Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Response to When Nothing Sticks to the Wall

(See: Just Above Sunset: When Nothing Sticks to the Wall)

Dana Bash interviewed him today after not taking his ribbon cutting ceremony live on CNN’s air, and he was obviously a little perturbed with her.

To her question as to why, in the final two weeks of his close race with Hillary Clinton, did he spend valuable time off from his campaign on a commercial project, his answer was that, first of all, he found her question "insulting”, but second of all, simply because the hotel came in “under budget, and ahead of schedule” — as if she, and we, would immediately understand what that meant.

But mostly, we don’t.

Yes, we do know what he was trying to say — that wouldn’t it be cool to have a president who knows how to get things done sooner than promised, and costing less than planned for? It’s just that, not being in the construction business, we don’t see those two skills as being all that helpful in solving any of the problems the country is facing right now.

We do see an economic recovery that is doing well, but not well enough for everyone. We see the problem of trying to make sure most everyone in America has access to good healthcare. We see we need to walk a tightrope through ticklish relations with other countries, such as Israel and Palestine, and Turkey and Iraq, and Russia and all its neighbors, and China and nearby island nations, and we do need to carefully maneuver around wars in Iraq and Syria, and need to try to calm down our xenophobes who spend way too much time worrying about immigrants. We need to figure out how to stop domestic terrorists before they strike. We see a climate that is out of control and threatening the way people will be living on the planet in the near future.

These are things we need to think about, more than we need to panic over whether some fancy hotel somewhere is renovated "within budget and ahead of schedule.” He seems to overestimate the interest we all have in his chosen career.

In addition to that, even if the hotel renovation were impressive, he’s not the one who deserves the credit anyway, since he didn’t make it happen! He’s been too busy, running for president for the past year or so, holding rallies, sometimes seven of them a day (and often foolishly, in states that were not even in play) while Hillary, according to him, took “naps” or something, for all he knew.

He keeps reminding us that he’s not a politician. But the fact is, when you run for president, you are, by definition, a politician.

So the problem isn’t that he’s a politician, it’s that he just isn’t very good at it!

And so, when we hear him brag that he’s never done any of this before, we need to hear that as a confession that he hasn’t the necessary experience to do the job he’s applying for. Would you pay someone to fix your car who had no experience in fixing cars? Or a brain surgeon who brags about never having done surgery on anybody? Anyone who thinks you don’t need to know anything about politics to run for office should take a closer look at what Hillary and her quite capable staff have been up to lately.

In fact, he seems to think you don’t even need political experience to run a country! What will follow from this is a belief that a candidate doesn’t need to understand how a bill becomes a law, or how nations interact, or how wars are fought, or how jobs are created within an economy, or maybe how to plan far enough ahead to figure out how Americans will someday colonize Mars, something Obama has been doing.

Nor, ironically — and no matter that he’s always enjoyed fighting since he was a little kid — does he think he needs to understand how to fight a political foe, without getting trounced. 

I have to admit, I don’t think he even realizes that Hillary did trounce him recently. Remember he announced his plan to bring scorched-earth methods to his campaign by forcing Hillary to apologize for all that alleged victim-shaming she engaged in against all the women who had sex with her husband way back when?

But then, instead of that happening, the next thing he knew, he found himself victim-shaming all those “lying” women — who, he then announced, he would be suing immediately after the elections.

Hillary 1, Trump 0. The guy never knew what hit him!

So the Democrats are lucky to have a candidate who not only already knows how the world works, and not only knows how Washington works, but given the fact that she (unlike a certain other candidate) knows how important supporting the down-ballot is, she also knows how American partisan politics works! And on top of that, she knows how to knock another “fighter” out so stealthily, he doesn’t even realize he got KO’d!

So yes, she’s a politician, and he’s not — but these days what America needs is an experienced politician who believes, as Hillary says, that “America is great because America is good!”, and also has the political skills to kick the asses of those who don’t.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Response to The Hot Take

(See Just Above Sunset: The Hot Take)

So as of today, there are, at least theoretically, only 19 days until this is all over. Or at least that’s true for most of us, including Hillary Clinton — although maybe less time than that for Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who I suspect will be pushed out before election night, if she doesn’t jump first.

