Archive for the ‘Election 2016’ Category

Too Far

October 8th, 2016 4 comments

Oddly, the recording of Trump bragging about his predatory habits with women is probably the one thing that will bring him down and completely shatter any chance he ever had at winning the election.

I say “oddly” because, in the context of all we know about this man, this tape is hardly even surprising. We already knew this about him. And we knew so much more that was similarly horribly, much of it out of his own mouth, and yet none of that hurt him like this will.

We knew that he was a racist, from the first moment he opened his mouth. We knew that he was perfectly comfortable making scapegoats, appealing to fear, anger, and hatred. We knew that he was a bad businessman and a cheat; we heard countless stories about how he refused to pay people for work done. We knew that he went through multiple bankruptcies, in part due to his business failures, but also in part due to his shameless willingness to work the system to his personal advantage. We knew that he lost a billion dollars in one year and probably didn’t pay taxes for almost two decades. We knew that he was a pathological liar, more than anyone we had ever seen run for office. We knew that he has no self-control, no attention span, a contempt for following the rules, and a temperament to be truly feared. We knew that he was a serial adulterer, cheated on his wives. We knew that he was rude, crass, and lewd, objectifying women.

Everyone knew all of this about him, and yet more than 40% of the people seemed willing to accept this and vote for him to be president of the United States of America. It came to the point where we believed that there was literally no line that he could cross—as Trump himself put it, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight and he wouldn’t lose support.

There does appear to be a line, however, and Trump strode brassly over it. Actively stating—no, bragging—about sexually assaulting women, about attempting to rape a married woman, about how his fame made it possible for him to do this, using graphic language to state his gross intent to continue doing so—it is hard to tell if this is the last straw or simply unacceptable on its own, seeing as how we are drowning in straw.

Nor did he make more than a half-hearted attempt to clean up after himself; what the media generously called an “apology” was in fact a feeble attempt to blow it off, claiming it was “private banter,” and then accusing the other candidate’s husband of being worse.

At no other time have I felt as confident in pronouncing Trump’s campaign dead.

Categories: Election 2016 Tags:

How Low Does He Have to Go?

August 1st, 2016 4 comments

To any and all Donald Trump voters out there, I have a very serious question: What would Donald Trump have to do to lose your vote?

A while back, Trump said that he could go out and shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters. Well, this seems to be true.

He has shown that lying, being an egomaniac, and making ludicrous, salacious, degrading, and bizarre statements on a daily basis does not lose him support; he has shown that spewing hatred upon various groups—even veterans, like John McCain—does not lose him support; the fact that he went bankrupt six times, has had shady business dealings, and violated any number of business codes does not lose him support; the fact that he refuses to reveal any tax returns, even though he may be in hock to Russian oligarchs, does not lose him support; the fact that he fails to pay employees and contractors until they sue him, even to the point of destroying family businesses he hires, does not lose him support; the fact that he ran businesses like Trump University with transparent fraud does not lose him support; the fact that major figures in his own party call him unqualified or dangerous does not lose him support; the fact that he clearly does not know enough to be president and is not in any way—especially in terms of temperament—qualified to be president does not lose him support.

In 2002, Trump said of Jeffrey Epstein: “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Epstein is a sex offender and pedophile, having served time for soliciting an underage girl, but evidence was found that he committed statutory rape and probably ran an underage sex ring.

That doesn’t bother you?

The man who ghost-wrote his famous “Art of the Deal” book reveals that Trump has almost no attention span, and is literally a sociopath—and that doesn’t bother you?

And now we have the case of Trump openly and rather vilely insulting a Gold Star family, casting bigoted slurs against them.

And you still support Trump?

This is why I truly, honestly want an answer: What would Trump have to do to lose your support? Exactly how far would he have to go? Would he literally be able to shoot someone on 5th Avenue and still have your support?

Categories: Election 2016, Right-Wing Slime Tags:

Different Rules

July 3rd, 2016 2 comments

Reading this CNN story about Hillary at the FBI today brought two points to mind:

1. “The timing … couldn’t be worse.” Gee, it’s almost as if someone engineered an investigation of her so that it would culminate at just the right time.

2. In the story, Bill Clinton’s meeting with Loretta Lynch and Hillary’s use of a private email server “fuel the narrative that the Clintons operate under different rules than the rest of the political world.”

They are correct: a string of Bush administration officials did the same thing as Clinton, and they never got investigated for it. Their Attorneys General just gave them a bye, as did their congressional ethics and other committees. Different rules indeed.

