Who Runs The Government Matters For Reasons Other Than National Security. Here Is Just One.

Back in 1997, after the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was signed into law by Bill Clinton, some right-wingers were placing the blame on Hillary (surprise, surprise). But by all objective accounts, Mrs. Clinton did play a significant role as First Lady in getting her husband’s administration to not only push for the bill, but stay with a more generous version of it, after House Republicans had cut down its funding (surprise, surprise). Ted Kennedy, who was the leading legislative force behind the CHIP bill, gave Hillary credit for providing “invaluable help, both in the fashioning and the shaping of the program.” 

Today, according to the government, 8.4 million kids are enrolled in CHIP, which covers children whose parents make too much money to qualify for regular Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. The program provides qualified kids with health coverage and their parents with, well, some peace of mind. CHIP is funded by both the states and the federal government and likely would be insuring even more kids today if George W. Bush had not vetoed an expansion of the program in 2007 (surprise, surprise). Why did he veto it? Did he hate children? Nah. The bill contained a tax increase on cigarettes to pay for the expansion and Bush told Congress that he “was willing to work with its leadership to find any additional funds necessary to put poor children first, without raising taxes.” In other words, Bush put children second and lower cigarette taxes first (surprise, surprise).

As you can theoretically see, it matters who manages the government, both in Congress and the White House. Barack Obama signed an expansion of the program in 2009, which helped more children and pregnant women. The program was renewed again in 2015 with overwhelming bipartisan support (although there was a “discussion draft” created by right-wingers that was designed to reduce the number of those covered). But it is worth noting three of the eight Republicans in the Senate who opposed that renewal in 2015Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. Jeff Sessions. All three have a Trump connection. Cruz and Rubio infamously ran against him and more infamously support Trump despite saying horrible things about him. And Sessions was the first big-timer to legitimate Trump and has been his most prominent defender on Capitol Hill.

There were also 33 Republicans in the House who opposed the renewal of CHIP. One of them was Jim Bridenstine, who essentially represents Tulsa, Oklahoma, in Congress. Bridenstine recently blasted Speaker Paul Ryan for not supporting Trump: “If Paul Ryan isn’t for Trump,” he tweeted, “then I’m not for Paul Ryan.” Well, we all know that Trump has repeatedly and forcefully vowed to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, helps “strengthen coverage for children and financing for CHIP.” Again, it matters very much who creates legislation, votes on it, and signs it into law—or doesn’t.

In the case of CHIP, most Americans may not care about who did what and who didn’t. Most folks don’t need the program and probably don’t know anyone who does. Thus, it is an abstraction, something that doesn’t necessarily matter all that much. Sometimes, though, people need a reminder of how much programs like CHIP matter to their fellow citizens and who it was out there fighting for them. Here is one such reminder:

Margaret Sanger, American, World Hero

“We should not have Planned Parenthood exist at all, because we should have a national health care system that covers men, women, and children, where they get full options for all their health care, including reproductive.” 

—Alex Sanger, grandson of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger

Alex Sanger told Vox that he was twelve or thirteen years old when he saw his grandmother, Margaret Sanger, give her last speech in 1960. She was around 81. She “spoke for about 15 minutes about her struggles and about her vision,” he said. More Americans should know about those struggles and that vision.

You should read all of Vox’s interview of Alex Sanger to better understand how profoundly Margaret Sanger changed the world and how hard it was to do it. Along with her sister and a friend, Sanger—a hundred years ago—opened the country’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. That eventually led to the Planned Parenthood we know today. Here’s how the organization’s official website described what the courageous women’s rights activist faced in 1916:

In Sanger’s America, women cannot vote, sign contracts, have bank accounts, or divorce abusive husbands. They cannot control the number of children they have or obtain information about birth control, because in the 1870s a series of draconian measures, called the Comstock laws, made contraception illegal and declared information about family planning and contraception “obscene.”

Her grandson added this:

I mean, she saw women on the Lower East side of New York and in Brownsville, Brooklyn who were dying from self-induced abortions because they could not have any more children. They simply couldn’t. They couldn’t cope with the children they already had. She saw rampant infant mortality; the infant mortality rate was close to 40 percent in the slums of New York, and she considered this an affront to decency and civilization.

The city of New York’s solution was to open milk stations. And her solution was birth control.

Alex Sanger also remarked on what he called the “great universal among women,” even in 1916:

they wanted to make something of their lives other than childbearing. They wanted the chance to have their children survive. They wanted the chance to be good mothers and nurture the children they had.

Those things don’t at all strike anyone as outrageous demands here in 2016. And that is the point. That they don’t sound outrageous is due to people like Margaret Sanger. And it’s too bad that many young women today don’t fully appreciate that the long struggle to nImage result for margaret sangerormalize women and empower them was directly related to getting women the right to control their own reproductive lives.

And those same young women don’t seem to understand that there exists in this country a reactionary movement that has as its number one goal the limitation, if not complete restriction, of a woman’s right to make her own child-bearing decisions. Donald Trump has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, often the only resource for poor women seeking birth control. Right-wingers in Congress are more than willing to make sure the defunding happens. That’s a far cry from the historical fact that it was both Republicans and Democrats who fought to liberate women and give them control of their bodies and thus control of their lives.

Margaret Sanger went to jail many times. At one time she was exiled from her country. She started “the first scientific journal devoted to contraception.” She spent half a century trying to change laws regarding birth control, finally and fully succeeding in 1965, a year before her death. And as her grandson Alex said,

It was her idea to create a birth control pill, and she found the scientists, put together the money. It took her almost ten years, but the birth control pill was the result. She did that in her 70s — it was really extraordinary.

Yes. Extraordinary. And she was able to move her liberating message and resources around the world—International Planned Parenthood Federation is working in almost 200 countries.

Like any of our cultural heroes, Margaret Sanger wasn’t without blemishes. Her flirtation with eugenics is something even her grandson cannot condone. But Alex Sanger is on solid ground when he says,

I’m obviously biased, but I can’t think of anyone who’s done as much for the welfare of humanity as my grandmother. A hundred years ago, women and children were dying in droves. And now they’re not. Women are in the workplace, and contributing to the fabric of our society and to the world, and hopefully a women is going to be our next president. This is made possible by women being able to control their fertility, have the children they want when they want them. And she was the one who started it.

And Donald Trump can be the one who ends it.

Trumpangelicals: Explain These To Your Sunday School Class


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Trump Jesus

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[H/T to New York Magazine. Photo credits from top to bottom: Michael L. Brown/Twitter; John Bazemore/AP; David Martosko/Daily Mail; Ben Jacobs/Twitter; Matt Stopera/BuzzFeed; Matt Stopera/BuzzFeed; Unknown; Unknown; M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO; CNN; Dennis Nett; Dominic Holden/ BuzzFeed; Chris Snyder/Twitter; Jenna Johnson/ Twitter; Heart of Platinum/Twitter; Molly Ball/Instagram; screen shot from MSNBC; Associated Press; Sally Kohn; James McLeod; Philip Rucker; Don Gonyea/NPR; Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images; Jim Acosta/CNN/Twitter (screen shot of video); Jim Acosta/CNN/Twitter]

Michelle. Barack. Period.

It would be hard to find two more powerful speeches given on the same day. I’ll miss them when they’re gone:

Trump Republicans: You’d Better Hope God Ain’t Real

Randolph Blake Farenthold, a Tea Party congressman from Texas who was elected in the we-hate-Obama election of 2010, was born in Corpus Christi, which in Latin means “body of Christ.” He attended a school in that city called Incarnate Word Academy. According to its website, one of the “core values” of the school is,

Belief in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, and his message of love for the world.

Well, Mr. Farenthold, and those other Republicans selling their souls to Donald Trump, had better hope they never meet the world-loving Christ—in body or out. They’d better hope he isn’t real, that his life and death and resurrection is a fable, a figment of the collective imagination of his earnest followers. Because if they do meet the Incarnate Word, if he is who they claim he is, Trump Republicans will be greeted with a variation of these words, from Matthew 5:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

In light of the recent revelations that Donald Trump loves him some genital-grabbing assaults on women, do Trump Republicans think that committing those assaults, possibly including rape, fits into the “right hand” in this passage? The right hand that “causes you to stumble”? The right hand that Jesus suggests—no, demands—should be cut off and thrown away? That seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? But not for followers of the Cult of Trump. Congressman Farenthold is one of those cultists who, when it counted, found it hard to condemn the easily-condemnable. He appeared on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes on Tuesday night. Here is how CNN reported the hell-worthy exchange:

Farenthold was interviewed by MSNBC host Chris Hayes on the political fallout from a leaked video showing Trump, among other things, saying he could grab women by the genitals.

