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Monday, October 31, 2016

Comey "... has potentially delegitimized the outcome regardless of who wins. But especially if Clinton hangs on to win."

James Comey Puts Thumb on Scale, Brings Third World-Style Election to America
Even J. Edgar Hoover never tampered with a contest in the way that Comey’s FBI is doing now.
By Michael Tomasky, October 31, 2016

Now that the FBI has its warrant, agents will presumably move fast to scour the Abedin-Weiner laptop for the relevant emails, with the Times reporting the Bureau is likely to “again publicly discuss a continuing investigation involving a presidential candidate in the final days of the campaign.”

Stop and think that over. So under this scenario, this Thursday, say, James Comey is going to announce one of two things. One, we’ve looked through the relevant emails, and there’s nothing there—they’re all duplicates, or they’re just office talk about Clinton’s schedule and what not, or perhaps that they didn’t involve Clinton at all (a possibility, since Abedin had an address on the private Clinton server). Oops, sorry! Two, he’ll say yes, in fact, the emails we’ve seen require further investigation. We’ll get back to you after the election.

So. Is it not obvious that if Comey does either of these things—and having started this Friday with that vague letter, he is under enormous, and reasonable, pressure, to say something else before Americans vote—he will have plopped a massive thumb down on the scale of the American electoral process? I won’t go quite so far as to say that we would have a law-enforcement agency determining the outcome of an election. But we’re not nearly as far removed from that grim, Third World-sounding reality as we would like to be.

It’s a complete outrage. Obviously, I’m hoping he says there’s nothing new here. But either way it’s an unconscionable thing for an FBI director to do. How could he not have thought this through before he acted last weekend?

Consider this worst-case (from a Clinton point of view) hypothetical. Comey announces later this week that the emails merit further looking into. That’s potentially enough to sink Clinton and give us President Trump.

But then, in December or January or whenever, he announces that the bureau’s review is complete and nothing classified was found in the new material. Then, Clinton would have lost an election she was clearly poised to win solely because he made an irresponsible and baseless announcement.

But it doesn’t end there. Here’s a hypothetical for Trump partisans to stew on. Comey announces later this week that Clinton is in the clear. She wins. Then, next month or whenever, some of the anti-Clinton forces within the FBI—and they are numerous and presumably furious and right now leaking like a sieve to The Wall Street Journal and others—put out material suggesting that some of these new emails should have been classified at the time. Then, it’s Trump who was screwed, at least in the eyes of his voters. And how do we think Trump would react to that?

That’s what Comey has unleashed here. He has potentially delegitimized the outcome regardless of who wins. But especially if Clinton hangs on to win. The legitimacy fire about her was already at five alarms. They’re now handcuffing people in Hillary costume at Trump rallies. A quarter or so of America utterly despises her. Comey has just backed up a fuel tanker over the fire and pulled the cord.

I said this is shaping up to be a Third-World election above. Let me spell that out in a little more detail, because it’s staggering—or used to be—to think of the United States of America in these terms. The FBI is our chief domestic police and surveillance agency. It is our equivalent, in other words, of an interior ministry domestic police force in a developing-world nation.

If we Americans were watching an election unfold in, say, a Latin American country, and the head of the domestic police force did what Comey did, we’d be chortling our heads off at their backward, thuggish ways. The Organization of American States would be launching an investigation (come to think of it, the United States is an OAS member; someone should deliver a complaint to their architecturally enchanting door, just a block from the White House).

If anything, in developing nations, there have been some efforts in recent years to take the power of overseeing elections away from interior ministries and hand it to (ostensibly) independent commissions. In 2013, after some controversies we all know about, Iran took oversight of its elections out of their interior ministry and gave it to a newly created board. Iran.

No, the FBI doesn’t run our elections. But Comey has opened up the possibility that the outcome could hinge on actions taken by our national domestic police operation. It’s constitutionally and ethically shocking.

Yes, the bureau has always been political. And yes, its rank-and-file has always leaned heavily Republican. And yes, there has always been, beyond ideology, a culture clash between the Bureau—with its deep northeastern, Irish-Catholic, working and middle class roots—and the Ivy League toffs who have traditionally run the government, especially when the Democrats win elections. The FBI, Pat Moynihan once famously quipped, is “filled with Fordham graduates keeping tabs on Harvard men in the State Department.”

But J. Edgar Hoover never did this. You think Hoover didn’t have the goods on Jack Kennedy to swing the 1960 election to Nixon? Of course he did. He had the goods on everybody. He could have ruined LBJ, all of them (well, maybe there wasn’t any dirt on Jimmy Carter in 1976, but all the rest of them). So even Hoover never did something like what Comey has done. Ponder that sentence.

Then again, Hoover wasn’t operating at a time when one of the two major presidential candidates said repeatedly that the other one should be in jail; when he vowed that if elected he would see to it that she was prosecuted, as if (again) this were a Third-World nation where heads of states can do such things on a whim; when that same candidate invited and encouraged the intelligence services of an authoritarian nation to dig up more dirt on his opponent. Hoover was a Republican, but he wasn’t a banana republican. These days we’re surrounded by them.

"There is one goal here: to keep a woman from becoming the leader of the free world. ... in her place, America will have elected the most deranged and dangerous crook of a man ever to enter the American political sphere."

The Real Liar And Criminal In This Election

America, we have to get this one right.

By Jennifer Sabin, October 31, 2016

I can’t take it anymore, and I know I’m not alone. The blood sport trashing of the most qualified person ever to run for president is an attack on all women, and men, and an attack on our democracy ― and my blood is boiling over. I don’t wish my election angst and fury on anyone, but I really hope you’re with me.

After enduring vicious attacks from feckless men like Trey Gowdy for over 30 years, in this election alone, Hillary Clinton has been attacked daily and ruthlessly by those masters of misogyny Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Sean Hannity. She is assaulted hour after hour by her opponent/enemy, who lies so consistently and virulently that I don’t know how she doesn’t implode from anger and resentment. And now that the incompetent Republican FBI Director has decided to play God with this election and the future of our country, she is in an eleventh hour fight for her political life, when this race was all but wrapped up one week ago.

The false equivalency of the emails is driving me mad. Clinton’s opponent is accused not only of sexually assaulting at least eleven women, but faces court proceedings in December for allegedly raping a child at convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s estate. His fake college, Trump University, which bilked people out of their life savings, will also be the subject of a fraud trial this November. How many business people have to come forward to testify that Trump did not pay them for the honest work they completed? How many more people have to write about his unethical, illegal behavior? How many more biographers and journalists have to take off his mask to reveal the real Donald Trump? How, pray tell, are Hillary Clinton’s emails equal to the unhinged ravings of a man who knows nothing about our world, who foments hatred and fear, a man who would say anything to further his own personal cause? A man who would be king?

And then there is the barrage of daily lies. In addition to his fictions about the implications of Comey’s letter to Congress, Trump’s latest rally and Twitter diatribes are not only dangerous but libelous. He claims that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt politician in the history of presidential politics, that the emails are worse that Watergate. This isn’t just political hyperbole – these are the fabrications of a delusional, authoritarian man who believes he is the savior, who believes his opponent must be crushed, quartered and imprisoned.

The lesser lies are no less staggering. Trump has spent the last few days on the campaign trail promising that Hillary Clinton is going to allow 650-million immigrants into this country. Would someone please ask him how many people he thinks live in the U.S. now? The answer is 319-million. Hillary is going to triple the U.S. population? He lies daily about the crime rate in this country: no, it is not the worst it’s been in 45 years. He likes to say Americans pay the highest taxes. Not even close. He lies daily about Hillary’s role in the world: she has been blamed for everything that’s happened in this country for the last thirty years. He lies about his own philanthropy, which has been proven by the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold to be anything but what he claims. He lies about the women who have come forward to accuse him of assault, promising to sue them.

