Blaming Hillary for her husband’s transgressions is perhaps the single most stupid strategy in political history

One of the classic motifs of female empowerment movies is the woman victimized by a man or men who comes back strong, and either makes herself a success or wreaks vengeance on her former oppressor or both. Think of She-Devil, the Bridget Jones movies, The First Wives Club, Working Girl, The Heat, Double Jeopardy, 9 to 5, Enough, Norma Jean, Legally Blond, Woody Allen’s Celebrity, What’s Love Got to Do With It, Thelma and Louise, and Beauty Shop to name just a few movies over the past few decades that appropriate the female-victim-to-victory plot in one way or another.

The journey from victim to victory resonates strongly in books and movies because it describes the lives of so many women, especially of the Baby Boom generation, which really was the cutting edge of the various feminist movements. Successful movies tend to reflect the aspirations, fears and hopes of the public. Women and men both cheer for the wronged woman as she puts her life together and blossoms into a successful person, whether or not she gets her revenge, and whether or not we also like her initial spouse (who is sometimes a sympathetic roué). And with good reason: most women will know a woman who has been hurt by a man who cheated on or mistreated her, or will have experienced it herself.

In the 2016 political campaign version of this movie, Hillary Clinton plays the heroine. To try to blacken her reputation or bona fides as a champion for women’s rights by invoking sexual scandals that are now two decades old is a move bound to backfire. None but the dyed-in-the-polyester Hillary haters will believe that her actions or comments about Bill’s women were particularly vicious or anti-woman. Her few nasty comments about some of her husband’s accusers in fact seem quite restrained compared to what I have heard my cousins and women friends say about the men who were unfaithful to them. Men, of course, are much more vehement when cuckolded, but then again, their vocabulary tends to be saltier than a woman’s, at least outside of the contemporary spurt of “women behaving badly” films.

The mendacious smear that Hillary was as responsible if not more so for the alleged mistreatment or harassment of women by our former President (I write “alleged,” because virtually all of Bill’s peccadillos appear to have been consensual) is as big a lie as last week’s big lie that Hillary started the rumor that President Obama was not born in the United States and Donald Trump ended it.

There are many ways for women (and men) to get extremely angry at Trumpty-Dumpty and his campaign for dredging up the personal affairs of his opponent from last century:

Women (and men) will be angry at the hypocrisy of someone who was twice caught cheating on wives and has been accused of statutory rape now blaming a woman who was the victim of infidelity.

Women will be angry that he is trying to shift the blame for the affair from the perpetrator to the victim.

Women will be angry if and when they make the connection between Trump’s view of women and his excavating of the Clinton’s past: that Hillary is a less qualified candidate to be president because she couldn’t hang on to her man.

Women will be angry at the clownish pomposity of Trump congratulating himself on not bringing up Bill’s philandering at the debate, even as he was bringing it up.

Women will be angry that he and other Republicans don’t understand that by staying together and repairing their marriage that the Clinton’s affirmed the traditional value of marriage so important to most people, from ultra-conservatives to lefties.

Women will be angry when they contemplate his conflation of personal matters with professional ones, as in his tweet, “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband what makes her think she can satisfy America?” which is not only scurrilous but also shows only a pre-teen’s understanding of human nature and what can happen between people.

Women will get angry when they make the natural comparison of Bill Clinton’s actions and words and Trump’s. Remember that Clinton has never been caught saying anything disrespectful of women in general or any particular woman for being a woman—even of his accusers. Maybe it’s because he sincerely loves and respects women (perhaps a little too much in the past). The length of a list of Trump’s insults of women for being women is only matched by the list of his business failures and scandals and only topped by the list of his lies. Among other sick rationales, Trump has dumped on women for their looks, for their bathroom habits, for gaining weight, for their speech and for their silence, for breastfeeding, for imagined changes in professional behavior during menstruation, for their “manipulation” of men, for growing old and for their stamina.

Where’s the win here for Trump, except to pander to his core of support? It’s perhaps the single most stupid gambit ever played in a political race.

Hillary is handling it in exactly the right way. She won’t talk about the scandals and she won’t bring up Trump’s personal life. Hillary rightfully considers Trumpty-Dumpty’s many sexist comments about other women, such as Alicia Machado, Carly Fiorina, Ghazala Khan and his own daughter, to be fair and in bounds for a discussion. But her “I won’t go low” approach regarding the personal lives of her and her opponent is exactly the right approach.

Meanwhile the many well-respected Clinton surrogates, including President Obama, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Jennifer Granholm and Amy Klobuchar will continue to point out how deceptive and truly disgusting it is for Trump to blame Hillary for any pain inflicted by her husband on his paramours or to try to discredit her dedication to improving the lives of women.

It’s a perfect strategy that needs one more thing. I would like to see Bill Clinton get real mad and talk into the camera as if it were Trumpty-Dumpty himself and say, “Condemn me for my past behavior all you want, but say nothing bad about my beautiful and talented wife who saw it in her humanity to forgive this sinner and take him back.”

Amen to that, sisters and brothers.

Trump replaces “scratch & sniff” with “lie & sniff” in losing both debate and truth contest

I began noticing Donald Trump sniffing about a third of the way through the debate.  He would pause several times in the middle of a run-on sentence and sniff loudly, kind of like a seven-year-old explaining that the dog ate his homework or a kid who has just lost a schoolyard fight. The pace of the sniffing accelerated at about the same rate as did the deterioration in the logic of his remarks and the frequency with which he tried to interrupt Hillary, which means it was progressively more rapid as the debate went on.  Others noticed, too, as thousands of Twitterers wondered whether Trumpty-Dumpty was sick. Others wondered where the nervous tic came from.

But it was neither illness nor a newly emerging nervous tic. No, Donald Trump’s constant sniffing was the primal whimper of the bully backing down, as bullies always back down when their false bravado confronts someone who emanates true strength.

The sniffing is only the most obvious manifestation of the beating that Trump took in the first debate between the major party candidates for President of the United States. Here are some early results:

  • The first CNN poll had Hillary winning the debate 62% to 27%, although the CNN pollster did observe that only debate watchers voted and they tend to skew Democratic.
  • An early Public Policy Polling survey found 51% of viewers thought Clinton won, while 40% preferred Trump’s performance.
  • The MSNBC focus group had Hillary winning 16-4, while the vote of the CNN focus group was 18-2 in Hillary’s favor.

The consensus of the pundits was that Hillary won the entirety of the debate. All I saw, except the reality-challenged Hugh Hewitt, said that the first third was either a draw or a win for Hillary; Hewitt said Trump won the first third. But virtually every pundit except those identified as currently working for the Trump campaign concluded that Hillary wiped the floor with Trump during the last two-thirds of the debate. I share the view of Chris Matthews—that if it were a baseball game Hillary hit five homers and shut out Trump.

Matthews was referring to the Clinton zingers, of which there were several. Her best was when Trump mentioned that he had recently visited Chicago and Detroit and contrasted it with Clinton not traveling much this past week. Clinton said, “I prepared for the debate,” paused a bit, then continued, “and I prepared for the presidency.” The contrast with Trump’s off-the-cuff incoherence was devastating.

I thought Hillary’s finest moment was when she responded to Trump’s bragging comment that he was smart not to pay any income tax with: “So if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.” Hillary then had the good taste to refrain from mentioning that her family had paid 30% of their income in income taxes.

