Archive for the ‘Blow’ Category

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

December 1, 2016

In “Donald Trump’s ‘Monster’s Ball'” Mr. Blow says he assembles a team of billionaires and bigots.  Mr. Kristof suggests some “Gifts That Make a Difference,” and says we can give a present with more impact than a tie.  Ms. Collins says they should “Count Those Votes! Again!” and that nothing will change, but we’ll be reminded that Donald Trump is one of the least successful successful presidential candidates ever.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

If you’ve been in a funk over the results of this election: Buck up. It’s over. Dry the tears, push back against the malaise, burn away the fog and stiffen the spine.

There is work to do. Your country needs you, now more than ever. The loyal opposition needs your energy and your moral imagination.

You may be out of power, but you aren’t powerless. Righteousness is a self-propagating energy source. Indeed, there is most likely something to be gained in the midst of your loss. Sometimes, it is while wandering in the wilderness that purpose is perfected and voice is clarified. New champions will rise from these ashes, ones who may not now be apparent, and a new path forward will appear. Such is the way of the world; such is the precedent of history.

Donald Trump was elected on a wave of fake news, fake minority outreach and an 11th-hour email head fake by James Comey.

During the campaign, Trump lied with the ease of breathing and made promises he knew well that he could never keep. He positioned himself as a champion of the disaffected, all the while imagining himself a dictator.

Furthermore, Russia may in a way have won a new phase of the Cold War by dabbling in our hot mess of an election. And through it all, Trump nurtured an unhealthy bromance with Vladimir Putin.

Since winning the election, Trump has taken aim at some fundamentals of our constitutional democracy by not only attacking the media, but individual reporters, while also threatening to revoke American citizenship for the constitutionally protected act of flag burning.

Perhaps even more important and more ominous, he is assiduously assembling a team of advisers made up of billionaires and bigots, homophobes and Islamaphobes, climate change deniers and white supremacy believers.

Last month, David Axelrod called the budding cabinet assemblage a “Monster’s Ball,” and that may be too mild a phrasing.

During one of the debates, Trump boasted, while referring to Hillary Clinton: “I will do more for African-Americans and Latinos than she can ever do in 10 lifetimes. All she’s done is talk to the African-Americans and to the Latinos.”

And yet Trump has named as his chief strategist Steve Bannon, who helped to rebrand Nazis with a new name, alt-right, which sounds more like a computer command than a batch of fanatical racists clinging desperately to poisoned ideas. Trump also named as his nominee for attorney general Jeff Sessions, a man once denied a federal judgeship over charges of racism, who fought for public school funding inequity in his home state of Alabama and who has been a stalwart foe of immigrants.

On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he was going to be a “real friend” of the L.G.B.T. community, and once even unfurled a rainbow flag — albeit upside down — with the words “L.G.B.T.s for Trump” scrawled on it. But the British gay news service Pink News claimed Tuesday that “every single Trump cabinet member so far opposes L.G.B.T. rights.” That was before further appointments were announced, but the point is well taken, as they methodically documented the individual appointees’ personal positions on equal rights.

On the campaign trail, the self-professed genital-grabber Trump said that he would be the “the best for women.” This week, Trump named anti-contraception, pro-fetal personhood Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

On the campaign trail, Trump claimed that he wanted to drain the swamp in Washington. But his cabinet choices suggest that his plan is simply to replace the murky water it contains and the smarmy ecosystem that it conceals with one more to his liking.

The same Trump who blasted Clinton for being “owned by Wall Street” assembled a cabinet that is a roster of the superwealthy, including at least two billionaires, and is considering other top-crusters including the miserable Mitt Romney, who is debasing himself by groveling for the secretary of state job before a man whom he once called a fraud. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog published a piece on Wednesday under this headline: “Trump said hedge funders were ‘getting away with murder.’ Now he wants one to help run the economy.”

Donald Trump is a fraud, and a dangerous one. This country is depending on morally principled patriots to never let that fact be shifted from center stage.

Trump rode to victory on a cloud of vapors and vapid promises, and now he is assembling a counsel of acolytes and opportunists. Now each of us must demonstrate our fortitude in vocal, steadfast resistance.

Trump must be made to know, in no uncertain terms, that he was elected president and not anointed emperor.

Not every battle can be won, but every battle must be waged. This is the proving ground. Are you prepared to stand your ground?

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Sure, you can buy your uncle a necktie that he won’t wear, or your niece an Amazon certificate that she’ll forget to use. Or you can help remove shrapnel from an injured child in Syria, or assist students at risk of genocide in South Sudan.

The major aid organizations have special catalogs this time of year: You can buy an alpaca for a family for $150 at Heifer International, help educate a girl for $75 at Save the Children or help extend a much-admired microsavings program for $25 at Care. But this year my annual holiday gift list is special. I’ve tied some items to the election of Donald Trump, and I’ve looked for organizations that you may not have heard of:

■ One battle over the coming four years will involve family planning, because of G.O.P. efforts to defund Title X family planning programs and repeal Obamacare, which provides free birth control. So consider a donation to one of the most effective counterforces: the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, thenationalcampaign.org.

The campaign takes no position on abortion (except to note that family planning reduces abortions), and it has bipartisan leadership, so it is more likely to get a hearing in a G.O.P.-controlled Washington.

■ As Syria and Russia commit war crimes in Aleppo, heroic physicians from America and other countries are traveling secretly to rebel-held areas of Syria to treat the wounded in underground hospitals and call attention to the carnage. They work through the Syrian American Medical Society, SAMS, sams-usa.net, which supports more than 100 medical facilities in Syria.

■ Human rights and press freedoms seem likely to get much less attention from the next administration, which makes this a good time to support the Committee to Protect Journalists, cpj.org. The C.P.J. speaks up for imprisoned journalists worldwide and tries to end impunity for those who murder journalists (at least 40 journalists have been killed worldwide so far in 2016 for their work).

In the same vein, consider buying a gift subscription to a reliable news organization for yourself or a friend — as an investment in a robust civil society.

■ The recent hurricane in Haiti was devastating, and one of the most effective aid organizations in Haiti is Fonkoze, fonkoze.org, which has adopted a “graduation model” that has been particularly successful at combating global poverty.

Founded by a local Catholic priest, Fonkoze works with the most impoverished women in Haiti over 18 months to get them earning regular incomes through raising livestock or selling merchandise. It’s about teaching people how to fish, not handing out fish. I’ve seen it in action. It’s terrific.

■ Congo is home to probably the most lethal conflict since World War II, and it is sometimes called the rape capital of the world. One of the heroes there is Dr. Denis Mukwege, who founded the Panzi hospital to treat injured women and risks his life to stand up to warlords. He has survived an assassination attempt and some day will get the Nobel Peace Prize — but in the meantime, you can support his hospital at panzifoundation.org.

■ Criminal justice may suffer setbacks in the coming years, which makes this an excellent time to support groups like Equal Justice Initiative, EJI.org, founded by a legendary lawyer named Bryan Stevenson. If attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions has an opposite, it is Stevenson.

E.J.I. fights for indigent defendants and has won the release of inmates who were falsely arrested. It battles mass incarceration and is a voice for racial justice. And Stevenson’s memoir, “Just Mercy,” also makes a great gift.

■ I’ve reported on crimes against humanity unfolding in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, and now the United Nations is warning of the risk of full-blown genocide. In this impossible situation, a South Sudan-born American named Valentino Deng is running a high school, one of few still functioning. It needs support so students can get an education and build their country.

You may remember Valentino: He’s the “lost boy” at the center of Dave Eggers’s best-selling book “What Is the What.” What he has done since, in founding this school, is even more impressive.

It’s time to announce my annual win-a-trip contest, in which I choose a university student to accompany me on a reporting trip looking at global poverty and justice issues. I’m thinking about a 2017 trip to Liberia and Sierra Leone, or perhaps to Bangladesh. Information about how to apply is on my blog, nytimes.com/ontheground, and thanks in advance to the Center for Global Development in Washington for helping me pick a winner.

The win-a-trip journey is exhausting and may involve bed bugs, rats and the worst food you’ve ever eaten. But it is a chance to help shine a light on important and neglected topics, so if you know students perfect for the trip, encourage them to apply.

I’ll also make a pitch for Kiva, where for as little as $25 you can help someone start or expand a small business in some of the neediest places in the world.  I’ve been a Kiva lender for years.  Now here’s Ms. Collins:

Presidential recount underway. What’s your take on it?

— This is a plot to distract the country from the stupendous Election-Day fraud in which millions of dead people cast their votes for Hillary Clinton.

— Is it going to get rid of Donald Trump? If it isn’t, I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. Excuse me, I’m going back to bed.

Wow, happy holidays.

Yes, it’s true the postelection nation is still divided, this time between the folks who don’t want to believe Trump is going to be president and the ones who don’t want to hear that more people actually voted for Hillary.

But about the recount: The star of this show is Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee for president. On Wednesday Stein’s lawyers filed paperwork to force Michigan to recheck its vote tallies. She’s also getting a recount in Wisconsin and she’s working on Pennsylvania.

Since Stein got only 51,463 votes in Michigan to Trump’s 2,279,543, this would seem like an exercise in … um, futility? Deeply cynical minds think the real goal might just be to increase her donor database — her recount campaign has drawn more than $6 million. But Stein says she wants to demonstrate the need to reform the nation’s extremely messy voting system.

“It’s a healing and positive thing to examine the vote,” she said in a phone interview.

Hillary Clinton lost Michigan by 10,704 under the current count. Virtually no one — certainly not the Clinton lawyers — thinks she’s going to make that up in a recount. However, it’s definitely possible Clinton could have gotten 10,705 votes more if Stein had stayed off the ballot in the first place. “Jill Stein is the friend who ruins your wedding but really shows up for you during the divorce,” twittered comedian Morgan Murphy.

Stein claims most of her supporters wouldn’t have voted for anybody if the Green Party hadn’t been an option. But even if she did make a difference, she doesn’t care. “I don’t regard one candidate as preferable to the other,” she said.

We had heard something similar from Ralph Nader, whose presence on the ballot in 2000 probably cost Al Gore Florida, and the presidency. On many of Nader’s issues, Gore was not great. But the point of the American system of democracy is that in the end, you often have to take the responsibility for choosing the better of two unlovely options. And if Gore had been elected, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Case closed.

Knowing what we know now, do you think the best thing the Greens could have done to battle global warming would have been running around trying to get attention for Jill Stein, or working like maniacs to support Clinton and keep Donald Trump out of the White House?

“In my view they’re both lethal to the environment,” said Stein.

In my view, the Green Party screwed up, big time. We will think of it from now on as the Chartreuse Party.