The cruelty that Trump and his henchmen have perpetrated on Hillary Clinton is nothing short of the most vile, sexist assault in the history of U.S. politics. It’s classic misogynistic behavior: the attacks on her stamina, blaming her for her husband’s infidelities, the nasty woman name calling. There is one goal here: to keep a woman from becoming the leader of the free world. With the complicity of Republicans like James Comey and Paul Ryan, that goal may be reached on November 8th. And in her place, America will have elected the most deranged and dangerous crook of a man ever to enter the American political sphere.

When my blood stops boiling momentarily, and I take a breath, I find that I’m mostly sad and afraid, rather than angry. The realization that so many millions in this country could be fooled by this man’s chicanery, that they could be seduced by his ignorance, racism and misogyny, that there are so many who would bow down to him and consent to a dictatorship in the greatest democracy on earth – is the most depressing and demoralizing aspect of this depressing and demoralizing election.

America: we have to get this one right. We don’t have four years and a country to spare.

"With Trump's language heating up in the final days and his list of enemies growing fast, some civil rights groups and law enforcement officials are raising fears that things could get out of hand."

Analysis: The Vengeful World of Donald Trump, and Why It Matters
By Benjy Sarlin, October 31, 2016

Summarizing Donald Trump's worldview isn't easy, but this may come close: The world is a violent place, and it demands a violent response.

His campaign might seem like a storm emitting strikes of lightning: He's made news by giving out a Republican rival's phone number, tweeting about a "sex tape" and even accusing his opponent, Hillary Clinton, of possibly taking drugs.

But there's a pattern to what he says and does and the campaign's waning days have placed that pattern in sharp focus as Trump issues apocalyptic warnings of a vast conspiracy to steal the election.

"This is a struggle for the survival of our nation, believe me, and this will be our last chance to save it on November 8," Trump said in a speech this month.

The Candidate's Rhetoric

Trump's emphasis on violence and retaliation, especially outside the confines of the law, is unique among modern nominees and is rooted in a set of guiding principles.

In his eyes, the world is an unforgiving place where cities are "war zones," where "rapists" are streaming across the border and where jealous rivals are hatching plots to humiliate America and Trump personally.

To prevail in such an environment, he suggests, the response to any slight must be swift and overwhelming. Dwelling on limits imposed by law or tradition is usually a secondary concern.

This framework has expressed itself in policy, in which Trump has extolled the use of torture, threatened reprisals against the families of terrorists and pledged to jail Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state. It has expressed itself rhetorically in vicious insults against critics and in his encouragement of violence by supporters.

"She's nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be," Trump told The New York Times after Clinton criticized his past comments on women's appearances in their first debate. The next day, he suggested at a rally that she had cheated on her husband, while offering no evidence for the claim.

It has expressed itself in the video of Trump boasting about sexual assault and demeaning a journalist who he said refused his advances. In recent days, he's threatened to sue women who have publicly accused him of unwanted sexual contact and to break up large companies (including Comcast, which owns NBC News) that produce media coverage he finds unfair.

It has also expressed itself at Trump's rallies, where supporters have reflected the candidate's harsh tone.

"We're all Second Amendment pros, we want our country back like he just said, and she's not going to give it to us," a Trump voter, Tammy Wilson, said at a Florida rally this month after predicting people would "rise up" if Trump loses.

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment for this story. With Trump's language heating up in the final days and his list of enemies growing fast, some civil rights groups and law enforcement officials are raising fears that things could get out of hand.

"We are concerned about the possibility of violence on Election Day and afterwards," Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center told NBC News.

Code of Vengeance

A strict code of vengeance seems to be a point of pride for Trump, who has touted his philosophy on numerous occasions.

"What happens is they hit me and I hit them back harder and, usually in all cases, they do it first," Trump told Fox News in April. "But they hit me and I hit them back harder and they disappear. That's what we want to lead the country."

The same month, Trump told a radio host that the Bible verse that's influenced him most is "an eye for an eye."

"They laugh at our face, and they're taking our jobs, they're taking our money, they're taking the health of our country," Trump said in explaining his affection for the passage. "We have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you."

He's explained his support for torture and war crimes as a case of having "to fight fire with fire." He's justified an abusive tweet mocking Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, as an example of "counterpunching," one of his favorite phrases.

"Am I not allowed to respond?" he asked after being criticized for feuding with a Gold Star family that denounced his proposed ban on Muslims.

"I know of no presidential candidate and no president who has used that kind of imagery on a repeated basis throughout an entire campaign," Martin Medhurst, a professor at Baylor University who specializes in political rhetoric, said. "There's simply nothing like it."

Violence as Policy

At the second presidential debate, in St. Louis, millions of viewers waited to hear how Trump would respond to the newly released 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he boasted of grabbing women's genitals.

When asked whether his comments constituted sexual assault, the candidate briefly apologized and dismissed the remarks as "locker room talk." But then his answer took an abrupt turn for the bloody.

"You know, when we have a world where you have ISIS chopping off heads, where you have them, frankly, drowning people in steel cages, where you have wars and horrible, horrible sights all over and you have so many bad things happening, this is like medieval times," Trump said. "We haven't seen anything like this."

It was a revealing riff, one that Trump has used many times before, and makes sense in his confrontational worldview: as long as an enemy somewhere is engaged in bad behavior, there's little point fretting about the goodness of one's own.

In the case of the debate, Trump brought up ISIS when talking about his own personal conduct. Usually, though, he's brought up the same descriptions of executions while rousing audiences with talk of war crimes.

"The enemy is cutting off the heads of Christians and drowning them in cages, and yet we are too politically correct to respond in kind," he wrote in a letter to USA Today in February explaining his support for torture.

"We have to fight so viciously and violently because we're dealing with violent people," he said in a June speech endorsing waterboarding that also referenced ISIS executions.

Trump has made this willingness to out-brutalize opponents a central point of his political message. It was an effective strategy during the Republican primary campaign, when his rivals were largely uncomfortable straying from constitutional limits or traditional assumptions of human decency.

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary last February, for example, Trump repeated the words of a supporter who called a leading opponent, Ted Cruz, a "p***y" for not showing enough enthusiasm for torture.

Trump later credited the moment with helping power him to victory in the state. "Torture works, OK folks?" he said later that month. "If it doesn't work, they deserve it anyway," he has also said.

Officials who served under the last Republican president, George W. Bush, engaged in heated debates over issues like torture that tested legal boundaries. Bush ultimately authorized the use of waterboarding, arguing it did not rise to the level of torture. Congress eventually outlawed the practice.

It's notable, however, that some of the most prominent figures on both sides of those Bush-era arguments are now among Trump's fiercest critics.

"On issue after issue, Trump lacks a fundamental humanity in his approach to people that is absolutely startling," said Alberto Mora, the former top Navy lawyer who led efforts to oppose practices like waterboarding within the Bush administration. "His support of torture is of a piece with his innate cruelty."

John Yoo, author of the so-called "torture memos" that provided legal footing for enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding, condemned Trump using equally strong language, even comparing him to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

"He's the classic demagogue described well in the Federalist Papers that our system is designed to stop," Yoo said.

For Mora and Yoo the issue isn't just the proposals Trump has championed, but the underlying philosophy that they see behind them.

"He's pandering to the sort of visceral reaction people have for revenge against terrorists, which is not what motivated the Bush administration," Yoo said.

Trump's public remarks often suggest that brutal adversaries should set the terms of engagement.

"Look, you have to play the game the way they're playing the game," Trump said on CBS in March, when asked whether he was stooping to the same level as the "savages" he sought to defeat.

In a GOP debate last December, when criticized for his plan to "take out" the civilian families of terrorists, Trump asked: "So they can kill us, but we can't kill them?"

Army Lt. General Keith Kellogg, an adviser to Trump, told NBC News that the candidate would uphold American law and international treaties such as the Geneva Convention that the candidate has criticized on the trail.

"His point is that he will do everything he can to protect the American people, everything, but he also understands there are certain rules," Kellogg said.

Trump himself has said as much after initially suggesting at a debate he would override military officers who refused to carry out illegal orders. He currently enjoys support from a number of retired military leaders. Yet, dozens of senior Republican national security officials in August signed onto a letter opposing his candidacy. In March, 122 prominent foreign policy and national security conservatives also warned of Trump's "embrace of the expansive use of torture."

