Nel's New Day

November 6, 2016

Vote for Clinton, Save the Nation

Filed under: Presidential campaign — trp2011 @ 6:10 PM
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Two days before the 2016 presidential election, FBI James Comey has announced in a letter to 16 Congressional members that his agency has found nothing illegal regarding Hillary Clinton in the 650,000 emails found on Anthony Wiener’s laptop. The news comes at a time when Clinton stays four percent above Trump, and the odds in her favor are rising in polls and betting. The FBI’s review of these emails has been completed, according to Comey’s letter.

Clinton’s email has always been a big deal because the media uses the topic to make money by pushing the idea that she’s “untrustworthy,” again addressed this morning on Meet the Press. The fact that Trump’s unfavorable rating is far higher than that of Clinton is rarely raised. Instead the supposedly “liberal” media has spent whatever time they don’t concentrate on Trump to brainwash the public about Hillary hatred.

In April 2015, Clinton had a 50-percent favorability rating. Within four months of announcing her candidacy, the majority switched to unfavorable. One reason for the shirt is misogyny: many people in the country think that a woman should not be president shown by her favorability rating of 25 percent among white men.

Both NBC and PBS, supposedly “liberal,” presented pre-debate programs talking about how both candidates go “low” while complaining about how Clinton boringly concentrates on the specifics of policy and fails to have some sort of “message” such as the false one from Trump. Clinton behaves like a serious candidate and Trump acts like a realty show huckster, but the media constantly equates them.

While Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump received positive  coverage, the media tore down Clinton—an average of 10 negative stories to one positive one, worse when one considers the email stories. The fascination of Clinton’s emails on the profit-focused media also serious errors such as the FBI conducting a criminal investigation into Clinton. That myth returned with Comey’s announcement last week; even a serious journalist from the Washington Post falsely claimed that Comey had “re-opened” the email case. NBC failed to look at its own reporting when professing to lack understanding in her popularity drop.

A favorite media ploy  is to avoid showing people who love and admire Hillary Clinton. Its message is that the only reason to vote for Clinton is that the alternative is worse. Yet millions of voters admire her hard work and her intellect. They realize that a good president does need to be charming  like George W. Bush or funny  like Barack Obama or even perfect candidate like—I don’t know any. These people know Clinton’s past—the woman who fought for the rights of migrant farmworkers, the lawyer who worked with the Children’s Defense Fund and forced the state of Alabama to allow disabled students to attend school, the First Lady who created a plan to make health care accessible for all people in the country, a plan destroyed by Republicans because they were afraid that Democrats might get credit for it.

Clinton was elected twice to the U.S. Senate, and her colleagues respected her and got along with her. Her favorability was 60 percent when she was Secretary of State.

People see Clinton as flawed because she always has dreams and vision, she considered herself as her husband’s equal when she scuttled her plans to move to his home state, she was never a traditional First Lady when she reformed the state’s public education system and tried to expand healthcare. Some people hate Clinton for her ambition, yet prize that characteristic in her opponent. Writers call her a liar when she has the highest truth-telling rating of any presidential candidate for decades and of almost all other politicians. Opponents know that the only way she can be defeated is to be guilty of something—anything. When they can’t find the guilt, they make up offenses or just use terms in a general way with no backing.

Clinton used a private server because the State Department IT system was out of date, possibly hacked which it was. No one broke into Clinton’s system although opponents claimed they did, using the excuse that any server used that much had to have been hacked. She committed no crime, but she apologized—again and again. Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, is fond of accusing Clinton for breaking up her Blackberry with a hammer, but that’s State Department policy. She was following the guidelines.

In her article in Atlantic, Chimamanda Adichie wrote:

“Hillary Clinton is a knowledgeable, well-prepared, reasonable, experienced, even-tempered, hardworking candidate, while her opponent is a stubbornly uninformed demagogue who has been proven again and again to be a liar on matters big and small. There is no objective basis on which to equate Hillary Clinton to her opponent.”

People complain that Clinton is too cautious, yet the media always turns against any spontaneity. Journalists take her words out of context and turn them against her before they accuse her of being insincere because she appears stiff. In one interview, Clinton has talked about how she learned how to control her emotions when she was a young women because her career was primarily male. She had to work hard to not look “weak” because she wouldn’t show the strength to accomplish what men do, but then she’s accused of being hard and unemotional.

Since Trump went down the escalator and announced his candidacy, the media has graded Trump on a low curve and raised the bar high for Clinton. CNN’s Dana Bash was blunt about the way the media favors Trump:

“The stakes are much higher in this debate and all the debates for Hillary Clinton because the expectations are higher for her because she’s a seasoned politician. She’s a seasoned debater. You know, yes we saw Donald Trump in the primaries debate for the first time, but he is a first-time politician. So um, for lots of reasons. Maybe it’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. The onus is on her.”

In essence, having an amateur as the president of the United States is just fine with the media. After the second town hall following the first presidential candidate, any “bar” for Trump totally disappeared. He “won” the debate because he wasn’t the total buffoon from the first debate.

During just one week in September, Clinton gave speeches about her mental health plan, foreign policy, and U.S. exceptionalism. The media focused on Trump’s immigration flip-flopping. This week was the pattern for all the media coverage as it gave Trump billions of dollars of free air time, mostly positive or neutral until the media panicked in late summer, and bashed Clinton.

Last summer, the conservative Washington Post finally realized how bad Donald Trump is  and endorsed Clinton for president.  These are excerpts from the editorial board’s endorsement:

“There is no equivalence between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—as even responsible Republicans should be able to recognize. Ms. Clinton is a knowledgeable politician who has been vetted many times over. She understands and respects the U.S. Constitution. She knows policy. She can cite accomplishments in the public interest, such as pressing through an important children’s health insurance program during her husband’s administration. As a senator, she was respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle. She completed four years as secretary of state to generally positive reviews. She began her presidential campaign by rolling out a series of serious policy papers.

“Mr. Trump, by contrast, has waged a campaign based on bigotry, ignorance and resentment. He has no experience as a public servant, and his private record of bankruptcies and exploitation should be disqualifying. He regularly circulates falsehoods. He has no discernible interest in or knowledge of policy…. He called one sitting senator a loser and threatened another while proving that he lacks even a passing familiarity with the Constitution. He praised one of the most vile dictators of the 20th century….

“Even if Mr. Trump flipped his agenda — not a problem for a man with almost no fixed beliefs — he would still be the candidate who mocked a disabled reporter, proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States, attacked a judge based on his ethnicity, celebrated violence at his rallies, demeaned women and promised to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants . He would still be the candidate who vaulted to political prominence with race-based attacks on the incumbent president and launched his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists.”

For the first time in its history, Foreign Policy broke tradition and endorsed Clinton:

“She is an extraordinarily gifted woman who would make an excellent president. She would come to office with more foreign-policy experience than any president since George H. W. Bush….  Moreover, since her earliest days as a lawyer and advocate, she has been known and respected for her brilliant mind, her studiousness, her mastery of her brief. She is known to engender great loyalty among her staff. She is a listener, an empowerer, someone who has a reputation for wanting to be told the truth. I have met with her many times and have cultivated this view over years of writing about her and the administrations in which she has served. I can honestly say that she may be the most impressive candidate for president and one of the most impressive public figures I have ever met. If she were running against the best of the Republican Party, she would deserve to win.”

The media should have figured that out a year ago instead of making money by taking cheap shots at one of the best presidential candidates in history. Hopefully, it’s not too late for them to salvage the nation.

October 22, 2016

The Effects of Brexit

Volcanoes go quiet before the eruptions: the greater the calm, the more powerful the explosion. That’s the conclusion of volcanologist Diana Roman who reported that the length of the quiet time can be correlated to the volcanoes’ risks. Although not always, bad storms are also identified by preceding periods of calm. Tropical cyclones have an “eye,” a time of calm weather in the circular area before the other side hits.

