Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I thought Trump took up too much time during the debate, and flattened the moderator. This bothered me because it seemed like Trump was thereby asserting authority.

But the way Michael Tomasky sees it, Clinton adeptly rope-a-doped him.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump

Not only is the Times endorsing Clinton, as of course it inevitably would, but more notably it is absolutely refusing to forgive, overlook or find journalistic euphemisms for Trump's outright lies, refusing to pretend there are two sides to every story when one side is so obviously nothing but dangerous bs.

Gotta love this headline:

 "A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump."

NB, that's not an editorial, it's a front page story, pure Times reportage. With that kind of headline, you might think this is the NY Daily News you're reading, a worthy tabloid that, commendably, has never spared Trump. But no, this the Grey Lady itself, the paper of record, the establishment per se, the NY Times.

Why would the Times come out so fiercely — and honestly?

How's about because the good things about American democracy are at stake? Yes, the bad things are always, and perhaps irreducibly, with us, and, in the candidacy of Trump, have an able spokesman.

I'm talking about the good things this election can change, as in, free press, free speech, the goal of equal rights, and everything Ellis Island stand for. That sort of really good American stuff.

Not to stretch the point too far, but this election has a certain philosophical component. It doubles as a referendum not about whether there is such a thing as truth but whether truth matters.

Trump acknowledges the existence of truth. For him the first part of that philosophical issue is settled. The second part, about whether the distinction matters, remains to be be voted upon.

NY Times 9/24/16


A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump

All politicians bend the truth to fit their purposes, including Hillary Clinton. But Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive.

However, a closer examination, over the course of a week, revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction. Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, described the practice as creating “an unreality bubble that he surrounds himself with.”

The New York Times closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly. This total excludes dozens more: Untruths that appeared to be mere hyperbole or humor, or delivered purely for effect, or what could generously be called rounding errors. Mr. Trump’s campaign, which dismissed this compilation as “silly,” offered responses on every point, but in none of the following instances did the responses support his assertions.

Tall Tales About Himself

Mr. Trump’s version of reality allows for few, if any, flaws in himself. As he tells it, the polls are always looking up, his policy solutions are painless and simple and his judgment regarding politics and people has been consistent — and flawless. The most consistent falsehood he tells about himself may be that he opposed the war in Iraq from the start, when the evidence shows otherwise.

1. He said a supportive crowd chanted, “Let him speak!” when a black pastor in Flint, Mich., asked Mr. Trump not to give a political speech in the church.

Fox News interview, Sept. 15.

There were no such chants.

2. “I was against going into the war in Iraq.”

Speech in Florida, Sept. 19.

This is not getting any truer with repetition. He never publicly expressed opposition to the war before it began, and he made supportive remarks to Howard Stern.

3. He said any supportive comments he made about the Iraq war came “long before” the war began.

Fox News interview, Sept. 18.

He expressed support for the war in September 2002, when Congress was debating whether to authorize military action.

4. He said he had publicly opposed the Iraq war in an Esquire interview “pretty quickly after the war started.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 18.

The Esquire interview appeared in the August 2004 edition, 17 months after the war began.

5. Before the Iraq invasion, he said, he had told the Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto something “pretty close” to: “Don’t go in, and don’t make the mistake of going in.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 18.

Not remotely close. He told Mr. Cavuto that President George W. Bush had to take decisive action.

6. He said that when Howard Stern asked him about Iraq in 2002, it was “the first time the word Iraq was ever mentioned to me.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 18.

Mr. Trump expressed alarm about Saddam Hussein and the situation in Iraq in 2000 in his own book.

7. “You see what’s happening with my poll numbers with African-Americans. They’re going, like, high.”

Speech in North Carolina, Sept. 20; made same claim in Ohio, Sept. 21.

Polls show him winning virtually no support from African-Americans.

8. “Almost, it seems, everybody agrees” with his position on immigration.

Remarks in Texas, Sept. 17.

Most Americans oppose his signature positions on immigration.

9. He has made “a lot of progress” with Hispanic and black voters, and “you see that in the polls.”

Fred Dicker radio show, Sept. 15.

No major poll has shown him making up significant ground with black or Hispanic voters.

11. Mr. Trump said that after The Times published an article scrutinizing his relationships with women, “All the women came out and said they think Donald Trump is terrific.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 18.

12. “Unlike other people” who only raise money for themselves during presidential campaigns, he also raises money for the Republican Party.

Fox News interview, Sept. 15.

Every presidential nominee forms a joint fund-raising agreement to share money with his or her national party.

Unfounded Claims About
Critics and the News Media

It’s not just Mrs. Clinton whom Mr. Trump belittles and tars with inaccurate information. He also distorted the facts about his Republican critics, including President George Bush and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. And he claimed that Lester Holt, the NBC anchor moderating the first presidential debate, is a Democrat — but Mr. Holt is a registered Republican.

13. In the primaries, Mr. Kasich “won one and, by the way, didn’t win it by much — that was Ohio.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 19.

