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Hillary’s debate prep

I must admit that I had the same reaction as Atrios when I read this in the New York Times:

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.

They are undertaking a forensic-style analysis of Mr. Trump’s performances in the Republican primary debates, cataloging strengths and weaknesses as well as trigger points that caused him to lash out in less-than-presidential ways.

The Clinton camp believes that Mr. Trump is most insecure about his intelligence, his net worth and his image as a successful businessman, and those are the areas they are working with Mrs. Clinton to target.

I mentioned it to my wife, but after a little reflection, I came to the conclusion that it probably makes sense to tip him off in advance to the targets, because it’s more likely than not to eat away at him until the debates, at which time he’ll come unhinged. This is a guy, after all, who spent years trying to convince Graydon Carter, formerly of Spy Magazine, that he did not, in fact, have short fingers. These things eat away at him. He is more likely to act out if given advance warning than if he had none. That’s my take anyway, and I’m assuming it’s what the Clinton folks are thinking. At least I hope it’s what they’re thinking, and what their experts are telling them, because if not, they’ve quite possibly made a major mistake.

Today’s Euphemism: the alt-right

I don’t know where the term “alt-right” originated, but it masks the reality, like so many right wing buzzwords. “Pro-life”, “ethic cleansing”, “school choice”, “job creators”, and “death tax” come to mind.

When a new word is substituted for the tried and true, it hides the reality, because it is free of the associations that ride on the back of the old terms. In the case of the “alt-right” we have a virtual smorgasbord of terms that are more appropriate: racist; fascist; misogynistic, come to mind right away.

It is also emphatically the case that the media loves to adopt neutral sounding terminology for purveyors of hate; it makes their primary job: casting each side as equally bad, so much easier. Of course, that doesn’t apply to Fox, but that’s okay, since they’re in the tank for Republicans, who forced the rest of the media into the false equivalence pose in the first place.

Here’s a bit of the process at work. A Trump surrogate argues on air that Hillary is herself a bigot for branding every member of the alt-right as a racist because, after all, not everyone who reads the Huffington Post is a communist, so not every Breitbart reader is a racist. They’re not racists, they’re just “God-fearing, baby-loving, gun-toting, military-supporting, school choice-advocating Americans!”.

Can you spot the logical flaw there? If not, stop reading this blog, you just can’t cut it.

This particular racist got some pushback when he spewed this bullshit, but one must ask why someone is permitted on air to mouth this nonsense in the first place. Apparently, it is now the standard line: How dare you imply that a movement that explicitly appeals to bigotry is totally infested with bigots, when it’s entirely possible that some of those bigots are not omni-bigoted, but are more focused in their bigotry.

But this fellow inadvertently pointed to something that is a bit of a departure for the Democrats. I haven’t read Hillary’s speech, but from what I hear, this racist was right: she made the connections fairly clear. She called the “alt-right” out for exactly what it is. It is to be hoped that the Democrats will continue to do so, by linking the term every time they use it with something people already understand. While they’re doing it, they should be attacking the broadcast media (the print media has been much better) for its failure to do the same. The beltway media won’t change its behavior unless it comes under the same sort of attack from the Democrats as the Republicans have used against it for years.

I’m flattered, but…

One thing you can say for our Republican State Rep, John Scott: He may or may not be voting for Donald Trump, but like the Donald, he can’t stop himself from replying to any tweet or Facebook post that targets him, even when most people with an ounce of sense would see an advantage in staying mum.

Check our this screenshot from the Groton Democrat’s Facebook page:

First of all, John, I’m flattered. While I would be proud to claim authorship, I didn’t write that post, though I confess I know who wrote it and actually did see it before it went up. I thought it should be a letter to the Editor, or maybe to Dave Collins, who still hasn’t caught up to you to have you weasel out of answering directly to him.

But, let me respond as if I did write it. Here’s the thing, John, I’ll defend Malloy when I think he’s right, and attack him when I think he’s wrong. I’ll admit right out front that I voted for him in 2014 because, as is always the case, the Democrat was head and shoulders better than the alternative (that would be the Republican, John). Heck, he’s offended me most in his support for the charter school/school privitization movement, and there’s no question that his opponent would have been even worse.

But, John. I’ve watched Donald Trump, I’ve heard Donald Trump, and Dan Malloy is no Donald Trump. He’s not a racist homophobe, who, if he performs as promised during the campaign, will lead America down the road to fascism. Any person running for public office in this country, from the Senate to dog catcher, owes his or her potential constituents an accounting of whether that candidate wants to take us down that road. You’re just afraid of offending the base, John. Why don’t you just admit it instead of trying to change the subject, like you Republicans always do. There are times, and this is one of them, when the public has a right to expect a politician to put their own interests aside, and…, you know,…do what’s right. Oh, and if you do see the light, try to bring Andre and Heather along. I would really like to know if Andre supports the racist at the top of his ticket, or Heather supports the misogynist.

