Browsing the archives for the Republican Party category.

Trump Unfairly Expected to Answer Questions

Bad Hair

Going back to the debate, which really was the most fun thing that happened this week … now Trump is whining that Lester Holt “went after” him and asked him unfair questions.  In truth, Lester Holt was barely there and only occasionally got in a word edgewise.

But in reviewing the transcript, it struck me that Holt spent more time aiming questions at Trump simply because Trump wouldn’t provide simple answers. Hillary Clinton would answer questions. She spoke in complete sentences that got right to what she wanted to say. Trump would spew out word salad, and Holt kept having to ask the same question again. For example:

HOLT: Mr. Trump, we’re talking about the burden that Americans have to pay, yet you have not released your tax returns. And the reason nominees have released their returns for decades is so that voters will know if their potential president owes money to — who he owes it to and any business conflicts. Don’t Americans have a right to know if there are any conflicts of interest?

TRUMP: I don’t mind releasing — I’m under a routine audit. And it’ll be released. And — as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.

But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections, where I filed a 104-page essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income — in fact, the income — I just looked today — the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million. If you would have told me I was going to make that 15 or 20 years ago, I would have been very surprised.

But that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs. When we have a country that’s doing so badly, that’s being ripped off by every single country in the world, it’s the kind of thinking that our country needs, because everybody — Lester, we have a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year. You know what that is? That means, who’s negotiating these trade deals?

We have people that are political hacks negotiating our trade deals.

HOLT: The IRS says an audit…

TRUMP: Excuse me.

HOLT: … of your taxes — you’re perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. And so the question, does the public’s right to know outweigh your personal…

TRUMP: Well, I told you, I will release them as soon as the audit. Look, I’ve been under audit almost for 15 years. I know a lot of wealthy people that have never been audited. I said, do you get audited? I get audited almost every year.

And in a way, I should be complaining. I’m not even complaining. I don’t mind it. It’s almost become a way of life. I get audited by the IRS. But other people don’t.

I will say this. We have a situation in this country that has to be taken care of. I will release my tax returns — against my lawyer’s wishes — when she releases her 33,000 e-mails that have been deleted. As soon as she releases them, I will release.


I will release my tax returns. And that’s against — my lawyers, they say, “Don’t do it.” I will tell you this. No — in fact, watching shows, they’re reading the papers. Almost every lawyer says, you don’t release your returns until the audit’s complete. When the audit’s complete, I’ll do it. But I would go against them if she releases her e-mails.

HOLT: So it’s negotiable?

TRUMP: It’s not negotiable, no. Let her release the e-mails. Why did she delete 33,000…

HOLT: Well, I’ll let her answer that.

All that verbiage, and he never answered the question. Then we turn to Secretary Clinton:

HOLT: He also — he also raised the issue of your e-mails. Do you want to respond to that?

CLINTON: I do. You know, I made a mistake using a private e- mail.

TRUMP: That’s for sure.

CLINTON: And if I had to do it over again, I would, obviously, do it differently. But I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a mistake, and I take responsibility for that.

Done and done. Of course, it would have been better had she made that statement earlier, like about 2012. She has her own problem with directly responding to criticism. But she got it right on Monday.

But that’s a pattern that was repeated as the night wore on. Holt asked Clinton a question, and she would answer it. Holt asked Trump a question, and some weird steam-of-consciousness ravings would come out of his mouth that were barely related to the question. So Holt would push the question a couple more times, and Trump would get more agitated and belligerent.

But in truth Lester Holt said very little during the debate, and for long stretches of time it was just the two candidates reacting to each other.

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The Best Is Yet to Come

Bad Hair

Michael Tomasky points out that there is plenty of ammunition left with which Clinton could destroy Trump. And he doesn’t even list it all. Here are just some of them:

Trump Foundation. By now you know all about this bogus enterprise, thanks to the great reporting of David Farenthold of The Washington Post. I would imagine there’s more coming, possibly having to do with the kinds of business relationships Trump had with the leading donors to the foundation (a ticket-scalper? Come on.). But even if there’s not more coming, there’s material aplenty already, from the serious (the apparent, and apparently illegal, self-dealing) to the comic (the two grandiose portraits of himself the charity spent tens of thousands of dollars to purchase).

