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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Has there ever been a bigger whiner than Donald Trump?

by digby

This article about Trump acting like an ass about losing the Emmy says it all:
A refrain of this election season has been the necessity to fact check the comments made at the presidential debates. And so here we are to settle one controversial claim: Should The Apprentice have won an Emmy?

At Wednesday night’s final showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Clinton dutifully listed all the instances in which Trump had argued that something was “rigged” against him, including the Emmys, which has never rewarded Trump’s reality TV competition series The Apprentice.

“There was even a time when he didn’t get an Emmy for his TV program three years in a row and he started tweeting that the Emmys were rigged against him,” Clinton said, to which Trump interjected: “Should have gotten it.”

Indeed, Trump has, as is his wont, taken to grieving in 140 characters over various Apprentice Emmys slights.

“The Emmys are all politics, that’s why, despite nominations, The Apprentice never won—even though it should have many times over,” he tweeted in 2012. “I should have many Emmys for The Apprentice if the process were fair,” he tweeted in 2013, “in any event, it’s not my day job.” And, never one to let go of a grudge, in 2014 after another year of zero nominations for his show: “Which is worse and which is more dishonest—the Oscars or the Emmys?”

He reprised it in 2014:

I mean --- this:

According to awards website GoldDerby.com, in a 2015 episode of Celebrity Apprentice Trump complained about the Emmy slight for the first season of The Apprentice over a decade earlier, in 2004.

“Everybody thought I was gonna win it,” he said. “In fact, when they announced the winner, I stood up before the winner was announced. And I started walking for the Emmy. And then they announced the most boring show on television, The Amazing Race. Piece of crap.”

Read the whole thing to see how ludicrous it was that he thought he should win.

I suppose it's possible that he might be a gracious loser in November. But I wouldn't count on it.


Clinton's most important moment

by digby

Clinton mopped the floor with Trump last night. But something else important happened too. Hillary Clinton made the most impassioned defense of Roe vs Wade any candidate has ever made in a debate. Pro-choice women really shouldn't think twice about voting for Clinton because of this alone:

CLINTON: Well, I strongly support Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a constitutional right to a woman to make the most intimate, most difficult, in many cases, decisions about her health care that one can imagine. And in this case, it's not only about Roe v. Wade. It is about what's happening right now in America.

So many states are putting very stringent regulations on women that block them from exercising that choice to the extent that they are defunding Planned Parenthood, which, of course, provides all kinds of cancer screenings and other benefits for women in our country.

Donald has said he's in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. He even supported shutting the government down to defund Planned Parenthood. I will defend Planned Parenthood. I will defend Roe v. Wade, and I will defend women's rights to make their own health care decisions.

WALLACE: Secretary Clinton... CLINTON: And we have come too far to have that turned back now. And, indeed, he said women should be punished, that there should be some form of punishment for women who obtain abortions. And I could just not be more opposed to that kind of thinking.

WALLACE: I'm going to give you a chance to respond, but I want to ask you, Secretary Clinton, I want to explore how far you believe the right to abortion goes. You have been quoted as saying that the fetus has no constitutional rights. You also voted against a ban on late-term, partial-birth abortions. Why?

CLINTON: Because Roe v. Wade very clearly sets out that there can be regulations on abortion so long as the life and the health of the mother are taken into account. And when I voted as a senator, I did not think that that was the case.

The kinds of cases that fall at the end of pregnancy are often the most heartbreaking, painful decisions for families to make. I have met with women who toward the end of their pregnancy get the worst news one could get, that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions. So you can regulate if you are doing so with the life and the health of the mother taken into account.

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, your reaction? And particularly on this issue of late-term, partial-birth abortions.

TRUMP: Well, I think it's terrible. If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.

Now, you can say that that's OK and Hillary can say that that's OK. But it's not OK with me, because based on what she's saying, and based on where she's going, and where she's been, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month on the final day. And that's not acceptable.

CLINTON: Well, that is not what happens in these cases. And using that kind of scare rhetoric is just terribly unfortunate. You should meet with some of the women that I have met with, women I have known over the course of my life. This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make. And I do not believe the government should be making it.

You know, I've had the great honor of traveling across the world on behalf of our country. I've been to countries where governments either forced women to have abortions, like they used to do in China, or forced women to bear children, like they used to do in Romania. And I can tell you: The government has no business in the decisions that women make with their families in accordance with their faith, with medical advice. And I will stand up for that right.

So, this happened

by digby

I'm hearing a lot of people say that last night was Trump's best debate and that if he hadn't said he might not accept the results of the election and called Hillary "such a nasty woman" he would have been the winner.

Uhm, no. He made a total fool of himself the entire time.  Here's just one example:

A window into his soul

by digby

Here's Trump at the end of last night's debate, tearing up his  notes:

This is not the guy you can trust with nuclear weapons. He can't control himself.

"False criminalization as birtherism"

by digby

That's basically what Trump is promising. I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

After Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee last spring, he went before a West Virginia audience and said, “You’ve been hearing me say it’s a rigged system, but now I don’t say it anymore because I won. It’s true. Now I don’t care. I don’t care. And the only way I won was I won by such big margins because it is a rigged system. But the only way you can do it, it’s like a boxer, you got to knock them out then you don’t got to worry about the judges.”

He didn’t win by big margins. He won by grinding it out in primary after primary, winning just enough in a huge field to come in first with far less than a majority. But Trump is a total stranger to the truth and he says whatever he needs to say to get through the moment.

The polls show that Trump is lagging far behind right now, and on Wednesday night in the final presidential debate in Las Vegas, when Chris Wallace asked him if he would accept the results of the upcoming election, Trump said again that the system is rigged, the media has been dishonest and corrupt and has poisoned the minds of the voters. Then he said this, very pointedly:

So let me just give you one other thing. So I talk about the corrupt media. I talk about the millions of people — tell you one other thing: she shouldn’t be allowed to run. It’s crooked — she’s — she’s guilty of a very, very serious crime. She should not be allowed to run. And just in that respect, I say it’s rigged, because she should never … Chris, she should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with emails and so many other things.

He refused to say whether he would follow the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power, telling Wallace that he wanted to leave the American people “in suspense.”

This seemed to shock just about everyone, despite the fact that Trump has been saying this at every recent appearance. Apparently people thought that in the formal setting of a nationally televised debate he wouldn’t dare defy the norms of our electoral system, which is silly. That is what he does.

This is the man who challenged the legitimacy of Barack Obama for many years and only a few weeks ago conceded that he was an American citizen and therefore entitled to run for president. If you look at his comment above you will see where he’s heading with Hillary Clinton. Just as he questioned whether Obama should have been “allowed to run” because he had not adequately proven his citizenship, he is saying that Clinton shouldn’t have been “allowed to run” “based on what she did with emails and so many other things.” That’s what will make her victory illegitimate, not the vote count. As Rebecca Traister of New York magazinedescribed it on Twitter, “this is false criminalization as birtherism.”