A curious thing

Democrats keep saying that voter fraud is extremely rare, but that statement is not quite true. There apparently is a lot of voter fraud, committed mainly by people who are convinced that voting fraud by “those people” is rampant. Latest case in point:

Donald Trump’s new presidential campaign chief is registered to vote in a key swing state at an empty house where he does not live, in an apparent breach of election laws.

Stephen Bannon, the chief executive of Trump’s election campaign, has an active voter registration at the house in Miami-Dade County, Florida, which is vacant and due to be demolished to make way for a new development.

“I have emptied the property,” Luis Guevara, the owner of the house, which is in the Coconut Grove section of the city, said in an interview. “Nobody lives there … we are going to make a construction there.” Neighbors said the property had been abandoned for several months.

via The Guardian

Other notable fraudsters: Ann Coulter and James O’Keefe. In O’Keefe’s case, he commits voter fraud while in the act of trying to prove that it exists; something he always fails to do, except in the deluded minds of the far right.

So, it is a problem, and if we could put a stop to it the Republicans would lose some votes.

Those were the days

It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t that long ago that the United States of America was capable of rational environmental action. But it was, and though it gets little attention, we are reaping the benefits of our past rationality:

It’s the beginning of the end for the Antarctic ozone hole. A new analysis shows that, on average, the hole — which forms every Southern Hemisphere spring, letting in dangerous ultraviolet light — is smaller and appears later in the year than it did in 2000.

The 1987 global treaty called the Montreal Protocol sought to reduce the ozone hole by banning chlorofluorocarbons, chlorine-containing chemicals — used as refrigerants in products such as air conditioners — that accelerated ozone loss in the stratosphere. The study shows that it worked.

“We as a planet have avoided what would have been an environmental catastrophe,” says Susan Solomon, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and a pioneer in the field of Antarctic ozone loss. “Yay us!”

via Scientific American

If things continue along our present path, the ozone hole will close by 2060. I’ll be dead by then, but it’s nice to know that my kids and their kids (still hoping) won’t have an ozone hole to worry about. All because 29 years ago, the world came together and did the right thing, something it could not have done absent U.S. leadership and involvement. I mean, there was even a Republican president, Saint Ronnie, who was a terrible president but at least capable of listening to scientists.

Republicans were not exactly rational back then, but they were not totally batshit crazy like they are now. So, it’s unlikely that 29 years from now someone at MIT will be saying “Yay us!” about our response to climate change, though I suppose there’s always hope. There are a lot of people who have a lot to answer for. I almost wish there were a hell, so people like Tom Coburn could go there.

Trump’s future?

This got me thinking when I read it:

Minutes ago Conor Friedersdorf published a piece in The Atlantic speculating that when the Trumpanzee loses his consolation prize may be a whole new right wing media juggernaut, “that challenges Fox News for supremacy on the right across all platforms.” Even discounting Mercer, he wrote that “If today’s polls hold through election day, Trump and associates will be proved failures at electoral politics. But even if that proves so, I wouldn’t bet against a right-wing media behemoth that brought together Trump, Roger Ailes, Stephen Bannon, Ann Coulter, Matt Drudge, and Sarah Palin” and reminds us that O’Reilly, Hannity and Greta Van Susteren could all legally follow Ailes if they want to.

via Down with Tyranny

I pride or delude myself (depending on your point of view) that I’m able to game out how things will play out under certain conditions. I was right, for instance, when I predicted way back in 2013 that 2016 would be the year when the whackos finally got their man.

But, I’m having trouble gaming out how this would play out. Imagine, two Fox Networks, battling for the same (we are told) rapidly dying viewership. One almost certainty is that one of them would go even further to the right than Fox is at present, perhaps to full blown, no holds barred, explicit racism and nativism. Would the other tack leftish? Or would they do battle with each other to see who could spiral further into the muck? And what would it do to the political conversation in this country. Would the rest of the media dutifully conclude that the center must have moved rightward and follow Fox and its new friend? Stay tuned, as it seems to me that there is a very real possibility that a defeated Trump will in fact take this path.

Giuliani explains

By now, everyone who has access to the Internet knows that Rudy “9/11, 24-7” Giuliani recently said this:

“Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States,” Giuliani said.