Asking the Republican congressman about the recent wave of party leaders, like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Paul Ryan, pulling their support from Trump, Hayes tried to size up Farenthold’s commitment.

“Until he does something so bad to make him worse than Hillary, I’m still in,” Farenthold said.

Hayes posed a hypothetical: “If someone off the record, in a locker room — this was not in a locker room, it was a workplace — said, ‘I really like raping women,’ would that be locker-room talk?”

Farenthold answered, “Again, it depends, you don’t know the entire context of all this.”

“But you would be fine with that?” Hayes interjected.

“I don’t like what he said,” Farenthold began to answer.

So Hayes repeated his hypothetical: “If a tape came out with Donald Trump saying that, saying ‘I really like to rape women,’ you would continue to endorse him?”

“Again … that would be bad. And I’d have to consider it, but again, we’re talking about what Donald Trump said 10 years ago as opposed to what Hillary Clinton has done in the past two or three years,” Farenthold said. “She’s been a failure.”

Hayes returned to the question and asked if there was a single, conceivable thing Trump could do to earn Farenthold’s opposition.

“Absolutely, but I think actions speak louder than words,” Farenthold said, dismissing the controversy over the leaked tape as a “kerfuffle.”

Here’s a clip of the conversation:

Farenthold, a short time later recognizing that Jesus may be fitting him for a rather large millstone that would assure he was “drowned in the depths of the sea” (thank you, Matthew 18:6), took to Facebook to seek relief from either Americans or the Almighty or both:

I apologize for my failure to immediately condemn anyone who would say something as outrageous as they like raping women. During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor’s use of a hypothetical question. I do not, and have not ever condoned rape or violence against women.

Does it take a moral or theological genius, “thrown off” or not, to “to immediately condemn anyone who would say something as outrageous as they like raping women”? Of course not. Any normal and decent person would pass that test. So, what is going on here?

I submit that it is way too easy to say Planet Trump poisons everything that wanders into its orbit, including a congressman from Corpus Christi. The harder truth is that people who are already poisoned with hate—for whatever reason—seek and fall under the nasty gravitational influence of a Trump. In other words, Donald Trump didn’t corrupt them. They were wounded, corrupt bodies chasing a Father Star. And, in Trump, they have found a home.

The Pain Of Sexual Assaults, “One Tweet At A Time”

As millions of Americans consider whether to put Donald Trump, a champion of sexual assaults, in the White’s House, perhaps they should consider the following:

Mike Pence: “It’s The Greatest Honor Of My Life” Being “Shoulder to Shoulder” With An Admitted Sexual Predator

At this point in this long and ugly campaign, what else can be said? If you watched that debate last night (not to mention the circus leading up to it) and believe Donald Trump is qualified in any way to be president of the United States, then, like Trump, there is something wrong with you that a stadium full of psychiatrists, or a coliseum full of priests, can’t fix. The man is a creep. A lie-stained lunatic. A dangerous authoritarian who would, as he openly stated last night, use his presidential power to jail his political enemies—and only Allah knows what else he would do.

Since there is almost nothing else left to say about Trump’s lack of character and his lack of class and his lack of competence, I do want to say something about his running mate, the Jesus-loving, God-fearing, family values-honoring, Mike Pence. This morning I heard Mr. Pence say, as he does all the time, that being Trump’s running mate is “the greatest honor of my life” and that he is proudly standing “shoulder to shoulder” with Trump, with the same Trump who, behind closed doors, admitted that sexually assaulting women—with impunity—is one of the benefits of being a “star.” And pence on cnn.jpgjust why did Pence say he still wants to shoulder-kiss a man who believes fame entitles him to freely fondle the genitals of, say, Mike Pence’s daughters? Because, as the born-again VP candidate told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Trump “said last night very clearly that that was talk, not actions. And I believe him.”

Let’s think about that for a minute. Pence said that he believes Trump when Trump finally denied—after trying to dodge the question from Anderson Cooper three times last night—he has kissed and fondled women without their permission. Let it sink in just how that must sound to children around the country. A presidential candidate actually has to tell us that when he bragged about being a sexual predator, he was essentially just having a good time with the boys on the bus and he didn’t really mean it. And his running mate actually has to tell us that it is okay with him that Trump lied about being a sexual predator because he was merely talking about being a sexual predator and not acting on the talk. It really is breathtaking.

Here’s an excerpt from Trump’s infamous bus conversation:

TRUMP: I’ve gotta use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.

Trump, according to Pence, was simply kiddin’ around when he said he was “automatically” prone to “just start kissing” women he found “beautiful.” That was “talk, not actions” said Pence. But what kind of man would pretend, while working on a TV show that highlights beautiful women, that he cannot control himself around them? What kind of man would lie to others about his inability to prevent himself from sexually assaulting women? Is that the kind of man that a born-again Pence wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with? Would he want his two daughters, or his wife, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Trump? Or does Pence believe that the women in his life are not attractive enough to trigger an “automatic” response from the Orange Groper?

We all have asked, when trying to comprehend Trump, what kind of a creep is this? But now, as we try to understand how Pence—who claims the moral high ground with every Christian breath—can proudly embrace Trump, it is time to ask, what kind of creep is Mike Pence?

Defending American Democracy On November 8

In a pretty amazing editorial, The Atlantic magazine—founded in 1857—endorsed Hillary Clinton. Only two other times in its long history has the magazine done such a thing. It preferred Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and Lyndon Johnson in 1964. You should read the entire piece for yourself, but I wanted to highlight one simple point the magazine’s editors made. Stating the obvious by calling Trump “the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency,” and by calling him “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar,” the editors then say,

He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters—the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box—should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent.

It certainly is overstating the case that American voters these days comprise “statesmen and thinkers.” Some are. Too many aren’t. But it is not overstating the case to suggest that a lot of what is at stake in this election has to do with defending American democracy, even if, paradoxically, it is defending it against a legion of angry and un- and ill-informed voters who think Donald Trump is the answer to America’s problems.

If you think I am being too rough on those angry low-information voters, watch the following five minute comedy piece—that isn’t all that funny when you think about it—produced for Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal.” You won’t see any “statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box” in this segment, but you will see a very real threat to American democracy: the idea that our presidential election is “rigged.” Watch:

Mike Pence, God’s Menstruation Monitor

Vox published a story on Monday that, well, if you didn’t know who and what Mike Pence was, you’d be surprised. But if you did know something about Pence’s extreme religious conservatism, you wouldn’t be surprised. Here is the opening of the Vox story:

It’s no secret that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, opposes abortion rights. Pence basically invented the Republican Party’s war on Planned Parenthood while he was in Congress. He wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned. He signed every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk as governor of Indiana.

But Pence signed one anti-abortion bill in March of this year that was so extreme, even some pro-life Republicans opposed it. And it was eventually blocked from going into effect by a federal judge for violating women’s right to choose.

The law did something truly bizarre. It would have basically forced women to seek funerary services for a fetus — whether she’d had an abortion or a miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was.

Mandatory funerals for fetuses. Mandatory funerals even for fetuses lost to miscarriages. Keep in mind that Pence signed that horrendous bill—the logic of which led to absurdities like menstrual monitoring—in March. In March of, uh, 2016. Before Trump picked him.

As Vox pointed out, the law Pence signed “would have required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried.” All of it:

The wording of the burial provision meant that technically, even if a woman had a miscarriage at eight weeks of pregnancy at home, she would have to keep the blood and tissue, take it to a hospital or clinic, and have it buried or cremated by a funeral home.

I’ve written about abortion several times over the years, especially noting that many pregnancies are terminated by “God,” since miscarriages are common in nature. Vox says:

[S]ince about half of miscarriages happen shortly after a fertilized egg is implanted, and occur at roughly the same time a woman would expect her period, many women could be having a miscarriage and not even know it — and thus, technically be violating the law if they didn’t cremate or bury the resulting tissue.

As a protest against the new law’s extreme requirements, women who opposed the law started a Facebook group called “Periods for Pence.” Members of the group started calling Pence’s office in droves to tell him about their periods in graphic detail.

“Any period could potentially be a miscarriage,” wrote the anonymous founder of Periods for Pence in an introductory post. “I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty” if they don’t properly dispose of or report a potential miscarriage.

The idea of women reporting their periods as a legal precaution sounds absurd and Orwellian. But it’s also what happens when you take a law as bizarre and medically incoherent as Indiana’s to its logical conclusion.

It’s also what happens when religious zealots—a majority of them men—use extremist theology to control women’s reproductive choices. In this case, they claimed they were protecting “fetuses against discrimination based on disability”—which would have prohibited a woman from choosing to terminate a pregnancy involving a fetus with a Image result for mike penceserious genetic disorder. But like all fundamentalist zealots, what Pence and the Republicans in the Indiana legislature were really doing was forcing women in Indiana to live under the thumb of an extremist religious doctrine, of a wild-eyed religion-based morality, that, if Americans give Pence a chance, he will do his best to force on women everywhere in America.