As an example of what I am calling Trump’s incoherence is his answer to Lester Holt’s simple question whether he believes in the current U.S. nuclear weapons policy not to launch a first strike:

“Well, I have to say that, you know, for what Secretary Clinton was saying about nuclear with Russia, she’s very cavalier in the way she talks about various countries. But Russia has been expanding their — they have a much newer capability than we do. We have not been updating from the new standpoint. I looked the other night. I was seeing B-52s, they’re old enough that your father, your grandfather could be flying them. We are not — we are not keeping up with other countries. I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over. At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table. Because you look at some of these countries, you look at North Korea, we’re doing nothing there. China should solve that problem for us. China should go into North Korea. China is totally powerful as it relates to North Korea. And by the way, another one powerful is the worst deal I think I’ve ever seen negotiated that you started is the Iran deal. Iran is one of their biggest trading partners. Iran has power over North Korea. And when they made that horrible deal with Iran, they should have included the fact that they do something with respect to North Korea. And they should have done something with respect to Yemen and all these other places. And when asked to Secretary Kerry, why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you add other things into the deal? One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody’s ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash, obviously, I guess for the hostages. It certainly looks that way. So you say to yourself, why didn’t they make the right deal? This is one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history. The deal with Iran will lead to nuclear problems. All they have to do is sit back 10 years, and they don’t have to do much.”

I counted four major lies and about twenty sniffs in that ramble through ignorance, but could detect no logic in his answer, unless you think it’s logical to have expected Iran to do something to stop North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons or that we should support a Chinese invasion of North Korea. Many people may not know that Russia does not have a newer nuclear capability than we do or that the money we paid Iran was their money all along that we have kept in frozen accounts for more than 30 years. But I feel most people watching saw what a disorganized looney Trump really is.

The battle was mostly fought on Trump’s territory, as he had constantly to defend his business, his lack of experience and his past statements. There was only one moment when Hillary was on the defensive—when she quickly admitted she made a mistake by having a private email server and then moved on to other matters. Trumpty-Dumpty tried a few other snipes, which Hillary ignored. The best example, again, was her comment about birtherism. She did not defend herself from Trump’s obvious and odious lie, but instead defended President Obama.

Trump tried to interrupt Hillary several times, but she just kept talking without raising her voice to shout over him, which this viewer thought was an elegant and classy way to handle the rude Donald. The longer the debate went, the more he interrupted, usually with short ejaculations, such as “it’s a lie” when Hillary was factually relating idiocies Trump has uttered in the past such as his theory that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese. Clinton, by contrast, waited respectfully while the Donald spewed forth his incoherent stew of half-baked ideas and lies before speaking her piece.

The only thing that Trumpty-Dumpty won was the lying contest, and that was also a wipeout. Unfortunately for the GOP, it’s a bad thing, like leading your opponent in turnovers, errors or penalties. For example, both the National Public Radio and the New York Times fact-checkers found a few minor quibbles with Hillary’s statements, but major problems with a large number of Trump assertions. The biggest two lies were Trumpty-Dumpty’s birther fantasy and his widely discredited assertion that he was always against the war in Iraq. But he also lied about the size of the deficit, the effect of the North American Free Trade Agreement on jobs, Ford moving jobs abroad, the Iran nuclear agreement and Hillary’s role in creating ISIS, among many other fibs.

BTW, Lester Holt was fine. He wouldn’t let Trump tell either of his two big lies about birtherism and his opposition to Iraq. He reminded the audience that “stop and frisk,” a police technique Trump admires, has been declared unconstitutional. He made sure that both candidates had enough time to answer his questions, which were all cogent and appropriate. He made it clear that no matter what anyone else had in mind, he was going to hold both candidates to the same debating standards.

A big win for Hillary in every way.

The big question is whether her debate performance—and that of Trumpty Dumpty—will translate into Hillary attracting the votes of Republicans who recognize Trump’s lack of qualifications, gaining support from the undecided and poaching the votes of those tentatively committed to one of the two minor party candidates. We’ll know the answer when the next round of polls come out. After the contrast between the bright, warm, knowledgeable and honest Hillary and Trump’s mendacious incoherence, if it turns out that American voters prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton then the country deserves all the bad economic times and foreign policy difficulties that will result from his election.

Charlotte shooting result of mix of two bad ideas: racism and open carry laws

The most recent information coming out about the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by police officers in Charlotte, which led to days of demonstrations and a few unruly rioters, makes me wonder whether the officers involved know North Carolina law.

The police officer who shot Scott have now said that he first aroused suspicion because he was carrying a gun and a marijuana cigarette. Let’s take the marijuana first, since smoking marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina. The cameras tell us the officers were too far away from Scott to sniff the pot and know for certain Scott was toking it, although once they were hovering over the dead body they may have seen a joint. So their defense for considering Scott a person of suspicion rests entirely on seeing a gun, which in North Carolina should not signal suspicion because North Carolina is an open carry state, just as is Oklahoma, where the other recent police shooting of a civilian took place.

Would a white carrying a gun have aroused the suspicions of the officers? Would the officers have cared if they saw a white who might be taking a few tokes of the wacky tabacky? It’s impossible to say. We do know that throughout North Carolina police are 77% more likely to stop an African-American who is in a car than they will a white.

Even if it turns out that the officers had a defensible reason to shoot Scott, it’s painfully obvious that they had no reason to show an interest in him in the first place. Remember that many concluded the same thing about the Ferguson shooting: that the police officer really didn’t have a reason to stop Michael Brown.

Except for the fact that he was a black man.

This focus on the initial stop doesn’t even take into consideration that the officers manifested two traits common among American local police: One, their aim is so bad that they only kill and can never just disable. Two, once they start shooting they can’t seem to stop.

That two police officers would believe that open carry does not apply to blacks makes a certain twisted sense considering the history of gun laws. Most people don’t remember that during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when crime, violence and terrorists acts were at their height in the United States, many gun control and gun safety laws passed in states and municipalities. Their major impetus was fear that African-Americans would follow the drum beat of the violent wing of the Black Panthers and take up their right to bear arms. Unlike Donald Trump, Richard Nixon made gun control a major part of his “law and order” campaigns for the presidency and a dog whistle for keeping guns out of the hands of African-Americans.

Once the National Rifle Association saw the trend of fewer households owning guns play out year after year, decade after decade, it started what has now been a 35-year campaign to loosen gun laws. The NRA mostly has used fear to sell the idea of ending gun control even as violent crime has continued to drop, but gun fatalities and injuries have not. The result among other new bad laws has been the preponderance of recent open carry laws passed by right-wing state legislatures, including the new law in Texas that allows 18-year-old students, away from home for the first time and still not in control of their emotions, to bring guns onto university campuses.

Open carry laws endanger the entire public, but they place those African-Americans who want to exercise the same right as whites and carry a firearm openly in particular danger. I would say that every time an African-American male carries a gun in public legally he is risking his life. Given the current police attitudes and statistics about civilian deaths at the hands of police, this non-lawyer wonders if the open carry laws are in effect a novel form of Jim Crow: give whites a dangerous and unsafe right that an African-American with any common sense will not take for fear of being labeled a predator and therefore subject to open fire by the police.

The NRA, Donald Trump, and to a lesser extent most other Republicans, have painted a grim world in which we must fear for our lives because of rampant crime and ceaseless acts of terrorism.

The statistics, so often ignored by the news media in favor of bloody stories, currying favor with the right or creating false equivalencies between a competent, experienced presidential candidate and a high-strung, neurotic ignoramus, paint an entirely different picture: a nation that has made incredible strides in controlling crime and fighting terrorism, but still suffers an uncommonly large number of violent non-criminal gun acts and too many acts of police violence aimed primarily at minorities.

Violent crime, murder, acts of terrorism and deaths from terrorism are all down substantially from the 1960s and the 1970s, with every decade, and almost every year, showing declines in all these areas except for deaths from terrorists in the freak year of 2001.

Deaths of police officers in the line of duty are also way down, from 576 a year under Reagan to 314 a year under Obama, even as the overall population has increased by more than a third over that timeframe. Today, in the United States, you have a greater chance of being killed on the job as a landscaper, mechanic, taxi driver, farmer, garbage collector and roofer than as a police officer.

Thus, the streets are safer. We have fewer acts of terrorism. Fewer people are murdered.  Fewer bombs exploded in public places. The police are much safer. It looks as if the system is working.