"I would never trust him to follow the law," said Eliot A. Cohen, a former State Department official under Bush who helped organize the March statement. "We're dealing with a dangerous egomaniac who has no control of himself, recognizes no limits, no bounds and does not recognize the constraints of law or anything else."

Telling It Like It Is

Waiting in line with thousands of Trump fans outside the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre on October 10, some of the nominee's supporters offered a different take on Trump's tough stance on security.

To Ben Johnson, a retired firefighter wearing a "Deplorable Me" T-shirt and a "Make America Great Again" cap, the problem isn't Trump, it's everyone else. Other politicians, Johnson said, offer a "rosy picture" of the world. Trump, he said, is a realist, especially on issues like terrorism.

"I dug at the World Trade Center for two weeks, so I saw what these people are capable of up close and personal," Johnson said. "If Hillary Clinton gets in, it's going to be more of that."

At the rally, two women in costume acted out a coughing Clinton being led to prison by Trump. Inside the venue, a man wearing a "She's A C**t, Vote For Trump" T-shirt sat with his wife and children. While most audience members opt for a tamer message, "Trump That B***h" T-shirts have been a rally mainstay for months.

When Trump spoke that day, he paused at points to allow the crowd to scream in unison at the reporters covering the rally. Chants of "lock her up," the campaign's unofficial slogan, broke out before and during his remarks. "Lock her up is right," Trump, who has said he will prosecute and jail Clinton, responded.

Four days later in Greensboro, North Carolina, another crowd chanted "lock her up" — this time in reference to one of the women accusing Trump of unwanted sexual contact.

The women coming forward with stories of what they say was inappropriate behavior by Trump were the main topic of his speech that day. Trump, who counts among his fans people notorious for harassing perceived enemies on social media, urged the crowd to "check out" one accuser's Facebook page.

While Trump spoke, a burly man in a "Make America Great Again" cap put a protester in a headlock before security removed the activist, then walked around collecting high fives from rally-goers. As security came to remove him as well, the crowd began cheering, "Let him stay!"

Law and Order

While past presidential nominees have taken care to distance themselves from unruly or threatening supporters, Trump has hinted, implied or outright stated that extremism in defense of Trump is no vice.

That message peaked during the primaries, when Trump, running on a platform of "law and order," routinely defended supporters who physically attacked protesters.

On the day of the Iowa caucuses in February, Trump told supporters he would pay for a lawyer if they "knock the crap out of" protesters he claimed were planning to throw tomatoes. Later that same month, as a protester was escorted out, Trump said he'd "like to punch him in the face, I tell ya."

In March, Trump said he would consider paying legal bills for a supporter who had sucker punched a protester on camera. He didn't "condone" the behavior, but the protesters, he said, were "very taunting."

These face-offs were a familiar ritual at Trump rallies until the candidate toned things down somewhat after protesters and supporters clashed at a March event in Chicago. His rallies now include a recorded request that audience members let security handle any disturbances. The largest subsequent outbreak of violence came from anti-Trump protesters, who threw eggs and attacked Trump supporters at an event in San Jose. But Trump also warned Republicans of "riots" if delegates denied him the nomination at the GOP convention.

"We see a lot of violence around Trump appearances where supporters think: 'Well, gee he's authorized me to do it,' even without a direct order," said Kim Lane Scheppele, a Princeton professor and expert on authoritarian regimes. "It creates a kind of culture of permission," Scheppele said.

Twice Trump has made jokes that seem to float the notion of Clinton being assassinated. In August he suggested "Second Amendment people" could prevent her from filling a Supreme Court seat. It was widely perceived as a reference to violence, although the campaign denied that was his intent. In September, he said Clinton's bodyguards should disarm and then "see what happens to her."

Trump has also shown unprecedented tolerance for supporters who engage in more overt threats.

He enthusiastically defended the character of an adviser, Al Baldasaro, after he repeatedly said Clinton "should be shot by a firing squad," even after his campaign distanced itself from the remarks.

Carl Paladino, the current chair of Trump's New York campaign, sent an email to a female anti-Trump Utah GOP delegate saying she should be "hung for treason" and promised to "be in your face" at the convention. Roger Stone, a longtime informal adviser to Trump, has regularly called for executing political opponents.

Rising Tension

In the final weeks of the campaign, the candidate has cast himself as the victim of an unsubstantiated global conspiracy to rob him of the presidency — blaming almost everyone, including media outlets, election officials, banks, pollsters, Democrats, Republicans and his many female accusers.

Taking a cue from the nominee, one Trump voter told the Boston Globe that he plans to make minority voters "a little bit nervous" at election sites in response to the candidate's regular calls to watch for fraud at polling places. Others have raised the possibility of post-election unrest. The Trump campaign responded to the Globe article by saying they "reject violence in any form and will not allow it to be a part of our campaign."

For the most part, Trump supporters at recent events say they will accept the results of the election even as they question the process. Trump has complained that accusations his campaign remarks stoke violence are overblown and has accused activists of deliberately baiting his voters.

But the escalation in rhetoric, paired with Trump's longstanding reluctance to denounce extremist supporters, has civil rights groups worried that conditions are becoming dangerous.

This fear is especially pronounced because Trump has cast such a wide net in picking targets, and they often have a racial, ethnic, or religious component. He's regularly made false claims about American Muslims celebrating terrorism or refusing to turn in an attacker and warned that "other communities" — almost invariably cities with large minority populations — are out to steal the election. Recently, Trump told Fox News "illegal immigrants are voting all over the country."

"What happens on Nov. 9 is anyone's guess, but some of these trend lines of mainstreaming and broadening bigotry and incidents of violence and hints of a dark conspiracy are very concerning," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in an interview.          

"For Megyn Kelly, however, the shackles are off. She’s an astounding figure these days ..."

This year, there was no better view of the meteor hitting the Republican Party in real time.
By Emily Nussbaum, October 30, 2016

Full disclosure: late one night, while watching Fox News, I donated two hundred and fifty dollars to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. My husband is Canadian. I’m Jewish. In the early nineties, my dad worked in the Clinton White House, but although I love him we are not political clones.

My bias, in sum, is as blatant as a Celtic arm tattoo. My first real encounter with Fox News came during the second Bush Administration, when my nearly blind grandmother listened to Bill O’Reilly at high volume. An immigrant garment worker widowed by a union organizer, she slowly tipped from left to neocon, which happens a lot among your elderly New York Jews who watch Fox. We had a few arguments, over the years, about whether anti-Semitism persisted in America or whether my grandmother was being paranoid. Were she still around, she’d win that one.

But, these days, it’s me watching Fox. I’ve got the iPhone app; I like to watch the eerie border crossing, late in the evening, from Megyn Kelly to Sean Hannity. During previous elections, I never watched cable news, left or right, or the Sunday shouting shows—although I knew that, for many people, they were TV. In 2016, I watched them all. Fox became my chief vice, less for the news than for the melodrama—there was no better view of the meteor hitting the Republican Party in real time.

It’s hard to believe that it was a mere three months ago, in July, that Fox’s founding C.E.O., Roger Ailes, who had run the network since 1996, was ousted for sexual harassment on such a baroque scale that Alfred Hitchcock would be impressed. The investigative journalist Gabriel Sherman exposed him, but it was Ailes’s female anchors who turned against him: first, Gretchen Carlson, then, more important, Megyn Kelly, his most dazzling hire. With his hefty payoff, Ailes scurried to the Trump campaign, where, for a while, he acted as a shadow adviser. Now the survivors of that scandal were forced to debate Trump’s alleged pussy-grabbing. Never Trumpers and Always Trumpers were seated side by side.