Mr. Kasich crushed him in Ohio, winning by 11 percentage points.

14. Lester Holt, the NBC anchor and debate moderator, “is a Democrat.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 19.

Mr. Holt is a registered Republican, New York City records show.

15. The presidential debate moderators “are all Democrats.” “It’s a very unfair system.”

Fox News interview, Sept. 19.

Only one, Chris Wallace of Fox News, is a registered Democrat.

16. He said it “hasn’t been reported” that Mrs. Clinton called some Trump supporters “deplorable.”

Speech in North Carolina, Sept. 20.

It would be difficult to find a news organization that didn’t report her remark.

Inaccurate Claims About Clinton

Mr. Trump regularly dissembles about his opponent, attributing ideas to Mrs. Clinton that she has not endorsed, or accusing her of complicity in events in which she had no involvement.

17. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”

Remarks in Washington, Sept. 16.

18. Mrs. Clinton had “the power and the duty” to stop the release of unauthorized immigrants whose home countries would not accept their deportation after they were released from prison.

Numerous speeches, including in Colorado, Sept. 17, and Florida, Sept. 19.

The secretary of state does not have the power to detain convicted criminals after they have served their sentences, and has little power to make foreign countries accept deportees.

19. Mrs. Clinton has not criticized jihadists and foreign governments that oppress and kill women, gay people and non-Muslims. “Has Hillary Clinton ever called people who support these practices deplorable and irredeemable? No.”

Speech in Florida, Sept. 19.

She has denounced jihadists and foreign countries on the same grounds, if not necessarily using the same words.

20. “Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies — she puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning.”

Twitter, Sept. 20.

He did not invent the tarmac rally or the campaign-plane backdrop.

21. Mrs. Clinton destroyed 13 smartphones with a hammer while she was secretary of state.

Speeches in Florida, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19.

An aide told the F.B.I. of only two occasions in which phones were destroyed with a hammer.

22. He said Mrs. Clinton is calling for “total amnesty in the first 100 days,” including “a virtual end to immigration enforcement” and for unauthorized immigrants to receive Social Security and Medicare.

Speech in Colorado, Sept. 17.

She has not proposed this.

23. Mrs. Clinton is “effectively proposing to abolish the borders around the country.”

Numerous speeches, including in Texas, Sept. 17.

She is not even proposing to cut funding for the Border Patrol.

24. “Hillary Clinton’s plan would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term alone,” and would cost $400 billion.

Numerous speeches, including in North Carolina, Sept. 20.

She endorsed admitting 65,000 Syrian refugees this year, on top of other admissions. Mr. Trump is falsely claiming that she wants to do this every year and is estimating the cost accordingly.

Stump Speech Falsehoods

Some warped or inaccurate claims have become regular features of Mr. Trump’s stump speech. He routinely overstates the scale and nature of the country’s economic distress and the threats to its national security, and exaggerates the potential for overnight improvements if he were elected.

25. “Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before — ever, ever, ever.”

Speech in North Carolina, Sept. 20.

No measurement supports this characterization of black America.

26. Fifty-eight percent of black youth are not working.

Numerous speeches, including in Florida, Sept. 16, and Colorado, Sept. 17.

This misleading statistic counts high school students as out of work. Black youth unemployment actually was 20.6 percent in July.

27. Many dangerous refugees are being welcomed by the Obama administration. “Hundreds of thousands of people are being approved to pour into the country. We have no idea who they are.”

New Hampshire speech, Sept. 15.

28. “We have cities that are far more dangerous than Afghanistan.”

Numerous speeches, including in Florida, Sept. 16; Colorado, Sept. 17; North Carolina, Sept. 20; Ohio, Sept. 21; and a Fox News interview on Sept. 21.

No American city resembles a war zone, though crime has risen lately in some, like Chicago. Urban violence has fallen precipitously over the past 25 years.

29. Ford plans to cut American jobs by relocating small-car production to Mexico, and may move all production outside the United States.

Fox News interview and New Hampshire speech, Sept. 15.

Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said it was not cutting American jobs.

Esoteric Embellishments

Mr. Trump often dissembles on subjects of passing interest, like the news of the day or the parochial concerns of his local audiences. But his larger pattern of behavior still holds: These misstatements, too, accentuate the grievances of his supporters, and cast his own ideas in a more favorable light.

31. Senator Bernie Sanders fell victim to “a rigged system with the superdelegates.”

Speeches in New Hampshire, Sept. 15, and North Carolina, Sept. 20.

Mr. Sanders did not lose the Democratic nomination because of superdelegates. Mrs. Clinton beat him in pledged delegates, too.

Friday, September 23, 2016


True fact:

What did Churchill say upon hearing about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor?

1) Bloody Nips, Sea Lord, you old cunt, why didn't we build more ships!

2) God save the Empire!

3) We  just won the war!

To Vote Jill Stein is a (Worse Than) Wasted Vote

The Nation is giving opposed points of view space to fight it out about whether voting for Jill Stein and the Green Party makes any sense. I'm posting Joshua Holland's argument that it doesn't, that: "Your Vote for Jill Stein Is a Wasted Vote."