But there’s more! A couple of days ago Josh Marshall wrote,

We now have clear evidence of self-dealing in the payouts made by the Foundation and as of yesterday pretty clear evidence that Trump has used the Foundation to avoid paying taxes on income. The combination could spell real legal trouble for Trump, possible even criminal penalties. In short, you’re not allowed to use a family foundation as a piggy bank or slush fund for tax avoidance and personal or business purposes. We’ve proceeded cautiously in what we know and what we don’t. We’ve also tried to be cognizant of the fact that this is an area of criminal law where intent is critical – which is to say, ignorance of the law is a defense. That said, one top former IRS official involved in oversight of tax exempt organizations told TPM, “Once you see a pattern of that kind of egregious nature, you start to think if whether there’s an appropriate criminal referral there.” Here’s the story.

And today, Talking Points Memo reports,

The New York attorney general’s investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation appears to have broadened to include new allegations of self-dealing by Trump that surfaced after the probe began, TPM has learned.

The town of Palm Beach, Florida, has provided documents to the New York Attorney General’s Office as part of the probe, a lawyer for the town confirmed to TPM on Wednesday. The documents relate to a legal dispute that Trump settled with the town using foundation money. The details of the 2007 Palm Beach case were first reported by the Washington Post last week. …

…New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had announced earlier this month, before the Washington Post’s reporting on the Palm Beach case, that his office had opened an investigation into Trump Foundation after it was reported that Trump had used foundation money to buy personal gifts for himself.

The contact with Palm Beach by the Attorney General’s Office suggests its probe had widened to include other alleged acts of self-dealing. The Attorney General’s Office declined to comment Thursday.

Oh, but wait. Remember Trump University? Tomasky writes,

Trump University. In a lifetime of scams too numerous to count and too appalling to rank, this may be Trump’s biggest scam of all. Many people lost their money and got nothing whatsoever out of it. There are depositions that have been made public in which Trump U. employees admit they were under instructions to give students a very hard sell and sometimes to lie to them. Then of course there’s the whole way that the states of Texas and Florida dropped their investigations of it, after donations from the…

… from the Trump Foundation! This is what happened in Florida:

Trump, who bragged during the primaries about controlling politicians through financial support, is facing greater scrutiny for a 2013 contribution from his foundation to a political group working to re-elect Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The $25,000 donation came in just days after Bondi’s office said it was considering joining a New York-led investigation of Trump U. Florida ultimately decided against getting involved in the investigation

And this is what happened in Texas:

A few years earlier, Trump U. also caught the attention of the office of Texas’ then-Attorney General, Greg Abbott. In January 2010, his office opened an investigation into the school in response to complaints about deceptive business practices, and later in the year, the school effectively ended operations in the state altogether. Years later, when Abbott was running for governor, Trump made two donations to Abbott’s campaign, one for $25,000 and another for $10,000.

Hmmm. But wait, there’s more! Tomasky doesn’t even mention Newsweek‘s scoop, which is that one of Trump’s companies violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba!

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

Wow, that should cost Trump some support in Florida. Elsewhere, an anonymous plaintiff has re-filed her suit against Trump that claims he raped her when she was 13 years old. It’s not clear to me whether anything will happen with this suit before the election, but it’s remarkable so little is said about it. See also Snopes. That’s another one Tomasky left out. Tomasky also didn’t mention that U.S. Intelligence officials are still looking into ties between one of Trump’s advisers and the Kremlin.

Tomasky did go into Modelgate —

Modelgate. And speaking of undocumented workers, one of the better scoops of this season that failed to get the oxygen it deserved was this amazing report by James West in Mother Jones about how young female models in Trump’s employ were working in the country illegally and were treated worse than many people treat their dogs. Only one of these women talked to West on the record, but this is a story that would sicken the women watching the next debate, and the men with consciences, too.

Tomasky also mentioned Trump’s history of ripping off contractors and his plan to  round up and deport 12 million people, which certainly deserves more scrutiny.

Someday, Trump may actually regret he ever tried the running for president thing.

