15 reasons to vote against Donald Trump, which means voting for only candidate who can beat him, HRC

I really just wanted to write a tidy little list cataloguing 10 reasons to vote against Donald Trump, by which I mean vote for the only other viable candidate, Hillary Clinton. I wanted 10 reasons, each of which would in and of itself disqualify Trump or would be enough to make the reasonable person vote against him. My bar was high—and yet I still couldn’t winnow my list down to any fewer than 15 reasons that Donald Trump is completely unqualified to be president and would be a disaster if elected.

Ordering the list was a challenge. The Letterman approach of going from least to most important doesn’t apply because so many of Trump’s past actions, expressed beliefs and character traits are so odious and inappropriate in the leader of any country, let alone the world’s oldest democracy.

For every list item, I merely scratch the surface of Trump’s offenses. For example, if I included every lie Trump has ever told in public, it would make a book comprising thousands of pages.

  1. He is an extreme narcissist whose lack of self-control, overweening self-regard and belief that all things revolve around his own needs makes him dangerously close to sociopathic, if not already over the line. There is no telling when Trump could have a breakdown or in a momentary pique of grandiosity and or anger do something that would hurt the country, such as attack a country or insult an ally.
  2. He lies in virtually every statement. Where to begin? As of the end of June, 123 out 158 Trump statements checked by PolitiFact were mostly false, false and “pants on fire” false. His “Law and Order” campaign is based on the triple lie that violent crime, police killings and domestic terrorism are up, when they are all down. His most disgusting lie was when he said in an early debate that he knew someone whose child became autistic after being vaccinated; imagine if benighted parents used Trump’s false anecdote as the reason not to vaccinate their children. Trump also has a well-documented history of lying in his past business dealings, too, such as when he promised New Jersey regulatory authorities he wouldn’t float junk bonds to finance a casino, but then did it anyway.
  3. He failed at the businesses that have an application to governing. Trump failed miserably at his original two businesses, real estate development and casinos, in the process sending four separate enterprises into bankruptcy. Both these businesses can prepare someone to govern. Of business less relevant to running a large bureaucracy, he was a successful television performer and his business as a brand marketer has had mixed results. One analysis found that if Trump had passively invested his inheritance in the stock market he would have twice his current worth as estimated by Forbes magazine, which makes him a complete flopper.
  4. He is a racist. That can be no doubt that Donald Trump behaves in the way racists behave and says what racists say. His many comments about Mexicans and Muslims take the structure and use the language of racists. As Nicholas Kristoff detailed in a recent New York Times piece, Trump has a long history of racist behavior. The Nixon Administration (!!) sued the Trumps’ real estate firm twice for discriminating against blacks in renting apartments while Donald was president of the company. One casino worker reported that when the Trumps came to visit, the managers would hide all the black employees so Trump wouldn’t know they had any. The man is on record as saying that it’s not their fault that blacks are lazy, because “laziness is a trait in blacks.” Then there was the malicious birther campaign and his reluctance to distance himself from white supremacy groups. Disgusting!
  5. He is unknowledgeable about issues and doesn’t want to learn. Trump has said on a number of occasions that he is smarter than experts who have studied an issue for years. His narcissism is so great that he not only believes that he’s the smartest person around, he doesn’t think he has anything to learn from anyone else. Some of his most outrageously ignorant statements have been that there is no drought in California that he could make Mexico pay for a wall separating the two countries and that he would keep first-strike use of nuclear weapons on the table.
  6. He is a misogynist. To quote an article in the Daily Beast, “Donald Trump’s hateful musings about women and his boastful claims of sexual dominance should be reason alone to drive him from polite society and certainly to blockade him from the West Wing.” For one thing, he seems to judge women on looks alone, and his definition of good looks involves a narrow, fashion- and surgery-enhanced look that has for about 70 years communicated a woman’s subservience to and possession by men. He invariably comments on a woman’s looks when discussing her competence.
  7. He does not carry himself with the dignity of office. His frequent insults, his vulgar language, his tendency to go off script and to fly off the handle, his inability to hide his emotions, his reduction of all issues to winning and losing, his uncontrollable desire to rub it in when he gets the best of someone, his many exaggerations all make him an inappropriate candidate—a bull in a China shop of foreign relations which his immature and coarse behavior will quickly shatter.
  8. He is not trustworthy, as is proven by the 3,500 lawsuits he and his company are involved in, most having to do with his non-payment to vendors, many small business, for services rendered to Trump’s family or companies.
  9. He wants to bring back waterboarding and other torture. Like many of his major policy proscriptions, his love of torture is based on either misinformation or lies. All independent studies show torture doesn’t work, but even if it did, it is against U.S. and international law and the morality shared by all major religions.
  10. He wants to lower taxes on the wealthy. That’s right. The Donald talks a good populist game about the impact of trade and the decline of manufacturing, but like all Republicans, his actual policies tend to help the wealthy and to reinforce the trend of growing inequality of wealth and income in the United States, starting with lowering taxes on rich folk even more than their already historically low levels.
  11. His election will enable Republicans to pack the Supreme Court with rightwing activists. Anthony Scalia would be delighted if he had taken a look at the list of people Trump said he would consider for the Supreme Court. It’s a litany of rightwingers just chomping at the bit to extend the rights of corporations, expand gun rights, end Obamacare, reduce voting rights and criminalize abortion.
  12. The Republican platform. If Trump weren’t bad enough the platform he is running on is the most regressive, rightwing set of ideals and legislative goals in at least 100 years. Some platform planks include privatizing both Medicare and Social Security; ending gay marriage; allowing parents to put their LGBTQ children through “conversion” therapy; including Bible study in public education; declaring coal is a clean fuel and encouraging the use of coal; lowering taxes on the wealthy; and opposing a woman’s right to have an abortion.
  13. His election puts Mike Pence one heartbeat away from the presidency. To a progressive, liberal or centrist, Mike Pence is a disaster—an almost clone of Ted Cruz when it comes to fringe social, economic and foreign policies. Except he may be more unhinged than Cruz, if that is possible. He was the only Republican to vote against the bank bailout. In 1998, he said that smoking doesn’t kill people. As governor, he signed a law that makes it easier for businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples. He signed a law now under appeal that bans women from having abortions because the fetus has a disability like Down syndrome. He has a 22% rating from the National Association of Colored People and a 7% rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. In other words, Pence is another uneducated small-town moralist scared of diversity and wanting to impose his stilted male-centric morality on all other people.
  14. He could be in cahoots with Vladimir Putin. There have been hints of a Trump-Putin axis for months. Trump has often displayed open admiration for Putin’s strongman tactics. Trump stated that he wouldn’t necessarily come to the defense of NATO allies. His campaign manager used to work for Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a Putin puppet. In a recent column, Paul Krugman points out that Trump has extensive if “murky” involvement with Russian businesses and wealthy Russian individuals that may have ties to Putin. We have already had two presidential candidates—both Republican—make promises to foreign countries to help them win elections. In the first case, Nixon had the South Vietnamese government boycott the Paris negotiations to end the war until after the 1968 election. In the second, Reagan promised Iran arms if it didn’t release the hostages until after the 1980 election. Have Trump and Putin hammered out a similar deal?
  15. Hillary Clinton is a competent, honest, experienced and trustworthy candidate in the tradition of other left-leaning centrists like FDR and LBJ. Hillary’s competence and caring positions should make reason #15 the strongest on the entire list, but I recognize that Hillary is a hard sell to many after 25 years of unwithering false attacks by Republicans, often financed by the money of billionaires like Richard Scaife Mellon and the Koch brothers. Subsequent columns after the Democratic Convention ends will make what I think will be a very convincing case for Hillary.
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The very bad Ted Cruz has one shining moment telling GOP convention not to vote for Trump

