Monthly Archives: September 2016

Hillary Pulls No Punches

This is…unhinged, even for Trump. A few notes. What kind of man stays up all night to smear a woman with lies and conspiracy theories? Alicia deserves praise for courageously standing up to Trump’s attacks. And he has the gall to blame her for his cruel behavior—and even say he “helped”? When something gets under Donald’s thin skin, he lashes out and can’t let go. This is dangerous for a presidential candidate, never mind a president. What’s more: This is a pattern of flying off the handle at women who defy, criticize, or otherwise displease Trump. To Donald, women like Alicia are only as valuable as his personal opinion about their looks. He obsessively bullies Rosie O’Donnell, an accomplished actor. He calls female reporters and news hosts who question him “”crazy”” and “neurotic,” or worse. He insulted Kim Kardashian for her weight—when she was pregnant. It’s pathetic. We’ve heard Donald’s insults for years, and his policies reflect this disregard—even contempt—for women: On equal pay, Trump says women should just “do as good a job” as men. He thinks women who get an abortion should be “punished.” He called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to employers. Wives working are “dangerous.” He’s never hidden how he truly feels about women, but it’s never been clearer than right now: he doesn’t respect half the population of this country—and he doesn’t deserve to lead it.

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

Judge Roy Moore Is Toast

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) issued the order Friday suspending Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term.

“For these violations, Chief Justice Moore is hereby suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term. This suspension is effective immediately,” the order stated.

The court found him guilty of all six charges of violation of canon of judicial ethics. Moore’s term is to end in 2019. Gov. Robert Bentley will name a replacement for Moore.

In its order, the COJ wanted to make sure people understood what Moore’s case was and was not about.

“At the outset, this court emphasizes that this case is concerned only with alleged violations of the Canons of Jucial Ethics,” the COJ states. “This case is not about whether same-sex marriage should be permitted: indeed, we recognize that a majority of voters in Alabama adopted a constitutional amendment in 2006 banning same-sex marriage, as did a majority of states over the last 15 years.”

The COJ also stated it is also not a case to review or to editorialize about the United States Supreme Court’s split decision to declare same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

In its 50-page order, the COJ stated it did not find credible Moore’s claim that the purpose for the Jan. 6 order was “merely to provide a ‘status update’ to the state’s probate judges.”

“We likewise do not accept Chief Justice Moore’s repeated argument that the disclaimer in paragraph 10 of the January 6, 2016, order – in which Chief Justice Moore asserted he was ‘not at liberty to provide any guidance … of the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court’ – negated the reality that Chief Justice More was in fact ‘ordering and directing’ the probate judges to comply with the API orders regardless of Obergefell or the injunction in Strawser (federal case in Alabama).”


Presidential Debate #1 Post Mortem – Trump’s Glass Jaw

Clinton won hands down.  That is the consensus of anyone not fiendishly loyal to Trump.

How did she win? She let Trump be Trump.  Which, as it turns out, was Trump’s strategy.

As might be gleaned from my Tweets there was not a lot of substance and policy sadly from Clinton, although it was clear that Clinton HAD policies and plans.  In fact, at one point, Trump criticized her for having her plan against ISIS on her website, which of course was silly.

Trump was aggressively fact-free. When Clinton pointed out that Trump believed climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese government, he said this was false. But it’s actually what he had said (despite an attempt by someone in the Trump campaign to delete the Tweet). When moderator Lester Holt pressed Trump on his racist birther crusade, Trump again tried to pin birtherism on Clinton and said that he dropped the issue after President Barack Obama produced a long-form birth certificate. That wasn’t true. Asked about race relations in the United States, Trump propounded on the need for “law and order” and declared the murder rate in New York City has gone up. No, not so.

I really thought that Trump would tone down on the lies.  He can get away with them in front of his crowds at rallies; I’m amazed he thought he could get away with them in a general election debate.

Clinton, on the other hand, was moistly policy, as much as she could.  In Clinton’s opening question—responding to a question about the economy—she mentioned about a dozen policy proposals: investing in manufacturing, boosting clean energy programs, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women, profit-sharing for employees, paid family leave, affordable child care, debt-free college education, ending corporate tax loopholes, increasing taxes on the wealthy, and more. Trump spent his opening moments railing against China and Mexico and decrying jobs “being stolen from us.” It was Clinton the policy wonk promoting nifty ideas to make the nation stronger versus Trump the angry man blaming foreign enemies and vowing in strongman fashion that he will somehow get results.

But mostly she won by putting Trump on the defensive, which is alarmingly easy to do, especially when it came to his money/taxes. It was the tax return question when Hillary broke him. Speculating about the reason Trump wouldn’t release his taxes, Clinton rattled off every single sore spot on Trump’s tender skin. Maybe he wasn’t so rich. Maybe he wasn’t so generous. Maybe he paid no taxes. In response, Trump openly bragged about paying no taxes. It was a response Clinton would use to bludgeon Trump again as someone who didn’t contribute his fair share, and from that point on Trump became less self-possessed, less coherent, less able to restrain himself.

That lack restraint came to head when the debate turned to the topic of women. Clinton brought up Trump’s past derogatory remarks about women’s looks. Trump, the would-be president of the world’s only superpower, responded by referencing his personal feud with Rosie O’Donnell, “I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her.”

Yup. It was that bad.  Even that alt-right couldn’t spin its way out of it.  Sure, there were some attempts to shill for Trump, as usual, but many in the alt-right are finding it difficult to reasonably deny that Clinton won, in every sense of the word.

Stormfront, the site founded by a Ku Klux Klan leader and seen as a premier website for alt-right neo-Nazis, had several posts from readers indicating their view that Hillary won the debate. Deadspin rounded up some of these posts, and they include at least one person saying, “I’m a hard core  [sic] Trump supporter – and was from the very beginning – but Hillary mopped the floor with Trump tonight.” Another added, “sorry but he got crushed tonight.”

In a word, Trump got Khaned.  Meaning, this:

Before the first presidential debate, the defining confrontation of the general election was an inspiring speech by Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American Gold Star father. Khan’s speech was delivered before prime time, and its unexpected power might have been wasted had Donald Trump not taken the bait by repeatedly attacking Khan and his wife for days afterward. During the closing moments of Monday night’s debate, Clinton provided another Khan moment, and Trump, once again, could not help but reveal his own ugliness.

Clinton had been signaling her intent to focus on Trump’s longtime habit of humiliating women based on their appearance. A few days before, her campaign released an ad counter-posing some of his most infuriating comments about women with images of adolescent girls looking at themselves:

It is clear that Clinton planned to create this moment in the debate, because the question did not arrive organically. Trump had been talking about Iran, and moderator Lester Holt was trying to bring up the final question, when Clinton interrupted to spring her trap. Here is how the exchange begins:

HOLT: We are at — we are at the final question.
CLINTON: Well, one thing. One thing, Lester.
HOLT: Very quickly, because we’re at the final question now.
CLINTON: You know, he tried to switch from looks to stamina. But this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers, who has said …
TRUMP: I never said that.
CLINTON: … women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.
TRUMP: I didn’t say that.

