Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Happy Worship Demons Day, everyone! Heh, heh. It's funny, isn't it, how even children know that Halloween is just make-believe, but loony religious nuts haven't figured it out yet?

Now I've got to get started on that candy, or there might be some left for the kids when they ring the doorbell tonight. :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The crackpot and the crack-up

The GOP just gets crazier and crazier and crazier, doesn't it? But these are the people the GOP base wants running their party.

Mainstream Republicans created this monster by deliberately wooing white racists and then using racism, sexism, and xenophobia to nurture the beast. Nothing was too much, as long as there was some political benefit to be made from it.

And now? They can't control the monster they created, but they're afraid of denouncing it, too. They're not just evil, they're also cowardly. Losing even one election isn't a sacrifice they're willing to make, so they'll sacrifice our country, instead.

Yes, this stuff is funny, but it won't be funny if Trump actually wins. And it won't be funny if lunatic Republicans actually do start shooting people the day after the election.

They're crazy enough to brag about it. Are they crazy enough to do it? Let's hope not. But so far, I've seen no limit to the crazy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Catholic hospital horror stories

Samantha Bee is a comedian, and Full Frontal is a comedy show, but there's nothing funny about this interview, not even slightly.

And there's nothing funny about the following three interviews, either (here, here, and here). They're important, and I urge you to watch them, but they're not funny. Not even slightly.

There is some humor in the following segment, which Samantha Bee aired on her show, but not very damned much. This is a serious issue - a dangerous issue for many women.

The Catholic Church is busy buying up hospitals all across America, so that they can force their own religious beliefs on everyone else - and especially on women. But hey, as Sam says, who knows more about women's vaginas that celibate old men who don't have one and have never even touched one, right?

It's even worse than that, though. The church points to those hospitals as proof of their own charitable work. Yeah, they have the gall to claim that forcing their own religion on other people is evidence that they're doing good in our country. Disgusting, isn't it?

But they actually do good, sometimes. I've been to the Catholic hospital here. If you're a man, and you don't want a vasectomy, they do good work. But if you're a woman in pain, or even dying, you'd better hope it has nothing to do with sex or childbirth!

Of course, even if you want routine contraceptive care, you'd better hope the church doesn't have a monopoly on health care in your area (yet). Catholics themselves ignore their own church when it comes to contraception, and the church knows it. So they'll force compliance - even on non-Catholics - whenever they can.

I find the whole thing infuriating, and I'm not even at risk from it. But if you don't stand up for other people, they'll have no reason to stand up for you. We're one people, and we're all in this together.

All about that base - Star Wars parody

You know, I'm really not a huge fan of Star Wars. So why do I keep coming across these musical parodies?

This one doesn't have Princess Leia, but it's still a lot of fun, don't you think?

Hamilton parody - Hillary Rodham Clinton

It's not SNL, but this is pretty funny, don't you think?

This is The Key of Awesome. (I tend to like the early videos the best - the ones at the bottom of that list - but maybe that's just me.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rigged polls

Josh Marshall calls this the "Universal Derp Implosion." He's not wrong:
Donald Trump is giving a raging, rambling speech with accusations against everyone and everything. But there's one thing he flagged that everyone needs to understand the details about.

Here's what he said ...
Wikileaks also shows how John Podesta rigged the polls by oversampling democrats, a voter suppression technique. That's happening to me all the time. When the polls are even, when they leave them alone and do them properly, I'm leading. But you see these polls where they're polling democrats. How is Trump doing? Oh, he's down. They're polling democrats. The system is corrupt, rigged and broken. And we're going to change it. [ Cheers and applause ] ...

There are several levels of nonsense here. Let me try to run through them.

You'll note for starters that that the email is from 2008 and Podesta is neither the sender nor the recipient. But that's just a footnote. More importantly, what Tom Matzzie is talking about is the campaign/DNC's own polls. Campaigns do extensive, very high quality polling to understand the state of the race and devise strategies for winning. These are not public polls. So they can't affect media polls and they can't have anything to do with voter suppression.

Now you may be asking, why would the Democrats skew their own internal polls? Well, they're not.

The biggest thing here is what the word 'oversampling' means. Both public and private pollsters will often over-sample a particular demographic group to get statistically significant data on that group. So let's stay you have a likely voter poll with 800 respondents. The number of African-Americans in that sample is maybe going to be 100 people, maybe less. 800 people is a decent sample for statistical significance. 100 is not. So if you're trying to draw conclusions about African-American voters, levels of approval, degree of opposition or support of a candidate, demographic breakdowns, etc. you need to get an 'over-sample' to get solid numbers.

Whether it's public or private pollsters, the 'over-sample' is never included in the 'topline' number. So if you get 4 times the number of African-American voters as you got in a regular sample, those numbers don't all go into the mix for the total poll. They're segmented out. The whole thing basically amounts to zooming in on one group to find out more about them. To do so, to zoom in, you need to 'over-sample' their group as what amounts to a break-out portion of the poll.

What it all comes down to is that you're talking about a polling concept the Trumpers don't seem to understand (or are relying on supporters not understanding), about polls that are by definition secret (campaign polls aren't shared) and about an election eight years ago.

So, either Donald Trump and all of his campaign staff are too ignorant to know what "oversampling" means, and too dumb to know the difference between internal campaign polls and public polls, or they think that his supporters are, so they're deliberately lying to them.

I don't know which it is, but it's definitely one or the other.

Of course, Trump has been flailing about all over the place, desperate to excuse what's likely to be a big loss next month, even if he can't prevent it. Being a "loser" is more than Trump's pathetic little ego can stand.

I say likely loss, because polls mean nothing. Voting means everything. If we're so lazy that we don't vote, or so dumb that we throw away our vote on a third-party candidate with zero chance of winning, we may actually get President Trump for the next four years.

That can happen. The polls aren't showing that it can't. Indeed, most of the battleground states are very close. And the Republican Party has been working hard to suppress the vote. If we don't care enough about America to vote for Hillary Clinton - and for Democrats up and down the line - we could be looking back at President Bush with nostalgia.

I'm reasonably optimistic, but it's not over until it's over.

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.