Let me note here that the federal judge in Indiana who, for now, stopped this legislative nightmare is Tanya Walton Pratt. And let me further note that she was appointed by Barack Obama. And let me now state the obvious: if we don’t stop them, a Trump-Pence administration will bring us judges who will not do what Judge Pratt did. They will approve of it.

We hear a lot of talk, from people like Mike Pence, about “radical Islam” and “sharia law.” No doubt you will hear such talk coming from him tonight during the vice presidential debate. But know that it will be coming from a Republican who, just six months ago, attempted to impose on women in his state a radical form of Christianity, the Christian expression of sharia law. And like his fundamentalist Muslim brethren overseas, Pence is not shy about it. He admits it. He’s proud of it. And he wants to spread it and other manifestations of Christian sharia from sea to shining sea.

God help us if he gets his wish.

Trump Says, Go Check Out Some Porn So I Can Be President!

Hillary Clinton asked a rhetorical question this morning“What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories?” No one had to wonder to whom she was referring, of course. Trump had tweeted early this morning,

Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?

But Mrs. Clinton actually asked the wrong question. What she should have asked is, “What kind of man, tweeting in the middle of the night, encourages all of us—men, women, and children—to watch pornography so he can become president of the United States?” Huh? What kind of man does that? Again, that is a rhetorical question. We know what kind of man does that. Cheeto Man. The man who fell for a false, nasty, alt-right smear of Alicia Machado.

My first thought, when I woke this morning to the news of Trump’s porn tweet, was, “What will all those conservative evangelicals, horny for Trump, tell their children?” Will they say, “Go ahead and check out the video, kids! Donald needs an ego boost right now!” Or maybe, “Hey, your father has already seen the video several times and what Trump says is right. It is disgusting!” 

No, what is disgusting is that people who have always claimed the moral high ground for themselves and the Republican Party won’t bat an eye at Trump’s latest demonstration that he is unhinged in very dangerous ways. They will still run over you on their way to vote for him in 39 days.

Think about what we are seeing, people. A man, who will have the power to destroy the world at his fingertips if he wins in November, can’t keep his tiny fingers from tweeting out disturbing instructions—based on lies spread by right-wing racists, sexists, and assorted freaks—to his cult followers in the darkest hours of the night—all because he got debate-slapped by a woman four days ago.

And think about this:

no matter how low Trump sinks,

no matter how many unseemly manifestations of his personality disorder(s) we see,

no matter how many times he cites phony polls, right-wing conspiracy theories, and Internet hoaxes as fact,

no matter the accumulating record of his personal and business corruption,

no matter is unrepentant racism and his flirtation with white supremacists,

no matter his ongoing sexism,

no matter is unfixable ignorance and bigotry,

all of the current Republican Party leadership, most of the party’s rank and file, most of its Bible-thumping crusaders, and a concerning number of working-class Democrats and independents, will follow him to either his end or, sadly, to ours.

In January I published a piece titled, “Donald Trump is God!” Watch the following video from NBC News and weep:

Randy Turner Gets It Wrong

A local writer and aggregator named Randy Turner recently published a piece of commentary on his website, The Turner Report. He titled it,

If Donald Trump is elected, it won’t be the end of the world

After seeing that title, one would expect that Mr. Turner, a former Middle School teacher, would give us his specific reasons for claiming that a President Trump won’t, accidentally or otherwise, cause the end of civilization. I, for one, would like to be reassured. But Turner didn’t do that. Instead, after a lengthy accounting of a teaching experience he had during the presidential election cycle of 2000 (and a few notes about candidates in other elections), he offered us this:

Now that I think of it, every four years comes around and we end up with two people that we wonder how they ever wound up as their party’s presidential nominees.

Huh? Is everyone who pretends to write objectively about politics prone to promoting this false equivalence nonsense? I grant Turner that a lot of people were, and still are, scratching their heads in wonder at how Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. He stumbled out of Trump Tower and shocked nearly everyone. But Hillary Clinton was expected to be her party’s nominee. There was very little doubt about it from the beginning of the process. And although Bernie Sanders put up a good fight, she won convincingly and put on one hell of a convention and, as we saw during the debate the other night, demonstrated why she is where she is. What Turner says is infected with the fashionable notion that Clinton and Trump are equally repulsive, when clearly they are not.

But that isn’t really my main objection to Turner’s piece. It’s this:

So we end up once more with a choice that is far from perfect, but what can we do about it? Some are talking about staying at home on election day and that is their choice. If those people don’t want to take the time to study the candidates we do have and their stances on various issues and their personal qualities that could either make them great presidents or poor ones, then I would prefer they stayed at home and leave the voting to those who care enough to take the time to study the candidates and the issues.

If we elect Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton and it doesn’t work out, it won’t be the end of the world. The Republic will survive. In two years, we can make changes at mid-term elections in the House and Senate, and two years later, we will select two more candidates to run for president.

This is very dangerous thinking in 2016. It’s certainly true we have never in the history of American presidential politics picked a perfect president. That isn’t exactly a profound bit of punditry. But to put Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, after what we have witnessed the last 16 months, into the same class of un-perfect candidates is ridiculous. And to make this a we-can-fix-it-later-if-we-have-to election grossly understates the perils involved.

This isn’t a contest we can take so damned lightly. The fact that Turner felt it necessary to call his piece, “If Donald Trump is elected, it won’t be the end of the world,” should have told him something. And what it should have told him is that a lot of people, especially people in the foreign policy and national security establishment, are scared to death of what might happen if an obviously unqualified and temperamentally unstable man with a fondness for Russian thugs gets in touch with real power.

A voter’s job in this election is not, as Turner suggests, deciding whether Clinton or Trump will make a “great” president or a “poor” one, in terms of how history might judge either in the future. The job in this utterly unique case is to make reasonably sure there is a future in which historians can make such judgments! The voter’s job is, and has been since June of last year, deciding whether an unstable reality TV star is a man Image result for trump and clinton debateAmericans should trust with the world’s most powerful military and nuclear arsenal, with weapons that could very well mean the end of the world, at least as we know it today. And unless Turner has some evidence that the cartoonish con man we have been watching for over a year now will somehow transform himself into a stable, steady, solicitous president, he should spare us the “there’s always the next election” nicety and stop trying to convince voters that they are not making an existential decision. With Trump in the race, that’s exactly what they are doing.

And speaking of the world as we know it today, that 2000 election Turner references in his accounting of his Middle School teaching experience is the perfect example of why he is wrong to so casually assert that we can, when the next election comes around, “make changes” that will, presumably, mitigate the damage done. The damage done to the world by George W. Bush’s Iraq war wasn’t undone in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, or 2014. And it won’t be undone in 2016. The decisions President Bush made changed the world in ways that cannot be fixed anytime soon, if ever. And those world-altering decisions were made by a mentally stable man.

We cannot afford to think that this current election is like any other we have ever seen in our history. We cannot afford to think that our choice is between two imperfect candidates whose personal flaws are roughly the same. On one side we have a woman with unquestionable knowledge, extraordinary experience in government, and a steady temperament. On the other side we have a man who knows nothing about world affairs, who claims he knows how government works because he purchases corrupt politicians, and who has an ego so fragile he can be provoked by an insult on Morning Joe. We cannot afford to think that a President Trump’s mistakes—and we know all presidents make mistakes—can be fixed in two years or four.

Will a President Trump end the world as we know it? That we even have to ask the question tells you all you need to know about the existential nature of this election.

[Image: Timothy A. Clary, Getty Images]


Why The Fight Over Contraceptives Is Stupid

We’ve had good economic news lately (although you wouldn’t know it by listening to Republicans). Now some good news on another issue. From Vox (“It’s official: teen births hit an all-time low in 2015“):

The article notes that sexual activity among teens is roughly the same (although there is some evidence that it has been declining recently). So what’s most likely going on? This:

The share of sexually active teens who used at least one type of birth control the last time they had sex rose from 78 percent in 2007 to 86 percent in 2012. More teens gravitated toward better types of birth control — like pills, IUDs, or implants — rather than relying on lower-quality birth control like condoms.

Sex education and contraceptives matter. Fighting over such things is beyond dumb.

Donnie Finally Admits He Is A Sleazy, Cheating, Uncaring Freeloader

Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke so eloquently and powerfully at the Democratic National Convention, said to Donald Trump, “You have sacrificed nothing.” And last night the Republican candidate continued to prove how right Mr. Kahn was.

