Archive for the ‘Kristof’ 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.

Kristof and Collins

November 17, 2016

Mr. Kristof has a question.  He also has “A 12-Step Program for Responding to President Elect Trump.”  Are you traumatized by the election of Donald Trump? He has the program for you.  Ms. Collins found “A Trumpian Silver Lining:”  There’s someone who feels worse than you do about what’s happening in Washington.  Here’s Mr. Kristof:

Traumatized by the election results, many Americans are asking: What now? Here are steps that any of us can take that can make a difference at the margins. Onward!

1. I WILL accept that my side lost, but I won’t acquiesce in injustice and I will gird for battle on issues I care about. I will call or write my member of Congress and express my opposition to mass deportation, to cutting 22 million people off health insurance, to nominations of people who are unqualified or bigoted, to reduced access to contraception and cancer screenings. Better yet, I’ll attend my representative’s town meeting and put him or her on the spot.

2. I WILL try to do small things in my own life, recognizing that they are inadequate but at least a start: I will sign up on the Council on American-Islamic Relations website, volunteering to fight Islamophobia. I’ll call a local mosque to offer support, or join an interfaith event. I will sign up for an “accompany my neighbor” list if one exists for my area, to be an escort for anyone who is now in fear.

3. I WILL avoid demonizing people who don’t agree with me about this election, recognizing that it’s as wrong to stereotype Trump supporters as anybody else. I will avoid Hitler metaphors, recognizing that they stop conversations and rarely persuade. I’ll remind myself that no side has a monopoly on truth and that many Trump supporters are good people who want the best for the country. The left already has gotten into trouble for condescending to working-class people, and insulting all Trump supporters as racists simply magnifies that problem.

4. I’LL DO my part to support the society I’d like to see. I’ll eat Chobaniyogurt because its owner has been subjected to racist attacks for his willingness to hire and promote refugees. Likewise, I will give blood and register for organ donation — for at least they’ll make me feel better. As will a tub of Chobani.

5. I WILL support groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center that fight hate groups, and back the center’s petition calling on Donald Trump to disavow bigotry. Depending on my interests, I’ll support an immigration rights group, the A.C.L.U. or Planned Parenthood. And I’ll subscribe to a newspaper as one way of resisting efforts to squelch the news media or preside over a post-fact landscape — and also to encourage journalists to be watchdogs, not lap dogs.

6. I WILL support refugees, one of the most demonized groups in the world. The International Rescue Committee’s work for refugees can for the first time be supported through donations to The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund. In many cities in America and abroad, volunteer can help refugees through this I.R.C. portal. More refugee resettlement agencies are here.

7. I WON’T let it slide if a friend makes degrading comments about a minority or women. Even if it’s over Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll push back and say something like: “Come on! You really think that?!” Similarly, I may not be able to prevent a sexual predator from reaching the White House, but at events I attend, I may be able to prevent a sexual predator from assaulting a drunken partygoer.

8. I WILL resist dwelling in an echo chamber. I will follow smart people on Twitter or Facebook with whom I disagree. I will also try to enlarge my social circle to include people with different views, recognizing that diversity is a wonderful thing — and that if I know only Clinton supporters, then I don’t have a clue about America.

9. I WILL do what I can in my own life to make sure that the needy aren’t forgotten in the next four years amid paroxysms of tax cuts for the wealthy. I can support Reach Out and Read, an outstanding program that helps at-risk kids learn to read: A $20 donation covers one child for a year, or one can serve as a reader. Or I can be a Big Brother or Big Sister or help through iMentor.

10. I WILL understand that progress may unfold at the state or local level, and I will engage there. It’s encouraging that voters in four states passed minimum wage measures, and in three states approved gun safety measures, while other states and localities are wrestling with climate change. And, of course, a starting point is to get my friends to vote.

11. I WILL take on sexism and misogyny, which in forms like domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking affect women and girls across the country. Even today, Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together to get funding for women’s shelters or to prosecute pimps.

12. I WILL not lose hope. I will keep reminding myself that politics zigs and zags, and that I can do more than shout in the wind. I can fight for my values even between elections, and even at the micro level I can mitigate the damage to my neighbors and attempt to heal a social fabric that has been rent.

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

One of Donald Trump’s big advantages now is that he has so many awful associates. No matter what appointees he foists on us, there’s always another pal who’d have been worse. If he names some federal land-grabbing oilman as secretary of the interior, people are going to sigh with relief and say, “At least it isn’t Sarah Palin.”

