Archive for the ‘Blow’ Category

Blow, Brooks, Cohen, and Krugman

October 21, 2016

In “Donald Trump vs. American Democracy” Mr. Blow says Trump is desperate for a reason to explain why he’s losing.  Bobo has decided to tell us all about “How to Repair Moral Capital.”  He says that the task ahead is globalism with solidarity.  Whatever that means.  As a delightful lagniappe, in true “Both Siderism” he actually refers to the totally discredited James O’Keefe.  And he has yet to disavow Trump.  Mr. Cohen, in “Trump the Anti-American,” says rage is all that Trump has had to offer. His America is small. But this is still the land of “Sure,” of the embrace of possibility.  Prof. Krugman, in “Why Hillary Wins,” has a memo to pundits:  Maybe she actually deserves it.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

I’m just stunned.

In a race that has been full of shocking moments, one at Wednesday’s presidential debate stands out as the most shocking: Donald Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the outcome of the election.

And that’s saying something, because there were other shocking moments during the debate, like when Trump called Hillary Clinton a “nasty woman” or when he said he would deport “bad hombres” or suggested that late-term abortion included instances where doctors would “rip the baby out of the womb of the mother” and do so “as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth.”

But nothing even came close to this exchange between the moderator, Chris Wallace, and Trump:

Wallace: Do you make the same commitment that you will absolutely — sir, that you will absolutely accept the result of this election?

Trump: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I’ll look at it at the time.

Trump went on in his response to complain about the media, saying: “They’ve poisoned the minds of the voters.” Then he complained about outdated voter registration rosters, then he pivoted to his belief that Clinton shouldn’t have been allowed to run. To him, all these things contributed to the election being “rigged.”

Wallace came back with a short history lesson:

But, sir, there is a tradition in this country — in fact, one of the prides of this country — is the peaceful transition of power and that no matter how hard-fought a campaign is, that at the end of the campaign that the loser concedes to the winner. Not saying that you’re necessarily going to be the loser or the winner, but that the loser concedes to the winner and that the country comes together in part for the good of the country. Are you saying you’re not prepared now to commit to that principle?

Trump’s response:

What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense. O.K.?

Clinton called the remark “horrifying,” and she was right. This is jaw-dropping, unprecedented and thoroughly irresponsible. This is an attack on our democracy itself.

And Trump has been peddling his “rigged” election theory for weeks, stating flatly this week that “Voter fraud is all too common, and then they criticize us for saying that.” Trump continued: “But take a look at Philadelphia, what’s been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at some of these cities, where you see things happening that are horrendous.”

It should be noted that these are all heavily Democratic, majority-minority cities, and Republicans don’t fare well in places like that.

Indeed, as reported last November, Mitt Romney didn’t get a single vote in 59 of Philadelphia’s 1,687 voting divisions. As the paper put it: “These are the kind of numbers that send Republicans into paroxysms of voter-fraud angst, but such results may not be so startling after all.” The paper pointed out that “Chicago and Atlanta each had precincts that registered no votes for Republican Senator John McCain in 2008.”

As for the inclusion of St. Louis, it’s not clear to me that Trump isn’t confusing St. Louis with St. Lucie County, Fla., which was included in a viral email about voter fraud after the 2012 election. That email included this line: “In St. Lucie County, Fla., there were 175,574 registered eligible voters, but 247,713 votes were cast.”

But looked into that claim and found it to be “bogus,” writing:

It’s simply not true that there were tens of thousands more votes cast than voters available in St. Lucie County. Whoever first started this falsehood misread a St. Lucie election board document showing that 249,095 “cards” were cast, and registered voters totaled 175,554. But the supervisor of elections website explains that a “card” is one page, and the full “ballot” contained two pages. Total cards are not double the number of voters, as not every voter cast both pages (or “cards”).

But Trump, of birther fame, is not the kind of man who shies away from conspiracy theories; he embraces them.

He needs a reason that he’s losing other than the fact that he is arguably the least qualified, most ridiculous candidate to ever run for president as a major party nominee. He needs a reason other than the fact that he is being done in by his own words and actions. He needs a reason so that his self-inflated self-image as a relentless winner is not undone should he lose this election by embarrassing margins.

But to take that need for a diversion and distraction and turn it toward questioning the integrity of the electoral process itself and leaving open the possibility of not conceding should he lose is beyond the pale.

When Donald Trump gave that answer, he proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is completely unqualified to be president.

And now, FSM help  us all, here’s Bobo:

Hillary Clinton, who has been in politics all her adult life, seems to have learned something from Michelle Obama, who has never run for public office. Clinton gave three masterful answers in the debate Wednesday night that were tonally different from her normal clichés.

They were about Donald Trump’s alleged assaults on women, his refusal to respect the democratic process and the contrast between his years of “Celebrity Apprentice” experience and her own governing experience. Clinton’s answers were given in a slow and understated manner, but they were marked by moral passion, clarity and quiet contempt.

They were not spoken from the point of view of a politician. They were spoken from the point of view of a parent, which is the point of view Michelle Obama frequently uses. The politician asks: What can I offer to win votes? The parent asks: What world are my children going out into when they leave the house?

The politician is focused on individual interest, but the parent is interested in the shared social, economic and moral environment.

That turns out to be a useful frame for this ugly year. It’s becoming ever clearer that the nation’s moral capital is being decimated, and the urgent challenge is to name that decimation and reverse it.

Moral capital is the set of shared habits, norms, institutions and values that make common life possible. Left to our own, we human beings have an impressive capacity for selfishness. Unadorned, the struggle for power has a tendency to become barbaric. So people in decent societies agree on a million informal restraints — codes of politeness, humility and mutual respect that girdle selfishness and steer us toward reconciliation.

This year Trump is dismantling those restraints one by one. By savagely attacking Carly Fiorina’s looks and Ted Cruz’s wife he dismantled the codes of etiquette that prevent politics from becoming an unmodulated screaming match. By lying more or less all the time, he dismantles the fealty to truth without which conversation is impossible. By refusing to automatically respect the election results he corrodes confidence in our common institutions and risks turning public life into a never-ending dogfight.

Clinton has contributed to the degradation too. As the James O’Keefe videos remind us, wherever Hillary Clinton has gone in her career, a cloud of unsavory people and unsavory behavior has traveled alongside. But she is right to emphasize that Trump is the greatest threat to moral capital in recent history and that the health of that capital is more fundamental than any particular policy position.

The sad fact is that in the realm of common life, gnats can undo the work of giants. “Moral communities are fragile things, hard to build and easy to destroy,” Jonathan Haidt writes in his book “The Righteous Mind.” “When we think about very large communities such as nations, the challenge is extraordinary and the threat of moral entropy is intense.”

We are now in a country in which major presidential candidates can gibe about the menstrual cycles of their interviewers and the penis size of their opponents. We are now in a society in which the childish desires of a reality-TV narcissist can insult the inheritance that Washington and Hamilton risked their lives to bequeath. We are now in a society in which serial insults to basic decency aren’t automatically disqualifying.

Clearly, we have a giant task of moral repair ahead of us. That starts with a renunciation of the Trump style. One big lesson of 2016 is that that can only happen if people police members of their own party. If somebody is destroying the basic social and moral fabric through brutalistic rhetoric and vicious misogynistic behavior, it doesn’t really matter that he agrees with you on taxes and the Supreme Court; he has to be renounced or else he will drag the whole society to a level of degradation that will make all decent politics impossible.

It also means addressing the substantive social chasms that fueled Trump’s rise. We are clearly going to have a lot of angry populists around in the years ahead, of right and left. It should be possible to oppose them with a political movement that champions dynamism with cohesion, globalism with solidarity — a movement that supports free trade, open skilled immigration, ethnic diversity and a free American-led world order, but also local community building, state-fostered economic security, moral cohesion and patriotic purpose.

In other words, it should be possible to be conservative on macroeconomics, liberal on immigration policy, traditionalist on moral and civic matters, Swedish on welfare state policies, and Reaganesque on America’s role in the world.

The election of 2016 has exposed the staleness of the Republican and Democratic ideologies. It has also established a nihilistic, reality TV standard of conduct that will pull down the country if it is allowed to survive. The one nice thing about Trump is that he has prompted so many people to find their voice, and to turn from their revulsion to a higher alternative.

Yeah.  Right.  And how many of those people have stated that they won’t vote for Trump?  And now here’s Mr. Cohen:

Delmore Schwartz, the poet, wrote of “the beautiful American word, Sure.”

To anyone raised as I was in the crimped confines of a wearier continent, Europe, that little word is indeed a thing of beauty, expressing a sense of possibility, an embrace of tomorrow, openness to the stranger, and a readiness for adventure that no other country possesses in such degree. It is the most concise expression of the optimism inherent in the American idea.

It is also something incommunicable until lived. To the outsider, America may appear by turns vulgar or violent, crass or childish, ugly or superficial, and of course it can be all of these things. Jonathan Galassi, the poet and publisher, has written of the “American cavalcade,” Philip Roth of “the indigenous American berserk,” and there is a gaudy, raucous, cinematic tumult to American life that is without parallel. Relentless reinvention is what America does; that is not always pretty. But beneath it all reside a can-do straightforwardness and directness that are the warp and weft of the American tapestry.

“Will you come with me?”


No questions asked. Sure I will. The word is at once strong and soft, reassuring above all. The American experiment unravels without this.

The spirit of “Sure” stands in contrast to the culture of impossibility and the fear of failure that often undercut European enterprise. Bitter experience of repetitive cataclysm has taught Europe to be wary of risk. Perhaps the French brick wall contained in the phrase “pas possible,” a frequent response to my inquiries during the years I lived in Paris, best expresses this mind-set. Call it the spirit of “Non.” No wonder Europe does social protection better than innovation.

Now if this America, whose essence is openness, whose first question is not “Where do you come from?” but “What can you do for me?” becomes consumed by rage, then it is lost. Rage is a closing of the mind. Anger against the foreigner, against the outsider and against the other may offer some passing consolation in times of difficulty or dread but they lead America away from itself. They offer the spirit of suspicion in place of the spirit of “Sure.” They undercut American decency. They replace the draw of the next frontier and of the unknown with the dead end of walls. Rage is also a form of dishonesty because it precludes the reflection that leads to truth.

And this in the end is all that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for the highest office in the land, has had to offer America: his shallow, manipulative, self-important, scapegoat-seeking form of rage.

Over the three debates withHillary Clinton it became clear that this businessman who says he wants to make America great again in fact wants to make America shrink into a defensive crouch of resentment. Trump was small in the debates. He was as small as the America he seems to envisage. He was mean, nasty, petty and lazy. Smallness oozed from his petulant pout; it was all that would fit between those pursed lips. Any target was good for this showman whose ego is so consuming that he is utterly without conviction: Mexicans, Muslims, women, the disabled, war heroes, and, in the end, American democracy itself, for which he showed contempt in suggesting he might contest the outcome of an election that he contends, without the slightest shred of evidence, might be “rigged.”

The America of “Sure” is a stranger to Trump. His is the angry America of “shove it.” If that frustrated, tribal and incensed America were not lurking in a time of disorienting economic upheaval, Trump would not have garnered millions of votes. He has held up a mirror to a troubled and divided society. That, I suppose, is some form of service. But the deeper, decent, direct, can-do America is stronger; and for that America the Trump now visible in all his aspects is simply unfit for high office. He would threaten to undo what America is.

Of all the sentences written about Trump over many, many months now, my favorite is the last one in the letter sent this month by The New York Times lawyer David McCraw to Trump’s lawyer. Trump had demanded the retraction of an article about two women who had come forward to describe the way he had groped them. The women’s accounts, McCraw argued, constituted newsworthy information of public concern, and he concluded: “If Mr. Trump disagrees, if he believes that American citizens had no right to hear what these women had to say and that the law of this country forces us and those who would dare to criticize him to stand silent or be punished, we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”

Sure, we’ll see you in court.

Sure, America is a country that, despite its “original sin” of racism, elected a black man.

Sure, America will elect a woman as president.

Sure, this land was made for you and me.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Hey, that’s what pundits have been saying ever since this endless campaign began. You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the news media, over everything from claims of dishonesty (which usually turn out to be based on nothing) to matters of personal style.

Strange to say, however, Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic nomination fairly easily, and now, having pummeled her opponent in three successive debates, is an overwhelming favorite to win in November, probably by a wide margin. How is that possible?

