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Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Pride and privilege

by Tom Sullivan

Photo via Dave Massey.

Marion: You can't do this to me, I'm an AMERICAN.
— from Raiders of the Lost Ark

It's the sort of line we've seen in many a forgotten film. Old films. The kind of films portraying a time when America was "great" in the Trump ball cap sense. It may be its namesake's greatest appeal.

The New York Times has examined a revealing trove of interviews with Donald Trump. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael D’Antonio made the tapes in 2014 for his Trump biography, “The Truth About Trump.” Michael Barbaro writes:

The recordings reveal a man who is fixated on his own celebrity, anxious about losing his status and contemptuous of those who fall from grace. They capture the visceral pleasure he derives from fighting, his willful lack of interest in history, his reluctance to reflect on his life and his belief that most people do not deserve his respect.
Frankly, that might describe a lot of us.

Trump likes to cite Gen. George S. Patton and likely remembers (from the movie, of course) Patton's speech to the Third Army, "Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser." What Trump truly fears more than anything is being that loser, "being ignored, overlooked or irrelevant." Falling from grace is unpardonable:
There is little trace of sympathy or understanding. When people lose face, Mr. Trump’s reaction is swift and unforgiving.
Through much of this election cycle, the Trump phenomenon seems to have been driven by his wealth and celebrity. Americans are attracted to it like moths to a flame. But we might wonder if wealth and celebrity are mere stand-ins what wealth and celebrity really confer: privilege.

"Make America Great Again" says as much about his followers as it does about Trump. He was born into privilege and never lost it. In Trump, many Americans see a promise to restore a greatness — and privilege — they feel they have lost. To foreigners and foreign powers, and to racial and religious minorities, to be sure. But what we also crave is the cocksuredness to insist again, "You can't do this to me, I'm an AMERICAN."

Writing for Slate, Susan Matthews wonders if the focus on Trump's narcissism is misdiagnosis. It is comforting to put a name on the monster, but what needs treatment, she writes, is not his mental health. He seems to excel in spite of it.

What enables him to, psychologist Nigel Barber wrote in Psychology Today, is that "his birth to money and life as a plutocrat that guarantee contact with high-status persons and being fawned over as a VIP.” Matthews writes:
I’d go further than Barber: I think the privilege into which Trump was born has exempted him from the operating rules of civilized society. Whether he’s bragging about sexual assault, denying reality during the debates, or promising to reject the democratic process itself if it does not happen to favor him, the thread that connects them all is privilege. The impunity he has enjoyed is chilling, and so is his blithe certainty that it will always be there for him. The privilege he derives from his gender and his fame and his father and his class and his race seems to have granted him a lifetime pass. The result of such a life is a man whom we cannot help but pathologize.
Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi (1970):
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Till it's gone
Trumpsters want their lifetime passes back. Sure, they would like to be Trump, to have his wealth and celebrity. But they will settle for the privilege of swaggering down the street with large guns, just to show you they can. They will settle for their country engaging in torture while condemning other countries for it, to be exempted from the rules others must follow. They will settle for screaming at "foreign-looking" American-born neighbors to go home to wherever they came from and protesting, "You can't do this to me, I'm an AMERICAN" while traveling abroad. Trumpsters bristle at the idea they benefit (or benefited) from any sort of white privilege. But they seethe at seeing it slip away to people they look down on. In Trump, they see what they have lost and a promise of restoration. Trumpsters will follow him, star-spangled, to the ends of the constitution to get their mojo back.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A sick burn

by digby

... so enjoyable

Another 12 pointer

by digby

...lead in the polls that is:

That's from Democracy Corps which very accurately called the 2012.

They also have some advice for the down ballot candidates:

Overall, the current strategy of linking Republican candidates to Donald Trump and not opposing him produces the biggest overall shift down-ballot. That is an effective message and moves Republicans and independents.

But when Democrats echo the economic message that Clinton used in the debates – vowing to build an economy for everyone and raise taxes on the rich, in contrast with an opponent who wants more trickle-down economics – there is dramatically more consolidation with Democrats and the Rising American Electorate, particularly unmarried women and white unmarried women and millennials. There is room for more consolidation among Democrats down-ballot and at the top of the ticket and this economic message will help Democratic candidates get there.

So Obama has to be locked up too, naturally

by digby

We're going to have to build more prisons for all of Trump's political enemies:
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama must be investigated over a private email server Hillary Clinton used while secretary of state, saying Obama “knew all about” her email arrangements.

“That’s why he stuck up for Hillary, because he didn’t want to be dragged in. Because he knew all about her private server,” Trump said of the Democratic president in an interview with Reuters. “This means that he has to be investigated.”

Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the Nov. 8 election, was Obama’s first secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Wikileaks on Tuesday released a batch of hacked emails from the account of Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, which showed her Democratic presidential campaign reacting after Obama said in a television interview that he learned of the private email server through news reports.

“We need to clean this up – he has emails from her – they do not say state.gov,” Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton aide, wrote in an email to Podesta after Obama made the comments in a March 2015 television interview.

Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, clarified the remarks after the 2015 interview, saying that while the president had Clinton’s personal email address, which she used instead of government systems, he did not know details about its setup.
It's tempting to think this is all funny stuff but it really isn't. He's introduced this idea that political rivals should be jailed and his yahoo followers don't understand it as rhetorical excess. It's going to be hard to wring this poison out of the body politic.


Ivanka's bad brand

by digby

I wonder if it's going to recover:

Critics of Donald Trump are urging shoppers to boycott the clothing line of the Republican candidate’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, and the stores that carry it.

