Friday, September 30, 2016

Sigh And Sniff

Congratulations, Donald Trump. You lost the first debate by demonstrating inferior ideas, knowledge, temperament, and logic, but not in one important aspect: media reaction.

The media could have reacted as it did to the first Bush-Gore debate of 2000, moderated by PBS' Jim Lehrer.  The New York Times last Sunday quoted Lehrer remarking

After the debate I walked out with my family, and one of my daughters said something I’ll never forget. She said, “Oh Dad, isn’t it something, what Gore did?” I stopped and said, “What do you mean?” Because as a rule, I only look at the candidate who is speaking. She said, “All that huffing and puffing and eyerolling and sighing.” I said, “My God, I didn’t know anything about it.” And she said, “Well, Dad, that’s going to be the lead of the debate stories.” And she was right. That night proved beyond any shadow of any doubt that body language is truly important in a presidential debate.

It shouldn't have.  Whatever the reaction of viewers to the Al Gore Sigh, most polls indicated that they believed Gore was more impressive than Bush in the debate, presumably because he had the knowledge of issues Bush lacked. These were not the Internet polls of today, when Trump supporters, as they clearly did, Monday night, voted repeatedly for their candidate, before legitimate polling found overwhelmingly that Clinton had  decidedly defeated her opponent.

Gore's advantage was not overwhelming but it was undisputed at that moment. Promptly, however, the media began talking about "all that huffing and puffing and eyerolling and sighing" Gore exhibited, notwithstanding the agreement there would be no reaction shots of the candidates.   Substance was ignored; affect and appearance prevailed.

Thus, in one sense Trump has prevailed. He was criticized because he was unprepared, offensive, rude, ignorant, and unashamed of it, the first three to an unprecedented degree. (Ronald Reagan was actually proud of his lack of knowledge.)  But he has largely escaped criticism- or even examination- of his debate style, so roundly critized of Al Gore.

This was reflected in response to the tweet "notice Trump sniffing all the time. Coke user?"of former Democratic governor Howard Dean of Vermont.

Other than uncharacteristic silence from the Trump campaign, reaction was as expected.  CNN sniffed "Howard Dean claimed, with no evidence, that Donald Trump's sniffling at the debate could be due to cocaine use -- a comment that's being ripped as way out of bounds, even by those in his own party." It noted Obamite David Axelrod, unlike Dean not a fan of Mrs. Clinton, tweeted "I love @GovHowardDeanBut this is nuts."

Tuesday morning Dean explained

....he sniffs during the presentation, which is something that users do. He also has grandiosity, which is something that accompanies that problem. He has delusions. I'm not talking about being crazy, but for example, when he told everybody it was very smart not to pay taxes and then denied he said it, after he said it in front of 100 million people. It's not that he's delusionary about it; it's that he thinks somehow he's going to not get caught. That is delusional. He has trouble with pressured speech. He interrupted Hillary Clinton 29 times. He couldn't keep himself together.

He also is rarely inhibited and frequently agitated.  Trump also seems to have lost weight, common among cocaine users, but give him credit there, for he demands a slim body for many of his female employees.   "No  evidence at all," according to CNN.

Dean conceded "So, look, do I think at 70 years old he has a cocaine habit? Probably not" before adding "I think it would be interesting to ask him and see if he ever had a problem with that."

Don't hold your breath, Governor. Donald Trump is no Al Gore, and there is no liberal smear machine to compete with the right-wing media establishment.

Update: Dean has apologized. (That's what Democrats are expected to do.)

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not Even Close

You're taking it way too seriously, Mr. President.  Politico reports that when asked Wednesday about the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback

“Sometimes out of these controversies, we start getting into a conversation, and I want everybody to listen to each other,” Obama said. “So I want Mr. Kaepernick and others who are on a knee, I want them to listen to the pain that that may cause somebody who, for example, had a spouse or a child who was killed in combat, and why it hurts them to see somebody not standing.”

The president added, however: “I also want people to think about the pain that he may be expressing about somebody who’s lost a loved one that they think was unfairly shot.”

Kaepernick has thought about such pain in taking the advice of a former colleague and Green Beret to kneel in respect rather than sit.  Additionally, his protest has nothing to do with the military.  "The draft is gone," Boomani Jones wrote a month ago, "but we’ve all been conscripted as unquestioning devotees whose gratitude can be demanded by anyone at any time. Kaepernick wasn’t addressing the military, but that was widely and predictably inferred."  (We're looking at you, Mr. President.)  He recognized

the most disingenous answers tend to come from those who defend his right to ignore the national anthem while making sure the world knows there were better ways for him to makehis point, while, of course, stopping short of addressing the point itself.

Yesterday, Obama asked people to contemplate pain, not issues. A month ago, Jones on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" explained

That's a dirty, historical trick with all this- that I didn't like the way you said it. It's very important for us to understand we asked him about not standing for the National Anthem... The statement was not in not standing for the Anthem. Not standing for the Anthem is actually a neutral act. Standing for the Anthem is a statement. That doesn't mean that not standing is necessarily a statement. The statement is in his words.

In print or on broadcast medium, Jones understood that sitting or kneeling for the National Anthem is not the revolutionary act supporters, critics, or- now- President Obama imply it is. So, too, does the man who does what he does better than anyone in the world. Noting that he himself will stand for the Anthem, Lebron James remarked

I'm all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in a peaceful manner and that's exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that....  You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he's doing it in the most peaceful way I've ever seen someone do something.

Quiet dignity is not prized in today's culture, including in professional sports, and should be welcomed in the rare insances in which it's demonstrated. Whatever his views of racial justice or criminal justice, Colin Kaepernick is not grandstanding, strutting for the camera, or displaying a lack of respect for the military. President Obama probably knows all this, and he shouldn't pretend otherwise.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Trump Obsession

Stereotypes are no good. They are to be avoided whenever possible: Hillary Clinton as man-hater and sexual enabler, Donald Trump as racist, xenophobic, and misogynist.

But it's possible for someone to foster a stereotype, whether intentionally or unintentionally.. At Monday night's debate, Mrs. Clinton noted

and one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman "Miss Piggy." Then he caled her "miss Housekeeping" because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.....

Her name is Alicia Machado.

Lester Holt tried to let Trump out, tried to pivot to a final question. However, the candidate would have none of it, interrupting Holt in order to ramble on about Rosie O'Donnell.

Appearing the next morning on Fox and Friends, Trump- without being prompted- stated

That person was a Miss Universe person, and she was the worst we ever had, the worst, the absolute worst.  She was the winner and, you know, she gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.

He added Clinton "went back into the years and she found this girl ... and talked about her like she was Mother Teresa, and it wasn’t quite that way, but that’s okay.”

