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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Trust the rich white man

by digby

That dumb Barack Hussein Obama didn't know what he was doing. "Mr Trump" (and you will call him Mr Trump) will "fix it."

How? Well, he plans to unleash the police on your communities:
They're right now not tough. I could tell you this very long and quite boring story. But when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, 'How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge — to a specific person — do you think you could stop it?' He said, 'Mr. Trump, I'd be able to stop it in one week.' And I believed him 100 percent," Trump said.

When O'Reilly asked whether the unnamed officer told him how, Trump said: "No, he wants to use tough police tactics, which is OK when you have people being killed."
Trump believes in authoritarian power above all else. That's the essence of who he is. If anyone thinks otherwise, they are mistaken.

QOTD: A yuuuuge Trump fan

by digby

He's still her man:
My worship for him is like the people of North Korea worship their Dear Leader --- blind loyalty. Once he gave that Mexican rapist speech, I'll walk across glass for him. That's basically it.  Unlike the crazy Cruz supporters, I'll criticize him, and I have, but it's all minor stylistic stuff. We all want to shoot him at various times.--- Ann Coulter 8/24/16
I'm pretty sure most of his followers agree with that. When he went after the Mexicans and the Muslims they fell in love.  The promise of "law and order" (if you know what I mean) sealed the deal.

Update: On the other hand, TPM reports that Coulter is fit to be tied. Sad!
He always said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any supporters

by digby

And he was right:
“He’s calmed it down, a little bit, but he’s still going,” said Buffington, 75, who attended Trump’s campaign rally here Wednesday afternoon. “He’s still going to build the wall.”

Her daughter agreed.

“That’s the most important thing,” said Krista Kosier, 51. “He’s still going to build the wall. He’s still going to get rid of the murderers and rapists and those wreaking havoc in our country.”

“He always said that as he got closer to November he’d get into more details. Now we’re seeing that,” said Ahava Van Camp, who attended the Tampa rally with her husband, Tom, and Bevo, their Maltese-poodle mix, who sat in a purple push cart. “It’s not a pivot. He’s on second base and getting closer to home.”

“These existing laws — which can be enforced — will do the same thing” as Trump has been calling for, Tom Van Camp said. “It’ll still kick people out.”

“Starting with the dangerous folks is smart,” he added. “It’s not going to be easy. In fact, I predict it’ll take the full length of his first term to get it done.”
These folks are locked in. But then that's not what this is about. He needs to persuade some new voters that the Republican Party can control him. Whether this "pivot" will seem persuasive to them is still unknown.
Giuliani time

by digby

You can't say he didn't ask for this.  From the Washington Post editorial board:
WE ARE a little worried about Rudy Giuliani, the Republican former mayor of New York. Is “America’s mayor” okay? 
During his 15-minute speech at the GOP convention last month in Cleveland, it was notable that when he said Donald Trump loves “all people, from the top to the bottom,” Mr. Giuliani animatedly gestured toward his knees as he said “top,” and above his head as he said “bottom.” Also, why did he say that he and his wife, Judith, have been friends with Mr. Trump for 30 years, though he met his wife in 1999, only 17 years ago? 
Also — we’re noting this purely out of concern — during his speech he often licked his lips, indicating dry mouth, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can be a symptom of nerve damage, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. At the end of his address, beads of sweat were visible on his pate — did that not suggest heart disease? 
Mr. Giuliani is just 72, but he seemed slightly stooped as he walked to the lectern, where his wide stance made us wonder if he’s unsteady on his feet. Then there was his slurred diction, as when he referred to “jushtified” police shootings and Syrian “refyoongees.” More evidence of a stroke?
They're tweaking him rather gently actually. He's been vicious with this rumor mongering and he deserves worse. But it's a start.

This piece by Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek about the health controversy is well worth reading:

On July 28, 2015, the Clinton campaign released a typical medical letter from an internist, whom she has seen since 2001—Lisa Bardack, director of internal medicine, Mount Sinai Health System at CareMount Medical. The letter is a typical medical history, and begins with the usual summary of a full physical, calling her a “healthy 67-year-old female.” It lists medical issues and the findings of testing. The tests, it says, were negative, meaning they showed no problems. To use the medical terminology, it is an unremarkable document.

On December 4, 2015, the Trump campaign released…something.

It purports to be a medical letter, but it is one of the most ridiculous documents ever to emerge in any political campaign. First, the letterhead is in the same font as the letter, which appears to have been created using Microsoft Word. The signature from the doctor is several inches past the signature line—the result you might get if the document had been signed as a blank and filled in later. The letterhead includes a Gmail address—something doctors tell me is extremely unusual, since doctors do not want patients contacting them directly by email as a substitute for scheduling an appointment.

There is also a website listed, but if you follow the URL (haroldbornsteinmd.com), sometimes it takes you to cdn.freefarcy.com, a blank page that asks if you want to upload an update to a Flash program onto your computer (the domain name, freefarcy.com, is still for sale. No, I can’t explain that.) If you decline, it does so anyway and, based on the response of the security system on my computer, the “program” on the doctor’s supposed website is a virus. (Other times it takes you to a generic medical website. No, I can't explain that either.)

Then, there is the doctor who allegedly signed this document. His name is Harold N. Bornstein, and he is a gastroenterologist. This kind of physician is a specialist who treats the digestive tract. This is not an internist, who is trained specifically in providing full histories and physicals of patients. The letter signed by Dr. Bornstein, who did not return an email from Newsweek seeking comment, says that he has treated Trump since 1980. However, it mentions no history of the gastrointestinal problem that led the Republican candidate for president to seek out his help. In fact, the letter says Trump has had no significant medical problems. So why has he been seeing a gastroenterologist for over 35 years?

Unlike the Clinton letter, it does not contain a full medical history for Trump. The letter also has problems with sentence structure and major typographical errors, such as the opening line, “To Whom My Concern.” Most amusing, it says that his medical examination of Trump has “only positive results.” In medical terms, if the test is positive, it confirms the existence of disease. Is this doctor saying Trump has every medical ailment that could be found in examination? Does he not know the meaning of the word? Or, as I suspect, was the letter written by someone in the Trump campaign?

Anyone reading the letter can make a good guess about who that person might be.
Of course it was Trump. Who else talks like that?