Anyone so unprepared, so purposely unprepared, really demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the office he seeks and the people from whom he seeks it. It is that simple. If a man doesn’t care enough to get ready, to bone up in order to show he knows something about the world and the way it works and has worked, to curb his weird enthusiasm for juvenile mannerisms and mumbling, then he should just admit he doesn’t think the job is worthy of his time and effort. He should just say that he believes that we the people aren’t Image result for clinton trump debateworth even the smallest sacrifice. We aren’t worth time away from his Twitter feed.

But Trump, tiredly, soldiered on last night, if for no other reason than this isn’t about him becoming president as much as it is about him not becoming a loser and being permanently branded as one. He made it clear last night that he cares nothing about those poor suckers who buy his hats and his hogwash, otherwise he would have put some effort into presenting himself as someone other than the man—half con man and half clown—he has always been. And he made it clear this morning, as he suggested that the debate was somehow rigged against him, that not losing for the sake of not losing is his only priority.

But Trump did perform a valuable service during the debate. We found out some important things about him, all of which he confirmed himself.

First, we found out he is willing to admit that he is a sleazeball, or at least very close to being a sleazeball. He told us that he “was going to say something extremely rough to Hillary, to her family. And I said to myself I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate, it’s not nice.” He clarified what he meant after the debate:

Everything I wanted to say I got out except for the transgressions of Bill…I’m very happy that I was able to hold back on the indiscretions with respect to Bill Clinton because I have a lot of respect for Chelsea Clinton and I just didn’t want to say what I was going to say.

Except that everyone knew what he was talking about when he brought it up during the debate. And then he doubled down on it afterwards and said he might do it “at the next debate.” So, Trump may just be one debate away from personally and definitively confirming he is a creep.

Then there was his response to Clinton’s charge that he had cheated people who worked for him:

CLINTON: …if your main claim to be president of the United States is your business, then I think we should talk about that. You know, your campaign manager said that you built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys.

And, indeed, I have met a lot of the people who were stiffed by you and your businesses, Donald. I’ve met dishwashers, painters, architects, glass installers, marble installers, drapery installers, like my dad was, who you refused to pay when they finished the work that you asked them to do.

We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do…

TRUMP: Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work…

He didn’t deny that he “built a lot of businesses on the backs of little guys,” which is what Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, suggested when she was working for Ted Cruz. No, he didn’t deny it. He actually confirmed it. Right before our eyes.

Then there was another admission:

CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. We had the worst financial crisis, the Great Recession, the worst since the 1930s. That was in large part because of tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy, failed to invest in the middle class, took their eyes off of Wall Street, and created a perfect storm.

In fact, Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis. He said, back in 2006, “Gee, I hope it does collapse, because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.” Well, it did collapse.

TRUMP: That’s called business, by the way.

He confirmed that he had “rooted for the housing crisis” that, as Clinton pointed out, cost “nine million people” their jobs and wiped out “$13 trillion in family wealth.” He confirmed that all that misery was an opportunity for him to make some money. A real man of the people.

Next, there was the damaging admission about what’s in his tax returns:

CLINTON: Well, I think you’ve seen another example of bait-and- switch here. For 40 years, everyone running for president has released their tax returns. You can go and see nearly, I think, 39, 40 years of our tax returns, but everyone has done it. We know the IRS has made clear there is no prohibition on releasing it when you’re under audit.

So you’ve got to ask yourself, why won’t he release his tax returns? And I think there may be a couple of reasons. First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he 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: That makes me smart.

Nothing like a “smart” freeloader. As Clinton pointed out, “if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.” And Trump did not deny that he pays zero in taxes. He didn’t deny that he is a freeloader, that he enjoys tremendous benefits of living in this country without having to pay anything for them. In labor union parlance, someone who enjoys the benefits of a union without paying dues is a scab. So, Trump admits he is a scab. The people who build his buildings and take care of his golf courses have to pay taxes. The rubes who buy his hats have to pay taxes. The goons who beat up people at his rallies have to pay taxes. But not Trump. He gets a free ride. As Khizr Khan said, he has sacrificed nothing.

So, last night we got a personal confirmation from Trump that,

♦ He was unwilling to sacrifice some time and effort to prepare for a presidential debate.
♦ He is, or will soon demonstrate that he is, a sleazeball.
♦ He cheated “little guys” out of the money he owed them.
♦ He rooted for the housing crisis that devastated millions of Americans.
♦ He hasn’t paid a dime in federal taxes for the privilege of living in our country.

I’d say the debate went fairly well.

Between Trump’s Ears, By Zach Galifianakis

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis has won at least one Emmy Award. If you have ever seen it, you would know why. It is, uh, unique. Barack Obama has appeared on the “interview” show, which usually features celebrities. Hillary Clinton made an appearance last week and not only survived, but was quite funny and entertaining (some 30 million people watched the interview on the first day; I posted it below in case you missed it).

Naturally, Galifianakis was asked if he would interview Donald Trump. Here was his response:

No. That doesn’t interest me. Doing it the other way doesn’t interest me. He’s the kind of guy who likes attention – bad attention or good attention. So you’re dealing with a psychosis there that’s a little weird.

I wouldn’t have somebody on that’s so mentally challenged. I feel like I’d be taking advantage of him. And you can print that.

The comedian had this to say about Hillary Clinton:

I was very impressed with her. I can’t say that she probably has the same thing to say about me. [Laughs] We chatted about a book I didn’t expect her to know about. We kind of bonded over this book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” [by Neil Postman].

I walked away from that whole interview going, “She’s cool.” I thought she was cool, and I don’t know if that was my impression of her before that.

How about that? Most of the comedians in this country have figured out the essentials of this race. Now if only journalists on TV could figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

The Trump Dilemma And An Appeal To Anson Burlingame, Part 2

Anson graciously responded to my last post. You can read his response here. I have decided I have to continue this exchange. There is just too much at stake. And besides that, it is therapeutic for me:


I appreciate your response, but I confess I am somewhat bewildered by it. 

You seem to be in the grip of the media hysteria (especially on Fox, where you said you were watching TV coverage) surrounding a series of protests in Charlotte, a couple of which evolved into dangerous and counter-productive riots as time went by and law-abiding folks went home. Naturally, news cameras go to where the action is. That is why they weren’t showing scenes from protests in Tulsa. Not much to see there but peaceful protesters. All I ask, regarding the issues related to those protests, is for a little perspective. And you won’t get that perspective by listening to “the on scene reporter at Fox” or Megyn Kelly. However, a discussion about BLM and other issues surrounding police interaction (even black police interaction, as happened in Charlotte) with black people will have to wait for another day (as will a discussion about the white supremacists who are championing Trump). I want to stick to the point of my appeal to you.

You say you still have “confusing thoughts” regarding your vote. You say you are asking yourself who “will do the least harm to America for the next four years.” Then you go on to suggest that the only way Hillary Clinton will get your vote is if she expresses the willingness to “compromise in today’s political divide” and “shows a willingness to at least try to understand her opposition.” Those demands are part of the reason why your response bewilders me. Forget for a moment the idea that compromise is a two-way street and Republicans in Congress have shown almost no willingness to compromise. That has been painfully obvious. And forget the fact that Mrs. Clinton understands her opposition all too well, which is part of the reason she got herself into that whole private server mess. 

Forget all that because the question you asked originally, “who will do the least harm to America for the next four years,” is very close to the right question. And nothing you are requiring of Hillary Clinton has anything to do with answering that question. Why? Because this isn’t an election about policy or ideology or party. We shouldn’t care, at this point, what is his or her position on education policy. Or which one will submit balanced budgets or push for or not push for entitlement reform. Or which one can stand on a debate stage and speak a coherent paragraph or two.

This election is about one thing: preventing an unhinged man with a dangerous personality disorder from becoming president—a man who admires authoritarians like Putin, who would jeopardize NATO and other relationships we have around the world, who doesn’t care about nuclear proliferation, and who does not, in any way, have the temperament to command a small fleet of red wagons, let alone the world’s most powerful military.

I will leave you with the following scenario, based on your experience as a commander of a nuclear submarine, which means you know the temperament required and the challenges involved in such an assignment:

Imagine, in the middle of a hot period during the Cold War, you were Admiral Rickover. Imagine you had to choose a commander of a nuclear submarine. Unfortunately for you, there are only three choices available. Here are their qualifications:

CANDIDATE ONE: Understands how to operate a nuclear reactor and nuclear propulsion systems. Understands the weapons systems on board. Can drive the submarine and chart its position. Knows the communications and intelligence equipment inside and out. Has years of experience involving both shore assignments and command deployments for the U.S. Navy, which is why this candidate is subject to second-guessing for her decision making. 

CANDIDATE TWO: Spent 20 years in the Navy as a Merchant Marine, but most of it was desk duty on shore because he was known for smoking vast quantities of marijuana while serving on civilian ships. Understands nothing about nuclear reactors and nuclear propulsion systems, nor does he know anything about the weapons systems on board nuclear subs. But he says he is willing to learn, if you give him the job.

