Sunday, March 26, 2017

Electoral Vote Winner Turmp's Had the Week That Was.....

This past week marked the two month anniversary of electoral vote winner Donald Trump taking the oath of office and the time of his term in the Oval Office.  While on the campaign trail, he swore o supporters there would be instant change that would automatically make everything better.  There'd be less regulation, and painted an impression that our military is weak and underfunded (even though the U.S. has the largest defense budget in the world and has had the largest budget on this front for years).  He promised that things would be different than they were under the Obama administration.  This past week proved that right - just not in a way he or his co electoral vote winner Mike Pence would imagine.

In the midst of unfounded claims that former President Obama had spied on his campaign before the election, the week got off to a shocking start when FBI director James Comey said they were investigating the Trump campaign and administration for any signs of collusion with Russia - and may prosecute if necessary.  All of this during a televised hearing at the House Intelligence Committee.  Comey also shot down claims of Obama spying on the new electoral vote winner, countering several weeks of tweets that seemed far etched even if Trump is given the benefit of a doubt.

That this was just on Monday, it came as somewhat of a revelation in the midst of claims that Russia may have played some role in the election and at least (at last count) seven Trump campaign officials (including his son in law Jared Kushner and new Attorney General Jefferson Sessions) having met with Russian officials.  While the mainstream media still did some more stuff regarding the spying tweets, they were moved to the back burner largely by this revelation.

Now, while the investigation is news, it should be taken with a grain of salt.  First, if the reports of true that they were investigating the Trump campaign since July then why did he reamin mum on this while making a big deal of reopening the investigation on HIllary Clinton's e-mails roughly a week before the election.  Given that some media reports call parts of the FBI Trumplandia, it seems a little strange that Comey would rise now.  Since investigations don't automatically mean convictions or impeachment (in this case), it's hard to predict how this will play out.  However, at a time when electoral vote winner Trump wanted glowing media and hype towards the planned vote on the American Health Care Act (sometiems known as Trumpcare of Ryancare [for Paul Ryan].  I prefer Tryancare, giving both of them the blame myself) it was a pothole that he didn't want - or need - to hir along the way.

Then the House subcommittee investigation gets weirder on Wednesday when chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R, CA) went to the White House to give a briefing to the Trump administration.  While for someone unaware of how these committees work that may not be a big deal, the fact he went to DOnnie and Mike before revealing any information to his own committee raised eyebrows and has many wondering whether Nunes is interested in where the truth lis or in GOP party politics and not pissing off the electoral vote winner.

Which leads to the question - should Nunes be investigated for this?  Given that he went to Trump with some possibel information regardin gthe probe on Russia before clearing it with his subcommittee, or even revealing said information to them, I think the answer should be yes on this.  Or at the very least, one should wonder why Nunes still has that seat to begin with. 

Still, all this pales in comparison to the administration pulling Tryancare just an hour or so before coming up for a vote because they were 10 votes short of the bill passing. With a bill that was would've caused either 24 million (CBO estiamte) or 26 million (a White House study) to lose their insurance as just the tip of the iceberg, the bill seemed hell-bent on removing any good thing that was in teh Affordable Care Act from removing maternity care to defunding Planned Parenthood to, according to some reports, possibly removing hopsital stays from things covered by insurance. 

While this bill would obviously be opposed by Democrats, te Hous e Freedom Caucus (a caucus that grew out of the tea party takeover of the gOP a few years back) were against it on the grounds that it still left a remote trace of Obamacare.  After an attempt by White House counsel Steve Bannon to crack the whip and make the GOP Senate support the bill, ten people went from supporting the bill to opposing it.

So who does Trump blame after having to pull a horrible bill that would've likely spent more time in court than in law at this point?  He acted indignant in wondeirng why he didn't have any support from Democrats.  Did Trump and company really believe that the Democratic Party would jump sides to vote to strip the legacy of previous Democratic president Barack Obama?  If he actually thought this he's more naive than even I thought.