Trump has already interrupted Clinton to deny his statements twice before she brings up the point she intends to drive home:

CLINTON: And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.

TRUMP: Where did you find this? Where did you find this?
CLINTON: Her name is Alicia Machado.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?
CLINTON: And she has become a U.S. citizen, and you can bet …
TRUMP: Oh, really?
CLINTON: … she’s going to vote this November.
TRUMP: Where did you find this?

You can easily see why Clinton’s campaign decided this was the perfect anecdote to display his grotesque personal qualities. It contains several elements all at once. There is Trump’s lecherous habit of creeping around beauty contestants, which is its own deep vein of gross behavior. There is the cruel reduction of women to their appearance. And there is the anti-Latina racism.

But what truly made the set piece work was Trump’s response, which Clinton could not have scripted better if she tried. Unlike the previous allegations, he did not deny them, but instead burst out — three times! — “Where did you find this?” I have seen villains in Disney movies presented with damning evidence react this way, but I have never seen an actual human being do it, until now.

Then Clinton capped it off by noting that Machado plans to vote — which was the same response generated by Khan’s speech:

Here it was again, the perfectly selected victim fighting back against Trump by voting, precisely the action Clinton hopes to encourage. Clinton’s campaign immediately capitalized by releasing a new web ad with Machado telling her story. And Trump, despite the entire Republican Party beseeching him to walk away from the Khan fight and never engage in attacks against ordinary Americans, insisted in a Fox & Friends interview on attacking Machado for being too fat:

You can watch the Fox hosts cringe as Trump launches into the diatribe, and then, as they gently try to steer him away, insists on returning to the subject. They can see him destroying himself again, in real time, in exactly the way they begged him to stop doing earlier in the summer, yet they cannot stop it.

Life rarely works out in such a simple and dramatically perfect way. Terrible human beings usually know how to conceal their terribleness. Even a villain as impulsive and egotistical as Trump has the benefit of an entire political party and associated media apparatus throwing itself behind the task of concealing his hideous character through Election Day. Trump, however, is not only a horrible human being but a congenitally incompetent one.

At the end of the day, I think everyone agrees that Trump is….. well, kind of a dick.  Everyone agrees.  His supporters like him to be that way.  Everyone else can’t believe he has made it this far.

Yup, he’s a dick.

FURTHER THOUGHT:  Does Clinton’s win change votes?  What about swing states?

We won’t know for sure, but it may not have made a huge impact, if this Charlotte North Carolina-based focus group is any indication:

Before the debate, the tally was nine Clinton, three Trump, six undecided and three Johnson. Afterward, it became seven Clinton, three Trump, six undecided and five Johnson.


11 of the leading misleading whoppers from the debate….

1) Trump: I do not say” climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.


2) Trump to Clinton: “You’ve been fighting ISIS your whole life.”


3) Trump claimed to have not called women “pigs, slobs, and dogs.”


4) Trump said he was endorsed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement border patrol agency.


5) Trump said he did not support the Iraq War.


6) Trump: I only got a “very small” business loan from my father.


7) Trump denied that he claimed to not care if Asian countries got nukes.


8) Trump claimed he released the “most extensive” financial review in political history.


9) Trump blamed the “birther” conspiracy theories on Clinton allies.


10) Trump claimed American manufacturing is in decline.


11) Trump: NATO focuses on terrorism because of me.


What Happened In Charlotte Last Night

The Guardian’s Ijeoma Oluo wrote about the events of the night (you need to click through to see the photo described below):

A line of police officers stand in the dark on a Charlotte, North Carolina, highway. They look like an occupying force with their helmets and face shields and various weaponry strapped all over their armored clothing. A large bus illuminates them with its headlights. The front of the bus declares in bright lights: “NOT IN SERVICE”.

It’s as if these police responding to protests of Tuesday’s shooting death of Keith Scott are carrying with them a lighted banner that declares what black Americans already know: they are not in service. Not for us.

It’s the message that police have always been sending black Americans. Blacks make up about 13% of the US population, and yet accounted for 27% of the approximately 1,146 people killed by police in 2015. “Not in service” is the message we got when Tamir Rice was killed, when Freddie Gray was killed, when Eric Garner was killed. This was the message we got when Terence Crutcher was killed this week while asking for service. We understand that if our police force really does exist to protect and serve, it does not exist to protect and serve us.

From what I saw (on national TV) last night, and from reports of friends who were there, the Charlotte police got rambo’ed up too quickly last evening, getting in riot gear long before there were signs of violence and destruction.  While this had the effect of dispersing the more gentle elements of the remaining protesters, it predictably agitated others, turning them into… well… agitators.

I don’t condone or excuse those who destroyed property or threw tear gas back at police.  I am also sympathetic to those police injured last night.  But the key word in the previous paragraph is “predictably”.  The police knew, or should have known, that their show of force and resoluteness would bring about what eventually happened.

The job of police, both as an individual and as a force, is to DE-escalate dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.  Something about their training (at least for some of them) has failed to stress that, and instead, it is about escalation.  With predictable results.

I think they are continuing this mistake with the curfew and declaration of a state emergency (bringing in the National Guard).  A return to normalcy is what is needed.  The mayor and the police are not signaling a return to normalcy with these actions.  I don’t know what will happen tonight, but I don’t expect it to have calmed down in the face of this overdone “response”.

Why You Can Blame The Media If Clinton Loses

The Shorenstein Center’s Thomas Patterson has analyzed Hillary Clinton’s press coverage during the month of the two political conventions. He presents his findings today in the LA Times:

If Clinton loses, blame the email controversy and the media

My analysis of media coverage in the four weeks surrounding both parties’ national conventions found that her use of a private email server while secretary of State and other alleged scandal references accounted for 11% of Clinton’s news coverage in the top five television networks and six major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times. Excluding neutral reports, 91% of the email-related news reports were negative in tone. Then, there were the references to her character and personal life, which accounted for 4% of the coverage; that was 92% negative.

….How about her foreign, defense, social or economic policies? Don’t bother looking.Not a single one of Clinton’s policy proposals accounted for even 1% of her convention-period coverage; collectively, her policy stands accounted for a mere 4% of it. But she might be thankful for that: News reports about her stances were 71% negative to 29% positive in tone. Trump was quoted more often about her policies than she was.

Trump’s claim that Clinton “created ISIS,” for example, got more news attention than her announcement of how she would handle Islamic State.

Trump and Clinton Neck and Neck in NC

Yeah, it is exciting to be in a semi-big swing state.  The candidates keep coming through.  It’s like the New Hampshire primaries in the old days.

A new PPP poll on North Carolina came out this morning.

Bottom line: Donald Trump 45, Hillary Clinton 43, Gary Johnson 6.

Clinton/Trump head to head is tied at 47:

That’s okay news since Trump had pulled ahead in some NC polls these past few weeks.

