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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

His assets are yuge. Believe me. It's not a problem

by digby

About that White House "delegation" that came to Trump about Iraq

by digby

As expected, it didn't happen:
Trump has repeatedly brought up his opposition to the Iraq invasion. As he put it during the second G.O.P. debate last September: “I think it’s important, because it’s about judgment.”

Much as he did against Clinton, Trump in that earlier debate cited proof that he was, in his words, “the only person that fought very, very hard against” invading Iraq. First, he said, “I’ll give you 25 different stories” — though the only article his campaign would later offer was an interview in Esquire that took place fully a year after the invasion. Intriguingly, Trump also claimed he had a meeting with George W. Bush administration officials to discuss his opposition to the war. “In fact, a delegation” — from the administration, he would later elaborate — “was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it.”

I recently reached out to Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, for more details about this meeting. She didn’t provide any, but a high-ranking former Bush White House senior official told me categorically that no such meeting ever happened, and that no one from the administration was deputized to talk to Trump.

Of course not. Because he wasn't speaking out against the war, number one. And nobody in the White House gave a damn about what he was saying about anything anyway.

This man is truly delusional. And that's not just rhetorical hyperbole. He is literally delusional.

Not that we didn't know that:

Colbert on the debate

by digby

Just so good:


He said people who pay taxes are stupid

by digby

The Washington Post reported on a debate focus group:
Trump’s response Monday night when Hillary Clinton accused him of not paying a cent of federal tax left Townley appalled.

“That makes me smart,” Trump said, unapologetic and smiling, during the presidential debate, held in Hempstead, N.Y.

Hillary Clinton suggested a few reasons why Donald Trump is not releasing his tax returns during the first presidential debate, suggesting "maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is" and that he doesn't pay federal income taxes. "That makes me smart," Trump interjected. 
That comment caused a gasp in the hotel conference room where Townley and five other undecided voters in this ­battleground state were watching the debate.

“That’s offensive. I pay taxes,” said Townley, 52, a program ­director for a local council of governments.

“Another person would be in jail for that,” said Jamilla Hawkins, 33, who was sitting beside him in the Crescent conference room at the Embassy Suites in this city of 150,000 near Raleigh.
That focus group of undecided voters mostly seemed to be people who had never seen Donald Trump before.

First a black man, now a woman and it's just too much

by digby

I wrote about the problem of the one-two punch for Salon today:

It has always seemed to me that the extremely close presidential primary campaign of 2008 signaled that America was at a pivotal moment in its history. As the vehicle for social progress and the home of most racial minorities and women, the Democratic Party was naturally the institution that would advance two breakthrough leaders in succession. The time had come, the country had changed and I naively thought it would be easy.

As it turned out, there was an immediate, fierce backlash against the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the presidency called the Tea Party. It was portrayed as a revolutionary anti-government movement but when scholars studied these folks, it turned out that they were simply garden-variety conservatives after all — and they were very, very angry. Harvard’s Theda Skocpol, author of “The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism,” with Vanessa Williamson, explained to Salon in 2013 that Tea Party attitudes about taxes and government reflected something deeper:
There’s no question that at the grass roots, approximately half of all Republican-identifiers who think of themselves as Tea Partyers are a very conservative-minded old group of white people, some of whom do go all the way back to [Barry] Goldwater and the [John] Birch Society. They are skeptical of the Republican Party as it has been run in recent years. But they both hate and fear the Democratic Party and Obama. We argued in many ways that anger comes from alarm on the part of these older conservatives that they’re losing their country — that’s what they say. That they’re the true Americans, and they’re losing control of American politics.
Nothing symbolized that “loss of control” more than the African-American president sitting in the White House. Sadly, it turns out that these older, more affluent conservatives weren’t the only ones who felt that way. White working-class Americans, particularly men, were growing more and more angry about losing their place in the hierarchy of privilege. These two groups make up the Republican coalition that is now expressing the right-wing backlash in the form of explicit white nationalism.

After dealing with a black president and his family occupying the White House for eight long years, accepting a woman taking the job immediately thereafter is more than they can bear. As the National Rifle Association’s president, Wayne LaPierre, quipped, “I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.”

The right-wing opposition’s response to the “demographically symbolic” female candidate has been to nominate a famously crude misogynist to restore white male authority once and for all. Rebecca Traister memorably explained it in this Hillary Clinton profile in New York magazine a few months back:
There is an Indiana Jones–style, “It had to be snakes” inevitability about the fact that Donald Trump is Clinton’s Republican rival. Of course Hillary Clinton is going to have to run against a man who seems both to embody and have attracted the support of everything male, white and angry about the ascension of women and black people in America. . . . Of course a woman who wants to land in the Oval Office is going to have to get past an aggressive reality-TV star who has literally talked about his penis in a debate.
Because, of course, conservatives on the right was not going to be able to tolerate yet another living symbol of progress that they see as forcing them further back in the line.

This explains to some extent why we don’t see the kind of rapturous excitement at this “first” that we saw in 2008 for Obama. The sense of violence and hostility that was bubbling just under the surface then and that churned throughout the Obama years has now exploded. It’s frightening and disorienting and it forces optimism to the down-low. The atmosphere is more like a war than a movement.

Clinton’s ad campaign shows the terrain on which this war is being fought. There have been plenty of standard issues ads and character studies, but her most effective spots are those that simply use Donald Trump’s own words against him, showing him insulting people and expressing himself in crude, bullying fashion. They’re presented from the point of view of kids, veterans, seniors, individuals with disabilities, people of color and women who can see how this man who tells his voters, “I am your voice” talks about them.

The ads are not about Clinton and they aren’t really about Trump. They are about us and what Trump’s followers really think of us.

This one, called “Mirrors,” is one of the most powerful:

Many fathers who see the ad are appalled that their daughters have to live in a world where someone like Donald Trump is an acceptable leader. That’s why the experience of Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe who has come forward with her story of being humiliated at Trump’s hands, has such resonance with women and Latinos.

It’s why people with disabilities and their families are frightened by Trump’s cruel mockery of a reporter. It’s the reason that African-Americans feel a chill down their spines when they hear Trump say that the way to achieve racial healing is “law and order” and “stop-and-frisk.” It’s why millions of Americans of all races and creeds were stunned at his blithe dismissal of Khan family members and their sacrifice. These are the people on the other side of all that angry white grievance.

It’s not a coincidence that the first African-American president may be followed by the first woman president. Progress requires that you let the momentum carry you when you have it. But it also shouldn’t be a surprise that the first would enter office on a high note of inspiration and the second would face the inevitable backlash. We should have seen it coming. I get the feeling that Hillary Clinton did.

It's not about her "health"

by digby

Hopefully her debate performance set some minds at ease but I doubt it will have affected many men's point of view on this. It's not about "health" it's a that a woman doesn't have balls and they mean that literally. They just don't think a woman has can do a "man's job."

The "stamina," the "look": A new poll suggests voters are buying in to Donald Trump's insinuations about Hillary Clinton's health. They're ignoring the medical reports.

