Clinton vs. Trump: It’s Late In The Game, Yet Still Close. How Can This Be?

Hmm. I simply don’t understand how this election is still so close. Why aren’t women 70/30 for Hillary in polls? (Hillary is actually losing in polls among married women, for instance.)

And why aren’t Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans more obviously galvanized and motivated to vote against Trump in record numbers? How is it that “likely voters” are keeping the polls so close? Shouldn’t Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans be among the most likely of “likely voters” in this election cycle? If polls among “likely voters” are close, it probably means that there’s no unusual enthusiasm to vote being registered among, say, Hispanics.

But how could this be? Hillary’s got all the money in the world right now to get her voters registered and to the polls in November–so what does this mean that she’s in a dead heat among likely voters in places like Nevada?

I can see Trump getting 55% of the white vote–but 60% or 65%? Again, how can that be?

I quite obviously don’t understand the majority of my fellow Americans at all (what motivates them; how they think, etc.). How, for instance, does anyone with a college degree, after learning Trump rejects the science on global warming, vote for him anyway?

Shouldn’t that be a veto right there?

If a seventy year old man was in a job interview with you, and he couldn’t follow the science on global warming coherently, and confessed to distrusting scientific consensus, would you give him a position of serious responsibility–or nuclear codes?

But nothing seems to veto Trump with the electorate. He has yet to sufficiently alarm a clear majority of voters. He’s still competitive as we speak. There’s even a possibility that Hillary could collapse in the polls here in the stretch (much like she did against Bernie in certain states). Despite his disorganization, Trump could literally run away with this–exactly as he did in the Republican primary.

I’m feeling helpless and hopeless. I feel like I want to drive out to Nevada and hand out voter registration cards at Walmart–but why am I begging people to vote? If Hillary’s voters haven’t registered already, what is wrong with them? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with Hillary?

To echo Trump in another context, What the hell is going on?

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The Eagle Has (Crash) Landed

Chaos, zig-zag, and scatter. With just ten weeks remaining, Donald Trump still has not settled on a path to 270, nor on a strategy for executing it. Imagine him as President–and with access to nuclear codes–flailing and winging-it 24/7. A mercurial and disorganized authoritarian at the wheel. Genuinely scary.

Three weeks until early voting, the campaign scrambles to pick a path and stay on it.
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Fox News Is A Safe Space For Donald Trump–But Not Andrea Tantaros And Gretchen Carlson?



What gives?

Fox News is Herr Trump’s safe space. He is treated with the utmost respect there. But if Gretchen Carlson–and now Andrea Tantaros, in a separate lawsuit, are to be believed, it appears the same respect is not extended to women who work at the network. Believe these two conservative women?


After complaining, a former Fox News host was banned from his show.
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Trump’s Racialism

As reported in The Washington Post article below, Donald Trump is going for broke with the racialist vote:

When Trump made Breitbart News CEO Steve Bannon his campaign’s chief executive last week, [racialist Jared] Taylor found reasons to celebrate. It was the latest sign for white nationalists, once dismissed as fringe, that their worldview was gaining popularity and that the old Republican Party was coming to an end. The rise of the alt-right — named for the Alternative Right website that the ‘identitarian’ nationalist Richard Spencer set up in 2010 and adopted by those opposed to multiculturalism and mass immigration — has come to define how many of its adherents see Trump. There’s less talk now about a ‘pivot,’ or a moment when Trump will adopt the ideas of people that he conquered. His strategy now resembles the alt-right dream of maximizing the white vote — even as polling shows his standing with white voters falls short of Mitt Romney’s in 2012.

Racialism, it appears, means never having to say you’re racist.
White nationalists see their worldview as ascendant within the GOP.
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Trump. Naked. (Can You Find Troll-Dough?)

In the below image, would-be Emperor Golden Pubes has no clothes. “Friends, white Americans, countrymen, lend me your tighty-whities, fast, okay?”

The inclusion by the photographer of King Tut and Whole Foods in the image are nice touches, capturing the tensions of the cultural moment (anal-gold-bug-money-grubbing-authoritarian state vs. green and connected–and also, admittedly, money-grubbing–liberal state).

And far in back, on a window, is the word “trolls,” which seems to devilishly hover and preside over a Dante-like hell-room consisting of 1980s pastel flames.

Hmm, I wonder who should be consigned to that room.