Though not much into predictions, I’m fairly certain that John Kasich and Ted Cruz will inherit the mantle of leadership of the Republican Party after Donald Trump and the Republican ticket get crushed in November. On the surface, it looks as if there are real differences between them, but their differences revolve around style only. Both will seek to end Obamacare and the legal right of women to have abortions. Both will fight against an increase in the minimum wage and for a decrease in taxes for the wealthy. Both will slow down our response to global warming. Kasich will do it with a smile and Cruz with a churlish grimace.

While a few have condemned John Kasich for not endorsing Trump and not taking part in any part of the GOP National Convention, held in his state’s largest city, most of the news media have applauded his stand as heroic and principled.

But what Ted Cruz did was braver. He went into the lion’s den and spoke truth, at least his truth, which is shared by about 20% of the voters. He stood there and took the verbal abuse hurled at him by the pro-Trump crowd, calmly making his points.

It was his finest moment as a politician and a person, but more striking is that it was his only fine moment in his political career, as his time in the public light has mostly been spent on meaningless political stunts for suspect causes. There was a stunt-like quality, too, about explicitly not endorsing Trump in front of the entire convention on day three of the Trump coronation, very much like his shutdown of the government to protest Obamacare in 2013. But the difference in context made the Cruz-engineered shutdown the self-destructive act of a spoiled toddler and his speech before a hostile audience an act of political bravery that will be rewarded in the future, but only if Trump loses, and especially if he drags down the Senate and the House with him.

Don’t get me wrong. I despise Ted Cruz. From what I can tell, he is the second most despicable politician on the current national scene after Donald Trump, and certainly as despicable as anyone since Nixon. But I see the impact of his political program as no different from that of John Kasich. Nor from those of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio either, for that matter. Economically, they want the same thing. They all want to lower taxes on the wealthy and cut social welfare programs. All want to let in immigrants who help large corporations keep wages down while building a wall. None of these guys has any experience in foreign affairs, so despite the relative bellicosity of Cruz, all four would follow the recommendations of the continuing Republican foreign policy establishment, which is decidedly Neo-con, prone to send troops and unabashedly opposed to any reconciliation with Iran, probably because their foreign policy prescriptions seem to track so well with the best interests of Saudi Arabia.

Notice I haven’t mentioned Paul Ryan. His craven submission to Donald Trump, all the while winking that he doesn’t mean it, has been criticized in the mainstream media for cowardice and willingness to sacrifice principle for the Party. In contrast to Kasich and Cruz, Ryan does seem to be a wimp. Before the cavemen among my readers blame Ryan’s weakness on his intellectualism, keep in mind that that intellectualism is merely his brand, that his program is very short on specifics except for lowering taxes on the wealthy and that he has the barest of academic credentials, especially when compared to the Ted Cruz, who pretends to be a hick but has an ivied, establishment set of credentials. Let’s note that Marco Rubio also buckled under and endorsed Trump in convention speeches.

Ted Cruz is a worm, but on the third night of the Republican National Convention, he was a hero.

We do need to clarify what Cruz meant when he said “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket.” He did not say “Abstain from voting.” He did not say, “Vote for the Libertarian candidate.” He did not say, “Write in for me.” No, he said “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket” which at the very least means consider voting for Hillary Clinton.

But let’s look into the conscience—the deepest recesses of the intellect—of people like Cruz, Ryan, Kasich, McConnell, Rubio, Romney, the Bushes and other Republican leaders. Many of the delegates may have been brainwashed by 25 years of lies and innuendos about the Clintons, but these men of government and two-party politics know that Clinton is an ethical person who has never committed a serious crime or done anything that even resembles self-dealing or traitorous while in government. They don’t really believe any of the garbage they say about Hillary.

It is possible, then, to infer into Ted Cruz’s statement “Vote your conscience” the message that you should vote for the most competent, experienced, level-headed and stable of the two major party candidates, Hillary Clinton. I know that Cruz went on to excoriate Clinton and say her election would be a disaster. But when you say, “Vote your conscience, up and down the ticket” what you are really saying is “split the ticket” which is understood by virtually everyone to mean that you should vote for a different Party’s candidate for president than you do for other offices. To most people, that will mean voting for Hillary Clinton.

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GOP speakers paint a dystopic, dangerous world deteriorating under Obama, but offer no facts because they have none

Jokes about a Republican fact-free universe have circled the late-night and high-brow magazine circuits since the Bush-Cheney public relations program to build support for the invasion of Iraq. On the first day of the 2016 Republic National Convention, we got to see what a fact-free universe looks like.

Speaker after speaker bemoaned that the United States is under siege, rapidly being destroyed from within by the actions of a weak president and his sketchy former secretary of state. They painted a picture of an America cowering before both domestic and foreign threats. They advocated strong actions against our enemies with a harsh, merciless bellicosity. Many blamed immigrants, the Muslim religion and the supporters of “Black Lives Matter.”

But where were the facts? There were none, because studies show that over the past 40 years, cop killings are down, the rate of violent crime is half of what it was in 1990, and there are fewer acts of domestic terrorism than in the turbulent 1960s.  Illegal immigration is currently almost nonexistent and legal immigration is already tightly controlled.

I’m not saying that we don’t have problems in these areas, but the fear-mongering speakers at the GOP National Convention exaggerated the current dangers to a degree that borders on explicit lying. The current publicity stemming from tragedies such as Ferguson (cops killed), Dallas (cops are killed) and Orlando (U.S.-born terrorist) may represent an upturn in crime and terrorism or may just be highly publicized anecdotes of tragic violence. We won’t know for a few years. But the Republicans use these incidents as proof that we face more dangers now than eight years ago. Then again, the Republicans have long argued from anecdote, beginning with Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens and Bush Senior’s demonization of parolee Willie Horton. It’s Donald Trump’s preferred method.

The Republicans were able to get through the entire night fact-free, with the exception of the very angry Sheriff of Milwaukee County, who quoted a recent study that did not measure rates of crime or terrorism, but public perceptions. The survey found that the public is more fearful than a few years ago—of course, why wouldn’t they be when rightwing and mainstream news routinely feature this collection of roid-raged Chicken Littles? The Sheriff was talking about how people feel, not about the reality of falling crime, which he denied by hiding behind an attitudinal study.

Virtually every speech closed with the same words, “God bless the United States.” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, the traitor who went over the heads of U.S. negotiators to deal directly with Iran via a threatening letter, said, “God calls us to serve.” (FYI, CNN, which treated the first night of the convention as if it were the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, was trying to sell Cotton to the public as a 2020 candidate for president if Trump doesn’t win.) Didn’t this procession of saintly authoritarians ever think that maybe their god was giving them a message through the U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan? Heaven to America: stop invading other countries. Of course, many in the audience believe that their god is punishing the United States for allowing LGBTQ rights, abortion, the teaching of evolution, birth control and other abominations.

Besides seeking the blessing of their deity, the other thing that virtually every speaker did was to condemn President Obama and Hillary Clinton for not using the term “Islamic terrorism.” This insistence by every speaker that not using those precise words—“Islamic terrorism”—bordered on the criminal has tremendous significance.

First, it symbolized how little they really can criticize Barack Obama. Many speakers advocated that the United States do what it is already doing. Many talked of war and violence, without recommending a single measure that would endanger American lives. With no specifics with which to indict Obama and Clinton, they reverted to becoming language police. Unless they use these exact words, the GOP states, nothing Obama or Clinton do will help keep us safe.

The words themselves, “Islamic terrorism” are particularly important to these Bible-touting Christians because it communicates that we are in a Holy War against those of another faith. While occasionally paying lip service to inclusiveness and diversity, the GOP wants us to connect terrorism with the religion of Islam. The GOP conveniently forgets that Christians still commit the majority of acts of terrorism and mass murders taking place in the United States. Obama, Clinton, Kerry and the State Department avoid the term “Islamic terrorism” because they understand that the terrorists represent a miniscule part of Islam and they don’t want other Muslims to think we are blaming them or lumping them in with people they themselves despise.

Keep in mind, too, that “Islamic terrorism” is one small piece of a large racially-tinged lexicon that Republicans have employed since the inception of Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy.”

The insistence on shaming Obama and Clinton for not using two words also contrasts the styles of the parties and the candidates who will represent them in the fall. Obama and Clinton take studied, fact-based approaches to problems, attempt to understand all sides and try to reach consensus. Their careful phraseology reflects all these concerns. Donald Trump and all the other Republicans want to dominate, humiliate and crush. They see a world of good guys and bad guys, and if you’re a good guy, you can do anything, even bad guy stuff.

Beyond these political concerns of attacking the opposition and claiming the beneficence of a caring deity, the focus on the use of language fits right into the Trump ideology because it is concerned most with branding reality. The constant disparagement of Obama for failing to use two words was an example of branding the other side.

The Trump brand is based on the lie that everything the Donald touches turns to gold. In reality, he failed as a real estate developer and casino owner, then succeeded as an entertainer and a brand marketer, although it should be pointed out that most of the businesses selling merchandise with the Trump brand have failed. Trump wants us to believe that his genius will fix everything, perhaps merely by his getting involved with addressing the problem. Trump slapped his name on vodka and claimed it was better. He slapped his name on a hotel room and claimed it was better. He slapped his name on a steak and claimed it was better. His campaign consists of saying that he will slap his name on solutions to problems—some which don’t even exist—and they will be solved. Too bad that while Trump was always a genius in branding, he proved almost always to be a failure at actually doing things, such as running casinos or building curricula.

The first night of the Republican convention was about slapping a negative brand on Obama, Clinton and the Democrats. To do so, they slapped a negative brand on our current world.

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Do the mainstream news media really want Donald Trump to be our next president?

News reporting has never been objective. From the selection of which stories to cover to the determination of which people to quote and what words to use to describe reality, the political and social beliefs of media outlets and their owners—and on occasion of the journalists—have always shaped media coverage.

Here are some of the starker examples of mainstream media influencing what is supposed to be an objective fact-finding process:

  • The unquestioned support of both Iraq Wars. In both cases, the news media didn’t ask hard questions, trusted government information and ignored the estimates of costs and likely outcomes predicted by the critics of the war, criticism that turned out to be 100% right on.
  • The creation of the Tea Party, which the mass media supported even as it ignored an incipient locally based progressive movement that eventually evolved into the Occupy! Movement and the revitalization of the Democratic Party by the Sanders candidacy. The mass media focused all its attention and most of its space and time in the 2010 election cycle on Republican primaries that pitted Tea Partiers against run-of-the-mill Republicans, covering none of the races in which progressives were taking on centrist Democrats. It seems as if no one but me remembers that in 2010 there were three Washington marches, each of which attracted about 80,000 people: one by Glenn Beck, one by leftish American unions and one by left-leaning Comedy Central personalities. The media ignored the two left-leaning marches and allowed rightwing liars such as Michele Bachmann and Rush Limbaugh to bloat the attendance numbers of the Tea Party march to as high as 2 million, a figure that pretty much defines “the Big Lie.”
  • Promoting the myth that we had to close deficits and that the only way to do so was cutting spending on social services. From 2008 until the growth of the Occupy! Movement and the release of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, the mainstream news media ignored virtually every economist and pundit who said that the government had to invest in basic infrastructure, alternative fuels, education and job creation. Instead it trotted out expert after expert who called for cutting federal deficits. The news media ignored the voices suggesting that that the best way to close the deficit was to increase taxes on the wealthy, then and now paying historically low rates. Instead, the media gave voice only to those who wanted to close the deficit by cutting spending on critical government programs.
  • Ignoring the overwhelming scientific evidence that global warming is occurring, and instead covering it for years as if it were an open question still debated by scientists.
  • Playing up personalities instead of issues in the 2000 presidential election, making it seem as if there were little to choose as far as the issues went between “great guy” W and the wonkish and supercilious fussbudget Al Gore.
  • Supporting racist drug policies. The only policy turn over the past 40 years that the mainstream news media has been more solidly behind than stiff sentencing for crack cocaine users (mostly Black) has been the current movement to loosen penalties and focus on rehabilitation to respond to the epidemic of opioid use (mostly white).

I saw the way the mainstream news media shapes news coverage when I was a television news writer three decades ago in the San Francisco Bay Area. The three TV news gathering operations reported every incidence of gang violence in the primarily African-American Western Addition neighborhood, but refused to cover the real youth crime problem, the Chinese gangs in the middle-class Sunset District. My suggestion that we cover Professor Ernest Sternglass’s dire predictions regarding health problems after the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster was rejected, as was my request to follow a reputable lead that the CIA had murdered a former agent in the street.

All of this is a lead-in to my question of the day, and the year: Why is the news media giving so much more coverage to Donald Trump than to Hillary Clinton and why is it so even-handed?

The mainstream news media as a class decided to support both Iraq Wars. It decided to focus on deficit spending. It decided to support the Tea Party. And it decided to make what was a fait accompli—climate change—into a controversy.

Why isn’t it now pulling out all guns to make certain that Donald Trump is not our next president?

You would think that Trump’s overt racism, his frequent, almost pathological need to lie, the inconsistency in his positions, his sociopathic narcissism, his attempts to impinge on freedom of the press, his lack of experience and the growing evidence that he was a bad businessman should have made the newsrooms and editorial boards of all major media decide to generate a story that makes Trump look bad and another that makes Hillary look good every day of the week, just as 25 years ago, they all decided to have at least one story about AIDS a day ( a wise decision) and six years ago to have a positive story a day about Tea Party candidates and spokespersons (a bad decision).

Instead, there are far more stories about Trump than Clinton. Many are negative, such as the coverage of the lawsuits against Trump University and his racist comments, but others take the man seriously or even provide positive coverage. After the San Bernadino and Orlando mass murders, the killings by police in Baton Rouge and St. Paul and the Dallas shooting of police, the mainstream media gave Trump far more time and space to make comments than they gave to Clinton. True, Trump made some of his typical incendiary statements, but contrasting his idiocies with Clinton’s reasoned common sense would have clarified the choice we have in November—between a uncontrollable racist, sociopathic rich-boy business failure and one of the “best and brightest” of the baby Boom generation who rose through the meritocracy and displays intelligence, flexibility and stability, has plenty of experience and a solid program to address our many problems.

Let’s take the New York Times as an example: Over the past seven days, the Times has mentioned Trump in 333 stories, while mentioning Clinton in a mere 260 stories. I went through the front section of the last six days of the hard copy edition, plus the Sunday OpEd section, and found 22 stories primarily about Trump, of which 17 were balanced or positive towards him and five were negative. By contrast, I found 10 stories primarily about Clinton of which six were balanced or positive and four were negative. Included among the positive Trump coverage was an editorial from the Times editorial board declaring  that Trump was right to criticize Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for her accurate comments about him. Let’s be clear, as Bernie would say: The Times could have easily written an editorial chiding Ginsberg without praising Donald Trump.

I will freely admit that most of the editorials the Times has published about the Donald condemn him, but why did the writers have to go out of their way to praise him in an editorial, when it wasn’t necessary for making the point?

A story in the July 14 Times titled “Nearly Four-Fifths of White Evangelicals Say They’ll Back Trump” provides the perfect example of how a Times reporter could have slanted a story in favor of Hillary Clinton, but selected to slant it towards Donald Trump. The story analyzes Pew Research Center’s most recent findings of how people of different religions view the two probable candidates. Most of the story focuses on Trump’s large support among white evangelicals, although other findings were mentioned. The only quote serves as an apology for Trump’s checkered marital history and support of abortion and gay rights.

But the Pew study found many things. The headline could have easily have read: “Catholics Overwhelmingly Support Clinton Despite Abortion Stance” or “Catholics split between Obama and Romney Overwhelmingly Support Hillary” The headline also could have read, “Fastest Growing Religious Group—Those With None—Favor Clinton.” FYI, those with no religion are now as populous a group as white evangelicals, which is shrinking as a percent of the population. Instead of a positive Trump story, the writer could have written a positive Clinton story.

My theory for years has been that the New York Times editorial board is centrist looking left, while its newsroom supports the rightwing and its editorial columnists run the gamut from slightly left (Krugman and Blow) to rightwing (Ross Douthat). But there’s no reason why the Times newsroom couldn’t change its bias in favor of Republicans for four or five months, seeing that not to do so aids in the potential election of an unqualified and dangerously erratic candidate.

Why would the mainstream news media decide to play the 2016 election straight, when it so often tips the balance through its biased coverage of issues?

I think the answer to this question also answers the question why so many Republicans who are not uneducated angry white males slipping out of the middle class are holding their noses and supporting Trump or saying that they won’t vote for either candidate.  No matter how incompetent a Republican president, no matter how much of a past failure, how erratic and how ignorant, it doesn’t matter to traditional business Republicans, and the mass media outlets they own and control. The only thing that matters is whether a candidate supports lowering taxes on the income and investments of the wealthy. It’s the politics of selfishness that has guided the ruling elite over the past 40 years as it has withdrawn support of public education, degraded the environment, allowed our infrastructure of bridges, mass transit and roads to deteriorate and taken needed aid from millions of poor people, all to line their pockets with windfall cash from lower taxes.

The mentally unstable and politically ignorant Trump expresses the politics of selfishness of the displaced uneducated white male. But if he’s elected, it will be because of the politics of selfishness of rich folk and the news media they control.

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No relationship between police killing of innocent people & the killing of police, except both are a national tragedy

Those like Rudy Giuliani who believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has led to an increase in violence against police officers have not read the statistics. Killings of American police officers are way down, from 27.88 per 100,000 to 7.16 per 100,000 since 1976. Fewer police fatalities have occurred during the presidency of Barack Obama than under the presidency of Bush II, which saw fewer police killed than during the Clinton years, which experienced fewer police murders than under Reagan. During these 40 years, there have been occasional blips up, because no trend proceeds in a smooth fashion. Only fools and liars point to one cold winter to assert global warming is not occurring; it would be equally foolish or mendacious to look at any six-month period during the past four decades to deny a long-term trend. The decline in police fatalities pretty much tracks the overall decline in crime since the 1970s.

The math is simple: The Black Lives Matter movement can’t lead to an increase in something that isn’t increasing.

Behind the idea that a movement to get the police to refrain from racially based excessive violence would embolden people to start shooting at cops is the unspoken idea that the police need to kick a little ass—or, I should say, kill a little ass—once in a while to keep the peace. The same people routinely defend racial profiling and the application of stop-and-frisk policies in minority neighborhoods, two discredited policing techniques. It’s not the first time that a false idea masks racism in American public debates.

We know that fewer police officers are being killed nowadays, not more. What about the idea behind Black Lives Matter, that innocent blacks suffer a disproportionately high number of fatalities at the hands of the police? Is that also a myth?  On its surface, a new study by a Harvard economics professor seems to prove that nationwide police officers display no racial bias in their use of guns. Too bad, the study has many flaws including: 1) It analyzed only incidents after the victims were in police custody; 2) it measured the use of firearms, not deaths in custody; 3) all “non-gun related” force by police showed an extreme racial violence, being used on blacks much more frequently than on whites; 4) researchers studied only 4% of the population. No, this survey does not in any way disprove the contention that blacks suffer more deaths per capita at the hands of police than whites do. Meanwhile, other evidence strongly demonstrates that young black men are nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers.

There is very little that connects the awful killing of five police officers in Dallas with the equally horrifying killings by police of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb, except that all three—like Orlando, Newtown, San Bernadino and the deaths of Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Michel Brown, Eric Garner and thousands more—are national tragedies.

While guns were used in all three of these recent acts of violence, our society does want the police to carry firearms. Firearms have never been the problem in the numerous cases of unnecessary police violence against people of color. The problem has been how the firearms have been used—not to protect, not to defend and not to disarm, but to aggressively kill as if the victims were not an American citizen the police officers had sworn to protect, but foreign soldiers on the battlefield.

The ways to stop police violence against citizens and violence against police have virtually nothing in common and are related in no way. Reducing one will not lead to an increase in the other, nor will reducing one lead to a reduction of the other.

Ending racially based excessive violence by police against innocent citizens will take a complicated combination of training, new recruitment techniques and punishment. We have to educate police officers to shoot to disarm, not to kill, to understand the culture of the neighborhoods they patrol, to learn how to deescalate situations and to analyze threats and possible perps without racial bias or cultural bias. We have to stop gearing our police recruiting material to people who like to fight (soldiers) and start gearing it to people who want to protect and defend. Finally, we have to stop letting police who harm people of any color with excessive force literally get away with murder.

By contrast to the complicated mix of training, recruitment and punishment that will reduce the number of murders by police, to continue to decrease murders of police is relatively easy: Pass stricter gun control laws.

Every study that has ever been done on the issue comes to the same conclusion. The more guns there are in a society, the more people are hurt and killed. The fewer guns there are in a society, the fewer people are killed and hurt by guns. Ipso facto, reducing the number of guns in society will reduce all gun violence, including against police officers.

My caveat is that the overwhelming number of gun deaths and injuries in America (and elsewhere) are from suicides and home accidents. Simple math tells us that you are much safer living in the worst neighborhood in Chicago without a gun in the house than living anywhere with a gun in the house. So police officers will represent very few of the large number of reduced deaths we could anticipate from limiting the number of guns people can own, outlawing automatic weapons, making gun owners take exams before getting licenses, establishing a mandatory federal database and requiring a one-week wait for all gun purchases. But then again, very few of the current 35,000 or so U.S. deaths a year from firearms are currently police officers.

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NYT gives Manhattan Institute factotum space to propose more payments to help corps instead of raising min wage

The rearguard action against raising the minimum wage continues quietly in the opinion pages of our major newspapers, and it’s one of the reasons that progressives, liberals and centrists should vote party line Democratic this fall.

Simply put, the Democrats want to raise the minimum wage and the Republicans want to keep it at $7.25 an hour, far below the level at which anyone could support her/himself or a family.

The big Republican argument against the minimum wages is that it will cause companies that can’t afford the raises to let people go. For example, Peter D. Salins, a political science professor who takes money from the right-wing Manhattan Institute, estimates in a New York Times article titles “A Better Way to Raise Incomes” that raising the minimum wage to $15 could reduce the number of jobs nationally by three to five million. Keep in mind that Salins is not an economist, but a political scientist paid by people who would benefit by keeping the minimum wage down. At best, Salins is wrong; at worst, he’s a liar.

As the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) points out in a short report exploding a bunch of what they call “myths” about the minimum wage (and what I call “lies”), advanced thinking by current economists minimizes the risk of greater unemployment when the minimum wage increases. Here is the exact quote from DOL: “In a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders urging a minimum wage increase, more than 600 economists, including 7 Nobel Prize winners wrote, ‘In recent years there have been important developments in the academic literature on the effect of increases in the minimum wage on employment, with the weight of evidence now showing that increases in the minimum wage have had little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum-wage workers, even during times of weakness in the labor market. Research suggests that a minimum-wage increase could have a small stimulative effect on the economy as low-wage workers spend their additional earnings, raising demand and job growth, and providing some help on the jobs front.’” 

In other words, current thinking by mainstream economists (i.e., those not employed by rightwing think tanks) is that raising the minimum wage does not lead to job losses. In fact, a higher minimum wage can stimulate job growth because the low-wage workers have more money to spend.

Like many Republicans, Salins declares that he feels great empathy for the plight of our lowest paid workers. That’s why he supports earned income tax credits (EITC) for the working poor. First enacted in 1975, EITC are payments made to qualifying workers based on their annual income tax returns. In his Times article, Salins launches an impassioned advocacy of the EITC program. What he likes most about it is that it’s based on need. As the income of a recipient goes up, he or she will get lower EITC payments from the federal government.

Instead of raising the minimum wage, Salins instead supports the Paul Ryan proposal to raise EITC payments and make more people eligible for the payments. He claims that growing the EITC program helps the working poor to improve their lives without the fear of job losses.

What he really wants to do is help corporate America rip billions of dollars off the American people and their own employees. To see why the EITC is a massive scam, let’s follow the money in two scenarios: 1) The minimum wage is raised; 2) The EITC is raised to produce the same amount of additional income for our working poor.

If the minimum wage is raised, employers will pay the additional amount to employees. If we enhance the EITC program instead, the money is also paid to employees, but it is not businesses that pay the additional amount, but the government paying it from everyone’s taxes. The employees get the same money, but the federal government is left with less money and employers are left with more. Imagine that instead of any EITC payments, the collective incomes of the working poor increased through salary bumps. Again, the working poor make the same, but the part paid by the government from taxes is now paid by employers. Keep in mind that the EITC is always a substitute for higher wages (minimum or not) since only someone who is working can get the payments. Thus, almost by definition, the EITC is not really a program that helps poor workers, but one that helps employers avoid having to pay a living wage. It’s really a form of corporate welfare masquerading as an anti-poverty program.

If Salins really cared for the working poor, he would advocate a higher minimum wage, which would not only pour money into the economy, but also save the federal government in EITC payments. Of course, like virtually everything else we need to do to get the economy growing again, raising the minimum wage would take money from the wealthy and upper middle class, who are the primary owners and operators of business. For about 35 years now, we have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, which in this case, means taking money from the poor and middle classes and giving it to the wealthy. We’ve been doing it in many ways, including lowering taxes on the wealthy, cutting back on government programs, making it harder for unions to operate, suppressing the minimum wage and privatizing basic government services to for-profit companies that pay their workers less and their bosses more.

When Peter Salins, Paul Ryan and other Republicans advocate keeping the minimum wage low and subsidizing corporations by giving payments to their impoverished workers, they really only have the interests of the wealthy at heart.

To raise the minimum wage is going to take a Democratic Congress and a Democratic President.

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Survey that many women completely shave their pubic hair another sign of the infantilization of American society

I was dismayed to learn that a new study published by JAMA Dermatology, a respected scholarly publication, finds that 62% of a representative sampling of 3,316 American women said they completely remove their pubic hair. I was also shocked, as in my decades as a heterosexual adult male, I never encountered a shaved vagina. (I won’t answer the begged question except to say “enough.”) My unfamiliarity with the phenomenon of the bare pudenda may be generational: I’m a baby boomer and the women most inclined to groom their genitals are between 18 and 34 years of age.

I have always considered shaving the vagina to be completely weird and a sign of some disturbance, either in the individual or in a society that favors pubic hairlessness. My dislike of genital shaving goes back to the time of my first sexual awakenings, when, after seeing a woman in the flesh for the first time, I suddenly became disappointed and angry at the artificiality of the many Old Master nudes which revealed hairless pudenda. I wondered whether it was the painters or the society that so denigrated women that they wished to submit them to a mild form of mutilation.

My argument in favor of pubic hair begins by asking readers to consider the difference between the vagina of a woman and a pre-pubescent girl. If we shear the woman of her pubic hair, her close-up will resemble that of the girl’s. My belief is that at the heart of all shaving of female pubic hair is the desire to keep the woman a girl and all that means—callow, servile, possessing fewer rights, dependent upon the mature and experienced adult. The shaving of female pubic hair (male, too) is almost a perversity. Because it makes the woman resemble a little girl, it suggests the playing out of a pedophilic fantasy.

Thus, the men who want their women to shave their vaginas want to “puerilize” or “infantilize” them—turn them into immature girls, as opposed to enjoying their company and sexuality as adult women. Most of the women who want to remove their pubic hair, however, probably don’t have an unconscious desire to be little girls, but rather are followers of fashion or subservient to their significant other. The cultural authority of reality television, fashion/celebrity media and pornography (much of which involves pubic-ly-shaved women) is particularly pernicious, because it influences women to do something that isn’t healthy for them. Like tattoos, shaving pubic hair makes a woman a slave—either to society or to her significant other.

The really strange thing is that once again, Americans do something directly against their best interests. The overwhelming majority of women who shave say they do so for hygiene. They think they would be healthier without the hair. Wrong. The study points out that pubic hair traps bacteria, preventing it from entering the vaginal opening. It can also provide a cushion for what is particularly sensitive skin. In other words, like the small business owners and blue collar white worker who votes Republican, most women who go hairless down there are hurting themselves by doing something they mistakenly think will help.

So far, I have discussed three reasons for what is either a sudden fad or a cultural turn similar to rock-and-roll and smartphones: 1) The desire of certain men to transform women to girls for erotic fulfillment; 2) Extensive coverage of the trend in certain mass media, i.e., pornography, reality television and fashion/celebrity news; 3) The “new wife’s tale” that shaving is hygienic, when in fact it is not.

But I also connect the current prevalence of pudenda shaving as another manifestation of the infantilization of American society, which I have discussed many times, most recently on October 28, 2014, May 10, 2014 and December 7, 2013.

Infantilization occurs when adults focus on childhood entertainments and predilections. Their symbolic or cultural lives imitate the activities of children or extend children’s activities into adulthood. The growing number of adults who collect “My Little Pony” toys, play with Legos, vacation at amusement parks, attend adult sleepover functions at museums, spend hours playing video games, eat Gummi-bear vitamins, read juvenile fiction such as the Harry Potter books and watch superhero movies have all been infantilized in one way or another.

Consumer culture encourages adults to keep behaving like children. Museums offer adult sleepovers. Both General Mills and Kellogg’s sell dry cereals to adults by showing them playing at a children’s activities. Glorification of men and women who refuse to grow up and instead act like teenagers or preteens is one of the two or three most significant trends in movies over the past 10 or so years. Think of the “Harold & Kumar” movies, “Old School,” “Big,” “Grandma’s Boy,” the two “Ted” flicks, “The Wedding Crashers,” “Billy Madison,” “You, Me and Dupree,” “Dodgeball,” “Step Brothers,” “The 40-year-old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” all three “Hangovers,” the “Jackass” movies, “Bridesmaids,” “Hall Pass” and “Identity Thief,” just to name a few.

Consumer capitalism thrives when adults behave like children. Children find it harder to delay gratification. Children act on impulse more often than adults. Children are more prone to be taken in by magical and illogical thinking. Children more readily accept the word of authorities. Children are easily influenced by their peers, social custom and advertising. In every way, children make for better consumers than adults. It’s no wonder then that our mass media and mass culture do so much to encourage adults to remain as children in their entertainments and their thought processes.

The sick twist to pudenda shaving is that be it reading Harry Potter or collecting My Little Ponies, infantilized adults are doing something that children do. Shaving the vagina represents not a participation in childish activities, but a sexualizing imitation of the physical state of childhood. I write “sexualizing,” because there is nothing sexy about a child’s vagina. That simple fact combined with the knowledge that shaving is not healthy should convince American women to stop applying razors to their vaginas and run—don’t walk—from any man who wants them to shave down there.

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NY Times weekend editorial strategies may show subtle misogyny when it comes to presidential politics

The New York Times soiled itself twice this past weekend, on the front page of the Saturday print edition and in the Sunday editorial section.

The Saturday front page was more disturbing, because it suggested that the news-gathering operation, which so often has given more coverage to Republican candidates than to Democrats in the 21st century, will use this subtle technique to help the election campaign of an autocratic sociopath ignorant of the issues and without experience in government.

Of the six stories on the front page, five concerned the impact of Brexit, the exit of Great Britain from the European community. The five articles referenced and quoted a range of Europeans on the front page, but included mention of only two Americans: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Only one American was quoted—extensively—and that was Trump. There were three photos on the front page, and one was a standard head-and-shoulders shot of an angry Trump wearing his notorious “Make America Great Again” baseball cap.

By contrast, President Obama’s reaction to Brexit was on page 11, facing, on page 10, an article about Trump’s visit to his new golf course and his extended comments about Brexit. Thus, the hard copy reader encounters Trump three times before learning what our head of state thinks about this earth-shaking news. By the way, the Times buried the studied and knowledgeable remarks of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the November presidential elections, at the bottom of page eight, at the end of the page-one story about the potential impact of Brexit on the elections, the story in which Sanders appears on page one.

FYI, Trump’s reaction to Brexit was his usual stew of ill-informed and ignorant ramblings. But before he displayed his ignorance of the potential economic and political ramifications of Brexit, Trump proved once again that his top priority is always himself, claiming that the pound going down would help his new golf course in Turnberry, Scotland attract more customers. Of course, Trump was oblivious to the likelihood that Scotland will now vote to leave the UK so that it can reunite with Europe, resulting in Turnberry probably doing business in euros, not British pounds.

I fully understand that Donald Trump’s ignorance is as much of a recurring news motif as his unethical business dealings and his record of failed businesses. These topics are inherently newsworthy, to be sure, but they shouldn’t skew the coverage so much that the Times considers the opinion of this loud-mouthed ignoramus before those of the President of the United States. I grant that the Times was probably correct to include a story on the front page comparing Brexit to the growth of American populism, but that could have been combined with the story on the impact on the elections, since the writers are really talking about the same thing. That would have left room for a story on the reactions of Obama, Clinton, Kerry, Ryan and maybe Lindsay Graham. All ignored in favor of the one person who knows the least.

