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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Healthy It Ain't 

by tristero

Ironies of ironies. I literally finished making Mark Bittman's dead simple granola recipe when I read this:
A cup of Nature Valley Oats ’n Honey Protein Granola has 24 grams of sugar and actually contains more sugar than protein by weight. Nature Valley also has a Peanut Butter ’n Dark Chocolate Protein Granola that has 30 grams of sugar per cup. Bear Naked Honey Almond Granola has 20 grams of sugar per cup. 
By comparison, a slice of chocolate cake with frosting has 26 grams of sugar. A cup of ice cream has 28 grams of sugar. A regular Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut has 10 grams of sugar, according to the Krispy Kreme website.
There are three reasons I made Bittman's recipe. #1: we recently bought some Trader Joe's granola that was so sweet that I was literally gagging. A deep-fried Snickers Bar has less sugar and a more nuanced flavor. Second, I got tired of paying $7 for a scoop or so of yuppie granola which, given the ingredients and effort,  should cost - I'm guessing here - about $3 a pound. Finally, I had made a great recipe from Cook's Illustrated (this is basically the same recipe) but I wanted to see if I spent less effort whether it would make much difference.

I'll let you know. And meanwhile, next time I'm halving the maple syrup. No, it's not that healthy, but every once in a while, it's delicious. And you can freeze it like forever.

And now it's time to return to your regularly scheduled politics.

Because nobody can stand him

by digby

An excerpt from the forthcoming Washington Post Trump book:

He had never really had close friends. As far back as 1980, he had told TV interviewer Rona Barrett, “My business is so all-encompassing that I don’t really get the pleasure of being with friends that much, frankly.” She pressed him: Whom would you call if you were in trouble and your family wasn’t around? “Maybe I’d call you, Rona,” he said.

Thirty-six years later, when we asked Trump about his friendships, he took a considerable, unusual pause, and then said: “Well, it’s an interesting question. Most of my friendships are business-related because those are the only people I meet. The people I meet, really, I guess I could say socially, when you go out to a charity event or something. . . . I have people that I haven’t spoken to in years, but I think they’re friends.” And he named — off the record — three men he had had business dealings with two or more decades before, men he had seen only rarely in recent years.

“I mean, I think I have a lot of friends,” Trump continued, “but they’re not friends like perhaps other people have friends, where they’re together all the time and they go out to dinner all the time.” But was there anyone he would turn to if he had a personal problem, or some doubt about himself or something he’d done? “More of my family,” Trump said. “I have a lot of good relationships. I have good enemies, too, which is okay. But I think more of my family than others.”

And truthfully they don't seem truly close to him either. They were raised by their mother and their relationship with him is all about the business and now the campaign. In other words, it's all about him.

A classic narcissist, according to Dr. Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships and parenting, sees people as objects and their children as mirrors. Such characters, preoccupied with their image, are indeed most pleased when their children more closely reflect the image that they themselves want to project to the world. The Trump kids, Meyers posited to me, were very much raised to reflect their father’s image of himself. “They learned very early on to be loved and to fit in with the image their father prized so much,” he said. “What narcissistic parents usually do is they want compliance, and boy, we have no better example of children who seem to be complying with their father and his agenda than these children.” (Growing up, “what he cared about was respect,” Ivanka recalled in a recent Politico Magazine profile. “You would never hear us yelling at our parents or using a tone that was inappropriate or disrespectful. Even a tone.”)

Trump, after all, is not only their father; he is also their professional mentor and boss. (Ivanka does have her own successful fashion line outside the Trump Organization.) “Mustn’t they have feared they could get fired if they didn’t mirror their father’s exact wishes?” Meyers asked.

I think the narcissist description is self-evident and those people aren't really interested in others. So it's not entirely weird that he would have gotten to the age of 70 without any friends. It's odd, however, for a politician. They usually cannot count how many they have gathered along the way. Just another way in which Trump is unique.


Throwback error number 763

by digby

More evidence Trump's stuck in the 1970s:

This is just nonsense he's selling his paranoid white voters who think that the big cities today are still like a scene out of "The Out of Towners"

Trump didn’t cite any evidence to support the point he’s trying to make. But his claim that crime is at “record levels” in the inner-city or elsewhere is false. Violent crime in America’s cities has actually been declining for two decades. The New York Police Department’s latest crime figures embody the point — while murders are up 12 percent so far this year relative to 2014, they’re down 82 percent compared to 23 years ago. 
“The average person in a large urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years,” the authors of a report on 2015 crime data for the Brennan Center For Justice wrote.
I think he may actually believe his drivel. His delusions are very powerful.  But it isn't true and it's important that people point this out. It's in the context of this lower crime rate that Black Lives Matter and similar concerns about over policing are particularly relevant. Trump and his people want police to "take the gloves off" at a moment of relative safety just as they want the border patrol and ICE to "take the gloves off" at a time of drastically reduced immigration. None of this is based upon increased threats of crime or economic competition. It's the work of a demagogue ginning up fear and hatred for his own purposes. 

Some very, very good news for a change

by digby

From Sarah Kliff at Vox:
The teen birthrate has plummeted rapidly since the mid-2000s — and a new study suggests better use of birth control is entirely responsible.

There are 42 percent fewer teen births now than just seven years ago. In 2007, 4.2 percent of teenage girls in the United States gave birth. In 2014, the rate was 2.4 percent.

This is an incredibly fast change in a public health trend, and it’s left some researchers puzzled over how it happened so quickly.

But researchers Laura Lindberg, John Santelli, and Sheila Desai say it’s not a mystery at all. Writing in the Journal of Adolescent Health, they find that teenage girls in 2012 were just as likely to be sexually active as girls in 2007. Survey research shows that 43 percent of girls between 15 and 19 said they’d ever had sex in 2007, compared with 45 percent in 2012.