This weekend feels like one of those periods of eerie calm as the nation comes off two tumultuous days last week—the presidential debate and the humorless “roast” at the Al Smith’s charity dinner when Donald Trump’s only “self-deprecating” statement was directed at his wife’s copying Michele Obama’s speech earlier this year. Hillary Clinton was funnier—she wasn’t frequently booed as Trump was—but several of her jokes had serious barbs.

Since those events, a subdued Trump lacks energy in his rallies. For the first time, he said that he might lose the election, and GOP politicians appear to be in a political malaise with no way out. The tension of an upcoming storm gives a feeling of danger, but even a short calm leaves us a chance to contemplate the issues that have been overlooked by the bombastic control of the GOP presidential candidate showman.

Brexit, for example, is making its presence known. For those who have forgotten, the Trumpian hatred toward minorities, government, and regulation across the pond led a frenzy of voting in the United Kingdom to separate the country from the European Union. The voters then elected conservative Theresa May as its prime minister. Her announcement to invoke Article 50 within a few months forces the UK to finalize its separation two years from then.

The divorce settlement between the UK and the EU is a bit fuzzy with no scheduled deadline. No one knows what UK’s constitution requires although May promised a bill to put EU laws into UK domestic law. A serious problem is negotiating new trade agreements until the divorce may be finalized in 2019.

Meanwhile, May is behaving like a woman forced to leave her husband with the intent to divorce but trying to keep all the rights of her marriage. This week she ordered the EU to not hold any more summits without the UK. May said, “I want the U.K. to play an active part…. I expect to be fully involved in all discussions related to the EU 28.”

EU leaders weren’t impressed. The remaining 27 had two informal meetings since last June when UK citizens voted in favoring of dumping the EU and plan another information meeting—without the UK—in January. May was allowed to give a speech about Brexit at the summit but given only five minutes at 1:00 am. EU leaders are also considering changing the official negotiation language from English to French, another bone of contention for May.

Gibraltar, where 96 percent of its residents voted to stay with EU, is just one problem that May faces. Their flourishing economy is dependent on easy commutes across its border, and Madrid would be delighted for Spain to regain sovereignty after three centuries. If Spain plays hardball with Gibraltar, residents would be dependent on boats or planes to leave the country, and intensified border checks would complicate their life as it did three years ago until the EU settled the problems. After Brexit, Spain can veto any trade deals with the UK—which also means Gibraltar.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” to force Scotland out of the EU because its citizens voted to remain. A second independence referendum for Scotland is now “highly likely,” according to Sturgeon. The impact in Northern Ireland would be “very profound,” according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the island of Ireland should be able to vote on reunification. Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers ruled out the call from Sinn Féin for a border poll. UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, will meet this coming week with leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland this week to essentially tell them  that she’s in charge and they will work for the entire UK—not just their part of it.

Another problem comes from reports banks are leaving the UK, the smaller ones by the end of the year followed by the biggest ones early next year. The flight comes from the threat that Britain will “pay the price” of leaving, as French president François Hollande and other EU leaders have promised in a “hard Brexit.” EU leaders could reintroduce tariff and non-tariff restrictions on British imports and exports, and banking is Britain’s largest export industry, according to Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers’ Association. Up to 70,000 financial jobs could be lost if the banks flee the sinking island.

Despite these dangers, the UK Conservative party is more concerned about immigration than the country’s economy and has no plan regarding the UK and the EU. Businesses are at a loss because the government has provided no direction. The pound’s value has dropped to an almost 30-year low, meaning that it buys fewer euros or dollars, and experts predict the pound value to remain at least ten percent below what it was on the day before the June Brexit vote. All imported products—clothing, food, etc.—will stay more expensive than before the vote.

The Bank of England’s drop in interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent—a record low and the first cut since 2009—is the same strategy that the U.S. used to fight its way out of George W. Bush’s recession, and lowering the interest rate may reduce the value of pensions.  Cost of government borrowing has gone up because Britain lost its top AAA credit rating.

Divorce from the EU covering thousands of subjects during 43 years of agreements and treaties must have the unanimous approval of over 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold referendums. At this time, the EU will permit the UK to be part of the single-market—including tariff-free trade—if EU nationals have the unchecked right to live and work in the UK. The UK doesn’t want to give up that control and declines to give a guarantee about EU nationals now living in the UK, but it wants the single market.

Travelers from EU and other non-EU countries in a group called the European Economic Area (EEA) may no longer receive state-provided medical help for conditions or injuries requiring urgent treatment if the UK severs ties with EEA.

Overwhelming popularity of Brexit is vanishing in the UK. In the Witney vote this week to replace former Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party percentage went from 60.2  last year for Cameron percent to 45 percent, Liberal Democrat vote increased from 6.8 percent to 30.2 percent, and the UKIP (Brexit supporters) went down almost two-thirds, 9.2 percent to 3.5 percent, now fourth place behind the Green Party candidate, Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry Sanders.

Brexit campaign manager and Vladimir Putin-supporter Nigel Farage has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump, coaching him for the town hall session with Hillary Clinton on October 9 and speaking at his rallies. Farage was heard praising Trump about his town hall performance on Fox. Although Farage took a small step backwards after hearing about Trump’s groping women, he still wants the racist, nationalist presidential candidate to win because of their similarities. Farage tells his U.S. audiences that Trump, despite his shrinking poll numbers, can still win because many people didn’t expect Brexit to win.

If people don’t vote for Clinton, Farage could be right, and the United States could be in worse shape than the UK if that happens. Even if Trump loses, the negative effects of Brexit will penetrate the United States, requiring a competent president.

Today I dropped off my ballot in Oregon. I wanted to make sure that no matter what happens to me in the next 17 days, I have voted to keep Donald Trump from become the Russian-supporting dictator of the country where I live.

Nels New Day is taking a hiatus and will return after Halloween. In the meantime, please vote early and vote sane!

October 20, 2016

Trump Keeps Supporters, Loses GOP Politicians

Last night’s presidential debate was a redux of earlier ones. My partner and I bet how long Donald Trump would keep his promise of staying high: I said 20 minutes, and she went for 40 minutes. I won. At the 20-minute report, he started downhill and kept on sliding, just like the last two times. When he wasn’t slinging mud, Trump engaged in what the late Justice Antonin Scalia classified as “argle-bargle” to sound as if he knew what he was talking about. He didn’t.

The biggest headlines about the debate are that Trump won’t promise to accept the results of the election. People should “tune in” on Election Night to see what he had to say, according to the showman in his attempt to take media notice from his sexual assaults. [Note: today Trump may be softening on his claim, but no one is ever sure of his position on anything.]

Some of Trump’s more bizarre statements between snarls of “wrong!” and other interruptions:

“Justice Ginsburg made some very, very inappropriate statements toward me and toward a tremendous number of people, many, many millions of people that I represent. And she was forced to apologize. And apologize she did. But these were statements that should never, ever have been made.” A Trump criterion for a Supreme Court Justice that they be nice to him and bragging about how he made one of them apologize—it’s all about Donald throughout the debate.

“We have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.” Trump’s immigration plan using derogatory terms for Hispanics.

“[Russian President Vladimir Putin would] rather have a puppet as president of the United States.” Clinton’s comment when Trump rejected intelligence that Russia is hacking emails to sway the presidential election. Trump’s response: “No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

“I didn’t even apologize to my wife who is sitting right here because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these women. I didn’t see these women. These women, the woman on the plane, I think they want either fame or her campaign did it and I think it’s her campaign.” Too much protesting?

“Nobody has more respect for women that I do, nobody.” Laughter from the audience.

“She’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. [Clinton] should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged.”

“I will look at [the election] at the time. I’m not looking at anything now.” Trump asked about accepting the election results. “What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, OK?” After asked a second time.

“Should have gotten it.” Trump’s interruption when Clinton said, “There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged.”

“I sat in my apartment today on a very beautiful hotel down the street known as Trump…” Trump’s interrupted attempt at an infomercial as part of the debate.

“[Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] is a bad guy. But you may very well end up with worse than Assad …. If she did nothing, we’d be in much better shape…. He’s just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama.” Trump’s typical admiration for dictators.

“[Aleppo] has fallen, I mean, from any standpoint. What do you need, a signed document? I mean, from any standpoint.” Trump’s falsehood about the city under heavy shelling.

