Friday Reads: Facts, Lies, Damned Lies, and then there’s the Media

history_kennedy_and_nixon_4th_debate_speech_sf_still_624x352Good Afternoon!

We’re closing in on the first general election debate of the season and speculation is running hot and heavy in the pundit class.  I think they’re actually taking bets as to which one of Donald Trump’s persona will appear on stage.  They’re also trying to find out who is standing in for Trump at Clinton’s practice debates. That’s just soooooo scoopworthy and newsworthy and très importante.

As usual, Hillary is off doing her homework,prepping for the big day, and getting her facts down since hope isn’t too high that Lester Holt will do much of that being the News Reader of the Day given work that should be above his pay grade.  The big questions of the day for Hillary Clinton and the debate can be seen on Between Two Ferns as BB posted yesterday.  What will she wear?  Will she smile enough?  Will her eyes wobble to and fro and her cankles hang low?  Inquiring Lester Holt will probably ask (sigh) and the journalists (sic) will discuss it endlessly until the next debate.

Lying, Crooked, Scumbag*  Donald Trump has already told Holt not to fact check the debate.   * Hey, just mimicking his debate and speech style.

Donald Trump says NBC’s Lester Holt should not correct his or Hillary Clinton’s facts while moderating the first presidential debate.

“I think he has to be a moderator,” the Republican nominee said on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

“I mean, if you’re debating somebody and if she makes a mistake or I make a mistake … we’ll take each other on,” he added. “But I certainly don’t think you want Candy Crowley again.”

I’m never quit sure why they actually pick “news” personalities to do these things rather than ask a few experts to grill the candidates on their subject of expertise. But, like anything on TV news poof these days, it’s a ratings game and they’re after those sound bytes from hell.  Josh Vorhees from Slate has done Lester’s homework for him which is usually what the bright kids do for the rest of the planet.    Don’t forget, we’ve got letters from economics experts, foreign policy experts, diplomats and military experts and scientists all begging folks to leave Donald Trump to the trashbins of TV and scams.  Really, check my links that’s about 300-400 of the world’s biggest brains flashing a don’t go there America sign!!!  It’s like between 50 -100 of them per link up there.

The list of lies covered by Vorhees include lies that that Donald Dumbf tells about himself, the country, the economy, the world, the criminal justice system, the state of US inner cities and a host of topics.  Go check them out. kennedy-nixon-debate-hThey’re full cited.  Here are the lies he tells about our country and our extremely good economy.

Lies Trump Tells About the Country

Immigration

Lie: There could be as few as 3 million or as many as 30 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Truth: The Department of Homeland Security last estimated the size of the undocumented population at 11.4 million at the start of 2012, down from a peak of 12.2 million five years earlier. As PolitiFact points out, that figure is line with the most recent estimates from the Pew Research Center (11.3 million in 2014), the Center for Migration Studies (10.9 million in 2014), and the Center for Immigrations Studies (11.7 million in 2016). While the government does not know the exact number of undocumented immigrants in the United States, there are no credible estimates that approach either Trump’s high- or low-end numbers.

Lie: Assimilation among American Muslims is nearly “non-existent.”

Truth: The Pew Research Center conducted a major survey on the topic in 2011 and concluded “Muslim Americans appear to be highly assimilated into American society.” Public polling of Muslim Americans likewise suggests that a majority identify strongly with the United States.

The electoral process

Lie: The general election debates are “rigged” against him because two overlap with NFL games.

Truth: The Commission on Presidential Debates consulted with both parties before setting the fall schedule for the three presidential debates and the single vice presidential one. Furthermore, the bipartisan panel announced the dates in September of last year, more than four months before this year’s first nominating contest and nearly seven months before the NFL released its schedule for the season. Scheduling conflicts between major sporting events and the general election debates are also neither new—there were two NFL conflicts in 2012 alone—nor easily avoidable, given the NFL now plays on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays, while MLB playoff games up to and including the World Series can fall on any day of the week. (Bonus lie: Trump claims the NFL sent him a letter alerting him about the conflict; the NFL says that didn’t happen.)

Lie: The election itself is “rigged” against him.

Truth: Trump’s claim was, in the words of the usually staid Associated Press, an “unprecedented assertion by a modern presidential candidate,” one that could “threaten the tradition of peacefully contested elections and challenge the very essence of a fair democratic process.” Trump has laid the groundwork for only two possible outcomes in the eyes of his most passionate supporters: He wins the presidency, or he has it stolen from him. Meanwhile, his campaign has produced no credible evidence to support the extraordinary claim that the outcome of an election that has yet to happen will be illegitimate.

The economy

Lie: The United States is one of the highest taxed nations in the world.

Truth: This is a slightly softer version of his original claim that America is the most  taxed nation, though the rewrite still isn’t enough to save it. According to a Pew Research Center report from this year—based on 2014 data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development—Americans’ tax bills are below average among developed nations.

Lie: The true unemployment rate is as high as 42 percent.

Truth: The Bureau of Labor Statistics latest estimate pegs the nation’s unemployment rate at 4.9 percent, roughly where it has been for the past year. That figure does not factor in those Americans who are unemployed but not currently looking for work. BLS, however, offers a second statistic—known as the labor underutilization rate—that in addition to the officially unemployed, also counts part-time workers who would like to be working more and those who want to work but are not currently looking for a job. That figure was 9.7 percent in August.

Lie: The black youth unemployment rate is 59 percent.

Truth: Again, no. According to BLS, the unemployment rate for blacks between 16 and 24 years old was 26.1 percent in August. While Trump has never said where his figure came from, the most likely scenario is that he is relying on a metric that misleadingly factors in those who don’t work and aren’t looking for a job, including high school and college students.

With his wife Rosalynn Carter looking on at center, Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, center left, shakes hands with President Gerald Ford at the conclusion of their debate at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Oct. 6, 1976, San Francisco, Calif. Others unidentified. (AP Photo)

With his wife Rosalynn Carter looking on at center, Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, center left, shakes hands with President Gerald Ford at the conclusion of their debate at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, Oct. 6, 1976, San Francisco, Calif. Others unidentified. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile, Clinton picks up the endorsement of another of the nation’s major newspapers.  This time it’s the LA Times.  No one in the know or a functioning brain wants Donald Dumpf near the White House.  No.One.  How’s this for a headline? “Hillary Clinton would make a sober, smart and pragmatic president. Donald Trump would be a catastrophe.”

American voters have a clear choice on Nov. 8. We can elect an experienced, thoughtful and deeply knowledgeable public servant or a thin-skinned demagogue who is unqualified and unsuited to be president.

Donald J. Trump, a billionaire businessman and television personality, is the latter. He has never held elected office and has shown himself temperamentally unfit to do so. He has run a divisive, belligerent, dishonest campaign, repeatedly aligning himself with racists, strongmen and thugs while maligning or dismissing large segments of the American public. Electing Trump could be catastrophic for the nation.

By contrast, Hillary Clinton is one of the best prepared candidates to seek the presidency in many years. As a first lady, a Democratic senator from New York and secretary of State in President Obama’s first term, she immersed herself in the details of government, which is why her positions on the issues today are infinitely better thought-out than those of her opponent.

She stands for rational, comprehensive immigration reform and an improvement rather than an abandonment of the Affordable Care Act. She supports abortion rights, wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour, hopes to reform the sentencing laws that have overcrowded American prisons, would repair the Voting Rights Act and help students to leave college without enormous debt. Abroad she would strengthen America’s traditional alliances, continue the Obama administration’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately defeat” Islamic State and negotiate with potential adversaries such as Russia and China in a way that balances realism and the protection of American interests. Unlike Trump, Clinton accepts the prevailing science on climate change and considers the issue to be “the defining challenge of our time.”

The racists are out in droves over the protests in Charlotte, N.C. which is one of the key swing states in this election. The first two nights of protests saw some vandalism and even a shooting.  However, last night was peaceful.  I fe73c13f32d25e27af454f6763909589noticed that the presence of the National Guard mixed in with Police in NOPD after Katrina was a good thing.  The police behaved when they were being monitored by the Guard.  People also were more calm and the usual agitators and criminals that follow protests around to take advantage were gone last night.  I’m beginning to think that a state’s national guard is key to policing in places where the police aren’t all that professional.  Anyway, here’s the latest idiots suggesting protesters should be harmed or are some how doing something illegal.  This one is from a Tennessee (no surprises there) Law Professor.

The University of Tennessee is investigating a tweet by one of its law professors after the faculty member and contributing columnist for USA TODAY and the Knoxville News Sentinel urged motorists to run over demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C.

Twitter briefly suspended Glenn Reynolds’ account after he responded to a tweet from a TV news station in Charlotte that showed protesters on Interstate 277.  “Run them down,” he wrote.

Reynolds, the creator of the Instapundit blog, tweets from the handle @Instapundit.

He posted to Twitter shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday that his account had been unblocked after he agreed to delete the offending tweet.

UT College of Law Dean Melanie D. Wilson said in a statement Thursday morning that she and university administrators are investigating the matter, calling Reynolds’ post an “irresponsible use of his platform.”

“The university is committed to academic freedom, freedom of speech, and diverse viewpoints, all of which are important for an institution of higher education and the free exchange of ideas,” she wrote. “My colleagues and I in the university’s leadership support peaceful disobedience and all forms of free speech, but we do not support violence or language that encourages violence.”

She called the concerns about the tweet from students and staff, along with those from citizens across the country, “serious and legitimate.”

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek released a statement about an hour later supporting Wilson and her comments.

“Wilson’s statement about the faculty member’s social media post reinforces the university’s commitment to fostering a civil and inclusive learning environment,” he said in a news release.

959f5c5c-c78c-4f02-b54c-fea4961be96a-2048A North Carolina Congressman suggested that “Charlotte protesters ‘hate white people’.”  That sounds like something straight out of the Alt-Reich handbook of racism.

U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger apologized Thursday after saying the violence in Charlotte stems from protesters who “hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not.”

Pittenger is a Republican whose district includes parts of the city where protests have turned violent in the wake of a police shooting of a black man.

He made the statement on a BBC-TV news program Thursday when asked to describe the “grievance” of the protesters.

“The grievance in their minds – the animus, the anger – they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger said. He then criticized people who receive welfare. It is a welfare state. We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, and we’ve put people in bondage, so they can’t be all they’re capable of being.”

He later apologized on Twitter, saying his answer “doesn’t reflect who I am. I was quoting statements made by angry protesters last night on national TV. My intent was to discuss the lack of economic mobility for African Americans because of failed policies.”

1228f400721a0b623e2d98adf6f6fdb9Yeah. Right. Lack of “economic mobility” because “they all hate white people”, I suppose.

Then there was this doozy from a USA Today columnist who suggested you should just run people over with your car if they get in your way.

Which brings us to Glenn Reynolds, known online as InstaPundit, one of the most prolific bloggers on the Internet. On Wednesday night, Reynolds tweeted this.

The tweet involved protesters who were blocking a highway near Charlotte in protest of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott.

Twitter suspended Reynolds’ account, on the grounds that his tweet was an incitement of violence.

After being suspended, however, Reynolds defended his tweet. He allowed that “run them down” didn’t capture his intent “fully” — but he blamed Twitter’s character count, not his own judgment, for the message.

But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.

“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.

Reynolds’ tweet was just 14 characters — far below Twitter’s limit of 140, which could have allowed for at least a little more nuance.

He then appeared on the Hugh Hewitt show and made clear that, upon reflection, he did not apologize for his tweet.