What changed was how teenage girls used contraceptives. The percentage of sexually active teens who used at least one type of birth control the last time they had sex rose from 78 percent in 2007 to 86 percent in 2012. More teens gravitated toward better types of birth control — like pills, IUDs, or implants — rather than relying on lower-quality birth control like condoms.

This is one of those easy answers to difficult questions. Having sex is a very normal thing for adolescents. Hormones etc. Duh. But there is no reason in this modern world that young women cannot do what comes naturally without taking a risk in getting pregnant. (It could still happen, of course. No birth control is perfect. ) These statistics show that we can reduce the teen birth rate significantly, giving women better chances in life and often sparing them the need to get an abortion if only we take the practical approach to the problem instead of dealing with it as if it's a moral matter.

Not that anyone couldn't have predicted this beforehand...

Perhaps we could start taking some practical measures to reduce gun deaths too.

Nah ... what am I thinking?

Update: Unfortunately, these people aren't going away either:
Wayne Allyn Root, a Donald Trump admirer who often claims to be in frequent contact with the GOP candidate has led campaign rallies for him in Nevada, said yesterday that people who receive federal benefits such as Medicaid, welfare and food stamps should lose their right to vote, as should women who use “free contraception” under the Affordable Care Act. 
Root’s plan would cut a large swath of Americans from the voter rolls: Roughly one in five Americans benefit from means-tested benefit programs, while 67 percent of women with private health insurance use copay-free contraception through the Affordable Care Act (which, by the way, is paid for by insurance companies, not by the federal government). 
Root told Virginia radio host Rob Schilling yesterday that much of the energy behind Trump’s campaign, as he discusses in his new book “Angry White Male,” is that the country is “evenly divided between the makers and the takers,” so “the middle class is basically paying, paying, paying and the poor get everything free, and it’s a disaster.” 
Root said that he had recently seen a map on the internet showing that if only “taxpayers” had been allowed to vote, the 2012 election would have been “a Republican sweep.” 
“So if the people who payed the taxes were the only ones allowed to vote, we’d have landslide victories,” he said, “but you’re allowing people to vote. This explains everything! People with conflict of interest shouldn’t be allowed to vote. If you collect welfare, you have no right to vote. The day you get off welfare, you get your voting rights back. The reality is, why are you allowed to have this conflict of interest that you vote for the politician who wants to keep your welfare checks coming and your food stamps and your aid to dependent children and your free health care and your Medicaid, your Medicare and your Social Security and everything else?” 
Root quickly amended his statement to say that receiving Social Security and Medicare shouldn’t disqualify someone from voting, but “in general most of the things I just rattled off should preclude you from voting.”
Nice save... if they don't allow older, racist white people to vote they have a big problem. Unfortunately, the world seems to create new racist white people all the time.

They just want him to crack some heads

by digby

People have been trying to give Trump an out on his daft wall idea for months but he's been very clear that he means to build an actual wall like the Great Wall of China. I don't know why anyone thinks otherwise. The question is if it matters:
"And it will be a real wall. It will be a real wall. It won't be one of these little toys that you see every once in a while, our government throws up a little wall like this."

And this from a rally Wednesday in Tampa: “We’re going to build a wall, don’t you worry about it. We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to build the wall, and Mexico is going to pay for the wall, 100 percent. And it’s going to be a big wall. It’s going to be a real wall. It’s going to be as beautiful as a wall can be, but it’s going to be a wall."

And in remarks from that same town hall airing Tuesday night:

HANNITY: I want to talk about — you've said a lot of things about immigration. Let's start with, I guess, your signature issue on immigration, which is you're going to build the wall. 
TRUMP: Yes, 100 percent.
HANNITY: Here's my question — 
TRUMP: Well, you know, what has been interesting that I've been watching over the last week or two, and they've been saying, 'Oh, well maybe he won't build the wall, maybe he won't' — 
HANNITY: Jeb Bush said that. Jeb Bush said, "He'll never build the wall." 
TRUMP: Oh, he said that a long time ago. I think — 
TRUMP: I think people now realize we're building the wall. It's going to happen. It's 100 percent simple. You know, I tell the story all the time, the Great Wall of China, 13,000 miles long. This is 1,000 miles and we have Caterpillar tractors to build, okay? 
It's 1,000 miles — it's 2,000, but we need 1,000. And it's so easy to do. And it gets higher and higher and higher every time somebody says I'm not going to build it.
It's true that some Trump surrogates have suggested that the wall might be virtual. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) said as much in May. At the time, he also referred to the "rhetorical deportation" of every illegal immigrant. "Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it. I don’t know," Collins said.

Trump supporter and Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been calling it a "technological" wall and a "digital" wall for months.

But Trump has been steadfast on this point, giving himself no wiggle room.

What's more, while his supporters have been somewhat understanding of his waffling on deportation, the wall might be a bridge too far.
I've seen a few of his supporters interviewed on the subject and they were actually kind of chuckling about the wall. I don't get the sense they care about it that much. It's his attitude they like. As long as he promises to unleash the cops and the border patrol to do "whatever they need to do" they don't care about stuff like the wall or even deportation. They want somebody to crack heads, period. And that goes for Muslims and blacks too, whether here or over there. And if the Chinese need a little ass-whoopin' they're on board for that too --- just so long as we don't tie the military's hands, if you know what I mean.

This isn't about walls and doors. It's about showing who's boss. White America, that's who.