One could almost hear Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway, who knew the character of the man she signed on to, nevertheless telling her client "Let it die, Donald, let it die..."

But that wasn't the only situation of its kind on Monday night.  Asked how we "fight" cyberattacks, the GOP nominee cited support for his candidacy from military officers and the union for the border patrol, then added

I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't -- maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

Sometimes you stop in your tracks and go: huh?   This was not necessarily a crack about women- the 400-pounder may be a male- but neither Edward Snowden, nor the then-Bradley Manning was particularly overweight. Clearly, the stereotype of the computer nerd is not somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

The simple explanation is that this man has something against people (other than himself) he considers overweight.   And as someone whose income tax returns are being (allegedly) audited for (allegedly) several years and has been a plaintiff or a defendant in approximately 3400 cases, he has put a target upon himself by choosing to run for President.  Victory- or defeat0 in November may have a great impact upon the legal issues swirling around him.

Trump's tendency in this campaign toward self-destructiveness could be critical in its outcome. What possesses him?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Little More Information About Trump

The first presidential debate of the season may have gone a long way in answering two mysteries about Donald Trump.

Media Matters, created by "former right-wing journalist-turned-pro-Clinton crusader" David Brock, last month summarized five reasons Trump has not released his income taxes. They "could show," it noted, his ties to Russia, that he is not as wealtthy as he claims, has paid nothing in taxes some years or at least less than the Clintons, has committed tax fraud, is hiding offshore bank accounts, or is not contributing much to charity.

They might show also his wheeling and dealing with La Cosa Nostra. However, in a climate fostered by success of "The Sopranos," the coziness Trump previously enjoyed with organized crime of the Italian-American sort might be considered a virtue.

We now know with near-certainty, however, that at least one of the explanations cited by Media Matters, and mentioned by anyone looking at the matter, is valid.   Mrs. Clinton at Hofstra University stated that her opponent

owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax.

Trump could have accused his opponent of "throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks" or of having spoken "a damnable lie," or maybe asserted "I have paid federal income taxes, and quite a bit more of them." (For extra, disingenuous points, he could have added to the last remark "which has allowed me to understand what damage your plan to raise taxes would do to America.")

But he didn't. Instead, he spoke over Clinton and charged "That makes me smart."

Paying no income taxes might have been smart; admitting it was not.

That was not the only thing, however, we learned about Trump last night. We learned also how he captured the GOP presidential nomination.  MBC News reports

When asked by reporters after the event what he thought of moderator Lester Holt's performance, Trump said: "I felt he was fine."

But he then lamented having a "defective mic."

"My mic was defective within the room," Trump told reporters.

He added: "I wonder ... Was that on purpose? Was that on purpose?"

Trump was heard adequately through the television screen. Few if any viewers, projected to be roughly 100 million, had any trouble hearing or understanding what the candidate was saying. While it's tempting to say that his message and lack of ideas, not his microphone or voice, were the problems, Trump's concern over his microphone highlights the difference between this debate and the multitude of debates he participated in while winning the nomination.

Trump probably was worried that individuals in the arena did not hear him.   And although that audience was but a drop in the bucket compared to the 100-150 million people who will be voting for President, it is critical for this candidate. Through the primary season, he fed off the reaction of debate attendees as they cheered him and booed his opponents. That was his adrenaline, more effective than the cocaine some tweets (and Stephen Colbert) implied was at play on Monday. It also gave the home audience of Republican viewers the sense that this guy is not only making good points but is a credible candidate for President of the USA.

With audience reaction discouraged last night, Donald Trump was denied a major advantage. Attention was placed on his ideas and prior comments, implausible with a format that included many rivals. Those are his Achilles heels, focus upon which illuminates his extreme sensitivity, sometimes known as "political correctness."

At Hofstra, Donald Trump was chewed up and spit out.  Fortunately for him, the first debate rarely matters, as Presidents Kerry and Mondale could tell him.

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And When Asked About Taxes, He Talked About ISIS.

There she goes again.   The debate spin of Trump co-campaign chairperson Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway included

Donald Trump is guilty of answering the question asked, and I thought Hillary Clinton last night wanted to make sure that no matter what was asked and what was answered, she was going to repeat back to us everything that she had learned in the last week or two weeks, and that’s fine.

In a masterfuly piece of passive-aggressive messaging, Conway says it's "fine" that Clinton "was going to repeat back to us everything that she had learned in the last week or two weeks."  The horror of studying issues! The disgrace of learning more about economics, foreign policy, and national security! Trump has asked for Barack Obama's college transcripts, but maybe we should see the transcripts of a guy who graduated from Fordham University and the esteemed Wharton School of Finance, yet is convinced the less he studies for a debate, the better.

More pertinent, though, is Conway's claim that her fellow "is guilty of answering the question asked." Even a cursory look, however, suggests that Trump instead merits a unanimous "not guilty" verdict on the charge of answering the questions posed at Monday night's presidential debate.

Asked "specifically how you would prevent homegrown attacks by American citizens, Mr. Trump," the nominee responded

Well, first I have to say one thing, very important. Secretary Clinton is talking about taking out ISIS. "We will take out ISIS." Well, President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out -- what, they shouldn't have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.

So she talks about taking them out. She's been doing it a long time. She's been trying to take them out for a long time. But they wouldn't have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn't have had them.

Or, as I've been saying for a long time, and I think you'll agree, because I said it to you once, had we taken the oil -- and we should have taken the oil -- ISIS would not have been able to form either, because the oil was their primary source of income. And now they have the oil all over the place, including the oil -- a lot of the oil in Libya, which was another one of her disasters.

Trump stated how he believed ISIL was formed and, as he had previously, argued "we should have taken the oil." He didn't say even that we should do that now, nor suggest any plan to take on ISIL- let alone how we end, or defend against, a terrorist attack which might take place next month, next week, or an hour after the end of the debate.

Asked "so how do you heal the divide" on race, Trump replied

Well, first of all, Secretary Clinton doesn't want to use a couple of words, and that's law and order. And we need law and order. If we don't have it, we're not going to have a country.

And when I look at what's going on in Charlotte, a city I love, a city where I have investments, when I look at what's going on throughout various parts of our country, whether it's -- I mean, I can just keep naming them all day long -- we need law and order in our country.

I just got today the, as you know, the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, we just -- just came in. We have endorsements from, I think, almost every police group, very -- I mean, a large percentage of them in the United States.

We have a situation where we have our inner cities, African- Americans, Hispanics are living in he'll because it's so dangerous. You walk down the street, you get shot.