Remember when it was discovered that George W. Bush had a drunk driving conviction? He got away with that history and the fact that he hid it, just by crying foul at the timing of the release. All he did was to say, “The Democrats are playing dirty tricks!” and it all went away: the “liberal” media decided that a presidential candidate arrested for drunk driving and then lying about it was not worth reporting on. Different rules indeed.

Remember how, when Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in 2006, they launched massive congressional investigations into the Bush administration for every imagined misdeed?

Of course you don’t, because they never did—even though (a) Republicans warned that they would, and (b) they had a large number of very real, serious crimes to investigate: massive illegal warrantless wiretapping, torture, lying to get us into a war that killed thousands of troops, the mishandling of Katrina leading to many civilian deaths, various lapses in security, the outing of a CIA agent as political payback, the US Attorney scandal—and, oh yeah, private email servers. They held back, and did not use their power as a cudgel. What investigations there were were limited, and did not punish anyone.

Not so the Republicans—they immediately went hog-wild when they got control back, and as soon as they were able, began using that power to attack not just Obama, but in particular Hillary, the presumptive nominee after Obama. And not just once, but multiple times (at least eight different Benghazi probes, for example, new ones sprouting even after previous ones cleared Clinton of wrongdoing).

Can you imagine what Republicans or the media would have said if Democrats in Congress had investigated John McCain in 2006 for his own past scandals? Or better, in 2008, when McCain rather clearly violated election laws, then Bush fired the only FEC member who objected? Did Democrats hold hearings on that? Of course not—both Republicans and the media would have screamed “Dirty Tricks!” Instead, Democrats in Congress and the “liberal media” both gave both McCain and Bush a free pass on it.

Different rules indeed.

Stories like these very often bring me to ask that question again and again: “What if it had been the Democrats who had done that, how would Republicans have reacted?” The response is obvious: if Republicans do something, it’s no big deal; if Democrats do the exact same thing, it’s a scandal so big that investigations never cease. IOKIYAR.

Yes, the timing couldn’t be worse, and yes, they live under different rules. Just not how the CNN author meant, though.

Hillary 2016

June 9th, 2016 3 comments

To anyone, Sanders supporter or otherwise, who is now thinking of not voting for Hillary, or not voting at all, I have something to say.

Back in 2000, there was a common theme: Bush and Gore are essentially the same, or at least they are both just as bad as each other. It was seen as a choice between two evils. Many sat out the election, and many voted for Nader as a protest vote.

It should be painfully clear by this time that Gore and Bush were not even close to being equivalents. Even if Gore would not have caught 9/11 (there is fairly good reason to believe that he would have) and would have started the war in Afghanistan, he would NOT have (1) started a war in Iraq, which led to the creation of Daesh, or (2) passed an upper-class tax cut that ultimately cost us trillions in debt and lost numerous economic possibilities (do not forget that Gore championed the Internet with early funding—the “Gore Act”—which has given the U.S. many trillions in wealth). At the very least, we would be $4 to $6 trillion less in debt, and would have avoided a major, catastrophic war.

And that is just the beginning. He would not have put Alito or Roberts on the court. Citizens United would never have passed. Heller would not have rewritten the Second Amendment. The Voting Rights Act would not have been gutted.

Even with 9/11, we might not have transitioned to the surveillance state we now have. We certainly would not have had the “Patriot” Act as it stands. New Orleans would not have waited, drowning, for several days before help even began to move their way. We would never have instituted torture as a policy. No Guantanamo Bay. No Abu Ghraib. We would not have shredded international nuclear proliferation treaties. We would not have seen so much deregulation. We might even have possibly avoided the Great Recession, or at least have seen its effects mitigated somewhat.

Now we have an election in which many people see a similar choice: two candidates that they hate, both seen as sell-outs (or a sell-out and a clown/idiot/farce/loon). I have heard rumblings about how some will just sit this one out.


I am no fan of Hillary’s neoliberalism, but even if she is twice as bad as I imagine, she’ll still be ten times better than the best Trump could possibly be.

Despite her predilection for moving to the middle, she’ll be a moderate compared to the extremism of Trump. Despite her shifting on some issues, she is rock steady relative to Trump’s mad flip-flopping. Despite her apparent affinity for banks and corporations, she’ll be much less a friend to them than Trump will be.

Trump will put another right-wing extremist on the court; Hillary, unless Obama is too stupid to withdraw his compromise nominee when Hillary wins, would appoint a reasonable candidate. That alone is worth your vote. And in the next four to eight years, it is possible that several more seats on the court could open up—with Trump in office, the court would become locked in right-wing extremism, the constitution would become shredded.

And let’s not forget that Hillary is experienced and is skilled; even without a comparison to Trump, there’s no denying she’s excessively prepared for the job. Trump, on the other hand, would be an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions. And no, I am not exaggerating for effect. He would be literally that.