More likely he's aware that enough of his followers will believe anything bad is the Democrats fault if he tells them it is.  Thus, rather than take responsibility for this fiasco he can just wind up his base by aiming their rage at the other side rather than figure out how government works. 

So, that leaves us to now.  After a golfing trip at a club in Virginia this weekend (though I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if he flew to Miralago for at least one night of the weekend) it's back to the usual chaos.

By many accounts it's the first 100 days that a President's legacy is judged by in the long run.  The fact that any policy Trump can get through is via executive order (though the damage he can cause from it may destroy the whole damn planet way sooner than a lot of people previously thought) rather than through Congress may not be a permanent smear on electoral vote winner Trump's legacy but it does give him a couple of serious black eyes at the time he doesn't need them.  Maybe he;'ll do his damndest to make what he calls "the explosion of Obamacare" a self-fulfilling prophecy but the fact he couldn't make his media play and destroy it on the anniversary of its passing is a telling sign.

If the Democrats in the Senate follow through on filibustering Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, then things will be a lot rockier on Trump's road for a long time to come.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Scandals in Trumplandia - Flynn's BAAAAACCCCCCK!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I know I've been off the blog for a while for several reasons.  One, I've been writing for the print zine and have been focusing content there.  Also, between the holiday season and just trying to adjust to the times means that I've been focusing on other things.  However, with everything going on, some things have to fit here that can't fit in the constraints of the print issue so I'm back.

Our return to the blog focuses at retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who managed to make history with the shortest ever run as a Cabinet member when he was forced to resign as electoral vote winner Trump's national security advisor after only a few weeks when news emerged that he had lied to co electoral vote winner Mike Pence over whether he met with the Russian Ambassador on the campaign trail.  Flynn's revelation managed to keep the focus on possible ties between the Trump administration and Russia as news emerged with several other members of the administration (including Trump's son in law Jared Kushner and now Atty. General Jefferson Sessions) had met with Russia.  While this has managed to dog the Trump administration and shows few signs of going away (their attempts at covering up definitely don't help - as Sessions' near admission during his confirmation hearings would come to bite him in the ass), one thought that Flynn would fade away and become a footnote in the sphere of things.  That would be business as usual and be quite understandable.

However, since we don't live in times that are business as usual it should have been inevitable that Flynn would somehow re-emerge in the scandal sphere surrounding those working with our new electoral vote winner.  Sure enough he has when he retroactively registered as a foreign agent

It turns out that Flynn had earned over $530,000.00 lobbying on behalf of a company that had ties with the Turkish government.   While that alone may raise a few eyebrows, it gets worse when one learns he did this lobbying from August to October 2016, while he was acting as a surrogate for the Trump campaign.  While this alone could be a political flashpoint (especially if Flynn didn't leave his position), when added to the controversy over who met with Russia and whether the electoral vote winner knew about said meetings there leaves an area of murkiness that should shock people.

Which leaves us to a couple of major questions:  Did the Trump administration know Flynn was lobbying in this manner?  If so, did they care?  While White House press secretary Spicer says he doesn't think it was known, it might not be that simple.  As news dips out in regards to this, it appears the Flynn may have met government officials in his lobbying efforts.  In addition, a White House official says Flynn's personal lawyer contacted them before the inauguration about possibly having to file as a foreign agent

While Flynn is out of the administration this revelation leaves a bigger issue in the air.  Did electoral vote winner Trump and co electoral vote winner Pence know they had a possible foreign agent as a national security advisor?  Also, did Flynn's work with Turkey play a role in keeping said nation off of the travel ban (besides Trump's own holdings in Turkey)?  The fact that these questions are being asked at all leaves some obvious ethical questions lingering around us.

