Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trump Disparages a Gold Star Family. When Is Enough Enough?

Donald Trump has spent his campaign jumping from one outrage to another. Does this one break him? Who knows?

Grieving parents stand up to Donald Trump. Who knew it wouldn't end well?

When is the outrage enough? Ezra Klein wonders:
"Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery?" Khan asked Trump. "Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one."
On ABC this morning, Trump responded to Khan’s speech. I don’t know what I expected from Trump. Maybe he would show some gentleness. Maybe he would show some empathy. Maybe he would refuse to comment. Maybe he would attack Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy leadership. All of those responses would have been fine.
Trump’s actual response, though, wasn’t fine.
"If you look at his wife, she was standing there," he said, on national television. "She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me."
 Klein then looks to James Fallows' response:
Why do I mention this? I am not imagining that even an episode as heartless as this will necessarily change any committed Trump supporters’ minds. Although the accumulation of Trump’s offenses should increasingly shame the “respectable” Republicans standing up for him. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, this starts with you.  
But it is important to document the starkness of the two conceptions of America that are on clear view, 100 days before this man could become president. The America of the Khan family, and that of Donald Trump.
“Until this moment, I think I never really gauged your cruelty.” Joseph Welch, 1954.
The Washington Post's article about this latest Trump "media event" has more than 13 thousand comments, the vast majority of which express shock and disgust at Trump's reaction to the Kahns' speech.

Will this finally be the moment the Republicans acknowledge that Trump is beyond the pale and support should be withdrawn? Who knows? Who the hell knows?

Guess Who Isn't Voting for Donald Trump

Saw this over on Daily Kos. Hilarious, poignant, and a bit shocking.

Question: If Reagan were alive -- and well -- Would he?

Koch Brothers to Donald Trump: No Money for You

In a stunning announcement, the Kochs say their $250 million presidential largess will now go to Senate races.

The Kochs: no good money after bad.

The Koch Brothers have weighed in on the 2016 presidential election by withholding money from Donald Trump:
None of the presidential candidates are aligned with the Koch network "from a values, and beliefs and policy perspective," Holden said, citing other determining factors such as "running a good campaign" and talking about key issues "in a positive productive way."
"Based on that, we're focused on the Senate," Holden said, noting that the Koch network has devoted around $42 million so far to television and digital advertising to benefit Republican Senate candidates.
Donald Trump responded the only way he knows how, by pretending he could give a crap:
"I turned down a meeting with Charles and David Koch," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "Much better for them to meet with the puppets of politics, they will do much better!"
[Koch spokesman] Holden declined to say whether the Kochs sought a meeting with Trump.
The chances that Trump was actually invited to meet? Hmm.

Also, the brothers have made it clear no money would be used in anti-Clinton ads either:
The powerful political network helmed by Charles and David Koch is ruling out running advertisements intended to hurt Hillary Clinton, another sign of their insistence on avoiding the presidential race.
The Koch network has previously said they will not back Republican candidate Donald Trump, but on Saturday officials told reporters that they would not run negative Clinton spots, a position taken by some Republican groups that are uneasy with the controversial GOP standard-bearer. The group is laser-focused on maintaining and expanding the Senate majority -- in the midst of a $42 million television advertising campaign focused on a half-dozen states -- and would only use Clinton to bash Senate Democratic hopefuls.
Here is the Republican standard bearer being told that the moneyed elite want nothing to do with him. What a bizarre turn of events for the (former?) party of the moneyed elite, wouldn't you say?

None of this would matter so much if it weren't for the disparity between Trump's fundraising and Clinton's. Trump has raised $98,742,091, while Clinton has raised $374,585,440 (includes outside groups). This has led to an incredibly shrinking campaign strategy for Trump, who has narrowed his effort to three key battleground states.

Of course, having a crack campaign ground game would help immensely. If only Trump had the money to pay for it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

From Grim to Grimmer: Ailes Protected by Execs, Payouts

According to one brave lady, life was hell at Fox News for two decades.