San Francisco marketing specialist Shannon Coulter launched the #GrabYourWallets campaign after a video surfaced on Oct. 7 of Trump talking about groping women. Coulter told the Guardian she has experienced sexual harassment at work before and felt she needed to act.

“If Ivanka Trump had distanced herself from the campaign, I would not be boycotting her,” she said in an interview with the Guardian. “But something changed for me when that tape was released.”

Some Twitter users have expressed support.

Coulter also keeps a running Google Doc list of all the stores that sell the products. The stores include Nordstrom, DSW, Zappos, Amazon, Macy’s and several more. She also encourages others to call stores and ask if they sell the products, to keep the list growing.
I wouldn't buy anything with her brand.  There are plenty of other's selling similar stuff and plenty of other places in which to buy it.

By the way, they've decided to stop using the Trump brand for their new hotel licences. They're calling it "Scion" in case you want to put that on your "never stay" list.

QOTD: Lyin' Kellyanne

by digby

She says they want more debates.


We're seeing some positive movement in some of the swing states. And I think some of the polls will tighten, John, because the debates are a very unique opportunity for all of America to see these candidates side by side and I wish there were more debates frankly. 
I think Donald Trump would challenge Hillary Clinton to another debate for a very simple reason I mean, unless you're a money donor, you're not going to have much access to Hillary Clinton out on the stump now and so, you have -- to give people a free opportunity to see them side by side and really mix it up on the issue, to me is the purest for of democracy.

I'm a big fan of debates so I really feel like the country benefits from those type of forum and we'd be willing to do another one if they can squeeze it in.

Sure you would ...
Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life

by digby

Ok, this is just scary. From Right Wing Watch:

Donald Trump-loving sycophant and ardent conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root was a guest on “The Real Side” radio show last week, where he told host Joe Messina that Trump has never groped a woman in his life, despite having been recorded bragging about doing so, because he is “one of the handsomest billionaires that’s ever lived” and has been sent by God to “save us all.”

Root rejoiced that Trump’s army of “deplorable” supporters have now taken over the GOP, warning that these “savages” are intent on burning Washington, D.C. to the ground.

“Donald Trump is a middle finger to Washington, D.C.,” Root crowed, before warning Christians that they cannot sit on the sideline in this election because Hillary Clinton and the Democrats “are coming to take our Bibles away.”

“If you’re a Christian, you just can’t spend your life worrying about the words of Donald Trump from 11 years ago,” Root said, “or what women he groped 30 years ago. I don’t believe any of it anyway. I believe Donald Trump is one of the handsomest billionaires that’s ever lived; I don’t think he ever had to grope a single woman ever. I think they threw themselves at him, so it’s all a lie.”

“The man isn’t a perfect Christian,” Root admitted, but he is “the perfect guy sent from God and from central casting to be the vicious guy we needed to save America, save capitalism, fight the Clinton crime cartel and save Christianity from these vicious, vicious people. They’re terrible, dirty people and a nice guy could have never won this war. Only a dirty player could win the war, so I think Donald’s the perfect guy, sent by God to fill the perfect role and save us all.”

Ok, it's one thing to say Trump is the vicious, dirty guy sent by God to smite the evil Hillary Clinton. But to call him "one of the handsomest billionaires that’s ever lived?" That's just plain crazy.

Getting the rogues riled up

by digby

As he sinks further in the polls, Donald Trump is ratcheting up his insistence that the election is being rigged against him in every possible way. The media are all conspiring with “Crooked Hillary,” mass voter fraud is being plotted as we speak and the polls are all phony and designed to keep his voters from turning out on Election Day.

Last week in Colorado Springs he said:

Voter fraud is all too common, and then they criticize us for saying that. But take a look at Philadelphia, what’s been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at some of these cities, where you see things happening that are horrendous.
You’ll notice he only mentions cities with large African-American populations. He’s not even trying to be subtle about it. And that could spell some trouble for his campaign and the Republican Party, which is under a consent decree that goes back to the early 1980s, when the Justice Department barred the GOP from “ballot security efforts” due to its unseemly habit of intimidating voters in minority areas. The RNC is prohibited from challenging voters at the polls through “caging” and other vote-suppression efforts without following a designated process.

The good news is that Trump’s organizing effort doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The New York Times reportedthat much like the rest of his campaign it largely seems to be a “Potemkin effort.” Election officials in the cities and states he often cites as hotbeds of voter fraud report very few inquiries for volunteers to become poll watchers. But as election law expert Rick Hasen told the Washington Post, even if there’s no coordinated intimidation, one of the things this rhetoric can do is “get rogue people riled up. Trump sets the fuse and lets someone else do the explosion. It strikes me as a very dangerous thing to be suggesting, because it does lend itself to the possibility of violence at the polls.”

The Boston Globe reported on a few who said they planned to informally “observe”:

“I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio. “I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
On Monday it was “reported” by scam artist James O’Keefe that Hillary Clinton had personally ordered a man in a Donald Duck costume to taunt Trump at his rallies about “ducking” the release of his taxes. Trump spokesman Jason Miller released this statement:
Recent revelations surrounding Hillary Clinton’s corrupt campaign further illustrate that she will stop at nothing to secure the presidency. On a totally disqualifying act that is a violent threat to our democracy, Hillary Clinton directly involved herself in inciting violence directed at Trump supporters.
That is incredibly silly — we’re talking about a man in a Donald Duck costume — but it adds to the fury and sense of grievance Trump is stoking among his supporters, and that’s potentially dangerous.

He insists that Clinton is an illegitimate candidate because she is “guilty as hell” of unnamed federal crimes for which he promises to jail her if he wins the election, inspiring lusty chants of “Lock her up!” at all his rallies. Refrains of“Hang the bitch!” and “Kill her, kill her!” are heard as well. An adviser to the campaign even told a radio station Clinton should be shot for treason. (He remains in Trump’s good graces.)