In Chicago, they've had thousands of shootings, thousands since January 1st. Thousands of shootings. And I'm saying, where is this? Is this a war-torn country? What are we doing? And we have to stop the violence. We have to bring back law and order. In a place like Chicago, where thousands of people have been killed, thousands over the last number of years, in fact, almost 4,000 have been killed since Barack Obama became president, over -- almost 4,000 people in Chicago have been killed. We have to bring back law and order.

Now, whether or not in a place like Chicago you do stop and frisk, which worked very well, Mayor Giuliani is here, worked very well in New York. It brought the crime rate way down. But you take the gun away from criminals that shouldn't be having it.

We have gangs roaming the street. And in many cases, they're illegally here, illegal immigrants. And they have guns. And they shoot people. And we have to be very strong. And we have to be very vigilant.

We have to be -- we have to know what we're doing. Right now, our police, in many cases, are afraid to do anything. We have to protect our inner cities, because African-American communities are being decimated by crime, decimated.

Proudly claiming the mantle of the "law and order" candidate (as did the late George Wallace), securing the endorsement of the largest police union, and conducting more stop and frisk operations do not heal the racial divide.   Touting "law and order" (and blacks over a certain age know what that means) and stopping more young black (and white) men on city streets can have the opposite effect.

By contrast, Clinton maintained "we have to restore trust between communities and the police. We have to work to make sure that our police are using the best training, the best techniques, that they're well prepared to use force only when necessary." The devil or God may be in the details she omitted, but the question was addressed, and cogently.

Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway has an extraordinarily difficult, and last night her client wasn't cogent. Or knowledgeable. Or composed, relaxed. Or polite. Or honest. Or generous in spirit. Or humble.  He was only one thing: Donald Trump.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Support Not Unanimous

Back in the old days, nearly two months ago, Donald Trump was to Ted Cruz a "pathological liar," a "narcissist," and "serial philanderer."

Today he is a supporter of Trump for President   Even before considering the “careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience," Cruz had been selling his e-mail list to the Trump campaign.

That appears to have been primarily for financial benefit, which may or may not have resulted from prayer and asking guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Coupled with the extensive support that evangelicals have given Trump, it can (or at least should) discourage anyone who has believed that Christian conservatives have thrown their allegiance to the GOP only after prayerful consideration and divine inspiration.

We- to be interpreted loosely- have been fooled in the past, and may be again. Yet, at least one activist, a devout Prtoestant, committed conservative, and ardent forced-birth advocate, may actually be sincere.

Both a Never Trump and Never Hillary devotee, Erick Erickson, former editor of Red State, former member of the Macon, Ga. City Council, talk-show host and divinity student, participated on September 16 in a fascinating debate sponsored by National Religious Broadcasters pitting pro-Trump evangelicals against anti-Trump evangelicals.

Erickson believes Mrs. Clinton's candidacy "is fundamentally anathema to and in opposition to basic, historic American values," including "individual liberty as negative liberty" in which individuals woud benefit most "if government left them alone."  He fears a President Clinton's Supreme Court appointments would effect "a devastation of our social fabric."

He is wrong on all those counts, of course, but it seems that his religious values are equally important.   Having been begged by "so many pastors" and "so many others" to reconsider his decision not to endorse Trump, he responded in a column printed last Friday in The Washington Post. He perceives in the support of fellow Christian conservatives for Trump

a level of desperation causing them to place their trust in one strong man instead of God. And, in truth, I do not concede they are right, but have concluded we are already past the point of redemption when the best either party can do is offer up Clinton or Trump. The seriousness and virtue of the voter is in the grave already and my Christian brethren for Trump yearn for an idolized past that never existed in a future that is not theirs, but God’s, to shape.

Christians looking for a strong man to protect the church instead of the strongest man who conquered death is a terrible thing to see. Many Christian leaders are engaging in a kind of syncretism, trying to blend patriotism with Christianity. They seemingly argue that if the nation falls, the church falls and for the church to rise the country must rise. But Christ has already risen so the true church is in no danger of falling. The gates of hell shall not prevail.

"I am not sure I have" ever asked God for forgiveness, Trump once admitted, "and I don't bring God into that picture" of right and wrong. Criticizing an evangelical supporter of Trump who once attacked the libertine Giuliani, Erickson notes

Even Giuliani never wrote a book bragging about his affairs with married women or boasting of taking advantage of others through strategic bankruptcy filings and shorting laborers. One can hardly escape the conclusion that had Giuliani been the nominee, Grudem would be chastising Christians for not wanting to vote for the man.

Scripture tells me (and you) that believers should have nothing to do with any person who holds himself out as a Christian and is unrepentant.

Trump strangely views communion as a plea for forgiveness and while he refuses to vote for Clinton, Erickson writes of the GOP candidate

I cannot in good conscience support anyone who bears the name of brother when he is unrepentant of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard or swindler.

Here now is a man in Trump who sees no need to be saved and has no understanding of a faith he professes. And he sees Christians cheering him on in his rebellious state, defending him when they blasted others for the very same sins.

The whole purpose of shunning the unrepentant sinner is to drive him to God. Yet, Christians in America are cheering on this rebellious sinner providing him no reason at all to repent. All Christendom should be ashamed we are putting our needs in this temporary place ahead of saving a soul bound for eternity.

Ever the reformed Christian, Erickson fears Trump's

victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness.

When Samantha Bee in July asked various evangelical voters at the Western Conservative Summit about their support of the GOP nominee, one stated "As long as he's not murdering people or killing babies, I'm sure he's fine." Notwithstanding pressure from like-minded colleagues, however, one prominent evangelical has set the bar higher.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Notification From The Speaker

Sometimes things fly under the radar- even on "Face the Nation," as was the case Sunday.

Donald Trump has said he would like to implement "stop and frisk" nationally, a sentiment seconded by his running mate. However, given issues of constitutionality and the lack of a national secret police force (so far), a President Trump would be unlikely to be able to have much of an effect on police procedures in local communities.

The Republican nominee has vowed to impose "extreme vetting" of refugees attempting to relocate to the USA. However, it is unclear how, if at all, such a policy would differ from current procedure.

Determining the direction of a Trump Administration- other than an active effort to turn Americans against each other- is nearly impossible. As these Washington Post reporters explain it

To fight the Islamic State terrorist group, Donald Trump would “bomb the s--- out of” their oil fields or “bomb the hell out of ISIS.” Or maybe neither of those things.

The GOP presidential nominee has called for “very few troops on the ground,” but also 20,000 to 30,000 troops. Or he might just let Russia handle the fighting.

He proposed banning all foreign Muslims from entering the United States until we “figure out what is going on” with terrorism. Or maybe just people from certain countries.

Trump has signaled a retreat from the free trade policies of his predecessors but, given that as a businessman he is a champion of outsourcing, and he has not specifically advocated labor or environmental protections, it is unlikely his actions would even approach his rhetoric.