Why is it (mostly) the smarmy ones?
Roger Ailes was horrid -- and protected by fellow execs -- for years at the Fair-and-Balanced TV home of conservative thought and family values: 
The morning after Fox News chief Roger Ailes resigned, the cable network’s former director of booking placed a call to the New York law firm hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate sexual-harassment allegations against Ailes. Laurie Luhn told the lawyers at Paul, Weiss that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that executives at Fox News had known about it and helped cover it up, and that it had ruined her life. “It was psychological torture,” she later told me.
So far, most of the women who have spoken publicly about harassment by Ailes in the wake of Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit had said no to Ailes’s sexual advances. They ran out of hotel rooms, they pulled away from embraces, they complained or avoided or generally resisted, even when it hurt their careers. This is the account of a woman who chose to go along with what Roger Ailes wanted — because he was powerful, because she thought he could help her advance her career, because she was professionally adrift and emotionally unmoored.
Doing so helped Luhn’s career for a time — at her peak, she earned $250,000 a year as an event planner at Fox while, according to both her own account and four confirming sources, enjoying Ailes’s protection within the company. But the arrangement required her to do many things she is now horrified by, including luring young female Fox employees into one-on-one situations with Ailes that Luhn knew could result in harassment. “He’s a predator,” she told me. In recent years, Luhn had a series of mental breakdowns that she attributes to the stress of her situation, and was even hospitalized for a time.
Non-disclosure agreements have protected these unnamed Fox executives, but how much longer that can last is, well, up to how this scandal unfolds. If more of this kind of stuff comes out -- as it likely will -- the horror that was Fox News will echo throughout the business, or one would think. Hard to know these days.

The legs of Fox News: part of the uniform?

Bonus excerpt from the NY Mag story:
When she had finished dancing, Ailes told her to get down on her knees in front of him, she said, and put his hands on her temples. As she recalled, he began speaking to her slowly and authoritatively, as if he were some kind of Svengali: “Tell me you will do what I tell you to do, when I tell you to do it. At any time, at any place when I call. No matter where I call you, no matter where you are. Do you understand? You will follow orders. If I tell you to put on your uniform, what are you gonna do, Laurie? WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, LAURIE?” Then, she recalled, his voice dropped to a whisper: “What are you, Laurie? Are you Roger's whore? Are you Roger's spy? Come over here.” Ailes asked her to perform oral sex, she said.
Later, Ailes showed her the footage of her dancing. She asked him what he intended to do with it and, she says, he replied, “I am going to put it in a safe-deposit box just so we understand each other.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hey, People Who Don't "Trust" Hillary: What She Says Is Remarkably Consistent

I'm of the opinion that 90% of Clinton scandals are scandalously nothing-burgers. The other 10% is too weak to spend time on.

The Clinton scandals aside, Hillary Clinton's story adds up. So does her policy.

Paul Krugman's serial tweets got me thinking:

Pretty solid reasoning to me. So, can we move on? To the issues?

DNC Bully Smackdown Leaves Trump Upset

Poor Donald's fee-fees got hurt. His reaction proves the DNC case.

Trump yaps...and yaps...and yaps. But dude, where's the policy? Oh, right. (Isn't any.)

Uh oh, Donald wants to smack somebody:

Yes, as Slate's Josh Voorhees points out:
More striking to me, though, is that both sides believe they can use Trump’s tough-guy act to their advantage. The overarching narrative of the DNC criticism of Trump was that he is a thin-skinned bully who can’t be trusted to keep his cool when provoked. And here was Trump, in effect, saying the very same thing—to cheers.
Weird but true. Dem side attacks Trump for doing what the Repubs love about him. Hmm.

Gallup: Trump's Convention Speech Was the Lowest Ever Tested

I watched. It sucked. The crowd roared. America, apparently, gagged.

Dude, saying life sucks except for you isn't a winning strategy.