Voters — especially men — have more confidence that Trump is healthy enough for the presidency than Clinton, according to the Associated Press-GfK poll.

It's a disconnect considering Clinton has released more medical information than Trump, and that outside doctors who've looked at the available data say both candidates seem fine. But it shows the political points Trump scored after the Democratic nominee's much-publicized mild case of pneumonia.

Another gender divide: Nearly half of women but just 4 in 10 men think Clinton's health is getting too much attention, found the poll, which was taken before the presidential candidates' debate on Monday.

"Everybody gets sick," said Sherri Smart, 56, of New York. She said she hasn't decided who to vote for but wishes the candidates would discuss issues instead of sniping about who's most vigorous.

"What's important is, what are you going to do for me?" Smart said.

The AP-GfK poll found 51 percent of voters are very or extremely confident that Trump is healthy enough to be president. In contrast, just over a third of voters — 36 percent — had the same confidence in Clinton's health.

Men are more likely to question Clinton's physical fitness for the job, with 45 percent saying they're only slightly or not at all confident compared to 34 percent of women. Men and women are about equally likely to express confidence in Trump's health. More Democrats are confident of Trump's health than Republicans are of Clinton's.

Health is a legitimate issue as the nation is poised to elect one of its oldest presidents. Trump, 70, for months held off disclosing much about his own fitness while stoking questions about a woman in the White House with his assertion, repeated on national TV Monday, that Clinton lacks the look and stamina for the job. (As for his apparent sniffles during Monday's debate, he blamed a bad microphone.)

"Stamina is a code word for maybe not physically up to the job," said New York University bioethicist Arthur Caplan, who has called for an independent panel to certify the health of presidential candidates. "There's something of a bias about men versus women that subtly Trump has played to, that men are more fit, tough enough to do the job."

Clinton, 68, last year released more detail about her own health history only to buy trouble earlier this month by refusing to take a sick day until a public stumble forced her to reveal the pneumonia diagnosis. But Monday she rebutted Trump's talk of stamina by wondering if he could match her grueling schedule as a secretary of state — traveling to 112 countries, negotiating peace deals, spending 11 hours testifying before a congressional committee.

What exactly do we know about their health? Neither has released their actual medical records, just a summary from their personal physicians with no way to know if anything important was left out.

Yet another disconnect: The AP-GfK poll found nearly 4 in 10 voters don't consider such a release important, and another 2 in 10 say it's only moderately important.

Trump's gastroenterologist in December released a four-paragraph letter saying the GOP nominee would be "the healthiest individual ever elected." Earlier this month, Trump took to "The Dr. Oz Show" to say he felt great, while releasing a bit more detail, such as his cholesterol levels and cancer screenings.

Bottom line: Trump takes a cholesterol-lowering statin medication and a baby aspirin, has some mild plaque in his arteries and is overweight — but was declared generally in good health.

Last summer, Clinton's internist released a two-page letter detailing her family history, prior exams including lab test results, and some prior ailments that have healed — including a 2012 concussion and blood clot Clinton suffered after becoming dehydrated from a stomach virus and fainting. This month, a second letter outlined the mild pneumonia and revealed some updated check-up results.

Bottom line: Clinton takes a blood thinner as a precaution given a history of blood clots, as well as a thyroid medication and allergy relievers — but also was declared generally in good health.

Meanwhile, Trump's obvious mental problems are no big deal and neither is the fact that his primary care "doctor" is a gastro-enterolgist who looks and acts like a character from an R. Crumb comic. This raises no red flags for these people, apparently. But then he has reassured them that he has a huge dick and his testosterone level are through the roof!

This is Drudge's doing all the way.

And Trump had the nerve to call women pigs

by digby

I would call him and his disgusting surrogate Rudy Giuliani pigs but it would be an insult to the animals which actually have a much higher level of intelligence:
The former New York City mayor made the remark, captured on video and posted to Twitter by Elite Daily writer Alexandra Svokos, in response to a question about Clinton’s attack on Trump’s past comments about women. Giuliani defended Trump, labeling him a “feminist” because of how he treats the women he employs, and said he would have responded to Clinton’s attacks much more harshly than the GOP nominee did.

“I sure would’ve talked about what she did to Monica Lewinsky, what that woman standing there did to Monica Lewinsky, trying to paint her as an insane young woman when in fact Monica Lewinsky was an intern,” Giuliani said. “The president of the United States, her husband, disgraced this country with what he did in the Oval Office and she didn’t just stand by him, she attacked Monica Lewinsky. And after being married to Bill Clinton for 20 years, if you didn’t know the moment Monica Lewinsky said that Bill Clinton violated her that she was telling the truth, then you’re too stupid to be president.”

Back when his marriage to Donna Hanover fell apart in 2000, Hanover cited Giuliani's relationship with a staffer just hours after Giuliani suddenly announced their separation. From the Times back then:

Three hours later, Ms. Hanover appeared outside Gracie Mansion and, with a wavering voice and tears in her eyes, said: ''Today's turn of events brings me great sadness. I had hoped to keep this marriage together. For several years, it was difficult to participate in Rudy's public life because of his relationship with one staff member.''

Joannie Danielides, Ms. Hanover's press secretary, said Ms. Hanover was referring to Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas, Mr. Giuliani's former communications director who is now president of NYC and Company, the city's tourism bureau. Friends of Ms. Hanover's said yesterday that she had described the relationship between her husband and Ms. Lategano-Nicholas as intimate while Ms. Lategano-Nicholas worked at City Hall. The mayor has denied having had a romantic relationship with Ms. Lategano-Nicholas, who left City Hall last May and married Nicholas Nicholas, a sports writer, in February.

Apart from the allegation made by Hanover, Giuliani was also having an affair at the time with Judith Nathan, who later become his wife. It was later reported by Politico's Ben Smith, during Giuliani's 2007 presidential run, that Giuliani had been billing "obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons."

This is merely the latest example of top Trump advisers and supporters broaching a topic that Trump himself hasn't yet embraced for a whole host of reasons — not least of which are his own indiscretions.

Giuliani's sex life was the subject of tabloids for years as was Trump's. These old white guys have a lot of nerve making moral judgments.


TTIP "trade" agreement talks indefinitely suspended

by Gaius Publius

Count this as a victory. It looks like the Atlantic version of TPP, called TTIP, has failed.

Despite the fervent best wishes of the U.S. corporate class, President Barack Obama, and other aligned politicians, it looks like the people of Europe have killed TTIP. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber; source)

Background: The U.S. corporate world has been aching to pass three "trade" mega-deals — TPP, TTIP and TiSA.

  • The first, TPP, ropes in nations bordering the Pacific, including the U.S. Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile and much of Asia (but deliberately not China). 
  • The second, TTIP is the same kind of treaty on the Altantic side and includes the U.S., the U.K, and the European Union. 
  • TiSA, a more or less global "trade in services" agreement, is the worst of the three and deserves its own, separate treatment. TiSA would radically open local markets to foreign companies that offer "services" — everything from law firms to companies that supply imported contract labor.