Tells it like it is

by digby

Just this:


American white nationalism isn't isolationist #USA!USA!USA!

by digby

I wrote about the Alt-right for Salon today. It's not exactly the same as European ethno-nationalism. It's scarier:

After months of squabbling about whether it's acceptable to use the "F" word (fascism) it seems at long last that we have come to some kind of consensus about what to call Donald Trump's "philosophy": Alt-Right, also known as white nationalism. With the hiring of the former chief of Breitbart media, ground zero for the Alt-right movement, as Trump' campaign chairman, the interest in it has now gone mainstream. Hillary Clinton will be making a speech about it later today.

Alt-right white nationalism is an apt term for a campaign that has electrified white supremacists so it makes sense that most people would focus on the racial angle. According to this analysis in the Guardian, the rising right wing ethno-nationalist movement in Europe is the progenitor of this American version, which adheres to its basic premise but brings its own special brand of deep-fried racism. Both share a belief that the white race is under siege and that "demands for diversity in the workplace which means less white males in particular forms the foundation for the movement." So it stands to reason that Trump's border wall, Muslim ban and bellicose appeals for "law and order" (along with his overt misogyny) is a clarion call to this faction.

But while it's obvious that the subtle and not-so-subtle racial messaging are among the primary attractions for Trump voters, they are also responding to an economic appeal, much of which stems from the misconception that because Trump himself is a successful businessman he must know what he's doing. But as Dave Johnson of Campaign for America's Future pointed out, many of the white working class folk who believe Trump's promises to "bring back jobs" would be surprised to know what he actually means by that:
Trump says the U.S. is not "competitive" with other countries. He has said repeatedly we need to lower American wages, taxes and regulations to the point where we can be "competitive" with Mexico and China. In other words, he is saying that business won't send jobs out of the country if we can make wages low enough here.
His "plan" is to compete by pitting states against each other to lower wages, particularly by encouraging businesses to move to low-wage anti-union states. Once the lay-offs start, workers will be willing to take big pay cuts to keep their jobs. Johnson shows how Trump believes "companies should continue this in a 'rotation' of wage cuts, state to state, until you go 'full-circle,' getting wages low enough across the entire country. Then the U.S. will be 'competitive' with China and Mexico.

So this white nationalist "populist" economic appeal is less than meets the eye. In that regard Trump is just another "cuck-servative" (you can look it up) who thinks he can fool the rubes into making people like him even richer than they already are. But all that is subsumed in Trump's message of white grievance and American decline.

One of the most important characteristics of this faction is a strong attraction to authoritarianism. This fascinating report at Vox by Amanda Taub tracked studies which show that "more than 65 percent of people who scored highest on the authoritarianism questions were GOP voters and more than 55 percent of surveyed Republicans scored as "high" or "very high" authoritarians."
Authoritarians, we found in our survey, tend to most fear threats that come from abroad, such as ISIS or Russia or Iran. These are threats, the researchers point out, to which people can put a face; a scary terrorist or an Iranian ayatollah
That fear is also something the American alt-right has in common with their European cousins, but I see it having a different effect here. In Europe the desire truly is for a withdrawal from external obligations and dismantling the institutions that have blurred national identity and political independence. They are afraid of mass immigration from the Middle East in the age of terrorism and the economic crisis emboldened the usual European suspects. So some observers are tempted to believe that Trump's invocation of the old isolationist slogan "America First" will likewise result in a pull-back of American global empire. But a closer look at Trump's rhetoric shows that he has a much different worldview and so do his followers.

Look at his slogan: "Make America Great Again." Implicit in those four words is the idea of America dominating the planet as it did after World War II. Of course, it still does, but in Trump's mind, America has become a weak and struggling nation hardly able to keep up with countries like Mexico. He believes other countries are laughing at us and treating us disrespectfully, which has had him seething for over 30 years. Back then it was Japan "cuckolding" America. Today it's China and Mexico, both of which he promises to sanction for failing to properly "respect" America --- with a thinly veiled violent threat backing it up. After all, trade wars have often led to shooting wars.

American nationalism cannot be separated from its status as the world's only superpower. Trump  promises to build up the American military to the most massive force in history (of course, it already is) so that "nobody will mess with us ever again." He doesn't say that America should pull back from its security guarantees, merely that it should require other nations to pay more for the protection. He doesn't take nuclear war off the table, one can assume for the reason that it's a cheaper, quicker way to "take care of" problems than these relatively smaller wars we've waged since the world burned in the two epic conflagrations of the 20th century. His nationalism is all about domination not withdrawal.

And that view is shared by the American alt-right. Here's one Breitbart writer making the case:
I’d like an America that makes 7 “Fast & Furious” movies without making concessions to Ayatollah Khamenei. I’d like an America that humiliates the likes of Vladimir Putin, not vice-versa. An America that punches back eight times as hard over a tiny offense. An America that everyone might laugh at but ultimately stop attacking because it can only end poorly for them.
Trump's nationalism is absolutely about ethno-purity and there's an element of populism as well, although it's clearly a misdirection. But it's largely about wounded national pride which has been a potent motivating force on the American right for a very long time. There's a reason Trump is now playing  the conservative anthem "Proud To Be An American" at his rallies. Good old fashioned jingoism is the one thing that brings the old right, the new right and the alt-right together.


The Adventures of the Tom Sawyer Economy

by Tom Sullivan

Tom Sawyer's Fence marker, Hannibal, Missouri.
Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0.

Leaving environmental damage for taxpayers to clean up is not the only way large companies externalize costs Forbes reported in 2014:

Walmart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15.

Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 400 national and state-level progressive groups, made this estimate using data from a 2013 study by Democratic Staff of the U.S. Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“The study estimated the cost to Wisconsin’s taxpayers of Walmart’s low wages and benefits, which often force workers to rely on various public assistance programs,” reads the report, available in full here.

“It found that a single Walmart Supercenter cost taxpayers between $904,542 and $1.75 million per year, or between $3,015 and $5,815 on average for each of 300 workers.”
But you knew that.