The candidate himself has made some veiled threats from the podium in the past, suggesting that “Second Amendment people” might take matters into their own hands against Clinton should she win the election. He gins up their anger by suggesting that she plans to confiscate their firearms, which they are more than willing to believe. The far-right anti-government Oath Keepers published an essay last spring predicting “outright civil war” if Clinton wins because “the level of hatred among conservatives for that woman is so stratospheric.”

And if they weren’t agitated before, they surely are now after this dark dystopian rant from National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre’s “get out the vote” video. He spends the first few minutes relaying the horrors of the Obama years, including America’s surrender to ISIS and the ayatollahs, and then assures his members that it’s only going to get worse:
So feel free to mark my words: If, God forbid, Hillary Clinton is elected, she will launch an all-out war on the Second Amendment. She will come for your guns, she will attack your right to carry, she will attack your most basic right to defend your family with a firearm in your home. And she will continue the disastrous policies of this administration to their inevitable conclusion: the creation of a new, post-freedom America that you won’t even recognize.
There is no red line President Hillary Clinton will not cross when it comes to attacking your rights and forcibly taking your guns. She dreams of twisting a knife into the heart of the one freedom that separates us from the rest of the world. The only thing that can stop her is you. The NRA’s 5 million members are history’s most committed, most elite defenders of freedom. You are the Special Forces that swing elections, and I need you now more than ever.
Never accuse LaPierre of understating his point.

The truth is that most NRA members support the sensible gun regulations Clinton and the Democrats have proposed. But there is a large minority of zealots who are convinced by people like the paranoid LaPierre and the feckless Donald Trump that any regulation of guns is tantamount to a total ban. If they believe the election has been stolen through a conspiracy with the media and election officials to rig the results, some of them might get it into their heads that it’s their patriotic duty to do something about it.

Trump and his supporters’ loose talk goes way beyond normal campaign rhetoric, and it’s aimed directly at people who are armed to the teeth. It’s hard to imagine anything more irresponsible.



A national exorcism

by Tom Sullivan

With apologies to Kenny Rogers, I woke up this morning with the sunrise shining in. For the first time in memory, the New York Times doesn't have a Donald Trump story prominently on its landing page. Springtime for Donald is over.

The Washington Post's "The Fix" (no irony there) declared Monday that "Donald Trump’s chances of winning are approaching zero." Nevada moved from "toss up" to "lean Democratic." Cillizza and Blake write, "We’re also moving Utah — yes, Utah! — from 'lean Republican' to “toss-up.” In their calculus, even Texas is now merely a "lean Republican" state.

Even Florida. Even private polls by Republican-leaning groups show Hillary Clinton's "raw vote lead over Trump could end up being 275,000 to 460,000 votes." Politico cites a conservative business leader from Florida this morning:

“This is in all reality a landslide in our great state,” Tyson wrote, echoing the concerns of numerous Florida Republican insiders and experts. “Based on his consistent failure to improve his standing with non-white voters, voters under 50 and females, it seems fairly obvious to us that Mr. Trump’s only hope left in Florida is a low turnout.”
November 8 is beginning to look less like an election and more like an exorcism. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren campaigned in New Hampshire yesterday beside Hillary Clinton and Senate candidate Maggie Hassan. Warren sounded as if she was ready to battle a demon:
"Nasty women have really had it with guys like you," Warren said to Trump. "Get this Donald: Nasty women are tough, nasty women are smart. And nasty women vote!"

"And on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever!"

WHAP! Come OUT and be GONE!!

Frankly, a national exorcism is what's needed on November 8. The rise of the alt-right has felt more like a descent, beginning with Trump descending that escalator in June 2015. Like Mussorgsky's Chernobog calling forth wraiths and demons unto himself, Trump has unleashed the darkest impulses in the American psyche and proposes giving them rule of the night.

Given recent polling, many progressives unhappy with their presidential choices will be inclined even more, if they reside in safe, blue states, to cast some form of protest vote, believing their choice will send some inchoate message to the establishment and have no harmful effect on the Electoral College outcome. But the message their votes can and must send is that racism, religious intolerance, misogyny and bigotry are unacceptable in this country. It is not enough for Trump to lose and Clinton to win in the Electoral College. Decent Americans across all 50 states must deliver a crushing popular-vote defeat for Trumpism. It will not disappear overnight, of course. But with our votes November 8 we can send the wraiths and demons back underground to the darkness. Send a message as clear as a church bell.

(Early voting is already underway in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Texas, Wisconsin and some parts of Florida.)

Monday, October 24, 2016

A funny Republican

by digby

Like the rare yellow-bellied sapsucker, they do exist in the wild:

For the record, she cleaned his clock in all three debates

by digby

He's out there claiming "everybody says" he won the second and third debate handily. ( I don't know what happened to his claim that he won the first one -- he used to say that too.)

It just isn't so:

Not that it wasn't obvious to any sentient being. The man is a sniffing, whining, petulant, authoritarian enfant terrible who can't be bother to learn about anything but what they're saying about him on CNN and Fox News.  She, on the other hand, is a seasoned professional politician who takes the job of president seriously.

Everyone saw that clearly in the three debates and have had to do a gut check about whether or not to put the most powerful job on earth into his hands. It's still highly disturbing that so many millions of Americans are still willing to do that.


Why a scammer like Donald Trump got over

by digby

... Because the conservative movement is nothing more than a con job itself. They're used to it.