    (Think about that — companies that supply imported contract labor. Under TiSA, I think unions are instantly dead. You don't have to export jobs to slave labor, very-low-wage, countries if you can import the slave labor here under treaty-mandated expedited visas.)

The citizens of the U.S., both on the left and the right of the political spectrum, have been opposed to these kinds of agreements for years, ever since the devastation caused by Bill Clinton's NAFTA became apparent. Both the Trump campaign and the Sanders campaign were strongly opposed (or in Trump's case, said they were strongly opposed), which accounts for much of their ascendancy.

Opposition to corporate-written "trade" agreements is a huge part of what makes this election a "change election."

A good, brief Wikileaks-produced video explaining these three "trade" mega-deals

Now, thanks mainly to the frustration of the negotiators in Europe — and strong opposition from European citizens — TTIP talks have not just broken down; they've been indefinitely suspended.

This is not complete victory; they could be revived. But momentum has definitely stalled, and this could well be the death knell for this one. Michelle Chen writing at the The Nation:
Another Free-Trade Deal Bites the Dust

Negotiations surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership have been indefinitely suspended.

What if a trade deal died and nobody noticed? The presidential campaign trail has been awash in angry backlash against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the latest in a slew of controversial free-trade deals that symbolize to American voters the evils of corporate globalization. But another trade deal collapsed silently on the other side of the globe. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was supposed to be the Atlantic world’s analog to the TPP, but after three years of frustrated negotiations, it was just pronounced dead by key ministers, or at least temporarily moribund, overwhelmed by a phalanx of populist opposition across the continent. How’d that happen?
Chen goes on to explain:
Though smaller in scope than the TPP, TTIP paralleled the Pacific agreement in that it built on trade-agreement proposals that had stalled in previous discussions, ultimately collapsed during the round of World Trade Organization negotiations that began in 2001, and have fizzled out in the years since. EU and US trade ministers had hoped to sell it as a boon to global trade. But an increasingly cynical European public wasn’t buying it, seeing it instead as another pathway to more deregulation and corporate impunity.

Following months of gridlock and protests, and despite a meeting scheduled for next month in New York to continue discussions, negotiations have effectively ground to a halt. (October’s meetings are apparently aimed at redirecting talks toward a smaller-scale, preliminary pact as a substitute to the full TTIP. This is seen as progress, if not outright victory, for campaigns mobilizing against the EU free trade agenda deal by deal.)

It could be that corporate lobbyists and ministers are just hoping for a more opportune political climate, but the demise of this version of TTIP illustrates that, in real-life political terms, trade deals could mostly prove useless at best for trade and devastating at worst for democracy....
"Another pathway to more deregulation and corporate impunity" it certainly is — in fact all of them are that. Makes you wonder why any U.S. president would push so hard to pass them. Isn't that person sworn to "protect and defend the Constitution" and not subvert it? But things are what they are, as are the people doing them. We each have our tasks, I guess.

I would call victory on this one and celebrate. The Europeans brought down TTIP. Can we do the same for TPP? One down and two to go. Onward.

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



A citizen and a voter

by Tom Sullivan

Digby linked yesterday to a video about Alicia Machado, the former Miss Universe whose treatment by Donald Trump became an issue late in Monday's debate. Clinton unnerved Trump when she brought up how he had called Machado "Miss Piggy" after she gained weight after the 1996 pageant, and "Miss Housekeeping" in reference to her being a Latina.

Clinton's mention of Alicia Machado got so under his Trump's skin that on Fox and Friends Tuesday Trump doubled down on the decades-old weight-shaming smears that led to years of anorexia and bulimia for Machado.

The Guardian profiles how Machado and her struggles figure into the presidential campaign:

But it isn’t 1996 any more; Machado, far from being a girl, is a 39-year-old woman, and if body-shaming constituted good press for Trump’s fledgling beauty pageant business then, it seems less of a good look for his presidential campaign today. It’s a similar case with his continued insistence on how right he is to call women out for their weight. Machado understands this, perhaps even more acutely than Clinton, because she’s lived it; and she is willing to relive and keep reliving this painful episode if it means shedding light on a man she feels has no business anywhere near the Oval Office.

On a call organized by the Clinton campaign on Tuesday afternoon billed as a chance to let Machado respond to Trump’s most recent attacks, the former beauty queen was much more interested in talking about his Democratic rival, whose mention of her story in the debate the night before had moved her to tears. She “never imagined it would matter to someone so powerful”, she said.

But as someone who straddles two powerful voting blocs this election cycle, Machado is a double threat to Trump, and she feels that her celebrity means she has a responsibility to speak up about her experiences when they can help people. “If I can be a voice for my Latino community in this moment, I will do it,” she told the Guardian.
For a man so focused on appearances and weight, Trump is in no position to criticize. There are lots of less than good looks to his candidacy:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The late inning slump

by digby

This one's a doozy:

I don't know about you but she looked pretty energized to me.  On the other hand, by the end of the debate he was slumping and hanging on to the podium like he'd been hit with an animal tranquilizer dart:

I'm just saying. Between that and his ongoing sniffling problem is it irresponsible to question whether his "report" from his quack doctor might not be telling the whole story? As Peggy Noonan famously said, it would be irresponsible not to.

*By the way, Trump's sniffing is something he does all the time. It's actually a verbal tic, like "uhm" or "you know." But after the way his campaign has behaved and the despicable way the press treated her when she caught the bug going through her campaign, the least they can do is follow their usual "both sides do it" in this one case. Just because he's a strapping man doesn't mean he shouldn't be questioned as thoroughly. He is orange, after all. That's really not normal.


Oh look, a policy

by digby

I know that people find Clinton's Tracy Flick wonkiness to be boring and wish she wouldn't get into the weeds the way she does, but this is important and I am really glad she's engaged the subject and brought it up before more than 80 million people last night:
It came after moderator Lester Holt asked whether or not police are implicitly biased against black people.

“I’ve met with a group of very distinguished, experienced police chiefs a few weeks ago,” Clinton said. “They admit it’s an issue.”

And according to the police chiefs Clinton consulted, a second pressing problem for law enforcement officers is insufficient training on how to interact with mentally ill constituents in crisis situations. While this is a separate issue from race, discrimination against the mentally ill is widespread and extends beyond policing.

“Police are having to handle a lot of really difficult mental health problems on the street,” Clinton explained. “They want support, they want more training, they want more assistance. And I think the federal government could be in a position where we would offer and provide that.”

If elected, Clinton promises to allocate $1 billion of her first federal budget to law enforcement training programs to reduce implicit bias, according to NPR.

Law enforcement training on bias is actually part of Clinton’s larger mental health plan, which calls for more funding for community mental health centers, increased research on the brain and behavior, and better access to care and insurance coverage for psychiatric disorders.