Unless you’re a minority who encounters police officers.

For obvious reasons, data about deaths of citizens at the hands of police are hard to come by and sketchy. Few in government until now have ever cared how many people the police kill each year. But all reports suggest that even as violent crime, killings of police and acts of terrorism are down, police shootings and other violent acts by police against civilians are up. FBI reports set police killings of civilians at their highest in 40 years in the latest available year. Some sources dispute the FBI’s statistics, saying they underestimate the true number of people killed by police officers by as much as 72% (or roughly three times the FBI).

In short, it is safer to be alive now for every American than at virtually any other time since World War II. Unless you’re a black male.

Issue by issue comparison of 2 candidates: Most progressive program ever v. hodgepodge of rightwing economics & populism

Americans in the 21st century judge their presidential candidates on many parameters: Issues, party, character, demeanor (presidentialness, if I may coin a phrase), trustworthiness and experience. Often how the candidates say what they’ll do is as important as what they say they’ll do.

Let’s set aside all other aspects of the voting decision for a bit and focus exclusively on issues, which to a large extent means focusing on what the political parties stand for, especially for the Democrats who seem to be marching arm-in-arm towards a vision of government that follows and builds upon the successes of the New Deal and Great Society. By contrast, on some issues, Donald Trump is either to the right or to the left of the GOP establishment, while on other issues he follows long-time Republican orthodoxy.

As a long-time Social Democrat, I naturally favor the platform of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. But for the purpose of this article, I will restrain my snarky partisan comments and stick completely to the positions that each candidate has laid on her-his website and past statements. I will point out, however, when the candidates’ plans don’t add up or are based on false premises or misinformation.



Clinton: The net effect of Hillary’s tax proposals will be to create trillions of dollars in additional revenue for the federal government (which she plans to spend: see below) by increasing taxes on the wealthy and ultra-wealthy. She will provide a little tax relief for small businesses, the middle class and the poor. Key provisions include:

  • Make people who earn $5 million or more a year pay a surcharge tax on their income.
  • Make people who earn $1 million a year pay a minimum of 30% of their income in income taxes, no matter how many deductions they take.
  • Close a number of loopholes, so notorious that many have names, such as the “Bermuda Reinsurance loophole” and the “Romney loophole.”
  • Restore estate taxes to the higher level of 2009 and close certain estate tax loopholes.
  • Charge companies that want to leave the United States an exit tax based on their unrepatriated earnings.
  • Create a standard deduction and streamline tax requirements for small businesses.
  • Provide tax relief for excessive healthcare out-of-pocket costs, childcare and caring for an elderly family member.

Trump: The net effect of the Trump tax proposals will be to lower federal taxes for everyone, but only a little for the middle class and poor and significantly for the wealthy and businesses. Trump says he intends to prevent these tax cuts from causing a greater deficit by cutting government waste, but virtually every economic expert to weight in says that his numbers don’t add up. Key provisions include:

  • Reduce tax brackets from seven to three, with a lower than current marginal rate for the top bracket.
  • End both the Alternative Minimum Tax and the 2.8% tax on investment income to fund healthcare.
  • Lower corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%
  • Give companies a one-time chance to repatriate income at a mere 10% tax rate
  • End the estate tax, which only applies to individuals with more than $ 5.45 million in assets, or the richest 6/10ths of one percent of the population.



Clinton: Hillary is going to use the billions of dollars she raises by taxing the wealthy to stimulate the economy with the goal of creating millions of new jobs. The net effect of several of her proposals will be to suppress corporate profits in favor of more remuneration to employees. Here are major details:

  • Use grants, government contracts, tax breaks, low-interest loans and other standard government means to invest federal dollars in rebuilding our infrastructure of mass transit, bridges and roads, stimulate manufacturing, increase research and development, and stimulate the development and commercialization of clean energy.
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • Strictly enforce trade agreements and make sure all future trade agreements set a higher bar for U.S. job creation, which translates to opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) as it currently stands.
  • Use federal agencies to crack down on wage theft, enforce overtime rules and make it easier for unions to organize and bargain for their members.
  • Reward companies that share profits with employees.

Trump: Trump is selling the traditional nostrums of lower taxes and fewer regulations (which all available research demonstrate do not work), to which he adds protectionist trade policies. His details are fare sketchier than Clinton and a lot of what he is proposing consists of blowing up existing agreements and structures, some decades old. Details:

  • Review all federal regulations to see which can be dropped. Trump wants to target environmental regulations, and in particular restraints on coal production.
  • Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other trade agreements.
  • Go after China as a currency manipulator.
  • Rescind all Obama executive orders related to energy and the environment.
  • Resurrect the Keystone pipeline.



Clinton: Clinton’s environmental plans are truly impressive in their detail. She sets quantified goals, proposes specific actions to reach those goals and integrates the plan into creating more jobs, giving the lie to those benighted souls who incorrectly believe that cleaning up the environment is bad for the economy. She even takes time to talk about protecting wildlife and the traditional rural way of life. The details provided here only scratch the surface of what Hillary has in mind:

  • Install 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term.
  • Reduce American use of oil by one third by making more efficient cars, trucks, ships and boilers.
  • Cut energy waste in schools, hospitals, homes and offices by a third.
  • Do our part in reaching the goals of the Paris Accord, which includes reducing greenhouse gases by 40% in 2025, and 80% in 2050.
  • Protect wildlife by keeping public lands public.
  • Protect wildlife from illegal trafficking and farm animals from cruelty or abuse.
  • Support the continued operation of small family farms.

Trump: Donald Trump believes that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese for their own economic benefit. He has no proposals to combat global warming or resource management. He has explicitly stated that he will remove the United States from the Paris Accord.



Clinton: Hillary supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. She will end family detention and close private immigration detention centers.  She will let undocumented immigrants buy into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) medical exchanges and end the three- and 10-year bars which make the undocumented leave the country for a certain amount of time before returning.

Trump: Perhaps his signature issue during this presidential cycle is building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, which he somehow believes he can get Mexico to pay for.  For the past few months, Trump has been waffling concerning the fate of the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants, but the waffling has only been in tone, not substance. Even if he claims he will deport criminals first (as if that hasn’t already been done and be as humane as possible with those who are contributing, he remains vehemently against a path to citizenship. He will seek to prevent immigration, and perhaps even travel, from Muslim countries.



Clinton: All of the talk this election season has focused on Hillary’s proposal to provide tuition free education at our nation’s public colleges and universities to families earning less than $125,000 a year. But she has a top to bottom program that starts with preschool:

  • Establish universal preschool for all four-year-olds.
  • Double the current investment in Early Head Start programs
  • Provide funding to increase the teaching of computer science in public elementary and high schools.
  • Enhance the training of teachers and raise their salaries.
  • Double the “Build America Bonds” subsidies to modernize school buildings.
  • Make all public community colleges free.
  • Enable current college loan debtors to renegotiate their loans at current rates.
  • Crack down on predatory schools and lenders.

Trump: Trump has nothing on his website about education, but he recently announced plans to privatize all elementary and high school education, giving families money to make unfettered choices between public or private schools, despite the fact that recent data shows that public schools do a much better job at educating our youth than private schools, when you factor in income, food insecurity, learning disabilities, divorce and early childhood trauma (see The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools by Sarah Theule Lubienski and Christopher A Lubienski). Trump has said nothing about education past high school.



Clinton: It goes without saying, Hillary will defend the ACA from any attempts to end or downgrade it. But beyond support of Obamacare, Hillary has laid out an extensive health program that leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of less expensive, higher quality health care:

  • Implement a plan to provide non-punitive treatment to addicts
  • Invest $2 billion a year in Alzheimer’s research
  • Expand insurance coverage for autism services and conduct a national autism screening program
  • Support a woman’s reproductive rights, including the right to inexpensive birth control and abortions
  • Place a cap on out-of-pocket expenses paid by people with HIV and AIDS and on copays and co-insurance costs paid by anyone
  • Bring down the cost of prescription drugs
  • Make it easier to enroll in Medicaid
  • Double the current funding for community health centers.