How all this will play out after the election is unknown, but anyone who thinks he plans to just fade away like his favorite old soldier, Douglas MacArthur, is probably fooling herself. The birther stuff fed directly into the right-wing obstructionism that characterized the last eight years so we can expect this to be even more salient during a Hillary Clinton administration. Trump’s angry army will believe the presidency was usurped by a criminal.

And it may end up somewhere substantially more dangerous. Trump had been coasting along in the debate with snippets of his stump speech and managed to avoid blowing his cool until Clinton challenged him to repudiate the Russian interference in the election. Despite the fact that the consensus of intelligence agencies is that Russia deliberately interfered with the election, Trump refused to concede that it’s happening. Republican strategist Steve Schmidt on MSNBC said that his unwillingness to concede this point is every bit as bad as his unwillingness to commit to accepting the outcome of the election, since Russian interference in western elections on behalf of far-right parties is becoming a serious challenge. He speculated that this relates to what Trump has planned:

I think he plans on being martyred. I think in his martyrdom he’s going to wave the bloody shirt and he’s going to go out and say through a party of grievance and resentment that “we were cheated and this was stolen” and he’ll have a critical mass [for] a UKIP style third party that splits off from the Republican Party. Who knows where the funding for Trump TV will come from, but it will be a media designed to undermine the democratic foundations of the United States and the credibility of our elections processes. Vladimir Putin couldn’t hope for anything better than that.

That’s a startling scenario and perhaps it’s hyperbole. But Trump’s behavior with respect to all the Russian activity around this election is strange. But then, what isn’t strange when it comes to him? Perhaps Trump simply believes that “someone” has good taste in presidential candidates. One thing we do know is that even if he concedes the election in some technical sense, he is not going to concede that Clinton is a legitimate candidate whatever the outcome of the vote. The chants of “lock her up” will fuel whatever he does next.

To those Trump surrogates who are using Al Gore and the 2000 election as their precedent: Please. Gore did not spend the month before the election telling millions of people that George W. Bush was a criminal and shouldn’t have been allowed to run. The state of Florida’s laws kicked in an automatic recount and when the whole process was finished, he graciously accepted the results. Since Donald Trump doesn’t have a gracious bone in his body, it’s highly doubtful we can expect the same, even if he loses in a landslide.

Unfortunately, the right has killed off another important American democratic norm. Soon there won’t be any left, not even for them.

They've exposed themselves for what they are

by digby

The Trump campaign has exposed so many of the right's hypocrisies. From conservative evangelicals having no problem with a thrice married libertine groper to heresies on free trade and safety net programs, they have proved they have no principles or morals when it comes to family values or small government.

Now that they have proved they aren't really social conservatives or fiscal conservatives, they are also proving that they aren't national security conservatives either, at least not in the traditional patriotic sense of the word:

It's going to be important to remember this stuff for the future. These Republicans can't be allowed to go back to pretending that they are morally superior, patriotic fiscal conservatives. They've shown their true colors.


Says it all

by Tom Sullivan

It's show time.

Polls open in North Carolina at 10 a.m. EDT, so there is not a lot of time to comment on last night's third and final presidential debate. Thankfully, the tweet at the top says it all.

It was bad enough yesterday for the Donald. Hillary Clinton is now leading among men in Bloomberg's latest poll of likely voters.

Still, all anyone will be talking about this morning, however, is this:

Trump Won’t Say if He Will Accept Election Results — New York Times

Trump refuses to say whether he’ll accept election results — Washington Post

Trump Won't Say If He Will Accept 2016 Election Results — Newsweek

"It was a shocking and cravenly irresponsible thing to say, the sort of thing that threatens to rend our national fabric, and for that alone, Trump has earned his place in the history of American ignominy." — John Podhoretz, New York Post

"Donald Trump turned, in the third and final presidential debate, from insulting the intelligence of the American voter to insulting American democracy itself." — New York Times Editorial Board

To the barricades.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Hillary needs to do

by digby

"You let me do the worrying"

by digby

I think this is one of the most powerful ads of the cycle:

That little girl is reportedly going to be at the debate tonight.


I gotcher wall for ya right here

by digby

That's the taco truck "wall" of protest in front of Trump hotel in Las Vegas, where the candidate spent the night.

Down in Texas, taco trucks are registering Latino voters. They've awakened the sleeping taco truck giant!

(If you're confused about the Taco trump meme, it comes from this.)

Wavering women in Real America

by digby

You wouldn't know it from this year's election reporting  but there are tens of millions of women who are voting enthusiastically for Hillary Clinton because of her stand on the issues and the fact that she's going to be the first woman president which is a meaningful milestone to them. Very few people have bothered to profile them or look into what they're thinking. (There's so little time for that what with the need to focus, as we do in every election, on the much more important angry white males who are voting Republican.) These women are the invisible people in this election just like they are often the invisible people in this world.  But whatever, they are working to get her elected and they will vote and then go back to doing whatever it is they do that nobody gives a shit about.

Meanwhile, it's making the difference in places where Trump is supposed to be the strongest:
Vigo County [Indiana] is as good a bellwether as any place in America. It’s voted for the winning presidential candidate all but two times the past 128 years, and hasn’t missed since 1952, choosing neighboring Illinois’ Adlai Stevenson over Dwight Eisenhower—and even then it missed by a margin of only .07 percent. And signs are, in 2016, Vigo, situated in the home state of his running mate, Gov. Mike Pence, is firmly in the Trump column.

But on this day inside Pizza City, as members of a France 2 television crew hovered boom mics over the proceedings, Trump’s Indiana team wasn't playing offense, but defense. A dour mood filled the air. Only days before, video had surfaced of their candidate bragging about his prowess in assaulting women, and the subject had overtaken the matter of early voting as the topic of conversation. Polls weren’t looking as rosy as they once had, either. In August, Trump led Hillary Clinton in Indiana by 11 points. But only a week or so before today’s visit, a WTHR/Howey Politics poll in the field from October 3 through October 5 had Trump up with only a 5-point margin in Pence’s own backyard, 43 percent to 38 percent. Meanwhile, a Monmouth University poll released a few days later would show Clinton trailing Trump here by a margin of 4 points.

All was not well in Importantville, as Trump himself had dubbed the state during Indiana’s decisive primary. As political gossip around Terre Haute had it, Trump’s comments about women had caused a surge of female voters registering in the waning hours before early voting began. Could Trump lose Vigo County? And if he did, that could mean, well, he couldn’t lose here, could he? That was the question that hung in the air, in the background of the political chatter that could be heard on sidewalks and in libraries and the town’s bars during the time I spent in the county last week.