Trump's inevitable triumphant debate comeback

by digby

“I know who I am, and it got me here,” Mr. Trump said, boasting of success in his 11 primary debate appearances and in capturing the Republican nomination over veteran politicians and polished debaters. “I don’t want to present a false front. I mean, it’s possible we’ll do a mock debate, but I don’t see a real need.”
Frankly, it wouldn't do any good.  It's much too late for him to actually learn what he needs to learn so why bother? And with expectations so low for him he's likely to be seen as a winner if he simply manages to resist talking about his penis. I have every expectation that Trump will be hailed by the press as being sober and thoughtful and magically transformed on the morning after the debate.

Recall this:
Last night, the most crucial of her political career, Palin managed to come out of a rocky couple of weeks—marked by stumbling interviews with CBS's Katie Couric—with a credible, confident, aphorism-peppered debate performance that harkened back to her bravura acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. 
You can be sure the old "over-prepared" stick will be given the debate "on points" but she will not perform up to expectations. I may just tweet the reaction in advance and take the night off.

After the storm: delegitimizing a Clinton win

by digby

I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

The latest beltway gossip (aside from Anthony Weiner's latest sexcapade) is that Trump and his Trumpettes have shifted their focus from trying to win the presidency to making sure that a Hillary Clinton presidency is a total disaster. Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere reports:
The Clinton delegitimization project is now central to Donald Trump’s campaign and such a prime component of right-wing media that it’s already seeped beyond extremist chat rooms into “lock her up” chants on the convention floor, national news stories debating whether polls actually can be rigged, and voters puzzling over that photo they think they saw of her needing to be carried up the stairs.
Leading Democrats in Washington and beyond recognize Trump’s tactic because they’ve seen it before. President Barack Obama and his allies spent eight years sandbagged by the birth certificate/Bill Ayers/his-middle-name’s-Hussein attacks that all boil down to the same thinking now threatening Clinton: He’s a fake; his presidency either doesn’t count or is a Moorish-style Trojan horse.
Donald Trump certainly remembers it. He was the man who brought "birtherism" mainstream, questioning the president's basic qualification to be president. And now, most Republicans don't believe he was born in the US.

Democrats undoubtedly remember that even before Trump flogged that inane conspiracy theory Senator Mitch McConnell declared that the number one task before the GOP was to make Obama a one term president and Senator Jim DeMint promised that health care reform would be his "Waterloo."  Total obstruction followed.

One would have thought that after the embarrassment of having to ask the candidate's own brother to manipulate the voting apparatus in Florida in 2000 and then having to call upon Supreme Court Justices who were appointed by their candidate's father to stop counting votes would have made them think twice but they were not daunted by such hypocrisy. They already knew how successful it would be because this wasn't the first time these same Republicans had portrayed a Democratic president as illegitimate. They'd done it with Bill Clinton.

In the book, "A Complicated Man: the life of Bill Clinton by those who knew him" the subject was covered by a number of close confidantes and contemporary reporters. Journalist Michael Kinsley observed:
In 1992, there was a feeling among Republicans of Manifest Destiny, that they were supposed to rule forever. At that point they had been in power since 1980 and basically conservatism had been dominant since the 1978 congressional elections. They thought it should go on forever. That is the reason they were so resentful of Clinton. How could he have won? The only explanation is he must have done something terrible. He must have cheated because he wasn't supposed to win.
Clinton strategist Paul Begala told the author, 'There was an ongoing effort to delegitimize him. Some on the right refused to call him President Clinton, called him "Mr Clinton" instead." He recalled that Congressman Dick Armey said on the floor of the House "he's your president."

And they used the fact that Clinton won with a plurality due to the Ross Perot candidacy as proof of his illegitimacy despite the fact that all the studies showed he took equally from both parties. On the day after the election Senator Bob Dole announced, "fifty-seven percent of the Americans who voted in the presidential elections voted against Bill Clinton and I intend to represent that majority on the floor of the US Senate." And so began the eight years of relentless investigations, scandal mongering, obstruction and finally impeachment.

This is how they operate when Democrats hold the White House. When they have a majority they will lean on investigations and "show" votes to delegitimize the moral authority of the president and create chaos and distraction. When they are in the minority they will obstruct everything. In both cases they will  work to make the American people see a dysfunctional government that takes their money and offers precious little in return.

If the election were held today, Hillary Clinton would win with less than 50% of the vote.  It would be a perfectly legitimate win, as was her husband's in 1992, Richard Nixon's in 1968 and Harry Truman, Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln before her. But I think you can see how that is likely to be interpreted by the Republicans. They no longer assume they are in the midst of a thousand year reign, but they have rationalized that by creating the myth of rampant African American voter fraud and hordes of undocumented immigrants voting illegally. She will not be seen as legitimate.

They were very successful at pushing their juicy narratives of corruption and personal misconduct into the mainstream 20 years ago and with the 24 hour news cycle and social media pressures, the press is even less likely to resist today. This is why you see calls for a special prosecutor and wild claims of treason and illegality. If the Republicans manage to keep control of one or more house of congress, they will have a platform from which to run their scandal circus and their own media will prime the MSM pump.

It's already happening with the State Department emails which have been gathered by right wing organizations for the express purpose of feeding the scandal machine. You can see the outlines of how the mutually reinforcing feedback loops works from Sunday's Face the Nation in which congressman Jason Chaffetz cites a discredited AP report about the Clinton Foundation as proof of corruption and promises thorough investigations in the next congress. Likewise Meet the Press in which Clinton's speech condemning Trump's incestuous relationship with the Alt-right was presented as equivalent to Trump's incestuous relationship with the alt-right and characterized it as a "race to the bottom."

There is a bigger concern, however and one that gets more acute every time this happens. This cynical delegitimizing of the duly elected president ends up delegitimizing our democracy in general. And it's getting downright dangerous. Trump's "second amendment" remedy talk and the incessant demands to "lock her up" are taking this way beyond even the political trench warfare of the 1990s and the gridlock of the last eight years. These are barely disguised calls for violence. The political media should be very wary of being used as couriers for that message.


