  He gives Clinton only an 85.6% chance of winning.    Only.  Ha !!  


Michelle Obama torches the lecherous Trump

Michelle Obama is by far the best spokesperson the Democrats have on the surrogate team.   She's better than Bill or Barack or Bernie or Joe or Elizabeth.   She is absolutely wonderful as an engaged, passionate, moral, intelligent, compassionate woman.

And now she has taken on Donald Trump, in all of his sleazy, sexual predator, woman-degrading behavior.  As reported by Huffington Post's Sam Levine from the campaign trail in New Hampshire:

"With her voice shaking at times, [Michelle] Obama said Trump’s comments made it impossible for her to give her normal stump speech. It 'would be dishonest and disingenuous to me to move on to the next thing like this [Trump tape] was all just a bad dream,' she said. 'This is not something that we can ignore. It’s not something we can just sweep under the rug as just another disturbing footnote in a sad election season.'

“'This wasn’t just locker room banter,' she continued. 'This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior and actually bragging about kissing and groping women' . . . .

“'The shameful comments about our bodies. The disrespect of our ambitions and intellect. The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman,' she said. 'It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts. . . . '

“'It’s like that sick, sinking feeling you get when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, and some guy yells out vulgar words about your body. Or when you see that guy at work that stands just a little too close, stares a little too long and makes you feel uncomfortable in your own skin,' she continued. 'It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them and they’ve said no, but he didn’t listen' . . . . "

She went on to give a spirited defense of women for not coming forward sooner to report such behavior, because there is a history of women not being believed when they do accuse a man.  “Maybe we’re afraid to be that vulnerable. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to swallowing our emotions and staying quiet because we’ve seen that people often won’t take our word over his.”

She added that Trump's comments were insulting to men as well as women.   Decent men do not treat women this way.  "They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being demeaned and disrespected.”

Michelle Obama then said, "Regardless of party, every American should find Trump’s behavior reprehensible. . . .  This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful, it is intolerable. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. Democrat, Republican or independent, no woman deserves to be treated this way. None of us deserves this kind of abuse.”
Brava!, Michelle.  This is a devastating indictment of a man -- and of a party that would nominate such a man, knowing full well who he is.   He may be new to politics, but he has been a public figure, splashed across the tabloids and gossip columns of New York for decades.   They knew.


Added Note:   I wrote the above last night, not having seen Michelle Obama's speech but only from reading Sam Levine's account of it.   But then Rachel Maddow got special permission from her MSNBC producer to air about 20 minutes of the tape of Michelle's speaking, without commercial interruptions, and I have to tell you:   It was ten times as powerful as the written word.   What I said at the beginning about her engaged passion, and the audience's response, magnified the written words.   As to content, I want to add that she emphasized, in addition to the effect on girls hearing Trump's speech, the effect on boys.   This is not a role model of what it is to be a man, she wants them to know.   That is such an important addition to this discussion.

If you have not seen Michelle Obama actually delivering this speech, by all means, find a way.  I'm sure it can be found on YouTube or some other of those sites that I know nothing about.   It is a must-watch.

Here's one link:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Further evidence of a Trump-Russia link

Evidence is building that Russia is actively trying to influence the election of Donald Trump.   Advisers with major connections with pro-Russian oligarchs.  Trump with business connections himself in Russia.   The bromance with Putin.   The hacking of DNC and Clinton campaign emails that the FBI has now confirmed were done by Russian government-backed hackers.

Now there's presumptive evidence that the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of what was going to be in those hacked Clinton campaign emails.  How did they get this?   Roger Stone, that evil gadfly who flits around the edges of the Trump campaign, told John Podesta months ago that his emails, specifically, were going to be exposed.   How did he know?   Stone said he had "been in touch" with Wikileaks Julian Assange who is distributing them.

