Revolted Colonies

U.S. Politics and Culture

Month: October 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Politics as Unusual: The FBI, The Bundy Verdict and The Comey Letter

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FBI director James Comey had a lousy week, and next week is not looking any better.  A trial jury in Oregon told him that his G-Men were off-base thinking that armed seizure of a federal bird sanctuary constituted a crime when the panel acquitted the Bundy Gang of conspiracy, gun and other charges. Comey took refuge in Anthony Weiner’s underwear, but they’re not fitting as planned.

Bad Day at the Bird Bath

img_1441The Bundy Gang didn’t walk away. There are other charges against them still pending.  The acquittal was not a blanket exoneration. Still, it will force the Bureau to reconsider its policy in dealing with armed anti-government resistance.  J. Edgar Hoover must be spinning in his grave. 

img_1443The shooting at Ruby Ridge, Idaho in 1992 and the siege and shootout in Waco, Texas in 1993 had previously put the FBI under scrutiny in its encounters with the Militia Movement, of which the Bundys are a part. The verdict handcuffs the Bureau in protecting federal land from armed opposition.  The next step, unfortunately, would be to call up the National Guard. which may be precisely what the Bundys want.

Rifling Through the Underwear Drawer

img_1448The day after the Bundy acquittal and without any apparent connection to it, Comey sent Congress a letter stating that the FBI was reading newly discovered Hillary Clinton emails from a cache recovered a month ago from a laptop it seized from Weiner.  The laptop was shared by the former Congressman and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Huma Abedin, a top aide to the President-in-Waiting. Weiner is under investigation for conducting an online sexual relationship with a minor.

Even though the FBI has had Weiner’s laptop for a month and presumably has known about the emails for as long, allegedly it hasn’t gotten around to reading them.  So, the FBI hasn’t determined if these emails are new discoveries or copies of emails previously recovered.

Nevertheless, Comey thought it necessary to inform Congress of the find. In July, Comey announced that the FBI had found no basis to recommend criminal charges against former Secretary of State Clinton, arising out of her use of a private email server. He then scolded her publicly for mishandling classified material.   Comey came under fire for this ex-officio comment.

Crossing The Boss

img_1447Now, Comey is on the hot seat again. He went against Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s direction not to issue the inflammatory letter adding nothing of substance to the case against Clinton, eleven days before Election Day. The FBI reports to Lynch’s Justice Department. Yet, Comey said that he felt obligated to inform Congress of this newish discovery. Comey’s action may well be grounds for dismissal. Given Lynch’s own political problem over her June  airport meeting with Bill Clinton, creating an appearance of impropriety in connection with the email server issue, she was in no position to block Comey and is in no position to fire him.  

Comey Unchained

Nevertheless, Comey’s feeling of obligation is badly misguided. The emails have not been examined. Right now, they are not evidence—they are data. It is against law enforcement policy to discuss on open investigation of any kind.If Clinton was not running for President in an upcoming election, you can bet that Comey would not even have thought about it. The FBI would continue its investigation and report its findings to DOJ, which then would make a decision as to prosecution.

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Even if he had an obligation to update Congress, his action was premature and knowingly prejudicial. It would be understandable if the FBI had determined that the emails were newly discovered material, containing a “Classified” marking and being sent to or from Clinton’s private server.  Then the Bureau could report something meaningful had been found and that further classification review by other agencies would be required. Until then, it should have remained an internal matter for the Bureau; especially because classified material might involve matters of national security.  

Comey has painted himself into a corner. If the emails are innocuous, he should not have raised it at all. If they involved  classified material, he can’t disclose them but clearly has opened that door. He’s prejudiced the election as well as a potential prosecution.  Clinton along with others accuses Comey of a political hatchet job.  Try as one might, the political aspect is impossible to dismiss.

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

Health Care Costs Top The New President’s Agenda

img_143When the new President takes over the executive branch of the U.S. government in January, she must place health care costs at the top of her domestic agenda.  Considering Hillary Clinton’s  handling of health care reform in her husband’s administration, this would make an interesting parallel. In 1993 President Bill named the First Lady to lead a task force to reach the goal of universal health care.  The only thing universal was opposition to the plan. The new President will face a changed environment but the cast of characters is largely the same.  So, the administration must develop new approaches to succeed this time around.