Holland makes a telling point when he writes:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Berman: Mao & Muslims

Paul Berman has written dreadful and nonsensical stuff; he's thought World War I a function of nihilism, has connected Leopold’s murderous rule of the Congo to Rimbaud. It seems never to have occurred to him that Leopold's rapacious rule of the Congo had more to do with pronounced greed — for tusks then rubber.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Referendum on the Occupation.


Orni Petruschka

The initiative for holding a referendum in Israel, "Decision at 50," calls for a decision on the future of the territories occupied by Israel for nearly 50 years. This plan derives from the recognition that the current Israeli government has no interest in ending the occupation. In fact, each of the previous Israeli governments over the last 50 years has refrained from making a decision to either annex the territories or to withdraw from them. So the initiators of the call for the referendum are turning to the authority above the government -- the Israeli public. The people are called on to direct the government to make this decision: Either start leaving the territories, or delineate a series of moves that will bring an end to Israeli control over the West Bank.

Those behind the initiative, all supporting a two-state solution, include public figures, former ministers and members of the Knesset, as well as the heads of the public movements Peace Now and Blue White Future, of which I am a co-founder along with Ami Ayalon and Gilead Sher. We have advocated for a two-state solution for many years.

It's no surprise to us that the referendum plan is being rejected by the right wing in Israel and in the Diaspora. But, somewhat surprisingly, there is also strong opposition coming from the progressive camp -- see, for example, Mira Sucharov's recent op-ed in these pages.

The arguments from the progressive camp against the referendum can be divided into two categories. The first is moral, asserting that Israel has no right to determine the future of the occupied territories without taking into account the opinions of the inhabitants of these territories -- the millions of Palestinians who have legitimate national aspirations. The second category is a practical one, and includes arguments based on the assessment that the referendum results will be against a two-state solution, and hence will move us farther away from the possibility of reaching such a solution.

Let's conjure a fantasy to analyze the moral claim: The elected Israeli government decides that the occupation is counterproductive for Israel. It is morally destructive, actually hurts both the security and economy of the country and delays a solution of Israel's enormous social problems. Therefore, this government implements a gradual withdrawal from the territories, while trying to forge peace with its neighbors and heal the wounds within Israeli society. Obviously, the entire progressive Zionist camp will support such a move and not claim that Israel has no right to execute it without consulting the Palestinians because they have not participated in electing Israel's government.

Consequently, the moral argument is valid only if the result of the referendum will be to annex the territories. Then the moral and the practical become one. It is only because the progressive objectors are apprehensive about the referendum's results that they raise the moral argument at all.

But from the practical point of view there is a reason to be optimistic. Recent polls indicate a clear majority for the supporters of the two-state solution. Strong opposition from the right to a referendum demonstrates that this hope is well grounded.

There are additional weighty moral and practical arguments for holding a referendum, even if the optimistic forecast proves wrong and the results affirm continuing Israeli control over the territories. If indeed the Israeli people choose to rule the territories indefinitely, the ambiguous policy of the Israeli government, which speaks about supporting a two-state solution while simultaneously undermining it, will be unmasked as deceptive. A negative result of the referendum will force Israel to confront the international community, with all the relevant consequences detrimental to Israel.

Plus, a negative result will require the progressive camp in Israel to change its agenda. This camp will have to admit failure in its attempt to preserve the Zionist vision of creating a Jewish democracy. Decent and moral human beings in the modern world work toward full and equal human and civil rights for all the residents within the borders of the state. That applies to Israel and its Palestinian residents, too.

With each passing day another house is built in the territories, another road is paved, and another child is born into an immoral reality. Those who object to making a decision about the future of the territories are lending a hand to strengthening the occupation.

Orni Petruschka, a high-tech entrepreneur in Israel, is co-chairman of the Israeli non-partisan organization, Blue White Future, which advocates for a two-state solution.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trump Organization v. Clinton Foundation

It may be a bitter pill for diehard Hillary haters to accept, but there is a difference of kind between the Clinton Foundation and the Trump Organization. The Clinton Foundation actually does good in the world — with regard, for example, to AIDS in Africa —and there's no proof to the charges that it's dedicated to influence peddling.

The Trump Organization, on the other hand, is close to a perfect opposite. It builds nothing, not even buildings, not even garish Trump Towers. It's dedicated completely to Trump licensing his name, his brand, to operations around the world. For the benefit of renting out his name, Trump and his family get paid big bucks.

A powerful cover story in Newsweek begins thus:

If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?


If truth mattered in this election, this piece would be devastating for Trump. If it has no impact, what does that say about truth? It's passé?

I'll end by quoting a choice summation by Amy Davidson, in the new New Yorker:

It is still plausible that Trump, an entrenched bigot, a conspiracy fabulist, and a casual disparager of international alliances, could become President.

Amy Davidson, "A Trump-Clinton Double Standard?"