Tuesday Reads: RIP Bobby Vee and Tom Hayden


Bobby Vee

Bobby Vee

Good Afternoon!!

Two notable deaths hit home for me yesterday. One was 1960s activist Tom Hayden, and the other was one of my teen idols, singer Bobby Vee. I’ll start with him.

RIP Bobby Vee

I was in 6th grade on February 3, 1959, when three pop stars, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson died along with their pilot Roger Peterson in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. They were on their way to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Holly’s band members Waylon Jennings, Tommy Alsup, and Carl Bunch, stayed behind with their broken-down tour bus. The Big Bopper had the flu, so Jennings gave up his seat, and Richie Valens won a coin toss to get his. Years later, that tragic day became known as “the day the music died.” after the Don McLean song.

Moorhead is just across the river from Fargo, North Dakota, my birthplace. Bobby Veline (later Bobby Vee) was a 15-year-old rhythm guitar player from Fargo who had recently joined a garage band. The awful crash led to Veline’s big break. The call went out for local bands to fill in for the lost stars. From The Fargo Forum: How ‘The Day the Music Died’ launched Fargoan Bobby Vee into music stardom.

Fifteen-year-old Fargoan Bobby Vee and his new band The Shadows stepped up to fill the bill at the Moorhead Armory show. With that, the singer/guitarist took his first step into rock history….

Robert Thomas Velline was born April 30, 1943, to Sydney and Saima Velline of Fargo. Raised in a musical household, young Bobby followed suit and started playing saxophone at Central High School.

“I wanted to rock out. We were playing all the standard band pieces, but I wanted to play ‘Yakety Yak,'” Vee recalled on his website biography….

The shadows

The Shadows

When his older brother, guitarist Bill Velline, started playing with bassist Jim Stillman and drummer Bob Korum, Bobby begged to join, but they thought he was too young. He won them over with a velvety smooth voice. The group hadn’t played together much and didn’t have a name until just before taking the stage at the Moorhead Armory that fateful night.

“I remember being petrified when the curtains opened,” Vee told The Forum 19 years later. “I was blinded by the spotlight and just numb all over.”

The nerves didn’t last. That June he and The Shadows recorded “Suzie Baby” and the song was on the radio later that summer. Hits like “Devil or Angel” and “Rubber Ball” kept coming. In 1961 he would release his only No. 1 song, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” written by Carole King and Gerry Coffin. The follow-up, “Run to Him,” peaked at No. 2 and in 1962 he would reach No. 3 with “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes.”

Velline’s band didn’t even have a name when they went on stage. The emcee asked him for a name, and he looked at his bandmates and saw their shadows in the spotlight; so he told the emcee their name was “The Shadows.” Afterward, an agent gave Velline his card and the rest was history.

When Bobby Vee’s hit song “Take Good Care of My Baby” (written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin) came out in July 1961. I bought the 45 rpm record and played it over an over again. When I found out that the singer came from Fargo, I became his number 1 fan. I bought all his albums for the next couple of years before I moved on to more sophisticated rock music.

In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Bobby Vee poses at the studio console at his family's Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph, Minn. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)

In this Dec. 18, 2013 file photo, Bobby Vee poses at the studio console at his family’s Rockhouse Productions in St. Joseph, Minn. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen, File)

One thing I never knew until yesterday was the connection between Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan (then Bob Zimmerman). Dylan grew up in Duluth, Minnesota–not that far from Fargo, and Dylan’s first paying gig was as a member of The Shadows.

Despite the sad circumstances, the Shadows’ gig was considered a success, with Vee calling the Moorhead show “the start of a wonderful career.”

Vee and the Shadows soon recorded a regional hit with “Suzie Baby,” which resulted in Vee signing a record deal with Liberty Records. Minnesota native Bob Dylan, who called Vee in 2013 “the most meaningful person I’ve ever been onstage with,” would later cover “Suzie Baby” in concert [Vee was in the audience].

Dylan, who played in the Shadows with Vee in 1959, also praised the singer in his Chronicles, Volume One. Vee “had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell,” Dylan wrote. “I’d always thought of him as a brother.” Dylan briefly joined Vee’s backing band as a pianist after Vee’s brother brought Dylan, who called himself “Elston Gunnn,” in for an audition. “He was a funny little wiry kind of guy and he rocked pretty good,” Vee said.

More about Vee and Dylan’s connection from Heavy.com.

Dylan and Vee both “escaped” the Midwest, as Dylan wrote in Chronicles. Vee was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota. Vee was still playing in the region when his backing group, The Shadows, thought they needed a pianist. Dylan met Vee in a record store in Fargo and heard they wanted a piano player. He introduced himself as Elston Gunnn (with three n’s).

According to Expecting Rain, Vee told Goldmine in 1999 that Dylan claimed he just came off the road with Conway Twitty. They were impressed, but later learned that he could only play in the key of C. They hired him for $15 a night, but the job didn’t last long. As Vee explained:

It was ill-fated. I mean, it wasn’t gonna work. He didn’t have any money, and we didn’t have any money. The story is that I fired him, but that certainly wasn’t the case. If we could have put it together somehow, we sure would have. We wished we could have put it together. He left and went on to Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

Years later, Vee and Dylan met in Greenwich Village.

Dylan was now a folk singer and Vee was a pop star. According to Vee, they met again in a record store.

“I was walking down the street. There was a record store there, and there was an album in the front window. And it said, ‘Bob Dylan.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Looks a lot like Elston Gunnn,’” Vee recalled.

In Chronicles, Dylan sounds like he regretted seeing Vee go from rockabily singer to pop star. He wrote that “Take Good Care of My Baby” was “as slick as ever.” Dylan wrote:

He’d become a crowd pleaser in the pop world. As for myself, I had nothing against pop songs, but the definition of pop was changing.

Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan in 2013

Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan in 2013

Despite their different career paths after that one meeting in Greenwich Village, Dylan said he still thought of Vee as a brother since they came from the same part of the country.

“I wouldn’t see Bobby Vee again for another thirty years, and though things would be a lot different, I’d always thought of his as a brother,” Dylan wrote in Chronicles. “Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room.”

Isn’t that great story? Vee died after a five-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. The Associated Press: 

Vee was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, and performed his last show that year.

Vee had been in memory care at The Wellstead of Rogers & Diamondcrest in Rogers, about 25 miles northwest of Minneapolis, for the past 13 months and in hospice care in recent weeks, his son said.

Vee died peacefully surrounded by family, Velline said, calling it “the end of a long hard road.”
He said his father was “a person who brought joy all over the world. That was his job.”

RIP Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden led an amazing life. The New York Times obituary: Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76.

Tom Hayden, who burst out of the 1960s counterculture as a radical leader of America’s civil ri(ghts and antiwar movements, but rocked the boat more gently later in life with a progressive political agenda as an author and California state legislator, died on Sunday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76….

