Monthly Archives: October 2016

In Her Epic Speech, The First Lady Spoke For Men Too

Yesterday in her historic speech, Michelle Obama spent a lot of her time talking directly to women about Donald Trump and his candidacy. But she also spoke about what it means to men.

And how is this affecting men and boys in this country? Because I can tell you that the men in my life do not talk about women like this. And I know that my family is not unusual. And to dismiss this as everyday locker-room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere.

The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way. They are loving fathers who are sickened by the thought of their daughters being exposed to this kind of vicious language about women. They are husbands and brothers and sons who don’t tolerate women being treated and demeaned and disrespected. And like us, these men are worried about the impact this election is having on our boys who are looking for role models of what it means to be a man…

Because let’s be very clear: Strong men — men who are truly role models — don’t need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful. People who are truly strong lift others up. People who are truly powerful bring others together.

That is precisely why Michelle’s remarks yesterday were such an antidote to the ugliness we are seeing in the Trump campaign. She not only touched women’s hearts and said it was OK to feel the hurt. She demonstrated what it means to stand up to it all and say, “No…this is NOT normal.” And she reminded us all how authentically strong men behave.

How’s The Trump Brand Doing?

Not well. Take Trump’s latest, most lavish venture: the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., which has become a focal point for grievances against the unconventional Republican presidential candidate.

The 263-room five-star hotel in the historic Old Post Office building opened last month. But even with a prime location near the White House, swanky interiors, and aggressive promotion by the candidate himself, empty rooms have forced the hotel to reduce rates during a peak season.

 New York Magazine reports:

Last weekend bankers and dignitaries from around the world descended on Washington for the annual World Bank–IMF meetings. But just a few days before the conference, rooms were not only still available at Trump International, they were heavily discounted. On October 2, a deluxe room, with a rack rate of $805, could be had for as low $445 a night on All other five-star D.C. downtown hotels were sold out. By Wednesday, October 5, weekend stays in the deluxe rooms were marked down to $404 per night on Trump International’s own website. The more luxurious 500-square-foot executive rooms, with a city view and marble bath, were only $484. By comparison, at the Waldorf-Astoria in Georgetown, the only available rooms were $1,139 per night, according to

For a five-star hotel in downtown Washington to have vacancies during major IMF meetings is a little like having empty rooms when the Super Bowl is in town. “The reason why there were vacancies is the political atmosphere. People don’t want to go there for fear that they would be asked, ‘Why are you staying here?’” says Ada Pena, a travel agent with ABA Travel in Washington, D.C. The explosive tape of Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women will only “aggravate that feeling, especially when there are other options,” she says. The hotel not only has a prime location and swank interiors, it boasts a branded Ivanka Trump spa, and tourist attractions related the building’s old function as a post office. But none of that seems to be attracting guests.

Apologizing For America

We’re watching the downfall of the Trump candidacy in real time, as women are coming from everywhere to contradict Trump’s claim at the last debate that he never ACTUALLY groped women — he only BRAGGED that he groped women.

Only seven have come out so far to say “Nope he ACTUALLY groped me”, and I expect there to be more.

But something caught my eye in Newsweek which I thought I would share:

U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump has issued an apology for his country’s decision to bomb Serbia during Bill Clinton’s tenure at the White House.

U.S. and NATO allies launched aerial campaigns against the faltering Yugoslav regime, targeting ethnic Serb troops in 1995 and 1999. The first attack was carried out in support of groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, seeking independence from Belgrade, while the second was in support of similar forces in Kosovo.

“The bombing of Serbs, who were our allies in both world wars, was a big mistake,” Trump told Serbian weekly magazine Nedeljnik. “Serbians are very good people. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration caused them a lot of harm, but also throughout the Balkans, which they made a mess out of.”

Bill Clinton, husband and supporter of Trump’s rival in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, was president of the U.S. throughout the violent collapse of Yugoslavia, which saw ethnic Serb militias engage in ethnic cleansing against predominantly Muslim groups in the former Yugoslavia. The bombings caused hundreds of civilian casualties but also stopped the advance of Serb troops.

Trump did not specify how he would have handled the situation differently, but vowed to have “a new policy with the Balkans if (he) won” the election.

The NATO bombings are still a controversial issue in Serbia, which has been transformed since the collapse of the Communist Yugoslav Federation, into an EU candidate country.

Eric Gordy, professor in Southeast European Politics at University College London told Newsweek Trump’s words echo the tactic used by the Russian government to cultivate support among Serbs.