CANDIDATE THREE: Has never been in the military. Understands nothing about nuclear power or weapons systems or the people who do. Has had no maritime experience other than the fact he does own a yacht, a yacht that someone else commands, even though this candidate claims he “knows more” than the yacht captain.

Those are your only choices, Admiral. Remember, though, by your own admission Candidate Two cannot get the approval of the Secretary of the Navy, which in this scenario is the American electorate. So, you are left with Candidate One or Candidate Three. 

And that is what this election is about.


The Trump Dilemma And An Appeal To Anson Burlingame

As all you locals know, Anson Burlingame is a man with whom I have spent considerable time and effort debating on this blog and in the Joplin Globe and on his own (now retired) blog. I would characterize him as a conservative with a libertarian streak. Recently I, and others, have been interacting with him over the “Trump Dilemma”: should a conservative opposed to Trump vote for a third party (Anson’s tentative position) or swallow hard and vote for Hillary Clinton in order to make a vote against Trump doubly effective?

The following is my latest, and perhaps last, attempt to convince him to take the latter course:


Sorry this is so long. But passions are high.

Nobody is trying to lecture you. We are trying to reason with you. You love your country and you have served it honorably. We love our country, too. And we want to keep loving it. How, we ask, can you (or anyone) turn it over (or risk turning it over by not voting for Trump’s only viable rival) to someone so temperamentally unqualified and imbalanced, so ignorant and bigoted, so self-serving and demonstrably corrupt? 

If you think I am going to spend any time, any time whatsoever, trying to convince you that Hillary’s policy proposals (domestically, especially) are something you, as a conservative, could accept, you’re mistaken. That wouldn’t do one bit of good and we both know that. She is a Democrat with left-of-center views. You’re not. You have right-of-center views. There isn’t much of a match there. And besides that, I realize how much Hillary has been demonized in the conservative press and, alas, in the “mainstream” press. That is tough to overcome in a few blog posts. Thus, my appeal is directed elsewhere.

There is one thing that we all can see with our own eyes: Trump is truly an existential threat to the America we have known. That’s not election year hyperbole. You can see it and I can see it and all but the willfully blind can see it. He doesn’t make much of an effort to hide his instability and ignorance. He merely uses bluster to bully his way through. There isn’t an inch of depth to anything he says. He doesn’t understand our history. He has no clue about the military. He has no conception of how world relations work. He doesn’t know the difference between Shia and Sunni or, for that matter, the difference between a nuclear triad and a triathlon. Our allies fear he will win and wreck what is right with the world. Our enemies, particularly Russia and ISIS, want him to win. Think about that. And then think about it again.

Once-respected Republicans in the national security and intelligence business have overwhelmingly voiced their fear of a Trump presidency. They have said he is a dangerous man. Many of them have said that although they disagree with Hillary Clinton on a number of things, that they have to overlook those disagreements because the stakes are so damned high. That is all I am trying to say here. Sure, you would have a lot of problems with a Clinton presidency, no doubt about that. But at least you will know there will be another election to follow (and potentially correct the previous result) because with Hillary Clinton you have good reason to believe the world won’t go completely to hell in between. We have no reason, absolutely no reason, to believe such a thing under a “President Trump.”

Finally, I have tried to think of the reverse situation, one in which you would be asking me to vote against my ideological or partisan or other preferences in order to stop a Trump-like Democrat from taking office. I confess I can’t think of any potential candidate on my side who would fit. Not one. I have, though, come up with a man from recent history that I will use as a type of candidate I can honestly tell you I would vote against, if he were around today and had received the Democratic nomination. That man is George Wallace.

I hesitate to use Wallace (Democrats rejected him three times as their presidential candidate) because although he was a segregationist and populist (before he repented later in life of his racism and ran, again, as a Democrat in the 1972 primaries), he wasn’t a totally ignorant fool like Trump. He knew how government worked, and if he had become president during his days as a segregationist, there isn’t any reason that I know of to have feared his starting a nuclear holocaust (accidentally or on purpose) or some other such thing. 

Having said all that about Wallace and stipulated that he wasn’t in Trump’s league in terms of an existential risk to the country, I will use him to stand in for a candidate that might set up a “Trump Dilemma” for Democrats like me. If a Wallace-like segregationist were, God forbid, to ever get the Democratic Party nomination, I can assure you that if the polls showed him with even a slight chance of becoming president, I would not vote third party. I’d vote for the candidate with the best chance of beating him. That candidate would, by default, have to be a Republican. And so long as that Republican opposed the bigotry and racist politics of my Wallace-like figure—and showed at least a minimum understanding of how the world works—he or she would have my vote—even if I otherwise stood in ideological opposition to such a candidate. You have my word on that, even as I appreciate the cognitive dissonance of it all. Merely electing such a racist demagogue to high office would do more damage to the country than, say, another tax cut for billionaires.

That lands me here: I, in fact, have voted for Republicans for president. I now vote for Democrats, but it isn’t inconceivable to me that someday I would, depending on how the political parties conduct themselves, vote for a Republican again. And that is the key, Anson. It depends on how the parties conduct themselves. Just look at what has happened to the Republican Party under Trump and ask yourself if that is the proper conduct. Of course it isn’t. And then ask yourself: what is the best way to send a message to the offending political party?

I sent a message to the GOP in 2004, when I voted for my first Democrat, John Kerry. My message was simple: the Republican Party no longer represented my interests and I refused to vote for a guaranteed-to-lose third party that would have only helped the GOP stay in power. I wanted my vote to essentially count twice by not only withholding it from the Republicans, but by giving to the Democrats. It turned out Bush stayed in power anyway. But my conscience was clear, especially when the economy collapsed in 2008. No one could blame my vote for that. 

Again, there is no lecturing here, Anson. I am just trying to, as I said, appeal to reason and common sense. In the end, you and I cast just one vote each. Neither is likely to affect the outcome in the slightest. My efforts to convince you not to vote for a third party and thereby theoretically enhance Trump’s chances to win are somewhat personal. We have gone at each other, mostly with civility, for more than 7 1/2  years. I continue to believe that I have not misjudged you, in terms of your understanding of and appreciation for what is at stake here, when it comes to Trump and the national and world threat he represents—and when it comes to “throwing away” your vote (I think those were your words). My plea is not to throw away that vote. Make it count. At least to those of us who have known and argued with you over the years, mostly with what I won’t hesitate to call mutual respect.

Maybe in the end it will turn out my judgment is faulty. If so, that’s on me not on you. You are who you are and obviously not subject to my judgments or expectations. Both of us are responsible for our own choices, in this case our own history-making votes. I can at least say that my old sparring partner will not actually vote directly for Trump—a prediction I confidently made to someone earlier this year. That may not be enough to stop Trump in this third-party-heavy race (where Johnson and Stein are polling too high for my comfort), but it does say something good about you in that you refuse to follow most conservatives and Republicans into a very dark place.

As far as the larger picture, the collective electorate, I am hoping that there are a lot of Anson Burlingame conservatives out there who, in the end, will do the best thing for the country and hold their noses, if they have to, and vote against a dangerous demagogue by voting for Hillary Clinton.


The Orange Slime Runneth Over

Taking a break from cataloging Trump’s lies, bigotry, racism, and intimations of violence, let’s add to the list of things we know about Trump involving fraud and cheating and pay-for-play corruption. Here’s two new ones:

Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems

Trump Won Tax Breaks While Donating Tens Of Thousands To Corrupt Official

Meanwhile, there is this:

Republican Voters Are Unifying Behind Donald Trump

Conclusion: The more we learn about Trump’s fraud, cheating, and corruption—added to what we already know about his lies, bigotry, racism, and fondness for violence—the more Republicans like him. Onward Christian soldiers!

Good Cops, Bad Cops

We have all witnessed the amazing police work in New York and New Jersey the past few days. President Obama has praised their quick and “outstanding” work in apprehending Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is the only suspect so far. Who could argue with that?

Most of the work the police do is good work and they deserve much credit for what they usually do. There is no doubt policing can be a difficult job sometimes, especially when officers are confronted with potentially life-and-death situations. But some of the work the police do is bad work, bad policing. We can’t ignore that fact. And we can’t ignore the fact that such bad police work is often, though not exclusively, directed toward people of color. Like in Tulsa last Friday, as told by the Associated Press:

A black man fatally shot by a white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer responding to a stalled vehicle had no weapon on him or in his SUV, the city’s police chief said Monday.

Local and federal authorities are investigating the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said before the department released dashcam footage of Friday’s shooting.

“We will achieve justice in this case,” Jordan said.

Meanwhile, family members and community leaders who have viewed the footage said it clearly shows that Crutcher’s hands were in the air when he was shot.