The results are in, and Donald Trump is in a league of his own, just not the league he intended:
..Trump's speech got the least positive reviews of any speech we have tested after the fact: 35% of Americans interviewed last weekend said it was excellent or good. Of the nine previous speeches we have rated, the top one was Barack Obama's in August 2008, which 58% of Americans rated as excellent or good. The lowest-rated speech other than Trump's was Mitt Romney's in 2012, with 38% excellent or good.
Oh, snap. Worse than even Romney. Didn't Romney refuse to support you? C'mon, don't be bitter.

I also liked hearing in the DailyKos report that Trump's convention was a double-negative. It was dark, and people didn't like it:
The self-reported net impact of the GOP convention was also negative. Overall, 51% of Americans say the convention made them less likely to vote for Trump, while 36% said it made them more likely to vote for him. This is the highest "less likely to vote" percentage for a candidate in the 15 times Gallup has asked this question after a convention.
Plus, it was bounceless:
Donald Trump received no significant bounce following the Republican National Convention, according to the latest NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll. Hillary Clinton still leads Trump by a single point: 46 percent to 45 percent. These numbers are unchanged from last week.
I saw polls that showed a bit of a bounce, but hey, it was a wimpy one.

How's Donald Trump taking it? Last Friday, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton was announcing her pick of Tim Kaine for veep in order to distract from how "successful" the RNC was. Today, he's saying it wasn't his convention:
“I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” Trump told The New York Times in a phone call this week.
I can see what a Trump presidency might look like:
"I didn't lose that war I started, my generals did," said Trump in an attempt to salvage his tattered reputation at home and abroad. "If the generals did half what I told them, we would have been spectacular, believe me."
I can see him on trade, too:
"Congress refused to impose any sanctions on China, so now they're clobbering us," President Trump lamented. "This is why letting Congress make most of the decisions is a real mistake. Believe me when I tell you I'm going to fix that but good."
Then, on his attempt to re-write the Constitution:
Trump was seething after Congress voted down his attempt to amend the Constitution to allow the president to make all economic, foreign-policy, judicial, sports, and healthcare decisions. "This is why, frankly, amending the Constitution should be left solely up to the states. This is a states' rights issue, that I can tell you," Trump said, ignoring the fact that the Constitution was a federal document. Trump attempted to fight back, charging that the U.S. Constitution was "a disaster, a complete disaster," that only he could fix.
Okay, I'll stop fantasizing, but tell me this: Do any of those projections sound like something Trump wouldn't say? I didn't think so.

Please, Hillary supporters, and anybody else: Vote early and often.

The Democrats' Morning in America. How'd That Happen?

The Republican Party's convention rocked with "lock her up!" The Democrats' with "USA! USA! USA!" What's going on here?

Clinton has reason to smile: Trump's grump is bumming out the GOP.

The dynamic is two-fold here: One, Donald Trump's convention speech brought almost immediate declarations of "Midnight in America" from a collection of pundits, and, two, the GOP's bad trip in Cleveland allowed Democrats to grab the mantle of "America is already great!"