Can I just say I’m really tired of these white dudes trying to swing their lily white, tiny dicks in every one’s face?  So, what explains the current state of the voting public and the inability of some voters to see Trump for what he is? tdih-debates_lobby

What makes white people tick? This question will occupy campaign strategists and forecasters through November. Given that voters of color have, on the whole, decided resoundingly against Donald Trump, the coveted swing voters who will decide this election are overwhelmingly white. This is nothing new, of course, but in the wake of a campaign season that has played heavily on white identity politics, rejection of diversity and race-baiting dog whistles, the specific concerns of white voters have taken on a renewed salience.

It’s an open secret in electoral politics that you can guess someone’s vote pretty accurately based only on her census form. So rather than trying to suss out the sentiments and ideological profiles of voters based on individual testimony, let’s tackle a simpler question: Which demographic traits affect how white Americans vote?

Instead, the two most predictive variables are religious attendance and education. Crucially, these two variables are still more explanatory when considered together. Roughly speaking, a white voter will lean left if she is “more college than church” and will lean right if she is “more church than college.”4

More precisely, we can assign an educational score (no college = 0, some college = 1, college degree = 2) and religious attendance score (never attend = 0, sometimes attend = 1, attend weekly = 2) to each white American. Those with a higher education score are likely to support Clinton, those with a higher religious attendance score are more likely to support Trump, and those with equal scores are more divided.

So, I’m not going to comment in the post about that but you can read more at the FiveThirtyEight link above.  There’s more in depth analysis from Milo Beckman there.   I’ll be more open with my thoughts downthread but needless to say, if you’re already gullible enough to take iron age myths literally, you’re pretty far removed from reality.  If you’ve never really studied science and learned about how theories come about and hypotheses are tested, you’re going to be doubly vulnerable to scam artists.  Opps … I went there.

So, don’t forget to join us for the first debate next week and our live blog!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

Happy Note: There’s a full page in the New York Times today with just this poem by Langston Hugheslangston-hughes

I, Too, Sing America

Langston Hughes, Lincoln University ’29

Poet, Social Activist, Novelist and Playwright

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.

Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.


Monday Reads: Babies for Hillary

trump_w_babiesGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s been another weird week in the good ol’ USA.  New Jersey seems to be the epicenter of cray cray these days. It doesn’t quite rival Florida yet, however.  The coverage of the US presidential election may have taken a turn and a few of the polls are looking up for the future of all civilization.  Meanwhile, I’m still down here in the swampland of America in need of a plan.  Let’s look at some of the weirdness that is the news these days.

Peter Beinart–writing for The Atlantic–has noticed a distinct change of tone at the NYT since they got played good by Trump on Friday’s extended advertisement for a hotel.  They may have gotten their mojo back.  Or not.  Beinart is hoping some of the worst of modern journalism is going away.  We have a ray of hope that there may be some Fourth Estate left in the old girl yet!

But the Times, once a champion practitioner of the “he said, she said” campaign story, discarded it with astonishing bluntness. The Times responded to Trump’s press conference by running a “News Analysis,” a genre that gives reporters more freedom to explain a story’s significance. But “News Analysis” pieces generally supplement traditional news stories. On Saturday, by contrast, the Times ran its “News Analysis” atop Page One while relegating its news story on Trump’s press conference to page A10. Moreover, “News Analysis” stories generally offer context. They don’t offer thundering condemnation.

Yet thundering condemnation is exactly what the Times story provided. Its headline read, “Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent.” Not “falsehood,” which leaves open the possibility that Trump was merely mistaken, but “lie,” which suggests, accurately, that Trump had every reason to know that what he was saying about Obama’s citizenship was false.

The article’s text was even more striking. It read like an opinion column. It began by reciting the history of Trump’s campaign to discredit Obama’s citizenship. “It was not true in 2011,” began the first paragraph. “It was not true in 2012,” began the second paragraph. “It was not true in 2014,” began the third paragraph. Then, in the fourth paragraph: “It was not true, any of it.” The article called Trump’s claim that he had put to rest rumors about Obama’s citizenship “a bizarre new deception” and his allegation that Clinton had fomented them “another falsehood.” Then, in summation, it declared that while Trump has “exhausted an army of fact checkers with his mischaracterizations, exaggerations and fabrications,” the birther lie was particularly “insidious” because it “sought to undo the embrace of an African American president by the 69 million voters who elected him.”

Insert Mic Drop here.14333838_10154033897518512_306036228290653814_n

Hillary Clinton volunteers here in Louisiana are working diligently to GOTV in Florida. This is why I’m watching the polls of that state carefully. It’s also because it may be the only state that can shut down a potential Trump presidency completely.  Sound familiar?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump are nearly tied in a four-way race for Florida’s key electoral votes, according to a New York Times Upshot/Siena College Research Institute poll of likely Florida voters released today.  Clinton currently has the support of 41 percent of likely voters to Trump’s 40 percent with former Governor Gary Johnson garnering 9 percent and Green Party Candidate Jill Stein with 2 percent.  Senator Marco Rubio leads his Democratic challenger, Congressman Patrick Murphy by 48 to 42 percent.

Likely voters support passage of additional federal gun control legislation (49-43 percent), oppose building a wall the length of the Mexican border (50-43 percent), and favor, rather than oppose government stimulus programs (44-37 percent).  But, they disapprove of the Affordable Care Act (51-42 percent), and are evenly divided when it comes to deporting undocumented immigrants here illegally (44-43 percent).

“Trump has as large a lead among Republicans (78 points) as Clinton does with Democrats (77 points) and independents are evenly split at 34 percent for Trump and 32 percent for Clinton with 18 percent for Johnson.  Women lean towards Clinton but men tend to support Trump,” said Siena College Poll Director Don Levy. “Trump leads in the North, Bay Area and Central portions of the state, while Clinton leads in the vote rich Southeast and the Southwest is a toss-up.

“There is not only a significant gender gap in this race, but also large racial divides,” Levy said. “Trump is up 51 to 30 percent among white voters, while Clinton has a commanding 82-4 percent lead with African-Americans and 61-21 percent among Hispanics/Latinos.”

“Both candidates suffer from a majority of Florida voters having an unfavorable opinion of them.  Clinton is viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 53 percent while Trump’s numbers are 39 positive and 55 percent negative.  Equal percentages, 37 percent, view one of the candidate’s favorably and the other negatively while 15 percent view them both unfavorably and only 2 percent have a favorable opinion of both.  Majorities of Blacks and Latinos view Clinton favorably while half of white likely voters have a favorable opinion of Trump.  Of those with an unfavorable opinion of both, a third say they will vote for Johnson, 22 percent for Clinton and 17 percent for Trump,” Levy said.

trumpbabyI still don’t understand how any one but a card carrying member of the KKK could have a favorable opinion of Trump unless you haven’t been paying attention to what comes out of his mouth.  But, evidently some white people are just very fragile and cannot properly identify the source of their stress.  (ProTip:  If you’re blaming immigrants and African Americans you’re a racist.)

Florida is one of those states where a lot of people seem to be on the edge of crazy a lot of the time.  There just seems to be a lot of this running about the state:  Deputies: Naked man breaks in home, bites resident, then dies.  I never know when I call there if I’m getting a nice retiree, a nice university student or a “Florida man”.  But, Florida is key to the election.  Sane Louisianans all over the state are trying to reach out to our sane counterparts in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a make-or-break state for Donald Trump. To win the presidency, he needs to lock down the Sunshine State — or else beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, and New Hampshire, plus a state like Michigan or Virginia, where she is currently comfortably ahead in the polls.

And according to analysis by The New York Times‘ Upshot, Florida is going to be a nail-biter of a contest come November. The New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll reports that in a four-way race with the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Clinton leads 41 to 40, and in a head-to-head, it is a tie at 43-43.

Instead of being a mix of purple cities, the Upshot’s analysis shows that most regions are almost cleanly divided as red or blue voting pockets based on demographics. In Florida, Trump keeps his hopes alive with white voters, both college educated and not — he leads 51 percent to Clinton’s 30 percent. But when it comes to Hispanic communities, Clinton has a 61 percent to 21 percent lead, doing even better with the demographic than President Obama in 2012. Black voters also overwhelmingly back Clinton, 82 percent to 4 percent.

Many regions of the state are becoming less competitive, with Miami-Dade County looking to be a Democratic hold and north Tampa and Daytona Beach solidifying as Republican. A retirement community, The Villages, with a population of 150,000, looks to be a comfortable win for Trump; older voters in the state strongly prefer him. Young voters back Clinton by a healthy margin, although over half say they don’t view her favorably.

I cannot figure out for the life of me why the Woodstock Generation is going for such an asshole.   Oh, btw, if you haven’t followed Michigan’s own Little Miss Flint on Twitter, please do so!  That little girl has leadership potential!  She also recognizes leaders from assholes that shouldn’t be anywhere near children or the public.

baby7You know, you can always tell something about the character of a person by the way young children respond to them and by the way they respond to young children.  I had a friend talk about visiting her grandchild the other day. She basically said her grandaughter wanted to make sure the nice lady won for her instead of the scary man.  (That’s our own JSLAT by the way who came out and corrected me on the gender assignment btw which I just did.)  Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths  of babes.missflinttrump

 

Another state seemingly going off the rails this weekend is New Jersey who has a nutter for a governor and what appears to be a home grown terrorist cell.11-hillary-clinton-with-kids-w529-h352   The gang that–luckily–couldn’t shoot straight may have been motivated more by local treatment of them than by much else.  Anyway, to our dear Sky Dancers in NJ, please stay away from rogue pressure cookers.

 

The FBI took five people with possible links to the Chelsea explosion into custody Sunday night in Brooklyn as authorities shut down a busy New Jersey rail station after finding multiple pipe bombs in a garbage can, police and New Jersey officials said.

The weekend trail of terror continued along the Belt Parkway where federal agents nabbed several people of interest with a weapons stash inside an SUV, according to law enforcement sources.

The five taken into custody had come over the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island. Investigators were trying to determine if the occupants of the SUV were about to drive out of town or take a plane, sources said.

The main suspect is a naturalized citizen from Afghanistan who claims a history of persecution by the police and the neighborhood for his religion and ethnicity.

The prime suspect in the New York and New Jersey bombings sued his local police force and claimed they were persecuting him for being a Muslim.

Ahmad Rahami said in a lawsuit that cops in Elizabeth, New Jersey subjected his and his family to discrimination and ‘selective enforcement’ based on their religion.

The family claimed that police tried to shut down their chicken restaurant, called First American, too early each night with ‘baseless’ tickets and summonses.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gets a hug from fifth-grader Hannah Tandy during a town hall meeting at Keota High School, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Keota, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

New Jersey is also looking forward to the Trial for Bridgegate where it may be shown that Chris Christie’s involvement was a factor in either a cover up or the occurrence itself.  Federal Prosecuters believe Christie knew about the closures.  What did he know and when did he know it?

Gov. Chris Christie was told of the George Washington Bridge lane closures as they were occurring in 2013, a federal prosecutor told jurors on Monday in U.S. District Court.

David Wildstein, who has already pleaded guilty to playing a role in the incident, and Bill Baroni, who is now on trial for his alleged role in the scheme, “bragged” about the traffic gridlock that lane closures were causing when they spoke with the Republican governor at a Sept. 11 memorial in Lower Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna said.

The two Christie-appointed former Port Authority officials mentioned the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, whom they are accused to trying to punish after he refused to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign, the prosecutor said.

“The evidence will show that Baroni and Wildstein were so committed to their plan that, during the precious moments they had alone with the governor, they bragged about the fact that there were traffic problems in Fort Lee and that Mayor Sokolich was not getting his calls returned,” Khanna told jurors during his opening remarks on Monday morning.

Khanna did not elaborate on what was allegedly said during the conversation with Christie, but told jurors that “evidence in this case may show that others could have, should have, perhaps knew certain aspects of what was going on.”

Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, were indicted last May on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations.

Well, the real place to notice the meltdown in the Republican party is ritzy cocktail dates, I guess. I know that I frankly will not deal with any one that would vote for Trump. I consider it the acid test for if you’re with or against humanity.  Even America’s babies know better than get close to the orange Creepazoid.  BTW, I really just did a Google search for images of babies with Trump and got all these poor screaming kids standing next to a grown man sporting a similar sour puss face.  What exactly does that say?donald-trump

A few months ago, Matt Schlapp, the former White House political director under President George W. Bush, walked into a cocktail party and tried to join a conversation with Republican consultants he has known for years.

“The conversation quickly ended,” Schlapp, the chairman of the nation’s oldest conservative grassroots organization, told The Hill in a recent interview. “Everyone looked down at their expensive loafers.”

“I hadn’t had that happen to me in a professional setting before,” he added. “It’s one of those moments when you wonder, ‘Hey, do I have something on my face?’”

Schlapp’s decision to support Donald Trump for president has cost him friends in Washington’s elite Republican circles. Invitations he would normally receive no longer arrive. The vibe he says he’s getting is: “You’re out of the club.”

He’s hardly alone. Old allies in Washington and across the establishment Northeast are no longer on speaking terms because one backs Trump and the other loathes the nominee. Divisions have run so deep in some cases that they could take years to heal.

All I have to do is listen to Kellyann Conway to know that people will sell their souls for some amount of money.  We’ll have to wait for campaign finance reports to see exactly how much.  There’s an entire group of right wing ‘christians’ out there that no longer have theirs. I’m certain of that.

Something remarkable happened on Sunday morning’s Face the Nation, or rather, something that would be remarkable in any normal presidential election. Host John Dickerson got Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to issue two stunning tacit admissions that her candidate is a liar, and then Dickerson remarkably sort of apologized for it.

On Friday morning, Donald Trump ended his years-long crusade to smear President Obama by lying about Hillary Clinton, lying about his own actions, and finally stating the obvious fact that everyone else already knew: that Barack Obama was born in the United States. When Dickerson confronted Conway with the lie that Trump’s campaign put out and Trump repeated, that Trump had put an end to the controversy in 2011, she didn’t challenge that the lie was a lie, and when Dickerson followed up by asking Conway why Trump promoted a lie for five years, Conway similarly accepted that characterization as truth (emphasis mine):

article-2611338-1d31396500000578-885_634x524Supposedly, the Trump team is now shaking in their boots over the Trump Foundation investigation also.  No wonder all the babies cry around Trump. He steals their candy.

Those in Donald Trump’s orbit appear to be nervous about the swirling scandal around the Trump Foundation—and they should be: The stakes are incredibly high.

The allegations of a quid pro quo between Trump and Florida Attorney General, improper use of the charity for personal benefit, and employment of the charity for political purposes have serious penalties beyond mere campaign optics—the possible consequences range from hefty fines to jail time.

The last seven days has been all bad news on the Trump Foundation front: House Democrats have publicly sought a Justice Department investigation into the charity, while left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleged that Trump appeared to have bribed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi by giving her a $25,000 contribution so that she would not join a lawsuit against Trump University.

And a New York Times investigation this past week showed that Trump had personally signed the check that constituted the illegal campaign contribution from his charity to Bondi.
Add this to a dose of personal animosity: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told CNN this week that “we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” The Trump camp already despises Schneiderman due to his legal crusade on the controversial Trump University business.
“This reaches above a distraction for them due to the legal implications of it and long litigation possibility,” a former senior aide to Trump said. “Look, Donald signed those checks… he’s on there. He’s liable.”

I mentioned this over the weekend in comments, but want to mention it again.  If you didn’t see the President’s speech to the CBC, go do it.  He was amazing.enhanced-26660-1446522731-1

On a September night when he gave a rousing valedictory speech to the famed Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) at the dinner for its annual legislative weekend, as awareness is setting in about how adroit and blessed Barack Obama has been as our national leader, with reported numbers showing a giant drop in poverty, a rise in jobs, and growth in family income despite the legislative blocks that stubbornly refused to fund stimulative policies for labor, wages and jobs, the President in his remarks took an unusual tact for him: the first black President, Barack Obama openly reclaimed his history and legacy and put it firmly in the history of race in America. He shared the historic challenges of a historically oppressed community formed in America when they were imported to be slaves—humans sold as property, controlled without rights for the benefit of the privileged. He described how this historical beginning was a force within him and within the community itself. How it gave birth to a driving passion for justice.

Because of this remarkable precedent, his speech deserves a close reading. It is an oratory triumph! It is also the historical moment many have been waiting for—the moment when the nation’s first African-American President put himself, by his own words, into a history of America where race mattered and still matters. His speech cast light on the veil and shadows that fall on the African-American character. It highlighted African success, including his own.

His speech was masterful storytelling: examples, irony, metaphor, repetition/analepsis, contrasts, even ridicule and anticlimax; bathos and epistrophe were among the rhetoric devices he used to deconstruct the competing versions of history used to deny his place as he built the case for a new Americal historical centerpiece, one arranged by truth and merit, admired for its accomplishments, as unique as America’s deeply rooted dream. His words were remarkably clear of gestures and insults. He cast no blame. He relied on the oral tradition, the method for teaching and transmitting ideas when the enslaved were punished for being able to read or write. The oral tradition shared and stored the community’s most valuable lessons. It emphasized performance and creativity.

He also had a compelling argument for Hillary and a huge African American Voter GOTV effort.  Again, go watch the entire thing.  However, just look at the face of those babies and you’ll see who the future of America supports and loves.  Spoiler Alert!  It had a lot to do with telling every one that we all had a lot to lose if we got sent back in time!

So, that’s my two cents today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Friday Reads: FYI

Good Morning!play-flappers-on-rocks-beach-vintage-women-fun

So, I promised I’d try to avoid politics today even though that’s very difficult given our proximity to the elections and the fact that one of the candidates is uniquely unfit for office.  I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible but it just seems that I can only do it for so long.  So, let’s start out with some other news and then, I have to go there because like most sane Americans, I know my President was born in Hawaii, earned his way into top Ivy League Schools, and practices a form of agnostic,secular Christianity like a good portion of the country and who cares about that sort of thing any way?  We sorta kinda heard that from the nation’s most visible conspiracy theorist and white nationalist today. But let me save that for last!

Yesterday, a long list was released of the candidates for The National Book Awards.  It’s a rare occasion when I get to read things not associated with research but I always look forward to this list and picking up a few choice bits of fiction to welcome the change of weather.

The National Book Foundation announced Thursday its longlist of 10 titles in the running for the National Book Award for fiction, which celebrates the best in American literature over the past year.

Garth Greenwell (What Belongs to You) is the sole debut novelist in this year’s longlist, released in The New Yorker. There are veteran writers in the form of Chris Bachelder for The Throwback Special, his fourth book; Paulette Jiles for News of the World, Karan Mahajan for The Association of Small Bombs, Elizabeth McKenzie forThe Portable Veblen, and Lydia Millet for the Sweet Lamb of Heaven.

Previous finalists also made the list, including Adam Haslett, (also previously nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) for Imagine Me Gone, Brad Watson, for his second novel, Miss Jane, and Jacqueline Woodson, who previously won in the Young People’s Literature category for her 2014 memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, this time longlisted for her novel Another Brooklyn. Colson Whitehead  is nominated for the critically acclaimed The Underground Railroad, which follows a slave’s adventures in the antebellum South.

The fiction longlist follows a week full of announcements, with the National Book Foundation unveiling the contenders for the Young People’s Literature, Poetry, and Nonfiction categories. The 40 books in the running this year span a diverse range of genres, writers, and experiences.

tumblr_lpmz1avya91qbsbnoo1_500So, I guess I will add a little bit on politics in here but not any race horse coverage. I’m not sure if you heard, but Wisconsin’s Governor Scot Walker is under investigation for campaign finance irregularities.  One of the fascinating things about the links is that they uncover a web of deceit and dark money.  Will this investigation lead to a case before the Supreme Court and trouble for one of the Koch Puppets?  The documents show the influence of right wing mega donors in the Republican Party.

Rarely do members of the public get to see behind the closed doors of political nonprofits, which may receive unlimited amounts of money from mega-donors without disclosing anything about their operations. But a trove of leaked documents from an investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election campaign has offered an unprecedented look at how politicians operate in a post-Citizens United world that features record levels of undisclosed political money.

The documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper, detail the allegedly illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and an outside group.

Walker, in a scramble to win a bitterly contested election, asked a slew of right-wing billionaires in 2011 and 2012 to pour money into the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a dark money group working closely with a top aide to the governor. After Walker won, a special prosecutor opened an investigation into the campaign’s alleged coordination with the group. The leaked documents come from that controversial investigation, which Walker and his allies had dismissed as a partisan witch-hunt.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court even shut down the investigation, ruling that the Walker campaign did not violate the law because coordination between candidates and outside groups is only prohibited for so-called express advocacy—direct calls to vote for or against a specific candidate. The Walker campaign only coordinated with Wisconsin Club for Growth on issue advocacy ads, which don’t expressly tell voters how to vote, the court ruled, and the activity was therefore legal. The decision infuriated government watchdogs, especially since two conservative justices refused to recuse themselves despite having received outside support from the Wisconsin Club for Growth during their own previous judicial elections.

Not only has the Walker scandal roared back into the spotlight, it may be headed for the Supreme Court. In April, the special prosecutor in the case called on the high court to overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision to end the investigation, arguing that coordination on issue advocacy is, in fact, illegal, and that the plaintiffs didn’t receive a fair trial because the two justices failed to recuse themselves. The Supreme Court is expected to announce later this month whether it will hear the case.

The documents revealed by The Guardian provide a detailed look at how Walker and his aides used Wisconsin Club for Growth to circumvent traditional campaign contribution limits, and get around a state ban on political donations from corporations.

In one leaked email, Walker casually mentions that he got John Menard, CEO of the home improvement chain Menard’s, to contribute $1 million directly from his corporation to the Wisconsin dark money group. A $10,000 check to the group from a wealthy financier had the words “Because Scott Walker asked” written on the memo line.

summerjaynereadingonbeachA report on Madison.com shows other mega donors solicited by Walker that then sent contributions to The Club for Growth.  These contributions would not have to be exposed and are not subject to the usual restrictions. I’d really love to see all these folks taken down and sent to jail.

Another previously undisclosed check to Wisconsin Club for Growth for $10,000 from finance executive Frederick Kasten Jr. includes a memo line that reads: “Because Scott Walker asked.”

The documents show Walker also solicited donations from several wealthy individuals, many of whom or their companies made contributions to the Club, not Walker’s campaign. Contributions from Wisconsin donors and companies included $25,000 from Brookfield-based Hammes Co., $25,000 from Green Bay-based Schneider Enterprise Resources; and $100,000 from Ted Kellner, CEO of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management.

Among others from whom Walker sought money, the records show, were business magnate T. Boone Pickens and Lowry Mays, then-chairman of Clear Channel Communications.

In an August 2011 email, after the first wave of Senate recalls, Walker asked “did I send out thank you notes to all our (c)4 donors?”

The s0-called “John Doe investigation” has been going on since August, 20102 and no charges have been filed yet.

A huge pipeline leak has happened in Alabama causing the Governor to declare a state of emergency. 51239956

Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday.

The pipeline operator, Colonial Pipeline, released the following information Thursday afternoon:

“Based on current projections and consultations with industry partners, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply.”

“Colonial has briefed officials in these states and will continue to provide timely information to the public so that they can plan accordingly.”