We often suffer from the delusion that inaction voids us of responsibility. That is a grievous error: there is no such thing as inaction. There is only choice, and not voting is a choice—and it is equivalent to a vote for Trump as sure as if you pulled the lever yourself.

Those who have been disgusted by the way Bernie Sanders has been treated—myself included—should take a break, understand that something significant has still been achieved, even if it’s not as much as we wanted, and re-orient ourselves. Leave it for a few weeks, then come back—fighting tenaciously for Hillary.

Do not just vote for Hillary. Campaign for her. Fight for her. Convince anyone who will listen to vote for her. And then VOTE. Vote for her enthusiastically, and be grateful if she wins.

Categories: Election 2016 Tags:

How Did Donald Trump Happen? Here’s How

May 5th, 2016 2 comments

Donald J. TrumpCruz and Kasich are out, and many now are beginning to fear that Trump might actually win. The question is being asked, “How is this possible?” How did it happen that Donald J. Trump could be in striking range of being president?

I can tell you exactly how this happened.

In order: Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Rupert Murdoch, George W. Bush, the Koch Brothers, and Sarah Palin. Allow me to walk you through it.

Ronald Reagan opened the doors in two ways. First, he was an actor who made the presidential race a scripted, fictional play on a stage, where someone who was more about flash than substance could be president. People embraced it because it made them feel good, feel hopeful. Second, he began in earnest to create the “Narrative,” an alternate reality populated by Welfare Queens and Job Creators, a faux reality that people could believe existed based solely on partisan politics and faith. “Reaganspeak,” using euphemisms for political gain, were a significant development which helped establish and build The Narrative.

Rush Limbaugh was one of the biggest innovators of the partisan media, which he used to further The Narrative, using what Stephen Colbert would later term as “Truthiness.” Limbaugh used demagoguery, never worrying about whether his “facts” were actually true. His high ratings and broad appeal triggered the generation of dozens of talk radio personalities of the same ilk. They justified their value by creating the myth of the “Liberal Media,” setting themselves up as the disseminators of actual truth.

Newt Gingrich began the Congressional trend of the “take no prisoners” style of politics. Based more and more upon the fictional Narrative, ultimately a revision of reality, he began the fortification and coordination of the Republican Party, allowing them to dominate the airwaves with a coordinated message. Remember all those montages Jon Stewart made for us on The Daily Show where dozens of conservatives would use the exact same phrasing? Gingrich pioneered that. The Narrative fed by The Message. While he was often outmaneuvered by Clinton, he did set the stage, and was the author of a pivotal document: “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” in which he codified the completely fact-free use of language begun with Reaganspeak.

Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, arrived from Australia via Britain, buying up 20th Century Fox and using the profits from the Entertainment division to build Fox News, which quickly dominated the ratings, based upon a rock-riffed, outraged version of reality, and the beginning of the death of modern journalism. While partisan journalism existed before then in small pockets, Murdoch exploded it, using the already burgeoning myth built by Limbaugh, Gingrich and others about a fictional “Liberal Media.” This development ripped from our culture any hope of maintaining its most vital resource: a trusted source of objective information for an informed electorate. Walter Cronkite left the building, Edward R. Murrow was surely and truly dead.

George W. Bush took the mantle of Ronald Reagan one step further. Where Reagan was more than anything else a figurehead behind which a team of neoconservatives rewrote our nation’s character, George W. Bush was a hand puppet, and the puppeteer—Dick Cheney, one of the same behind-the-scenes neocons from the Reagan administration—was virtually acting in plain sight. Bush was a prop for others to control, he was a lightweight—and he established the dangerous precedent of electing a complete idiot to power.

The Koch Brothers were not the first billionaires to support politics, but they were pioneers in shamelessly building a political machine. Their greatest creation: the Tea Party. By this time, Reagan, Limbaugh, Gingrich, and others had built The Narrative to the point where it was not just believed by tens of millions, but had generated a culture of outrage based upon a groundless but raging set of fears which prompted millions to froth and act wherever the trusted source of “fair and balanced” non-“liberal media” told them to rage. Thus was born the Tea Party, but the most important element was that free-floating fear and anger by which they were manipulated. The Koch brothers also began the accepted practice of billionaires openly directing politics, along with others like Sheldon Adelson.