“Such a nasty woman.” Trump’s parting shot at Clinton. [This last one will become a meme for independent women!]

“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” last night’s moderator, Fox network Chris Wallace, said after the huge debacle of Matt Lauer’s town hall in September. Even Wallace’s questions need a fact-checker.

Wallace falsely claimed that “the biggest driver of our debt is entitlements” and  pushed candidates toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. He wrongly equated the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) analyses of Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax and economic policy proposals with the purpose of pushing them toward a decision on a “grand bargain” when the funds disappear. [The CRFB is operated by billionaire Pete Peterson, a member of Nixon’s cabinet, and shows that Wallace was wrong in his question.] Craig Harrington fact-checks the moderator in Media Matter with this chart showing the difference between the two candidates’ plans. Other fact-checking is also available here.  

debt-chart

Wallace also used the Fox fantasy that the “stimulus” created a sluggish economic recovery. The real problem with the stimulus package, according to noted economists, is that it was too small and too focused on tax cuts instead of target spending—both GOP-forced positions.

Other ways that Wallace tried to help Trump:

  • Opening the debate with conservative wedge issues on which Trump failed to score—Supreme Court, guns, abortion, and illegal immigration.
  • Attacking Clinton first and leaving the Trump negatives for later in the debate after people may have tuned out while leading into Trump issues with Wikileaks.
  • Framing the sexual assault question by questioning the truth of the women’s allegations by asking “why would [the women] make up these stories?
  • Trying to bail out Trump after he said he wouldn’t accept the election results by explaining why that was a bad idea and then asking him a second time.
  • Ignoring the debate ground rules by eliminating closing statements.
  • Failing to address issues such as climate change, equal pay, education, lifting people out of poverty, helping the middle class, collective bargaining rights, corporate personhood, money in politics, Wall Street abuses, etc.,etc.

Trump complained that Chris Wallace rigged the debate, but Trump couldn’t even handle the softballs that Wallace tossed him. Jason Easley called Wallace “the most lenient debate moderator towards Trump of the 2016 campaign.”

Last night may have been the first appearance of “Trump TV” when the GOP candidate livestreamed his debate coverage on his Facebook page, complete with advertising and commentary from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. Other guests included faithful surrogate Rudy Giuliani. Rumors of a Trump network emerged after a Financial Times report. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has supposedly “informally” approached investment bank LionTree about creating a television network after the election. Variety said that LionTree was not interested, and Trump would likely suffer from a lack of advertising.

GOP Trump-supporting candidates may lose their elections because of Trump’s performance—which was indeed just a performance. I believe that Trump doesn’t want to win the election: he wants to gather followers for his next television show. To him, the last 17 months have been preparation for the next big media deal, and winning the White House would ruin those plans. Trump may be a man without control, but last night he purposefully ruined chances of picking up more votes, his MO throughout his entire campaign. He doesn’t care that he’s bamboozled all those faithful supporters—including the white supremacists—who look to him as a leader into white nationalism and may incite violent riots throughout the country.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer described Trump’s behavior last night as “political suicide.” My partner said Trump did it out of stupidity; I said that he’s trying to throw his chances at the presidency. We’ll never know which of us is right, but in 20 days we’ll know whether we have to bow to King Trump. It comes down to the voters of the United States.

Those who have not had enough of the mud-wrestling presidential campaign can watch the two of them roast each other at the Al Smith Catholic charities dinner.

October 18, 2016

What Direction for Last Presidential Debate

The third presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night, and Donald Trump has many issues to address. A major one is the multiple accusations of sexual assault that have dominated the media during the past week, especially with support for the victims. Melania Trump, however, think that people should ignore what her presidential candidate husband, Donald, said because he is a 70-year-old “boy” who was “led on” into “naughty … boy talk” when he was 59 years old. This is her explanation for the person who wants to be leader of a major power in the world.

Melania Trump also doesn’t approve of cyberbullying although her husband is a master of cyberbullying tweets. Melania’s position that all “boys” talk this way about a woman’s “p***y” shows that men aren’t the only gender who promote the country’s rape culture. Despite claims that revelations about Trump’s sexual assault have been released only to destroy his chances at the presidency, this is not the first time that women have described Trump’s sexual attacks on them. It’s just the first time that the media paid much attention.

Donald Trump’s attempt to humiliate someone tomorrow is to invite President Obama’s estranged half-brother and Trump supporter to the debate. Trump has done this as retribution for the president’s request that the presidential candidate quit whining about a rigged election. It is also a way to pander to the people who believe that President Obama was not eligible for that position because he wasn’t born in the U.S.

Then there’s Trump’s accusation that “Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.” He claims that the Clintons control the press. He may not have noticed that the media has spent over three decades trying to keep both Clintons from being elected, and this election cycle is no different. Yet Trump received almost $3 billion in free media advertising during the primaries. Even Fox reporter Carl Cameron ridiculed him for the global conspiracy theory.

About that “rigged” election. Mike Roman, known for his promotion of a video regarding “voter intimidation” by New Black Panthers, is in charge to Donald Trump’s poll-watching project. In 2008, two Panthers stood outside a polling place; one Panther, who politely opened the door for people, was there in 2012 and accused of “thuggery.” Roman hasn’t said anything about Virginia resident Daniel Parks, who stood outside Jane Dittmar’s Palmyra (VA-05) congressional campaign office. The white man was there for 12 hours, staring into the office and showing his gun whenever anyone looked at him. Parks claimed to be “a voice for someone who might be a closet supporter of trump.” In the past, Roman ran the Koch network’s internal intelligence agency.

What about Russia? Trump said that he would meet with Vladimir Putin before the inauguration—while Barack Obama is still president. His friendliness with Putin may have gotten him information available only from the Russian controlled agency, Sputnik, a Russian propaganda outlet. The dribble of stolen Clinton-connected emails from her campaign manager John Podesta by Russian government hackers may stop, however, because Julian Assange has lost access to the internet at the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought sanctuary four years ago in order to avoid a rape charge in Sweden. It’s sad that an effort to create transparency has eroded into Assange’s attempt to keep Clinton from the White House.

Rumors are also circulating that long-time Trump supporter Roger Stone may divulge information about the Trump/Russia connection to save his own neck although he’s still denying it.

Another question for the debate is is how many times Trump will lie during the debate. After the 2016 presidential candidate town hall, Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent Daniel Dale found 33 lies in 40 minutes of his talking—one every 1.2 minutes. The data didn’t indicate whether repetition of lies was counted. [You can find some of Trump’s lies here.] The fact that Trump lies five times as much as Clinton gives him five times the media coverage.

Will Trump’s missing tax returns emerge during the debate? Media concern that Trump hasn’t paid federal taxes for two decades because of a massive $916 million declared loss in 1996 disappeared after Trump admitted sexually assaulting women. Trump’s not paying anything to the government, means that taxpayers are paying for services to him, for example the $1.6 million he was paid to fly U.S. Secret Service agents on a plane that he owns. That doesn’t include the money Trump gets from the government to house the agents at his own hotels and the $8.2 million that the Trump campaign—funded by his supporters—has also given to Trump-owned facilities for “rental.”

“Press conferences” in places such as his golf courses and his new hotel in Washington, D.C. are infomercials for his businesses as are sales for his products such as water and steaks. Donald Trump may be right in saying he could be the first presidential candidate to “run and make money on it.”

Will Trump keep sniffing tomorrow night? And whine about not getting to talk as much as Clinton although he had an extra minute—while he whined about not getting as much time?

“I’m a gentleman.” That may be the biggest lie that Donald Trump has told. Before the October 9, 2016 town hall with Hillary Clinton, he had a “press conference” with three women accusing Clinton’s husband of sexual assault and then sat them beside his family during the town hall. He followed that performance by stalking Clinton around the stage while he skulked, brooded, and invaded her space. After the questioning about his professed sexual assaults, Trump said, “I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

trump-stalk

Clinton responded:

“What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women…. We have seen him insult women. We’ve seen him rate women on their appearance, ranking them from one to 10”, as well as his targeting of “immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, POWs and Muslims.”

