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.

WORN OUT TAPPER: Okay.

♦ 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.

tweet about fallon1.jpg

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.

Is Trump More Dangerous If He Wins Or Loses?

I am reading an old book on the history of our presidential elections. I’m still early in the book, but one thing that has impressed me so far is just how much the players in the politics at the beginning of our constitutional republic disliked and distrusted each other, sometimes for petty reasons and sometimes for important ones. Yes, just like today.

But another thing that has impressed me is just how smoothly—despite the disagreements large and small and despite the animus between the two fledgling political parties (Federalists and Democratic-Republicans)—the transfer of power, the transition from one partisan administration to another, was conducted. Throughout the years, such smooth transitions, which we too often take for granted, have served us well and kept our democracy stable. In other words, there haven’t been many, if any, Donald Trumps around who, quite openly, would vigorously claim after a loss that the election they ran in was rigged and therefore illegitimate.

And that is despite the fact that in those early, early days the elections were in fact much closer to being rigged than today. The outcome largely depended on insiders in the various state legislatures and in the federal government, all white men and all white men who owned property. And those chosen to be electors in the Electoral College–which actually elects the president—were most often not chosen directly by voters in the states; they were chosen by state legislatures. For instance, in the 1800 election in which Thomas Jefferson was first elected, only four out of the then-sixteen states chose their electors by popular vote. That is why, if you look at popular vote records for those early elections, you won’t find any until 1824. The truth is that the Founders just didn’t trust democracy. They actually wanted a system that they could in fact rig when they needed to.

Today, even though the Electoral College is still in place, everyday folks in all fifty states actually choose the electors when they vote for a presidential candidate and running mate. But in only 29 states and in D.C. are those electors legally bound to vote (the vote is on December 19 this year) for the candidate who won the popular vote in their respective states. But there is an ongoing question as to whether those electors who are legally bound actually can be held accountable for a violation of the law, which in most states is just a misdemeanor anyway. And there is actually nothing, except party pressure, to stop those electors in the 21 states without a binding law from refusing to vote for the candidate who won the popular vote.

This has led to a rather muted discussion this weird election season that the Electoral College should, if Trump actually cons enough voters and wins in November, ignore the preferences of those voters—likely only a plurality—and do what the Founders intended when they designed the Electoral College: thwart the “sudden and violent passions” of the people who have been “seduced by factious leaders.” (Those were Madison’s words in Federalist 62, as he defended the creation of a mostly undemocratic Senate in our Constitution.) Now, if that were to happen, all hell would break loose, which demonstrates that the Founders’ distrust of democracy was either valid or not valid, depending on your view of how dangerous Donald Trump is.

Having said all that, a very important discussion on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today caught my attention. It was a good discussion because Joe Scarborough wasn’t there to muck it up. Steve Schmidt, a Republican who worked on both George W. Bush’s winning campaign in 2004 and John McCain’s losing one in 2008, made a point about how dangerous it could be if Trump loses and claims the election was rigged against him. Watch:

 

When Steve Schmidt suggests that a Trump loss, accompanied by a Trump tantrum full of “rigged election” talk, might undermine “the pillars of how we function as a democracy,” I began to ask myself: Is Trump more dangerous, in the long term, if he wins or if he loses? Why? Because of this:

 

When Schmidt speculates that if Trump loses he may start a billion-dollar media empire that would feed millions of his cult followers lies and half-truths for years and years, it frightens me to the bone. I realize there has been some speculation about this for months, but there is something in the two video clips above that makes it more real for me. Donald Trump, winner or loser, is a genuine threat to our democracy, to the stability of our nation.

Is all this really happening? Huh? Are we now forced to hope that since Trump has failed at so many other things in his life, that a defeated Trump will ultimately fail to create a viable media company that would allow him to continue to take advantage of his low-information devotees and make it nearly impossible to govern the country?

Or is our only hope a thorough trouncing of Trump in November? One that would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind, except those hopelessly deluded by insane conspiracies, that the country truly and definitively rejected the racist-friendly demagogue?

Wow. What a year.

Phyllis Schlafly, R.I.P.

Phyllis Schlafly, born here in Missouri, was one of those unfortunate people who, as far as I could tell, never had a doubt about anything. Never. Ninety-two years of certainty. That made her both an effective activist for reactionary causes and a destructive force in American life.

If there is a God, and if he is judgmental, he will no doubt these days judge newly-dead American Christians on one issue: did you support the fascist-friendly, hate-thy-neighbor candidate for president? Among the other horrible things she said and did, supporting Donald Trump—a pathological liar whose immigration nonsense alone is enough to contradict everything Schalfly’s Jesus is supposed to stand for—was perhaps Schlafly’s worst moment. She told Breitbart.com, the sewage depot for Trump conservatism, that Trump “represents everything the grassroots want.” By grassroots, of course, she meant immigrant-hating white people.

Its necessary here to include a paragraph from the Breitbart piece:

When asked what is the “most pressing issue facing the country today,” Schlafly—without a moment’s pause—said, “Immigration. And that’s why Trump is doing so well. People recognize that is the biggest thing. In the first place, it’s just about destroying our schools. All of these kids, who can’t read in any language, are coming in and expecting to be taught by our English-speaking teachers. And it’s not going to work. And yet we have to babysit them all day.” 

schlaflyIt’s hard for me to imagine any person of compassion uttering such words. It is also hard, as a former Christian, to imagine anyone claiming to follow Christ uttering those words. She was talking about kids—kids. Christian kids mostly. And Jesus had something to say about kids: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Apparently, for Phyllis Schlafly, “Christian” America has much higher standards than the kingdom of heaven. No Hispanic kids, no matter the circumstances, allowed here.

The Christ Phyllis Schlafly claimed she followed had more to say about kids:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

I will let you guess what is worse than a large millstone hanging around your neck at the bottom of the ocean. But if Jesus is true to what Schlafly claimed are his words, she, if she doesn’t know by now, soon will know what is worse. Having said that, I hope that the fiery right-winger, who was such a disturbing disturber of the peace here on Earth, has found eternal peace, even if it is just the peace of nonexistence. Because the hope of nonexistence, as far as I’m concerned, is her only hope of escaping the judgment of the God she pretended to love.

A Labor Day Graph That Shows The Potential Power Of Unions And Why The GOP Hates Them

If you do nothing else on this Labor Day, look at the graph below (hat tip to the great Jared Bernstein). Absorb its two simple messages. It tells you all you need to know about the force for good unionism is (or was), in terms of helping all working class people. And it also tells you all you need to know about why the Republican Party, which represents the interests of the moneyed class, makes constant war against unions:

union membership and income share

Two Strange Cats

In case you missed Trump’s little speech he read to black church folks in Detroit this morning, you ought to know at least three things.