For now, the questions will remain unanswered as the Trump administration probably hopes that a new scandal will sweep this under the rug.  However, they also hoped new scandals and tweets would distract from any possible allegations of ties with Russia so that should be taken with a pillar of salt.  What is apparent is that the electoral vote winner somehow hired a national security advisor who lobbied a foreign government while as a surrogate for his campaign.  At that point, whether the administration knew or not is a major issue.

Until these issues are addressed and answered, these ethical minefields will be stomped on by the current administration.  While Flynn's latest revelation does take things by surprise, the fact he was lobbying for a company with ties to the Turkish government while acting as a campaign surrogate does leave some potential explosions that may backfire on the government if it is ignored, and reveals why an independent investigation may not just be a good idea but a necessity to get to the bottom of this whole damn mess. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

NIne Dyas to Go - Note to the Bernie Diehards Out There Who Still Are Hesitant

Hey!  I know this is kind of cutting things close but it seems tat now is the time to do this. 

I've been meaning to address the Bernie Sanders diehards for a while now but this election cycle has been exhausting in a lot of ways.  Now, many of those who have supported Sanders have decided to back Hillary Clinton  (or at least grudgingly vote for her to keep Trump out of office), this isn't for you.  Instead I want to address those few who aren't feeling Stronger Together with the Democratic Presidential candidate.

Okay, some of you are angry over how the DNC have treated Bernie Sanders throughout the primary.  You can cite the recently leaked e-mails showing that then DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared to do her damnedest to make sure Clinton won the nomination.  I agree with you with that one. Reports from the primary elections did should some evidence of shenanigans and scheduling two of the three Democratic Primary debates at 9pm on a Saturday night (the latter of the two on the Saturday before Christmas) didn't help - either Sanders or Clinton.  However, as the race reached the final states the votes increasingly went towards Clinton making her victory, rightly or wrongly, inevitable.  As for the revived outrage over the leaked Wikileaks e-mails of the Clinton campaign, if we were honest the worst they did was confirm our suspicions (i mean., c'mon - who came across the coverage of those and didn't think to themselves "This is new and revelatory how?").  I understand the anger but it won't change that the ballot will list Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as the Democrats nominees for the Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket.

So this is where some of you are fuming and thinking to yourselves, "Here's where Boone's going to tell us to suck it up and just vote for Clinton, putting our concerns aside."  Actually it's not that simple.  I know some of you want to protest vote and as someone who's done so in the past (and may do so again in the future) I don't feel I have the right to tell you to blindly get in line and suck up your beliefs.  However, I do feel some nuance is in order.

On the issue of third party votes, things are complicated.  While most people aren't fond of the electoral college in this country, it's still the final arbiter of votes for this office.  Because of this if someone's living in California, a state so midnight blue it's only two shades lighter than the cover of AC/DC's seminal album Back in Black (Metallica's 1991 self-titled album (a/k/a "The black album) and the soundtrack to This Is Spinal Tap can also fit here) one's vote for a third party candidate is more nuanced since it would be  next to impossible for that state to go Red (it hasn't gone for a rpeublican for President since 1988) thus a protest vote can be both pure and relatively safe.  As for New York, this is slightly trickier since Clinton now lives there and Trump is a native.  However, given how most New Yorkers reportedly feel about Trump it'll likely be blue (and while NYC and its surroundings are a small part of the state it is the most highly populated area) so odds are Clinton will likely get the vote (giving Trump something he can actually have in common with Al Gore - who didn't win his home state of Tennessee in 2000).  In deep to somewhat deep blue states a more nuanced argument can be made for third parties than the Democrats or the Republicans want to admit.

However, not every state is deep blue or even light blue.  Can a case be made for third party voting in deep red states on the grounds that if your vote won't really matter anyway one might as well vote their conscience?  In a way that's true.  However, some care might need to be taken on those states - especially since more states may be in play this year.Then there's the swing states.