The one positive effect of the recount, besides reassuring people who worry the Russians might be capable of hacking a massive American vote tally, is the way it reminds the nation, every day, that Donald Trump is one of the least successful successful presidential candidates in American history.

He lost the popular vote to Clinton by more than two million votes. Due to our extremely strange Electoral College system, five men have gotten elected president even though more people voted for their opponent. But no one in modern history has come anywhere near Trump’s ginormous negative accomplishment.

The only presidential victor since the Civil War who did worse was Rutherford B. Hayes, a Republican who lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden in 1876 and won the electoral tally only after Republicans challenged the results in four states, all of which were finally decided by a Republican-dominated electoral commission on party-line votes. Everybody accused everybody else of fraud.

It was an election dominated by economic fear and racism. However, Hayes never claimed that “millions of people” in the contested states voted illegally, like another candidate we can think of. Perhaps Hayes decided winners don’t whine. Perhaps it was because there were not yet millions of voters.

It’s important for our mental health to accept that the current recount isn’t going to change the election results, although it’s theoretically conceivable that additional legal challenges could make it impossible for anybody to win the necessary 270 votes when the Electoral College meets on Dec. 19. That would throw the decision over to the Republican-controlled Congress, and an obscure procedure that happened once before, when John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson.

I’m bringing that up just so I can note that John Quincy Adams is the only person besides Rutherford B. Hayes who won the presidency with a worse negative percentage of the popular vote than Donald Trump. Big loser! Sad!

O.K., done ranting. For today.

Blow and Collins

November 24, 2016

In “No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along” Mr. Blow says he doesn’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid.  Ms. Collins, in “Carving Donald Trump,” says pass the stuffing and wave the olive branch.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported, Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions:

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place.

He said that he would have an “open mind” on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming.

After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery.

At one point he said:

“I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”

He ended the meeting by saying:

“I will say, The Times is, it’s a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your “I hope we can all get along” plea: Never.

You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.

I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty.

You slammed Clinton for destroying emails, then Newsweek reported last month that your companies “destroyed emails in defiance of court orders.” You slammed Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for paid speeches and conflicts of interest, then it turned out that, as BuzzFeed reported, the Trump Foundation received a $150,000 donation in exchange for your giving a 2015 speech made by video to a conference in Ukraine. You slammed Clinton about conflicts of interest while she was secretary of state, and now your possible conflicts of interest are popping up like mushroomsin a marsh.

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes.

I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth.

It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.

I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.

I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

Amen, and thank you Mr. Blow.  Now here’s Ms. Collins:

On Thanksgiving, Americans sat down to dinner, looked at the big turkey and thought about Donald Trump.

O.K., that was totally the wrong attitude. We’re supposed to be having a reset. The president-elect has been going out of his way to build bridges. He came to The Times this week for a long conversation, during which he was extremely amiable. He blasted the alt-right twits who celebrated his victory with Nazi salutes. (“Of course I condemn. I disavow and condemn.”) He had nothing but praise for Barack Obama (“I really liked him a lot.”) He has no desire to see Hillary Clinton prosecuted. (“She went through a lot. And suffered greatly in many different ways.”)

Policywise, he was still the guy who’s not all that into position papers. In discussing climate change alone, Trump use the phrase “open mind” seven times. This is one thing you can count on. We haven’t had a mind so open in the White House since Warren Harding.

Trump certainly hasn’t been giving many hints about what he’s actually going to do. But the real, and very important, message from his outreach was to remind the nation that he’s not crazy.

Trump not crazy! The word spread throughout the land. The stock market soared. While it’s true that the country has generally expected a little more from an incoming president, this election year has always been the story of a very low bar.

Look at his appointments. In another year, people might question whether Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina would be the right choice for United Nations ambassador, since she has virtually no experience whatsoever in foreign affairs. However, given the fact that last week Haley appeared to be a finalist for secretary of state, the U.N. seems like an eminently sensible assignment. Plus, once again we are relieved it’s not Rudy Giuliani.

Ironically, Trump, who ran as the big-change guy, is spending his first days as president-elect trying to assure people the changes won’t be too large. The Mexican wall is going to be a mixture of wall and fences — think of it as the Great Wence. The war on illegal immigrants is going to be all about deporting criminals, which is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing for years.

The most astonishing moment in Trump’s visit to The Times came when the president-elect announced that waterboarding suspected terrorists was “not going to make the kind of a difference that maybe a lot of people think.” Those people would include all the folks who went to Trump rallies and cheered when the candidate said things like: “Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I would. … It works.”

“If it’s so important to the American people, I would go for it,” said the man who spent much of the last year trying to make it important. But, he said, he’d talked to Gen. James Mattis — the odds-on bet for secretary of defense — and found that Mattis thought waterboarding was pretty useless and much less effective than trying to win over a prisoner with cigarettes and beer.

Now, you can look at this two ways. One is that we have a president-elect who never bothered to talk with any experts about one of his major campaign themes. The other is that he’s growing into the job.

Let’s take the second. Sure, we’ll probably be disappointed by Valentine’s Day, but it could get us through the holidays.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to set an example — to come up with an olive branch that doesn’t go overboard. Some little thing to smooth the edges before we start fighting about the Supreme Court and health care.

Over the past couple of years I have noted on several occasions that Donald Trump once sent me a letter saying I had the face of a dog. This was when he took exception to my description of him as a “thousandaire.”

I’ve decided I will refrain from mentioning the incident again until he does something really, really terrible as president. In the name of accuracy, however, I have to correct the record. I dug out Trump’s missive the other day and discovered he did not actually say I looked like a dog. He said I was “a dog and a liar” with the face of a pig.

Hard to believe I got that wrong. The moral is that you should always consult the primary source.

So off we go. Fiscal conservatives are terrified that Trump will spend a ton of money on construction projects and refuse to cut entitlements. Murmurs of the dread term “Rockefeller Republican” are probably wafting at Paul Ryan’s holiday table. Perhaps liberals can take comfort in the fact that the other side is just as freaked out as they are.

Next year at this time, we’ll be watching President Trump pardon the Thanksgiving turkeys. Unless he reverts and winds up ordering the turkeys tortured.

I wonder if he can get his hands on that machine that was behind Sarah Palin a few years ago…

Blow and Krugman

November 21, 2016

In “Trump: Making America White Again” Mr. Blow says the president-elect aims for a country by and for white men.  Prof. Krugman, in “Build He Won’t,” tells us not to fall for the Trump infrastructure scam.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

This may well be the beginning of the end: the early moments of a historical pivot point, when the slide of the republic into something untoward and unrecognizable still feels like a small collection of poor judgments and reversible decisions, rather than the forward edge of an enormous menace inching its way forward and grinding up that which we held dear and foolishly thought, as lovers do, would ever endure.

So many of President-elect Donald Trump’s decisions herald a tomorrow that is bleak for anyone who held hope that he could be a different, better man than the one who campaigned (I was not among that cohort), or those who simply assumed that the gravity of the office he is to assume would ground him.

Hard-line Trumpism isn’t softening; it’s being cemented.

Increasingly, as he picks his cabinet from among his fawning loyalists, it is becoming clear that by “Make America Great Again,” he actually meant some version of “Make America a White, Racist, Misogynistic Patriarchy Again.” It would be hard to send a clearer message to women and minorities that this administration will be hostile to their interests than the cabinet he is assembling.

He has promoted Stephen Bannon, an alt-right, white nationalist cheerleader and sympathizer, to chief White House strategist.

Senator Bernie Sanders responded to the Bannon announcement with a blistering statement:

“The appointment by President-elect Trump of a racist individual like Mr. Bannon to a position of authority is totally unacceptable. In a democratic society we can disagree all we want over issues, but racism and bigotry cannot be part of any public policy. The appointment of Mr. Bannon by Mr. Trump must be rescinded.”

But of course, Trump had no intention of rescinding the appointment. Indeed, he had more controversial appointments to come.

He has chosen the extreme anti-Islam hyperbolist Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who also happens to be a stop-and-frisk apologist and has tweeted that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL” — as his national security adviser.

As The New York Times reported Thursday:

“General Flynn, for instance, has said that Shariah, or Islamic law, is spreading in the United States. (It is not.) His dubious assertions are so common that when he ran the Defense Intelligence Agency, subordinates came up with a name for the phenomenon: They called them ‘Flynn facts.’”

In October, Flynn tweeted:

“Follow Mike @Cernovich He has a terrific book, Gorilla Mindset. Well worth the read. @realDonaldTrump will win on 8 NOV!!!”

The New Yorker dubbed Mike Cernovich “the meme mastermind of the alt-right” in a lengthy profile.

The magazine pointed out:

“On his blog, Cernovich developed a theory of white-male identity politics: men were oppressed by feminism, and political correctness prevented the discussion of obvious truths, such as the criminal proclivities of certain ethnic groups.”

Then there was the choice of Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general. In 1986 Sessions famously became only the second nominee in 48 years to be rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee, due to racist comments and behavior.

When confronted by the committee about remarks he was accused of making about the N.A.A.C.P. and the A.C.L.U., Sessions responded:

“I’m often loose with my tongue. I may have said something about the N.A.A.C.P. being un-American or Communist, but I meant no harm by it.”

But not all of Sessions’s issues regarding minorities have a 30-year vintage.

In response to the attorney general announcement, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement that read in part:

“But we cannot support his nomination to be the country’s next attorney general. Senator Sessions not only has been a leading opponent of sensible, comprehensive immigration reform, he has associated with anti-immigrant groups we consider to be deeply racist, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Security Policy.”

Indeed, FAIR was quick to congratulate Sessions on his nomination Friday, saying in a statement: “It’s hard to imagine a better pick for the attorney general position than Senator Jeff Sessions”; the group called on Sessions to rid the country of sanctuary cities.

The S.P.L.C. has written about FAIR, saying:

“FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements. Its advertisements have been rejected because of racist content. FAIR’s founder, John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.”

Trump is making a statement that it would behoove America to heed: The America he envisions, and is now actively constructing from his perch of power, is not an inclusive America. It is a society driven by a racial Orwellianism that seeks to defend, elevate and enshrine the primacy of white men and is hostile to all “others.”

That orange glow emanating from the man is the sun setting on America’s progress, however slow and halting, on race and gender inclusion and equity.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, is a white supremacist and purveyor of fake news. But the other day, in an interview with, um, The Hollywood Reporter, he sounded for a minute like a progressive economist. “I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan,” he declared. “With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything.”

So is public investment an area in which progressives and the incoming Trump administration can find common ground? Some people, including Bernie Sanders, seem to think so.

But remember that we’re dealing with a president-elect whose business career is one long trail of broken promises and outright scams — someone who just paid $25 million to settle fraud charges against his “university.” Given that history, you always have to ask whether he’s offering something real or simply engaged in another con job. In fact, you should probably assume that it’s a scam until proven otherwise.