Now, looking at it logically, there are three possible reasons why Giuliani might have said this:

  1. He forgot about 9/11. Yes, I know, but we are talking about logical possibilities. If the multiverse theory is true, then there has to be at least one universe in which Giuliani could forget 9/11, if only for a moment, and there’s no reason why that particular lightning bolt couldn’t strike here.
  2. He was intentionally lying.
  3. He has, as a result of his interactions with the Trump campaign and Trump himself, descended into a delusional madness in which facts are fluid things, and in which a statement can be be both true and not true, in a way totally unlike the way Schodinger’s cat can be both dead and alive. Trump appears to be suffering from such a disease, and perhaps it is contagious.

Well Rudy has now spoken again, and we can apparently eliminate the first possibility, but it’s quite difficult to figure which of the other two applies:

I’m not there to give a major 45-minute policy address,“ he told the New York Daily News on Tuesday, referencing his introduction ahead of a speech by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on foreign policy.

“You speak in somewhat abbreviated language,” Giuliani said. “All human beings speak in abbreviated language at times.

“I didn’t forget 9/11. I hardly would. I almost died in it.” (Bloggers note: actually he didn’t. Other people did die, and lots of others almost died in it, but not Giuliani)

“Could I have repeated it at that point? In a way that you wouldn’t be asking me this question today? Sure,” he told the paper when asked if it was likely he would “find his foot in his mouth again.”

“But will I again say things in the future that can be taken out of context or misinterpreted? Of course I will,” Giuliani said.

via The Hill

Now, on the one hand, he is saying that he did in fact remember about 9/11 while he was speaking, so we can eliminate the “I forgot” defense. So, let’s turn to the other two possibilities.

Here’s the relevant definition of a lie, taken from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:

  1. An act or instance of lying; an intentional false statement; an untruth. oe.

So, at one point Giuliani is saying that he made a statement that he knew to be false at the time. That means he lied and the sentence within which he makes that statement can be read, in isolation, as an admission that he lied.

But the rest of the statement appears to veer toward the delusional belief in shape shifting truth. He was speaking in “abbreviated” language. I won’t bother you with the dictionary definition of “abbreviated”, but I can assure you that Giulani’s usage here is pathbreaking. It can only be interpreted to mean that when one speaks in an abbreviated fashion, one is licensed to ignore facts that are at variance with said abbreviated statement, making the abbreviated statement true in the moment it is uttered, albeit it may not be true when an unabbreviated statement is more in the speaker’s interest. Thus, 9/11 both did and did not happen, depending on which set of facts (or, perhaps, which multiverse) is more convenient to the narrative Giuliani is pushing today.

One can almost feel Giuliani’s pain here. Even Trump has never had to weasel out of a lie this big, and to be perfectly honest, given the fact that Giuliani ran for president on the platform of “I was in New York on 9/11 and therefore know how to deal with terrorists”, it is difficult to see how even the finest Republican spinmeisters could put lipstick on Giuliani’s pig. One has to wonder why Giuliani even spoke to the Daily News about his “gaffe”, if he couldn’t come up with anything better than the standard Trumpian “taken out of context or misinterpreted” excuse, particularly because it’s fairly obvious that the statement 1) hasn’t been taken out of context, and 2) can’t be misinterpreted.

Assuming Trump loses, he will be doing the country a big favor, as he will be destroying Giuliani in the process, not to mention Chris Christie and Mike Pence. Who knows, maybe Bill Clinton really is behind all this.

I just got an email

I have been getting lots of emails from the DNC, “begging” me for money, totally confused about why I have not responded to pleas from a galaxy of Democratic stars. My primary reason for not giving to the DNC is that it still has not removed the stench left by the recent exit of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

So, you can guess my reaction at what just came into my inbox. An email from Debbie herself, begging for money for her new PAC, “Democrats Win 2016”. She wants 500 new members real fast, and I even get a little gold card if I contribute. It would be interesting to know which “Democrats” will benefit from her largesse. I would click the “unsubscribe” link, but I’ve long since learned that in the world of politics, unsubscribing is really not an option.

If this captain goes down, he’ll take the ship with him

This is delicious:

More than 120 Republicans have drafted a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, begging him to cut off Trump.

“Given the catastrophic impact that Donald Trump’s losing presidential campaign will have on down-ballot Senate and House races, we urge you to immediately suspend all discretionary RNC support for Trump and focus the entirety of the RNC’s available resources on preserving the GOP’s congressional majorities,” says the letter, whose draft CBS reported on last week when there were already 70 signatures.

The extensive list of signatures includes sitting members of Congress, congressional aides, former RNC officials, and officials from every Republican administration dating back to Reagan.

via Daily Kos

Trump has already threatened to stop raising money for the RNC as an initial response to an early draft of the letter. But that’s not where the real danger lies.