As Salon's Simon Maloy pointed out at the time, in a radio interview in March Trump said of Social Security and Medicare that Republicans "want to really cut it, and they want to cut it very substantially, the Republicans, and I'm not going to do that."

It seems to be attracting little attention,  but Donald Trump- privately- has changed his tune, assuming Paul Ryan is not engaged in wishful thinking.  Asked about the GOP nominee's spending plans- including for "entitlements"- Speaker of the House Ryan maintained

Congress writes these laws. Congress is the one that writes the laws that puts them on the president’s desk.

And our Congress is offering very specific solutions. And I know, from talking to Donald Trump repeatedly about these things, that we have someone that is going to work with us on putting these reforms in place.

So, I have every bit of confidence that we have a president we can work with to get these things done. I know for a fact Hillary Clinton’s not for any of these things. So, to me, it’s a pretty clear choice.

And I know, from talking to Donald Trump repeatedly about these things, that we have someone that is going to work with us on putting these reforms in place.

Ryan didn't say what "reforms" he had in mind. However, given his past support for privatization of Social Security (below, speaking to the Atlas Society in 2005) and the approach toward Social Security and Medicare in the GOP platform, we have a pretty good idea.    "Of all the many reforms being proposed," one plank read, "all options should be considered to preserve Social Security." A tax increase, which would most effectively preserve Social Security benefits, of course was ruled out. Medicare is to be slashed as crafters of the platform, choosing their words judiciously, recommended the federal government "set a more realistic age for eligibility in light of today's longer life span."

Donald Trump once labeled Social Security "a Ponzi scheme" and recommended it be privatized. And now the most powerful Republican in the nation (a confirmed Ayn Rand acolyte) says Donald Trump, who earlier in his campaign pretended he was not hostile toward earned benefits, is "someone that is going to work with us on putting these reforms in place."

There aren't many courses of action- especially in regard to the most controversial proposals- we can predict with any degree of certainty about a Trump Administration. But when it comes to those things the GOP leadership disparagingly refers to as "entitlements," we have a very good idea, indeed.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016


One of Hillary Clinton's advantages pursuing the Democratic nomination was the perception, based in part upon her experience in public service, experience running for the presidential nomination, willingness to compromise her instincts for political expediency, and a strong base of middle-aged women, was that she would run a stronger campaign against the Republican nominee than would anyone in sight.

She has put those advantages to rest. The reaction to the FBI report was irrational and overwrought and many otherwise healthy adult men and women do come down with pneumonia. It happens.

Major unforced errors, however, shouldn't be made by public officials who have been to a few rodeos.

If you've been around the block a few times, you know not to denounce voters, and especiallly not to paint a word picture with the likes of "basket of deplorables," even if your figure (50% in this case) is actually low. And if the words "just to be grossly generalistic" pass the brain-mouth barrier, you know to slow down and transition promptly to another subject.

Alas, that is not the only error Mrs. Clinton has made since she was nominated. (And couldn't these have transpired during the primary season instead?)  But really, Hillary? She forfeited the possibility of getting the nod from the Fraternal Order of Police, which concluded her opponent

“understands and supports our priorities, and our members believe he will make America safe again.”

Trump responded to a 12-page questionnaire from the FOP and then met with its leaders last month in Trump Tower, the union’s executive director, Jim Pasco, said Friday. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did not respond to the questionnaire until weeks after the early August deadline had passed, Pasco said, which did not give the FOP time to distribute her answers to state lodges across the state, and the union did not meet with her.

Chuck Canterbury, president of the nation's largest police union, maintained Trump "has seriously looked at the issues facing law enforcement today. He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again," suggesting both that Mr. Canterbury is enthralled with one of the candidate's campaign slogans and that he skipped class when his third grade English teacher taught the meaning of "seriously."

The president of the Philadelphia Guaridan Civic League blasted the endorsement, arguing "His campaign has been too divisive. It's sexist, it's racist, it's (about) bigotry. They even mock disabled people."    If Trump is to be believed, FOP members have been unable to prevent "a more dangerous environment than frankly I have ever seeen, and anybody in this room, has ever watched or seen." He attributes this to President Obama, who has other responsibilities, but police officers are on the front lines and, in Trump's telling, appear to be colossal failures.

Notwithstanding the candidate's inferences, crime is not down, police are neither powerless, stymied, nor mere bystanders in the extraordinary drop in crime the past quarter century. But that doesn't excuse his opponent from failing to seek the endorsement of their union. And Hillary Clinton plows ahead while inexplicably spearheading arguably the worst campaign of any major party presidential nominee in the past half-century.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Integrity Is Such A Fleeting Thing

A post on this blog on July 21 was entitled "For one day, Ted Cruz stood above all."  Cruz had incurrred serious wrath at the Republican National Convention by suggesting "If you love our country and love your children as much as I know you do, stand and speak and vote your conscience" rather than automatically casting a vote for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Evidently someone had hacked into my computer that day because I could not have been so foolish (or short-sighted) to argue "as for integrity, he showed a lot more than the other politicians in Cleveland."

Whatever integrity there was in that Texas politician's character had a short shelf life, for now he has written on his Facebook page a long message which includes

After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.

Second, even though I have had areas of significant disagreement with our nominee, by any measure Hillary Clinton is wholly unacceptable — that’s why I have always been #NeverHillary.

Salon's Sophia Tesfaye notes "On the day that he dropped out of the race, Cruz took his criticism of Trump to a new level, accusing him of being a 'pathological liar,' a 'serial philanderer' and an 'utterly amoral' “bully."   Evidently, the bullying of Ted Cruz, if not by Trumpites, has worked. Urged by Texas Republicans to challenge Cruz when the latter's seat comes up in 2018, U.S. Representative Mike McCaul only a few days earlier had said of the Senator "I think what he did at the convention turned off a lot of people. I mean, he pledged to support [Trump]. He broke his word."

Of course, Cruz's pledge to support whomever his Party would nominate for President came before the Senator's wife was attacked by Donald Trump and before Trump accused the Senator's father, Reverend Rafael Cruz, of hanging out with Lee Harvey Oswald. Such assaults are generally not expected, especially one so nasty as against the Senator's wife, nor so bizarre as directed at the father.

The news of Cruz's about-face inspired a Princeton University roommate, Craig Mazin, to tweet "to understand why Ted is doing this, first make sure to begin every thought with 'I am supposed to be President.'"  Blood may be thicker than water but thinner than ambition. In the Cruz-Trump faceoff over their wives, the Texan had referred to Heidi Cruz as "the love of my life." Up to a point, apparently.

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The President Of Income Inequality

There is no love lost between Dr. Jill Stein and supporters of Hillary Clinton. There also is no love for either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump on the part of the Green Party candidate for President.