Trump responded by claiming that nobody “in the history of politics in this nation [has] been so abusive to women [as Bill Clinton]…. Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.” He finished by saying that “Hillary … should be ashamed of herself, if you want to know the truth.” Clinton told him that his “facts” were wrong and quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

Trump followed his comments about Clinton’s emails by saying that she would be in jail if he were “in charge of the law in our country” and continued by decrying the country’s foreign policy. For the upcoming debate, Trump brags about being “unshackled” and promises “scorched earth” tactics. His goal in the town hall was to humiliate Clinton because she overwhelmingly won the first debate and was moving ahead in the polls, particularly with women. She’s much farther ahead in all these polls than on October 9, giving a prediction of even worse behavior from Trump than in the town hall.

What the candidates say, however, won’t make any difference to most of the people watching because they already know their “facts.” According to a Pew Research Center, over 80 percent of people in the United States believe that partisans disagree on “basic facts.” That percentage is the same for both Clinton and Trump supporters. Trump is able to persuade people of his “facts” because 25 percent of the people, 48 percent of Trump supporters and 5 percent of Clinton supporters, “completely distrust the economic data reported by the federal government, including statistics like the unemployment rate, the number of jobs added, and the amount of consumer spending.”

In the real world, the unemployment rate has sharply dropped and the budget deficit has shrunk during President Obama’s two terms. Government spending has leveled off, and murder rates are down. Border security has also tightened, and the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the nation has declined. And voter fraud is extremely rare throughout the country. As one Trump backer said to me, these are just numbers, and you can’t believe them. To conservatives, independent media outlets are untrustworthy, and official government data are a conspiracy.

People claim that the bar is lower for Trump because he is inexperienced in politics. In fact, there is no bar for Trump. The bar isn’t even lying on the ground; it’s been removed.

People who can’t watch tomorrow’s debate might want to tune into the Al Smith charity event on Thursday evening. Since this annual happening—actually a roast—was created in 1945, only two presidents, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, have not spoken at the dinner. In the past, presidents or candidates have not appeared because of conflicts with the Catholic Church, the sponsor and benefactor of the function. This year the question is whether the two candidates who bitterly oppose each other will be speakers. Tune in Thursday.

 

October 4, 2016

Pence May Be Worse Than Trump, Can’t Defend Him

Democratic Tim Kaine and GOP Mike Pence, vice-presidential candidates, just squared off in the only VP debate of 2016, and the GOP blogged that Pence won—hours before the debate began. The blog soon disappeared, but it does leave all their other opinions open to question. [Photograph: Andrew Gombert/AFP/Getty Images]

debate

Both candidates have been in Congress and both have been elected to governor, but their future—if they don’t get elected—may follow a different path. Kaine would go back to the Senate if Trump succeeds. Pence jumped at the offer to be Trump’s running mate because he was unlikely to be re-elected for another gubernatorial term in Indiana. If he isn’t elected, Pence would be looking for another job—perhaps back to the U.S. House of Representatives. Reports from closed door meetings showed that Pence may not get a warm greeting from representatives because of Trump’s attitude toward women.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) said that his daughter had told him that “Trump hates women,” and Pence denied it, claiming that he was improving with women. In a private meeting with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Pence was pressed on his reluctance to denounce former KKK leader David Duke and the Alt-Right movement. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rebuked Pence and called Russian president Vladimir V. Putin “a thug and a butcher,” referring to Trump’s acceptance of the dictator to be unacceptable.

Trump is well known for his sexist attitude toward women, but Pence has been in a position to make life much worse for women:

  • Pence repeatedly voted for a law to criminalize abortion with no exception for a woman’s health and puts doctors into prison for up to two years.
  • Pence repeatedly cosponsored legislation to not only make abortion illegal in almost all cases but also ban common forms of contraception, stem-cell research, and in vitro fertilization.
  • Pence repeatedly voted to allow hospitals to refuse to provide emergency abortion care, even when a woman’s life is in danger.
  • Pence signed a bill to force women to carry non-viable pregnancies to term.
  • Pence’s Department of Health gave a $3.5 million contract to a “pregnancy crisis center” that lies to pregnant women about their options.
  • Pence signed every anti-abortion bill, including one mandating funerals for aborted or miscarried fetuses. A judge overturned that law as unconstitutional.
  • Pence forced a Planned Parenthood clinic to close in Scott County which led to a huge outbreak of HIV.

In an argument supporting a state law against abortion, Pence claimed that women might get voluntarily raped hoping to get pregnant and avoid work:

“And it gets worse – when you get an abortion, you get several days off of work and whatnot to recover. And there are a lot of crazy people out there. What if women would go out and get raped on purpose just so they could get off work? I mean, Indiana’s economy is struggling as it is, and having thousands of women absent from their jobs would be horrific for the state, I’m telling you. I made the right call and that will be confirmed in the long run.”

Pence is also anti-worker:

  • Pence worked to keep Indiana a “right to work” state by forcing unions to provide grievance and bargaining services to non-members free of charge. Although two judges ruled the law unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court upheld Pence’s law.
  • Pence opposes increasing the minimum wage above $7.25 and signed a bill keeping local governments from raising this amount.
  • Pence signed a law repealing the state’s common construction wage, meaning that local boards cannot allocate wages for publicly-funded construction projects.
  • Pence also supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership because he thinks that his state would “enjoy increased market access and fairly compete on the world stage.” Unions—and Donald Trump—oppose TPP because it hurts manufacturing jobs.

Pence also opposes LGBT rights by signing a “right-to-discriminate” bill against LGBT people fighting the right of gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military. More Pence positions that make Trump proud.

The problem with running for an important office is that past peccadilloes sometimes come back to haunt a candidate. In 1990, Mike Pence, like Marco Rubio, used campaign funds to pay for personal items, in Pence’s case the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees, and car payments for his wife. Because it was not illegal, the FEC created rules preventing the use of campaign funds for personal needs. Pence lost his race for the House by 19 points. This fact needs to be pointed out when Pence falsely complains about Hillary Clinton’s expenditures.

Pence may get another black eye from his refusal to pardon an innocent man. A man convicted for an armed robbery served ten years before DNA indicated another man and eyewitnesses recanted their testimony. The new prosecutor in a retrial offered a plea deal for an immediate release, leaving the convicted man no choice but to admit to a crime he didn’t commit in other to keep his family from becoming homeless. Pence’s argument against pardoning the man is that no governor has ever pardoned an innocent man: he obviously knows the man is innocent and won’t pardon him. The prosecutor who got the plea agreement is running for Attorney General of Indiana as a Republican, and a pardon would hurt his campaign.

In the coming week, Pence may also suffer with everyone except far-right voters after his losing a court case. A panel of three conservative judges from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Pence cannot discriminate against Syrian refugees by withholding funding from refugee resettlement organizations promised aid by federal law. Judge Richard Posner, a Ronald Reagan appointee, said that Pence’s unfounded “fear of terrorist infiltration” is not a rationale for discrimination. He added that federal law forbids restricting settlement funding on the basis of national origin and compared it to forbidding black people to come to Indiana because Pence might be afraid of them. As an illustration of how conservative this panel was, another member of the unanimous panel, Diane Sykes, is on Trump’s short list for Supreme Court candidates.

People who watched tonight’s debate saw Kaine attacking Pence and frequently interrupting him. Pence stayed unflappable while making faces as Kaine delivered fact after fact of Trump’s egregious statements. The debate itself will probably be soon forgotten, but Kaine’s statements about Trump will most likely be frequently televised along with Pence’s facial expressions and his frequent shaking his head. For example, Pence claimed that he didn’t call Putin a “strong leader,” but video shows did exactly that. Kaine made points asking about Trump’s tax returns, his praise for Putin, his negative comments about women, and his refusal to apologize.

As Kaine pointed out, Pence couldn’t defend Trump—he could only pivot away from him most of the time. One of Pence’s mistakes was to accuse Hillary Clinton of taking money from the Clinton Foundation because Kaine took the opening to list the ways that Pence had abused the Trump Foundation. Another mistake was to blame Clinton for the Russian aggression in Ukraine because it led to the discussion of Trump’s support of Russia.