The executive orders will allow fuel delivery truck drivers in each state to work longer shifts and exceed maximum hour limits established by the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to prevent gasoline outages.

The orders apply only to trucks that are transporting fuel to areas served by the pipeline.

In addition, some suppliers have begun shipping refined gasoline by water to New York from Houston while the pipeline is shut down.

The pipeline has been shut down since Friday and normally transports 1.3 million barrels per day of refined gasoline and other petroleum products from refineries in Houston to the south and eastern seaboard. The pipeline terminates at New York Harbor.

a-college-student-lays-on-fort-lauderdale-beach-while-reading-chesapeake-by-james-a-michener-march-17-1979

Nothing wrong with using massive amounts of toxic sludge, oh no!  Oh, and did you hear that California is likely in a permanent state of drought?

A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.

The study, which looked at prolonged periods of dryness in California over the past 10,000 years, was published Thursday in the Nature.com journal Scientific Reports.

It noted that the state’s drought in the 21st century has been the most intense ever recorded, with drier than normal conditions in 10 of the past 14 years; the last three years have also been the hottest and driest in about 120 years.

The study investigated how natural climatic forces such as sun spots, a slightly different earth orbit and decreased volcanic activity intermittently warmed the region through radiative forcing, contributing to historic periods of dryness that lasted for hundreds and even thousands of years.  It also looked at the presence and impact of greenhouse gases, another more recent warming force.

A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.

Maybe they can find other uses for golf courses, avocado and almond farms, and swimming pools in the state.

The NYT editorial board is horrifyed by Missouri’s recent move to pull down any form of gun safety laws. Here’s a few reasons I won’t be driving through Missouri any time soon.d95547693a61d68ca15dffe0db8a13bb

In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.

The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training. It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals. And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.

The measure has drawn no great national attention, but it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby. Democrats opposed to the Missouri bill called it a “perfect storm” of lowered standards for the use of deadly force and an invitation for people to be armed without responsible controls. The measure was enacted by the Republicans, despite strong public opposition and warnings about the threat to public safety from the state Police Chiefs Association. Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the groups fighting the gun lobby, noted that stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color.

Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure in June, saying it would allow individuals with a criminal record to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they had been, or would have been, denied a permit under the old law’s background check. Mayors Sly James of Kansas City and Francis Slay of St. Louis warned against restricting the power of the local police to deny guns to those who commit domestic violence. They cited sharp spikes in domestic violence homicides in their cities, and they noted that the police would be left at greater risk by this bill.

Republican legislative leaders, who cut short debate on the override vote on the last day of the session, were ebullient in overriding a variety of the governor’s vetoes beyond the gun measure, including one that will force voters to show a government photo ID.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has put together policies aimed at curbing the Heroin probelm in places like New Hampshire and Ohio.fresh_reading

The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country.

The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an interview with USA TODAY, is part of an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day in the United States.

In a memo that is expected to be circulated next week to all 94 U.S. attorney offices, Lynch said prosecutors are being urged to more readily share information across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and far-flung trafficking routes more quickly.

At the same time, Lynch said federal prosecutors will be directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities in their districts as part of an overall strategy that puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.

“I’m not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,” the attorney general said. “There is no one magic bullet for this.”

While opioid and heroin addiction have earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., largely due to a casualty rate that has nearly quadrupled since 1999, the federal government’s effort to counter it — or even slow it — has been spotty.

Earlier this year, the Obama administration requested nearly $1.1 billion as part of a plan to pay for drug treatment, invoking a common refrain that drug overdoses — driven increasingly by heroin and other opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — are responsible for more deaths than car crashes. Yet after Congress approved landmark legislation in July for expanded drug addiction treatment and prevention, it did not include the $181 million to actually fund the measure.

Meanwhile, the deadly drug epidemic, which shadowed the early presidential primaries in addiction-plagued New Hampshire and Ohio, has largely receded from the public discussion during the general election.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said during an appearance earlier this year before the Senate Judiciary Committee with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to outline the human wreckage that addiction has left behind in their tiny state. “This is about real people dying.”

Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, said Thursday that a key part of the administration’s renewed effort against heroin and opioid abuse will be to push Congress in the remaining days of the administration to provide the funding for both the legislation it approved earlier this year and the $1.1 billion in grants sought by the White House, which is staging a series of public events next week to call attention to the problem.

“The biggest area where we have fallen short is filling the gap between people who need treatment and those able to get it,” Botticelli said, adding that it remains a challenge to “keep people alive so that they can get into treatment.”

“We need more treatment capacity. We cannot wait to save people. This requires a response commensurate with the size of the epidemic,” the director said.

reading-on-the-beachOkay, on to that one last bit of news and because it’s fresh off the TV and the buzz of the day,.  Donald Trump kind’ve sort’ve walked backed his birth nonsense.  But first, let’s notice he advertised his hotel and will likely be sending campaign money to his hotel to do so.

It’s already remarkable — in a bad way — that a nominee for president of the United States has to make a major speech to disavow the racist, baseless conspiracy theory he started about the president’s birth certificate.

But it’s even stranger that Donald Trump has managed to turn it into an advertisement for his new hotel in Washington, DC:

  I am now going to the brand new Trump International, Hotel D.C. for a major statement. (via Twitter)

 

“Nice hotel,” he opened his remarks, which were part of a ceremony honoring

Medal of Honor winners. He went on to call it one of the best hotels, maybe, in the world.

Most presidential candidates — well, most presidential candidates wouldn’t need to make this speech in the first place. But if they did, they’d find some kind of neutral ground to do it, somewhere like the National Press Club.

Of course, Trump does own the hotel, so there’s nothing wrong with him having an event there instead of somewhere else. But using the speech, and the Medal of Honor winner’s he honoring, to actively promote his own business and brag about how great it is is part of a long history of Trump using his campaign and his foundation to personally enrich himself. (Ivanka Trump, who’s using his policy platform to promote her own brand, is following in her father’s footsteps.)

He did finally say the words.  Campaign Mommy must be proud.reading_copy

Donald Trump on Friday stated that he no longer believes President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, breaking away from a conspiracy theory that helped fuel his political rise.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” Trump said at his new Washington hotel, flanked by Medal of Honor recipients, in an appearance that often seemed like a plug for his property and an extended endorsement of Trump by veterans.

He also blamed Hillary Clinton for raising questions about Obama’s citizenship during the 2008 campaign, despite no evidence that she did so.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it,” he said on Friday morning, referencing his public pressure campaign in 2011 that resulted in Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.

The reversal came after his aides and allies had publicly pressured him to disavow the theories, which had furthered the racist and xenophobic undertones of his presidential campaign. But Trump had continued to play coy, often saying in interviews that the issue didn’t matter anymore, even as he refused to state outright that he no longer believed Obama could have been born in Kenya.

Many of Clinton’s allies reacted to Trump’s statement with disgust.

“Trump doubled down on lie-filled statement from his campaign last night & took no responsibility for his bigoted attacks on our President,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.

2995f66da0b02bfec9dcfe3bc1d2ba26My guess is that he did this under duress. I frankly agree with TPM:  STONE COLD LIAR.  This is from Josh Marshall.

As I said earlier, birtherism is not about a factual error. It’s conscious and deliberate racist agitation. Indeed, it was birtherism which built Trump’s political profile and his base among white supremacists which enabled him to mount his successful primary campaign. His political career was built birtherism and racism. He’s never apologized. Indeed, he’s said he deserves praise for it. So he’s doubled down on more lies, apologized for nothing, and says he deserves credit for what he did. Think about that.

 Meanwhile, he’s trying to defend his son who seems to have anti-Semitic tendencies like his father also. Who the freak keeps holocaust imagery at the front of his brain for off the cuff statements?   Wonkette gets to explain it here.

Anyway, this is obviously LOL, because offhand Holocaust references are one of the best ways to show casual onlookers that your funny bone is in good, working order, at least in the dank, nasty, racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi parts of the internet. Hey remember a few days ago when Trump Junior shared that really disgusting white supremacist meme? Good times.

But anyway, this is all a false alarm, because the Trump campaign says Baby Trumpers was clearly just talking about a capital punishment gas chamber, which is definitely, totally the most common and up-to-date way people are executed in the United States. Gosh almighty, it’s been used in the United States TEN WHOLE TIMES since 1976, so it’s definitely more seared into the public consciousness than the electric chair or lethal injection, when people think “capital punishment.” (This whole paragraph contains many Big Sarcasms, if you did not know!)

The Holocaust, on the other hand … gas chambers are kinda what comes to mind.

You can call me shocked. I figured he’d have grabbed for something like “lynching”. That would have another level of appeal to their fan boys from Storm Front and the American Nazi Party.

Meanwhile, I’m going back to the good book sitting on my nightstand.  I can’t take much more of this Trump nightmare.  The horrifying Economics “policy” speech yesterday did me in. It was like a flash back to the worst part of the 80s.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: Normalizing a Maniac

816cba62f17b44613bebf8bbb00c9daf18c74810Good Afternoon!

I’m going back to ranting about the election since yesterday’s media coverage was so over the top.  We heard more about the Crackpot Republican nominee putting on a Barnum & Bailey worthy side show on the TV show of a crackpot Doctor than we heard about the solid criminal investigation into his family’s Foundation which is an obvious scam and the excellent research into his business ties with foreign agents that are not friendly to US interests. Crackpots appear to have a major footing in the 2016 Presidential Election coverage.  Dr. Oz is just the latest one.

The wonderful cartoons are from TNR’s coverage of the unqualified disasters “advising” Donald Trump.  Trump has gathered up a team of crackpots and you can read about them in the article cited below.  The illustrator is MICHAEL WITTE and I’ve lifted many of his accompanying caricatures.  You may see more of his illustrations here.  I’m sure you’ll recognize a few of them.  Rest assured, they are all losers and they are all crackpots. Every. Single. One. of. them.

The Headline of the TNR feature just speaks for itself.  ‘Trumps Court Jesters:  Meet the worst political team ever assembled’—an inner circle of outcasts, opportunists, and extremists with nowhere else to go.  How can the media treat this campaign seriously?  It’s like they normalize him for reading the words of other crackpots from a teleprompter.

With his showman’s flair, Trump has assured anyone who will listen that he will compensate for his political inexperience and policy indifference by surrounding himself with the “best people.” They’ll be the “smartest.” Not to mention the “greatest.” Unfortunately for Trump, no one with those qualifications wants to work for him. When his campaign approached hundreds of aides to the 16 losing GOP candidatesincluding more than 150 who worked for Ted Cruzthe vast majority passed on the opportunity. When Trump tried to scare up endorsements in Congress, he ended up with a handful of backbench extremists. When he cobbled together a foreign policy team, he couldn’t even find a respectable ex-general from CNN, much less a credible think-tank wonk. When he put together an economic advisory team, he found exactly one willing economist.

So Trump has been forced, for reasons of his own making, to assemble what could well be the worst political team in presidential history: a rogues’ gallery of outcasts and opportunists, has-beens and never-weres, conspiracy-mongers and crackpots. Few of the advisers in his inner circle possess any real qualifications for the positions they hold. Some have been ousted from their previous jobs for incompetence, corruption, or outright craziness. Many, exiled to the political fringes, see the campaign as a way to get back into the game. Most of them, sad to say, have sunk so low that Trump looks like a big step up.

Nicholas Kristoff also has a blunt headline today:   ‘When a Crackpot Runs for President’ – The New York Times.bece1ff7c12b1ea371c35140c502222322c3f26a-1

A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was “more honest and trustworthy” than Hillary Clinton. Let’s be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence.

On the PolitiFact website, 13 percent of Clinton’s statements that were checked were rated “false” or “pants on fire,” compared with 53 percent of Trump’s. Conversely, half of Clinton’s are rated “true” or “mostly true” compared to 15 percent of Trump statements.

Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.

I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?

President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

Even while explaining how Trump is a mythomaniac and a systematic cheater, Kristoff can’t help but run the narrative on Hillary Clinton that is based all of the debunked and discounted charges leveled at her for over 40 years.

What’s a voter to do?b6f8ed9504ff175bd140c2d444b9a022f67e3c98

We were regaled yesterday with two polls supposedly showing Trump ahead in Ohio.  Looking at the details and the polls themselves you’ll see the conclusions are quite spurious.  The CNN poll literally reports results on no voters under 50 because they couldn’t get a sample large enough to get reliable results.

A new poll showing Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 4 points in Ohio set the media buzzing, but a look at the polling data reveals that CNN under polled younger voters.

CNN touted their new poll of Ohio as Trump making gains in swing states, “With eight weeks to go before Election Day, Donald Trump holds a narrow lead over Hillary Clinton in Ohio and the two are locked in a near-even contest in Florida, according to new CNN/ORC polls in the two critical battleground states.”

Well, that certainly sounds dramatic, but a look at the crosstabs of the poll shows that things may not be exactly what CNN is suggesting they are in the Buckeye State.

There was something odd about the age of the respondents: (Note: go to the link to see the image of poll results here.)

Younger voters are not listed.

This could be a mistake in the CNN/ORC Poll crosstabs, but it is also easy to understand how Trump suddenly got a lead in Ohio when CNN under polled younger voters.

The CNN poll is a good reminder that all polls, whether they contain good or bad news for the candidate that you support, should be taken with a big grain of salt.

1af5c8ef9eb58c3150ec7000287de7c9da705d57The Bloomberg poll uses a distribution based on 2004 when turnout by Republicans was unusually high.  How do we know that this and not the two most recent presidential elections will be the likely pattern?  What’s the rationale here?  I frankly can’t imagine any racial or religious minority NOT rushing to the polls to ensure a Trump loss. I frankly expect Hispanic turnout to be at an all time high although there may be only a few states where this matters. But still, the media are going crazy over two polls with extremely dubious polling methodology.

The Bloomberg poll differs from most other Ohio public polling in the race. A CBS News/YouGov poll, which was conducted via the internet last Wednesday through Friday and overlaps with the Bloomberg poll by one night, gave Clinton a 7-point lead over Trump, 46 percent to 39 percent.

A Quinnipiac University survey, conducted in late August and early September and released last week, showed Trump ahead of Clinton in Ohio by 1 point in a head-to-head matchup. But Trump held a 4-point lead in a subsequent question that gave respondents the option of choosing Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

In the Bloomberg poll, Trump maintains a 5-point advantage over Clinton with Johnson and Stein included, 44 percent to 39 percent, with Johnson at 10 percent and Stein at 3 percent.

Incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman holds a big lead in Ohio’s closely watched Senate race, the poll also shows. Portman, who is seeking a second term, leads former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, 53 percent to 36 percent.

Recent polls have given Portman a significant advantage, but not to this degree. His previous high-water mark in a live-interview survey had been an 11-point lead in last week’s Quinnipiac poll.

Ann Selzer, the well-respected Iowa pollster who produced the survey, provided Bloomberg with a possible explanation for its divergent results: Voters who identified as Republicans were more likely to be classified as likely voters than those who said they identified as Democrats. Including those who lean toward one party, Republicans comprised about 43 percent of the sample, while Democrats made up roughly 36 percent.

“Our party breakdown differs from other polls, but resembles what happened in Ohio in 2004,” Selzer told Bloomberg, pointing to exit polling from 12 years ago when George W. Bush carried the state. “It is very difficult to say today who will and who will not show up to vote on Election Day. Our poll suggests more Republicans than Democrats would do that in an Ohio election held today.”

38a4cc5b78f7394f4f9ca8bffbcc374438cda2c2My guess is that Ohio is a dead heat with a slight advantage to Clinton given the Republicans in office don’t like Trump and won’t campaign for him. This is one of the reasons why I don’t put much faith in any one poll at any one point in time but prefer to defer to two mathematical laws:  the law of large numbers and the law of averages. I’ve been trained through 4 degrees to evaluate trends and averages based on time series only. This suggests the methodology used by Nate Silver and Sam Wang who forecast based on using all polls and producing an average and trend based on all polls with weights based on reliability of methodology.  They are also quite aware of the tricks used by various pollsters which depends heavily on their political affiliation. It appears Trump could have a route to the White House without winning the popular vote according to FiveThirtyEight writer David Wasserman.  This path is unlikely but frightening.

OK, before I say anything, a quick disclaimer: This piece is not a prediction. In fact, I’m a religious (maybe fanatical) adherent of FiveThirtyEight’s 2016 election forecast model, which I find to be both methodologically rigorous and intellectually honest. I don’t dispute its assessment that Hillary Clinton has a 63 or 64 percent chance of winning the election.

That said, in the event this race does tighten to a coin flip by Nov. 8, there is an unusually high chance Donald Trump could win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote — basically, Democrats’ version of the apocalypse.

Here’s why: Several of Trump’s worst demographic groups happen to be concentrated in states, such as California, New York, Texas and Utah, that are either not competitive or that aren’t on Trump’s must-win list. Conversely, whites without a college degree — one of Trump’s strongest groups — represent a huge bloc in three blue states he would need to turn red to have the best chance of winning 270 electoral votes: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A repeat of 2000’s split verdict — except with more potential to plunge this much more polarized and anxious country into chaos — is still not very likely. Right now, the FiveThirtyEight polls-only model posits a 6.1 percent chance of Trump winning the Electoral College while losing the popular, and a 1.5 chance of the reverse outcome. But that’s not so remote, either, and if the national ballot were ever to tighten further, both “crazy” scenarios’ odds could rise.

The secret to how Clinton could win more votes nationally yet still fall short of the White House lies with Trump’s weakness among three geographically disadvantaged groups of voters:

You can go read the analysis or not depending on the strength of your heart.  Larry Sabato of Rasmussen Reports has some additional analysis on the fundamentals as they exist today.  He even refers to this a “strange race” which is probably why the press seem completely unable to cover the maniac in the room.bf18974b0e304ff3df3926ac5d78701fc13fc3c2

Nonetheless, the defining difference in this election is not Clinton but Trump. Forget Wendell Willkie: There has never been a presidential nominee like him. He has divided the Republican Party — separating party elites from much of the party’s populist base — and he has rearranged the electorate in ways we haven’t ever seen, at least to this extent. Minority groups appear to be rejecting him by margins as bad or worse than recent GOP nominees. Trump is having trouble winning a group that isnormally quite Republican: college-educated whites. At the same time, he has drawn very sizable, exceptionally intense backing from non-college whites and, disproportionately, blue-collar white men, and he has the potential to out-perform Mitt Romney’s 2012 showing among that group.

Regular readers will have noticed that we have been publishing political scientists’ predictive models for 2016, the quadrennial attempt to use certain variables to project the election results (at least the popular vote) months in advance. We’re publishing our final update on these models this week. They are mostly derived from election fundamentals that don’t change much over time — economic conditions, the number of consecutive terms a party has held the White House, and so on. Averaging all the forecasts together shows a two-party vote of Clinton 50.5% and Trump 49.5%. Obviously, that’s very close, and taken together these models produced a very similar prediction in 2012 (Obama 50.2%, Romney 49.8%). That undersold Obama, who won with 52.0% of the two-party vote.

The problem in 2016 is that the assumptions that undergird some models are disputable. Take our senior columnist, Alan Abramowitz of Emory University. His “Time for Change” model has an admirable record of prediction over many years, nailing the popular-vote winner in every cycle going back to 1988. Yet this time, Abramowitz has declared that his model will probably miss the mark. Why? As Abramowitz explains it, the assumptions upon which the model is built are unsound: “First, that both major parties will nominate mainstream candidates capable of unifying their parties and, second, that the candidates will conduct equally effective campaigns so that the overall outcome will closely reflect the ‘fundamentals’ incorporated in the model.”

Abramowitz’s model predicts a modest Republican victory this November, and considering Clinton’s myriad weaknesses and a competitive political environment, it is easy to imagine it if the GOP had nominated a mainstream candidate. (We’ll let you go through the 17 contestants and decide which ones might have been able to unite the party, run a solid campaign, and win.) Trump is neither mainstream nor conducting a campaign that is anything close technologically and financially to the Clinton effort.

In our view, this is why — along with strong partisan polarization — the contest, while close, has had Clinton pretty consistently in the lead: Trump is underperforming the fundamentals and reducing the odds of a GOP win. In another era, say the 1960s through the 1980s, the 2016 contest might well have produced a Democratic landslide much as outlier candidates in 1964 (Barry Goldwater) and in 1972 (George McGovern) generated big swings to the other party. Yet dislike of Clinton and polarization have kept her margin to a few points, excepting the post-convention bounce period. Clinton also faces an unprecedented challenge: She is not simply seeking President Obama’s third term and, in a sense, being responsible for the Obama record (good and bad), but in a way she is also pursuing Bill Clinton’s third term, too. Never before has a party nominee been held accountable for two two-term presidents.

It may be that Clinton, if she does indeed win, will mimic one of Obama’s victory margins (four percentage points in 2012 or seven in 2008). Polarization was especially evident in Obama’s reelection contest. A four-point margin would be consistent with the Electoral College map the Crystal Ball has largely maintained since March: Her total of 348 electoral votes would place her performance in between Obama 2012 (332) and Obama 2008 (365). For Clinton to duplicate Obama’s 2008 broader sweep, Trump would probably have to collapse in the final weeks because of the accumulation of controversies and the lack of preparation in the ground game. If Clinton barely wins or Trump pulls an upset to rival 1948 (Harry Truman over Thomas Dewey), it probably means that Trump did something to improve voters’ perceptions of his qualifications for office — right now, a majority of the electorate does not believe he’s qualified — and Clinton, through a combination of mistakes, controversies, and Democratic apathy, can’t generate the kind of Democratic turnout she needs.

The challenge for the Democrats is to keep 2016 from becoming a change election, which it might have been without Trump (and could still become). Prospective Clinton voters will have to be reminded constantly why she believes Trump is unacceptable and why they have to swallow hard and vote for a candidate many are not enthused about. While our Electoral College ratings still show a Clinton victory, the polls have clearly gotten closer in recent weeks. Clinton is generally up about two-to-four points nationally in polling averages (based on RealClearPolitics and HuffPost Pollster ), considerably tighter than the lofty eight-point lead she enjoyed in both averages about a month ago, when she was still basking in a post-convention glow and Trump was making mistake after mistake. In the lead-up to Labor Day, Clinton faced several questions about her emails and the Clinton Foundation, and Trump’s coverage became less negative by comparison.

091a90affb5c531feb838e2b00f61d0421c06243There is actually rumbling among Republicans who really really don’t want Trump to win and a few little glimmers of hope like the fact that the New Hampshire Union Leader just endorsed spacey, libertarian pothead Gary Johnson.   I’m sorry, the man just reminds me of every freaking pot dependent person I’ve ever known.  “Allepo, man, what’s that, man?”  I have no idea why William Weld wasn’t put at the top of that ticket other than every libertarian I’ve ever met these days seems to hate the idea of being drafting and loves the idea of legal pot. Maybe they’re all potheads these days.

The most joyful day moment of the day was watching a Flint Methodist Minister kick Trump’s political grandstanding at her church to the ground.   She totally caught him reading prepared remarks that were just more vile anti-Hillary bile.  He was so unable to make a comeback that he flipped the page and read the last bits rather than doing what he was invited to do which was praise her community for coming to the aid of Flint Residents who still can’t drink their water.  Brian Williams said Trump “pivoted”.  No, he did not.  He was basically totally flummoxed and he had that “bad dog” look on his face.

