Monday, October 24, 2016

Ten years of Right Wing Watch

People for the American Way is currently celebrating ten years of Right Wing Watch, where they keep an eye on what the right-wing is saying (and working towards). So they've recently released a couple of lists of highlights from the past decade.

This video clip is from their "10 Years of Pat Robertson: Our Very Favorite Robertson Moments of the Decade." But they've also released a list of their favorite posts in general over the past ten years. That's pretty crazy, too!

Most of them include brief video clips of a minute or two. I subscribe to their YouTube channel, so that's normally where I see these.

And let me tell you, the amount of crazy in America is astonishing! Demon-haunted clothing isn't even particularly exceptional. Most of the video clips they post are equally crazy. Check it out and see for yourself.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton at the Al Smith Dinner

This is Hillary Clinton's speech at the 2016 Al Smith Dinner. These are supposed to be humorous, and both presidential candidates made fun of each other.

But Donald Trump was booed when he became nasty. In a roast, you're not supposed to cross the line from funny to inappropriate. (Of course, that line is subjective. I doubt if he was booed by any of his supporters.)

I thought that Clinton did a good job here. She was no Barack Obama, who could make a living as a comedian (if he had good writers, at least), but she was funny. And by and large, her jabs against Trump were clever and biting. "But Donald Trump really is as healthy as a horse - you know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on."

Note that Trump made a point of smiling throughout her speech. (You can judge for yourself how hard that was for him.) Clearly, one of his managers warned him not to behave as he did at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he was visibly steamed at Seth Meyers' jokes. Indeed, his reaction became a joke, itself.

Clearly, no one warned Rudy Giuliani, though. Heh, heh. Did you see his face? But then, he's not running for anything, so he doesn't have to pretend.

Politically, Clinton did well here, too, I'd say. This is a Catholic Charities fundraiser, and you could certainly tell that from her speech. But she made some serious points at the end which we can all agree with (though I wouldn't necessarily agree with everything she said).

Friday, October 14, 2016

Can you hear the stormtroopers marching?

Yeah, there's an avalanche of crazy coming from the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, IMHO, this hasn't received nearly enough attention:
There's a new conspiracy theory rapidly gaining traction among Trump supporters about the origin of the 'Access Hollywood' Trump tape which triggered days of new allegations about Donald Trump's alleged history of sexual abuse. The conspiracy theory is rapidly taking on an explicitly anti-Semitic character. As far as I can see it has not been pushed by the Trump campaign itself, at least not publicly. But it's catching fire with numerous supporters and surrogates - most notably Jerry Falwell Jr, a key Trump supporter among evangelicals and President of Liberty University, the school founded by his father.

The claim is also being pushed by Breitbart and David Duke in various neo-Nazi web forums. Notably, in recent months Breitbart, with which the Trump campaign has now effectively merged, has itself more openly embraced anti-Semitism.

You can see the details of the story in our write up here. The claim is that Dan Senor, a prominent GOP political operative, who is Jewish and married to former television reporter Campbell Brown, is behind the tape disclosure and part of a plot of "GOP elites" to destroy Donald Trump. In other words, in this conspiracy theory, Senor is now cast as the Jewish "traitor" working for the conspiracy of political elites, international financiers and the media who Trumped railed against today in his speech.

I've written before about the radicalizing tendencies of the Trump campaign. Avowed anti-Semitic supporters are brought into the mainstream. Trump bellows about conspiracies of traitorous elites and global financiers - charges which don't mention Jews explicitly but which closely follow the themes, vocabulary and villains of traditional anti-Semitic agitation. Then rabid Trump supporters who may not previously have thought in anti-Semitic terms or may have held only latent hostility toward Jews get swept into embracing and propagating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and political agitation.

Frightening, isn't it? I've seen this antisemitism online, though admittedly not as frequently as general racism and... absolutely hysterical misogyny. Of course, I don't frequent neo-Nazi websites, either. What I see is just what leaks out from them.

Still, it's very clear that Donald Trump is preparing his supporters for a loss next month. And being Trump, none of it is going to be his fault. He's been talking about rigged elections for a long time, and about how the media are against him. But now, mainstream Republicans are part of the 'conspiracy' that's assaulting poor, defenseless Donald Trump.