And we already know enough about his infrastructure plan to suggest, strongly, that it’s basically fraudulent, that it would enrich a few well-connected people at taxpayers’ expense while doing very little to cure our investment shortfall. Progressives should not associate themselves with this exercise in crony capitalism.

To understand what’s going on, it may be helpful to start with what we should be doing. The federal government can indeed borrow very cheaply; meanwhile, we really need to spend money on everything from sewage treatment to transit. The indicated course of action, then, is simple: borrow at those low, low rates, and use the funds raised to fix what needs fixing.

But that’s not what the Trump team is proposing. Instead, it’s calling for huge tax credits: billions of dollars in checks written to private companies that invest in approved projects, which they would end up owning. For example, imagine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 billion while putting up $200 million in equity — but it would get a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its actual outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million.

There are three questions you should immediately ask.

First, why do it this way? Why not just have the government do the spending, the way it did when, for example, we built the Interstate Highway System? It’s not as if the feds are having trouble borrowing. And while involving private investors may create less upfront government debt than a more straightforward scheme, the eventual burden on taxpayers will be every bit as high if not higher.

Second, how is this scheme supposed to deal with infrastructure needs that can’t be turned into profit centers? Our top priorities should include things like repairing levees and cleaning up hazardous waste; where’s the revenue stream? Maybe the government can promise to pay fees in perpetuity, in effect “renting” the repaired levee or waterworks — but that makes it even clearer that we’re basically engaged in a gratuitous handout to select investors.

Third, what reason do we have to believe that this scheme will generate new investment, as opposed to repackaging things that would have happened anyway? For example, many cities will have to replace their water systems in the years ahead, one way or another; if that replacement takes place under the Trump scheme rather than through ordinary government investment, we haven’t built additional infrastructure, we’ve just privatized what would have been public assets — and the people acquiring those assets will have paid just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Again, all of this is unnecessary. If you want to build infrastructure, build infrastructure. It’s hard to see any reason for a roundabout, indirect method that would offer a few people extremely sweet deals, and would therefore provide both the means and the motive for large-scale corruption. Or maybe I should say, it’s hard to see any reason for this scheme unless the inevitable corruption is a feature, not a bug.

Now, the Trump people could make all my suspicions look foolish by scrapping the private-investor, tax credits aspect of their proposal and offering a straightforward program of public investment. And if they were to do that, progressives should indeed work with them on that issue.

But it’s not going to happen. Cronyism and self-dealing are going to be the central theme of this administration — in fact, Mr. Trump is already meeting with foreigners to promote his business interests. And people who value their own reputations should take care to avoid any kind of association with the scams ahead.

Blow and Krugman

November 14, 2016

In “Trump’s Rural White America” Mr. Blow says shifting demographics contribute to the sharp political divisions seen in this year’s election.  Prof. Krugman, in “Trump Slump Coming?”, says don’t count on an immediate disaster after the next president takes office.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

As I watched last week as protesters took to the streets in big cities, what struck me was the vast and growing divide between America’s rural and urban populations and their politics and sensibilities.

One look at county maps of this year’s election results and you see what looks like a handful of blueberries sprinkled on an endless spread of red sauce (between the blue coasts). And yet, it is likely that the final result will be that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, although Donald Trump won the electoral vote and therefore the election.

Part of the reason for this is that, as a census report noted last year: “U.S. cities are home to 62.7 percent of the U.S. population but comprise just 3.5 percent of land area.”

Indeed, a 2013 analysis by Business Insider found that “half of the United States population is clustered in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000,” according to Census data.

Fourteen states — a few in the Plains, a few in the Deep South and a few in New England — contained none of those “biggest counties” and another 19 only contained one or two of those counties.

Furthermore we are seeing a corrosive decline in faith in our institutions.

There are many reasons that people lose faith in institutions. They cluster and perpetuate money and power among the few, often at the expense of the many. Their very weight in the cluster and the tremendous influence they wield makes them ripe for corruption and malfeasance.

Another likely reason is that, for many of the white working-class voters, particularly in the “rural countryside of the North” as The New York Times put it, these institutions are increasingly foreign.

Institutions are largely urban. The federal government is in Washington, D.C.. The financial center is in New York. New York is also the publishing capital and home to cable and broadcast news. Hollywood is in California. Our Ivy League schools are in a handful of Northeastern states. Our most influential cultural institutions — museums, performance companies and spaces, music studios — are in big cities. The same can be said for our most influential newspapers.

Furthermore, there are two complimentary and compounding internal migratory patterns that exacerbate the divide: At the same time that young people are moving out of rural areas and into urban ones, a 2009 United States Department of Agriculture report pointed out that “members of the baby boom cohort, now 45-63 years old, are approaching a period in their lives when moves to rural and small-town destinations increase.”

This makes the places these people are leaving and the places they’re going both more homogeneous. Young people tend to be more liberal as well as more educated. Baby boomers are more conservative. In fact, a 2015 Gallup report found that “older generations have twice as many conservatives as liberals.”

Add to this brain drain the diversity factor in cities. As the International Business Times pointed out in 2011:

“Non-Hispanic whites are now minority in 22 of the country’s 100-biggest urban areas, including those surrounding Washington, New York, San Diego, Las Vegas and Memphis. The reversal is being fueled by a growth in Hispanic and Asian populations — they grew by 41 and 43 percent, respectively — and the fact that white populations have grown by less than one percent.”

Furthermore, urban areas, rather than rural ones, are magnets for new immigrants from other countries and, as a 2014 Pew Research report found, this immigrant population is exploding, providing fertile ground for appeals to rural whites experiencing or worried about economic distress and looking for easy scapegoats for their anxieties:

“In 1990, the U.S. had 19.8 million immigrants. That number rose to a record 40.7 million immigrants in 2012, among them 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants.”

So, rural whites are suspicious of big institutions and big government, located in big cities with big populations of people who don’t look like them.

People in big cities, living cosmopolitan lives among diverse populations that resemble a tub of rainbow-colored ice cream, may be weary of institutions for other reasons, but they are less likely to blame diversity and inclusion for their problems, and are therefore less amenable to the destructive message of Donald Trump.

Earlier this year a working paper published by the Gallup senior economist Jonathan Rothwell found: “This analysis provides clear evidence that those who view Trump favorably are disproportionately living in racially and culturally isolated ZIP codes and commuting zones. Holding other factors, constant support for Trump is highly elevated in areas with few college graduates, far from the Mexican border, and in neighborhoods that stand out within the commuting zone for being white, segregated enclaves, with little exposure to blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.”

We are living in two diverging Americas at odds and at battle. Trump’s America won this round.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

Let’s be clear: Installing Donald Trump in the White House is an epic mistake. In the long run, its consequences may well be apocalyptic, if only because we have probably lost our last, best chance to rein in runaway climate change.

But will the extent of the disaster become apparent right away? It’s natural and, one must admit, tempting to predict a quick comeuppance — and I myself gave in to that temptation, briefly, on that horrible election night, suggesting that a global recession was imminent. But I quickly retractedthat call. Trumpism will have dire effects, but they will take time to become manifest.

In fact, don’t be surprised if economic growth actually accelerates for a couple of years.

Why am I, on reflection, relatively sanguine about the short-term effects of putting such a terrible man, with such a terrible team, in power? The answer is a mix of general principles and the specifics of our current economic situation.

First, the general principles: There is always a disconnect between what is good for society, or even the economy, in the long run, and what is good for economic performance over the next few quarters. Failure to take action on climate may doom civilization, but it’s not clear why it should depress next year’s consumer spending.

Or take the signature Trump issue of trade policy. A return to protectionism and trade wars would make the world economy poorer over time, and would in particular cripple poorer nations that desperately need open markets for their products. But predictions that Trumpist tariffs will cause a recession never made sense: Yes, we’ll export less, but we’ll also import less, and the overall effect on jobs will be more or less a wash.

We’ve already had a sort of dress rehearsal for this disconnect in the case of Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. Brexit will make Britain poorer in the long run; but widespread predictions that it would cause a recession were, as some of us pointed out at the time, not really based on careful economic thinking. And sure enough, the Brexit recession doesn’t seem to be happening.

Beyond these general principles, the specifics of our economic situation mean that for a time, at least, a Trump administration might actually end up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Eight years ago, as the world was plunging into financial crisis, I argued that we’d entered an economic realm in which “virtue is vice, caution is risky, and prudence is folly.” Specifically, we’d stumbled into a situation in which bigger deficits and higher inflation were good things, not bad. And we’re still in that situation — not as strongly as we were, but we could still very much use more deficit spending.

Many economists have known this all along. But they have been ignored, partly because much of the political establishment has been obsessed with the evils of debt, partly because Republicans have been against anything the Obama administration proposes.

Now, however, power has fallen into the hands of a man who definitely doesn’t suffer from an excess of either virtue or prudence. Donald Trump isn’t proposing huge, budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations because he understands macroeconomics. But those tax cuts would add $4.5 trillion to U.S. debt over the next decade — about five times as much as the stimulus of the early Obama years.

True, handing out windfalls to rich people and companies that will probably sit on a lot of the money is a bad, low-bang-for-the-buck way to boost the economy, and I have my doubts about whether the promised surge in infrastructure spending will really happen. But an accidental, badly designed stimulus would still, in the short run, be better than no stimulus at all.

In short, don’t expect an immediate Trump slump.

Now, in the longer run Trumpism will be a very bad thing for the economy, in a couple of ways. For one thing, even if we don’t face a recession right now, stuff happens, and a lot depends on the effectiveness of the policy response. Yet we’re about to see a major degradation in both the quality and the independence of public servants. If we face a new economic crisis — perhaps as a result of the dismantling of financial reform — it’s hard to think of people less prepared to deal with it.

And Trumpist policies will, in particular, hurt, not help, the American working class; eventually, promises to bring back the good old days — yes, to make America great again — will be revealed as the cruel joke they are. More on that in future columns.

But all of this will probably take time; the consequences of the new regime’s awfulness won’t be apparent right away. Opponents of that regime need to be prepared for the real possibility that good things will happen to bad people, at least for a while.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

November 10, 2016

In “America Elects a Bigot” Mr. Blow says he does not respect this president-elect, and to count him among the resistance.  Mr. Kristof, in “Gritting Our Teeth and Giving President Trump a Chance,” says we need to be watchdogs, not lap dogs.  Also, Nick, I’d suggest that we dispense with the “honeymoon” period.  Ms. Collins offers a “Ten-Step Program for Adjusting to President-Elect Trump,” with some practical considerations to help cope.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald J. Trump is president-elect of the United States. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Against all odds and against all forms of the establishment, he prevailed. He won, legitimately, including in many states that were thought to be safely blue. The pundits and the polls were wrong. There was more pent-up hunger for change — and also racial, ethnic and economic angst — than many models considered.