Stock up on popcorn

by Tom Sullivan

Photo by cyclonebill (Popcorn) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

As the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates prepare for their debates, they are bringing in expert advice, the New York Times reports:

Hillary Clinton’s advisers are talking to Donald J. Trump’s ghostwriter of “The Art of the Deal,” seeking insights about Mr. Trump’s deepest insecurities as they devise strategies to needle and undermine him in four weeks at the first presidential debate, the most anticipated in a generation.

Her team is also getting advice from psychology experts to help create a personality profile of Mr. Trump to gauge how he may respond to attacks and deal with a woman as his sole adversary on the debate stage.
With Trump's lack of impulse control, even knowing what's coming won't help him. Besides, this guy doesn't prepare for anything except a strong breeze.
He has been especially resistant to his advisers’ suggestions that he take part in mock debates with a Clinton stand-in. At their first session devoted to the debate, on Aug. 21 at Mr. Trump’s club in Bedminster, N.J., the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham was on hand to offer counsel and, if Mr. Trump was game, to play Mrs. Clinton, said Trump advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the debate preparations were supposed to be kept private. He declined.
Questioning Trump's net worth and intelligence and business prowess are possible lines of attack. Ghostwiter Tony Schwartz told the Times Trump will bring "nothing but bluster" to the debates, and nothing of substance:
“Even so,” Mr. Schwartz said, “Clinton has to be careful — she could get everything right and still potentially lose the debates if she comes off as too condescending, too much of a know-it-all.”
That's what did in Al Gore in his first debate with George W. Bush in 2000. For the Clinton campaign, those who fail to learn the lessons of history, and so forth.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Surely, he’s joking: R.I.P. Gene Wilder

By Dennis Hartley

I guess I must have been in shock.

When I received a text from Digby asking if I’d heard about Gene Wilder, I steeled myself and immediately queried Mr. Google. There it was. But I refused to believe it. This just couldn’t be. That’s when I began a one-sided argument with my, erm…laptop:

“Wait a minute. Gene Wilder is no longer with us? Are you saying, he is no longer with us? Is that what you’re telling me, that Gene Wilder…is no longer here? No longer here. He was here, but now, he is not? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME?!”


Sorry, but people that talented, that funny, are simply not allowed to just up and leave us.

Here are several reasons why, right off the top of my head:

Rest in peace, you bloody little genius.

More reviews at Den of Cinema

--Dennis Hartley

"I don't have a clue, Buh-lee-me"

by digby

When he says he approved the message? It doesn't mean he actually listened to it or understood it:

Donald Trump's new $10 million TV ad cites two contradictory tax plans -- one that Trump has explicitly ruled out and another that he has yet to endorse -- raising more questions about what policies the GOP presidential nominee supports.

For the ad's claim that "working families get tax relief," it refers viewers not to an analysis of Trump's own tax proposals, but to a white paper by House GOP leaders about their own tax reform plan. Similarly, the next section promising "millions of new jobs" directs viewers to an analysis of the House GOP plan by the conservative Tax Foundation.

Trump has not endorsed the House GOP plan outright, but his new proposal, announced earlier this month, has some similarities. Most notably, they both advocate collapsing the tax code into three brackets with rates of 12%, 25%, and 33%. But there are also important differences: Washington Post columnist Allan Sloan reported that Trump's plan would preserve a deduction on business loans that the House GOP plan would scrap that would save up to $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years.

Things get even more confusing as the commercial continues. The ad's next two claims that Trump would make "wages go up" and "small businesses thrive" refer to his old tax plan from last year, which had drastically different rates, including a 0% bracket at the bottom and a top rate of 25%. The on-screen citation directs viewers to a Tax Foundation analysis of that now-defunct proposal from September 2015.

Trump erased his old plan from his website shortly before he announced his new one in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club earlier this month. It has far fewer details, though Trump has promised more are coming, and it has not been analyzed by the Tax Foundation.

So does Trump support the House Republican plan? Does he support his old plan? Does he support neither of them?

Whatever. It's pretty clear that he has no idea what he's talking about and his followers certainly don't care. This looks like some consultants wanted to get cut and just putting something out to me.

Hillary Clinton ain't got no smarts either

by digby

The New York Times reports:
Mr. Trump is so disliked among college-educated voters, especially white women, that he is at risk of losing by double digits in several districts that the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, carried comfortably.
I'm going to take a wild guess that this isn't going to help:

Keep calling an obviously intelligent woman dumb, Donald. And be sure to mention how she can't keep her man satisfied. College educated women especially love it when men do that. Buh-lee-me.

Is Rudy running for something?

by digby

Because he sure can't stop bragging about his record:
Beyoncé rocked the house last night with her performance at the VMA’s, but former mayor and current Queen Bey critic Rudy Giuliani was not quite so impressed. 
Giuliani appeared on Monday morning’s Fox & Friends, where he was invited to talk about how Beyoncé used her show as an opportunity once again to make a statement on police brutality towards African Americans. Ainsley Earhardt pointed out how the pop idol invited the Mothers of the Movement as her honorary guests, and that her segment began by depicting her backup dancers as angelic figures shot dead one at a time by cops. 
“I ran the largest and best police department in the world, the New York City Police Department,” Giuliani opined. “I saved more black lives than any of those people you saw on stage.”

He didn't actually run the police department, but whatever. More importantly, he hasn't held public office in 15 years and as far as I know he isn't running for one now. So why in the hell is he constantly on TV talking about his resume? He's supposed to be talking up his buddy Donald Trump.

If I didn't know better I'd think he was jealous.