His supporters are going to be looking for scapegoats. After all, Trump is a 'winner,' right? Just ask him. And winners can't lose a fair fight. Between Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, women, the media, Democrats, and now mainstream Republicans, there are a lot of people on Trump's enemies list. Who knows what to expect?

At best, after the election, Trump is going to milk his diehard supporters for every dime he can get from them, and the Republican Party will face even deeper divisions. Worse would be if his armed supporters try 'Second Amendment remedies,' which Trump has already encouraged. (We've seen other Republican politicians encourage violence, too, and also armed loons trying to intimidate the opposition.)

None of that would be as bad as Donald Trump actually becoming president, but it's not going to be good, regardless. I hope that Trump is absolutely humiliated in this election. That's the only possible way that he might crawl back into his hole (though it might be doubtful even then).

And I hope that the entire Republican Party faces a devastating defeat up and down the line. That's the only way they'll be willing to repudiate the dangerous, un-American 'Southern strategy' they've been using for the past few decades. Unfortunately, that does not look likely. (I don't understand it, I really don't.)

At any rate, this neo-Nazi stuff from Trump supporters is scary as hell - even for me, and as a straight white man, I probably have the least to worry about. We're at a critical point in American history.

Well, maybe we always are, I don't know. I hope I'm worrying for nothing.

The monster isn't Trump

Science fiction author John Scalzi puts this a lot better than I ever have:
At this point there is no doubt that Donald Trump is the single worst major party presidential candidate in living memory, almost certainly the worst since the Civil War, and arguably the worst in the history of this nation. He is boastful and ignorant and petty, disdainful of the Constitution, a racist and a sexist, the enabler of the worst elements of society, either the willing tool of, or the useful idiot for, Vladimir Putin, an admirer of despots, an insecure braggart, a sexual assaulter, a man who refuses to honor contracts, and a bore.

He is, in sum, just about the biggest asshole in all of the United States of America. He’s lucky that Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad is out there keeping him from taking the global title, not that he wouldn’t try for that, too, should he become president. It’s appalling that he is the standard bearer for one of the two major political parties in the United States. It’s appalling that he is a candidate for the presidency at all.

But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.

Well, surprise! Here’s Donald Trump. He is the actual and physical embodiment of every single thing the GOP has trained its base to want and to be over the last forty years — ignorant, bigoted and money-grubbing, disdainful of facts and frightened of everything because of it, an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism, threatening brown people and leering at women. He was planned. He was intended. He was expected. He was wanted.

But not, I think, in the exact form of Donald Trump. The GOP were busily genetically engineering the perfect host for their message, someone smooth and telegenic and possibly just ethnic enough to make people hesitant to point out the latent but real racism inherent in its social policies, while making the GOP’s white base feel like they were making a progressive choice, and with that person installed, further pursuing its agenda of slouching toward oligarchy, with just enough anti-abortion and pro-gun glitter tossed into the sky to distract the religious and the paranoid. Someone the GOP made. Someone they could control.

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes.

I can't add anything to that - Scalzi is exactly right - so I'll just repeat two sentences: "Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich."

GOP policies and actions created their base, nurtured their base, and turned it into a monster deliberately. For decades, it's worked well for them. But the monster is proving to be harder and harder to control. That's the nature of monsters, I guess.

At this point, we can only hope that the monster destroys the Republican Party before the Republican Party destroys America. And maybe the next conservative party in our country can try to put America first. Political ambition is all well and good, but when you're willing to do anything to gain political power, you've got a problem.

Well, we've got a problem. And it's not just Donald Trump, though he's the embodiment of it right now. This monster isn't going away - not quietly, at least - no matter what happens in the election. Our actions live on long after we stop acting. What the Republican Party did to us isn't going to stop causing damage to America, not in the foreseeable future.

There's no easy fix, either. We did this to ourselves. If we'd been smarter people, better people, we would have repudiated the Republican Party's strategy decades ago. Instead, it kept working for them. It worked very well for them. And in many states, with many, many people, it's still working.

PS. My thanks to Jim Harris for the link.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Michelle Obama on Trump's sexual assault bragging

The sound quality isn't great in this video clip, but it's a powerful statement from Michelle Obama about how Trump's bragging affects her. She's clearly speaking from the heart.

PS. Here's a longer excerpt from her speech (just under ten minutes long). The sound quality still isn't perfect, but it's a great speech.

