Sunday, October 16, 2016

You Just Keep Being You, Donald. Please.

Opinion |

Dear Mr. Trump:
I know there are people around who are telling you that you’re blowing this election, that the tactics you’re using are ill-conceived and self-defeating. I know they’re urging you to stay off Twitter and to let the political professionals handle your message.
I can tell you that I only have your best interests and, even more important, the best interests of America, in mind when I say this: Don’t you believe them, Mr. Trump. You keep right on doing what you’re doing. In fact, I think you need to ramp it up. A lot.
Take Paul Ryan, for example. How dare he withdraw his support and tell down-ballot candidates to do whatever it takes to save their own political careers? That was a betrayal of you personally. Worse than that, it was disrespectful, and we all know you’re a man who doesn’t tolerate or forgive disrespect. It’s why your base loves you.
So you should totally keep going after the Republican speaker of the House, calling him “very weak” and “ineffective” on Twitter. You’re not going to need him when you take power.
In fact, you know what? You should do the same to each and every one of the 33 House members and 17 senators from your party who have shown you that same appalling level of disrespect.
You should do a nasty Tweet about each and every one of them individually. Space the tweets out over days. Take your time. Tell them they’re losers. Keep telling them their “poll numbers — and elections — are going down” in November. After all, you tweeted it yourself: “Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary.” Show America you know who the real enemy is.
Hey, I’ve got an even better idea! Tell them that when you win, they’re going to jail! That’ll show them you’re not a candidate to be trifled with. It’ll purge the weaklings and cow the rest into silence. Let the Republicans hate, so long as they fear, right?
And how about those debate moderators? Boy, they sure rigged the thing for Hillary, didn’t they? You should spend lots and lots of time talking about them, and talking in general about how unfair the media is to you.
Tell them how you’re going to single-handedly “open up” the libel laws so you can sue and — dare we even hope? — put anyone in jail who criticizes you in a way you think is unfair. That’ll really show people what kind of leader you’ll be: a strong one. Like Vladimir Putin or Saddam Hussein.
Also, you should totally double down on bringing up the women who’ve accused Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting them. You should bring them to every campaign event, just to remind people that it’s not necessary for anyone to be charged, let alone found guilty, of sexual assault.
The accusation is enough for the guy to be branded a “rapist,” right? Unless of course the person making the accusation is someone like Jill Harth, who’s sued you for allegedly trying to rape her in your own daughter’s bedroom. Or that woman who’s suing you for allegedly tying her to a bed, beating her and raping her at your good buddy and convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein’s house when she was only 13.
Or your ex-wife Ivana, who accused you of raping her while you were married but later, after being pressured by your lawyers, said she was only “violated.” Those gals have, in your words, “real problems,” am I right?
So you keep defending your bragging about sexually assaulting women as “locker room talk.” Keep bringing up Bill Clinton’s accusers and talk about how Hillary “attacked” them. I’m sure no other women from your past will come forward to accuse you of that same behavior.
(Oh, by the way, if you’re tempted to grab a strange woman by her private parts while you’re campaigning in North Carolina, don’t. It’s called “sexual battery” here, and being convicted of it would require you to register as a sex offender.)
In summation, Mr. Trump, I’m glad that, as you recently tweeted, “the shackles are finally off.” Let Trump be Trump. Lead the Republican party to its inevitable, God-ordained destruction — I mean its destiny. Please your base, and everyone else can go pound sand. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Stay the course, Mr. Trump. America depends on it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