Sarah Palin was the last straw that began with Ronald Reagan and was refined with George W. Bush. She was the idiot’s idiot, who repeatedly insisted that Death Panels were real and that she was qualified in foreign policy because Alaska was close to Russia. Completely devoid of any substance, she was endorsed and backed by the conservative establishment, praised endlessly by the right-wing media, and loved by millions. She lowered the bar for political acceptance to the all-time low of being snarky and borderline coherent. She drew the connection between so many of the elements of the foundation already made: the idiot figurehead spouting the fantastical fictional Narrative, using the power of the conservative media to rally the enraged shock troops of the Tea Party mindset.

That was how the groundwork was laid for Donald Trump. That was how he was possible. Because actors behind the scene made the American public accept the specter of the bizarrely fatuous figurehead becoming president; because they created millions of fervently dedicated followers who could be led by whomever was most entertaining and whomever could best manipulate the fear and anger generated by The Narrative so carefully cultivated. He was even a billionaire, but even better, a billionaire who could claim he was not beholden to any special interests. Even better still, he was earnest, “authentic” being the word used, in that he was able to display a natural sincerity which, via Reagan and Limbaugh and Palin, was valued and prized far more than any kind of factual accuracy or attention to truth or detail.

Conservatives created a huge base of voters and supporters who lacked a key element: an anchor. When people are anchored on principles, they tend to follow those who represent those principles. This new base the conservatives built had no anchor; they were instead founded on fear and anger. These are free-floating, meaning that they can be hijacked by anyone who knows which buttons to push.

And who knows which buttons to push better than a professional entertainer and media clown like Donald Trump? He’d been pushing the buttons in the background for years, getting lots of play on Fox News by being the Birther-in-Chief.

THAT’s how we came to the point of Donald Trump being where he is.

Categories: Election 2016, Republican Stupidity Tags:

Media Body Slams Sanders for Doing What Hillary Does All the Time

April 9th, 2016 Comments off

The big story in the Democratic nomination has been about Sanders questioning Clinton’s qualifications, but the press has been entirely unfair to Sanders. (1) It highlights his statement, but buries the fact that it was in response to Clinton’s detailed response to the same question making exactly the same claim in reverse; (2) It plays as if he’s claiming that she doesn’t have the right experience, when Sanders is speaking to her decision-making and banking & corporate ties, which speak just as clearly as experience when it comes to qualifications; and (3) it acts as if Sanders is dragging down the Democratic race into hard-hitting chaos like the GOP has been experiencing, as if Clinton is the one keeping clean when exactly the opposite is true.

None of these are accurate. Clinton was on “Morning Joe” and was asked if Sanders was qualified to be president. Clinton evaded saying outright that he wasn’t, but responded to the question with a litany of statements about exactly why she felt that Sanders was not qualified—the he is focused on a single issue of breaking up the banks, doesn’t understand the issues in general, doesn’t understand the law or how politics works, can’t deliver on his promises, and is weaker on economic domestic issues and on national security and foreign policy.

Hillary supporters claim that she didn’t actually say the words, “he isn’t qualified,” but that’s a complete sham. You can’t go on for several minutes explaining about how your opponent has no understanding of anything and claim that you said nothing about his qualifications. Sanders simply spoke more directly.

As to bringing the race down into the gutter? I am 99% sure that if you analyzed statements made by Clinton and by Sanders, you would find a great deal more trash talk coming from Hillary—that’s the way the race has run. Sanders almost always focuses like a laser beam on the issues, and has shown a clear propensity for *not* trash-talking the other candidates. In contrast, Clinton has always been perfectly willing to deliver hard-hitting gut punches on a regular basis.

See this story about Sanders’ talk with Charlie Rose, and you’ll get a *much* clearer picture of Sanders’ actual tone, even when focused only on the Clinton tangle.

Unfortunately, this only contributes to the bias which is so clearly tilted in Clinton’s favor. She could insult Sanders all day long, and the media would not take notice aside from challenging Sanders with the allegations (between asking him if he would encourage his supporters to vote for Hillary when he inevitably loses the race as they are always so sure he will), but if Sanders says anything negative about Hillary—well, that’s taking it into the gutter.
I have long felt that the media should, as a general service, publish all public statements by all candidates online so that the public can judge on tone and severity. Instead, we simply get fed whatever message the media wants to sell that particular day, and most people believe that it is an accurate representation of the real picture.

Categories: Election 2016 Tags:

Why the Republican Party Hates Trump

March 14th, 2016 8 comments

There is a concerted effort within the Republican party to oppose Donald Trump. People assume that this stems from Trump being so horrendously offensive and outrageous, that they don’t want the man to be their party representative.

That is not true. Under the right conditions, Trump’s message and presentation would be perfectly acceptable to them, and they would love to have a candidate so successful and popular.

Instead, Republicans oppose Trump for a simple reason: he’s not their man.