Trump supporters

This contains scenes from the documentary 13th (which is apparently available on Netflix). So much for the good old days, huh?

When it comes to the Donald Trump campaign, we could go back even further than that, though, and show scenes from 1930's Germany. (There's a reason why antisemitism has been growing in America recently, as bigots crawl out from under their rocks.)

Thanks to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for the link.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wow! It gets even worse!

If this were fiction, if the Trump campaign had been merely an author's wild imagination, I would have found it too implausible to maintain my suspension of disbelief. That's how crazy things have gotten in America these days.

And it just gets worse and worse. Did you think that Trump bragging about how he could freely commit sexual assault, as a rich celebrity, was as bad as it could get? (And note, that is the problem with 'Pussygate'. It wasn't the language. It wasn't the "locker room banter." Donald Trump bragged about how he could force himself on women, with no consequences.)

To my mind, the latest news is even more alarming, though it probably won't have the same political impact. There's clear evidence that Donald Trump is getting his propaganda - his false propaganda - from Vladimir Putin's propaganda machine:
At a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump spoke while holding a document in his hand. He told the assembled crowd that it was an email from Blumenthal, whom he called “sleazy Sidney.”

“This just came out a little while ago,’’ Trump said. “I have to tell you this.” And then he read the words from my article.

“He’s now admitting they could have done something about Benghazi,’’ Trump said, dropping the document to the floor. “This just came out a little while ago.”

The crowd booed and chanted, “Lock her up!”

The problem is, that wasn't true. And it was false in at least two ways, ways which clearly identify the source of the claim. The entire article at Newsweek is fascinating, but I'll try to present the gist of it in excerpts here:
An email from Blumenthal—a confidant of Hillary Clinton and a man, second only to George Soros, at the center of conservative conspiracy theories—turned up in the recent document dump by WikiLeaks. At a time when American intelligence believes Russian hackers are trying to interfere with the presidential election, records have been fed recently to WikiLeaks out of multiple organizations of the Democratic Party, raising concerns that the self-proclaimed whistleblower group has become a tool of Putin’s government. ...

The evidence emerged thanks to the incompetence of Sputnik, the Russian online news and radio service established by the government-controlled news agency, Rossiya Segodnya.

The documents that WikiLeaks has unloaded recently have been emails out of the account of John Podesta, the chairman of Clinton’s election campaign. Almost as soon as the pilfered documents emerged, Sputnik was all over them and rapidly found (or probably already knew about before the WikiLeaks dump) a purportedly incriminating email from Blumenthal. ...

The Russians were quoting two sentences from a 10,000-word piece I wrote for Newsweek, which Blumenthal had emailed to Podesta. There was no mistaking that Blumenthal was citing Newsweek—the magazine’s name and citations for photographs appeared throughout the attached article. The Russians had carefully selected the “of course” paragraph, which mentions there were legitimate points of criticism regarding Clinton and Benghazi, all of which had been acknowledged in nine reports about the attack and by the former secretary of state herself. But that was hardly the point of the story, “Benghazi Biopsy: A Comprehensive Guide to One of America’s Worst Political Outrages.” The piece is about the obscene politicization of the assault that killed four Americans, and the article slammed the Republican Benghazi committee, which was engaged in a political show trial disguised as a congressional investigation—the 10th inquiry into the tragedy. ...

Of course, this might be seen as just an opportunity to laugh at the incompetence of the Russian hackers and government press—once they realized their error, Sputnik took the article down. But then things got even more bizarre.

This false story was reported only by the Russian-controlled agency (a reference appeared in a Turkish publication, but it was nothing but a link to the Sputnik article). So how did Donald Trump end up advancing the same falsehood put out by Putin’s mouthpiece? ...

This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin? (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

The Russians have been obtaining American emails and now are presenting complete misrepresentations of them—falsifying them—in hopes of setting off a cascade of events that might change the outcome of the presidential election. The big question, of course, is why are the Russians working so hard to damage Clinton and, in the process, aid Donald Trump? That is a topic for another time.

For now, though, Americans should be outraged. This totalitarian regime, engaged in what are arguably war crimes in Syria to protect its government puppet, is working to upend a democracy to the benefit of an American candidate who uttered positive comments just Sunday about the Kremlin's campaign on behalf of Bashar al-Assad.