The only question seems to be:   is there a direct line between the Trump campaign and Russia?   Or just an indirect line through several intermediaries?  And is the Trump campaign an active participant, or just the passive recipient?  Whatever, we have to make sure that Trump and his band of deplorables (and I do mean Bannon, Bossi, Ailes, and Stone) never get near the White House and the Situation Room.


Why Trump still has such an excited support base -- and the damage he can still do, even in losing.

The Trump campaign does seem to be in free fall.  Even red, red state Utah is in play, with its large Mormon population.  But people are asking:   Why now?   Why have all the other verbal atrocities not brought him down, and this one does?   Yes, it's true that bragging about sexual assault of women is worse, but it's not really that big a surprise with what we already knew about him.

So, here's a way to look at why now, and then we'll pivot to an even more interesting (to me) question.  I think that:  (1) it is bad and can actually be labelled as sexual assault, which is categorically worse;  (2)  more people are paying attention now than earlier;  (3)  it's already apparent that he's losing, so there's less risk for politicians in defecting now than if he won and had power to retaliate; and (4) it's a final concrete thing people can grasp on to for those who have been wanting to withdraw their support.

But here's what truly puzzles me, maybe even moreso before his free fall started, but still an interesting question:   Why did so many people support this obviously unqualified man?    Yes, he appealed to those who see their world changing and leaving them behind, economically and culturally; and he promised to Make America Great Again just the way they want it to be.   They bought into the chest beating, alpha male, saying "only I can save you."

Then there are the loyal party members who have never before voted for a Democrat, who will accept a lot of flaws to stay loyal to the party.  They have convinced themselves that Hillary would be worse for the country -- and the Supreme Court is the ultimate prize they must have.

And then there is that core group of what has come to be called Trump's base, the ones Clinton meant by her "basket of deplorables" remark:  those angry white people who at least flirt with, or fully embrace nativism, authoritarianism, and white supremacy:  the anti-immigrant, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-gay Alt-Right, White Power, Neo-Nazi, KKK crowd.

I have avoided reading all the stuff they spew forth on social media, on web sites, and talk radio.   This is a whole category of worse-than-Rush-Limbaugh, ones that Donald Trump appeals to and is ambivalent about denouncing . . . because they are a significant core of the support he has left.

So I didn't really know how awful the hate Hillary rhetoric is, until a couple of days ago when one of the bloggers I follow reposted something from far-right-wing radio host, Alex Jones.   Be warned, this is strong stuff, but it helps answer the question:   "why do people think Hillary Clinton is so evil?"   Not just bad, but evil, demonic.   Even Trump said as much in the second debate.

"ALEX JONES (HOST): I'm never a lesser of two evils person, but with Hillary, there's not even the same universe. She is an abject, psychopathic, demon from Hell that as soon as she gets into power is going to try to destroy the planet. I'm sure of that, and people around her say she's so dark now, and so evil, and so possessed that they are having nightmares, they're freaking out. Folks let me just tell you something, and if media wants to go with this, that's fine. There are dozens of videos and photos of Obama having flies land on him, indoors, at all times of year, and he'll be next to a hundred people and no one has flies on them. Hillary, reportedly, I mean, I was told by people around her that they think she's demon-possessed, okay? I'm just going to go ahead and say it, okay?

"They said that they're scared. That's why when I see her when kids are by her, I actually get scared myself, with a child -- with that big rubber face and that -- I mean this woman is dangerous, ladies and gentleman. I'm telling you, she is a demon. This is Biblical. She's going to launch a nuclear war. The Russians are scared of her. . . .

"Imagine how bad she smells, man? I'm told her and Obama, just stink, stink, stink, stink. You can't wash that evil off, man. Told there's a rotten smell around Hillary. I'm not kidding, people say, they say -- folks, I've been told this by high up folks. They say listen, Obama and Hillary both smell like sulfur. I never said this because the media will go crazy with it, but I've talked to people that are in protective details, they're scared of her. And they say listen, she's a frickin' demon and she stinks and so does Obama. I go, like what? Sulfur. They smell like Hell."
Folks, we're back in 1692 at the Salem witch trials, with all the mass hysteria surrounding that supernatural fear spilling into public institutions of power.   This helps me understand people like the woman shown on tv last night at a Mike Pence rally saying that she is constantly reading social media and that she is scared to death about voter fraud and she won't accept anything but a Trump victory.  "If Hillary Clinton gets elected, I'm ready for a revolution, because we can't have her in [there]."