Trump: Trump pretty much follows the Republican playbook on healthcare, starting with appealing the ACA and instituting a series of free market principles, which will benefit the wealthy more than anyone else since the wealthy have the most money to spend on healthcare:

  • Allow sale of health insurance policies across state lines
  • Allow individuals to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums and to open Healthcare Savings Accounts
  • Make federal support of Medicaid a block grant program, which means that the states will decide what to do with the money
  • Allow people to purchase prescription drugs from other countries

He also now follows the GOP line on abortion.



Clinton: Clinton will tend to use diplomacy, economic sanctions and coalition building to confront global hotspots, such as Iraq, Syria and North Korea, but she won’t be afraid to use military force as a last resort. In Syria and Iraq, she will use airstrikes and support of local armies on our side to defeat ISIS. Domestically, she will seek to tweak our current domestic security systems, build relationships with Muslim communities and try to pass a number of new laws that will keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, such as a “nor fly, no buy” law and a ban on military assault weapon sales and possession.

Trump: Trump is both more hawkish and more dovish than Hillary. He seems to be appealing widely to non-interventionists and seems to believe that the United States can basically ignore the rest of the world. Yet at various times, Trump has proposed some very aggressive actions such as walking away from our NATO commitments, allowing South Korea, Saudi Arabia and other allies to develop their own nuclear warhead capabilities, dropping nuclear bombs on our adversaries, reinstituting the torture program and loosening the rules of combat for American soldiers so they are free to hurt civilians and commit atrocities. Domestically, he thinks keeping immigrants out—especially immigrants from Muslim countries—will do the job. He has declared his intention of firing most of the current senior American military staff. He says he has a secret plan to defeat ISIS, but will give his new generals 30 days to come up with a plan of their own, after which he will select what to do from all his plan.



Clinton: Clinton’s focus is on making certain the police treat all citizens the same and that our civil rights are protected. Among other initiatives, she wants to spend $1 billion to identify and develop programs to train police officers to recognize and overcome racial bias; add funding to the U.S. Department of Justice unit that investigates civil rights abuses; and start a federal matching program to make body cameras available to all local police forces. She wants to reform the mandatory sentencing laws that have led to mass incarceration of Black males. She proposes to invest $5 billion in job-training programs for ex-cons and pass legislation that restores voting rights to them. She wants to end racial profiling.

Trump: Trump seems to think we are in the midst of a crime wave that requires us to allow the police to get tough. He is practically the only national American politician to want to toughen mandatory criminal sentences instead of loosening them. His past statements have tended to exonerate police from the use of unwarranted lethal force and blame the demonstrators against police brutality. He is fine with racial profiling. He is also in favor of reinstituting “stop-and-frisk” policies, which have been declared unconstitutional.



Clinton: Hillary wants to pass a large number of gun safety laws, including to expand gun checks, revoke the licenses of gun dealers who break the law, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals and the severely mentally ill, reinstate the assault weapons ban, and revoke laws that prevent people from suing gun companies.

Trump: Trump wants to expand the rights of gun owners, primarily by allowing anyone with a permit to carry a gun in one state to be able to carry it any in any state, even where concealed carry is banned. He doesn’t want to ban any type of weapon. He has expressed ambivalence towards the national registry: he thinks it doesn’t help protect communities because criminals would never buy a gun directly from a registered gun dealer, but he wants states to do a better job of putting mentally ill people on the list. He wants to allow military personnel to carry their own personal firearms on military bases.



Clinton: Clinton wants to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and pass a law making groups publicly disclose significant public spending; until such a law passes, she will direct all federal contractors to disclose. She wants to create a federal matching fund program for small donations to increase the power of individuals in elections.

Trump: He expressed an openness to campaign reform early in the year, but there is nothing on his website and no recent statement about the issue.


There you have it: The OpEdge Notes version of how the major party candidates stand on the major issues. For more information, the best place to start are the candidates’ websites.

In a normal year, I would advise readers to take a careful look at where the candidates stand compare to their own views and weight that analysis more heavily than personality or party.

But this year is different.

Because of Trump’s erratic and irrational behavior, racist comments, high propensity for lying, attachment to the fascistic alt-right, bromance with Vladimir Putin, past ethical and business lapses and ignorance on virtual every issue, I am asking even the most extreme proponents of free market capitalism and low tax rates for the well-off to vote for Hillary. The ultra-wealthy have had a pretty good ride in this country going on 40 years now. At worst or at best, depending on your perspective, Clinton will turn back the clock to 1975 as far as equality of wealth and income goes (which will be a good thing for 99.5% of the population). I know that the typical Reagan Republican will dislike that prospect. But it’s better than a nuclear war, a deep depression, or a foreign policy directed by the for-profit Trump organization or Vladimir Putin.

Debate predictions: Media face 3 moments of truth & the “birther” becomes a quitter

The news media would like to cast the upcoming presidential debates as an Armageddon-like battle for the votes—and souls—of Americans, but objectively speaking, it will likely resemble a prize fight between Mohammad Ali at his peak and an out-of-shape, middle-aged couch potato who took one boxing lesson decades ago.

In this corner, we have an articulate, well-educated woman who has more experience in public service than anyone else ever to have run for the White House. She has well-defined, carefully detailed positions on every issue. She has proven to be an exceptionally competent debater in the past. She doesn’t get riled and thinks well on her feet. She has been subject to, and withstood with grace, more investigations than perhaps any other public figure in American history and yet has never been charged with a crime, censured by a Congressional committee or accused of a specific act of malfeasance—unless you think there’s something illegal about occasionally making the same mistake that your predecessors or peers made. Every time I have seen her, her demeanor has been friendly, concerned, caring, knowledgeable and open, but keep in mind that I am judging only on my experience of seeing on TV a large number of her speeches and other public interactions, without the filter of the carefully concealed sexism of mainstream and rightwing media pundits. Fact-checker after fact-checker has proclaimed her the most honest of all the 20+ candidates to declare for the presidency during this election cycle. She defines steadiness.

In the other corner, we have an ignorant blowhard who allows his pathological narcissism to emerge in insults, illogical statements, empty boasts and odious lies. His positions on most subjects are sketchy or built on one or two “big ideas” which turn out to be bad ideas, like building a wall between the United States and Mexico or creating a new child care benefit that primarily helps high-income families. His business record is deplorable, marred by four major bankruptcies, more than 3,500 lawsuits, many for nonpayment, documented racist business practices and evidence of legal and ethical lapses by both his businesses and his foundation. His debating style is to insult opponents and bait them in petty side-show arguments. Every fact-checker agrees that he is not only the biggest liar in this presidential election, but in every election ever fact-checked. He is the epitome of the erratic.

News reports suggest that the Donald has too little discipline to prepare for anything, while Hillary is putting a lot of time into shaping her answers to potential questions, analyzing potential traps, developing friendly and tasteful ways to goad the eminently goadable Trumpty-Dumpty and practicing zingers. I’m confident that there will be at least one “You’re no Jack Kennedy” moment because Hillary is going to have at least a dozen of clever comebacks lined up and she’ll know if and when to fire. I expect that at some point Hillary will say some version of, “You can insult me and my family all you want, but don’t insult the American people/working class Americans/African Americans/President Obama/the brave men and women who serve this country overseas.” I’m also reasonably sure that towards the end of the debate, the Donald will start to drag, out of a combination of exhaustion and boredom. He may even walk off the stage in a pretend of real pique.

By all objective criteria, I predict Hillary will slay Trumpty-Dumpty, posterize him like LeBron James slam-dunking against Danny DeVito. She will out-fact him, out-argue him, out-issue him and out-zing him, all the while smiling and staying in control.