The Democratic Party as the party of patriotism? Who knew? Here's Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast:
If it’s Morning in America today, it’s a Democratic one. The Republicans are now the party of permanent midnight.
I don’t know that I’ve ever heard thousands of Democrats chant “USA! USA!” Certainly not in the 1970s, which is what gave Reagan his opening. This week, though, the Democrats have chanted it over and over.
It’s been a beautifully stage-managed convention. This isn’t my spin, this is an honest reaction to what I’ve watched. It has surprised me consistently every night, from a party that hasn’t usually done this all that well. And the reason it’s been well stage-managed is that it hasn’t been just Democratic elected officials who’ve sung from the hymnal. It’s been Americans.
Paul Krugman chimes in:
I know that some Republicans feel as if they’ve fallen through the looking glass. After all, usually they’re the ones chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” And haven’t they spent years suggesting that Barack and Michelle Obama hate America, and may even support the nation’s enemies? How did Democrats end up looking like the patriots here?
But the parties aren’t really experiencing a role reversal. President Obama’s speech on Wednesday was wonderful and inspiring, but when he declared that “what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican,” he was fibbing a bit. It was actually very Republican in substance; the only difference was that the substance was less disguised than usual. For the “fanning of resentment” that Mr. Obama decried didn’t begin with Donald Trump, and most of the flag-waving never did have much to do with true patriotism.
Think about it: What does it mean to love America? Surely it means loving the country we actually have. I don’t know about you, but whenever I return from a trip abroad, my heart swells to see the sheer variety of my fellow citizens, so different in their appearance, their cultural heritage, their personal lives, yet all of them — all of us — Americans.
Will Americans -- especially those that vote -- appreciate this odd dynamic and vote for the party that wants to move forward, not cry into their beer? I sure hope so. Okay, I'm a Democrat (actually I'm to the left of Bernie), but I saw both conventions, one dark and hate-filled and one also dark but love-filled, except, of course, for Donald Trump. He should forever be known as The Bearer of Darkness and Friend of Tyrants.

(Thanks to DailyKos' Abbreviated Pundit Roundup for the links and quotes. It's a morning must-read for me.)

Mania's not a good look on you, Donald. But then, what is?

The Embarrassment That Is Bill O'Reilly

He's the most popular host on Fox News, and he's an asshole of epic proportions. Will Roger Ailes' departure blow his cover?

Bill O'Reilly is a bully, plain and simple. White people like him. Go figure.

Bill O'Reilly's first claim that the slaves who built the White House were treated and housed well is a completely undocumented, unfounded statement. We know that slaves were instrumental in building the White House based on documented payments to their owners. We don't know how they were treated during construction.

When O'Reilly caught a lot of grief for his, frankly, embarrassing comments, he went ballistic:

When you spend your days soft-pedaling slavery and your nights explaining how misunderstood you are, you're only embarrassing yourself. Please go away.

Campaign Nuts and Bolts: Economists Prefer Clinton

When economists stack Hillary's ideas against the Donald's, Hillary's ideas win.

Clinton's plans "trump" Trump's. Is America listening? Let's hope so.

Well-respected Wall St. economist Mark Zandi has looked at the economic plans of the two candidates, and Hillary Clinton comes out on top. Zandi's outfit, Moody's Analytics, took a look:
If the first rule of politics is first, do no harm, Hillary Clinton is the presidential candidate of choice when it comes to the U.S. economy.
That’s the implied conclusion of a detailed analysis of Clinton’s economic proposals by Moody’s Analytics, which released a similar analysis of Donald Trump’s economic proposals in June. The difference between the two plans is stark. “Secretary Clinton’s economic proposals will result in a somewhat stronger U.S. econ­omy,” Moody’s concluded.
And Trump’s plan? “The economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are adopted,” Moody’s says. “Income will stagnate, and stock prices and real house values will decline.”
(Links in the above quote are not mine, they're the author's. I left them for you to explore.)

Okay, voters, listen and learn. Trump talks, er, the talk. Clinton walks the walk, as in her ideas work because they have worked. Econ 101. Trump's don't because they haven't. Again, Econ 101.

Another side of this is that the poor and working class spend their money to survive, which stimulates economic activity, while the rich work to keep their fortunes and pass them on. Yep, Econ 101.

For a good take on the subject, read this.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Trump Said He Knew, Met Putin. Now? Not so much.

When he wanted to tweak his foreign-policy credentials, Trump insisted he knew Putin, had met him. Now, under fire, it's "Putin who?'

Now you're quoting my old statements. What's up with that, huh?