To his credit, Pence interrupted her and said "Don't say that" meaning advocating revolution.   But the fervor she expressed, the absolute certainty she expressed that Clinton is the evil force that is going to take over with a rigged system;  and they have been ramped up by the fear, literally, of Armageddon.   And Trump pours gasoline on all that.   He knows he's going to lose . . . and he's trying to delegitimize the election and create chaos with a crowd that will not accept the legality of Clinton's win.   The 2000 hanging chad controversy will seem like a Sunday school picnic.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Some debate trivia

1.  For the debate, Melania Trump wore a hot pink, crepe de chine blouse with a bow that tied high up on the throat, with ends trailing down the front.   Some fashion wag spotted it as identical to the one advertised by Gucci as a "pussy-bow, crepe de chine shirt" for $1,100.  Pussy-bow, huh?   Was this fashion choice really an unintended coincidence, as Melania's later statement claimed?    Or was it a sly taunt to those making a big deal about her husband's locker room talk?   And, BTW, several pro athletes have weighed in, saying that is not the kind of talk they do in the locker room.

2.  Debate coach Todd Graham on CNN graded the debaters:
                                                                                       Clinton     Trump
Interaction with questioners                                  A                C
Personality/Warmth/Humor/Non-verbal         B +            C -
Substance                                                                       B -              F
Persuasiveness                                                             B    C
Overall grade                                                                B  D+
3.   As usual, Trump complained that he wasn't being treated fairly, that Clinton was being given more time;  but a time-keeper later showed the actual clocking:  Trump talked for 1 minute and some seconds longer than Clinton overall.   He also whined that the moderators kept interrupting him and not her.   My answer to that is:   Because you weren't answering their questions or you needed to be fact-checked.   Ok, Donny, we know you don't believe in fact-checking.   But the real world does.

4.  On DailyKos, "Leslie in KY" comments about Trump's snuffling during the debate, which was even worse than during the first one. Leslie is a speech pathologist and states that this is not cocaine or allergies or a problem to be solved with breath training.   This is a classic symptom of anxiety.   After all, he's a "deeply insecure human who is on a debate stage with the most qualified person ever to run for POTUS . . . and it is a woman to boot." 


Trump cancels tv ad spending in swing states; and declares war against his own party

Donald Trump has lost this election -- and his campaign knows it, even if he doesn't yet believe it.   Here's some evidence, posted Wednesday by blogger Mark NC on the site "News Corpse." 

Although there will continue to be a pretend campaign, the evidence is in that they know it's over.   The Trump campaign has cancelled or reduced its planned ad spending in eight swing states (Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, and Colorado).

Mark writes that "There are only two possible reasons for removing ad funds from these states:  1) The campaign is out of money. . . . [or] (2) There is no plausible path to victory."

The four latest national polls that were done largely after the "locker room talk tape" was released show Clinton with an average lead of 7%.   And that was still before debate #2 and its aftermath.

Donald Trump does not handle defeat well.   Remember what he told us at the beginning:  "When they hit me, I hit back harder."    Right now, he's going nuclear in his denunciation of the Republican party and those in it who are not supporting him.

But he will not let the Clintons walk away from his humiliating defeat without feeling his vengeance.  Ever since the Breitbart News guy Stephen Bannon was brought in as Trump's campaign CEO, and then David Bossie (the Jean Valjean pursuer of the Clintons from Whitewater and ever since) became assistant campaign manager, and with accused serial sexual abuser Roger Ailes and the odious Roger Stone lurking around in background advisory roles -- ever since, there's been speculation that this gang and Trump might start a media empire after the election is over.