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Facepalm Time for Fox News

Bad Hair, News Media

This is High Derp, even by Fox standards. Remember this part of last night’s debate?

HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. What makes your…

TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq.

HOLT: In 2002…

TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense put out by her, because she — frankly, I think the best person in her campaign is mainstream media.

HOLT: My question is, since you supported it…

TRUMP: Just — would you like to hear…

HOLT: … why is your — why is your judgment…

TRUMP: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

HOLT: The record shows otherwise, but why — why was…

TRUMP: The record does not show that.

HOLT: Why was — is your judgment any…

TRUMP: The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said — and he called me the other day — and I spoke to him about it — he said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war.

HOLT: Why is your judgment better than…

TRUMP: And when he — excuse me. And that was before the war started. Sean Hannity said very strongly to me and other people — he’s willing to say it, but nobody wants to call him. I was against the war. He said, you used to have fights with me, because Sean was in favor of the war.

And I understand that side, also, not very much, because we should have never been there. But nobody called Sean Hannity. And then they did an article in a major magazine, shortly after the war started. I think in ’04. But they did an article which had me totally against the war in Iraq.

And one of your compatriots said, you know, whether it was before or right after, Trump was definitely — because if you read this article, there’s no doubt. But if somebody — and I’ll ask the press — if somebody would call up Sean Hannity, this was before the war started. He and I used to have arguments about the war. I said, it’s a terrible and a stupid thing. It’s going to destabilize the Middle East. And that’s exactly what it’s done. It’s been a disaster.

HOLT: My reference was to what you had said in 2002, and my question was…

TRUMP: No, no. You didn’t hear what I said.

HOLT: Why is your judgment — why is your judgment any different than Mrs. Clinton’s judgment?

TRUMP: Well, I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she has, you know?


I have a much better — she spent — let me tell you — she spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising — you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room, they put names — oh, temperament, let’s go after — I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not have a…

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?

TRUMP: Wait. The AFL-CIO the other day, behind the blue screen, I don’t know who you were talking to, Secretary Clinton, but you were totally out of control. I said, there’s a person with a temperament that’s got a problem.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton?



Good times. Anyway, are we all clear that Lester Holt said that Trump supported the invasion in 2002? So now Fox News is all GOTCHA LESTER HOLT because it found a news clip in which Trump expressed opposition to the war.

But the clip is from 2003.

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Hillary’s Night?

Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

I just re-read what I wrote last night while the debate was going on, and it seems most of the other commentaries I’ve read agree with me. Trump became more and more unglued as the evening wore on, while Clinton kept her cool and smiled serenely while he ranted. This debate should help her; we’ll see.

I also want to point out that every specific policy proposal she made was right out of Bernie Sanders’s playbook. Clintonistas are still complaining that he “damaged” her, and they blame Sanders for the closeness in the poll. But it seems to me he made her a better candidate. Because he challenged her as doggedly as he did, she got a clue what actual voters are concerned about.

T.A. Frank at Vanity Fair summed it up:

Before Monday night’s debate, we all read that Hillary Clinton was planning to bait Donald Trump and that Donald Trump was blowing off debate practice. Two typical responses from jaded readers: 1) If that were Clinton’s real plan, she’d be hiding it. 2) Trump is obviously trying to set expectations low.

But never underestimate the power of incompetence. As it turns out, the pre-debate leaks seem to have been accurate: Clinton baited Trump, and Trump showed up unprepared. So what happened then? Clinton won. If we were to write it as a play:

Clinton campaign pre-debate: We’re going to bait Trump and make him lose his cool.

Trump campaign pre-debate: Whatever.

Hillary Clinton: Bait.

Trump: Loses cool.

Possibly the more important thing is that media are nearly unanimous that Clinton mopped the floor with Trump. Even right-wing media critters are grumbling that he could have done better and that he missed opportunities. So often, we’ve seen that the post-debate spin is more critical to public opinion than the actual debate, and Clinton clearly won the spin.

I mostly disagree with Jeb Lund that Clinton should have been more assertive and gone in for the kill. Yeah, she missed a couple of opportunities to stick a knife between his ribs, so to speak, but she was playing rope-a-dope very well, I thought. A shame Muhammad Ali didn’t live to see it. More assertiveness might have appeared to pull her down to his level.