Insurance Carriers in Retreat

The administration announced that policy holders will receive substantial premium increases on upcoming policy renewals in the Obamacare exchanges. The rate increases are set by state regulation. Thus, they are not arbitrary price hikes. Health care costs continue to increase at a rate that has overwhelmed health care budgeting. United Healthcare, the nation’s largest insurer, is withdrawing from some markets where the company is booking losses. UHC’s action signals that the insurance companies are maxed out.  An insurance company needs policy holders to do business.   By leaving the market, they are saying that they cannot get enough premium dollars to turn a profit after paying legitimate claims.

Causes of Increased Costs

When health care advocates line up the usual suspects, the insurance companies are often first on the list. If the insurers aren’t the cause, what is?  In America’s Bitter Pill, a book on the creation of Obamacare and its shortcomings, Steven Brill pointed out that the Affordable Care Act failed to address the cost aspect of health care. Obamacare expanded coverage without tackling the tougher issue of cost control. The pharmaceutical and biotech industries are the principal engines driving health costs.

Prescription Medicine Costs

The Obama administration agreed not to tackle drug prices in exchange for Big Pharma’s cooperation in expanding coverage. The government has no legal means of holding down prices for specialty or generic drugs.  It lacks an effective bargaining position even in Medicare, where the size of the purchasing unit would compel large discounts. 

The next President must engage the pharmaceutical industry meaningfully if she hopes to sustain Obamacare. There are good strategies available but the White House must be able to form a broad enough coalition in Congress to back its strength in negotiations with the drug lobby.  Consequently, a new approach to control costs must win over Congress. As a result, the administration  must count votes and negotiate with individual Members, not solely with leadership.

Biotech Costs 

Significant advances in genetic and cellular research generate new diagnostics and therapies, broadly described as  Biotech. Some of this research carries the promise of meaningful progress in combatting and preventing a number of cancers, as well as other diseases that are activated at the cellular level.  The cost of these advances is massive. The procedures take enormous time to develop, and there is no assurance that one will result in effective treatment. The rewards of success must justify the attendant costs and risks.  

As these therapies have become available, the cost has become a significant booster in overall healthcare benefits. Therefore, it is unrealistic to place the costs fully on the backs of policy holders  because it will price out people who cannot afford to bear that cost. The expansive nature of the field requires forward-looking approaches, such as public “sharing” in the fruits of publicly-funded research. The technology becomes a public-private asset, in which the ownership of patents  benefits the public in part.  Public participation can result in an overall cost reduction in health-care while providing seed-capital for  education and medical technology. Furthermore, the programs should be able to pay their own way.

Partnering with Providers

Engagement with the drug and biotech industries must be  mutually beneficial to be successful.  Policy holders won’t benefit from a punitive approach or one that threatens to disenfranchise the industries.  

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

 

One for the Congressional Records

lets-work-together1With Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway admitting that the sky  is blue after all, Hillary Clinton’s triumph  is a fait accompli.  The Clinton machine may plug on, attempting to turn red states blue, stacking up a record to rival landslides past.  It would be a waste of time and energy.  If she does not need Arizona, Georgia or Utah to capture 270 electoral votes, she should turn her attention – and war chest – first to the Senate and then to the House. Therein lies the fate of her first term.

Piling up an electoral record would be nice, but it will have an asterisk because of her opponent. Trump was not a Republican long enough to be considered an apostate.  He is an aberration. No matter how big the electoral victory, Clinton is not receiving a mandate from the voters.  Her boosters will be braying, her nose-holding voters sighing with relief, and the #NoHRC contingent gnashing their teeth and engineering her downfall. Assuming that her detractors can sort themselves out well enough for concerted action.

Be assured that the detractors will be sufficient in number to defeat Clinton’s legislative agenda if they are united.  That’s why the Democrats should turn  energy and funding to Congressional races.  Numerical control of the Senate doesn’t guarantee de facto control, due to the Senate Rules. But the Senate sets new rules when a new Congress is called into session, and the majority is critical for setting those rules.  The Rules will  place the Senate in a position to push through needed appointments.  The Supreme Court is the most pressing concern. There are many others.  Clinton will have a lot of bargaining chips. If she plays them wisely she might get what she needs, even if it is not exactly what she wants.

Prognosticators say that Democrats will not win a House majority. Given the rift in the GOP, a large plurality may be enough to build a coalition on fiscal issues. The Members and the White House must be ready to horse-trade, as it used to be done. Pork is back in fashion. If members protect their districts and trade votes to accomplish that end, everyone can go home equally unhappy.  That’s good politics.

It’s not up to Hillary alone.  The Republican shakeout from their Lost Weekend is still uncertain.  Trump will most likely reject the party brand and drag his constituents off to a political Jonestown.  The rump, what’s left of the old GOP, will have to decide if it wants to be a major party. If so, it must be willing to work with Democrats. If it chooses to continue the politics of No, it will not be a majority party in the House much longer.

HRC needs Congress, and she knows it.  Let’s see if she’s smart and skilled enough to play for a working majority rather than an illusory coronation.

 

What We Need is A Little More Anarchy

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As a lifelong anarchist — of the party-throwing, not bomb–throwing,  sort — I’m sick and tired of being mischaracterized. People who should know better cry, “Anarchy!” every time things get chaotic and start falling  apart. That’s wrong.  Anarchists don’t create chaos. They have the goal of getting things done  without government — kind of like free-market capitalism. What happens to anarchists is what happens to rock bands. Sooner or later, somebody decides to be the boss, grab the credit or go solo.  The answer to the question, “Who’s breaking up that old  band of mine?” Not the anarchists.”   The anarchists liked it better when we rehearsed  in the basement, set up our own amps and there was not enough money or fame to fight over.  

 “Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility. — William Godwin

Anarchy means without government.  It’s not a political vacuüm.  At the grassroots level, it is the way people regulate themselves without hierarchy. Anarchy happens a lot but we don’t recognize its positive characteristics. Instead, we focus on lawless malcontents who are anti-government, not free of it.  

Anarchy“Anarchism is democracy taken seriously.” — Edward Albee

 

For anarchy to  function, it has to be local, temporary, consensual and equitable.  It doesn’t last because continuity requires planning, and planning requires leadership. Leadership then seeks its privileges and does not relinquish its power.  Once the community is institutionalized, there’s no more anarchy.

  “I firmly believe people have the power to make decisions locally and cooperatively. Anarchism is how that is put into practice.” —  Scott Crow

Anarchy is utopian, an ideal.  People come together, have a communal moment, then go their separate ways. It’s is a good thing when it happens. A few months ago, a three year-old child broke away from his mother at the Cincinnati Zoo and climbed into the gorilla habitat. Because the child was in imminent danger, the zoo keepers had to kill Harambe, the 17 year-old gorilla, to save the child. The gorilla was a beloved member of the zoo community, and staff members and Cincinnatians were distraught over the incident.  The child’s parents were grateful that God had spared the child. 


“Freedom, morality, and the human dignity of the individual consists precisely in this; that he does good not because he is forced to do so, but because he freely conceives it, wants it, and loves it.”   Mikhail Bakunin

Public reaction was understandable. Most people rushed to find fault – by the zoo or the parent. There was a traumatized child,  a dead gorilla and no closure. What if the parents, without blaming the zoo or acknowledging fault, were able to say that they, as part of the community,  were also sad about the event?  As grateful as the parents  were for their child’s rescue,  it was not a satisfactory conclusion because Harambe was killed. 

  What if those parents and their friends and parishioners joined together to celebrate Harambe and created a fund in his name to benefit the zoo; if they could not donate money, they could donate time. The zoo and community heal some of the wounds.

