I’ll be speaking at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture tomorrow, October 23. Program starts at 11 am. The topic is a Zen approach to secular ethics. I’ll post the talk eventually.
I’ll be speaking at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture tomorrow, October 23. Program starts at 11 am. The topic is a Zen approach to secular ethics. I’ll post the talk eventually.
This is the part of the debate that’s already getting all the attention.
“I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now, I will look at it at the time,” Trump said during the final presidential debate. “What I’ve seen, what I’ve seen is so bad. First of all, the media is so dishonest and so corrupt. And the pile-on is so amazing.”
He then said the media has “poisoned the minds of voters.”
“If you look at your voter rolls, you will see millions of people that are registered to vote,” he continued, claiming to cite a “Pew report.” “Millions of people that are registered to vote that shouldn’t be registered to vote.”
Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace on not accepting “one of the prides of this country… the peaceful transition of power,” Trump said of his acceptance of the election results: “I will tell you at the time. I will keep you in suspense, okay?”
Hillary Clinton called Trump’s response “horrifying.”
There are in fact a lot of dead people who are still on the nation’s registration votes. There often is a time lag between a death and a name’s removal from the registration rolls. However, instances in which dead people actually vote are quite rare.
The Trump surrogates already are trying to walk this back — he just meant that he would contest the election if there is evidence of fraud, they are saying. But that’s not what he said. Not just the Trump camp but every Republican in national office is going to be pushed to defend or reject what Trump said tonight. A lot of them are likely going to use this as an opportunity to sever ties to what promises to be a loss of epic proportions.
See also Josh Marshall’s postmortem.
Get the beer and popcorn ready, folks. I’ll be here watching and will add commentary as we go. I don’t promise to be sober, though.
About to start.
She’s standing up for LGBT rights, Roe v. Wade; the Supreme Court should stand up for all of us. No on Citizens’ United. Good answer.
The Nortious RGB insulted Trump? I missed that one. Trump wants to uphold the second amendment. Trump’s justices will be pro-life and protect the 2nd Amendment.
Discussion time. Clinton says she supports the 2nd Amendment but also supports reasonable regulations. Comprehensive background checks; close loopholes. These are not in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. The Heller decision did not apply the 2nd Amendment correctly, she said.
Clinton says Trump is heavily supported by the NRA and the gun lobby. Split screen; he is nodding. Yep; he’s supported by the gun lobby.
He promises to put more “pro-life” justices on the court, overturn Roe v. Wade and return the abortion question to the states.
She’s not being squishy; she will defend Roe v. Wade; she will defend Planned Parenthood; she will defend women’s rights.
Government has no business in those decisions, she said.
Trump talks about evil women having babies ripped from their wombs days before birth. Give me a break.
Criminals are pouring across the border! Trump cries. Heroin pours across the borders! That’s the biggest problem in New Hampshire now, apparently. It’s coming from Canada?
We need the wall! We stop the drugs! We need to get all of the drug lords!
Trump is sniffing again. Bad hombres!
Clinton says she doesn’t want to rip families apart or send the deportation presence required to deport all undocumented families.
Trump went to Mexico, choked when talking to the Mexican president.
Trump used undocumented labor to build Trump tower. I want to get undocumented workers into the regular economy so they aren’t undercutting American workers.
Clinton: Will you admit that Wikileaks is coming from Russian hackers? That a foreign government is trying to undercut our election?
Trump says he doesn’t know Putin. Then he says he knows Putin doesn’t respect Clinton. These cyberattacks come from the highest levels of the government?
Trump is losing it already. This is turning into a repeat of the first debate.
Chris Wallace took Clinton’s side on the Soviet hacker thing.
Now he’s denying that he thought it would be swell if other countries got nukes. We already found those videos, dude.
When the middle class thrives, America thrives, Clinton says. Biggest jobs program since World War II. Sounds good. Green energy. Create opportunities. Help small business. Raise the minimum wage. People who work full time should not be in poverty. Education system. More technical ed.
She mentioned Bernie! Free college tuition!
Let the wealthy pay their fair share.
Trump is proposing trickle-down economics on steroids.
Trump claims Clinton is proposing a massive tax increase.