And then there was this bit of data: At a drive-through voter registration event at the Vigo County Courthouse the day before, about 150 voters registered. I spoke to one volunteer who worked the event, and she told me that 90 percent of them were women who planned to vote for Clinton.
The whole piece is interesting, showing how the air has gone out of the Trump Balloon generally. And not all women are coming around. Like this one:

Lisa Reed, 58, a landlord, said she wasn’t bothered by Trump’s comments, especially compared to the specter of a Clinton presidency. “She’s for everybody else but my gender and my race,” she said. But she admitted that if a man said to her what Trump had said about women, she wouldn’t take it sitting down. “I got a gun. I’ll shoot your ass.” Even Trump? “Even Trump,” she said.

“And if Trump is president, you’ll still have your gun,” Jaworowski interjected.

People nodded.

Afterward, Reed told me that she wasn’t against the idea of a female president. “I’d love to see a woman president—I’d just like it to be a real woman,” she said. Did she think Hillary Clinton was not a real woman? “If you can’t satisfy a man enough to keep him home, than you are not a real woman. I always thought the best female president would have been Condi Rice,” she said, apparently unaware that, days earlier, in the wake of the Access Hollywood video leak, the former secretary of state had called for Trump to withdraw. (“Enough! Donald Trump should not be President,” Rice posted on Facebook.)

But this too:

Women for Trump aside, though, rank-and-file female voters with whom I spoke across town seemed generally turned off by Trump.

The night before the gathering at Pizza City, at a League of Women Voters candidate forum, I could find only one female Trump supporter. “I’ve worked with a lot of men, and I realize how men are,” Laura Wilkey, 65, told me. “It’s crude language, but he wasn’t in mixed company.” (At another forum later in the week, the BBC broadcast a debate between Trump’s Indiana team and two Clinton supporters from a local watering hole. Clinton’s side of the room at the forum sat substantially more women than Trump’s side did.)

“This election is insane,” Sue Bentrup, an 80-year-old retired nurse who planned to vote for Clinton, told me. “I feel sorry for the Abraham Lincoln Republicans. I’m nervous.”

Personally, I don't think it's the "pussy" video itself that caused it. It's the accumulation of all of it. And it's always possible that a few of these women, ridiculous as it obviously is, might even think Clinton will make a pretty good president.

Conway shows how a true liar gets it done

by digby

Trump has invited Obama's Kenyan half brother Malik who is a Trump supporter to the debate. He is very disappointed in his half-brother and Hillary Clinton:
He’s also annoyed that Clinton and President Obama killed Libyan leader Moammar Khadafy, whom he called one of his best friends.

Malik Obama dedicated his 2012 biography of his late father to Khadafy and others who were “making this world a better place.”

“I still feel that getting rid of Khadafy didn’t make things any better in Libya,” he said. “My brother and the secretary of state disappointed me in that regard.”

But what bothers him even more is the Democratic Party’s support of same-sex marriage.

“I feel like a Republican now because they don’t stand for same-sex marriage, and that appeals to me,” he said.

Obama believes strongly in the institution of marriage — so strongly that he has at least three current wives, although press reports have put the number as high as 12.

Kellyanne Conway was on MSNBC this morning and lied so smoothly about all this that it actually scared me:
MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle: Help me understand why bringing President Obama's half brother tonight, how does that help voters know who they want to elect as the next president of the United States?

Conway: That's all right. he wanted to come and we're happy to give him a ticket and accomodate him.

Ruhle: You guys are friends with him?

Conway: I'm not personally friends with him, I've never met him.

Ruhle: Donald Trump is friends with him?

Conway: But, yuo know, we're very inclusive.

Ruhle: To me, inviting president Obama's brother, are you not ringing some conspiracy theories? Are you not winking at the birther issue again?

Conway: What? No ...
That's not spinning. It's pathology.


Trump's trusted media sources

by digby

Margaret Sullivan has a good piece up today about Trump's affiliation with the conspiracy mongers and character assassins:

In recent days, Donald Trump stood in front of riled-up crowds and argued that both candidates should undergo drug tests before the final presidential debate Wednesday. Why? Because Hillary Clinton, he claimed, is taking performance-enhancing substances.

“I don’t know what’s going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like take me down,” he said. “She could barely reach her car.”

He provided no evidence for any of this. In fact, he seemed to be purposely mixing up Clinton’s debate performance with her recent bout with pneumonia. (In a much-viewed video, her knees buckled as she departed early from a 9/11 commemoration in New York.)

But here’s how Roger Stone, Trump’s ally and longtime dirty-trickster, described Clinton’s second debate behavior, in a recent interview with Alex Jones, the syndicated radio host and proprietor of InfoWars, a website that thrives on far-right conspiracy theories.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump believes there's a global conspiracy to stop him from becoming president – but it's not the first time he's pushed unfounded theories. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

“Look, of course she was jacked up on something. I assume some kind of methamphetamine.”

[It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump]

It sounds like a perfect circle of disinformation: Stone provides unfounded allegations to InfoWars, and lately, Trump has been using InfoWars like a news source.

Let’s be clear: If InfoWars is news, the yowling of feral cats is classical music, and Trump University the best place to invest your hard-saved tuition dollars.

InfoWars was founded by Jones, a purveyor of various crackpot notions, including that the Sandy Hook massacre of tiny children in 2012 was a government hoax intended to promote gun control. (It was all done with actors, Jones claims.)

And the California drought? Made up. InfoWars is also a great place to go for 9/11 “truther” rumors; Jones proudly calls himself a founder of those.

But Trump seems to be a fan: He did an interview with Jones last year, telling the host his “reputation is amazing.” Which is indeed true, but not in the complimentary way Trump intended it to be taken.

[What could a future Trump TV venture look like? Tune in here.]

“InfoWars is poisonous, and its journalistic value is negative,” said Rick Perlstein, the historian who has chronicled the modern conservative movement in books about Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. He called the circularity of Trump referring to Roger Stone’s interview in InfoWars as “a burlesque version” of Dick Cheney’s planting a story in the New York Times in the run-up to the Iraq War and then citing that story on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Perlstein wrote about the Jones/Trump connection in Salon in the spring, calling Jones “a lunatic,” observing that Trump was citing Jones’s denials of a California drought.

It’s well known, of course, that Trump increasingly is campaigning against what he calls “the corrupt media,” slamming news organizations for “false stories, all made up . . . lies, lies.” He calls reporters “scum” and insists that they are all tools of the Clinton campaign.

Still, he makes a few exceptions. He borrowed his top campaign executive, Stephen Bannon, from Breitbart News, the far-right website which is practically a wing of his campaign, often referred to as Trump Pravda.

Read on. It's a great story and should inform Villagers of some stuff of which they are obviously unaware.