“The most obvious interpretation of his statement is that it is another sign of alignment with Russia,” he says. “To be honest, this kind of statement is usually more a symbolic attempt for Russian politicians to drum up resentment towards the U.S.,” Gordy explains.

“I expect this is probably just rhetoric by Trump as U.S. policy in the Balkans has been pretty consistently supportive of Serbia since they waged the aerial campaign in the 1990s,” Gordy adds. “Otherwise it is hard to imagine that the U.S. could be more pro-Serbia at the moment.”

First of all — it was the Republicans including Trump who chastised Obama for going around the world on an “apology tour”. Of course, this has been debunked over and over – Obama never did any such thing.

Secondly, I seriously doubt that Trump can speak intelligently to the Bosnia-Serbia Crisis of the 1990s.  He didn’t even know that Russia invaded the Crimea recently. This supposed “interview” with a Serbian weekly newsmagazine is, I expect, an email exchange where the magazine sends in questions, and someone on Trump’s staff — likely someone with Russian connections — responds.

But however it occurred, it is just another troubling link between Trump and Putin.

UPDATE: While I am loathe to believe the Trump camp, they did put out the following statement denying the interview took place, and that seems to be the only thing that makes sense:


Trump’s Sad Lonely Life

I don’t like David Brooks as a pundit or writer.  But my God, he nails it today in the New York TImes:

Trump continues to display the symptoms of narcissistic alexithymia, the inability to understand or describe the emotions in the self. Unable to know themselves, sufferers are unable to understand, relate or attach to others.

To prove their own existence, they hunger for endless attention from outside. Lacking internal measures of their own worth, they rely on external but insecure criteria like wealth, beauty, fame and others’ submission.

In this way, Trump seems to be denied all the pleasures that go with friendship and cooperation. Women could be sources of love and affection, but in his disordered state he can only hate and demean them. His attempts at intimacy are gruesome parodies, lunging at women as if they were pieces of meat.

Most of us derive a warm satisfaction when we feel our lives are aligned with ultimate values. But Trump lives in an alternative, amoral Howard Stern universe where he cannot enjoy the sweetness that altruism and community service can occasionally bring.

Bullies only experience peace when they are cruel. Their blood pressure drops the moment they beat the kid on the playground.

Imagine you are Trump. You are trying to bluff your way through a debate. You’re running for an office you’re completely unqualified for. You are chasing some glimmer of validation that recedes ever further from view.

Your only rest comes when you are insulting somebody, when you are threatening to throw your opponent in jail, when you are looming over her menacingly like a mafioso thug on the precipice of a hit, when you are bellowing that she has “tremendous hate in her heart” when it is clear to everyone you are only projecting what is in your own.

Trump’s emotional makeup means he can hit only a few notes: fury and aggression. In some ways, his debate performances look like primate dominance displays — filled with chest beating and looming growls. But at least primates have bands to connect with, whereas Trump is so alone, if a tree fell in his emotional forest, it would not make a sound.

It’s all so pathetic.


None of us would want to live in the howling wilderness of his own solitude, no matter how thick the gilding.

On Nov. 9, the day after Trump loses, there won’t be solidarity and howls of outrage. Everyone will just walk away.

I really hope that last sentence is true.


The topic of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia is a recurring theme in this campaign.

Trump has spoken well of Putin.  He seems ignorant that Russia invaded the Ukraine.  When criticized for being soft on Russia, Trump responds with the simplistic, “Wouldn’t it be nice if the US got along with Russia?”

All of the above, I could dismiss as ignorance or naivete from a man who has no business running foreign policy.  But what troubles me is this:

On Monday, portions of the latest Wikileaks discharge were published by the Russian news service Sputnik, including what seemed to be a particularly damning sequence in an email from long-time adviser Sidney Blumenthal.

The email was amazing—it linked Boogie Man Blumenthal, Podesta and the topic of conservative political fevered dreams, Benghazi. This, it seemed, was the smoking gun finally proving Clinton bore total responsibility for the terrorist attack on the American outpost in Libya in 2012.

Here’s how that email was reported in Sputnik.

In an email titled "The Truth" from Hillary's top confidante Sidney Blumenthal, the adviser writing to undisclosed recipients said that "one important point that has been universally acknowledged by nine previous reports about Benghazi: The attack was almost certainly preventable" in what may turn out to be the big October surprise from the WikiLeaks released of emails hacked from the account of Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta.

And by evening, what had started the day with Russian intelligence had gone from them, to Wikileaks, to Sputnik, to Donald Trump.

At a rally in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, Trump spoke while holding a document in his hand. He told the assembled crowd that it was an email from Blumenthal, whom he called “sleazy Sidney.”