Here's my prediction.   That is exactly what they will do, whether it's a television empire (which Ailes certainly knows how to create) or an online attack dog (which Bannon is a master of from Breitbart News).    And it's primary purpose will be to see that Hillary Clinton's presidency is every bit as difficult and ineffective as they can possibly make it.   Continued airing of made-up scandals, sewing the seeds of fear about the evils of the Clintons, and keeping the nativist, White Supremacist, Alt-Right crowd stirred up with red meat to nourish their animalistic paranoia, spreading doubt about the legitimacy of the "rigged" election.   Then there will come the 2018 midterms and then the 2020 election.

As they say:  "Hell hath no fury like a narcissist humiliated."


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trump campaign's fight with debate commission

The New York Times reported late Monday that Donald Trump is demanding that the co-chair of the Commission on Debates resign. This follows the "extraordinary backstage confrontation" on Sunday night between the Trump campaign and Commission co-chair Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., who blocked their plan to have the group of women, who accuse Bill Clinton of inappropriate sexual behavior, enter with the Trump family and sit in the family box.

This would have forced a confrontation between the women and Bill Clinton, following the tradition of family members shaking hands as they enter at the same time.  A surprise stunt was obviously designed by the Trump team to create maximum shock effect, just as viewers tune in world-wide.  It only de-escalated when Fahrenkopf, a Republican, threatened to call security to remove the women.  Eventually the Trump campaign relented.

Mr. Fahrenkopf, a former RNC chair, insisted that the the campaigns had agreed to the rules that only family members could sit in those seats.   They had also denied the Clinton's request that Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill be seated in their box.

The article goes on to elaborate this as the latest in a string of gamesmanship from Trump and his campaign, with complaints about fairness, that the system is rigged against Trump, and during the debate that he wasn't getting equal time and had more interruptions from the moderators.   Fact check:   Trump actually spoke one minute longer than Clinton.  This fuels speculation that Trump is looking for an excuse to skip the last debate.


About Debate #2 -- "Indistinguishable from SNL"

That was the ultimate tweet about the debate, from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI):  "This is now indistinguishable from SHL."   The satirical show, "Saturday Night Live," had just done a hilarious skit about the debate.   A close second characterization was from pundit Howard Fineman, who wrote:  "[Trump] swung as hard as he could -- and knocked himself out."

Folks, I've spent most of Monday trying to analyze and condense what we saw Sunday night.   Commentary and new stuff keeps coming out faster than I can put it all together.   So now with those quotes to start this off, I'll just put out some points that stand out and not try to organize it into a coherent narrative.

1.   Trump tried to preempt any sense of decorum, and create a distraction from his own disastrous troubles, by staging an invitation only press conference two hours before the debate with four women who claim to have been sexually misused by Bill Clinton years ago (all old news), plus one woman who was apparently actually raped when she was 12 years old -- but not by Bill Clinton.   They included her because Hillary Clinton, as a young attorney back then, was the court-appointed public defender of the man charged with the rape.   The woman says that Hillary put her through hell in the process (I suppose in the depositions).   As I understand it, they reached a plea bargain and never went to trial.  Of course, it's very difficult for a rape victim to testify about what happened to them;  but fact checkers have said that it was not true that Clinton "laughed off the victim," as Trump has claimed.

Further, they brought these women in (paid their travel expenses, of course) and seated them in prominent places in the audience.   Rudi Giuliani told the Washington Post that the Trump campaign had planned to have the four women come in with the Trump family and sit in the family box, which would mean a confrontation with Bill Clinton -- to see if he would shake hands with the women.   But, Giuliani said, debate officials told the Trump campaign that "security would throw them out" if they went ahead with the plot.   So they brought them in before the spouses came in, and had daughter Tiffany Trump and a sister-in-law sit with them, still in a prominent spot that tv cameras kept panning to.