“Anarchy could never get a man to the moon, but it may be the only mode that can allow us to survive on earth.” — Sheldon Kopp

Of course that didn’t happen.  The zoo and animal rights activists and primatologists played out their debate over what went wrong and what should be done. Harambe’s killing became a cultural flash point, with internet memes, video games and write-in campaigns (he out-polled the incumbent in some districts).  A plain expression of regret, a sharing of loss and a productive way  forward could have healed wounds and pulled people together around common sorrow. That would have been  Anarchy at work: local, temporary, consensual, and equitable. You can be sure that I was blasted at the mere suggestion that the parents should be anything other than overwrought.   Anarchy would have promoted healing and offered a teachable moment for parents and children.

“Anarchy is order, government is civil war.” — Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

The next time friends gather to celebrate or mourn, to have an impromptu adventure or to take up or oppose a cause, take a moment to remember anarchy’s great thinkers, and thank them for their service. 


In Memory Of Harambe


© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

The Unmaking Of The Celebrity Apprentice

A politician must have either the hide of a rhinoceros or, if you are an apprentice, you have to grow one. The movement to stop Trump is working in part because  of his thin-skinned, instinctual reaction to the attack on his character. He’s shown his vulnerability to personal attacks in what for him is a predictable way: threatening to sue the media outlets reporting the accusations and countering with similar charges against his opponent or rather against her husband. He’s also responded in some unconventional and unpredictable ways, such as threatening to jail his opponent if he wins the election. Trump can’t contain his rage. He’s taken the bait by focusing exclusively on these attacks and in how the world is out to get him.

Tit-f0r-Tit

He’s legitimizing the accusations by striking back the way he has.  Responding to a female accuser by saying that she was, in effect, not attractive enough for him to grope, is a spectacularly wrong answer. He’s also drawn from the “what not to do” section of the political playbook by threatening to bring down his Party, his political opponents and the nation. Some of his supporters are empowered by Trump’s anger and turned on by his brand of insult politics. Most would stop short of dismantling the country or setting themselves on fire, which is why his fair-weather supporters have deserted him. 

No Country for an Old Apprentice

Being President is hard.  

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Four Tough White Guys

It’s harder than running for President. The skill set is different, one more reason the Never Ending Campaign is staggeringly wrong for the country. Until recently, Trump was having fun playing Candidate. Lately, the high has worn off. Faced with the far less desirable possibility of being President, Trump should be relieved that he has no hope of winning. His scorched earth strategy ensures his defeat, at the same time laying the groundwork for the rumored Trump cable network. 

Donald, Ignore the Squirrel!

adhdIf Trump wants to win the election instead of the headlines, he needs to get back to the business of politics and away from the politics of personal destruction. If we change the rules with NATO, will the NATO allies draw a tight circle, excluding the U.S. and its trade? Same question for the Pacific Rim. Can the U.S. thrive without reaching the world market of greatest potential? What in the Middle East are we fighting for and why? I’m not satisfied with any stance he’s taken. Yet it would be better if he got back on the subjects.

A Dish Best Served Cold

No one is in a hurry to get Trump back on substance, least of all his opponent. The media are having a field day, even better than when he shamed the Gold Star mother.  This time it’s Trump vs. the media, mano-a-mano, as they say in Trump’s locker room of the mind.  They have their own scores to settle with him.  David MacCraw, VP and Assistant General Counsel for the New York Times, issued a blistering reply to Trump’s Demand for Retraction (letter by Marc E. Kasowitz,Esq.).   

Take Him to the River

Despite Hillary Clinton’s statements to the contrary, she is in no rush to bring the campaign back to core issues, not as long as Trump is flailing like  a landed walleye thrashing in the bilge.  

Only three more weeks, then Trump can be returned to his natural habitat. 

© 2016 The Revolted Colonies

Trump Accusers Are Raising Consciousness

  New accusations from Trump accusers are coming fast now, separate accusations being published Wednesday in the Palm Beach Post and the New York Times.  If not for confidentiality agreements routinely used to gag contestants and staffers, more accusations of criminal behavior would have been leveled at Trump by now, and there is still three weeks to go.

The outpouring of stories has an effect beyond the election.  Women are expressing gratitude for the women coming forward because these stories are revealing  deeper truths about the powerlessness women experience. The assault is momentary and in many cases women can prevent the incident from escalating.  What they can’t do often is to report it, speak up about it, out the attacker.  A young woman subjected to aggressive sexual behavior often is told directly that “it never happened” or that if she speaks of it, she will be punished. Her career derailed.  