So, Sesame Street friends, can you tell us which of these things in the foreground of this image is not like the others? Which of these things does not belong? The election schwings on it.

Where’s Troll-dough?

The activist group INDECLINE put naked Donald Trump statues in New York, San…
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Trump is Bleeding White Men

Herr Trump’s hold on the white male voter is fraying. Of course it is. Who wants to vote for a coward wed to nostalgia? What a bore. No vision for a brave adult future.

Most of us who are white males are not whiny and paranoid hysterics, afraid of trade, women, religious doubt, immigrants, scientists, blacks, critical thinking, nuance, and Muslims. We don’t want to hide and cower with Trump in Trump’s high tower. We like being in the thick of things, engaged with reality as it is, not playing life safe behind a phalanx of silly Norman Vincent Peale religious platitudes, lawyers, and walls (as Trump has done his whole life).

How humiliating to be a Trump voter. It means being someone who votes for a man whose temperament and modus operandi are set on PANIC and accompanied by cowardly acting out, punching down, and bullying–all for personal attention-getting, and always–always–from a safe distance.

So I think it’s time for a little riff on James Brown: Say it loud, I’m white (male) and I’m proud–to vote for Hillary.

And, obviously, I’m not alone. What self-respecting 21st century man of any race–with confidence in his own capacity to thrive and compete in a complex world, and with even an ounce of bravery toward facing the future–would vote for a bunker-cowering and magical thinking Mussolini jerk-off and over-simplifier like Herr Trump?

It appears that after a stream of provocations, insults and reckless remarks, Mr. Trump has damaged himself with the one demographic that stands as a bulwark…
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A White Guy Goes Up To A Black Woman And Says: Remember, You Can Only Vote Once Today

Imagine a white man going up to a black woman on November 8th of this year and having the gall, while she is walking to her polling place, to remind her that she is to vote only once.

Herr Trump, in his conspiracy-fueled paranoia and fundamental distrust of racial minorities, is calling on the most ghoulish and fanatical among his supporters, on election day, to “monitor” (presumably African American and Hispanic majority) polling stations for “fraud.” His call for an army of white poll monitors implies, and amounts to, not just extra-legal surveillance, but undisguised distrust of his fellow nonwhite Americans. And such surveillance can readily lapse into voter intimidation.

I regard this latest dog whistle to white racists as yet another major Trump misstep that is at once contrary to America’s pluralistic values and tone deaf–and it’s going to make white liberals, white moderates, and nonwhite voters even more determined to reach the polls on election day.

Here’s Daniel Politi at Slate on this matter:

[T]he Republican presidential candidate straight out told supporters on Friday that there’s only one possible explanation if he ends up losing the crucial state of Pennsylvania: through cheating. “The only way we can lose, in my opinion—I really mean this, Pennsylvania—is if cheating goes on,” he said late Friday. Nevermind that the Real Clear Politics polling average notes Hillary Clinton has a 9.2-point advantage over Trump in recent surveys. “We’re going to have unbelievable turnout, but we don’t want to see people voting five times, folks,” the Republican presidential nominee said. Particularly concerning about his warnings was how he noted that he’d “heard some stories about certain parts of the state, and we have to be very careful.” Trump added that there would be a lot of people watching on Election Day. “We have to call up law enforcement, and we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching,” he said. But law enforcement won’t be enough, he warned, and called on supporters to help detect any voting irregularities, expressing shock at the lack of voter ID requirements. “I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the eighth, go around and look and watch other polling places […]”

Donald Trump is doubling down with the “rigged election” claims. Rather than walk back his past statement, or claim he was being sarcastic, the Republi …
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Military and Civilian Disobedience: Thoreau, General John Allen, and Trump

An internal military crisis if Trump wins. Why? Because of his potential for ordering extreme actions (deploying nuclear weapons in otherwise conventional battle theaters, authorizing torture and other war crimes worse than waterboarding, etc.).

Obey such orders from Trump? What’s a general or admiral to do? What’s a soldier to do?

General John Allen, in the YouTube at the bottom of this post, eviscerates Trump on such matters, and expresses his concerns.

And on the civilian side, is there no place for a free citizen in a Trump society outside of jail? Do we need to do a Thoreau and simply refuse to pay our taxes–if Trump wins?

How prepared are we to enable Trump with our taxes if he wins?