In one sense, tonight’s debate may be a prelude to the presidential campaign on October 9. Watch next Sunday for the complaint from Trump that Clinton has released an “avalanche of insults.”  If so, this accusation will come from the man who tweeted his own “avalanche of insults” tonight. Otherwise it was pretty much a non-event.

Bottom line: Confronted by Trump’s statements, Pence said that the candidate didn’t say things that he did, avoided the topic, or looked away.

September 27, 2016

Presidential Candidate: Trump Normalizes Lies, Abuse

Satire has become more and more difficult as GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, goes over the edge in his ridiculous behavior as shown in the first presidential candidate debate of 2016. Satirist Andy Borowitz concludes his column, “Trump Threatens to Skip Remaining Debates If Hillary Is There”with this mocking comment:

“’I have said time and time again that I would only do these debates if I am treated fairly,” [Trump] added. “The only way I can be guaranteed of being treated fairly is if Hillary Clinton is not there.’”

Borowitz’s column on the debate is almost factual—probably more factual that the lies that Trump spewed throughout the 90 minutes. NPR provided an excellent 100-word summary with six additional videos:

“The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was a contentious affair with the presidential candidates clashing on the economy, taxes and terrorism. With discipline, Clinton pushed Trump’s buttons, attacking his business practices, accusing him of not paying his contractors and stiffing the American people by not paying federal taxes. Trump replied, “That makes me smart.” Trump was vintage: a visceral debater who touted his business acumen and accused Clinton of being a professional politician — “all talk and no action.” A 30-year career in politics, Trump said, has yielded nothing.”

debate

According to the CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers, 62 percent gave the win to Clinton, and only 27 percent thought Trump was the winner. The majority of two TV focus groups of undecided voters largely declared Clinton the winner after the debate—18 of 20 in a CNN group in Florida and 16 of 22 in a CBS group run by GOP strategist Frank Luntz. In these groups, voters leaning toward Trump had a better opinion of Clinton than the “undecided” voters did. One panelist said that Clinton “took control of the situation.” One alt-right group concluded that Trump “sucked” and gave ideas on how he could improve.

Although Trump has fixated on Clinton’s lack of stamina, he appeared to fade after the first 20 minutes of the debate. He also skipped a post-debate victory part and went home immediately after the debate.

Trump’s own surrogates concentrated on his possible success during the first half of the debate in a rather lukewarm fashion. Some weren’t even that supportive and criticized Trump’s entire part of the debate. On the Fox network, Laura Ingraham complained that the moderator made bad topic choices. In the spin room afterward, former New York City mayor Rudy Guiliani said that Trump shouldn’t participate in the remaining two debates because he was treated badly in this one.

GOP lawmakers weren’t any happier. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) complained that Trump dragged out his answers and was frequently repetitive in his responses. Others said that he was ill-prepared and appeared too defensive. The only positive thing that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) could say about Trump is that he was “spirited.”

The low bar for Trump for last night’s debate required only that he look “presidential” and “non-sociopathic.” He failed. Trump may have looked moderately successful in a discussion about foreign trade, but his raving and incessant interrupting began immediately after that. The longest one was after Lester Holt gave evidence that Trump had supported the Iraq War at the same time that Clinton voted in favor of giving George W. Bush and ability to attack Iraq. The candidate kept shouting that people would know the Trump’s truth if they only talked to Fox network’s Sean Hannity.

A few of Trump’s failures:

  • He called the $14 million loan from his father “small.”
  • He couldn’t explain why he wouldn’t release his taxes.
  • He claimed that he didn’t pay for contractors because they had done poor work.
  • He justified denying housing to blacks by declaring that he hadn’t publicly admitted guilt.
  • He used the excuse of racist birtherism by saying that he just wanted to force Barack Obama to release his birth certificate despite Holt’s asking why he continued to be a birther. Trump finally said, “Look, it’s all words.”
  • He tried to play the victim—and miserably failed—by saying that Clinton wasn’t nice to him because she quoted many of the sexist comments that he has made about women.

Trump has lied about Clinton’s attempt to eradicate the Second Amendment by tacitly indicating that people should shoot Clinton. The Democratic candidate has consistently argued for sensible gun laws such as universal background checks. Last night, however, Trump argued that the police should take guns from minorities. In talking about his proposed unconstitutional “stop-and-frisk” program, he said, “We have to take their guns!”

Every time Clinton baited Trump, he took the lure. For example, she said, “Donald was one of the people who rooted for housing crisis. He said back in 2006, gee, I hope it does collapse then I can go in and buy some and it did collapse.” In desperation, Trump answered, “That is business.”

Unlike Trump’s opponents in the GOP primary debates, Clinton always appeared dignified and used specific facts for all her arguments throughout the first debate. She appeared to be addressing the television audience with her clear explanations. In contrast, Trump continually interrupted Clinton, accusing her of lying, spoke over her answers, and extending his time over Holt’s protests. Clinton almost always patiently waited until Trump finished, just as a person might do with a petulant small child, before she returned to policy statements. Although he didn’t admit he did a bad job, he complained of having a bad microphone after the debate had finished.

About last night’s debate, the editorial board of the New York Times wrote:

“When just one candidate is serious and the other is a vacuous bully, the term [debate] loses all meaning….

“There was a fundamental asymmetry to the exercise, because of the awful truth that one of the participants had nothing truthful to offer. But seeing them on the same stage distilled exactly who they have been throughout this campaign….

“Standing at the lectern, interrupting and shouting, playing the invisible accordion with his open hands, filibustering, tossing his word salads—jobs and terrorism and Nafta and China and everything is terrible—Mr. Trump said a lot. But as the debate wore on, he struggled to contend with an opponent who was much more poised and prepared than any of the Republicans he faced in the primaries.”

Joe Klein wrote in Time: 

“Her most impressive moments came when she wasn’t talking, when she was on split-screen listening to him. She didn’t waver; she listened with a perfect combination of attention and ironic bemusement, with just the slightest hint of “What a jerk” flickering at the corners of her eyes and her mouth.

“He, by contrast, huffed and puffed and sniffled … and sighed and groaned and mugged and drank water and interrupted, rudely, repeatedly. He made not one solid, specific proposal during the course of the 90 minutes.”

In a Newsweek opinion piece, “Donald Trump’s Sniffling, Humbling Debate Debacle,” Matthew Cooper wrote about Trump’s “smirks and pouts,” his “sniffles” and how he “seemed allergic to facts.”

  • Clinton has been fighting ISIS “her entire adult life.” No, ISIS came out under George W. Bush in 2004, and Clinton was born in 1947.
  • ICE endorsed Trump? No, government agencies don’t endorse candidates.
  • He wanted to protect President Obama with the birther movement? Totally preposterous!
  • The U.S. is a Third World country. No—he’s obviously never been to a real Third World country.

The debate shows a presidential candidate who has no soul. He will cheat anyone to make more money and then take pride in his actions. He even lies about opposing “professional politicians”; he just wants the position of president to make money for his businesses.

The worst part of the debate, however, is that the country is not more horrified by what a presidential candidate openly says to 100 million people. He finished his diatribe about Clinton’s accusations of misogyny was his “defense” by talking about Rosie O’Donnell. In 2006, she criticized him on The View about his affair while he was married and about his bankruptcy. That was ten years ago, and he still obsesses about it. At the end of the debate, Trump said:

 “Somebody who’s been very vicious to me, Rosie O’Donnell, I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it, and nobody feels sorry for her.”

These are the same words that abusive men use when they talk about their female victims: “She deserves it.” And the media made very few comments about it because Trump has normalized not only lying but also abuse and violence with the support of over 40 percent of the voters in the United States. This is a tragic commentary on the culture of the country in the 21st century.