Look at this disgusting scam that just came to my email today. It's aimed at the old people, of course:

The subject line on the emails says:
Born before 1960? You qualify to get free survival food
 But you have to send in $9.95.

The hoax goes on, the con endures, the scam still lives, and the grift shall never die.

Nasty stuff

by digby

Right. Nasty:

You want really nasty? I've got nasty:

I'm sick from this nasty stuff.

Hannity confused by all the things

by digby

For years, Sean Hannity has attacked Louis Farrakhan while portraying him as Barack Obama's soul brother. For instance:
On February 28, 2008, Hannity tried to smear Obama as a black racist because Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s daughters gave an award to Louis Farrakhan and Obama did not denounce Farrakhan as thoroughly as Hannity thought was required. He yelled at Obama-supporter Marc Lamont Hill:
"Where is your moral courage?” Hannity interrupted, both fingers jabbing now. “Where is your moral strength and your integrity and your core values and your principles? (Farrakhan) has a history of anti-Semitism and racism and you don’t have the moral courage to condemn it and I find that reprehensible."
On April 18, 2008, Hannity ignored Obama’s criticisms of Farrakhan while trying to smear the then-candidate as a black racist because he had attended Farrakhan’s Million Man March, 13 years earlier:
Hannity said, “We know where Farrakhan stands with the presidential election. He has publicly announced his support for Senator Barack Obama although Obama has publicly rejected Farrakhan’s endorsement. FOX News has tried to get a statement from Barack Obama’s campaign seeking further information about the Illinois senator attending the Million Man March in 1995. They have not responded. It is curious how the Illinois senator will not speak about his attendance at the march. This raises the question, just how much do we really know about Senator Barack Obama?”

That's from this post by Crooks and Liars which catalogs a long list of Hannity's hostile remarks about Louis Farrakhan.

But lookie here:
Wednesday night, after the last presidential debate, Hannity sang a completely different tune. Talking Points Memo wrote:
“I’ve always wanted to meet Farrakhan,” Hannity said early Thursday morning, after commentator Larry Elder said Farrakhan “has said positive things” about Donald Trump.

“I listened to hours and hours of his speeches. He’s mesmerizing. He’s an unbelievable orator,” Hannity continued. “What he says about individual responsibility and morality and being fathers and starting businesses is brilliant. Then he adds the racism and the anti-Semitism. If you took that away, this guy could have been such a powerful force in his life, but unfortunately his legacy is one of racism and anti-Semitism.”

How "unfortunate." But really, how important is his racism and anti-semitism anyway? Trump's a little rough around those edges too. C'mon Sean, where's your tolerance? He likes your idol so he's got some good points, amirite?


What caused Trump to crater in October?

by digby

I wrote about Trump's slump for Salon today:

The latest polls are looking good for Hillary Clinton and increasingly so for Democrats further down on the ballot. The ABC tracking poll, which Nate Silver designates as A plus, was released on Sunday, showing Clinton with a 12-point lead over Trump. That’s a bigger lead than in most other polls but the averages across the board have her percentage up by a comfortable margin that seems to be increasing.

Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has laid out four possible outcomes to the race at this point, with all but one featuring a Clinton win:
A Trump win, including cases where he loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College. 
A narrow Clinton win, wherein she wins the Electoral College, but wins the popular vote by 3 percentage points or less. (Or wins the Electoral College and loses the popular vote.) 
A Clinton win in the “Obama zone,” wherein she wins the popular vote by 4 to 7 percentage points — the margins by which President Obama won the elections in 2012 and 2008, respectively. Clinton is all but certain to win the Electoral College if she wins the popular vote by this amount. 
Finally, a Clinton blowout, wherein she wins the popular vote by 8 points or more, which would almost certainly also yield a dominant performance in the Electoral College. 
FiveThirtyEight’s model, which averages polls, shows that Clinton has an 85 percent probability of winning and is currently ahead by 6.6 points.

For its part, The New York Times Upshot has a 92 percent probability of a Clinton win and shows see side-by-side comparisons of all the predictions. They all have Clinton with 85 percent or higher. Using its customary metaphor, the Upshot compares the chances of Clinton losing “to the probability that an NFL kicker misses a 29-yard field goal.” That indeed happens (in fact, it happened on Sunday night) so Democrats should not get complacent.

And for down ballot races? Well, there always has been a decent possibility that the Democrats would win the Senate if they retain the White House, simply because this is a cycle when Republicans are defending more seats. Still, that outcome is anything but assured, and some analysts are insisting (without evidence) that this year will feature lots of ticket splitting (that is, people who vote for Clinton but also vote for a Republican incumbent senator, for example).

Still, this cycle is nothing if not unpredictable, so who knows?

Democrats had written off the House from the beginning: GOP gerrymandering all over the country makes it nearly impossible for Democrats to win a majority in the House until another round of redistricting after the 2020 census. Still, the possibility, however remote, is starting to be discussed.

Sam Wang from the Princeton Election Consortium said:
I estimate that Democrats must win the national popular vote by 8% to have any chance at taking control of the House. This large margin is driven by two major factors in equal measure: gerrymandering to pack Democrats into districts, and population patterns which they pack themselves. Therefore the magic number for House Democrats is a Clinton win by 8%. In national polls Clinton is currently ahead by 5% (7 polls starting on October 10th or later), and Obama outperformed his 2012 polls by 3%, so it’s not crazy to imagine. I’d give the House Democrats a 1 in 5 chance of making it over this bar. A long shot . . . but not a crazy long shot.
So what’s happening to make this dramatic shift in October? Clinton had been leading throughout the summer, but on Sept. 26, the day of the first debate, FiveThirtyEight had Donald Trump with a 51 percent chance of winning. The candidates were tied nationally at 45 percent, and the trend was moving in his favor.