During the War with Mexico and the time of slavery, Henry David Thoreau famously refused to pay his taxes, landing him in jail. His friend Ralph Waldo Emerson came to visit him and said, “Henry, what are you doing in there?”–to which Thoreau replied, “Ralph, what are you doing out there?”

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Is Trump Putin or Hitler?

Sobering reading. The pieces of the puzzle are falling together. Trump is Putin. And that’s if we’re lucky. He might be Hitler. And if he is, the likelihood of stopping him after he takes the oath of office is small.

A deeply, deeply disturbing article in The Washington Post below on how Trump is poised to transform the American presidency into something akin to that of Putin’s in Russia (a truly one man dictatorial show with little by way of checks and balances on his exercise of power).

According to the article, a confluence of historical circumstances is aligning for this dangerous moment; this fascist moment. When Trump says he’ll do things fast, the article explains exactly how he could actually fulfill this promise (or threat), bypassing the legal barriers that many of us imagine must surely be in place to prevent an imperial presidency.

When Trump says he’ll bring back torture and expand it, or says he’ll consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East, believe him. And if you think Congress or generals are likely to stall his actions, think again. If Hillary loses, the country we thought we knew may morph quickly and dramatically into something else.

And lest you think the Hitler analogy is overblown, I’d ask you to follow the two links in the following quote from Matthew Rozsa:

[B]ecause there are legitimate concerns about Trump’s mental health, his blasé attitude toward nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to not just our nation, but the entire world.

The White House is now so powerful Trump could legally fulfill many promises unchecked by Congress.
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Trump Attacks the Mother of a Slain American Soldier

First, Donald Trump attacked John McCain, a Vietnam POW. Today, Trump attacked the mother of a slain soldier.

A slain soldier. A mother. Think about that.

And Trump didn’t even serve in the military himself when he was of the age to do so. Trump let others fight and die in Vietnam on his behalf.

Trump has never made any serious sacrifices for this country. He’s a coward, but he poses as this tough guy–a tough guy who can casually trash-talk the mother–the mother!–of a slain American soldier.

So not only is he tough with the feelings of a woman who lost her son, but he’s classy.

Trump also attacked the slain soldier’s father. Of course he did. He insinuated that the father was insincere in his remarks, and said the mother didn’t speak in public because her religion forbade it.

In point of fact, it was the mother’s grief, not her religion, that led her to decline to speak that evening. And the mother did give a one-on-one, sit-down interview to MSNBC on the following day.

So imagine if the parents of this slain American soldier were not Muslims, but Orthodox Jews or Pentecostals, and Trump said the father was insincere, reading from a teleprompter what Clinton’s campaign had put up for him, and that the woman didn’t speak in public because her religion is so alien, freakish, and beyond-the-pale of American norms, that it forbade her from doing so.

Trump both stereotyped and demeaned the parents of an American soldier. A slain American soldier. And the father in the image below is holding up a copy, not of the Quran, but of the Constitution.

In an ABC interview, Mr. Trump implied that Ghazala Khan’s silence while her husband spoke about their soldier son’s death at the Democratic convention may…
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Good Polling News for Clinton

Did Clinton get a fifteen point bounce out of the Democratic Convention? The first poll, post-convention, suggests so: Clinton 46%; Trump 31%.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton smiles a cautious smile. All right: we do not actually know that that is wha …
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Imagine Trump As Dangerous–Because He Is

Let’s do a little imagining together.

Imagine a man with an authoritarian, conspiratorial, and mercurial temperament who praises Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-un, and Vladimir Putin; tweets quotes from Mussolini and images from antisemitic message boards; invites the demagogic and un-American chant from audiences, “Yes he will!”; and says he’ll do everything “really fast, believe me,” as if he neither knows nor cares that the Constitution has severe legal checks and balances on the divided branches of government.

Imagine such a man on the verge of reaching the White House.

Now imagine that same man, angry at a free press criticizing him, publicly threatening Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, that if he reaches the White House, Bezos is going to have antitrust laws and the IRS directed his way because he “can’t let him [Bezos] get away with it” (owning both The Washington Post and Amazon).

Now imagine that this very same man invites from his audiences the following chant directed at his political opponent, who also happens to be a woman: “Lock her up!”

Imagine still further that he not only doesn’t rebuke the chant, but says he agrees with it.

That’s where we’re at in 2016. If Clinton loses, she may literally have to leave the country to avoid a midnight knock on the door by Federal marshals.

Oh, but one might say, Trump is only joking. He wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Are you prepared to risk America’s future on that bet?