And Reince Priebus — until a few days ago Priebus was just the head of the Republican National Committee, a seriously unexciting guy with a hard-to-pronounce name. Then he got picked to be White House chief of staff at the same time Steve Bannon, the loathsome alt-right cheerleader, was named chief strategy adviser. Everyone fell madly in love with Priebus, who was … way less bad.

The whole world is watching the Trump transition — nine weeks and 3,998 appointments to go! If you want to look on the bright side, remember that however horrific you feel about what’s happening in Washington, Chris Christie feels worse.

Farewell, Chris Christie, farewell. We’ve said goodbye to his political career so many times — Bridgegate, the ever-plummeting New Jersey credit rating, the time he chased a heckler down the boardwalk waving an ice cream cone. The doomed presidential race. The humiliating stint standing behind Trump at press conferences, looking as if he’d been hit on the head with a mallet. Then he was exiled to the Trump transition when nobody actually imagined there was going to be one.

Now it’s here, and he’s toast. It appears that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner did not actually forgive and forget that Christie sent his father to jail for tax evasion. Being a prosecutor was one of the more righteous periods in Christie’s life, but it turned out to be more damaging, careerwise, than his habit of screaming at schoolteachers at public meetings.

Tweets aside, we have heard from Donald Trump only once this week — not counting the time he went to eat at the 21 Club in Manhattan and promised one of the other well-heeled diners a tax break. He was more expansive in a “60 Minutes” interview, clarifying his promise to “drain the swamp” if he was elected. Many people thought he was talking about lobbyists. But apparently it was just a passing reference to easing the regulations on inland wetlands.

“That’s the only people you have down there,” he told Lesley Stahl, explaining why his transition team was stuffed with the wealthy insiders he’d run his campaign against. The new transition is trying to sweep them under the rug. But let’s hope all the working-class voters in the Rust Belt understood that the first step to making America great again is the repeal of banking regulations.

Meanwhile, somebody is promoting Ted Cruz’s name for attorney general. Could it be … Ted Cruz? This is one potential nomination that would have no trouble getting confirmed, since the idea of getting Cruz out of the Senate would probably corral a massive vote.

The only person we know for sure is not going to be in the Trump cabinet is Ben Carson, who was briefly rumored as a possible head of the Department of Health and Human Services. But Armstrong Williams, Carson’s business manager, told The Hill that the politician-neurosurgeon had ruled that out. “Dr. Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency,” Armstrong explained.

The world stops briefly, and mulls that this man did feel equipped to run for president. Then the world moves on.

But the biggest appointments gossip centered on Rudy Giuliani’s rather manic campaign for secretary of state. Everybody expected Giuliani to be in the running for attorney general, but it turned out he was keen on being appointed to a post for which he had no earthly qualifications whatsoever.

Pop Quiz: If Rudy Giuliani is nominated to a high post in the Trump administration, would you rather have the debate over his confirmation center on:

A) His millions and millions of dollars in speaking fees and work on behalf of everyone from Qatar to the maker of OxyContin.

B) The time he told reporters he was ditching his wife before he told his wife.

C) The fact that on 9/11 New York City had no emergency command center because Giuliani had insisted, over police objections, on putting it in the World Trade Center.

D) His increasing resemblance to a 100-year-old rabbit.

Admit it, you want to talk about D. At 72, Giuliani is the same age as John Kerry, who recently broke the secretary of state record with 1.3 million miles traveled on the job. But some people age badly, and Giuliani has been off his game for decades — he peaked around 1995 and it’s been a deep slide ever since.

Among the other potential candidates for secretary of state are John Bolton, the former United Nations ambassador who is famous for hating the United Nations. Bolton actually makes Giuliani seem … less awful. And there’s always Sarah Palin.

Gail, sweetie, nothing on God’s good green earth could make John Bolton less awful.  Just sayin’.

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, 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, Kristof, and Collins

October 13, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

And it appears to fit a pattern.

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

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

As Newsweek reported on Sunday:

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

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

Gross is right.

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

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

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

Furthermore, prominent Republicans are fleeing in droves.

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

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

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

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

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

But Trump is also striking out at Clinton and Obama.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Astonishingly, Donald Trump is right about something!

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

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

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

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

The pageant theme that year? Empowering women.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now we get to Ms. Collins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kristof and Collins

October 6, 2016

In “The Blot on Obama’s Legacy” Mr. Kristof wants us to listen to a 7-year-old girl in Syria.  Ms. Collins, in “Who’s Sorry Now? The Country” Ms. Collins says Clinton even leads Trump when it comes to apologies.  Here’s Mr. Kristof:

Our excuse for failing to respond to mass atrocities used to be that we didn’t fully appreciate the horrors until it was too late. “If only we had known,” became one refrain, along with, “Never again!”

In Syria, we are deprived of that excuse: We have a daily window into war crimes. If you’re on Twitter, follow a 7-year-old girl in Aleppo, Bana al-Abed, @alabedbana, who with her mom’s help is tweeting the carnage around her.

One tweet shows a video clip of Bana looking out the window and plugging her ears as bombs drop. “I am very afraid I will die tonight,” she worried in imperfect English. “This bombs will kill me now.”

“This is my friend house bombed,” Bana tweeted with a photo. “She’s killed. I miss her so much.”

Her mother, Fatemah, an English teacher who has been teaching Bana English for several years, chimes in as well.

“Sleeping as you can hear the bombs fall,” Fatemah tweeted. “I will tweet tomorrow if we are alive.”

I interviewed Fatemah and Bana by email, which they access on a cellphone that they recharge with a solar panel. Bana’s school was destroyed by a bomb last year, and Fatemah said that they were surviving on pasta and rice that were now running out.

“Bana is very weak,” her mom told me.

Russia and Syria appear to be deliberately targeting civilians like Bana.The aim seems to be to bomb and starve civilians into exhaustion and submission, so that they flee or no longer support the opposition, or else support extremists regarded as better fighters. That would bolster the Syrian government narrative that the opposition consists of terrorists who must be fought.

For those of us who generally admire President Obama as a man of principle, it is wrenching to watch his paralysis. As I see it, Syria has been his worst mistake, a huge blot on his legacy.

We can’t be sure that more robust strategies advocated by Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus, John Kerry and others would have succeeded, but Obama’s approach has manifestly failed — and after five years, it should be time to reconsider strategy.

Some of you are thinking: This is horrific, but what can the West possibly do? In a previous column, I quoted a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cartwright, about the “many things we can be doing now” in Syria. Charles Lister, author of a recent book on Syria, has written a detailed nine-page plan of action for the U.S. I’ve suggested cratering Syrian military runways with missiles fired from Turkey so that Syrian military aircraft can’t take off (Turkish officials have told me that they would go along with this).

Of course, we shouldn’t dispatch ground troops. But if we had cratered Syrian runways several years ago, as many suggested, the horrors of barrel bombing would have been reduced.

One sign that curbing Syrian bombing is feasible is that we’re already doing it. In August, the U.S. quietly imposed a de facto no-fly zone over parts of northern Syria where American advisers are located. I’m wary of military adventurism and opposed the Iraq war and the surge in Afghanistan, but I also note that in places from Kosovo to Kurdistan the military toolbox has saved lives. Obama himself conducted a military intervention on Mount Sinjar on the Iraq-Syria border that saved the lives of thousands of Yazidi.

The Syrian government has shown that it doesn’t respond to moral appeals but to credible threats of military force. In 2013, when Obama looked as if he might order airstrikes, Syria hurriedly agreed to give up chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry has pleaded with the White House for more aggressive military measures precisely to make a cease-fire more achievable; instead, Obama undercut his secretary of state and denied him leverage.

As a senator, Obama used to complain to me and others that President George W. Bush was too passive about atrocities in Darfur. “I am strongly supportive of us doing what it takes to stop the slaughter that is taking place, and I think that no-fly zones have to be part of that formula,” Obama told me in 2006. He should listen to himself.

Look, cratering runways may not work. It’s easy for those of us on the sidelines to agitate; everything is always more complex than it seems. Except when it’s simpler: Bill Clinton says that his biggest foreign policy mistake was not stopping the Rwanda genocide.

Let’s have this discussion, and also acknowledge the risks of remaining passive. So far, Obama’s paralysis has been linked to the loss of perhapshalf a million lives in Syria, the rise of extremist groups like the Islamic State, genocide against the Yazidi and Christians, the worst refugee crisis in more than 60 years and the rise of ultranationalist groups in Europe. Aleppo may fall, and lives like Bana’s hang in the balance.

If we don’t act after half a million deaths, will we after one million? After two million? When?

Now here’s Ms. Collins:

I don’t know about you, but I’m totally exhausted by the public’s obsession with the vice-presidential debate. Everywhere I go, people are babbling about Mike Pence and Tim Kaine! Who knew it would be so electric? The world can’t stop talking about Veep Vitriol.

O.K., I made that up. I’m sorry. Nobody is talking about the vice-presidential debate at all. This was really just a sneaky way to introduce the subject of apologies.

It came up in the debate, during an argument over who had the most “insult-driven campaign.” Pence saw an opening to mention that Hillary Clinton had once described half of Donald Trump’s followers as a racist, sexist, homophobic “basket of deplorables.” Kaine retorted that at least Clinton had apologized.