At one point she even repeated Michelle Obama’s words — When they go low, we go high. Good strategy for last night.

Josh Marshall:

Clinton clearly went into this debate not looking for one or two big “Have you no decency” moments but rather looking to hit him with a rat-tat-tat series of taunts and jabs to see if she could get him to lose his cool and throw him off his game. It ended up happening a lot more quickly than I expected. No more than fifteen minutes in he was getting visibly angry. And he stayed that way for the next hour plus.

From maybe a half hour into the debate Clinton had almost entirely seized the initiative. She was attacking while he responded, sometimes angrily, sometimes with new attacks and very often by doubling down on demonstrable falsehoods he’s been pilloried for for months. At various moments he shuffled in and out of parts of his stump speech. But through most of the exchange he constantly interrupted Clinton, talked over her, denied claims she made which are easily validated. In terms of body language and style it was thermonuclear Rick Lazio.

That said, how this came across to undecided low-information voters is anybody’s guess. But I’ll be surprised if the polls don’t show some improvement in Clinton’s favor in the next few days. Maybe in the next debate she’ll bring the knife. And maybe he’ll actually prepare. But that’s probably expecting too much of him.

As for Lester Holt, seems to me he was barely there. Righties are complaining that his questions favored Clinton, but they were both mostly ignoring his questions anyway and going off on their own tangents. There were several times I wanted him to reign in Trump’s ravings, and Holt sat there and did nothing. That actually may have favored Clinton more than any questions he asked.

Oh, and Amanda Marcotte is already complaining that everything about the debate was sexist. Give it a bleeping rest, Amanda.

Update: Charles Pierce is worth reading.

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Stuff toRead

Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton

The Friday/Labor Day Weekend document dump is an FBI report on … wait for it… Hillary Clinton’s emails. Politico has released the “12 juiciest bits.” I skimmed this and didn’t notice anything all that juicy, but I’m sure somebody will find something they can blow up into a Big Bleeping Deal.

There’s a lot of complaining today about the failure of the press to cover the presidential election campaigns in a rational way. See Charles Pierce, “Donald Trump’s Trip to Mexico Was an Embarrassment for Our Nation’s Media” and “The New York Times Screws Up Its Clinton Coverage, Part Infinity.” See also Josh Marshall, “Trump’s Blood Libel and Press Failure.”

And do read about Atrios’s afternoon with the Evil League of Evil Labor Economists.

Marco Gutierrez, founder of the group Latinos for Trump, has warned the nation that if it doesn’t do something about Latino Culture, some day there will be a taco truck on every corner. People on social media are struggling to understand why that would be a bad thing.

The presidential debate moderators are set, and Trump apparently plans to just wing it rather than prep for them. The effectiveness of this strategy will depend, I think, on how much control the moderators can keep on the proceedings, and if they have the nerve to ask him follow up questions. But it’s also the case that if he tries to bully her in any way, Hillary Clinton will capitalize on it.

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The Road to Stupid

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Trump is taking a road trip to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Josh Marshall explains why this is a bad idea:

It’s a general rule of politics not to enter into unpredictable situations or cede control of an event or happening to someone who wants to hurt you. President Nieto definitely does not want Donald Trump to become President. He probably assumes he won’t become president, simply by reading the polls. President Nieto is himself quite unpopular at the moment. But no one is more unpopular than Donald Trump. Trump is reviled. Toadying to Trump would be extremely bad politics; standing up to him, good politics.

Put those factors together and Peña Nieto has massive and overlapping reasons to want to embarrass Trump. At a minimum since he’s probably not eager to create a true international incident, he has zero interest in appearing in any way accommodating or helpful. The calculus might be different if Trump seemed likely to be the next US President. Mexico is a minor power with the world colossus on its doorstep. But a Trump presidency seems unlikely. Far likelier, Peña Nieto will need to build a relationship with Hillary Clinton. These factors combined make for an inherently dangerous political situation for Donald Trump, especially since the atmospherics of this meeting will be the backdrop for Trump’s evening speech which is itself an incredibly important moment and one in which he has set for himself what is likely an impossible challenge.