Mr. Trump will become this country’s 45th president. For me, it is a truly shocking fact, a bitter pill to swallow. I remain convinced that this is one of the worst possible people who could be elected president. I remain convinced that Trump has a fundamentally flawed character and is literally dangerous for world stability and injurious to America’s standing in that world.

There is so much that I can’t fully comprehend.

It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.

Also, let me be clear: Businessman Donald Trump was a bigot. Candidate Donald Trump was a bigot. Republican nominee Donald Trump was a bigot. And I can only assume that President Donald Trump will be a bigot.

It is absolutely possible that America didn’t elect him in spite of that, but because of it. Consider that for a second. Think about what that means. This is America right now: throwing its lot in with a man who named an alt-right sympathizer as his campaign chief.

How can I make sense of the fact that the president appeared in pornos?

How can I make sense of the fact that the man who will appoint the next attorney general has himself boasted of assaulting women? What will this president’s vaunted “law and order” program for “inner cities” look like in an age where minority communities are already leery of police aggression?

How do I make sense of the fact that a man who attacked a federal judge for his “Mexican heritage” will be the man who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice and scores of federal judges?

I can’t make it make sense because it doesn’t. I must sit with the absurdity of it.

I must settle this in myself in this way: I respect the presidency; I do not respect this president-elect. I cannot. Count me among the resistance.

I hope that there are areas where people in Washington can agree to actually advance America’s interests, but I’m doubtful. Trump has made multiple campaign promises, promises he will be obliged to keep, that would specifically do harm.

My thoughts are now with the immigrant families he has threatened to deport and the Muslims he has threatened to bar and the women he has demeaned and those he is accused of assaulting and the disabled whom he apparently has no problem mocking.

My thoughts are with the poor people afflicted by ill health who were finally able to receive medical insurance coverage, sometimes lifesaving coverage, and the fear they must feel now that there is a president committed to repealing and replacing it (with what, I don’t know), and who has a pliable Congress at his disposal.

When I think of all these people and then think of all the people who voted to make this man president — and those who didn’t vote, thereby easing the way for his ascension — I cannot help but feel some measure of anger. I must deal with that anger. I don’t want to wrestle it to the ground; I want to harness it.

I have spent much of my life and definitely much of my time writing this column championing the causes of vulnerable populations. That work only becomes more important now. Trump represents a clear and very present danger, and it is in the face of that danger that courage and truth are made more necessary and more perfect.

I strongly support and defend the peaceful transfer of power in this country and applaud the current administration for doing what is right and normal in America, what every prior departing administration has done: to make sure the transfer of power is as smooth as possible.

We need a Trump presidency to succeed to some de gree — at least to have it do as little harm to the republic as possible — in order for America to remain safe, steady and strong during his tenure.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t believe Trump to be an abomination, but rather that I honor one of the hallmarks of our democracy and that I am an American interested in protecting America.

That said, it is impossible for me to fall in line behind an unrepentant bigot. It will be impossible for me to view this man participating in the pageantry and protocols of the presidency and not be reminded of how he is a demonstrated demagogue who is also a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe and a bully.

That is not a person worthy of applause. That is a person who must be placed under unrelenting pressure. Power must be challenged, constantly. That begins today.

We hope he’ll be watched like a hawk, but there’s no telling what the milquetoasts in Congress on the other side of the aisle will do.  Here’s Mr. Kristof:

Sure, if you’re in the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump, go ahead and mourn. When a former Ku Klux Klan leader like David Duke is giddily celebrating a political triumph for his values, how can we not ache for our own?

Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world — including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980 — and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man. We are not Weimar Germany.

It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.

Having said that, Trump has talked about repealing Obamacare, deporting millions of our neighbors, instituting religious tests, overturning President Obama’s actions on climate change and moving the Supreme Court far to the right. How can progressives respond with anything but resistance — or emigration? As it became clear that Trump had been elected, Canada’s website for immigration crashed from too much traffic.

It’s complicated, but let me offer a few reasons to hold off on your visa application:

■ Trump is inexperienced and makes extreme statements, but he’s not ideological. He used to be pro-choice, then suggested that women should be punished for getting an abortion, but neither is a core view — because Trump doesn’t have a core. He is an opportunist. He blustered about building a wall and banning Muslims but won’t do either, because those ideas are unworkable. (The wall could cost $25 billion.)

The area where Trump would be most dangerous is foreign affairs, because there he can act largely at will, unconstrained by law. Yet it is perfectly possible that Trump will appoint as secretary of state an experienced Republican like Richard Haass, with Stephen Hadley as secretary of defense, thus signaling that adults are in charge of foreign policy.

The thought of Trump with the nuclear codes is terrifying, but if he was to give a crazy order, no one knows if aides would circumvent it. In 1974, when President Richard Nixon was drinking heavily during the Watergate crisis, his defense secretary, James Schlesinger, ordered the military not to obey any presidential instruction for a nuclear attack without checking further.

■ Democrats are too quick to caricature Trump supporters as deplorables. Sure, some are racists or misogynists, but many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past. My rural hometown, Yamhill, Ore., is pro-Trump, and I can tell you: The voters there are not all bigoted monsters, but well-meaning people upended by economic changes such as the disappearance of good manufacturing jobs. They feel betrayed by the Democratic and Republican establishments, and finally a candidate spoke to them.

Liberals condemn the stereotyping of Latinos or Muslims but have been quick to stereotype Trump voters.

Look, ordinary Americans have not somehow lurched into bigotry, even if they have backed a man I consider a bigot. A Bloomberg poll found that if Obama had been allowed to seek a third term, he would have defeated Trump in a landslide, 53 percent to 41 percent. And just four years ago, the presidential election was between the African-American son of a single mom and a Mormon.

■ Trump was absolutely right that the economic system is broken for ordinary Americans, especially working-class men. Since 1979, real hourly wages for men have essentially been unchanged for the bottom half of Americans by income.

Today, we’re a country divided not only by ideology but also by identity. Whites voted for Trump by a margin of 21 percentage points; blacks for Clinton by 80 percentage points. If it had been only women voting, Clinton would have won in a landslide. (Thank God for women and people of color!)

Unfortunately, Trump’s proposed policies would exacerbate the inequity that he campaigned on. And normal checks and balances will not apply, for he will be working with a Republican Senate, a Republican House and a majority-Republican Supreme Court.

One crucial check could be the news media — if we are up to it. I’ve been very critical this year of the role that we in the media, especially cable television, played in Trump’s rise. We need to be watchdogs, not lap dogs.

The time for ranting is over, and it’s time to accept the inevitable. Trump has surprised us in many ways this year, and let’s hope and pray that he will stun us once again by repairing the tears he made in our social fabric. Let’s give him a chance — for those are our democratic values.

And if he falls short, let’s hold him accountable — for the sake of those same values.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Well, wow. We’ve got a president-elect who a great many Americans regard as the spawn of Satan. A dimwitted, meanspirited spawn embodying the nation’s worst flaws, failings and nightmares.

But on the lighter side …

The question today is how to deal with the reality of Donald Trump, next president of the United States. Remember, we’re doing this for your mental health, not his.

The bottom line is to presume the best while preparing for the worst. “They killed us but they ain’t whooped us yet,” said Tim Kaine, channeling Faulkner in one of the losing team’s biggest applause lines.

Forget about moving abroad. Of course it sounds tempting, but you’d be surprised how many countries are unenthusiastic about acquiring new former-American citizens. The Canadians will just keep telling you about their terrific, sensible, well-adjusted young prime minister. Plus there’s that terrible housing bubble in New Zealand.

Let’s get more practical. Here goes:

A 10-Step Program for Adjusting to President-Elect Donald Trump

1) Start with a night of heavy drinking. Already done that? Good, you’re on your way.

2) Acknowledge that Donald Trump is not crazy. Obviously, he has been known to act crazy in public. But if you met him at a private social occasion you would probably find him to be a fairly pleasant person.

I say that as someone who once got a letter from Trump telling me I had the face of a dog. But the next time I saw him at a lunch meeting he was fine. Told interesting jokes about how much money he got for product placement on his TV show. Obviously, this isn’t the equivalent of “Theodore Roosevelt reincarnated.” But we’re trying to work with what we have here.

3) Trump has the attention span of a gnat, but if he appoints reasonable and intelligent people to his cabinet, the government could run O.K.

It will be easy to tell if this is not going to happen: Attorney General Rudy Giuliani.

4) Ditto with foreign affairs. Trump has seemed pretty hands-off when it comes to international involvement, so perhaps with the right advisers, he might take a moderate approach that would disappoint the Republican hawks.

Tip-off that this one’s a non-starter: Secretary of State Newt Gingrich.

5) If you’re worried about social issues, remember that until fairly recently, Trump was a rather liberal Manhattanite.

But just in case, you might want to write out a large check to Planned Parenthood.

6) When it comes to big domestic policy questions, to Trump they’re just applause lines or bargaining chips. Anything could go either way.

While that’s not necessarily calming, it’s better than assuming he actually believes all the stuff he says. What kind of program could he really, really get his heart and soul behind? The only thing I can imagine is a multitrillion-dollar Donald Trump Historic Biggest Ever Infrastructure and 50-State Golf Course Building Program.

7) About the election results: Don’t let people tell you that the vote proves half the American population is racist. There’s another reasonable explanation for Trump’s victory. In most presidential elections, people decide between change and continuity. Hillary Clinton was running to continue the Obama legacy. After a president serves two terms, Americans generally vote for change, and the other party’s nominee.

Yeah, I know — those people yelling the N-word or “Sieg heil!” at the rallies. But if you dwell on them, you’re not going to want to go out of the house anymore. Think of it as basically a change/no change election. Plus some deplorables rattling around the basket.

8) We ought to give anybody a second chance, even if it’s Donald Trump. “We now are all rooting for his success,” said President Obama. Really, you do not want to be one of those people like, um, Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of African-American outreach, who told a reporter on election night that when it came to enemies, “Mr. Trump has a long memory and we’re keeping a list.”

Now that’s the kind of attitude that might come in handy if you’re a repeat contestant on a cheesy reality show like “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But obviously that has nothing to do with being chief executive of the United States.

9) Try to think about some of the other election results on Tuesday that were more positive. Some states passed new gun control initiatives. Others raised the minimum wage, and several legalized recreational marijuana. Which will definitely come in handy over the next few years.

10) At Thanksgiving, if your family keeps trying to trade Trump insults, redirect the conversation to that great Chicago Cubs World Series win.

It may be a hard meal to get through, but remind yourself that a couple of days later, our president-elect is scheduled to take the witness stand in a Trump University fraud trial.