The obvious answer is that Trump blew it when he made a fool of himself in the aftermath of the first debate with his 3 a.m. tweets about the former Miss Universe. Since then he has been accused by a dozen women of groping and assaulting them against their will. That “Access Hollywood” tape was a shocker. Most observers see the huge and growing gender gap as a result of all that grossness.

But something else happened as well. For about a month before that first debate the right-wing media and people in or around the Trump campaign had been spreading spurious rumors that Clinton had brain damage or Parkinson’s disease. This was barely covered in the mainstream media, but everyone in the media pays attention to Matt Drudge, who had been relentless with the story, so they were very much aware of such rumors.

When Clinton had her fainting spell at the 9/11 ceremony in New York, the press spent days feigning anger about her failure to keep them properly informed about the details of her doctor’s appointments and diagnosis. (That’s despitecampaign professionals saying they would never inform the press of anything like that, mainly because such illnesses are so common on the trail.)

Unfortunately for Clinton, the combined effect of the right’s relentless smears about some kind of disqualifying terminal illness and the press fulminating for days over her pneumonia advanced the idea that she lacked the “strength and stamina” required for the job. Coincidentally or otherwise, this was the very charge that Trump had been making for months. By the time of the first debate in late September Clinton had been off the trail for quite a bit, first recovering from her pneumonia and then doing debate prep, with Trump nipping at her heels.

When she showed up looking very healthy, sharp and aggressive, it changed the narrative overnight. Indeed, her ability to bait him into misbehavior had her dominating that debate from beginning to end, when she hit him with the Alicia Machado story that had him reeling for days afterward.

So it’s true that Trump’s poll numbers have been cratering for a month now, pointing to what may be a catastrophic loss for the Republicans. Much of that happened because of revelations about Trump’s horrifying misogyny and his ongoing inability to behave with any discipline.

But it’s a mistake to discount the huge effect of the debates, well beyond Trump’s predictably ridiculous performance. These were the first occasions since the Benghazi hearings for people to see what Clinton is made of, and it reminded them of the characteristics that make her a formidable leader. When she stood there, face-to-face with Trump, it was clear that one of them was a president. And it wasn’t him.


The long arduous path to the presidency

by digby

A 1920 cartoon called  A Woman's Path To The Presidency:

We've been half the population this whole time.


If I wrote for The Onion

by Tom Sullivan

If I wrote for The Onion:

Hillary Clinton strategists engaged in strategy
House Republicans launch investigation

The Onion has yet to call with a job offer, but the Wall Street Journal might be in the running:

The political organization of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, an influential Democrat with longstanding ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, gave nearly $500,000 to the election campaign of the wife of an official at the Federal Bureau of Investigation who later helped oversee the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email use.
Matt Yglesias tweeted:

Dave Weigel piles on:

We are going to see a lot of this "Six Degrees of Hillary Clinton" in the nest few years. Tina DuPuy predicted this years ago:

Here's how to play: Find a horrible tragedy anywhere in the world and in six degrees or fewer—blame Hillary Clinton.

Several hundred Nigerian schoolgirls are kidnapped by the terrorist cult, Boko Haram. The media pays absolutely no attention to it. Weeks later after a social media campaign to highlight this appalling act of violence, the world finally notices: #BringBackOurGirls

Even Fox News picks up the story! Steve Doocy on Fox and Friends offers, "And who exactly made sure that they [Boko Haram] were not placed on the terror list? Hillary Clinton."
Of course, you can play it with other politicians too.

Let's see. The Pacific Coast Borax Company sponsored future president Ronald Reagan in Death Valley Days. His sponsor was later bought out by the Dial Corporation, a division of the German Henkel Corporation that paid reparations for using slave labor during WWII. As president, Reagan named a William Henkel as Special Assistant to the President and made a controversial trip to German military cemetery to honor the German war dead. Anyone can do it.

(Yes, that's all snark.)

And so it goes:

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The other side of the story

by digby

This election has been all about how everyone in the whole country hates everyone else and thinks the country is going to hell in a hand basket. It has struck me as a little bit simplistic from the beginning. Nothing's that clear cut even when it comes to the hand basket of deplorables.

James Fallows has been following that story and has a different view:
Over the past year-plus my wife Deb and I have been arguing that the “build a wall!”-style anti-immigration furor in Republican party politics does not match the lived reality of the parts of the United States where immigration is having the biggest and most obvious effect.

That’s part of the case I made in a cover story in March; that I wrote about in Dodge City, Kansas, in July; and that Deb chronicled in a visit with a Syrian refugee family in Erie, Pennsylvania, in August. Through American history, immigration has always been disruptive—at many periods, much more disruptive than it is now. At nearly every point in its history, people already present have viewed whatever group is most recently arrived as “different” and “worse” than the groups that had previously assimilated and generally succeeded. But compared with most other societies, the process of assimilation has continued to grind on in the United States, and overall (as I argue elsewhere) has been to the country’s enormous benefit.

Now the Atlantic’s video team has put out a great video treatment of this theme. It’s produced by Nic Pollock and was shot this summer in Dodge City, Erie, and also the San Joaquin Valley of California around Fresno.

Basically, it takes leaders and institutions to make anti-immigrant fervor happen. That's what Trump and the GOP have done.

Sunday Funnies

by digby

Via DKos

h/t to @JonRiley7
A hall of mirrors

by digby

This quote from a former Wikileaks employee from a couple of years back struck me. He quit the organization over ethical concerns and they fought him back. He writes:
Seeing yourself portrayed by WikiLeaks is like walking through a circus hall of mirrors: there’s just enough resemblance for you to recognize yourself, but you’re seriously distorted—and usually in a way that makes you look grotesque.
I have no idea what's going on with them at the moment, but they are openly taking a partisan position in the election on behalf of Donald Trump even though Trump is an authoritarian opposed to everything they used to stand for. No one who works for Trump in the name of civil liberties can be trusted.