Recently, Dr. Stein sat for an interview with Politico's Glenn Thrush, who observed "her contempt has a more cutting quality when she talks about Clinton" than about Trump.  Stein's criticism of  the GOP nominee has a "ho-hum" quality about it as the Green

pointed to his position-hopping on a range of issues, which she cast as erratic rather than calculating — from his fuzzy Iraq positions over the years, to his brief “softening” on immigration last month, to his decision (on the day we spoke) to suddenly renounce birtherism after five years of banging a drumbeat of lies.

It's difficult to determine whether Trump's flip-flop-flip on various issues is in fact due more to being calculating than being erratic, and the truth may lie somewhere in between.  Still, Trump's apparent conversion on Barack Obama's birthplace, followed by the explanation "Well, I just wanted to get on with — I wanted to get on with the campaign. A lot of people were asking me questions,” suggests that he is crazy (or erratic) like a fox..

Trump was against the war in Iraq before he was against it before he was for it, not unlike his enthusaistic support for NATO military action in Libya before he was against it. But that is in the past and the only consistency in his position on immigration is the wall, which never will be built, and on Mexicans, whom he does not like.

Stein believes Trump's shifting positions indicate he "may have a problem with mental health." Yet, there are some issues on which he has been fairly consistent, ones which not coincidentally bear on Trump as wealthy businessman. He has not wavered in his opposition to a federal minimum wage- any federal minimum wage- nor in his antipathy toward unionization. In a radio interview in February he maintained

We've had great support from [union] workers, the people that work, the real workers, but I love the right to work.  I like it better because it is lower. It is better for the people. You are not paying the big fees to the unions. The unions get big fees. A lot of people don't realize they have to pay a lot of fees. I am talking about the workers. They have to pay big fees to the union. I like it because it gives great flexibility to the people. It gives great flexibility to the companies.

Unions by law must negotiate wages and benefits not only for their own members, but also for non-members, who pay reduced fees or none at all.  "Right to work laws" are intended to undermine unions, thereby undermining wages and further shrinking the middle class.

Trump vows to rescind Dodd-Frankhalt all new financial regulations, eliminate most regulations (including food), and opposes the estate tax, as he explained at the Detroit Economic Club in early August.  Rolling Stone reported

"American workers have paid taxes their whole life, they shouldn't be taxed again when they die," Trump said Monday. What Trump calls the "death tax," and what is more widely known as the "estate tax," is worth an estimated $25 billion a year. Doing away with it would only benefit the children of the very wealthy (for individuals, the first $5.45 million are exempt; for couples, the first $10.9 million) — like Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, Tiffany and Barron. (The Los Angeles Times dusted off a good breakdown from 2009 of the pros and cons for the occasion.)

The corporate tax rate currently sits at 35 percent; Trump proposed cutting it to 15 percent Monday. That break would also, presumably, benefit the more than 500 businesses in which Trump claimed a large ownership stake in his financial disclosures last year.

Keith Olbermann observes

The Republican Party has actually nominated for president an irresponsible, unrealistic, naive, petulant, childish, vindictive, prejudiced, bigoted, racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, fascistic, authoritarian, insensitive, erratic, disturbed, irrational, inhuman individual.

Whether disturbed or naive. Trump certainly isn't irrational, notwithstanding Stein's suspicion or Olbermann's comprehensive bill of particulars against the candidate.  Whatever he does on race, immigration, war and peace, gay rights, reinstating torture, or press freedom, there is little doubt Donald Trump will do when it comes to preserving and strengthening the rights and privileges of the ruling class, to which he proudly belongs.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pullling The Rug Out From Under Clinton's Message

We probably will never again see a presidency like the Obama presidency, with undying opposition from one Party and unyielding support from the other.

As Jonathan Capehart put it four years ago, the Republican Party's steadfast opposition to Barack Obama did not begin in October 2010 when Senate Majority Leader McConnell declared "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Nor did it begin on inauguration night 2009 when some congressional Republicans met and agreed to demonstrate persistent opposition to the President's legislative program.  It occurred earlier- during the transition period- when incoming vice-president Biden, he says, was told by seven GOP senators that McConnell had demanded unified resistance because "we can't let you succeed in anything. That's our ticket to coming back."’ 

The most visible and controversial (albiet not most significant) manifestation of GOP obstruction has been "birtherism," relentlessly pushed for 5+ years by the man who not coincidentally became the Republican nominee for President.

Now Donald Trump has tried to soften his image to  gain acceptance among mildly conservative, osensibly independent voters by asserting "Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."

There is nothing new under the sun, and nothing new to demonstrate the already obvious, that Obama was born in the 50th state, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.  Nothing recently unearthed has persuaded Grump that the fellow was born in the USA. He was lying then or he's lying now.

Hillary Clinton doesn't want him to get away with it, to erase history, not without some apology or acknowledgement that he was so wrong for so long.  She tweeted "expressing zero regret for years of pusing a racist conspiracy theory, Trump again appointed himself judge & jury on #POTUS's citizenship."

Simillarly, Seth Myers doesn't want the "centerpiece of Donald Trump's political career" to be disappeared from history by fiat.  He explained

You don't get to peddle racist rhetoric for five years and decide when it's over. We decide when it's over  and  it's certainly not over after a thirty second statement in the middle of a hotel commercial... Obama wasn't born here is your #1 hit. Saying you got it from Hillary is like Springsteen saying he wrote "Born to Run" because he heard Bon Jovi saying it once.

That's the way it should be and probably would be if not for disagreement from a corner of the Democratic Party occupied by a man whose blind support from Democrats has matched the blind opposition he has received from Republicans.   On Saturday the Associated Press reported

President Barack Obama is joking that there’s an extra spring in his step now that the “whole birther thing is over.”

Obama is speaking at an annual dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. The dinner comes a day after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reversed himself on his long-held and false view that Obama was not born in the United States.

With an air of sarcasm, Obama says that the Islamic State group, North Korea, poverty, climate change — none of those things weighed on his mind like the validity of his birth certificate.

The president says the end of talk about where he was born will be a boost for him in the home stretch of his administration, and adds: “In other breaking news, the world is round.”

"In other breaking news, the world is round."  Ha-Ha! We all laughed. Without a Democrat, Republican, or media member noticing, President Obama contradicted the Clinton campaign.

On November 2, 2010 Obama labeled as a "shellacking" the defeat of congressional Democrats that day, signaling to Republicans and the nation that whatever progressive agenda the Democrats had in mind had been repudiated at the polls. Republicans never have understood that President Obama has never wished to offend them while Democrats never have understood that Barack Obama, whether for selfish or patriotic reasons, will throw them overboard in a New York minute.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Illusion About Trump

It must be asked: who are these people?