There’s always a silver lining.

Blow and Krugman

November 7, 2016

In “Vote for Your Health and for Your Life” Mr. Blow says that on Election Day, you have the power to turn things around.  Prof. Krugman, in “How to Rig an Election,” says heroic voters are facing down badly broken institutions.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

America, Election Day is our national day of reckoning, the day we do battle at the ballot box to beat back the advance of the butternut squash-tanned barbarian.

I know you’re exhausted and exasperated. I know the lunacy has taken its toll. I know that your incredulity has grown in you like a tumor.

I know that media coverage has been infuriating and the parade of Donald Trump deflect-and-detract minions a source of endless frustration.

I know that there have been some out-of-body, what-the-hell-is-going-on moments as details about Trump’s past have come to light — revelations that would have spelled the end of a candidate during previous cycles — and people have simply pushed past them with bizarrely twisted rationales.

I know that those of you with friends in other countries have been bombarded by baffled callers wondering, “What on Earth is America thinking?”

I know that you know what I know: Trump is truly one of the worst candidates to ever seek the presidency. And, a large part of that is due to his instability and malleability, all part of his no-holds-barred pursuit of power.

He is simultaneously hostile and fragile. He is bombastic and whiny. He waffles on ideology even as he pursues ideologues. He is vengeful and vacuous. He professes his championing of women while consistently insulting them and boasting of assaulting them. He reaches out to African-Americans while hiring an alt-right advocate as his campaign’s chief executive and a campaign adviser who brags about suppressing the black vote.

Donald Trump himself is at the center of his value system. He doesn’t care about America, or the Republican Party or any particular principle. Trump is about personal enrichment and unending, unequivocal affirmation. Trump is a megalomaniac, in addition to many, many other awful things.

When he’s reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter, some people forget who he is, but I simply can’t. I can’t get past it; I can’t get over it. Trump as president is America’s nightmare scenario, an election that would herald the end of the empire.

No person who fully comprehends just how young and fragile this experiment is that we call a fully representative democracy would ever even entertain the concept of taking a chance on this destruction in a tie and under a mysterious mane.

But too many Americans seem very much O.K. with Trump, so much so that he is very much in the running to win, although Clinton clearly has the upper hand at the moment.

And so, the stress is real.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 82 percent of voters said that this campaign has made them feel more disgusted about American politics.

A Colby College-Boston Globe poll last month found that 64 percent of likely voters felt this year’s election was much more negative than previous ones, and 80 percent thought that America should be embarrassed by our election process based on this election.

As far back as July, 59 percent of Americans said they felt “worn out” by the amount of election coverage, according to the Pew Research Center.

The American Psychological Association has even issued an advisory about the stress that this election has caused. It points out:

“Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.”

With Trump our boat isn’t just driving toward the falls. He has powered the motor and is propelling us at full speed, while half of the country shrieks in fear and the other half, in deranged delirium, giddily greets destruction.

But Tuesday you have the power to turn things around. You no longer have to passively take this torture; now you can do something about it (if you haven’t already): You can vote!

Indeed, the American Psychological Association issued five tips for managing the stress of this election, the last of which was this:

“Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your ‘I voted’ sticker with pride.”

On Election Day, you get to have your voice heard and choice registered. You get to say yes to normalcy and rationality and no to insanity.

On Election Day, you can do something that counts and make a stand for your country, for your mental health, for your life. Exercise your power.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

It’s almost over. Will we heave a sigh of relief, or shriek in horror? Nobody knows for sure, although early indications clearly lean Clinton. Whatever happens, however, let’s be clear: this was, in fact, a rigged election.

The election was rigged by state governments that did all they could to prevent nonwhite Americans from voting: The spirit of Jim Crow is very much alive — or maybe translate that to Diego Cuervo, now that Latinos have joined African-Americans as targets. Voter ID laws, rationalized by demonstrably fake concerns about election fraud, were used to disenfranchise thousands; others were discouraged by a systematic effort to make voting hard, by closing polling places in areas with large minority populations.

The election was rigged by Russian intelligence, which was almost surely behind the hacking of Democratic emails, which WikiLeaks then released with great fanfare. Nothing truly scandalous emerged, but the Russians judged, correctly, that the news media would hype the revelation that major party figures are human beings, and that politicians engage in politics, as somehow damning.

The election was rigged by James Comey, the director of the F.B.I. His job is to police crime — but instead he used his position to spread innuendo and influence the election. Was he deliberately putting a thumb on the electoral scales, or was he simply bullied by Republican operatives? It doesn’t matter: He abused his office, shamefully.

The election was also rigged by people within the F.B.I. — people who clearly felt that under Mr. Comey they had a free hand to indulge their political preferences. In the final days of the campaign, pro-Trump agents have clearly been talking nonstop to Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and right-wing media, putting claims and allegations that may or may not have anything to do with reality into the air. The agency clearly needs a major housecleaning: Having an important part of our national security apparatus trying to subvert an election is deeply scary. Unfortunately, Mr. Comey is just the man not to do it.

The election was rigged by partisan media, especially Fox News, which trumpeted falsehoods, then retracted them, if at all, so quietly that almost nobody heard. For days Fox blared the supposed news that the F.B.I. was preparing an indictment of the Clinton Foundation. When it finally admitted that the story was false, Donald Trump’s campaign manager smugly remarked, “The damage is done to Hillary Clinton.”

The election was rigged by mainstream news organizations, many of which simply refused to report on policy issues, a refusal that clearly favored the candidate who lies about these issues all the time, and has no coherent proposals to offer. Take the nightly network news broadcasts: In 2016 all three combined devoted a total of 32 minutes to coverage of issues — all issues. Climate change, the most important issue we face, received no coverage at all.

The election was rigged by the media obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails. She shouldn’t have used her own server, but there is no evidence at all that she did anything unethical, let alone illegal. The whole thing is orders of magnitude less important than multiple scandals involving her opponent — remember, Donald Trump never released his tax returns. Yet those networks that found only 32 minutes for all policy issues combined found 100 minutes to talk about Clinton emails.

It’s a disgraceful record. Yet Mrs. Clinton still seems likely to win.

If she does, you know what will happen. Republicans will, of course, deny her legitimacy from day one, just as they did for the last two Democratic presidents. But there will also — you can count on it — be a lot of deprecation and sneering from mainstream pundits and many in the media, lots of denial that she has a “mandate” (whatever that means), because some other Republican would supposedly have beaten her, she should have won by more, or something.

So in the days ahead it will be important to remember two things. First, Mrs. Clinton has actually run a remarkable campaign, demonstrating her tenacity in the face of unfair treatment and remaining cool under pressure that would have broken most of us. Second, and much more important, if she wins it will be thanks to Americans who stood up for our nation’s principles — who waited for hours on voting lines contrived to discourage them, who paid attention to the true stakes in this election rather than letting themselves be distracted by fake scandals and media noise.

Those citizens deserve to be honored, not disparaged, for doing their best to save the nation from the effects of badly broken institutions. Many people have behaved shamefully this year — but tens of millions of voters kept their faith in the values that truly make America great.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

November 3, 2016

Mr. Blow says “Trump Is an Existential Threat,” and that you can’t say yes to Trump and yes to common decency.  Mr. Kristof has come up with “5 Reasons to Vote for Trump,” saying that for one, he could show us how to use the oldest part of our brains.  Which is JUST what this country needs — more knuckle-walkers using their lizard brain…  Ms. Collins says “Republican Candidates, Admit It’s Hillary You’re Voting For.”  She’s given us our pre-election Senate primer.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

There are only a handful of days until Election Day and an end to this phase of a nation’s — and the world’s — ebb and flow of anxiety. The day after the votes are cast and counted that anxiety will either dissipate or become a fixed feature. Which of these it will be is very much in flux.

While Hillary Clinton still maintains a lead in the polls and a built-in advantage on the electoral map, recent polls suggest that Donald Trump is closing the gap. There are now plausible — however improbable — electoral map routes to victory for him.

I leave it to others to make predictions about how all this will play out, but I feel that I must say again, and until the last minute and with my last breath: America, are you (expletive) kidding?!

I simply cannot wrap my head around how others with level heads and sound minds can even consider Trump for president of this country and leader of the free world. The logic simply escapes me.

I try to view it through the lens of economic anxiety, diminished economic mobility and global pressure. It all seems understandable, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a billionaire whose businesses have on more than one occasion gone bankrupt, who stiffed contractors, who outsources the making of many of his products and who brags about not paying federal income taxes. All of which brings me back to: Are you kidding me?

I try to view it through a purely ideological lens in which people simply tend to vote for the party nominee. It makes sense, but then I’m reminded of Donald Trump, a man who isn’t really an ideologue but a demagogue interested only in self-aggrandizement. And again I return to: You’re kidding, right?

I think of the family values voters on the right with whom I’ve become acquainted over the years. Although I might have vigorously disagreed with their positions and their inherent myopic anachronism, at least I could say that they were as principled in their adherence to their positions as I was in opposition to them. But then, again, I hit Donald Trump, who is dragging traditional conservative paternalism into the muck of perversion, who brags about sexually assaulting women, who makes fun of the disabled, who savors a lust for vengeance, who says he has never needed to seek forgiveness, even from God. Again, are you kidding?

I try to think of it from a strict constitutionalist’s perspective, to understand how strongly they want the vacancy on the Supreme Court to be filled by a constitutional purist. But then I think of Trump, whose Muslim ban would fly in the face of the Constitution, whose threats to the press strike me as constitutionally hostile, whose advancement of torture would seem to me constitutionally questionable (to say nothing of its legality in the face of international norms and treaties). Are you kidding, America?

I try to think of it in terms of weariness with Washington and with D.C. insiders, the Clintons in particular, and dynastic democracy in general. I try to think of the intense Clinton distrust and even hatred that exists in some quarters, sentiments only exacerbated by things like this never-ending email saga. But then I hit Donald Trump, a real estate scion who has been sued nearly 1,500 times and is currently being sued for Trump University deceptions and the rape of a 13-year-old girl. You have got to be kidding.

There is no way to make this make sense. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Donald Trump is a bigot.

Donald Trump is a demagogue.

Donald Trump is a sexist, misogynist, chauvinist pig.

Donald Trump is a bully.

Donald Trump is a cheat.

Donald Trump is a pathological liar.

Donald Trump is a nativist.

Donald Trump’s campaign has proved too attractive to anti-Semites, Nazis and white nationalists, and on some level the campaign seems to be tacitly courting that constituency.

Donald Trump — judging by his own words on that disgusting tape and if you believe the dozen-plus women who have come forward to accuse him of some form of sexual assault or unwanted sexual advance — is an unrepentant predator.

To put it more succinctly, Donald Trump is a lowlife degenerate with the temperament of a 10-year-old and the moral compass of a severely wayward teen.