Now the company has found another way to keep profits up: by externalizing the cost of theft prevention. As a result, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and other Walmarts across the country stores are experiencing a crime wave. Shannon Pettypiece and David Voreacos write at Bloomberg Businessweek: Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy. Tulsa PD's Darrell Ross spends so much time there he's known as Officer Walmart:
It’s not unusual for the department to send a van to transport all the criminals Ross arrests at this Walmart. The call log on the store stretches 126 pages, documenting more than 5,000 trips over the past five years. Last year police were called to the store and three other Tulsa Walmarts just under 2,000 times. By comparison, they were called to the city’s four Target stores about 300 times. Most of the calls to the northeast Supercenter were for shoplifting, but there’s no shortage of more serious crimes, including five armed robberies so far this year, a murder suspect who killed himself with a gunshot to the head in the parking lot last year, and, in 2014, a group of men who got into a parking lot shootout that killed one and seriously injured two others.
Pettypiece explained the situation last night to NPR All Things Considered host Robert Siegel:
SIEGEL: Why? Why is this happening now?

PETTYPIECE: Part of it is just the very nature of Wal-Mart. It's big. It's everywhere. It has millions of customers go in there every day. But another element of it is decisions that the company has made to cut costs over the past decade or more.

They've trimmed the number of employees they have in their stores. They've taken more of a reactive rather than a preventative approach to shoplifting and stopping crime. And to criminals, that all sends a message. No one's watching. No one cares, and no one's likely to catch you. And it's sort of become, like, the wild, wild West for criminals in their stores.

SIEGEL: For your article in Bloomberg Businessweek, you did a comparison between Wal-Marts and Target stores in Tulsa. And there's a real difference you found.

PETTYPIECE: The Targets get a fraction. In Tulsa, the four Wal-Mart stores last year got just under 2,000 calls. Target - their four stores got 300 calls. And it's difficult to explain that. I mean I talked to some shoplifters while I was there. They only steal from Wal-Mart.

I remember asking one young woman, well, why'd you steal from Wal-Mart? Why not the mall? Why not Target? It was like it never crossed her mind to steal from anywhere other than Wal-Mart. She just felt like it was easy to get away with there.
Police Pettypiece and Voreacos spoke with are sick of it:
“The constant calls from Walmart are just draining,” says Bill Ferguson, a police captain in Port Richey, Fla. “They recognize the problem and refuse to do anything about it.”
Pettypiece told NPR:
PETTYPIECE: Wal-Mart says they're trying to do things like put more employees at the door. They've been trying to invest in theft prevention technology, devices they can put on merchandise or more, you know, visible security monitors. The police complaint is that they're not moving fast enough, and they're not moving far enough.

And I talked to one retail analyst who thinks Wal-Mart needs to add an extra quarter million part-time employees in its stores to really have the employee presence out on the floor that would deter theft. And for Wal-Mart, that's going to cost them billions of dollars to fix this problem like some people would like to see.
But it's better for their bottom line to externalize the cost of store security and let taxpayers pay it. It's a Tom Sawyer economy. We pay for them to conduct their business.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

QOTD: Generalissimo Trump

by digby

Trump today:
We're going to end the corruption. Hillary Clinton ran the State Department like a failed leader in a third world country. It's run like a third world country. She sold favors and and access in exchange for cash. She sold it. She sold favors. She sold access. And wait til you see what it's revealed!
 Audience goes into  frenzy:

There's nothing third world, banana republic about putting your political rivals in jail. Not a thing. Why do you ask?


Joe Scar goes through the change

by digby

I can hardly believe anyone would bother to write this story but they did and now I can't unread it. So you have to suffer too:

The band began playing at 8:30 sharp—the exact call time for the evening’s gig—a punctiliousness perhaps less rock ‘n’ roll cool than cable-news precise. Its front man, after all, was Joe Scarborough, the 53-year-old host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and the band, naturally, goes by the name Morning Joe Music. The players—a group of talented, scruffy-looking guys in jeans—formed a constellation around Scarborough not unlike Willie Geist, Mike Barnicle, and Donny Deutsch do on-air every morning. They all had something to add, but mostly, they existed to orbit Scarborough, who has arguably become the most influential Republican in America during this election season. Scarborough, who has known Donald Trump for years, was among the first in the media to presage his mind-boggling rise—and one of the most consequential conservatives to rebuke him. But this evening was not intended as political theater. A few minutes after 8:30, a wall of sound filled the room: two backup singers ooh-ed and ahh-ed, two horn players blared high notes in harmony, and a keyboardist who sounded faintly like Rufus Wainwright all backed up Scarborough on the vocals of a song he had written himself.

Mika Brzezinski, Scarborough’s morning show co-host, was perched on the edge of her seat in a booth just offstage, toggling an iPhone, a Chanel shopper, and a drinks menu as she sang along to every word of the song and waved her fists to the beat. She ordered a bottle of wine for the table and texted friends in order to get them to stop by. She was, all at once, an inspiring combination of groupie, hostess, and dutiful colleague. And maybe a little rock star, too, in jeans and black sunglasses resting atop her white-blonde hair.

Brzezinski, who is 49, was joined in the booth by her brother and sister-in-law and niece. The big, boisterous Morning Joe family often show up to Scarborough’s gigs, too, but it was deep summer and neither Geist nor Barnicle were there. The room was still star-studded. Deutsch made an appearance. André Leon Talley, the fashion eminence and Vogue contributing editor, sat beside Brzezinski in a burnt-orange custom Tom Ford caftan of sorts. The real show, however, was onstage. When the saxophonist broke into a solo, Scarborough got on bended knee, candy-red guitar resting on his khakis, and tipped his head in reverence, perhaps an allusion to Springsteen nodding at Big Man during the E Street Band’s glory days.

The song ended, and Scarborough once again grabbed the microphone. “Now this is a special night,” he told the audience. “The band, we’ve been together since, what? 1947?” The “aren’t we so old?” age joke played well with the crowd. Scarborough knows his demo. “But tonight’s our big break because we have a star here, and her name is Mika Brzezinski.”

Read on.  Oh boy ...

Here's Joe's band. So fresh and exciting:

Dudes sitting around talking

by digby

Fox News:

Sadly, before too long, Fox's sexist ethos is going to seem as quaint as a 50s sitcom. What's coming is something much, much worse.

Leslie Jones ... oh man

by digby

This is just the worst story ever. Amanda Marcotte:
Even for someone who has been researching and writing about misogyny for over a decade, it is hard to comprehend the level of obsessive hate that had to go into the attack on actress Leslie Jones. The 48-year-old comedian and actress became a big star over the summer, with her breakout role in “Ghostbusters” and her public stint as America’s funniest Olympics enthusiast.