Fact checkers, reporters, even ordinary people that actually listen have noticed that the truth is a sometime thing with Donald Trump. "Pathological liar" is a term that describes such behavior. Now it comes out again:
Hey, so it turns out Donald Trump is a pathological liar. Still.
"He said one nice thing about me. He said I'm a genius. I said thank you very much to the newspaper and that was the end of it. I never met Putin," Trump said.
Oh, well that clears that—
"I got to know him very well because we were both on '60 Minutes,' we were stablemates, and we did very well that night," Trump said [last November].
But I thought you never met—
Trump also said during a National Press Club luncheon in 2014 that he was in Moscow and he spoke "directly and indirectly with President Putin who could not have been nicer."
What's a bit weird is that it doesn't affect his popularity among Republicans. They've been fueled by misinformation for years. Trump's disconnection from the truth is, for them, a badge of honor. He's not a slave to "political correctness." Sheesh.

Trump Encouraging the Russians to Hack HRC Is Outrageous

We knew he was a political and foreign-policy Neanderthal. Now he's proving it.

Orange Man turning red?

A firestorm is igniting around Donald Trump's latest suggestion that it would be great if Putin and his hacking henchmen went after Hillary Clinton's emails. Here's his original statement:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a press conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
His own veep choice is not happy.

Paul Ryan is not happy.

Former CIA Director is hot happy:

Now what would be really curious is if the American press -- and the American people -- give Donald Trump a pass on this reckless talk. Any bets?

Disagreeing with Atrios for a Change

Political speech is different, if not always obvious why.

Most people, even his fans, wouldn't be able to pick out Atrios in a crowd.
I can't recall him posting his picture on his blog. So this is a public service.

Atrios of Eschaton -- AKA Duncan Black -- agrees with The Atlantic's Peter Beinart about one of Bill Clinton's remarks last night:
But in between, Clinton said something dreadful: “If you’re a Muslim and you love America and freedom and you hate terror, stay here and help us win and make a future together, we want you.” The problem is in the assumption. American Muslims should be viewed exactly the same way other Americans are. If they commit crimes, then they should be prosecuted, just like other Americans. But they should not have to prove that they “love America and freedom” and “hate terror” to “stay here.” Their value as Americans is inherent, not instrumental. Their role as Americans is not to “help us win” the “war on terror.”.
Atrios is as smart, if a little cynical, a commentator as you'll find on the Internet, and I've never posted any disagreement with him before. (As Atrios might say, "And that's important because why?") Because I want to show why for a hoot.

Bill Clinton is being political here -- and wisely I feel -- because many voters, I'm afraid, are knuckleheads. (Okay, who's cynical?) I remember that one of Clinton's standout lines of his term in office was something like "If you work hard and play by the rules..." followed by "deserve a decent retirement" or "should be able to send your kid to college without going broke" or "deserve not to go bankrupt if you encounter serious health problems." Make sense, right? How could you disagree?

Well, I happen to feel that if you don't work hard but play by the rules, or work hard put don't always play by the rules, or don't especially work hard and only mostly play by the rules, you still don't deserve a number of fates that Americans endure because the wealthy are hording it all at the top.

The average knucklehead deserves a better life than we get here in America. You don't have to be Paul Ryan to deserve healthcare. (Ryan wouldn't give it to you even if you were as good as he is.) This is something the adept politician like Bill Clinton understands. So he sugarcoats a line to get it considered, for it to hit home. It's a small thing to be a bit condescending to Muslims to enforce the point that we should fucking lighten up on them. Just sayin'.

Can Trump Be Too Crazy for GOP Voters? Maybe not.

Donald Trump has been downright odious as a candidate for president. Now he rooting for Russian hackers. Still got your vote? Eww.

The anatomy of a political party: He's on my side!

Is he really on your side because he says he's pro-life (wasn't before), pro-conservative judges (used to be pro-Hillary), and pro-military (never served, avoided the draft, didn't enlist when he had the chance)?

If you think so, GOP, if you think so, his other nutty, nasty, and hateful comments aside.