There is no way to make a vote for him feel like an act of principle or responsibility. You can’t make it right. You can’t say yes to Trump and yes to common decency. Those two things do not together abide.

If you are voting for Trump, you are voting for coarseness, corruption and moral corrosion. Period. And if you are not actively voting against him, you are abetting his attempt to hijack American greatness and sink it with his egotism.

On Election Day, America faces a choice, and it’s not a tough one, but a stark one. It is the difference between tolerance and intolerance. It is the difference between respect and disrespect. It is the difference between a politician with some flaws and a flaw threatening our politics.

Donald Trump is America’s existential threat. On Tuesday, America has an opportunity to defend itself.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

1.) Who needs experience to be president? It’s true that Donald Trump would have less public service experience than any president in American history, but knowledge is lame. Maybe the Know-Nothing Party in the 19th century captured this spirit in its name — and Trump is the apotheosis of knowing-nothing. In my journalistic career, I’ve never met a national candidate as ill informed, evasive or puerile as Donald Trump.

Let’s try puerility for a change! What could go wrong?

Oh, nuclear weapons, you say? Well, other countries walk all over us because they trust us to be reasonable. In, say, a trade dispute with Canada, we’d get much better results if Canadians feared that Trump might incinerate Ottawa. And even if something went wrong, so what? There’s lots more of Canada.

Look, nobody messes with Kim Jong-un of North Korea, because he’s a crazy, inexperienced guy with nukes. With Trump, we’d have our own Kim Jong-un!

2.) We’ve accepted that leaders need not be saints, so why not embrace a paragon of fraud? With his experience allegedly cheating consumers at Trump University, maybe we could even fund government by cheating foreign tourists.

Sure, it’s a little awkward that Trump boasts about sexually assaulting women, and has been accused by at least 17 women of groping or other improper behavior — and I know three other women with similar complaints who haven’t dared come forward. At G-8 summit meetings, Trump would have to be seated well away from any female leaders. But he could break the ice with male leaders by dissing Angela Merkel’s behind.

Enough with sanctimony and moralism from the failing news media! Time to shake things up with a sexual predator!

3.) Trump might become the most entertaining president in history. If Clinton is elected, she’ll give earnest, wonkish speeches about the benefits of increasing the child tax credit or raising the minimum wage. Yawn. In contrast, Trump will insult world leaders, barge into Miss Teen U.S.A. changing rooms and castigate the menstrual cycles of female critics. It’ll be the most riveting reality TV ever.

And whatever you think of Trump’s policies, you have to admit, no president would have better hot mike scandals.

So in an age of cord-cutting, when HBO is inaccessible to millions, a Trump presidency would keep us all amused, aghast or at least entertained. Until the nuclear apocalypse, after which we may all be dead anyway.

4.) Diversity is important, and Trump is inclusive — of extremists.

Many Americans troubled by demographic change complain that they have been left disenfranchised. Trump speaks up for such oppressed groups — like white men.

Craven politicians usually stop with supporting the white working class, but Trump goes where others dare not: He has championed those previously left out of politics, like white supremacists. What other candidate would twice retweet a “white genocide” account with the photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party? Trump has boldly empowered even one of the most marginalized constituencies in America today: the Ku Klux Klan, which has a newspaper that this week gave him a warm embrace.

It can be cathartic to express rage, and Trump gives license to make America hate again. He lets Americans put aside Kumbaya political correctness, also known as “mutual respect” or “social fabric,” and instead embrace our inner storm trooper. Finally, a politician brave enough and inclusive enough to reach out to hate groups.

5.) Donald Trump understands that our modern brains hold us back.

Deep in our heads, resting on the spinal cord, is what scientists sometimes call our “reptilian brain.” In evolutionary terms, this is the oldest part of our brains and it governs primal instincts such as hunger, sex and fear; it helps trigger the fight or flight response.

This reptilian brain has been updated with a cerebral cortex and other modern brain structures that are the seat of reason — but Trump is bypassing them. Neuroscientists have noted that he preaches directly to the lizard in our heads.

“We do experience a primitive apprehension welling up from our ‘reptilian brain,’” Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychology professor, tells me, but we still interpret it in light of our belief system. The modern world has developed science, journalism, a judiciary and similar institutions to curb our primal impulses — but Trump blows these off.

Our reptilian brains evolved to be hyper-alert to dangers, which was lifesaving in an age of pterodactyls. Trump activates these vigilant instincts, Pinker says, and channels them into the most primitive interpretive circuits of our cortex, the ones rooted in tribalism. And so he wants us to join him in making scapegoats of Muslims, refugees, Mexican “rapists” and black “thugs.”

This historic election thus presents a choice: To decide how to cast our ballots, do we rely upon our reptilian brains or our human brains? To put it another way: Are we fearful, instinctive reptiles? Or nuanced, reasoning humans?

And last but not least we have Ms. Collins:

Look, you need a rest. Let’s talk about the Senate races.

If Hillary Clinton wins — and if she doesn’t, the Senate will be the least of our problems — Democrats need to pick up four seats to gain control. Otherwise, Clinton will have trouble getting anything through Congress, even her most basic appointees. She’ll be holding cabinet meetings with people from the temp staffing agency.

The single most interesting sidelight in the Senate fights is watching embattled swing state Republicans trying to avoid revealing who they support for president of the United States.

We’re seeing some weird dances. Truly, the mating peacock spider has nothing on some Republicans who are trying to balance their need to appease the base with their deep-down understanding that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country.

“I don’t think my constituents care that much how one person is going to vote,” said Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania when he was asked the obvious question at a recent debate.

“On Nov. 8, I’ll have a decision,” said Representative Joe Heck of Nevada, who’s running in a tight race for an open Senate seat. Recently, he’s taken to pointing out that we have a secret ballot in this country. That’s certainly true, but our forefathers didn’t invent it to protect members of Congress from revealing what they think of the top of their very own ticket.

Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, another Republican in a difficult re-election fight, says she’s going to write in Mike Pence for president. You have to appreciate her predicament. During one debate, Ayotte made the mistake of saying, in a super-vague way, that Trump might be a good example for American children. (“I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president.”) She had to issue a retraction.

But this business of making up candidates to vote for is pathetic. Have you ever watched a big TV singing contest? How do you think viewers would react if it got down to a pitched battle between a crazy saxophonist who couldn’t follow the music and a disciplined but slightly boring guitarist — and the celebrity panel announced that the winner was Plácido Domingo?

Really, this is pretty much the same thing. Ohio Gov. John Kasich claims he’s already voted for John McCain. McCain, who has his own re-election race to deal with, said he may write in his old friend Senator Lindsey Graham. This is literally throwing away your vote since neither Arizona nor Ohio counts write-ins for people who haven’t registered as candidates.

Can you see how ridiculous this is? The write-in dodge might be appropriate for 20-year-olds who want to demonstrate their moral superiority to the system. But a career politician holding high office knows perfectly well that unless you vote for one of the two major party candidates, you’re not taking part in the most important decision the American public ever makes.

How could you trust a senator to make a principled stand on the budget if she can’t even bring herself to choose a president?

Thirty-four states have Senate races this year, but most of them involve incumbents so safe they could not be dislodged by a rocket launcher. (A prominent New York City Democrat told me he went to a meeting of party regulars the other night where a number of attendees were surprised to hear that Chuck Schumer was up for re-election.)

On the other hand, virtually everybody seems to agree that one current Republican senator, Mark Kirk of Illinois, is probably doomed, doomed, doomed. Kirk won Barack Obama’s old seat in the big anti-Democratic upheaval of 2010. Since then, he’s made news by referring to his unmarried colleague Lindsey Graham as “a bro with no ho.” Recently, in a debate with his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth, Kirk took the interesting tack of making fun of Duckworth’s heritage.

“I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he sniped. Duckworth’s mother is Thai and her father comes from a family with a military history that goes back to the American Revolution. Have we mentioned she’s an Iraq war veteran who lost both legs in a helicopter crash?

Kirk has been running desperately away from Donald Trump, who he says is “too bigoted and racist.” You would think this is one case where a Republican with little to lose would figure that it’s time to take a stand and admit that although he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on tons of issues, she’s the only presidential candidate who has the capacity to protect the nation’s basic security and safety.

But no. At one point Kirk claimed he was going to vote for former C.I.A. director David Petraeus.

Swing state Republican voters, if you’ve got a hot Senate race involving two unsatisfactory candidates, consider just writing in Thomas Jefferson. He’s not alive, but nobody’s perfect.

Blow and Krugman

October 31, 2016

In “Emails, Genitalia and the F.B.I.” Mr. Blow says the F.B.I. director, James Comey, appears to have been fully aware of how disruptive to the election his note would be.  In “Working the Refs” Prof. Krugman tells us how the right uses the weak-minded.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Who would have thought that the final leg of this election cycle would be dominated by crowing about violating vaginas and by probes into penis pictures?

But even that frame is problematic because it creates an equivalency that doesn’t exist. One scandal is about a man boasting of predation and the other is about a woman weary of people’s prying. These are fundamentally different flaws, one being clearly about a pattern of assault and the other about a pattern of ill-fated insularity.

And yet an utterly irresponsible media, thirsty for a scoop and ignoring the consequences of its scope, has egged on a public with a scandal lust, aiding and abetting Republicans in turning an email mistake into a colossal crime.

Far from the faux election rigging that Donald Trump has been harping on for weeks, this election isn’t in danger of being stolen by Hillary Clinton, but in danger of being stolen from her.

On Friday, the F.B.I. director, James Comey, took the outrageous and unprecedented step of sending a letter to Congress announcing that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to the inquiry into Clinton’s personal email server that apparently had been uncovered as part of an Anthony Weiner sexting investigation.

Not only was this move reckless, weaponizing the reputation of the bureau once again as a partisan political entity, but also Comey was apparently ignoring the strong discouragement of the Justice Department.

But, according to a report by The New York Times: “Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”

Comey, for his part, appeared fully cognizant of how disruptive to the election his note would be, and yet inexplicably, he sent it anyway.

In a letter to F.B.I. employees, he pointed out that “of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations,” but feebly tried to explain that he was doing so this time, at this crucial moment, so as not to mislead the American people and to “supplement the record.”

Then he wrote: “At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.”

“Risk of being misunderstood” is one of the most appalling understatements of this presidential cycle. Comey clearly knew that his ill-advised actions could implicate Clinton by insinuation and he proceeded anyway, presenting his vague letter as an act of valor when in fact it was an act of vacuity. The irony here is that the man who blasted Clinton for being “extremely careless” for her use of a private email server was himself “extremely careless” for inserting himself and his agency into an election with that letter.