Who are these people who are so divorced from reality?

They include a presidential candidate and a former corporate executive- a medical doctor and an extremely successful and wealthy corporate executive.

We begin with Dr. Jill Stein, who has told Politico's Glenn Thrush

Donald Trump, I think, will have a lot of trouble moving things through Congress. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, won’t. … Hillary has the potential to do a whole lot more damage, get us into more wars faster, to pass her fracking disastrous climate program, much more easily than Donald Trump could do his.

We move on to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. He supported Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination but now has second thoughts about the Texas senator after (and because) of the most decent act in the latter's public life, refusing to support the vulgar talking yam who threatended to out Mrs.Cruz as someone who once had an emotional problem.


“Basically, I want a strong economy that creates jobs,” Welch told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“This is a binary choice. You either take the Republican agenda or you take the Democratic agenda,” he continued. “The Democratic agenda is Obama-plus stated over and over again.”

Regulations are also “choking” American businesses, Welch said, adding that President Barack Obama plans to increase regulations in the final months of his presidency. He also conceded that Trump, as president, may have to negotiate with Congress, meaning his proposals could get watered down before they’re enacted.

“Well, it will be a negotiation with Congress. But this is his position and I like his position, and he’ll have to negotiate with Congress because Congress might not wanna reform EPA as much as he does and that’ll be a negotiation,” Welch said. “OK, that’s a fact of life.

Let's be clear. If Hillary Clinton proves so unpopular that Donald  "he's not a war hero; he's a war hero because he was captured" Trump is elected, the GOP will increase its majority in the House of Representatives and almost surely retain control of the Senate.

It wouldn't be pretty. Little negotiation will prove necessary and little would take place.

Donald Draper reported that shortly after John Kasich dropped out of the GOP race in May, Donald Trump Jr. spoke to a senior advisor to the governor, who was asked whether  he had (Draper's words) "any interest in being the most powerful vice-president in history."  Then

when Kasich's adviser asked how this would be the case, Donald Jr. explained that his father's vice president would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy.

Then what, the adviser asked, would Trump be in charge of?

"Making America great again" was the casual reply.

Governor and former United States Representative Mike Pence was not selected to moderate the Republican ticket, to bring the already-solid GOP state of Indiana into the Trump column, nor for of any hiddent anti-Establishment tendencies.  He was a shout-out to the Christian right and to the GOP establishment because he always has been a reliable supporter of the Party's agenda to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few.  Unlike the others on the short  list- Chris Chris and Newt Gingrich- Pence never would go off the rails.  buck anyone on Team Republican.

Mike Pence never would buck anyone on Team Republican, now headed by Paul Ryan. Donald Trump believes in little other than whatever contributes to the Trump family fortune. The opportunity of Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand acolyte,  to cut Social Security, Medicare, anti-hunger programs and a wide swath of the social safety net (as well as revoking the Affordable Care Act) would be greatly enhanced. Hillary Clinton has been largely a supporter of fracking. Paul Ryan denies climate change, Dr. Stein.

Fire up Air Force One.  A Trump Administration would bring about changes helpful to billionaire Jack Welch, though not because there would be any "negotiation with Congress." The Trump camp's discussion with Governor Kasich's camp provides the template. Nothing gets watered down while Trump (accompanied by Melania) flies around the world "making America great again," stopping in Washington, D.C. only to sign whatever Paul Ryan puts in front of him.

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Finished

On Friday, Donald Grump declared "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period." He added "Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it."

The claim that "Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it" has been repeatedly and thorougly debunked. But he also didn't 'finish" the controversy. It was definitiviely finished by President Obama when he furnished his long-form birth certicate. It actually was finished long before that, by common sense.

Nor did Grump's remarks last week put an exclamation point or, as he would have it, a period onto the reality. At an event arranged by the Congressional Black Caucus' Political Action Committe, Representative Gregory Meeks of Florida responded "To lie and say that the birther movement was started by Hillary Clinton and he was finishing it,that he was born in America, and then walk off- has got to stop."

The organization, which has endorsed Clinton and does not consider attacks on Barack Obama's origin amusing, does not intend to let it die.  Still, Trump might have been able to get away with it. Fortunately, in steps veteran GOP strategist Alex Castellanos to remind us that there are indeed "deplorables" who want to exploit this issue for all the divisiveness it's worth.  On "Meet the Press" he stated

And by the way, well, there isn't-- there's an answer here. I think the big question about Obama is not where he was born or his faith. The big question about Obama has been-- has he considered himself more of a globalist than an American? There is an otherness to this president. And people have tried to exploit that politically in different ways. The Clinton campaign tried to exploit it this way, the way their strategists said, by saying his lack of American roots is an issue.

No. When campaign strategist Mark Penn raised the issue, it evidently was rejected by Hillary Clinton if it even got to her.  No doubt somewhere in Oregon, New Mexico, and North Carolina there is a Democratic voter who thought the campaign should go with that isse. And there exist Democrats (and Republicans and Independents) who believe broccoli causes cancer. But they don't constitue a movement.

There is no duality between "globalist" and "American." There are quite a few globalists in American politics, including both major party nominees in at least the last seven presidential election cycles. They are most noticeable now by their support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including many Democrats and most Republicans. That does not make them un-American- only misguided.

Castellanos didn't have to pop off to make it clear that the Trump campaign doesn't want birtherism to end. They want it to continue among Trump's base supporters (who of course are not deplorable), most of whom are partial to the notion. Bashing Obama vaulted Trump to legitimacy in their eyes as a presidential candidate, just as it did for Ben Carson after he condemned the President at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.

It ends when I say it ends, demands Donald Trump as he takes no responsibility and blames his opponent. But it doesn't end because he declares it at an end. The chickents have not come home to roost, but they may have started the journey.

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Better Than Trump And Pence

In today's edition of the game show, "who is the biggest liar?" we have three contestants.  A statement will be rated on a 0 to 10 scale, in which 0 would be a completely honest statement, such as Donald Trump saying "I have had a career in real estate" and 10 would be an inarguable lie such as "no evidence of global warming exists."

Our first contestant is Donald Trump, who on Saturday in Houston told families of people killed by illegal immigrants "Hillary Clinton is the first person in history to run for the presidency who is proposing to abolish the borders around the country that she is supposed to protect,"

Politico's Eli Stokols argues the claim "is not remotely close to being true" because Clinton "has never advocated halting deportations of undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, or reducing or ending border enforcement."

Nonetheless, in the Univision-sponsored debate of 3/9/16, Clinton was asked by Jorge Ramos to assure the audience "that you won't deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record." Clinton responded "That's what I'm telling you." Therefore, considering all evidence, Trump's claim that his opponent wants "to abolish the borders around the country" merits a rating of 7.