She did miss one piece of the story. Stone didn't make up the drug thing. That came out of the Mercer family "Defeat Crooked Hillary" PAC which formerly employed both Kellyanne Conway and David Bossie. This ad was put online before Trump mentioned it on the stump:

The last debate. Thank God.

by digby

I wrote about it for Salon today:

If there is any justice in this world, Wednesday night will be the last time we will ever see Donald Trump on the presidential debate stage. What’s remarkable about typing that sentence is that his presence on that stage and in this race seems just as surreal today as it did a little over 14 months ago when the Republicans held their very first presidential debate of the 2016 cycle in Cleveland. Political junkies gathered excitedly to see if this unlikely frontrunner was going to fall apart or make an irreversible gaffe before the whole country. We’re still doing that. Give the man his due: He’s a high-wire act who has managed to keep up all riveted for more than a year, just waiting for him to fall.

It’s tempting at this late date to be jaded and say that Trump’s unpredictability has always been overhyped. But it really wasn’t. This man has said and done things in presidential debates that nobody else has ever done. He was completely unprepared, crude, arrogant and seemingly without any awareness that he was making a fool of himself. And he just kept going, winning primaries by hook or crook, all the way to the end. To call him a rule-breaker is inadequate. His debates have been train-wrecks from the very beginning. In the primaries, at least, that seemed to thrill a substantial portion of the Republican electorate.

The first primary debate in Cleveland foreshadowed every Trump debate to come. I wrote at the time, “Nobody really knows how Trump did. The normal rules of politics don’t seem to apply to him, so although he didn’t seem as commanding on the stage as his fans may have hoped, you just never know. For what it’s worth, if my local news was any guide, Trump was triumphant: ‘He stood his ground and apologized for nothing.'” And so it has gone ever since.

But looking back, his Achilles heel was evident in that first debate. Megyn Kelly was the moderator and famously confronted him about his treatment of women. His reaction the next day, launching a public feud with Kelly, seems to have been noted by the Clinton campaign. Hillary Clinton skillfully baited Trump when they met in the first general election debate, and he never recovered.

The Republicans held 12 debates during the primary season and they were all roughly the same. Trump crudely insulted his rivals, said many stupid things, showed himself to have bigoted and authoritarian views — and thrilled his voters each and every time. In the early days there were so many candidates that he got less airtime. But he always dominated. Here are some of the highlights:

Sept. 16, 2015, Simi Valley, California:

Standing before Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One at the former president’s library, Trump let fly. He insulted Rand Paul’s looks and Jeb Bush’s wife. He said he thought Carly Fiorina had a beautiful face when the moderator brought up a quote where Trump had — insulted her face.

Oct. 28, Boulder, Colorado:

Trump got angry at the moderator, John Harwood, for suggesting that he was running a “comic-book campaign.” The whole group had a hissy fit that the debate questions were unfair.

Nov. 19, Milwaukee:

Trump asked the moderator to stop Carly Fiorina from interrupting him. He dismissed John Kasich as an unworthy opponent who got lucky when Ohio discovered fracking.
Dec. 15, Las Vegas:

As I wrote at the time, Trump “reiterated his call to kill the relatives of terrorists, at one point even petulantly bellowing, ‘So they can kill us, but we can’t kill them?’ He also proved that he had no idea what the ‘nuclear triad is and suggested that you can ‘shut down certain areas’ of the internet.”

Jan. 13, 2016, North Charleston, South Carolina:

The bromance between Trump and Ted Cruz finally ended, with Cruz attacking Trump’s “New York values” and Trump responding with his best line in the whole campaign: “The people of New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death — the smell of death was with us for months.”

Jan. 28, Des Moines, Iowa:

Trump was still mad at Megyn Kelly so he didn’t show up, holding a veterans fundraising event instead. He had to be publicly prodded, months later, to fulfill his pledge to donate the money.

Feb. 6, Goffstown, New Hampshire:

Trump went full barbarian, saying, “I mean, we studied medieval times — not since medieval times have people seen what’s going on.” Apparently he meant what was going on in Iraq and Syria with ISIS, although it wasn’t entirely clear. “I would bring back waterboarding,” he said, “and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

Feb. 13, Greenville, South Carolina:

He called everyone on the stage liars to their faces, and hit Jeb Bush for his brother being asleep at the wheel on 9/11 and wrongly invading Iraq. The pundits all said he’d gone too far, that you couldn’t say that in South Carolina. He won the primary.

Feb. 25, Houston:

Trump said no one on the stage had done as much for Israel as he had. After the debate, he claimed the IRS was auditing him because he’s such a “strong Christian.”

March 3, Detroit:

This was the night Trump talked about his penis: “Look at those hands, are they small hands? And, he referred to my hands — ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.” This was also the debate in which he insisted that the military would follow his orders without question, even if those orders were to commit war crimes, which he openly endorsed.

March 10, Coral Gables, Florida:

The final debate with the final four: Marco Rubio, Kasich, Cruz and Trump. It was the scariest of all because they were all composed, civil — and completely insane. Trump had triumphed over the Republican Party. It was obvious he was going to win the nomination.

Hillary Clinton easily won the two previous general election debates. At this stage in the campaign people expect the candidates to be knowledgeable and prepared. Donald Trump is capable of neither. It’s always possible he could throw Clinton off-balance with his usual antics, so everyone still has that breathless sense of anticipation wondering if the whole thing is going to turn into even more of a freak show than it’s already been. It’s made for good TV, but it’s been a travesty for our country. Let’s hope this encounter in Vegas is the last debate of its kind.

Five climate questions (plus one) for the next Presidential Debate

by Gaius Publius

As you may have heard, the topics for the next presidential debate have been chosen:
  • Debt and entitlements
  • Immigration
  • Economy
  • Supreme Court
  • Foreign hot spots
  • Fitness to be President
and quelle surprise, not one is about the climate. Unless, of course, Brad Johnson has sussed this one out.

At Media Matters, though, Andrew Seifter has figured out how climate can enter the debate after all. His piece is longer than just these questions, and worth reading in full, but as debate prep for viewers, consider his list of climate questions under five of the six topics chosen:
Topic: Immigration

Possible Debate Question: Studies show that climate change worsened the extreme drought in Syria that contributed to the Syrian refugee crisis, and that the effects of climate change on crop yields will drive millions of Mexicans to seek entry into the United States in the coming decades. Will you incorporate climate change into your immigration policies, and if so, how?

Topic: Economy

Possible Debate Question: A 2016 survey of 750 top economists found that climate change is now the single greatest threat to the global economy. What will you do to protect our economy from the effects of climate change?

Topic: Supreme Court

Possible Debate Question: Following a 2007 Supreme Court ruling and a scientific assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA is legally required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change under the Clean Air Act. Will you implement the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the EPA’s emissions reduction strategy, and if not, how will your administration fulfill the Supreme Court’s mandate to cut greenhouse gas pollution?

Topic: Foreign Hot Spots

Possible Debate Question: The Pentagon has determined that climate change will “aggravate existing problems -- such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions -- that threaten domestic stability in a number of countries.” To what extent do you believe climate-related risks should be integrated into military planning?