Hitler in Mein Kampf made a plethora of outrageous statements and threatened to drive the Jews out of Europe and into Palestine, but few took him at his word. They downplayed his public statements.

Again, what sort of risk are you prepared to take with the country–with your life and the lives of your children–that Trump won’t be so bad?

If Trump reaches the White House, I think people are going to look back and say, “We should have taken what he said more seriously.” He’s not clowning. He’s not just a harmless and naughty teddy bear who doesn’t know what he’s saying. He’s dangerous. He’ll have access to everything from tactical nuclear weapons to federal marshals to the CIA.

And in a crisis, he’ll be the sort of person who escalates.

That’s what we’re facing. This isn’t a nightmare. It’s not a novel. If Trump wins, we’re not going to wake up on November 8th living in the same country. The loss of the separation of powers can happen here. It is on the verge of happening here. It’s real.




He also vowed “no more Mr. Nice Guy.” So be ready.
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Someday Donald Trump Will Be PRESIDENT?

In 1995, citing it as offensive to “family values,” Walmart banned a t-shirt that shows Margaret from Dennis the Menace saying optimistically, “Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!”

Fast-forward to 2016, and here’s a Walmart spokesperson: “Wow, it still pains me that we made this mistake 20 years ago.”

And yet I’ll bet that if you go into Walmart today, you won’t be able to find a t-shirt to purchase with anything like these words on it.

Maybe in a few weeks? But then, perhaps far-right conservatives will complain, asking for a retort shirt: “Someday Donald Trump will be PRESIDENT!” (On that one, I’d put Mussolini, Hitler, or a leaping Vladimir Putin.)

Here’s the shirt the store once said violated its “family values.”
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Would You Have Resisted Hitler? Are You Resisting Trump?

Freud’s id has landed. David Brooks nails it. If Trump still wins after this week, then obviously there’s something going on in the psyche of the majority of Americans that craves vengeance, authoritarianism, harshness, and Nietzschean indifference toward the weak.

It won’t be Jefferson’s America, or Eisenhower’s America. It will be Putin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy, or Hitler’s Germany circa 1933.

If you think, had you been alive in the 1930s, that you would have resisted Mussolini and Hitler after they reached power, you may soon get your test in real time.

Women, demographics, and Trump. I’ve long thought the resonances of Weimar Germany with our contemporary politics were obviously there, but I just never seriously believed it could rise to this level of existential threat–until this year. I thought demographics would save us. And women tend to vote in greater numbers than men–and with a competent woman leading one of the parties, it still seems logical this year that they’ll break for her in large numbers, given the historic nature of her candidacy. The ascent of a dictator (“Yes he will!”) who explicitly dog whistles to white supremacists and preaches blood and soil nationalism, seems impossible in America, 2016.

Yet here we are. Alarmingly, the Republican Party first buckled, then swooned, then collapsed like a house of cards before such a man. Now it appears the Republican Party is firmly united behind Trump. In Trump, George Wallace now meets Adolf Hitler meeting the Republican Party–and it isn’t pretty.

Perhaps the country’s demographics as a whole will indeed save us. But if so, it will be by a hair. That means that if you aren’t voting against Herr Trump in November, and if you’re not speaking out loudly–loudly and unmistakably now–then you’re responsible for whatever Herr Trump does when he reaches the Oval Office.

Vladimir Putin in the Lincoln Bedroom? In his essay, Brooks is most angry with Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, etc. for caving to Herr Trump, and for now functioning as the ongoing enablers of Herr Trump.

So it’s on the rest of us right now. We either defeat Herr Trump–with moderate Democrats, Republicans, and Independents turning hard against him together in the last months of this election–or we perhaps spend literally decades fighting to get back to even the semblance of the America we thought we knew.

Will the center hold? Or will we find Herr Trump inviting his good friend Vladimir Putin to spend nights in the Lincoln Bedroom?

Tactical nuclear weapons and the loss of civil liberties? If you have small children or grandchildren, you may literally be deciding in November what sort of country they will inherit as adults decades from now. If you vote for Trump, you may even be condemning them to death in a civilizational war akin to the two fought in the last century. (Do not put it past Trump to escalate to the use of tactical nuclear weapons very quickly in a crisis, then locking down on the country domestically–then finding the crises he has exacerbated spinning beyond his control.)

