Confused by the Clinton and Trump Scandals? John Oliver (and Others) to the Rescue!

Confused by Hillary’s email or Clinton Foundation scandals? Late night comedy to the rescue! John Oliver’s show sums these up well, and certainly better than “serious” cable news outlets have.

The bottom line: Yes, there’s been poor judgment and questionable conduct; Hillary is neither the most ethical nor most astute of politicians. But in the end, there’s really less bad news here than meets the eye. It’s an educational and funny 10 minutes.

Now, if you want to dig deeper, this July piece from Slate expertly explains the email affair. Unlike any other coverage I’ve seen, the essay addresses what Hillary’s smattering of classified messages were about and why, even if hacked by Russia or whomever, it wouldn’t really matter.

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The Great Debate Expectations Game and How Hillary’s Health Scare Could Help Her

STEP UP FROM THE MISSTEP

Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia and her resulting September 11th stumble has the press fretting about her health, her campaign and her reputation for a lack of transparency. Taken together with other steps, however, the Clinton campaign must turn this political and literal misstep into an opportunity.

Here’s why: The Great Debate Expectations Game. Heading into the first presidential debate on Sept. 26th, Clinton must change any media expectation that she will trump Trump. It’s a forecast that even her own campaign has cultivated – witness a New York Times report that she hopes “to crush Mr. Trump on live television.”

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Give ’em Hell, Hillary

Hillary Clinton will never be a great orator. But she still gave a great, important speech last night. Its main theme: She blasted Donald Trump for the racism he promotes and the racists he embraces.

Here’s a video of the speech.

And you can find transcript here.

Some of what she said may not be new to you. But the speech is still notable for several reasons:

First, she provided as good a summary as I’ve seen of the reasons Trump is so dangerous.

In addition, she said so much about Trump and so little about herself. The speech could have been delivered by any number of Clinton allies. But it was still savvy for her to do so, because the indictment of him gets the most attention by virtue of Hillary delivering it.

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Media Nonsense and Trump’s Perpetual Potential Pivot

Bless you, S.E. Cupp!

This conservative commentator and Donald Trump critic had the sense to say what I’ve been thinking for months: The continual media mania over whether Trump will “pivot” away from his scorched earth approach to campaigning – to instead adopt a more moderate tone and more sensible proposals – is ridiculous and irresponsible.

Posting at CNN.com on Monday, Cupp recapped how, after over a year of journalists wondering whether Trump is “ever going to become a smart, serious and disciplined candidate,” the recent upheavals in his campaign have them all aflutter again about whether he’ll finally reset his campaign in a positive way.

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Trump and the Alt-Right: Bigotry Goes Mainstream

TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN

Whatever else emerges from this year’s presidential campaign, one thing is certain: Donald Trump is mainstreaming bigotry.

How could I seriously suggest this, given the widespread outcry against his repeated bigoted belches, and given the political harm they have caused him?

Here’s how: The Republican Party nominee has voiced and validated many voters’ worst instincts, to much tut-tutting but no disavowals of him by his party’s leaders. What’s worse, he recently doubled down by bringing on the far right’s channeler-in-chief, Steve Bannon, to be his campaign’s CEO. Bannon’s contribution to mainstreaming bigotry largely flows from his popular right-wing website (and associated radio program), Breitbart News, which is increasingly promoting the views of the Alt-Right.

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Did Trump Joke That Clinton Should Be Shot?

At a campaign rally yesterday, Donald Trump seemed to suggest that a way to protect the Second Amendment could be for “Second Amendment people” (i.e., gun owners) to take action against his Democratic rival:

“Hillary wants to abolish, essentially, the Second Amendment,” he said. “By the way, and if she gets the pick—if she gets the pick of her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I dunno.”

Was he simply joking? Perhaps. But as The Atlantic points out in analyzing the video of his statement, “At no point in recent American history has the nominee of one of the two major parties even jested about the murder of a rival.”

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The Big Trump Story the Press Missed

PICK YOUR PAC

It’s hard for the press to pick which outrageous Donald Trump statement to prioritize, when he erupts so regularly. Still, the transcript of Tuesday’s exceptional Washington Post interview with him had a humdinger that the media (including the Post’s own article summarizing the interview) has overlooked.

Here’s that humdinger: Toward the end of the talk, and out of the blue, Trump matter-of-factly states that at some point after this year’s election “I’m gonna do two or three $10 million PACs at the right time” to selectively go after both Republican (!!!) and Democratic candidates. He specifically mentions Ohio Governor John Kasich as a potential target.

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Donald Trump Is Having a Meltdown Today. No, Really. He Is.

This is amazing. Donald Trump is having a meltdown in front of the whole country. Via an interview that’s the basis of  the lead article at The Washington Post website right now, he’s picking fights with the leaders of the Republican Party.