I don't know if it's clear from these excerpts (I didn't want to copy the entire article), but there were at least two separate errors in Sputnik's - and Trump's - claims. The first was simply misinterpreting a couple of lines from that earlier article for political advantage.

That was just propaganda, and it's possible that the Russian government and Donald Trump would both make that error deliberately, since both apparently want to damage the Clinton campaign. It's possible, in other words, that it was merely coincidence that both would use the same factually-incorrect propaganda, picking out the same lines from that article and making the same false claim about them.

But Sputnik was sloppy. They attributed that misleading excerpt to Sidney Blumenthal, but it was actually Kurt Eichenwald - the author of this latest Newsweek article setting the record straight - who actually wrote it. And Donald Trump made that error, too. He had to have gotten this from Sputnik.

PZ Myers shows why such "plagiarized errors" are so revealing:
The example often given is of how we can catch students cheating on a test: if two students turn in an exam with identical correct answers, it could just mean they both studied very hard and mastered the material well; if they have identical wrong answers, right down to the spelling mistakes, that tells you that someone has been slavishly copying someone else. For more examples of how the concept is actually used [in evolutionary biology], check out Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics by Edward Max.

The nice thing about the plagiarized error concept is that it allows one to trace the history of the error. In the recent debate, Trump made an unusual error of attribution — he quoted Kurt Eichenwald (incorrectly, as it turns out, ignoring his conclusion) and claimed that it was a quote from Sydney Blumenthal. It was an odd combination of specific errors, and that makes one wonder where Trump could have gotten the same set of mistakes. It turns out that there is only one other media source that makes the same combination of errors, misattributing Eichenwald’s words to Blumenthal, and distorting the meaning of the piece in the same strange way, and that tells us exactly what source Trump plagiarized.

It came from “Sputnik, the Russian online news and radio service established by the government controlled news agency, Rossiya Segodnya“. Russian propaganda sources are feeding misinformation to the Trump campaign.

Incidentally, Josh Marshall at TPM has an interesting idea about this, though it certainly doesn't make Donald Trump look any better.
So how did a Russian propaganda goof or intentional error show up in the GOP nominee's speech?

Good question.

But here's the thing. This isn't the first time this has happened. It's happened a number of times with Trump and his top level surrogates. Indeed, I examined the issue back in August.

We might speculate that there's some kind of mole in the Trump operation. Less conspiratorially, we might speculate that one of Trump's advisors with extensive ties to Russia is feeding Trump this stuff. The second option at least seems plausible. But there's actually a simpler explanation and it's one not based on speculation at all but things we know to be facts.

News from Russian propaganda sources are pervasive in the alt-right/neo-Nazi web. As a secondary matter we know from Adrian Chen's work that there are a decent number of faux 'pro-Trump' accounts on Twitter that are actually run from troll farms operated by Russian intelligence services. By whichever path, Russian propaganda is ubiquitous on the alt-right/racist web - particularly on Twitter, Reddit, 4chan and similar sites.

It happens that we know the Trump world is awash in the alt-right/neo-Nazi web. After all, that's where all the retweeting of #WhiteGenocide accounts and the like comes from. So anything is possible. Perhaps there's a more complex explanation. But the simplest one is that it's organic. Russian propaganda stories from outlets like RT, Sputniknews and other similar sites spread freely on the alt-right/white supremacist web. And that's where the Trump camp lives. So it's entirely plausible that that's why material that appears only on these Russian propaganda sites shows up so frequently in Trump's speeches.

In other words, don't worry. The Trump campaign isn't infiltrated by Russian intelligence (probably). They're just awash in neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda. See my piece from August for more details.

Yes, it's possible that the Trump campaign isn't being directed by Vladimir Putin (even though Putin is clearly doing everything he can to help Donald Trump). That's comforting, isn't it?

It's possible that Putin isn't even feeding Trump misinformation - not directly, at least. Maybe it's just that Donald Trump is getting his information from neo-Nazis and white supremacists who are getting their propaganda from Vladimir Putin. What a relief, huh? LOL

Oh, for the simpler times of yesterday, when I thought that the worst thing about the Republican candidate for President of the United States was his bragging about committing sexual assault.

Well, just wait until tomorrow, huh? I don't know how Donald Trump can go any lower, but I've thought that many times before and he always exceeds my expectations.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Will this do it?