The usual suspects are already coalescing around an answer — namely, that she just got lucky. If only the Republicans hadn’t nominated Donald Trump, the story goes, she’d be losing badly.

But here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe Mrs. Clinton is winning because she possesses some fundamental political strengths — strengths that fall into many pundits’ blind spots.

First of all, who was this other, stronger candidate that the G.O.P. might have chosen? Remember, Mr. Trump won the nomination because he gave his party’s base what it wanted, channeling the racial antagonism that has been the driving force for Republican electoral success for decades. All he did was say out loud what his rivals were trying to convey with dog whistles, which explains why they were so ineffective in opposing him.

And those establishment candidates were much more Trumpian than those fantasizing about a different history — say, one in which the G.O.P. nominated Marco Rubio — acknowledge. Many people remember Mr. Rubio’s brain glitch: the canned lines about “let’s dispel with this fiction” that he kept repeating in a disastrous debate performance. Fewer seem aware that those lines actually enunciated a crazy conspiracy theory, essentially accusing President Obama of deliberately weakening America. Is that really much better than the things Mr. Trump says? Only if you imagine that Mr. Rubio didn’t believe what he was saying — yet his insincerity, the obvious way he was trying to play a part, was surely part of his weakness.

That is, in fact, a general problem for establishment Republicans. How many of them really believe that tax cuts have magical powers, that climate change is a giant hoax, that saying the words “Islamic terrorism” will somehow defeat ISIS? Yet pretending to believe these things is the price of admission to the club — and the falsity of that pretense shines through.

And one more point about Mr. Rubio: why imagine that a man who collapsed in the face of childish needling from Mr. Trump would have triumphed over the woman who kept her cool during 11 hours of grilling over Benghazi, and made her interrogators look like fools? Which brings us to the question of Mrs. Clinton’s strengths.

When political commentators praise political talent, what they seem to have in mind is the ability of a candidate to match one of a very limited set of archetypes: the heroic leader, the back-slapping regular guy you’d like to have a beer with, the soaring orator. Mrs. Clinton is none of these things: too wonky, not to mention too female, to be a regular guy, a fairly mediocre speechifier; her prepared zingers tend to fall flat.

Yet the person tens of millions of viewers saw in this fall’s debates was hugely impressive all the same: self-possessed, almost preternaturally calm under pressure, deeply prepared, clearly in command of policy issues. And she was also working to a strategic plan: Each debate victory looked much bigger after a couple of days, once the implications had time to sink in, than it may have seemed on the night.

Oh, and the strengths she showed in the debates are also strengths that would serve her well as president. Just thought I should mention that. And maybe ordinary citizens noticed the same thing; maybe obvious competence and poise in stressful situations can add up to a kind of star quality, even if it doesn’t fit conventional notions of charisma.

Furthermore, there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton brought to this campaign that no establishment Republican could have matched: She truly cares about her signature issues, and believes in the solutions she’s pushing.

I know, we’re supposed to see her as coldly ambitious and calculating, and on some issues — like macroeconomics — she does sound a bit bloodless, even when she clearly understands the subject and is talking good sense. But when she’s talking about women’s rights, or racial injustice, or support for families, her commitment, even passion, are obvious. She’s genuine, in a way nobody in the other party can be.

So let’s dispel with this fiction that Hillary Clinton is only where she is through a random stroke of good luck. She’s a formidable figure, and has been all along.

Blow, Bruni, and Krugman

October 17, 2016

In “Donald Trump, the Worst of America” Mr. Blow says he is the logical extension of misogyny, racism, privilege and anti-intellectualism.  Mr. Bruni, in “For Donald Trump, Lessons in Grace,” says the patriotic concession speeches of prior presidential candidates show an alternative to his corrosive conspiracies.  Prof. Krugman has a question in “Their Dark Fantasies:”  Why do Republicans hate America? He says their vision of the country is at odds with the reality.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He said on Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”

He also said of Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.

It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.

The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.

Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.

But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.

America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken.

For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.

And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.

When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.

Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.

Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.

Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.

Next up we have Mr. Bruni:

As Donald Trump seethes recklessly through the final weeks of this furious campaign, he should take just a few minutes to read something important: Al Gore’s words on Dec. 13, 2000.

Gore had reason to feel burned by the electoral process. His fight against George W. Bush for the presidency went all the way to the Supreme Court, which then had more Republican than Democratic appointees.

But when he conceded, there was no talk of anything “rigged.” There was no reminder that he’d won the popular vote. He clearly understood that the circumstances of his defeat were a threat to many Americans’ faith in the system, especially if their rancor was stoked.

“While I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it,” he said, going on to add: “For the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new president-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together.”

I realize that those remarks came as the battle ended, not in the heat of it. So there’s no neat and clean comparison to what he said then and what Trump is saying now.

But Trump’s conspiracy-minded rants, with which he exhorts voters to treat any victor other than him as illegitimate, are the obvious precursors to a singularly dangerous concession speech, should he be called upon to deliver one. I’m close to sure that he will be. And now is as good a time as any to point him toward the way real patriots behave, to remind ourselves that losing needn’t be as incendiary as he is hell-bent on making it, and to reacquaint ourselves with decency in American politics.

Gore’s speech is just one example of it. In fact it’s the norm among the Democratic and Republican nominees who fell short of the White House — the Democratic and Republican nominees who preceded Trump. To revisit their words is to savor a maturity, dignity and civic spirit that he lacks.

In 1952, after Adlai Stevenson was shellacked by Dwight Eisenhower, he said: “It hurts too much to laugh, but I’m too old to cry.” And he urged Americans to give the new president “the support he will need to carry out the great tasks that lie before him. I pledge him mine. We vote as many, but we pray as one.”

I went back and took a close look at the presidential contenders’ concession speeches since 1992, which was the year that a different Clinton — Bill, not Hillary — won the election.

He beat the first President Bush, who was seeking re-election and responded by exalting “the majesty of the democratic system,” telling voters that “America must always come first,” and also saying:

I want to share a special message with the young people of America. I remain absolutely convinced that we are a rising nation. We have been in an extraordinarily difficult period, but do not be deterred, kept away from public service by the smoke and fire of a campaign year or the ugliness of politics. As for me, I plan to get — I’m going to serve and try to find ways to help people. But I plan to get very active in the grandchild business. And in finding ways to help others. But I urge you, the young people of this country, to participate in the political process. It needs your idealism. It needs your drive. It needs your conviction.

Four years later, when Bob Dole failed in his effort to deny President Clinton a second term, these were some of his remarks:

I’ve said repeatedly in this campaign that the president was my opponent and not my enemy. And I wish him well and I pledge my support in whatever advances the cause of a better America, because that’s what the race was about in the first place, a better America as we go into the next century.

Then came the 2000 election, which remained undecided for weeks after voters went to the polls, as a recount of the Florida vote began and was then stopped. Gore’s concession speech included, in addition to the sentences I presented above, these:

Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. …

I know that many of my supporters are disappointed. I am too. But our disappointment must be overcome by our love of country. And I say to our fellow members of the world community: Let no one see this contest as a sign of American weakness. The strength of American democracy is shown most clearly through the difficulties it can overcome . . . .

While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party.

In 2004, after losing to the second President Bush, John Kerry alsospoke of national unity, national pride and common values:

In an American election, there are no losers. Because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning, we all wake up as Americans. And that is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on earth.

With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion.

I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years.

I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide. I know this is a difficult time for my supporters. But I ask them — all of you — to join me in doing that.

John McCain’s concession speech in 2008 didn’t just encourage his supporters to respect the election’s outcome and to put common cause among wounded feelings. It also took full, celebratory note of the historic nature of Barack Obama’s victory:

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit — to dine at the White House — was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Four years later, another Republican, Mitt Romney, also lost to Obama and also took the high road, saying that he wished “the president, the first lady and their daughters” well and that he was looking to “Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.” There were also these words:

We can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.

Rising. Healing. Linking arms. Moving on. That’s what’s supposed to happen in the aftermath of even the bitterest elections. At least that’s what vanquished candidates are supposed to encourage. May the loser in this election uphold that tradition. So very much rides on it.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

I’m a baby boomer, which means that I’m old enough to remember conservatives yelling “America — love it or leave it!” at people on the left who criticized racism and inequality. But that was a long time ago. These days, disdain for America — the America that actually exists, not an imaginary “real America” in which minorities and women know their place — is concentrated on the right.

To be sure, progressives still see a lot wrong with the state of our society, and seek change. But they also celebrate the progress we have made, and for the most part the change they seek is incremental: It involves building on existing institutions, not burning everything down and starting over.

On the right, however, you increasingly find prominent figures describing our society as a nightmarish dystopia.

This is obviously true for Donald Trump, who views the world through blood-colored glasses. In his vision of America — clearly derived largely from white supremacist and neo-Nazi sources — crime is running wild, inner cities are war zones, and hordes of violent immigrants are pouring across our open border. In reality, murder is at a historic low, we’re seeing a major urban revival and net immigration from Mexico is negative. But I’m only saying that because I’m part of the conspiracy.

Meanwhile, you find almost equally dark visions, just as much at odds with reality, among establishment Republicans, people like Paul Ryan, speaker of the House.

Mr. Ryan is, of course, a media darling. He doesn’t really command strong support from his own party’s base; his prominence comes, instead, from a press corps that decided years ago that he was the archetype of serious, honest conservatism, and clings to that story no matter how many times the obvious fraudulence and cruelty of his proposals are pointed out. If the past is any indication, he will quickly be forgiven for his moral spinelessness in this election, his unwillingness to break with Mr. Trump — even to condemn him for questioning the legitimacy of the vote — no matter how grotesque the G.O.P. nominee’s behavior becomes.

But for what it’s worth, consider the portrait of America Mr. Ryan painted last week, in a speech to the College Republicans. For it was, in its own way, as out of touch with reality as the ranting of Donald Trump (whom Mr. Ryan never mentioned).

Now, to be fair, Mr. Ryan claimed to be describing the future — what will happen if Hillary Clinton wins — rather than the present. But Mrs. Clinton is essentially proposing a center-left agenda, an extension of the policies President Obama was able to implement in his first two years, and it’s pretty clear that Mr. Ryan’s remarks were intended as a picture of what all such policies do.

According to him, it’s very grim. There will, he said, be “a gloom and grayness to things,” ruled by a “cold and unfeeling bureaucracy.” We will become a place “where passion — the very stuff of life itself — is extinguished.” And this is the kind of America Mrs. Clinton “will stop at nothing to have.”

Does today’s America look anything like that? No. We have many problems, but we’re hardly living in a miasma of despair. Leave government statistics (which almost half of Trump supporters completely distrust) on one side; Gallup finds that 80 percent of Americans are satisfied with their standard of living, up from 73 percent in 2008, and that 55 percent consider themselves to be “thriving,” up from 49 percent in 2008. And there are good reasons for those good feelings: recovery from the financial crisis was slower than it should have been, but unemployment is low, incomes surged last year, and thanks to Obamacare more Americans have health insurance than ever before.

So Mr. Ryan’s vision of America looks nothing like reality. It is, however, completely familiar to anyone who read Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” as a teenager. Nowadays the speaker denies being a Rand devotee, but while you can at least pretend to take the boy out of the cult, you can’t take the cult out of the boy. Like Ms. Rand — who was basically writing about America in the Eisenhower years! — he sees the horrible world progressive policies were supposed to produce, not the flawed but hopeful nation we actually live in.

So why does the modern right hate America? There’s not much overlap in substance between Mr. Trump’s fear-mongering and Mr. Ryan’s, but there’s a clear alignment of interests. The people Mr. Trump represents want to suppress and disenfranchise you-know-who; the big-money interests that support Ryan-style conservatism want to privatize and generally dismantle the social safety net, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get there.

The big question is whether trash-talking America can actually be a winning political strategy. We’ll soon find out.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

October 13, 2016

In “Donald Trump, Unshackled and Unhinged” Mr. Blow says he still has a chance to turn things around, but he’s showing no inclination that he wants to.  Mr. Kristof, in “What Donald Trump Is Right About,” says actions count more than words, and his are heinous.  In “And Now, the Good News Is…” Ms. Collins says we should always look on the bright side of Donald Trump.  Here’s Mr. Blow:’

Donald Trump tweeted this week that his “shackles have been taken off.” The rest of us need to buckle up.

The effects of a 2005 tape on which Trump brags of a history of sexually predatory behavior is still rippling though the Trump campaign and wreaking havoc.

This is a particularly, spectacularly potent scandal, because of the moral clarity of how reprehensible it is.