And let’s be clear: Although there have been contradictory news reports on how many new emails there are in question and whether or not any of them were sent to or from Clinton, Comey himself did not and has not clarified any of these questions.

How are voters supposed to fold this into their decision-making with a little more than a week left before Election Day? Is this a big deal about nothing or another phase in something substantial?

Republicans may be gleeful, but Democrats have every right to be livid. This is just the latest lifeline being thrown to a Republican candidate drowning in his own ineptitude.

There is no way to know what electoral impact this will have, but I would venture that it is safe to say that it will have some. Headlines and sound bites are as deep as some voters go. The impropriety of Comey’s action requires a level of detailed assessment that is simply beyond the inclination of what I roughly call the Fickle Five Percent, the late-deciding swing voters who move between candidates based on the week’s revelations.

Add to that the fact that Trump has been encouraging his supporters to watch the polls in “certain areas,” a move that many worry could amount to voter intimidation, particularly in minority neighborhoods.

Furthermore, a senior Trump campaign official last week told Bloomberg Business Week, “We have three major voter suppression operations underway.” As the publication pointed out: “They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African-Americans.”

Trump wants to win through sleight of hand and Comey most likely just increased that possibility, however slightly. Voters of all ideologies who value the integrity of our electoral process must send the strongest possible message that this is not how we want our democracy to operate. They must vote with conviction in absolute opposition.

Now here’s Prof. Krugman:

The cryptic letter James Comey, the F.B.I. director, sent to Congress on Friday looked bizarre at the time — seeming to hint at a major new Clinton scandal, but offering no substance. Given what we know now, however, it was worse than bizarre, it was outrageous. Mr. Comey apparently had no evidence suggesting any wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton; he violated longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and he did so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.

So what happened? We may never know the full story, but the best guess is that Mr. Comey, like many others — media organizations, would-be nonpartisan advocacy groups, and more — let himself be bullied by the usual suspects. Working the refs — screaming about bias and unfair treatment, no matter how favorable the treatment actually is — has been a consistent, long-term political strategy on the right. And the reason it keeps happening is because it so often works.

You see this most obviously in news coverage. Reporters who find themselves shut up in pens at Trump rallies while the crowd shouts abuse shouldn’t be surprised: constant accusations of liberal media bias have been a staple of Republican rhetoric for decades. And why not? The pressure has been effective.

Part of this effectiveness comes through false equivalence: news organizations, afraid of being attacked for bias, give evenhanded treatment to lies and truth. Way back in 2000 I suggested that if a Republican candidate said that the earth was flat, headlines would read, “Views differ on shape of planet.” That still happens.

The desire to get right-wing critics off one’s back may also explain why the news media keep falling for fake scandals. There’s a straight line from the Whitewater investigation — which ran for seven years, was endlessly hyped in the press, but never found any wrongdoing on the part of the Clintons — to the catastrophically bad coverage of the Clinton Foundation a couple of months ago. Remember when The Associated Press suggested scandalous undue influence based on a meeting between Hillary Clinton and a donor who just happened to be both a Nobel Prize winner and an old personal friend?

Sure enough, much of the initial coverage of the Comey letter was based not on what the letter said, which was very little, but on a false, malicious characterization of the letter by Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. You might think reporters would have learned by now not to take what people like Mr. Chaffetz say at face value. Apparently not.

Nor is it just the news media. A few years ago, during the peak of deficit-scold influence, it was striking to see the various organizations demanding deficit reduction pretend that Democrats who were willing to compromise and Republicans who insisted on slashing taxes for the wealthy were equally at fault. They even gave a “fiscal responsibility” award to Paul Ryan, whose budget proposals gave smoke and mirrors a bad name.

And as someone who still keeps a foot in the academic world, I’ve been watching pressure build on universities to hire more conservatives. Never mind the way climate denial, attacks on the theory of evolution, and all that may have pushed academics out of the G.O.P. The fact that relatively few conservatives teach, say, physics, is supposed to be grossly unfair. And you know some schools will start hiring less qualified people in response.

Which brings us back to Mr. Comey. It seemed obvious from the start that Mrs. Clinton’s decision to follow Colin Powell’s advice and bypass State Department email was a mistake, but nothing remotely approaching a crime. But Mr. Comey was subjected to a constant barrage of demands that he prosecute her for … something. He should simply have said no. Instead, even while announcing back in July that no charges would be filed, he editorialized about her conduct — a wholly inappropriate thing to do, but probably an attempt to appease the right.

It didn’t work, of course. They just demanded more. And it looks as if he tried to buy them off by throwing them a bone just a few days before the election. Whether it will matter politically remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: he destroyed his own reputation.

The moral of the story is that appeasing the modern American right is a losing proposition. Nothing you do convinces them that you’re being fair, because fairness has nothing to do with it. The right long ago ran out of good ideas that can be sold on their own merits, so the goal now is to remove merit from the picture.

Or to put it another way, they’re trying to create bias, not end it, and weakness — the kind of weakness Mr. Comey has so spectacularly displayed — only encourages them to do more.

Blow and Collins

October 27, 2016

In “Donald Trump’s Lack of Discipline and Discernment” Mr. Blow says according to his own words, he objectifies women, prioritizes fighting and fetishizes adoration.  Ms. Collins, in “The Dark Days of Donald Trump,” tells us how the half-minute candidate takes care of business.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Yes, we’re still talking about sex. Sigh.

On Tuesday night, during a fiery — and quite frankly, bizarre —interview on Fox News, the Trump supporter, walking contradiction and inflated ego Newt Gingrich yelled at the host, Megyn Kelly, about Trump’s own statements about sexually assaulting women and multiple women’s accusations that he had assaulted them.

When Kelly began a question with the phrase, “If Trump is a sexual predator…,” Newt went nuts, said Trump “is not a sexual predator,” chastised her for “using language that’s inflammatory” and claimed she was “fascinated with sex.”

This was an obscene spectacle, and not only because Gingrich has confessed to cheating on his wife at the same time that he was leading impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice related to having an affair. It was also obscene because of the continued tone deafness and abject ignorance within the Trump campaign and among its allies about the canyon of difference between sex and assault.

Sex, in all its range of expressions, including kissing and intimate touching, is consensual. Any forcible touching of another person’s body is sexual assault.

One should always be wary of people who don’t intuitively recognize that difference.

But this would have been a blip, a curiosity, merely an act in the media circus, if it had simply remained a squabble between television personalities. But, of course, it didn’t. On Wednesday, Donald Trump couldn’t help weighing in, once again turning attention away from issues that could strengthen his struggling campaign and back to his monthslong quarrel with Kelly and his history of issues with women.

At the grand opening of his new Washington, D.C., hotel, Trump complimented Gingrich for his finger-waving tantrum, saying:

“By the way — congratulations, Newt, on last night. That was an amazing interview … we don’t play games, Newt, right? We don’t play games.”

With that statement, Trump elevated and endorsed Gingrich’s behavior and reignited the debate about Trump and his campaign’s dismissal of the very idea of sexual assault. With that statement, every woman and every parent of a daughter and sibling of a sister is forced to bring Trump’s braggadocio about kissing and groping women back to the fore. With that statement, everyone is forced to consider the vindictive side of the man who has — to put it mildly — a spotty track record with women.

Trump, according to his own words, objectifies women, prioritizes fighting and “winning,” and fetishizes adoration.

We’re putting aside for a moment weighty issues like his severely challenged grasp of foreign policy, his reckless comments about nuclear weapons, his blockheaded comments about abortion, his xenophobic comments about Muslims, his ethno-bigoted comments about Mexicans and his condescending comments about the plight of black people in the “inner city.”

Let’s instead focus for the purposes of this discussion on character, or the lack thereof. Let’s focus on what we know about this man from the words that have come out of his own mouth. Let’s focus on the clarity of his darkness, his illusory deceptions, his insatiable avarice and his colossal conceit.

When you view the man with clear eyes, he shrinks and withers.

What is left when the facade is removed is a shallow narcissist who is also a misogynist, bigot, nativist and xenophobe. That keeps coming up, but that’s the root of the thing. We can never tire of saying that because it is in fatigue that hatred and intolerance gain a foothold that can quickly morph into a stranglehold.

Vigilance is not optional; it’s obligatory.

Just this week, The New York Times reported on tapes of Trump recorded by the biographer Michael D’Antonio. To hear the accompanying podcast in which portions of the recordings are played, along with a discussion with D’Antonio, is to descend into the mind of an egomaniacal fame addict who is painfully un-self-aware even as he boasts of his own personal achievements.

In part one of the podcast, D’Antonio makes this startling assertion:

“I think he doesn’t want to be understood because that would make him vulnerable, but I also think that he doesn’t even know himself well enough to share what he considers to be genuine. His genuine reality is the most superficial one that you can imagine.”

But, in part two of the podcast, D’Antonio delivers a devastating assessment of the man he interviewed, recorded and captured in biography:

“Donald Trump is a bottomless pit of need, and the presidency was the only object big enough that he could imagine seizing to fill up that hole.”

Mr. D’Antonio continued: “It’s not going to be enough, were he to win.”

Yes, this is one man’s assessment, but it feels to me like an astute one, and a fundamentally frightening one.

And this brings us back to his inability to resist patting Gingrich on the back for his verbal tirade against Kelly. Trump lacks not only self-awareness, but also self-control. He could have let that television exchange pass without comment, and he should have, but he didn’t.

Everything in him is so caught up with the idea of who he’s fighting with that he doesn’t seem to have a principled grasp on what he is fighting for. That’s not someone who should be a great nation’s president; that’s someone who would benefit from being a great therapist’s patient.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Do you think Donald Trump has given up?

It was a little strange to see him campaigning Wednesday in that critical swing state of … Washington, D.C.

“He’s coming to open a hotel that’s under budget and ahead of schedule,” campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, insisting it was all a part of the presidential sales pitch.

Blitzer noted mildly that the hotel has actually been open for some time.

“This is the grand official opening,” Conway insisted.

Aren’t you beginning to feel a little sympathy for Kellyanne Conway? Until recently she was just that terrible Trump talking head, but now she seems like a woman laboring valiantly under an impossible burden.

“Saturday Night Live” recently did a parody of her day off, in which Kellyanne eagerly tried to do yoga or cook dinner, but kept getting dragged back to CNN to recalibrate some new awful tweet from her candidate. (“Of course Mr. Trump thinks that Mexicans can read, and actually what he wants them to read the most is Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 missing emails.”)

Conway herself once admitted that the campaign was behind, but then had to spend days trying to pedal back from the obvious. In — yes! — another CNN interview, she said that she had reprimanded Trump for sounding as if he thought they were going to lose. And that Trump responded: “O.K., honey, then we’ll win.” That was probably her best moment of the day, and it was an “O.K., honey.”