The Times second questionable editorial strategy came in the letters to the editor, which every Sunday always covers one big issue, giving the truncated views of 10-12 of the hundreds of readers who sent in letters. This week, the Times employed the propaganda trick of “giving both sides equal say when one side is wrong” to distort the true views of its readers. I refer to those articles which quote two experts, one on each side, or four experts, two on each side, when 98% or 99% of all experts fall on one side of the issue.  Global warming and the safety of vaccinations are two issues which the Times and other mainstream news media covered in this way, conflating the overwhelming support of the existence of global warming and the safety of infant vaccines with the flimsy and fact-starved opposition to these scientific facts.

The hard copy version of the Sunday’s letter column applied this inherently distorting approach to the topic of whom Hillary Clinton should select as her running mate. In a short paragraph lead-in in italics, the Times editorial staff informs us that “Elizabeth Warren was the clear favorite, followed by the current V.P., Joe Biden, and Sherrod Brown.

We never learn by how much Warren is favored. The expression “clear favorite” could mean that 30% of the 800 readers who submitted letters on the topic endorsed her. Or it may mean 60% did. Since the Times published letters recommending 12 different people, even 15% could be considered a “clear favorite,” although not as impressive as 30%.

The letters turn the confusing imprecision of “clear favorite” into a deception, by featuring 12 different candidates, including Michael Bloomberg, John Kasich and Jerry Brown, who will never be considered. If the letters had to some extent reflected the opinions of the 800 letter writers, the column would have been much more informative and helpful to readers. Such an approach would not have included the letters of impossible candidates and would have reflected the relative strength of Warren. For example, the Times could have printed excerpts from letters supporting six candidates; assuming Warren was supported in 50% of the letters, she could have been the topic of six of the 12 letters, leaving one each for the other five and one for Biden, another impossible candidate who at least came in second place. If Warren was the choice of 30% of the letters and no one else got more than 10%, the Times might print fewer letters supporting her.

If we analyze these two instances of manipulating the news from the standpoint of news-gathering strategies, it seems as if in both cases the Times preferred entertainment over news. Trump’s incendiary ejaculations may be frightening, but they are more entertaining than the rational and calm approach of Obama and Clinton, and the more balanced tonalities of virtually every other politician. It is more entertaining to read a few glib statements about 12 different candidates—four or more of whom are mere fantasies—than to read about the various advantages of one candidate, or a pro contra discussion of three or four candidates, no matter how favored one or more of them may be.

If we analyze these editorial decisions from the political standpoint, however, they seem to express a subtle anti-woman or anti-Hillary sentiment. The Times cannot deny that they gave far greater coverage to the views of an ignorant white male than to those of his opponent, a woman. The fact that the Times did not publish a letter endorsing any other woman as Clinton’s running mate suggests the bent may be anti-woman, or at least express a resistance to considering a woman as vice president. The Times is expecting us to believe that more people proposed the smiling rightwing Republican John Kasich than proposed whichever woman got the second number of letters after Warren. Really?

I’ve been wondering for some time how much resistance to Clinton as president, especially from Bernie Bros and well-educated independents, really expresses an opposition to handing the reins of power to a woman, no matter how competent. When I encounter reluctance to support Clinton from people who I know to be progressive or centrist, I have begun asking them point blank whether they feel uncomfortable conceiving of a female president. These people mumble about trust and past scandals or decisions, but tend not to be able to name any specific wrongdoing or mistake, except for the decisions that others made for which everyone but Clinton is given a free pass. Every time Trump comes out with another outrageous statement based on lies and reflecting racism, authoritarianism and ignorance, the question about why certain educated progressive and centrist voters resist Hillary Clinton becomes more critical.

Those opposing Clinton in the face of the alternative should look into their hearts and see if they discover any residual misogyny. And that includes the collective heart of the New York Times.

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Trump’s answer to Hillary’s reasoned attacks is a series of Big Lies

You may have missed the thorough verbal whipping Hillary Clinton gave to Donald Trump’s economic ideas and business history this week. The New York Times put it on page A14, although there was a tease for it at the very bottom of page one. You could not find it on the Google News home page at all when I checked it at 7:00 a.m. EST, although there were two stories about Trump and one reporting that Clinton’s lead over Sanders in California in the popular votes had decreased by an inconsequential amount.

Every day the Times puts a story about Donald Trump on the front page, and sometimes, like Tuesday, June 21, there are two. By contrast, Clinton hardly appears on the front page, and often when she does, it is in a story that starts with the Donald. This lopsided coverage stems partially from Trump’s many outrageous statements and the many controversies surrounding both his candidacy and his business interests. When faced with reporting manufactured and fabricated charges against Clinton or the real and verifiable scandals, underhanded dealings, lies and feuds that attach to Trump like fuzz to a sweater (at first I wrote something more disgusting involving shoes), the news media is correctly—and finally—chasing the real misdoings.

A good part of the emphasis on Trump, however, reflects a predilection by the mainstream media to cover Republicans more than Democrats. In 2010, 2012 and 2016, the mainstream news media, and in particular New York Times provided much more space to covering Republican statewide and local candidates and to Republican primaries than they did to those of the Democrats. The media ignored the many progressive movements of 2010 to focus exclusively on the Tea Party.

Those who haven’t been watching mainstream cable news or not found the text of Clinton’s speech online missed a very clever and impassioned job of cutting Trump down to size. Clinton made all the major points:

  • Trump started with more money than most rich people have
  • He sent four companies into bankruptcy, hurting thousands of employees and investors
  • He has had many other business failings
  • He has a reputation for not paying his bills
  • He is involved in thousands of lawsuits, including a fraud suit against Trump University.

Of course her most important point was that Trump’s economic proposals would send the country into another deep recession. She cited an independent analysis released this week by Moody’s Analytics that concludes that if Trump’s policies were fully implemented, they would drive the U.S. economy into a lengthy recession, with 3.5 million fewer jobs at the end of his four-year term and a substantially larger federal debt and deficit, note that the lead author is a former McCain advisor and has contributed to Clinton’s campaign.

Along the way, Clinton got off a number of zingers. Here are some of the best:

  • “Just like he shouldn’t have his finger on the button, he shouldn’t have his hands on our economy.”
  • “Trump would take us back to where we were before the crisis. He’d rig the economy for Wall Street again.”
  • “He has no credible plan for rebuilding our infrastructure, apart from the wall that he wants to build. Personally I’d rather spend our money on rebuilding our schools or modernizing our energy grid.”
  • “He just says that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese. Well I’ll give him this – it is a lot easier to say a problem doesn’t exist than it is to actually try to solve it.”
  • “He’s written a lot of books about business – they all seem to end at Chapter 11.”

The Trump campaign, which kept silent during Clinton’s evisceration of his dangerous foreign policy, mounted a spirited Twitter and news release assault on Clinton’s comment even while she was speaking. Too bad that most of his comments were lies—sometimes some very big ones, such as “How can Hillary run the economy when she can’t even send emails without putting entire nation at risk?” and “Hillary Clinton surged the trade deficit with China 40% as Secretary of State, costing Americans millions of jobs.” Today in his diatribe against her, Trump made the vile and totally baseless charge that Clinton’s decisions as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state were influenced by donations to her family’s Clinton Foundation charity, even though no one anywhere has evidence of any such link.