And here’s the punch line:

Trump is apparently traveling to Mexico with Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Jeff Sessions as his minders.

The Trump campaign has been one long exercise in shark-jumping, but this is epic even for Trump.

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One-Dimensional News

Bad Hair, Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton

Right now political news stories are all pretty much about the awfulness of Donald Trump. And I’m bored with that. Yeah, he’s awful. There’s no end of how awful he is.

For the sake of defeating the Great Awfulness I’ve been holding back on criticizing Clinton, but there’s not much else to talk about.

Thomas Frank writes that with a Clinton victory a near certainty, you can forget about Clinton leading a progressive administration:

And so ends the great populist uprising of our time, fizzling out pathetically in the mud and the bigotry stirred up by a third-rate would-be caudillo named Donald J Trump. So closes an era of populist outrage that began back in 2008, when the Davos dream of a world run by benevolent bankers first started to crack. The unrest has taken many forms in these eight years – from idealistic to cynical, from Occupy Wall Street to the Tea Party – but they all failed to change much of anything. …

Just a short while ago the American national newspapers were running page-one stories telling readers it was time to take seriously Trump’s followers, if not Trump himself. And on 3 August, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman actually typed the following: “It scares me that people are so fed up with elites, so hate and mistrust [Hillary] Clinton and are so worried about the future – jobs, globalization and terrorism” that they might actually vote for Trump.

Yes, it scared Friedman that the American people didn’t like their masters any longer. As it has no doubt scared many of his rich friends to learn over the past few years that the people formerly known as middle class are angry about losing their standard of living to the same forces that are making those rich people ever more comfortable.

Well, Friedman need be frightened no longer. Today it looks as though his elites are taking matters well in hand. “Jobs” don’t really matter now in this election, nor does the debacle of “globalization”, nor does anything else, really. Thanks to this imbecile Trump, all such issues have been momentarily swept off the table while Americans come together around Clinton, the wife of the man who envisaged the Davos dream in the first place.

Frank thinks that once Clinton gets her landslide victory she will once again throw progressivism under the bus, and I suspect he’s right.

My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsement, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.

She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street. In her big speech in Michigan on Thursday she cast herself as the candidate who could bring bickering groups together and win policy victories through really comprehensive convenings.

Things will change between now and November, of course. But what seems most plausible from the current standpoint is a landslide for Clinton, and with it the triumph of complacent neoliberal orthodoxy. She will have won her great victory, not as a champion of working people’s concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all, as the leader of a stately campaign of sanity and national unity. The populist challenge of the past eight years, whether led by Trump or by Sanders, will have been beaten back resoundingly. Centrism will reign triumphant over the Democratic party for years to come. This will be her great accomplishment. The bells will ring all over Washington DC.

I disagree that this will be the end of the great populist uprising, but certainly Clinton’s victory — made possible by The Great Awfulness — has slowed it down a lot.

In the New York Times Thomas Edsall wrote,

If current trends continue, not only will there be a class inversion among the white supporters of the Democratic Party, but the party will become increasingly dependent on a white upper middle class that has isolated itself from the rest of American society.

Instead of serving as the political arm of working and middle class voters seeking to move up the ladder, the Democratic Party faces the prospect of becoming the party of the winners, in collaboration with many of those in the top 20 percent who are determined to protect and secure their economic and social status.

It’s been that for quite a while, seems to me. It’s just been in denial about it.

Neither Edsall nor Frank have much to say about the Sanders insurgency within the Democratic Party. I don’t know whether it will be a factor going forward or not; that remains to be seen. If progressives follow their usual pattern of crawling into holes until the next presidential election, probably not. If they follow through (as many vow to do) by electing progressives to Congress in the next several election cycles, then there’s hope.

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Trump: God’s Gift to Hillary Clinton

Bad Hair, Hillary Clinton, Republican Party

Two things happened yesterday regarding our major party presidential candidates. Both were reported by major media outlets. One I’m sure you’ve heard about; the other you probably haven’t.