September 23, 2016

Misplaced Protest Can Lead to a Trump Presidency

The election is getting closer, and some millennial Bernie Sanders supporters are still opposing Hillary Clinton. They—and many others—say that they will vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in a protest vote although many of them also know nothing about these two candidates. At this time, Clinton is less than three percent ahead of Donald Trump in an average of major polls while Johnson and Stein have over 11 percent between them. In browsing my LGBT file, I found a message written to Daily Kos published over six weeks ago.

“A message to the millennial LGBT’s I see on my feed bashing Hillary on a daily basis by re spewing the Republican lies and propaganda about her & vowing to vote for Jill Stein or write in Bernie….

“My husband Steve & I have been together over 26 years now, & btw it’s been less than 3 years that I’ve been able to call him that, and though it’s about so much more than the money, we’ve saved over $42,000.00 in that short of time by being able to file taxes as a married couple, and by having him on my health insurance.

“We’ve been waiting & fighting for that equality since before most of you were born.

“Your third party or write in vote only helps elect Donald Trump, check your history books, when was the last time one of those won a presidential election?

“You often quote that Hillary stated that she was against marriage equality, she did, but that was years ago when just about every other liberal politician had to say that too just to get elected, btw we’ve received more equality in just 7 years under our current president who also evolved on marriage equality.

“Though you don’t hear about it much in the so called liberal media, Trump vows to appoint Supreme Court justices that will overturn marriage equality, says he’s ok with the anti LGBT law in North Carolina & other states, & has selected the countries most hateful anti-LGBT Governor as his running mate.

“Often the younger generations thank Steve & me for helping pave the way for acceptance & equality, as we appreciate & thank the ones that came before us.

“To see you, however inadvertently it might be, help pave the way back to the 50’s is just unfathomable to me, I’m closing in on 60 years old & really don’t want to have to start over from square one.”

#lovetrumpshate Robert Hansen/Steve Schneider, Oakbrook Terrace Illinois

Tomorrow the couple celebrates its third anniversary because they couldn’t get married 27 years ago. Happy anniversary, Bob and Steve!

iowacouple

Notice in the Windy City Times: Bob Hansen (in the purple vest) and Steve Schneider (in the lime/yellow vest) recently wed in Iowa. They described it as being such an amazing and emotional moment, surrounded by family, 23 years (and four months) after meeting as next-door neighbors. They also expressed gratitude for the judges that brought this equality to Iowa and sadness for the judges’ ousters shortly afterwards.

Some of the Hillary-haters may say that LGBT rights mean nothing to them, but a Trump president will cost them in their rights and their bank accounts. Trump’s philosophy is to rip off people and put the money in his pocket. A Trump presidency means no more health care or other safety nets for low-income and middle-class people, far higher taxes for everyone except the wealthy, higher costs for college tuition instead of free higher education for the poor—and a dictatorship because Trump likes “strong leaders.”

A Trump presidency can remove rights for women, minorities, moderate Christians, atheists and agnostics, low- and middle-income people. Only wealthy white men will benefit from a Trump presidency. Electing Trump can cause the death and destruction of World War III if someone makes a rude “gesture.”

In normal times, a vote for third party candidates means supporting the voters’ ideals. In 2016, a vote for a third party candidate means that a president can be elected, like in 2000, who leads the country into unending war and economic depression. England recently voted to follow one of Trump’s ideals—to leave the European Union—because they feared immigrants. The day after that vote, many of them said that they had changed their minds or never even intended to vote for leaving the EU. The country is now considering another vote or a reversal of this one. Voting for Johnson or Stein—or Trump, for that matter—doesn’t leave voters any chance to change their minds. It’s done deal that will truly lead the United States into disaster.

People will be making the most important decision of their lives in the next 46 days. I can only hope that voters use rational thought instead of emotional responses in making this choice.

September 13, 2016

Media, Trump Attack Clinton for Illness, ‘Deplorable’ Description

 

When rumors circulated that Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) had died, the great writer responded, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The same thing can be said by Hillary Clinton although right-wing conspiracy theorists won’t believe it.

“A video clip of WABC-TV Channel 7 ‘Eyewitness News’ in New York City opened [last Sunday night] with Anchorman Joe Torre saying ‘more on Hillary Clinton’s Death.’ The opening line, however, seems edited-OUT of the video archive!”

[Spoiler alert: Clinton is alive and well and going back on the campaign trail in two days.] The above lede published on a far-right conspiracy website was followed by the myths that the woman pictured in the clips following Clinton’s health episode at the 9/11 memorial was thinner, walked differently, and carried her handbag over her right shoulder. The writer claimed that the fingers were of different lengths and the wedding rings were different in the compared Clinton photos. And even more from the writer! Chelsea Clinton’s home was formerly a New York state hospital which contributes to the conspiracy theory that the Clinton Foundation is providing a private hospice for Hillary Clinton in the same building where her daughter lives.

Except the far-right has been punked. Teresa Barnwell, who has been impersonating Clinton since the 1990s, tweeted a photo that she had taken weeks earlier outside Chelsea Clinton’s building with the caption, “Maybe I was in NYC today…you never know!” Too much unwanted attention led her to delete it. Barnwell wasn’t in New York on Sunday. She said about her impersonation, “It was a lot more fun in the ’90s. People had a sense of humor no matter what their political affiliation.”

Donald Trump avoided the military because he had bone spurs on his heels while his supporters attack Hillary Clinton for powering through a case of pneumonia. As Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote, “It’s what women do” and cites examples. Diagnosed with pneumonia, Clinton attended events and campaigning for the next day, culminating in her feeling faint on Sunday when she attended the 9/11 memorial. Instead of obsessing about Clinton feeling faint, the media should praise her for continuing to do her work despite the heat, humidity, and pneumonia. Meanwhile, voters are waiting for Trump’s health record, and some people are wondering about the identity and credentials of his new doctor considering the ridiculous letter of opinion from his last one.

Dr. Oz” will “analyze” the results on his Thursday show. The doctor/entertainer will most likely present Trump as very healthy, no matter what the test results, because of his reputation for “unorthodox” claims that his show resembles an infomercial for fads. For example, he was required to testify before a Senate subcommittee claiming that “the No. 1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat [is] raspberry ketones.” Canadian fact-checkers found that half the claims are supported with evidence. Oz made news in the media after he false announced that several brands of apple juice had high levels of arsenic following improper testing. Although Oz’s claim was disproved, the warning is still circulating the internet.

After ten physicians asked Columbia University to cut ties with Dr. Mehmet Oz, he defended himself by saying that his program is actually “not a medical show” and will no longer use terms such as “miracle.” His major defense of his debunked claims, however, is “freedom of speech.” One of Oz’s colleagues, Dr. Henry I. Miller at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said that the medical community general  regards Oz “as a fraud, charlatan, and huckster, interested only in what benefits him financially.” Trump’s appearance with Dr. Oz brings up the old saying, “Birds of a feather ….”

Asked about the interview with Trump on the television show, Oz said:

“It’s his decision. You know, I–the metaphor for me is it’s the doctor’s office, the studio. So I’m not going to ask him questions he doesn’t want to have answered.”

Legendary entertainer Cher responded, “Why is Dr. Oz letting Trump pimp him out!?”

Clinton also got bad press by saying that half of Trump’s supporters are “deplorable” so she apologized:

“I regret saying ‘half’–that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.  I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together.’ “

Trump supporters and the media are shocked—shocked! I say—that Hillary Clinton would describe his supporters as “deplorable.” Slate’s chief political correspondent, Jamelle Bouie, put Clinton’s original remarks into perspective: “If you break down the numbers and you look at the RealClearPolitics average, and it gives Trump, 43 percent of the registered voters, they’re about 30, 31 million people.” Half would be about 15 million people.

Polls showing percentages of Trump’s attitudes toward Muslims, Mexican immigrants, blacks, and LGBT people within members of the GOP indicate that Clinton may have been right:

Birtherism: 72 percent of registered Republicans still question that President Obama was born in the United States, and both VP candidate Mike Pence and Trump refuse to come out against birtherism. Both of them just say, “I don’t talk about that issue.” Trump’s surrogates claim that Trump has gotten over that conspiracy theory, but he will not personally admit it.

Muslim ban: 84 percent of Trump supports want to ban Muslims from the United States.