Topic: Fitness To Be President

Possible Debate Question: The scientific community is nearly unanimous in saying that global warming is happening and caused by burning fossil fuels, yet many politicians refuse to acknowledge this is the case. Will you listen to the scientists on climate change, and do you believe that those who refuse to do so are unfit for our nation’s highest office?
These are almost softball questions, and Chris Wallace could easily ask them:
  • How will you deal with climate refugees from Mexico? 
  • How will you protect our economy from climate-driven devastation? (More on that here.)
  • How will you implement the Supreme Court's climate mandate?
  • Will you direct military planners to integrate climate chaos into their scenarios? (Hint: They already do.)
  • Is a climate denier fit to serve as president?
You can tweet Chris Wallace at @FoxNewsSunday. But that's just five of the six debate categories. I think I can offer one more, and it's no softball.
A "Debt and Entitlements" Question

I have a final question, one for the Debt and Entitlements section, and it's a whopper. Not at all a softball question.

Consider what happens if humans fail to significantly limit atmospheric CO2 and other greenhouse gases through, say, 2060. That is, what if our "leaders" give it a try — enough of a try that none of them is villainized (or thrown out of office) — but sorry, they just couldn't get there because of "constraints" of some kind.

That scenario — halfway sorta getting "there" — is similar to what the IPCC used to call its "A2 scenario," a world that reaches 600 ppm CO2 by the end of the century, but not the almost-1000 ppm CO2 predicted by the IPCC's worst-case scenario, A1FI (the "FI" stands for "fuel intensive)."

Projected changes over the 21st century in the atmospheric concentrations of three greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O). These projections by the United States Environmental Protection Agency are based on emissions scenarios contained in the IPCC SRES document.[13] The A2 scenario is near the middle in each chart. Note that the worse case, or "business as usual," scenario, A1FI, reaches nearly 1000 ppm CO2 by end-of-century (source; click to enlarge).

Now consider this evaluation (pdf) of the world-wide cost of all climate impacts, calculated both with and without human adaptation to them, assuming we do little to mitigate those impacts — do little, in other words, to "soften the punch" of global climate change ahead of time and merely try to "absorb the blow" as it comes.

The title of the study referenced above is Assessing the costs of adaptation to climate change: A review of the UNFCCC and other recent estimates, published in August 2009. After looking at all of the ways climate change will cause damage ("impacts"), and assessing the total costs of each of those impacts, they have arrived at a number, or rather a range of numbers.

From Table 8.1 of that study, there is "very high" confidence that the world-wide total cost of the damage (net present value in 2000 dollars) will be in the range of ... ready? ... $270 trillion to $3,290 trillion, with a mean value of $1,240 trillion if we spend no money on adaptation — that is, if we, the species, just let it happen to us and try to roll with it. (That's a distinct possibility, by the way, that we will do not much to adapt until it's too late.)

On the other hand, if we fail to "soften the punch" of climate change (no mitigation) but do succeed at some adaptation to the blow (anticipate and prepare, in other words), those numbers improve ... to a very high confidence range of $170 trillion to $2,340 trillion, and a mean of $890 trillion.

Let's average those means to something like a world-wide cost of climate impacts of about $1,000 trillion.


With that in mind, my suggested "debt and entitlements" climate question is this:
Topic: Debt and Entitlements

Suggested question: The world-wide total cost of the damage from climate change, its world-wide impact, has been credibly estimated by a peer-reviewed study as something like 1,000 trillion dollars. Again, that's one thousand trillion.

Clearly, most of that cost will not fall on the United States, but a good percentage of it will. Let's say conservatively that only 10% of that cost, or $100 trillion, will be borne by the U.S. If we amortize that cost to the U.S. over the rest of this century, the price of not "softening the blow" of those impacts, not mitigating the damage ahead of time, comes to about $1.1 trillion per year.

So my question for each of you is two-fold. First, given those numbers, do you plan to treat climate change as a WWII-style emergency as a way to bring those cost numbers down? And if you don't, how do you propose we pay for our failure to treat it as one? Where will that $1.1 trillion-per-year come from?
I don't know if those numbers got your attention, but they certainly got mine — just as they did in 2009, when they were first reported.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



A cheese shop uncontaminated by cheese

by Tom Sullivan

More from the man who'd push the red button to prove how big his "hands" are.

ABC News:

With just 21 days to go before Election Day, Donald Trump has claimed repeatedly on the campaign trail that the election is being "rigged," tweeting on Monday specifically about "large scale voter fraud" being a problem.

ABC News reached out to the top election official in all 50 states to find out if they agree. Of the 26 state officials who immediately responded, all maintained that the presidential election has not and will not be rigged in their state.

And since Republicans control so many state legislatures, Think Progress observes, "If the election is really rigged, 33 states are rigged by Republicans." (Image at top.)

The Guardian:

It will comes as little surprise to those who have paid even the slightest attention to the post-truth campaign of Donald Trump that these claims of voter fraud and ballot rigging are almost entirely fact-free and lacking in evidence. One legal scholar dedicated years to studying the issue and could find only 31 cases of voter fraud out of more than a billion votes cast. As the ThinkProgress thinktank has noted: “Iowa’s Republican secretary of state uncovered zero cases of voter impersonation at the polls during a two-year investigation.” Even the hard right Breitbart website – so close to Trump that its boss, Steve Bannon, is the chief executive of the Trump campaign – had to admit that, “given the sheer variety of jurisdictions that run a typical presidential election, the nationwide effect of voter fraud may be much harder to measure, and probably small”.
Post-truth campaign is right. The party that in the "do your own thing" 1960s started accusing the left of moral relativism now practices factual relativism. Conservatives insist on believing their own thing. Whoo-EEE! Facts are for losers. Winners make up their own. Evidence not required.

Getting especially tired of this BS (as defined by Wikipedia):
Proof by assertion, sometimes informally referred to as proof by repeated assertion, is an informal fallacy in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction. Sometimes, this may be repeated until challenges dry up, at which point it is asserted as fact due to its not being contradicted (argumentum ad nauseam). In other cases, its repetition may be cited as evidence of its truth, in a variant of the appeal to authority or appeal to belief fallacies.
A form of brainwashing, in extreme cases.

RationalWiki provides an example:
It is a very simple formal logical fallacy that has the following structure:
X is true.
In practice, arguments by assertion tend to take the "rinse and repeat" approach to logic:
X is true.
No really, X is true.
Actually, X is true.
But X is true.
What's frightening is how much post-truthiness has infected the entire culture. A fairly lengthy article by a 3rd Degree Berner that flashed across Facebook the other day (can't find it now) had a virtually identical structure. "The primary was rigged. No really, it was rigged. You can tell it was rigged because of how rigged it was," etc. No evidence offered. None required.