The moderators and the rest of the news media will face three moments of truth. The first for the moderators will involve the development of their list of questions. Will they ask Clinton about her emails and will they ask Trump about his bankruptcies, many lawsuits, the case against Trump University, evidence of bribery against the Trump Foundation and his connections to the alt-right? I really have no answer to this one, but I hope the moderators and media do not decide to dredge Clinton’s non-scandals or to try to equate them with the many real scandals in Trump’s career.

At this point, asking about Trump’s “birtherism” seems to be unavoidable, and here the moderators, and later the news media, face the second moment of truth: When Trumpty-Dumpty once more gives his biggest lie to date—that Hillary started the “birther” rumor and he was the only one with the puissance and genius to put it to rest—how will the moderator handle it? Will she/he tell Trump to his face that he is lying? Will she/he say the “L” word or substitute some wishy-washy euphemism, like “stretching the truth” or “doesn’t correspond to the factual evidence”? Will she/he pull a Chuck Todd (always a bad thing), which in this case means letting the Hillary part of the lie stand and only correcting the part about Trump being the one to “finish off” birtherism?

And how will the media evaluate what the moderators do? They could applaud or condemn any of the possible ways the moderators decide to respond to what we know will be Trump’s pure and unadulterated, bold-faced, out-and-out, pants-on-fire lie about birtherism.

The third moment of truth will come after the debate is over. Will the news media admit that Hillary won the debate? Or will they grade her down because of non-existent style issues, or I should say, issues of style that would not be issues if she were male.

The media have often focused on style over substance in evaluating debates. I remember watching the 1980 elections as a television news writer and field producer with NBC’s West Coast political commentator of the time and thinking Jimmy Carter kicked Ronald Reagan’s butt; my commentator friend and everyone else in the mainstream news media said that Reagan won on style. Same thing in 2000, when the news media analyzed the candidates’ style so as to avoid the fact that the Republican was a know-nothing. I don’t think the media will be able to say that Trumpty-Dumpty won, but they could continue to promulgate all their false myths about Clinton’s lack of connection with people and untrustworthy demeanor. Say it enough times and people believe it—especially the people who don’t actually watch the debates.

Now I’m going to go out on a limb. I have no idea whether Trump will show up at the second debate, but I predict that he will make some excuse and duck a third KO by Hillary. I hope that any debate that Trump skips goes on without him, so that Hillary has three solid hours to explain exactly how the most progressive agenda by any political party in American history will help 99.5% of all Americans and show the American people that she deserves our votes on merit, and not as the lesser of two evils.

Newsworthy: Quack gives a clean bill of health to conman.  Not newsworthy: HRC talks about real path to citizenship

Mark Twain would have changed the names and turned it into a hilarious short story: A charlatan physician interviews a charlatan businessman about his health.

For that’s what we’re talking about in the Mehmet Oz interview of Donald Trump. Oz, a medical doctor, has a television show on which he often touts unproved therapies and products, some of which he has a financial interest in. His current Wikipedia article notes “A study published in the British Medical Journal on the effectiveness of Oz’s medical advice found that 51 percent of his recommendations had no scientific backing and rationale, or in some cases contradicted scientific evidence.

Much has been written about Donald Trump’s business quackery, but let’s do a brief review: Four bankruptcies leaving investors holding the bag. 3,500 lawsuits, many of which are for bills he hasn’t paid. His many failed branding ventures, including Trump steaks, vodka, airlines, mortgage broker, magazine, water, game and university, plus a professional football team. The low return on his investments over time, much lower than what he would have made if he had invested passively in the stock market using funds that track stock indices. The criminal actions filed against Trump University and the investigation into the Trump Foundation that have revealed real wrong-doing (unlike the various investigations of Hillary and the Clinton Foundation, which have found nothing illegal or unethical).

A bogus doc and a bogus moneymaker. But on TV, Oz plays a successful physician and Trump plays a successful businessman.

In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry and the runaway slave Jim meet two conmen in their travels, one of whom claims to be a Duke, the other of whom claims to be a King. Much of the book, often cited as the greatest of all American novels (I favor Catch 22), details the various cons the Duke and King play on the residents of small towns along the Mississippi.

Oz and Trump. The Duke and the King. It would make a wonderful satire, but as a real life event, it is tragic.

Oz must have gone to the Matt Lauer School of Autocrat Adulation, because he was at least as sycophantic and obsequious towards the Donald as Lauer had been during the Commander in Chief Forum. Although Donald Trump’s body mass index of just over 30 qualifies as obese, Oz said that Trumpty-Dumpty was “slightly overweight.” Why Oz felt that toadying to a narcissistic blowhard running for president was more important than reminding his audience of the problem of obesity in America will remain a mystery to all but Oz and his financial advisors. It was a shameful moment for a physician, but then again, no more shameful than supporting psychic communication with the dead, devoting a show to reparative therapy for gays and calling green coffee extract a miracle, all of which Oz has done.

I thought that Matt Lauer had asked the easiest, most friendly question in the history of the American news media when he inquired of the Donald whether he was studying foreign affairs to learn more. But Oz managed to throw an even slower, easier pitch to hit when he asked Trumpty-Dumpty, “When you look into the mirror what do you see?”  Trump evidently has some uncorrected visual difficulties because he looked past the gray at his temples, the crow’s feet, the double chin and the 60 pounds of extra padding and said he sees a 35-year-old man.

Like Lauer, Oz avoided the tough questions. Trump has released his recent medical test results, including the results of a testosterone test. That he took such a test should have been a red flag to Oz. Testosterone tests are not a routine part of an annual physical and are not and have never been recommended by any medical association for a healthy person without a particular set of symptoms.

WebMD lists the following reasons to conduct a testosterone test on an adult male:

The release of testosterone test results provides highly circumstantial evidence that we did not get a complete list of the medicines Trumpty-Dumpty regularly takes. But Oz did not ask anything about the oddness of a healthy man with no complaints having this test.

Even Oz’s kid glove treatment would not have prevented the Donald from doing severe damage to his campaign and self-image if the producers had not edited the show. Missing in the version that aired on television is a creepy incident that will make you want to jump in the shower and wash off the filth immediately. At a certain point, the good daughter Ivanka appears and Donald gives her a kiss. Oz gushes sentimentally that “It’s nice to see a father kiss his daughter.” Trumps proudly trumpets that, “I try to kiss her as much as possible.” Sick, creepy, and reminiscent of Trump’s other disturbing comments about having an incestuous relationship with his oldest daughter. But most people will never know because Oz and/or his handlers cut it out. We wouldn’t want to point out that the emperor is naked, would we?

The quack’s interview of the creepy conman vied with a number of stories about the election as the top news of the day, including (using the front section of the New York Times):

  • Trump still refuses to admit president Obama was born in the United States.
  • Trump vows to create 25 million jobs over 10 years (but gives no details).
  • A Times/CBS poll about voter attitudes, finding voters say Trump lacks the temperament to be president, but is a transformative figure.
  • Trump releases a new letter from his doctor (talk about creepy and quacky!).
  • Democrats make a strategy adjustment as the race tightens, deciding to go after Stein and Johnson supporters.
  • Hillary Clinton returns to the campaign trail.

As a former news writer, field producer and on-air reporter, I have a very strong opinion about what should have been the lead story of the day: At a speech in front of a Latino organization, Hillary laid out in detail her immigration plan and stated explicitly that she wants to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

A Google News search uncovered zero stories about Hillary’s bold and beautiful immigration plan, nor on the impassioned and inspirational speech she gave. Of course, any reporter who saw the speech could no longer be able to say or write with a straight face that Hillary is distant, doesn’t connect with people, doesn’t smile, has no empathy and all the other crap reporters like to say to denigrate Hillary’s style, statements of value that would never be applied to her if she were a he.

Her speech was a perfect platform for a media outlet to contrast the immigration policies of the two candidates. Hillary wants a road to citizenship, Trump wants a wall. Such a story might even bring up the fact that illegal immigration is down so much that at this point more illegals are returning to their former countries than sneaking into the United States, thus negating the panic that Trumpty-Dumpty wants to instill in the American people.

