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No There There?

Maybe I’m missing something. Yes, I know that there is a narrative that Hillary Clinton is dishonest and untrustworthy. There’s even the alt-right version where she is a criminal who should be locked up (for, among other things, assassinating 40 people).

To me, it just seems like people are taking any story about her and viewing it through that lens. This is not a question of me drinking kool-aid for Clinton (or even carrying water for her). I have been critical of both Clintons many times in the past. When they deserved it.

The scandal du jour is that, OMG, she had meetings while she was secretary of state with people who donated money to the Clinton foundation. A foundation that nobody disputes has done lots of good things around the world, including saving millions of lives.

First of all, the fact that a small percentage of the people who met with Clinton while she was Secretary of State also happened to be donors to the Clinton Foundation is not at all suspicious. Correlation does not imply causation. Is there any evidence that donating money to the foundation got those people access? No. Even if it did, would anyone be the least bit surprised that money drives our politics? Even the Supreme Court says that money is free speech, and is protected.

The important question is, is there any evidence that donating money to the foundation got the donors special favors from Clinton? And the answer here is a resounding no. Some of the donors asked for favors. Most of the time they did not get them. And the few favors that were done appear to be things that likely would have been granted even if the person had never donated to the foundation.

I’ve also heard people complain that Clinton should release the schedule of all her meetings as secretary of state. Uh, she already did that. You can read them yourself online. But you don’t have to, because one reporter read all 3,721 pages and gives you a an overview of the “surprisingly intimate portrait of the life of the Democratic nominee for president” revealed by her schedule. Conclusion? Hillary Clinton works very hard and meets with a lot of people.

The bottom line is that scandals sell newspapers, and the media is only too happy to play along with the Clinton narrative created through endless Benghazi hearings. In particular, the original AP story about the Clinton Foundation “scandal” was very sloppy reporting. And adding insult to injury, the AP promoted the story widely with tweets that were downright inaccurate and misleading.

I’ve condemned Obama when he has done bad things, and that’s about someone I’m happy to admit that I really like and think has been one of our best presidents ever. I’m not afraid to condemn Clinton, but seriously, this is a scandal? It’s almost enough to convince me that sexism is alive and well in the US.



Jack Ohman
© Jack Ohman

The only people who will be convinced that Trump is not a racist are racists. But that may be the whole point.

But the more important point is that Trump is making it ok to be racist in America, and this is extremely dangerous. As a must-read article in Rolling Stone puts it:

To live in modern-day America is to live in a country undeniably affected by racism – mysteriously, without any racists.

With breathtaking doublespeak, Trump attacks Clinton as being a bigot because she is intolerant of the racist “alt-right” movement. But is it bigoted to be intolerant of intolerance?

The Alt-right crowd believes in and endorses a racist ideology, and they have a presidential nominee who does the same. Calling these people anything less than vile racists would be morally reprehensible and intellectually fraudulent.

The bottom line is that we ignore the increasing drumbeat of racism in America at our peril. We risk losing the most fundamental values of our country, that all people “are created equal” and have a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

If we don’t stand up to racism, then who and what are we?


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Aug. 22, 2016]

“There are life-sized nude statues of Donald Trump. They showed up in cities across the country. You’d be walking in the park, and you see this statue [shows images]. Forget building the wall, Trump should just put a bunch of those things at the border.” – Jimmy Fallon

“The New York City Parks Department actually released a statement on the naked Trump statue after they took it down. This is completely real — they said, ‘New York City Parks stands firmly against any unpermitted erection in city parks, no matter how small.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“After being criticized on the MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ program, Donald Trump took to Twitter to attack hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, alleging that they are having an affair. Trump tweeted, ‘Someday when things calm down I will tell the real story of Joe and his very insecure girlfriend Mika. Two clowns.’ Trump is reporting celebrity gossip. Like he is like half running to be ‘Prez’ and half running to be Perez Hilton.” – James Corden

“Also he says ‘when things calm down’. You’re running for president; assuming you win, things are never going to calm down. Trump thinks it’s going to be all right, he’s like, ‘Now that I have taken Iran, the debt crisis and ISIS, I can really blow this Joe Scarborough thing wide open. ‘” – James Corden

“Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort was forced to resign on Friday following news that he had pro-Russian ties. Which really upset Trump, because he insists having all his ties made in China.” – Jimmy Fallon

“This weekend, Donald Trump tried to win over black voters by asking them, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ Coincidentally, that’s also the way he proposed to all three of his wives.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump has been saying that Hillary Clinton looks unwell. Trump then admitted he thinks any woman over 35 looks like she’s dying.” – Conan O’Brien

“Donald Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway yesterday told interviewers that she does not believe Trump hurls personal insults. She said, ‘Trump, you tell them, stupid.'” – Seth Meyers

“President Obama and the first family returned Sunday from their summer vacation in Martha’s Vineyard only to find the locks had been changed.” – Seth Meyers

“The Olympics wrapped up over the weekend with the United States coming out on top in all medal counts. The U.S. brought home 46 gold medals, 37 silver, and four idiots.” – Seth Meyers

“And the majority of those American medals were won by female athletes. So, boys, next time somebody on the playground says you throw like a girl, say ‘Thank you’.” – Stephen Colbert

“Congratulations to Team USA for winning over 100 medals! The most of any country, and my condolences to everyone who is behind them at airport security.” – Jimmy Fallon

“America just dominated the 2016 Olympics! That’s right, we killed it. We got 121 medals! And I’m not surprised. I watched the Games here in the States — can’t remember the channel — and from what I saw, apparently only Americans competed.” – Stephen Colbert

“Americans, and Usain Bolt. Of course, he’s an honorary American, because Jamaica is basically tropical Colorado.” – Stephen Colbert

“The Olympics closing ceremony was held in Rio last night. There was an emotional moment at the end when they extinguished the Olympic torch by having Ryan Lochte urinate on it.” – Conan O’Brien

“That’s right. Speedo has revoked their sponsorship of swimmer Ryan Lochte, and according to him, they did it at gunpoint.” – Seth Meyers


The Best People?

OMG, Trump claims to hire only “the best people” but look at the people he hires. Saturday’s announcement was that Trump’s advisor on foreign policy issues is Michele Bachmann. You know, the woman who said “What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” Her own backyard must be foreign to her.

And about his string of campaign managers. First there was Corey Lewandowski, the former lobbyist whose campaign strategy seemed to mainly consisting of roughing up people at campaign events. He was replaced by Paul Manafort, another lobbyist who specializes in dictators and other strongmen,but his strong ties to Russia were his undoing. Third is Stephen Bannon who ran alt-right rag Breitbart News. How’s he doing?

It has been less than two weeks, and already Bannon has multiple scandals. First were reports of anti-Semitic remarks: objecting to a private school for his daughters saying he “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews” because they “raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats’.” Then it turns out that Bannon, who crusades against voter fraud, is registered to vote in swing state Florida, even though he doesn’t live there (he actually lives in California). Which is against Florida law.

And remember Trump’s doctor, who claimed that “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”? Well, he’s now backed down from that. So we don’t actually know if Trump has any health problems. After all, he would be the oldest person ever elected to the presidency.

Trump doesn’t seem to do any vetting of his employees, which includes criminals, people with big scandals, and the plain incompetent.


Back to Fox?

We reported recently that Donald Trump had pretty much only appeared on Fox News after a disastrous interview on CNN after the conventions. Well, I guess Trump is reading this blog (hah!) because he actually (finally) gave an interview to CNN.

It did not go well. In fact, it went really badly.

Maybe he should just stick to being interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News, where they won’t ask him any difficult questions.


Try Yelling Fuck

Obviously, this is not safe for work (good thing it is Saturday!), but it is a lot of fun. If you are at the end of your rope, there is something you can do. And it is even approved by Obamacare!

From “Funny or Die“.


Sex and Politics

It is good that The Late Show is on late, because it seems Stephen Colbert can’t stop himself from having fun and discussing sex and politics:

Go ahead, Google “Donald Trump Rudy Giuliani Drag Queen Motorboat”. Of course, starting today the top result is now Colbert telling you to Google “Donald Trump Rudy Giuliani Drag Queen Motorboat”. If the internet is anything it is self-referential, and loves to take selfies of itself (and then selfies of itself taking selfies of itself, ad infinitum).