Here’s the one you may not know about, reported by Eric Lichtblau at the New York Times:

A new batch of State Department emails released Tuesday showed the close and sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department when Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state.

The documents raised new questions about whether the charitable foundation worked to reward its donors with access and influence at the State Department, a charge that Mrs. Clinton has faced in the past and has always denied.

In one email exchange, for instance, an executive at the Clinton Foundation in 2009 sought to put a billionaire donor in touch with the United States ambassador to Lebanon because of the donor’s interests there.

In another email, the foundation appeared to push aides to Mrs. Clinton to help find a job for a foundation associate. Her aides indicated that the department was working on the request.

There are many examples of apparent collusion between Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation, although without evidence of direct quid pro quo Clinton has always been able to brush it off.

The State Department turned the new emails over to a conservative advocacy group, Judicial Watch, as part of a lawsuit that the group brought under the Freedom of Information Act.

The documents included 44 emails that were not among some 55,000 pages of emails that Mrs. Clinton had previously given to the State Department, which she said represented all her “work-related” emails. The document release centers on discussions between Mrs. Clinton’s aides and Clinton Foundation executives about a number of donors and associates with interests before the State Department.

Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, charged that Mrs. Clinton “hid” the documents from the public because they appeared to contradict her official pledge in 2009 to remove herself from Clinton Foundation business while leading the State Department.

In a normal election year, this would have been headline stuff, and the Republican Noise Machine would be screaming about it to the rafters. However, this happened:

Donald Trump has been accused of a making an “assassination threat” against rival Hillary Clinton, plunging his presidential campaign into a fresh crisis.

The volatile Republican nominee was speaking at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, about the next president’s power to appoint supreme court justices. “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish, the second amendment,” said Trump, eliciting boos from the crowd.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the second amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”

You’ve heard about that one, huh? The Republican Noise Machine has been forced to drop the Clinton emails for the moment and instead make excuses for Trump.

There’s a conspiracy theory popular in the dunce corners of social media that says The Donald actually is working for the Clintons. He met with Bill right before he declared his candidacy, see, and the Plan all along was for Trump to win the nomination and then throw the election to Hillary.

Do I believe this? No; I think the simpler explanation is that Trump is (quoting our frequent mahacommenter eryinyes) “bug fuck crazy.” But if I were inclined to believe such things, this would be Exhibit A. Time after time, Trump trips up his own campaign. This time he ran over his own campaign with a bus.

Note that just a few days ago, Trump made one of a series of promises that he would “tone down” his rhetoric. He appears to not know what that means.

See also “Stress Over Family Finances Propelled Hillary Clinton Into Corporate World.”

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Stuff to Read About Trump

Bad Hair, elections, Obama Administration

Charles Pierce argues that now is the time for the Republican Party to die. See also The End of the Republican Party at FiveThirtyEight.

While I don’t see the Republican Party disappearing anytime soon, Donald Trump’s chances of becoming POTUS are sinking faster than cement shoes in the East River. Per FiveThirtyEight, on July 30 it was Trump, 50.1, Clinton, 49.9. Now it’s 18.4 and 81.5, respectively. At this rate Trump will be in negative numbers by Monday.

A former Wall Street Journal reporter writes about his days covering Donald Trump. He writes that Donald Trump is a bad, bad businessman.

A former deputy director of the CIA endorses Hillary Clinton. This is the juiciest bit:

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.

Mr. Putin is a great leader, Mr. Trump says, ignoring that he has killed and jailed journalists and political opponents, has invaded two of his neighbors and is driving his economy to ruin. Mr. Trump has also taken policy positions consistent with Russian, not American, interests — endorsing Russian espionage against the United States, supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea and giving a green light to a possible Russian invasion of the Baltic States.

In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.

Trump’s erratic behavior is getting so much media attention that Hillary Clinton is nearly invisible. This may be helping her also.

Clinton’s biggest problem now is that she’s not doing so well among Millennials.

And yet even though roughly three-fourths of all battleground-state Millennials expressed these disparaging views of Trump, the survey found Clinton drawing just 43 percent against him in a four-way race that included libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. While Trump attracted only 24 percent, nearly as many picked Johnson or Stein, and the rest said they were either undecided or wouldn’t vote. By comparison, Obama carried two-thirds of Millennials in 2008 and three-fifths in 2012.