“We saw that Terence did not have any weapon. Terence did not make any sudden movements. We saw that Terence was not being belligerent,” one of the attorneys for the family, Damario Solomon-Simmons, said at a news conference separate from one police held….

Authorities said the shooting occurred after an officer stopped to investigate a vehicle in the middle of a road. Police said Crutcher approached after officers arrived to assist.

Police spokeswoman Jeanne MacKenzie has said Crutcher refused orders to put up his hands.

Police say Tulsa officer Betty Shelby fired the fatal shot, while officer Tyler Turnbough used a stun gun on Crutcher. Both officers are white, MacKenzie said Monday.

Here is an AP story on the ACLU’s reaction to the shooting:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma is calling for criminal charges in a Tulsa police officer’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, saying he was left to bleed to death while officers stood by without rendering aid.

ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel says Terence Crutcher’s death on Friday shows “how little regard” Tulsa police officers have for minority communities.

Crutcher was shot to death by a Tulsa officer who was responding to a report of a stalled vehicle. Dashcam and aerial footage released Monday by police showed Crutcher lying on the street, bleeding, and no one immediately administered medical aid.

A Tulsa police spokeswoman, Jeanne MacKenzie, said she couldn’t comment Monday on whether officers have a set protocol on when to provide medical assistance.

Here are two videos released so far. If you see a reason—any reason—to shoot Mr. Crutcher, please point it out to me:

Did Donald Trump Hire Someone To Bomb New York City And New Jersey? Some People Are Saying He Did.

Just think about it. Donald Trump had a bad day on Friday. He not only got a lot of hyper-negative press for pulling a con on journalists—by pretending he was going to have a press conference and renounce his birtherism when he really used the event to get free publicity for his new hotel and himself—he also got a lot of bad press for launching yet another Big Lie that it was Hillary Clinton who was responsible for the birther movement (a lie his surrogates spent Sunday perpetuating with Goebbels-like intensity; more below). By all measures, it was a bad day and a bad weekend for Trump.

And there was no better way to make everyone forget about birtherism and Trump’s pathological lying—and, of course, look to him for “tough and smart and vigilant” leadership—than to get a shiny new terrorist attack in the news.  And since terrorists didn’t seem to be cooperating, Trump had to do something. He had to act fast. There was no time to lose.

Now, rightly, you should demand to see just what evidence there is to support the claim that Trump may have been involved in the terrorist attacks on Saturday night. Well, I will use a patented Trumpian analysis of the “facts” and list the evidence for you:

  1. Some people are saying Trump was involved.
  2. Trump’s campaign had riled the press on Friday and he was getting a lot of negative coverage, including journalists actually saying, finally, that he was lying about birtherism. Motive.
  3. Before any local official confirmed what had happened Saturday night, Trump stepped off his plane in Colorado and unequivocally stated that “a bomb went off in New York.” How did he know that? How did he know the explosion wasn’t some kind of gas leak that got ignited and not a bomb at all?
  4. The first blast was in Manhattan. Trump lives in Manhattan.
  5. Other explosions happened in New Jersey. Trump once had casinos in New Jersey and admits he has lots of connections there.
  6. A person police say may be involved in the bombings is a naturalized citizen originally from Afghanistan who now lives in New Jersey. That fits nicely, so nicely, into Trump’s narrative about why we should be scared of all such people.
  7. Dotrump-and-terror-suspecdtnald Trump said almost exactly a year ago—coincidence?—the following to CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I have friends that are Muslims.” Was one of his friends the bomber (or bombers) in New York and New Jersey? Some people are saying they might be.
  8. In December of last year Trump said, “Many Muslim friends of mine are in agreement with me. They say, ‘Donald, you brought something up to the fore that is so brilliant and so fantastic.'” What could be more brilliant and fantastic than a terrorist attack executed just in time to change Trump’s negative coverage on the campaign trail?
  9. Again in December of last year he said, “I have been called by more Muslims saying what you are doing is a great thing, not a bad thing. Believe it or not, I have a lot of friends that are Muslim, and they call me…” So, Trump has admitted he talks to a lot of Muslims. Did he talk to the bomber or bombers in New York and New Jersey? Somewhere, some people are saying he may have.
  10. Trump recently had killing on his mind when he suggested we take the guns away from Hillary Clinton’s security detail and, “Let’s see what happens to her.”

In addition to this “evidence,” we can also see that the Trump campaign, as mentioned, has resorted to keeping alive a Big Lie about Hillary Clinton starting the birther movement, a lie so big and brazen that it would make Joseph Goebbels blush. To remind you, Goebbels was Hitler’s Reich Minister of Propaganda. He famously said,

The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.

Just look at the Big Lie repeated on Sunday by some of Trump’s top propagandists:

♦ Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager, told Face the Nation: “This started with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, number one. Number two, it was Donald Trump who put the issue to rest when he got President Obama to release his birth certificate years later…”

♦ CNN’s Jake Tapper tried to correct the record with Chris Christie, the biggest Trump hack in the country:

TAPPER: Just as a point of fact, Donald Trump did not accept when Barack Obama released his birth certificate in 2011. He kept up this whole birther thing until Friday, that’s five years.

CHRISTIE: That’s just not true. It’s just not true that he kept it up for five years.

TAPPER: Sure he did.

CHRISTIE: It’s just not true.

TAPPER: It is true.

CHRISTIE: No, Jake. It wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis until then. And when the issue was raised, he made very clear the other day what he position is.


♦ Finally, there was the chairman of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus. He said on Face the Nation:

People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to tip the scale. And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Hillary Clinton or her campaign were definitely involved in this issue. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.

As you can see, Trump and his campaign officials and surrogates (and many conservative media outlets) are willing to employ propaganda techniques in the Goebbels style, “even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Let’s be clear: Every journalist in the country knows that Hillary Clinton had nothing to do with the birther movement. In fact, the Trump campaign, accidentally, proved she had nothing to do with it when it released a transcript of an interview with Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, Patti Solis Doyle. She said that either a volunteer or a paid staffer forwarded “an email that promoted the conspiracy” and that Hillary Clinton “made the decision immediately to let that person go.” Immediately. She didn’t need five years.

And that would be the end of the Hillary-started-it lie in any other universe except a Trump-Goebbels one. And if Trump and his campaign are willing to use such appalling Reich-like tactics, who could put it past them to hire a bomber or two in New York and New Jersey as a way of changing the subject? Let me paraphrase Priebus:

People get convicted every single day with circumstantial evidence that is enough to tip the scale. And by the preponderance of evidence before us, Donald Trump or his campaign were definitely involved in the terrorist attacks in New York and New Jersey. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.

I want to end this piece of Trumpish speculation with something Vin Weber—a former GOP congressman from Minnesota and once a top adviser to then-Speaker Newt Gingrich—said to Jonathan Martin of The New York Times about Donald Trump:

It’s frightening. Our politics, because of him, is descending to the level of a third-world country. There’s just nothing beneath him. And I don’t know why we would think he would change if he became president. That’s what’s really scary.

“There’s just nothing beneath him,” says a fellow Republican. Case closed.

Liar. Period.

“If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns. Absolutely. I would love to do that.”

-Donald J.  Trump, May 14, 2014

Trump: I Need A Deplorable To Assassinate Hillary Clinton

The birther “clean up” having failed, Trump had to lure the press away from the issue. What better way than, once again, putting out a call for Second Amendment nuts to Second Amendment Hillary Clinton to death? I mean, it didn’t bother too many folks the first time he suggested such a thing five weeks ago, so why not give it another shot just to stir up a new controversy that journalists will talk about until the next new one comes along?

“Take their guns away,” Trump said of the “body guards” protecting Mrs. Clinton, and then, “Let’s see what happens to her.” Someone should remind the Orange Menace that if he loses this election, his Secret Service detail will eventually go away. Then we’ll see what happens to him. And you know what will hImage result for second amendment remediesappen to him? He’ll have to invest a ton of money in private bodyguards and invest a ton of time in worrying about whether one of the billions of people he has offended will embrace the Second Amendment remedies he not-so-subtly champions. After all, they know where he lives.

Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, tweeted out last night, “Republicans across country should be forced to say whether they are OK with Trump’s comments inciting violence against Hillary Clinton.” Nice try, Brian. But an appeal to decency hasn’t worked in the past and there is little evidence it will work this time. No matter what percentage of Trump supporters they represent, Republican candidates need the deplorables to win and there is no sense in pissing them off by repudiating their champion.

Jimmy Fallon And The Normalization Of Bigotry

This morning, Trump will tell Americans two more big lies.

First, he will tell us that it was Hillary Clinton who started the birther movement. Second, he will tell us that he now believes President Obama was born in America because it was he, Trump, who forced Obama to release his birth certificate. And he will tell us those two big lies while he advertises his brand new hotel in Washington, D.C.