The PPP poll took some deep dives and discovered a few things:

(1)  Undecideds.   Among undecideds for President in NC, 62% would take 4 more years of Obama to only 5% who prefer Trump. If undecideds in NC voted Clinton/Trump the same as their Obama/Trump preference, Clinton would lead state 50/48.  The problem for Clinton with undecideds in NC, even though they like current direction of country, is her favoritism rating is 10/75.  Trump’s favorability among undecideds in North Carolina is literally 0, with 79% seeing him unfavorably.

(2) More Obama Please.  The key to the race in NC is voters who want to continue Barack Obama’s direction, but dislike Hillary Clinton. Overall in NC 51% of voters would prefer continuing Obama’s leadership to 46% who prefer Trump’s direction.

(3) Equally (dis)lilked.  Clinton and Trump have identical favorability numbers in NC: 40/55.

(4) Bigots Be Here.   30% of Trump supporters have a higher opinion of David Duke than Hillary Clinton. 47% of Trump voters were “not sure” who they prefer.  Meanwhile, 44% of Trump supporters are “not sure” about their opinion on LGBT people. 29% unfavorable. Only 27% favorable.

(5) Idiots Be Here Too. 71% of Trump voters in NC think if Clinton wins it will only be because the election was rigged, 17% say it will be because she got more votes

(6) Release The Tax Returns. 63% of voters in North Carolina think Trump needs to release his tax returns, only 24% don’t think he needs to.

(7) Governor’s Race Is Solid Democrat.  For first time ever, there is a clear leader for Governor- Roy Cooper 46, Pat McCrory 41, Lon Cecil 2. Independents are the story here: McCrory won them 2:1 in 2012. This time Cooper leads 44-33 with them.  11%

(8) HB2 Wildly Unpopular.  52% of voters in North Carolina want HB2 repealed, only 32% support keeping it on the books.  This has less to do with the economic harm than with acceptance of th4e LGBT community. Only 19% of NC voters view LGBT people negatively. 47% positive, 34% don’t care.

(9)  Senate Race Has Gotten Tight.  The NC Senate race tied – Richard Burr and Deborah Ross both at 41%, Libertarian Sean Haugh at 4%:

(10) In fact, everything tight.

(11)  This.



RIP Charmian Carr

Charmian Carr passed away at 73 after complications from a rare form of dementia, her representative said.

Remarkably, she is known for a single movie role: that of Liesl, in The Sound of Music. 

Carr wrote two books on her experience – Forever Liesl and Letters to Liesl – and frequently appeared at events commemorating the movie.

Her only other major role was in the Stephen Sondheim television musical Evening Primrose.


The Terrorist Capture — Funny Story, Actually

I know, I know.  Very little blogging this past week.  I just have a lot going on… what can I say?  Hopefully my embedded twitter feed let everyone know I was paying attention to events.

The big news today was, of course, the arrest of suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami, the bomber of a Chelsea neighborhood in NYC this past weekend, as well as the guy who planted a pressure cooked bomb on 37th street, plus various bombs in New Jersey over the weekend.  He is a U.S. citizen, a nationalized immigrant who came to America as a child.

Uh,,,, by being a child without radicalized views.  Idiot.

I don’t want to understate the incredible police work of the FBI and NYPD and other government agencies.  It was an amazingly quick investigation and capture.  Less than 48 hours.  Look, this is a triumph for the war on terrorism, although Trump will spin it otherwise.

However, there’s a little humor to the whole thing.

(1)  Had it not been for thieves, the police might not have found out about some of the bombs.  Really, how much more New York can this story be?  This Rahami guy placed the pressure cooked in a suitcase, and placed the suitcase on the sidewalk on 27th street.  What happened next?  What do you THINK happened in NY?  A couple of guys apparently saw the suitcase, opened it, saw the pressure cooker thing and, not knowing what it was, they left it behind — and exposed — while they stole the suitcase.  The same thing happened in New Jersey at the Elizabeth subway station.  Some guys found a knapsack, stole it, carried it away, opened it, and saw what appeared to be a pipe bomb.  To their credit, they called the police.

With the discovery of these devices, the police were able to get surveillance tapes, two of which showed the bomber.

(2)  This Rahami guy was not what you call an expert bombmaker.  Let’s set aside the fact that most of his devices failed to explode, and focus on another aspect of his bomb-building.  He used cell phones as detonating devices. But he appears to have used his actual cell phones – not burner phones purchased for this specific purpose but ones he’d used in the past, calling friends and associates, storing personal information. In at least one case, that phone was part of a bomb that didn’t detonate. So NYPD and FBI investigators were able to secure the phone and download lots of personal information, call records etc.  This may have been the key thing in first identifying him.

(3)  Nor was he much of a hider.  On the radio as I came to work this morning, the pundits were talking about how this bomber (assuming it was one, which it apparently is) was now definitely underground.  A reasonable assumption, but… nope. Initial reports say Rahami was found sleeping in the doorway of a local bar in Linden, New Jersey, about four miles away from his home. It’s not clear whether he just decided this place was a good place to sleep or whether he maybe got drunk in the bar. But he was apparently in plain view, asleep in the doorway, when a Linden police officer recognized him from the wanted poster and approached.

I know Trump and others like to hype terrorism, but sometimes these aren’t the brightest bulbs.

9/11 – 15 Years Later

It is kind of cool to have a blog for this long — I can go back and look at past reflections of past events.

I write about my 9/11 experience here.  I had left New York by the time 9/11/2001 happened, but, like everyone else in the country, I experienced that day.  For me, I came to lump it in with 2/26/1993, the date of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

It is remarkable how things have changed.  I deal everyday with people who were children when 9/11 happened.  The World Trade Center site is a beautiful memorial, museum, and tourist site.  I don’t bemoan that — using that public space as a space of education and commemoration is perfectly fitting.  And it is all in the shadow of the Freedom Tower, representing, if nothing else, that the beat of NYC goes on despite what happened on that terrible day.

Dear Glenn Greenwald

Dear Glenn Greenwald:

I read your article in The Intercept which basically asserts hypocrisy on the part of Democrats/Obama when it comes to Putin.  You are correct in pointing out that Obama himself suggested a “reset” with Russia, that Obama did not want to go to war with Russia over that country’s invasion of the Crimea, and that Obama suggested working in military partnership with Russia when it comes to Syria.  And this is why you state that Obama has been giving “accommodation” to Putin, so Democrats shouldn’t throw stones when Trump praises Putin.

But, of course, therein lies the difference.  Obama has chosen to ease tensions with Russia, but has failed largely because of Putin’s human rights violations and global aggression.  Trump, on the other hand, seems eager to praise Putin for two reasons (1) Putin’s so-called “strength” — which comes in part from the fact that the Russians under Putin don’t have much of a system of checks and balances; and (2) Putin praises Trump.

Nobody can suggest that Obama praises Putin (and if he did, he certainly doesn’t do it out of vanity and narcissism).  Obama has exhibited a willingness to get along with Russia, but he is unwilling to roll over.  Trump, on the other hand, has shown that he can be rolled over, if only by receiving praise.  This is an entirely different US-Russia strategy than the one for which you criticize Obama.  Trump is already exhibiting capitulation, not just accommodation.