The pastor who hosted Donald Trump at her church in Flint, Michigan, interrupted the Republican presidential nominee during his speech Wednesday to ask him to refrain from attacking his rival Hillary Clinton.

“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech,” Rev. Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church told Trump after walking to the podium while Trump was speaking.
“OK. That’s good. Then I’m going back onto Flint, OK? Flint’s pain is a result of so many different failures,” Trump said.
Timmons, in a statement provided at the event, noted her church welcomes “all people.”
“This public event is open to all and today Donald Trump came to observe. Trump’s presence at Bethel United Methodist in no way represents an endorsement of his candidacy,” she had said.
On Thursday, Trump told Fox News “something was up” with Timmons, but he wasn’t bothered because “everyone plays their games.”

Trump was responding to the host’s question about whether he was “bothered” by the fact that she purportedly had written on Facebook (according to the Fox hosts, who noted it was later erased) that she hoped to “educate” Trump on what had been going on in Flint.

“She was so nervous, she was shaking. And I said, ‘wow, this was kind of strange.’ And then she came up. So she had that in mind, no question about it,” Trump said, adding that he suspected that he might face an unfriendly reception at the church.

Trump not only accused the Pastor of sabotaging him but went on to fat shame her after the entire day’s news cycle basically discussed his obesity with the encouragement of Fox and Frauds.  You can watch Pastor Faith Green Timmons of the Bethel United Methodist Church of Flint lecture the nasty orange one.  Trump’s outreach to minority voters continues to fail as well it should.  They certainly know a racist when they see one.  Plus there is this, the Trump Campaign accepts and doesn’t return donations from known White Supremacists.

 

Now this is how I want my pastor to deal with a hater, not get on TV and proclaim him the candidate of Christians.

So, I’m going to give us a break from all of this again tomorrow, I promise.   I will leave you with some words from the great poet Wendell Berry who has written a beautiful essay on racism in the age of Obama in the Lexington Herald Leader.wendell-berry-300x169

A good many people hoped and even believed that Barack Obama’s election to the presidency signified the end of racism in the United States.

It seems arguable to me that the result has been virtually the opposite: Obama’s election has brought about a revival of racism.

Like nothing since the Southern Strategy, it has solidified the racist vote as a political quantity recognizable to politicians and apparently large enough in some places to decide an election.

I grant the polite assumption that not one of the elected officers of the states or the nation is a racist. But politicians do not need to be racist themselves in order to covet, to solicit, or to be influenced by the racist vote. This is shown by the pronounced difference between two by-now established ways of opposing the president.

There is the opposition that is truly political and varyingly respectable. This opposition is identifiable by its incompleteness, which is to say by its focus upon particular issues about which a particular case or argument can be made. Such opposition is credible as such because it implicitly concedes the president’s humanity: Like the rest of us, he is a partial and fallible mortal who, if he is partly wrong, may also be partly right.

The other way of opposition is total. The president must be opposed, not on this or that issue, but upon all issues.

This opposition is often expressed in tones of contempt, not only of the president himself, but of the office he holds so long as it is held by him. Opposition to the president on a particular issue is understood by these opponents as incidental to a general condemnation: the intent, not only to defeat the president in any and all disagreements with him, but entirely to discredit and punish him and to nullify his administration.

This opposition is never mitigated by tokens or gestures of respect for the president’s office, any of his aims or programs, his character, his person or his family. An opposition so complete and so vividly emotional cannot be, in any respectable sense, political.

Some of the president’s congressional enemies – and these may be the most honest of them – have openly insulted him. But such candor is not necessary. Elected officials or candidates seeking the support or the votes of racists do not need to question the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate or to call him a Muslim, a communist, a Nazi or a traitor.

They need only to stand silently by while such slurs and falsehoods are loudly voiced in public by others. To the racist constituency, their silence is a message that secures votes. Their silence declares that no truth or dignity is worth as much as a vote.

Nobody can doubt that virtually all of the president’s political enemies would vehemently defend themselves against a charge of racism. Virtually all of them observe the forms and taboos of political correctness. If any very visible one of their own should insult the president by a recognized racial slur, they would all join in the predictable outrage. But the paramount fact of this moment in the history of racism is that you don’t have to denominate the president by a recognized racial slur when his very name can be used as a synonym.

This subtilized racism is not only a perhaps unignorable lure to Republican politicians; it can also be noticeably corrupting to Democrats.

You can read the rest of his essay at the link.  BostonBoomer is on her way back to Boston so hopefully, she’ll have some great comments to add tonight when she gets to her motel and the half way point some where in Ohio!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today Sky Dancers?


Monday Reads: False Equivalencies and other Journalistic Crimes

enhanced-buzz-5141-1379358402-15One of these days I would like to sit in a journalism class and have some one who is supposedly skilled at the job of the journalist explain to me how ‘bothersiderism” came about.  Building a false equivalency and worshiping at the alter of straw men used to be considered terrible sins committed by those whose arguments had no real substance.   They are now standard tools of the trade in what passes as modern news reading/reporting aka “journalism.”

While “journalists” on cable news were obsessing on speculating about Hillary Clinton’s bout with pneumonia and associated dehydration this weekend, this significant story at WAPO went totally unnoticed. While the insipid news readers at MSNBC, Fox “News”, and CNN were speculating about the side effects of Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia, real “JOURNALIST” David Fahrenthold at WAPO had ferreted out the grift that is the Trump Foundation.  Can we pay attention to the Man in Front of the Curtain now please?

Donald Trump was in a tuxedo, standing next to his award: a statue of a palm tree, as tall as a toddler. It was 2010, and Trump was being honored by a charity — the Palm Beach Police Foundation — for his “selfless support” of its cause.

His support did not include any of his own money.

Instead, Trump had found a way to give away somebody else’s money and claim the credit for himself.

Trump had earlier gone to a charity in New Jersey — the Charles Evans Foundation, named for a deceased businessman — and asked for a donation. Trump said he was raising money for the Palm Beach Police Foundation.

The Evans Foundation said yes. In 2009 and 2010, it gave a total of $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a small charity that the Republican presidential nominee founded in 1987.

Then, Trump’s foundation turned around and made donations to the police group in South Florida. In those years, the Trump Foundation’s gifts totaled $150,000.

Trump had effectively turned the Evans Foundation’s gifts into his own gifts, without adding any money of his own.

On the night that he won the Palm Tree Award for his philanthropy, Trump may have actually made money. The gala was held at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.

No wonder Trump sees charity as a “pay for play, what’s in it for me” enterprise.  His Foundation is a scam.  That’s not surprising though.  All of his ventures are scams.  Speaking of which, has any one seen his wife recently who appears to have a long career as an undocumented worker?logical-fallacy-meme

Then, there’s the “basket of deplorables” scandal  which pales in comparison to this which is a list of the 258 people that Trump has insulted which details specifically what he’s called them off the top of his head and with no accompanying evidence.  Most are definitely projection since the list include the words failure, loser, liar, crooked, and things that describe Donald Trump’s career and character down to the last letter.  This is in no way compares to the huge, long list and case that Hillary Clinton has made showing how white supremacists and the Alt-Right have taken over much of the Trump Campaign’s events and infrastructure.  Nor does it make any catalog of real evidence and the word “deplorable” is actually fairly tame compared to what they really, truly do believe as substantiated by opinion polls.

illustrated-book-of-bad-arguments-9-600x542Henry Giroux a noted professor and author of many books has penned a new one on the old school authoritarianism demonstrated in word and deed by Republican Candidate Donald Trump.  This is by far more important and something that the media should explore rather than the side effects of some one’s bout with pneumonia and a right wing conspiracy theory that sounds like a Victorian novel’s description of consumption.  Donald Trump embraces the philosophy of our totalitarian past.  Much like that past, our current totalitarian is being enabled by the incompetency of the so-called fourth estate.

Missing from most of the commentaries by mainstream media regarding the current rise of Trumpism is any historical context that would offer a critical account of the ideological and political disorders plaguing U.S. society. A resurrection of historical memory in this moment could provide important lessons regarding the present crisis, particularly the long tradition of white racial hegemony, exceptionalism, and the extended wars on youth, women, immigrants, people of color, and the economically disadvantaged. As Chip Berlet points out, what is missing from most media accounts are traces of history that would make clear that Trump’s presence on the American political landscape is the latest expression of a long tradition of “populist radical right ideology—nativism, authoritarianism, and populism . . . not unrelated to mainstream ideologies and mass attitudes. In fact, they are best seen as a radicalization of mainstream values.” Berlet goes even further, arguing that “Trump is not an example of creeping totalitarianism; he is the injured and grieving white man growing hoarse with bigoted canards while riding at the forefront of a new nativist movement.” For Adele M. Stan, like Berlet, the real question that needs to be asked is: “What is wrong with America that this racist, misogynist, money-cheating clown should be the frontrunner for the presidential nomination of one of its two major parties?” Berlet is on target when he suggests that understanding Trump in terms of fascism is not enough. But Berlet is wrong in suggesting that all that the Trump “clown wagon” represents is a more recent expression of the merger of right-wing populism and racist intolerance. History does not stand still, and as important as these demagogic elements are, they have taken on a new meaning within a different historical conjuncture and have been intensified through the registers of a creeping totalitarianism wedded to a new and virulent form of savage capitalism. Racism, bigotry, and xenophobia are certainly on Trump’s side, but what is new in this mix of toxic populism is the emergence of a predatory neoliberalism that has decimated the welfare state, expanded the punishing state, generated massive inequities in wealth and power, and put into place an ethos in which everybody has to provide for themselves. America has become a society of permanent uncertainty, intense anxiety, human misery, and immense racial and economic injustice. Trump offers more than what might be called a mix of The Jerry Springer Show and white supremacist ideology; he also offers up domestic and foreign policies that point to a unique style of neo-fascism, one that has deep roots in American history and society. What is necessary in the current political moment is an analysis in which the emergence of a new form of totalitarianism is made visible in Trump’s rallies, behavior, speeches, and proposals.

One example can be found in Steve Weissman’s commentary in which he draws a relationship between Trump’s casual racism and the rapidly emerging neo-fascist movements across Europe that “are growing strong by hating others for their skin color, religious origin, or immigrant status.” Weissman’s willingness to situate Trump in the company of European radical right movements such as Jean-Marie Le Pen’s populist National Front, Greece’s Golden Dawn political party, or Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia provides a glimpse of what Trump has in common with the new authoritarianism and its deeply racist, anti-immigration, and neo-Nazi tendencies.

Unfortunately, it was not until late in Trump’s presidential primary campaign that journalists began to acknowledge the presence of white militias and white hate groups at Trump’s rallies, and almost none have acknowledged the chanting of “white power” at some of his political gatherings, which would surely signal Trump’s connections not only to historical forms of white intolerance and racial hegemony but also to the formative Nazi culture that gave rise to genocide. When Trump was told that he had the support of the Ku Klux Klan—a terrorist organization—Trump hesitated in disavowing such support. Trump appears to have no issues with attracting members of white hate groups to his ranks. Nor does Trump seem to have issues with channeling the legitimate anger and outrage of his followers into expressions of hate and bigotry that have all the earmarks of a neo-fascist movement. Trump has also refused to condemn the increasing racism at many of his rallies, such as the chants of angry white men yelling, “If you’re an African first, go back to Africa.” Another example of Trump’s embrace of totalitarian politics can be found in Glenn Greenwald’s analysis of the mainstream media’s treatment of Trump’s attack on Jorge Ramos, an influential anchor of Univision. When Ramos stood up to question Trump’s views on immigration, Trump not only refused to call on him, but insulted him by telling him to go back to Univision. Instead of focusing on this particular lack of civility, Greenwald takes up the way many journalists scolded Ramos because he had a point of view and was committed to a political narrative. Greenwald saw this not just as a disingenuous act on the part of establishment journalists, but as a failure on the part of the press to speak out against a counterfeit notion of objectivity that represents a flight from responsibility, if not political and civic courage. Greenwald goes further, arguing that the mainstream media and institutions at the start of Trump’s campaign were too willing, in the name of objectivity and balance, to ignore Trump’s toxic rhetoric and the endorsements and expressions of violence.