One, the speech began with a lie. Trump, who is one of the strangest cats on Earth, said he wrote it himself. We all know the guy who has, all these years, embraced racist practices and rhetoric, didn’t write it himself. But since Trump can’t open his quasi-anus mouth without telling a lie, it really isn’t surprising that, even in the presumptive presence of God, he began his remarks with a whopper. We all know, of course, that if God were truly present in that church that he would have vaporized the Orange Christian for bearing false witness, but that is another issue.

Two, you ought to know that the guy who allowed Trump to rent for free his church and congregants of color for a campaign prop gave the GOP nominee a prayer shawl that, Bishop Wayne T. Jackson said, has God’s “anointing” all over it. The Bishop knows that the shawl has God’s anointing all over it because the Bishop says he fasted and prayed all over it himself before giving it to the guy who, as someone said this morning, is the Grand Wizard of the birther movement. So, apparently God’s anointing, whatever that is and whatever that is worth, is now on the shoulders of the birthers’ Grand Wizard. Here, look how nice it fits him:

trump prayer shawl

The third thing you ought to know is that Bishop Jackson, besides giving out prayer garments with God-stuff magically prayed into them or rubbed on them or somehow clinging to the threads, has other weird habits that make him, like Trump, one of the strangest cats on Earth:

I’m not sure, but I would guess if Bishop Jackson had asked Trump to get on the floor so he could personally plant some of God’s goodness on his booty, Trump would have done it. And you now what? It wouldn’t have cost him a single vote. The press would have reported:

Trump “softening” by allowing Bishop Jackson to mount him during holy ceremony. Meanwhile, Hillary’s emails continue to raise questions.

Fascism In Phoenix

Donald Trump’s meeting and subsequent public appearance with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday afternoon made more than a few Democrats nervous. Even though Peña Nieto had previously criticized Trump rather harshly, it appeared that he and Trump had cozied up enough to allow Trump to temporarily appear like a conventional politician, rather than the nasty, cartoonish, and darkly divisive figure we have all come to know. But that changed in Phoenix hours later. Or, rather, things went back to normal.

Before we get to the disturbing speech Trump gave last night, it is important to remember exactly what Peña Nieto had said about the GOP nominee. Here’s how Business Insider reported it back in March:

Peña Nieto attacked the “populism” of the Trump campaign, which he said sought to put forward “very easy, simple solutions to problems that are obviously not that easy to solve.”

“And there have been episodes in human history, unfortunately, where these expressions of this strident rhetoric have only led to very ominous situations in the history of humanity,” the Mexican president added.

“That’s how Mussolini got in, that’s how Hitler got in — they took advantage of a situation, a problem perhaps, which humanity was going through at the time, after an economic crisis.

“And I think what (they) put forward ended up at what we know today from history, in global conflagration. We don’t want that happening anywhere in the world,” Peña Nieto said.

Now, the head of a neighboring state wouldn’t compare a U.S. presidential candidate’s “strident rhetoric” to that of the two most notoriously nasty fascists in history without giving it careful thought. Clearly, as a Mexican, Peña Nieto felt the sting of Trump’s rhetoric in a way that caused him to evaluate the Republican leader differently from, say, the way Paul Ryan evaluates him. Likewise, the last two presidents of Mexico, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon, have made similar comments about Trump. Again, Business Insider reported:

Calderon, in comments made in February, made a point similar to Peña Nieto’s.

“He is acting and speaking out against immigrants that have a different skin color than he does, it is frankly racist and [he is] exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” Calderon told reporters in Mexico City. Calderon called Trump a “false prophet.”

Fox has been especially strident in his condemnations of Trump.

In February, Fox said Trump “reminds me of Hitler” and said he would not pay for Trump’s “f—— wall” in another interview that month. In May, he apologized for that comment but doubled down on it just days later, saying, “I’m not going to pay for the f—— wall. … And please don’t take out the f—— full word.”

Clearly, these Mexican leaders saw, and still see, something that, as I said, people like Paul Ryan and other Republicans in power don’t see, or claim they don’t see.

And that leads us to the speech in Phoenix.

If you were anyone but a lily white American with a cultic attachment to Trump, or a Republican lusting for a takeover of the White’s House, you may have felt the same sting from Trump’s disturbing speech last night that Peña Nieto had previously felt about other things Trump has said. Clearly, to anyone outside the creepy Trump cult—from which the egoistic candidate gets his narcissistic nourishment—what we saw last night comes very close to “exploiting feelings like Hitler did in his time,” as Felipe Calderon said back in February. And to some people, especially people of color and people not far removed from their immigrant past, Trump’s speech last night in Phoenix, and the eerie enthusiasm with which it was received by his mostly-white audience, was certainly fascistic in tone, if not completely in substance.

There are plenty of places you can go to get a summary of Trump’s immigration speech, but if you want to experience its sting, if you want to appreciate why some people link Trump and his “movement” to fascism, you really should watch the entire thing—an hour and fifteen minutes long—and try to understand, outside of pure cultic devotion, why more than four in ten American voters right now—some of whom are your friends, family, and neighbors—say they will definitely vote to give power to a very dangerous and disturbed man. Here it is:

More On What Respecting Our Country Means

We have had a great back-and-forth (in the comment section of “Similar Message, Different Reactions”) over an NFL quarterback refusing to stand during the playing of our national anthem, as a form of protest against what he sees as mistreatment of African-Americans by some police officers around the country. You should read the exchanges in full. And rather than further respond to each comment individually, here is my general response:

To all:

Regarding the spirited discussion we have had over the Colin Kaepernick issue, I just want to make my position clear to everyone and make a final point at the end.

Saluting the flag, or putting your hand over your heart during the national anthem, does not make anyone, soldier or civilian, a patriot. Both soldiers and civilians can follow convention and go through the motions of respecting the symbols important to most Americans and still dishonor the things the symbols are supposed to symbolize—for instance when soldiers give away national secrets or when civilian politicians with American flag lapel pins deny voting rights to African-Americans.

Likewise, not saluting the flag, or refusing to place hand over heart during the Star Spangled Banner, does not, in itself, make one a traitor either literally or figuratively. In fact, in the right context, such acts can express real respect for what those symbols are suppose to represent by calling attention to the fact that the country is failing to live up to its ideals. It may not be the way I would personally go about making that point, but it is within the realm of legitimate expression as an American in good standing.