In politics (and advertising, by the way), you create an atmosphere, usually based on fear and other negative emotions, and then you use it to manipulate people into acting in your interest. The problem with this method is that the atmosphere is free-floating, and can be hijacked by someone else. This is what happened after 9/11: al Qaeda created an atmosphere of terror—and the Bush administration grabbed it and ran off with it. Republicans used the terror to manipulate people, milking it for every vote and every election they could, until it became a joke (“a noun, a verb, and 9/11”).

This is precisely what Trump did. For years, Republicans and conservatives in general have been carefully cultivating an atmosphere of fear, paranoia, and outright loathing so they could use that atmosphere to manipulate the public, and Trump simply walks right up—excuse me, he just coasted down an escalator—grabbed it, and walked off with it.

Trump is not opposed by Republicans because of his political views, his language, or his outrageousness. The sole reason they are panicking right now is because he is not beholden to him. He’s not a party man. He does not owe the party or its patrons. He hijacked their mojo. He has no reason to do what they want or put their players into positions of power.

That’s why they oppose him: because he’s not under their control.

Categories: Election 2016, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Sanders vs. The Media

March 9th, 2016 3 comments

I have often noted a bias in the media against certain candidates. It is not isolated—it tends to span across all the major media outlets—and it trends noticeably against the candidate less likely to be friendly to big-money interests.

For much of 2015, Sanders was drawing incredible crowds. Vast seas of people to listen to him speak. How did the media cover it? Hardly at all. In January, when it looked like his support—despite media inattention—might actually give him a chance to win, there were pieces in the media trying to explain themselves, and how they had somehow inadvertently “overlooked” Sanders.

Most cited the idea that a socialist Jew had no chance to win, but that was bullshit—their own polls had repeatedly shown that Sanders performed better than Clinton in one-to-one match-ups against Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. More to the point, the polling data showed that while Clinton is one of the most disliked candidates in history with huge negative numbers, Sanders’ appeal was broad, his positives high and his negatives low, and his appeal reached much more deeply into independent territories.

Since January, as primary and caucus numbers have come in, the media has taken a different tack: pay minimal attention to Sanders, ignoring his come-from-behind performances, and instead drone on about Hillary’s inevitability.

In New Hampshire, Sanders was supposed to win by 13% according to poll averages. He won by 22%. Media response? Yawn. Sanders will get crushed in South Carolina.

Sanders had been behind in Iowa by double digits until just a few weeks before the caucus, but came from behind to nearly win; similarly, Clinton had been ahead in Nevada by more than 20 points until just a few weeks before. Sanders’ near-wins in those states was a huge victory for him, and should have been the big story. Instead, the media declared Hillary the winner and kept going on about how she had already won with superdelegates anyway.

I was told that Sanders’ near-wins in Iowa and Nevada were not reported because polls tightened before the final results—but if so, where was the big coverage of that?

However, today we are seeing an excellent example of how the media is studiously disregarding Sanders. With primaries in Michigan and Mississippi, Sanders was expected to lose in both states. Michigan is much bigger, with 141 delegates as opposed to Mississippi’s 41. Up until just a few days ago, Hillary held an average 21.4% lead in the polls.

The current count? With 58% of districts reporting so far, Sanders hols on to a 3% lead over Clinton, 50.6% to 47.6%. While that lead could dissipate and Clinton could eventually win Michigan, it represents a huge surprise surge for Sanders in a pivotal state.

By any rational measure, that should be the story of the hour. Mississippi is over with, and there’s no surprise in Trump winning both states. This is a real horse race, a contentious battle over a big prize. The media would normally being making a huge deal about it, reporting on the nail-biting drama and the potential huge upset.

So, how does the media cover it? What are the headlines?

Los Angeles Times:

Live updates: Donald Trump wins Mississippi and Michigan primaries
Another round of primaries Tuesday could push the Republicans further apart, while Hillary Clinton aims for a predicted win in Michigan.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump win Mississippi’s primaries
Trump is declared the winner in Michigan, too


Primary results: CNN projects 2 wins for Donald Trump, 1 for Hillary Clinton


Polls: Trump, Clinton continue to lead their fields nationally


Trump is projected winner in Michigan; earlier he and Clinton won Mississippi

It goes on. The Google News page collecting primary news coverage mentions Trump 28 times, Clinton 10 times—and Sanders just once, in a sentence about how Hillary is “trouncing” him.

Nobody better tell me that I am only imagining a pronounced media bias against Sanders. It has been plainly evident for quite some time now.

Why? Well, there’s no way to know for certain, but I hold that it is not even a small coincidence that Sanders is the only candidate who is vehemently against big money.

Categories: Election 2016 Tags: