Nothing Said Matters at this Point

Someone along this dismal campaign trail said:  “Nothing matters in this election.”  I think by that he meant nothing said matters, or at least doesn’t matter much as there is a daily tsunami of B. S. to sort through and who has the energy and to what purpose?

Calling it a “post fact” election basically discounts the work of all those fact checkers working like beavers, but unfortunately their work is savaged by an over abundance of facts to check.  I for one tire of their search, for the next day there is a ton more to sort through.  Poor fact checkers.  I respect your work but you have become mostly irrelevant.

My sense of the fact checkers is that while Hillary might produce misinformation around 30%  of the time Donald does so around 80%, but Hillary is the one thought the more untrustworthy.  It is the common impression of her guilt, cultivated well over the years by those on the right, that prevails not mere facts.  Anybody can come up with so-called facts.

With nothing said mattering much, I’ll restrict my response to the thank-God-it’s over third “debate” to repeat what has been pointed out by many others.  The  “moment” to remember is Trump’s refusal, in response to questioning from moderator Chris Wallace, to say he would accept the results of this election.   He’d wait and see.

That would not seem so ominous had he not complained about a rigged election for some time now.   His surrogates, who act like English isn’t Trump’s native language, are always toning down or explaining away what he “really is saying,” in this case assuring us he would definitely accept the final results, but of course he has the right to challenge those results as did Bush and Gore in 2000 before they became final.

That sounds sensible.  But Trump has never said anything I’ve heard that comes close to that.  Instead, he keeps stating in one form or another that should he lose the election it is illegitimate, such as the time in Pennsylvania (when doing better in the polls there) that “the only way I can lose Pennsylvania is if the election is rigged.”

Despite what Trump has said to the contrary, his team of interpreters assert that when he talks about a rigged election he is only talking about the media’s conspiracy against him.  These word wizards seem to figure that if they just keep telling us what Trump is really saying, as opposed to what he actually has said, we’ll remember their words rather than Trump’s.   Sadly, they have been right all to often in this campaign.

It is not easy summing up Trump in all of his manifestations, but I think David Leonhardt of the New York Times makes a great stab at it:  “Trump has adopted the language of despots — lie-filled accusations meant to delegitimize both his opponent and the country’s entire democratic system of governance.”

I think that sums up the subject pretty well for those who care to listen.

TGIF ….. Thank God It’s Finally over tomorrow

Not the election of course, but at least these phony debates supposedly won by whomever we fancy that night, which is likely the one who launches the best zingers and commits the fewest gaffes.  Whose impact on others none of us really know despite polls that pretend to.

Our reactions to these verbal cage matches can be laughably fickle, such as the VP debate where we liked the way Governor Mike Pence handled himself, cool and collected, in comparison to Senator Tim Kaine, who came off as a little dog yapping at his heels about Trump misstatements and lies.

Nice guy Kaine was obviously given the role of attack dog for which he is poorly suited, though the Clinton apparatus probably got some good shots for commercials of his opponent dodging the charges.

From the general point of view, though, Pence’s crowning achievement that night was to ignore Kaine.  That was enough for some commentators to conclude that perhaps the Republican ticket would do better if reversed (when you’re teamed with King Kong that makes some sense).  And the following day I saw speculation that Pence might be seen as a frontrunner in 2020.

That’s how little it takes to appear presidential timber these days, leaving aside that Governor Pence’s popularity in his home state of Indiana is less than 50%.   All it took for Pence to look presidential was for Senator Kaine’s quiver of Trump’s lies to bounce off of him.

What does this have to do with tomorrow’s “debate”?  It is one itty bitty example of how wacky this election has been and will no doubt continue to be tomorrow night.

Actually I have written five posts that try to explain how recent events have led to tomorrow’s “nightmare” but who cares at this point, so I scrapped them.

In a few days I will try to write something about tomorrow night unless it leaves me too sick to try.

And I will look forward to November 9 when hopefully I will be able to talk again with a never-Hillary supporter who is otherwise a friend.

The Ugliness Pageant Tonight

I look forward to tonight’s verbal bout with morbid curiosity, wondering just how low the blows will go.

I was eager to watch the first presidential “debate”, at least before it began.  In writing about it afterwards I began to substitute “debate” with “contest,” for there was no debating going on, just personal attacks and counter attacks.  These are not debates of serious issues, something so obvious that it is irritating when some pundit points out afterwards that the debate “lacked substance” or worse was a “farce”.