I will treat them the same way I treat Breitbart and the Daily Caller going forward: as a propaganda outfit. I don't know on whose behalf they are propagandizing but their support for Trump makes it clear that it's not an entity that shares my values.

*And for the record, I do not conflate Edward Snowden with Wikileaks. Snowden is a whistleblower not a partisan. I've seen no evidence that he's interested in playing the kind of games Wikileaks is playing.  I doubt he's much enamored of either candidate since Trump is a monster and Clinton is an establishment politician who is unlikely to be any more sympathetic to his situation than President Obama. One might hope that the media's obsession with her correspondence and the hacking of her campaign emails would open up her perceptions a bit on the necessity to protect privacy from both hackers and the government but it will be surprising. Government officials are almost unanimously oriented toward protecting the intelligence communities' prerogatives.

Buzzfeed has an updated version of this story by the same person. yikes.


Politics and Reality Radio with Joshua Holland: A Debate With Kshama Sawant: Is a Vote for Jill Stein Wasted?

by Joshua Holland

This week, we start off with a debate between Joshua Holland and Seattle City Councillor Kshama Sawant about whether a vote for Jill Stein is an investment in breaking the two-party system in the future (Sawant) or a waste of time for ad ineffective and self-marginalizing third party (Holland). The debate was produced by KUOW public radio in Seattle, which was kind enough to offer us permission to include it in this week's show.

Central to Sawant's argument is that efforts to push Dems to the left have been fruitless. So our second guest gives this week's show a theme of sorts.

We're joined by Kaitlin Sweeney, press secretary for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a group that's dedicated to promoting the idea of the Warren/Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. And Sweeney gives us a recap of the third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

A-Punk: "Vampire Weekend"
U2: "In a Little While"
Eric Clapton: "Wonderful Tonight"
Waterboarded by the issues

by digby

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said early Sunday that Donald Trump has been "waterboarded" in this presidential campaign.

"He's been waterboarded by these issues," Brewer, a top Trump surrogate, told Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union."

"It's seems like it's really been kind of somewhat of a put-up oppression of Donald Trump from all of these people lining up. It's just unbelievable."

I don't know what she was saying since it's gibberish. But I do know that Donald Trump says he loves waterboarding and thinks it's great:

Now Donald Trump is probably going to fade away and people are going to want to forget that he was a GOP nominee for president. But NEVER FORGET how many millions of people voted for that sadistic fascist --- listen to their cheers when he said he loves torture. These people live among us.

When she heard

by digby

The moment lifelong Cubs fan Hillary Clinton heard they're going to the World Series for the first time since 1945:


Turnout, turnout, turnout

by Tom Sullivan

Democrats prospects for winning the Senate improved markedly in recent days, according to Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight:

Thanks to big shifts in several key races, Democrats now have a 73 percent chance of winning the Senate, according to the FiveThirtyEight polls-plus forecast, and a 72 percent chance according to polls-only. Both those numbers are up by more than 15 percentage points from last week, when the polls-plus model gave them a 56 percent chance and the polls-only model 54 percent.
That report is a couple of days old. That has slipped to 69 percent since then.

Real Clear Politics predicts Democrats will pick up Indiana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Illinois for a 50-50 tie. In Pennsylvania, Democrat Katie McGinty holds a narrow lead in FiveThirtyEight's rankings.

Eric Levitz has a rundown on the current state of competitive seats at New York magazine. Regarding North Carolina, he writes,"incumbent Republican Richard Burr retains an advantage over Democratic challenger Deborah Ross. But Ross is gaining ground. And early voting in the Tarheel State suggests Republican turnout may be down significantly from where it was in 2012."

More about North Carolina in a minute. Levitz concludes, unsurprisingly:
Ultimately, turnout could be the decisive factor in all of these races. The central hope of every anxious GOP operative is that, eventually, Trump’s collapse will actually redound to the benefit of down-ballot Republicans. The idea being that Americans will vote for a check on President Clinton, out of a misguided belief that divided government would produce compromise, instead of dysfunctional gridlock.
Early voting commenced in North Carolina on Thursday. Early numbers indicate no "enthusiasm gap." There were long lines at voting stations across the state:
Dr. Michael Bitzer at Old North State blog summarizes the first two days of voting:

Demographic and party shifts are changing how the state votes. A majority of registered voters indicate they were born outside the state. Bitzer writes:

In comparison to four years ago, the total number of absentee ballots (both mail-in and in-person) is down about 3 percent (501,651 compared to 2012's cumulative total of 513,188 on the same day out from Election Day), but there are significant shifts in party registration numbers within those totals.
A reporter from Die Welt asked me yesterday about Trump's field game. He asked me why I laughed. Here's why:
The Democrats have 27 field offices in North Carolina compared with 11 for the Republicans, according to the FiveThirtyEight political blog and by my own count. (Nationally, the Democrats have 489 field offices while the Republicans have 207 offices.)


The Democrats also seem to have far more staff operatives in the state, with staff even working in such small but Democratic-leaning areas as Bertie County in the northeast. Democrats say there are more than 150 staffers in the state with some 40,000 volunteers.

“This is a ground game that is as robust as we have seen since 2008,” said Brad Crone, a veteran Democratic consultant. “There is no comparison between what the Democrats have done with their field plan and what the Republicans have done.”
Deborah Ross, down 2.8 points to incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr in the RCP Average, will need that turnout advantage to pull out a win in North Carolina on Election Day. No matter how favorable the early voting numbers look for Democrats, no matter how it appears they have run up the score, one always has to remember Republicans bat last.