As for Donald Trump himself, he may have 81 days, which gives him until inauguration day to decide whether to accept the results of the election, unless he grants himself an extension.

He’ll have to look around him at that time and, with mock solemnity, pronounce whether or not the election was “rigged”,  whatever it is that he decides this even means, and then decide what to do about it. Maybe he’ll have a ghostwriter write a book about it, and then try to sell it to Hollywood.

While this has been pointed out before (although I’m sure most party members will refuse to agree with this), we can all place the blame for the rise of Donald Trump on the slow-motion collapse of the Republican party over the past fifty years, owed to the fact that it has, during that whole time, been carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction. That is to say, the kinds of people party members have aimed to be over those years are just the kind of people who are attracted to Trump.

It can arguably be traced back to the astounding success of Barry Goldwater’s driving the centrist-dominated party off the road in 1964. Although conservatives lost that election, the outlaw status granted them by their failure allowed them to change the rules of politics, rendering it henceforth heroic to adhere more solidly to principles comprised of uncompromising nonsense than is healthy in a self-ruled republic.

Conservatism’s hijacking of the GOP paved the road to the invasion of Washington in 1994 by the “Contract with America” crowd, at which time Newt Gingrich, with the help of pollster Frank Luntz, started compiling lists of trash-talk "talking points" to be used to demonize DemocratsLuntz "helped Gingrich produce a GOPAC memo that encouraged Republicans to 'speak like Newt' by describing Democrats and Democratic policies using words such as ‘corrupt,’ ‘devour,’ ‘greed,’ ‘hypocrisy,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘sick,' and ‘traitors’”— thereby recklessly upsetting that delicate balance that had previously allowed the two parties to share responsibility for managing the country.

Throughout the 1990s, a bogus series of investigations into everything the Clintons did was launched by the actual “Vast Conservative Conspiracy”, funded by Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife through his so-called "Arkansas Project", to the point of poisoning the Clinton political brand forever; insufficiently-conservative Republicans (called “Rinos”, for “Republicans In Name Only”) were targeted by hardliners in hopes of ethnically cleansing the party; and “Tea Partiers” turned “primary” into simultaneously a verb and a threat.

After impeachments and government shutdowns and threats to tank the American economy if it didn’t get its way — and finally an arbitrary refusal to vote on a presidential appointment to the Supreme Court — the new Republican base effectively brought American governance to a halt. Hope gave way to hopelessness after feeble attempts at reform, like Reince Priebus’s 2012 election-debacle “autopsy”, which urged that the party make attempts to be nice to minorities and women, fizzled.

Maybe they should have heeded him and shown more self-restraint, but Priebus’s fellow Republicans, who recognized his “autopsy" as nothing more than lipstick on a pig, couldn’t help themselves, just as Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, himself rebuffed all attempts throughout his campaign to clean up his act. Trump is what he is, just as Republicans are what they are, and it is not within their nature to not do what they do. 

When you think about it, all of this made it almost inevitable that only some self-funding out-of-control billionaire — an outsider who is, at the same time, crass and incompetent and ignorant and deplorable in most every way — should emerge from the Republican primaries as the nominee, despite the fact that the same psuedo-macho qualities that attracted his Republican primary voters would necessarily repel the larger, more discerning portion of American electorate. It had been pre-determined by history that he, along with his party, lost this race before he even got off that escalator.

You and I have nothing to do with this, other than to watch from the sidelines, wondering if they have hit bottom yet — and if not, how will we know when it happens?

But maybe early next year, someone will suggest the party split into two parts and go their separate ways. It will be interesting to watch Republican elected officials sort themselves into whichever party, and also to watch them fight over who gets to keep what.

Meanwhile, although I’m sure we will all have lost interest by then, it will also be mildly interesting to see what Trump decides to do if he finds that the election was rigged — and he will. A political movement, or even military insurgency? I doubt it. His followers were too lazy to find out what the hell was really going on in the world, so how likely are they to open up neighborhood offices and register voters, much less take their firearms to the hills and live in tents?