The whole thing was a lie, composed by carefully clipping the email to find the damning phrase. But Donald Trump did his job. He spread the message from Russian intelligence to his followers, where it can fester and do the most damage to America.

And this:

ON FRIDAY, while much of the country was preoccupied with the latest revelations about Donald Trump, the U.S. intelligence community made an alarming and unprecedented announcement: Russia was seeking “to interfere with the U.S. election process” through the hacking of political organizations and individuals, including the Democratic National Committee. The statement rightly alarmed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who said in Sunday night’s debate that “we have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election.”

And Mr. Trump? Once again, the GOP nominee played the part of Vladi­mir Putin’s lawyer. “She doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking,” he said of Ms. Clinton. “Maybe there is no hacking.” Mr. Trump is receiving classified intelligence briefings, so he is certainly aware of the evidence that hackers backed by Moscow have stolen email and other records from the DNC and tried to penetrate state electoral systems. So why does he deny it? Mr. Trump’s advocacy on behalf of an aggressive U.S. rival, and the opaqueness of his motivation, is one of the most troubling aspects of his thoroughly toxic campaign.

And this:

Is Trump a “willful idiot” (in Lenin’s words) of Putin?  If so, this adds another level of danger to a Trump presidency.


Burning Down The House

It should be easy, I hope, to understand my blog’s reliance on Twitter, rather than these more thoughtful posts.  It’s not because we live in a Twitter world where everything is reduced to sound bites (although, we do).  It’s because events move so incredibly fast this political season that there is no time to pause and realize exactly where we are.

Last Friday morning, for example, Trump made the incredible statement that the Central Park Five — five young black men who were accused, jailed and exonerated for a Central Park rape — were actually guilty, even though DNA evidence matched the known rapist who admitted to the crime.  Amazing.  Stunning that a presidential candidate would take this position in the absence of DNA evidence and common sense.  And yet, before anybody could digest that, there came the Access Hollywood tape of Trump admitting to sexual assault of women (and using bad language while making that admission).  And although that was widely covered, it was done breathlessly, because very soon we were into the debates.

So…… puff, puff, pant, pant…. here we are.

The effect of late last week on the race cannot be underestimated.  The tape destroyed Trump.  But he only made it worse.  Rather than do a heartfelt mea culpa (what I am sure was the Kellyanne Conway approach), Trump read unconvincingly from a prompter in a taped apology, within which he chastised Bill Clinton for being worse.

It did not work.

Recall how easily provoked he was with Hillary Clinton’s mere mention of Alicia Machado in the first debate (which seems like an eternity ago).  He doubled and tripled down on the attacks on her.  But that was nothing compared to how flustered and knocked senseless he was by the Access Hollywood “grab ’em by the pussy” tape.  By the time of the debate, Trump was full-on Breitbart.

He threatened to jail his opponent.  He called her the devil.

Pundits said it was red meat to shore up his base.  I could not disagree more.  Trump’s base was never bleeding out.  As Trump correctly said months ago, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and his base would support him.

No, this was not strategic anything.  This was testosterone.  This was Steve Bannon, editor of and Trump adviser.  He got Trump to set aside the Kellyanne Conway approach.

Has it worked?  Of course not.  Bannon brought Trump into the bubble where, like Trump rallies, it looks like Trump is winning and can do no wrong.

But being in the bubble requires vigilance.  You have more enemies than Hillary.  Your enemy now is reality.  So you attack CNN.  You attack the “biased” polls, except for the online ones which show you crushing your opponent.

Does Trump believe this?  Or is this a scam?  Does he know he is burning down the house?

I suspect he does, but he believes it is a movement.  And he will burn down the Republican party and build something greater from the ashes.  I am pretty sure that is the hope of Steve Bannon.


And the first step in that?  Attack the GOP party.  And that’s is where Trump is going to now.  Check out these two tweets:


First he says that Paul Ryan and others are not giving support, then he attacks Paul Ryan.  The truth is, Trump — despite being the nominee — has given very little support to the party and others running in it.  Trump only knows loyalty one way — the hallmark of a dictator.


That’s right.  This is Trump the way he wants to be.  Up until now (apparently) he’s been “shackled” by… I’m guessing… political correctness (or what many of us call “decency”)

Naturally, it is dividing the GOP.  Do they stand with Trump or not?  And it seems to be…. not.

The consequence?  Trump is losing…. badly.  Here are the prediction sites this morning:


Note that the most bullish for Clinton — Nate Silver’s — gives her an incredible 83% chance of winning.