Will this do it? After months of racism, sexism, and xenophobia, will this be what finally sinks Donald Trump? I guess we'll see...

Certainly, many Republican politicians seem to be deserting the sinking ship. Of course, it seemed to be sinking even before this. (But it would be stupid to become complacent. He could still win, especially if liberals throw away their votes on idiotic third-party candidates.)

But Republican politicians wouldn't be deserting him if they thought he could win. After all, he's been saying these things all along. And if you're willing to use racism for political advantage, where will you draw the line?

Here's how Josh Marshall at TPM puts it:
We can't say the emergence of this tape was predictable. But the behavior is not at all surprising based on what we already knew. Indeed, I would almost say this whole line of reasoning is offensive, in this sense: Sexual assault is terrible. But it's hardly the only terrible thing that has been dredged up by this election. What about the campaigns of hate and occasional violence spurred by this campaign? Just yesterday I wrote about how Trump has done more to normalize anti-Semitism in American public life than anyone in decades. I wrote about this because it is something I know from personal experience. But Trump's entire campaign has been explicitly about demonizing Hispanics and American Muslims - subjecting them to escalating campaigns of hate, harassment and in some cases actual violence. Meanwhile African-Americans have served as his stage props, sometimes being targeted with racist attacks and other times as powerless non-people who only Trump can save. Is all this stuff just a cost of doing business? Sexual assault and sexual violence of all sorts is one of the most pressing issues in our society today. But it is hard not to conclude that the revelation of this tape is considered a step too far because women are a critical demographic that is in play in the election and secondarily because the politicians have wives and daughters. Most of those wives and daughters aren't black or Jews or Hispanic or Muslim or people from any of the other groups Trump has stepped on on his way to the nomination.

You might not care about blacks, Jews, Hispanics, or Muslims. Heck, you might not care about women. But we all know women. We all have family members who are women. At the very least, we all had mothers.

I'm not sure how much difference that makes to Republican politicians, but women vote, and that does matter to them. Republicans may have already written off blacks, Jews, Hispanics, and Muslims, but they can't win if they write off women.

That video clip of Trump is easily found on YouTube (here, for example, though copyright complaints might change that). But note that the problem isn't the 'locker-room banter,' as the Trump campaign tries to spin it. Sure, most men admire beautiful women, and when they're alone - trust me - that can be expressed very lewdly. (That's not admirable. But it's not uncommon.)

But Donald Trump was bragging about sexual assault. He was bragging that he could force himself on women and get away with it, because he's a celebrity. That's the problem here. Sexual assault isn't just rude. It's a crime.

Of course, he'd just gotten married for the third time and he was also talking about trying to commit adultery (with a married woman, no less). But he'd bragged about committing adultery previously. He's on tape bragging about his successes when married to his previous wives, and that hadn't hurt him.

Of course, his first wife, Ivana Trump, had accused him of rape, and that didn't seem to bother his supporters. (Note that he's currently in court over allegations that he raped a 13-year-old. But anyone can claim anything, so I'm not going to assume anything about that, one way or another.)

So if this is what finally causes Donald Trump's candidacy to crash and burn, all I can say is... why did it take so long? Given his entire campaign so far, why was this the straw that broke the camel's back? (If, indeed, it has.) Why were so many people OK with all the rest of it?

Donald Trump should have been disqualified as a presidential candidate pretty much the first time he opened his mouth. And ever since, he has repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn't have the personality, the intelligence, or the qualifications to be President of the United States (not to mention his racism, sexism, and religious bigotry).

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Why I'm angry

"We have had enough!"

Damn straight!  I know I've been posting a lot of these Keith Olbermann videos - and not much else - but this is exactly why I'm angry.

I keep hearing about these 'angry white men.' Well, I guess I'm one of them, huh? LOL

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The most un-American thing a candidate has ever done

Keith Olbermann is a bit too mild-mannered for me - not enough passion in his commentary. :)

But when he's right, he's right.

Monday, October 3, 2016

First Debate: Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton

If you missed the debate, this covers all of the highlights in nine minutes. It's surprisingly accurate, too. :)

PS. Sorry I haven't been blogging, but I guess I've just lost interest. I don't know where the days go, but I never seem to have the time, either.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The stupidity of comparing refugees to Skittles

This is funny, but that whole 'Skittles tweet' was just unbelievably stupid. Even if you can ignore the poor math, you could say the same thing about every immigrant group.