The police are right to want more training in this regard. According to a Washington Post investigation tracking fatal shootings by police last year, one in four police killings involved a person with mental illness.

In fact, police officers typically only receive about 16 total hours of de-escalation and crisis intervention training, compared to approximately 60 hours of firearms training, according to a 2015 survey by the nonprofit Police Executive Research Forum.

Even worse, some techniques that police are taught, such as yelling commands and pointing their weapons at suspects, can backfire.

Such tactics are “like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,” Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told The Washington Post.

Some police forces have increased their crisis intervention trainings to a 40-hour program, which includes scenario-based training and techniques to diffuse potentially violent interactions between officers and mentally ill community members. But for now, there are no national requirements on CIT training for new recruits.

Trump, who angered critics by touting New York City’s controversial and unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policy, didn’t mention mental health in the context of policing and doesn’t have a policy about it on his website.

I hope that some people heard this and saw that she was showing compassion for mental health sufferers and the dangers they face in our mean streets, but also compassion fro police who are often charged with dealing with such problems without training and support. Between this and the proliferation of guns we have a terrible epidemic on our hands. And Clinton is showing leadership by proposing a multi-dimensional set of possible solutions. That ought to be worth something.


QOTD: Richard Engel

by digby

MSNBC had their expert reporters do some fact checking of the debate last night and NBC's top foreign correspondent Richard Engel came in looking rather shell shocked by what he'd heard. He had a lot to say but this stuck out at me because it tracks with one of my greatest fears about all this lunacy:

A lot of things Donald Trump was proposing were frankly destabilizing, dangerous, dangerous to the United States, dangerous to the world order, if you will. The United States foreign policy is based on agreements often long negotiated agreements sometimes negotiated over decades and longer.

If you listen to the debate he's basically saying that he's a business man and he's going to tear up the old agreements and negotiate better deals. If you're a foreign country and you're listening to this and you're listening to this and you have an agreement whether NATO or a nuclear deal or a protection agreement or a sovereignty agreement or a trade agreement and you suddenly think, "is the leading world power just going to tear up the agreement that we've had for decades?" What is that going to mean for me? Are my neighbors going to invade?

There are dozens of reason why Trump must be defeated but this, I believe, is number one. If he wins we will wake up the morning after the election to a changed world and it's unlikely to be changed in a positive way. In fact, it's likely to be the beginning of a very dangerous military build-up.

Many eyeballs

by digby

Monday night was the most-watched debate in American history.

More than 80 million people tuned in to see Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off, setting a new record in the sixty year history of televised presidential debates.

The final numbers are still being tallied by Nielsen. But the debate averaged a total of 80.9 million viewers across 12 of the channels that carried it live.

Nielsen traditionally measures viewers who watch via traditional TV at home. That means people who watched the debate at parties, bars, restaurants, and offices were not counted.

Nor does the 80.9 million viewer total include PBS and C-SPAN. Ratings for PBS will be available later Tuesday.

Many millions also watched the debate via the Internet.

Various live streams on YouTube together registered more than 2.5 million simultaneous viewers. Live streams on other sites also reached millions of people.

This means the actual total audience is significantly higher than 80 million.

On the TV side, CNN and other cable news channels saw big increases over past election years. So did the broadcast networks.

NBC had the biggest audience overall, partly because "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt was the moderator of the debate. Upwards of 18 million people watched the debate on NBC.

Nielsen data confirms that viewership stayed high the entire time. Contrary to some speculation, there was not a big drop-off after the first hour of the 98-minute debate.

The first Obama-Romney debate in 2012 averaged 67 million viewers.

The debate viewership number to beat was 81 million, set back in 1980, when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan debated just once before the election.

Anticipation for the Clinton-Trump meeting had been mounting for months. On Monday nightTwitter said it was the "most tweeted debate ever."

On both Twitter and Facebook, Trump was a livelier subject than Clinton. Twitter said the "final share of conversation around the candidates on stage" was 62% for Trump and 38% for Clinton.

On Facebook, the results were even more lopsided, with Trump earning 79% share of conversation and Clinton having the remaining 21%.

I guess any publicity might be considered good publicity but it really doesn't appear that the "conversation" about Trump is generally positive. That big audience saw an arrogant, lazy, belligerent, petulant ignoramus "debating" an intelligent, mature mainstream politician. Sure, a large number of Americans probably prefer the ignoramus. They like that in a person. But it's hard to imagine that a majority does.

The Real Donald

by digby

Here he is:

I asked, "How would you respond to young women who are nervous about voting for you?" This question was inspired by the countless students I spoke to earlier that day who told me they were nervous about the future of women's rights if Trump were elected. My phone was out and already recording in anticipation of the answer Trump would hopefully give me to my question. Instead, another reporter behind me yelled a question to him (something about what he'd say to the people of Westchester, New York). He then looked at me, grabbed my right wrist (which was the hand holding the phone), said, "Put that down" and pushed my hand down.

I should be clear that it didn't hurt — physically or emotionally, as some on Twitter have blamed me for the incident saying I "woke up as a victim waiting to happen." It's my job as a reporter to point out what happens at these types of events, and I take what I do very seriously.

So Trump never verbally answered my question about how he would respond to women who are nervous to vote for him, but I got the answer I needed.
About "Miss Housekeeping"

by digby

When Clinton brought this up last night it rattled Trump so badly that he started stammering:

Apparently he went on Fox & Friends this morning and said she was "a problem" and "gained a tremendous amount of weight" and was the worst Miss Universe they ever had.

Let's just say that isn't something that women appreciate hearing. Or Latinos. Or any decent person.

He treated her like a piece of meat.

The worst debate performance in history

by digby

I wrote about the debate for Salon of course:

If someone had told me 10 years ago that the first general election presidential debate of 2016 would feature a CNN chyron that said “Awaiting the Historic Clinton-Trump Debate,” I would have thought you were crazy. If you had told me the polls would be tied going into that debate I would have thought the world had gone crazy. But that’s where we are and last night’s debate showed how far we’ve gone down the rabbit hole.

My preview of the debate yesterday focused on the fact that Trump’s “serious” debates at the end of the primaries, when there were fewer rivals, gave us some clues about how he might perform in the main event. He was aggressively incoherent and sometimes completely unintelligible, proving repeatedly that he had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. This has actually been obvious from the beginning of his campaign if you watched his rallies and interviews. It’s just that his personality is so remarkably bizarre that I think the lack of substance is easy to overlook. (I confess I have been somewhat surprised that so many people find his rambling “braggadociousness” appealing enough that they fail to notice that he is ignorant about everything important to the job of president.)

In recent days with the hiring of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and CEO Steve Bannon as well as sage advice from his pal Roger Ailes, Trump has been tamed just enough to read a stump speech on a Teleprompter, and he’s sounded a bit more intelligible. So there was always the possibility that he would have done a little bit of prep work, read a briefing paper or two and otherwise taken the debate seriously. It is the most important office in the world, after all. It wouldn’t hurt to do a little cramming on the details before appearing in front of 100 million people to make the case for why you are the best person for the job.