He’s going back to the previous segment. NATO; why isn’t NATO paying up?
He’s lost it. He’s not shouting yet, but he’s lost it. Probably he was told to stay on trade deals. Jobs have fled to Mexico.
Cut taxes and corporations will start hiring people. Yeah, like that works.
Chris Wallace says to Trump, even conservative economists don’t think your plan will work.
Clinton: The only one who has ever imported Chinese steel is Trump. He built the Trump Las Vegas hotel with Chinese steel.
On the very day Clinton was in the situation room, watching the raid that took Osama bin Laden, he was hosting Celebrity Apprentice.
Fitness to be President!
Chris Wallace brings up the nine women who accused Trump of assault. Why would these women say this?
Trump says the women’s stories are debunked. Now he’s denying he said things we all heard him say.
Clinton says we want to think about what kind of country we want.
Trump brings up the emails.
Clinton: Every time Donald is pushed on something, he denies responsibility. He never apologizes or accepts responsibilities. Mocking reporter. Mr. and Mrs. Khan. John McCain. This is a pattern of divisiveness. This is a pattern of a dark and dangerous vision. This is not what America is.
Trump: All charges against me are false. I never said what I said.
Chris Wallace: What about Clinton Foundation pay to play?
Clinton: I would love to talk about the Clinton Foundation. Starts to rattle off accomplishments.
Trump is yelling, It’s a criminal enterprise!
Trump says he’s entitled to not pay income taxes.
When will this be over?
Rigged elections? Trump refuses to say he will accept the results of the election!
No, Trump, there are not millions of people registered to vote who are not supposed to be registered.
Now he’s saying that Clinton should not be allowed to run for president.
Clinton: Trump always says something was rigged when he loses. He even said the Emmys were rigged.
Whining! she said whining! He’s talking down our democracy!
Foreign hot spots!
Mosul! Can Trump find Mosul on a map? No, he wasn’t asked that.
Clinton will not support putting American troops in Iraq as an occupying force. She hopes for a successful military operations.
No fly zone, safe havens within Syria. Leverage against Syrian government and Russians.
Trump thinks ISIS already left Mosul. Whatever happened to element of surprise?
Trump seems to think that the only reason Iraq is attacking Mosul is to make Hillary Clinton look good. Iran should write us a thank-you note for this.
Chris Wallace: I want to follow up on another debate. [to Trump] You said things about Aleppo that weren’t true.
Trump: Aleppo is so sad, and awful, and everything bad that happened there is Hillary Clinton’s fault. He really said that.
All over the world, fact checkers have thrown themselves on the floor, weeping. Too much! Too much!
How much longer will this go on?
Chris Wallace cites right-leaning social spending cutting groups to talk about taxes and entitlements. Social Security is going bankrupt! Oh noes!
Trump wants to repeal and replace Obamacare to save Obamacare.
Wallace asks Clinton is she’s willing to entertain a grand bargain on Social Security and entitlements.
Final question! Hooray! Why should people vote for you? Clinton has a good boilerplate answer ready.
Trump: Everything is a disaster. I will fix it. All she does is talk.
Okay, the big headline from this debate is that Trump directly refused to say he would respect the result of the election. This is going to eat up most of the post-debate spin.
John Oliver on the fringe candidates, Johnson and Stein.
I’ll be on the road tomorrow; will check in tomorrow night if all goes well.
Last night’s SNL opening skit made me laugh:
Even better, it so pissed off Donald Trump that he went on one of his dead-of-night Twitter rants. And he hates Alec Baldwin, which is about the nicest thing that’s happened to Alec Baldwin in some time.
The first symptom of a degraded aristocracy is a lack of capable candidates for the throne. After years of indulgence, ruling families become frail, inbred and isolated, with no one but mystics, impotents and children to put forward as kings. Think of Nikolai Romanov reading fortunes as his troops starved at the front. Weak princes lead to popular uprisings. Which brings us to this year’s Republican field.
There wasn’t one capable or inspiring person in the infamous “Clown Car” lineup. All 16 of the non-Trump entrants were dunces, religious zealots, wimps or tyrants, all equally out of touch with voters. Scott Walker was a lipless sadist who in centuries past would have worn a leather jerkin and thrown dogs off the castle walls for recreation. Marco Rubio was the young rake with debts. Jeb Bush was the last offering in a fast-diminishing hereditary line. Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer. And so on.