2.   This plan has the fingerprints of Trump's sleezy advisers all over it:  Stephen Bannon (of Breitbart News infamy) who is now campaign CEO;  David Bossie (who has made a career out of creating conspiracy theories and digging up dirt about the Clintons) is now a senior adviser to the Trump campaign;  and informal advisers Roger Ailes (who was forced out at FoxNews for sexual harassment of women) and the odious Roger Stone (who never saw a conspiracy theory he didn't like).   Their strategy appears to have been:   shrug off the damaging tape as "locker room talk" and pivot to attack Hillary  Clinton on every bit of read meat distortion and lie that his rabid anti-Clinton base craves to hear thrown at her.  And he did give them that, saying at one point that if he were president, “you’d be in jail.”  You could almost hear the echoes of them shouting "Lock her up !!"

3.  Nothing really stuck.   Clinton was composed, maybe not quite as comfortable as the first debate, but admirably unflappable given the circumstances;  she gave as good (or bad) as she got, and looked presidential the whole time.   Her battle plan was apparently to pivot away from detailed response to his attacks and to let him keep talking and, as Fineman said above, "knock himself out."  She has scored as the winner in every poll I have seen, other than those that were obviously of partisan Trump supporters.

4.  In contrast, Trump was an angry, menacing presence on stage:   roaming around in the background as she was talking, at one point seeming from my tv angle to be standing closely behind her and scowling.   He hit her with direct insults, including that he would have her put in jail.  Which prompted a strong tweeted rebuke from former Attorney General Eric Holder:   "Be afraid of any candidate who says he will order DOJ/FBI to act on his command.  This is dangerous.  In the USA we do not threaten to jail political opponents.  Trump said he would.  He is promising to abuse the power of the office."

5.  There were two audience questions that were especially suited to the candidates showing how they could relate to minority citizens with empathy.   One was a Muslim woman who asked how they would combat Islamophobia;  the other was a black man who asked both candidates about their "devotion" to the needs of all citizens.   Clinton was excellent in her answers, being both warm and empathic, as well as talking about policy.   Trump immediately pivoted on both questions to talking negatively about their communities:   blaming Muslims for not reporting suspicious activity and going immediately to answering the black man by talking about poverty and "inner cities," as though that's the only way he can conceive of black people.

6.  Prodded by moderators and by Clinton, Trump more or less made two admissions:   He has not in fact paid federal income tax for many years;  and, to Anderson Cooper's persistent questioning about the tape, Trump finally answered the question of whether it was all just talk or whether he has done what he was talking about:  "No, I haven't."   Which prompted Monday headlines:   "Many women say otherwise."

7.  In contrast to the first debate, there actually was a little discussion of difference in policy:  on health care, on taxes, on Syria.   Trump seemed to have a little more familiarity about specifics than before, but he also revealed his lack of in depth knowledge about all these important areas.   Clinton was crisp and concise and did not sound overly wonkish.

7.  And then a final audience question:   Can you say something positive you respect about your opponent?
  Martha Raddich said, "Mr. Trump, would you like to go first?"   Trump did not respond but turned and looked at Clinton.   She said, "Well, I certainly will.  I respect his children. . . [who] are incredibly able and devoted, and I think that says a lot about Donald."  Trump seemed pleased and said he considered it a compliment.   Then he praised her perseverance.  "She doesn't quit, she doesn't give up. . . .  She's a fighter -- I disagree with much of what she's fighting for.  I disagree with her judgment in many cases. . . . But she doesn't give up.   I consider that to be a very good trait."

With that, the debate was over.   And then the spin began.