Maybe Trump will use his new mailing list to start a TV network, or maybe a TV show, or at least a podcast, or maybe try to somehow franchise the “Trump Movement” — at which franchisees will next year launch a class-action suit for fraud, and then it will quietly declare bankruptcy, late on a Friday night, after all the networks have locked in their rundowns — and about which, by that time, none of us will care anyway.

As awful as this guy is, I’m sure many of us will miss all the noise after he's gone. We must be careful what we wish for.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Response to Not Okay

(See: Just Above Sunset: Not Okay)

I’ve had another epiphany. Not a huge one, but still, a new and slightly unsettling realization.

I’d long realized that many Republicans and Democrats, despite ideological differences, have both come to a major meeting-of-the-minds when it comes to Donald Trump: He’s not only a very dangerous guy, we both agree that he has no place anywhere near the seat of power in this country.

But what I’ve discovered lately is that, while many Republicans categorically reject Trump as totally unsuitable for leadership, this should not lead anyone to assume they will not vote for him, or much less, will vote for Hillary, as they, for some reason, see her as equally threatening, or maybe even more so, than Trump!

Let that sink in for a minute. No, you’re right — it makes no sense. But try to make sense out of it.

Now, what I take away from this is that, no matter how much turbulence Trump's candidacy has caused on the other side of the aisle, many Republicans (and probably also many Independents, by the way) really don’t take Trump’s evil nearly as seriously as we do.

Oh, yes, they admit to being torn asunder with dismay over this cretin, but the fact that so many of them won’t even consider doing the only thing they can possibly do to stop Trump — that is, voting for Hillary — means that, as evil as he obviously is, they are not nearly as dismayed by Donald Trump as Democrats are. 

Or could it be that they don’t really understand the extent to which Hillary Clinton is not evil? Could they all have been taken in by all those unrelenting conservative attempts over the years to invent scandalous stories about Bill and Hillary, dating all the way back to Whitewater, right up through the latest Wikileaks “revelations”? 

Quick! What’s the most scandalous revelation that came out of the recent Wikileaks? Can’t think of anything? Neither can I.

Yes, the documents were filled with all sorts of quasi-interesting inside-baseball campaign tidbits, but none of it any more tantalizing than the behind-the-scenes things you’d learn in a New Yorker magazine article. In fact, the only really fascinating aspects of this story were the questions of (1) who was behind the hacking of the emails, and (2) what was the motive.

But we’re not supposed to care about who did the hacking — or at least according to some Republican TV pundits I’ve heard, along with Vladimir Putin:
“Listen, does it even matter who hacked this data?’’ Putin said in an interview at the Pacific port city of Vladivostok on Thursday. “The important thing is the content that was given to the public.’’
(Ha! Talk about CYA! That is classic “pay-no-attention-to-the-man-behind-the-curtain”! Hasn’t Putin ever watched “Wizard of Oz”?)

But the real question is, should we even be talking about all this sex stuff instead of “the issues”? Doesn't this just trivialize the process of selecting our president?

The surprising answer to the first is, yes, we should be talking about all this sex stuff, and the answer to the second question is, no, it’s not trivializing the process! It is the process!

First of all, let’s face it, there’s no point to drawing Donald Trump into a discussion of policy, since he has no clue of what he’s talking about when it comes to running a government. And second of all, before you even get to those questions of substance, Trump is preemptively dis-qualified because of the fact that he’s both an ignoramus and a shithead!

Why should the American people care what Trump's thinking is on Obamacare? He’s mean-spirited and stupid, to boot, and therefore, shouldn’t seriously be considered for the presidency anyway.

Sure, it would be nice to have an actual conversation between one candidate who has liberal views and another who has conservative ideas on, say, how to improve the economy or what to do in Syria, but that’s assuming that, despite their disagreements, both are professionals and have an understanding of the subject matter. But the problem, in this case, is that one of the candidates, as an amateur and an outsider, shouldn’t even be let into the room.