Next up is the vice-presidential nominee, Indiana governor Mike Pence.  Speaking in Miami on Friday of Secret Service protection for Mrs. Clinton, Trump had stated “I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons . I think they should disarm. Immediately. Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It'll be very dangerous."

On "This Week" Sunday, Martha Raddatz  asked what Pence's running mate meant "by that" and he responded

I mean the point that he was making is that Hillary Clinton has had private security now in her life for the last 30 years, but she would deny the right of law abiding citizens to have a firearm in their homes to protect their own families.

I think what Donald Trump was saying is if Hillary Clinton didn't have all that security she would probably be a whole lot more supportive of the second amendment.

Trump did say Clinton "wants to destroy the Second Amendment, although that's untrue. But he had said nothing about the past 30 years or any private security she may have had.

Raddatz added "But let's see what happens to her. Whether he intended that or not, the message sounds a lot like a threat or encouraging violence."

Pence responded in part "That's absolute nonsense."  I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons think they should disarm. Immediately. Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It'll be very dangerous.

There are two ways to interpret that remark- as a threat, or as encouraging violence. Pence's remark itself is nonsense and deserves a "9." However, given that it is difficult for a guy to admit his running mate has recommended assassination of his opponent, we'll move that down to an "8."

Our third contestant is Kellyanne Conway, nee Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway,  Mrs. Conway once was recognized as co-chairperson of Trump's campaign, whereupon the media recognized that the other co-chairperson, Stephen K. Bannon, had no credibility. Hence, Conway was elevated in the media's telling to "chairman."

On "Face the Nation," John Dickerson asked Conway why Trump had changed the position he "held for five years, that Barack Obama was not born in the United States." Conway responded

Well, on Friday, he made very clear three things, number one, that it was Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, who put President Obama’s citizenship in question when he wrote a famous memo in March of 2007 questioning his -- quote -- “American roots,” saying, at a time of war, how could we elect someone like this? It was pretty radical stuff.

Hillary Clinton didn't buy the "questioning," apparently. Nor was Trump inspired or motivated by Mark Penn, who ended up parting ways with the Clinton campaign for an unrelated reason. For nearly five years, through a speech, a news conference, interviews and tweets, Donald Trump questioned Barack Obama's birthplace and never mentioned Mark Penn or Hillary Clinton. The myth that it started with Clinton has the stench of an accusation working its way back for a rationalization.

"And, then, of course," added Conway,

even Patti Solis Doyle, who was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager in 2008, John, until she was fired by Hillary Clinton, admitted on Friday to Wolf Blitzer that she said, yes, these are her words. There was a volunteer in Iowa who was pushing this.

And so this started with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, number one.

Said volunteer, said campaign manager neglected to say, was immediately fired.

Penn's "American roots" itself wasn't even radical. John McCain had a similar thought in March of 2008 with a campaign ad ending with "the American President Americans have been waiting for." No one complained, and no one should have. (The approach was dropped around the time McCain selected a pro-secession Alaskan as his running mate.)

No one paid much if any attention to Mark Penn's insinuation and "this" was not "started with Hillary Clinton's campaign."  Kellyanne Conway has outdone both Donald Trump and Mike Pence, and her fabrication is rated  as a "9." She wins the competition and for her prize, she is awarded a press to continue to fawn upon her.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Their Father's Children

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Charlie Peters caught this from The Hill:

Cosmopolitan reporter Prachi Gupta appeared to rattle the 34-year-old daughter of Donald Trump when she asked her in a phone interview to clarify whether the GOP nominee's plan would address paternity leave or cover leave for gay couples when the parents are both men. "So it's meant to benefit, whether it's in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code," Trump said. "Well, what about gay couples, where both partners are men?" Gupta asked. Trump responded that the "intention" of her father's plan was to "help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth." The reporter did not let up, once again asking her to clarify how the plan would cover gay couples "where the two parents are both men." Gupta asked if the policy would not allow leave for fathers "because they don't need to recover for anything?" "Well, those are your words, not mine," Trump responded, laughing, according to Cosmopolitan. "The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not."

And this from the Los Angeles Times:

But when the Cosmo interviewer challenged Trump over whether the plan would cover fathers, as well as Donald Trump's 2004 comments calling pregnancy an inconvenience, she ended the phone call. "It's surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?" interviewer Prachi Gupta asked. "So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues," Ivanka Trump responded. "So I don't know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you're going to make a comment like that."

She might be a little too sensitive or a little too focused on her own greatness, which far exceeds that of the proposal itself. The plan provides for an income tax deduction rather than a credit, thus benefitting the wealthy far more than the working class or the poor. It appears to apply only to biological mothers, whch would exclude the likes of fathers, gay couples, and single parents and would be funded (as best as can be discerned) by cuts in the unemployment compensation program. Other than that, it's a fine proposal; and other than that unfortunate incident, "Our American Cousin" was a great play, Mrs. Lincoln.

Ivanka Trump, however, faces stiff competition from her brother, who on WPHT 1210 AM on Thursday morning remarked

The media has been her number one surrogate in this. Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest, but the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy, on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing. If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.

When some people "apologize," they merely say something bland and meaningless. Not so Donald Jr, who according to Politico claimed he

didn't say anything about the Holocaust. I was talking about media bias. I was talking about if you're a conservative, it's essentially capital punishment," Trump Jr. told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America," noting that he made similar comments to CNN's Jake Tapper about the "electric chair."

"It was poor choice of words, perhaps..."

Then he got patronizing, in the manner of the "some of my best friends are colored" defense of the 1950s and 1960s, when he added

but in no way, shape or form was I ever even remotely talking about the Holocaust. I wouldn't do it. I think that's disgusting. It's not my style," Trump Jr. said, later referencing his sister Ivanka, who converted to Orthodox Judaism upon her marriage to husband Jared Kushner.

Trump Jr. then added, "half of my best men in my wedding and the bridesmaids of my wedding were Jewish. I would never do that."

Nor only was I right, Trump's son went on to maintain, I've been proven right because

"... what it really, unfortunately, it almost proves the point," he continued. "I say something, rather than the media asking me about it, rather than saying, hey, Don is this were you talking about the Holocaust, they jump, oh, my God, you were talking about the Holocaust."

In a less politically correct time, a time to which candidate Trump would have us return, we had a word for people like Donald Trump Jr. or Ivanka Trump: creep. The Trumps should be thankful we live in such a "politically correct" era.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Clueless Or Contemptuous

Either way, it's still the same old Donald Trump.  He goes to Bethel United Methodist Church in Flint, Michigan and looks like he's wondering how he got stuck in such an uncomfortable situation. Quietly and respectfully interrupted by Reverend Faith Green-Timmons for being "poltical" when he transitions into an attack on Hillary Clinton, Trump soon thereafter finishes his speech.