But to the racist, misogynist internet, just letting Jones and her fans enjoy this moment could not stand. You see, Jones is black, female, and middle-aged, and therefore, in their eyes, she must be punished and humiliated for her success. On Wednesday, hackers attacked Jones’s website, replacing her regular content with stolen nude photos, private information, and racist gorilla imagery.

This comes on top of a summer-long campaign of Twitter harassment that was so vile that it drove Jones off Twitter, forcing the company — which is notoriously reluctant to do much about internet harassment — to actually take measures to stem the tide of abuse.

It is tempting, of course, to write off the attacks on Jones as the work of a few bad apples, an unfortunate artifact of an internet that allows a small number of people to get a lot of attention simply by being the absolute worst. I personally wish that were the case.

But this story goes straight back to the presidential race. You see, one of the main reasons that Jones is a favorite target of the worst people on the internet is because she was chosen as one by Milo Yiannopoulos, a writer and editor at Breitbart. He spent so much time and effort riling up the rats against her that it got him suspended permanently by Twitter, in fact. And Yiannopoulos’s boss Stephen Bannon now runs the Donald Trump campaign.

Make no mistake: Yiannopoulos got his job at Breitbart not despite, but because of his skills at whipping up the sociopathic internet into a frenzy of resentment at even the hint that they might have to share the world with women and people of color.

Under Bannon, Yiannopoulos was brought on to be the editor of their supposed “tech” vertical, even though there’s no evidence that he knows much about tech and despite his history of bashing video game players.

Yiannopoulos got his gig after doing the yeoman’s work of riling up basement dwellers on Twitter, cheerleading a phenomenon known as “Gamergate,” when a bunch of misogynists ran around the internet attacking female gamers for the crimes of being critical of sexism in video games or believing they have a right to break up with a dude if they want to. His real talent is mining the resentments of reactionary losers, and encouraging them to bash any women, especially women of color, whose success reminds them of what losers they really are.

There's more. This level of sociopathic hate is just ... scary.

And it's gone mainstream.


"Uncucked and hellbent"

by digby

I notice the oh-so-jaded media is pooh-poohing the Clinton campaign's drawing attention to the Alt-Right because in their minds some insider byzantine appearances of appearance of conflicts of interest that didn't have any conflict is so much more relevant.

It isn't. The Alt-Right is the biggest political development in America in a very long time. It has transformed the Republican party, produced the Trump candidacy and is changing our politics. And it's a global phenomenon.

Here's an entertaining intro brought to you by American Renaissance, a white supremacist organization:

He can run but he can't hide (from his racism)

by digby

I wrote about Trump's "outreach pivot" for Salon this morning:

From the beginning of his candidacy Donald Trump has been wildly attractive to the white supremacist faction of the far right. He had groups like the white supremacist American National Super PAC running robo-calls throughout the primaries. There was more than one avowed white supremacist named as a Trump delegate to the Republican convention.  Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke enthusiastically endorsed him and Trump didn't exactly rush to distance himself from it. The icing on the cake was the recent hiring of Steve Bannon, the Alt-right former chief executive of Breitbart media which was a clear indication of Trump's white nationalist bona fides.

This is not surprising since Trump began his campaign with a crusade against Latino immigrants, tagging them as killers and rapists in his announcement speech. His most popular policy always provokes the chant "build that wall, build that wall!" at his rallies. And his undocumented immigrant deportation plans and ban on Muslims were energetically applauded by his most fervent white supremacist followers.

He has, perhaps surprisingly, been a bit more subtle with his anti-semitism and straight up racism against African Americans by employing more of the standard right wing dogwhistles in those cases, tweeting out racist crime statistics and pictures of money overlaid with a Star of David, for instance. But ironically, to his white supremacist fans all the overt nativism and xenophobia serves as a dogwhistle to them, signaling his solidarity when it comes to blacks and Jews. And he is, of course, King of the Birthers.

I've written before about Trump's authoritarian racist tendencies. Dragging out Nixon's old law and order trope wasn't an accident. Whether most of his followers understood what it was, as opposed to an allusion to the long running TV show, is unknown. But he remembered it from his youth and Trump developed his entire worldview during that period and has never revisited it since.

One of his most famous acts as a public citizen took place back in the 1980s when he place a full page ad calling for the death penalty for what was known at the time as the Central Park Five for a crime we later found out they did not commit. Just two years ago he wrote an op-ed when a settlement was reached with the wrongfully convicted men and he showed no remorse for his rush to judgment or the fact that he had called for the death penalty, suspension of civil rights and more police power:
Forty million dollars is a lot of money for the taxpayers of New York to pay when we are already the highest taxed city and state in the country. The recipients must be laughing out loud at the stupidity of the city.
Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts. These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels
As far as Trump is concerned, the world has not changed since he was a young man living in New York in an era of very high crime. Rick Perlstein memorably wrote about this a few months back, in which he noted that Trump's appeal stemmed from a very specific conservative archetype that came from America's urban dark side: the avenging angel.  He discusses Trump's father's apparent affiliation with the Klan and Trump's own run ins with the Department of justice over the family business's refusal to rent to welfare recipients (which he presciently described as "reverse discrimination.") This was the era of vigilante movies like "Death Wish" --- which Trump has had his audiences chant in unison during this campaign --- and "Taxi Driver" stories which Perlstein aptly places in the annals of conservatism as:
"[T]he conservatism of avenging angels protecting white innocence in a  “liberal” metropolis gone mad: this is New York City’s unique contribution to the history of conservatism in America, an ideological tradition heretofore unrecognized in the historical literature."
This is the comic book conservatism of the Alt-Right and Donald Trump.  And he's alluded to it plenty of times during the campaign, often expressing the view that the police must be allowed to take the gloves off and calling himself the "law and order candidate."

The racial aspect of his paranoid fantasy of a dystopian urban landscape is obvious. One of the clearest illustrations of that took place a few months back during an interview with the New York Times editorial board:
'What’s the most dangerous place in the world you’ve been to?' 
He contemplated this for a second. 'Brooklyn,' he said, laughing. 'No,' he went on, “there are places in America that are among the most dangerous in the world. You go to places like Oakland. Or Ferguson. The crime numbers are worse. Seriously.'
It shouldn't be surprising then that his "African American outreach" on Monday night (before an all white audience) consisted of a description of the lives of African Americans as "poverty, rejection, horrible education, no housing, no homes, no ownership, crime at levels that nobody’s seen. You can go to war zones in countries that we’re fighting and it’s safer than living in some of our inner cities. What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance. I’ll straighten it out. I’ll straighten it out.”