This is not an issue that you can couch in policy or strategy. This is so very clearly about character. It is unambiguous and lecherous. It is repulsive and rapacious.

And it appears to fit a pattern.

BuzzFeed reported on Wednesday: “Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant said Donald Trump walked into the dressing room while contestants — some as young as 15 — were changing.”

One of the young contestants told BuzzFeed that when Trump entered the dressing room while she was getting dressed, he “said something like, ‘Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.’”

As Newsweek reported on Sunday:

“Jill Harth, a pageant owner trying to work with Trump in the mid-1990s, filed suit against him in federal court in Manhattan in 1997, describing a ‘relentless’ campaign of sexual harassment and assault including an incident in which he reached under a table, put his hands on her thighs and grabbed her ‘intimate private parts’ during a meeting at a New York restaurant.”

Temple Taggart, Miss Utah 1997, told The Times in May that when she was introduced to Trump, “He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’”

Gross is right.

No one can defend it, but that hasn’t stopped Trump and his supporters from twisting themselves into knots trying to. Trump has repeatedly called it “locker room” talk and suggested that he was lying when he said that he had assaulted women.

Supporters have done everything from deny that what Trump described was indeed assault to saying the tape was made before Trump began his faith journey to attacking Beyoncé lyrics and Hillary Clinton’s admiration of the pop star.

None of that has worked particularly well. Trump’s post-tape polls look absolutely horrendous.

Furthermore, prominent Republicans are fleeing in droves.

According to The Times, more that 160 Republican leaders, most of them members of Congress or governors, have declared that they won’t support Donald Trump. Nearly a third of those fled from Trump in the wake of the lewd tape.

In a statement, John McCain wrote: “Donald Trump’s behavior this week, concluding with the disclosure of his demeaning comments about women and his boasts about sexual assaults, make it impossible to continue to offer even conditional support for his candidacy.”

The Times reported on Monday, referring to the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan: “Mr. Ryan informed Republican lawmakers on a morning conference call that he would never again campaign for Mr. Trump and would dedicate himself instead to defending the party’s majority in Congress.” Ryan’s spokeswoman followed up with a statement confirming that “the speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities.”

Trump is bleeding badly. But many of us know this from nature: A wounded animal is a dangerous animal. Trump is lashing out like a man with nothing left to lose. If he is going down, he’s threatening to take the entire ecosystem with him.

He’s lashing out at the Republican establishment — especially Ryan and McCain — in a striking and seemingly unprecedented intraparty feud just weeks ahead of the election.

But Trump is also striking out at Clinton and Obama.

Trump threatened this week, “If they want to release more tapes saying inappropriate things, we’ll continue to talk about Bill and Hillary Clinton doing inappropriate things.” He also continues to threaten to investigate Clinton and lock her up, and seemed to return to the absurd assertion that Obama founded the Islamic State.

None of this seems like an effective strategy to broaden his base and actually win in November. This feels like Trump having a temper tantrum. This feels like a campaign in its death throes.

Trump had some good weeks when he was following a disciplined strategy of reading speeches from a teleprompter and effectively deceiving some into believing that he was not in fact the man who he has, over the course of his life, revealed himself to be.

Apparently, that deception was a set of shackles. In other words, it was a lie.

This is true Trump: mean, erratic, abrasive and pathological.

Trump still has a chance to turn things around, but as of now he’s showing no inclination that he wants to. As disturbing as the idea of a foreign government trying to interfere with our elections is, the content of leaked emails from the Clinton campaign could be far more damaging to her in the hands of a more competent opposition.

But Trump isn’t a competent opponent. He’s a maladroit savage spiraling out of control.

And next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Astonishingly, Donald Trump is right about something!

After recently being caught on a 2005 tape gloating about sexual assaults, Trump issued an unapologetic apology in which he focused on the “big difference” between words and actions. And he has a point.

But there’s abundant evidence that Trump has indulged in not just scurrilous rhetoric, but also in heinous actions. Several more women have stepped forward to offer on-the-record accounts of having been aggressively groped or kissed by Trump against their will, right after he met them.

I also find entirely credible the allegations of Jill Harth, a former business partner of Trump’s, that he assaulted her in 1992 and 1993. Equally credible is the assertion by a former Miss Utah that Trump inappropriately kissed beauty contestants on the lips.

Some Republicans have demanded laws to ban transgender women from entering women’s restrooms or locker rooms, but instead they might focus on the risk of Trump doing this. He has boasted that he marched unannounced into changing rooms to ogle beauty pageant contestants naked, and a former contestant, Miss Arizona, Tasha Dixon, said he did just that as they were changing into bikinis. “Some girls were topless,” she said. “Other girls were naked.”

The pageant theme that year? Empowering women.

There’s more. In Trump’s 2005 tape, he referred in vulgar ways to a married woman, Nancy O’Dell, he had unsuccessfully pursued, but what’s less known is that in 2007 he reportedly tried to have her fired from hosting the Miss USA Pageant. Why? Because she was pregnant.

Of course, as Trump acknowledged, words matter as well. On my blog, I posted an essay by a survivor of a home invasion and rape, Michelle Bowdler, who recounted that her attacker had said he wanted “some pussy” — and the moment he used that word, she felt that her life was in danger, that she “existed only as a thing.”

What is dehumanizing is not necessarily dirty words as such, but rather the casual braggadocio by men that normalizes assault. One study of 16,000 comments on a website for fraternity men found that the most common body part mentioned was “ass,” followed by “tits.” Men posting on the site were 25 times as likely to refer to a woman’s “ass” as to her “smile.”

There’s some evidence that hearing sexist language may be linked to greater tolerance of rape. And we already have a national problem with sexual harassment: One large survey found that almost one-quarter of American women said they had been groped in public spaces.

So I’m delighted that at least one person, Billy Bush, is paying in a concrete way for the words in the Trump tape. Maybe this can be a wake-up call for us men to appreciate that sexist epithets are no more acceptable than racist epithets.

All that said, Trump is right to emphasize the importance of actions more than words: If we’re outraged by vulgar words, shouldn’t we be even more appalled by predatory actions? And policies? Here the truth is that a Trump administration’s policies might be less titillating than his words, but they would be far more dangerous.

Every year, 550,000 women in America require medical attention after an assault by a boyfriend or husband. That’s an issue that is belatedly being addressed through screenings under Obamacare, which Trump wants to repeal, and by the Violence Against Women Act, which a large bloc of Republicans opposed in Congress. Trump’s concern about such assaults seems dubious, and in fact both he and his campaign C.E.O., Steve Bannon, have been accused of domestic violence themselves.

Since he never held public office, Trump lacks a voting record. But his running mate has tended to look at what might help women and do the opposite, including voting against equal-pay legislation.

Mike Pence also signed a bizarre anti-abortion bill as Indiana’s governor requiring burial or cremation even of tissue from an early miscarriage. That led women to form a Facebook group, Periods for Pence, and announce their periods, just in case they might be miscarriages.

At a time when 11 women a day die of cervical cancer, Trump and Pence have also been stalwart opponents of women’s health programs that provide cancer screenings. They are motivated partly by hostility toward Planned Parenthood over abortions, but Pence, while a congressman, also sponsored legislation to defund Title X, the main federal family planning program. It does not pay for abortions but does help screen more than 750,000 women for cervical cancer a year.

New York magazine once quoted Trump as telling a friend about women, “you have to treat ‘em like——” well, manure. But to me, his language pales beside his behavior and likely policies. So let’s try to pivot from outrage at gross words to condemnation of unconscionable behavior and policies. On that sole point, that actions matter more than words, Trump is exactly, frighteningly right.

And now we get to Ms. Collins:

We’ve already learned so much this election year. Besides the importance of not bragging about girl-grabbing when there’s a microphone pinned to your lapel.

For instance, boring people have never looked better. This is a seldom-defended subset of the American population, but after a year or so of the exciting Donald Trump, we have a new appreciation. Right now, many voters may be looking at their local congressman — a person they would change lines at the grocery store in order to avoid having to engage in conversation — and thinking, “Wow, Fred may be a snooze, but when you think about it, there are so many worse possibilities.”

Can you imagine how deliriously happy the Republican Party would be if Trump woke up one morning feeling boring? But no, he’s still bounding from one rally to the next, attacking members of his own party and demanding that Hillary Clinton go to jail. The new WikiLeaks from her campaign, he thundered on Wednesday, “make more clear than ever … how unattractive and dishonest our country has become.”

Unattractive? Is there no entity this man doesn’t judge in terms of physical appearance? Do you think Trump secretly believes America has gained weight? Had an unsuccessful breast enhancement?

The WikiLeaks, so far, have just underlined how blessedly boring Clinton’s campaign has been — it turns out that her talking points sometimes include instructions on when to smile, and that some of her major tweets have been the work of up to four aides. Deep in their hearts, most Americans know that’s way better than having a president who wakes up at 3 a.m. and just starts free associating.

Another important lesson of 2016: There are a lot of things worse than political correctness. Trump brags constantly about his own freedom from that particular defect, and some of his followers feel liberated to attend the rallies wearing signs or shirts that call Hillary Clinton every conceivable vulgarity.

During the last debate, a sad-looking Muslim woman asked how she could deal with “the consequences of being labeled as a threat to the country. …” Trump replied, “You’re right about Islamophobia and that’s a shame,” without any particular tone of sympathy. “But,” he continued, “one thing we have to do is, we have to make sure that, because there is a problem. I mean, whether we like it or not and we could be very politically correct, but whether we like it or not, there is a problem.”

Not often you can avoid political correctness in a way that mangles so many sentences. Trump then veered off into a complaint about how neighbors of the San Bernardino shooters noticed a whole ton of armaments at the family home but failed to say anything about it, presumably because they didn’t want to look anti-Muslim. We could point out that this is a make-believe story, totally unsupported by fact. Except that it would sound so darned you-know-what.

On the plus side, the campaign’s recent unpleasantness has provided a wonderful opportunity to randomly torture irritating Republican officeholders. Ted Cruz — who insulted Trump by failing to endorse him at the convention, then panicked and gave him a nod just before the trash-talk tape went public — must be having the worst week of his political life. Which certainly is a mood raiser.

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold, whose longstanding flirtation with the birther movement led him once to aver that there were enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama, fell into a rabbit hole this week while he was defending his Trump endorsement on MSNBC. Anchor Chris Hayes prodded, asking whether he’d feel the same if a tape came out with Donald Trump saying, “I really like to rape women. …”

“That would be bad and I would have to consider it,” said Farenthold, who then followed up with a desperate series of Twitter retractions. (“During an interview on MSNBC with Chris Hayes tonight, I was thrown off by the anchor’s use of a hypothetical question.”) Which then gave Austin political writer Jonathan Tilove a chance to revisit a conversation he had with the congressman about Trump’s appalling attacks on a Mexican-American judge. “He may have crossed the line there, but I don’t agree with everything I say sometimes,” explained Farenthold.

Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, is obsessed with the Republicans who’ve gotten … cold. The candidate himself complains at his rallies that the speaker of the House failed to congratulate him after the last debate. (“So wouldn’t you think that Paul Ryan would call and say, ‘Good going?’”) Attacking members of Congress who’ve dropped off the team, Trump said he “wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole” with people like John McCain. And campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told Chris Matthews that some of the congressmen who’ve complained about Trump’s sex remarks were known for “sticking their tongues down women’s throats uninvited.”

It’s always possible to learn more than you really want to know this season.

Blow and Krugman

October 10, 2016

The power just came back on!  Today Mr. Blow, in “Donald Trump, Barbarian at the Debate,” says we have to stop grading this man on a curve.  Prof. Krugman has a question in “Predators in Arms:”  Is there a partisan pattern here?  Here’s Mr. Blow:

What the hell did I just watch in that presidential debate last night?

Before the debate even commenced, did a man who was just caught on a hot mike bragging about being a serial sexual predator who routinely assaults women by kissing them without their consent and grabbing them by the vagina actually organize a news conference with the sexual abuse accusers of Bill Clinton?

Did he actually plunge the debate into a reality television swamp of tawdriness and tackiness?

By the way, at least one of these women was part of a group of accusers whom Donald Trump in 1998 called “terrible” and a “really unattractive group.” In that same interview with Neil Cavuto of Fox News, Trump said of Bill Clinton: “He is really a victim himself.”

Did Trump actually use those women, whom he had chastised and demeaned for their looks (something he is wont to do because he is a sexist and a cretin), as a political prop?