Also, he's full of it. His tenure was horrible:
When he was reelected to his second mayoral term in November 1997, New York's Rudy Giuliani stood before the television cameras on election night and, Nixonesque, his arms making a "V" in the air, exalted, "I am the king of the world.," By the following spring, however it was not royalty but a fascist dictator to which Giuliani was being openly compared. Jokes about Benito Giuliani swept through city streets and tabloid newsprint faster than fires through Florida. The governor's office joined in. Even the congenitally sober New York Times asked on the front page of its Metro section whether Giuliani was the Mussolini of Manhattan. Little Hitler jokes were just as liberally sprinkled in especillyt after the mayor announced that he had earmarked $15.1 million of the city budget to build himself a bunker --- a bombproof "emergency control center" --- on the twenty-third floor of a World Trade center building.
There weren't very many African American and Latino New Yorkers thanking him.

QOTD: Rush

by digby

On Huma Abedin:
"She's presumably she's going to be Hillary's chief of staff. But she has not been chief of her husband's staff."
If she'd have kept her man happy this wouldn't have happened, amirite?

Trump thinks the NSA is a political arm of the presidency

by digby

I wrote about his latest atrocity for Salon today:

We've been documenting Donald Trump's scary authoritarian tendencies since he announced his run for president but it doesn't seem to be something that's really sunk in. One suspects that if he were to be elected some people would come to regret not taking seriously. A president can summon a lot of power in this regard if he chooses, particularly if he can create a sense of urgent danger among the population, something for which Donald Trump has a demonstrated talent.

From the very first week, he's talked about forced deportation of millions of people and building the Great Wall of Trump both of which evoke images of totalitarian states. This has not been something that anyone in American politics seriously discussed until this campaign but it's now a mainstream Republican policy proposal opposed by many, to be sure, but mostly on practical grounds. When asked how we would know who to deport, Trump routinely says, "the police know who they are." Over the week-end he said "we are going to get rid of the criminals and it's going to happen within one hour after I take office, we start, okay?" His campaign manager says the details are "to be determined."

It doesn't end there, of course.  There's the promise to institute surveillance on Mosques, ban Muslims (recently changed to something he calls "extreme, extreme vetting) "take out" or otherwise use the families of terrorist suspects to extract information, reinstitute waterboarding and "much worse" (possibly even "chopping off heads" to fight fire with fire) summary executions, (sometimes with bullets dipped in pigs blood to scare the Muslims) and more. In a presidential debate he said he would order the military to torture and they would follow his orders. Days later he was forced by someone, we still don't know who, to admit that he could not unilaterally order troops to commit war crimes. (We also know that there is some recent precedent for getting around that ...)

You really don't need to know anything more than this to understand what a dangerous authoritarian Trump is:
Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. In a heartbeat. I would approve more than that. It works. And if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they do to us.
His obsession with police authority and intention to let them take off the gloves is well known going all the way back to the 1980s: "Let our politicians give back our police department the power to keep us safe. Unshackle them from the constant chant of "police brutality" which every petty criminal hurls immediately at an officer who has just risked his or her life to save an other's."  He has not changed his view even slightly since then.

However, there is yet another dimension to Trump's authoritarianism that's just as chilling and perhaps even more sinister when you consider how much secrecy surrounds the programs he's talking about. Daniel Marans at the Huffington Post reported:
“I hear the NSA maybe has the emails,” Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News’ “On The Record.” “A lot of people say the NSA would have the emails if they really wanted to get them.” 
“Obviously they don’t want to get them,” he added. “They’re protecting her, they’re coddling her. And it’s the only way she could even consider running.” 
“She knows what was on those emails and it was very, very bad,” he said. “And maybe somebody should, in fact, ask the NSA whether or not they have the emails.”
There were many reasons why civil libertarians were apoplectic at the revelation the NSA was storing all emails of American citizens when the Edward Snowden documents were published. Aside from general privacy concerns, the possibility of government authorities accessing the information without probable cause to suspect terrorism was alarming. But nothing was more threatening to the fundamental health of our democracy than the possibility of government officials accessing this information for political purposes. And here we have the Republican nominee for president in 2016 saying that the NSA is coddling his rival by failing to release copies of her personal emails to the public, emails he darkly insinuates must contain something "very, very bad." Indeed, he claims she couldn't possibly even run for office if they weren't protecting her.  The mind boggles.

But then Trump's mentor in life was Joseph McCarthy's chief henchman Roy Cohn, a man Trump once called his most loyal friend, "a man who would brutalize for you." Trump obviously also admired his friend's  use of government power to investigate people's personal lives for evidence of espionage and treason as well as personal sexual history and anything else worth blackmailing them over. He and McCarthy were best known for the smearing of people for alleged Communist sympathies which may have inspired Trump's own personal character assassination of President Obama back in 2011 when he stoked the birther movement into a full-fledged crusade. The result of that insane smear is that according to a recent NBC poll, a shocking 72% of Republicans still doubt that the president was born in the US.

And Trump has long had an affinity for Richard Nixon, the original "law and order" president who was disgraced and run from office for, among other things, using the power of the presidency to punish his political enemies. In fact, before Trump started suggesting that the NSA is covering for Clinton by failing to release their copies of all her personal emails to public, Trump also insisted that the Russian government must have them as well and he made his bizarre invitation to them to release them to the press which ,combined with his pleasure at the DNC hacking, had some disquieting echoes of the Watergate break-in itself.

This is a man who promises to put his opponent in jail if he wins the presidency: "I will say this, Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail. Folks, honestly, she's guilty as hell." I'm not positive but I suspect that may be unprecedented in presidential campaign history. These are the rantings of an authoritarian dictator.

If he loses we will probably chalk up his candidacy to some sort of tear in the electoral matrix. But shouldn't it be just a bit troubling that these anti-democratic ideas are so enthusiastically supported by tens of millions of our fellow Americans?