Now, having said that, there is a point to be made about how effective such speech, as Colin Kaepernick’s actions represent, is in terms of accomplishing his goal. Just as there is a point to be made about how effective Donald Trump’s message about the godawful country he wants to govern is in terms of accomplishing his goal. Each of us will evaluate the effectiveness of Kaepernick’s and Trump’s tactics differently, depending on our preferences and prejudices and experiences. That’s how it should be.

I do want to go further, though. Let’s say that Kaepernick, rather than sitting down during the national anthem, decided to hold up his middle finger toward the flag during the anthem. Obviously, that is a different kind of message. Rather than sending the message that the country has ideals it is not living up to, he would seemingly be sending the message that the country has no ideals worth respecting at all. At least that’s what the message would mean to me. And I think such a message would do great damage to any legitimate cause Kaepernick might be championing.

Trump lapel pinWhich leads me to this election. I want to put all this in the context of the political battle for the presidency of the United States. Donald Trump’s words about the country, including trashing it constantly, cozying up to Russia and asking it to commit espionage against another American, and then making a bold statement that he and only he can fix its “rigged” system, is closer to someone giving the finger to the flag than someone sitting in silence while the anthem is playing. So, if we want to seriously evaluate what is going on with Kaepernick and Trump, in terms of how each is expressing views about contemporary America, Trump is the real disrespectful asshole in this saga.

Duane

Similar Message, Different Reactions

For 14 months or so, Donald Trump has trashed America. From his campaign slogan, which implies America isn’t great, to a speech the other day in Iowa—where, by the way. he once said, “How stupid are the people of Iowa?”—when he said the following to Hispanics and African-Americans:

What do you have to lose? It can’t get any worse. What do you have to lose?

There you have the Republican candidate telling people of color that America is a shithole and he and only he can make life less shitty for them.

Now, we’ve all grown use to Trump trashing his own country. You hardly hear a peep about it anymore from the blabbers on cable news. But, by God, the minute an African-American football player dares to not stand during the playing of the national anthem—as a way of sending his message that America’s treatment of people of color is not what it should be—conservatives soil their tighty-whities.

Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the 49ers, explained his protest:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

You might think he’s wrong. You might think he should protest in another way. You might think his employer has a right to reprimand him. But you can’t hold the African-American quarterback to a different standard from one applied to the white GOP presidential nominee, whose candidacy is essentially a noisy and nasty protest against the entire country, government and all. Remember, Trump said during his “I alone can fix it” convention speech that,

I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens…

Isn’t that what Kaepernick is saying? That the system is rigged against citizens of color? Yet many of the same people who embrace Trump’s trashing of America are burning Colin Kaepernick is forcing the country to take sides with his refusal to stand for national anthem.Kaepernick jerseys and expressing outrage at his refusal to stand during a song. And many people who are criticizing Kaepernick because he isn’t showing proper respect to our military men and women are showing up at Trump rallies and cheering a man who has disrespected John McCain and “captured” veterans; who has publicly mistreated a Gold Star family; and who has referred to our military as a “disaster.”

Both Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick have every right to send their respective messages. One stands and shouts. The other sits in silence. And both do so in a country whose flag is supposed to wave over the land of the free. But as we have seen throughout our history, some folks are freer than others.

Clinton Speech: Election Of Reckoning, For Republicans And All Of Us

“He’s taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.”

—Hillary Clinton, 8/25/2016

You know Hillary Clinton’s speech today was effective when you saw Trump surrogates on TV get angry afterwards and then quote Martin Luther King in support of Trump (as happened on CNN).

It took only about 30 minutes for Clinton to make the case that Trump has in subtle and not-so-subtle ways embraced racists and bigots and conspiracy nuts. She said,

Now all of this adds up to something we have never seen before. Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it arising from racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.

And in one sentence she described the result of Trump’s work, as he has “merged” with those paranoid folks, especially Breitbart and company:

A fringe element…has effectively taken over the Republican Party.

Then she summed up what this election is all about:

This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump. It’s a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this.

In case you missed it, here is the speech, mostly delivered with a seriousness and soberness that the subject deserves (a transcript follows, which you should read to appreciate its historical nature):

[…]

I have to begin by saying my original plan for this visit was to focus on our agenda to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. This week we proposed new steps to cut red tape and taxes, and make it easier for small businesses to get the credit they need to grow and hire. I want to be a small business president. My father was a small businessman. Because I believe that in America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it. And, so, we’ll be talking a lot more about small business and our economic plans in the days and weeks ahead. But today, here in this community college devoted to opening minds and creating great understanding of the world in which we live, I want to address something I hear from Americans all over our country.

Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election. And I understand that concern because it’s like nothing we’ve heard before from a nominee for President of the United States from one of our two major political parties.

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia. He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party. His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

In just this past week, under the guise of “outreach” to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in insulting and ignorant terms: “Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen…” Right now he said, “You can walk down the street and get shot.” Those are his words. But when I hear them I think to myself, “how sad.” Donald Trump misses so much.

He doesn’t see the success of black leaders in every field…The vibrancy of black-owned businesses…the strength of the black church… He doesn’t see the excellence of historically black colleges and universities or the pride of black parents watching their children thrive…He apparently didn’t see Police Chief Brown of Dallas on television after the murders of five of his officers conducting himself with such dignity. And he certainly doesn’t have any solutions to take on the reality of systemic racism and create more equity and opportunity in communities of color and for every American.

It really does takes a lot of nerve to ask people he’s ignored and mistreated for decades, “What do you have to lose?” Because the answer is everything!

Now, Trump’s lack of knowledge or experience or solutions would be bad enough. But what he’s doing here is more sinister. Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters. It’s a disturbing preview of what kind of President he’d be. And that’s what I want to make clear today: A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.

Ask yourself: If he doesn’t respect respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans!

Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself – that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere. Because after all, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a nominee for President– could really believe all the things he says. But the hard truth: there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it. And Maya Angelou, a greast American whom I admired very much, she once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Well, throughout his career and this campaign, Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is. And I think we should believe him.

When he was getting his start in business, he was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black and Latino tenants. Their applications would be marked with a “c” for “colored” and then rejected. Three years later, the Justice Department took Trump back to court because he hadn’t changed. The pattern continued through the decades. State regulators fined one of Trump’s casinos for repeatedly removing black dealers from the floor. No wonder the turn-over rate for his minority employees was way above average.