Or take the Russian hacking of the DNC and quite possibly the government.  You take Obama to task for not engaging in some retaliation.  First of all, we don’t know that.  But assuming that is true, he certainly calls Putin out on that sort of thing.  Compare that to Trump, who goes on state-run Russian television, and expresses doubt that Russia was behind the hacking at all!!

To equate Obama and Trump in their approach to Russia is to ignore glaring differences between the two men.  Obama’s approach to Russia is measured; he exhibits caution.  Trump has cast aside all caution.  And for that, criticism directed at him is apropos.  Obama’s approach to Russia is arguably flawed, but Trump’s approach is objectively outlandish and alarming.

“The Story Has Vastly Exceeded The Boundaries Of The Facts”

Kudos to the Washington Post editorial board for adopting some perspective on the Clinton email scandal(s).  To (finally) get to this point, WaPo relied on three piece of recent evidence.

The first is a memo from FBI Director James Comey to his staff saying that anyone who is second-guessing their decision to not recommend charging Clinton doesn’t know what they’re talking about. There are those who are implying corruption of the FBI in this matter and he is having none of that.

The second piece of evidence that surfaced yesterday came from an email exchange from Colin Powell to Hillary Clinton that was released by House Democrats. You might remember that Clinton had formerly said that Powell had advised her about using a private server and he had reacted rather defensively by saying that she was trying to pin this controversy on him. It turns out that Clinton was right. Here are some of the excerpts from Powell’s email:

“I didn’t have a BlackBerry. What I did do was have a personal computer that was hooked up to a private phone line (sounds ancient.) So I could communicate with a wide range of friends directly without it going through the State Department servers,” Powell, who served as secretary of state for four years under President George W. Bush, wrote in a January 2009 email to Clinton.

“I even used it to do business with some foreign leaders and some of the senior folks in the Department on their personal email accounts. I did the same thing on the road in hotels,” he added…

In his email to Clinton, Powell did warn her about the potential for her personal emails to become public.

“However, there is a real danger. If it is public that you have a BlackBerry and it it (sic) government and you are using it, government or not, to do business, it may become an official record and subject to the law,” he wrote. “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”

The third piece of evidence came in the form of the release by the FBI of the 30 Benghazi-related emails that were recovered during their investigation. Prior to their release, the existence of these emails had provided the merchants of doubt with fodder for the kinds of “questions” that fuel these so-called “scandals.” But upon their release, we learned that only one was previously undisclosed and it was an email from the then-ambassador to Brazil praising Clinton for her handling of the Benghazi attack and aftermath.

Those are the most recent facts that the editorial board of the Washington Post relied on to reach this conclusion:

Ms. Clinton is hardly blameless. She treated the public’s interest in sound record-keeping cavalierly. A small amount of classified material also moved across her private server. But it was not obviously marked as such, and there is still no evidence that national security was harmed. Ms. Clinton has also admitted that using the personal server was a mistake. The story has vastly exceeded the boundaries of the facts.

Imagine how history would judge today’s Americans if, looking back at this election, the record showed that voters empowered a dangerous man because of a minor email scandal. There is no equivalence between Ms. Clinton’s wrongs and Mr. Trump’s manifest unfitness for office.

Will this silence those who have already decided that Hillary Clinton is “crooked” and are determined to be the merchants of doubt regardless of the evidence?  Not at all.

But at least one major media publication has reviewed the facts and stated a conclusion. Soon the others will too, although I worry it will be long after the election is over.

P.S.  This is what a scandal looks like:


Winston-Salem Clown Mystery Solved


Claims of “Killer Clown” sightings in Winston-Salem have made national headlines and made Winston-Salem one of the locations for a rash of recent claims from Greenville, South Carolina to one outrageous claim of a man who claims to have pursued one of the these clowns with a machete. These sightings are similar to other incidents that seem to run in streaks resembling the “Killer Clown” sightings in Boston in 1981. Those sightings were never verified and, at least in Winston-Salem, the current sightings appear to be fabrications.

Since the two incidents that were reported on September 4th and September 5th the WSPD has continued to work diligently to locate the alleged suspect(s) in these cases or to even find proof that they existed in the first place. These investigative steps included intensive neighborhood canvasses as well as high visibility patrols in the areas where the sightings were reported as well as nearby areas where children are likely to be present. All of which cost tax-payer money and divert resources from real crimes. In addition, an emphasis was placed on conducting in-depth interviews with all witnesses and attempting to develop any other potential witnesses and/or leads to follow.

In the course of this investigation, WSPD investigators obtained video surveillance footage of the specific area of the September 4th sighting. Officers reviewed the portion of the footage covering the time frame of the reported sighting and also a period of time immediately before and after. The video surveillance did not reveal any individual dressed as a clown or anyone trying to lure children into the woods at this location.
To date, each report of the clown sightings provided to the Winston-Salem Police Department has been thoroughly investigated and according to the WSPD they have not been able to substantiate any sightings.

On Friday at 2:48am the WSPD received another call related to suspicious activity by an individual dressed in a clown costume in the area of the 1800 block of Salem Crest Lane. The caller, 24 year-old David Armstrong, reported that an individual dressed as a clown knocked on his window. Armstrong told police that he chased the clown until the subject ran into some nearby woods.

Officers conducted a thorough investigation into this incident. At the conclusion of this investigation, Armstrong admitted to fabricating the story. Armstrong was arrested and charged with Filing a False Police Report. Armstrong was placed into the Forsyth County Detention Center under $500.00 secured bond. His court date is set for September 12th. He is the first person arrested for filing a false report in any of the current “Killer Clown” sightings- none of which have produced even the most basic photo evidence that any of the events ever occurred. In an environment where almost everyone, including many children, have cell phones capable of shooting video and stills the lack of evidence thus far is damning.

I suppose I should have foreseen this outcome.  Still, the notion of clowns in the woods was too cool/scary to think otherwise.

North Carolina On Center Stage Of Voter Suppression Issues

BACKSTORY:  About a month ago, on July 29, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down North Carolina’s anti-voter law.  The appeals court noted that the 2013 law suppressed African-American voter turnout “with almost surgical precision” and invalidated most of it.  The court’s scathing opinion said that “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.” The law, passed by a Republican-dominated legislature, imposed strict voter-ID requirements, cut back early-voting hours and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration for those under 18.

The court restored the week of early voting that the law had slashed, but it left it to local election boards to set the number of polling places and voting hours.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE: Those local election boards, all of which are led by Republicans, have tried to cut voting hours below what they were for the 2012 election.  In fact, Dallas Woodhouse, the head of the North Carolina’s Republican Party, saw an opportunity and ran with it, writing in an August email to election officials that “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”

The New York TImes opinion page fills in more:

Election boards in 23 of the state’s 100 counties have now reduced early voting hours, in some cases to a small fraction of what they were in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis by The Raleigh News & Observer. Boards in nine counties voted to eliminate Sunday voting. Both early voting and Sunday voting are used disproportionately by black voters.