During the racial unrest and antiwar protests of the 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Hayden was one of the nation’s most visible radicals. He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society, a defendant in the Chicago Seven trial after riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and a peace activist who married Jane Fonda, went to Hanoi and escorted American prisoners of war home from Vietnam.

Tom Hayden

Tom Hayden

As a civil rights worker, he was beaten in Mississippi and jailed in Georgia. In his cell he began writing what became the Port Huron Statement, the political manifesto of S.D.S. and the New Left that envisioned an alliance of college students in a peaceful crusade to overcome what it called repressive government, corporate greed and racism. Its aim was to create a multiracial, egalitarian society.

Like his allies the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who were assassinated in 1968, Mr. Hayden opposed violent protests but backed militant demonstrations, like the occupation of Columbia University campus buildings by students and the burning of draft cards. He also helped plan protests that, as it happened, turned into clashes with the Chicago police outside the Democratic convention.

Read the rest at the NYT link.

Tom Hayden, beaten by white segregationists in McComb, MS, October 1961

Tom Hayden, beaten by white segregationists in McComb, MS, October 1961

After the 1968 protests, Hayden stood trial in Federal court as one of the Chicago 7, along with Bobby Seale, Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, Dave Dellinger, John Froines, and Lee Weiner, accused of conspiracy, inciting to riot and other charges. The Chicago Tribune:

With Rennie Davis, Abbie Hoffman and other radical leaders, Hayden went on to plot the massive antiwar demonstrations that turned Chicago’s streets into a battleground for five days in August 1968.

“Let us make sure that if our blood flows, it flows all over the city,” he told throngs of young protesters in the city’s Grant Park on the day Vice President Hubert Humphrey became the Democratic presidential nominee.

Confronted by Democratic Mayor Richard J. Daley’s 12,000 Chicago police in addition to 6,000 Army troops and 5,000 National Guardsmen, Hayden exhorted the demonstrators to “turn this overheated military machine against itself.”

After arrests and injuries ran well into the hundreds, Hayden and seven others were charged with conspiracy to incite violence. The Chicago Eight, as they were initially known, became the Chicago Seven when Black Panther leader Bobby Seale was separated from the case. Hayden was found guilty but the conviction was overturned in 1972 by an appeals court, which cited improper rulings by an antagonistic trial judge.

Hayden went on to become a traditional politician, serving as a California legislator. The LA times:  ‘The radical inside the system’: Tom Hayden, protester-turned-politician, dies at 76.

Hayden later married actress Jane Fonda, and the celebrity couple traveled the nation denouncing the war before forming a California political organization that backed scores of liberal candidates and ballot measures in the 1970s and ’80s, most notably Proposition 65, the anti-toxics measure that requires signs in gas stations, bars and grocery stores that warn of cancer-causing chemicals.

Hayden lost campaigns for U.S. Senate, governor of California and mayor of Los Angeles. But he was elected to the California Assembly in 1982. He served a total of 18 years in the Assembly and state Senate.

During his tenure in the Legislature, representing the liberal Westside, Hayden relished being a thorn in the side of the powerful, including fellow Democrats he saw as too pliant to donors.

“He was the radical inside the system,” said Duane Peterson, a top Hayden advisor in Sacramento.

Defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial hold a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 5, 1970. Standing are, from left, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Abbie Hoffman. Seated are Rennie Davis, center, and David Dellinger. (Chicago Tribune)

Defendants in the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial hold a news conference in Chicago on Jan. 5, 1970. Standing are, from left, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, Lee Weiner and Abbie Hoffman. Seated are Rennie Davis, center, and David Dellinger. (Chicago Tribune)

In April of this year, Hayden endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in a piece at The Nation: I Used to Support Bernie, but Then I Changed My Mind. Here’s what he had to say about Hillary:

Hillary is, well, Hillary. I remember seeing her on Yale’s green in 1969, wearing a black armband for peace while a kind of Armageddon shaped up during the Panther 21 trial and Cambodia invasion. Even then, she stood for working within the system rather than taking to the barricades. Similarly, in Chicago 1968, she observed the confrontations at a distance. If she had some sort of revolution in mind, it was evolutionary, step-by-step. In her earlier Wellesley commencement speech, she stated that the “prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living.” But from there it was a determined decades-long uphill climb through those same institutions that had disenchanted the young Hillary.

There are two Hillary Clintons. First, the early feminist, champion of children’s rights, and chair of the Children’s Defense Fund; and second, the Hillary who has grown more hawkish and prone to seeking “win-win” solutions with corporate America. When she seems to tack back towards her roots, it is usually in response to Bernie and new social movements. She hasn’t changed as much as the Democratic Party has, responding to new and resurgent movements demanding Wall Street reform, police and prison reform, immigrant rights and a $15-an-hour minimum wage, fair trade, action on climate change, LGBT rights, and more.

Hayden had grown more supportive of Hillary’s “evolutionary, step by step” approach and was concerned about Bernie’s all-or-nothing policies as well as his ability to deal with an all-out assault from the GOP and the media. In the end though, it came down to race.

I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in the California primary for one fundamental reason. It has to do with race. My life since 1960 has been committed to the causes of African Americans, the Chicano movement, the labor movement, and freedom struggles in Vietnam, Cuba and Latin America. In the environmental movement I start from the premise of environmental justice for the poor and communities of color. My wife is a descendant of the Oglala Sioux, and my whole family is inter-racial.

What would cause me to turn my back on all those people who have shaped who I am? That would be a transgression on my personal code. I have been on too many freedom rides, too many marches, too many jail cells, and far too many gravesites to breach that trust. And I have been so tied to the women’s movement that I cannot imagine scoffing at the chance to vote for a woman president. When I understood that the overwhelming consensus from those communities was for Hillary—for instance the Congressional Black Caucus and Sacramento’s Latino caucus—that was the decisive factor for me. I am gratified with Bernie’s increasing support from these communities of color, though it has appeared to be too little and too late. Bernie’s campaign has had all the money in the world to invest in inner city organizing, starting 18 months ago. He chose to invest resources instead in white-majority regions at the expense of the Deep South and urban North.

I know there is much more news out there, and I hope I haven’t bored you by writing about two symbols of the greatest passions of my youth–Rock ‘n’ Roll and Politics. I’ll leave it to you to post more links on any topic in the comment thread below.

Monday Reads

Good Afternoon!

hillary-clinton1I’m still a little tired and overwrought from the wedding stuff this weekend so you’ll have to excuse me if this is a little terse. I have to say that I’m getting really excited about casting my ballot and watching a lot of my friends take their pussies and bad hombres to the polls!  We all expect her to win.  The polls really are showing that Hillary Clinton has pulled way ahead  and many states are in play that really shouldn’t be.  Texas is now a toss-up! It’s also early voting starting today!! 

Actually, you can watch Hillary and Elizabeth Warren live this afternoon from New Hampshire!  That’s pretty exciting! Clinton’s concentrating on bringing the House and Senate along with her. They’re helping US Senate Candidate Maggie Hassan who is the current Governor.  What a stage full of impressive women!!!