And let’s not forget that Trump first gained political prominence leading the charge for the so-called “Birthers.” He promoted the racist lie that President Obama is not really an American citizen – part of a sustained effort to delegitimize America’s first black President.

And in 2015, Trump launched his own campaign for President with another racist lie. He described Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. And he accused the Mexican government of actively sending them across the border. None of that is true.

And, oh, by the way, Mexico’s not paying for his wall either. If he ever tries to get it built, the American taxpayer will pay for it. We’ll be stuck with the bill.

But, there’s been a steady stream of bigotry coming from him. I think we all remember when Trump said a distinguished federal judge born in Indiana could not be trusted to do his job because, quote, “He’s a Mexican.” Think about that. The man who today is the standard bearer of the Republican Party said a federal judge—who by the way had a distinguished record as a U.S. Attorney; had to go in hiding because Mexican drug gangs were after him; who has Mexican heritage but just like me was born in this country—is somehow incapable solely because of his heritage. Even the Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, described that, and I quote, as “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

And to this day, to this day Trump has never apologized to Judge Curiel. But for Trump, that’s just par for the course.

This is someone who retweets white supremacists online, like the user who goes by the name “white-genocide-TM.” Trump took this fringe bigot, with a few dozen followers, and spread his message to 11 million people. His campaign famously posted an anti-Semitic image – a Star of David imposed over a sea of dollar bills – that first appeared on a white supremacist websites. The Trump campaign has also selected a prominent white nationalist leader as a delegate in California. And they only dropped him under pressure.

When asked in a nationally televised interview whether he would disavow the support of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Trump wouldn’t do it. And only later, again under mounting pressure, did he backtrack. And when Trump was asked about anti-Semitic slurs and death threats coming from his supporters, he refused to condemn them.

Through it all, he has continued pushing discredited conspiracy theories with racist undertones. You remember he said that thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks. They didn’t. He suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Now perhaps in Trump’s mind, because Mr. Curz was a Cuban immigrant, he must have had something to do with it. Of course there’s absolutely no evidence of that.

Just recently, Trump claimed President Obama founded ISIS. And he has repeated that over and over again.

His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health. And all I can say is, Donald, dream on. But, my friends, this is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel. They said in October I’d be dead in six months.

It’s also what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs. He even said, and this really is so disgusting, he even said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there. I don’t know what happens in somebody’s mind, or how dark their heart must be, to say things like that. But Trump doesn’t challenge these lies. He actually went on Jones’ show and said: “Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down.” This from the man who wants to be President of the United States.

You know, I’ve stood by President Obama’s side as he made the toughest decisions a Commander-in-Chief has to make. In times of crisis, our country depends on steady leadership… clear thinking… calm judgment…because one wrong move can mean the difference between life and death. I know we have veterans here and I know we have families, mothers and spouses and children of people currently serving. The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can’t tell the difference—or doesn’t care to—between fact and fiction, and who buys so easily into racially-tinged rumors.

Someone so detached from reality should never be in charge of making decisions that are as real as they come. And that is yet another reason why Donald Trump is simply temperamentally unfit to be President of the United States.

Now, I hear and I read some people who are saying, well, that his bluster and bigotry is just over-heated campaign rhetoric – an outrageous person saying outrageous things for attention. But look at his policies. The ones Trump has proposed. They would put prejudice into practice. And don’t be distracted by his latest attempts to muddy the waters. He may have some new people putting new words in his mouth… but we know where he stands.

He would form a deportation force to round up millions of immigrants and kick them out of the country. He’d abolish the bedrock constitutional principle that says if you’re born in the United States, you’re an American citizen. He says that children born to undocumented parents in America are, quote, “anchor babies” and should be deported. Millions of them. He’d ban Muslims around the world from entering our country just because of their religion.

Now think about that for a minute. How would that actually work? The people landing in U.S. airports would line up to get their passports stamped, just like they do now. But in Trump’s America, when they step up to the counter, the immigration officer would ask every single person, “What is your religion?” And then what? What if someone says, “I’m a Christian,” but the agent doesn’t believe them. Do they have to prove it? How would they do that? Really. Ever since the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, America has distinguished itself as a haven for people fleeing religious persecution. Believing in religious freedom and religious liberty. Under Donald Trump, America would distinguish itself as the only country in the world to impose a religious test at the border.

Now, come to think of it, there actually may be one other place that does that. The so-called Islamic State. The territory that ISIS controls. What a cruel irony that someone running for president would equate us with them.

Now, but don’t worry, some will say, as President, Trump will be surrounded by smart advisers who will rein in his worst impulses. So when a tweet gets under his skin and he wants to retaliate with a cruise missile, maybe cooler heads will convince him not to. Well, maybe. But look at who he’s put in charge of his campaign.

Trump likes to say he only hires the “best people.” But he’s had to fire so many campaign managers it’s like an episode from the Apprentice. And the latest shake-up was designed to – quote – “Let Trump be Trump.” To do that, he hired Stephen Bannon, the head of a right-wing website called Breitbart.com, as the campaign CEO. Now, to give you a flavor of his work, here are a few headlines they’ve published—and I’m not making this up:

“Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”

“Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”

“Gabby Giffords: The Gun Control Movement’s Human Shield”

“Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.”

And that one came shortly after the Charleston massacre, when Democrats and Republicans alike were doing everything they could to heal racial divides that Breitbart and Bannon tried to inflame. Just imagine – Donald Trump reading that and thinking: “this is what I need more of in my campaign.”

Now Bannon has nasty things to say about pretty much everyone. This spring, he railed against Paul Ryan for, quote “rubbing his social-justice Catholicism in my nose every second.” No wonder he’s gone to work for Trump – the only Presidential candidate ever to get into a public feud with the Pope!

It’s truly hard to believe, but according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, Breitbart embraces “ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right. This is not conservatism as we have known it. This is not Republicanism as we have known it. These are racist ideas. Race-baiting ideas. Anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant ideas, anti-women –– all key tenets making up an emerging racist ideology known as the ‘Alt-Right.’”

Alt-Right is short for “Alternative Right.” The Wall Street Journal describes it as a loosely organized movement, mostly online, that “rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity.” So the de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump campaign represents a landmark achievement for this group. A fringe element that has effectively taken over the Republican Party.

This is part of a broader story — the rising tide of hard-line, right-wing nationalism around the world. Just yesterday, one of Britain’s most prominent right-wing leaders, Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum, to have Britain leave the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi. Farage has called for a bar on the children of legal immigrants from public schools and health services; has said women, are, and I quote, “worth less” than men, and supports scrapping laws that prevent employers from discriminating based on race — that’s who Donald Trump wants by his side when he is addressing an audience of American voters.