There’s a lot of talk about whether the Republicans can survive. Clearly, it’s not on its deathbed yet. But reading more of Taibbi, I do wonder what it will survive as. Here he’s describing the Paul Ryan-led rally in Wisconsin from which Trump was dis-invited:
The party schism burst open in the middle of a speech by Wisconsin’s speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos. Vos is the Billy Mays of state budget hawks. He’s a mean-spirited little ball of energy who leaped onto the stage reminding the crowd that he wanted to eliminate the office of the treasurer to SAVE YOU MONEY!
Vos went on to brag about having wiped out tenure for University of Wisconsin professors, before dismounting with yet another superawkward Trumpless call for Republicans to turn out to vote.
“I have no doubt that with all of you standing behind us,” he shouted, “and with the fantastic record of achievement that we have, we’re going to go on to an even bigger and better victory than before!”
There was scattered applause, then someone from the crowd called out:
“You uninvited Donald Trump!”
Boos and catcalls, both for and against Vos and the Republicans. Most in the crowd were Trump supporters, but others were angry with Trump for perhaps saddling them with four years of Hillary Clinton. These camps now battled it out across the field. A competing chant of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” started on the opposite end of the stands, only to be met by chants from the pro-Trumpers.
“We want Trump! We want Trump!” “U-S-A! U-S-A!”
Ryan, the last speaker, tried to cut the tension with a leaden joke about the “elephant in the room.” But he still refused to speak Trump’s name, or do more than refer the crowd to a written statement. He just smiled like it was all OK, and talked about what a beautiful day it was.
The threat of a Trump insurgency to the GOP might be mitigated if the GOP had even one strong, respected figurehead for the party to rally around. Alas, all they’ve got is Paul Ryan and John McCain.
My guess is that the Trump faithful might very well split off and form their own party, which in the U.S. is usually the first step toward political irrelevance. But if the worst of the whackjobs follow Trump into eventual oblivion, taking the red-meat-only base with them, it could allow the remaining Republican mainstream to move back toward the center again. Which would be a good thing, in the long run. Maybe they’ll even taken an interest in the governing thing.
But then you’ve got the Democratic Party, which also is being run by out-of-touch aristocrats. The Wikileaks emails show us that even Clinton’s campaign staff worried their candidate had no compelling reason to run.
The correspondence reveals a campaign that has struggled all year to improve a flawed candidate. As far back as March, aides were keenly aware that she was resistant to the media, perhaps out of touch with regular Americans and unable to convey a clear message to voters.
A month before Clinton launched her campaign, her aides worked to corral her well-known love for granular policy details into a message that would both capture her agenda and present a forward-looking, aspirational vision for her presidency.
Nearly a year later, a similar struggle cropped up as they attempted to revise her core campaign message.
“Do we have any sense from her what she believes or wants her core message to be?” asked Clinton adviser Joel Benenson. . . .
. . . .Seven months later and on the cusp of Election Day, the concerns laid out in these emails and others largely remain. Clinton has proven to be a lackluster candidate who has struggled to win over the liberals who gravitated to Sanders during the primary, and who remains ahead in large part due to Trump’s historic weaknesses.
“Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump,” Brent Budowsky, a political columnist and former political adviser, wrote in a March 2016 email to Podesta and Roy Spence, an ad maker for the campaign. “She has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify.”
The electorate is roiling with a desire for change, and the Democratic nominee had no clue.
In our alarm and loathing of Donald Trump, we must not lose sight of how Hillary Clinton came to be the Democratic nominee.
The answer: we live in a moribund democracy, not a thriving one. A conjunction of corporate political power and immense wealth is forcibly installing a president. We haven’t confronted this before, either. We will cast our ritual ballots in November, but not in a free election: the Democratic nominee was imposed upon us by the corporate and the wealthy.
That’s a strong charge, but as I’ve written in the past, that’s pretty much what happened. The Democratic Party itself made sure there was no real contest. The Clinton nomination was a done deal long before the primaries even began. But why was it so important to her to run, given that she has no real central message or agenda other than “I am competent”? That’s the part that remains baffling to me. Personal ambition is the only answer I can think of, and that’s not a good answer. It wouldn’t be a good answer for a male candidate, either.