S0 just like the eight years of the black man who really wasn’t “legitimate” in the eyes of many Republicans, will the white woman be seen as being an illegitimate president?  They can’t question her birthright and won’t since the issue is not her race.  But, what both Sanders and Trump have said is that she is essentially dishonest and has found some kind of miracle way to rig and steal elections.

My fellow Louisianan Charles M Blow really digs right into this and hits all the right points. Blow begins by talking about how Sanders basically framed his loss as a result of a crooked system that Hillary played. Trump has a much more massive conspiracy theory of rigged national elections. Both men would rather believe in imaginary voters, captured superdelegates, and computer bugs than admit they lost to a girl fair and square.

An NBC/SurveyMonkey poll released Friday found that 45 percent of Republicans definitely wouldn’t or were unlikely to accept the result of the election if their candidate lost, compared to 30 percent of Independents and 16 percent of Democrats who felt the same.

At this point, it’s not even clear if Trump would graciously concede if he lost. Indeed, grace may be beyond his grasp.

And while there are signs that Clinton is narrowing the enthusiasm gap with Trump, my sense is that Clinton’s current success is as much a repudiation of Trump’s abhorrence as it is an embrace of Clinton. It feels to me more like exhaustion than exhilaration.

We could be on the verge of something historic. So, why does it feel so much like acquiescence? Why aren’t more people rushing to the polls to vote for this immensely qualified woman rather than rushing to vote against this woefully unqualified man? One of the reasons is that her male opponents have successfully cast the race she may win as rigged.

I think it’s fair to say our electoral processes aren’t perfect. But they’ve never been. Nor has any candidate been perfect. So why must those imperfections be nullifying at the very moment that a woman is on the verge of victory? Clinton is a woman beating men at their own game. Deal with it.

Just this morning, Trump repeated his claims that the polls are phony.earlyvote03-ne-110114-rtw

Donald Trump is saying “the truth is that we’re winning” – and claims that “phony polls” are trying to suppress the vote.

Trump spoke Monday at a farmers’ roundtable in Florida. He insisted that his campaign is ahead, even though most polls show him trailing Hillary Clinton.

He told the crowd gathered next to a pumpkin patch in Boynton beach: “I believe we’re winning.”

He then, without evidence, blamed that several “mainstream” media polls for weighing their respondents with Democrats.

He also told reporters that he felt “very good” about his chances in Florida, a state that is essential for his White House hopes.

This followed a CBS4 Florida interview where he railed about rigged elections and how the press has too much freedom of speech.  Trump actually suggested that the First Amendment allowed “too much freedom of speech”.  Welcome to the latest bits of authoritarianism displayed by this ugly, stupid, little man.

If Donald Trump is president, he’d like to make some changes to the First Amendment.

In an interview with WFOR, CBS’ Miami affiliate, Trump was asked if he believes the First Amendment provides “too much protection.”

Trump answered in the affirmative, saying he’d like to change the laws to make it easier to sue media companies. Trump lamented that, under current law, “our press is allowed to say whatever they want.”

He recommended moving to a system like in England where someone who sues a media company has “a good chance of winning.”

If Donald Trump is president, he’d like to make some changes to the First Amendment.

Trump has recently threatened to sue the New York Times and the numerous women who say he has sexually assaulted them.

Trump is right that he would have a better chance of prevailing under English law where an allegedly defamatory statement is presumed to be false. There, it is up to the defendant in a libel suit to prove that their statements are true.

But even if U.S. law were more like England’s, Trump might still have difficulty in prevailing against his accusers or the New York Times.

Many of Trump’s accusers have witnesses who can corroborate their stories. The reporter for People Magazine who says she was assaulted by Trump, for example, has six different people supporting her version of events.

English defamation law was also amended in 2013 to add a “public interest” exemption. This change would potentially allow the New York Times to escape liability in England even if they were unable to definitely prove the truth of their reporting.

He continues to confuse the USA with his personal little dictatorship driven personal corporations which frequently fail.  While we can’t get his taxes released that show the extent of his failures and reliance on his father and the government, we have Wikileaks out there pilfering whatever they can from wherever they can to try to hurt Hillary and promote the Russian Agenda.  The New Yorker has gone over the transcripts of Clinton’s speeches and found one big nothingburger.early_voting_ohio_2012_ap_img_1_0

So far, the documents have contained a few embarrassing revelations for Clinton—but they’ve been mild ones. Certain e-mails have confirmed that her campaign has been carefully scripted, to the point where numerous aides weigh in on something as mundane as the text of a tweet. The speech extracts, collected in an internal campaign document, showed Clinton courting senior figures from Wall Street, sympathizing with them for the blame they shouldered after the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, and telling them she valued their counsel on policy issues. In one speech, she acknowledged that, given her life style, she was “far removed” from the concerns of middle-class Americans. In another speech, she made a case for the political necessity of adopting different positions in public and private.

But did any of this surprise anybody? The stage-managed nature of Clinton’s campaign has been obvious all along: this is a candidate who went almost nine months without holding a proper press conference. The perception that Clinton had cozied up to bankers in return for large speaking fees was one reason so many Democrats voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries. The wealth that Clinton and her husband have amassed since he left office in 2000 was hardly a secret. And, from welfare reform to same-sex marriage to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Clinton’s willingness to tack with the wind on policy issues has been a recurring feature of her career.

The real value of the WikiLeaks documents is one the hackers may not have intended. The documents, particularly the speech extracts, portray Clinton as she is: a hard-headed centrist who believes that electoral politics inevitably involve making compromises, dealing with powerful interest groups, and, where necessary, amending unpopular policy positions. Addressing a General Electric Global Leadership Meeting in January, 2014, she said, “I mean, politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be.” Answering a question in March, 2014, at an event organized by Xerox, she said that the country needs two “sensible, moderate, pragmatic parties.” These sentiments won’t win over many Sanders supporters. But they might actually reassure moderate Democrats, independents, and even some Trump-loathing Republicans who are thinking about crossing party lines.

For some reason, we’re all supposed to be shocked about this and wax poetic about Bernie or buy the Trumpertantrums.  I’m doing neither.  I’m taking this pussy to the poll.  I’m voting for Hillary Clinton and I’m telling any one who believes conspiracy theories about massive election riggings they should get a life.  Also, they should stop the comparisons to Bush v. Gore because that was heart-stoppingly close. Both the Obama elections and the upcoming Clinton election were and are anything but close.  Get over it boys!  They black man and the girl beat you fair and square!  You’re days starting every activity in life on third base are coming to a close.  Try to get to first base with the rest of us.

As Charles M. Blow says, “DEAL WITH IT”!

What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

Sunday Reads: Cracker Barrel Election

Good Afternoon



Oh yes, late again.