And the grand godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin. And in fact, Farage regularly appears on Russian propaganda programs. Now he’s standing on the same stage as the Republican nominee.

Trump himself heaps praise on Putin and embrace pro-Russian policies. He talks casually of abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russia’s annexation of Crimea, giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe. American presidents from Truman to Reagan to Bush and Clinton to Obama have rejected the kind of approach Trump is taking on Russia. And we should, too.

Now all of this adds up to something we have never seen before. Of course there’s always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, a lot of it arising from racial resentment. But it’s never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone. Until now.

On David Duke’s radio show the other day, the mood was jubilant. “We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,” one white supremacist said. Duke laughed. No, there’s still more work to do, he replied. No one should have any illusions about what’s really going on here. The names may have changed… Racists now call themselves “racialists.” White supremacists now call themselves “white nationalists.” The paranoid fringe now calls itself “alt-right.” But the hate burns just as bright.

And now Trump is trying to re-brand himself as well. Don’t be fooled. There’s an old Mexican proverb that says “Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are.” Well we know who Trump is. A few words on a teleprompter won’t change that. He says he wants to “make America great again,” but more and more it seems as thrush his real message remains “Make America hate again.”

This isn’t just about one election. It’s about who we are as a nation. It’s about the kind of example we want to set for our children and our grandchildren. Next time you see Trump on TV, think about all the children listening across America. You know, kids hear a lot more than we think. Parents and teachers are already worrying about what they call the “Trump Effect.” They report that bullying and harassment are on the rise in our schools, especially targeting students of color, Muslims, and immigrants.

At a recent high school basketball game in Indiana, white students held up Trump signs and taunted Latino players on the opposing team with chants of “Build the wall!” and “Speak English.” After a similar incident in Iowa, one frustrated school principal said, “They see it in a presidential campaign and now it’s OK for everyone to say this.” We wouldn’t tolerate this kind of behavior before and we wouldn’t tolerate it in our homes. And we should not stand for it from a candidate.

You know my friends this is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump. It’s a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this. Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits in the convention hall and told any racists in the Party to get out. The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared, for everyone to hear, that Muslims “love America just as much as I do.” In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Senator McCain made sure they knew – Barack Obama he said is an American citizen and “a decent person.” We need that kind of leadership again.

We can have our disagreements and believe me I understand that. I think that’s healthy. We need good debates. But we need to do it in a respectful way. Not finger-pointing and blaming and stirring up this bigotry and prejudice. Every day, more Americans are standing up and saying “enough is enough” – including a lot of Republicans. And I am honored to have their support in this campaign.

And I promise you this: with your help, I will be a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For those who vote for me and for those who vote against me. I will be a president for all Americans!

Because I truly believe we are stronger together. And this is a vision for the future rooted in our values and reflected in a rising generation of young people. The young people in America today are the most open, diverse, and connected generation we have ever seen.

How many of you saw any of the Olympics, right? I was so proud. I always get carried away every time the Olympics are on. And you look at the diversity of our athletes. Look at our fabulous Olympic team, representing the United States of America. Ibtihaj Muhammad, an African-American Muslim from New Jersey won the bronze medal in fencing with grace and skill. Would she even have a place in Donald Trump’s America?

And I’ll tell you when I was growing up, in so many parts of our country, Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky would not have been allowed to swim in the same public pool. And now together on our swimming team they’re winning Olympic medals as teammates!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we have a person to waste. We want to build an America where everyone has a place. Where if you work hard and you do your part you can get ahead and stay ahead. That’s a basic bargain of  America. And we cannot get to where we need to be unless we move forward together and stand up against prejudice and paranoia. And prove, again, that America is great because America is good!

Thank you all…

Alt-Right Preview

In the video below you will see the image of a writer named Joseph Sobran, who is dead now but once was part of what is these days called the alt-right movement. The reason I mention Sobran is because he was one of my favorite writers, when I was a young conservative. I liked him so much I once called his office in New York, when he was working for Bill Buckley’s National Review (he wrote for the magazine from 1972 to 1993). We had an interesting conversation, which I have detailed elsewhere on this blog.

Another reason I bring up Joe Sobran—who got canned by Buckley because of his flirtation with anti-Semitic views—is because most of the stuff we see today that is associated with Breitbart and the alt-right isn’t new. It’s just that Trump has, as Hillary Clinton said last night on CNN, brought it into the mainstream of the Republican Party, which now owns it.

In any case, have a little dark fun watching this dark side of America:

The Mystery of Hillary Clinton’s Vaults

Perhaps you remember way back in 1986 when Geraldo Rivera hosted a two-hour television special, syndicated and broadcast live to millions, that featured the opening of a supposedly secret vault that had belonged to Al Capone. Here’s how Rivera’s website now explains the premise of the show:

What, if anything, is in the vault of notorious Chicago gangster Al Capone ? Buried beneath the Lexington Hotel, the country watched as Geraldo found out. Live on location with a demolition crew, and using exclusive details, Rivera starts with taking down the outer wall.

“Exclusive details” notwithstanding, here’s how that fiasco, called “The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults,” ended:

Towards the end of one of the most exciting hours in T.V., Rivera and team find an empty bottle and another wall. A disheartened team says goodbye to an empty vault.

An empty vault. An embarrassed journalist. A suckered public.

All of that reminds me of what is going on right now. American journalists, like Geraldo Rivera so long ago, have found a secret vault that once belonged to a notorious gangster. And, again like Rivera, journalists are using the slow opening of the vault to titillate the public, especially those that are hoping—The Mystery of Al Capones's Vaults.jpgand praying—to find some smoking guns inside that vault.

The gangster in this case is, of course, Hillary Clinton. And her vault is a trove of emails that, we are told by panting journalists, might—just might!—have some treasures inside that would reveal just how corrupt our gangster presidential candidate really is, when it comes to the Clinton Foundation and her time at the State Department. Just as an example of how this is sold to the public, here is a conversation I heard yesterday on MSNBC between host and journalist:

TAMRON HALL: Going back to this accusation from Donald Trump, where his quote was, “the amount of favors involved or favors done” in the emails that have been released in the latest group that we have been able to pore over, is there any indication of a specific favor beyond a meeting?