But now he's hoping the Russians succeed at hacking more emails, especially if they're Hillary's. Sounds like rooting for our adversaries. I thought that was treasonous. Could be wrong. We'll see. Is this how you roll, GOP?
“If they hacked, they probably have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” Trump said at a press conference at his resort in Doral, Florida. 
The Republican presidential nominee was referring to the widely held suspicion that Russia is responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers, resulting in the leak of tens of thousands of emails just days before the party’s nominating convention in Philadelphia.
Trump said that he hoped the hackers had also accessed Clinton’s private email servers. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”
Trump then addressed the rogue nation directly, saying “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”
By actively hoping that American servers were hacked by another nation, Trump broke an unwritten but cardinal rule of American public office: You don’t root against the United States, even when your political opponent is in power.
Is this the new GOP, the Trump GOP? Maybe so. Holy crap. Is it possible that, for the GOP, the new norms are there are no norms?

Nixon Tried to Bug the DNC. Putin Succeeded.

Richard Nixon was hounded from office because of a thing called Watergate. Is the Russian hacking of DNC computers less of a deal?

Connections have existed for a while now.

As improbable as it first seemed, there's a true scandal in the making. We don't need a smoking gun or a quid pro quo, but the effect is the same. Nixon didn't have to "order" the DNC break-in at the Watergate, but he sure was up to his eyeballs in dirty tricks. The same may certainly be said for Putin. For example, from TPM:
Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin's increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there's quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.
Read all of Josh Marshall's post. He's been ahead of the curve here.

Wikileaks has been a meddling force, too, with apparent anti-Clinton motives:
WASHINGTON — Six weeks before the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks published an archive of hacked Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the Democratic convention, the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, foreshadowed the release — and made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency.
Mr. Assange’s remarks in a June 12 interview underscored that for all the drama of the discord that the disclosures have sown among supporters of Bernie Sanders — and of the unproven speculation that the Russian government provided the hacked data to WikiLeaks in order to help Donald J. Trump — the disclosures are also the latest chapter in the long-running tale of Mr. Assange’s battles with the Obama administration.
In the interview, Mr. Assange told a British television host, Robert Peston of the ITV network, that his organization had obtained “emails related to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication,” which he pronounced “great.” He also suggested that he not only opposed her candidacy on policy grounds, but also saw her as a personal foe.
Now we hear that both cyber experts and the U.S. government feel growing confidence that Putin-connected hackers are responsible for the original hack of the DNC computers.
Many U.S. officials and cyber security experts in and out of government are convinced that state-sponsored Russian hackers are the ones who stole 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee and leaked them to the public just in time to disrupt the Democrats' national convention in Philadelphia.
A final piece of this puzzle is the stream of pro-Putin and, frankly, pro-Russian remarks by Donald Trump, implying that he'd not necessarily come to the aid of NATO members threatened by Putin:
Donald Trump, the GOP  presidential nominee, appeared to make U.S. military support for NATO member states conditional on whether those states have met their financial obligations to the bloc, which has served as the cornerstone of global security after World War II. The comments, in an interview with The New York Times, represent a marked departure from the security policy of every presidential nominee from either of the two major parties since NATO’s founding in 1949.
Read the article I linked to in the Atlantic or the NYTimes' interview linked in the excerpt. They're both pretty freaky.

We're in a new realm here. Many of us in the sanity-based universe had reasons to fear a Trump presidency. But now we've got reasons to fear the implications of an apparent Putin-Assange-Trump cyber alliance. Does America want a future controlled by this unfathomable partnership? And is it even legal? The word may be passé, but this is freaky.

This story may grow, or it may not. I'm betting on its growing. Already the Trump camp is under increasing fire to release Trump's tax returns. Before Putingate (okay, maybe it won't be called that), it was problematic. After, not releasing them can cause a continued uproar. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Is Fox News the New Bill Cosby?

The rot that is Roger Ailes reaches beyond his sexual harassment misconduct, right into the heart of Fox News itself.

Lots of harassment over many years?
When I first heard about Gretchen Carlson's sexual-harassment lawsuit against Roger Ailes, my immediate thought was how Bill Cosby's troubles expanded. My next thought was: Watch Fox News explode. Now, it seems, it has.