Did Trump actually sit those women in the debate hall and use them to attack Hillary Clinton for her husband’s behavior?

By the way, in 1999 Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Clinton was “a wonderful woman,” “really a very terrific woman” who has “been through more than any woman should have to bear, everything public.”

But last night did he actually add to that public burden and call Clinton a lying “devil” who “has tremendous hate in her heart” to boot?

When the moderator Anderson Cooper said to Trump, “You described kissing women without consent, grabbing their genitals. That is sexual assault. You bragged that you have sexually assaulted women. Do you understand that?” did Trump actually respond: “No, I didn’t say that at all. I don’t think you understood what was — this was locker room talk”?

Did Trump essentially say that he didn’t actually say the things we all heard him say? Did he actually try to deflect and normalize sexual predation as ubiquitous jocular language intrinsic to maleness itself? Does he not actually realize that this is precisely how rape culture is maintained and perpetuated — through normalization? Does he not register that that answer should scare the daylights out of every woman and shame every man who knows full well how aberrant and not at all normal those comments were?

Furthermore, did Trump actually suggest that as president he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate his political opponent and would jail her?

Did Trump actually suggest that he indeed had not paid federal income taxes for many years, as many had speculated, because of a $916 million loss he reported in 1995? And then, did he actually try to pin his not paying taxes on Clinton, saying:

“A lot of my write-off was depreciation and other things that Hillary as a senator allowed. And she’ll always allow it, because the people that give her all this money, they want it. That’s why.”

Did Donald Trump actually throw his running mate Mike Pence under the bus on live television?

The moderator Martha Raddatz asked the candidate what he would do about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria, and said to Trump:

“I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in airstrikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Did Trump actually say: “O.K. He and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Did Raddatz have to respond with what many were thinking: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Throughout the debate, did Trump actually use his physicality as a tall, rotund man to menace Clinton as he stalked and prowled about the stage like an agitated animal, grimacing and sniffing, glowering over her back and getting uncomfortably close when she was answering questions, seemingly trying to unnerve and intimidate his female opponent?

I was gobsmacked at the whole spectacle and incredulous as to whether I was actually hearing and seeing what I was hearing and seeing. Could this really be happening, or was I losing my mind?

Yes, all of that happened, Charles. You are not crazy. Trump’s performance, however, was.

Forget all the post-debate “it was a draw” foolishness you may have watched and read. It wasn’t. Though Trump stood tall, last night his campaign continued to crumble. Indeed, an admittedly Democrat-heavy CNN/ORC poll of debate watchers showed a clear victory for Clinton, with 57 percent saying Clinton won, as opposed to 34 percent for Trump, although most said Trump exceeded expectations.

We have to stop grading this man on a curve, against abysmal expectations. The curve is how he has been allowed to bend the truth, to bend decency, to bend decorum, to bend America’s moral fiber.

I try not to give predictions, but if I had to give one after this week, with that lascivious tape and this bizarre debate, this would be it: Trump is toast.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

As many people are pointing out, Republicans now trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump need to explain why The Tape was a breaking point, when so many previous incidents weren’t. On Saturday, explaining why he was withdrawing his endorsement, Senator John McCain cited “comments on prisoners of war, the Khan Gold Star family, Judge Curiel and earlier inappropriate comments about women” — and that leaves out Mexicans as rapists, calls for a Muslim ban, and much more. So, Senator McCain, what took you so long?

One excuse we’re now hearing is that the new revelations are qualitatively different — that disrespect for women is one thing, but boasting about sexual assault brings it to another level. It’s a weak defense, since Mr. Trump has in effect been promising violence against minorities all along. His insistence last week that the Central Park Five, who were exonerated by DNA evidence, were guilty and should have been executed was even worse than The Tape, but drew hardly any denunciations from his party.

And even if you consider sexual predation somehow uniquely unacceptable, you have to ask where all these pearl-clutching Republicans were back in August, when Roger Ailes — freshly fired from Fox News over horrifying evidence that he used his position to force women into sexual relationships — joined the Trump campaign as a senior adviser. Were there any protests at all from senior G.O.P. figures?

Of course, we know the answer: The latest scandal upset Republicans, when previous scandals didn’t, because the candidate’s campaign was already in free fall. You can even see it in the numbers: The probability of a House Republican jumping off the Trump train is strongly related to the Obama share of a district’s vote in 2012. That is, Republicans in competitive districts are outraged by Mr. Trump’s behavior; those in safe seats seem oddly indifferent.

Meanwhile, the Trump-Ailes axis of abuse raises another question: Is sexual predation by senior political figures — which Mr. Ailes certainly was, even if he pretended to be in the journalism business — a partisan phenomenon?

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about bad behavior in general, which occurs among politicians (and people) of all political leanings. Yes, Bill Clinton had affairs; but there’s a world of difference between consensual sex, however inappropriate, and abuse of power to force those less powerful to accept your urges. That’s infinitely worse — and it happens more than we’d like to think.

Take, for example, what we now know about what was happening politically in 2006, a year that Nate Cohn, The Times’s polling expert, suggests offers some lessons for this year. As Mr. Cohn points out, as late as September of that year it looked as if Republicans might retain control of Congress despite public revulsion at the Bush administration. But then came the Foley scandal: A member of Congress, Representative Mark Foley, had been sending sexually explicit messages to pages, and his party had failed to take any action despite warnings. As Mr. Cohn points out, the scandal seems to have broken the dam, and led to a Democratic wave.

But think about how much bigger that wave might have been if voters had known what we know now: that Dennis Hastert, who had been speaker of the House since 1999, himself had a long history of molesting teenage boys.

Why do all these stories involve Republicans? One answer may be structural. The G.O.P. is, or was until this election, a monolithic, hierarchical institution, in which powerful men could cover up their sins much better than they could in the far looser Democratic coalition.

There is also, I’d suggest, an underlying cynicism that pervades the Republican elite. We’re talking about a party that has long exploited white backlash to mobilize working-class voters, while enacting policies that actually hurt those voters but benefit the wealthy. Anyone participating in that scam — which is what it is — has to have the sense that politics is a sphere in which you can get away with a lot if you have the right connections. So in a way it’s not surprising if a disproportionate number of major players feel empowered to abuse their position.

Which brings us back to the man almost all senior Republicans were supporting for president until a day or two ago.

Assuming that Mr. Trump loses, many Republicans will try to pretend that he was a complete outlier, unrepresentative of the party. But he isn’t. He won the nomination fair and square, chosen by voters who had a pretty good idea of who he was. He had solid establishment support until very late in the game. And his vices are, dare we say, very much in line with his party’s recent tradition.

Mr. Trump, in other words, isn’t so much an anomaly as he is a pure distillation of his party’s modern essence.

Blow and Krugman

October 3, 2016

In “Donald Trump: Terroristic Man-Toddler” Mr. Blow says The Donald is an immature bully who lashes out when he should be embarrassed.  My guess is that he’s incapable of feeling embarrassment.  Prof. Krugman, in “Trump’s Fellow Travelers,” says they are profiles in cowardice and fecklessness.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump is a domestic terrorist; only his form of terror doesn’t boil down to blowing things up. He’s the 70-year-old toddler who knows nearly nothing, hurls insults, has simplistic solutions for complex problems and is quick to throw a tantrum. Also, in case you didn’t know it, this toddler is mean to girls and is a bit of a bigot.

It isn’t so much that he is a strict disciple of radical ideology, but rather that he is devoid of fixed principles, willing to do anything and everything to gain fame, fortune and power. He has an endless, consuming need for perpetual affirmation. This is a bully who just wants to be liked, a man-boy nursing a nagging internal emptiness.

He’s fickle and spoiled and rotten.

So, when he loses at something, anything, he lashes out. When someone chastises him for bad behavior, he chafes. This is the kind of silver-spoon scion quick to yell at those he views as less privileged, and therefore less-than, “Do you know who I am?”

We do now, sir.

After Trump got trounced in the first debate, he went full anti-science, insisting that flimflam applause-o-meter polls, many from conservative websites, were in fact proof positive that he had won the debate.

During the debate, Hillary Clinton delivered a devastating kidney punch, calling out Trump for his sexist, bigoted comments about a Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, who had apparently gained too much weight for Trump and his pageant.

Trump has been smarting over this ever since.

He spent the week sulking and careening from fat-shaming Machado to slut-shaming her, shooting off a manic insomniac’s witching-hour tweet storm that called Machado “disgusting” and the “worst Miss U” and encouraged his followers to “check out” an alleged “sex tape” and her past.

Trump was apparently oblivious to the can of worms this would open about his own past and that of his family.

This is the same man who marveled on television about his daughter Ivanka’s “very nice figure” and mused, “I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps, I would be dating her.”

This is the same man who said on a radio show that he marveled at the beauty of a 12-year-old Paris Hilton, the daughter of his friends, saying when she walked into the room — at 12! — “Who the hell is that?” He would then go on to admit that he had watched Paris’s sex tape.

This is the same man who told Esquire in 1991, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of [expletive].”

This is a man who, as Buzzfeed reported Friday, made his own cameo in a Playboy porno in 2000, though thankfully not as an erotic actor.

That man is lecturing someone else about their past and calling them disgusting?

And, early Friday morning, Trump tweeted: “Anytime you see a story about me or my campaign saying ‘sources said,’ DO NOT believe it. There are no sources, they are just made up lies!”

Hours later he repeated the assertion in another tweet: “Remember, don’t believe ‘sources said’ by the VERY dishonest media. If they don’t name the sources, the sources don’t exist.”

But CNN’s Brian Stelter shot back on Twitter: “Tell that to your campaign aides who insist on anonymity.”

Then Stelter provided screen grabs, presumably from a smartphone, that Stelter described as proof of people on the Trump campaign requesting anonymity.

But perhaps even more absurd is that this admonition about sourcing comes from Trump, who often prefaces his offenses with anonymous-sourcing phrases like, “A lot of people are saying …” Just because you use that as a vehicle to spread a lie, Mr. Trump, it doesn’t mean that other people do, too.

Last week CNN obtained Trump campaign talking points which instructed his supporters to bring up Bill Clinton’s sexual scandals as an attack on Hillary.

I think Trump is falling into a trap here. I think in his anger and haste he is severely underestimating the empathy people have for a betrayed spouse, who might, in misdirected anger, blame the victim, believe the unbelievable, and grant unearned forgiveness. Love makes people do crazy things, and a broken heart isn’t a physical wound but a psychic, spiritual one. It hurts like hell and people often respond in ways that are less than honorable, but ultimately understandable.

This is the kind of childish person who, when losing, flips over the board and yells insults at his family, rather than learning from the loss so that he can get better and be in a stronger position to win the next time.

This man is a brat whose money has stunted his maturation.

He shouldn’t be ushered into the White House; he should be laughed into hiding. His querulous nature shouldn’t be coddled; it should be crushed.

America is in need of a leader, not a puerile, sophomoric sniveler who is too easily baited and grossly ill-behaved.

Go to your gilded room, Donald. The adults need to pick a president.

The assumption is that the voters will behave like adults.  I’m not all that confident…  Here’s Prof. Krugman:

Donald Trump has just had an extraordinarily bad week, and Hillary Clinton an extraordinarily good one; betting markets now put Mrs. Clinton’s odds of winning almost as high as they were just after the Democratic convention. But both Mrs. Clinton’s virtues and Mr. Trump’s vices have been obvious all along. How, then, did the race manage to get so close on the eve of the debate?

A lot of the answer, I’ve argued, lies in the behavior of the news media, which spent the month before the first debate jeering at Mrs. Clinton, portraying minor missteps as major sins and inventing fake scandals out of thin air. But let us not let everyone else off the hook. Mr. Trump couldn’t have gotten as far as he has without the support, active or de facto, of many people who understand perfectly well what he is and what his election would mean, but have chosen not to take a stand.

Let’s start with the Republican political establishment, which is supporting Mr. Trump just as if he were a normal presidential nominee.

I’ve had a lot of critical things to say about Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, and Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House. One thing of which I would never accuse them, however, is stupidity. They know what kind of man they’re dealing with — but they are spending this election pretending that we’re having a serious discussion about policy, that a vote for Mr. Trump is simply a vote for lower marginal tax rates. And they should not be allowed to flush the fact of their Trump support down the memory hole when the election is behind us.