KASIE HUNT: At this point, no, Tamron, there is not. And that’s what the Clinton campaign is pointing to. In fact, the opposite basically is shown. And of course the issue here, and partly why this is such a problem for the Clinton campaign…is that this started about something else entirely, Benghazi that probe. You never know what actually might come out. This could end up being their “October surprise.”

You see? So far there is zero evidence of special favors or corruption. In fact, as Kasie Hunt admitted, “the opposite basically is shown.” But: “You never know what actually might come out.” It’s the Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults all over again. Just stay tuned and wait for the good stuff, the stuff that might finally bring the Clintons down and make Donald Trump president, or at least make the race close, which would be good for ratings and readers. Exciting, exciting, exciting.

In the mean time, there has, literally, been nothing to see. After thousands and thousands of emails have been examined by journalists and Clinton haters—often the same folks—there is absolutely nothing resembling corruption. No “pay for play.” Nothing. Oh, there is the usual stuff of Washington, for sure, as Kevin Drum explains:

The way Washington works—in fact, the way everything works—is that people socialize; they develop relationships; and they often try to leverage those relationships to call in favors. We have laws and institutions to try to put boundaries on this kind of thing, but it’s still ubiquitous. This is just the way homo sapiens is wired.

Everyone knows what Drum says is true. Yet somehow because the Clintons—trying to raise money for a charity that has done remarkable things around the world for millions of people—are involved in it, it is different. I have said this before but it should be repeated: The Clintons are often accused by journalists of playing by their own set of rules, of going rivera and caponeright up to the edge of what is permissible, if not going over the edge. But the truth is that journalists judge the Clintons by a different set of rules. Hillary especially is held to standards that just don’t seem to apply to anyone else in politics.

Those special Clinton standards allow journalists to frequently turn Hillary Clinton molehills into mountains while simultaneously reducing an entire range of Trump mountains into little molehills that he can overcome when he, finally, “pivots” and “stays on message,” a message that happens to be just what a lot of journalists are pushing about the Clintons and their charitable foundation.

Speaking of which, I’ll let Kevin Drum sum up what has been found, to date, in Al Capone’s Hillary Clinton’s vault:

We might yet find a smoking gun in all these emails. But so far, the trend is clear: lots of people talked to Huma Abedin to try to set up meetings with Hillary Clinton. Generally speaking, Abedin treated them politely but told them to get lost. That’s about it.

If some of these efforts had succeeded, that would hardly be noteworthy. It’s the kind of thing that happens all the time. What’s really noteworthy about the most recent email releases is that they demonstrate a surprisingly high level of integrity from Hillary Clinton’s shop at Foggy Bottom. Huma Abedin was tasked with running interference on favor seekers, and she seems to have done exactly that. There’s no evidence at all that being a donor to the Clinton Foundation helped anyone out.

So tell me again what the issue is here?

ADDENDUM: Vox published an excellent piece on the AP story that was full of sound and fury about “possible ethics challenges” for Clinton related to her family’s foundation and her possible presidency, but the story signified exactly nothing. “There’s no there there,” as Vox pointed out. A huge example of Geraldo Rivera journalism. Shameful.

[images from Geraldo.com]

Democracy-Scorching 101

“A scorched earth policy is a military strategy that targets anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area.”

Wikipedia

It does appear that Donald Trump knows something about war after all. He is at present borrowing a military tool, a scorched-earth policy, and using it in the realm of politics, executing it against his own country’s democracy. If Donald can’t govern America, by God, no one will.

With his poll numbers betraying him, Trump recently put the notion in the heads of his gun-toting friends around the country that an option for stopping Hillary Clinton from appointing liberal judges might be Second-Amendmenting her to death. Then yesterday in Florida he said this:

ISIS is honoring President Obama. He’s the founder of ISIS. He founded ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.

He then credited “Crooked” Hillary Clinton with being a “co-founder.” He has since tripled-down on his scorching remarks.

Journalists, weirdly, felt it necessary to “fact-check” Trump’s claim. They assure us, after careful research, that neither Obama nor Clinton are founders of that group of psychopathic killers. Whew. I was sweating that one.

Journalists actually fact-checking Trump’s unhinged claim would be funny, if there wasn’t something breathtakingly serious going on here. I mean, if Trump said Hillary Clinton was the Devil, would journalists fact-check that? Oh, wait. He did say she was the Devil and I don’t recall a CNN segment reviewing the facts to see if Trump’s Devil claim was true. Yet, I saw more than one segment this morning examining, seriously, whether the President or Mrs. Clinton actually founded a terrorist group bent on destroying America. For the record, CNN, so far, has come down on Obama’s and Clinton’s side. Stay tuned, though.

Now to the breathtakingly serious thing going on here. Trump is, quite purposely, trying to make it impossible for anyone but him to run this country. He recently questioned the legitimacy of our democratic system, saying,

I’m afraid the election’s going to be rigged. I have to be honest.

Before that he questioned the legitimacy of the Republican nomination process, calling it a “rigged system.” He has said the same thing about the nominating system Democrats use. Long before that he said the following about Barack Obama winning the 2012 election:

He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election. We should have a revolution in this country!

The Washington Post reports what he wrote shortly after:

The phoney [sic] electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one! We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!

Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us. More votes equals a loss … revolution! This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy! Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble … like never before. The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.

Let that penetrate. Think about it. Now, imagine what November 9, the day after the current election, will bring, if Trump goes down to defeat. Will he graciously exit the stage and congratulate Clinton and pay respect to the process? To the people who elected her? Or will he build on his 2012 remarks and, this time, call for a Second Amendment revolution?

That we have to wonder what will happen if Trump loses tells us all we need to know. If he loves his country, he has a damned strange way of showing it. He has put it down time and time again. His campaign slogan openly claims it is not great. He has called its military a “disaster.” He has attacked its political institutions. He has attacked its values as a unique, welcoming-all and valuing-all nation. At his convention hate-fest, he and his guest speakers used their blackest crayons and colored in an America that most of us don’t recognize. During his speech, Trump screamed,

Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.

And that wasn’t the worst part of his speech. He went on to say,

Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. I have seen firsthand how the system is rigged against our citizens…

Let’s add all this up: Trump has called for a revolution because the system is rigged. He has encouraged violence at his rallies and suggested that folks with guns might be ready to take the law into their own hands. He has said he will use government force to round up 11 million undocumented immigrants—and their children who happen to be American citizens—and deport them. He has said our current president and the Democratic Party nominee are founders of a terrorist group that hates the entire world and wants to destroy it in the name of Allah. And he has said that he alone—he alone—can fix it all. The message is clear: Trump’s poll numbers had better improve, people, or else. Or else, scorched earth. Scorched democracy.