We've all been uncomfortable somewhere and started looking for a soft landing. Most of us, however, wouldn't try to turn it around, as Trump did later, by saying something akin to "But she was so nervous. She was like a nervous mess, and so I figured something – I figured something was up, really."

It is enough to remind someone of Trump's recent visit to Mexico, where he went in as a pit bull and was turned into a chihuahua.

Of greater substance, though only barely so, were remarks made at the church by the candidate, where he commented

It was announced that Ford- and I've been talking aout this- I think the reason that I've been doing well in Michigan is that I've been talking about this for four and five years to Michigan 'cause I'm having a great relationship with Michigan. But it was just announced that Ford is moving all small car production- all of it, 100 per cent- to Mexico over the next two to three years. We should not allow it to happen.

Characteristically, Trump did not explain how we "should not allow it to happen." Worse, he disappeared his history, when last August- after he already had become a presidential candidate- he told a Michigan crowd

You could have let it go, and rebuilt itself, through the free enterprise system. You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuilt itself, and a lot of people felt it should happen. Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it either way. Either way would have been acceptable. I think you would have wound up in the same place.

He wasn't so concerned about the American auto companies or Michigan workers back then.  He went on to lament of the Flint water crisis

And the damage can be corrected and it can be corrected by people that know what they're doing. Unfortunately, the people that caused this tremendous problem had no clue.

They had a clue; actually, several clues.  City residents had a cluen when they complained about the smell, taste, appearance, and sickening effect of the water a mere six weeks after the city in April, 2014 had swiched its source from the Flint River to Lake Huron. General Motors had a clue when in October it switched its water supply from the Flint River to Lake Huron. The University of Michigan-Flint three months later had a clue when it shut some water fountains after it found high levels of lead in its water on campus. City manager Darnell Earley, hired by Republican governor Rick Snyder, had a clue what was happening when two days later he announced that he would hire water treatment consultants rather than switch back to Lake Huron because that would increase water cost by at least $12 million.
Flint resident Lee Ann Walters had a clue the following month when her water was found to exceed by almost seven times the EPA's upper limit for lead in drinking water.  The Flint City Council had a clue the next month when it voted overwhelmingly to reverse an earlier decision and get its water from Lake Huron. The state had a clue in July, yet responded to an EPA memo leaked the previous and advised Flint residents to "relax" because thre was no "broad problem with the water supply freeing up lead as it goes to homes."

Virginia Tech researchers had a clue when on September 15 they announced they had found high lead levels across the city. So, too, was a clue had by a pediatrician who five days later concluded that blood levels of lead had risen significantly in the city's children since the switch. Soon after, state officials finally decided to go back to Lake Huron.

Lots of people had clues. But the primary responsibility should lie with the Emergency Manager system. E.M. Ed Kurtz made the decision to switch the source of Flint's water. He later left and another individual served very briefly, at which time Darnell Early wa appointed..  Once Early became aware of the problem, he made a decision to save money short-term at the cost of poisoning city residents..  Two days later, he resigned when Governor Snyder- evidently impressed with Earley's work in Flint- appointed him emergency manager of the Detroit school system.

This problem did not occur because of cluelessness but because Governor Snyder engineered the takeover of Flinto government and put in charge individuals with an obsession about costs, even as Flint residents and its largely powerless City Council warned of the impending crisis.

The impact of lead in the drinking water in Flint has taken a toll, and will take its toll in a jump in crime in the city in 15-20 years.  However, it ought to raise another issue. Whether it's about drinking water, city governance, the domestic automobile industry, or interaction with ministers or foreign leaders,  Donald Trump appears to lack any self-awareness, having no clue that he has no clue. Alternatively, he is vastly more aware than he seems and is takes the American people for fools.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sham Appearance

On Monday, Hillary Clinton said to Anderson Cooper

What happened this time, though, was it didn't dissipate, and that's why when I got off the road on Friday, I did go to see my doctor, and that's when I was diagnosed with pneumonia...I just didn't think it was going to be that big of deal...I think it's fair to say that people know more about me than almost anyone in public life...It's really past time for [Trump] to be held to the same standards, not just as me, but as anybody else who has sought this job.

The chances of that happening are fat and slim.   There has been little pressure on Donald Trump to release his tax returns and the media ultimately will be satisfied with what little is revealed by the GOP candidate about his physical condition.

We know this from two people, Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway and Mehmet Oz.  Trump will be taping the Dr. Oz show on Wednesday for a segment to be aired the following day. Politico reports

Oz said in an interview with Brian Kilmeade on the Fox News Radio program “Kilmeade & Friends” that he will reveal his medical assessment of the records submitted by Trump before the studio audience, calling it Trump’s decision to do so.

“It’s his personal records. I want to ask him pointed questions about his health,” Oz said.

Oz is suggesting that he will ask pointed questions to which he does not expect to get an answer. When Kilmeade asked what would happen if there are “embarrassing things” in the records. Oz responded,

Well, I bet you he won’t release them. … It’s his decision.

The metaphor for me is it’s the doctor’s office, the studio. So I’m not going to ask him questions he doesn’t want to have answered, and I also don’t want to talk about anybody else. We’re not going to be talking about Secretary Clinton, for sure.

We won't talk about Hillary Clinton but Trump will get a few hanging curves and talk about Clinton all he wants.

Last week, when Matt Lauer at MSNBC's Commander-in-Chief Forum asked Trump to "try to keep the attacks to a minimum" and the candidate agreed "to a minimum, absolutely," Trump responded to at least eight queries by pivoting to Clinton.  These pertained to sending soldiers "into harm's way," Trump's belief that he knows more about ISIL than do the generals, losing "faith in the military commanders," learning "new things in that (intelligence) briefing," getting Vladimir Putin "to change his mind on some of these key issues," supporting veterans, readiness "on day one.... to tackle these national security issues," and consideration of "that first decision that puts American men and women in harm's way."

Lauer didn't stop Trump from veering off topic and it's unlikely the Wizard of Oz will get him to release full health information, in the unlikely event he wants him to.  In what appears to be a pre-emptive rationale for Trump's continued opaqueness, campaign co-chairperson Conway told Andrea Mitchell Tuesday "Remember, I’m with Dr. Oz and millions of Americans on this. I don’t know why we need such extensive medical reporting when we all have a right to privacy."  At least she and the celebrity doctor are on the same page.

That right to privacy does not extend to Hillary Clinton, of course. But it will apply when Dr. Mehmet Oz chats with Donald Trump, who will reveal only what it is in his best interests to reveal.

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On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...