Anyway, in short, the Democratic Party itself doesn’t trust its voters to choose the “right” nominee. The GOP has the opposite problem; it lost all control of the nomination process. Neither development is healthy.
IMO the Dems are roughly in the same place the GOP came to be in the 1990s and 2000, when the party was able to dictate who the nominee would be, and got away with knocking down the competition without too much grumbling. The Powers That Be in the GOP obviously had settled on George W. Bush as the standard bearer shortly after Bob Dole’s defeat in 1996, and they spent the next four years skillfully puffing Dubya up. And during the primaries, you could practically see the RNC’s thumb on the scale to be sure Dubya was the one left standing. (And how did Bob Dole get to be the nominee? I can’t believe that was a popular choice.) Well, now it’s the DNC forcing the pre-ordained candidate on the rest of us.
Eventually, people do notice when they’re being used. I heard a talking head on MSNBC this morning say that about 40 percent of Americans don’t think the presidential election process is legitimate, and this sentiment is spread across the political spectrum. Distrusting the legitimacy of elections has been a problem for a while, though. Republicans tried their best to delegitimize Bill Clinton’s presidency, for example, in part by blaming Ross Perot. They tried to delegitimize Barack Obama by claiming he only won because he was black — he was the cute novelty candidate, apparently.
Of course, in 2000 when George W. Bush was selected rather than elected, Democrats went along for the sake of tradition, or to keep Democracy alive, or something. That was a mistake.
Once you’ve seen the man behind the curtain, the old myths and buzzwords lose their force. As much as I look forward to seeing the Great Orange Sleazebag have his ass handed to him on election night, I’m not kidding myself that Hillary Clinton will be the president we need right now. She might surprise me, but I don’t think she’s got it in her to surprise me. The best we can hope for is that she’ll not completely renege on trying to pass the Democratic platform.
Going back to the Republicans — I believe the party will survive, but the Trump insurgency will force it to change. The mob of Faux Nooz viewers and Rusho dittoheads they have counted on to believe their bullshit and vote R will likely desert them for a long time, or at least a couple of election cycles. This might well force them to have to broaden their base, which means they will have to offer something besides hate. They might even have to start making sense. Radical, I know, but stranger things have happened.
But if Republicans change, Democrats will have to change also. They might have to stop being The Party That Isn’t as Awful as That Other Party and actually stand for something. Imagine.
Donald Trump not only is dividing Republicans from Republicans; he is dividing Christians from Christians.
Christianity Today published an anti-Trump editorial, and several prominent evangelical clergypersons also have spoken out against him. However, a lot of the big shots of the Christian-Political Right still stand with Trump — Jerry Falwell, Jr., Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, James Dobson, and the animated fossil of Pat Robertson, for example.
I can think of two explanations. One, they think somehow they will maintain more influence in a Trump administration than in a Clinton administration. And maybe they would. Trump obviously doesn’t give a hoo-haw about religion, except when it can be made to reflect well on him somehow. He might very well support their anti-LGBT and anti-women agenda if they flatter him enough, because it’s obvious he doesn’t give a shit either way.
The other explanation is that these people have become so twisted that oppressing women and LGBT people is the only “morality” they care about any more, and all the stuff about lying, stealing, coveting, adultery , etc., are just details that can be sacrificed for their “greater good.”
The truth probably is a combination of both. Remember, these are guys who were elevated to prominence, directly or indirectly, by political operatives like Paul Weyrich who saw the usefulness of framing the right-wing political agenda as a moral crusade. These guys gave their blessings to the political Right in exchange for fame, wealth and the promise that they could become America’s moral arbiters.
Which brings me to Original Sin. Yes, Christian theology is a bit outside my usual area, but it does interest me. And I have no beef with Christianity; it’s just a shame more Christians don’t follow it.
I never appreciated the Original Sin doctrine until I read Reinhold Niebuhr‘s explanation of it, which differs considerably from what most of us were taught. But Niebuhr (1892-1971) was a highly regarded theologian, and I argue his opinion is as authoritative as anyone’s. And please note that both Niebuhr and I read the Genesis story as myth, not as natural history.
Niebuhr noted that the Serpent had said of the forbidden fruit, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, the great temptation was to be like God. This is a point that seems to get lost a lot.
So Adam and Eve ate the fruit and gained the knowledge, and from there came all human hangups, not to mention psychiatrists and lawyers. But we can put that aside for now. Water under the bridge.
Anyway, for Niebuhr, this is not something that happened only in a mythical past. Every human generation has succumbed to the same temptation by seeking power and self-glorification, he said.
“Man’s situation tempts to evil, provided man is unwilling to accept the peculiar weakness of his creaturely life, and is unable to find the ultimate source and end of his existence beyond himself,” Niebuhr wrote in Discerning the Signs of the Times (1946). “Being an insignificant creature with suggestions of great significance in the stature of his freedom, man uses his strength to hide his weakness and thus falls into the evil of the lust for power and self-idolatry.”
Just about the worst sin, to Niebuhr, was presuming perfect knowledge of God. He died before the modern Christian Right got off the ground, but his opinion of such creatures as Falwell (father and son), Reed, Perkins and Robertson comes through clearly in his writing. These are the guys who fell into the temptation; they ate the forbidden fruit; they assumed to know God’s mind and to hand out judgments on the rest of us.
Original sin, by tainting all human perceptions, is the enemy of absolutes. Mortal man’s apprehension of truth is fitful, shadowy and imperfect; he sees through the glass darkly. Against absolutism Niebuhr insisted on the “relativity of all human perspectives,” as well as on the sinfulness of those who claimed divine sanction for their opinions. He declared himself “in broad agreement with the relativist position in the matter of freedom, as upon every other social and political right or principle.” In pointing to the dangers of what Justice Robert H. Jackson called “compulsory godliness,” Niebuhr argued that “religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values.” Religion, he warned, could be a source of error as well as wisdom and light. Its role should be to inculcate, not a sense of infallibility, but a sense of humility. Indeed, “the worst corruption is a corrupt religion.”
If there was ever a better morality play than what’s going on now in the presidential election, I can’t think of it. Those who were raised up through hubris and self-glorification are now being exposed as fallible and corrupt. Truly, their own sinful ways are revealed.
In the past, as Pulliam Bailey has chronicled, religious-right leaders claimed to care about personal morality. “We will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character,” Reed said back in the Monica Lewinsky days. Evangelical leader James Dobson advocated Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 because he set a bad example about “respecting women.”
But Dobson supports Trump, excusing his behavior because the candidate is a “baby Christian.” Franklin Graham, though formally neutral, draws equivalence between Trump’s “crude comments” and Democrats’ “godless” agenda. …
… But where are the high-profile figures in the movement, such as Reed, Robertson and Falwell? In January, Falwell said Trump “lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught.” He likened Trump to his father.
And now, no regrets. Falwell said that years from now, “I don’t think anybody is going to be sitting around thinking about whether Donald Trump said this or that on the videotape in 2005. I think they’re going to be sitting around saying, ‘Gosh, I wish we had different Supreme Court justices.’ ”
Or maybe they’ll be wondering how differently things might have turned out if Falwell, with his ends-justify-the-means logic, hadn’t made a deal with the devil and destroyed the moral credibility of the movement his father built.
Some Liberty University students are rebelling, and they criticized Falwell for using their university as a vehicle for electing Donald Trump. Do read the letter they wrote; they understand that Trump is a moral cesspool and even quote the Gospels — Matthew chapter 7 — to express their opposition. The fallout from this election is going to be massive, and it won’t just affect the Republican Party.
Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Prize in Literature. For all the time I spent in my youth soaking up Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing It All Back Home, etc., when I was supposed to be reading Silas Marner, I am vindicated.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about Michelle Malkin, since I rarely run into her on the Web any more. We travel in different circles, apparently. But today I bumped into a column she wrote about Obamacare that shows she’s still the same toxic waste dump of stupid she ever was.
Here’s the story: Because she’s self-employed — a “self-employed small-business owner” in her words — she buys insurance on the Colorado state insurance exchange. But she is not happy.
Our most recent plan features a $6,000 deductible with a $1,000 monthly premium. It’s nosebleed expensive, but provides us access to specialists not curtailed by bureaucratic gatekeepers. This has been important for us because several members of my family have required specialized care for chronic illnesses.
Once again, however, I’ll soon be talking about our plan in the past tense. Choices for families like mine have evaporated in the era of Obamacare. In Colorado, UnitedHealthCare and Humana will cease selling individual plans next year. Rocky Mountain Health Plans is pulling out of the individual market in all but one county. Nearly 100,000 of my fellow Coloradans will be forced to find new insurance alternatives as open enrollment approaches on Nov. 1, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Here’s her punch line:
Every time we receive a cancellation letter, I recall President Obama’s big lie: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
Now, that was an ill-advised thing for the President to have said; he probably meant to say that if you like the insurance you have the government won’t take it away from you. But that’s not what he said, so it’s been held against him, and the ACA, ever since.
But it’s not as if people didn’t have their health insurance ripped out from under them before the ACA was passed. It happens frequently enough to people who get their insurance through employment. It’s happened to me at least twice, when an employer decided to go with a different company for group insurance. I remember finding a co-worker weeping, because the new network didn’t include the trusted oncologist who had been helping her husband battle cancer. This was sometime in the late 1990s, long before the ACA.
I don’t know why Colorado or some other states are losing insurance companies, although see Sarah Kliff for one explanation. But this is nothing that a federal pubic option wouldn’t fix, I suspect.
And you’d think that health insurance costs had never gone up before the ACA was passed. The chart from Kaiser shows how employer-based health care has been going up all these years:
But now I want to go back to what Malkin wrote — she’s self-employed, and “several members of my family have required specialized care for chronic illnesses.” And it’s expensive, but it “provides us access to specialists not curtailed by bureaucratic gatekeepers.” I want to know what Malkin was doing for insurance before the ACA. Did she have any at all? If so, did it provide as much coverage? Does she realize that in most states before the ACA, if you had a chronic condition you could be denied coverage? Those pesky pre-existing conditions!
So, thanks to the ACA, she’s got insurance, in spite of the cancellations. Other policies are available in Colorado. She may not like her choices as well, but she’s got choices. Before the ACA, lots of people had no choices. And because so many states stubbornly refuse to expand Medicaid, lots of people who could have choices still don’t have them.
Are some of those family members with chronic conditions children? Remember the war Malkin waged against the S-chip program?
And if she hates Obamacare so much, why is she using it? Oh wait .. because there’s no other insurance available to her? Just a guess. Before the ACA, where you could buy private health plans at all, they tended to be ripoff plans with lousy coverage. In states that didn’t allow ripoff insurance to be sold, often there was little to no private insurance market. Complain to the insurance companies about that, toots.
And yes, health insurance is expensive because health care in the U.S. is expensive. That’s because it’s a mostly private, for-profit system, and there are few controls on price gouging. That was true before the ACA was passed, and it will still be true if the ACA is repealed.
And most of these problems would go away if we reduced or eliminated our dependency on a private, for-profit health care industry — which I’m sure Malkin opposes.
The headline could be, “Republicans In Disarray.” The whole party is in meltdown today, and Donald Trump is declaring war on the GOP.
“Desite [sic] winning the second debate in a landslide (every poll), it is hard to do well when Paul Ryan and others give zero support!” Trump wrote on Twitter earlier Tuesday morning, adding an hour later that “our very weak and ineffective leader, Paul Ryan, had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.”
He kept it going, essentially declaring war on the GOP. “With the exception of cheating Bernie out of the nom the Dems have always proven to be far more loyal to each other than the Republicans!” Trump later tweeted, following up that blast, with, “Disloyal R’s are far more difficult than Crooked Hillary. They come at you from all sides. They don’t know how to win – I will teach them!”
The best part is that he has declared himself unshackled. No more nice.
It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2016
They don’t make enough popcorn for this. Anyway, on to the Wikileaks Mystery.