Islam: 58 percent of Trump supporters said they have “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” views of Islam.

Immigrants: 70 percent of Republicans agree with Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants being “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” to the U.S. Half of Trump supporters connect more undocumented immigrants to crime than U.S. citizens.

Trump’s judge: 43 percent of Republicans agreed with Trump that he should complain about his judge being “Mexican”—although the judge is from Illinois.

Building “the wall”: 73 percent of Republicans support building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Blacks: 40 to 50 percent of Trump supporters hold at least one of these negative views about blacks: less intelligent, more lazy, more rude, more violent, and more criminal.

LGBT rights: 67 percent of Republicans oppose marriage equality. 82 percent of Republicans support laws preventing people from using facilities matching their gender identities. In the category of job discrimination, only 33 percent of Republicans oppose laws prohibiting LGBT discrimination in jobs, housing, and public accommodation—but that poll was last February, before the “potty police” invaded the country.

Trump calls his supporters “patriotic,” but polls show a vastly increased popularity of Vladimir Putin since Trump’s vocal support for the Russian leader. Although there is no good polling on views about gender, Trump’s supporters cheer all his sexist remarks.

As usual, Trump and the media have judged Clinton on a much higher curve than Donald Trump. Charles Pierce wrote:

“In between her initial diagnosis and the disclosure, Clinton appeared at two fundraisers, ran a two-hour national security meeting, did a press event, sat down for an interview with CNN, and attended a memorial service for America’s fallen heroes. Everybody gets sick, but not everybody shows up for work—especially highly stressful work—day in and day out. She does.”

While Trump lambasts Clinton for her “deplorable” statement, people forget that Trump told Sean Hannity’s viewers last June that 50 percent of the population has to “carry” the other 50 percent.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJhsWT-MAN4    Just six months earlier, he said that Mitt Romney should have not apologized by saying that 47 percent of the people in the U.S. will vote for President Obama because he gives them things because Romney was correct.

Donald Trump tells so many lies and makes so many outrageous comments that he’s desensitized the media. Instead, they turn on Hillary Clinton when she makes one statement that they find offensive. People–and the most of the media–even ignore Trump when he promises to start World War III if Iranians make rude “gestures” from their “little bug boats.” That was just before he called Clinton “trigger-happy.”

September 8, 2016

‘Special Treatment’ for Hillary Clinton

Last night’s precursor of the presidential debates shows the importance of a good moderator. Matt Lauer isn’t one. He started by grilling Hillary Clinton on her emails—taking up a full one-third of her time—that he could have used for issues such as military strategy, leadership goals, policy positions, etc. When he finally got around to the subject of the townhall—national security and veterans issues—he hurried her through her answers by interrupting her, something he didn’t do once to Trump. She was limited in discussing policy while Trump was permitted to lie without confrontation and then spend much of his time in generalities such as defining his qualifications to be commander-in-chief as having “good judgment” and “common sense.” MSNBC should be embarrassed about this debacle; it felt much like a performance on the Fox network.

Trump’s major position in protecting the country is that it has bad generals, “reduced to rubble” to be specific. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS: he already has a plan. But then he said he’ll tell his top generals to create a plan. Which is it? And he’ll do it in 30 days. George W. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” 40 days after he invaded Iraq, and the U.S. is still in a quagmire there. Trump is also under the misguided impression that he can change all the generals to those who agree with him, but he doesn’t appoint them. He may nominate them, but the Senate has to approve his appointments.

Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is better than Obama, Trump said, because Putin’s approval ratings are higher. Throughout the townhall Trump had nothing bad to say about Putin and nothing good to say about the U.S. president. Lauer also failed to point out that dictators typically have high approval ratings.

Trump claims that he’s studying policy but excuses himself from knowing anything by saying, “I’m campaigning, I’m running a business, I’ve got a lot of hats right now.” Trump doesn’t want to remove women from the military, but he blames the high number of sexual assaults in the military on the fact that men and women are serving again. Trump is unaware that 53 percent of these assaults in 2012 were of men and almost entirely by men. Over half the assaults in 2015 were still of men. Lauer appeared totally unaware of this information.

Lauer’s introductory question to Trump was what he had done to be commander-in-chief. He answered, “Well, I’ve built a great company. I’ve been all over the world.” Then he proceeded to lie about opposing the Iraq War from the beginning and the U.S. intervention in Libya that overturned late dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Lauer failed to point out that Trump initially supported the Iraq War and called on the U.S. to intervene—leaving the audience with the idea that Trump was being truthful. By the finish, Lauer had failed to ask Trump about his dodging the draft, ridiculing POW Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), smearing a Gold Star family, comparing experience in prep school to serving in the military, calling on Russia to hack Clinton’s email server, and bragging about getting a Purple Heart because a soldier gave Trump his medal. Nor did Lauer ask about the affect that a Muslim ban would have on potential ISIS terrorism in the U.S. This in a discussion about national security and veterans affairs in front of an audience of veterans.

In the past, journalists believed that the truth had value. Now their position is that political candidates lie however they want with no questioning. Chris Wallace, moderator of the October 19 presidential debate, said, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad.” Lauer also showed his inability to handle Trump. Although he told the candidates to not be negative, Trump spent over half his time attacking Clinton and President Obama—perhaps because he doesn’t know anything about being a commander-in-chief. Lauer also failed to gather any specifics from Trump.

Trump has spent several months saying that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited, despite his statement that the years 2002-2008 are no longer being audited. (Of course, no one knows for sure that any of his tax returns are being audited.) Then he switched to saying that it would be “irresponsible” to do that. The most recent statement before last night was that “I think people don’t care. I don’t think anybody cares, except some members of the press.” Actually, the man who follows polls so closely should know that 74 percent of the people think he should release them—including 62 percent of the Republicans. Even his running mate, Mike Pence wants him to make the returns public.

Last night, Trump tried a different tack. He’ll release them “immediately” if Clinton makes public personal emails that were deleted years ago. He also said that no one in business would delete emails although that’s exactly what his business did several years ago when he brought a lawsuit ten years ago.

“If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS,” Trump said last night. He suggested that the way to defeat ISIS is to “take the oil.” Asked how to do that, he said:

“Well, you—you just, you would leave a certain group behind. And you would take various sections where they have the oil. People don’t know this about Iraq, but they have among the largest oil reserves in the world.”

So Trump’s plan is to pillage a country of all resources after the U.S. idea has invaded it.

Trump has long valued Russia and Putin over the United States and President Obama, but he went over the edge in a townhall meeting on national security when he talked about his experiences at the his first classified briefing—after he talked about the dangers of Clinton’s emails. He said he was shocked by the way that the briefers disdained his political opponent and the current president and finished by saying, “Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.” With this massive breach of ethics, concerns about giving Trump classified information were accurate. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has politicized these briefings.

Members of the Trump campaign staff also leaked information about the briefing. For example, it was reported that retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn interrupted the proceedings so much that Chris Christie, also invited by Trump, told him to shut up.

clinton-smileRNC Chair Reince Priebus couldn’t fault Clinton for her statements in last night’s townhall so he complained about—yes!—her not smiling. She answered, “Actually, that’s just what taking the office of President seriously looks like.” Priebus was also wrong: she did smile as this photo shows.

The male moderator at a townhall doesn’t allow the female candidate to address the issues and constantly interrupts her while telling her to hurry up. Then he gives the male candidate easy questions and fails to correct most of the candidate’s lies. The moderator also orders the female not to attack her opponent while asking the male candidate to “keep his attacks to a minimum.” The moderator didn’t limit the male candidate’s constant attacks in any way. And finally the leader of the Republican party complains because she won’t “smile” while talking about serious issues. Might this be called sexism?

Trump may have had a pitiful performance last night in the townhalls, but Gary Johnson, the Libertarian who disaffected Republicans consider as an alternative had a worse morning. When he was asked on Morning Joe about Aleppo, Johnson answered, “What is Aleppo”? The U.S. public may not need to know about Aleppo, but the President of the United States needs to know that Aleppo is the “epicenter” of the Syrian refugee crisis, as Mike Barnicle explained to Johnson. All of Hillary Clinton’s opponents are pathetic, and almost all the “journalists” focus on how she is perceived as not “likable.”