Well, last night Alec Baldwin gave another portrayal of Trump.  ‘Settle down, entire planet’: Tom Hanks kills it as Chris Wallace in SNL’s 3rd Trump/Clinton debate




On the serious note:

It only seems natural that we should feature this article after Hilary’s impassioned debate answer on abortion from earlier this week….Police launch inquiry into death of woman ‘refused’ an abortion by Sicilian doctors | World news | The Guardian

Italian police are investigating a dozen doctors at a Sicilian hospital after the family of a 32-year-old woman who died after a miscarriage claimed she was not given adequate medical attention. The family says that her doctor had professed moral objections to abortion.

The death of Valentina Milluzzo, who was five months pregnant with twins when she miscarried and fell ill, has reignited a debate across Italy about the high number of gynaecologists and obstetricians who refuse to provide abortions. As a result, women may not get the medical attention they require in emergency situations.

The investigation into the Cannizzaro obstetrics and gynaecology hospital in Catania on the east coast of Sicily was opened after the family of Milluzzo, who became pregnant through in-vitro fertilisation, said a doctor refused to intervene even though her life was at risk.

Milluzzo had been admitted to the hospital two weeks earlier, after going into premature labour. After the death of one of the foetuses, Milluzzo reportedly became very ill and her blood pressure dropped rapidly. Her family asked for the other foetus to be aborted but say her doctor refused. Milluzzo died within hours on 16 October of septic shock.

You can read more at the link. Warning, the discussion of how much pain this poor woman went through before she died is beyond anything you may want to read today.

Sticking with the theme of control over a woman. Here is something that should make your move from horrified anger to disgusted anger. Woman appeals ruling that 96 days in jail was constitutional – NY Daily News

A Mississippi woman who spent nearly 100 days in a county jail without an offer of bail or a lawyer is appealing a court’s decision that the lengthy incarceration was not an infringement on her civil rights.

Jessica Jauch was held in the Choctaw County jail for nearly three months on a drug warrant for allegedly selling $40 worth of Xanax to an informant.

Jauch was released from jail after finally obtaining legal representation and a secretly recorded video proved that she had been framed for the petty drug crime.

The 34-year-old mother sued the county jail and its sheriff, Cloyd Halford, charging that she was deprived of her constitutional rights to bail, legal representation, a speedy trial and liberty.

A federal judge dismissed the suit against the Choctaw County and Sheriff Halford, however, arguing that because Jauch had been indicted by a grand jury, she was not entitled to those rights.

Civil liberties advocates blasted the federal judge’s decision.

“At the end of the day, you’re an innocent person, being held in a jail, awaiting the opportunity to prove your innocence. The default position is release. And we’ve flipped it, we’ve turned it on its head.” said Cliff Johnson, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center who has sued Mississippi localities in similar cases.

More on this case here:

Jailed 96 days on bogus charge: It is no one’s fault? – The Washington Post

To put that into perspective, remember this story:

Father who ‘repeatedly raped his 12-year old daughter’ gets 60-day sentence. Fury erupts. – The Washington Post

As the judge in the Stanford rape case learned, along with the judge in the “affluenza” drunken driving case, the whole world is watching them. A crowd, an angry crowd, can form in a matter of days of people outraged by what they consider a lenient sentence for a heinous crime.

In the case of Judge John McKeon, as of early morning Wednesday, almost 20,000 people had signed a Change.org petition calling for his impeachment for the 60-day sentence he gave a Glasgow, Mont., man who pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping his prepubescent daughter.

“A father repeatedly raped his 12-year old daughter,” Valley County Attorney Dylan Jensen said during an Oct. 4 sentencing hearing.

“It’s time to start punishing the judges who let these monsters walk our streets,” read the petition.

Prosecutors had recommended a mandatory 25-year sentence, 100 years with 75 suspended, which is what state law calls for.

Instead, though, Judge McKeon handed down a far lighter sentence: a 30-year suspended prison sentence, which means the man will only serve it if he fails to meet the conditions of his probation.

Among those conditions, which McKeon called “quite rigorous,” was the requirement for the man to register as a sex offender, the Glasgow Courierreported. He also cannot access pornography and has limited access to the Internet.

In addition, the man will serve 60 days in jail, but McKeon gave him credit for the 17 days he already served, meaning he’ll only spend another 43 days in jail.

The Washington Post is not identifying the convicted man as it could expose the identity of his victim.

Montana Judge Faces Call For Impeachment After Incest Sentencing : The Two-Way : NPR

A state district judge in Montana is facing a call for his impeachment after sentencing a man who admitted to raping his 12-year-old daughter to 60 days in jail, of which he will serve 43.

A petition posted on the website Change.org calling for the impeachment of the Valley County, Mont., district court judge, John McKeon, has more than 55,000 signatures. The petition states, “Judge McKeon did not uphold the responsibility of ensuring justice as he is required to in his elected position.”

This is not the first time in Montana that outrage has followed a sentence for raping a child. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Courtleft intact a 10-year sentence for a man who raped a 14-year-old girl. He had originally been sentenced to just one month in prison by a different state judge.

According to the National Center for State Courts, to impeach a judge in Montana two-thirds of the state Legislature must vote for it, or the state’s judicial standards commission may recommend it to the state Supreme Court.

This article from NPR has more details on the sentencing requirements…so be sure to check it out for more “explanations.”

Then there was this, Trump says he’ll sue women who said he sexually assaulted them | Tampa Bay Times

Yet, even as Trump praised Abraham Lincoln for uniting the country, Trump laced his Gettysburg speech with familiar charges of a rigged election and corrupt media, and a new promise to sue 10 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.

“All of these liars will be sued when the election is over,” Trump said to a small audience at the Eisenhower Hotel.

Trump’s aides previewed the speech as a policy address that would highlight his first 100 days in office. But almost all of the promises had been made before in other speeches and press releases.

Trump is really, a giant asshole.

Since this post is running late, I have a few other links to share.

We lost two actresses this week:

Kathryn Adams Dies; ‘Saboteur’ Actress Was 96 | Deadline

Actress Cecilia Hart, Wife Of James Earl Jones, Dies At 68 | Deadline

And, it appears…Researchers Discover Physical Source Of Depression : HEALTH : Tech Times

Researchers are making headway in understanding depression, allowing for the development of better treatments, especially now that the physical source of the condition has been found.

In a study published in the journal Brain, researchers from UK’s University of Warwick and China’s Fudan University showed which part of the brain is affected by depression, identifying the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. As this region is implicated in non-reward, activity within that part of the brain leads to a sense of disappointment and loss when a reward is not received.

The lateral orbitofrontal cortex is also connected to the brain region involved in one’s sense of self, so when that part of the brain is activated, it also has the potential to lead to thoughts of low self-esteem and personal loss.

Additionally, depression is associated with low connectivity between the brain’s reward area within the medial orbitofrontal cortex and its memory systems, which could help explain why those with the condition have a reduced ability to focus on happier memories.

More at the link too.

That is all I have for you. This is an open thread. Have a good evening.

Lazy Saturday Reads: The Constitution Protects Us From Trump


Good Morning!!

