Krugman Underestimates Trumpistan

Paul Krugman is no friend of Donald Trump or the Republican Party, to put it mildly. Yet while his January 2 New York Times op-ed is extremely hard-hitting, his argument is incomplete in a way that understates the challenges they might constitute for our democracy.

One challenge he airs is whether America will turn into a Trumpistan, along the lines of the Central Asian states (the names of which all end in “stan”), formerly parts of the USSR, that are controlled by corrupt, crony-capitalism strongmen pushing personality cults. (Pardon my nit-picking, development professional digression, but Krugman gets this wrong when it comes to Kyrgyzstan, the only one of those five states that is a functioning though flawed democracy – not that we’re ones to judge these days. It should not be lumped in with its neighbors.) Read more of this post

Grave New World, But…

WELCOME…

…to our Grave New World. Come January 20th, our president will be a misogynistic bigot, with the attention span of a  “a 9-year old with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder].” He arguably owes his election to a media feeding frenzy over his opponent’s mishandled emails and to help from a foreign dictator to whom his ties remain as mysterious as his taxes, and whom he seems to trust more than he does U.S. intelligence agencies.

So much of this is so surreal. It’s like a bad, unbelievable movie. Or like a brilliant one: the Peter Sellers political satire, “Being There” – though that film featured a much more benign would-be president. Our own real-life drama is like something out of The Twilight Zone – or, worse yet, Black Mirror. Read more of this post

2020 Vision

Having some trouble contemplating the next four years? If so, skip ahead to 2020 and this Washington Post piece on early jockeying by likely presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. The article discusses their snagging Senate committee slots that boost their foreign policy credentials. It also sketches what several other presidential wannabes are up to, and provides a bit of extremely preliminary polling data.

Empty Sky

The saddest song Bruce Springsteen wrote about 9/11 was “Empty Sky.”

It’s about the loss of the planes that day. It’s about the loss of so many lives. It’s about the loss of a loved one.

And most of all, it’s about the loss of faith.

To borrow the best line from Bruce’s song, I woke up this morning to an empty sky.

I’m not yet certain what I’ve lost faith in. My fellow Americans who picked Trump for president? Our democracy? Our future? America itself?

How did this happen? Pundits and political scientists will spend years analyzing Trump’s shocking win. I’ll do some speculating myself. And sooner or later I’ll seek ways of rebuilding from the ruins of this election. Read more of this post

A Rigged Election and Raul

Some of my most powerful overseas memories are of seeing folks in Sri Lanka and the Philippines roast in the tropical sun for hours, just waiting for a chance to vote. In places where people have far too little control over their lives, the opportunity to have some sort of say – however minimal – can be inspiring.

Contrast that with the same sight in the United States, where we have long lines of voters before and on Election Day. As this article explains, those lines are part of a Republican effort to discourage turn-out. They are much more about voter suppression than inspiration. Read more of this post

Trump versus Democracy: Why Every Vote Counts This Year

Do you know any anti-Trump types who might pick a third-party candidate or not vote at all this year? Perhaps they’re not in a swing state, and figure their votes therefore won’t affect the electoral college. Or maybe they dislike Hillary, or just can’t be bothered to cast their ballots.

Regardless, please consider sending them this great piece by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

Milbank’s main point? “Donald Trump is running against democracy itself.”

Trump’s charges of vote-rigging and threats to deny his likely loss make this an election unlike any we’ve ever witnessed – as do his blatant bigotry and misogyny. As Milbank maintains, it’s crucial to humiliate him in order to take the foul wind out of his post-election political sails. Read more of this post

Breaking News: Trump Calls for Coup

Addressing a tumultuous rally in Sparta, Wisconsin today, Donald Trump called on “real Americans” and the U.S. military to overthrow the government and “install me as president of the United States.”

“We have to stop Demon Hillary and her rigged election,” Trump declared. “She’s got all those tricks up her sleeve, you wouldn’t believe it. She only has a chance to even make it look close because women can vote. I’m not saying we should ban that, but I’m told lots of very bright people, including many women, think so.” Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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.” Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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.” Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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