The swing states are the ones that, for better or worse, matter most in this race.  You know the ones (among them are Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania in the north, with Florida and North Carolina in the south).  These are the states where things are expected to be tighter than normal this year as those down on their luck resonate with Trump's message either because of the racism and xenophobia or put that intolerance and bigoted rhetoric aside thinking that attitude won't turn on them.  It is here where the protest vote may not be the best move.  Several of the states are must wins for Clinton (and with a week before the election, all are must wins for Trump).  Here is where conscience can get murky and a case can actually be made that one vote for a third party means the other main guy would win. It is here that I'm torn between whether one should vote their conscience or not.  Add to this Noam Chomsky, who supported Sanders in the primary even advocated voting for the lesser evil in such a circumstance (in this case, for Clinton against Trump) and there's where the gray area become almost storm cloud at early evening murky.

At this point I want to make it clear that I don't endorse candidates on principle (a stance that began in my time in college activism) so I'm not officially saying one thing or another.  However, I do want to address some questions those who supported Bernie but are still extremely hesitant about Clinton and may fit those still "undecided."

First is the question of why Bernie didn't run as an independent or take the Green Party's offer to be their nominee after losing to Clinton.  While a lot of Sander's campaign issues meshed with the Greens it has also been reported that Bernie Sanders is pragmatic, which was why he chose to be a Democrat for this race.  Also, many states have what are referred to as "sore loser" laws which prohibit a candidate from running as an independent is they lost their party's primary race.  Because of this Sanders legally couldn't be on the ballot in numerous states.  He could've also made things worse for the Greens if he took Jill Stein up on her offer to take over.  It is here where what's pragmatic actually benefits a third party rather than just benefit the status quo.  

Then there's the issue of whether to write in Bernie.  While some states would accept that choose a number of states either don't allow write in candidates or only allow those who've been approved (usually via application) to be a write in candidate.  Sanders didn't file to be a write in candidate choosing to endorse Hillary Clinton.  Add in the "sore loser" laws in some states and it becomes clear that Bernie couldn't go down this route. 

In either choice it's understandable why someone would want to choose Bernie over Clinton or Trump.  While he managed to get a good chunk of his issues into the Democratic Party platform, concern over Clinton's tendency to shift moderate still unnerves some people.  Sanders is more solidly progressive and it can be said if the Democrats chose him he'd be a better choice against Trump.

This leads us to the big question - Since Sanders didn't win should one vote against Hillary and choose Donald Trump?  This is rooted in reports that there are people in the primary race that said If Sanders doesn't get the nomination they'll go for Trump.  This can be best summed up by Stephen Colbert who stated on his TV show over Trump's attempts to court Bernie supporters, "You didn't get what you wanted.  Why not try the exact opposite?" 

When it comes to this tactic the best reference comes from the end of the primary race (June 2016) when Shaun King of the NY Daily News answered the question a lot more diplomatically than my response on whether a Sanders supporter should vote for Trump (which is usually centered around, Hell Fuck No!").

I know some people who may vote third party would claim that Trump won't be as bad as Clinton because "at least he's not a war criminal."  However, Donald Trump is only not a war criminal because of lack of opportunity.  Given that he's claimed at rallies that he'd bring back "waterboarding...and a hell of a lot worse" it seems apparent that if he wins a Trump presidency would likely bring back what many consider war crimes in the most obvious sense.

So what should a Bernie supporter who's hesitant about Hillary do?  That's up to you.  However, while one may wish to do a protest vote they should take into account location and whether it may cause more harm than good.  For those in deep blue states it may not be a real issue while for those in swing states one cannot be blamed if they choose the lesser evil, even if they plan on protesting her if she wins.

As for me I'm not totally certain.  A large part of me is considering the possibility of going the lesser of two evils route but since I live in a state where the electoral vote will most likely go to Trump (as well as the popular vote given that too many white Missourians love their racism) a part of me is considering that option as well.  Regardless, I do know that either Clinton or Trump will win the election on November 8th so my thoughts after that will lead to how to deal with those two. 