This goes in particular for Mr. Ryan, who has received extraordinarily favorable press treatment over the years — portrayed as an honest, serious policy wonk with a sincere concern for fiscal probity. This reputation was never deserved; his policy proposals have always been obvious flimflam. But in the past, criticisms of Mr. Ryan depended on pointing out hard stuff, like the fact that his numbers didn’t add up. Now it can be made much simpler: Every time he’s held up as an example of seriousness, remember that when it mattered, he backed Donald Trump.

While almost all Republican officeholders have endorsed Mr. Trump, the same isn’t true of what we might call the G.O.P. intelligentsia – actual or at least self-proclaimed policy experts, opinion writers, and so on. For the most part, the members of this group haven’t spoken up in support of this year’s Republican nominee. For example, not a single former member of the Council of Economic Advisers has endorsed Mr. Trump. If you look at who has endorsed Mr. Trump — say, at the signatories of the statement of support from “Scholars and Writers for America” — it’s actually a fairly pathetic group.

But if you think that electing Mr. Trump would be a disaster, shouldn’t you be urging your fellow Americans to vote for his opponent, even if you don’t like her? After all, not voting for Mrs. Clinton — whether you don’t vote at all, or make a purely symbolic vote for a third-party candidate — is, in effect, giving half a vote to Mr. Trump.

To be fair, quite a few conservative intellectuals have accepted that logic, especially among foreign-policy types; you have to give people like, say, Paul Wolfowitz some credit for political courage. But there have also been many who balked at doing the right thing; when Henry Kissinger and George Schultz piously declared that they were not going to endorse anyone, it was a profile in cowardice.

And the response from sane Republican economists has been especially disappointing. Only charlatans and cranks have endorsed Mr. Trump, but only a handful have risen to the occasion and been willing to say that if keeping him out of the White House is important, you need to vote for Mrs. Clinton.

Finally, it’s dismaying to see the fecklessness of those on the left supporting third-party candidates. A few seem to believe in the old doctrine of social fascism — better to see the center-left defeated by the hard right, because that sets the stage for a true progressive revolution. That worked out wonderfully in 1930s Germany.

But for most it seems to be about politics as personal expression: they dislike Mrs. Clinton — partly because they’ve bought into a misleading media image — and plan to express that dislike by staying at home or voting for someone like Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. If polls are to be believed, something like a third of young voters intend to, in effect, opt out of this election. If they do, Mr. Trump might yet win.

In fact, the biggest danger from Mr. Trump’s terrible week is that it might encourage complacency and self-indulgence among voters who really, really wouldn’t want to see him in the White House. So remember: Your vote only counts if you cast it in a meaningful way.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 29, 2016

In “Trump’s Debate Flameout” Mr. Blow says Clinton ran rings around him as he didn’t even seem prepared to answer the most obvious questions and attacks.  Mr. Kristof, in “That Seventh Grade Bully Is Running for President,” says if his agenda doesn’t stop Donald Trump, maybe his behavior toward women will.  Ms. Collins has a question:  “Who’s Really Older, Trump or Clinton?”  She says it’s a new age for age on the campaign trail.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

No one with an open mind and sound reason who witnessed the sniffing, sipping, scowling, raging, interrupting display of petulance and agitation that was Donald Trump’s debate performance on Monday could possibly argue that he won that debate or that he is the kind of person to whom we should entrust the presidency.

It appears that Trump thought it wise to wing it.

Katie Pavlich wrote Monday on the conservative site Townhall, “Trump didn’t take the conventional road of preparing for the debate and skipped mock debate practice altogether.”

Pavlich quoted the senior Trump campaign adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders as saying:

“Donald Trump does what works best for him, and I think that is discussing the issues, studying the issues and frankly being himself. He’s not a poll-tested, scripted robot like Hillary Clinton. That’s a great contrast to have and one I think we are certainly excited to see tonight.”

Well, the robot won. And she did so because she had the discipline and forethought to properly prepare.

At one point during the debate, Trump said of Clinton:

“And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities — and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just — you know, you’ve seen me, I’ve been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that’s O.K.”

But Clinton shot back:

“I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

The crowd applauded.

It takes a tremendous ego and a healthy dose of hubris to believe that you can simply bluster your way through a presidential debate, but if anyone thinks that way, it’s no surprise it’s the uniquely underqualified and overblown king of bragging and whining: Donald J. Trump.

In the end, Clinton ran rings around him as he didn’t even seem prepared to answer the most obvious questions and attacks.

Clinton brought up a well-known issue in Trump’s life:

“Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans, and he made sure that the people who worked for him understood that was the policy.”

Trump’s response was not that they hadn’t discriminated, but rather that “many, many other companies throughout the country” were also sued, that the suit was settled “with no admission of guilt” and that “it’s just one of those things.”

No, Donald, racial discrimination isn’t “just one of those things.”

When the moderator, Lester Holt, asked the candidates how they would heal the racial divide in America, Trump’s response was so tone deaf as to defy belief.

Whereas Clinton spoke of the restoration of trust between the police and communities, better police training, mutual respect, criminal justice reform and systemic racism, Trump took a different route. He invoked his euphemistic lament that the country needs more “law and order,” which is simply code for flooding poor and minority communities with more officers and giving them a nod of approval to crack down on these communities more harshly.

He gushed over the morally abhorrent and thoroughly unconstitutional stop-and-frisk practice used in New York City and he praised Rudy Giuliani’s use of it when Giuliani was mayor of New York. That doesn’t heal racial wounds; it rubs salt in them.

What the public should know is just how racially divisive Giuliani’s own law and order policies were. In 2000, toward the end of his mayoral tenure and when he was still in the race for United States senator for New York against Clinton, three undercover New York City police officers approached Patrick M. Dorismond, an unarmed, 26-year-old black father of two and asked to buy drugs. This made Dorismond angry, just as it would have made me angry. The incident escalated into a scuffle and one of the officers shot and killed Dorismond.

The New York Times reported at the time, “Deputy Chief Thomas Fahey, a police spokesman, acknowledged that the police ‘have no indication’ that Mr. Dorismond knew” that they were police officers.

The maleficent Giuliani took the extraordinary step of releasing Dorismond’s sealed juvenile records to show that the dead man who became upset over being propositioned for drugs was “no altar boy.” In truth it was just another attempt to blame and defame the victim.

But, as The Nation pointed out, the great irony was that “Dorismond had actually been an altar boy. He had even attended the same elite Catholic high school as the Mayor — Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn.”

As The New York Daily News reported in 2000 about a poll released that year:

“The Quinnipiac College survey showed the mayor’s popularity has fallen since the March 16 shooting of unarmed Patrick Dorismond in an NYPD drug operation gone awry. In a stinging rebuke, only 16 percent of New Yorkers approve of Giuliani’s handling of the shooting.”

The paper reported further:

“Race relations, highlighted by the Dorismond shooting, remain a dominant factor in city politics. The poll found 45 percent of voters, including 37 percent of white voters, believe race relations in the city are deteriorating. But the Quinnipiac survey suggested a deeper unrest with the mayor, going beyond the Dorismond controversy.”

The paper continued:

“More than 70 percent think he has flubbed race relations. And most blacks and Hispanics frown on his anti-crime policies.”

And this is a man Trump is praising for racial healing and law and order?

Then Clinton slammed Trump’s treatment of a beauty pageant contestant; his claims sounded not only like misogynist fat shaming, but also blatant bigotry. Clinton said:

“And one of the worst things he said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman ‘Miss Piggy.’ Then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping,’ because she was Latina. Donald, she has a name.”

Clinton continued, “Her name is Alicia Machado.”

Trump’s response was not to deny the charge or to decry the language, but to resurrect his old hostility with Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie O’Donnell? That’s when you know the man is grasping at straws.

Trump completely bombed in that debate and it’s his own fault. His staggering arrogance and breathtaking incompetence were laid bare, as he had no prepared remarks from which to read and no gaggle of other candidates behind whom he could hide.

He stood there, combative but hardly cogent, revealing to the whole country and the world that the man who promises to lift America from the ashes is himself going down in flames.

From your lips to God’s ear, Mr. Blow.  Now here’s Mr. Kristof:

Donald Trump displayed an excellent version of the stern squint in the presidential debate. Many of us men are familiar with this expression, because we practice it at age 13 in the hope that it will impress girls. It doesn’t, and we grow out of it — most of us, anyway.

Hillary Clinton wears a patient smile, the expression of every woman who has calmly suppressed irritation while being harangued by a boor on topics he knows nothing about. Sadly, women never have the opportunity to retire this expression because it is constantly needed, or so my wife tells me.

What is thrilling is that Trump’s boorishness may be catching up to him.

Trump has advocated policies that are confused or senseless — deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants en masse, banning Muslims from entering the country, undermining NATO, slashing taxes on billionaires while raising them on single parents, capitulating to Russia on Crimea — yet these don’t get him into deep political trouble. Instead, his vulnerability seems to be something more elemental: He’s a jerk.

In particular, he’s a jerk toward women — a tendency he displayed prominently during Monday’s debate. Trump interrupted Clinton 51 times, by Vox’s count (she interrupted him 17 times).

Trump seems oblivious to his own loutishness. When Clinton called him out for labeling women pigs, slobs and dogs, he defended himself by saying that Rosie O’Donnell “deserves it.” When Clinton reproached Trump for having degraded a Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, over her weight, Trump obligingly went on Fox News to demonize Machado again for gaining “a massive amount of weight.”

This crassness is nothing new from Trump, of course. Few comments could be more demeaning than one Trump offered in 2005 when Howard Stern asked him if he would stand by his wife, Melania, if she were in a horrible car accident and left with 100 stitches on her face, an oozing sore on her left eye, and a mangled foot. Trump’s first, automatic response? “How do the breasts look?” (Afterward, he did say that he would stick with her.)

Something about Trump is paradigmatic of the most atrocious kind of seventh-grade boy: The boasts about not doing homework, the habit of blaming others when things go wrong, the penchant for exaggerating everything into the best ever, the braggadocio to mask insecurity about size of hands or genitals, the biting put-downs of others, the laziness, the self-absorption, the narcissism, the lack of empathy — and the immaturity that reduces a woman to her breasts.

O.K., now I’ve just insulted 13-year-old boys by comparing them to the man who may become our next president. Sorry, kids, most of you are far better than that!

Trump is puerile not only where gender is concerned. He also seems to boast about what he can get away with, such as not paying taxes.

When Clinton noted in the debate that for at least a couple of years he paid no federal income tax at all, Trump responded, “That makes me smart!” He seems to think that people who pay taxes are chumps — which is irritating for all of us who do pay taxes and would love to glimpse his returns.

One of the most effective commercials against Trump highlights his callousness, as he makes fun of a disabled journalist. The mother of a disabled child says, “The children at Grace’s school all know never to mock her, and so for an adult to mock someone with a disability is shocking.”

Another powerful commercial depicts girls studying themselves in a mirror as Trump is heard mocking women for their looks. Text on the screen asks: “Is this the president we want for our daughters?”

Of course, even if Trump acts like a middle-school boy, his policies would be those of a dangerous adult — and I wish the debate were more focused on those substantive proposals. Trump’s comments may be brutal, but his policies would be infinitely more so.

If only his troglodyte views on gender could be a springboard to discuss women’s issues that rarely get explored, such as domestic violence that strikes one woman in four, or human trafficking, channeling some 10,000 underage Americans into the sex trade each year. One advantage of more women in public life should be more scrutiny of pay gaps, and greater attention to the need for high-quality day care.

Yet if Trump’s Achilles’ heel proves to be not his oafish policies but rather his churlish manner, so be it. There are important policy reasons to reel at the thought of Trump in the White House, but voters perhaps flinch even more at his personal conduct: We already run into enough jerks in daily life, so why would we want one as our head of state?

Middle school is the wrenching, jungle stage of life that we all must struggle through. Why would we subject ourselves to a “leader” who is permanently in the seventh grade?

And lastly here’s Ms. Collins:

Strange we haven’t been talking more about age.

Hillary Clinton is 68, and that’s old for a first-term presidential candidate in this country. The one thing we can say with absolute certainty is that we’d hear about it every day were it not for the fact that Donald Trump is 70.

Still, Trump seems to be finding ways to get at it. Asked during the debate about his comment that Clinton doesn’t have “a presidential look,” Trump rejoined: “She doesn’t have the stamina. I said she doesn’t have the stamina. And I don’t believe she does have the stamina. To be president of this country, you need tremendous stamina.”

I believe he’s suggesting a question about stamina. Andrew Scharlach, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in aging issues, heard “a code for ‘She’s old! She’s a woman! You know how old women are.’”