Check out this passage concerning John McCain:

On Monday, McCain, a Vietnam war hero, issued a lengthy statement denouncing Trump for his comments about the Khan family. Asked about McCain’s rebuke, Trump said, “I haven’t endorsed John McCain.

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John McCain’s Bizarre but Revealing Statement Blasting Trump

John McCain merits praise for his public statement today, blasting Donald Trump’s attacks on the Muslim American parents of a U.S. Army captain who died a hero in Iraq. As you probably know, Khizr Khan’s dramatic Democratic Convention speech honoring his son and slamming Trump sparked a bitter dispute with him about bigotry and sacrifice.

Nevertheless, McCain’s statement was both bizarre and revealing about the contortions that leading Republicans are going through as they stand with Trump, even as they stand against so much that he stands for. McCain’s strangest line was this: “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”

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REAL REALITY TV: A MUSLIM AMERICAN HERO TAKES DOWN TRUMP

Your flag flyin’ over the courthouse

Means certain things are set in stone

Who we are, what we’ll do and what we won’t

-Bruce Springsteen, “Long Walk Home”

THE SPEECH

Perhaps you have heard the Democratic Convention speech by Khizr Khan, the American Muslim whose Army captain son died a hero in Iraq and who is causing Donald Trump to cause himself so much trouble.

If you haven’t, you have to.

The speech and the subsequent media battle with our Bigot in Chief says a lot about the best and worst of who we are as a nation. It’s illuminating, moving stuff that left me both proud and ashamed.

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Jon Stewart Gets to the Root of It

Rather than add to the vast and correctly caustic commentary on Donald Trump’s dark and dystopian convention speech, I’ll post a video from a fount of much wisdom. Jon Stewart put in an appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show last night. While one might have expected an excoriation of the Republicans, Stewart instead turned his focus to Fox News.

And justly so. Stewart’s rant (which starts at about the four minute mark) gets to the root of one big reason why so many people buy into Trump’s take on an America besieged by evil, exploitative foreigners: Fox and the rest of the far right media, which preach “us versus them” and, as Trump puts it, America First. In particular, the video humorously highlights Fox star Sean Hannity’s hypocrisy.

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141 Reasons Trump Is Unfit to Be President…but #142 Might Be the Scariest

Slate provides quite the compendium of 141 things Donald Trump has said or done that disqualify him from the presidency. Some stand on their own to make him unfit. Others are part of a larger pattern. I’d imagine the list will grow.

Trump unqualified for the presidency? Some might say, “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

Then how about an additional reason we’ll call #142: It’s a recent assessment by Tony Schwartz, the extremely repentant ghostwriter of Trump’s best-selling 1986 memoir, The Art of the Deal:

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One Word for Diehard Sanders Supporters: Nader

Name the politicians: A mainstream Democratic presidential candidate who is competent and experienced, yet flawed and uninspiring. A Republican opponent with dubious qualifications. And a proud progressive complicating the electoral equation.

No, we’re not talking Clinton, Trump and Sanders. We’re talking Gore and Bush. And in the wake of Bernie’s lukewarm endorsement of Hillary, we’re talking the one word that diehard Sanders supporters need to remember: Nader.

With everything at stake in 2016, Ralph Nader’s role in the 2000 presidential election merits emphasis, perhaps particularly for millennials. Sixteen years ago, Nader inadvertently helped usher George W. Bush into office. Today, Sanders supporters could conceivably ensure the election of the demagogic, race-baiting Donald Trump, with whom even the disastrous Bush pales in comparison.

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Cops, Race and Guns: Our American Skin

It ain’t no secret

It ain’t no secret

No secret my friend

You can get killed just for living in your American skin

– Bruce Springsteen, American Skin (41 Shots)

NO SECRET

It’s no secret that we’ve witnessed yet another bloody flood of real-life, race-related gun violence in recent days.

A Louisiana cop kills an African American selling CDs outside a convenience store.

A crazed assault weapon assault, on Dallas police guarding a Black Lives Matter protest, leaves five officers dead.

And sandwiched in-between – and the most illuminating of the three incidents, for reasons I’ll address – a Minnesota cop kills an African American motorist.

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Whom Should Progressives Prefer for the Republican Nomination? Pick Your Poison

A DELICIOUS CHOICE?

Lately I’ve been chatting a lot with progressive friends about whether we’d prefer Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the Republican nominee for President. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s memorable lament about his party’s choice – being poisoned versus getting shot – looms over our conversations.

Unlike Graham, some progressives salivate over these horrific but delicious options, since it seems that either man would lose come November. Though Hillary Clinton will not win any popularity contests, Trump’s negative ratings have set records for a major presidential candidate, with Cruz not far behind.

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