That about wraps up my post here. I've tried to be nuanced in the ups or downs of protest votes versus the lesser evil vote without going too in depth.  While i hope you see my point I know some will likely view me as some sort of sellout given my hesitation about whether one should protest vote in the swing states.  Regardless,whether you vote for Hillary or Jill Stein or write someone in is your business and between you and what happens in that booth.  What's important is that Donald Drumpf, I mean Trump gets thwarted in his quest to become a bully in chief.  It's up to you to decide how you want to play that out. 

Nine or Ten Days To Go - Non Comey Election Commentary

Okay, so now that we have looked briefly at the Comey scenario (which while typing it here it became apparent that it should have it's own post) let's look at the current election race overall.

First, the race is tightening and may be closer than anyone things.  In what seems to be a denial of anything logical, Donald Trump seems to be almost neck and neck with Hillary Clinton nationally and may be closing in on several state polls.  Some of this may be the typical near election day shoring up, some of it is from Republicans deciding to go back to Trump either out of some misguided sense of forgiveness or not wanting to lose elections (if in office).  This comes after several weeks of the GOP nominee dealing with the fallout from a leaked Access Hollywood tape where Trump appears to boast about committing forms of sexual assault from claiming to just start kissing women (Trump, in his own words, "doesn't even wait" to implying that because he's a star he can grab women "by the pussy").  In that time 12 women have reported being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump (with some claiming he grabbed them just like he boasts in the leaked tape) and others claiming sexual harassment.  Add to it a third debate performance that started off almost adult but ended up with the Donald of the first debate and self inflicted wounds that range from being booed at the Al Smith Charity Dinner and his repeated claim that Hillary Clinton should be in jail and doubt over whether he'll accept the election results if he loses, and you have an idea where things would go in any other cycle.  Still, there's still enough anger out there that leads people to still support Donald Trump in the first place (some of it justified due to suffering the tail end of the recession and people struggling to survive but a lot of it coming from people who were already hateful having anoutlet that now says it's okay to openly fly their racism in the open).  These factors did take a hit for him with a number of Republicans claiming to disavow Trump (while still not revoking their endorsement).  However some of the same Republicans who claimed his comments were a bridge too far have backtracked and are now claiming they'll vote for Trump

It's in this frame that the race seems to be tightening, though a case could be made that this is kind of normal just before an election.  But there is one question the media doesn't seem to want to ask that almost everyone has probably asked - How the hell did this race get anywhere near this close?

This was a comment the Clinton campaign got basically pilloried for when they asked why the former Secretary of State wasn't leading by 50 or more points a couple months back.  However, it's a question many Democrats and Independents have asked when they take a look at Trump and examine his words and what he's proposed.  In a normal election cycle Trump likely wouldn't have made it out of the primaries.  His opponents in the Republican Party race would've focused on his bankruptcies and hammered on them until he was forced out or found a way to get him out. 

However, as I said from the first post on primary race post onwards this is not a normal election cycle.  The fact that a party that often criticized the current President for his relative lack of experience rallied around a man with no experience proves that out.  Also, the GOP candidate has weathered things that would've killed anyone else's chances of being President.  While he whines about a "rigged media" now, he benefited from an overexposure int he media who appeased him and gave him softball questions all the way until he started banning too many prominent media sources from his rallies and started openly attacking the press at rallies this past summer (and you know every time Trump moans about the media being rough on him Bernie Sanders has to be laughing his ass off given what he went through). 

Because of this what seemed to be increasingly unlikely is a little ore likely.  Just a week ago it seemed unlikely for Trump to win the election in November (according to 538, Clinton still has an average 5 point lead when all the polls are taken into account).  Now the race is getting closer and it may be a little more likely that there's a chance.

I do want to say that's not a sure chance.  The election isn't a sure thing for either side right now in part due to dislike for the candidates, but also due to the fact unusual nature of this election cycle.