And Fox itself had quite suddenly become the put-upon establishment, needled by online punks like Breitbart and Alex Jones—open purveyors of Trutherism and birtherism, uninterested in even the icing of “fair and balanced.” Trump, who retweeted white supremacists and hired Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, was their pick. As his polls cratered, rumors emerged that his endgame wasn’t the Presidency at all: it was Trump TV. Which brings us to last week, when that institution seemed to have a soft launch on Facebook Live. The very next night, Newt Gingrich growled at Megyn Kelly that she was “fascinated with sex” and, in a rage, compared the big three networks to Pravda and accused Kelly’s own show of outrageous bias. The clip went viral—just as Kelly began to renegotiate her contract, seeking more than twenty million dollars a year.

Rarely does anybody on Fox address these behind-the-scene tensions that directly, of course—the closest anyone has come was some sniping on Twitter between Megyn Kelly and Sean Hannity, in which he claimed that She was with Her. On news panels, anchors focus primarily on WikiLeaks, each presented as a shocking scoop but given little context. To be fair, that’s not solely Fox’s problem but a larger issue on TV news, still reliant as it is on what Neil Postman once called “simplistic, nonsubstantive, nonhistorical, and noncontextual” visual techniques (and, these days, curated tweets). Still, watching Fox did help me decode Trump’s debate tangents, since much of what he says is shorthand, with code words—Project Veritas, Sidney Blumenthal—used as hyperlinks to stories that he assumes his audience has already absorbed. The TV critic Todd VanDerWerff once compared the Fox format to ABC’s “Lost”: you need to immerse yourself entirely to grok the breadth of its world-building paranoias and mythologies.

Ostensibly, there are two Fox divisions: news journalists, who ask follow-up questions and include diverse guests; and pure ideologues, like the mad king Hannity. For a newbie, the border can seem awfully porous, since everyone uses the desk, the glasses, the head tilt—the ancient theatre of TV authority. In the aftermath of the third debate, these two types were united in genuine pride at the well-reviewed performance of Chris Wallace, the first Fox anchor to moderate a Presidential debate. Megyn Kelly kvelled that it was a “Fox News fair-and-balanced debate, for our critics,” adding, “You should really tick off both sides—then you know you’re doing well.” On Mediabuzz, Wallace called his selection a statement by “the Commission on Presidential Debates—a blue-ribbon panel—that they thought that Fox was a legitimate news organization, that I was a legitimate journalist.”

It was impossible not to feel empathy for Wallace—and, in fact, his show does come closest to that model, with research-based questions and an air of healthy skepticism. But, as Hannity argues, shows like his pay the bills. And watching Hannity and O’Reilly feels like being trapped in a sauna with a bunch of alter kockers smoking cigars, as Rudy Giuliani shouts for ever hotter applications of steam. Hannity’s buddies (primarily men, though Laura Ingraham stops by occasionally) resolutely insist that Trump has crushed every debate; he won’t ever have to concede, they say, because he’s definitely, certainly winning. There is no breaking into this mutually consoling bubble world, fuelled by imaginary polls.

O’Reilly is a stranger and sloppier force—and, of late, he’s started tiptoeing away from Trump, with an arrogant-uncle “I never said that!” bluster. Someone has clearly trolled the host by telling him that he looks good against neon blue. Half the screen is covered by maroon-and-purple stripes, and, often, a neon-yellow “alert” scrolls across the right-hand corner, unconnected to any news.

Amid this cacophony, Geraldo Rivera was recently the voice of reason. When O’Reilly’s other guests crowed that Hillary was universally loathed, that Trump would win a “tight race,” Rivera gingerly suggested that female voters might be swayed by the “Access Hollywood” tapes. O’Reilly and Eric Bolling, a host of Fox’s “The Five,” shouted him down, calling it “this salacious business.” Later, Lou Dobbs arrived. “The ‘rigged’ thing is one of the brightest things that he could’ve done,” Dobbs insisted, calling Trump’s refusal to say that he would concede if he lost “an absolute stroke of genius.” At first, Trump’s reply at the debate had seemed shocking, even on Fox. By the end of the week, it was normalized, a mere matter of strategy—would it win votes?

For Megyn Kelly, however, the shackles are off. She’s an astounding figure these days, a happy Valkyrie with amused eyes and a stiletto tucked into her rhetorical boot. Her blond hair is slicked to the side, cyborg style, every dress she wears looks like a ruby shield, and she’s got the advantage of the ultra-beautiful: she is gorgeous enough so that sexist insults rebound off her as envy. It’s Kelly who pulled the sword from the stone in this election, with that question in the first Republican primary debate, when she wondered how Donald Trump would react to criticism of his sexist insults, then listed them. We know the answer to that question now.

For a long time, however, it was Kelly at the center of the firestorm, as her predatory boss negotiated with the misogynist Trump—who had called her a “bimbo” with blood “coming out of her wherever”—over what role she might play in the election coverage. You don’t have to like or agree with Kelly to imagine what that experience might have been like: maybe only Hillary could imagine the professional ordeal, or the compromises that survival requires.

Either way, Kelly has emerged as an unlikely feminist warrior purified by her struggle to say things that no one else will. She’s always had a sense of humor and a native feeling for drama: among liberals, she’s most famous for her hilarious strut into the Fox “decision room” on Election Night in 2012, when she had the nerve to ask Karl Rove, “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better, or is this real?” These days, she’s the network’s resident expert on Trump’s sexual-assault accusations, conversant with each development. It makes sense: in college, she helped investigate faculty sexual-harassment cases; later, she made her name debunking the Duke lacrosse case. Although she never mentions her own experience, a sense of legitimacy hovers over her: she’s the sole female anchor, during an election haunted by the gender gap, free to admit that misogyny exists. One night, she did a sweet homage to her recently deceased “nana,” a montage that included the line “She came into this world when women couldn’t vote—and went out as the country considers electing its first female President.” Then her prime-time hour ended and Hannity’s began.

In one of my favorite showdowns, Kelly faced off against Katrina Pierson—one of the legion of female Trump surrogates, from the mercenary Kellyanne Conway to the pinwheel-eyed Scottie Nell Hughes. The two women discussed the aftermath of Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape, which Kelly, unlike other anchors, continues to replay. Both stayed calm, as if in a surreal chill-off. “Will you tell me, why would this woman, at great harm to herself, come out eleven years later and make an accusation like this, and make it up out of whole cloth?” Kelly began, laying out the People reporter’s accusations. Pierson did her thing, giving denials, but Kelly cut in, reading damning excerpts. “Mr. Trump has denied this,” Pierson said. “I take him at his word for this.” “Well, why don’t you take him at his word on the bus, where he said he does do this?” Kelly asked.

But, really, the segment was about Kelly’s face, and her brutal serenity, as Pierson attempted to switch the topic to Hurricane Matthew. When interviewees go loud, Kelly goes soft. She never made a face at Pierson—only Anderson Cooper, on CNN, rivals her arctic deadpan—but her eyes lowered slightly, the corners of her mouth rose, and her suspicion became visible, glimmering under the surface. It was hard even to remember to look at Pierson.

Yes, I know. Kelly has her own record. A colleague begged me, “Please don’t let her off the hook”—and I do realize that I’m hardly the first naïve liberal to make Kelly into the Lucy Van Pelt to our Charlie Brown, holding out the football of fair journalism. Kelly was behind the New Black Panthers nonsense; she touted the “War on Christmas.” She employs the same “gotchas” as her peers: one night, she framed a WikiLeaks exchange about Catholicism, in which Catholic Democrats talked critically about the faith, as a primo scandal, then shouted down a liberal talking head who tried to point out that their skeptical perspective was shared by many American Catholics. But Kelly’s air of mischief is disarming. She ended that ugly segment, sorority style, with a shouted goodbye to her guest: “Love ya! Mean it.”

The night of the third debate, Kelly was aglow. Like her colleagues, she suggested that Trump hadn’t done too badly. But then she destroyed his weakling advocate Jason Miller. She pivoted left and surgically interrogated Donna Brazile about WikiLeaks, leaving even this biased liberal wanting an actual answer.