It's the logic of a cheese shop uncontaminated by cheese.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Clovis man makes stuff up

by digby

Whatever it takes to justify their loss, regardless of the truth:
In a speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on Monday night, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump drilled down on his new favorite talking point — warnings that the election may be “rigged” against him. 
In the speech, Trump alleged that “it is possible” that illegal votes from undocumented immigrants (who, although they pay taxes, are not allowed to vote) may have won President Obama the state of North Carolina in 2008.
“It could have provided the margin of victory,” Trump said.

There’s no credible evidence backing up Trump’s claim. Nonetheless, his campaign is backing him up — with even more misinformation. 

In an interview with local Boston radio, Trump’s campaign co-chair Sam Clovis was asked if Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about North Carolina were “irresponsible.” Clovis said that instead, “it raises an issue.” 

“I’ve done a lot of work and study in this area, so here’s what happens: you have the opportunity for illegal immigrants to come to the state, and the state loosens its laws to provide for individuals to get drivers licences in the state, illegal or otherwise,” Clovis said. Then, he alleged, once the undocumented immigrants have the photo ID, “what happens sometimes is that you are able to register to vote because you establish residency.” 

Clovis’ defense of Trump’s comments is based on a wholly false premise: North Carolina does not allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers licences.

They're just saying anything that comes into their heads now. 

Her brand is in crisis

by digby

Try as she might Ivanka Trump cannot hide the fact that her family name is now the most loathed brand in America:

Her social media provides, in the progressive parlance her father likely abhors, a safe space. In an election season in which there seems to be no escape from the campaign — where it is difficult, if not impossible, to make it through a 24 hour stretch without reading, thinking, or talking about the election — Ivanka’s pages may well be some of the only internet real estate where November 8th (or 28th, or 35th) is just another day to be a woman who works.

References to the campaign are fleeting, restrained: A picture of the op-ed she wrote for the Wall Street Journal about her father’s plan for working mothers, of Ivanka giving a speech at a campaign event. Though her father’s name appears a few times, like on the sign outside his just-opened Washington, D.C. hotel, his face is scarcely seen, save for a few snapshots from the night he accepted the GOP nomination. For the most part, Ivanka’s color palette skews less republican red and more ballet pink.

Ivanka's brand is for middle class working women. They are the last people who will want to own anything with the Trump name on it ever again. He messed everyone in the family up with ridiculous run for president but none more than his darling daughter. She's toast.

Democrats are together

by digby

Contrary to a lot of noise you hear on social media, the Democratic left is on the same page in this election:

A group of influential progressive intellectuals are giving Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton their seal of approval ― and urging fellow progressives, including those who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primaries, to do the same.

In a letter that went public on Tuesday and was provided in advance to The Huffington Post, more than 50 progressive economists and other policy experts endorse Clinton’s candidacy ― not simply as a way to defeat GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, but also as a way to advance a liberal economic agenda.

The letter warns that “drastic increases in income inequality have created a deep malaise among many Americans who are increasingly excluded from the promise of a better future.” Then it offers an overview of Clinton’s proposals ― including a higher minimum wage, big spending on infrastructure and new early childhood education programs ― that are designed to bolster economic fortunes for the poor and middle class.

Many, and probably most voters don’t know about Clinton’s agenda. And those who do may not have faith she’ll pursue those policies in office. This is particularly true for voters who supported Sanders in the primary and know Clinton primarily through her associations with Wall Street and her public statements in favor of her husband’s legislative achievements, including the expansion of free trade and imposition of time limits on welfare.

Stay informed with the latest news and video. Download HuffPost’s news app on iOS or Android.

The letter does not mention Sanders explicitly. But Martin Carnoy, a Stanford economist who helped draft and gather signatures for the letter, said one of his goals was “to reassure progressives that Clinton is committed to the [progressive] agenda we have listed.”

The figures behind the letter may help with that. Carnoy’s partners in the enterprise were Robert Reich, a former labor secretary who is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, andDerek Shearer, a former ambassador to Finland who is now a professor at Occidental College.

Reich and Shearer’s ties to the Clintons go back in the 1960s, when they first met Bill Clinton at Oxford. They also have strong progressive bona fides. Reich, in particular, became famous forarguing with more conservative advisers in the Clinton administration ― and, more recently, for endorsing Sanders in the primaries.
I think you would be safe to say that almost all these names are in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.Stanford economist Martin Carnoy

Informed progressive observers will recognize many of the letter’s signatories, starting with Stephanie Kelton, a University of Missouri-Kansas City economist who has been a top adviser to Sanders. Among the other notables are Economic Policy Institute President Larry Mishel, who was beating the drums about wage stagnation before it was fashionable; Harvard economist Dani Rodrik, an early advocate for treating free trade more skeptically; and Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez, who is among the world’s most influential experts on inequality.

The list also includes a few people with White House experience ― among them, University of Michigan economist Betsey Stevenson, an Obama administration veteran perhaps most famous for her advocacy of generous work-family supports.

“I think you would be safe to say that almost all these names are in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” Carnoy said. “They are all deeply concerned with issues of inequality and social justice.”

Of course, vouching for the progressive elements of Clinton’s agenda is one thing. Vouching for her commitment to enacting them is quite another. In Washington, progressives have made clear they plan to apply political pressure, should Clinton become president, to make sure she doesn’t walk away from her policy commitments ― or fill her administration with appointees uninterested in pursuing an aggressively liberal agenda.

But Shearer, for one, thinks Clinton may surprise skeptical progressives.

“I’ve long felt that Mrs. Clinton would make a more progressive president than her husband,” Shearer said.

This too:

Hillary Clinton is dominating Donald Trump among millennial voters, according to a new USA Today/Rock the Vote poll released Monday.

Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, has 68 percent support among likely millennial voters, and Trump, the Republican nominee, is backed by only 20 percent, according to the survey.

Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson has the support of 8 percent of likely voters, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein is backed by 1 percent.

Now it's about turnout.

Getting crazy

by digby

Just ....

This happened in New York this morning:

It depicts the Democratic presidential candidate with her hands in the air and her suit jacket flung open, a suited man that is apparently supposed to be a Wall Street banker reaching around her bare chest, and a pair of hoofed feet stomping on Libya.

Trump says Clinton is too tough ---but only with Russia

by digby

This is just weird:
Donald J. Trump suggested on Monday that Hillary Clinton was too “tough” in her language about Russia, and said that if he won the election, he might meet with President Vladimir V. Putin before being sworn in.

Mr. Trump made the remarks in an interview with the conservative radio host Michael Savage, who repeatedly affirmed Mr. Trump’s recent claims that the mainstream media was attempting to thwart him.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Savage that the United States’ current leadership, as well as Mrs. Clinton, was too aggressive against Mr. Putin.

“They insult him constantly — I mean, no wonder he can’t stand Obama and Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Trump said, calling the tensions a “very serious problem.”

“It is the worst situation that we’ve had with Russia since the end of the Cold War, by far,” he said.