As we enter the last week (with a couple days extra) it still appears that Hillary Clinton will likely win the Presidential election.  Does that mean people who support Clinton or just choose her to vote against Trump should assume that's a sure thing?  On the contrary, neither side should take things are certain in this race.  Given that Trumps former co-writer of the Art of the Deal Tony Schwartz pointing out that Trump;s comments about Hillary are really about the Presidential nominee himself.

Thus, when the Donald claims the election is rigged, those who oppose him should assume that the GOP has some plan to steal the election whether its via Crosscheck or by simple voter intimidation at polling places.  In addition, voting machine problems may actually occur but while Trump has led followerrs to believe it'll wipe out their vote in favor of the "nasty woman" he calls "Crooked Hillary," the instances in the past has usually changed Democratic votes to Republican so liberals should be on guard for that while voting.  Also, while early voting has favored Democrats according to polls, one can't assume that it's a given that Trump will lose.  Republicans usually tend to make it to the polls on Election Day so if you know people who haven't voted yet (or live in a place where early voting isn't an option) those wanting an option that isn't Drumpf should try to ensure their friends and allies make it to the polls and vote. 

As I said earlier it still appears somewhat unlikely that Donald Trump will win the election on November 8, 2016.  However, given that this election race has been unusual in almost any rubric one should take nothing for granted and those who are eligible to vote should make it out there and cast their vote - in some cases doing so then going back to being a thorn in the side of their choice later that night or the next day just to keep them honest. Being overly confident about a chance for victory and thinking things won't change can lead to people not voting and - in the worse case scenario - Trump's victory. 

If you're a person who sees grave danger in that outcome you know what you have to do.  Now get out there and do your part.

Nine or Ten Days to Go....The Election Commentary (Comey Edition)

So we're in the last week and a couple days until the 2016 election and the end of this stage of our national nightmare (remember it could be extended if certain factors such as Trump not conceding if he loses happens, for example).  With that in mind let's take a look at the race.

First, let's tackle the obvious - the letter to the Congress over returning to the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal.  At this point in time it could go either way.  However, with news filtering out that FBI Director James Comey reportedly went against Dept of Justice policy in regards to possibly affecting an election in the last 60 days as well as notifying Congress and releasing a letter to the media when he didn't even have a warrant yet and it;s understandable that some may see it as trying to regain favor with fellow Republicans if not trying to tilt the election to Trump.  That, however, is conjecture at this time. 

What we do know is that this is over an investigation into former Sen. Anthony Weiner and whether or not he sexted an underage girl (which is where these supposed e-mails were found - on his computer that his wife, Clinton campaign official Huma Abdein used on occasion).  We know these e-mails didn't come from Clinton's now infamous private server.  We don't know whether the e-mails have anything that's incriminating - or even have anything to do with Clinton herself.  I even read that this may be over as few as three e-mails. 

The announcement by Comey did invigorate the Donald Trump campaign, giving them an ounce of hope in the final stretch as well as taking the heat off a candidate who has in the past few weeks had 12 women come forward claiming he sexually assaulted them as well as several women claiming he sexually harassed them (not to mention the upcoming civil trial involving allegations of child rape).  It has also put the spotlight on Clinton at a critical time. 

Will this affect a large swath of voters?  By this point a very small amount are still undecided (and I have a feeling a good chunk of those are divided between Clinton or Stein or trump vs Johnson).  Where people think this may have an impact is on those undecided voters.  In the final stretch this is uncertain (especially given that there's still final polls to take into account), but it's hard to tell at this stage.

Did Comey reveal this merely out of concern for transparency or to effect the election is still a looming question.  He could've even done it just to cover his own ass.  Yes, if he waited until he had the warrant it could gained him criticism in hindsight but even with a no win situation, this could come back to bite him career wise.  Time will tell on this one.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Third Debate Tonight

So tonight marks the final debate of the 2016 Presidential election cycle.  While I had briefly touched upon this a couple days ago it seems right to note it here. 