There Can Be Only One

Opinion |

It seems like only yesterday that one of the favorite right-wing talking points was “only one candidate is under FBI investigation.” Well, that investigation has come and gone, with no criminal charges recommended or brought. But there’s still one candidate who’s unique in so many ways:
Only one candidate’s skin is so thin that he gets up at 3 in the morning to engage in a Twitter feud with a former Miss Universe and to insist that he was completely justified in cruelly humiliating her in public 20 years ago because she was really, really getting fat.
Only one candidate completely loses his mind, his temper, and all sense of decorum and proportion every time you mention Rosie O’Donnell.
Only one candidate thinks it’s a legitimate campaign tactic to attack his opponents’ spouse, both in the primary and the general elections.
Only one candidate has mocked a disabled person on camera.
Only one candidate’s foundation has received a “cease and desist” letter from the New York attorney general because of raising funds without being legally certified as eligible to do so.
Only one candidate’s foundation has used $258,000 donated allegedly for charitable purposes to settle the candidate’s legal problems and over $30,000 to pay for huge portraits of the candidate.
Only one candidate used money from his charitable foundation to pay big contributions to two attorneys general to get them to lay off a fraud investigation, while bragging that when he gives money to politicians, they do what he wants.
Only one candidate has repeatedly expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Only one candidate says he wants to “run the government like a business” after losing nearly a billion dollars in his own companies and putting them through multiple bankruptcies.
Only one candidate says that people who don’t pay taxes are “a problem” in society but then says that not paying taxes because he lost all that money just shows how “smart” he is. Guess that makes those of us who do pay taxes and don’t lose hundreds of millions “dumb” in his eyes.
Only one candidate says he wants to “run government like a business” after stiffing multiple small business people, daring them to sue, and fighting them tooth and nail in court to avoid paying the money he owed.
Only one candidate has longstanding and well-documented ties to the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia mobs, including paying double market value to Philly mobster Salvatore Testa for land upon which to build a casino.
Only one candidate paid far over market value for ready-mix concrete to New York Mafiosi Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, the boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul Castellano, head of the Gambino family. Only one candidate has been proven to have used illegal immigrant Polish workers in a demolition project on one of his New York building projects, mysteriously without any backlash from the unions.
Only one candidate has an upcoming court date in a civil fraud and racketeering case.
On the other hand, only one candidate was secretary of state when four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. And that candidate is the only one who’s undergone scrutiny by a total of 10 government committees, including highly partisan House and Senate select committees, in regard to the tragedy.
Those committees have generated thousands of pages of reports at a cost of millions of dollars, in order to find absolutely no evidence of personal wrongdoing by that candidate.
Only one candidate has been the focus of more prolonged, highly partisan investigations than any other in U.S. history, investigations which have turned up exactly zero criminal activity.
And yet only one candidate gets the benefit of “innocent until proven guilty” in the court of media and public opinion. After all, where there’s that much smoke, there must be some fire somewhere, right? But only for one candidate.
Both candidates supported the Iraq War. And only one voted for it, because only one was in a position at the time to do that. The other one was apparently busy losing millions of dollars in his businesses. But only one candidate is honest enough to admit that support and only one now says it was a mistake.
To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes from the late Hunter S. Thompson: Hillary Clinton may have made some stupid mistakes, but they pale in comparison to what Donald J. Trump does every day, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.
I started this year as a Bernie Sanders supporter, and I’m still not totally thrilled about Hillary Clinton. But when you weigh the pros and cons — the longtime political pro versus the shameless con artist — the choice is clear. There can be only one.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Donald Trumps Himself