Which is true. Clinton said she regretted being “grossly generalistic, and that’s never a good idea.” It would have worked if she had not prefaced her original “deplorables” remark — made at a private fund-raising event — with, “To just be grossly generalistic …”

You can’t say you’re sorry for something you admitted was wrong when you were saying it. Clinton needs new material. A truly sincere apology would probably have been something along the lines of: “I deeply regret having said something at an off-the-record fund-raiser that I wouldn’t want taped and broadcast to the world. You’d think everybody would have learned that lesson by now.”

Still, certainly not the worst apology of the era. That might have been the time a radical rebel group in Syria put up a statement expressing regret for having beheaded the wrong person.

Also, possibly former Cincinnati Reds star Pete Rose’s ongoing attempt to apologize for his seamy past by selling balls on which he’d written “I’m sorry I bet on baseball” for $300 and up.

(Cincinnati still has a downtown street called Pete Rose Way, which illustrates the importance of not naming major pieces of infrastructure after people who are still alive. I always found it amusing until I ran across New York’s Donald J. Trump State Park.)

But about apologies: Other rules include not blaming the problem on the hearer (“I’m sorry if you guys were offended”). And not using your apology to repeat the original infraction. Perhaps you remember the former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, who apologized for making racist statements about Magic Johnson in an interview during which he told Anderson Cooper “some of the African-Americans, they don’t want to help anybody.”

We need a president who will know just the right thing to say if our drones accidentally hit somebody’s presidential palace, or the new ambassador to France gets drunk and demands to know why Parisians aren’t friendly. Clinton’s own apology record is mixed, although lately her comments on the emails have been sounding less like expressions of regret for having been caught.

On this point, like so very many in the current campaign, Clinton’s failings tend to vanish when compared with the behavior of her opponent. If you’re having an argument about who does an apology better, it’s not much of a contest when one of the two parties doesn’t seem to ever admit he was wrong about anything.

A Trumpian apology would be the thing he did recently in Washington, when he retracted years of birtherism by blurting out “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” Then trying to claim he had done the president a favor by pushing the matter so hard. Then blaming the whole thing on Hillary at the end of a promo for his new hotel.

People, we are being deprived of our God-given right to complain about both presidential candidates. Every time someone comes up with a Hillary flaw, someone else will do a comparison. Yeah, while Clinton was secretary of state the Clinton Foundation took money from foreign bigwigs to help fund its work with impoverished people overseas. But the other guy spent his charity’s money on a six-foot portrait of himself. Any more questions?

For Trump surrogates like Pence, the best response is to deny the original offense ever occurred. During the debate, Kaine pointed out that Trump had said women who seek an abortion should be punished. Hard to deny, given the fact that he made the comment on MSNBC. But Pence said Trump “would never support legislation” along that line.

And it’s true that hours after the MSNBC taping, the Trump campaign issued a statement saying he only wanted to punish doctors, and adding a comment from The Man himself: “My position has not changed — like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions.”

We have here the perfect encapsulation of the current Republican presidential campaign:

1) Trump says something very strange.

2) The campaign says he didn’t really say it.

3) Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan.

Pence, cornered by Kaine, finally blurted out, “Look, he’s not a polished politician like you and Hillary Clinton.”

Well, that would be one way of putting it.

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 29, 2016

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

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

It appears that Trump thought it wise to wing it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Clinton shot back:

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

The crowd applauded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The paper reported further:

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

The paper continued:

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

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

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

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

Clinton continued, “Her name is Alicia Machado.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And lastly here’s Ms. Collins:

Strange we haven’t been talking more about age.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s right: “very deplorable.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blow, Kristof, and Collins

September 8, 2016

Mr. Blow says “Donald Trump Is Lying in Plain Sight” and that the media applies an entertainment standard to the Republican candidate.  Mr. Kristof, in “The Black Eyes in Donald Trump’s Life,” says over his seven decades he’s left a trail of victims.  In “Trump and Clinton Take Up Arms” Ms. Collins says Donald successfully spoke in full sentences but may be confused about his plan for veterans’ health, and Hillary went into wonk mode.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

It has generally been my experience that when people pepper their speech with the phrase “believe me,” they are not to be believed.

The default position among people of honor — the silent agreement between speaker and listener — is one of truth and trust.

But Donald Trump is not a person of honor.

Presidents lie. Politicians lie. People lie. But Trump lies with a ferocious abandon.

For instance, the fact-checking website PolitiFact found that of the statements by Hillary Clinton that it checked, 22 percent were completely “true” and another 28 percent were “mostly true.”