Newcomers to the current presidential campaign might have wondered why Trump would consider going in that direction at all, considering he was born first. The answer is that the Republican presidential nominee believes he is always an exception. This is the guy who, at the same debate, both complained about America’s deteriorating infrastructure and bragged that he was too smart to pay taxes.

Experts on the subject seem to believe that age is not something we need to fret about, and given the fact that we’re currently juggling everything from Trump being really mean to a Latina beauty queen to the possibility of his starting a nuclear war, I think we should follow their advice.

“Unless we’re going to worry if they could catch something dropping off the table, I don’t think it’d be a problem,” said Steven Austad, the scientific director of the American Federation for Aging Research. “In fact, it might be an advantage.”

Still, this provides an excellent opportunity to look back in history and discuss the campaign of William Henry Harrison. Please. Just for a second. We haven’t given William Henry nearly enough attention this election cycle.

When he ran in 1840, Harrison’s opponents made a big deal about the fact that he was 67. (“A living mass of ruined matter.”) Given that the life expectancy at the time was around 40, you can see how there’d be suggestions that he’d already overstayed his welcome.

Harrison, in response, issued a doctor’s report. It did not include extensive test results, given that there were not yet any tests. But the author still sounded far more reliable than the physician who concluded that Trump would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Harrison’s doctor just said, “Bodily vigor is as good as that of most men his age.”

But then Harrison delivered an inaugural address that went on for one hour and 45 minutes in a cold rain, got sick and died. If Donald Trump wins in November, the one thing we won’t have to worry about is his duplicating Harrison’s performance. No, Trump might talk endlessly, but he would do it from a comfy, heated plexiglass bubble while the peons stand shivering in front of him.

Feel free to argue that when it comes to age issues, women have it tougher. In 1964, when Margaret Chase Smith ran at 66 for the Republican nomination, a Los Angeles Times columnist decreed that 45-to-55 was the optimum range for a presidential candidate. Unfortunately, he added, that was the time when “the female of the species undergoes physical changes and emotional distress.” Ah, memories.

As life expectancy is getting a lot longer and people are healthier, researchers are rethinking the whole definition of old. “Seventy is the new 50. That’s not just a cliché. It really is a reasonable statement these days,” said Austad.

The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, a research organization with the worst name in the world, published a study that pushed the line back, too. “When your life expectancy is 15 years and less, then you get counted as old,” said Warren Sanderson, a professor at Stony Brook University who worked on the project. Using the most recent data available, Sanderson said that Trump, at 70, would have 14.6 years of life expectancy and Clinton, at 68, would have 18.3.

So by that new, expansive definition, there’s only one elderly candidate in this race, and his name is Donald.

It’s not clear that Trump knows how old he is — he told an interviewer that when he looks in the mirror he sees “a person who is 35 years old.”

Clinton doesn’t seem to have that problem. Back in 2008, when she was wrapping up her presidential campaign, we had a conversation in which she told me, suddenly, that her happiest days on the trail were the ones when I was covering her. This sounded stupendously flattering until she added, “It was the only time there was somebody my age on the plane.”

Blow and Krugman

September 26, 2016

In “Police Violence: American Epidemic, American Consent” Mr. Blow says that officers merely reflect the attitudes and fears of a racist society.  In “Progressive Family Values” Prof. Krugman outlines policies for the real, real America.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Another set of black men killed by the police — one in Tulsa, Okla., another in Charlotte, N.C.

Another set of protests, and even some rioting.

Another television cycle in which the pornography of black death, pain and anguish are exploited for visual sensation and ratings gold.

And yes, another moment of mistakenly focusing on individual cases and individual motives and individual protests instead of recognizing that what we are witnessing in a wave of actions rippling across the country is an exhaling — a primal scream, I would venture — of cumulative cultural injury and a frantic attempt to stanch the bleeding from multiplying wounds.

We can no longer afford to buy into the delusion that this moment of turmoil is about discrete cases or their specific disposition under the law. The system of justice itself is under interrogation. The cultural mechanisms that produced that system are under interrogation. America as a whole is under interrogation.

We are in a new age in which the shroud has slipped and trauma has risen.

This is a video age, in which facts that were previously filtered though police accounts and media sources, that were previously whispered over shoulders at barbershops and across kitchen tables, have been buttressed by the immediacy and veracity of visual proof.

It is an age in which the language of resistance has been set and accepted, in which the mode of expression and resistance has been demonstrated and proved effective. It is an age of enlightenment and anger, of fear and frustration, of activism and alertness. Black America is beyond the breaking point, a point of no return.

And in this era, the discussion around these issues must be broad and deep because the actions required to address the problems must be broad and deep.

This moment in our nation’s history is not about how individual fears are articulated — in an emergency call, in an officer’s response, in weapons drawn and fired, in black people’s desire to flee for their lives, in black parents’ anxiety about the safety of their children. This moment is about the enormous, almost invisible structure that informs those fears — the way media and cultural presentations disproportionately display black people, and black men in particular, as dangerous and menacing and criminal. It’s about the way historical policies created our modern American ghettos and their concentrated poverty; the ways in which such concentrated poverty and its blight and hopelessness can be a prime breeding ground for criminal behavior; the way these areas make poverty sticky and opportunity scarce; the way resources, from education to health care to nutrition, are limited in these areas.

We keep talking about choices, but we don’t talk nearly enough about the fact that choices are always made within a cultural and historical context.

People didn’t simply choose to live in neighborhoods with poor housing and poor schools and crumbling infrastructure and few grocery stores and fewer adequate health care facilities. There were many factors that created those neighborhoods: white flight, and the black flight of wealthier black people, community disinvestment, business lending practices and government policies assigning infrastructure and public transportation to certain parts of cities and not others.

And the people living in those communities — sometimes trapped in those communities — make choices, sometimes poor ones, within that context.

We may say that a poor choice is simply wrong and the offending party must deal with the consequences. But poor choices made in a poor environment don’t have the same consequences as those made in wealthy environments. For poor people, the same poor choices are punished more often and more severely, compounding their deficit.

Then America takes it further, imputing the poor choices of a few onto a whole race, and in so doing sets the stage for disaster. This creates the suspicion and fear that can lead to the deaths we’re seeing, in which the person killed may have made no poor choices, in which the only poor choice was the pulling of a trigger.

This is what people mean when they talk about the impact of systemic racism in these cases and in these areas. It is not that the police harbor more racism than the rest of America, but rather that racism across society, including within our police departments and system of justice, has been erected in ways that disproportionately impact poor, minority communities. That is acutely clear in these killings.

What took centuries to grow may take a long time to fully chop down. You can’t fight racism by plucking leaves from the top of the poisonous tree, but by taking an ax to the root.

Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence said last week, “We ought to set aside this talk, this talk about institutional racism and institutional bias,” calling it “rhetoric of division.” That is exactly the opposite of what we should do.

The police are simply instruments of the state, and the state is the people who comprise it. The police are articulating a campaign of control and containment of populations and that campaign has the implicit approval of every citizen within their jurisdictions. This is not a rogue officer problem; this is a rogue society problem.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Here’s what happens every election cycle: pundits demand that politicians offer the country new ideas. Then, if and when a candidate actually does propose innovative policies, the news media pays little attention, chasing scandals or, all too often, fake scandals instead. Remember the extensive coverage last month, when Hillary Clinton laid out an ambitious mental health agenda? Neither do I.

For that matter, even the demand for new ideas is highly questionable, since there are plenty of good old ideas that haven’t been put into effect. Most advanced countries implemented some form of guaranteed health coverage decades if not generations ago. Does this mean that we should dismiss Obamacare as no big deal, since it’s just implementing a tired old agenda? The 20 million Americans who gained health coverage would beg to differ.

Still, there really are some interesting new ideas coming from one of the campaigns, and they arguably tell us a lot about how Mrs. Clinton would govern.

Wait — what about the other side? Aren’t Republicans also offering new ideas? Well, I guess proposing to round up and deport 11 million people counts as a new idea. And Republicans in Congress seem to have moved past their tradition of proposing tax cuts that deliver most of their benefits to the wealthy. Now they are, instead, proposing tax cuts that deliver all of their benefits to the 1 percent — O.K., actually just 99.6 percent, but who’s counting?

Back to Mrs. Clinton: Much of her policy agenda could be characterized as a third Obama term, building on the center-left policies of the past eight years. That would hardly be a trivial matter. For example, independent estimates suggest that her proposed enhancements to the Affordable Care Act would extend health coverage to around 10 million more people, whereas Donald Trump’s proposed repeal of the act would cause around 20 million people to lose coverage.

In addition to defending and extending President Obama’s achievements, however, Mrs. Clinton is pushing a distinctive agenda centered around support for working parents. This isn’t a completely new idea, but the scale of the Clinton proposals is off the charts compared with anything that has gone before. And as I said, this tells us a lot about her priorities.

One piece of that agenda involves 12 weeks of paid family leave to care for new children, help sick relatives, or recover from illness or injury. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Mr. Trump, who has offered his own threadbare version of a maternal leave plan, was pants-on-fire lying when he claimed that his opponent has no such plan. Are you surprised?

Another, even more striking piece involves helping families with young children in several ways, especially through universal preschool and public outlays — subsidies and tax credits — to hold down the cost of child care (the campaign sets a target of no more than 10 percent of income.)

And everything we know, both about Mrs. Clinton’s long-term interests and her current choices of advisers, suggests that family-centered issues are close to her heart. I was personally struck by the campaign’s choice of Heather Boushey, a leading expert on work-life balance issues, as chief economist for the Clinton transition team. That tells me a lot about priorities.

But why should helping working parents be such a priority? It looks to me like an attempt to focus on the problems of the real America — not the white, rural “real America” of right-wing fantasies, but the real, real America in which most of our fellow citizens live. And that America is one in which working parents are the norm, in which stay-at-home mothers are a distinct minority, and in which the problem of how to take care of children while making ends meet is central to many people’s lives.

The numbers are striking: 64 percent of women with children under the age of 6 are in the paid labor force, up from 39 percent in 1975. Most of these working mothers are surely doing so out of economic necessity, and we as a society need to find a way to reconcile this reality with the need to raise our children well.

I suppose a free market purist might question why we need government policies to help deal with this new reality. But we are, after all, talking about the fate of children, who are to some extent a common responsibility. Furthermore, child care economics is in some ways like health economics: for a variety of reasons, mostly coming down to the fact that we’re dealing with people, not things, we can’t trust unregulated markets to deliver a decent outcome.

So anyone who complains that there aren’t big new ideas in this campaign simply isn’t paying attention. One candidate, at least, has ideas that would make a big, positive difference to millions of American families.

Blow and Krugman

September 19, 2016

In “Trump, Grand Wizard of Birtherism,” says once again the Republican candidate has lied, and has compounded his lie by blaming the controversy on Hillary Clinton.  Prof. Krugman has a question in “Vote as if It Matters:”  Will minor parties do major damage?  Here’s Mr. Blow:

So, on Friday the Grand Wizard of Birtherism against President Obama admitted that birtherism was bunk, not by apologizing for his prominent role in the racist campaign — no, that would have been too right — but by suggesting that he deserved credit for dousing the flames he’d fanned.

This man is so low that he’s subterranean.

Donald Trump said Friday: “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy.”

That was a lie. There is no evidence Hillary Clinton and her campaign either started or took part in the efforts to question the location of Barack Obama’s birth.

He continued: “I finished it.”

That was also a lie. Well after it had been established that the president was born in this country, Trump continued to traffic in speculation to the contrary, all the way up to and including this year.

Then Trump said, without elaboration or allowing questions: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

Trump has a long history of elevating the idiocy of conspiracy theories and normalizing the nonsensical.

Trump has claimed that Bill Ayers wrote the President’s acclaimed, best-selling memoir because surely this black man couldn’t have the talent to write the book. As Trump put it:

“I think somebody else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the second book, which was certainly not a masterpiece. I’m very good at books, and it certainly wasn’t a masterpiece.”

It should be noted that Trump’s own best seller, “The Art of the Deal,” was ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz, who told The New Yorker in July, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.”

Trump claimed in a 2011 interview with Sean Hannity that President Obama was “born Barry Soetoro, somewhere along the line, he changed his name.” Soetoro is the surname of Obama’s mother’s second husband, who she married when Obama was a young boy.

But Trump didn’t stop there. He strung together more conspiracy theories, including coming back to his obvious envy of the success and quality of Obama’s first book:

“I heard he had terrible marks and he ends up in Harvard. He wrote a book that was better than Ernest Hemingway, but his second book was written by an average person. He shouldn’t have written the second book.”