Opinion |

So the first presidential debate has come and gone, and pretty much everyone who’s not actually on Donald Trump’s payroll agrees, however grudgingly, that Hillary Clinton won the evening.
Trump’s been doing better lately in the polls, I suspect largely because campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has, against all odds, managed to keep him from doing things like attacking the families of dead war heroes and mocking the disabled.
We did get a taste of the Trump we all know and loathe when he responded to reports that Clinton was inviting fellow billionaire and frequent Trump critic Mark Cuban to the debate by tweeting that he might invite Bill Clinton’s former mistress, Gennifer Flowers, to sit in the front row as well.
Because attempting to humiliate a woman by rubbing her nose in an affair her husband had 25 years ago is completely justified by having someone who’s criticized your business acumen sit in at your debate. They’re exactly the same thing, can’t you see?
Fortunately, cooler heads in the campaign seem to have prevailed, and soon they were frantically denying that the candidate had said what he’d said, despite the evidence to the contrary in black and white. As we shall see, this has become a pattern for the Trump folks.
But there was no way to keep the real Trump under wraps for a full 90 minutes, especially since Hillary Clinton appears to have been devoting a good part of her debate prep into figuring ways to push The Donald’s buttons.
And push them she did. For a good chunk of the debate, Hillary Clinton played Donald Trump like a cheap banjo.
As the whole Mark Cuban thing revealed, the quickest way to make Donald Trump overreact is to question his business practices. So Clinton brought up the number of contractors that Trump has stiffed, including one in the audience, to which Trump, the candidate who claims to be on the side of working Americans, snarled “maybe he didn’t do a good job.”
She suggested that the reason Trump didn’t want to release his tax returns is because they showed that, unlike most Americans, he didn’t pay any taxes. “That makes me smart,” Trump shot back.
Here’s a tip: Suggesting that “smart people don’t pay taxes” is an opinion you should probably keep to yourself if you want the votes of those who do.
Then he responded to Clinton’s claim that Trump had publicly rooted for the housing crisis because he’d said that Americans losing their homes would be a great way for him to pick up cheap property. He didn’t try to deny it, but instead snapped “that’s called business.” I seem to remember the phrase “it’s just business” coming from the mouth of another character. It was Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Clinton really managed to lead Trump down the garden path and into a flowerbed full of bear traps by forcing him to deny saying things that, as we previously noted, have been well-documented, such as the canard that he was against the Iraq War.
(“The record says otherwise,” observed moderator Lester Holt, thus enraging the Trumpkins as only someone telling the provable truth can do.)
He also denied saying that he thought climate change was a hoax perpetrated by China, at which point, copies of his tweet saying exactly that spread across the Internet faster than an Instagram of a naked Kardashian.
Finally, Clinton nailed Trump on his sexism and misogyny by bringing up the case of Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who the then-50-year-old Trump publicly shamed by trotting the then-19-year-old to the gym to work out in front of reporters, telling them “she loves to eat” and calling her “Miss Piggy.”
Confronted with the story of his cruelty to a teenage girl, Trump was reduced to sputtering “where did you find this?” over and over like a husband in a divorce case being presented with his credit card receipts from the Midnight Bunny Ranch.
And since Donald Trump can never, ever, let anything go, he took to the airwaves the next day to insist that he was completely justified in humiliating a young woman less than half his age because she was, you know, really getting fat.
With the first debate behind him, Donald Trump has vowed to “hit harder” in his next meeting with Secretary Clinton. The man who’s been married three times, each time to the mistress he’d been carrying on an affair with while married to the previous spouse, the man who’s bragged in print about his dalliances with married women, is thinking maybe it’s time to bring up “Bill’s women.”
Yes, I’m sure being an even bigger creep, liar and hypocrite will win American hearts and minds. To quote another debate (and election) winning Democrat: Please proceed, Mr. Trump.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just Come Out and Say It: He's Lying

Opinion |

Sometimes I pity The New York Times.
I know they’re supposedly the “newspaper of record.” The “Gray Lady.” The venerable institution to which all serious print journalists aspire, or at least used to.
But I swear, sometimes those big-city scribes are as dumb as a dog chasing parked cars. Take, for instance, their recent wrestling with the question of when to call something a lie.
In the court system, judges sometimes have to decide if a witness, particularly a child witness, is competent to testify. An important question is whether or not the child can tell the difference between the truth and a lie.
To determine this, there are certain questions that the attorney calling the child typically asks. One of those is, “If I told you I was wearing an orange polka dot shirt, would that be the truth or a lie?” This often reduces the child to the giggles if, for example, the lawyer’s shirt is solid white. Then they answer, “That would be a lie.”
In 27 years of practice, I have yet to see a child witness fail the test of how to define a lie.
And yet the mighty New York Times seems to struggle with a concept a second-grader can master. Recently, their so-called “public editor” did an entire column analyzing whether it was proper for them to refer to Donald Trump’s now-abandoned assertion that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. as “a lie.”
Specifically, they ran the story of said long-delayed abandonment of “birtherism” under the headline “Trump Gives Up a Lie, But Refuses to Repent.”
Good for them, I say, since “Barack Obama was not born in the United States” is, like “I am wearing an orange polka dot shirt” when I’m doing no such thing, a lie. It is objectively and demonstrably untrue.
And yet the public editor of The Times, one Liz Spayd, felt the need to discuss at length whether the word was proper. “It is not a word we will use lightly,” she said, quoting political editor Carolyn Ryan.
Unfortunately, the polite reluctance to cry “shenanigans” in the face of the most obvious shenanigans is a societal loophole that manipulative sociopaths like Donald Trump drive through like a bulldozer.
People like Donald Trump lie so shamelessly, so rapidly, and so constantly that they simply overwhelm the capacity of traditional journalists to go, “Whoa. Wait. I don’t think that’s true” before they’re off to the next falsehood.
As I’ve noted before, an analysis of 4.6 hours of Trump speeches by the online site Politico found that Trump made, on average, at least one demonstrably false statement every five minutes. Factcheck.orgmarveled that “we’ve never seen his match” when it comes to bald-faced lying.
That’s just the problem. No one has — except maybe online, where one encounters the technique of “argument” known variously as the “Gish Gallop” or “proof by verbosity,” in which someone spews so many falsehoods so quickly that it would take hours to refute each one, so people with actual lives finally just give up and walk away, at which point the “galloper” declares victory.
Actually, given Trump’s usual bombastic, bullying style and his use of the live-action equivalent of the “Gish Gallop,” I’m convinced that he or someone working for him has made a study of internet trolling and adapted it to political campaigning. More than one person, after all, has observed that Trump is “an anonymous internet comment section come to life.”
This bodes ill for Hillary Clinton in the upcoming debates.
Clinton is, after all, a traditional politician who’s spent her whole career dealing with antagonists who play by civilized rules. Even in her triumphant 11-hour slugfest against the Benghazi witch hunters, she wasn’t dealing with anyone nearly as shameless and contemptuous of decorum as Donald Trump.
And while facing the torrent of BS sure to be pouring from Trump’s mouth, she can expect no help from the moderators. Chris Wallace of Fox News has flat out stated, “I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad. It's up to the other person to catch them on that.”
That’s exactly what people like Trump depend on. Let’s hope Clinton is ready.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