While boards in 70 counties voted to expand the number of early-voting hours, the counties that moved to cut hours back account for half of the state’s registered voters. In heavily Democratic Mecklenburg County — the state’s largest, with about one million residents — Republicanboard members voted to eliminate 238 early-voting hours despite near-unanimous appeals from the public to add more. In 2012, African-Americans in Mecklenburg used early voting at a far higher rate than whites.

The board’s chairwoman, Mary Potter Summa, said she was “not a fan of early voting,” which she claimed presented more opportunities for “violations,” even though there is no evidence that early voting, which is used by more than half of all North Carolinians, carries an increased risk of fraud.

The specter of fraud has been used to justify voter-suppression efforts across the country, even though there is virtually no evidence of fraud. In its ruling, the Fourth Circuit said that lawmakers “failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina.”

What is far more dangerous to the integrity of American elections is the persistent efforts of lawmakers to disenfranchise large numbers of minority voters, rather than to work to win their votes with a party platform that treats them with respect.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TODAY: The North Carolina State Board of Elections is working through conflicts among local election officials unable to agree on early voting schedules.  There are contested plans covering 33 of the state’s 100 counties.  They are debating these issues before standing-room only crowd.

The NS State Board of Elections is comprised of three Republicans and two Democrats.

Whether to allow Sunday voting has been a contentious question, which the court left to the state’s discretion. African-American churches have traditionally driven members to vote in “souls to the polls” efforts on Sundays, benefiting Democratic candidates more than Republicans.

In two key counties — Rockingham, north of Greensboro; and Gaston, west of Charlotte — the GOP-led board approved Republican plans that keep early-voting sites closed on Sundays.

In Craven County, near the coast, however, the board’s three Republicans made a concession, agreeing to open a single early voting site for four hours on a Sunday. Democrats had wanted two Sundays of voting before Election Day.

Civil rights activists have accused some Republicans of seeking to undermine the appellate court ruling by proposing still more barriers to ballot access.

In apparent ignorance of the court ruling, GOP leaders have countered that it’s fair for Republicans to use rules to their advantage, and that Democrats need to stop whining and play the game.

News is slow to come out, but it appears that the GOP is willing to allow for more early voting hours, but no Sundays (they really hate the “souls to the polls” thing).

UPDATE:  There is a live blog of the proceedings here.  A televised livestream is here.

50 Years Ago Today: The Debut Of Star Trek

A lot of ink and pixels being spilled about Star Trek and its cultural impact.  Many of these articles are personal, and I was going to write one myself.

But here’s the thing about Star Trek — you either get it or you don’t. And if you are a child of the 1970s like me, you get Star Trek in a way that I could not convey to you in words.  It’s just one of those things that binds.  You loved the original series, loved the animated series, hated the first movie, were relieved at the second movie and the fourth, came to love The Next Generation, were a little troubled to see the cult phenomenon become so mainstream, and are fine with new reboot, although, it’s just not the same as when you discovered that original series and played it in the backyard.  The world is different now, you are different now, and Star Trek is different now — and they don’t seem to fit like they used to.

And you either get that or you don’t.

Live long and prosper, indeed, Star Trek.


The Latest Faux Clinton Scandal


This originated with Alex Jones at Infowars. It’s now on Drudge.

Watch the mainstream media talk about how her earring has “raised questions” in 3…2….1….

UPDATE:   Aaaaand less than 20 minutes after my initial post, Fox News bites down hard.  It’s source? A website nobody has ever heard of…


Last Night’s Commander-in-Chief Candidate Forum

Last night, the two presidential candidates — Trump and Clinton — met with NBC’s Matt Lauer for a live interview on the U.S.S. Intrepid in front of an audience of military veterans to discuss issues of interest to those veterans.

It was, by most accounts, a shitstorm.

Matt Lauer was not biased, so much as he was unprepared.  Jonathan Chait said it best:

Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Lauer focused a third of his questioning time on Clinton’s private email server. Her decision to follow Colin Powell’s advice is a legitimate blot on her record. But Lauer did not move the ball forward on the question in any meaningful way

The word judgment has been used a lot around you, Secretary Clinton, over the last year and a half. And in particular concerning your use of your personal email and server to communicate while you were secretary of state. You have said it’s a mistake.

You said you made not the best choice.

You were communicating on highly sensitive topics. Why wasn’t it more than a mistake? Why wasn’t it disqualifying, if you want to be commander-in-chief?

Lauer followed up with four more email-related questions. The impression an uninformed or even moderately informed viewer would receive from this interview is that the email issue represents a sinister crime, perhaps completely disqualifying from office, rather than an unjustifiable but routine act of government non-transparency.

The email exchange would not by itself be so alarming except when viewed in juxtaposition with Lauer’s hapless interview of Trump. Trump began the interview by boldly insisting, “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that.” This is a lie. Trump has been quoted supporting the invasion beforehand and even afterward. Nobody has produced any evidence of Trump contradicting his support for the war before it started. His line to Lauer was transparently ridiculous – how could a 2004 interview supply evidence of having opposed a war that began in 2003? But Lauer did not try even a single follow-up.

Trump went on to make a series of wild and dangerous statements. He praised Russian President Vladimir Putin as a strong, effective, and popular leader. Lauer did press him on this point, and when he did, Trump offered the astonishing rebuttal, saying President Obama had done equivalently brutish things. Lauer did not press Trump on his claim that the president of the United States behaves in a fundamentally similar way to a dictator who imprisons and kills political critics and journalists. Trump likewise reiterated his belief that “to the victor go the spoils” is the proper basis for American foreign policy, specifically with regard to his long-standing lament that the United States failed to steal Iraq’s oil after the 2003 invasion.

Lauer’s attempt to press Trump was the completely ineffectual technique of asking repeatedly if he is ready to serve as commander-in-chief. Lauer probably believes the answer is no, but nothing about this question would drive home Trump’s extraordinary lack of knowledge. Instead it allowed him to performatively demonstrate his confident, alpha-male reality-show character as a prospective chief executive.

Both of these beliefs stun and appall foreign-policy experts in both parties, as readers of the Washington Post or the New York Times know. But the average undecided voter isn’t reading those newspapers. The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.

Chait didn’t even hit all the low points.  For example, when Trump claimed, “We’re going to have to set up a court system within the military,” Lauer let the comment slide – instead of asking Trump if he knew the military already has its own court system.

And this goes to a common complaint coming from me and many many others.  What is the role of the press here?  Are they just mouthpieces for the campaigns, or are they obligated to correct misstatements IN REAL TIME?  Most people expect the latter.  But the press — well, the lower the bar.  He’s not SUPPOSED to know foreign policy because he’s an outsider, so the media treats him with kid gloves.

Does that make sense?

Here;s some related thoughts from the New York Times:


Yup.  So, in summary:


On the other hand, perhaps Lauer not challenging Trump was a good thing:

But there’s a cliché about giving a person enough rope to hang himself. Lauer, our timid little woodland creature, may have inadvertently done something akin to that last night, mutely standing by with a big old basket as Trump crapped out enough falsehoods and grotesqueries to generate weeks of headlines, analysis, attack ads — and debate questions.