We can’t say it enough. Trump is a sick, sick, sick man, even if he is merely running a con that he hopes will make him really rich after this is all over. The damage he is doing to the fabric of America cannot easily be repaired, even if he is sent back to Trump Tower with his tiny tail between his legs. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman began a remarkable column two days ago this way:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin got assassinated.

His right-wing opponents just kept delegitimizing him as a “traitor” and “a Nazi” for wanting to make peace with the Palestinians and give back part of the Land of Israel. Of course, all is fair in politics, right? And they had God on their side, right? They weren’t actually telling anyone to assassinate Rabin. That would be horrible.

But there are always people down the line who don’t hear the caveats. They just hear the big message: The man is illegitimate, the man is a threat to the nation, the man is the equivalent of a Nazi war criminal. Well, you know what we do with people like that, don’t you? We kill them.

Friedman went on to say:

People are playing with fire here, and there is no bigger flamethrower than Donald Trump. Forget politics; he is a disgusting human being. His children should be ashamed of him.

Not just his children. All Americans. All of us should be ashamed that such a man has, in our great country, managed to get himself in a position to pose an existential threat to our stable democracy. And ashamed that he is within a few electoral votes of wielding real and devastating power.

[Image, “Scorched Earth,” by Lynn Christine Kelly]

Why Republicans Still Defend Him

Donald Trump’s indefensible appeal to would-be assassins in his audience has its defenders. Those defenders are called Republicans. You can see them on TV today if you want, or you can find them all over the Internet. Doesn’t matter where you look. You will find Republicans defending the indefensible. You will find Republicans talking about Clinton’s emails, about how much she hates cops, about how much she loves the father of the Orlando killer, about Benghazi.

And that was just this morning. Just think what they will come up with when they have more time to rationalize away the fact that their candidate for president of the United States just confirmed how much of a fascist he really is.

Trump’s remarks began with an utter lie—“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the second amendment”—went on to express future despair—“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks”—then suggested a bloody remedy to the despair—“Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Which is worse? Trump’s desperate suggestion of “Second Amendment remedies” or Republican leaders’ desperate defense of Trump? The truth is the former couldn’t happen without the latter. So, is it worse that the Republican candidate is, in his Trumpy way, suggesting the murder of a future President Hillary Clinton, or is it worse that the Republican Party hierarchy is standing by him when he does? You tell me.

Imagine, if you can, what would have happened back during the 2008 campaign if a very different Barack Obama—an aggrieved and angry Barack Obama—had suggested that his aggrieved and angry black voters—who suffered mightily because of the economic meltdown—might avail themselves of their own Second Amendment remedies if John McCain became president.

Imagine if, in 2007-2008, Obama had spent a lot of time talking about how people, especially black people, had an unfettered right to buy guns under the Second Amendment. Imagine if he suggested that folks walk down the streets with guns hanging on their shoulders or stuffed in their pockets, saying there shouldn’t be “gun-free zones.” Then, imagine if he said the following at a rally in North Carolina filled with African-American voters:

John McCain wants to essentially abolish the Thirteenth Amendment. He wants to bring back slavery. If he gets to pick his judges, nothing you can do, my brothers and sisters—although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.

What would have happened? After some people expressed outrage at Obama’s remarks, would Breitbart have published a story titled, “Media Launches a Full Frontal on Obama, Gun Owners“? Would the kooky conservative media focus on protecting the rights of angry black people to keep and bear arms? Would the NRA spend three million bucks defending Obama?

Or would the focus suddenly be on those angry black people with millions and millions and millions of guns? And on an angry black candidate encouraging those angry black people?

Come on, we all know how that would have played out.

The truth is that, as nutty as he is, Donald Trump represents angry white people. Let’s face it. He is speaking for pissed-off palefaces who think their country is being stolen from them by less worthy folks.

And that is what Republican leaders are essentially defending when they defend a disturbed Donald Trump and his crazy and increasingly dangerous remarks. Because those Republican leaders need those pissed-off palefaces in order to stay in power.

NO MO

no more trump.jpg

“Ignorance Is A Choice”

Today brings us the news that “Fifty prominent Republican foreign policy and national security experts” have come out and said that a President Trump “would be the most reckless President in American history.” The group writes:

He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Speaking of nuclear arsenals, today also brings us Esquire’s Robert Bateman, who published an interview (“Here’s Why Trump Can’t Be Trusted with the Nuclear Codes”) of yet another critic of Trump from the right. Bateman began his piece this way:

John Noonan knows nukes. He has spent his entire life in the defense community, first as the son of a career Naval officer, then as a student in military institutions, then as a United States Air Force launch officer within the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICMB) system. He’s spent countless 24-hour shifts 100 feet below ground, surrounded by ten nuclear missiles to which he has the launch codes. After leaving the Air Force, he became a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee and served as a national security advisor to both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

Before this election, Noonan was mostly behind the scenes, a powerful man who worked in the shadow of even more powerful politicians. That is, until Donald Trump came along and started running his mouth about using nuclear weapons with the flippancy with which most of us deploy angry-face emojis.

Bateman’s now-famous “tweet storm” against the Republican candidate has since presented him with many opportunities to educate Americans about an uneducated and ineducable Trump, this Esquire interview being the latest. You should read the entire piece. It is sobering. But I wanted to highlight a few things Noonan said,

a nuclear exchange between two major powers would reshape the world in a drastic and nightmarish way, take the lives of millions, and have catastrophic environmental effects that would last generations. So we’re not playing with Lincoln Logs here either.

And yes, it’s a hell of a responsibility. Consider this: The president gives an order. But a missileer, or a submarine or bomber crew, all have to choose whether or not to follow that order. In a sense, the decision to release nuclear weapons isn’t the president’s alone. It’s shared by everyone in that chain of command. Don’t get me wrong, I would have done my duty and I can damn near guarantee everyone on alert right now wouldn’t blink either. But think of that as an added responsibility of the presidency: You aren’t just ordering nuclear release—you are asking everyone in that chain of command to own it, too, and to live with it for the rest of their lives.

Okay. There is that. And there is this:

Think of the world as a playground. Does the bully—the five-foot-tall third grader with a pituitary disorder—pick on the star athlete or the 60-pound weakling? They’re not going to punch the athlete in the nose because they’ll get socked right back, so they go for the weakling every time. In America’s case, we don’t just stand up to the nuclear-armed bullies—we also stick up for the weaker kids. Russia, to wit, could impose its will on the small Baltic democracies because Russia is big and they are small. It’s American resolve, backed by nuclear weapons, that keeps Russia in check. That’s what you call deterrence.