Anecdotally, the GOP here is in disarray. One of the drivers who resupplies Democratic poll greeters here throughout the day reported speaking briefly with a GOP volunteer outside an early voting site on Saturday. The man said he was there for a couple of hours and that was all for this cycle. It was his only shift. Our driver told him he was scheduled for four hours, and then for several other days during early voting.

"That sounds like a lot of work," the Republican volunteer said.

As Yoda might say, "That is why you fail."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

He's always been a jerk

by digby

You remember this from the last debate, when he angrily tore up his notes at the end ....

He's prone to such tantrums:
If you’ve seen Home Alone 2 or The Little Rascals, you already know that Donald Trump used to get a kick out of playing himself in movies. According to a new Newsmax report, producers in the entertainment industry described him as someone who “wasn’t a hard get” because he would be in any movie as long as he could highlight his fame and wealth. To that end, they also described him as “incredibly pompous.”

One of the most interesting parts of the Newsmax report is the story of Trump’s appearance alongside then-wife Marla Maples on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The article says this:

According to a member of the crew—who spoke on condition of anonymity because she fears jeopardizing her current job—Trump threw a small tantrum backstage. He was holding a paper-clipped stack of pages with his lines when he became annoyed about something. He motioned as if to hand them off to Maples and, when she reached for them, threw them all over the floor so the pages went flying.

Maples was reportedly extremely apologetic for her husband’s behavior and told Fresh Prince production staff not to worry about helping her clean the mess. No one could remember exactly what set Trump off, but executive producer Gary H. Miller was able to recall that Trump was worried his lines weren’t funny enough.

“I would never think of giving you any advice about real estate, because I don’t know about real estate,” he said he told the mogul. “But I do know comedy—and trust me, you’ll get a laugh.”
A real email scandal

by digby

This is a Newsweek story from a month or so ago that you might want to keep handy when some rightwinger starts screaming about emails:

For 18 months, Republican strategists, political pundits, reporters and Americans who follow them have been pursuing Hillary Clinton’s personal email habits, and no evidence of a crime has been found. But now they at least have the skills and interest to focus on a much larger and deeper email conspiracy, one involving war, lies, a private server run by the Republican Party and contempt of Congress citations—all of it still unsolved and unpunished.

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails. “It’s about as amazing a double standard as you can get,” says Eric Boehlert, who works with the pro-Clinton group Media Matters. “If you look at the Bush emails, he was a sitting president, and 95 percent of his chief advisers’ emails were on a private email system set up by the RNC. Imagine if for the last year and a half we had been talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails set up on a private DNC server?”

President Bush and Former American Vice President Dick Cheney in the Presidential Limousine. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty

Most troubling, researchers found a suspicious pattern in the White House email system blackouts, including periods when there were no emails available from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. “That the vice president’s office, widely characterized as the most powerful vice president in history, should have no archived emails in its accounts for scores of days—especially days when there was discussion of whether to invade Iraq—beggared the imagination,” says Thomas Blanton, director of the Washington-based National Security Archive. The NSA (not to be confused with the National Security Agency, the federal surveillance organization) is a nonprofit devoted to obtaining and declassifying national security documents and is one of the key players in the effort to recover the supposedly lost Bush White House emails.

The media paid some attention to the Bush email chicanery but spent considerably less ink and airtime than has been devoted to Clinton’s digital communications in the past 18 months. According to the Boston social media analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, which ran a study for Newsweek, there have been 560,397 articles mentioning Clinton’s emails between March 2015 and September 1, 2016.

In 1978, Congress passed the Presidential Records Act (PRA), which mandated that all presidential and vice presidential records created after January 20, 1981, be preserved and that the public, not the president, owned the records. The following year, the Reagan administration installed the White House’s rudimentary first email system.

Despite the PRA, neither the Reagan nor the George H.W. Bush administration maintained email records, even as the number of White House emails began growing exponentially. (The Bush administration would produce around 200 million.) In 1989, a federal lawsuit to force the White House to comply with the PRA was filed by several groups, including the National Security Archive, which at the time was mostly interested in unearthing the secret history of the Cold War. The suit sparked a last-minute court order, issued in the waning hours of the first Bush presidency, that prevented 6,000 White House email backup tapes from being erased.

When Bill Clinton moved into the White House, his lawyers supported the elder Bush in his effort to uphold a side deal he’d cut with the National Archives and Records Administration to allow him to treat his White House emails as personal. At the time, George Stephanopoulos—then the White House communications director—defended the resistance, saying his boss, like Bush, didn't want subsequent, and potentially unfriendly, administrations rooting around in old emails.

The Clinton White House eventually settled the suit, and White House aide John Podesta—now Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman—even invited members of the National Security Archive into the White House to demonstrate how the new system worked. If anyone tried to delete an email, a message would pop up on screen indicating that to do so would be in violation of the PRA.

“We were happy with that,” recalls Blanton, who edited a book on the Reagan-Bush email evasion, White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Messages the Reagan/Bush White House Tried to Destroy.

Eight years later, in 2003, a whistleblower told the National Security Archive that the George W. Bush White House was no longer saving its emails. The Archive and another watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (which had represented outed CIA agent Valerie Plame in her case against the Bush administration), refiled their original lawsuit.

The plaintiffs soon discovered that Bush aides had simply shut down the Clinton automatic email archive, and they identified the start date of the lost emails as January 1, 2003. The White House claimed it had switched to a new server and in the process was unable to maintain an archive—a claim that many found dubious.