Will more of our media urchins join the hunt and find those Easter eggs? That’s always been the question, and the smart money is usually on “no.” But today they’re ass-deep in them — anyone who watched last night’s forum is.

None of this excuses Lauer’s incompetence, of course, but I choose to see this as good news rather than bad. Take a spin through the mainstream media sites today. The “both sides” religion is still in evidence, but now the focus is on Trump, and not in a good way for him. Could the tide be turning? I think maybe it is.

It’s true.  Trump was scary bad last night with the things he said (quoted at the top).  He would have conquered Iraq (taking its oil) rather than liberating it.  That, of course, would be a… a…. what do you call it…. oh yeah…. a WAR CRIME.  Also, kind of impossible to “take the oil”.  These are huge oil fields — you can’t box them up.


Furthermore, Trump seems to be content to be Putin’s butt boy.

And calling the current generals under Obama “rubble”, he seemed to suggest that he would just bring in his own generals (as if that is how it works).  And on getting rid of ISIS?


What were the criticisms of Clinton?  Well RNC chairman Reince Priebus tweeted this:

It’s the “no smile” thing that many are latching on to this morning.  Women are told to smile a lot.  Trump didn’t smile either, but that made him seem sober and serious.

The Clinton campaign, of course, had the perfect response:

*Sigh* 60 more days.

BREAKING SCANDAL: Bill Clinton Did A Thing That Wasn’t A Scandal As It Turns Out!

Here’s the front-page headline from Monday’s Washington Post:

Inside Bill Clinton’s nearly $18 million job as ‘honorary chancellor’ of a for-profit college

And here’s the first sentence of the fifth paragraph:

There is no evidence that Laureate received special favors from the State Department in direct exchange for hiring Bill Clinton….

And this from the 26th paragraph:

Clinton’s contract with Laureate was approved by the State Department’s ethics office….An ethics official wrote that he saw “no conflict of interest with Laureate or any of their partners,” according to a letter recently released by the conservative group Citizens United, which received it through a public-records request.

Roger that. I hope everyone will excuse me if I ignore this entire story until there’s even the slightest hint of some kind of wrongdoing or corruption.

Oh….. here’s some of the Trump corruption things the media doesn’t want to discuss:

  • Trump’s casino bankruptcies, which left investors holding the bag while he skedaddled with their money
  • Trump’s habit of refusing to pay contractors who had done work for him, many of whom are struggling small businesses
  • Trump University, which includes not only the people who got scammed and the Florida investigation, but also a similar story from Texas where the investigation into Trump U was quashed.
  • The Trump Institute, another get-rich-quick scheme in which Trump allowed a couple of grifters to use his name to bilk people out of their money
  • The Trump Network, a multi-level marketing venture (a.k.a. pyramid scheme) that involved customers mailing in a urine sample which would be analyzed to produce for them a specially formulated package of multivitamins
  • Trump Model Management, which reportedly had foreign models lie to customs officials and work in the U.S. illegally, and kept them in squalid conditions while they earned almost nothing for the work they did
  • Trump’s employment of foreign guest workers at his resorts, which involves a claim that he can’t find Americans to do the work
  • Trump’s use of hundreds of undocumented workers from Poland in the 1980s, who were paid a pittance for their illegal work
  • Trump’s history of being charged with housing discrimination
  • Trump’s connections to mafia figures involved in New York construction
  • The time Trump paid the Federal Trade Commission $750,000 over charges that he violated anti-trust laws when trying to take over a rival casino company
  • The fact that Trump is now being advised by Roger Ailes, who was forced out as Fox News chief when dozens of women came forward to charge him with sexual harassment. According to the allegations, Ailes’s behavior was positively monstrous; as just one indicator, his abusive and predatory actions toward women were so well-known and so loathsome that in 1968 the morally upstanding folks in the Nixon administration refused to allow him to work there despite his key role in getting Nixon elected.

…. and that’s a partial list!

62 Days And Counting

Summer is over. Labor Day has past.  And now, says conventional wisdom, is when people start paying attention to the election.

So where are we?

Well, we were all greeted this morning with a bunch of polls, including a 50-state poll from NBC/SurveyMonkey.  Several of them are grabbing headlines, most notably, the CNN/ORC poll (rated A- by which has Trump up nationally by +2.  And that is likely voters (more accurate than registered voters).

The SurveyMonkey poll (registered voters; rated C- by gives Clinton a +4 lead nationally.  She seems to be doing well in most swing states, although Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia are close.  And…. get this… it has the candidates tied in Texas.

When you step back and look at these polls in the aggregate, one thing is for sure… Hillary’s post-convention lead of 7-8 points has definitely evaporated.

What do the election prediction sites say?  This:

win prez 9-6

And actually, 538 has revised its forecast to 68.5% Dem.

So…. still good, not great.  There are about 248 electoral votes in Hillary’s pocket, compared to only 111 in Donald’s.  That leaves 179 from 13 competitive states.  Since the magic number is 270, Clinton needs only 22 EVs from 13 contested states.

Nate Silver says that although things are still favoring Hillary, there is a high amount of uncertainty at this point:

Higher than people might assume. Between the unusually early conventions and the late election — Nov. 8 is the latest possible date on which Election Day can occur — it’s a long campaign this year. But just as important, many voters — close to 20 percent — either say they’re undecided or that they plan to vote for third-party candidates. At a comparable point four years ago, only 5 to 10 percent of voters fell into those categories.

High numbers of undecided and third-party voters are associated with higher volatility and larger polling errors. Put another way, elections are harder to predict when fewer people have made up their minds. Because FiveThirtyEight’s models account for this property, we show a relatively wide range of possible outcomes, giving Trump better odds of winning than most other statistically based models, but also a significant chance of a Clinton landslide if those undecideds break in her favor.

So what does he think Clinton should worry about?

My first question would be whether the race has settled into a 4-point Clinton lead, as the polls have it now, or is continuing to trend toward Trump. If I’m still ahead by 4 points or more at the time of the first debate on Sept. 26, I’ll feel reasonably good about my position: A Trump comeback would be toward the outer edges of how much trailing candidates have historically been able to move the polls with the debates. If the race gets much closer, though, my list of concerns gets a lot longer. It would include geopolitical events that could work in Trump’s favor, third-party candidates who seem to be taking more votes from me than from Trump, and the tendency for incumbent candidates (since Clinton is a quasi-incumbent) to lose ground in the polls after the first debate.

And what should Trump worry about?

As the polls have ebbed and flowed, I’ve been 8 or 10 points behind Clinton at my worst moments, but only tied with her at my best moments. I’ve also never gotten much above 40 percent in national polls, at least not on a consistent basis, and I’ve alienated a lot of voters who would allow me to climb higher than that. In other words, maybe that dreaded Trump ceiling is there after all, in which case I’ll have to get awfully lucky to win the election, probably needing both a favorable flow of news in the weeks leading up to Nov. 8 and a large third-party vote that works against Clinton.