If you want the actual video of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, you should instead Google “Rudy Giuliani in Drag Smooching Donald Trump”. But remember, as the internet says, you can’t unsee it.


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Aug. 4, 2016]

“I want to wish a happy birthday to President Obama, who turned 55 today. Big celebration at the White House. The White House staff sang to him. Then the president blew out the candles on his vegan, whole-grain, carrot prune loaf.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Happy birthday to President Obama who turned 55 today! He made a wish and blew out the candles, but then when he opened his eyes, he was still president.” – Seth Meyers

“Donald Trump also offered birthday wishes on Twitter this week. He wrote, ‘President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States.’ It’s sweet, though, because he said ‘perhaps’, and he wouldn’t do that on any other day.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“You know if Trump becomes president, he’s definitely going to make his birthday a national holiday, right? ‘Sorry, Lincoln, you’re a loser and you are out.'” – Jimmy Kimmel

“It looks like all the controversies are taking their toll, with reports that Trump’s campaign staff feel like they are wasting their time and that Trump’s staff is suicidal. They’d jump off the building, but they’re afraid they’d see the word ‘Trump’ on the way down.” – Stephen Colbert

“Donald Trump yesterday met with RNC officials who reportedly grew so angry with Trump during the meeting that they yelled at him, ‘Do you realize how badly you’re screwing this up?’ Said Trump, ‘The best? I’m screwing it up the best, right?'” – Seth Meyers

“Trump and his party raised $82 million last month, much of it from small donations, with supporters pitching in $10 to $25 apiece. And they can feel good knowing that every dollar will help Donald Trump reach his ultimate goal — attack ads against Paul Ryan.” – Stephen Colbert

“A CNN reporter spoke to one of Trump’s donors, who said, ‘Unfortunately, I set up a recurring political contribution on Donald Trump’s website, and there’s no place on the website to stop the recurring payment.’ Oops! Supporting Trump is like joining a gym, only it’s democracy that isn’t working out.” – Stephen Colbert

“A Fox News national poll found that people prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump by 10 points. While an MSNBC poll found that Hillary Clinton has already been president for two years.” – Seth Meyers

“A new survey finds that Hillary Clinton has more support in the marijuana industry than Donald Trump. Or in other words, Hillary Clinton will definitely win the vote of people who won’t remember to vote.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I saw that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has picked his wife to run as his vice presidential candidate. Then Bill and Hillary looked at each other for a second and went, ‘Nah, nah.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“With the basketball players not being in the Olympic village, it means they’re going to miss out on all the sex. Because I don’t know if you’ve heard this but the Olympic committee announced they’ll be handing out 350,000 condoms and 175,000 packets of lube. Or as Brazilians call that, ‘A weekend’.” – James Corden

“But in the athletes’ defense, the accommodations in Rio are so bad, the cleanest place to sleep is on top of another person.” – James Corden

“The Olympic torch arrived in Rio today in preparation for Friday’s opening ceremony. And the cool thing about Rio is, if the torch runs out of fuel you can just dip it in the ocean and it’ll reignite.” – Seth Meyers


Self Funding?

Trump made a big deal about self funding his own campaign, but maybe he was using an alternative meaning of the term “self fund”. It looks like he meant that he would be using his campaign funds to enrich himself.

Now that Trump is raking in money from donors, his campaign quadrupled the rent that they are paying the Trump Tower (owned by Donald J Trump). The Trump campaign tried to explain that they still pay somewhat less in rent than Clinton’s campaign, but that ignores the fact that Clinton’s campaign has more than 700 paid staff, while Trump only has 170. That works out to the Trump campaign paying $1000/month in rent per employee, while Clinton is paying $300/month per employee.

It also doesn’t explain why Trump doesn’t actually, you know, fund his own campaign and donate the rent in his own building (which obviously had the space) to his own campaign. After all, he claims to be really rich, right?

And this is not the only example. Federal records show that almost a fifth of Trump’s campaign cash has gone to companies to which he is linked.