Trump is doing more last-lap rallies than Clinton. He definitely wins the stamina competition, as long as the task at hand does not involve having to listen to anyone else, or concentrate for more than about 30 seconds.

Still, his schedule does seem to have more and more to do with the businesses he’d have to resuscitate as a private citizen after Nov. 8. On Tuesday, he dragged reporters off to admire one of his golf courses in Florida and listen to the workers tell their boss how much they loved him.

“All of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare,” Trump ad-libbed.

Well, Obamacare was the issue of the day. Except the workers in question had employer-covered health plans. Whoops. Somebody must have violated the 30-second rule on the flight in.

It’s still possible to get a drooping candidate exercised, as long as you stick to the personal. Witness Joe Biden’s recent comment that he’d like to take Trump “behind the gym if I were in high school.”

“Did you see where Biden wants to take me to the back of the barn?” Trump demanded, starting off with his signature inability to get any fact right, including the proposed location of the fight. “Me! He wants it, I’d love that! I’d love that! Mr. Tough Guy. You know, he’s Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he’s Mr. Tough Guy? When he’s standing behind a microphone by himself!”

O.K., not the man you want negotiating an arms reduction treaty.

Do you think Clinton thinks she’s a shoo-in? Publicly, she’s not talking that way. And there’s no reason to get overconfident. Florida seems to be tightening. There’s no telling what might happen, given the fact that we live in a country where Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president.

But you’d definitely rather be the campaign with Barack and Michelle Obama rallying the troops than the one that has to rely on Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. The men who give a whole new frightening image of the Three Amigos.

Of the trio, Newt is clearly the winner. Having come into the campaign as political wreckage, he’s the only one who doesn’t cause people to shake their heads and say, “My God, what happened to him?

This week Newt was in the news once again when he got into a vigorous tussle with Megyn Kelly on Fox, about whether the media was devoting too much time to the Trump groping issue. Gingrich accused Kelly of being “fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy.”

At the end Kelly suggested Gingrich “take your anger issues and spend some time working on them.” And the whole world cheered.

However, Newt did have a point. Speaking on behalf of the nation as a whole, I would say that yes, we are sort of fascinated with sex. Normally at this point in a presidential campaign we would also be spending a lot of time on policy. However, when one of the candidates has that 30-second problem, it’s hard to figure out what his side of the argument is.

The only issue we can really grapple with is whether a President Donald Trump might get peeved one day and drop a nuke on one of our trading partners.

If you have to ask the question, you’ve already got the answer.

On Wednesday, Trump congratulated Gingrich on his “amazing” performance. This was during the new, official ribbon-cutting at his D.C. hotel. Which he was doing not to prop up his flagging brand, but just to remind people that he will run the country like his businesses. With lots of tax deductions and Chinese steel.

Blow and Krugman

October 24, 2016

Mr. Blow has a question in “Clinton’s Question of Illegitimacy:”  Why is the election “rigged” at the very moment that a woman is on the verge of victory?  Oh, Charles — if you thought the racism of the last 8 years has been fun, just WAIT until you see the sexism to follow.  In “It’s Trump’s Party” Prof. Krugman says don’t let anyone pretend otherwise.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

President Obama is fond of saying that Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to ever seek the presidency. And, if current polls are correct and prove resilient, she will be one of the most qualified people to be elected and ascend to that office.

But one of the great ironies of this election is that America’s first female president may be viewed by many as the country’s most invalid president, hanging under the specter of suspicion, mistrust and illegitimacy.

This is partly because her opponents all along the way have complained that the system — from the media to the electoral apparatus — was “rigged” and unfairly tilted in her favor, and it’s partly because of unflattering bits of information that have come to light from an illegal hack.

During the primaries, Bernie Sanders (who now supports Clinton) made very clear that he thought that both the media and the Democratic Party itself had not been fair to him. As he put it, “We knew we were taking on the establishment.”

This became a motif of his revolution, and a force corrosive to voters’ confidence in the primary process. A March Pew report found a striking decline in Democrats’ trust in their nominating process:

“Democrats and Republicans differ on whether the presidential primaries are a good way of determining the best-qualified nominees. Currently, 42 percent of Republican voters have a positive view of the primary process, compared with 30 percent of Democrats. The share of Democrats expressing a positive view of the primary process has declined 22 percentage points,” from 52 percent in February 2008. “Republicans’ views are little different than in 2000 or 2008.”

In early May, Sanders said at a rally:

“When we talk about a rigged system, it’s also important to understand how the Democratic Convention works. We have won, at this point, 45 percent of pledged delegates, but we have only earned 7 percent of superdelegates.”

In late May, Sanders reversed course on the system being “rigged” on “Face the Nation,” saying:

“What has upset me, and what I think is — I wouldn’t use the word rigged, because we knew what the words were — but what is really dumb is that you have closed primaries, like in New York State, where three million people who are Democrats or Republicans could not participate, where you have a situation where over 400 superdelegates came on board Clinton’s campaign before anybody else was in the race, eight months before the first vote was cast.

Blogs like Vox and FiveThirtyEight tried to debunk the rigging claims, saying essentially that while some rules worked against Sanders, others worked in his favor, and in the end he simply lost because he got fewer votes. But still, the “rigged” idea stuck.

This idea was buttressed by WikiLeaks’ release of hacked emails that showed that some in the Democratic National Committee displayed an open disdain for Sanders and, as The New York Times reported, “showed party officials conspiring to sabotage” his campaign.

Whereas the foundation of Sanders’s objections were at least based on real issues, even though many were by no means new to this cycle, Donald Trump’s sermonizing about rigging is constructed of wild conspiracy and conjecture.

Trump has been on a tear for weeks about the general election being “rigged,” and apparently that message is sinking in among a large portion of his supporters, just as it sank in among a large portion of Democratic primary voters.

An NBC/SurveyMonkey poll released Friday found that 45 percent of Republicans definitely wouldn’t or were unlikely to accept the result of the election if their candidate lost, compared to 30 percent of Independents and 16 percent of Democrats who felt the same.

At this point, it’s not even clear if Trump would graciously concede if he lost. Indeed, grace may be beyond his grasp.

And while there are signs that Clinton is narrowing the enthusiasm gap with Trump, my sense is that Clinton’s current success is as much a repudiation of Trump’s abhorrence as it is an embrace of Clinton. It feels to me more like exhaustion than exhilaration.

We could be on the verge of something historic. So, why does it feel so much like acquiescence? Why aren’t more people rushing to the polls to vote for this immensely qualified woman rather than rushing to vote against this woefully unqualified man? One of the reasons is that her male opponents have successfully cast the race she may win as rigged.

I think it’s fair to say our electoral processes aren’t perfect. But they’ve never been. Nor has any candidate been perfect. So why must those imperfections be nullifying at the very moment that a woman is on the verge of victory? Clinton is a woman beating men at their own game. Deal with it.

Still, this all means that a potential Hillary Clinton administration could commence under a cloud and against a chill wind. It could be a first, but one met with a frost. Revolutionary acts come at a cost.

And now here’s Prof. Krugman:

The presidential campaign is entering its final weeks, and unless the polls are completely off, Donald Trump has very little chance of winning — only 7 percent, according to the Times’s Upshot model. Meanwhile, the candidate continues to say disgusting things, and analysts are asking whether down-ballot Republicans will finally repudiate their party’s nominee.

The answer should be, who cares? Everyone who endorsed Mr. Trump in the past owns him now; it’s far too late to get a refund. And voters should realize that voting for any Trump endorser is, in effect, a vote for Trumpism, whatever happens at the top of the ticket.

First of all, nobody who was paying attention can honestly claim to have learned anything new about Mr. Trump in the last few weeks. It was obvious from the beginning that he was a “con artist” — so declared Marco Rubio, who has nonetheless endorsed his candidacy. His racism and sexism were apparent from the beginning of his campaign; his vindictiveness and lack of self-discipline were on full display in his tirades against Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Khizr Khan.

So any politicians who try after the election to distance themselves from the Trump phenomenon — or even unendorse in these remaining few days — have already failed the character test. They knew who he was all along, they knew that this was a man who should never, ever hold any kind of responsible position, let alone become president. Yet they refused to speak out against his candidacy as long as he had a chance of winning — that is, they supported him when it mattered, and only distanced themselves when it didn’t. That’s a huge moral failure, and deserves to be remembered as such.

Of course, we know why the great majority of Republican politicians supported Mr. Trump despite his evident awfulness: They feared retribution from the party’s base if they didn’t. But that’s not an excuse. On the contrary, it’s reason to trust these people even less. We already know that they lack any moral backbone, that they will do whatever it takes to guarantee their own political survival.

And what this means in practice is that they will remain Trumpists after the election, even if the Orange One himself vanishes from the scene.

After all, what we learned during the Republican primary was that the party’s base doesn’t care at all about what the party establishment says: Jeb Bush (remember him?), the initial insider choice, got nowhere despite a giant war chest, and Mr. Rubio, who succeeded him as the establishment favorite, did hardly better. Nor does the base care at all about supposed conservative principles like small government.

What Republican voters wanted, instead, were candidates who channeled their anger and fear, who demonized nonwhites and played into dark conspiracy theories. (Even establishment candidates did that — never forget that Mr. Rubio accused President Obama of deliberately hurting America.)

Just in case you had any doubts about that political reality, a Bloomberg poll recently asked Republicans whose view better matched their own view of what the party should stand for: Paul Ryan or Donald Trump. The answer was Mr. Trump, by a wide margin.

This lesson hasn’t been lost on Republican politicians. Even if Mr. Trump loses bigly, they’ll know that their personal fortunes will depend on maintaining an essentially Trumpist line. Otherwise they will face serious primary challenges and/or be at risk of losing future elections when base voters stay home.

So you can ignore all the efforts to portray Mr. Trump as a deviation from the G.O.P.’s true path: Trumpism is what the party is all about. Maybe they’ll find future standard-bearers with better impulse control and fewer personal skeletons in their closets, but the underlying nastiness is now part of Republican DNA.

And the immediate consequences will be very ugly. Assuming that Hillary Clinton wins, she will face an opposing party that demonizes her and denies her legitimacy no matter how large her margin of victory. It may be hard to think of any way Republicans could be even more obstructionist and destructive than they were during the Obama years, but they’ll find a way, believe me.

In fact, it’s likely to be so bad that America’s governability may hang in the balance. A Democratic recapture of the Senate would be a very big deal, but they are unlikely to take the House, thanks to the clustering of their voters. So how will basic business like budgeting get done? Some observers are already speculating about a regime in which the House is effectively run by Democrats in cooperation with a small rump of rational Republicans. Let’s hope so — but it’s no way to manage a great nation.

Still, it’s hard to see an alternative. For the modern G.O.P. is Mr. Trump’s party, with or without the man himself.