Bush administration emails could have aided a special prosecutor’s investigation into a White House effort to discredit a diplomat who disagreed with the administration’s fabricated Iraq WMD evidence by outing his CIA agent wife, Plame. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who was brought in to investigate that case, said in 2006 that he believed some potentially relevant emails sent by aides in Cheney's office were in the administration's system but he couldn’t get them.

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney listens as former President George W. Bush makes remarks about the U.S. defense budget after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., November 29, 2007. Larry Downing/Reuters

The supposedly lost emails also prevented Congress from fully investigating, in 2007, the politically motivated firing of nine U.S. attorneys. When the Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed related emails, Bush’s attorney general, Alberto Gonzalez, said many were inaccessible or lost on a nongovernmental private server run by the RNC and called gwb43.com. The White House, meanwhile, officially refused to comply with the congressional subpoena.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the president’s actions “Nixonian stonewalling” and at one point took to the floor in exasperation and shouted, “They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!” His House counterpart, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), said Bush's assertion of executive privilege was unprecedented and displayed “an appalling disregard for the right of the people to know what is going on in their government.”

In court in May 2008, administration lawyers contended that the White House had lost three months’ worth of email backups from the initial days of the Iraq War. Bush aides thus evaded a court-ordered deadline to describe the contents of digital backup believed to contain emailsdeleted in 2003 between March—when the U.S. invaded Iraq—and September. They also refused to give the NSA nonprofit any emails relating to the Iraq War, despite the PRA, blaming a system upgrade that had deleted up to 5 million emails. The plaintiffs eventually contended that the Bush administration knew about the problem in 2005 but did nothing to fix it.

Eventually, the Bush White House admitted it had lost 22 million emails, not 5 million. Then, in December 2009—well into Barack Obama’s administration—the White House said it found 22 million emails, dated between 2003 and 2005, that it claimed had been mislabeled. That cache was given to the National Archives, and it and other plaintiffs agreed, on December 14, 2009, to settle theirlawsuit. But the emails have not yet been made available to the public.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was operating on a different track but having no more luck. In a bipartisan vote in 2008, the committee found White House aides Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas in the investigation of the fired U.S. attorneys. The penalties for contempt are fines and possible jail time, but no punishment was ever handed down because a D.C. federal appeals court stayed the Senate’s ruling in October 2008, while the White House appealed. Rove’s lawyer claimed Rove did not “intentionally delete” any emails but was only conducting “the type of routine deletions people make to keep their inboxes orderly,” according to the Associated Press.

By then, Obama was weeks away from winning the election, so the Bush administration basically ran out the clock. And neither the Obama administration nor the Senate committee pursued the matter.

The committee’s final report on the matter was blunt: “[T]his subversion of the justice system has included lying, misleading, stonewalling and ignoring the Congress in our attempts to find out precisely what happened. The reasons given for these firings were contrived as part of a cover-up, and the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.”

At the time, some journalists and editorialists complained about a lack of transparency on the White House’s part, butThe Washington Post, in an editorial, accepted the White House explanation that the emails could have been lost due to flawed IT systems.

The mystery of what was in the missing Bush emails and why they went missing is still years away from being solved—if ever. The National Archives now has 220 million emails from the Bush White House, and there is a long backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests already. But not all of the emails will be available to the public until 2021, when the presidential security restrictions elapse. Even then, with currently available archiving and sorting methods, researchers still have years of work to figure out whether Cheney deleted days’ worth of emails around the time of the WMD propaganda campaign that led to war, Blanton says.

“To your question of what’s in there—we don't know,” he says. “There was not a commitment at the top for saving it all. Now was that resistance motivated by political reasons? Or was it ‘We gotta save money’?”

Former U.S. President George W. Bush winks to a member of the audience before he delivers the final State of the Union address of his presidency at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., January 28, 2008. Tim Sloan/Reuters

Like Leahy, Blanton has doubts that the emails were ever truly “lost,” given that every email exists in two places, with the sender and with the recipient. But unlike watchdog group Judicial Watch, which has been relentless about forcing the State Department to publicly release Hillary Clinton’s emails, Blanton and his fellow researchers have decided not to press their fight for the release of the Bush emails.

Blanton says he has no idea whether the Bush email record will be found intact after 2021, when his group will be allowed to do a systematic search and recovery process in the National Archives. “Did they find all of them? We don't know,” he says. “Our hope is that by that time, the government and the National Archives will have much better technology and tools with which to sift and sort that kind of volume.”

Blanton says he’s not expecting that kind of upgrade, though. “Their entire budget is less than the cost of a single Marine One helicopter,” he says. “It’s an underfunded orphan.”

Meanwhile, the episode has been nearly forgotten by almost everyone but the litigants. A source involved with the stymied congressional investigation recalled the period as “an intense time,” but the Obama administration didn’t encourage any follow-up, devoting its political capital to dealing with the crashing economy rather than investigating the murky doings that took place under his predecessor. Since then, no major media outlet has devoted significant—or, really, any—resources to obtaining the emails, or to finding out what was in them, or what, exactly, the Bush administration was hiding (or losing).


Trump's Gettysburg disaster

by digby

It was bad, very bad. This lede from the Washington Post says it all:

Donald Trump traveled Saturday to the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, where he suggested that the United States is nearly as divided now as it was then. But instead of laying out his vision for uniting the country, as President Abraham Lincoln once did here, Trump declared that the system is rigged against him, that election results cannot be trusted, that Hillary Clinton should have been barred from running for president, that the media is “corrupt” and that he will sue all of the women who have accused him of sexual assault.

He actually called it "hollowed ground."