Should the RNC actually dump Trump (how can you resist that rhyme), I would be willing to risk serious money on what his response would be. My guess is that he’d urge his Kool-Aid drenched followers to refuse to vote for vulnerable House and Senate Republicans, whom he would name. If Trump is going to go down, it’s an odds on bet that he’ll want to take as many Republicans down with him as possible. Then he can make the plausible (to him) case that he lost because the Republican Party is run by a bunch of losers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to game this out, so even Priebus is probably aware that he’s in a no-win situation. He’ll probably stick with Trump, though it would make for a pleasant night watching the returns if he followed this advice.

Keep in mind that should Trump go after endangered incumbents, which he’s already done on occasion, only a few percent of his followers would need to heed his advice in order to doom the endangered to extinction.

Ethically challenged John Scott flunks Trump Test

It’s not every day that a Republican Congressman is both less ethically challenged than my local State Representative and is, nonethless, facing ethics charges in the House, so I really must submit the facts to a candid world:

Texas Rep. Roger Williams is an auto dealer, and he has come under scrutiny by the House Ethics Committee over an amendment he offered to a wide-ranging transportation bill that would have allowed auto dealers to rent out vehicles even if they’re subject to recall. Williams has said the amendment was intended to address recalls aimed at trivial defects, but critics said it would apply more broadly.

via Talking Points Memo

The gravaman (look it up, it’s a word at least to lawyers) of the complaint is that Williams has a direct financial interest in the amendment.

Well, Williams is a piker, and his conflict of interest is remote, compared to that of Groton’s Republican representative, John Scott, about whom I’ve written before. Scott is an insurance agent, who is one of a few agents in the state who writes health insurance policies for UConn students. Here’s a summary of the bills John sponsored and co-sponsored as soon as he got elected:

Proposed H.B. No. 5062: “To require that the sale of a qualified health plan offered through the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange be transacted by an insurance producer.”

Proposed H.B. No. 5255: “To study the potential benefits of applying Medicaid funds to the cost of health insurance for college students who are eligible for Medicaid.”

Proposed H.B. No. 5354 :“ AN ACT PREVENTING STUDENTS OF INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION FROM OPTING OUT OF A STUDENT HEALTH CARE PLAN FOR PURPOSES OF QUALIFYING FOR MEDICAID.
To prevent an over reliance on Medicaid when an affordable health insurance alternative is available.”

Proposed H.B. No. 5497 : “AN ACT INCREASING THE MINIMUM FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY COVERAGE REQUIRED FOR PRIVATE PASSENGER MOTOR VEHICLES”

Maybe John should run for Congress. The New London Day, by the way, wrote one article about this blatant conflict, and then let the matter drop.

Speaking of John and the Day, faithful readers (if there are any) will recall that Dave Collins, a Republican touting columnist at the Day, recently made the mistake of saying that as far as he was concerned, any Republican running for office should be disqualified if he or she refused to denounce Donald Trump (the “Trump Test”). He hasn’t exactly walked that back; it’s more accurate to say that he has let the matter drop, since as it turns out, the Republicans he tried to contact avoided his calls or avoided the issue, and he let them get away with it. It’s apparently more important to elect Republicans than stop Donald Trump.

But the Groton Democrats haven’t forgotten, and they put up a post on their Facebook page demanding that Scott, and his fellow Republican candidates in the various Groton Districts, out themselves on the Trump test. Bizarrely, John chose to respond. Here’s what he had to say:

The President of the United States has no direct say over the day to day operations of the state of Connecticut. As the State Representative for the 40th district I will support the choice that my constituents make in this election and do my absolute best to serve their individual needs in Hartford. With respect to the Presidency, I see that there are three, perhaps four, choices that could be made. My decision will be made in the privacy of the voting booth as that is my right as a citizen of this country. If you want to know who I am supporting for state representative, state senate, or in future years governor; then that is fair game.

Well, it so happens I was listening to Randy Newman’s Faust, (a vastly under appreciated album, by the way) earlier today, and John’s comment brought to mind these lyrics Randy sings in his role as the Devil, as he calls out God:

In all my life

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard such bullshit

Even from You

A master of bullshit

You know it

I know it

It’s bullshit

Bullshit

In case I haven’t made myself clear, John’s comment was pure bullshit. I doubt that Dave Collins reads this blog, inasmuch as I’m a Democrat. But if he does, or if someone brings it to his attention, I believe it is fair to say that John has not passed the Trump test, and Dave should make that known, and should urge his readers to vote for Chris Conley, Scott’s very able opponent. I can assure Dave that Chris will willingly take and pass the Trump test. I’m not holding by breath on this though, as, like Randy’s God, Dave is a master too.