Why do we care what his policies are, unless we think he has the bona fides to be president in the first place — which, as everyone knows, he doesn’t?

The truth is, of course, yes, Hillary is the one who started all of this “women” stuff.

She taunted him in their first debate with that Miss Universe business, knowing full well that, Trump being Trump, he wouldn’t be able to resist taking the bait and going off into one of his tirades — demonstrating, in the process, the kind of guy who would be running our country if, god forbid, he were to win.

But the beauty of it is, Trump kept telegraphing his intent (even though “telegraphing your intent to your enemy” is something he has said you should never do) to make this election about how Hillary “victim-shamed” Bill's victims — as squirrelly as you'd think that strategy might be — and now, since he doesn’t seem to have the self-awareness to not do so, Trump is seen on a daily basis victim-shaming his own accusers, calling them all liars who should not be believed.

And is Hillary behind all this? Of course she is! She’s brilliant! Or at least she is compared to him!

It’s as if she observed this Alpha Male chimpanzee, slapping the ground and throwing feces at everyone, and then tricked him into slapping himself and throwing feces at himself! Two can play that game, but only one can win, and nowadays, it will be the one who’s evolved!

So to those who celebrated the animalistic “dominance” behavior we all saw do so well during the Republican primaries, this message:

Welcome to civilization! We’ve evolved! We are no longer chimps! For one thing, we’re smarter now, and for another, we’re not taking feces off of you anymore!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Response to Two Down

(See: Just Above Sunset: Two Down)

One disagreement I have with all the pundits, especially on my side of the aisle, is whether all that Billy Bush and Donald Trump chatter on the bus was “locker room banter”. They say it wasn’t, and I can’t understand what they mean by that. Of course it was, as if that means anything useful here. Why do they think that it being locker room chat somehow makes it okay?

Except that, since I don’t play golf or tennis or whatever, I have no way of knowing what is being talked about in men’s locker rooms these days. I only know from way-back memories of high school phys-ed classes and track team practices. Yes, these kind of topics were discussed, in roughly the same language, and probably made-up claims, but it’s important to note that, not only did not all the guys join in, only a very few of the loud jerks did, usually cheered on by a small gaggle of giggling toadies. 

Most the us guys ignored it, trying not to get dressed too fast and leave too hurriedly so as not to arouse suspicion that all this ”guy" talk made us slightly uncomfortable — which it did. 

And yes, as Trump confessed, it was just “all talk”, allowing him to claim that his deeply-regrettable transgressions were only words, whereas Bill Clinton’s were actions! (And yet, without checking the debate transcript, didn’t Donald at one point accuse Hillary of being “all words and no action”? How does this guy always seem to position himself on both sides of every argument?)

But to punctuate his puzzling claims about Bill Clinton, about an hour before the debate was scheduled to begin, Trump staged a blitzkrieg news conference at a nearby hotel with a group of anti-Clinton women, three of whom claimed they had been sexually assaulted by Hillary’s husband, and the fourth being a woman who, back when she was 12 years old, was the (alleged?) victim in a rape case in which the then young lawyer, Hillary Rodham, defended the accused.

Yes, this Trump stunt largely fizzled, maybe because Monica Lewinsky was not one of the women (I’ll bet it was not from lack of trying by the Trump campaign; I’ll bet they asked her but she refused). It probably went nowhere because all the other cases had been litigated and investigated years before, mostly ending up nowhere.

But just so the history of these cases not be obscured by 2016 politics, I looked them all up.