Are you descended from English, Irish, or German immigrants? Guess what? Some English, Irish, and German immigrants murdered people. So what?

This was simply bigoted fear-mongering for political advantage. It's embarrassing that America has even come to this. How could anyone support Donald Trump? I just don't get it.

Edit: relates an earlier version of this kind of comparison, only about poisonous mushrooms. That's not surprising, is it?

Elizabeth Warren questions the Wells Fargo CEO

I love this woman. I can't feel too sorry for John Stumpf, either, since he's still got his job and his hundreds of millions of dollars to help dry his tears.

Donald Trump's secret terrorism plan

Funny, isn't it? After all this time claiming that he had a secret plan to defeat ISIS, Trump's plan turns out to be asking generals to come up with a plan (as if that hasn't been happening all along).

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fox News and the creation of Donald Trump

Samantha Bee starts off with this: "Fortunately for [Roger] Ailes, the job of Trump's debate coach isn't that hard. He doesn't need to make Trump sound smart, because he's spent the past 20 years making voters dislike smart people."

And she doesn't let up after that. Samantha Bee just gets better and better, doesn't she?

PS. Note that this is a continuation (a "web bonus") of this segment of her show. It works fine on its own, but the first part is also great.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Welcome to Liemart

Seth Meyers does such a good job. And Donald Trump just gets loonier by the day - demonstrably loonier. But is any of this going to make any difference? What has happened to my country?

Note that this 'birther' crap was always about racism. There was never anything else to it. Racists simply would not accept that a black man was legitimately the President of the United States.

And Republican leaders encouraged it. Donald Trump certainly pushed this racist lie, though he was far from the only one. Even Republicans who are unhappy with Trump as a presidential candidate were still very eager to use racism for political advantage and very happy that Trump was keeping the issue alive.

But the fact that Trump can lie about this, just as he lies about opposing the Iraq War and lies about opposing the military effort in Libya - among many, many other things - and gets away with it, despite documented proof that he's lying,... that just blows my mind.

As Seth Meyers put it, "The bottom line is this: Trump built his career on a racist lie, because he's a racist and a liar. And instead of denouncing that lie, the GOP doubled down on it completely. And now Trump is trying to trick people once again by convincing them he was never really a birther at all, and that it was Hillary Clinton who started it."

Unfortunately, reality doesn't matter to the faith-based. The truth doesn't matter to Trump supporters, not even a little bit.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"We got played"

As usual, con-man Donald Trump played the press yesterday. What's not so common is that they actually admitted it:
After Donald Trump spent a mere 30 seconds addressing President Obama's birthplace during a 30-minute event that started an hour late at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., the anchors at CNN tore into Trump and his attitude toward the press.

Throughout Trump's event and after he finally addressed his efforts to fuel the birther movement, the hosts and reporters at CNN called out the Trump campaign for misleading the press and using the event to promote his new hotel.

As Trump let several veterans and military officials express their support for him, CNN anchor Kate Bolduan lamented that the network had been waiting 20 minutes for Trump to make the big announcement that his campaign had been promising. Co-anchor John Berman chimed in to complain about the confusing signals the press had received from the Trump campaign about the event.

"To be clear, we have been told this event would be an event where Donald Trump would address his past trafficking in the birther issue, the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States," Berman said. "He opened the event making a plug for his hotel, it is a new hotel, so in a sense, you could say he was leveraging five years of birther conspiracy to promote his hotel." ...

CNN then brought on John King, who trashed the way Trump maneuvered the press.

"So I really don't quite know what to make of that except for that we got played again by the Trump campaign, which is what they do. He got a live event broadcast for, what, 20 something minutes," King said. "We just got played."

"There you got after, what, four or five years of leading a fraudulent, reckless campaign against the legitimacy of the United States President, you got about, what, six or seven words from Donald Trump saying he's decided it's over. I guess he gets to decide that," he added.

Note that Donald Trump clearly and demonstrably lied - twice - when he did finally speak (blaming Hillary Clinton for birtherism and then claiming that Trump himself had stopped spreading this crazy conspiracy theory after Obama released that 'long-form' birth certificate). And he avoided taking any questions from the press who might have pointed that out.
Ashleigh Banfield continued to bash Trump's event, drawing comparisons to the way foreign dictators treat the press. She noted that Trump's brief comments on his birtherism came just one day after he gloated that reporters on his press plane were delayed and unable to fully cover his rally.