Disaster Preparedness

Matt Wuerker
© Matt Wuerker

I get the feeling that given the attention generated by the primaries (and despite any burnout) that the presidential debates (assuming Donald Trump shows up for them) will be the most watched in history.

This comic is pointing out the difficulty of preparing for a debate against Donald Trump, who has taken the propaganda concept of the “big lie” to a new level. Clinton is primarily a policy wonk, which definitely will not work. Will she be able to attack Trump and put him on the defensive?

During Clinton’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel on Monday, she did say that she was taking the debate preparation seriously, and knows that she needs to be “prepared for, like, wacky stuff.” “I’m planning on drawing off my experiences from elementary school.”

Of course, Trump may find a way to lose the debates all on his own:

Matt Davies
© Matt Davies


Trump’s Path Forward?

Frank Luntz gained fame as the conservative “public opinion guru” who created many of the GOP talking points though the use of “focus groups”. So it is extremely interesting that Luntz put together a focus group of Trump supporters in Pennsylvania — a state that Trump claims he will win unless Clinton somehow cheats — to see how they are feeling:

Can Trump regain their vote? Or is Clinton cheating by merely letting Trump be Trump?


The Continuing Election

Tom Tomorrow
© Tom Tomorrow

I’m worried that most people are already burned out on our presidential election, just when things are starting to get interesting. This should be the time when people start actually paying attention, but the primaries were such a circus (on both sides) that fatigue has set in.


Out Foxing Himself

Donald Trump used to appear on any TV program that would have him, garnering him billions in free publicity. But those days seem to be (mostly) over. In fact, Trump is now appearing only on Fox News. What happened?

The last time Trump appeared on any network other than Fox News was July 31, when Trump was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC. That was the time he questioned whether the Gold Star mother of the killed Muslim army officer was not allowed to speak because of her religion, starting his very public argument with the soldier’s family. Oops. He hasn’t appeared on ABC since.

His last appearance on NBC News was July 24 (and not on MSNBC since May 20), on CBS was July 17, and the last time on CNN was June 13.

Trump has completely retreated into the echo chamber of Fox News. Since his appearance with Stephanopoulos he has appeared 11 times on Fox News. His favorite interviewer? Sean Hannity, who also advises Trump.

How much of an echo chamber? One where the echoes are softer than softballs. On Sean Hannity’s show, Trump was asked “You’re doing events starting early in the morning. Wednesday night, we didn’t finish dinner until well after midnight. And I’ve watched you through this process. Where do you get that stamina to do this?”

Then five days later, on a town hall, Fox News asked “How do you have the stamina to keep going and going and going? You’ve only taken two days off this month, Hillary’s taken seven days off.”

Just a few days later yet another interview began with “You have had a banner week. I don’t know how you do it. But you have given at least four or five major speeches, you have been to Louisiana, you just gave a speech this afternoon.”

Trump’s desire to talk to only people who fawn over him means that he is singing to the choir and won’t be able to reach out to voters beyond his core constituency (which is angry blue-color men who watch Fox News). That’s a good way to lose an election (assuming you are trying to win it).


The Final Solution

John Oliver has the solution to Donald Trump’s dilemma. It is also provides a happy ending for virtually everyone.

Will Trump go for it? You know, stranger things have happened in this election.


You’re Killing Me

Texas famously slashed funding for reproductive health clinics in the state by two thirds, which caused more than 80 clinics to shut down. This reduced health services to women by half across the state. Texas also defunded all Planned Parenthood clinics completely (regardless of whether they provided abortion services).

The result? The number of women who died due to complications related to pregnancy doubled in the state in just two years. Texas now has the highest mortality rate for pregnancy in the developed world. To put that in perspective, the probability of dying from a pregnancy is more than ten times higher in Texas than your chances of dying from terrorism in the entire world.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world managed to reduce the mortality rate from pregnancy. Similar defunding efforts in other states caused to that rate go up around 27% for the entire US. The exception to this was California, which has similar demographics to Texas but fully funds reproductive health. As a result, the maternal mortality rate declined in California.

Republican efforts to cut funding for women’s health has had very real, and very deadly, results. Now, how are they actually going to “Make America Safe”?