So this isn’t the usual swing of the left-right pendulum with checks and balances securely in place. That’s what we’ve known for over two centuries. The choice in November is to upend this arrangement fundamentally. We literally risk a fatal compromising of our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and our nuclear arsenal (in the sense that Trump may be foolish enough to start making use of it).

And yet there are people who say this is not a fundamental election; that Trump won’t be so bad.

Trump and global warming. Poo-pooing Trump’s danger is akin to poo-pooing global warming. If you deny even the basic threat, then you can blindly court disaster without even offering supporting arguments. You don’t have to have a consequential debate because you won’t start with the premise that something consequential is going on.

So this is the question every Trump supporter should be confronted with again and again until November: In a crisis, what makes you think Herr Trump won’t use tactical nuclear weapons? How confident are you about this? And if he does, what makes you think a broader war won’t necessarily break out, accompanied by still other war crimes and deployments of still more tactical nuclear weapons–and that our domestic civil liberties will go on being reliably protected after that?

It’s not how Trump might behave in the absence of crisis that makes him so startlingly dangerous, but how he might behave in a crisis. And the truth is that we don’t know. Nobody knows. We don’t have a clue. So don’t call yourself a conservative if your choice this year is not Hillary. There’s nothing “conservative” or “pro-American” about voting for a mercurial and temperamental authoritarian who might use a tactical nuclear weapon in a fit of pique.

But it may not matter which party had the better convention.
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Be Afraid. Ezra Klein Is.

Ezra Klein is starting to panic: “I am, for the first time since I began covering American politics, genuinely afraid.” In a recent article, he rehearses numerous reasons Donald Trump’s nomination is now an enormous dilemma for the country as a whole–and for the world.

What will it mean, for instance, should Trump’s unrestrained and Putin-like vindictiveness intersect with the powers of the American presidency? What will be the consequences for his domestic opponents? His foreign opponents?

And would he use a tactical nuclear weapon in the Middle East? When Trump attains access, not just to vast funds and a team of lawyers (as he has enjoyed his whole life), but to the most powerful military and intelligence services in the world, what is this mercurial and temperamentally panicky man capable of toward those who cross him? Nobody knows.

Here’s Ezra Klein:

[T]he unifying theme of Trump’s convention is that the leader of the opposition party should be thrown in jail. Trump didn’t like the Washington Post’s coverage of his campaign, so he barred its reporters from his rallies and threatened to use the power of the presidency to bring an antitrust suit against the Post’s owner, Jeff Bezos. He was upset that Ohio didn’t vote for him, so he sat its delegation in the cheap seats, even though the state is hosting the convention. He was angry about an interview his ex-ghostwriter gave to the New Yorker, so he sent his lawyers after him. He hates the protesters who interrupt his campaigns, so he said he would look into paying the legal fees of a supporter who sucker-punched one of them. Imagine Donald Trump with the powers of the presidency. Imagine what he could do — what he would do — to those who crossed him.

I am stunned at the Weimar resonances of this American moment. And yet we’re not even in recession. Has eight years of a black president really scorched the psyche of white conservative identity, entitlement, and privilege so fundamentally that revenge translates into enthusiastic support for a Putin-like figure?

I think of something Pat Buchanan wrote back in December of 2013:

Is Vladimir Putin a paleoconservative?

In the culture war for mankind’s future, is he one of us?

Buchanan’s answer was yes.

Sorry, but Donald Trump isn’t temperamentally fit to be president.
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Trump Is Hitler–Or Will Lead To Hitler

Right now, lawyers do his bidding, then it will be generals. Trump is Hitler. Yes, that Hitler. Or rather, he is in danger of becoming that Hitler–or of bringing us to that Hitler.

Take his use of lawyers. Has Trump ever shown restraint in his aggressive deployment of lawyers?

What makes one think he would show restraint in his deployment of other forms of power–the FBI, the CIA, police powers, and military assets?

What makes one think he wouldn’t institute marshal law after a major terror incident, then provide a laundry list of excuses (generated by his lawyers) for never formally relinquishing it?

What’s immoral here? So it’s not immoral to call Trump Hitler. What is immoral is to risk exposing our democracy to an illiberal and authoritarian direction by voting for Trump.

As Andrew Sullivan has noted, Trump may be an extinction level event for the American experiment, with historians writing a hundred years from now (perhaps from a freer country) that the American experiment in Republican constitutional democracy started with Washington and ended with Trump.