In anti-discrimination law, this is a hostile working environment. These claims are especially tough to make when it’s caused or endorsed by the big boss.  Young women in new or first jobs  are given the Hobson’s Choice of calling out a powerful man and facing retaliation and ostracism, or remaining silent, which most of the traumatized women choose to do. 

Keeping silent is an extension of the feeling of powerlessness.  There is no release  from that feeling, so it takes hold psychically. The feeling of powerlessness becomes deeply ingrained and has a negative impact beyond the workplace. 

The Trump scandals, like the Clinton scandals before them, have presented opportunities to teach boys and girls, adolescents and young adults, that predatory sexual behavior often is criminal. Its victims no longer need to be resigned to shame, silence and a feeling of being ineffectual. Boys learn that a parent, sibling, friend or lover may have been victimized and that they may have experienced life-altering consequences. 

If I’m Going Down, I’m Taking You All With Me

 

(c) Mr Russell Falkingham; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Mr Russell Falkingham; Supplied by The Public Catalog Foundation

Donald Trump struck a blow against the Empire as early as the first Republican debate. Asked by Bret Baier, one of the moderators,  if any candidate was unable to pledge that he or she would support the victor of the nomination, Trump shot up his hand.  Only he refused to make the pledge.  On day one, the seeds of party disuinity were sown.  Trump’s audacity caused a jolt of electricity to shoot through the Cleveland arena where the debate was staged. His combative response was an early warning that although  Trump was running as a Republican, party loyalty was not at the top of his list of priorities.

Nearly a year later Trump had dispatched all 16 primary opponents. He’d returned to that same Cleveland arena to claim the Republican nomination. A number of GOP stars, among them former Presidents and former nominees, refused to join in anointing him.  He’d captured the Republican flag but had taken down every other candidate in doing it.  Trump’s attacks were more personal than political. AS an example, he condemned George Bush’s Administration  and taunted brother Jeb Bush, an early favorite, as low energy.  Bush, having no following, dropped out of the race in February.  Trump was disdainful of all GOP regulars. His attacks were personal, but they were successful because his supporters rejected the professional politicians for betraying them and exploiting them for decades.

He locked up the nomination in May, two months before the convention. Those two months were spent trying to find common ground between Trump and the party regulars, but it never happened.  A fragile truce held into the general election but it has completely unraveled. Now he’s been running against the Party as well as against Clinton.

Last Friday, Trump’s infamous 2005 “hot mic” gossiping with Billy Bush went viral.  Denunciation within the GOP came fast and furious. Down-ballot candidates fighting for their political lives broke ranks. It wasn’t Trump running from the party. It was the party trying to escape him. On Saturday, one day before the second Clinton-Trump debate, party retainers shuttled in and out of Trump Tower. Were they talking about debate prep or the internal party war? Both, is the answer. Political analysts speculated about Trump quitting.   Trump refuses to quit and, as anyone who watched the first GOP debate over a year before could have told you, he was always prepared to run against the Party.

By the close of Sunday’s debate, Trump had vowed that if he was elected, he would appoint a Special Prosecutor to put Hillary Clinton in jail.  And he’d  change the official language to Swedish.

When post-debate polls first were announced Tuesday, Trump’s gambit had failed. Recent projections show him losing the popular and electoral votes by widening margins. True to his word, he is determined to pull the Party down with him. The Democrats really like their chances of taking back the Senate thanks to their opponent’s scorched earth policy and negative coattails.  

Disunity - scorched earth

Trump rode his celebrity to the brink of the Presidency but it’s been his authoritarian, reactionary message that has allowed him to hang around. Trump may depart the field of battle, trading the Bully Pulpit for his threatened TV network.  Back on the battlefield, the contest rages on. Trump has been the medium, not the message, and that message of hopelessness, outrage and despair continues in full-throated cry.