Day after day, the mainstream news media fail to question Trump’s lies; create false equivalencies between the trustworthiness of the candidate who lied the least in the current election cycle and the one who has lied the most in history; focus on personalities instead of issues; create a false narrative about Hillary’s health and trust-worthiness; and spend way more time and space trying to find something wrong in her emails than reporting all the wrong in the dealings of the Trump organization, university and Foundation. The public sees the constant hammering of Clinton and they never learn the full extent of Trump’s lies and lunacy. What should have been a landslide is turning into a close race, and it’s all the fault of the mainstream news media.

Why is the media easy on Trumpty-Dumpty and hard on Hillary? I have developed several theories and read of others to explain the media’s double standard: 1) A close race and a focus on the buffoon Trump is good for ratings. 2) The news media and the wealthy industrialists who own and control them fear or dislike Clinton. 3) They’re trying to “thread the needle,” which means make the race close enough that the Democrats don’t take back the Senate and win the House. 4) Reporters and editors, who so cleverly could find ways to support Bush II in 2000, the Iraq War at its inception, the Tea Party and the absolutely false notion that you solve a recession by balancing the federal budget, suddenly are helpless in dealing with a lying buffoon. 5) They really don’t want a woman to be president. 6) There may even be a class system explanation: that the news media always tend to like the candidate who was born to the manor, or the closest to it of the candidates.

Frankly, I still think it comes down to keeping taxes low for the wealthy. The wealthy elite who own and control most of the news media would rather risk giving the country over to a trigger-happy, sociopathic, racist, mendacious crook who has failed at everything he ever did that did not exclusively include self-promotion than to see their taxes go up.

Let’s learn from mistakes made to respond to 9/11: no more torture, racism, stupid wars

The prevailing sentiment over the United States as we commemorated the 15th anniversary of the horrific 9/11 attack has been one of ineffably deep sadness, but of one kind: the sadness of loss. We have felt enormous loss individually and collectivity.

Missing has been the sadness of regret or remorse. For the most part, the news media and celebrations have not conjured the damage done to thousands of our soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis as part of our reaction to the barbarism committed 15 years ago. We did not think of the global torture gulag we created in reaction to 9/11, nor of the physical pain and mental anguish we inflicted on hundreds of men—some innocent bystanders, others our sworn enemies, but all fellow human beings. We did not think of the irrational Islamophobia that rages among certain parts of our population, and which has led to domestic discrimination and violence. We did not think of our national degradation still operating in Guantanamo. We did think of the thousands of soldiers with terrible physical and psychic wounds still clogging our veterans hospitals, but we glorified them instead of viewing them as more victims of a senseless war.

To contemplate the brutal stupidity which characterized many of the actions taken in the name of the United States and individually by U.S. citizens as a response to 9/11 undercuts the image of the United States as an innocent country, a pure victim, which was a major theme of the commemorations.

But not to think about these ugly truths prevents us from learning from our mistakes.

If we factor out 9/11 from the statistics, we would find that deaths from terrorism in the United States are way down since the days of rage of the 1960’s and 1970’s. As it is, individual acts of terrorism are way down. This reduction of violence by those opposed to our government and/or our way of life fits neatly into the overall crime trends: Murders are way down compared to 50, 40 and 30 years ago. Violent crime is way down. The murder of police officers is way down. Except for the minority of Americans who keep firearms in our homes, we are much safer and live in a much less violent society than we used to.

And yet Republicans, and their reality TV candidate Trumpty-Dumpty, have managed to convince millions of people to cower in fear and consider irrational and sometimes un-American tactics. They present magic elixirs that will only make us less safe: loosening gun control laws, when in fact, those who live with guns are more likely to get hurt or killed by them than those living in the most unsafe neighborhood in America; reinstituting “waterboarding and worse,” as Trumpty-Dumpty put it, which doesn’t work, is illegal and will prove to many that what ISIS says about us is true; fomenting Islamophobia, Latinophobia and other forms of racism, which only further enrages those who hate us.

Generally speaking, the Republicans seem unwilling to learn any of the lessons from 9/11, mainly because they are unwilling to admit that violent crime and domestic terrorism are down and that throwing our military weight around internationally doesn’t work. When it comes to how we prevent and address terrorism in the United States, the Democrats have learned much from our mistakes following 9/11, as demonstrated by their platform, the inclusiveness of their party, candidates and convention and the measured words they use when characterizing our enemies.

Internationally, if the Republicans are D students, we can only give Democrats a C+ at best. The Dems won’t return to torture and are more likely to achieve a solid peace with Iran. But both parties accept the basic premises that have guided U.S. foreign policy since World War II. Both sides of the aisle seem dedicated to using our armed forces and our treaties to protect the business interests of large international companies, butting our noses into the business of other countries and playing a geo-political game for hegemonic control of other regions of the world.

Until we turn to a foreign policy based on engaging the world, not dominating it, we will not fully learn the lessons of 9/11. Another easy choice: Trumpty-Dumpy is dedicated to dominating; it’s in the essential nature of his dangerous narcissism. Hillary talks about engaging the world instead of dominating it, but her past actions and current proposals show she’s of two minds. Better than Trumpty-Dumpty and better enough to deserve our votes, but still not good.

Hillary hits homers off Lauer’s fastball; Trump pops up slop

If the “Commander in Chief” Forum were a baseball game, moderator Matt Lauer would be an out-of-shape pitcher. His first few innings, against Hillary Clinton, he had a sharp fastball with good control. When Trump came on, Lauer started throwing slop—slow pitches right over the plate that were easy to hit.

But it didn’t seem to matter: Hillary hit every question out of the park, mixing facts with realism and reasoned analysis. Trump popped everything up to the third baseman, except when he struck out.

Let’s start with Lauer’s warnings to each candidate before he started pitching questions. He strictly told Hillary not to talk about her opponent, but to focus on what she would do. She pretty much followed his directives, except to point out that Trump had originally been in favor of the Iraq War. When it was Trump’s turn, however, instead of issuing a direct request, he sheepishly sort-of, kind-of made a wishy-washy supplication. Hillary pretty much followed his instructions, mentioning Trump for well less than a minute. Trump, however, put cork in his bat: forgetting he has spent months equating Hillary with President Obama, he spent virtually all of his time attacking the President, which, of course, meant he didn’t answer the questions.

Lauer’s questions to Clinton were tough, and he made sure she stayed on point. When Clinton needed to fill in some detail before answering a question, Lauer would insist she stick to the question, to which she replied she was but needed to give the background and then proceeded to make the necessary logical jumps to get to the answer. Lauer did not interrupt Trump or press him when he changed the subject of the question or refused to answer the question, which was pretty much all the time. He allowed Trump to go on and on about irrelevancies. For example, when asked what he would do once ISIS was defeated, Trump never broached the subject but attacked both Obama and Hillary. Lauer let it pass.

Lauer spent a third of Hillary’s time on her email scandal. In this part of the forum, Hillary hit a massive home run, similar to Mickey Mantle hitting the ball out of Ebbets Field and into the street to put the Yanks ahead for good in the 7th game of the 1953 World Series. (I give this comparison because Mantle’s feat is usually forgotten; a few innings later a psychopathic teammate Billy Martin made a flashy defensive play.) When Lauer, asking one in a series of very specific questions about the emails, commented that Federal Bureau of Investigation’s head James Comey said that her private server could have been hacked, Hillary correctly pointed out that there is no evidence it ever was hacked, whereas we know for a fact that State Department and other government email systems were hacked.