With his history, it's fair to say that's exactly what African Americans, Hispanics and Muslims are afraid of. But then, despite what much of the mainstream media is reporting, Trump isn't really making this pitch to appeal to people of color. And when he "softens" his immigration policy it won't be to appeal to Latinos. He's appealing to the white Republicans, particularly women, who are repulsed by him.

Will it work? Who knows. But it won't change the fact that Trump has held racist views for a very long time and has not shown the slightest ability to evolve or change in even the slightest ways for over 40 years. He hasn't even changed his hairstyle since 1975. Donald Trump today is exactly the same man who wrote that full page ad in which he said, "civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!" Racial, ethnic and religious minorities know exactly what that means.

Oh snap, Rudy!

by digby

Colbert takes care of Giuliani:

He's the first one to diagnose Clinton's health problem correctly: “chronic no-penis. It’s congenital. Every woman in her family has had the same thing.”

It's a very debilitating disease. Maybe some day we'll find a cure.


Grifters gonna grift

by Tom Sullivan

John Oliver's Last Week Tonight back-to-school segment on charter schools Sunday was a welcome window into the world of education "reform" grifters. (I just found time to watch it last night.) Griftopia, as Matt Taibbi defined it:

There really are two Americas, one for the grifter class and one for everybody else. In everybody-else land, the world of small businesses and wage-earning employees, the government is something to be avoided, an overwhelming, all-powerful entity whose attentions usually presage some kind of financial setback, if not complete ruin. In the grifter world, however, government is a slavish lapdog that the financial companies that will be the major players in this book use as a tool for making money.
Only Taibbi's focus on financial firms was a bit narrow. That grifter philosophy has traveled far beyond Wall Street. Corruption has trickled down.

Anyone who has been reading my posts already knows what a con I think the charter school industry is. Still, it was gratifying to see Oliver give it the prime-time mistreatment it deserves.*

Ryan Reed at Rolling Stone writes:
"Charters are basically public schools that are taxpayer-funded but privately run," Oliver explained. "The first ones emerged 25 years ago as places to experiment with new educational approaches." Today, over 6,700 charter schools educate nearly 3 million students. But many of these institutions fail at an alarming rate: In 2014, Naples Daily News found that, since 2008, 119 charter schools had closed in Florida – 14 of which didn't finish their first year.

Oliver focused much of his attention on Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio, three states with especially depressing charter track records – including negligence in the approval process and school executives embezzling funds.
I wrote in 2011:
The impulse among conservatives to privatize everything involving public expenditures – schools included – is no longer just about shrinking government, lowering their taxes and eliminating funding sources for their political competitors. Now it’s about their opportunity costs, potential profits lost to not-for-profit public-sector competitors. It’s bad enough that government “picks their pockets” to educate other people’s children. But it’s unforgivable that they’re not getting a piece of the action. Now they want to turn public education into private profits too.
Aside from the happy talk about experimentation and free-market competition (you may genuflect now), the smokescreen that obscures some of the worst results of lax oversight is the notion that these schools run as non-profits. But nonprofit doesn't mean no cash flow. Oliver points out (and this is not unique) how the president of the Richard Allen charter chain in Ohio contracted oversight of its schools to a nonprofit she founded and who contracted $1 million in management and consulting firms she also founded.

That is, some nonprofit charter schools operate with tax money the way Donald Trump funnels campaign expenditures back into his family-run businesses. Nearly a fifth of what the campaign spent in May, according to the New York Times.

* For the sake of the few good, parent-organized and community run charters out there, I make a distinction between charter schools and the charter school movement or industry. Oliver sets aside discussion of whether charters are a good idea in principle to examine how they operate in fact.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Yes, he's a bigot

by digby

I caught this exchange last night and it was epic:

Via Mother Jones:

Donald Trump is a bigot, there's no other way to get around it," Blow said. "Anybody who accepts that, supports it. Anybody supports it is promoting it and that makes you a part of the bigotry itself. You have to decide whether or not you want to be part of the bigotry that is Donald Trump. You have to decide whether you want to be part of the sexism and misogyny that is Donald Trump."

Levell responded by accusing Hillary Clinton's campaign of creating the "false facade" that Trump is a racist.

"I'm not part of the Clinton campaign," Blow interjected. "I'm a black man in America and I know a bigot when I see a bigot."
This is where we are people

by digby

I think I'm going to puke:

ROGER STONE: I think she’s a Saudi asset. The media keeps saying her mother’s a prominent feminist. No. Her mother's a prominent advocate for genital mutilation. She has written extensively about genital mutilation.

ALEX JONES: Did Huma have her genitals cut off?

STONE: That I cannot tell you. But what I can tell you is --

JONES: I mean it's fair, I don't mean that to be crass!

Trump has been mainlining Jones and Stone's garbage for years, starting with the birther bullshit.

He's right in there with him. This is as low as it gets.

Note that they also call Chelsea Clinton Webb Hubbel's daughter.


The "sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult"

by digby

Bill O'Reilly famously once settled a massive sexual harassment claim, the details of which made it into the mainstream. It didn't hurt his career at Fox (and now we know why.) But you would have thought he'd have kept his sexual thoughts about female co-workers to himself after that. Apparently not.
[C]ommencing in February 2016, Bill O’Reilly (“O’Reilly”), whom Tantaros had considered to be a good friend and a person from whom she sought career guidance, started sexually harassing her by, inter alia, (a) asking her to come to stay with him on Long Island where it would be “very private,” and (b) telling her on more than one occasion that he could “see [her] as a wild girl,” and that he believed that she had a “wild side.” Fox News did take one action: plainly because of O’Reilly’s rumored prior sexual harassment issues and in recognition of Tantaros’s complaints, Brandi informed Cane that Tantaros would no longer be appearing on O’Reilly’s Fox News show, The O’Reilly Factor.
That's from former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros's sexual harassment complaint against the network. It's ugly. O'Reilly, of course, is the second big name in her suit. The first is Roger Ailes, of course. She also claims that the new head honcho, Bill Shine was aware and told her to keep her mouth shut.