As for me, I worry about the press coverage.  Clinton had a coughing fit last night, and the media treated it like she was on her deathbed.  Seriously, that LEAD the news on NBC today.

I keep telling myself that the debates are really where it is at.  But a lot of it is expectations.  The bar for Trump is on the floor.  As long as he doesn’t urinate on Clinton, some will say he is “presidential”.  The media again is totally skewing this thing.

Trump/Bondi And The Media Double Standard

Here is a timeline of events for your consideration. All of these events took place in 2013:

Mid-late August: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi “personally solicited a political contribution from Donald Trump” “several weeks” before Bondi’s “office publicly announced it was deliberating whether to join a multi-state lawsuit proposed by New York’s Democratic attorney general.”

September 10: In an unusual show of interest in a down-ballot race in Florida, Ivanka Trump donates $500 to Bondi. Apparently that’s insultingly small.

September 13: Bondi tells theOrlando Sentinel that her office is “currently reviewing the allegations” that Trump University has defrauded its students.

September 17: The Trump Foundation makes a $25,000 contribution to a PAC backing Bondi.

October 15: The Florida Attorney General’s office backtracks, telling the Orlando Sentinel there was never any consideration of joining the lawsuit against Trump U because they had received only one complaint during the time Bondi was in office. This was untrue: the AG’s office had received a couple dozen complaints, but had weeded them out so they could say there was only one.

Now, if we are to apply the same journalistic standard that gets applied to Hillary Clinton, her emails, and the Clinton Foundation — that standard being “does this RAISE QUESTIONS” — then you would think the pay-for-sway by Trump to Bondi would be the hot story.  It isn’t.

There is no smoking gun in the Clinton scandals, but we talk about them ad nauseum.  There is no smoking gun here either, although this is about as close as you can get to one.

So yesterday, finally, the media — well, some of it — lightly broached the subject.  Like the Washington Post:

Donald Trump on Monday dismissed questions about his failure to disclose an improper $25,000 contribution to a political group connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was at the time considering whether to open a fraud investigation against Trump University.

“I never spoke to her, first of all; she’s a fine person beyond reproach. I never even spoke to her about it at all. She’s a fine person. Never spoken to her about it. Never,” Trump said Monday while speaking to reporters in Ohio. “Many of the attorney generals turned that case down because I’ll win that case in court. Many turned that down. I never spoke to her.”

The $25,000 gift, paid by the Donald J. Trump Foundation, violated federal rules that prohibit charities from making donations to political candidates. Trump and his team also 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.

Okay then.  I mean SHE says she talked to him, and he says he never spoke to her, but…. whatever.  [UPDATE:  Trump campaign clarified things this afternoon: “His comments were in reference to any discussion about Trump University — not the donation,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told POLITICO Florida.  So he did apparently speak to Bondi… about the donation, not about Trump U… if you can believe that.]

Mind you, this is the same Trump who boasted in debates a year ago that when politicians call, he gives, and when he wants, he gets. They have no choice, he declared. Because he gave.  He knows about corruption because he’s seen it.


So why aren’t we discussing it?  It’s the same double standard that Hillary keeps talking about.

For Clinton, it’s a can’t-win proposition. If the press says the story looks bad, even if there’s nothing to suggest it actually is bad, she gets tagged with an optics problem. And because journalists are the only ones handing out the grades, they get to decide how bad it looks.

Frustrating?  Sure is says Paul Weldman:

At this point we should note that everything here may be completely innocent. Perhaps Bondi didn’t realize her office was looking into Trump University. Perhaps the fact that Trump’s foundation made the contribution (which, to repeat, is illegal) was just a mix-up. Perhaps when Trump reimbursed the foundation from his personal account, he didn’t realize that’s not how the law works (the foundation would have to get its money back from Bondi’s PAC; he could then make a personal donation if he wanted). Perhaps Bondi’s decision not to pursue the case against Trump was perfectly reasonable.

But here’s the thing: We don’t know the answers to those questions, because almost nobody seems to be pursuing them.

For instance, there was only one mention of this story on any of the five Sunday shows, when John Dickerson asked Chris Christie about it on “Face the Nation“ (Christie took great umbrage: “I can’t believe, John, that anyone would insult Pam Bondi that way”). And the comparison with stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails or the Clinton Foundation is extremely instructive. Whenever we get some new development in any of those Clinton stories, you see blanket coverage — every cable network, every network news program, every newspaper investigates it at length. And even when the new information serves to exonerate Clinton rather than implicate her in wrongdoing, the coverage still emphasizes that the whole thing just “raises questions” about her integrity.

When will the press finally stop “raising questions” for which the only answer is more innuendo and quit fixating on the “optics” of whatever it is alleged Hillary Clinton didn’t do (that she should have known better not to look like she did when she didn’t) and actually squeeze out some balance with their balance?

Or better yet…. just write the what things ARE and not what they COULD be.

P.S.  Also happened with the Texas AG, too.

Fox Settles With Gretchen Carlson

It’s over, although I don’t expect that corporate culture has changed at Fox News:

21st Century Fox has reached a $20 million settlement deal with Gretchen Carlson, the anchorwoman who sued Roger Ailes alleging harassment and retaliation in July.

The eight-figure deal is likely to have consequences across corporate America. Fox also apologized to Carlson in a highly unusual public statement on Tuesday morning.

“We sincerely regret and apologize for the fact that Gretchen was not treated with the respect that she and all our colleagues deserve,” 21st Century Fox said.


Ailes will pay an unknown portion of the settlement.

Ailes, the powerful Fox News CEO and chairman, resigned in the wake of the harassment allegations, which he has continuously denied.

Now out of his Fox job, Ailes is informally advising GOP nominee Donald Trump ahead of the presidential debates this fall.

Daly, this probably means we will never hear Gretchen’s “secret tapes” of Ailes and others at Fox.

Also, effective immediately, longtime Fox News host Greta Van Susteren is leaving the channel after 14 years, Fox News announced today. No reasons were given in the Fox News announcement for Van Susteren’s departure, and she did not immediately respond to a direct message seeking comment.  Some wonder if this has anything to do with the Carlson settlement/sexual harassment allegations.  Others say it was a financial disagreement.

UPDATE:  This just happened on Facebook


Creepy Clowns Come To Winston-Salem

Last week, there were reports in South Carolina of clowns — yes, clowns — trying to lure children into the woods:

This tale sounds like a mishmash of newspaper clippings and pages ripped from Stephen King novels, but these are actually details taken from a report filed by the sheriff’s office in Greenville County, S.C., last week, after several residents at an apartment complex there said that people in clown makeup had been terrorizing both children and adults.

Several children said that clowns were offering them money to follow them into the woods, close to the house by the pond. (The police say they have found no evidence of clown paraphernalia at the house.)