I looked into Kelly’s eyes and tried to read them like tarot cards, discerning her contractual options. Would she hop to CNN? Or was she the future of Fox? Could Hannity follow Trump into the upside-down and leave Kelly as the dominant cable force, rewriting Ailes’s legacy in her feminine image—the ultimate revenge? Maybe it’s karma that President Hillary Clinton might yet be savaged by a female Fox journalist who survived a boss battle with Donald Trump. Sisterhood is powerful. ♦

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Good for you, Snoopy.


"... the one thing the court has left is the public authority to make the case that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right." Get that, GOP???

John Roberts needs to be honest about the Supreme Court
ByDahlia Lithwick, October 30, 2016

When is a gaffe not a gaffe? When it is perfectly and calculatedly intentional.

Last week, Arizona Sen. John McCain suggested that Senate Republicans “will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up.”

His campaign immediately tried to moderate this overt threat to continue a Republican high court blockade after the election with the promise that McCain would “thoroughly examine the record of any Supreme Court nominee” the next president puts forward. That sounded like a veiled promise to continue the present course of unparalleled obstruction but to at least go through the motions of holding hearings.

But even that breathtakingly antagonistic position might have been a bit too confusing for GOP voters, who have been told throughout this election that making sure another Democratic appointee isn’t seated on the Supreme Court is of apocalyptic importance. So the plan has now been clarified. Writing this week in the Federalist, the Cato Institute’s Ilya Shapiro argued that “as a matter of constitutional law, the Senate is fully within its powers to let the Supreme Court die out, literally.” Shapiro then added, “If Hillary Clinton is president it would be completely decent, honorable, and in keeping with the Senate’s constitutional duty to vote against essentially every judicial nominee she names.”

Enhancing that clarity was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz—a man who’s never met a government shutdown he didn’t like. Asked this week about Supreme Court vacancies, the man who once proclaimed that the people should decide who takes over Antonin Scalia’s seat in this next election showed unequivocally that he was full of it: “There will be plenty of time for debate on that issue, there is long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices.” Then he added that “just recently Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job, that’s a debate that we are going to have.”

And why is Cruz quoting Breyer, the Bill Clinton court appointee, about a potential Hillary Clinton court appointment? Well because Breyer—in what is becoming a burgeoning rift with Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and even Clarence Thomashas been making the case that everything is ice cream and ponies at the shorthanded high court. He took to MSNBC this week to argue that the vacancy is barely felt. Pointing out that the mechanics of the court work “about the same” with eight or nine justices, Breyer said this:
The court, when it began at the time of the Constitution's writing, had six members for several years… They had 10 members for several years after the Civil War. They functioned with an even number of members.
Sotomayor sharply disagrees. “It’s much more difficult for us to do our job,” she said at an event in Minnesota earlier this month, “if we are not what we’re intended to be―a court of nine.” Justice Thomas also weighed in, albeit gently, this week, explaining that in a city full of broken government, the court is also subject to its own charges of brokenness. “At some point, we are going to have to recognize that we are destroying our institutions,” he said. When asked about whether there’s any hope of improving the confirmation process, Thomas added “there’s always hope.” (This might be more hope than I am able to muster.)

With threats now emanating from the Senate to continue this blockade indefinitely, it’s time for the chief justice to weigh in.

I have been writing for much of the year about the logic behind the court’s decision to remain above the partisan election fray. It makes perfect institutional sense—even as the candidates have tried to make the future composition of the court the focus of the election—for the court itself to remain calm and carry on.

But in this second to last week before the election, we are starting to see the strain. The court is having trouble filling its docket. The justices are declining to schedule hot-button cases they had previously agreed to hear. The justices are taking it upon themselves to explain the situation to the country, and they do not all appear to be on the same page. And now that some Republicans are gleefully arguing that they may be legally able to shrink the court down and drown it in a bathtub, the moment has come for some institutional pushback. It needs to come from the chief justice.

What can John Roberts say? It’s almost painfully simple. He can say, in the most sober, measured, and nonpartisan fashion that the court needs nine justices. He can note that although the court began with six justices—and from 1863 to 1866 had 10—the Judiciary Act of 1869 stipulated that the court be made of nine justices. He can note what happened to FDR when he attempted to pack the court in 1937 and observe parenthetically that this revolt came from the American public. He can also point out that fluctuations in the authorized strength of the court came with changes in the circuit courts, not recreational obstruction in the Senate.

The chief justice might also point Cruz, McCain, Breyer, and anyone else who might argue that eight is enough to the Supreme Court’s official recusal policy, which provides that:
[E]ven one unnecessary recusal impairs the functioning of the Court. … In this Court, where the absence of one Justice cannot be made up by another, needless recusal deprives litigants of the nine justices to which they are entitled, produces the possibility of an even division on the merits of the case, and has a distorting effect on the certiorari process.
Roberts might add that Justice Scalia himself made that point when he declined to take himself out of a case in which he was accused of having a conflict of interest. As Scalia noted at the time he might recuse himself only if he were sitting on the Court of Appeals:
There, my place would be taken by another judge, and the case would proceed normally. On the Supreme Court, however, the consequence is different: The court proceeds with eight justices, raising the possibility that, by reason of a tie vote, it will find itself unable to resolve the significant legal issue presented by the case.
Then Roberts may point to his predecessor, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Declining to recuse himself in a 1972 case, Rehnquist wrote, “affirmance of [conflicting lower court decisions] … by an equally divided court would lay down ‘one rule in Athens, and another in Rome, with a vengeance.’ ” That is precisely what happened at the end of the latest term with 4–4 gridlock in four key cases, including vital disputes over the future of public-sector unions, jurisdiction on tribal lands, and of course President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

There is a time for sober reticence, and then there’s a time when it’s too late to repair the damage. Turning this already terrible election into a referendum on whether voters should collude with Senate Republicans to eviscerate the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future is intolerable to both institutions. As Ian Millhiser wrote, allowing the court to dwindle to eight or even seven members as a result of bare-knuckled obstruction would so undermine the legitimacy of future rulings and someday justices that the court might not ever recover. And as Georgia State University law professor Eric Segall argued in the Los Angeles Times this week: “Concern by the justices that speaking out may look too political is silly. The court finds itself in this stalemate because it is primarily a political institution to begin with. And, as the third branch of the national government, the court has a right to protect itself.”

We all agree the Supreme Court is best served by lofty nonchalance about the casual nihilism that has characterized the last eight months of debate over the future of the court. And nobody doubts that if Senate Republicans are willing to shutter the court rather than lose it, there is little the law can do. But the one thing the court has left is the public authority to make the case that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right. If the Republicans take the Senate, it won’t matter that there was once a difference.

"Defeat is not enough. Let there be humiliation. Let there be pain. ... Nuke it."

For GOP, defeat is not enough
By Leonard Pitts, Jr., October 28, 2016

I don’t want the Republican Party defeated next week.

This is written, just so you know, following an email exchange with a reader who suggested a recent column had been penned in consultation with the White House to soften the ground for a new presidential directive. It is written in the wake of a conservative talk show host telling his audience that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that damaged Donald Trump’s candidacy was a setup by CIA agent Billy Bush. It is written as the Internet is in a state of mass arousal over a rumor that candidate Obama “flaunted his erection” to women reporters on his campaign plane in 2008.

It is written, in other words, on an average day in the pest-ridden, plague-infected swamp of rumor, rancor, conspiracy and flat-out bollocks that now counts as Republican political discourse. More to the point, it is written out of concern over what and how the country will be after next week’s election.

So yeah, I don’t want the GOP defeated.

I want it immolated.

I want it razed to the foundation, reduced to a moonscape, left unlivable even for cockroaches, much less newts. I want it treated like boot heels treat ants and furnaces treat ice cubes, treated like a middle school basketball team playing the ’71-’72 Lakers.

Defeat is not enough. Let there be humiliation. Let there be pain.

This lavish disgust has nothing, absolutely zilch, to do with conservative ideology. It is not in opposition to Republican positions on taxes, regulation, LGBTQ rights, immigration or foreign policy. But it has everything to do with the party’s willing and expedient embrace of crazy.