In the case of Paula Jones, who was an Arkansas state employee when Bill was governor:
According to Jones's account, on May 8, 1991, she was escorted to Clinton's (then Governor of Arkansas) room in the Excelsior (now Little Rock Marriott) Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he propositioned and exposed himself to her. She claimed she kept quiet about the incident until 1994, when a David Brock story in the American Spectator magazine printed an account. Jones filed a sexual harassment suit against Clinton on May 6, 1994, two days before the three-year statute of limitations… 
Judge Susan Webber Wright granted President Clinton's motion for summary judgment, ruling that … Jones failed to show that Clinton's actions constituted "outrageous conduct" as required of the tort alongside not showing proof of damages caused by distress. Jones appealed the dismissal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, where, at oral argument, two of the three judges on the panel appeared sympathetic to her arguments. …
But before there was a ruling:
On November 13, 1998, Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000, the entire amount of her claim, but without an apology, in exchange for her agreement to drop the appeal. Robert S. Bennett, Clinton's attorney, still maintained that Jones's claim was baseless and that Clinton only settled so he could end the lawsuit and move on with his life. In March 1999, Judge Wright ruled that Jones would only get $200,000 from the settlement and that the rest of the money would pay for her legal expenses. ... 
She also appeared in the news media to show the results of a makeover and of a Rhinoplasty [a.k.a., "a nose job”] paid for by a donor. 
In April 1999, Judge Wright found Clinton in civil contempt of court for misleading testimony in the Jones case. She ordered Clinton to pay $1,202 to the court and an additional $90,000 to Jones's lawyers for expenses incurred, far less than the $496,000 that the lawyers originally requested.
By agreement with the Arkansas Bar Association, Clinton gave up his Arkansas law license for a period of five years. And it was the Paula Jones case that got him impeached, for lying and obstruction of justice in saying he didn’t have sexual relations with that Lewinsky woman.

Jones sued Penthouse Magazine during all this for printing nude photos of her, taken by her boyfriend, but it was too late — the magazine had already gone to the distributors. But in 2000, she went back and made a deal with the same magazine:
She later posed for photos illustrating an article, "The Perils of Paula Jones" in the December 2000 issue, citing the pressures of a large tax bill and two young sons to support.

Then there’s Kathleen Willey:
In 2015, Kathleen Willey alleged Clinton groped her in the White House Oval Office in 1993. Kenneth Starr granted her immunity for her testimony in his separate inquiry. 
Linda Tripp, the Clinton Administration staffer who secretly taped her phone conversations with Monica Lewinsky in order to expose the latter's affair with the President, testified under oath that Willey's sexual contact with President Clinton in 1993 was consensual, that Willey had been flirting with the President, and that Willey was happy and excited following her 1993 encounter with Clinton. Ken Starr thought there was insufficient evidence to pursue her allegations further. 
In 2007 Willey published a book about her experiences with the Clintons.
And there’s this add, back in May, from Media Matters:
The Office of the Independent Counsel reviewed Willey’s allegations but declined to press charges after determining that Willey repeatedly shifted her story, lied to the FBI, and urged a friend to falsely support her story. She subsequently suggested that the Clintons had murdered her husband in the same way they supposedly murdered former White House aide Vince Foster.
On that same page, there's also, "close Trump ally Roger Stone says Trump himself gave money to Willey so she would be able to attack the Clintons during Hillary Clinton’s current presidential run”. This was back in May of this year, and Stone mentioned that "various victims of Bill Clinton — those who were raped or attacked or assaulted — those women are getting organized, and I think a number of them are going to speak out this fall.”

Number three of the accusers is Juanita Broaddrick, who actually accused Bill Clinton of raping her:
In a 1999 episode of Dateline NBC, former Clinton volunteer Juanita Broaddrick alleged that in the late 1970s Bill Clinton raped her in her hotel room. According to Broaddrick, she agreed to meet with Clinton for coffee in the lobby of her hotel, but Clinton asked if they could go to her room to avoid a crowd of reporters. Once Clinton had isolated her in her hotel room, he sexually assaulted her. Broaddrick stated Clinton injured her lip by biting it during the assault. In 1999, Clinton denied Broaddrick's allegations through his lawyer. 
Supporters of Clinton have questioned her account by noting that Broaddrick continued to support Clinton, and appear at public events on his behalf, weeks after the alleged rape. In addition, Broaddrick had once signed a deposition stating that no sexual contact had occurred with Bill Clinton; although she subsequently stated that she had made this claim because "I didn't want to be forced to testify about the most horrific event of my life." In 1999, Slate magazine published an inconclusive piece on whether Broaddrick was telling the truth. 
Broaddrick's allegations resurfaced in the 2016 presidential campaign. In various media interviews, Broaddrick stated that Clinton raped her and that Hillary Clinton knew about it, and tried to threaten Broaddrick into remaining silent. She claimed that she started giving some interviews in 2015 because Hillary Clinton's statement that victims of sexual assault should be believed angered her.
(In fact, while nobody was ever able to prove or disprove Broaddrick’s allegations either way, if you read that inconclusive Slate magazine piece, mentioned above, you might just find her story quite credible.)