We’re living in a strange, chaotic world. As usual, I don’t know where to begin with all the craziness, so I’m going to open with the story of a wild car crash in Delaware County, Indiana, where I grew up. Two young guys were racing their souped up cars side by side on a country road near Albany, Indiana when they hit a railroad crossing and suddenly went airborne.

After landing 75 feet from the crossing, one of the cars — a four-door, 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix driven by 18-year-old Grant Christopher of Parker City — veered off the edge of the road, struck a mailbox, returned to the road and sideswiped the other car, a four-door, 2016 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Darrian Lee, 20, of Albany, according to police.

Both cars then skidded into the yard of a residence, one smashing a wooden-barrel flower container, the other knocking over a tree. The cars then skidded into another residential yard, where Christopher struck a parked pickup truck, after which his vehicle and the pickup truck tore down a fence, police say.

Meanwhile, Lee’s vehicle struck a horse trailer parked in a yard, damaging the trailer’s axles and body, before spinning into the side of a van parked in the driveway. The last thing Lee’s car hit was the corner of a pole barn.

No one was hurt.

I guess they must have been wearing seat belts.


Am I nuts, or could that dramatic crash be a metaphor for what’s happening right now in this crazy election campaign? We’re living through a chaotic period in which one of the candidates is an authoritarian populist psychopath and pathological liar who has blatantly encouraged racism, xenophobia, and misogyny among his followers for the past year-and-a-half. The other candidate is the first woman in history with a serious chance to become President of the U.S.–a candidate with 30 years of experience in public service and the brains and talent to be a great world leader who has been forced to spend much of her time educating the electorate about the dangers of a Trump presidency.

There has been lots of talk lately about what will happen if the ignorant, neo-fascist candidate Donald Trump refuses to accept the results of the November 8 election.

Will his followers–who have already demonstrated their willingness to be violent and threatening against anyone who disagrees with them–take to the streets in protest? Will Trump be able to weaponize his large following to delegitimize a President Hillary Clinton as he tried to delegitimize Barack Obama, the first African American president?

Or will the election build to a crescendo and end with a noisy crash that does some serious damage, but leaves our republic essentially unhurt–protected by a metaphorical seat belt, the U.S. Constitution?

I’m hoping for and expecting the second possible outcome. I have to thank Lawrence O’Donnell for that confidence. Last night he said he hopes Trump does not concede because it won’t matter. O’Donnell also predicted that Trump fans won’t violently revolt if he loses, because they know he has lied to them repeatedly; they will realize that he has been using them for his own purposes. Here’s O’Donnell’s argument.

If Trump refuses to accept the outcome of the election, he will only look like a sore loser and a fool. There is no need for him to concede; his lack of concession would only be one more bit of evidence that he has no respect for the norms of our democracy.

McClatchyDC: Whether Trump would concede an election loss doesn’t matter legally.

Though considered an essential act to foster a peaceful post-election political transition of power, concessions by losing candidates are a formality – not a legal requirement.

“Just saying the words ‘I concede’ have no legal effect,” said Richard Hasen, founding co-editor of the Election Journal and author of the Election Law Blog. “What would have a legal effect is if he filed for a recount or do some sort of election contest.”

“In short, we don’t have a constitutional crisis on our hands if we don’t have a gracious concession on election night, even if the result appears a blowout,” Edward “Ned” Foley, author of “Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States,” wrote on his blog last Friday.

Still, Trump laying out the possibility of not accepting the results is unnerving, Hasen and other election analysts said, because it threatens a smooth transition and could help delegitimize a Clinton presidency in the eyes of Trump’s ardent followers.


Possibly. But that would happen regardless. We’ve already gone through 8 years of Republicans treating Barack Obama as if he’s not a legitimate president; why should we be surprised if they continue that behavior under our first woman president? That is all the more reason why they need to be soundly defeated so that Hillary Clinton will have a Democratic majority in the Senate–and maybe even in the House.

Politico on October 17: Democrats dream the unthinkable: Speaker Pelosi.

As Donald Trump’s poll numbers tank, dragging the whole GOP down with him, the possibility that Pelosi could return to the speaker’s chair after a six-year absence has suddenly grown very real. No one has done anything like this since the legendary Sam Rayburn did 60 years ago, and it is still unlikely to happen. Yet the House is definitely in play, according to experts on both sides of the aisle, which means the 76-year-old Pelosi could be wielding the speaker’s gavel again come January.

It would be a stunning, almost unthinkable, triumph for Pelosi. Democrats lost 63 seats in 2010, and many thought Pelosi would — or should — retire. But the California lawmaker hung on. Democrats won seats in 2012 as President Barack Obama was reelected, but then were wiped out again in 2014. House Republicans amassed their biggest majority in 80 years, and there was open grumbling from some rank-and-file lawmakers about whether Pelosi should step aside for a younger leader who could bring Democrats back to the promised land.


Pelosi resisted. She saw Republicans oust John Boehner last year and replace him with Paul Ryan, 30 years her junior. Watching the rise of Trump, she started saying months ago that Democrats could take the House. No one really believed her, seeing her comments as just ritualistic posturing by a political leader trying to rally her troops.

Yet now, with less than four weeks to go, Democrats are suddenly hopeful they can pick up the 30 seats they need to recapture the majority.

“It’s no longer, ‘Can we fight to win the House?'” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California. “It’s, ‘Can [Republicans] fight to keep from losing the House?’”

Let’s make it so. We can end the GOP obstruction in Congress and continue down the road toward greater freedom and inclusiveness, toward greater autonomy for women. We can fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court with a qualified candidate. We can stop the GOP war on voting rights. Yes we can! With Hillary at the helm, we can continue the work of the first African American president and move on down the road to even greater horizons for our country.

More news, links only


NYT: Hackers Used New Weapons to Disrupt Major Websites Across U.S.

Defense One: Denying Trump’s Denial, US Intel Chief Says There’s More Evidence of Russian Hacking.

Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek: How I Got Slimed by Russian Propagandist Site Sputnik.

NYT: Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-State Sweep.

NPR: At Al Smith Dinner, Donald Trump Turns Friendly Roast Into 3-Alarm Fire.

WaPo: Donald Trump is in a funk: Bitter, hoarse and pondering, ‘If I lose. . .’

WaPo: Antiabortion activists face headwinds with Clinton leading and Trump stumbling on women’s issues.

Bloomberg: Clinton Campaign Ponders ‘What If’ Trump Doesn’t Concede.

Don’t miss this one from The Cut: These Teen Girls Are Giving Donald Trump a Piece of Their Mind.

Raw Story: Damaged brand: New Trump hotels will no longer bear his name.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific weekend!


Friday Reads: Nasty Women and Bad Hombres Unite

Good Morning!

We continue to learn how resilient and fragile our form of democracy can be. Yes, Benjamin Franklin! We have a Republic and most of us are trying to keep it!   However, there is vast anger, ignorance, and hatred coming from the hearts of a segment of our population that is threatening our rule of law and government.  Here’s a great explanation of the situation from retired Justice David Souter who spoke on this very topic several years ago. We’re not seeing a discussion of ideologies. We’re seeing bigots throwing hate bombs. These folks have forgotten both their civics courses and their civility.

nasty-womanThis video and analysis comes from the Rachel Maddow news broadcast.