But Yeah, Hillary's the Crooked One

Opinion |

In September of 2013, the attorney general of Florida, Pam Bondi, publicly announced that her office was considering investigating the activities of Hillary Clinton.
A similar probe had already been commenced in New York. Bondi at the time had personally solicited campaign contributions from Clinton.
Six days after the AG’s office announced that they were “reviewing the allegations” against Clinton, the Clinton Family foundation wrote a check for $25,000 to the AG’s campaign, after which Bondi’s office announced that they’d decided not to pursue action against Clinton after all.
Pressed about the matter, Clinton claimed she never even spoke with the AG, a claim which was quickly revealed not to be true by Bondi’s own spokesperson.
The payments came to light only after the IRS levied a paltry $2,500 fine against the foundation because it had violated IRS rules about charities making political donations. It had also, according to a story in The Washington Post, “failed to disclose the large gift to the Internal Revenue Service, instead reporting that the donation was given to an unrelated group with a similar name — effectively obscuring the contribution.”
Just goes to show how corrupt and untrustworthy Hillary Clinton is, doesn’t it? Even though there’s no specific evidence of a quid pro quo, you have to admit it certainly raises questions about her integrity and her fitness for office.
And that ridiculous $2,500 fine? The entitled Hillary Clinton gets away with things the rest of us would go to jail for.
It’s an outrage that this story hasn’t been given front page status in every major newspaper and been the top story on every network. There really should be some Congressional hearings on the shady dealings of Hillary Rodham Clinton. ...
Oh, wait. Did I say Clinton? Sorry, my bad. The family foundation that donated 25 large to the campaign of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was actually the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
The probe being conducted in New York that Bondi said she’d been considering imitating was one into the fraudulent Trump University — you know, the scam where Trump, the Russian-backed presidential candidate with well-documented ties to the New York and Jersey mobs, the Russian Mafia, and the Hong Kong Triads, has an upcoming court date on a racketeering claim.
But everyone knows it’s Clinton that’s the crooked one.
Certainly, however, only some kind of liberal bigot would think there was any impropriety in a prosecutor who’s publicly said she’s considering a formal investigation receiving a large check from the potential target of that investigation six days after said announcement, then deciding “Nah, it’s not worth going after the guy.”
We know there’s nothing improper about it because both Bondi and Trump said so.
Oh, and Trump also gave $35,000 to Texas AG Greg Abbott, who’d already dropped a probe of Trump U after they shut down the operation in Texas and got out of town with the loot. Surely that was just a coincidence, too.
But, you know, Hillary’s the crooked one. After all, her foundation took contributions from, and then had meetings with, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was working to aid poor people with so-called “micro-loans” in Bangladesh.
The Hillary group also met with the head of charitable giving for the cosmetics firm Estee Lauder, who was partnering with the State Department and USAID to fight AIDS, gender-based violence in Africa, and sexual slavery in Cambodia
Then there’s Wall Street mogul Stephen Schwarzman, whose Blackstone Group donated millions to “three Clinton Global aid projects ranging from the U.S. to the Mideast” and who got — well, the AP so-called “expose” on the Foundation that I’m quoting in this paragraph isn’t really clear about what he got. It says he was “one of several attendees” at a breakfast meeting with Clinton, that his wife “sat at Clinton’s table” at the Kennedy Center honors and later introduced Schwarzman, and that the State department was “working on a visa issue” for him.
Nothing in the story says what the “issue” was or what, if anything, Schwarzman got.
Those are the top three examples the AP pulled from all the others to suggest some sort of evil-doing on Clinton’s part. Some pretty shady characters, there to be sure, and some deep skullduggery going on, what with fighting AIDS and sexual slavery overseas and introducing people at the Kennedy Center and all.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump pays off a couple of attorneys general to get them to leave his Trump U scam alone after bragging that politicians do what he says because he gives them money.
He knows the system is broken because he helped break it. And you expect him to be less corrupt if he’s elected?