That’s how a bigoted, buffoonish con man, whose business history is full of unpaid debts, fraudulent schemes and bankruptcies, intends to make a buck off this presidential race. And, for the most part, television will help him do it. Journalists simply aren’t up to the task of relentlessly exposing him. On the contrary, it is television journalists who are normalizing bigotry and making a quasi-fascist seem well within the bounds of American life.

Image result for jimmy fallon and trump hairHow does such normalization happen? Well, how many times have you seen Jimmy Fallon, an affable late night comedian, run his fingers through Trump’s strange hair? I know I’ve seen it at least a dozen times in just a few hours of surveying the news channels, including Good Morning America this morning, where it was part of the lead report and where the reporter labeled Trump a “good sport” for allowing Fallon to compromise his coiffure. Trump may be a con man. Trump may be a crook. Trump may be a fascist. But at least he is a good sport about it all.

To Jimmy Fallon and America’s TV journalists: We’ve seen years of Trump hate speech, countless lies, naked appeals to fear and anxiety and prejudice, business and other ties of affection to a ruthless Russian dictator, and, finally, a frightening fondness for fascism. And all of that you have now normalized—Americanized—by that little ratings-grabbing stunt. I hope, should Trump win, you all have a good time explaining to your kids and grandkids—if you get the chance—why you felt it necessary to turn such a man into, first, a good sport and, then, a dangerous president.

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Trump, Pence, And Deplorable Math

In mathematical notation an ellipsis (…) is frequently used to mean “continue on in like manner.” Suppose someone wanted to indicate all of the positive integers between one and, say, 31 million. One could obviously start writing down all the numbers, all 31 million of them. Good luck with that. Or one could simply write this: “1, 2, 3…31,000,000.” That little ellipsis is handy and pretty simple. And so is this: If you want to know why Mike Pence refuses to call David Duke deplorable, it all comes down to math. It comes down to that “1,2,3…” above.

If Pence conceded that, yes, Duke is deplorable, he has begun the count of just how many Trump supporters are, in fact, part of that “basket of deplorables” Hillary Clinton described. Her self-admitted “grossly generalistic” calculation that “half of Trump’s supporters” belong in that basket may, for all we know, grossly underestimate the number of “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic” folks who are behind Trump. Such a thing isn’t exactly easy to quantify, but you have to start somewhere and Pence doesn’t want anyone to start counting and adding them all up.

But let’s do start counting. Let’s start counting with David Duke. Is he a Trump supporter? Absolutely. Is he deplorable? According to Republican Joe Scarborough he is. And on the set of Morning Joe this morning, all agreed with Joe that it should be easy for Mike Pence Image result for the deplorablesto say David Duke is deplorable. I think it is fair to say that most Americans would agree with Joe, too. So, that’s 1. And that number 1 is important because now we are not talking about whether some of Trump’s supporters are deplorable, we are talking about how many are deplorable. Again, it is now in the math.

Let’s try number 2. A man named Jared Taylor founded a “think tank” called the New Century Foundation. Taylor also manages a website called “American Renaissance.” He is a white nationalist. The Southern Poverty Law Center has some representative quotes from Taylor, including this:

Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.

Taylor’s think tank embraces the idea that “the presence” in America of so many dysfunctional blacks is a big “disadvantage” and that “there are more black psychopaths and more psychopathic behavior among blacks.” You get the idea. Helpfully, Buzzfeed pointed out that Taylor is “an avid supporter” of Donald Trump:

In a recent post, Taylor contended, “If Mr. Trump loses, this could be the last chance whites have to vote for a president who could actually do something useful for them and for their country.”

Now, I think it is fair to say that most Americans would publicly (forget privately for this exercise) admit that Trump supporter Jared Taylor is deplorable. If David Duke is deplorable, so is Taylor. That’s number 2.

Now, let’s get a little bit closer to the mainstream. How about Ann Coulter? She appears on Fox a lot and also on MSNBC now and then. She is a bestselling author and her latest book is “In Trump We Trust.” Clearly she is a Trump supporter. Is she deplorable? Oh, I dunno, let’s look and see if she might be, among other things, xenophobic:

A lot of people are upset when I talk about Mexican child rapes, Muslims clitorectomies, Muslim honor killings…white people don’t do that. America is not used to these types of crimes. We are bringing in cultures where child rape is very common.

Again, I think most Americans would (publicly) concede that the person who made that statement—and there are plenty more like it—deplorable. Certainly, most American women would find deplorable a woman who said, “I think there’s a reason the words ‘bitchy’ and ‘hysteria’ come from females.” Or who made a sexist statement like this:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream. It’s a personal fantasy of mine.

So, Coulter is number 3. Now we are at the ellipsis. We’ve got to get to the 31 million mark. But first, why 31 million? Oh, that’s fairly straightforward. Jamelle Bouie, Slate’s chief political correspondent, wrote a few days ago:

In the RealClearPolitics average of the presidential race, Trump takes support from 42.9 percent of registered or likely voters. Half of that, given more than 146 million registered voters, is about 31 million people—right around 13 percent of all voting-age adults.

Now you know where the 31 million number came from. So, was Hillary Clinton right that so many folks in America belong in a basket of deplorables? Well, let’s first note three things:

  • Prior to her remarks, Hillary Clinton admitted she was being “grossly generalistic.”
  • After her remarks she admitted that being so generalistic is “never a good idea” and she was “wrong” to say “half.”
  • There are many—way too many—deplorable Democrats, too.

Given that, let’s quickly get to whether she was even close to the right percentage of Trump supporters who hold bigoted views (the bigotry was, really, the point she was trying to make). Given that it is difficult to measure such things, there is some strong evidence that Clinton was onto something. I’ll let The Nation’s Joan Walsh sum it up:

On Saturday, she walked back her claim that bigots make up “half” of Trump backers, but not her charge about the role of bigotry in his rise. But she needn’t have. Journalists like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Jamelle Bouie, andJudd Legum have shown that Clinton was right. Two-thirds of Trump supporters believe President Obama isn’t an American (Trump’s first political crusade, you’ll recall.) Sixty percent have “unfavorable views” of Islam, while more than 40 percent believe blacks are “more violent” and “more criminal” than whites. My personal favorite data point: Twenty percent of Trump backers think Lincoln was wrong to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

That sounds like some fairly convincing math to me.

Just For The Record, Here’s A Partial List of Trump Corruption, Not That It Matters All That Much Anymore

I listened this morning, once again, to yet another journalist on television (CNN) grill a Clinton supporter about the Clinton Foundation. On another cable news channel (MSNBC) this morning, the great Joe Conason (who has a new book out on Bill Clinton) got into an argument with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski after they, as they frequently do, alleged corruption related to the Clinton Foundation. Conason insisted that nothing has been found indicating corruption, which didn’t set well with the two smirking hosts. Then, during the next segment, after Conason was long gone off the set, Scarborough attacked him ruthlessly (Conason has already published an account of what happened, along with why Scarborough was totally wrong).

Let’s be clear here: After countless reporters—and countless partisan enemies of the Clintons—over countless days and months have scoured the countryside looking for the tiniest amount of evidence that there was pay-for-play corruption involved with the Clinton Foundation, they haven’t found anything of substance. Yet the issue remains alive and well because those same reporters (and partisan pundits like Scarborough, who as a Congressman helped impeach Bill Clinton) just know there is something there because a) the Clintons are corrupt and b) they are good at hiding their corruption.

In the meantime, there is real corruption related to Donald Trump that, for some reason, doesn’t make good television, judging by how much attention it doesn’t get. Just for the record, I will summarize some of that corruption via an article by The Atlantic’s David A. Graham (“The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet“) and other sources:

  • David Fahrenthold, of The Washington Post, has been reporting for months on just how much money Trump doesn’t give to his own tiny Trump Foundation (none since 2008). What he does do is spend other people’s money, sometimes on things he keeps for himself.
  • In 2010 Trump received an award from the Palm Beach Police Foundation for his “selfless support.” The problem was that the support didn’t come from Trump. It came from another foundation. And it turns out that Trump, on the night he was being honored, may have made much more money for himself than the charity received! Fahrenthold writes:

“The gala was held at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.”