A woman walking home late one night said she had seen a “large-figured” clown waving at her from under a streetlight, the police said. (She waved back.) And another woman said her son had heard clanging chains and a banging noise at his front door. In these cases, people who reported clown sightings refused to give their names to the police.

The police don’t know whether the stories are coming from the imaginations of children or something sinister is afoot, but panicked residents seemed to be taking the law into their own hands: The Greenville sheriff’s office investigated reports that residents of the apartment complex may have fired shots in the direction of the wooded area.

Well, they hit closer to home.  Yes, here in Winston-Salem:

Winston-Salem police received a second report of a someone dressed as a clown in the 1600 block of Hope Lane early Monday.

The caller, who refused to give his or her identity, made the call at 12:20 a.m. — about four hours after a previous reporting that a man dressed as a clown was trying to lure children into the woods in the 1200 block of East 29th Street.

In the first call, two children told police that a man dressed as a clown tried to lure them into the woods by offering them treats, according to police.

The man fled the area upon officers’ arrival shortly before 8:30 p.m., and the officers learned that the suspect was seen by two children and heard, but not seen, by an an adult, police said.

In the second report, a caller told police that someone in a clown costume was spotted in the 1600 Block of Hope Lane about 12:20 a.m. Officers could not find the person.

The children were not injured.

The clown costume was described as white overalls, white gloves and red shoes. The suspect had red bushy hair, a white face and a red nose.

The investigation remains active and the department said it is taking the matter seriously.

Halloween is coming, as are some scary movies (one of which features a clown), but this seems like an odd place for a movie promotion.  The W-S clown could be a copycat though.

All the same, very creepy.


UPDATE:  News now of a THIRD clown in the area:

Greensboro Police on Tuesday morning received a call about another clown sighting in the Piedmont Triad.

The sighting occurred at The Park at Oakridge apartments off Old Oak Ridge Road not far from Interstate 73. A man said he saw a clown near the wooded area behind the complex at about 10 a.m.

Chris Bass told FOX8 he lives at the complex with his wife and two children. He said he was on his balcony when he spotted a man in a white mask, red curly hair and blue pants in the wooded area. Bass tried to chase the clown but could not catch him. He called his actions his “fatherly instinct.”

The Clinton Campaign’s Response

Let’s be real. Trump was a coward. Every rally he would bake a huge blustery deal about making Mexico pay for his Wall.  But when he got to Mexico, Trump went silent when he actually met face to face with the President. He apparently even to lied about the issue even coming up in their meeting. But it came up according to Mexico’s President, and Trump, according to the Trump campaign, simply didn’t respond.

But man oh man — as soon as Trump was back before a doting alt-right(ish) crowd, he was back to the same swagger and boasting. “They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for it.”

Meaning — Trump is the cliched version of the schoolyard bully who falls apart when he has to follow through on his boasts or breaks down in tears when threatened.

Perhaps Charles Blow of The New York Times said it better:

Donald Trump is the internet troll of presidential politics. When he’s securely removed from the objects of his scorn, he’s tough as nails; when he’s in their presence, he quivers like a bowl of Jell-O.

Such is the way of a bully.

Furthermore, when he is surrounded by supporters who cheer his base nature, he amplifies the enmity. When the applause of hostility is out of earshot, he tones down his vitriol to a whimper.

He is not only a bully, it seems to me, but also something of a coward, who lacks the force of his convictions — or who lacks basic convictions at all. He seems to be simply playing to the audience, whatever that audience may be. He’s amenable to the mood of any particular room.

And that’s what the Clinton campaign needs to say.  That Trump was a coward, weak.  He can only expound his views to a limited (ultra-conservative) base.  That needs to be hammered.  I think that is going to be more effective than the “he’s random” approach.

UPDATE:  Thaaaaat’s my girl!

“It Was Better In The Original German”

Many people are saying that last night’s “Immigration Policy” speech by Trump in Phoenix Arizona was historical.  I’m one of those people.  Just WHY it was historical is a point of contention.

To me, the speech was historical because it contained the 21st century version of some of the worst ills of the world’s past.  Divisiveness and demagoguery.  Mad red0faced ranting.  I really felt like this was somewhere in Germany in 1939.

The country has heard this nationalistic refrains before.



Trump spun a dystopian tale that painted all immigrants as people to be feared, people to be rounded up and hauled out of this country.

He said immigrants would need an “ideological certification” that confirms they “share our values.”  I mean… fuck, that’s some scary Big Brother shit.

He again approvingly referenced President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s deportation program “Operation Wetback,” a cruel and deadly disaster from the 1950s, suggesting that Trump’s version of that program would be even tougher.

The crowd cheered.

He claimed there are 2 million “criminal aliens” in America and then said, preposterously, “Day one, my first hour in office – those people are gone!”

Saying that some think the word “deport” is not politically correct, Trump mocked: “You can call it whatever the hell you want, they’re gone.”

Loud. Spewing insults and absurd claims. Red-faced and nationalistic. It was Trump as we know him to be.

It was a hate speech. You could see the hands of Steve Bannon, who runs the far-right “news” site Breitbart and is now CEO of Trump’s campaign, all over it, as if Trump was barfing out the comments section under one of the site’s white nationalist screeds.

Moderate Republicans who have been praying daily for their nominee to grow into a plausible candidate had to be sickened by what they saw Wednesday night.

That wasn’t a speech on immigration policy, as the campaign had promised. That was Donald Trump thumbing his nose at the establishment and at all the pundits who suggested he was “softening” his stance on immigration.

That was an angry man catering to a base that shares his anger, a base that mistakenly believes it constitutes an electoral majority.

Trump’s swoop from supposed statesman in Mexico to manic hate-monger in Arizona was jarring. Truly.

How bad was it?  High-profile Hispanic supporters of Donald Trump have pulled or are considering pulling their support after last night’s raging speech:

Jacob Monty, a member of Trump’s National Hispanic Advisory Council, has resigned, and Alfonso Aguilar, the president of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said in an interview that he is “inclined” to pull his support.

“I was a strong supporter of Donald Trump when I believed he was going to address the immigration problem realistically and compassionately,” said Monty, a Houston attorney who has aggressively made the Latino case for Trump. “What I heard today was not realistic and not compassionate.”

He withdrew from the board following Trump’s speech in Phoenix, which was heavy on calls for border security and emphasized that all immigrants in the country illegally were subject to deportation.

We need to start talking — not about the damage that a Trump presidency would do to this country — but about the damage Trump’s candidacy is doing to this country.  Some media outlets are trying to break down Trump’s with all sorts of seriousness, and — for fear of looking biased — are afraid to do what needs to be done: an outright condemnation of Trump’s words.  This wasn’t policy — it was hate.  As the New York Times editors noted today:

To mock him for emptiness is almost too easy. But the fear and loathing that he has tapped into, that so easily won him the nomination, are real. . .  Tornadoes are hollow at the center, too, and they do a lot of damage.

Indeed.  This is a blood soaked white nationalist politics that has caught fire with a significant minority of the electorate. There’s no reason to imagine that changes before November.  Or after.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

With Trump in control of the golden door, that lamp goes dark.