Trump is a game changer. He could quickly make the nation into something quite different entirely if he is not defeated decisively in November. George Will is right that it is incumbent on every American–especially Republicans–to work for Trump’s defeat in all fifty states.

BT and AT (before and after Trump). If Trump wins, at minimum he is likely to make our nation into something like that of Putin’s Russia (essentially a one party state, led by a strongman, and with democracy surviving in name only). And from there, by the precedent Trump will have established, especially if superficially “successful,” it could become ever more difficult for the country to return to the way it was before he came to power (BT–before Trump).

For instance, Trump may deploy tactical nuclear weapons in a first strike manner as President, reintroduce Bush torture on a broader scale, ignore the Constitutional balance of powers, go after the press, and undermine the courts in ways as yet unseen by our democracy. He could prove to be the ultimate stress test for our democracy, generating a Constitutional crisis.

We are not even in recession–and yet the country’s politics has produced Trump. A mercurial man with power is, by definition, unpredictable. And for what? The country is not in economic crisis. We are not even in recession. Terrorism is a lowgrade and manageable phenomenon, though it makes headlines. (The risk of death 20 or 30 years after exposure to body scan radiation is greater than dying of a terrorist attack over those same years, statistically.)

Thus, to give an authoritarian, panicky, and paranoid temperament the presidency, when we’re not even having a Weimar-style crisis, conditions the country for yet other strongmen in response to harsher future conditions. (Ironically, Trump is actually no Mussolini or Hitler strongman in character, only in style. He’s a “tough guy” who actually avoided when young his opportunity to participate in a war.)

Mass deportation of Mexicans and the building of walls. The resonances between Trump’s temperament and Hitler’s are unmistakable to anyone who has studied history. For instance, in the 1920s and early-30s, Hitler’s obsessive interest surrounding Jews was in achieving their mass deportation–as it is with Trump with regard to illegals–the vast majority of whom are Mexican. Trump has been essentially targeting an ethnic group all year in his rise to power. He seeks to round up eleven million people and remove them from the country, then erect a thousand mile wall to keep them from ever returning. But if he actually followed through on his political promises as President, the country would very quickly take on the feel of a police state.

Terrorism and marshal law. We should not at all put it above Trump to declare marshal law at some point in his presidency–and if he does indeed do this, then all bets are off. Hitler acquired his strongman powers after a terrorist incident–the Reichstag fire. The signal in the noise here is that Trump’s potential is Hitlerian. He will play that full role if he’s ever given the opportunity–and history could readily supply opportunities were he to reach the Oval Office. He is not, temperamentally, a democrat, but an authoritarian.

Americans in denial. There were Jews in Hitler’s Germany in the early 1930s who thought Hitler wouldn’t be so bad and could be outlasted–and they decided to stay in the country and not speak out. But then they discovered, too late, that they had calculated quite inaccurately. We are at that moment now in the United States. Far too many people are nonchalant about what Trump means. Rather than complacency, we should speak and vote for Hillary, and have contingency plans for ongoing resistance if Trump wins. Some of us should even have plans for leaving the country if Trump wins. (Does anyone doubt there are wealthy individuals and corporations quietly and discreetly making such plans?)

This scene from Poltergeist (1982) is uncannily relevant to this American moment. A spellcasting confidence man is at our door. Let him in?


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Is Trump-Pence Cult Behavior–or a Winning Ticket?

Crackpots to the future. Trump picked for VP, not just a man who can’t say whether he thinks the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and that plants and animals have changed over time, or whether global warming is occurring, but whether women should have the right to control their own bodies.

Indeed, it’s worse than this. Mike Pence is not merely a global warming denialist and potential young Earth creationist, or a man indifferent to women’s equality and reproductive choice (which necessarily go together), but one who is actually a longtime activist against women’s issues.

And he opposes gay equality as well.

If Trump still wins this year, then I simply do not understand the mentality of my fellow countrymen and women at all, and what’s really important to them, what they shrug at, etc.

And remember: Trump has to come close to winning half of women’s votes, and do better than Romney with Hispanics, Asians, and blacks, to actually win the election–or he has to ramp-up the white male vote to unprecedented levels, and win it overwhelmingly. This seems wildly improbable. And yet pollsters suggest Trump is roughly in a dead heat with Clinton–or at least within striking distance of overtaking her.

So here’s my question: Can these two men–Trump and Pence– really be the preference of the majority of Americans in 20-fricken-16?