Trump did what he needed to do to fire up his base.   But that's all.   His boorish display of misogyny is unlikely to have appealed to any still-wavering moderate voters or attracted any new ones.   Merely his menacing stalking around the stage would reinforce the impression of him as a predator -- with a woman as his victim.  Whether Clinton gained any new votes remains to be seen on post-debate polls.   But she was doing just fine, going in.   And she certainly did nothing to lose any votes.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Stunning new poll shows Clinton ahead by 14%

An NBC/WallStreetJournal poll was released Monday morning.  It had been conducted after the Trump "locker room" tape was released on Friday and before the debate on Sunday night.   Here are the stunning results:

In a four-way race:
   Clinton   46%
   Trump    35%

In a two-way race:
   Clinton   52%
   Trump    38%  

In addition, the market-driven prediction poll, Predictwise, now puts Clinton's chances of winning at 87% and Trump's at 13%.


Going into the debate -- will he or won't he?

I'm writing this is the last few hours before the debate begins on Sunday night.  No fictional drama could have created such suspense and uncertainty about what will happen.   And it depends almost totally on one person, Donald Trump.

With his campaign reeling from the outrage, disgust, and defections from Republican insiders and those running for office;   with uncertainly even whether Mike Pence is going to abandon the ticket (he cancelled all campaign appearances for the next 48 hours);   with the RNC putting on hold all projects having to do with Trump's campaign;   with (denied) rumors even that campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is going to quit;  with calls from many top Republicans for Trump to withdraw from the race;  and with the loose cannon that is Trump himself -- all of that looms over the 90 minutes in St. Louis.

Some are saying that the only thing that can save the Trump's campaign is for him to offer what can be taken as a sincere, contrite apology for his behavior (and not just the tape, but the Kahn family and others he has insulted) -- and then to present a coherent program of economic initiative with details that show he knows what he's talking about.

If he can't do that, then the RNC will likely leave him nominally on the ticket, but withdraw all support from his campaign  -- and he has no campaign organization of his own that can take over.   The RNC would then turn its attention solely to the down ballot races, hoping to salvage those congressional and state races.

This all hinges on whether Trump can hold it together.   Signs of his mood today, his tweets, are not promising.   He seems in denial of how strongly Republicans are turning against him.   His base is remaining loyal to him, but that is not enough to win the election for him.  And he seems very angry at the Republicans who are withdrawing their support.   If he lashes out at them during the debate and, as some are predicting, "goes nuclear" on the stage -- then it's all over.

Now let's watch to see what happens.    And try to analyze it tomorrow.


Clinton wins big in newspaper endorsements. Trump loses the Skittles and Tic Tac endorsements.

Hillary Clinton now has a growing list of important newspaper endorsements:  the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, New York Daily News, Dallas Morning News, Cincinnati Enquirer, San Diego Union-Tribute, Arizona Republic.  

All of those endorsements were made before the Friday bombshell of Trump's taped "locker room" talking about having his way with women, some of which actually amounts to sexual assault.   Just in the two days since, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch has joined the list.  In doing so, it is endorsing a Democrat for the first time in 100 years.   Then it was joined by the reddest of red papers in the reddest of red states, Oklahoma, where the Enid News gave an endorsement of Clinton and a denunciation of Trump.  The Chicago Sun-Times also joined in with a scathing denunciation of Trump and castigating Republican leaders, saying the party "should drop him cold."

Two monthly news and opinion magazines have endorsed Clinton:  The Nation and the Atlantic.   Only twice before in its 159 year history has the Atlantic made an endorsement:     for Abraham Lincoln and for Lyndon Johnson.   They seem to do it only when they feel the nation is in danger -- Lincoln, because the nation was coming apart;  and Johnson, because they felt, like now, that his opponent (Barry Goldwater) was a serious danger to the nation.  In endorsing Clinton, the Atlantic editors wrote that Donald Trump is "the most ostentaciously unqualified major-party candidate in history."

The only papers of significance that have endorsed Trump are the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, and the New York Observer, which is owned by Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner who is married to Ivanka.  And then . . . there's also his endorsement by the National Enquirer, available at your grocery check-out.