I still have no idea what to expect.  Normally, when a campaign has been spiraling in the way GOP candidate Donald Trump's has then odds would be it's pretty much over and his opponent would win.  However, as we all have noted (hell, it's been burned in our memories at this point) it is not a normal election cycle.  It's still somewhere between likely and very likely that Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will win on November 8th.  Still, wrenches could be thrown into the works to change things. 

For Trump he's literally in a situation where he has nothing left to lose.  It is true that some people have come back from that position and emerged triumphant (it's a trope in many popular movies in this country - almost to the point of cliche), Trump is hampered by behavior that is best described as erratic.  From attacking his own party to suggesting that his rival may be used performance enhancing drugs at the last debate, he has made statements that may excite his base but do little to ensure those few undecided voters or those who support him but are increasingly wary, especially since the leaked Access Hollywood hot mic tape.  Add to this his hyping that the election is rigged by everyone from Clinton to the "crooked media" including Saturday Night Live and you have an idea where Trump is coming from.

Which leads to tonight.  At a time when he needs to win the debate (or at the very least take advantage of the extremely lowered standards for him and not lose) he has decided to publicize that he invited as guest the mother of one of the marines killed in Benghazi and Malik Obama, President Obama's half brother who lives in Kenya yet has dual citizenship here and is supporting Trump for some reason.  I get the reason for the former given that the women he invited has repeated criticized and attacked Clinton for her son's death but there appears to be no rhyme or reason for inviting the President's half brother.

As for Secretary Clinton, she's been busy preparing and is likely going to continue to the extent she can of not going into Donald's gutter.  However, she also has the revelations of the leaked e-mails to deal with.  If they had been leaked in the primary they could've done more damage and possibly put Bernie Sanders likely in the nominee role.  They were leaked one month before the election though and with the leak of Trump's hot mic tape, it seems so much smaller as a scandal for a lot of Americans. 

A friend of mine just sent me a message regarding Trump's request for them to take drug tests before the third debate.  Part of him felt this could be Trump triangulating as a way to get Clinton to say something on drug policy that would disgust millennials.  Both him and I hope my friend is wrong on that.  I'll add to that, if the ghostwriter of Trump's the art of the deal tony Schwartz is to be believed, it appears that Trump is giving a tell about himself more than anyone else.  I could be wrong on this though. 

What Hillary Clinton does have in common with Trump for tonight is one thing - she cannot afford to lose this debate.  While third debates often do little to change people's minds the fact it's not a normal election cycle means that this could change things.  This is really the one thing they have in common but it may be important.

So what will happen tonight?  I have no idea.  However, given that moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News has said basically that it wasn't his role to fact check, it could be a scary ride.  Will it be a game changer?  I doubt it but it could take Trump back to the margin of error that his team needs (and reliving the Clinton scandals of the 90s isn't helping with).  Regardless it will be a scary ride.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Election 2016 Overview - 23 or so days to go.

Okay, so the final Presidential debate is on Wednesday.  As of today we're roughly three weeks and a couple days away from the upcoming election.  There's a bit to digest here but I"ll try ot keep it brief.

First, let's look at Donald Trump, since he seems hellbent on taking up all the damn oxygen in the room.  After a somewhat accusatory performance in the second debate where we later learned his refusal to answer questions was an actual strategy and the most notable thing was his sniffling every minute that has a lot of people debating whether he is ill, dealing with allergies (it's likely someone like the Donald isn't used to our Midwestern allergies) or that he was snorting some shit beforehand he then seemed to go downward. 

In post 2nsd debate appearances Trump has attacked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, accused the RNC of possibly rigging the election against him, doubled down on his claim that his political opponent Hillary Clinton should be in jail, and implied that the women claiming he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them in the past were lying because they weren't attractive enough for him to assault.  Add to this claims on a rally last Thursday that "global elites" are trying to rig the election against him; a claim that has your average person wondering what the hell he's going on about but appeals to his base, especially the white supremacists whom Trump for the most part refused to disavow (both Donald Jr. and Eric went on white nationalist radio shows for their dad even after he supposedly disavowed David Duke a few months back). 