Here is that amazing clip of former Supreme Court Justice David Souter being frighteningly prescient about the decline of civic knowledge in America and the effect of that decline on the state of our democracy.

It’s hard to see how we can keep our Republic when we’re regaled with the autocratic leanings of extremely stupid, angry, and mean people that are our neighbors.  It’s manifest in what they send to our Congress and it’s manifested in the last eight years of absolute politically-mandated gridlock by one of our major parties who has an entire constituency made up of an ignorant people that are proving they do not want to be free people no matter how much they scream ‘liberty’.  They want white male privilege from years past. They want promises that no one can possibly deliver or keep. They’re losing because they want to stop change.

Republican Rep. Brian Babin on Thursday defended Donald Trump calling Hillary Clinton “a nasty woman” at the final presidential debate, saying “sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty.”

Near the end of the debate Wednesday, Trump called Clinton “such a nasty woman” while she was answering a question on Social Security and Medicare. Trump’s comment elicited a strong rebuke online, where the #nastywoman went viral.

Appearing on the “Alan Colmes Show” on Thursday evening, Babin, a Trump supporter, was asked if he thought Trump’s comment was appropriate.

“You know what, she’s saying some nasty things,” the Texas congressman answered.

Colmes asked again if the comment was appropriate, to which Babin responded, “Well, I’m a genteel Southerner, Alan.”

“So that means no?” Colmes asked.

“No, I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she’s being nasty,” Babin replied. “I do.”

“My assessment is that Mrs. Clinton has got so much baggage–” Babin added. “I think she’s done some nasty things.”

After Colmes repeatedly pressed the Texas congressman, he said he agreed with Trump’s assessment of Clinton as a “nasty woman.”

bad-hombreThis is the mindset of the putrid form of patriarchy held up by the worst forms of American-styled christianity. It’s the one that has totally poisoned the Republican party. This crazy Congressman is the same form of “genteel southerner” that would prefer racial minorities be “put in their place” and any member of the GLBT that tries to live openly and authentically be put to death.

In his long career as an accomplished journalist working across the American South, Steve Crump has come face-to-face with hatred and bigotry.

The Emmy-winning journalist spent time reporting on the Ku Klux Klan in which he, a black man, interviewed members of the organization, people who by their very membership profess to hate him due to the color of his skin.

For all that, though, Crump, 59, told The Washington Post that he’s never felt the blunt hatred he did in Charleston, S.C., on Oct. 8.

Crump, who works for WBTV in Charlotte, was in Charleston working on a story about cleanup following Hurricane Matthew. Along with his camera crew, he was filming near the southern tip of the peninsula when he came across a young white man, he and later police identified as 21-year-old Brian Eybers, holding an iPad, apparently producing some sort of “citizen journalism,” as Crump put it.

The man, watching the WBTV crew, was narrating his story into the tablet when Crump caught wind of what he was saying.

“He basically said, ‘There’s a black guy here. No, wait a minute, he’s a slave. No wait a minute, he’s a ‘n-word,’ ” Crump told The Post.

Added Crump, “I went from 0 to 60 in an instant, just like that. I just turned to [my cameraman] and said, ‘We need to get this guy on tape.’” (The result can be viewed above, with offensive language bleeped.)

We have people that want all their problems solved by the government.  They are not Democrats asking for Social Nets or investments in education.  They are people that think if the government would just get rid of people not like them, they’d have everything. They are authoritiarians. They want people punished for nearly anything they deem offensive. They want women to stay home and be slaves to their husbands. They want nothing of folks who practice religions other than theirs and folks that have any kind of cultural or physical difference unlike theirs.

They believe absolute shit like abortions occur in the ninth month. They are illiterate of science and human physiology. They are part and parcel of the Trump cult. They are extremist Republicans. They are enabled by every Republican that won’t stand up to them or has quit standing up to them.  The Republican party put together the FrankenTrumpers.screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-11-27-14-am

Donald Trump painted a picture of abortion in America in which doctors are “rip(ping) the baby out of the womb” the day before a baby is due to be born. However, medical experts have refuted that claim.

Trump said the following at the debate:

I think it’s terrible if you go with what Hillary is saying in the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.

Now, you can say that that’s okay, and Hillary can say that that’s okay, but it’s not okay with me. Because based on what she’s saying and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day. And that’s not acceptable.

An estimate by the federal government reveals that 91.4% of abortions in the United States occur within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. Only 1.3% of abortions occur later than 21 weeks into pregnancy. Zero occur on “the final day,” which by definition would not be an abortion, it would be classified as an infanticide.

imagesThe right wing’s appalling lack of knowledge about basic human reproduction and physiology continues to assert itself into the lives of woman and their families. It’s a government intrusion in to the decisions of doctors and patients and it stops the use of live saving and pregnancy preventing methodology.  It is all because of a bunch of gullible religious lunatics follow a political and powergrabbing group of evil ministers we have roaming this country. The Farewells are one of many examples. It’s never been about life.  It’s about white men controlling the lives of women and children.  Here’s a great breakdown of what was right and what was wrong about that abortion discussion from the last debate by Dr. Jennifer Gunter.

First of all, we don’t “rip” anything in OB/GYN. In surgery, we use sharp dissection and blunt dissection, but we don’t rip. Some women do tear during a vaginal delivery, but that’s not a doctor ripping the baby out. Even with a forceps delivery, I wouldn’t call it ripping. We also don’t rip tissues during c-sections.

Perhaps we can forgive Donald Trump for not knowing this as it is hard to believe that a man who bragged that he doesn’t change diapers and said he wouldn’t have had a baby if his wife had wanted him to actually physically participate in its care would have attended the birth of his own children. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart as there is, after all, lots of blood coming out the “wherever.”

Trump’s statement, as incorrect as it may be, supports the fallacy of the due-date abortion. It is a common anti-choice narrative that women come in at 39 weeks and have some kind of abortion for fun or out of boredom and that we doctors are only to happy to comply. I’m sure some people think there are Groupons. The more graphic the description of the procedure, the better as it helps to distract from the facts.

Talking about abortion from a medical perspective is challenging when you are not a health care provider. Even someone familiar with the laws can get confused. For example, Mrs. Clinton made an error speaking about late-term abortion when she said it was a health of the mother issue. Typically, it is not (it’s almost always fetal anomalies). However, this error on Clinton’s part only underscores how important it is for politicians to not practice medicine.