Trump’s campaign made it very clear that he wasn’t doing any of that, but I think many political professionals assumed there was a large element of spin involved. He had to have at least done some practice debates, right? But it turns out that for the first time his campaign was telling the whole truth. Last night Donald Trump demonstrated not only that he didn’t prepare but that he has no underlying knowledge of the subjects a president is required to know. He simply tried to bluff his way through with incoherent misdirection, hostility and sarcasm, even as he made the absurd claimed that his temperament is his best quality. He gave the worst debate performance of his short political career. In fact, it may have been the worst debate performance of any political career.

I wasn’t sure whether or not Hillary Clinton would be able to handle him. It’s disorienting to see someone spout gibberish at such an important event, particularly when it’s combined with Trump’s narcissism, as when he oddly asserted that Clinton only started talking about jobs in response to his candidacy, or that NATO created a terrorism policy because he goaded them into it. (That’s ludicrous, of course.) But she handled him well, with humor and authority, proving that it can be done.

The reviews all seemed to indicate that Trump’s best moments were his early comments on trade policy. Which is probably true but it’s actually not saying much. He name-checked some Rust Belt states where the issue is particularly salient, which shows that he may have had some coaching, but his obsession with the subject, to the exclusion of all other economic concerns, is one-dimensional to say the least. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be economic at all, and is better seen as an illustration of his crude nationalism. He shows no interest in workers as people. They are nothing more than statistics that prove America is being screwed over by foreigners. Trump seems to think that screwing workers is an American billionaire’s prerogative.

In fact, Clinton deftly turned the tables on his populism by painting him out as a rich Republican swell just like all the rest, hitting him repeatedly on his business practices and failures. As Washington Post reporter Robert Costa said on MSNBC after the debate:

She yanked him toward the Republican Party. She said, “You’re not going to be able to run as an outsider, you can’t be a populist.” She said, “You’re just like George W. Bush, you’re trickle-down economics like Ronald Reagan, you’re supply-side, Trumped up. This is a candidate whose real appeal is that he’s non ideological, that he’s not running as a partisan Mitt Romney, George W. Bush Republican, and she said “I’m not going to let you.”

I don’t know whether anyone was convinced by that but it was one of many moments that confused Trump and pushed him off his game. When Clinton hit him for saying he hoped for the housing collapse, he reacted with a very plutocratic answer: “That’s called business, by the way.” He made the same mistake later when she pointed out that there were times when he hadn’t paid any taxes by saying, “That makes me smart.” These were just two of many errors, lies and flashes of ignorance, temper and petulance that characterized Trump’s embarrassing performance.

The simple fact is that Hillary Clinton dominated him. The debate was all her thrusting and him parrying over and over again. By the end he was visibly slumping and seemed confused. And since being a “winner” is so central to his candidacy and his personality, the loss is even more devastating.

The pundits are all wondering if that means Trump will bother to prepare for the next two debates (if he deigns to show up at all). But that may not be something he’s actually capable of doing. His former co-writer Tony Schwartz, who knows him well, says that Trump has an extremely short attention span and is unable to study or learn in any concentrated way. But just because he has no interest in or ability to learn any substance, it doesn’t mean Trump won’t make changes. From his comments at the end of the debate and later in the spin room, it appears that he believes Clinton wasn’t “nice,” so he plans to attack her personally by bringing up her husband’s infidelities at their next meeting. He won’t be better informed or more controlled, he’s just going to take the gloves off. But she’s got a much thicker skin than he does, and unless he learns how to take a hit it’s highly likely she’ll be able to get the best of him next time too. It turns out that along with a thin skin, Trump has a glass jaw.

Clinton trumps Trump

by Tom Sullivan

If there was any red on Donald Trump's face as last night's presidential debate wore on, his orange makeup hid it well. The Republican candidate who boasts at rallies he will negotiate the best deals, great deals, tre-men-dous deals with world leaders last night could not negotiate 90 minutes against an American one. Hillary Clinton demonstrated she is a leader with knowledge, experience and intelligence that far outstrips Trump's.

Within the first half hour, dry mouth set in and Trump had to keep sipping water to stay lubricated. (It didn't make his answers any more coherent.) At one point, he seemed to wipe a bead of sweat from his upper lip. But it was the regular, audible sniffing like a cokehead that started early and continued through most of the debate that had Twitter buzzing. Likely, Donald Trump is allergic to being around strong women.

Jonathan Cohn of Huffington Post:

Trump couldn’t keep up with Clinton’s knowledge of policy, and became increasingly obstreperous when she attacked him. He interrupted her repeatedly and then, frustrated with questions from host Lester Holt, he interrupted him, too. Eventually, Trump lost focus and started to ramble. The lack of impulse control, the derogatory attitude toward women, the utter disregard for truth ― all of it came into full view.

And at that point, maybe, Trump’s style stopped seeming refreshing ― and started seeming disturbing.
Perhaps three scheduled debates is too few. The wonkish Clinton shined last night. She may be a strong leader and relentless campaigner, but has been a weak candidate. She admits her speaking skills are no match for her husband's, which are legendary. She often appears aloof and defensive. After 25 years of constant attacks, who can blame her? (A lot of people.) And she could not put away Bernie Sanders through the unexpectedly long Democratic primary. But against Donald Trump the loudmouthed reality TV star, Hillary Clinton dominated the dominator and was clearly in control. No contest:
Republican pollster Frank Luntz reported on Twitter that 16 people in his focus group thought Clinton, the Democratic nominee, came out as the winner. Only six people thought the winner was the Republican nominee Trump.

A CNN focus group of undecided Florida voters arrived at the same conclusion. Eighteen of the 20 participants chose Clinton as the winner.
Clinton hit Trump hard on his claim to renegotiate a host of postwar treaties that have defined international relations and stability over the last half century. When he attacked on her negotiation of the Iran nuclear treaty, "one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history," she looked into the camera to reassure world leaders:
CLINTON: Well, let me -- let me start by saying, words matter. Words matter when you run for president. And they really matter when you are president. And I want to reassure our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere that we have mutual defense treaties and we will honor them.

It is essential that America's word be good. And so I know that this campaign has caused some questioning and worries on the part of many leaders across the globe. I've talked with a number of them. But I want to -- on behalf of myself, and I think on behalf of a majority of the American people, say that, you know, our word is good.

It's also important that we look at the entire global situation. There's no doubt that we have other problems with Iran. But personally, I'd rather deal with the other problems having put that lid on their nuclear program than still to be facing that.

And Donald never tells you what he would do. Would he have started a war? Would he have bombed Iran? If he's going to criticize a deal that has been very successful in giving us access to Iranian facilities that we never had before, then he should tell us what his alternative would be. But it's like his plan to defeat ISIS. He says it's a secret plan, but the only secret is that he has no plan.
"Donald Trump Punches Himself Out" writes Michael Tomasky at Daily Beast:
For the first hour or so, it was kind of a rope-a-dope performance by Clinton. She let him punch himself out. For the first 20 minutes or so, some of the punches landed. On trade, and on other issues. But then Trump started to over-punch, especially in the way he interrupted Clinton repeatedly.