Mr. Trump added that “she shouldn’t be talking so tough” about Russia, and he suggested, as he has repeatedly in recent months, that Russia could be an ally in fighting the Islamic State.

“We have Putin, who has no respect for Obama at all — doesn’t like him, and doesn’t respect him,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Savage, calling the difficulties “a really catastrophic situation here, I’ll be honest with you.”

He added, “If I win on Nov. 8, I could see myself meeting with Putin and meeting with Russia prior to the start of the administration.”

Democrats have often assailed Mr. Trump for his comments about Mr. Putin, whom he has characterized as a stronger leader than President Obama.

Mr. Trump, who has declined to make his tax returns public, has denied that he has business interests in Russia.

But he has also refused to acknowledge that the United States intelligence officials have attributed the hacking of the Democratic National Committee to Russian hackers who they said must have had the approval of the Kremlin’s top leaders.

But beyond the potential meeting with Mr. Putin, Mr. Trump did not offer a strategy for dealing with Moscow.

This has to be one of the strangest aspects of this election and it's something I hope someone gets to the bottom of eventually. Those comments could sound reasonable coming from a peace candidate like Dennis Kucinich or maybe even Bernie Sanders. It's completely incongruant coming from Donald Trump. Indeed, it makes no sense whatsoever in terms of this other statements about world affairs. Even within his own comments he goes on about how the Russian president doesn't "respect" the president and Hillary Clinton at the same time as he says they are too tough with him --- which is not how Trump ever characterizes "respect."

Here's an example of how Trump talks about other rivals:

Today [Sunday morning] on the top of Drudge [Report]. Matt Drudge is a phenomenal person and a good guy -- it is a big deal, top of Drudge. China is upset with Donald Trump.

How dare them? So they go -- They're upset. This is the story -- biggest story, top of Drudge. Big story. China is upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They're ripping us off, folks.

It is time. I'm so happy they're upset. They haven't been upset with us in thirty years.


"You know we have a treaty with Japan, where if Japan is attacked, we have to use the full force and might of the United States," he said.

"If we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television, OK?"
I think for Merkel to have allowed millions of people into Germany… and Germany is totally destabilised now… I don’t believe it’ll ever be the same, maybe in 200 years but it’ll never be the same and Germany of all countries, I cannot believe they allowed this to happen.”

I don't think I need to lay out his many insults against Mexico or the Middle East.

This, about "respect":

Donald Trump thinks that tactical nuclear weapons may be worth using in the war against the Islamic State.

In an interview with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann of Bloomberg, the Republican presidential frontrunner refused to rule out using tactical nuclear weapons in the war against ISIS.

“I’m never going to rule anything out—I wouldn’t want to say. Even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t want to tell you that because at a minimum, I want them to think maybe we would use them,” he said.

Trump also said he’s open to tactics like waterboarding and monitoring American mosques in the fight. He also talked about respect, which he sees as one of the biggest problems facing the US right now.

A request for comment from the Trump campaign was not immediately returned.

“They have to respect us,” Trump said in the interview. “They do not respect us at all and frankly they don’t respect a lot of things that are happening—not only our country, but they don’t respect other things.”

“The first thing you have to do is get them to respect the West and respect us. And if they’re not going to respect us it’s never going to work. This has been going on for a long time,” he said. “I don’t think you can do anything and I don’t think you’re going to be successful unless they respect you. They have no respect for our president and they have no respect for our country right now.”

That is not a peace candidate who just wants friendly relations with foreign countries. It's a fucking psychopath.

The only exception to his violent, dominating adversarial posture is Russia. Which is weird. There's a story here but I have no idea what it is.


Republicans are the riggers

by digby

I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

This presidential election has featured the Republican nominee talking about the size of his manly member on national TV and talking about grabbing women by the crotch on video. He has also endorsed torture, mass deportations, a 2,000-mile border wall, war crimes, nuclear proliferation, a ban on Muslims and jailing his opponent, all cheered on wildly by his rapturous supporters. All of that is a terrible comment on the state of American democracy. But as hard as it is to believe, something even more disturbing is happening. Yesterday morning Politico reported that 41 percent of registered voters believe that the election could be “stolen” from Donald Trump because of voter fraud. That number rises to 71 percent among Republicans.

Donald Trump himself has been pushing this theme ever since his poll numbers started slipping. His TV surrogates and campaign advisers started out spinning his charges as more or less metaphorical, saying that he meant the media was on Clinton’s side and therefore “rigging” the election. Former house speaker Newt Gingrich said, “The complaint isn’t at the polling level, it’s at the news media level.” Trump’s running mate Mike Pence explained, “The American people are tired of the biased media, that’s where the sense of a rigged election goes.” Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed Trump had “never talked about cheating at the polling place.”

That didn’t last long. Trump himself has recently made it clear that he thinks the election is literally going to be stolen from him at the ballot box. On Monday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin, he said:

They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. Believe me, there’s a lot going on. Do you ever hear these people, they say there’s nothing going on? People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. Where are the street smarts of some of these politicians?

“Street smarts” or delusion? Studies show this is utter nonsense. There have only been 31 credible instances of voter impersonation out of more than 1 billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014.

A couple of weeks ago in Michigan, he gave some explicit instructions to his followers.

For obvious reasons, Trump has a particular habit of saying these things to his white audiences in proximity to urban areas with large numbers of people of color.

Republican election lawyer Ben Ginsburg was on MSNBC Monday, explaining that since there are 8,000 to 9,000 different jurisdictions across the United States that count ballots in different ways it’s important that people take advantage of state law “to be able to see exactly what’s going on in a polling place.” He cited Giuliani’s method of sending in lawyers to every precinct to challenge the votes and advised Donald Trump to do that also. On the same show, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele agreed that Democrats “largely control polling places in major metropolitan areas” naming the predominantly African-American Prince George’s County, Maryland, as the prime example and exhorting Republicans to “get off their behinds to get out there to do election judging, etc., etc.”

The Boston Globe recently quoted a Trump voter declaring how he planned to help out:

Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure. I’ll look for … well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American. I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.

Actually, making people “a little bit nervous” at polling places is illegal. It’s called voter intimidation.

Some Republican leaders have tried to reassure voters that the election will not be stolen, but it’s too little, too late. After all, Republicans have been trying to manipulate elections for decades going all the way back to Operation Eagle Eye during the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign when future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist was a young lawyer intimidating black and Latino voters in Arizona. Then, as now, this was done in the name of preventing unauthorized people from voting.

In the 1980s, there were consent decrees in place all over the country as various local arms of the GOP got caught violating federal election laws by trying to suppress minority votes. In the wake of Jesse Jackson’s highly successful voter registration drives, Republicans instigated a campaign to purge voter rolls in African-American communities throughout the South and urban areas. They professionalized and nationalized their operation by recruiting lawyers and training them in the election laws of different jurisdictions so they could more efficiently challenge Democratic votes.