Gabriel Sherman, the unauthorized biographer who broke this story, has now exposed another apparent problem for Fox News. He reports that Fox News executives have been carrying water for Ailes by covering up for their boss. Uh oh:
GABRIEL SHERMAN: Brian, I just want to speak to that because I think this is where the story is going forward, the Murdochs are looking to the existing leadership at Fox News as possible replacements for Ailes. The critical issue is that, a lot of the main players, especially Bill Shine, Roger Ailes’ deputy who is in charge of programming and the Fox Business Network currently, played an integral role in the cover up of these sexual harassment claims. I reported yesterday based on internal documents --
Not so funny anymore.
Here's where the story stands today. Fox News may find itself liable for
encouraging or allowing sexual harassment to continue, and, at the very least, more heads will roll. At worst, the scandal will envelope more executives and empower the women of Fox -- who were hamstrung by non-disclosure and internal arbitration agreements -- to tell their own personal stories, leading to further unraveling.

Bill O'Reilly, as many may remember, barely squeaked by with his own sexual harassment case (here's a fascinating if disturbing court document). Now, he's just another Fox News man behaving badly, with echoes from a disturbing divorce case. O'Reilly never worried because Ailes had his back, and now O'Reilly returns the favor.

One weird by-product is Donald Trump's full-throated defense of Ailes. What does he think he'll accomplish with that, other than further alienating women voters? Oh, I forgot: Poorly educated white males are his base. He could give a rat's ass for women.

Of course, Donald Trump would say, "Women love me, that I can tell you!"

Update. Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente has announced he's leaving the network. Is this the first extra head to roll or a rat fleeing a sinking ship?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Russians Punk the DNC with Hacked Emails. Who Do You Vote For Now?

Cyber experts agree: Putin is behind Wikileaks' DNC email leak. If Putin has his thumb on the scales for Trump, what do disenchanted progressives do?

Punked by Putin on behalf of Trump. What does that tell you?

It should be clear by now that the mutual admiration society that is Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump -- especially in light of Trump's weak stand behind NATO -- is both dangerous and, to a certain extent, treasonous. What presidential candidate opens his yap and says he won't stand behind a treaty that has held back the Soviet Union, and now greater Russia, for 60 years?

We know that Donald Trump has trouble raising capital -- Deutsche Bank is the only bank in the West that will still deal with Trump -- and has for some years looked to Russian interests, in Putin's orbit, for money to bail out his shaky deals.

Now a Wikileaks release of DNC emails that disparage -- only by implication -- the Clinton campaign occurs on the eve of the Democratic National Convention. Naturally, the Clinton campaign blames the Russians, but a funny thing happened on the way to Trump's outraged reaction: It turns out that even the experts in the field point to Putin and his Russkiy hackers as responsible for the email hack and leak.

My question to the still disgruntled progressives threatening to either vote for Trump or libertarian Gary Johnson is: What part of letting this capitalist thug aided and abetted by his communist/capitalist thug become president sounds hunky dory to you?

Get a grip, people. Even if you believe that Hillary Clinton is in the tank for Wall Street and whatever other nefarious American elites, it would be batshit crazy to help a known sleazeball tycoon with ties to Russian oligarchs become president. The worst that Hillary can do -- besides also supporting A LOT OF THE PROGRESSIVE POLICIES SHE AND BERNIE SANDERS ALREADY AGREE ON -- is maybe let Wall Street keep being Wall Street. Big fucking whoop.