She describes the place this way:
“Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny.”
You know, this is not surprising to most women.  It comes through loud and clear to me anyway. I worked in Hollywood for many years and this was ... the way it worked. I think many workplaces have changed, particularly as women have ascended into positions of power. Clearly not all, however. In fact, I'd guess it's still more common than you'd think.

Ailes took it to a twisted level far beyond anything I ever saw, however.

Those Syrian refugees have ruined everything

by digby

Eric "the spare" Trump:
“I mean, they should come first. You were born in this country. You were born here legally. You’re here legally. I mean, wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years and it’s because you have, you know, Syrian refugees coming in. It’s because you have, you know, thousands of people coming over the border. I mean, and Americans are suffering because of it and that’s his point.”
Jason Linkins at Huffington Post does the tedious work of refuting that daft on its face statement:
[W]age stagnation is not something that started 15 years ago, despite what Eric Trump thinks. Rather, as the Economic Policy Institute notes, it’s been a going concern for about four decades now. But we’ve not had masses of Syrian refugees coming to this country for 15 years, either. The Syrian refugee crisis has only heated up since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. During that time, the United States has endeavored to provide refuge for Syrians fleeing certain death. But of the some 5 million Syrians who have left their country, very few have made it to these shores... 
“Syrian refugees have contributed to decades of stagnant wages” is a new one. (To be honest, the Trump campaign criticizing the lack of wage growth is a new one, as well.) Suffice it to say, as the Economic Policy Institute points out, “wage stagnation is largely the result of policy choices that boosted the bargaining power of those with the most wealth and power,” and that “better policy choices, made with low- and moderate-wage earners in mind, can lead to more widespread wage growth and strengthen and expand the middle class.”

If a politician has “better policy choices” in mind, they will say so. Otherwise, they will blame immigrants and foreigners.

Trump's going to teach them all a lesson. And they're not going to "mess with America" ever again. Believe me.

Whither the movement?

by digby

I wrote about the sad state of the conservative movement as we've known it for Salon this morning:

One of the more interesting story lines of this election season has been watching the conservative movement we've known for more than 50 years try to figure out what to do about Trump voters who seems to be coming from a very different direction. Through the primaries we anticipated that we'd see traditional battle lines forming as the establishment types like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio faced off against the movement doctrinaire right winger Ted Cruz who was the perfect avatar of movement conservatism. Trump completely shuffled the deck, drawing his support from a large subset of Republicans who had formed themselves into a new faction.

The establishment and the movement engaged in an elaborate kabuki dance for many years which had them working together to elect Republicans while allowing the movement leaders to maintain plausible deniability when someone such as George W. Bush runs into trouble when conservative governance failed (as it usually does.) Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.  And they don't mind losing as much as you might think. It can be very good for business. This quote from movement leader Richard Viguerie says it all:
Sometimes a loss for the Republican Party is a gain for conservatives. Often, a little taste of liberal Democrats in power is enough to remind the voters what they don’t like about liberal Democrats and to focus the minds of Republicans on the principles that really matter. That’s why the conservative movement has grown fastest during those periods when things seemed darkest, such as during the Carter administration and the first two years of the Clinton White House. 
Conservatives are, by nature, insurgents, and it’s hard to maintain an insurgency when your friends, or people you thought were your friends, are in power.
Modern conservative movement philosophy was laid out back in the 50s and 60s with books and articles by the original generation of intellectuals and activists such as Phyllis Schlafly whose book "A Choice Not an Echo" was a seminal volume that informed the right for decades. It spelled out the ideology of small government, martial patriotism, "freedom" and traditional values and sold Goldwater as the brave cowboy who would make it happen.  Since Ronald Reagan, those ideas have been sold as the "Republican brand" as well.

And frankly, the notion that disagreements over strategy and purity ("people you thought were your friends") which have fueled the conservative movement for decades, is overblown as well.  For instance, both movement and establishment leaders had no problem with the dogwhistle strategy of mining the racist white id for votes. Neither did they disagree about the ridiculous low tax and trickle down economic policies that only benefit the wealthy. They had no problem with the hypocrisy of their own leadership when it came to personal morals even as they excoriated their enemies for their moral lapses.  These were all strategic decisions the coalition tolerated quite easily.  What fueled the movement was betrayal and failure.

Recently some of those Tea Party insurgents actually believed the Republican leadership should be willing to bring down the state in order to bring on the conservative Rapture and leaders like Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, who had up until then been the poster boys of movement conservatism were deemed sell-outs to The Man. Ted Cruz had planned to lead that insurgency to victory or martyrdom. The stage was set for another round of recriminations and fundraising for the movement.

Then along came Donald Trump, a man so completely outside this cozy little system that he isn't even a member of the party. He's a militant, authoritarian, white nationalist who demands that our foreign allies pay protection or prepare to watch the world burn. He rarely even mentions the words "freedom" or "liberty" even when he's extolling the Second Amendment, which he tends to do in moments like the one where he leads the crowd in chanting "Death Wish! Death Wish!" after a vigilante movie of the 1970s.

Although the right wing antecedents to Trump are not hard to find, nobody like him has ever come this far. The establishment is treading lightly, trying to keep a distance without angering his followers. And the movement that spent so many years creating and nurturing their ideology is very off balance. This is an insurgency they don't control and it's very difficult to see how they can reclaim their place in this carefully nurtured ecosystem when the man who leads it doesn't know or care about their philosophy. And neither, it turns out, do his voters, most of whom have been voting Republican for years.

Phyllis Schlafly, now 92 years old,  is gamely trying to fit Trump into the old mold with her new book called "The Conservative Case for Trump" in which she apparently compares him to, you guessed it, Barry Goldwater  the man for whom she made the case in "A Choice Not an Echo." The book isn't out yet so it's hard to say how she makes that leap but it can't be on a philosophical basis.

Schlafly's fellow traveler Richard Viguerie's associate George Rasley is digging deeply for a rationale to support Trump by claiming that he represents the anti-establishment ethos that first animated the movement back in the 60s, which isn't entirely absurd. Trump is certainly anti-establishment.  And he says that Trump is a leader in opposition to what he calls the "New Puritanism" as represented by the #NeverTrump faction who refuse to vote for someone they believe so badly fails the test of decency, competence and conservatism. This is perversely considered a betrayal of the movement because of its lack of ideological pragmatism. (One assumes Paul Ryan would have a good laugh over that one.)