Some Clinton emails hacked by Wikileaks surfaced that turned out to have been “doctored.” In the original email, Sidney Blumenthal sent an article from Newsweek to Hillary Clinton. The article, by Kurt Eichenwald, was reporting on accusations about Clinton and Benghazi. The Russian hacker who dealt with this email, possibly confused, attributed quotes from the Eichenwald article to Blumenthal. When put into Blumenthal’s mouth, the quotes appeared to be an admission that Clinton could have done something to stop the attacks and/or save ambassador Chris Stevens.
Kurt Eichenwald saw the Wikileaks version and realized what happened, as he wrote in “Dear Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, I Am Not Sidney Blumenthal.”
Eichenwald says that the doctored email appeared briefly on Sputnik, “the Russian online news and radio service established by the government-controlled news agency, Rossiya Segodnya.” And then he says,
Of course, this might be seen as just an opportunity to laugh at the incompetence of the Russian hackers and government press—once they realized their error, Sputnik took the article down. But then things got even more bizarre.
This false story was reported only by the Russian-controlled agency (a reference appeared in a Turkish publication, but it was nothing but a link to the Sputnik article). So how did Donald Trump end up advancing the same falsehood put out by Putin’s mouthpiece?
Yes, Donald Trump. Yesterday at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, PA, Trump repeated the allegations from the doctored email. This is from Breitbart:
Trump also referenced an email about Benghazi from Sidney Blumenthal, whom he called, “sleazy Sidney.”
“The attack was almost certainly preventable. Clinton was in charge of the State Department,” Trump stated, reading from his notes on the email. “If the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate.”
Trump claimed she is now admitting they could have done something about Benghazi. The crowd booed in reaction and chanted, “Lock her up!”
This is not funny. It is terrifying. The Russians engage in a sloppy disinformation effort and, before the day is out, the Republican nominee for president is standing on a stage reciting the manufactured story as truth. How did this happen? Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin? (The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)
The Russians have been obtaining American emails and now are presenting complete misrepresentations of them—falsifying them—in hopes of setting off a cascade of events that might change the outcome of the presidential election. The big question, of course, is why are the Russians working so hard to damage Clinton and, in the process, aid Donald Trump? That is a topic for another time.
For now, though, Americans should be outraged. This totalitarian regime, engaged in what are arguably war crimes in Syria to protect its government puppet, is working to upend a democracy to the benefit of an American candidate who uttered positive comments just Sunday about the Kremlin’s campaign on behalf of Bashar al-Assad. Trump’s arguments were an incomprehensible explication of the complex Syrian situation, which put him right on the side of the Iranians and Syrians, who are fighting to preserve the government that is the primary conduit of weapons used against Israel.
So no, Mr. Putin, I’m not Sidney Blumenthal. And now that you have been exposed once again, get the hell out of our election. And, Mr. Trump, you have some explaining to do.
Did Putin’s boys forward the email to the Donald before they realized it was screwed up? Maybe, although Josh Marshall provides an alternative scenario.
News from Russian propaganda sources are pervasive in the alt-right/neo-Nazi web. As a secondary matter we know from Adrian Chen’s work that there are a decent number of faux ‘pro-Trump’ accounts on Twitter that are actually run from troll farms operated by Russian intelligence services. By whichever path, Russian propaganda is ubiquitous on the alt-right/racist web – particularly on Twitter, Reddit, 4chan and similar sites.
It happens that we know the Trump world is awash in the alt-right/neo-Nazi web. After all, that’s where all the retweeting of #WhiteGenocide accounts and the like comes from. So anything is possible. Perhaps there’s a more complex explanation. But the simplest one is that it’s organic. Russian propaganda stories from outlets like RT, Sputniknews and other similar sites spread freely on the alt-right/white supremacist web. And that’s where the Trump camp lives. So it’s entirely plausible that that’s why material that appears only on these Russian propaganda sites shows up so frequently in Trump’s speeches.
In other words, don’t worry. The Trump campaign isn’t infiltrated by Russian intelligence (probably). They’re just awash in neo-Nazi and white supremacist propaganda.
In other words, in this scenario some U.S. white supremacist found the doctored email on Sputnik before it was taken down and forwarded it to the Trump campaign.
Either way, after this it cannot be denied that Wikileaks and Julian Assange are working with Putin’s people to manipulate the election. However, many of the besotted die-hards on social media who believe Assange walks on water will continue to deny it, because they’re tools.