Monday, September 05, 2016

That (Bad Word) Obama

Opinion |

You know, after rereading last week’s column, it occurs to me that maybe I really have been going a little too easy on President Barack Obama.

Oh, sure, I called his plan to intervene on behalf of Libyan rebels a “terrible idea.” I criticized his intervention in Syria, even though I later had to admit his part in getting Syria to give up its chemical weapons stockpiles was, in the end, a good thing. You can look it up.

But judging from my research into the online Wingnuttosphere, I feel as if I’m remiss, because I apparently haven’t even scratched the surface of the Kenyan Usurper’s perfidy. So, let’s look around and see what else we can blame on TBO —That (Bad Word) Obama.

* In Norway’s Hardangervidda National Park, a hiker recently came upon a terrible sight: the corpses of 323 reindeer, killed by a single lightning strike.

Now, a bunch of egghead “scientists” will probably try and tell you tell you thatthis is something that happens when the reindeer huddle together in a thunderstorm. But science, as we know, has a liberal bias.

Obama, as we also know, hates Christmas, what with all his talk of “Holiday Trees” at the White House (I know multiple fact-checkers have noted that the White House actually uses the word “Christmas” and only “Christmas” in describing the tree. Facts, as we also know, have a liberal bias as well).

Anyway, if a bunch of Santa’s shaggy helpers are found hooves-up and smoking in a field, we all know who’s to blame, don’t we? I’ll bet TBO was even playing golf when those reindeer died.

* Last week, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick whipped good Americans into a righteous fury when he refused to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Kaepernick explained that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Clearly this is the fault of TBO, who we’re told over and over is the most divisive president America has ever had.

It’s bad enough that he’s black, he has to keep reminding us of it. This has done nothing but embolden other public figures, like professional quarterbacks, to remind us that some of them are black as well. Even worse, they have to keep reminding us that black people might have some actual legitimate grievances about the way they’ve been (and still are) treated in this country.

I mean, a lot of it’s true, but how dare a public figure make us feel bad by reminding us of it? This would never have happened if it hadn’t been for TBO.

* It seems that Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage is going straight off the deep end. On Aug. 24, he claimed to have a “three-ring binder” which proved that “90 percent” of drug arrestees in Maine were black or Hispanic. Asked to provide the binder, LePage had himself a conniption.

“Black people come up the highway and they kill Mainers,” he railed at reporters. “You ought to look into that! You make me so sick!”

When The Portland Press Herald did look into that and reported that FBI statistics showed that only 14.1 percent of Maine drug arrestees were black or Hispanic, LePage, realizing — as all good Americans do — that statistics also have a liberal bias, doubled down: “When you go to war, you shoot at the enemy. You try to identify the enemy, and the enemy right now, the overwhelming majority of people coming in, are people of color or people of Hispanic origin.”

I won’t even go into what LePage said about a state legislator who insinuated that LePage’s comments about shooting “enemy” blacks and Latinos might be a wee bit racist. Suffice it to say that even my powers of euphemism fail when it comes to reporting those comments in this newspaper.

In the resulting furor, LePage suggested he might resign, then immediately retracted the idea. Now, before the advent of TBO, an elderly erratic white Republican governor would probably have been able to rave about made-up statistics about blacks and Latinos without fear of contradiction. But poor Gov. LePage, in the era of TBO, has to deal with pesky questions about actual “statistics” which, as we know … well, you know what kind of bias they have. How is an old racist supposed to keep his sanity in such times?

Answer: He can’t. And it’s all the fault of That (Bad Word) Obama. Isn’t everything? I can’t wait till his term is over. Then everything that ever goes wrong anywhere will be That (Other Bad Word) Hillary Clinton’s fault.