Let’s look and listen to excerpts from his basket of deplorables which is at least 50% if not more of his supporters.

Additionally, there are lots of polls that show that he’s got a huge number of deplorables along with his staff which appears filled with Binders full of Bigots. So Hillary Clinton–and her staff’s–current bout with pneumonia is much more important than seeing Donald Trump’s Taxes, Donald’ Trump’s real health status, Donald Trump’s actual charitable givings and his Foundation’s records, etc.

Hillary Clinton is not wrong to characterize a huge swath of Trump supporters as bigots because that’s exactly what they are.  This is from June 28: Exclusive: Trump supporters more likely to view blacks negatively – Reuters/Ipsos poll

Nearly half of Trump’s supporters described African Americans as more “violent” than whites. The same proportion described African Americans as more “criminal” than whites, while 40 percent described them as more “lazy” than whites.

In smaller, but still significant, numbers, Clinton backers also viewed blacks more critically than whites with regard to certain personality traits. Nearly one-third of Clinton supporters described blacks as more “violent” and “criminal” than whites, and one-quarter described them as more “lazy” than whites.

Clinton is relying heavily on black voters to help her win the White House, and her victory over Sanders in the early state nominating contests was due in part to her overwhelming lead among African Americans.

When asked about where they wanted to live, 36 percent of Trump supporters said, “I prefer to live in a community with people who come from diverse cultures,” compared with 46 percent of Cruz supporters, 55 percent of Kasich supporters and 70 percent of Clinton supporters.

Trump’s supporters were more likely to be critical of affirmative action policies that favor minorities in school admissions or in hiring.

Some 31 percent of Trump supporters said they “strongly agree” that “social policies, such as affirmative action, discriminate unfairly against white people,” compared with 21 percent of Cruz supporters, 17 percent of Kasich supporters and 16 percent of Clinton supporters.

To be sure, not all Trump supporters expressed negative attitudes about blacks. No more than 50 percent of his supporters rated blacks negatively, relative to whites, on any of the six character traits in the poll.

Yet when their answers to the poll questions were compared with responses from supporters of other candidates, Trump supporters were always more critical of blacks on personality traits, analysis of the results showed.

The trend was consistent in the data, even when the results were filtered to include only white respondents to remove any impact that a different racial mix between Clinton and Trump supporters might play in the poll.

The Trump supporters’ views on affirmative action and neighborhood diversity do not necessarily reflect racial bias alone, said Michael Traugott, a polling expert and professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, who is not publicly supporting either Trump or Clinton. Rather, the results could also suggest anxieties about economic insecurity and social standing.

Trump, whose supporters are mostly white, has promised to return manufacturing jobs to the United States, crack down on illegal immigration and pull out of global trade deals that he says have hurt American workers.

“The support for Trump is indicative of the support for the type of policies he is advocating,” said Lawrence Brown, a professor at Morgan State University in Baltimore who writes about racism and has supported Sanders.

And there’s more evidence:

A survey taken this May found that about two-thirds of Trump supporters believe Obama is a Muslim.

PPP National Poll, May 6–9 2016

The same poll found 59 percent of Trump supporters believe Obama was not born in the United States.

PPP National Poll, May 6–9 2016

These views are incorrect but are also racist and xenophobic. They are rooted in the idea that a black man with an atypical name could not be a U.S.-born Christian but must be a secret Muslim born in Africa.

So when Hillary Clinton says half of Trump supporters hold bigoted views, she may be understating the issue.

Survey data shows that significant chunks of Trump supporters hold even more extreme beliefs.

A poll of 16,000 Americans conducted by Reuters in June found that 40% of Trump supporters believed that blacks were more “lazy” than whites and nearly 50% believed blacks were more “violent” than whites. (A smaller percentage of Clinton supporters held these views.)

A national poll of 2000 people taken in January by YouGov found that one-third of Trump supporters believe the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, one of the most shamefully racist programs in American history, was a good idea.

Clinton also mentioned homophobia. A PPP poll of South Carolina voters in February found that a substantial portion supported banning LGBT people from the United States.

PPP South Carolina Poll, February 14–15

In the same poll, 16 percent of Trump supporters admitted they believed that “whites are a superior race,” while an additional 14 percent said they were “not sure.”

PPP South Carolina Poll, February 14–15

The national YouGov poll from January found that 20 percent of Trump supporters disagreed with Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed southern slaves.

The polling data reveals that there is a substantial number of Trump supporters who are bigoted, intolerant, or worse.

This one deserves a bold and a repeat.  Yes, folks, there are Trump supporters that still think slavery is just okily dokily.

The national YouGov poll from January found that 20 percent of Trump supporters disagreed with Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed southern slaves.

Ta-Nehisis Coates argued this and rightly so.

Open and acknowledged racism is, today, both seen as a disqualifying and negligible feature in civic life. By challenging the the latter part of this claim, Clinton inadvertently challenged the former. Thus a reporter or an outlet pointing out the evidenced racism of Trump’s supporters in response to a statement made by his rival risks being seen as having taken a side not just against Trump, not just against racism, but against his supporters too. Would it not be better, then, to simply change the subject to one where “both sides” can be rendered as credible? Real and serious questions about intractable problems are thus translated into one uncontroversial question: “Who will win?”

It does not have to be this way. Indeed, one need not even dispense with horse-race reporting. One could ask, all at once, if Clinton was being truthful, how it will affect her chances, and what that says about the electorate. But that requires more than the current standard for political media. It means valuing more than just a sheen of objectivity but instead reporting facts in all of their disturbing reality.

dI think there in lies the crux of the matter.  Is it not the duty of a reporter to report “facts in all of their disturbing reality?” I think when you can make a credible case that one of the candidates running for the free world is a white nationalist with a huge disturbing following and campaign structure filled with folks that subscribe to conspiracy theories, and white supremacy, and that there are all kinds of other deplorables, then, journalists are compelled to report the truth instead of create false equivalencies.

Bothersiderism my fat, lilly white old lady ass!!!

You may find the Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments here on Amazon.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

 

 


Friday Reads: And now for something completely different …

solnit

Happy Friday Sky Dancers!

I’m going to change the topic for awhile and just provide some good, interesting reads for you! I hope you’ll share some of the interesting things you’ve been reading this week!

I don’t know if you’re aware of Rebecca Solnit who is considered an important, modern feminist writer and activist.  I found an interesting article about her activism and thought I’d start off with suggesting you read it. That’s her picture top left holding the great sign on hope and fury.  I picked up this feature on her from Lion’s Roar which is a Buddhist site in my tradition. She speaks on her life and on her Buddhist practice or nonpractice as the case may be.

Rebecca Solnit is certain of only one thing—that hope includes uncertainty. “We don’t know what’s going to happen next, and that gives us room to act,” she says. “Hope is active engagement with uncertainty and the possibilities that it holds.”

Solnit is best known as an important feminist writer and activist. Her 2008 essay Men Explain Things to Me is credited with launching the term “mansplaining.” But as an award-winning journalist, historian, and activist, her work spans many genres, disciplines, and causes: landscapes, criticism, human rights, technology, indigenous peoples, gender, visual art, and climate change.

When I ask Solnit how she describes what she does, she says, “My work has often been about connections between things seen as far apart or disparate—connections to cross fields in disciplines and cross times in cultures. I try and encourage people. I take interest in pleasures and possibilities that are already all around us. I try and connect the present, past, and future in how I tell stories. I try to look for the alternatives and the overlooked entrances and exits.”

I particularly like this quote from her book  The Faraway Nearby.

The coolness of Buddhism isn’t indifference but the distance one gains on emotions, the quiet place from which to regard the turbulence. From far away you see the pattern, the connections, and the thing as a whole, see all the islands and the routes between them.” 

d18a8ece7435a55375f9a4518e20326cThis suggested read is a local story in the local paper and involves a recent law passed in Louisiana referred to as “Blue Lives Matter”.  This arrest is highly dubious and based on this law.  I certainly hope the ACLU will look at this because it appears to me that it’s infringes on first amendment speech.

The New Orleans Police Department was wrong to book a man who cussed at officers with an anti-police hate crime, the department’s communications director Tyler Gamble said in a Thursday afternoon email.  Raul Delatoba, 34, used racist and sexist epithets to address the police he encountered early Monday morning, and initially the police decided that Delatoba’s disrespect rose to the level of a felony.

But Gamble wrote in his email, “After reviewing the initial facts of the case, it is clear that the responding officer incorrectly applied the law relative to a hate crime in this incident.”  Gamble said the district attorney’s office will have to make the final decision regarding what charges Delatoba will face, if any. “In the meantime,” he wrote, “we are in the process of training all officers and supervisors on the updated law to ensure it is applied properly moving forward.”

It’s hard to imagine the “Blue Lives Matter” law being “applied properly” because the “Blue Lives Matter” law was unnecessary legislation that Gov. John Bel Edwards never should have signed.  There were already enhanced penalties for hurting law enforcement officers.  So what does the law do except give police permission to newly interpret obnoxious behavior as felonies?

The law is bad on its face, and no amount of training of officers and supervisors is likely to redeem it.

Here’s how you can be sure that the law is bad:  When a reporter asked the man who wrote the bill if he thought it appropriate for NOPD to pull out the hate crime statute for a man who cussed at them, the bill’s author declined to say no.  Instead, Rep. Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, punted and said how or if to charge Delatoba would be “left up to the DA’s interpretation.”  Of course. That’s always the case, no matter the accusation.  But the question was about Harris’ own interpretation of the law he created.  If Harris had wanted to say, “No, I didn’t intend for the law to apply to people who cuss cops,” he was free to say just that.  His decision not to make such a simple statement suggests that Harris wasn’t at all bothered by what NOPD had initially done even though what NOPD initially did was hugely troubling.

Troubling doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel this situation has shown us about the idea of associating hate crimes and9b7cd3d132cb27256da4d1600732d7ce a powerful, government institution like your local police.

Here’s a scary Press Release from our newest banking regulator the CFPB: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Fines Wells Fargo $100 Million for Widespread Illegal Practice of Secretly Opening Unauthorized Accounts ;Bank Incentives to Boost Sales Figures Spurred Employees to Secretly Open Deposit and Credit Card Accounts.  You may have to read this a few times to get it to completely sink in on how big and bad it actually is.

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. $100 million for the widespread illegal practice of secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts. Spurred by sales targets and compensation incentives, employees boosted sales figures by covertly opening accounts and funding them by transferring funds from consumers’ authorized accounts without their knowledge or consent, often racking up fees or other charges. According to the bank’s own analysis, employees opened more than two million deposit and credit card accounts that may not have been authorized by consumers. Wells Fargo will pay full restitution to all victims and a $100 million fine to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. The bank will also pay an additional $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and another $50 million to the City and County of Los Angeles.

“Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed. Today’s action should serve notice to the entire industry that financial incentive programs, if not monitored carefully, carry serious risks that can have serious legal consequences.”

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This year celebrates 50 years of the Star Trek phenomenon.  I loved the program from day one.

For Star Trek‘s George Takei, it was one of the worst predictions he ever made, and one of the best strokes of luck in his life: Takei, known to fans worldwide as helmsman Hikaru Sulu, originally thought the show would last only one season.