The press conference scandal

by digby

“A campaign is as close as an adult can get to duplicating college life and Bush wasn’t just any old breezy frat brother with mediocre grades…He was proud of it. Gore elicited in us the childish urge to poke a stick in the eye of the smarty-pants. Bush elicited self-recognition.” 
“As he propped his rolled-up sleeves on the seat back in front of me, his body leaning into the conversation, he waggled his eyebrows up and down like Groucho Marx, mugging across the aisle. There were Dove bars and designer water on demand and a bathroom stocked like Martha Stewart’s guest suite. Dinner at seven featured lobster ravioli.” 
"Gore wanted the snacks to be environmentally and nutritionally correct, but somehow granola bars ended up giving way to Fruit Roll-Ups and the sandwiches came wrapped and looked long past their sell-by date. On a lucky day, someone would remember to buy supermarket doughnuts. By contrast, a typical day of food on Air Bush…consisted of five meals with access to a sixth, if you count grazing at a cocktail bar. Breakfast one was French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon… Reporter Margaret Carlson in her book "Anyone Can Grow Up: How George Bush and I Made It to the White House"
For the record, I think Hillary Clinton should do more press conferences. As a matter of fact, I think she should do them every single day, and she should let them on her plane and she should feed them Dove bars and lobster and hang around with them reading People Magazine and talking about the Real Housewives (the "girl version" of being George W. Bush) or whatever else will make them happy. It's not too much to ask.

As it happens President Obama angered the press with his lack of traditional access too:
Obama was stingy with newspaper interviews when he first came to the White House in 2009, but the well has nearly dried up since the 2010 midterm elections. He spoke with USA Today and the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk during the campaign last year and had an off-the-record talk (later made public) with the Des Moines Register’s editorial board in October.

Each of those interviews had strategic value. USA Today is a national paper with the second-largest circulation (after the Wall Street Journal). The Virginia and Iowa papers are in states that were critical to Obama’s reelection chances. (Despite the rare interviews, the Register endorsed Mitt Romney for president; the Pilot made no endorsement).

But most of the nation’s biggest papers, whose reporters cover the White House every day, have remained on the outside looking in. The Washington Post landed its last on-the-record meeting with the president nearly four years ago, as did the Wall Street Journal; the New York Times last got to him in the fall of 2010. The Boston Globe has never had an interview while Obama was in office, nor has the Los Angeles Times, according to the Nexis database and the newspapers. Even Obama’s hometown papers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, have been stiffed.

What’s more, despite a string of interviews with ethnic broadcasters, including Telemundo and Univision recently, Obama has never consented to an interview with any member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, an organization consisting of 210 African-American-owned newspapers, said Robert W. Bogle, the organization’s former president. Obama and George W. Bush were the first presidents who haven’t done so since Franklin Roosevelt, notes Bogle, the chief executive of the Philadelphia Tribune.

The cold shoulder from the White House has led, predictably, to expressions of disappointment among newspaper journalists.
I don't know why these politicians refuse to do more press. It seems like it's just part of he job to me. But lets not pretend its all about about "getting information" ok?

Journalist Tim Fernholtz calls them chances for reporter showboating and doesn't think they're particularly illuminating. He also did something interesting. He went back to the last press conference with the political press corps (there have been more recent ones with black and Latino journalists which don't count apparently) to see what important questions were asked that couldn't have been asked in any other format.

“Do you think banning gun sales to people on the no-fly list would have prevented any of these massacres [including] San Bernardino?”

Is this a dumb question? Yes. US officials already said the perpetrators were not on any watch list the day before; Clinton had long endorsed preventing gun sales to people on the no-fly list.

Did Clinton answer it?
No. “I don’t know exactly what it would have or could have prevented.”

Did anyone follow up?

“Do you think the Fed is using the right criteria to assess the health of the job market? And is there anything else they should be doing? And are we ready for a rate increase?”

Is this a dumb question?
No. It’s an important one. Politicians don’t talk enough about the Federal Reserve.

Did Clinton answer it?
No. Most US politicians refuse to talk about the Fed, in a nod to the institution’s independence. Clinton is no different: “I’m not going to comment on their decision making.”

Did anyone follow up?

“[Are mass shootings] a mental health issue as well?”

Is this a dumb question. Yes.

Did Clinton answer it? Of course. “You’re absolutely right.”

Did anyone follow up?

“As a former secretary of state, are you confident enough in the system of checks and balances on that visa waiver program?”

Is this a dumb question? No. The potential for terrorists to take advantage of relaxed travel rules with friendly European countries is worrisome, and Clinton has relevant experience.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “If you look at the kinds of crimes that were committed by this woman and her husband, or the 9/11 hijackers, visas are a problem,” she said. “And we have to look at that, see what we need to do to tighten up requirements, do better information-sharing with other countries.”

Did anyone follow up? No. But the Obama information would tighten the rules around visas the following month.

“Could you briefly summarize how you would pay for your proposal to create jobs in the country?”

Is this a dumb question? Yes.

Did Clinton answer it? No. “I can’t briefly summarize, but I will certainly send you a long list, and a lot of it is on my website.”

Did anyone follow up? No. It’s on her website.

“You mentioned combating ISIS online in your speech today. Have we become too sensitive to civil liberty arguments post-Snowden, given what we saw happened in [San Bernardino]?”

Is this a dumb question? No.

Did Clinton answer it? Kind of. She referred to the balancing act between liberty and security, before noting that terror groups “run multiple Twitter accounts… I don’t know that we would let that continue if we were dealing with a criminal network. Why should we let it continue if we’re dealing with a terrorist network?”

Did anyone follow up? No.

“Do you regret calling for gun control in the wake of the attack now knowing what you know about the terrorists?”