Madman: Legacy of Sterling Cooper Draper Trump

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Swap the mahogany bar rail for a customized bus, a martini for a bottle of Trump water, the narrow lapel Brooks Brothers suit for the midnight blue Brioni with the flaming red tie, then close your eyes:  I’m hearing Roger Sterling but I’m seeing Donald Trump.  Swap one Madman for another. The misogynistic repartee you’ve been hearing all weekend and the smarmy come-on to the married TV hostess are all Madman.

Trump as Throwback

rogerRoger Sterling, and his sidekick, Don Draper, saw themselves as slick and irresistible as Donald Trump. They drank and cheated their way through a mid-century urban landscape that gave way to the post-70’s New York of Trump, overblown, overbuilt, overconfident – or seemingly so. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) - Mad Men - Season 4, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/AMCThey lived as if theirs was the only movie, and they were the only stars.  Trump would have slipped seamlessly into the 1960s ad world, with its inherent white privilege and its ignorance of anyone else’s.

Madman in the Tower

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Donald Trump brayed about his groping and assaults on women, which Draper would never have done and Sterling would have tried  to be more cool about it.  They were at different ends of the same locker room.  Not the high school locker room of varsity football players, j.v. wrestlers and hoop-dreamers trying to jump-shoot their way to an élite education.  It’s the locker room of the establishment, Tom Wolfe’s Masters of the Universe, towelling off after a game of squash at the Athletic Club or the Union League, men from high places, who’d gone through prep and college together into the corner office.  There was always a corner in that locker room preserved for Mad-boys, like Trump, who never internalized the privileges.  They used their conquests and outrageous behavior as their calling card.

Braggatrocious

In an Access Hollywood bus in 2005, Trump dropped one of his calling cards, like a turd, trying to impress TV personality Billy Bush. He reminisced  about trying to make  Bush’s predecessor, Nancy O’Dell, and ruminated on the perks of his celebrity – his perception that women welcomed his groping hands and stiff, little fingers, blind to the fact that his advances were unwelcome; that he was abusive and overbearing.  He mistook his celebrity and wealth for appeal and charm.  As a side note, Billy Bush is a nephew of former President George H.W. Bush, a Skull and Bones man, who would never be caught dead in Trump’s end of that exclusive locker room. 

skull-and-bones

This Madman is not a nouveau riche thing.  Misogyny runs through older, more established families. Some of those scions drift down to other end of the locker room bench, snapping towels and talking about their conquests. Even a Man-child who still considers these as verities is smart enough to keep them under wraps. Some have evolved, leaving behind the adolescent concepts of masculinity.

Unfit for this Time and Place

Trump is not merely tone-deaf.  He is out of touch with the reality of the relationship between men and women in 21st Century America.  It is a fundamental misunderstanding, one of those basics that make him unfit to be a leader of our people.   

The Accidental Candidate

 

mr-moneybagsSuddenly, Tuesday’s Vice-Presidential  debate looms large in this year’s presidential election, now that Donald Trump has the look of a former candidate.  Pence was the GOP’s sole, bright light this week, outshining his opponent, Tim Kaine. He displayed a bearing that the head of the party lacks. Trump’s sudden collapse. due to the release of a 2005 off-camera audio recording, has given party regulars a reason to force Trump from the race.  Pence would be elevated if Trump is unable to endure the election process.  Just desserts for Trump, who previously ran the Miss Universe pageant. Pence, the Accidental Running Mate, waits in the wings,  poised to become the Accidental Candidate.  

House on Fire

House Republican defectors have gathered force since release of the audio tape on Friday. The fallout has been particularly strong in Utah, whose governor and leading congressman have withdrawn their Trump endorsements.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R.-Utah) said,”My wife, Julia and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter.  Do you think I can look her in the eye and tell her that I endorsed Donald Trump for president when he acts like this and his apology? That was no apology, that was an apology for getting caught.”