Then, in the closing 30 or 40 minutes, she went into him hard, on his failure to release his tax returns in particular. Trump tried to hit her hard, on ISIS, but the punches didn’t quite land.

I could go into issues. But really, the particular issues don’t matter here so much. These things are about affect. As the wise heads say, you can watch these things with the sound down. And I would imagine that if you did watch this one with the sound down, Trump looked petulant and, well, low-energy.
Mostly, Trump looked down at his podium.

Already flagging, Trump tried to argue she has "no business ability," and "doesn't have the look. She doesn't have the stamina" to be president. Clinton counterpunched:
CLINTON: Well, as soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world, or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.
When she pointed out Trump had tried to switch from looks to stamina, Clinton brought up Trump's past derogatory remarks about women's looks. Trump, the would-be president of the world's only superpower, responded by referencing his personal feud with Rosie O'Donnell, "I said very tough things to her, and I think everybody would agree that she deserves it and nobody feels sorry for her."

It was that bad.

Monday, September 26, 2016

On Debate Night Your Tweet Matters

by Spocko

When the debates are on, my comedian friends and I are trying to come up with funny tweets. We'll comment on the zingers and if they landed or not. We retweet the ones we think are the funniest. Getting a like for a funny tweet is nice, but getting a retweet really hits the ol' dopamine centers. ( Frank Conniff is my favorite. The HRC camp should classify him as a national treasure and put him in charge of strategic zingers.)

While I'm trying to craft 140 character zingers, my political friends are trying to fill out their debate bingo drinking cards.
"When Hillary's opponent says, 'I'm going to build a wall!' take a drink. If he says, 'Mexico will pay for it,' take a shot of tequila.' If the moderator, asks 'How will that work?' or cites comments from the Mexican President about paying for the wall, eat the worm. (Don't worry, you won't have to eat a worm!)"

When I watched the first GOP debate I knew I was no longer watching a political debate but the TV show Who Wants to be President? which morphed into Last Comic Standing. It was all about the zingers, insults and nicknames. I expect a lot of the same in tonight's debate.

I'll admit it, it's great fun to make fun of the debates, but, as we used to say in the shop, "It's all fun and games until someone launches a nuke."

Like most sentient beings, I don't want to help the short-fingered vulgarian get into power. You might not either. Beyond screaming at the TV during one of his lies, what can you do now? it turns out that you should also Tweet smart, because the media is dumb.
Tweeting Smart example for sane people: Because some analysis only counts keyword use, Tweet Hillary Clinton's full name vs. The Talking Yam's. "Hillary won. #imwithher You heard me, Hillary Clinton won the #debatetonight and we are #strongertogether

The mainstream media covering the Presidential election has an over reliance on social media to replace their "man on the street" pieces. Every word we say, or don't say, is counted, sorted and analyzed by the media then presented as "the public's reaction." So, if you don't use the right keywords you might get missed by the dumb tools in the media. As far as the media is concerned, my funny-pithy tweet doesn't count because their tool didn't see I was commenting about the debate.
Credit, Shout: Wired TwitterBots Eagle

But you know whose tweets will get picked up? The millions of TwitterBots controlled by a handful of people. They know how the keywords, counting and sorting tools of the media work. This means that when the media talks about "the public's reaction" It's not totally the public's reaction. This is a problem. How big is it?

One estimate from Twitter Audit is that 1 out of every 4 followers of Big Orange Hair are fake. And yes, both sides do it, Hillary Clinton has the same percentage of fake twitter followers as her opponent. You can be outraged or see it as "Bot Parity" for those accounts.

However, simply looking at fake followers of one candidate isn't enough. Think about all the dark money spent on the election. Millions of fake followers from the 11 GOP presidential candidates can be endorsing Mr. "Issued Two Death Threats To Hillary In a Month" with a few keystrokes.

Samuel Woolley and Phil Howard wrote a very enlightening piece for Wired this May, Bots Unite to Automate the Presidential Election

Social media bots exist and they are being used. Fake Twitter accounts are a great way for corporations and rich people to push a trend. They can even order up positive tweets about the Mr. "My Ex-Wife Testified I Raped Her" from millions of hispanics, women and black tweeters. Plus, the tweets can't be traced back to them.

How much do these fake tweets influence people? Does the media understand them and factor them out before talking about "public perceptions?" (Have you ever heard anyone in the news media even mentioning them when they read off Twitter stats?)

I would say, 'Buyer Beware." but we are the ones being sold. In the world of social media there is no regulation, no Federal Election Commission pushing for transparency.

Social media manipulation tools exist, they are being used all the time and we know nothing about them. If the mainstream media doesn't understand how they are being played, we the people need to understand this, so we can act appropriately.

Let the #debatenight tweets begin. And may the best real Tweets from actual individuals win.
There Is Only One Candidate Part 6

by tristero

Huffington Post main page at September 26, 2016 3:19 PM EST:

31 mentions of "Trump"
7 mentions of "Donald"
Total Trumps: 38

4 mentions of "Clinton"
2 mentions of "Hillary"
Total Clintons: 6

Put another way, today the Huffington Post believes that Trump is more than 6 times as important as Clinton.


Adding, I was speaking to my smart daughter about this and she said, "Yeah but most of the headlines are negative. Doesn't that matter, that he's being trashed?"

It would if this were seen as a political campaign, but that's not how Americans perceive this election. Sorry, fellow liberals and wonks. There are no big ideas at stake here. It's just marketing exposure doing what marketing exposure does.

Suppose you make decent organic peanut butter. And you decide to advertise it by creating an ad campaign in which you trash Jif more often than you tout your own good qualities. Suppose every commentator everywhere agrees with you, and chooses to emphasize how lousy Jif is more than they mention your product. They're reasoning is, "Once Americans realize how unhealthy Jif is, they'll know they have to eat organic peanut butter!"

Suppose in addition, because the makers of Jif are such cunning marketing people, that the name "Jif" is ubiquitous - on fancy buildings, on major highways, on huge casinos, on every magazine cover, on TV, social media, in the schools, and there are even books and TV movies about the greatness of Jif.

So even though your organic peanut butter is a demonstrably healthier product on so many levels, Jif appears to be pretty tempting, what with that added sugar and all. And besides, Jif''s being mentioned more than 6 times as often as any other nut spread - can't remember exactly what they said...it's all too technical and a blur...There's gotta be something there, maybe it's good!

So seriously, what's the big deal about Jif being bad? Besides, what's the alternative?  I mean, how bad can Jif be? 


And that is what is going on right now.