Is this a dumb question?
Yes. At that point, no new information had been revealed about how the terrorists had obtained their weapons.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “Not at all. We don’t know how they got that arsenal inside their house.” Later, the public would learn the San Bernardino shooters used legally purchased AR-15 style rifles that they modified in violation of gun-safety laws.

Did anyone follow up? No.

“Madam secretary, do you still have confidence in the mayor in the city where you were born?”

Is this a dumb question? No. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, a longtime Clinton ally, was embroiled in a scandal around his handling of a young black man murdered by police.

Did Clinton answer it?
Yes. “I do.”

Did anyone follow up?

So really, she shouldn't avoid them and I frankly don't see why she does. Just do it, Hillary. It will be fine.

The "Deep Story"

by Tom Sullivan

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you're being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He's on their side. In fact, isn't he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It's not your government anymore; it's theirs.
Arlie Hochschild crafted that narrative after spending years among poor, white T-party members in Louisiana. "You read my mind," one of the interviewees told her. It's their truthiness, their "feels-as-if-it's-true" story of how and why Real Americans like themselves are struggling. For many, it is as if they are strangers in their own land, Hochschild writes at Mother Jones. (You need to read this.)

They feel shame at seeing their jobs and livelihoods slip away. They feel looked down on by the "liberal elite." For the last-place averse, the privilege they themselves once had of having Others to look down on has evaporated with their jobs. Even the insurance salesperson Hochschild got to know is uneasy about her own relative comfort. That too could easily slip away.

Donald Trump offers them a way out or at least around seeing themselves as untouchables should circumstances force them to take government assistance. Since the 1960s, their incomes have gone flat, their marriages are in ruins, and they spend more time watching TV and sleeping. Conservative political scientist Charles Murray explains it as a loss of morals. Hochschild disagrees. That's not a loss of morals, but a loss of morale:
Trump, the King of Shame, has covertly come to the rescue. He has shamed virtually every line-cutting group in the Deep Story—women, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, refugees. But he's hardly uttered a single bad word about unemployment insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid, or what the tea party calls "big government handouts," for anyone—including blue-collar white men.

In this feint, Trump solves a white male problem of pride. Benefits? If you need them, okay. He masculinizes it. You can be "high energy" macho—and yet may need to apply for a government benefit. As one auto mechanic told me, "Why not? Trump's for that. If you use food stamps because you're working a low-wage job, you don't want someone looking down their nose at you." A lady at an after-church lunch said, "If you have a young dad who's working full time but can't make it, if you're an American-born worker, can't make it, and not having a slew of kids, okay. For any conservative, that is fine."
For Real Americans like me, but not for thee. Trump has presented them with a smorgasbord of Others to look down upon. And in so doing making Real America feel great again. Up against the wall, Deadbeat Other.

Two other treatments of this topic came to mind. In "The Great Derangement," the often sardonic Matt Taibbi was surprising in the sensitivity with which he treated a woman he'd befriended while undercover at an evangelical church in Texas. As much as anyone else, he found, people he met (IIRC, can't find my copy) were struggling for ways to process their pain. Annabel Park interviewed a father and son in Bakersville, NC for A Story of America. The preview clip ends [timestamp 4:20] with with the son wondering whether because of the stigma he himself attaches to government aid neighbors would look down on him if he accepted disability for his injured arm. This in a tiny town where there is no work anyway. He starts to condemn "the few out there" who are undeserving but catches himself. "Now that I think about it, I'm actually judging people that I don't really know."

That is a key takeaway. The majority of Trump's support as Ryan Lizza reported is among people with “limited interactions with racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and college graduates," according to economist Jonathan Rothwell:
This analysis provides clear evidence that those who view Trump favorably are disproportionately living in racially and culturally isolated zip codes and commuting zones. Holding other factors constant, support for Trump is highly elevated in areas with few college graduates, far from the Mexican border, and in neighborhoods that stand out within the commuting zone for being white, segregated enclaves, with little exposure to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.
It's a lot easier to hate faceless groups than it is people whose stories you actually know.

Update: A couple of catches by sharp readers have been corrected. Thx.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

QOTD: who else?

by digby

Trump personally tweeted out this racist bilgewater to his millions of followers

Even in the 1970s the following was considered straight up racist. In fact, non-racists did not talk this way. Ever.
"Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." Trump at first denied the remarks, but later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that "the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true."

There's a long list of his racist statements and actions over the years.  Not that it isn't obvious.  He's a throwback. He sounds like someone who grew up in the 1920s.

"Well, somebody's doing the raping ..."

by digby

A new poll by the Pew Research Center shows that 67 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants are more likely than citizens to commit serious crimes, data that may hearten Donald Trump given the Republican presidential nominee’s tough stance on illegal immigration.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland earlier this summer featured speeches by parents whose children were killed by illegal immigrants. 

It just stands to reason that all those horrible immigrants are criminals because it's all you ever hear about. It's wrong, of course:

—"Foreign-born individuals exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course." (Bianca Bersani, University of Massachusetts, 2014. Published in Justice Quarterly.)

— "There’s essentially no correlation between immigrants and violent crime." (Jörg Spenkuch, Northwestern University, 2014. Published by the university.) He did find a small correlation between immigration and property crime, but only a slight one.

— "[I]mmigrants are underrepresented in California prisons compared to their representation in the overall population. In fact, U.S.-born adult men are incarcerated at a rate over two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." (Public Policy Institute of California, 2008.)

— "[D]ata from the census and a wide range of other empirical studies show that for every ethnic group without exception, incarceration rates among young men are lowest for immigrants, even those who are the least educated. This holds true especially for the Mexicans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans, who make up the bulk of the undocumented population." (Ruben Rumbaut, University of California, 2008. Published by the Police Foundation.)