But Trump is another animal. There is no true equivalency between Trump and Clinton, or between Trump and any other politician, for that matter. Only 4 percent of Trump’s statements that PolitiFact checkedwere rated as completely “true” and only another 11 percent were even rated as “mostly true.” Seventy percent of Trump’s statements that the site checked were rated as “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire,” the site’s worse rating.

The truth shifts beneath Trump like sand. He has no regard for the firmness of fact. For him, fact is as pliant as that Play-Doh he handed out to flood victims in Louisiana.

Indeed, PoltiFact named Trump’s collective “campaign misstatements” the 2015 Lie of the Year, writing:

“It’s the trope on Trump: He’s authentic, a straight-talker, less scripted than traditional politicians. That’s because Donald Trump doesn’t let facts slow him down. Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy he has followed for years.”

The site quotes from Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” in which he says, “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”

In fact, Tony Schwartz was the ghostwriter for that book and in July he blasted Trump in an interview in The New Yorker:

“Schwartz says of Trump, ‘He lied strategically. He had a complete lack of conscience about it.’ Since most people are ‘constrained by the truth,’ Trump’s indifference to it ‘gave him a strange advantage.’”

When introducing a series about “the scale and depth of Donald Trump’s lies,” the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, put it this way:

“Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, does not so much struggle with the truth as strangle it altogether. He lies to avoid. He lies to inflame. He lies to promote and to preen. Sometimes he seems to lie just for the hell of it. He traffics in conspiracy theories that he cannot possibly believe and in grotesque promises that he cannot possibly fulfill. When found out, he changes the subject — or lies larger.”

And yet in polls like the CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday, Trump leads Clinton on the issue of being honest and trustworthy by 15 percentage points. (I should point out that some have raised questions about the methodology of that poll.)

I believe that this is in large part because we, an irresponsible media, have built a false equivalency in which the choice between Clinton and Trump seems to have equally bad implications, because we have framed it as a choice between a liar and a lunatic.

But this obscures the fact that the lunatic is also a pathological liar of a kind and quality that we have not seen in recent presidential politics and perhaps ever.

Trump is in a category all his own.

Part of the reason for Clinton’s problems is that she is being held to a traditional level of honesty and integrity, as she should be.

But Trump is being held to a wholly different, more flexible standard. When he takes a different position over years or months or days or even hours, that is not simply an innocent evolution, but a flat-out lie.

He alters his positions on a whim, depending on the audience, but the truth is steadfast. It will not accept convenient alteration.

Perhaps even more troubling is that he is prone to making up his own set of false facts. He wildly exaggerated the number of immigrants in this country illegally and “inner city”crime rates. He said President Obama founded ISIS and that “the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.” He said, “I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering” as the World Trade Center collapsed.

Lies one and all, but that’s just a sampling.

This is not an honest man. This is not a trustworthy man. The fact that people believe he’s honest is a result of a failed media that aims its sincerest critique at Clinton’s deficiencies with the truth, but applies an entertainment standard to Trump that corrects falsehoods but doesn’t castigate him for them.

There is no reasonable explanation or salable excuse for the media’s behavior this presidential cycle. History will look back at this period and it will not be kind to the Fourth Estate. We will all have to one day ask ourselves, “Where was I on Trump and the truth?” Far too many of us will be found wanting.

Next up we have Mr. Kristof:

Once upon a time, in New York City in the 1950s, a little boy didn’t like his second-grade music teacher, Charles Walker. So, the boy later boasted, he slugged Mr. Walker, giving him a black eye.

“When that kid was 10,” Walker recalled on his death bed, “even then, he was a ——” Oops, gentle reader, time to move on hurriedly with the life story of Donald J. Trump.

Young Donald took on a newspaper route to learn the value of money, but this was not “Leave It to Beaver”: On rainy days, Donald avoided getting wet by delivering papers while being squired around in the family Cadillac.

There are now more than 20 books out about Trump, and while I can’t claim to have read them all — I am not a masochist! — I have waded through his life story so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome! As a reader service, here are highlights.

Donald attended the New York Military Academy, where he thrived despite a regrettable attempt to throw a smaller student out a second-floor window (this comes from one of the best of the biographies, the brand-new “Trump Revealed,” by a team from The Washington Post).

Enough of Trump’s youth; now let’s hurtle through his business career. After graduating from Wharton, Trump joined his dad’s real estate business and, er, worked his way up: At about the age of 25, he was named president of Trump Management.

Unfortunately, the Trumps seemed to have a policy in some properties of not renting to blacks. “I’m not allowed to rent” to black families, a Trump building superintendent reportedly explained at the time, adding that he was just doing “what my boss told me to do.”