“When we were shooting the pilot, Jimmy Doohan [who played engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott] said to me, ‘Well, George, what do you think about this? What kind of run do you think we’ll have?'” says Takei. “And I said, ‘I smell quality. And that means we’re in trouble.’ ”

Already a bit cynical about the way TV worked, Takei figured any series he liked wouldn’t last long — including the one he was appearing in. He feared Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had developed a show too sophisticated for mass audiences; a show that disguised social commentary with space action.

Fifty years later, relaxing in his comfortable Los Angeles home with a long career as an actor, author and activist, Takei is happy to admit his instincts were off the mark.

“The Starship Enterprise was a metaphor for Starship Earth,” he adds, referencing an acronym Roddenberry cited often to describe his approach: IDIC, or Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. “It was the diversity of this planet — people of different backgrounds, different cultures, different races … all coming together in concert and working as a team … I think that’s why, even a half century later, it’s as popular as it is.”

On Sept. 8, one of the most enduring franchises in TV and movie history celebrates its 50th birthday. Star Trek debuted on NBC in 1966, developed by Roddenberry, a former Los Angeles cop who wanted to make a TV series that could sneak past the rampant escapism of most programs back then.

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The swamps of the Southern United States are giving up their secrets. Archaeologists are finding how escaped slaves developed hidden communities to keep their freedom.

The Great Dismal Swamp, now reduced by draining and development, is managed as a federal wildlife refuge. The once-notorious panthers are gone, but bears, birds, deer and amphibians are still abundant. So are venomous snakes and biting insects. In the awful heat and humidity of summer, Sayers assures me, the swamp teems with water moccasins and rattlesnakes. The mosquitoes get so thick that they can blur the outlines of a person standing 12 feet away.

In early 2004, one of the refuge biologists strapped on his waders and brought Sayers to the place we’re going, a 20-acre island occasionally visited by hunters, but completely unknown to historians and archaeologists. Before Sayers, no archaeology had been done in the swamp’s interior, mainly because conditions were so challenging. One research party got lost so many times that it gave up.

When you’ve been toiling through the sucking ooze, with submerged roots and branches grabbing at your ankles, dry solid ground feels almost miraculous. We step onto the shore of a large, flat, sun-dappled island carpeted with fallen leaves. Walking toward its center, the underbrush disappears, and we enter a parklike clearing shaded by a few hardwoods and pines.

“I’ll never forget seeing this place for the first time,” recalls Sayers. “It was one of the greatest moments of my life. I never dreamed of finding a 20-acre island, and I knew instantly it was livable. Sure enough, you can’t put a shovel in the ground anywhere on this island without finding something.”

He has named his excavation areas—the Grotto, the Crest, North Plateau and so on—but he won’t name the island itself. In his academic papers and his 2014 book, A Desolate Place for a Defiant People, Sayers refers to it as the “nameless site.” “I don’t want to put a false name on it,” he explains. “I’m hoping to find out what the people who lived here called this place.” As he sifts the earth they trod, finding the soil footprints of their cabins and tiny fragments of their tools, weapons and white clay pipes, he feels a profound admiration for them, and this stems in part from his Marxism.

“These people performed a critique of a brutal capitalistic enslavement system, and they rejected it completely. They risked everything to live in a more just and equitable way, and they were successful for ten generations. One of them, a man named Charlie, was interviewed later in Canada. He said that all labor was communal here. That’s how it would have been in an African village.”

Ever take ginseng?  Here’s a frightening connection between the region growing Ginseng in Appalachia and poaching 8065a74a3828afda31fcd76cd974f65b exotic substances.

On the outskirts of Boone, North Carolina, a small college and ski town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Travis Cornett had turned his bucolic farm into a virtual fortress. He’d started by installing a handful of security cameras across his 12 acres of sloping pine woods. Then he’d nailed 15 bright red signs to tree trunks along the property line that warned, “Trespassers will be prosecuted.” He also kept a .22 Ruger rifle and a Kalashnikov on hand.

As far as Cornett was concerned, no one was going to touch his ginseng.

It was the fall of 2013, six years since Cornett had planted his first “sang,” as locals call it: some 40 pounds of seed in a patch of forest shade. Initially, Cornett wasn’t too worried about poachers, well known around Boone for stealing ginseng from land that isn’t theirs. His fledging crop, low growing with green, jagged-edged leaves, had looked like wild strawberry plants. Now, though, it was coming into its prime. The maturing stems were taking on a distinctive purple tinge, their leaves multiplying, their berries turning lipstick red. Cornett knew that the plants’ roots, which are more valuable with age, could soon fetch hundreds of dollars per pound. It was only a matter of time before the rest of his farm, where he’d planted more seed over the years, would grow ripe for profit — and for theft.

Yet his fortifications weren’t enough. One September afternoon, neighbors saw a scruffy man creeping around Cornett’s land. When Cornett got the news — the security cameras had failed to pick up the intruder — he grabbed a weed whacker and unleashed it on his oldest ginseng, slicing off the leafy tops. If poachers couldn’t spot the decapitated plants, he reasoned, they couldn’t steal the roots.

A week later, though, he got a call that the trespasser had returned. Just then, the man was walking up a country byway near Cornett’s property, wearing dirt-covered jeans and carrying a backpack. Cornett, who was a few minutes from home, jumped into his black GMC truck and sped through the rural hills until he spotted David Presnell. When confronted, Presnell pleaded with Cornett not to call the cops. Cornett pulled out his cell phone anyway, and Presnell took off running, unzipping his backpack as he went. Then he reached inside and started tossing tan, snaking ginseng roots by the handful into laurel thickets lining the road.

By the time police arrived several minutes later, nothing was left in Presnell’s bag save some dirt and a few stringy runners. At Cornett’s urging, however, the cops drove to Presnell’s mobile home, where they found several roots strung up to dry. Others were dehydrating on large screened trays. The incursion into Cornett’s property, police suspected, wasn’t a first offense.

In December 2014, Presnell became the first person in North Carolina to be convicted of felony ginseng larceny on private property. He joined other thieves across Appalachia — the mountainous strip of territory extending from southern New York through the Carolinas down into Mississippi — who’ve been arrested, fined, even imprisoned for various ginseng-related crimes, including poaching, illegal possession, and unlawful trade across state lines. Presnell received 30 months’ probation.

So, hopefully these are some relaxed and interesting reads to help kick off a starting-to-look-like Autumn weekend. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Live Blog: NBC “Commander-in-Chief Forum”

trump-triumphant-cartoonTonight, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will respond to questions by Matt Lauer and an audience of Iraq/Afghanistan War Vets and their families. Clinton will be up first in49483_600 NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Forum. The Forum will be broadcast live from New York.  It will provide an opportunity to see the candidates back-to-back in their first somewhat joint event.

On Wednesday, September 7, NBC News and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America present a historic event: The Commander-in-Chief Forum live from New York City.

During this one-hour forum, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be on stage back-to-back taking questions on national security, military affairs and veterans issues from NBC News and an audience comprised mainly of military veterans and active service members.

The event will air live on MSNBC at 8 p.m. ET and will be simulcast live on NBC in most markets. Check listings if you live in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. The event will also air on NBC in its entirety at 8 p.m. PT and 9 p.m. MT. The broadcast will also be streamed live at NBCNews.com.Forum at 8 p.m. ET.

Here are a few links to prepare for possible and needed questions.

From Charles P. Pierce writing for Esquire Magazine:

Here’s What NBC Should Ask at Tonight’s ‘Commander-in-Chief Forum’

390-draft-0721It’s a question all presidents should ask themselves.

Over the almost 15 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, almost everything about our politics, our culture, and ourselves has been heavily militarized. (It is not insignificant that most of the reaction against Colin Kaepernick’s gesture of protest has centered on his disrespect “for the troops.”) This includes almost any debate over foreign policy, which is too often tangled up in debates about military policy. (The current debate over trade policy is a welcome relief.) And most of my qualms are centered on the iconization of the term, commander-in-chief, which is now dangerously close to defining the office of president itself, which is, at the moment, a civilian job.

Time Magazine and Mark Thompson ask:

“Are military endorsements worth as much as the candidates think?

So why should voters listen to ex-generals? In part, it’s because Americans hold their military in high esteem. The latest Gallup poll shows it’s the U.S. institution that citizens hold in highest regard (73%), with the presidency, at 36%, and Congress, at 9%, far below. The generals’ endorsements are sought not because of whom they are, or how many wars they’ve won, frankly, but because they bask in the glow given to GI Joe and Jane since 9/11. There’s a profound sense of gratitude (and, absent a draft, guilt) among Americans toward troops willing to salute and carry out the nation’s orders.

While Trump exasperates many former military leaders, he polls well among the troops, at least according to a non-scientific survey conducted by the independent Military Times newspapers. A CNN poll releasedTuesday highlights the fluidity of the race when it comes to national security: he does better when it comes to combating terrorism (51-45%), while she gets the edge when it comes to serving as commander-in-chief (50-45%).

The nation’s most-recently retired top military officer doesn’t like his former comrades choosing sides. “Politicians should take the advice of senior military leaders but keep them off the stage,” Martin Dempsey, an Army four-star general who retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 2011 to 2015, said after a pair of retired generals appeared at the recent political conventions, one backing Clinton and the other backing Trump. “They have just made the task of their successors—who continue to serve in uniform and are accountable for our security—more complicated. It was a mistake for them to participate as they did. It was a mistake for our presidential candidates to ask them to do so.”

Yet not all who have worn the uniform agree. “Who should speak on security affairs to our nation? Professors? Anti-war activists? Pot-bellied defense lobbyists grubbing for blood-money? Think-tank creeps with narrow shoulders and massive egos?” asks Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. “Shouldn’t we also lend an ear to those who have actual and lengthy military experience?”

Retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich, who has criticized the nation’s post-9/11 wars, also doesn’t find rolling out military brass like so many artillery pieces particularly disturbing, so long as their opinions are given proper weight: “A retired general is no more competent to comment on presidential politics than is a retired dentist or a retired ballet dancer.”

Jeff Stein writing for VOX suggests “how to watch Trump, Clinton online, TV.”174177_600-1

The forum will begin at 8 pm Eastern at the the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. NBC’s Matt Lauer, host of the Today Show, gets to ask the questions.

How to watch

TV: The event will be simulcast on both NBC and MSNBC.

Streaming: The event will be live-streamed here.

You can also just ignore the visuals and listen to the forum on MSNBC’s radio channel.

What to expect

This could be a good night for Clinton.

The back-and-forth of the debates reward masters in the theater of campaigning. Trump excelled at that during the Republican primaries, in part with put-downs of his rivals and his sense of humor.

The forums are different. The candidates will have to sit for extended interviews that test the range of their expertise, making it much more difficult to provide a punchy one-line answer or turn the tables on their opponents to prove a point.

“A well-prepared moderator can have an easier time pinning down a candidate and following up on the audience’s questions,” writes Gary Legum in Salon. “It requires a candidate to move around the stage, maintain eye contact with questioners and show empathy and relatability to members of the audience. This is not exactly Trump’s strong suit.”

PolitiFact will be Fact-Checking the Forum.

I’m personally don’t have faith in Matt Lauer asking any tough questions given he’s basically a news reader and on air personality for fluffy morning news. I  am hoping the vets and their families will have tough questions.

I want to hear what Trump says about his comments about John McCain not being a real hero and see if he will apologize to the Khans, frankly for his outrageous comments about the gold star family.  Basically, this Hillary internet ad says it all to me.  How do you compare the service and sacrifice of service members to your blowing through you Daddy’s trustfund to build fugly buildings?