Granted, Republicans did not invent paranoia, persecution complexes or reality estrangement. I remember as a child hearing the barbershop regulars spin elaborate theories of how the moon landing was a hoax and Neil Armstrong’s “one small step for a man” actually took place in a New Mexico desert.

It seemed pretty harmless at the time.

The GOP’s innovation was to harness and nurture that craziness for votes. It flattered and wooed the guy in the barbershop — and the woman in the beauty parlor — by taking them seriously. Through its media partners — Fox “News” and talk-radio kingpins from Limbaugh on down — and with the timely arrival of the internet and social media, it gave them support and a megaphone.

In return, it reaped the nigh-nuclear energy of kooks, cranks, outcasts and iconoclasts whose take-no-prisoners anger invigorated a Grand Old Party. But they also pushed that party further and further to the right — past Nixon, past Reagan and the Bushes, past political and intellectual coherence. Past decorum.

Until finally, the party sold its soul to the Donald.

The damage to GOP credibility is profound. The damage to America is worse. We find ourselves a nation that cannot have meaningful discussion of its issues because some of us have pulled away from the center, from common cause and shared mission, choosing instead to dwell in a pestilential swamp where newspaper hacks collude with presidents and Billy Bush is Jason Bourne.

So the crazy must be rebuked emphatically, refuted in a way that leaves no doubt: We are better than this.

That’s what’s best for the nation. It’s also what’s best for principled conservatives powerless against a virulent cancer that has metastasized through their party. Maybe they’ll be able to save that party — or build a new one. Either way, the mission statement here for thoughtful Americans could not be more clear. Do not defeat the GOP.

Nuke it.

#TruthlessTrump promises much, gives little or nothing, but grabs the publicity and notoriety for free.

Trump talks a big game on charity, but his actual donations fall well short
By David A. Fahrenthold, October 29, 2016

In the fall of 1996, a charity called the Association to Benefit Children held a ribbon-cutting in Manhattan for a new nursery school serving children with AIDS. The bold-faced names took seats up front.

There was then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and former Mayor David Dinkins (D). TV stars Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, who were major donors. And there was a seat saved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had given generously to build the nursery.

Then, all of a sudden, there was Donald Trump.

"Nobody knew he was coming," said Abigail Disney, another donor sitting on the dais. "There's this kind of ruckus at the door, and I don't know what was going on, and in comes Donald Trump. [He] just gets up on the podium and sits down."

Trump was not a major donor. He was not a donor, period. He'd never given a dollar to the nursery or the Association to Benefit Children, according to Gretchen Buchenholz, the charity's executive director then and now.

But now he was sitting in Fisher's seat, next to Giuliani.

"Frank Gifford turned to me and said, 'Why is he here?' " Buchenholz recalled recently. By then, the ceremony had begun. There was nothing to do.

"Just sing past it," she recalled Gifford telling her.

So they warbled into the first song on the program, "This Little Light of Mine," alongside Trump and a chorus of children - with a photographer snapping photos, and Trump looking for all the world like an honored donor to the cause.

Afterward, Disney and Buchenholz recalled, Trump left without offering an explanation. Or a donation. Fisher was stuck in the audience. The charity spent months trying to repair its relationship with him.

"I mean, what's wrong with you, man?" Disney recalled thinking of Trump, when it was over.

For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public - even nationally televised - promises to give his own money away.

It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump's boasts about his philanthropy.

Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given - or had claimed other people's giving as his own.

It is impossible to know for certain what Trump has given to charity, because he has declined to release his tax returns. In all, The Post was able to identify $7.8 million in charitable giving from Trump's own pocket since the early 1980s.

In public appearances, Trump often made it appear that he gave far more.

Trump promised to give away the proceeds of Trump University. He promised to donate the salary he earned from "The Apprentice." He promised to give personal donations to the charities chosen by contestants on "Celebrity Apprentice." He promised to donate $250,000 to a charity helping Israeli soldiers and veterans.

Together, those pledges would have increased Trump's lifetime giving by millions of dollars. But The Post has been unable to verify that he followed through on any of them.

Instead, The Post found that his personal giving has almost disappeared entirely in recent years. After calling 420-plus charities with some connection to Trump, The Post found only one personal gift from Trump between 2008 and the spring of this year. That was a gift to the Police Athletic League of New York City, in 2009. It was worth less than $10,000.

- - -

The charity that Trump has given the most money to over his lifetime appears to be his own: the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

But that charity, too, was not what it seemed.

The Trump Foundation appeared outwardly to be a typical, if small, philanthropic foundation - set up by a rich man to give his riches away.

In reality, it has been funded largely by other people. Tax records show the Trump Foundation has received $5.5 million from Trump over its life, and nothing since 2008. It received $9.3 million from other people.

Another unusual feature: one of the foundation's most consistent causes was Trump himself.

New findings, for instance, show that the Trump Foundation's largest-ever gift - $264,631 - was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump's Plaza Hotel.

Its smallest-ever gift, for $7, was paid to the Boy Scouts in 1989, at a time when it cost $7 to register a new Scout. Trump's oldest son was 11 at the time. Trump did not respond to a question about whether the money paid to register him.

At other times, Trump used his foundation's funds to settle legal disputes involving Trump's for-profit companies and to buy two large portraits of himself, including one that wound up hanging on the wall of the sports bar at a Trump-owned golf resort. Those purchases raised questions about whether Trump had violated laws against "self-dealing" by charity leaders.

In advance of this story, The Post sent more than 70 questions to the Trump campaign.

Those questions covered the individual anecdotes and statistics contained in this story, including the tale about Trump crashing the ribbon-cutting in 1996, as well as broader questions about Trump's life as a philanthropist.

Exactly when, before this spring, did Trump last give his own money to charity?

What did Trump consider his greatest act of charity in recent years?

Trump's campaign did not respond.

The result of The Post's examination of Trump's charity is a portrait of the GOP nominee, revealed in the negative space between what he was willing to promise - and what he was willing to give.

"All of this is completely consistent with who Trump is. He's a man who operates inside a tiny bubble that never extends beyond what he believes is his self-interest," said Tony Schwartz, Trump's co-author on his 1987 book "The Art of the Deal." Schwartz has become a fierce critic of Trump in this election.

"If your worldview is only you - if all you're seeing is a mirror - then there's nobody to give money to," Schwartz said. "Except yourself."

- - -

In repeated interviews with The Post this year, Trump has declined to supply details about his giving, saying that if charities knew what Trump had donated they would badger him to give more.

"I give mostly to a lot of different groups," Trump said in one interview.

"Can you give us any names?" asked The Post's Drew Harwell in May.

"No, I don't want to. No, I don't want to," Trump responded. "I'd like to keep it private."

Of the $7.8 million in personal giving that The Post identified, about 70 percent - $5.5 million -- went to the Trump Foundation, which was founded in 1987. All of that giving came before 2009; since then, the foundation's tax records show no donations at all from Trump to his foundation. Its coffers have been filled by others, including $5 million from pro-wrestling executives Vince and Linda McMahon.

At least $1.1 million of Trump's giving has come in the last six months.

That includes a gift that first brought Trump's charity - and the gap between the promises and the substance of his giving - to the center of his presidential campaign.

In January, Trump skipped a GOP primary debate in a feud with Fox News and held a televised fundraiser for veterans. In that broadcast, Trump said he'd personally donated to the cause: "Donald Trump gave $1 million," he said.

Months later, The Post could find no evidence Trump had done so. Then, Corey Lewandowski - Trump's campaign manager at the time - called to say the money had been given out. In private. No details. "He's not going to share that information," Lewandowski said.

In reality, at that point, Trump had given nothing.

Trump didn't give away the $1 million until a few days later, as the news media sought to check Lewandowski's false claim. Trump gave it all to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which helps families of fallen Marines. Trump bristled at this reporter's suggestion that he had only given the money away because the media was asking about it.

"You know, you're a nasty guy. You're really a nasty guy," Trump said. "I gave out millions of dollars that I had no obligation to do."