  • “Fahrenthold has also now found five cases where the Trump Foundation reported donations that it did not make.” 
  • Image result for trump corruptionWe all have heard Trump brag about throwing money at politicians so “they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” One of those politicians was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who happened to ask Trump for money when she was considering going after his fraudulent Trump “University.” Illegally, Trump made the donation from his foundation and later had to pay a penalty to the IRS for doing so. Oh, the price for not pursuing justice for Trump’s victims in Florida we now know: $25,000.
  • Trump settled a lawsuit in 1997 in which it was alleged that he groped a woman, Jill Harth, who was trying to discuss a business deal with him in 1992. “If I hadn’t pushed him away, I’m sure he would have just went for it. He was aggressive,” Harth says today. She dropped the lawsuit after Trump paid an undisclosed sum.
  • There have been countless allegations against Trump related to his family’s properties, most famously the lawsuit brought by Richard Nixon’s Justice Department in 1973 against Fred and Donald Trump for housing discrimination against people of color. Another famous case was Trump Plaza casino in New Jersey, which was fined $200,000 for making black employees leave the floor to please a racist and misogynist mobster, Robert LiButti, who had ties to Mafia boss John Gotti. Oh, LiButti’s daughter said Trump was “a liar” for claiming he didn’t know her dad. He knew him very well, she said.
  • Speaking of mobsters, there is plenty of evidence (here and here and here for instance) that Trump has frequently done business with wise guys. Most of us have heard of at least one of those deals, which involved hiring 200 undocumented Polish workers to demolish the building where Trump Tower now stands. David Kay Johnston has looked into all the wise guy connections and wrote: “What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figures—not only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.” Would Hillary Clinton survive even the hint of Mafia connections?
  • Trump’s lawyer for years, the godawful Roy Cohn, was also the lawyer for bosses of the Genovese crime family and the Gambino crime family in New York. Again, imagine if the Clintons’ lawyer had such obvious ties to the Mafia.
  • Then there’s Trump University. If you don’t know about that scam, shame on you or shame on the press or both. At the very least you have heard how Trump attacked the “Mexican” judge hearing the lawsuit against Trump University in California. This fraudulent scheme, maybe more than anything else, demonstrates what a greedy con artist Trump has been his entire adult life. Oh, but Hillary’s emails!
  • Then there is that time when Trump purchased a building full of tenants in New York and wanted to demolish it and build luxury condos. Except the tenants refused to allow Trump to break their leases with the previous owner. Trump’s predictable response was to cut off their heat and water and refuse to make needed repairs and then sue them for $150 million when they complained. Eventually, he lost that fight because, well, he’s a loser. But he has since embraced the idea of using eminent domain for private projects like the one he tried to get done.
  • Back to those 200 undocumented Polish workers who made way for Trump Tower. They were paid, when they actually got paid, substandard wages. As The Atlantic wrote, “The workers didn’t wear hard hats and often slept at the site. When the workers complained about their back pay, they were allegedly threatened with deportation.” Trump, of course, lied—what else is new?—about knowing the undocumented workers were working there. But he not only knew, he was responsible for bringing them in.
  • As far as his business acumen and honesty, here I will quote an entire paragraph from The Atlantic piece:

Trump has been repeatedly fined for breaking rules related to his operation of casinos. In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chiops worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violateImage result for Robert LiButtid operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table. In 1991, the Casino Control Commission fined Trump’s company another $450,000 for buying LiButti nine luxury cars. And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law in lobbying to prevent an Indian casino from opening in the Catskills, for fear it would compete against his Atlantic City casinos.

  • Speaking of undocumented workers, which Trump has made so much of during his campaign, foreign young women who claim they worked for Trump’s modeling agency say they did so without proper documentation and in some cases were encouraged “to deceive customs officials about why they were visiting the United States and told them to lie on customs forms about where they intended to live.”  The young women, some as young as 14, were packed into small apartments (“like a sweatshop,” said one) owned by Trump’s agency, which, predictably, rented the cramped apartments to the models at much higher than market rates. One model told Mother Jones magazine that she woke up one day and thought it was raining on her. But, no, it was merely “a bum pissing on my window, splashing me in my Trump Model bed.” Hopefully the bum had tiny hands like the model’s landlord.
  • The Federal Trade Commission fined Trump $750,000 in 1986 for not disclosing stock purchases designed to “mount a hostile takeover of two casino companies” in New Jersey.
  • Before the real estate crash in 2007-2008, Trump got “heavily involved in condo hotels,” which failed miserably. Many of the buyers sued him and he, as usual, settled without admitting wrongdoing. Trump’s partners in one of those developments, Trump SoHo in Manhattan, featured folks with a “lengthy criminal past.” How’d that happen to such a brilliant businessman?
  • Hillary Clinton herself has tried to make an issue out of Trump cheating small businesses out of money he owed them for work performed or services rendered. Alas, the mainstream press doesn’t care that much about “Contractors, waiters, dishwashers, and plumbers who have worked at Trump projects” getting stiffed by the cheap and phony “billionaire.” I will hand it to USA Today for doing at least one story on it, saying,

    Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

  • Besides the fraudulent Trump University, which Trump owned, there is the fraudulent Trump Institute to which Trump licensed his name and promised to would-be “students” that he would “hand-pick instructors.” He didn’t, of course, and the two get-rich schemers who ran the con filed bankruptcy in 2008, even though the scheme apparently goes on to this day, plagiarized textbooks and all.
  • Trump has overcharged his campaign for the various properties he uses for campaign events or fundraisers. The money used to pay these overcharges comes from his donors and goes to him. So does the money he used to buy up copies of his ridiculous book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. I hope those small-dollar donors enjoy the fact that Trump has spent more than $55,000 of their money buying his own book, the money going into his pocket. (He may have broken campaign rules for doing that, by the way.)
  • Then there is the ongoing scandal of not releasing any tax returns. Journalists, every now and then, will press Trump or his surrogates and campaign officials as to why he won’t do what has become normalized behavior for those seeking the presidency. But when Trump or his spokesmen push back, journalists move on rather quickly. After all, there is Hillary’s “lack of transparency” to get to.
  • Then there is the ongoing scandal over Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin and his possible ties to Russian moneyed interests. This is connected to the scandal over his refusal to release his tax returns and, again, the few journalists who do ask about it are quickly shut down and just as quickly move on to something else. Because there is always something else with Trump. Or there is always the Clinton Foundation that raises never-ending “questions,” even though the answers to those questions point away from corruption.

Meanwhile, the polls are tightening up, as too many Americans, the deplorable among them, embrace a man who may be the most unethical, secretive, greedy, amoral asshole who ever ran for office.

Tanking Market And Tanking Country?

“In the event Donald wins, I have no doubt in my mind the market tanks.”

—Mark Cuban, 9/6/16

A as polls tighten, stand guard over your 401 (k) and let’s take a look at part of what has happened in just a few days on the campaign trail:

  • Trump continues to deny, by his silence, that Barack Obama is our legitimate president who was born in Hawaii.
  • He continues to lie about his opposition to the Iraq war (and NBC’s Matt Lauer, now infamously, allowed him to get away with it during the fiasco called “Commander-in-Chief Forum” that was broadcast to more than 11 million people).
  • He has reiterated his creepy affection for a Russian thug, a former KGB agent that now runs the country, named Vladimir Putin. Other Republicans, including Mike Pence, have enthusiastically joined in this creepy affection. That stuff has been going on for years now, right-wing authoritarians admiring one of their own.
  • trump civilian military crisis.jpgHe has trashed our military and its leaders and, once again, said a Russian dictator—who is responsible for killing untold numbers of his political enemies and who is aggressively anti-American and who has zero respect for American values like democracy and civil liberties and who is indiscriminately killing civilians in Syria and who, by the way, supports the thug in Syria responsible for the death of some 400,000 people—is a stronger “leader” than our current president.
  • Trump, to no one’s surprise apparently, took information he got in an intelligence briefing and, because he says he is “pretty good with body language,” determined that the briefers hated Obama as much as he does. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said former CIA Director Michael Hayden, a man with 40 years of experience in the field and a man who, by the way, is not a Democrat.
  • Trump’s top military adviser and strategic “thinker,” Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn—himself a Putin groupie with what Michael Crowley called “an odd affection for Russia and its authoritarian government”—constantly interrupted those intelligence briefers who were trying to light a candle inside of Trump’s dark mind. Of all people, Chris Christie, not known for his restraint, had to tell Flynn to shut the muck up.
  • Trump, who just recently stopped banning certain news outlets from covering him up close and personal, appeared on a government-owned Russian television network and trashed our “dishonest” media because, every now and then, some journalists actually call him out for one or two of his ten thousand lies. He also trashed Clinton and Obama and American foreign policy. Oh, he also let the Russians off the hook on sabotaging our election process, after he had previously begged them to do more espionage. Did I mention he did all this on a Russian propaganda network that Lt. Gen. Flynn appeared on frequently as an “analyst”?

I don’t know if Mark Cuban is right about the market tanking, should Trump win or even look like he can win in November. A Texas billionaire would know more about that than I would. But I’m much more worried about the country, as we have known it, tanking under a President Trump. Because I don’t think there is much doubt that it will.

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