On the trivia end -- but, hey, this is the 2016 campaign, so trivia counts -- the Mars, Inc. candy company, maker of Skittles, disavowed Donald Trump, Jr.'s reference to the candy to explain his father's wanting to keep Muslims out.   Don, Jr. illustrated his point by saying that,  if you had a bowl of Skittles and knew that four of them were poison, you wouldn't want to risk eating any of them, would you?

In the 1995 tape of Trump's "locker room talk" about having his way with women, he had just been making lascivious comments about the attractive young woman who was coming to escort him onto the set of the tv show he was about to do.   He's heard on the tape saying he'd better talk some Tic Tac's "in case I start kissing" her.  Tic Tac, USA has distanced itself, sending out a tweet saying the company "respects all women" and calls such talk and behavior "completely inappropriate and unacceptable."


Sunday, October 9, 2016

A harsh message to Republicans about 'their' Trump

Jeffrey Young, a senior reporter for Huffington Post, just put up this open letter to Republicans, addressing it specifically to Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and other leaders.

I had been trying to write something like this, but Jeffrey says it better.   So many Republicans are jumping ship, now that this latest revelation crossed some critical line of disgust.   But denouncing Trump now is too little, too late to exonerate their responsibility.   As Jeffrey says:

"You knew. You all knew. You knew the whole time who and what Donald Trump is. . . .  

"You heard every terrible thing he said. You watched every inexcusable thing he did. You knew Trump is a race-baiting, xenophobic, misogynistic, authoritarian con man. You knew about his insatiable appetite for power, his bottomless need for affirmation, his dangerous impulsiveness and uncontrollable temper. You knew he was a huckster who ruined businesses and lives. You knew he debased your party, and you personally. You knew.

"You knew he waged a racist campaign against the president’s legitimacy. You knew he called immigrants rapists. You knew he advocated forbidding Muslims from American soil. You knew he said a federal judge wasn’t qualified because Mexican blood flowed through his veins. You knew he besmirched the parents of a dead soldier. You knew he mocked prisoners of war. You knew he courted white supremacists. You knew he admires dictators. You knew he incited violence. You knew he liesblatantly, shamelessly, ceaselessly.

"You knew all of that, and you asked Americans to elect him president anyway. Shame on you. You knew.

"Your condemnations are and have always been empty. Your sudden rush to abandon Trump ― after what’s merely the most recently uncovered manifestation of his hatred for women ― is motivated by the same venal cowardice that led you to support him in the first place.

"You knew Hillary Clinton isn’t the monstrous caricature you spent decades depicting. You knew she is ― like each and every one of you ― an ordinary politician, in all the ways that word has positive and negative connotations. You knew she would govern in a perfectly normal way.

"You knew this, but you told voters she was more dangerous than Trump. More evil. A greater threat to the republic. And this, after so many of you spent the presidential primary campaign warning the U.S. that Trump is exactly who he appears to be. But you fell in line. You knew, and you endorsed him anyway. . . . 

"Your voters elevated Trump nearly to the White House, and he may yet make it there, in spite of everything. They did so because you have primed them for Trump for more than half a century. Half a century of barely concealed appeals to racism, of fomenting fear and hatred and coaxing the worst instincts out of enough voters to gain power. Years of nurturing ― on AM radio and cable TV and the internet ― a propaganda machine that encourages ignorance, mistrust and anger.

"You have lost control of the golem you created.   You made promises you knew you couldn’t keep, and your voters finally lost faith in you. Now, they’re turning on you.

"They follow a man who doesn’t even share your beliefs. You’re learning just how little those voters cared about conservatism and how very much they cared about stomping their boots on the throats of people who don’t look like them or love like them or think like them. You made this possible by making villains out of African-Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ people, the poor.

"When this is all over, you may win your own re-elections. You may retain control of Congress and of governors mansions, state legislatures, county councils and school boards all across the nation. You may sigh in relief that you survived. You may even ― and not terribly long from now ― regain the presidency and resume carrying out your agenda. Your own careers may be successful. 

"But history will condemn you. History won’t forget your callowness. Because you knew."