Here’s the breakdown for each state:


All the prediction sites give Hillary the 270 EVs needed to win without even winning a swing state!  And that is because some states are no longer swing states — most notable, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Colorado.

Can Hillary still lose?  Sure.  I wouldn’t want to bet against ANYTHING in this election.  But Trump’s new “unshackled” strategy?  Well, while it may feel good to Trump, Bannon, the alt-right, and Russia — it’s a losing strategy.


Trump In A Town Hall Setting

Check out this video of Trump answering a voter’s question about jobs at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire last night.

Trump had a hard time sticking to the topic.

When he finally started an answer, he — to his credit — acknowledges the college-debt problem. But he quickly pivoted to trade: “Our really good jobs are gone and they’ve gone to other countries. And so many countries are making our products…I want to see the day when Apple will make their iPhones in this country instead of making them in China and Vietnam and all over the place.”

Wait…. wait, wait, wait.  When we trade with low-wage countries like the ones Trump mentioned, the workers most likely to get hurt are those who can be replaced by factory workers abroad. The “factor price” in the rich country—in this case, the US blue-collar wage—is pushed down by such competition.

So, Trump’s answer is to bring those jobs back to America, and reduce US blue-collar wages…. BIGLY.

But here is the other problem with Trump’s answer (besides the meandering, and besides the wage implications). How does his response help the questioner, who just graduated magna cum laude with a chemistry degree? Trump apparently thinks that every non-business person is a common laborer.

Sunday’s debate is going to be FUUUUUUN!!

Matthew Update

As of this writing (10/7/2016) at 11:45 a.m., Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 3, has shown a little mercy by veering slightly northernly and westernly than expected.  Right now, the western eyewall is brushing the Florida coast — the hurricane is located 75 miles southeast of Jacksonville.currentsat

The winds along the Florida coast are rough, but it doesn’t seem to be getting the high forces that normally come at the backend of the hurricane wall.


It apparently is not going to hit land in Florida.  It may just lightly touch land near Hilton Head, South Carolina or even Cape Hatteras further north.


And then what?  It is thought it will loop around.


And hopefully die.  Others have speculated it could revive as it gets back into warmer waters, but the projection now is “not so”.

Nobody is kidding themselves.  Even if hurricane force winds stay offshore FL, tropical storm conditions can be impactful and dangerous.  By this morning, it had knocked out electric power to more than 590,000 customers across Florida.  Even a Category 2 with 120 mph gusts in Charleston could be devestating.

Matthew Bears Down

Florida is going to get hit HARD. Thousands told to evacuate.  Winds up to 140.

From the National Weather Station in Melbourne FL – no mincing of words:


A picture right now from ISS:


Gonna be bad.

What Happens If Trump Loses?

Prepare for a meltdown from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump if he loses the election.

He has repeatedly told supporters that he fears the election could be rigged, an indication that even if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins, Trump might not accept it.

“First of all, it was rigged,” Trump said of the Democratic primary during a recent rally in Columbus, Ohio. “And I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, I have to be honest.”

In Pennsylvania, Trump also made the same argument on the campaign trail.  Trump is well behind Hillary Clinton in polls. No Republican has won the state in a presidential election since 1988.  But he made that statement anyway.

And let’s not forget what Trump said at a campaign rally in Wilmington, North Carolina — he said that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, she will “abolish the Second Amendment” and “if she gets to pick her judges,” there’s “nothing you can do”, adding, cryptically, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is…. I don’t know.”

That all went away when the polls tightened, but now that Hillary has returned to her earlier lead, expect to hear more of this “rigged” language. Maybe not from Trump, but certainly his supporters in the media.  Bill O’Reilly is scheduled to do an expose on about voter fraud tonight.  Other conservative pundits prop this up in fact-free articles with misleading “scare” headlines.

The on-again off-again conspiracy of a rigged election is confusing to Trump supporters who live in their own fact-free bubble.  They insist that Trump is going to win AND that the election is rigged, which…. uh… well, watch:

Aside from Trump, you have scarier voices in the not-so-hidden underbelly of the GOP.  People like Matt Bevin, who was elected governor of Kentucky last year after expressing “absolute” support for marriage-refusing county clerk Kim Davis.  Last month, he said this:

Somebody asked me yesterday, I did an interview and they said, “Do you think it’s possible, if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, do you think it’s possible that we’ll be able to survive? That we would ever be able to recover as a nation? And while there are people who have stood on this stage and said we would not, I would beg to differ. But I will tell you this: I do think it would be possible, but at what price? At what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren. I have nine children. It breaks my heart to think that it might be their blood that is needed to redeem something, to reclaim something, that we through our apathy and our indifference have given away.