What has emerged here in the days since Trump tweeted that "the shackles have been taken off him" is his embrace of possible fascist leanings in his rallies as he riles up his base, some of whom are now hoping for a coup if Trump loses and are getting increasingly hostile towards the media while seeing themselves and their candidate (a supposed billionaire media celebrity who basically  got a shit ton of free publicity in the primary race).  Between his claims to want to lock up political opponents (something that seems more like third world dictatorships than the U.S.) and his denial that he sexually assaulted women even though he has been captured on tape claiming that he may have kissed women against their will and walked into the dressing room of the pageants he used to own while the contestants were near naked, if not totally naked (some of them may have been underage). 

Meanwhile Trump's base has suffered some bleeding but he's still managing to draw people to his rallies.  This includes the conservative Christians (you know, the fundamentalist/evangelical/charismatic folks) who have said we should forgive Donald and that while they wouldn't want him teaching Sunday School or going after their daughters, they still support him.  Despite proving again that much of the religious right has less to do with morality (despite sometimes claiming to be morally superior) and just view Trump as a useful idiot to force their interpretation of their faith onto others (just like Trump views them as useful idiots to get him into office), the fact they're sticking by Trump  (though would cry bloody murder about a lack of character if a Democrat did the same thing) shows just how mercenary they are when it comes to seeking perceived access to power and how angry they are over nearly eight years of not getting everything they want.

Is what I just painted scary?  Yes.  However, Trump has to go beyond his base if he wants to win next month.  And while his performances in the two debates have appeased his base, they have done little to convince those on the fence that he's President material.  Also, while the leaked Access Hollywood tape hasn't caused mass defections from his base, it has caused some of the people that weren't all in for Trump to back away from him, especially among women.  While there are some who still support him while saying he "doesn't have the temperament to be President," others who may have been kind of willing to support Trump but were uneasy with the hatefulness of his rhetoric found this to be too much.

As for former Secretary of State Clinton, she's been busy with debate prep, with just a couple of appearances (including one most recently, with Al Gore,who was vice president under her husband's term).  She's been letting surrogates make the case for her for the most part.  Yes, the Wikileaks leaked e-mails have made some dents but when dealing with a media obsessed with sexual scandals, the news has been buried somewhat compared to the over a dozen women who have said Trump either sexually harassed or sexually assault them since the leaked tape broke nine days ago. 

So does that mean, as the opening skit of Saturday Night Live suggested last night, that it's all over for Trump?  I wouldn't say that so quickly,  For starters there's still Wednesday's debate its possible that Trump's lowered expectations now means just not acting batshit fucking crazy could be seen as a victory.  Also, there is a chance for another October surprise out of Wikileaks e-mails that could hurt Clinton at the last minute. 

However, even though there is a chance these things could occur we also have to look at Trump's  actions over the past week.  Given that he's now attacked not just Clinton but his own party in the past week and has doubled down on claims that are raw meat to his supporters but turn off a lot of people who aren't in his camp, I have to say it's possible that Donald Trump could win the election but at this point it's even less likely than it was just a few days ago.

That doesn't mean that people should rest on their laurels and think Clinton will automatically win.  Trump supporters are already saying they plan to "monitor polls" in case of anything "illegal," an action that seems to look more like voter intimidation - especially in urban areas -than any real concern over the election.  Add to that Trump's hint that he might not accept the results of this election and it's apparent that this election and the stress and polarization springing form it, is far from over.

The election is still 23 or so days away as I type this.  While we have an idea who will likely win the election, it still requires people to get out there and vote as well as spread the word and make sure people aren't apathetic over what may seem to be a lack of selection.  Yes, some are predicting that the election's end and the lame duck period for Obama will be a great Holiday present but if there are challenges and Trump decides his damn ego is more important than the country then the scary ass bumpy as hell ride could continue well into the Holiday season.