(With apologies to Jif: consuming 1 mg of Trump is way more dangerous than eating an entire case of Jif in one sitting.)
Letting the freak flag fly

by digby

A vendor at the Bloomsburg Fair in Pennsylvania advertised his wares by displaying a large Nazi flag next to a Donald Trump banner, according to The Citizens' Voice, a local Pennsylvania paper. 
The flag was taken down Monday after it was initially spotted and a fairgoer posted a picture of it on social media Sunday night. 
“Security and the directors and other people did take care of it,” concessions clerk Barbara Belles told The Citizens’ Voice. Belles also said the vendor was apparently displaying the flag for political purposes.
In case you were wondering, it wasn't some ironic anti-Trump protest. Here's a sample of his other Trumpish "politically incorrect" wares:

And this:

They also found a bunch of Nazi paraphernalia at his home. No need to worry though. He wasn't a Muslim.

Trainwreck America

by digby

Now where on earth do they get this idea?

by digby

Justin Wolfers in the NYT has a story about the betting markets and tonight's debate. Obviously it doesn't really tell us anything real but it's illustrative of what these people know about the presidential race:
They don’t seem to expect much substance on issues, judging from the under-over bets on how many times various issues or words will be mentioned. The top three terms are “email” (you can bet on whether there will be over 7.5 mentions, or under 7.5 mentions), “deport” (the line is 6.5 mentions) and “liar” (5.5 mentions). Expect less discussions of “racism” (an over-under of 2.5 mentions), Wall Street (3.5 mentions) or each candidate’s “foundation” (4.5 mentions). If you’re wondering how there can be half a mention, there obviously can’t; this is how Las Vegas breaks a tie.
This is what people have "heard" and expect to hear more of. Because these are all words they've heard over and over again and which have determined for many Americans what this campaign is about.

Can you see the problem?  I knew that you could:


Turning their backs

by digby

... to take a selfie:

Andrea Mitchell says that this illustrates the fact that millennials hate her.

I gotcher false equivalency for ya

by digby

This from Think Progress shows just how insane this need to provide "balance" really is:
Over the weekend, various major media outlets discovered that Donald Trump lies a lot. 
“Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has,” the LA Times reported.

“Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive,” wrote the New York Times.

Politico had a worthy plan to evaluate Trump’s truthfulness. It decided to track the public statements of both candidates for one week and compare them.
That exercise found that Trump says something false every 3 minutes and 15 seconds while Clinton utters a falsehood every 12 minutes.

“Compared with Trump’s machine-gun style of spewing falsehoods, Clinton’s detours from the truth were rarer and more targeted,” Politico concluded.

But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that Politico went to extreme lengths to create even this level of equivalency between Trump and Clinton.

One of Clinton’s eight “lies” is her claim that Donald Trump’s plan to eliminate the estate tax would be a $4 billion tax cut for his family. Politico argues that this is a lie because it is based on Donald Trump’s own estimate of his net worth.

In other words, Clinton is guilty of lying because she took Trump at his word about his own net worth. It’s not enough for Clinton to tell the truth and to accurately describe the impact of his estate tax plan. She also has to identify and correct Trump’s lies. 
Trump’s actual net worth cannot be independently determined because, among other things, Trump has not released his tax returns.

Word salad a la Trump

by digby

I wrote about Trump's debating style for Salon today:

What a long strange trip it’s been since I wrote about the first GOP debate in August 2015. The stage was so crowded with Republican all-stars they couldn’t fit them on the same stage. The anticipation of seeing amateurs like Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump face off with seasoned pols like Gov. Chris Christie and former governor Jeb Bush, and the fringier Sens. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, was thick enough to cut with a knife.

Trump got off to a great start and set the tone for the rest of the debates when he responded to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly quoting him saying women are “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” by replying, to the great amusement of the crowd, that he had said that only about Rosie O’Donnell. It’s doubtful there were more than a handful of people in the country that night who dreamed that a little over a year later he would be standing on the stage facing Hillary Clinton.

There were 12 debates and seven candidate forums during the Republican primaries. Trump participated in all but one of the debates and three of the forums, and he dominated all of them. After Trump was asked a tough question early on about the nuclear triad and looked like a deer caught in headlights, he learned to take advantage of the time constraints by volleying insults and crude zingers to avoid answering difficult questions. He found that he could deflect and distract by being outrageous.

But the final debate between the last four standing, Trump, Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich, was different. It may be the template for what we’re going to see tonight. Trump wasn’t his usual garrulous self. He was “serious” in that debate, no name-calling, no acting out. And he made absolutely no sense.

Take just this one question as an example:

Moderator: Mr. Trump, you don’t want to raise the retirement age, and you also don’t want to cut benefits, even for wealthier Americans. But according to the Social Security Administration, unless adjustments are made, Social Security is projected to run out of money within 20 years. So specifically, what would you do to stop that from happening?

Donald Trump: Well, first of all, I want you to understand that the Democrats, and I’ve watched them very intensely, even though it’s a very, very boring thing to watch, that the Democrats are doing nothing with Social Security. They’re leaving it the way it is. In fact, they want to increase it. They want to actually give more.

And that’s what we’re up against. And whether we like it or not, that is what we’re up against.

I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is; to make this country rich again; to bring back our jobs; to get rid of deficits; to get rid of waste, fraud and abuse, which is rampant in this country, rampant, totally rampant.

He babbled on for some time about how he would get rid of deficits and how China is ruining everything and how he will cut all the fat and make America great again. It was a simple bold promise to “fix everything” and voters don’t have to worry their pretty little heads about the details.

But you’ll notice where he also said, “the Democrats are doing nothing with Social Security. They’re leaving it the way it is” and “that is what we’re up against” but then immediately said, “I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is.” It’s a bizarre, contradictory statement that allows him to have it both ways, to criticize the Democrats while taking exactly the same position.

The confused moderator let that go but followed up with facts and figures suggesting that “waste, fraud and abuse” would only amount to about 2 percent of the money needed. Trump replied that there’s plenty of money if we stop being the policeman of the world — and said in the same breath that we must spend whatever it takes to build up our military. He ended with:

We are going to be in a different world. We’re going to negotiate real deals now, and we’re going to bring the wealth back to our country. We owe $19 trillion. We’re going to bring wealth back to our country.

If you wrap all that up, what Trump was apparently saying is that we’re going to “negotiate deals” to “bring back” wealth and make other countries pay for the massive costs of building up our military, shoring up Social Security and everything else. This is inane twaddle, but it isn’t name-calling. He soundedserious.

When Trump’s numbers were challenged by Marco Rubio, this was how he responded:

Look, I’m just saying very simply we have a country that I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve been going over budgets and looking at budgets. We don’t bid things out. We don’t bid out, as an example, the drug industry, pharmaceutical industry. They don’t go out to bid. They just pay almost as if you walk into a drugstore. That’s what they’re paying.

I’m self-funding my campaign. Nobody is going to be taking care of me. I don’t want anybody’s money. I will tell you something. We’re going to go out to bid in virtually every different facet of our government. We’re going to save a fortune.