Of course it was.   You can’t have serious debates over several important issues in 90 minutes.  The limited format of these programs deny the possibility of debating serious issues which are complex and hence difficult to understand and made more confusing by a political rhetoric flooded with disinformation.

As much as we might complain, we don’t want that.  We want to be entertained.  Unfortunately, I doubt if I will be tonight because things could get especially yucky, boiling down to comparisons of Donald Trump’s piggish ways with women with those of Bill Clinton’s.  It doesn’t make me feel good to be an American.

Still, I am curious as to how Trump will play this.   He’s the guy who supposedly tells it like it is.  How does that square with “nobody respects women more than I do.”….and the Access Hollywood tape, where he boasts that women accept his kissing and groping any part of their bodies because he is a “star.”

And then his apology?  Or a string of them with undoubtedly another on tap for tonight. Really does anyone even in his campaign believe him?  That he has actually had a change of heart?  His regret is revealing just who he is when it comes to women.   He wasn’t a young boy trying to impress his mates, but 59.   You think he’s changed a lot in 11 years?   Have you?

So, how Donald tap dances around this issue tonight will interest me, as I don’t think his going after Bill as if he was Hillary’s fault is going to work with many undecideds, especially the millennials for whom it is ancient history.

But Trump has his own line of attack.  The Wiki Leaks emails regarding Hillary’s speeches to Wall Street reveal she was more chummy with these business people than her public comments would suggest, especially since those comments sounded tougher the more challenged she was by Bernie Sanders.

In other words, you can’t trust Hillary to be straight forward.  In response to that, I would say Hillary fudges and spins the truth as do all politicians.  She looks worse than most because everything she has done has been put under the microscope by Republicans.  Trump on the other hand, just makes things up that suit his purposes, including his having more respect for women than anyone else.   What bothers me most about Trump as president is that his fabrications will come to dominate our thinking, and truth will become more and more what he espouses it to be, as is now true with his die hard followers.

The bout begins in an hour or so.  At least I hope to see something worth writing about.

P. S. – As to the title of this post, I think of television debates beginning as a sort of beauty contest between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960, which Kennedy won by looking more handsome, cool and collected than Nixon, who looked unshaven and uncomfortable.   Over the years, these pseudo debates have become uglier as disinformation and personal attacks have increasingly colored their content.  In this year of Trump, we have reached a particular low, a national embarrassment.

“The Craziest Thing in the World”

As you may well know, those words in the title were expressed Monday by former President Bill Clinton describing an aspect of Obamacare that hurts small businesses in particular.   Clinton was not saying the whole plan is the craziest thing in the world, only one specific aspect, but no matter, nuances have no place in our scary new world of post truth politics (1).   What’s valuable is a video clip that creates a gotcha moment that can be fashioned into a weapon in the game of political survivor.

What’s really crazy is Bill Clinton’s handing the Trump camp a video hand grenade for future attacks on Obamacare and Hillary Clinton’s support of it.   Barack must love that.  It reminds me of Bill’s paying a visit on that airport tarmac to Attorney General Loretta Lynch who was, after all, in overall charge of an investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s emails.  No matter what actually took place, the optics were awful.

For a guy who is widely lauded as a great politician, such moves are so jaw dropping they prompt questions as to whether somewhere in his psyche Bill doesn’t want his wife to win (maybe he can’t cotton to being the First Gentleman)  and/or is unconsciously undercutting Obama’s legacy so it won’t surpass his own.

I’ll stop with the penny psychology, other than add:  Hey, maybe he’s just getting old and at times loses track of where he is and what he’s doing.  I’m a year older than he is (71) and I can relate to that.

Whatever,  my belated point today is – surprise, surprise – this presidential election is altogether crazy,  literally so, eerily so, with some wackiness in Bill Clinton being only one small part.   Throughout the campaign there has been speculation that Donald Trump doesn’t really want to win (you can google that) and, actually, that wouldn’t surprise me because being president is a hell of a lot of work and trouble.  And it could be even harder for Trump since he has promised the world to so many who will not take it kindly if he fails to deliver.

It seems much more fun being the guy who can complain the rest of his life of how he was robbed of the presidency and just keep drawing attention and raking in more money in the process.   Maybe what are often called his missteps is Trump’s way of stacking the deck against his chances of winning.

That so many Americans believe Trump’s fabrications and find excuses for every outrageous thing he says or does – possibly enough Americans to put him in the White House -is also crazy to me.   In a way I understand it, but it is still crazy.  As is the fact, dealt with in my previous post, there is actually a battle over who and what Trump is between most of our major newspapers and the Trump disinformation team.

I could go on and will more often than usual over these closing weeks of the election because “the craziest thing in the world” is not some aspect of Obamacare, but this election.


(1)  When it comes to knowing, “truth” is an ideal that is beyond our grasp but gives us direction.   It points to a destination we can never quite reach.  But without including nuance we cannot not even come close to knowing.  As the well known novelist, spy writer, John Le Carre wrote in the preface to his autobiography: “Real truth lies, if anywhere, not in facts, but in nuance.”

Dear Undecided Voter: Trump is Unfit to be President…REALLY!

I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton but I understand how a distrust or just dislike of her combined with a disgust for politics as usual incline you elsewhere.   Maybe towards Donald Trump, but not quite, maybe elsewhere.  Maybe nowhere, so you are still on the fence.

The claims and counter claims by the campaigns make everything a jumble of information and confusion.   Here I want to make one point about the race that is not debatable.  Then you can decide if it helps you with your decision.

In all previous presidential elections, newspapers have split on endorsements of candidates, the split tied to the political leanings of their editorial boards.

This election is unique in that ALMOST ALL major newspapers that give endorsements have endorsed someone other than Trump.  Most of the endorsements have gone to Hillary, even from papers with strong conservative roots that have either never endorsed a Democrat for president or did so before any of us were around.   These conservative endorsements have come reluctantly, but the fact they have come at all reflects a common dislike and disrespect for Donald Trump.

In short, almost all of our major newspapers are for someone other than Trump.  While Clinton endorsements from the likes of the liberal New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times go without saying, there are numerous conservative papers who have endorsed her as well.  Doing so did not come easily, especially as it cost their papers subscriptions and invited much angry mail.

Last week my home town San Diego Union Tribune endorsed Clinton, the first time it had endorsed a Democrat in its 148 year history.   While indicating no great enthusiasm for Hillary, they call her the safe “choice” while a “vengeful, dishonest and impulsive Donald Trump” might be the kind of leader that can “knock a nation off course.”

The conservative Arizona Republican has also endorsed Clinton, the first time they have chosen a Democrat over a Republican for president.  Describing Trump’s flaws they go on to say “Clinton retains her composure under pressure. She’s tough. She doesn’t back down. Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads.”

The Dallas Morning News, which has only endorsed Republican presidential candidates for the past 75 years, first indicated it would not support Trump and later endorsed Hillary Clinton, a decision not made easily because they have often criticized her in the past….  “But unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has experience in actual governance, a record of service and a willingness to delve into real policy,” wrote the editorial board.

It is not only that all of these papers have not endorsed him, they have uniformly argued he is “unfit” to be president.  When it comes down to normal political disagreements these various editorial boards would be all over the place.  But when it comes to Trump it is not a matter of left or right but one of decency and common sense.  It boils down to their sense of who the candidate is and whether he or she is some one we can look up to, or at least doesn’t scare or embarrass us, as president.

Reflecting this one unifying principle among otherwise disparate political stances by editorial boards was the USA Today last Thursday.   For the first time in its 36 year history it took a stance on a presidential race, because unlike any of the others it felt compelled to do so by Donald Trump’s candidacy.

As part of a scathing critique of the Republican candidate they wrote:  ““This year, the choice isn’t between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences,” ….. “This year, one of the candidates — Republican nominee Donald Trump — is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency.”

The nine member board was too split to endorse someone else.  They just wanted to make it clear who was beyond the pale, who should never be elected, as have so many other editorial boards.  In the end the board suggested voting our consciences.

Trump’s VP candidate Mike Pence had an opposing editorial in the paper that day: “By electing Donald Trump, the American people have the opportunity to choose a bold leader…  I’ve come to know the man who invited me to join him on the Republican ticket as thoughtful, compassionate and steady. Above all, I know he is ready to lead the United States as our next president and commander in chief.”

So, dear undecided voter, is Donald Trump a bold and thoughtful leader or a man totally unfit to be president?  You must either discount the integrity and knowledge of all these professional journalists or dismiss the assertion of Trump and his surrogates that they alone are telling the truth about a rigged system supported by a crooked press.   It boils down to which you judge to be real.

They really are alternative universes that cannot coexist.

P. S.   As for major newspapers for Trump, both the  New York Post and the National Enquirer  endorsed Trump in the Republican primaries, and I imagine both will endorse him again if they haven’t done so already.   I’ll give the Post credit for being a major newspaper.  I’ll leave it up to you to judge what the Enquirer is.