The bottom line is that the conservative movement as we've known it is empty and confused and it may not be able to recover. Indeed, they should start looking over their shoulders because there are some new kids in town and they are speaking a language the right wing evidently wants to hear these days. It's the openly authoritarian white nationalist Alt-Right. When Donald Trump said "I am your voice" at the Republican Convention that's who he was talking to.

QOTD: Joe Biden

by digby

As much as the right likes to throw their aprons over their heads and run around in circles screaming "radical Islamic terrorism" like some magical incantation, it's not a serious set of words that means anything.

There are some words that do mean something, however, that it would be nice to hear from sane people everywhere.  Joe Biden says them:
"Terrorism is a real threat but it's not an existential threat." 
No Sharia law is not taking over and ISIS is not staging a Normandy landing. Islamic terrorism is terrible but it's not taking over America.


"You have to be a lot tougher"

by digby

This is Trump the authoritarian thug in all his glory. When Trump is asked how he would curb violent crime as he promises in his speech, this is what he said to Bill O'Reilly:
Pushed by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to provide specifics on curbing violent crime in cities like Chicago, Donald Trump said Monday that he would simply put “tough” cops in charge.

“So, specifically, specifically. How do you do it? How do you do it?” O’Reilly asked.

“I know police in Chicago,” Trump replied. “If they were given the authority to do it, they would get it done.”

“How? How?” O’Reilly pressed.

“You have unbelievable—how? By being very much tougher than they are right now,” Trump said. “They are right now not tough. I mean, I could tell you this very long and quite boring story but when I was in Chicago, I got to meet a couple of very top police. I said, ‘How do you stop this? How do you stop this? If you were put in charge,’ to a specific person, ‘Do you think you could stop it?’ He said, ‘Mr. Trump, I would be able to stop it in one week.’ And I believed him 100 percent.”

Further efforts to clarify what exactly this “specific person” would do and what “tough police tactics” are did not get far.

“You have to have a warrant to arrest people,” O’Reilly said. “You can’t beat them up.”

Trump replied that he didn’t ask for an exact plan because he’s “not the mayor of Chicago.”

The conversation then turned to attacks on police officers.

Trump, who has actively courted the endorsement of the national Fraternal Order of Police union and campaigned as the “law and order” candidate said that he would serve as a “cheerleader for the police” as president.

“They are not being respected by our leadership and they literally—they don’t have spirit,” the Republican nominee said. “They lose their spirit. Every time something happens, it’s the police’s fault.”

“Alright. So your tone is pro-police,” O’Reilly said.

“You have to give them back their spirit,” Trump insisted.

“How do you stop the bad guys from attacking them?” O’Reilly asked.

“By giving them back your spirit and by allowing them to go and counterattack,” Trump said.
I guess that's more of his outreach to urban communities. Kellyanne must be so proud.

The idea that he's actually trying to do outreach to people of color is insulting to our intelligence.

Massive heat wave in the Middle East: Is it an emergency yet?

by Gaius Publius

Global warming from 1850–2016. Notice the rapid outward spiral near the end (source).

This is a brief follow-up to this piece about the recent acceleration in atmospheric CO2:

There I wrote:
[I]f atmospheric CO2 growth suddenly zooms to +4 ppm/year starting with this year's 406 ppm, we're at 450 ppm in 11 years.

Eleven years from now is 2027, and 450 ppm is a game-over scenario. Partly because global warming will have shot well past +2°C, producing enough social, political, economic and military chaos to make a global solution impossible; and partly because if we haven't stopped Exxon et al before then, we never will, and the process will go to termination. That is, we won't stop until we're once more pre-industrial, or worse.
I take 2027 as an early "game-over" date (meaning "game-over" could happen sooner), since this analysis doesn't factor in any of the other ways climate could change suddenly — via unexpected ice sheet collapse, for example.

Here's what the current acceleration looks like on the ground.

"Stepping outside is like walking into a fire"

The Washington Post (my emphasis):
An epic Middle East heat wave could be global warming’s hellish curtain-raiser

BAGHDAD — Record-shattering temperatures this summer have scorched countries from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and beyond, as climate experts warn that the severe weather could be a harbinger of worse to come.

In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.

If that happens, conflicts and refugee crises far greater than those now underway are probable, said Adel Abdellatif, a senior adviser at the U.N. Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Arab States who has worked on studies about the effect of climate change on the region.

“This incredible weather shows that climate change is already taking a toll now and that it is — by far — one of the biggest challenges ever faced by this region,” he said.
Consider the flood of economic and conflict-zone refugees now entering Europe, then imagine that flood swollen further by an endless stream of climate refugees. The world is changing before our eyes, the physical world and the human world, the world of human society. Climate change, global warming, will drive this change until we stop it.

More from the Post, with some stunning numbers:
These countries have grappled with remarkably warm summers in recent years, but this year has been particularly brutal.

Parts of the United Arab Emirates and Iran experienced a heat index — a measurement that factors in humidity as well as temperature — that soared to 140 degrees in July, and Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, recorded an all-time high temperature of nearly 126 degrees. Southern Morocco’s relatively cooler climate suddenly sizzled last month, with temperatures surging to highs between 109 and 116 degrees. In May, record-breaking temperatures in Israel led to a surge in ­heat-related illnesses.

Temperatures in Kuwait and Iraq startled observers. On July 22, the mercury climbed to 129 degrees in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. A day earlier, it reached 129.2 in Mitribah, Kuwait. If confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, the two temperatures would be the hottest ever recorded in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The bad news isn’t over, either. Iraq’s heat wave is expected to continue this week.

Stepping outside is like “walking into a fire,” said Zainab Guman, a 26-year-old university student who lives in Basra. “It’s like everything on your body — your skin, your eyes, your nose — starts to burn,” she said.
A taste of things to come. Soon this will be Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Southern California, including the breadbasket Central Valley ... and Mexico, even further south, with yet another reason for an increased north-moving wave of refugee migration.

A World War II-style mobilization is the only answer

Are we in an emergency yet? If you think so, say so.