It will be interesting to see if today’s attack on Clinton by Trump dominates the 24 hour news cycle. Or will it be the continued fallout from the double news that Trump’s campaign has less money than Ted Cruz’ or Bernie Sanders’ and that from 10-20% of money Trump has spent on the campaign goes to Trump business entities, which means that if Trump were to get enough donations to pay back the money he has loaned the campaign that he will have made money running for office. I’m hoping that the news media takes the high ground and that the story that dominates the news cycle in not the announcement that someone is trying to sue Trump for raping her multiple times when she was 13.

But two things I know for sure: 1. Unless there is another mass murder, Trump, not his presumed opponent in the fall elections, will be the center of media attention. 2. Whatever Trump says will be full of lies, exaggerations and distortions.

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Is Trump trying to dump the election? Or is he just one crazy, if lucky, narcissist?

Lately I’ve been wondering if Donald Trump is trying to lose the election.

Maybe he started running as a way to burnish his brand, similar to what Ben Carson evidently was doing. What he wanted to do was raise his awareness, especially among the uneducated, so he could continue to place his name on dubious ventures and sell them to his public at inflated prices.

But then things got out of hand and he found himself alone in what pundits called the “establishment lane,” with every other candidate tacking to the extreme right on social issues, tax and spending policies, Social Security, healthcare and foreign affairs. While Trump jumped to the right of them when it comes to immigration and articulated with extreme explicitness the racism which GOP regulars have whispered in code for 40 years, on many issues he was much more centrist than any of the candidates to whom the news media affixed the “establishment” label. No one said he was in the establishment lane, but take a look at who has won the last two Republican nominations—the most centrist-looking candidates of their election cycle, although both McCain and Romney, just like Trump, advocated lowering taxes even more on the wealthy. No one called Trump establishment, but the relative centrality of many of his positions appealed to Republican voters as much as his outrageous statements and ultra-nationalist and isolationist trade and immigration proposals.

Trump now finds himself as the presumptive candidate and maybe he doesn’t want the daily stress and hassles of the presidency. Maybe he realizes he bit off more than he could chew. Or maybe, like Rubio, Cruz and many other candidates from both sides of the aisle, Trump likes running a lot more than he likes governing.

Whatever the reason, his recent actions have me thinking that he’s throwing the race to Hillary. (And thank goodness for that, since the choice is between a sociopathic narcissist who has failed at many business ventures and perhaps the most qualified candidate in the history of the country.)

How else do you explain him accusing American soldiers as a group of stealing millions of dollars from the army that they were supposed to distribute in Iraq? In one fell swoop, he has alienated active military and veterans alike, groups that should inherently favor the Republican, no matter who he (or hypothetically “she”) may be. It may be the first time ever in history that a candidate for office on any level in any country has maligned soldiers. Not generals, not war leaders, but dogfaces in the field!

And how else can you explain his terrible two-ish temper tantrum against Judge Gonzalo Curiel that lasted a week? Or his pulling the media credentials from media outlets that piss him off, thereby establishing himself as an opponent of free speech? Or his insults of other Republicans who have not fallen in line behind his candidacy?

How else do you explain Trump intimating that Obama is surreptitiously helping the terrorists? Remember that eight years ago when an audience member made a scurrilous accusation about candidate Obama, John McCain immediately corrected the benighted fellow and said that Obama was a patriotic American with whom the Senator happened to disagree. It’s the kind of irresponsible accusation that upsets a lot of right-looking independents and centrist-looking Republicans.

And how else do you explain his lunatic and racist statement that if we had not let the father of the Orlando killer into the country, the killer would not have been in Florida to shoot up a gay night club? This kind of logic would lead to the deportation not just of a generation of new Americans, but of virtually everyone whose ancestors immigrated here. Can’t be too safe!

These recent comments and the strong responses by Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and President Obama have sent Trump’s negatives higher than any candidate of any major party has had in U.S. history. The latest polls show Hillary’s lead growing on him. Meanwhile, more Republicans are distancing themselves from the Donald. Some like Kasich have reiterated their lack of support. Others like Senator Mark Kirk and Representative Bob Dold have rescinded prior endorsements. Bernie Sanders has brought a tremendous number of new voters into the Democratic Party and Hillary shows every signs of doing what it takes to make them happy. I’m the only one saying it now, but I think it’s shaping up to be a Democratic sweep—presidency, Senate and the gerrymandered House.

And yet.

The Orlando tragedy has fortuitously provided Trump with an opportunity to make a tremendous grandstand play that could convince the unsophisticated that he can engineer deals to grow the economy and protect us from terrorism.

As you may know, Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation that would prevent people on the “no-fly” list of those suspected of having terrorist connections from buying or owning guns.  It looks as if a “no fly, no gun” law would have prevented the Orlando killer from buying the weapon he used to assassinate 49 people and injure scores of others. “No fly, no gun” legislation was one of the two bills for which Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy and other Democrats filibustered this week, the other being extending background checks and waiting periods to guns purchased at shows and on the Internet. Not up for consideration is a reinstatement of the ban on assault rifles such as the ones used by the Orlando nightclub and Newtown elementary school massacres.

At this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether these basic, common sense gun safety measures will pass the Senate, let alone the House. It depends upon how many Republicans dare to cross the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Believe it or not, Trump has come out in favor of a “no fly, no gun” law. He is scheduled to meet with the NRA in a few days and he says he is going to talk to them about a “no fly, no gun” proposal. What if, after the meeting, the NRA announces that it has dropped its opposition to “no fly, no gun” and Trump takes credit for negotiating a deal that passes legislation which 90% of all Americans, including most gun owners, want? Wouldn’t Trump say that it proves that his master negotiation skills can solve the country’s problems?

With Republican candidates already weakened by the Trump candidacy, many GOP incumbents, especially in blue and purple states, must be feeling the heat for their recalcitrant positions regarding gun legislation that most of their constituents back. Perhaps the NRA will feel it must evolve its position on maintaining the rights of people suspected of terrorism or risk losing the Republican majorities that will keep every other type of gun safety legislation from passing.

But the public may not consider the internal machinations of the gun lobby and Congress when evaluating the success of a “no fly, no gun” law, if the NRA support comes after a meeting with Trump. They may see Trump as the all-conquering hero who got the NRA to compromise and thereby kept guns out of the hands of terrorists. The Trump script for his presidency will be coming true, or at least many voters could see it that way.

It is possible then that by compromising on the most absurdly extremist position it holds, the NRA could give the presidency to Donald Trump, or at the very least get him back on a positive track.

Of course, even if the NRA does give the Donald an early Christmas present, he will still be the same narcissistic sociopath who never censors his thoughts, tends to authoritarian solutions, lies a lot and is ignorant of the basic mechanics of government and the pressing issues facing the country. There will be lots of time between now and November for Trump to insult, lie, get personal and generally demonstrate his inadequacies as a head of state.

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