To put it in perspective, 1.3 percent of abortions happen at or after 21 weeks and 80 percent are for birth defects. Put another way, 1 percent of abortions that are at or after 21 weeks and are for birth defects and 0.3 percent of abortions are at or after 21 weeks and are not for birth defects (some of these will be health of the mother and a very few will be for other indications)

Trump’s writers for his speech last night continued to show how mean-spirited, lying, and ignorant this section of the Republican Party has become.  The Alt-Right and its minions show no civility in any instance.  They can’t even hold it together for a speech for children’s charities in front of a Cardinal, a roomful of clergy, and plutocrats and politicians.  Trump was booed quite a few times for jokes that were not jokes or funny. Many of his remarks were just outright horrible barbs at one of the nation’s leading public servants. You may not agree with Hillary Clinton on the issues, but you cannot deny her life of public service to this country and to its children without being seriously misled, wrong, ignorant or evil.  Trump actually had a good joke or two but couldn’t restrain himself to just jokes.

Ever the entertainer, Trump was probably responsible for the biggest laugh of the night but also the event’s loudest boos — until this year, booing was unheard of at the dinner.

The high point of Trump’s remarks started as a comment on media bias. Complaining about why the media is so much harder on the Trumps, Trump brought up how the media loved Michelle Obama’s recent speech but then “my wife gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. And I don’t get it. I don’t know why.

cjones10222016-e1476982148865That was a joke.  It was not out of line and it got his point of media bias across to the audience.  Then he degenerated into just calling Clinton corrupt then saying she had no business being here because she’s anti-catholic.  The booing ensued. It would be shocking under normal circumstances.  It is no longer shocking with Trump and the current crop of Alt-Right wing nuts in charge of the Republican Party.

Never before have we seen anything like this since right before the Civil War. Look how that turned out.

Trump’s announced many times now that he’s reserving judgement on the outcome of this national election. Meanwhile, the polls show him losing much ground.  He never held the high ground but even the swamps are turning on him.  Obama has never been more popular. The margins of the polls in many states indicate that the Democrats will take the Senate and are closing in on taking the House. If this happens, we will know our Republic is still working.

But, what will we do with the losers?  It doesn’t appear like they want to wake up to the fact that they are seriously out of step with the majority of the American people.  It’s a relief to know that most of us are not like them in anyway.  But we know one thing. They have guns. They have anger.  They’ve been enabled and babied for too damn long.

Have a great day!  Let us know what’s on your reading and blogging list today!!!

Live Blog: Alfred E Neuman errr Alfred E Smith Dinner

Good Evening!

article-2212029-155179de000005dc-760_634x817Thought we’d see if any one is going to watch the annual Alfred E Smith Dinner tonight. Any bets any which way to see if Donald Dumpf has any kind of sense of humor?  Will Hillary come in looking like Joan Arc with a sword, shield, armor and a tightly surrounded by secret service?

Rumor has it, his inability to take a joke or seven about him uttered by President Obama at the 2011 Alfred E Smith dinner caused him to hoist himself this year on the American people.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have some tough shoes to fill — could either of them take over President Obama’s role as comedian in chief?

With 19 days left until the election, they’ll have their chance to try out Thursday night at the 71st annual Alfred E. Smith charity dinner, where many presidential candidates in the past have taken a break from the vitriol of the campaign and make fun of themselves.

It will be the last time the two will share a stage before Americans head to the polls on Nov. 8.

Both nominees are slated to attend the 9 p.m. ET white-tie event at the Waldorf Astoria, which will air live on CBSN, that benefits Catholic charities and some of the neediest children in New York. The fundraiser honors former New York governor Al Smith, who ran for president in 1928 and became the first Catholic nominee of a major party.

mad3n-1-web We’re undoubtedly going to see some awkward moments.  What will the jokes actually be like at Cardinal Dolan’s little soiree?  The dinner has not always been friendly or neutral politically.

A charitable foundation that takes his name was launched in 1946, two years after Smith’s death, and over the years its annual dinner has become “a ritual of American politics,” as historian Theodore H. White put it, where candidates of opposing parties would come together for a few hours of comic relief at the height of an intense campaign battle.

But the white-tie dinner itself has not been free of controversy, especially for its host. Cardinal Dolan, for example, was excoriated by conservative Catholics in 2012 when he continued the tradition by inviting President Obama, whose stance in support of abortion rights and other issues outraged some.

There was some precedent for Dolan to punt on an invitation to Obama: In 1996, then-Cardinal John O’Connor did not invite either of that year’s candidates because he did not want to give President Bill Clinton, an abortion rights supporter who was running for re-election, a church-sponsored platform that tends to show the candidates in a flattering light.

And in 2004, then-Cardinal Edward Egan did not invite either candidate, President George W. Bush or his challenger Democratic nominee, John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

But, what goes down tonight is kind’ve a big secret.  Join us if you’re up for yucks and YUCK!!!!!Z

The dinner is such a ritual that it has its own episode of The West Wingdedicated to it. But there have been breaks in the tradition. In 1996, neither presidential candidate was invited. The official explanation was that the candidates were not able to confirm attendance, but it was widely reported that the Catholic leadership was dismayed by then-president Bill Clinton’s veto of a bill that would have outlawed late-term abortions. In 2004, the two candidates were not invited and there was speculation that it was Democratic nominee John Kerry’s pro-choice stance that was the issue.

 Trump and Clinton, however, are both expected to attend tonight, though neither campaign has shared details about what the candidates will say. A statement from the foundation confirming the candidates’ attendance promised that the two would “deliver the evening’s keynote speeches in the spirit of collegiality and good-humor that has become a hallmark of the gala.”
 In an election season filled with unusually harsh and spiteful rhetoric, some good-natured humor might be just the antidote the American people need.

We can only hope the secret service keeps Donald in a corner some where.2d77da7800000578-3276056-image-a-8_1445011722885

Are you ready?  Grab the popcorn and your sense of humor, irony, and patriotism!!!


Thursday Reads: Third Debate Aftermath


Good Morning!!

Hillary Clinton walked onstage last night in a gorgeous white pantsuit and then proceeded to crush Donald Trump in the third and final debate of the 2016 election season. It was obvious that someone had informed Donald that the camera would be on him when Hillary was speaking, because he struggled to control his facial expressions in the first part of the debate. But once again, Hillary successfully baited him and he quickly lost control. His handlers can spin his performance however they want. He’s toast.

Of course the top two media hot takes this morning were Trump’s refusal to say that he would accept the outcome of the election and his “such a nasty woman” comment that came while Clinton was discussing the Social Security trust fund. The real story is that Hillary Clinton gave a nearly flawless performance last night and in the previous two debates.

Ezra Klein: Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins.

The third and final presidential debate has ended, and it can now be said: Hillary Clinton crushed Donald Trump in the most effective series of debate performances in modern political history.

The polling tells the story. As Nate Silver notes, on the eve of the first presidential debate, Clinton led by 1.5 points. Before the second, she was up by 5.6 points. Before the third, she was winning by 7.1 points. And now, writing after the third debate — a debate in which Trump said he would keep the nation “in suspense” about whether there would be a peaceful transition of power, bragged about not apologizing to his wife, and called Clinton “such a nasty woman” — it’s clear that Trump did himself no favors. Early polls also suggest Clinton won.