"I can tell you, having covered a couple of dictators in my life in other countries, covering those campaigns is a bummer, because they don't let you ask questions either. So that's why the American press, love them or hate them, are critical to this democracy," she said. "You have to be able to ask people questions if they're going to lead you, and if they're going to get your guns, your military, your nuclear codes. You have to be able to get to ask them questions."

"Either you have a media or you have what I witnessed in Saddam's era," she later added.

I have to admit that I'm surprised at how plainly the Associated Press described this event:
After five years as the chief promoter of a lie about Barack Obama's birthplace, Donald Trump abruptly reversed course Friday and acknowledged the fact that the president was born in America. He then immediately peddled another false conspiracy.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," Trump declared, enunciating each word in a brief statement at the end of a campaign appearance. "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."

But as the GOP presidential nominee sought to put that false conspiracy theory to rest, he stoked another, claiming the "birther movement" was begun by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that is true.

"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it," Trump said.

While the question of Obama's birthplace was raised by some backers of Clinton's primary campaign against Obama eight years ago, Clinton has long denounced it as a "racist lie."

"Trump has spent years peddling a racist conspiracy aimed at undermining the first African-American president," Clinton tweeted after his Friday event. "He can't just take it back." ...

Trump's allegation on Clinton starting the controversy is the latest example of his tendency to repeat statements that are patently false. However, that did not affect his ability to beat more than a dozen challengers in the GOP primaries and has yet to dissuade his loyal supporters. ...

Hours later, Trump's campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement that suggested the question had been settled five years ago — by Trump.

"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Miller said.

"Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised," he added.

The facts do not match Miller's description. Trump repeatedly continued to question Obama's birth in the years after the president released his birth certificate. In August 2012, for example, Trump was pushing the issue on Twitter.

"An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud," he wrote.

If this becomes a new trend, of the media actually doing its job, for a change, I'll certainly welcome that. But I suspect that it's too little, too late.

Typically, our for-profit media rely on a "he said, she said" dynamic, reporting equally (supposedly) what both sides say and criticizing both equally. But when one side is flat-out lying - repeatedly - that balancing act itself gives the wrong impression.

And given that Trump is sensationalist, and that our media are profit-driven, they end up giving his comments far more publicity, anyway. Free publicity and a refusal to call lies lies have led to Donald Trump - Donald Trump - being a serious threat to become our next president.

The media didn't do all of that, but they've certainly helped!

Note that I don't expect the media to be politically partisan (except on channels like Fox 'News,' of course), but they should be partisan when it comes to the truth. Demonstrable lies shouldn't be given the same credence as the truth, just because a political candidate says them. That's a very false idea of being 'balanced.'

Friday, September 16, 2016

A closer look at the Trump Foundation

I'll say it again. This election is going to be an IQ test. If you do anything but vote for Hillary Clinton, you fail the test.

If Donald Trump actually wins the election,... well, that will be even more depressing than when I discovered that America was torturing prisoners of war. How low can we go as a country?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Keith Olbermann is back!

My thanks to Jeff for the link and the title of this post.

And here's the text version, with links backing up everything Olbermann says.

It's pretty shocking heard all at once, isn't it? Donald Trump has diarrhea of the mouth. Every day, there's something new - many somethings, often enough - which keeps any particular bit of crap from seeming noteworthy. After all, tomorrow there will be another bit, just as bad.

The media love it, because they're in business to make money. It's the same reason we see the most sensational crimes reported in the 'news.' It's the same reason gawkers crowd around accident scenes. It's human nature.

And a lot of us seem to have lost the ability to distinguish 'reality TV' from reality. But when it comes to our democracy, it's very frightening, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Two short clips from MSNBC

This is good stuff from MSNBC, and these clips are very short, too. So I thought I'd post them both.

That first clip demonstrates how enthusiastically that 'basket of deplorables' supports Donald Trump, but the second one, about the Trump Foundation, still astonishes me, even after everything else I've seen about Trump.

Either way, if you're in bed with these people, that was your choice. No one forced you into that basket. It's not your fault that someone else is a racist or a scam artist, but when you voluntarily get in bed with them, that is your fault.