— "Analyses of data collected from four Southwest states and the U.S. Census show that the perceived size of the undocumented immigrant population, more so than the actual size of the immigrant population and economic conditions, is positively associated with perceptions of undocumented immigrants as a criminal threat." (Xia Wang, Arizona State University, 2014. Published in Criminology.)
In case you were wondering about the latest on Trump's immigration "policy":
His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said immigrants who entered the country illegally would likely first have to return home before applying through legal channels. A so-called touchback provision was floated during the 2007 Senate immigration reform debate.

“We need to have a fair and humane way of addressing the fact that 11 million — or we don’t even know the number — 11 million, or so it’s estimated, illegal immigrants live among us,” Conway told Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday.”

“What he has said is no legalization and no amnesty,” she said of Trump’s immigration stance. “He also said this week, Chris, if you go back to your home country, and if you’d like to come back to the United States as an immigrant, you need to apply through the many different channels that allow people to apply for citizenship or entry into the United States legally.”

Here's a translation: "Yes Trump wants to deport millions of people, including children, but we know it's controversial so we're speaking gobbldygook in order to allow some voters to lie to themselves about what they're voting for."

Pence and trade and Trump's national pride

by digby

So I watched a program on CNN this week-end about the Carrier plant leaving Indiana for Mexico and it was very sad. More than a thousand people lost their jobs and they all seem to think they will not ever find another one like it. Trump has talked a lot about this on the trail, blaming NAFTA and Obama and Clinton for the job losses and declaring that he would immediately hit any manufacturer with huge tariffs who tried to do that which would cow them into staying in the future. The workers in the story all believed him.

Somebody really ought to ask Trump and his running mate about this (Which they probably will since it was flagged for the media by the DNC):

As Donald Trump’s running mate, Gov. Mike Pence is campaigning for a man who has promised to penalize companies that ship jobs overseas.

But since Pence became governor in 2013, the state has awarded millions of dollars in economic development incentives to companies that have moved production to foreign countries such as Mexico and China. Those production shifts have cost thousands of Hoosiers their jobs during Pence’s time in office.

An IndyStar analysis found that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation — which Pence leads — has approved $24 million in incentives to 10 companies that sent work to foreign countries. Of those incentives, nearly $8.7 million has been paid out so far.

During that same period, those companies terminated or announced layoffs of more than 3,800 Hoosier workers while shifting production to other countries, where labor tends to be far less expensive.

The state has clawed back or put a hold on some or all of the incentives in four of those cases, returning $746,000 in taxpayer subsidies. But in the other six cases, the companies faced no consequences.

The primary reason: The job creation and retention requirements in the state’s incentive agreements are usually narrowly tailored to a single facility, leaving workers at other sites owned by the same company vulnerable to offshoring.

Take, for example, handbag maker Vera Bradley. The company was approved in December 2014 for a $1.75 million, 10-year tax break to assist with a $26.6 million expansion of its headquarters and distribution center in Roanoke, near Fort Wayne. In exchange, the company agreed to retain 567 employees and add 128 jobs by the end of 2017.

But the following year, the company closed its New Haven design center and moved production to factories in Asia to save money. The factory’s 250 employees, who worked just 15 miles from the Roanoke headquarters, lost their jobs.

Vera Bradley has claimed about $118,000 in tax credits so far and remains in compliance with its state incentive agreement, said Abby Gras, an IEDC spokeswoman, in an email. The company now employs slightly more than 600 workers in Roanoke, a spokeswoman for the company said. That’s a net loss of more than 200 jobs across the company’s Fort Wayne area operations.

Pence, who has been campaigning for Trump across the country since accepting the Republican vice presidential nomination in July, did not respond to interview requests for this story left with his office and campaign staff.

But his commerce secretary, Victor Smith, sent a statement to IndyStar defending the state’s economic development record and noting that 150,000 jobs have been added since Pence took office.

Carrier was among those companies that received incentive money although Pence got the company to pay it back once the video of the layoff being announced (which got Trump all excited) went viral. But there are a bunch of other companies in Indiana which have done the same and pocketed the cash.

The point is that this problem is not confined to the trade deals or to any politician. It's much bigger than that. It's easy to take a shot at government for failing to protect workers, and there's plenty of blame there, but we are dealing with a complicated problem with a lot of moving parts (so to speak...)

Meanwhile, the Republicans are pulling the wool over people's eyes as usual:

Pence has said in the past he supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump opposes. More recently, Pence says he would support renegotiating trade agreements with Trump in the White House because he believes Trump could negotiate better deals.

Political observers say Pence’s actions as governor raise new questions about the true extent of his support for Trump’s trade policies.

“To the extent that there is any daylight between them, one has to wonder what Mike Pence’s true thoughts are,” said Robert Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville. “In the event they disagree, you have to wonder, has Mike Pence changed his position or is he simply doing what a VP nominee must do to be part of a national ticket? That’s the million dollar question.”

The seemingly different approaches to companies that offshore jobs are also a study in what kind of constituency each candidate appeals to, Dion said.

“The real thing you’re getting at is the gulf between the chamber of commerce Republican crowd and the populist appeal of Trump,” Dion said. “What Trump is speaking to is that populist anger and frustration. I think what the evidence shows is that Mike Pence — like a lot of Republican governors and some Democrats have done — has worked with the chamber of commerce and business leaders. That’s where the gulf is at.”

Oddly, the one area in which Trump is sincere is his belief that the rest of the world is laughing at Americans because of our allegedly terrible trade deals. But keep in mind that his solution is to stick huge tariffs on American companies that manufacture overseas and drive wages down in the US to keep prices low so they can "compete." It's a huge mistake to believe this has something to do with the plight of the American worker. This has to do with "national pride" which isn't the same thing at all.


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