Later, in August, Trump also gave $100,000 to a church near Baton Rouge. He sent the check after visiting the church during a tour of flood-ravaged areas.

For years, Trump built a reputation as somebody whose charity was as big as his success.

That identity was expressed, for a time, in Trump's biography on his corporate website. His image had two seemingly equal parts.

"He is the archetypal businessman," the biography said, "a deal maker without peer and an ardent philanthropist."

In the books he wrote or co-wrote about himself, Trump frequently praised charitable giving in the abstract - casting it as a moral response to his vast wealth.

"We've benefited from the American Dream and we feel the duty to give back to the community," he wrote of his family in "The America We Deserve" in 2000. "Those who don't are nothing more than parasites."

In the same books, Trump seemed to regard charity differently when he encountered it in his day-to-day life.

In those cases, it sounds like a hassle.

A game he can't win, and hates playing.

"The people who run charities know that I've got wealthy friends and can get them to buy tables," Trump said in "The Art of the Deal," explaining why he'd turned down a charity request from New York Yankee Dave Winfield. "I understand the game, and while I don't like to play it, there is no graceful way out."

One rare time when Trump describes finding joy in the act of charity comes in 2008's "Trump: Never Give Up."

"I can remember a friend who asked me why I had so many charity events at my properties," Trump wrote. "I said to him, 'Because I can!'. . . It's a great feeling, and it makes all the work that goes into acquiring all those beautiful properties and buildings worth it."

But that's not entirely a story about how Trump gives money away.

It's also a story about how Trump makes money.

Charities pay him to rent out his clubs and banquet rooms for fundraiser galas. At the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, they can pay $275,000 or more for a single night. Sometimes, Trump has given donations from the Trump Foundation to the charities that are his customers.

But in some of those cases, he still comes out ahead.

"It cost, I think, 20-some thousand," said William Hertzler, of the German-American Hall of Fame, who rented space at Trump Tower when the hall inducted Trump in 2012. Trump was the 15th person inducted, the year after magicians Siegfried and Roy. Trump gave a $1,000 donation from the Trump Foundation.

Hertzler said the hall of fame was okay with that. "He came down" to attend the gala, held in the same tower where Trump lives, Hertzler said. "His time is very valuable."

- - -

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Well said!


"'... when people support things that don’t support us, then we don’t support them ...'" Bye bye, Yuengling!

Yuengling beer backed Trump this week. You can guess the rest.
By Katie Mettler, October 28, 2016
Eric Trump ✔ @EricTrump
Thank you to Dick Yuengling for an amazing tour of the oldest brewery in the U.S! @Yuengling_Beer #PottsvillePA #MAGA
2:58 PM - 24 Oct 2016
This week, Donald Trump’s son, Eric, took a media-accompanied tour of America’s oldest brewery, D.G. Yuengling & Son, family owned and operated in the small Pennsylvania town of Pottsville since 1829.

Trump, an heir to his father’s billions, was escorted by Richard “Dick” Yuengling Jr., the brewery’s fifth generation scion and a billionaire in his own right.

For 45 minutes, the men walked through the brewery, talking about American success stories and the plight of U.S. businesses under the Obama administration (despite the fact that Yuengling has been described as Obama’s favorite brew).

“My father’s going to make it a lot easier for business to function,” Eric Trump told the room, according to the Reading Eagle. “We’re going to do it right here in the U.S.”

Then Yuengling, 73, who turned the struggling family business into a $550 million enterprise, who shoved the beverage into the marketplace and who oversaw its rise as a cheap but dignified working class beer, offered the embattled and nosediving GOP nominee a political gift: his company’s endorsement.

“Our guys are behind your father,” Yuengling said. “We need him in there.”

But in 2016, the problem with mixing a business brand with politics — whether the subject is same-sex marriage, gender identity and especially issues and figures as polarizing as Donald Trump — is that you run the risk of alienating your consumers.

Also, Twitter.

Just ask Target, Chick-fil-A or the Republican presidential candidate himself, whose Trump brand has suffered significantly since he announced his bid for the White House.

So it should come as no surprise that within days of Yuengling’s declaration of support, loyal drinkers launched a boycott — at least they declared as much on the Internet.

Due to distribution limitations, avid Yuengling fans often go to great lengths to retrieve the traditional lager, like one Kentucky man named Todd who tweeted that he makes regular 90-mile Yuengling runs to neighboring Ohio. Not anymore.

“Supporting racist, misogynist nut-job Trump is the end of the line for me,” he wrote on Twitter.

One woman said she’ll exchange her Yuengling for wine. Others pledged allegiance to the beer’s long line of competitors: Rolling Rock, Pittsburgh Brewing Company, Brooklyn Lager, Modelo.
 Josh Evans @joshie_WVU
I missed documenting my final hate meal @ChickfilA but snagged a pic of my final hate beer @Yuengling_Beer #MakeAmericaHateAgain
10:30 PM - 27 Oct 2016
Bars in Washington, D.C., have announced they’re no longer stocking the brew, and one manager at the gay bar JR’s posted a video to Facebook that shows him removing the labeled Yuengling handle from the tap.

“Just so you know, when people support things that don’t support us, then we don’t support them,” David Perruzza says in the video, referencing Trump’s running mate, the equally polarizing Indiana Governor Mike Pence. “So goodbye, Yuengling, you are the weakest link.”

And probably the most substantive call for a boycott came Wednesday, when Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims, who is gay, wrote on Facebook that after consuming the beer for 17 years, he planned to say goodbye.

“I’m not normally one to call for boycotts but I absolutely believe that how we spend our dollars is a reflection of our votes and our values!” he wrote. “I won’t reminisce about your product or lament any losses. Goodbye, Yuengling and shame on you.”
Brian Sims
on Wednesday
GOOD BYE, Yuengling Brewery: I'm not normally one to call for boycotts but I absolutely believe that how we spend our dollars is a reflection of our votes and our values! Supporting Yuengling Brewery, that uses my dollars to bolster a man, and an agenda, that wants to punish me for being a member of the LGBT community and punish the black and brown members of my community for not being white, is something I'm too smart and too grown up to do.
D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. belie...
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Dick Yuengling All-In for Trump
Another reason why I don’t drink Yuengling. Here’s Dick Yuengling in the Reading Eagle: “Our guys are behind your father,” Yuengling said. “We need him in there.&#8221…
He later wrote a separate post, tagging at least 16 bars in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, some in a corner of the Center City neighborhood called the Gayborhood.

“Our communities know a thing or two about voting with our dollars and I won’t be using my hard-earned dollars to give power to any company or person who hates me, what about you?!?” Sims wrote.

He ended his post with a spin on a hashtag used often by liberals this election season:
 Chris DiNardo @chrisdinardo1
is nothing sacred??? …
4:49 PM - 27 Oct 2016
People are threatening to boycott Yuengling beer after owner endorses Donald Trump
Yuengling is facing backlash after the owner of the largest craft brewer in America voiced support for Donald Trump.
The brewery’s Trump endorsement and the call to boycott its brand has been likened to the widespread rejection of fast food restaurant Chick-fil-A in 2012, when its president said that same-sex marriage was “inviting God’s judgment on our nation.” The president later pledged to concentrate on the selling of chicken and keep the company out of politics, and even ceased donating money to many of the anti-gay organizations it had been criticized for supporting.

The same happened to Target this year, when the department store denounced controversial legislation in North Carolina that required people to use the bathroom that matched the gender listed on their birth certificates, seen widely as discriminatory toward people who identify as transgender. Conservatives pledged to boycott Targets across the country, and for months after stores seems to be plagued by outbursts, altercations and lengthy, disappointed social media essays.

In August, CNN reported that Target had experienced a 7 percent sales drop compared to the year prior, a change that conservatives claimed as proof their boycott worked. Company chief financial officer Cathy Smith, however, told CNN there was no evidence the boycott caused the drop.

In response to the public outcry, Target later announced plans to expand the use of gender-neutral, single-toilet bathrooms across all its stores, a $20 million solution.