Put another way, are we witnessing delusional and cultish behavior on the part of the Republican Party this year, or is there something in the country’s collective psyche that has gone terribly, terribly wrong–so wrong, in fact, that the country as a whole is every bit as sick as the Republican Party itself?

When you see cult-like behavior, with people under the spell of a con-man, you think, well, at least this guy’s con goes no farther than his outspoken, fanatic, and proselytizing followers. But maybe this year is different. Maybe the majority of Americans are Trump’s followers; his silent followers.

In the privacy of their homes, are a majority of Americans–perhaps even a majority of women–really saying, “I’m with Trump”?

How can this be?

Mike Pence has endorsed controversial legislation on abortion and Planned…
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Was It Right for Turkey’s Military to Have Tried to Remove Erdogan by Force?

I wouldn’t want to make an invidious comparison, but I think of how Hitler came into ever greater power (via democratic election and joining his party into an alliance with conservative parties), and then, when he became chancellor, how he could only be dislodged after that by force.

Illiberal democracy and democracy that is quite obviously heading toward authoritarianism or totalitarianism sometimes has to be saved from itself. If a leader like Chavez in Venezuela, Putin in Russia, or Erdogan in Turkey has weakened checks and balances on the exercises of power in such a way that they cannot be plausibly resisted or dislodged peacefully or lawfully, it may be quite appropriate for the military to arrest power from one of these sorts of very, very dangerous alpha males.

Erdogan, for instance, has been going after press freedom recently, strengthening his grip on power in ways that make democracy something that is largely in name only.


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A Christian Critique of Trump: Norman Vincent Peale Meets Nietzsche, Then Nietzsche Meets Mike Pence

A genuinely troubling piece by Matthew Schmitz appears at the Catholic magazine First Things (August/September 2016) on Donald Trump’s “faith,” which, it turns out, is in the positive thinking philosophy of Norman Vincent Peale, someone Trump interacted with personally when he was younger. It explains so much about Trump. By lifelong habit, he has learned how to con himself–and con others–via Peale’s famed confidence tricks, detailed in his book, The Power of Positive Thinking (1952). And how well the tricks have worked for Trump! Six money quotes from the excellent essay:

Peale promised his readers “constant energy” if they thought positively. Optimistic thoughts opened one up to a vital force coming directly from God. Negative thoughts, especially a tendency to dwell on one’s faults, could interfere with the divine charge. He warned those with active consciences that “the quantity of vital force required to give the personality relief from either guilt or fear” was so great that it left “only a fraction of energy” for going about one’s tasks. […]

For Peale, “attitudes are more important than facts.” The man who displays “a confident and optimistic thought pattern can modify or overcome the fact altogether.” The first fact that Peale’s positive thinking had to overcome was the fact of human frailty. […]

Where the Bible urges man to search his heart and know his faults, Peale encourages him to “make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it ten percent.” […] Thus the necessity of repentance recedes. It is important to think positively, and a negative thought, […] can be injurious to spiritual health. Yet the gloomy aspect of traditional Christian practice is also the wellspring of Christian compassion. At the moment a Christian asks for forgiveness, he must acknowledge his own weakness and look mercifully on the weakness of others. […]

At a campaign event in Iowa, Trump shocked the audience by saying that he had never asked God for forgiveness. All his other disturbing statements—his attacks on every vulnerable group—are made intelligible by this one. The self-sufficient faith Trump absorbed from Peale has no place for human weakness. Human frailty, dependency, and sinfulness cannot be acknowledged; they must be overcome. This opens up the possibility of great cruelty toward those who cannot wish themselves into being winners. A man who need not ask forgiveness need never forgive others. He does not realize his own weakness, and so he mocks and reviles every sign of weakness in his ­fellow men. […]

Because Peale was a decent man of sincere if not quite orthodox Christian faith, he never drew out the harsh implications of his views. Trump feels no such restraint, and so has taken Peale’s teaching to its logical conclusion. He has called the widow whose house he tried to take a “terrible human being” whose lawyer is a “loser.” He has mocked a reporter for having a disfigured hand. […]

Peale is now largely forgotten, and his bestseller languishes in used book stores. This is a shame, for it has led us to underestimate the influence and power of the self-sufficient faith that he promoted, and that he imparted to his greatest student. Peale meant to preach a gentle creed, one that made hellfire and terror into mere afterthoughts. In Trump it has curdled into pagan disdain. Both forms of this philosophy have captured the public imagination, and both stand at odds with the faith taught by Christ.