By the 2000 election they had hundreds of trained election lawyers at the ready and they all swooped in on Florida when Al Gore asked for a recount. (The state party under Jeb Bush had already taken care of the purge of African-Americans from the voter rolls, which helped make it so close.) Ironically, the chief justice of the Supreme Court was William Rehnquist and naturally he cast the deciding vote to stop the recount and hand the election to George W. Bush.

Immediately upon taking office, Republicans began to work on their next big vote suppression project. As Ari Berman reported in the Nation:

The incoming Bush administration prioritized prosecutions of voter fraud over investigations into voter disenfranchisement — longtime civil-rights lawyers were forced out of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorneys were fired for refusing to pursue bogus fraud cases, and the first strict voter-ID laws were passed by Republican legislatures. The Bush Justice Department launched a five-year investigation into alleged voter-fraud abuses.

This will be the first presidential election in 50 years without the protections of the Voting Rights Act, which theconservative majority of the Supreme Court (including three members who voted to give the election to George W. Bush in 2000, and two more who worked on the recount on the behalf of the GOP) told America that there was no more need for such protections since we were past those ugly days of voter suppression. Seventeen states have new voting restrictions in place.

This is what’s known as “rigging elections.” Donald Trump just got a little bit confused about who’s doing the rigging. The Republicans have been at it for a very long time.
Three ways the President alone can rein in prescription drug prices

by Gaius Publius

Along with many others, we recently wrote about Mylan's predatory price increases on the life-saving prescription drug product EpiPen. Then came the news that the interestingly named Valeant had increased the price of a prescription drug it had purchased, not developed, more than 2700%, apparently anticipating a growing lead poisoning crisis like the one in Flint, Michigan. ("Did your kids get sick from eating lead paint? We'll fix them right up ... for $27,000.")

At the end of the Valeant piece, I added a section that argued for an industry-wide — and Executive Branch-only — fix. Don't play Whack-a-Mole with individual companies, I argued. Whack drug prices industry-wide, or we'll always be chasing a shadow and fixing problems only when they're reported as scandals.

High prescription prices are an industry problem, not a problem of "outliers" (source; click to enlarge)

It turns out that Rep. Mark Pocan and a number of his colleagues have the same idea. From a letter Pocan wrote, and dozens of his colleagues signed, here are three specific suggestions that the next president can unilaterally enact, whoever she or he may be.

First, use existing statutory power to make sure that drugs developed in whole or in part by taxpayer funds are not monopoly-priced:
We believe your Administration should issue fair and transparent guidelines to ensure the public has access to lifesaving drugs developed using federally funded research. Specifically, you should instruct the Director of the National Institutes of Health to ensure that drugs researched and developed with taxpayer funds are kept accessible to the public by authorizing new competition for unaffordable, monopoly-priced medications—an existing statutory power granted by the Bayh-Dole Act (Pub. L. 96-517). This is an important step in deterring corporations from holding federally funded patented drugs from setting unreasonable prices.
This applies to a large number of drugs, by the way.

Second, there's existing authority to authorize prescription drug importation under some qualifications. Pocan, and frankly, the vast majority of the public, believes this authority should be used, and now.
Moreover, we also encourage your administration to explore implementing drug importation rules that are already part of U.S. law. Under authority from the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, the Secretary of Health and Human Services can certify the importation of prescription drugs from other countries under specific qualifications. This regulatory action would pose no risk to public health and safety and could result in a significant reduction in the cost of prescription drugs to American families.
This authority, if used, should not be "triangulated" as a bargaining chip to negotiate just certain drug prices down. It should be applied as quickly, as broadly, and as aggressively as possible.

Put simply: The government is not in the business of making sure businesses make money — that's their job. The government has a Constitutional mandate to "promote the general welfare," the welfare, in other words, of the natural humans whose "consent of the governed" keeps that government in business.

Third, use authority that exists, but since Reagan, is almost never used, to curb monopolies (what used to be called violations of the "restraint of trade" prohibition):
We believe your administration also has the authority to address issues within the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] to more effectively combat monopolies held by pharmaceutical companies and the use of patent settlements to block all other generic drug competition for a growing number of branded drugs, also known as “pay-for-delay.” We are deeply concerned that pharmaceutical companies will continue this unethical and unlawful practice until necessary reforms are developed and implemented.
In the old days, the FTC was quite aggressive in blocking mergers and other monopolistic practices. Reagan simply stopped antitrust enforcement.
Capitalism without competition always leads to monopolies and oligarchies, and thanks to Reagan's refusal to maintain competition in our markets by enforcing the Sherman [Antitrust] Act, these formed in every major industry in America, from telecom to food and even the media.

Today, the Sherman Act is never used against the big boys. Big banks have grown out of control. Megastores like Walmart have wreaked havoc on local businesses, while telecom and cable companies like Comcast and AT&T have all of us in economic chains. Even our media has been consolidated.

Look at some of the companies that dominate the marketplace today. Google has 90% market share of internet search engines. Facebook has a 64% market share of social media sites. And Sirius/XM Radio has an astonishing 100% market share of satellite radio in this country.
The next president (and in fact, the current one, if he were so inclined) can fix that almost instantly. Of course, that president would need to understand her or his duty as being to the people (natural persons) and not to the profiteers.

But I have been told that this, by Hillary Clinton, is a reason for hope. So let's consider what Clinton proposes regarding prescription drug prices.

The Clinton Proposal

It's good that Hillary Clinton has a thoughtful proposal at her website (see link above) to address the problem of high prescription drug prices. The problem with the price aspect of the Clinton proposal (there are other aspects) is that it's mainly focused on "outlier" pricing, with this single exception:
Prohibit “pay for delay” arrangements that keep generic competition off the market. Hillary Clinton would prohibit “pay for delay” agreements that allow drug manufacturers to keep generic competition off of the market – lowering prices for Americans, and saving the government up to $10 billion.
Aside from that general action, none of the rest of what Rep. Pocan and his colleagues propose is included. For example, Clinton believes that Medicare should use its size to negotiate drug pricing down, but doesn't mention that this has been forbidden by Congress.

About prescription drug importation, the only mention is "emergency importation." Is the importation authority in the Pocan letter broader than just "emergency importation"? Perhaps; his letter doesn't address that point. But even so, each of the references to emergency importation in the Clinton proposal would be triggered by "outlier" pricing. The Pocan proposal would make importation the norm in the broadest sense allowed by law.

Lastly, the first Pocan proposal, using the Bayh-Dole Act, is not mentioned by Clinton at all.

It's imperative that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump be put on the record now regarding these three specific proposals — now, before either enters the White House. Remember our Rule 47, which reminds us that we'll never have more leverage with candidates in a close race than before the vote is taken. That means we have not many days to press them both on this life-and-death issue.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)