That is nonsense word salad worthy of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. (He’s going to “bid out” the pharmaceutical industry? Even in Trump’s fantasy universe, what does that mean?) Word salad is very difficult to rebut, particularly if it is delivered with a confident attitude. Sure, it’s incoherent gibberish, but because it’s all over the place it’s difficult to nail down specifically what’s wrong with it without getting lost in the weeds. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is a skilled and seasoned debater, but she’s never dealt with anything like this.

It’s possible that Trump will lose his cool on Monday night and demonstrate to the world that he is temperamentally unfit for the presidency. But it’s unlikely. He’s already proved that he is capable of keeping it together if he has to. What he has not been able to do is demonstrate that he knows what he’s talking about. The question is whether a majority of the American people can see that, or perhaps more important, whether they even think that matters.
"As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox"

by Gaius Publius

I couldn't help circling back to this.

Roger Ailes with his wife, Elizabeth Tilson, on July 19 in New York City. Credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images (source)

Thanks to a great heads-up by digby, I took time to read Gabriel Sherman's excellent New York Magazine piece, "The Revenge of Roger’s Angels: How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media," from start to finish in one sitting. I strongly recommend you do the same — it's an excellent example of investigative journalism as well as investigative writing. The piece is a page-turner, and it's very well written.

There's too much information in it to capture here, but near the end there's a section that discusses what Fox becomes post-Ailes, and I'd like to focus on that. If Sherman is right on both of his counts — about the changes at Fox, about the emergence of Trump TV — the media landscape will drastically change post-election.

Will that change be for the better? That's a consideration for another time.

Fox After Ailes

On what Fox is about to become, Sherman writes:
Ailes’s ouster has created a leadership vacuum at Fox News. Several staffers have described feeling like being part of a totalitarian regime whose dictator has just been toppled. “No one knows what to do. No one knows who to report to. It’s just mayhem,” said a Fox host. As details of the Paul, Weiss [a law firm] investigation have filtered through the offices, staffers are expressing a mixture of shock and disgust. The scope of Ailes’s alleged abuse far exceeds what employees could have imagined. “People are so devastated,” one senior executive said. Those I spoke with have also been unnerved by [senior executive VP Bill] Shine and [Fox general counsel Dianne] Brandi’s roles in covering up Ailes’s behavior.

Despite revelations of how Ailes’s management team enabled his harassment, Murdoch has so far rejected calls — including from [Murdoch's son] James, according to ­sources — to conduct a wholesale housecleaning. On August 12, Murdoch promoted Shine and another Ailes loyalist, Jack Abernethy, to become co-presidents of Fox News. He named Scott executive vice-president and kept Brandi and [PR department executive Irena] Briganti in their jobs. Fox News’s chief financial officer, Mark Kranz, is the only senior executive to have been pushed out (officially he retired), along with [Ailes’s longtime executive assistant Judy] Laterza and a handful of assistants, contributors, and consultants. “Of course, they are trying to isolate this to just a few bad actors,” a 21st Century Fox executive told me.

Many people I spoke with believe that the current management arrangement is just a stopgap until the election. “As of November 9, there will be a bloodbath at Fox,” predicts one host. “After the election, the prime-time lineup could be eviscerated. O’Reilly’s been talking about retirement. Megyn could go to another network. And Hannity will go to Trump TV.” ...

Meanwhile, the Murdochs are looking for a permanent CEO to navigate these post-Ailes, Trump-roiled waters. According to sources, James’s preferred candidates include CBS president David Rhodes (though he is under contract with CBS through 2019); Jesse Angelo, the New York Post publisher and James’s Harvard roommate; and perhaps a television executive from London. Sources say [Murdoch's son] Lachlan, who politically is more conservative than James, wants to bring in an outsider. Rupert was seen giving Rebekah Brooks a tour of the Fox offices several months ago, creating speculation that she could be brought in to run Fox. Another contender is Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy.
You may remember the name Rebekah Brooks from the U.K. phone-tapping scandal (emphasis added):
Brooks was a prominent figure in the News International phone hacking scandal, having been the editor of the News of the World when illegal phone hacking was carried out by the newspaper. Following a criminal trial in 2014 she was cleared of all charges by a jury at the Old Bailey, which accepted her defence of incompetence: that she had no knowledge of the illegal acts carried out by the newspaper she edited.[8]

In September 2015, Brooks was confirmed as CEO of News UK, the renamed News International, re-establishing the working relationship with News Corp founder and chairman Rupert Murdoch.
O"Reilly, Hannity, Megyn Kelly and more, all could be gone from Fox News after the election. It will be interesting to watch Fox reinvent itself as the competitor to what may be a network to its right, Trump TV, a network perhaps run by the attack dog, Roger Ailes, who turned Fox into what it used to be.

Trump TV

Trump TV, if it emerges after the election, will throw a spanner into the workings of a once unified right-wing (and alt-right) messaging ecosystem:
The prospect of Trump TV is a source of real anxiety for some inside Fox. The candidate took the wedge issues that Ailes used [in order] to build a loyal audience at Fox News — especially race and class — and used them to stoke barely containable outrage among a downtrodden faction of conservatives. Where that outrage is channeled after the election — assuming, as polls now suggest, Trump doesn’t make it to the White House — is a big question for the Republican Party and for Fox News.
As right-wing as they are, both Trump and Murdoch care about the money that goes to the most-watched media outlets. They're about to become competitors for it:
Trump had a complicated relationship with Fox even when his good friend Ailes was in charge; without Ailes, it’s plausible that he will try to monetize the movement he has galvanized in competition with the network rather than in concert with it. Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon, chairman of Breitbart, the digital-media upstart that has by some measures already surpassed Fox News as the locus of conservative energy, to run his campaign suggests a new right-wing news network of some kind is a real possibility.
And notice this tidbit, a hint of the infighting to come:
One prominent media executive told me that if Trump loses, Fox will need to try to damage him in the eyes of its viewers by blaming him for the defeat.
A battle for the eyes of the "deplorables" (an unfortunate, though interesting word) between Fox News and Trump TV — as well as for eyes and minds of the non-deplorable segment of the Trump-supporting world — should be fascinating to watch. One hopes they split the pie as they knife-fight to own it. I'd rather see an electorally divided "deplorables" than to see that group united, no matter how weakened their numbers.

As to the non-deplorable portion of Trump supporters — those suffering from the economic ravages of both pro-wealth Democratic rule and pro-wealth Republican rule — perhaps a newly populist Democratic Party can attract them for a change.

Again, if you can spare the time, do read the whole thing. It's fascinating, incredibly lurid, and very well documented. If sexual office politics is your cup of tea, you'll drown in it. Fox News was a pit of predatory males, office women retained and passed around for sex, and mid-to-upper-level executives (of both sexes) who acted as procurers — "talent scouts" — to feed one toxic man's toxic need, along with the needs of those around him. Some of those needs were simply to survive in that kind of environment.

And Ailes? He's still at it, reportedly advising Trump as we speak. Lord help us.

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