The bar is so low for Donald Trump that he’s admired if he doesn’t drool on his shoes—to quote Democrat Eugene Robinson and Republican Nicole Wallace. That means that Hillary Clinton definitely gets special treatment the way people claim—it’s just that she cannot achieve their high standards no matter the extent of her knowledge and preparation. Trump would have disappeared a year ago, if expectations for him were only one-fourth what they are for Hillary Clinton.

August 30, 2016

Trump’s Campaign Manager Decries Lack of ‘Substance’

“We want substance!” That’s the cry from Donald lovers and Hillary haters. During an interview with Rachel Maddow, Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, voiced the complaint that “no substance [is] being discussed” in the 2016 race.

Yesterday Hillary Clinton provided substance—and the media ignored her. She presented a mental health package to help improve the condition of the 20 percent of people in the United States who suffer from mental illness and initiate a White House conference about the subject during her first year as president. Her plan integrates mental health services into health-care system and includes a national suicide prevention initiative, higher payments for Medicaid providers, emphasis on treatment over jail for low-level criminal offenders with mental health issues, and new housing and job opportunities. She also promised increased investment in brain and behavioral science research as well as enforcing existing laws that mandate mental health coverage be an essential benefit in health insurance plans. This agenda overlaps with her plan to address drug and alcohol addiction and addresses the problems of military veterans who experience PTSD and depression.

Plans like this sound boring to anyone except policy wonks like Clinton. Anti-Hillary people would rather have the media throw them red meat so that they are comfortable with hating Clinton. Much as Trump’s campaign manager calls for a discussion of “substance,” her candidate doesn’t want anything except innuendo and false assertions.

Yesterday, Conway’s candidate blamed Clinton for Anthony Weiner sexts because the former congressman and onetime mayoral candidate is married to Clinton’s senior adviser Huma Abedin who is leaving her husband after the most recent sexts. Trump wrote:

“I only worry for the country in that Hillary Clinton was careless and negligent in allowing Weiner to have such close proximity [sic] to highly classified information. Who knows what he learned and who he told? It’s just another example of Hillary Clinton’s bad judgment. It is possible that our country and its security have been greatly compromised by this.”

Throwing out this criticism is bad judgment from a man who left his first wife for another woman and then left her for a Central European model who posed nude and may have violated immigration law. After his first divorce, his own mother said, “What kind of son have I created?” He also seeks advice from Roger Ailes, recently fired from his position as chair and CEO of Fox network because of sexual harassment for dozens of women. Trump’s pick for campaign CEO is Steve Bannon, who was charged with physically assaulting his ex-wife. Weiner hasn’t been charged with any criminal acts, but Trump wants him listed as a sex offender. And Trump has no proof for his assertions; he just wants to rile up his audience.

While ignoring Clinton’s health plan, Trump waded into the issue of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who didn’t stand for the national anthem and said that the football player should leave the United States. Colin Kaepernick said that he was protesting the nation’s racial inequality when he sat during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The NFL league does not require players to stand during the national anthem. It’s a matter of free speech, just the Supreme Court says about donating unlimited sums of money to candidates.

Conservatives who want limited ownership of firearms claim that killings could be solved by addressing mental health issues, but no Republican, including Donald Trump, has responded to Clinton’s new plan. If Conway’s candidate tries to address “substance,” he’ll be farther down in the polls that he is now.

Trump Watch: Pastor Mark Burns, a black supporter of Donald Trump, has used his freedom of speech to attack Clinton by tweeting a vile cartoon of the Democratic presidential candidate in black face. [I included the cartoon because it’s the only way to see how horrible it is.] blackfaceTrump’s surrogate and advisor, a proponent of the “prosperity gospel” that champions money and celebrates great wealth for people, called his intentions in the tweet “honorable.”  Burns’ benediction at the GOP convention has been called the most partisan convention prayer in modern history. He called Democrats as “the enemy” and asked for God to “defeat” Clinton and her party. Trump’s favorability with blacks is zero: 97 percent of blacks view Trump unfavorably and the remaining three percent is undecided.

The Washington Post has made public much of the raw reporting used in the development of Trump Revealed, its new biography of the GOP presidential nominee. The archive contains 398 documents–interview transcripts, court filings, financial reports, immigration records, etc.

Dr. Harold Bornstein may come to regret the five minutes that he spent typing up his letter with the glowing description of Trump’s fine health. After GOP members started putting out fake videos and other reports falsely purporting that Clinton’s health is bad, journalists started digging into the Bornstein’s background. The interview with him was damning enough, especially when he said, in an egregious violation of medical ethics, “I know her physician and I know some of her health history which is really not so good.”

Additional information shows that Bornstein paid $86,250 in 2002 to the husband of a former patient to settle a wrongful death case alleging that Bornstein had contributed to the woman’s addition and resulting death by overmedicating her with unnecessary prescriptions. This case was one of three lawsuits since 1992, with another one alleging improper administration of  powerful drugs leading to the patient’s death.

In one of the complaints, Kenneth Levin alleged Bornstein “was negligent, careless, and unskilled in failing to properly diagnose the plaintiff” and in treating his wife, Janet Levin. It also alleges that Bornstein was negligent “in failing to make a referral to a mental health professional; in wrongfully prescribing tuinal, morphine, and valium, particularly in light of the history of drinking; in improperly and negligently seeing the patient without providing treatment; and in overmedicating the decedent.” Kenneth Levin has died since the lawsuit was filed and settled through a payment.

Malpractice suits aren’t uncommon among medical professionals, but Bornstein’s response to the letter of clean health he wrote for Trump has raised questions. For example, he said of the letter,“In a rush, I think some of those words didn’t come out exactly the way they were meant.” About the language, Bornstein said, “I think I picked up [Trump’s] kind of language and then just interpreted it to my own.” Arthur Caplan, founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, pointed out that “a gastroenterologist should not be offering an assessment of Trump’s overall health.” Caplan also said:

“You don’t do an assessment in a few minutes, and you don’t do it without having the person in front of you. You don’t write a letter without examining the patient.”

In another part of collateral damage in the Clinton health situation, Fox fired Dr. Drew Pinsky after he made a diagnosis of Hillary Clinton on his program although he had not seen her or her doctor.

Another Trump discovery is that his modeling agency, Trump Model Management, hired underage foreign models in the early 2000s without proper documentation. Interviews have shown low wages, horrible living conditions, and fear of being deported because they didn’t have work visas. For example, “the agency charged as much as $1,600 a month for a bunk in a six-person room in New York’s East Village in 2004.” As many as 11 girls, ages 14 and 15, and women would live in this room.

Models said that agency reps coached them in how to pass immigration:

“When you’re stuck at immigration, say that you’re coming as a tourist. If they go through your luggage and they find your portfolio, tell them that you’re going there to look for an agent.”

The girls and women were also told to send their portfolios ahead so that they didn’t get caught with them. More successful models received H-1B work visas; others not offered visas were sent home. Last March, Trump said he would “end forever the use of H-1B as a cheap labor program,” adding he will require companies to hire American workers before opening the pool to visa holders.

Trump gained part of his popularity by claiming that undocumented immigrants–like the ones his agency imported–are “taking our jobs” and “taking our money.” He promised to deport all of them and build a wall on the Mexico border–although he shipped these models into the country through New York airports. Tomorrow, Trump is presenting his latest immigration position in a speech to be given in Arizona.

Two people discussing Clinton and Trump on a local public radio station yesterday highlighted the differences between their approaches toward candidate selection. A woman claiming to be highly educated said that, based on her feelings, she wouldn’t even trust Clinton to walk her dog. A respondent, who described himself as a Goldwater Republican, said that he wouldn’t trust Trump with his bank account. His viewpoint was based on fact whereas the woman had been absorbing the “feelings” from the media. The man wanted discussion based on substance—important issues such as nuclear weapons and Russian involvement in U.S. elections. But the Hillary haters just want to keep on hating, and the media feeds them what they want.

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