Half Pence Better Than None

Pence, on the other hand, is tailor-made for the conservative, Christian base that Trump has left adrift. His professed faith informs his politics. Even before the latest Trump eruption, Pence had distanced himself from Trump on several issues. He is a more traditional candidate for the GOP. The regulars would happily line up behind Pence.fortunes-fool-sword-fights-and-tarot-cards-8i24lv4

 At the debate Pence attempted a high-wire act. He tried to normalize many of Trump’s positions. For example, he voiced a softer version of Trump’s  exclusionary immigration policy. Pence, who unsuccessfully attempted to bar Syrian refugees from Indiana, stated in effect,  that Trump’s plan of mass deportation is not practical. At times he staked out his own positions. Pence does not buy into Trump’s bromance with Vladimir Putin. He holds to the conventional view of Putin as a dangerous autocrat.  Pence tried to harmonize they are differing views about Syria.

Serendipity for the GOP

At this point, the Republicans would be ecstatic if they can emerge with the semblance of a party. Pence is their best hope.  As a presidential candidate, Mike Pence would be the most conservative major party candidate ever to run.  He isn’t likely to win, but he may hold on to Utah. For example, Pence would give his party a standard-bearer that down ballot candidates would not need to shun.

All of that said,  Hillary Clinton remains a prohibitive favorite to win the presidency, whether or not Trump quits or is dumped.The election juggernaut is steaming ahead.  However, Trump’s self-destruction will give cover to his followers, allowing them to return to the fold.

October is the Cruelest Month

octoberHillary Clinton supporters have cowered in dread that Donald Trump or the Republicans would unleash an October Surprise that would bring down her candidacy.  The surprise that Hillary now dreads is that her opponent will be drummed out of the Presidential campaign before she beats him like a rented mule.  David Fehrenholdt, a Washington Post reporter, disclosed an audio outtake from a 2005 Access:Hollywood appearance, in which Trump boasts about trying to bed one of the show’s former hostesses and using his star power to grope and assault women who cross his path. The audio was followed by a video showing Trump doing just that, with an attractive soap opera star.

Shortly after midnight, he aired a 90-second statement that fell short of a sincere apology. Trump denied that the audio portrayed the real Donald Trump. Then he shifted to an attack on Bill Clinton, which he threatened to continue in the Sunday debate.

Condemnation of Trump’s statements is near universal.  Trump lap-dog Corey Lewandowski dismissed the furor over Trump’s statements. America is looking for a leader, he said. “We’re not electing a Sunday School teacher,” he said.  Don’t tell that to the evangelicals, who were hanging in by their fingernails. They will run away from Trump after this morally reprehensible performance.  

Trump’s first reaction was to offer an apology “if anyone was offended.” Then he added that Bill Clinton has said “far worse on the golf course. Not even close.”  Nobody is accepting this dismissive statement as an apology.  Trump is holed up in his tower, waiting for Reince Priebus to descend upon him wearing his cloak and carrying his scythe.    Trump said that Reince is coming for debate prep. Its possible that Reince will leave with a reddish-blond haired scalp.

All of the tribal chieftains have slammed him: Ryan, McConnell, Priebus. Jon Huntsman has said that Pence should replace Trump as the candidate.   It would be a shock if they were not talking about forcing him out of the race.  They can’t kick him out but they can make it too unpleasant for him to continue.   It wouldn’t have been a shocker if he skipped the debate this Sunday – he’s already decided to cancel his scheduled appearance in Wisconsin tomorrow.  But Ben Ginsberg, preeminent election lawyer and former counsel to the Bush and Romney campaigns, gave the GOP little chance of salvaging the election by replacing Trump as a candidate.  

Trump was having a lousy week before this audio became public. Newsweek ran a detailed story of Trump’s business failures; how Trump’s businesses failed again and again. The story of Trump’s pattern of  buying state attorney generals to get them to drop investigations against him or his businesses. The Atlantic, a magazine that his given only two earlier Presidential endorsements in its 160 year history (to Lincoln in 1860  and against Goldwater in 1964), came out against Trump today. New York’s attorney general shut down the Trump Foundation.  Many Republican House candidates have officially withdrawn their endorsements, and the list is growing.

Trump’s candidacy is all but done. One October question remaining is whether he will cause the GOP to lose the Senate and to drop its large majority in the House. The only other question is how much uglier will this campaign get before it’s over.

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