But in comparing two-way and four-way polls at Real Clear Politics, it seems to me that the two fringe party candidates, Stein and Johnson, are taking votes from both Clinton and Trump about equally. So that may be a wash.

Fortunately, the Olympics will give us a little relief from politics. Enjoy.

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The Republican Revolt Begins

Bad Hair

The hot word for today, boys and girls, is intervention.

Key Republicans close to Donald Trump’s orbit are plotting an intervention with the candidate after a disastrous 48 hours led some influential voices in the party to question whether Trump can stay at the top of the Republican ticket without catastrophic consequences for his campaign and the GOP at large.

Republican National Committee head Reince Priebus, former Republican New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are among the Trump endorsers hoping to talk the real estate mogul into a dramatic reset of his campaign in the coming days, sources tell NBC News.

Priebus, Giuliani and Gingrich? Excuse me while I roll around on the floor and guffaw for a bit.

Stunned Republicans began seriously considering the idea of an exit ramp after an extraordinary few days during which Trump continually lashed out against a Gold Star family critical of his position on Muslim immigration, declared that he’d “always wanted” a Purple Heart but that it’s “easier” to receive one as a gift, and declined to endorse top Republican candidates including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Sources in the candidate’s orbit tell NBC News Trump is aware of the dissatisfaction within the party. But while some labeled the state of affairs “Crazytown” and “worse than ever,” they also described a sense of powerlessness, bemoaning the fact there’s “nothing that we can do, that anybody can do right now.”

There’s absolutely no indication Trump is considering leaving the race, a move that would seem wildly out of character for a candidate who has prided himself on “winning” and grasped at any poll that shows him dominating an opponent.

However, this guy has no problem whatsoever with declaring bankruptcies, which suggests he isn’t utterly out of touch with the real world. If he continues to fall behind Clinton in the race, what will he do? Will he stay and lose or quit and whine that he was forced out because somebody was mean to him? IMO either one is possible.

If you missed all the ways Trump is having a no good, very bad week, NBC provides a list:

  • In a Washington Post interview, Trump declined to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan against his primary challenger
  • He reiterated that he hasn’t endorsed Sen. John McCain and said the onetime prisoner of war “has not done a good job for the vets”
  • He slapped out at Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, saying “she has given me zero support”
  • He suggested that Americans should pull their 401(k) funds out of the stock market
  • He said he’s “always wanted” to receive a Purple Heart but that having one gifted to him by a supporter was “much easier”
  • He said that the handling of sexual harassment has “got to be up to the individual”
  • He accused Khizr Khan of being “bothered” by his plan to keep terrorists out of the country, and said that he had no regrets about his clash with the family
  • He appeared to feud with a crying baby during a rally
  • He reiterated that “if the election is rigged, I would not be surprised”
  • The sitting president of the United States publicly called Trump “unfit to serve” and urged Republicans to withdraw their support for him.
  • Trump spokesman Katrina Pierson suggested that Obama and Clinton are to blame for the death of Humayan Khan, who died in 2004, when neither were in the executive branch at the time
  • An ally of Paul Manafort told our colleague John Harwood at CNBC that the campaign chairman is “mailing it in,” leaving the rest of the staff “suicidal.”
  • Sitting GOP congressman Richard Hanna, HP head Meg Whitman and former Christie aide Maria Comella all said they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton
  • The Washington Post released a transcript of its full interview with Trump, indicating among other things that he paused five times to watch TV coverage in the middle of the sit-down
  • A GOP source told NBC’s Katy Tur that Reince Priebus is “apoplectic” over Trump’s refusal to endorse Ryan and is making calls to the campaign to express his “extreme displeasure”

Here’s one more: Yesterday Donald Trump declined to endorse Paul Ryan in his Senate primary bid next week. Today, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence said he does endorse Ryan. This comes under the heading of “stuff that’s not supposed to happen.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel assures its readers that Ryan will win, but in fact I can find no recent election polling in Wisconsin. I think people are just assuming that the Mighty Ryan won’t lose. They’re probably right.

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