If a black person did make it as far as filling out an application, it was coded — in some cases, “C” for “colored” — to make sure it was not accidentally approved. The Nixon administration sued the Trumps in 1973 for breaking anti-discrimination laws.

Something similar happened with Donald Trump’s pageants. He began with the American Dream Calendar Girl Model Search, but that led to a lawsuit from a woman who said that Trump had groped her and restrained her in his daughter’s bedroom. The lawsuit also alleged that Trump had directed that “any black female contestants be excluded” from his parties. Trump denied the claims.

Back in the world of real estate, Trump had moved into Manhattan. In 1980, preparing to build Trump Tower, he demolished a department store using hundreds of undocumented Polish workers who were paid less than $5 an hour, sometimes in vodka. Some weren’t paid at all and were threatened with deportation if they complained.

In subsequent litigation, Trump blamed the subcontractor. The judge said that Trump’s aide was on site and that Trump himself should have known.

Ultimately, Trump Tower was a financial success, but the same was not true of Trump’s venture into casinos. Anyone who had invested in his only public company, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, when it listed in 1995 would have lost about 90 cents on the dollar by 2005.

Trump as a candidate has, of course, refused to release his taxes returns. But many years ago he was obliged to release them for casino regulatory filings — and at that time he paid no federal income tax at all. Because of tax loopholes, he managed to report zero income (actually losses!) for both 1978 and 1979.

Do I risk losing you with finances? Time to throw in some sex, with a look now at Trump’s family life.

Melania Trump says that her husband “is intensely loyal … he will never let you down.” Then again, she’s his third wife.

His first was Ivana Trump, and he then began a dalliance with Marla Maples, culminating in a dramatic made-for-the-tabloids confrontation between the two women while they were all skiing in Aspen. The resulting divorce negotiations were bitter, with Ivana alleging in a deposition that Trump had raped her; she later backed off that.

Trump then married Maples. She in turn gave way to Melania, who may well have arrived in the States illegally (Melania Trump denies this but hasn’t furnished a convincing explanation for her immigration).

So what does all this add up to?

Whether in his youth, in his business career or in his personal life, Trump’s story is that of a shallow egoist who uses those around him.

Even as a child, he personified privilege and entitlement. In business, he proved a genius at marketing himself but grew his fortune more slowly than if he had put his wealth in a stock index fund. He made a mess of his personal life and has been repeatedly accused of racism, of cheating people, of lying, of stiffing charities.

His life is a vacuum of principle, and he never seems to have stood up for anything larger than himself.

Over seven decades, there’s one continuous theme to his life story: This is a narcissist who has no core. The lights are on, but no one’s home.

And now we get to Ms. Collins:

On Wednesday, Donald Trump explained how good he was going to be at dealing with world leaders by pointing to the great job he did at his recent meeting south of the border: “Look at the aftermath today where the people that arranged the trip in Mexico have been forced out of government. That’s how well we did.”

Trump and international affairs is an end-of-the-summer horror thriller. At the big presidential candidates’ forum in New York, he bragged about the two high points in his diplomatic history — the firing of the official whose idea it was to invite him to Mexico and his bromance with Vladimir Putin. (“Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters. …”)

The forum, on the Intrepid aircraft carrier before an audience of veterans, was a kind of remote warfare — back-to-back question-and-answer sessions. They really did seem to be held in two different worlds. Hillary Clinton defended her work on the Iran nuclear deal and the intervention in Libya, while Trump explained why he was keeping his plan for defeating ISIS secret. (“I have a substantial chance of winning. If I win, I don’t want to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is.”)

There weren’t many questions on actual veterans’ issues, which was a shame, since talking about veterans brings out a lot of interesting behavior in politicians.

It’s partly guilt. Most candidates for high office are grateful to veterans for their service, and a little uneasy if they didn’t serve themselves. That second part is not true of Trump, who stressed — during his fight with the parents of the slain military hero — that he had made “a lot of sacrifices” for his country. Pressed on the nature of said sacrifices, he mentioned something about real estate development. He also once revealed that he felt as if he’d had experience in the service due to his years at a military high school.

Clinton has on occasion told a story about having gone to a Marine recruiting office when she was 26 or 27, and being rejected as too old to sign up. It’s a strange anecdote. However, there is no sign that Clinton went away feeling she had just made a lot of sacrifices for her country.

But about the forum. The biggest current veterans’ issue — health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs — came up only briefly. Trump urged people to check out the plan on his website, which is actually different from the plan he described on stage. Clinton happily dived into her wonk mode. (“I’ve met so many vets who get mustered out, who leave the service, they can’t find their records from D.O.D., and those records never make it to the V.A.”)

Listen to her in these situations and you realize that this is a woman who has been to town hall meetings with virtually every single group of Americans who have a problem.