What strikes me most about these quotes is how they expose Trump as an American Nietzsche, and yet they are also accompanied by this thought: If he wins the presidency, it will be because conservative evangelical and Catholic Christians–Christians!–put him over the top. Trump is devoted to a philosophy that holds losers in contempt, and his strongest backers are . . . Christians. And Mike Pence, an evangelical, is his running mate.

The majority of conservative Christians in Germany in the 1930s made a similar pact with a strong man. We are living through an extraordinarily dangerous political moment.


Christianity is a religion of losers. To the weak and humble, it offers a stripped and humiliated . . . .
Posted in atheism, donald trump, edward feser, philosophy, Politics, Ted Cruz | Leave a comment

Did Trump Rape a Thirteen Year Old in the 1990s?

Donald Trump may have a Bill Cosby problem brewing. A recent court filing in New York alleges that Trump raped a thirteen year old in the 1990s. Alternet reviews the allegations contained in the filing, and judges them plausible. Money quote:
Jane Doe says that as a thirteen year old, she was enticed to attend parties at the home of Jeffrey Epstein with the promise of money modeling jobs.[…] Jane Doe says that Mr. Trump “initiated sexual contact” with her on four occasions in 1994.[…] On the fourth incident, she says Mr. Trump tied her to a bed and forcibly raped her, in a “savage sexual attack,” while she pleaded with him to stop. She says Mr. Trump violently struck her in the face. She says that afterward, if she ever revealed what he had done, Mr. Trump threatened that she and her family would be “physically harmed if not killed.” She says she has been in fear of him ever since. […] Two unusual documents are attached to Jane Doe’s complaints – sworn declarations attesting to the facts. The first is from Jane Doe herself, telling her horrific story, including the allegation that Jeffrey Epstein also raped her and threatened her into silence, and this stunner: “Defendant Epstein then attempted to strike me about the head with his closed fists while he angrily screamed at me that he, Defendant Epstein, should have been the one who took my virginity, not Defendant Trump…” […] The second declaration is even more astonishing, because it is signed by “Tiffany Doe”, Mr. Epstein’s “party planner” from 1991-2000. Tiffany Doe says that her duties were “to get attractive adolescent women to attend these parties.” […] Tiffany Doe says that she recruited Jane Doe at the Port Authority in New York, persuaded her to attend Mr. Epstein’s parties, and actually witnessed the sexual assaults on Jane Doe.
Hmm. The word of two women against two powerful men. We know that Trump is indeed a friend of billionaire Epstein, and that Epstein is a registered sex offender. And surely such parties with casual sex opportunities take place among the fabulously wealthy. So would a judge let this case go forward to discovery and depositions, exposing the behind-the-scenes world of billionaires and their friends gone wild? The woman obviously persuaded another woman to cooperate in the filing, and also managed to get an attorney to believe her story, who then filed papers on her behalf. What think ye? Here’s another summary of the complaint, this time from William Boardman:
According to the complaint: Plaintiff Jane Doe came to New York in the spring of 1994 in hope of starting a modeling career. Professionally unprepared, she had little success and was headed home when she met Tiffany Doe, another pseudonym, who worked for Epstein from 1990 to 2000, recruiting young women to attend his parties and entertain his guests. Tiffany Doe, age 26 in 1994, promised Jane Doe that she would be paid to attend these parties at which she would meet people who could help her start her modeling career. Jane Doe attended at least four of Epstein’s parties at which she interacted with both Trump and Epstein sexually, as described graphically in the complaint and in attached affidavits of the two women. Tiffany Doe, in her affidavit, says she was a witness to the events described by Jane Doe. […] Defendants have not yet filed a response to the June 20 claim in court. Nor has there apparently been any public response from Attorney Garten, the Trump campaign, Epstein, or others associated with Defendants.
And the Daily Beast is taking the court filing seriously, providing Jane Doe’s name as Katie Johnson:
[W]hile the media has been hesitant to report on Katie Johnson’s accusations, stories have emerged in recent days in outlets like the New York Daily News and Gothamist and more may be in the works: Johnson’s attorney says he taped an interview with ABC News and sources spoken to for this story said they had been contacted by other national news organizations.
The dogs are hunting.
Posted in donald trump, feminism, hillary clinton, Politics | Leave a comment