That's genuinely important, and it's also useful, whether your personal reach is great or small. The more "normalized" the need for a World War II-style mobilization becomes — the more that people agree that we need it — the faster we'll get one. We really do have to give fire back to Prometheus. There's time to avoid the worst as I see it, but not much. We could be essentially carbon-free in ten years with a strong and enforced emergency mobilization. We could also be over the hill in the next ten years and picking up speed at an alarming rate.

(A version of this piece appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.)



"He speaks without thinking.”

by Tom Sullivan

The notion that this country will hit rock bottom and turn itself around, that people's basic goodness and decency will reassert itself and America will reinvent itself once again has always seemed a feeble hope. That doesn't mean it won't happen in small ways. As Digby pointed out yesterday, Trump's supporters are defecting.

The line she cited from the Toronto Star that most caught my attention was the former Donald Trump supporter who said, “There was just something off about him.” It reminded me of a strategy for resisting a high-pressure car salesman. Whatever your reasons for not buying now, he's got an answer. Don't like the color? Don't have the money? Whatever. He can fix it. He's got a comeback to keep you from walking. But if the buyer cannot say why she/he won't buy today ("I don't know. I just don't want to."), the salesman has no comeback, nothing to latch on to. "Something just off" falls into that category. The voter has given himself leave to walk away.

It appears that's happening to a lot of Trump's former fans. At Raw Story, Sarah Burris reviewed a Frank Luntz focus group (emphasis mine):

“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,” one focus grouper told Luntz in a video that aired on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”
No, there is no turning back. Her support for Trump is over. Because something about Trump is "just off."

There was more:
“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” focus group member Michael said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12-year-old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”
Mark jumps in, saying, “I think we’re looking for leadership that inspires all of us to be greater than ourselves.” They've enjoyed eating their dessert first, but are now looking for the meat and potatoes.

"I want his best foot forward," says Janice. "It's a job interview. This is not how you would behave when you're going to a job interview, by throwing tantrums and calling the interviewer names. Or the other applicants."

It doesn't exactly make the heart swell or Sousa play in your head, but it seems Trump's new car smell has worn off. Now people just want a model that doesn't start erratically and won't leave then stranded along the highway.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hope for humanity?

By Dennis Hartley

After a week of “extreme vetting” and “What have you got to lose?” and all the rest of the barely cloaked hate speech spewing forth from Orange Julius Caesar on his campaign trail, here’s a possible antidote:

Baby steps…

cross posted at Denofcinema

Quotes o' the day: former Trump voters

by digby

It has taken a while but some people are starting to wake up:
“I live in the country and I think I want to make one of those bunkers like they used to when we were afraid of nuclear war. Because every time he opens his mouth, I feel like he’s putting us at risk,” said Kimberly McBride, 45, of Louisiana. “I think he’s going to get us all killed.”

McBride, a former teacher with health challenges, is struggling to pay her mortgage and she was drawn to Trump’s economic message. She was aghast, though, when he invited Russian hackers in late July to obtain Clinton’s emails. When he then insulted the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, she broke with her husband and flipped to Clinton.

The Khan controversy appears to have been a campaign tipping point. Polls suggest that well over half of Republicans disapproved of Trump’s furious response, which reinforced Clinton’s criticism of his temper.

In a speech at the Democratic National Convention Thursday, the father of a Muslim-American soldier who was killed in Iraq says Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has 'sacrificed nothing and no one.'
“He doesn’t act like a presidential candidate and some days he hardly acts like an adult,” said Nick Lucasti, 19, an engineering student in Indiana. “The constant name-calling and slander are not necessary.”

Lucasti had once liked Trump’s outspokenness and promise to improve border security. After the Republican convention a month ago, he decided he could no longer tolerate the businessman’s refusal to moderate his remarks or make his vague pledges more specific and realistic.

“For a while I thought he was very metaphorical — his ‘wall’ was really just a metaphor for him wanting to secure the borders,” said Lucasti, now undecided. “After months of watching him, though, I now know for sure that this guy honestly wants to build a concrete wall hundreds of miles long. Just ridiculous.”

It is impossible to know how many supporters have become defectors. Swing-state polls, though, show a decline in his share of the vote as Clinton’s has increased sharply. In must-win Pennsylvania, he has fallen from 44 per cent in July to 40 per cent today. In New Hampshire, he has gone from 42 per cent to 36 per cent.

“He has been crushed in the last couple weeks,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “He’s losing people from every possible demographic.”

And he is struggling with the right far more than Democratic nominee Clinton is struggling with the left. Clinton has the support of about 90 per cent of Democrats, Trump about 80 per cent of Republicans.

“A lot of the summer has not been used well,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The Star interviewed 10 people who have recently ditched Trump or wavered. They cited a wide variety of complaints: his vice-presidential choice of religious conservative Mike Pence, his insistence that Barack Obama is “the founder” of Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL, even his rejection of a debate with Bernie Sanders. By far the most common concern, though, was his behaviour.

“There was just something off about him,” said Alabama finance student Frank Smyser, 21, who ditched Trump a month ago in favour of Libertarian Gary Johnson.

Nate Harlan, a 26-year-old Ohio student from a Republican-leaning “lower-middle-class” family, became a Trump supporter after it became clear that Ohio Gov. John Kasich was not going to win. By July, he had grown dismayed by Trump’s “racism,” failure to offer detailed plans and constant pessimism.

“It just seems so much that when he speaks, he’s always angry,” said Harlan, now backing Green Party Leader Jill Stein. “It doesn’t really seem like he’s trying to project this good image of my own country onto me. He’s trying to project an image of ‘you shouldn’t like your country.’ ”

Rhonda Loomis, a Republican former city councillor in Newark, Ohio, spent part of early August begging Trump on Twitter to stop calling Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” stop veering from message, stop tweeting, stop talking.

“Whether you care or not,” she told him, “you lost my vote. I won’t vote at all for the first time in my life. You are coming unglued.”

By Friday, the 57-year-old office manager had found reason for hope. Trump had delivered two consecutive rally speeches from a Teleprompter script. He then visited the site of the flooding in Louisiana.

“I am tentatively hanging on the caboose of the Trump train again. I am ready to get off if it looks like it’s going to derail as bad as it has,” Loomis said. “I guess the ball’s in his court. If he continues to embarrass me: absolutely not.”
Oh, no chance of that.

Just today he was very presidential:


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