To summarize their V.A. health plans really quickly, Clinton wants to fix the current system while Trump — or at least website Trump — wants to give the nine million V.A. health clients cards that will allow them to go to any doctor or hospital that treats Medicare patients.

The Trump plan is a solution much beloved on the right, although it could very well cost a ton of additional money. At which point, President Trump could hold a big fund-raiser to make up the difference, just the way he did for veterans during the primary campaign. The proceeds from which he will actually distribute once the media nags him about it for three or four months.

Just kidding.

Each candidate had less than half an hour onstage Wednesday night, but Clinton managed to point out twice that she had been in the room for the plan to kill Osama bin Laden. It was not a perfect evening for her, given that it began with a long series of questions from host Matt Lauer about her emails.

Trump, on the other hand, was first asked what experiences he had that prepared him to be commander in chief.

“The main thing is I have great judgment,” he explained, going on to tell Lauer that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, which he wasn’t. Asked about his temperament, he pointed out how great things went on that visit to Mexico.

At times, Trump seemed to be exceeding expectations, just by speaking in complete sentences. (We have got to start raising the bar on this guy.) Then a veteran in the audience asked him about sexual assault in the military, and Lauer reminded Trump that he had once twittered, “What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”

“Well,” Trump answered, “it is. … It is a correct tweet. There are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct.” He babbled on, trying to save himself, but it was really way too late.

Blow and Kristof

September 1, 2016

In “The Duplicity of Donald Trump” Mr. Blow says he is not only a bully, but also something of a coward, who lacks the force of his convictions — or who lacks basic convictions at all.  Mr. Kristof, in “Pariahs for Donald Trump,” says ISIS jihadists, North Korea and the K.K.K. agree on a candidate.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

Donald Trump is the internet troll of presidential politics. When he’s securely removed from the objects of his scorn, he’s tough as nails; when he’s in their presence, he quivers like a bowl of Jell-O.

Such is the way of a bully.

Furthermore, when he is surrounded by supporters who cheer his base nature, he amplifies the enmity. When the applause of hostility is out of earshot, he tones down his vitriol to a whimper.

He is not only a bully, it seems to me, but also something of a coward, who lacks the force of his convictions — or who lacks basic convictions at all. He seems to be simply playing to the audience, whatever that audience may be. He’s amenable to the mood of any particular room.

This is the most frightening type of man, whose basic character is vile but not inviolable, who springs from darkness and bends toward anything that casts light, even if that light is, as the internet loves to say, a dumpster fire.

Case in point: Trump has spent the whole of his campaign maligning Mexican immigrants, people of “Mexican heritage” and the country of Mexico itself.

The Hillary Clinton campaign was quick to remind voters of the horrid things Trump has tweeted about Mexico and Mexicans, and the list was a doozy.

They included calling the Mexican government “totally corrupt” and the Mexican court system “dishonest” and saying that “Mexico is not our friend” and ”I want nothing to do with Mexico other than to build an impenetrable WALL and stop them from ripping off U.S.”

Indeed, one of Trump’s main focuses has been the wall — which he has insisted from the beginning that he would make Mexico pay for — and a “deportation force” to round up and deport all of the approximately 11 million immigrants who are in this country illegally.

These are the Mexican immigrants who Trump initially described this way: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

And yet, when he made the quick decision to visit Mexico Wednesday and meet with that country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump was much more contrite in his comments. Indeed, for most of the subsequent news conference, Trump looked lost and confused.

As Trump put it:

“I happen to have a tremendous feeling for Mexican-Americans not only in terms of friendships, but in terms of the tremendous numbers that I employ in the United States and they are amazing people, amazing people. I have many friends, so many friends and so many friends coming to Mexico and in Mexico. I am proud to say how many people I employ. And the United States first, second and third generation Mexicans are just beyond reproach. Spectacular, spectacular hard-working people. I have such great respect for them and their strong values of family, faith and community.”

Huh? Who is this guy? Of course, this time he was reading a speech. This is no doubt some soft-pedal written by his aides to make him sound more human and less monstrous.

Kellyanne Conway, you are one of the best ventriloquists in politics, the way you put words in this man’s mouth. But I’m not buying it. You can repackage your bigot if you choose, but the basic contours of the man betray your efforts to remake him. And, your support and promotion of him makes you one of the most dangerous, though soft-spoken, people in America at this moment.

According to Trump, he didn’t even discuss with Peña Nieto that he would demand that Mexico pay for the Southern border wall. But Peña Nieto disputed that account, tweeting in Spanish: “At the start of the conversation with Donald Trump, I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall.” If you believe Peña Nieto, Trump, the self-proclaimed tough negotiator, not only choked but openly lied about choking.