Here's the deal, in a nutshell:
  • The right wing has spent millions besmirching Hillary on nothing-burgers like Benghazi, the emails, and countless other absurdities because they feel she IS A THREAT TO THEM. Not a good reason to help Trump.
  •  She is a known quantity, and that known quantity is a pragmatist that makes incremental progress either by throwing the moneyed interests a bone so that they'll back her center-left policies or she gets thrown a bone, a morsel, by the moneyed interests because she lets them have victories that bring them an increase in their wealth and power. BUT SHE STILL GETS SOMETHING FOR US THAT WAY. Not liking this way of doing business isn't a good reason to help Trump.
  • Her politics are both to the left of Barrack Obama AND more likely to deliver than he was when dealing with the Republicans. So, we move forward. WE'RE NOT GETTING THE BERNIE SANDERS REVOLUTION WE WANTED THIS CYCLE, so let's accept this incremental leap forward. Wanting to tear down the whole damned thing with a Trump vote is not a good reason to help Trump.
Sorry for all the yelling. Read this, this, this, and this, and then vote for Donald Trump. Or please don't. Thank you.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Trump's Convention Was Almost as Catastrophic as He Is

Donald Trump is all in with authoritarianism. And freedom-loving Republicans are good with that?

Washington Post's July 22nd Op-Eds. Says a mouthful, eh?

The verdict is in across the political spectrum, and Donald Trump has frightened a number of people, including those who had once believed the Republican Party would somehow remain sane. No such luck. The tweet of the week:

Daily Kos's Abreviated Pundit Round-up gives us another look at the impending cataclysm that a Trump presidency might bring: Sample from Bloomberg View:
In short: It was the most disturbing, demagogic and deluded acceptance speech by any major party nominee in the modern political era. It’s no wonder so many Republicans -- including Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich -- are refusing to endorse Trump.  When the idea of “voting your conscience” becomes a source of division within a party, something is terribly wrong.
Talking Points Memo gives us a ton of tweets from "new media guru" Clay Shirky. Sample tweet:

Check out all of Shirky's advice at TPM. Food for thought. As a matter of fact, we all need, post-Trump's speech, a lot of thought. Then, vote early and often. (For you know who.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Can the Republicans Get Any Whiter? Or Zenophobic? Or...?

Yes. Yes, they can. And it's not a political winner.

As Jeb Bush said recently, this is a fantasy that Trump could never
deliver, along with the rest of his nonsense. And there's hell to pay.

The recent Pew Poll paints a bleak picture of Donald Trump's chances:
Republicans remain skeptical that their party will unite behind their presumptive nominee.  Just  38% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the party will “solidly unite” behind Trump; 54% say disagreements in the party will keep many Republicans from supporting him. These views are virtually unchanged since March, amid the GOP primary contest. By contrast, 72% of Democratic voters say their party will solid unite behind Clinton; in March, 64% expected their party to unite behind Clinton if she became the nominee.
So, Trump is a divider, not a uniter. But we knew that. The wall he's building is between himself and the voters he needs. Hmm. Go figure.

Oh, and who wants to bet that the Republican National Convention will aleviate this problem?

Friday, July 1, 2016

OK, It's Obvious. When It Comes to Rights, Republicans Are So Retro

We as a nation have steadily moved to expand rights for women, gays, and minority voting. Republicans' go-to reaction is "Just Say No."

Republicans pass bad laws and courts fix them. Weird mechanism.

It's past time we recognized that Republican-led states spend an inordinate amount of time passing laws that restrict abortion, gay rights, voting rights, and, more recently, bathroom rights to transgender people.

Examples are in Texas, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Arizona, Indiana (again!), and on and on and on.

This is expensive, if nothing else. These same states tend to be against Obamacare and expanded Medicaid to the poor. They go so far as to refuse billions of dollars of virtually free federal money, having the effect of denying hospitals payments they would receive from the feds under the law. These same states often decide to drug test welfare recipients, a practice also proven to be a waste of money, as welfare recipients quite rarely test positive.

Now, let's combine this with the Republicans in the Senate deciding they will not confirm any of President Obama's judicial nominations, including Obama's pick for the Supreme Court.

Those nasty federal judges who rule against those endless laws that restrict minority and women's rights!

It's no wonder Donald Trump has found a following among those who would love to go back to the 1950s, you know, that wonderful time when Joe McCarthy found communists under every bed, racial segregation was rampant, and kids across the country lived in iron lungs as they fought polio. Happy days!

Remember "duck and cover" drills in the 1950s? I do. Freaky, huh?