Speaking of college, Trump has insinuated that Obama never attended Columbia University. In 2011, Trump told the Conservative Political Action Conference that “our current president came out of nowhere” and “In fact, I’ll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”

The fact-checking site PolitiFact rated this lie “Pants on Fire.”

He once suggested to Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that maybe Obama hadn’t produced a birth certificate because it could reveal that he’s a secret Muslim. He said:

“People have birth certificates. He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that.”

Indeed, the list of conspiracy theories Trump has floated about President Obama is long, but Obama has not been the only target. Trump has also entertained the suspicion that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered, just as he suggests Vince Foster was. He has also intimated that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This is what Trump does: He exalts gossip and innuendo, which has the direct and opposite effect of degrading truth and honesty. He finds a lie in which the depraved have faith and he lifts it up as if it’s a secret that their opponents fear.

This is an enormous distraction, because it means that time and attention that could be put into exposing that Trump’s policies are either paper thin or laughably unworkable are instead diverted to disproving lies which usher forth from his mouth like water from a hose at full throttle.

And even when confronted with proof positive that his conspiracies are baseless, he often doesn’t back down, or if he does, he does so without apology.

He is not only bending the truth, he is breaking the notion that truth should matter in the first place.

This is what is so baffling about the people supporting him: They know he’s lying, but they so want to believe the lies that they have pushed themselves into a universe of irrationality that is devoid of logic.

So, his admission on Friday was too little, too late; too contrived, too strategic and too lacking in context. In fact, Trump has peddled so many lies about the president that this clearly election-driven, down-to-the-wire political ploy rang hollow and felt like as much of an insult as the original claim.

No one who so proudly wears the mark of dishonesty and defamation possesses the power to grant the stamps of legitimacy and absolution.

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Does it make sense to vote for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president? Sure, as long as you believe two things. First, you have to believe that it makes no difference at all whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump moves into the White House — because one of them will. Second, you have to believe that America will be better off in the long run if we eliminate environmental regulation, abolish the income tax, do away with public schools, and dismantle Social Security and Medicare — which is what the Libertarian platform calls for.

But do 29 percent of Americans between 18 and 34 believe these things? I doubt it. Yet that, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, is the share of millennial voters who say that they would vote for Mr. Johnson if the election took place now. And the preponderance of young Americans who say they’ll back Mr. Johnson or Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee, appear to be citizens who would support Mrs. Clinton in a two-way race; including the minor party candidates cuts her margin among young voters from 21 points to just 5.

So I’d like to make a plea to young Americans: your vote matters, so please take it seriously.

Why are minor candidates seemingly drawing so much support this year? Very little of it, I suspect, reflects support for their policy positions. How many people have actually read the Libertarian platform? But if you’re thinking of voting Johnson, you really should. It’s a remarkable document.

As I said, it calls for abolition of the income tax and the privatization of almost everything the government does, including education. “We would restore authority to parents to determine the education of their children, without interference from government.” And if parents don’t want their children educated, or want them indoctrinated in a cult, or put them to work in a sweatshop instead of learning to read? Not our problem.

What really struck me, however, was what the platform says about the environment. It opposes any kind of regulation; instead, it argues that we can rely on the courts. Is a giant corporation poisoning the air you breathe or the water you drink? Just sue: “Where damages can be proven and quantified in a court of law, restitution to the injured parties must be required.” Ordinary citizens against teams of high-priced corporate lawyers — what could go wrong?

It’s really hard to believe that young voters who supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary think any of this is a good idea. But Mr. Johnson and Ms. Stein have received essentially no media scrutiny, so that voters have no idea what they stand for. And their parties’ names sound nice: who among us is against liberty? The truth, that the Libertarian Party essentially stands for a return to all the worst abuses of the Gilded Age, is not out there.

Meanwhile, of course, it does make a huge difference which of the two realistic prospects for the presidency wins, and not just because of the difference in their temperaments and the degree to which they respect or have contempt for democratic norms. Their policy positions are drastically different, too.

True, much of what Mr. Trump says is incoherent: in his policy proposals, trillion dollar tax breaks are here today, gone tomorrow, back the day after. But anyone who calls him a “populist” isn’t looking at the general thrust of his ideas, or at whom he has chosen as economic advisers. Mr. Trump’s brain trust, such as it is, is composed of hard-line, right-wing supply-siders — whom even Republican economists have called “charlatans and cranks” — for whom low taxes on the rich are the overwhelming priority.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has staked out the most progressive policy positions ever advocated by a presidential candidate. There’s no reason to believe that these positions are insincere, that she would revert to 1990s policies in office: What some are now calling the “new liberal economics” has sunk deep roots in the Democratic Party, and dominates the ranks of Mrs. Clinton’s advisers.

Now, maybe you don’t care. Maybe you consider center-left policies just as bad as hard-right policies. And maybe you have somehow managed to reconcile that disdain with tolerance for libertarian free-market mania. If so, by all means vote for Mr. Johnson.

But don’t vote for a minor-party candidate to make a statement. Nobody cares.

Remember, George W. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, but somehow ended up in the White House anyway in part thanks to the Nader vote — and nonetheless proceeded to govern as if he had won a landslide. Can you really imagine a triumphant Mr. Trump showing restraint out of respect for all those libertarian votes?

Your vote matters, and you should act accordingly — which means thinking seriously about what you want to see happen to America.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 15, 2016

In “Trump’s ‘Deplorable’ Deflections” Mr. Blow says his entire campaign is engaged in an elaborate ruse — accusing his opponent of the very things of which he is guilty.  Mr. Blow, that’s typical Republican behavior — it’s all projection all the time.  Mr. Kristof ponders “When a Crackpot Runs for President” and says journalistic efforts at fairness may risk normalizing Donald Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is.  But, but, but…  It’s a horse race, and both sides do it…  Ms. Collins has a question:  “Trump Talks, but Can He Tango?”  She says maybe he’ll end up on “Dancing With the Stars,” which seems to be a place to find redemption.  Well, I wonder if even DWTS would stoop that low.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

In August 2015, The New York Daily News published an exclusive report on a 1991 letter that Donald Trump wrote to the chairman of the State Assembly’s Committee on Cities, complaining about disabled veterans vending their wares on Fifth Avenue, home of Trump Tower in Manhattan.

A New York State law dating from 1894 “allowed disabled veterans to work as sidewalk peddlers in New York City regardless of municipal rules,” as The New York Times wrote in 1991.

But Trump was not empathetic to these wounded warriors’ plight, at least not on Fifth Avenue. He saw them and their vending as an eyesore.

The Daily Beast published its own report on Trump’s efforts to get the veterans booted from this tony part of Manhattan, quoting Trump’s letter as reading:

“While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its taxpaying citizens and businesses?”

He continued, according to The Daily Beast, “Do we allow Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?”

The Daily Beast said that Trump renewed his calls in a 2004 letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, writing, “Whether they are veterans or not, they [the vendors] should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street.”

And in that letter, what did Trump call the situation with the injured veterans simply trying to make a living vending on his Fifth Avenue?

That’s right: “very deplorable.”

This should come as no surprise from a man who belittled the heroism of Senator John McCain, himself a wounded warrior, or who attacked a Gold Star family whose son was killed in Iraq.

But it does point to the staggering, unabashed hypocrisy of the man and the degree to which his entire campaign is engaged in an elaborate ruse of deflection — accusing his opponent of the very things of which he is guilty.

So please spare me your faux outrage about Hillary Clinton’s accurate comments that many of the people supporting Trump are deplorable. Your emperor has no clothes.

That’s why it’s so outlandish to have Trump — a man who seems to have never apologized for anything! — demanding an apology from Hillary Clinton for calling his supporters “deplorable” when he has called the situation of a class of the most honorable Americans, those who put their bodies on the line for our freedoms, “deplorable.”

This is by no means confined to the “deplorable” issue.

Trump has called Clinton “a world-class liar,” but there is no bigger liar than Trump himself — just look at PolitiFact. The man is pathological.

Trump attacks Clinton for a lack of transparency, but this is the same man who has yet to release his tax returns, something every major party nominee in modern American politics has done. And he is telling a flat-out lie about why he can’t do it.

Trump calls Clinton “crooked,” but this is the same man who — along with his businesses — has been sued more than 1,300 times.

This is the same man who is at this moment the subject of three class-action lawsuits over the sham that was Trump University — two cases in California and one in New York.

Trump calls the Clinton Foundation the “most corrupt enterprise in political history,” but this is a man who donated $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

This is a man whose own foundation, the Trump Foundation, has recently been accused in news reports of breaking the law by being used essentially as a political slush fund.

In fact, the New York attorney general has opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation and its operations following those news reports.

Trump clearly understands that in politics, it is far better to be on offense than defense, but his offense is ultimately offensive because he is pointing out a perceived — or even concocted — flaw in another person to distract from the very same flaw in himself.

You might call the strategy masterly if it were not also maleficent, if the future of the country were not on the line, and if this country’s standing in the world were not on the line.

It cannot be said often or loudly enough: Donald Trump is the worst kind of person who brings out the worst in other people. His sinister sleight of hand is that he attempts to make those who call out his nefariousness the purveyors of enmity.

I see straight through that smoke and those mirrors and right to the darkness at the center. It cannot run. It cannot disguise itself. This light will shine on it until it withers.

From your lips to God’s ear, Mr. Blow.  Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

One of the mental traps that we all fall into, journalists included, is to perceive politics through narratives.

President Gerald Ford had been a star football player, yet somehow we in the media developed a narrative of him as a klutz — so that every time he stumbled, a clip was on the evening news. Likewise, we in the media wrongly portrayed President Jimmy Carter as a bumbling lightweight, even as he tackled the toughest challenges, from recognizing China to returning the Panama Canal.

Then in 2000, we painted Al Gore as inauthentic and having a penchant for self-aggrandizing exaggerations, and the most memorable element of the presidential debates that year became not George W. Bush’s misstatements but Gore’s dramatic sighs.

I bring up this checkered track record because I wonder if once again our collective reporting isn’t fueling misperceptions.

A CNN/ORC poll this month found that by a margin of 15 percentage points, voters thought Donald Trump was “more honest and trustworthy” than Hillary Clinton. Let’s be frank: This public perception is completely at odds with all evidence.

On the PolitiFact website, 13 percent of Clinton’s statements that were checked were rated “false” or “pants on fire,” compared with 53 percent of Trump’s. Conversely, half of Clinton’s are rated “true” or “mostly true” compared to 15 percent of Trump statements.

Clearly, Clinton shades the truth — yet there’s no comparison with Trump.

I’m not sure that journalism bears responsibility, but this does raise the thorny issue of false equivalence, which has been hotly debated among journalists this campaign. Here’s the question: Is it journalistic malpractice to quote each side and leave it to readers to reach their own conclusions, even if one side seems to fabricate facts or make ludicrous comments?

President Obama weighed in this week, saying that “we can’t afford to act as if there’s some equivalence here.”

I’m wary of grand conclusions about false equivalence from 30,000 feet. But at the grass roots of a campaign, I think we can do better at signaling that one side is a clown.

There are crackpots who believe that the earth is flat, and they don’t deserve to be quoted without explaining that this is an, er, outlying view, and the same goes for a crackpot who has argued that climate change is a Chinese-made hoax, who has called for barring Muslims and who has said that he will build a border wall and that Mexico will pay for it.

We owe it to our readers to signal when we’re writing about a crackpot. Even if he’s a presidential candidate. No, especially when he’s a presidential candidate.

There frankly has been a degree of unreality to some of the campaign discussion: Partly because Hillary Clinton’s narrative is one of a slippery, dishonest candidate, the discussion disproportionately revolves around that theme. Yes, Clinton has been disingenuous and legalistic in her explanations of emails. Meanwhile, Trump is a mythomaniac who appears to have systematically cheated customers of Trump University.

Clinton’s finances are a minefield, which we know because she has released 39 years of tax returns; Trump would be the first major party nominee since Gerald Ford not to release his tax return (even Ford released a tax summary). And every serious analyst knows that Trump is telling a whopper when he gleefully promises to build a $25 billion wall that Mexico will pay for.

Then there’s the question of foundations. Yes, Clinton created conflicts of interest with the family foundation and didn’t fully disclose donors as promised. But the Trump Foundation flat out broke the law by making a political contribution.