And this is the supposedly brassy billionaire people support because he’s tough and tells it like it is? Trump is a paper tiger if ever there was one.

And then, a few hours later in Arizona, at what was billed as a major policy speech on his now muddled stance on immigration, and before his jeering acolytes, he gave a speech full of fear, about murderous immigrants, and reiterated that he would build a southern border wall and, you guessed it, Mexico would pay for it.

Trump was back to his hate. He was back to his hyperbolic histrionics.

This is what every voter must remember: Trump has two faces and two sets of facts and too much latitude to spread his animus, anti-intellectualism and lies, and he must never see the inside of the Oval Office.

And now here’s Mr. Kristof:

To read newspapers like this one, you might think that almost nobody has endorsed Donald Trump. Ah, but maybe that’s because The Times is, as Trump puts it, “totally dishonest,” “failing” and “a disgusting fraud.”

In truth, Trump has actually attracted a broad range of endorsements that perhaps haven’t received adequate attention.

For example, from terrorists.

“I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump,” a supporter of the Islamic State declared recently in an Arabic-language posting. Foreign Affairs quotes jihadists explaining that Trump would say and do such crazy things that he would end up helping extremist groups.

“He must be smoking bad hashish to say such crazy things,” one jihadist added. Supporters of ISIS say they hope Trump would cause the United States to self-destruct, and that is why, as one put it, “Trump’s arrival in the White House must be a priority for jihadists at any cost!”

Of course, Trump has been endorsed not only by terrorists, but also by nation states. “Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician,” a columnist wrote in a North Korean propaganda magazine, DPRK Today.

The magazine approved of Trump’s threats to withdraw U.S. military forces from South Korea and noted, “Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?”

Then there’s Russia, which seems to be not only backing Trump but also perhaps releasing stolen emails to hurt the Democrats. There are also concerns that Russia will meddle with voting systems or leak other stolen materials — or fake ones — to try to influence the election.

Likewise, many Chinese leaders would like to see a Trump victory, according to Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution. The Chinese leaders apparently think Trump would manage allies and American foreign policy poorly, thus reducing American influence and creating space for China.

That’s quite a list of influential backers — ISIS supporters, North Korea, Russia and China. And it’s matched at home by an array of strong endorsements that also, perhaps, don’t receive adequate attention.

“Donald Trump would be best for the job,” said the imperial wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.”

Likewise, Trump has the backing not only of the Republican Party but also of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist organization. “Donald Trump’s campaign may help remind Americans that all genocide, even against white people, is evil,” said Bob Whitaker, who until spring was the American Freedom Party’s presidential candidate, running with the campaign slogan, “Diversity is a code word for white genocide.”

The American Nazi Party’s position is a bit more complicated. Rocky Suhayda, the party chairman, has predicted that Trump will win and that this will provide “a real opportunity for people like white nationalists.” But, apparently worried that Nazi support for Trump might be counterproductive, he denied reports that on his radio show he had actually endorsed Trump.

“Recently, the jews-media gave the Party international coverage over our last ANP radio show, where they ‘claimed’ that I ‘endorsed’ Donald Trump, in another effort to ‘SMEAR’ the man,” Suhayda wrote on the Nazi Party website. “It was a typical kosher BIG LIE, as exposed and explained in Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf — whereas they ‘CLAIM’ that Mr. Evil Nazi (me) has embraced Donald Trump for President, hence Mr. Trump and myself are joined at the hip, being clones of Little Hitlerites.”

So maybe Trump doesn’t have the Nazi endorsement sewn up after all.

He does have the backing of other prominent figures. Among them: Martin Shkreli, who as C.E.O. of Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of a lifesaving drug by more than 5,000 percent; Milo Yiannopoulos, recently banned from Twitter for leading internet trolls on a misogynist and racist campaign against Leslie Jones, the comedian and actress; and Alex Jones, the talk show host who has said that the Apollo 11 moon landing was faked and that no children were actually injured in the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The Washington Post published an early non-endorsement editorial, stating that Trump constitutes a “unique and present danger” to America, but Trump has won some publication endorsements — such as one from The Daily Stormer, a white supremacist website, and one from The National Enquirer.

O.K., O.K., it’s also true that Trump has support of tens of millions of Americans, including (sometimes grudgingly) leading Republicans, like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and John McCain. Yet one element that makes this election stunning is how many prominent Republicans have refused to endorse their nominee, while some have denounced him as a “madman” and “bigot” who has no more “core principles than a Kardashian marriage.”

But perhaps what’s even more illuminating is the crowd that is endorsing Trump.