And it’s not just the presidential race. Betting markets now predict Democrats will win the Senate. Polls have started showing Democrats in striking distance of the House. The GOP has collapsed into a mid-election civil war, with the party’s presidential nominee openly battling the speaker of the House.


This is not normal. As Andrew Prokop concluded in his review of the political science evidence around presidential debates, “There’s little historical evidence that they’ve ever swung polls by more than a few percentage points.” In this case, they did. And it’s because Clinton executed a risky strategy flawlessly.

 The dominant narrative of this election goes something like this. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate who is winning because she is facing a yet weaker candidate. Her unfavorables are high, her vulnerabilities are obvious, and if she were running against a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan, she would be getting crushed. Lucky for her, she’s running against a hot orange mess with higher unfavorables, clearer vulnerabilities, and a tape where he brags about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

There’s truth to this narrative, but it also reflects our tendency to underestimate Clinton’s political effectiveness. Trump’s meltdown wasn’t an accident. The Clinton campaign coolly analyzed his weaknesses and then sprung trap after trap to take advantage of them.

Clinton’s successful execution of this strategy has been, fittingly, the product of traits that she’s often criticized for: her caution, her overpreparation, her blandness. And her particular ability to goad Trump and blunt the effectiveness of his political style has been inextricable from her gender. The result has been a political achievement of awesome dimensions, but one that Clinton gets scarce credit for because it looks like something Trump is doing, rather than something she is doing — which is, of course, the point.

Read the rest at the Vox link above.


A few responses to Trump’s performance:

Jamie Bouie at Slate: Donald Trump vs. America.

After the first presidential debate, the Republican Party nominee called for monitoring and intimidation at polling places in cities like Philadelphia and Cleveland. During the second, Trump announced his plan to investigate Clinton using the power of the presidency, and promised to put her in jail for unnamed crimes against the state. He later turned that into a bona fide campaign slogan: “Lock her up.” For the last week, he’s decried the entire election process as “rigged”—a shadowy conspiracy meant to deny him a victory at the ballot box. And at the final presidential debate at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, Donald Trump refused to commit to conceding the election, should he lose on Nov. 8….

Clinton called this “horrifying.” “We’ve been around for 240 years,” she said. “We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them. And that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a debate stage during a general election.”

She’s right. In 1800, Federalist president John Adams lost to Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans, following a painful and contentious contest. And rather than fight or challenge the results, Adams handed his rival the reins of power, the first peaceful transition of power in a democracy and a milestone in the history of the modern world. The act of conceding, in other words, is vital to the functioning of democracy. It confers legitimacy on the winner of an election, giving him or her a chance to govern. To refuse to concede, to denythat legitimacy, is to undermine our democratic foundations.

Surrogates for Trump have tried to defend his comments, citing then–Vice President Al Gore’s conduct following the 2000 election. But Gore didn’t challenge the process; he let it move forward. As ordered by state law, Florida had to do a recount. That recount was then stopped by the Supreme Court. At that point, Gore conceded the election, gracefully and without public hesitation.

In presidential elections at least, there’s simply no precedent for what Trump is promising. The slave South may have seceded from the Union following the 1860 election, but neither of Abraham Lincoln’s opponents denied his legitimacy as the duly-elected leader for the United States. It is world-historic in the worst possible way.

Bouie’s piece is a must-read.


Amy Davidson at The New Yorker: For Trump, the Election is Rigged if a “Nasty Woman” Can Win. Again, the whole thing is a must-read, but here some excerpts:

She shouldn’t be allowed to run,” Donald Trump said, of his opponent, Hillary Clinton, who was standing next to him on the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. “It’s crooked—she’s—she’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect I say it’s rigged.” Trump’s tone was heated; to make this point, he had talked over the interjections of the moderator, Chris Wallace, and he kept on doing so, making clear how little he cares for decorum or democracy. This person—this woman—shouldn’t be allowed to contend, let alone win. Wallace’s question had been about whether Trump would accept the results of the election; Trump wouldn’t even accept the premise….

Perhaps what Trump is having trouble gauging now is how he might feel when he looks at a television on Election Day and sees the smiling face of Hillary Clinton as she is announced as the President-elect. He might react as he did when, late in the debate, she delivered a strong answer about Social Security that referred to the taxes he’s avoided paying. His features receded into a pool of curdled dust. “Such a nasty woman,” he said. In 2016, a major-party nominee for President seems to have mistaken misogyny for an argument against democratic legitimacy.

Trump’s contempt for women—and the lack of discipline it seemed to induce in him—was a leitmotif of the debate. Chris Wallace’s first question was about the kind of Supreme Court each candidate would nominate into being as President. There will be at least one opening, unless the Senate does its job and acts on the nomination of Merrick Garland, and, Wallace noted, “likely or possibly two or three appointments.” This should have been an easy one for Trump—a warmup question covered in any decent debate prep. There are voters with reservations about his character who might vote for him anyway, just to make sure that there’s no liberal in Antonin Scalia’s seat. But Trump began, and wasted a good part of his time, by rambling on about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had insulted him (“very, very inappropriate statements”). On reproductive rights, Clinton talked about the pain of women who, for health reasons, had to contemplate a late abortion; Trump portrayed them as incipient infanticidal brutes who, if not checked, might “rip the baby out of the womb” at the last minute. He also said that he assumed his judicial appointees would overturn Roe v. Wade. When Wallace, who controlled the situation better than any moderator so far, asked why “so many different women from so many different circumstances over so many different years” would say that Trump had groped or kissed them against their will, Trump first claimed that the stories had been “debunked” (they have not), then jumped into theories that “it was her campaign that did it,” and then let the audience know, as if it were exculpatory, that “I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who’s sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything.” And if it wasn’t a campaign plot, he said, then it was just women trying to get “their ten minutes of fame.”

Pretty good summary there. There’s more at The New Yorker link.

Trump clan post debate

Trump clan post debate

And then there was Trump’s defense of Vladimir Putin against the U.S. intelligence community’s clear statement that Russia is trying ot influence the election. The Washington Post: Donald Trump’s confusion and contradictions about Russia.

Trump has never accepted the Clinton campaign’s assertion that hackers controlled by the Kremlin are trying interfere in the 2016 elections, even after the Obama administration officially accused Russia.

Trump didn’t back down in the third presidential debate: “She has no idea whether it’s Russia, China, or anybody else.”

When Clinton interjected that “17 intelligence agencies” had concluded that the Kremlin is behind the cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and other political institutions, Trump said, “Hillary, you have no idea. Our country has no idea.”

As we all know, Clinton went on to call Trump Putin’s “puppet,” and Trump’s grade-school level response was “no, you’re the puppet, you’re the puppet.”

That’s all I have for you this morning. I’m completely exhausted, because I stayed up watching the talking heads last night until they went off the air. I might have to take a nap.

What do you think were the high and low points of the debate? What are you hearing and reading this morning?