In fact, Hillary was pretty much Babe Ruth during her entire appearance. She answered every question directly and factually, corrected the mistakes Lauer and the questioners from the audience made—always in a nice way—and did not quibble or try to shape her remarks to the audience. In a short amount of time, we found out a lot about what she thinks:

  • She will not put ground troops into Iraq and Syria, preferring to combine our air force with aid and counsel to our on-the-ground allies to defeat ISIS.
  • She will always use force as an absolute last resort.
  • She will not privatize the Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare system.
  • She believes that people on the no-fly list should not be allowed to buy or own firearms.

She was definitely scoring points with the audience. One example: From the facial and body language of one man asking about the VA, you could tell that he disliked Clinton and believed the Kool-Aid about her. By the end of her answer, you could see his face softening its frown and his body getting more relaxed, less stiff, as he seemed to begin to realize that Hillary knows what she’s talking about and has an extensive history passing legislation and supporting organizations that help veterans and their families.

Although he was treated with kid gloves and asked softball questions, Trump essentially “took a collar,” which means he struck out or popped up all of Lauer’s easy pitching. Here are accurate paraphrases of some of the slop questions Lauer threw to Trump with the gist of the Donald’s answers, followed by my comment:

  • What have you done that qualifies you as commander in chief? I ran a successful (sic) company and have good judgment. A lie, since other than his TV show and brand licensing, his businesses have been failures.
  • Did you learn anything from the confidential briefings you have received? I learned that the people giving the briefings don’t like what the President and Clinton are doing. I hope someone contradicts Trump on this assertion, which must be a lie. Think about it: would every staff member giving briefings be disloyal, because that’s what it would take to keep hidden the disloyalty of even one in front of a candidate.
  • What about your praise of Putin? Here is the exact quote: “If he says great things about me, I’ll say great things about him.” A statement appropriate at a networking cocktail party for sales executives, but not about foreign affairs.
  • Are you studying foreign affairs to learn more? I’m studying sometimes when I have a spare moment from running my business and running for office, but I have a lot of common sense. Trust me, folks.

There’s something to fault with each of these answers. Looks like a lot of pop-ups and maybe a “can of corn,” which is an easy fly to the outfield.

Lauer’s presentation of this last question was obnoxiously obsequious. With the fearful demeanor and voice of a supplicant to the Pope, he said, “You can’t be expected to know the details…” Yes he can, should and must be expected to know the details of defense policy, and from day one. Why would we lower the standard for Donald Trump that we have set for every one of our presidential candidates since Harry S. Truman and Thomas Dewey?

Like an aging slow lefty called in to get one batter, Lauer did strike out the mighty Donnie on the matter of his “secret plan” to defeat ISIS. If he had a secret plan, Lauer asked, why did Trump want to give “the generals” 30 days to come up with a plan? In a series of half-completed jumbled-together sentences that would have done George W. proud, Trump never broached the subject of why he wanted the general’s plans, but said he might use his plans, the generals’ or a combination. It was classic sputtering, followed soon after by irresponsible aggressiveness when Trump insisted he would fire all the current generals. Lauer never connected the dots: Trump wants to give new generals who aren’t current with on-the-ground specifics a mere 30 days to work up a plan.

Trump seems to love channeling Richard M. Nixon. He is calling himself the “law and order” candidate, like Nixon did. He has a secret plan to defeat ISIS, just as Nixon had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. He has been caught and fined for a number of campaign giving violations, has bragged about buying politicians and may have paid off the attorney generals of several states not to pursue lawsuits against his eponymous university. Nixon, Watergate.

One more comparison. Maybe I inferred too much and I can only speak for myself, but by the end of her time, Clinton looked and sounded like a young Ernie Banks, ready to play a double header in the hot Midwest sun. Trump, by contrast, appeared to lose energy as his last minutes on stage ticked down. Some pundits have noted that Trump tended to make all his noise in the first half of the Republican debates. It could be Trump knew that viewers tend to dwindle away the longer a debate lasts. But it could also be that this 70-year-old professed fast-food fan with a large rubber tire around his middle was getting tired.

I come to the debates as a decades-long pacifist, so I reject many of the premises from which our defense policy has evolved over the past century or so. I would rather our candidate be more dovish than any of the candidates who ran for office this year of either party, except possibly Rand Paul. But between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as commander in chief, the choice is about as easy as that between Babe Ruth and Chuck Conners, who hit .238 with two homers for his pro career and later became a television actor. I’m with her.

Judging from the reaction when each candidate appeared, the audience of veterans agrees with me that Clinton is the better choice. The applause for her was both louder and longer than what Trump received. After seeing days of the media’s softball coverage of Donald Trump and their almost morbid fixation on emails that continue to show absolutely no wrong-doing by Hillary (except the admitted mistake of having a private server), it was gratifying to hear the many more vets in the audience voting with their hands for Clinton than for Trump. Now they—and we—have to vote for real on or before Election Day.

How many people voting for Trump have been brainwashed by mainstream news media to dislike Hillary?

Yesterday evening I witnessed something frightening.

The masterful jazz trombonist Robin Eubanks was performing at Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center with his big band. In his introduction to a composition titled “Yes We Can—Victory Dance,” he put in a plug for Hillary and asked everyone to vote. Only about half the audience applauded. The other half sat on their hands grimly. I could see many frowns on the faces and some uncomfortable body language.

That means that about half the audience at an upscale jazz club on Labor Day in liberal New York City are either supporting Donald Trump or vehemently opposed to Hillary Clinton. Of course, some may have just objected to entertainers interjecting their political opinions into their performance, but the piece the band was going to play was political in nature and we’re talking about jazz, a musical art form whose practitioners are much given to political statements in their work. (I’m hopeful that one day soon National Public Radio (NPR) will invite Eubanks on “All Things Considered”  to discuss his political opinions, as it did the right-wing Merle Haggard four years ago to discuss why he hated President Obama.)

The frightening thing is that the large number of people not clapping—or cheering insanely—when Eubanks endorsed Hillary is that it suggests that Donald Trump may actually win, or at the very least that the mainstream media’s long campaign to make the country dislike Hillary Clinton has really succeeded (more on that below). Keep in mind that this audience was whiter and probably wealthier and more educated than the United States as a whole, but that means it was full of the educated whites who are supposed to be abandoning the GOP over Trump.

I would have hoped that, when faced with the choice between a poorly informed and compulsively lying narcissist who failed in business, cheated many people out of money and has a long history of racism on one side and a competent, educated public servant with a track record of achievement on the other, virtually everyone in the country other than unrepentant racists would embrace Hillary and that the crowd would have gone as wild over Eubank’s endorsement as they did over his wonderful music.

As the group played “Yes We Can—Victory Dance,” which at times required many of the group members to clap their hands in unison as if at a peace or civil rights rally, I surveyed the audience wondering about the motives for anyone supporting Donald Trump, even after his frequent inflammatory and often racist or sexist outbursts, his multitude of lies about the state of the country and his past, and the revelations that his real estate and casino businesses were mostly failures, that he is involved in 3,500 lawsuits and that he may have paid off at least two politicians to get lawsuits against his university dropped.

Based on months of following the Trump malevolence unfold, I have identified roughly five groups of Trump supporters, or perhaps I should write, five reasons to vote for Trump:

  1. Racists.
  2. Those who do not think a woman should be president.
  3. Supreme Court voters, those who will vote for Trump because he says he will nominate conservative Supreme Court justices (although I think virtually all people in this group primarily support Trump for one of the other reasons listed here).
  4. The ultra-wealthy and wealthy whose sole criteria for voting is who will lower taxes on the wealthy more, keep the minimum wage the lowest and impose the fewest regulations on their businesses.
  5. Those whom the news media have brainwashed to hate Hillary Clinton.