What’s tough to figure out is if brand “boycotts” actually matter to a company’s bottom line. Ivo Welch, a professor of economics and finance at UCLA, says no.

“Boycotts almost surely will never work,” Welch told Freakonomics Radio earlier this year.

This is mostly because there are too many loopholes, he explained, too many ways to get around the boycott. But a government-backed boycotts, like trade sanctions or embargos, are far more effective because they are actually enforceable.

“Those are very different from boycotts. Boycotts are basically just part of the population. They’re not really enforced. They’re not really legal. They are very leaky,” Welch told Freakonomics Radio. “So those have never worked, as far as I can tell. Embargoes may work; boycotts almost surely never will work.”

Even if a company’s bottom line isn’t affected, that doesn’t mean its brand — and reputation — won’t be.

What’s interesting about the Yuengling case is that its owner, Dick Yuengling, has never before been shy about his political affiliations. A lifelong Republican, he has lobbied for union-busting legislation and donated to the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush, reported CNN.

Yuengling drinkers knew, or could have easily discovered, that the chief executive was conservative.

But in this election, conservative does not automatically mean Trump supporter.

Some, though, saw the official confirmation as a blessing.
 Colby Oleksy ✪ @ColbyOleksy
My favorite beer just endorsed my favorite presidential candidate. @Yuengling_Beer & @realDonaldTrump, my dreams have come true! #MAGA
10:40 AM - 27 Oct 2016

Republican Garrett should have stopped to think about how the world is changing: being anti-gay doesn't cut it any more.

Anti-Gay Remarks Lost A Congressman Wall Street, And Maybe His House Seat
By Joel Rose, October 29, 2016

For most of his career, Wall Street has been good to Rep. Scott Garrett (R, N.J.). Garrett is chairman of a powerful subcommittee that regulates banks, a job that traditionally comes with perks, including big political contributions from financial firms. But that was before Garrett made some controversial remarks about gays.

In a closed-door meeting with the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2015, Garrett reportedly said he would withhold his dues unless the party stopped supporting gay candidates. After those comments leaked to the press, Garrett found himself doing damage control.

"I have no problems with anyone running for office," Garrett told an interviewer from New Jersey public broadcaster NJTV earlier this year. "I support the Republican platform. Which I think you just mentioned is supporting of traditional marriage."

Now Garrett's comments are creating problems for his reelection bid. In 2012 and 2014, financial firms donated an average of $600,000 per cycle to Garrett's campaigns. After his anti-gay remarks, that number dropped by half. Capital One, Goldman Sachs, and big Japanese brokerage firm Nomura all stopped payments to Garrett's political action committee.

"There are real risks from a brand perspective, and from a talent-recruiting perspective, from being associated with anti-LGBT, or anti-inclusive policies," says Todd Sears, a former investment banker and founder of Out Leadership, a group that promotes LGBT awareness in financial firms and other industries.

Garrett's situation underscores how quickly the politics around LGBT issues have shifted. It wasn't long ago that support for LGBT rights could have been a political liability in all but a handful of Congressional districts. Now polls show growing support for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights generally, especially among millennials. "It's not just a fringe issue, as it might have been 10 years ago," says Sears.

The Republican Party is still wrestling with how to respond. The party has supported a handful of gay candidates, which is what prompted Scott Garrett to withhold his dues in the first place.

Democrats have been trying for years to paint Garrett as too conservative for moderate voters in the New York City suburbs. So far, it hasn't worked. But they sound confident that this year is different.

"His anti-gay comments are just one part of a very extreme Tea Party record that's now out there," says Democratic challenger Josh Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for Bill Clinton who went on to work for Ford Motor Company and Microsoft. "I think as you peel back the onion here, people say 'Wait a second, I didn't realize just how extreme this guy is,'" Gottheimer says.

Gottheimer has raised more than $3 million, which has allowed the campaign to air TV ads like this one in one of the country's most expensive media markets. And the race has become a top target for House Majority PAC, which has spent more than $1.5 million attacking Scott Garrett.

Democrats hope to persuade people like Karen Gerbatsch, a registered Republican and self-described fiscal conservative who's voted for Garrett before.

"I started looking at Scott Garrett and what he represents, and it's not me," says Gerbatsch. "The woman's right to choose isn't there. Legal rights for people of all sexual orientation to get married is not there."

Gerbatsch lives in Oakland, N.J., a leafy suburb about 25 miles from Manhattan. But if you keep driving west across this congressional district, the suburbs give way to fields and forests near the Pennsylvania border.

The northwestern corner of New Jersey is where Scott Garrett lives. And where his support is the strongest.

"I know I've changed his oil many times before some of the big votes," says Kevin Kennedy, who runs an auto repair shop near Garrett's house in Wantage. It's easy to spot, thanks to half a dozen Garrett for Congress signs on the lawn. Kennedy says Garrett is soft-spoken and serious — a regular guy.

"I heard on the radio they called him a bigot and all kinds of different things," Kennedy says. "I think it's totally unfair. Anything I've seen from the guy, he's just a gentleman."

Kennedy says they've talked a couple times about this year's election. And he says Scott Garrett seems pretty nervous.

"Just last week, the Republican presidential candidate suggested that his supporters commit voter fraud on his behalf." So, who is trying to rig the election, #Lyin'Donald?

Trump supporter admits to voter fraud
She was afraid her first vote would be counted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
By Esther Yu Hsi Lee, October 29, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly suggests to his supporters that the elections are rigged against him, that undocumented immigrants are “voting all over the country,” and that there islarge scale” voter fraud.

Instances of voter fraud are so rare that only about 31 allegations of voter impersonation fraud have been found since 2000. But when they do occur, they often happen in a much different way than what Trump describes. On Thursday, voter fraud did take place in the form of a U.S. citizen in Iowa who allegedly voted twice for the Republican presidential candidate. And thanks to safeguards in place, the perpetrator was quickly identified and charged.

Speaking with Iowa Public Radio, Des Moines resident Terri Rote explained that she “was afraid her first ballot for Trump would be changed to a vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.”

“I wasn’t planning on doing it twice, it was spur of the moment,” Rote told the station. “The polls are rigged.”

Rote was released on a $5,000 bond and will face up to five years in prison, if convicted.

Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told the radio station that this is “maybe the third [time] we’ve had some irregularity that’s resulted in a criminal charge.” Sarcone added that there are “safeguards in place” to prevent people from voting more than once. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald similarly echoed those sentiments, telling The Des Moines Register that this was the first time he had to report potential voter fraud in 12 years.

Two other people were accused of attempting to vote twice by casting mail-in ballots in addition to voting in person, the publication reported, though neither of those suspects had been arrested.

Florida authorities also arrested two women accused of election fraud in separate cases, the Miami Herald reported. Coworkers turned in a woman after she was seen illegally marking ballots in support of a Republican mayoral candidate. Another woman filled out voter registration forms on behalf of an organization that supports marijuana legalization.

If Rote is the first Trump supporter to cast a double vote and get caught, she may not be the last. Just last week, the Republican presidential candidate suggested that his supporters commit voter fraud on his behalf.

Even some Republican leaders downplay the risk of voter fraud. And rightfully so. A study of one billion ballots cast between 2000 and 2014 found only 31 credible allegations of election fraud at the polls. And when Iowa’s Republican Secretary of State conducted a two-year investigation, he only found at most “134 incidents out of nearly 1.6 million votes cast. None of these incidents involved voter impersonation at the polls,” ThinkProgress previously reported.

The fear that undocumented immigrants would commit voter fraud is also generally irrational. It’s already pretty difficult for some undocumented immigrants to get identification cards beyond the 12 states and District of Columbia that allow the population to drive. And undocumented immigrants could face not only jail time, but deportation if they’re caught.

While Trump has built up his supporters’ fear of voter fraud, it may appear instead that voter intimidation is on the rise. Trump has previously called for his supporters to watch polling places in cities like Detroit and Philadelphia, urban areas with large populations of black voters where there is little to no support for him. This may in turn inspire his supporters to harass and discourage legitimate, but infrequent voters from taking part in the democratic process.