This is what I hear from Trump: that he wants to flip that equation and make the United States the bully. That is, We’re big and we have nukes and we can use them to kill terrorists in Raqqa and Mosul. Stop us if you dare. It’s how he’s run his businesses for decades: I can do whatever I want. In the business world, it was shady and unethical. In the national-security world, it’s downright dangerous.

I don’t think it’s empty talk either. His spokesperson said a few months ago, “what good is a nuclear triad if you can’t use it?” That could the stupidest thing ever said in the history of presidential campaigns, which puts it in the running for stupid thing ever said in the history of humanity. Nuclear weapons are like an understanding between the athlete and the bully: You don’t screw with me and I won’t screw with you. It’s a way for the two biggest kids on the block to communicate with each other in no uncertain terms. That Trump allegedly believes that nukes are solutions to low-intensity problems like ISIS and Al-Qaeda is raw, unfiltered insanity.

There is plenty more in the interview, including Noonan calling Trump a “petty thug.” But perhaps the most insightful thing he said about Trump’s character has to do with his lack of “respect for this country,” in that he has failed to do any of the work, like learning things about the world, that any serious candidate for president should consider it his duty to do:

When Mitt and Jeb ran for office, they studied. They asked questions. They had a hunger and desire to learn, because they knew that the demands of leadership are unforgiving. Ignorance is a choice. And Trump’s choice—to not do the work—is essentially saying “I don’t care about you or the demands of this office.”

I’m not sure if, in Trump’s case, ignorance is a choice he has consciously made or a result of a faulty mental system (I tend toward the latter). Either way, what remains is the ignorance. And as Noonan and other prominent Republicans make absolutely clear, it is damned dangerous.

____________________

[Getty image from Esquire story]

Hillary-Inspired Sexism (1979-Present)

I know it has been out for three days now, but a video published by The National Memo still stuns me. Thirty-seven years of answering essentially the same sexist questions, the same sexist questions rooted in a still-sexist culture, has to take a toll on a person. But Hillary Clinton seems to be strong enough to endure. If I were her, I wouldn’t even bother with the press anymore. Journalists, after failing to get her to call herself a liar, almost always follow up with variations of the same two questions: Why don’t people like you and why don’t they trust you? At some point, she should turn the tables on journalists: Why don’t people like you and trust you?

Sickening:

Ignore The Polls. A “New” Trump Is Being Born

Yes, there has been good news on the polling front for Hillary Clinton. Really good news. But forget it. Don’t get confident at all. Why? Obviously because there is a long way to go. But beyond that, there is what happened this morning on MSNBC and CNN regarding Trump’s delusional claim that he saw a video—provided by Iran, he said, to “embarrass” our country and our “incompetent” president—of Obama’s “ransom” money being taken off a plane in exchange for hostages.

I turned on CNN at 9:00am. I found the top story was Donald Trump’s early morning tweet trying to correct the record:

The plane I saw on television was the hostage plane in Geneva, Switzerland, not the plane carrying $400 million in cash going to Iran!

trump tweet on video.jpgThe anchor, Carol Costello, said the tweet was “a possible sign that Trump is moderating a bit.” It was, she continued, “a simple acknowledgement that’s causing big ripples this morning.” She introduced CNN correspondent Phil Mattingly who reiterated the “big ripples” riff and told us that Trump’s advisers are saying the candidate has an opportunity “to get back on message.”

At the exact same time, on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing also led with the Trump tweet, asking, “Is this the start of the new Donald Trump?” And a correspondent kept referring to Trump’s prior claims of seeing a video that does not exist as “misstatements.”

trump tweet on video2No. They weren’t misstatements. They weren’t mistakes. They were delusions. He didn’t see what he claimed he saw because what he claimed he saw does not exist. And, no, Trump is not “moderating a bit” by admitting the obvious. And the only reason the tweet this morning caused “big ripples” is because television journalism is a shallow pond that Trump can drop pebble-tweets into and know that the ripples will be big and will last all day.

But it is Chris Jansing’s question that should bother us all, at least those of us concerned that television journalists, who for weeks now have been trying to get Donald Trump to do exactly what he did today with that tweet, will attempt to rehabilitate a sick candidate, if not a sick, sick man. Jansing’s “Is this the start of the new Donald Trump?” is a dumb and dumbing question.

Trump is 70 years old. There isn’t a new Donald Trump hiding behind a tree waiting to pop out and say, “Joke’s on you! I was just kidding when I said all that crazy shit! Here I am now ready to get serious! Let’s talk throw-weight and ballistic missiles!” Beyond that absurdity, though, Jansing’s question is dumbing because it lowers the standards of critical analysis that we should expect of journalists, if not voters.  The man has demonstrated for more than a year that he would be, as former CIA honcho Mike Morell said this morning in The New York Times,  “a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief.” You can’t unsay and undo all Trump has said and done by a couple of “oops!” tweets.

Mike Morell is a highly respected, non-partisan Serious Man. He was George W. Bush’s top briefer before, during, and after 9/11. He also helped President Obama and his team, as they made the decision to make fish bait out of Osama bin Laden. Morell says his “training as an intelligence officer” taught him to call it as he sees it, and his opinion dispels any notion of a Trump reset. Like all of us of sound mind, Morell has noticed Trump’s character traits:

These traits include his obvious need for self-aggrandizement, his overreaction to perceived slights, his tendency to make decisions based on intuition, his refusal to change his views based on new information, his routine carelessness with the facts, his unwillingness to listen to others and his lack of respect for the rule of law.

And the logical conclusion, from the former acting director of the CIA, follows:

The dangers that flow from Mr. Trump’s character are not just risks that would emerge if he became president. It is already damaging our national security.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.

Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.

In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

That sobering assessment of Trump does not allow for a “new” Trump to emerge. It does not permit journalists to ignore an ugly Trump Past for a supposedly better-looking Trump Future. But because television journalism depends so much on a close horse race to get high ratings, look for some talking heads on TV to try to convince us—if Trump makes an effort to even slightly curb his enthusiasm for delusions and conspiracies and lies—that he is “growing” as a candidate.

Thus, even as Clinton soars in the polls right now, Democrats have to keep fighting hard until November. Because as good as her numbers are today, we should expect the race to tighten back up. And when it does, we should expect some journalists to pronounce Trump a “new” man and ignore the strange and dangerous man we have come to know.

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