The last two groups have a causal relationship, as it is the ultra-wealthy who own the mainstream and right-wing news media that have demonized Hillary for the past 30 years, essentially holding her to a standard much higher than any other public official has ever been held. There are almost as many examples of the media treating Hillary differently from others as there are of Trump telling bold-faced lies:

  • While there was no investigation of the 13 terrorist incidents at U.S. embassies around the world during the Bush II Administration, millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent looking for something that Hillary Clinton did wrong to cause Benghazi or in the State Department dealings with the Clinton Foundation.
  • There has been no investigation of the millions of emails the Bush Administration destroyed. Likewise no investigation of the emails of Condoleezza or Colin Powell even though the U.S. foreign policy under their leadership was pretty disastrous. Powell, BTW, advised Hillary to destroy her emails, which she didn’t do. I guess that’s why the media is going after Hillary for a lack of transparency.
  • While conveniently forgetting Trump’s early support of the Iraq War and his many overt racist statements in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the news media continues to hammer Clinton over her vote to authorize the Iraq War and her husband’s support of the crime legislation of the 1990’s that proved to be de facto Jim Crow laws. The implication is that only Hillary among all those misled by the Bush Administration knew that the Bushies were lying and that among thousands including many civil rights leaders only Hillary understood the racial ramifications of tougher sentencing laws.

No one in the media mentions it, but when Hillary left her post as Secretary of State, she was the most popular person in the United States, if not the world.  It was then that the news media resumed its anti-Clinton campaign of the 1990’s.

If you want to see a case history of unfair treatment of Hillary over the years, read the article of two years ago by Oliver Willis and Hannah Groch-Begley detailing the New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd’s 21-year-long verbal war against Hillary, all based on misperceptions, assumptions and Dowd’s special brand of social-psychobabble. Dowd’s unfair and mostly fabricated definition of Hillary has become the playbook for a large part of the mainstream news media: Hillary is a weak candidate because she is a policy wonk (which means she has no passion), and is graceless, sneaky, secretive, devious and open to corruption. Earlier in the election cycle, the news media kept their anti-Hillary sentiments under control, preferring to focus on Trump’s many outrageous statements, rude insults and personal feuds. In retrospect, it seems as if the anti-Trump coverage was always about trying to help any other Republican (other than Ted Cruz) secure the nomination.

Since it began looking like Hillary could win in a landslide, the mainstream and right-wing news media have ramped up their anti-Hillary storylines. At the same time, the media has begun to treat Donald Trump with the softest of kid gloves. His trip to Mexico was taken seriously. Many reporters actually bought the line that Trump had made his immigration policy less Draconian and extreme than it actually was. While ignoring prima facie evidence that Donald Trump paid off elected officials in Texas and Florida, the news media continues to pore over Hillary’s emails, finding that neither she nor the Clinton Foundation did anything illegal or even unethical, which the news media has hidden under assertions of “the appearance of unethical conduct.” Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” has made it his life’s work to sell the country on the idea that Hillary’s handling of emails was illegal. The media has touted the false and baseless rumors that Hillary is physically incapacitated, despite the fact that she has a standard doctor’s letter that covers all the information given by former presidential candidates. By contrast, the issue of Trump’s health quickly faded, even though the letter he has is completely unprofessional and appears to come from a quack.  The media seems to have forgotten that Trump has still not released his taxes. For some reason the many bankruptcies, business failures, lawsuits and the fact that he has taken tax deductions available only to people with annual incomes under $500,000 have not compelled them to dig deeper or to probe further—they’re probably too busy trying to figure out how to spin the meeting of Secretary Clinton with a Nobel prize winner as part of a corrupt enterprise.

The day after Labor Day provides an excellent example of the mainstream news media’s stealth campaign against Hillary. NPR’s story on the campaign starts with what Donald Trump will be doing today, followed by a long quote by someone in the Trump campaign. The story ends with a short sentence on what Clinton is doing today, presented as an afterthought.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has a front-page story that draws parallels between the two campaigns.  The article repeats the lie that there are “nagging doubts about her candidacy,” without specifying what those doubts might be. The writer presents Trump’s problems—primarily his lack of appeal to minorities—as a challenge that he is trying to overcome. Elsewhere, the Times prints a story about a Bernie Sanders rally for Hillary that focuses exclusively on the small number of Bernie supporters there who may not vote for Hillary. Near the end of the article appears the sentence: “Still, polls show that the majority of Mr. Sander’s former supporters, like Lauren Glass, 22, plan to vote for Mrs. Clinton.” The number of former Bernitians intending to vote for Hillary is actually 90%, making the statement “the majority” as close to a lie as a true statement can be. The angle for the story is completely misleading and meant to sow further “doubts” about Hillary.

The Times also carried a very positive story about the supposed influence of Norman Vincent Peale’s church on Donald Trump, despite the fact that Trump has never joined the church and never given it a contribution. Besides being a minister, Norman Vincent Peale was a religiously-based motivational speaker who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking. Peale’s optimistic conflation of doing well and doing good has made him a favorite of mainstream business-oriented Republicans since the 1930’s. If it wasn’t in the Times, I would swear that the article was part of the Trump campaign to appeal more to traditional Republicans, similar to his many speeches about helping African-Americans he has given to white audiences.

The Times also had a snarky story about Hillary, who on Labor Day let reporters ride with her on her jet for the first time in the campaign. This story continues the mainstream news media’s campaign to paint Hillary as unavailable just because she hasn’t held any news conferences. The “Hillary is not accessible” storyline demonstrates the underlying anti-Hillary sentiment in the mainstream news media. Hillary has given a tremendous number of one-on-one interviews. As a public relations professional for more than 30 years, I can state unequivocally that reporters prefer one-on-ones to news conference for several reasons: 1) They can ask more questions; 2) They can get into more depth on the issue(s) of most interest to them; 3) They are more likely to get exclusive breaking news, since by definition there can be no exclusive at a news conference attended by many. The news media should be happy that there are so many opportunities to talk to Hillary one-on-one, but instead they turn it around and make it part of a false narrative.

This news cycle also saw the announcement by one of the moderators of upcoming debates, Chris Wallace of Fox News, declare that he would not point out when either of the candidates makes a factual misstatement during his debate; Wallace must know he has given Trump carte blanc to lie as much as he wants in the debate.

This mainstream media support of Trump began in full swing as soon as the Khan controversy died down. And it seems to be having an impact. The latest polls show the race to be in a virtual tie. The latest CC-ORC poll has Trump up by two points, 45%-43%. Hillary still has a nearly insurmountable lead in the Electoral College, ahead in virtually every swing state and within striking distance in a number of historically Republican states. But still, it’s frightening to think that almost half the country now intends to vote for Trump.

As I have written before, you would think that the specter of a Trump presidency would induce the mainstream news media to skewer coverage in favor of Hillary, or at the very least to play it straight instead of helping the Republicans, as they usually do.  But it looks like I’m wrong.  Maybe the media corporate overlords figure that we’ve had psychopaths, the ignorant and liars for president before and have survived. Bush II and Reagan were ignorant liars, while Nixon was a lying psychopath.  And we’ve had racists in the White House, too, including Woodrow Wilson and Nixon.  Presidents with little experience have made some awful mistakes, such as Kennedy escalating the cold war and arranging for the replacement of the Vietnam government, Clinton’s handling of healthcare reform or Obama bending too far to compromise with the unrealistic demands of Republicans.

But only twice in our country’s history have we had a Democratic president who was a centrist leaning left with both houses of Congress Democratic and the Republic party in disarray. In both instances, the conditions lasted about two years. Coincidentally, virtually every piece of federal legislation that created more equality of income and wealth was passed during these short periods, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. As of August 10, the polls suggested that the possibility of a third confluence of these factors could occur.  And that’s what the ultra-wealthy who own and control the mainstream news media are afraid of. They’ve spent more than 35 years undoing most of the damage that New Deal and Great Society legislation did to the ultra-wealthy’s self-imagined privilege to dominate the economy and exploit everyone else. They don’t want to see their efforts undone by the Democratic platform of higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for social welfare programs, lowering the cost of education, improving our infrastructure and promoting non-fossil fuels.

In short, they prefer the horrors of Trump to anything that affects their sizable fortunes, even if it helps the country and most of its inhabitants.