That’s Timothy McVeigh shit, right there.  That’s calling for “patriots” to spill blood (or have their own blood spilled).  And the triggering event?  HRC’s election.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope leveler heads prevail.  But Trump could easily incite violence if he loses.  And who can honestly say that he would never do that?

P.S.  Unrelated, I guess….. A humiliation.

All Looking Good

If you look at all the statistical prognosticators, this election (as of today) is Hillary’s to lose.


Nate Silver’s 538 forecast is the most cautious, placing HRC’s chances at 77%.  But it’s a 77% and rising…


And here’s 538’s electoral map as of today…


I’m actually not as bearish on Ohio as 538 seems to be — I might even put that in the Trump column.  Also, it is interesting that Colorado is a “tipping point” state.  Never expected that.

All this is from the fallout of the first debate.  It just seems that whenever the nation tunes in for these big events (the conventions, the debates), Trump plummets. People like me who follow politics have forgotten how grating he is — we’re used to it by now, but a lot of non-political voters, they might be experiencing Trump full-on for the first time.

The Veep debate earlier this week does not appear to have moved the needle at all.

The upcoming debate on Sunday October 9 is town-hall style.  A moderator is there, but the questions come from a small crowd of 100 or so.  A chance for the candidates to relate to real people face-to-face one-on-one.  For Trump, it may be his first time – in his life – relating to real people who make under $100,000.  Can he do it?  Obviously, the format benefits Clinton, but again, the bar is so much lower for Trump that he might “win” the debate just by NOT insulting someone.

Still, things are looking good for the Dem nominee.

AND… bonus… for the Senate.  From 538 again:


Definite whoop.

Not Just Florida

It looks like Trump made a habit out of donating to Attorneys General who were investigating his business:

Donald Trump donated about $140,000 to state attorneys general or candidates for the office between 2001 and 2003, some of whom were reviewing cases or decisions that would impact the real estate mogul’s business, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Trump in particular donated to several attorneys general in New York going back to the 1980s, up to the current attorney general, Democrat Eric Schneiderman, according to records reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal’s report follows the news that Trump had to pay a $2,500 penalty to the Internal Revenue Service for an improper donation the Trump Foundation made to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Bondi’s office ultimately did not join a lawsuit filed against Trump University by the New York attorney general.

I guess he knows what he is talking about when he says the system is rigged.

Quick Afterthought On Last Night’s Debate

Last night, I said that Pence won. Although short on substance, he deflected Kaine’s attacks (and annoying interruptions) with a calm demeanor.  He didn’t win by much, but he won.

This morning and today, I would have to say that Kaine won.  I’m not flip-flopping — I still say that Pence won LAST NIGHT.  But the “next day story” is looking bad for Pence.  He is being exposed as a serial liar and a non-defender of Trump.  Whereas Kaine — well, all you can say about him is that he interrupted a lot last night.

This isn’t surprising.  Hillary’s debate victory was a bigger victory the following day, as the post-debate thoughts were compiled.  And even bigger the next.

I don’t think the VP debate will be a third or fourth day story.  For one thing, it’s… you know… a veep debate.  Also, there’s a hurricane bearing down on the East Coast.

Trump Is A Tax Genius?

When faced with the news that he paid zero taxes in 1995 (because of a loss of almost a billion dollars), Trump trotted the excuse that he is a tax “genius” and took advantage of the tax laws available.

When he said that, I wondered if anybody really believed that Trump knew the tax laws.  I mean, OBVIOUSLY, an accountant (or team of them) have been doing his taxes.  Right?


Donald Trump has claimed that the 1995 tax documents reported by the New York Times show he’s understands “the tax laws better than almost anyone,” but the accountant who prepared Trump’s taxes that year threw cold water on Trump’s claim in an interview published Tuesday.

“I did all the tax preparation. He never saw the product until it was presented to him for signature,” the Trump family’s former tax accountant Jack Mitnick told Inside Edition. “I’m the one who did all the work.”

After the Times released its report revealing that Trump could have used a $916 million net operating loss in 1995 to avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years, Trump has tried to spin the report into an account of his brilliance.

“I understand the tax laws better than almost anyone, which is why I am one who can truly fix them,” he said at a campaign rally on Monday. “I understand it. I get it. And that is what I commit to do.”

And his surrogates have claimed that the tax documents prove Trump is a “genius” with taxes.

But Mitnick’s comments to Inside Edition suggest that Trump did not study up on the details of the tax code.