It’s also worth avoiding moral equivalence about the work of the two foundations: The Clinton Foundation saves lives around the world from AIDS and malnutrition, while the Trump Foundation used its resources to buy — yes! — a large painting of Trump, as a gift for Trump (that may violate I.R.S. rules as well).

The latest dust-up has been health care. Neither candidate has been very open about health, but Clinton has produced much more detailed medical records than Trump, and an actuarial firm told The Washington Post Fact Checker that Clinton has a 5.9 percent chance of dying by the end of a second term in office, while Trump would have a 8.4 percent chance.

So I wonder if journalistic efforts at fairness don’t risk normalizing Trump, without fully acknowledging what an abnormal candidate he is. Historically we in the news media have sometimes fallen into the traps of glib narratives or false equivalencies, and we should try hard to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

We should be guard dogs, not lap dogs, and when the public sees Trump as more honest than Clinton, something has gone wrong.

For my part, I’ve never met a national politician as ill informed, as deceptive, as evasive and as vacuous as Trump. He’s not normal. And somehow that is what our barks need to convey.

Well, Nick, it’s now most likely a situation of “way too little, and WAAAY to late.”  But perhaps you could have a wee chat with TPTB at the Times about their coverage…  And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Thoughts while watching Rick Perry do the cha-cha on “Dancing With the Stars”:

“My name is Rick Perry and I’m the governor of the great state of Texas. I am — I’m not the governor of the great state of Texas. That’s not right. I’m the former governor,” he said in a taped introduction.

Yes! It was definitely Rick Perry. The man who gave the nation the “oops” presidential debate was back, dancing on a map of Texas, to a song about Texas, which was sung by the group Little Texas. There was a theme there somewhere.

Do you think Barack Obama was watching? The president hasn’t mentioned “Dancing With the Stars” recently. But he’s been beseeching the country not to confuse low-rent entertainment with high-end politics. “We cannot afford suddenly to treat this like a reality TV show,” he said this week while campaigning for the ailing Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump responds to requests for the release of his medical records by taping an episode of “The Dr. Oz Show.”

Trump is, of course, the ultimate example of reality TV as a political version of the circle of life. Does anyone believe that he’d be the Republican presidential nominee if he hadn’t put in all those years on “Celebrity Apprentice”? In days of yore politicians made their TV mark on “Meet the Press.” Soon, they’re going to be announcing their candidacy for the U.S. Senate on “Big Brother.”

And maybe, if we’re very, very lucky, we’ll hear in another few years that Donald Trump, former presidential candidate, will be doing a clog dance on next season’s “America’s Got Talent.” Or cooking tacos on “Top Chef.” Or demonstrating how he can circle the globe in “The Amazing Race” while still flying home every night to sleep in his own bed.

Perry says he’s dancing on TV as a way to draw attention to veterans’ issues. Right now it’s sort of stylish to pin everything on the poor vets. Remember when Trump dodged a primary debate by announcing he needed the time to raise money for needy ex-servicemen and women?

The one gold star Hillary Clinton deserves this week is for not claiming that her near-faint at the 9/11 ceremony was the result of thinking about our armed forces overseas.

“Dancing With the Stars” has great potential as a kind of high-ratings hostel for failed officeholders. Perry isn’t the first to try to use it as a way to elbow back into the public eye. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — of Texas! — was on the show in 2009, and few people who tuned in will ever forget his choreographic interpretation of “Wild Thing.” Sadly, he was forced to drop out of the competition with a stress fracture to the foot, and returned to the more traditional political retirement occupations of lobbying and beating a money-laundering indictment.

DeLay did seem to feel he got a kind of redemption from the show. “When I walk through airports today, more people recognize me from ‘Dancing With the Stars’ than being the former majority leader,” he said.

This is undoubtedly true. Ex-politicians who do commercials for home equity loans probably also get more attention in airports than they did when they were in office. Nobody could possibly be surprised that DeLay got more celebrity from waltzing in an outfit lined with leopard skin than he did from running the House of Representatives.

The great attraction of reality TV is its message of redemption. Everybody gets a second/third/fourth chance. You might be voted off the island today, but there’s going to be a twist during the sweeps ratings period, and whoever can eat the most boiled otter in three minutes will be back in the game.

A great many contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” seem to be washed-up child actors in search of a comeback. Also, there’s Ryan Lochte, the semi-disgraced Olympic swimmer, whose dancing debut was marred when two men rushed him onstage, apparently still irritated about that incident with the Brazilian police. Lochte said his feelings were hurt, but he will definitely return to fox trot again.

Perry began his performance with a trip to an onstage corn-dog stand — probably a tribute to the Iowa State Fair, where he was mobbed in 2011 as the Republican primary front-runner and totally ignored when he tried to do it again last year. Still, he looked extremely cheerful. A cynic might say he was the most charming ex-governor ever to have vetoed a bill that would have ended the death penalty for the mentally retarded.

However, he scored last during the initial round. First he loses to Donald Trump. Then he comes in behind Vanilla Ice. Well, there’s always next week.

And the week after — where do you think he’ll show up next? The prospects for the 2020 primary season are pretty dim. Rodeo? Professional poker? I hear there’s a Toe Wrestling Championship.

Does he bake?  There’s always “Cupcake Wars” for him to consider…

Blow and Krugman

September 12, 2016

In “About the ‘Basket of Deplorables'” Mr. Blow says that it was a politically unwise, but not untrue, statement.  Prof. Krugman has a question in “Thugs and Kisses:”  Who admires Putin, and why?  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Let’s get straight to it: Hillary Clinton’s comments Friday at a fund-raiser that half of Donald Trump’s supporters could be put in a “basket of deplorables” wasn’t a smart political play.

Candidates do themselves a tremendous disservice when they attack voters rather than campaigns. Whatever advantage is procured through the rallying of one’s own base is outweighed by what will be read as divisiveness and disdain.

Here is Clinton’s full quote:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Then, she continued: “But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

That second basket got too little attention. Context doesn’t provide the sizzle on which shock media subsists. Noted.

What Clinton said was impolitic, but it was not incorrect. There are things a politician cannot say. Luckily, I’m not a politician.

Donald Trump is a deplorable candidate — to put it charitably — and anyone who helps him advance his racial, religious and ethnic bigotry is part of that bigotry. Period. Anyone who elevates a sexist is part of that sexism. The same goes for xenophobia. You can’t conveniently separate yourself from the detestable part of him because you sense in him the promise of cultural or economic advantage. That hair cannot be split.

Furthermore, one doesn’t have to actively hate to contribute to a culture that allows hate to flourish.

It doesn’t matter how lovely your family, how honorable your work or service, how devout your faith — if you place ideological adherence or economic self interest above the moral imperative to condemn and denounce a demagogue, then you are deplorable.

And there is some evidence that Trump’s supporters don’t simply have a passive, tacit acceptance of an undesirable platform, but instead have an active set of beliefs that support what is deplorable in Trump.

In state after state that Trump won during the primaries, he won a majority or near majority of voters who supported a temporary ban on Muslims entering this country and who supported deporting immigrants who are in this country illegally.

In June a Reuters/Ipsos poll found: “Nearly half of Trump’s supporters described African-Americans as more ‘violent’ than whites. The same proportion described African-Americans as more ‘criminal’ than whites, while 40 percent described them as more ‘lazy’ than whites.”

A Pew poll released in February found that 65 percent of Republicans believe the next president should “speak bluntly even if critical of Islam as a whole” when talking about Islamic extremists.

Another Reuters/Ipsos online poll in July found that 58 percent of Trump supporters have a “somewhat unfavorable” view of Islam and 78 percent believe Islam was more likely to encourage acts of terrorism.

A February Public Policy Polling survey found “Trump’s support in South Carolina is built on a base of voters among whom religious and racial intolerance pervades.” What the poll found about those South Carolina supporters’ beliefs was truly shocking:

• Eighty percent of likely Trump primary voters supported Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims.

• Sixty-two percent supported creating a national database of Muslims and 40 percent supported shutting down mosques in the United States.

• Thirty-eight percent wished the South had won the Civil War.

• Thirty-three percent thought the practice of Islam should be illegal in this country.

• Thirty-two percent supported the policy of Japanese internment during World War II.

• Thirty-one percent would support a ban on homosexuals entering the country.

On Saturday, Clinton issued a statement pointing out that “I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong.” Place the percentage where you will — or don’t — but the fact is indisputable.

I understand that people recoil at the notion that they are part of a pejorative basket. I understand the reflexive resistance to having your negative beliefs disrobed and your sense of self dressed down.

I understand your outrage, but I’m unmoved by it. If the basket fits …

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

First of all, let’s get this straight: The Russian Federation of 2016 is not the Soviet Union of 1986. True, it covers most of the same territory and is run by some of the same thugs. But the Marxist ideology is gone, and so is the superpower status. We’re talking about a more or less ordinary corrupt petrostate here, although admittedly a big one that happens to have nukes.

I mention all of this because Donald Trump’s effusive praise for Vladimir Putin — which actually reflects a fairly common sentiment on the right — seems to have confused some people.

On one side, some express puzzlement over the spectacle of right-wingers — the kind of people who used to yell “America, love it or leave it!” — praising a Russian regime. On the other side, a few people on the left are anti-anti-Putinists, denouncing criticism of Mr. Trump’s Putin-love as “red-baiting.” But today’s Russia isn’t Communist, or even leftist; it’s just an authoritarian state, with a cult of personality around its strongman, that showers benefits on an immensely wealthy oligarchy while brutally suppressing opposition and criticism.

And that, of course, is what many on the right admire.

Am I being unfair? Could praise for Russia’s de facto dictator reflect appreciation of his substantive achievements? Well, let’s talk about what the Putin regime has, in fact, accomplished, starting with economics.

Mr. Putin came to power at the end of 1999, as Russia was recovering from a severe financial crisis, and his first eight years were marked by rapid economic growth. This growth can, however, be explained with just one word: oil.

For Russia is, as I said, a petrostate: Fuels account for more than two-thirds of its exports, manufactures barely a fifth. And oil prices more than tripled between early 1999 and 2000; a few years later they more than tripled again. Then they plunged, and so did the Russian economy, which has done very badly in the past few years.

Mr. Putin would actually have something to boast about if he had managed to diversify Russia’s exports. And this should have been possible: The old regime left behind a large cadre of highly skilled workers. In fact, Russian émigrés have been a key force behind Israel’s remarkable technology boom — and the Putin government appears to have no trouble recruiting talented hackers to break into Democratic National Committee files. But Russia wasn’t going to realize its technology potential under a regime where business success depends mainly on political connections.

So Mr. Putin’s economic management is nothing to write home about. What about other aspects of his leadership?

Russia does, of course, have a big military, which it has used to annex Crimea and support rebels in eastern Ukraine. But this muscle-flexing has made Russia weaker, not stronger. Crimea, in particular, isn’t much of a conquest: it’s a territory with fewer peoplethan either Queens or Brooklyn, and in economic terms it’s a liabilityrather than an asset, since the Russian takeover has undermined tourism, its previous mainstay.

An aside: Weirdly, some people think there’s a contradiction between Democratic mocking of the Trump/Putin bromance and President Obama’s mocking of Mitt Romney, four years ago, for calling Russia our“No. 1 geopolitical foe.” But there isn’t: Russia has a horrible regime, but as Mr. Obama said, it’s a “regional power,” not a superpower like the old Soviet Union.

Finally, what about soft power, the ability to persuade through the attractiveness of one’s culture and values? Russia has very little — except, maybe, among right-wingers who find Mr. Putin’s macho posturing and ruthlessness attractive.

Which brings us back to the significance of the Putin cult, and the way this cult has been eagerly joined by the Republican nominee for president.

There are good reasons to worry about Mr. Trump’s personal connections to the Putin regime (or to oligarchs close to that regime, which is effectively the same thing.) How crucial has Russian money been in sustaining Mr. Trump’s ramshackle business empire? There are hints that it may have been very important indeed, but given Mr. Trump’s secretiveness and his refusal to release his taxes, nobody really knows.

Beyond that, however, admiring Mr. Putin means admiring someone who has contempt for democracy and civil liberties. Or more accurately, it means admiring someone precisely because of that contempt.

When Mr. Trump and others praise Mr. Putin as a “strong leader,” they don’t mean that he has made Russia great again, because he hasn’t. He has accomplished little on the economic front, and his conquests, such as they are, are fairly pitiful. What he has done, however, is crush his domestic rivals: Oppose the Putin regime, and you’re likely to end up imprisoned or dead. Strong!