Finally, the fourth woman in the group, Kathy Shelton, was not an accuser of Bill, but instead has a beef with Hillary Clinton herself, as investigated by Snopes earlier this year:
”In 1975 when I was 12, I was raped by a 42 year old man. Hillary Clinton volunteered to be his lawyer. In court, Hillary told the judge that I made up the rape story because I enjoyed fantasizing about older men. Hillary got my rapist freed. In 1980 she gave an interview where she admitted she knew he was guilty. And she laughed about it. Hillary Clinton is an advocate for rapists. Not for women or children.”
According to Snopes, this poster, complete with photo of a beautiful blond teenaged girl with tears running down her face (but with this small-print disclaimer, “This story is true. Photo is not the actual victim”), began circulating back in May on Facebook, the claims of which Snopes pronounced “Mostly False”, in that, for one thing, Hillary did not volunteer, but was assigned to the case by the judge because the accused demanded to have a woman defense lawyer. Also, witnesses from the time attest that she requested to be let off the case, but was turned down.
Documents from the 1975 case include an affidavit (p. 34) sworn by Clinton ... That affidavit doesn't show, as claimed, that Hillary Clinton asserted the defendant "made up the rape story because [she] enjoyed fantasizing about men"; rather, it shows that other people, including an expert in child psychology, had said that the complainant was "emotionally unstable with a tendency to seek out older men and to engage in fantasizing about persons, claiming they had attacked her body," and that "children in early adolescence tend to exaggerate or romanticize sexual experiences." Clinton therefore asked the court to have the complainant undergo a psychiatric exam (at the defense's expense) to determine the validity of that information… 
As for the claim that Hillary Clinton "knew the defendant was guilty,” … [is] largely irrelevant given that under Hillary Clinton's handling of the case, the defendant pled guilty rather than going to trial and asserting his innocence.
What really happened? Here’s a Newsday article from 2008:
Finding out precisely what happened in the pre-dawn hours of May 10, 1975, is difficult three decades later, particularly since [the accused Bruce Alfred] Taylor died in 1992 of a heart ailment. But a basic outline can be reconstructed from interviews, court documents, witnesses’ statements and the Washington County sheriff’s original case file, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. 
Sometime around midnight, the girl was sleeping over at a friend’s house in Springdale when Taylor and his 20-year-old cousin walked in, asking if anyone wanted to take a drive. The sixth-grader, who says she was bored and wanted to buy a soda, jumped into Taylor’s beat-up red 1963 Chevrolet pickup truck. 
Soon after, they picked up the 15-year-old boy and drove to a liquor store, where Taylor bought a pint of Old Grand-Dad whiskey, which he mixed for the girl in a cup of Coca-Cola, according to the boy, now a 48-year-old Army veteran. (Newsday is withholding the boy’s name because he was charged in the case as a juvenile offender.) 
After a few hours at a local bowling alley, the foursome crammed into Taylor’s truck and drove to a weedy ravine off a busy two-lane highway connecting the sister cities of Fayetteville and Springdale, according the sheriff’s department account. 
Taylor and the older man went off for a walk, leaving the 12-year-old and the teenager alone in the cab. In a statement to police, the 15-year-old said he removed his pants and admitted to having sex, revealing the encounter only after being pressed by investigators. 
Moments later, he said he left and Taylor approached the truck, climbing on top of the girl. The girl let out a scream, according to the police report, and he claims to have seen Taylor hitching up his pants. 
The victim, the boy reported, turned to both of them and yelled, “You all planned this, didn’t you?” 
At 4:50 a.m., the girl walked into a local emergency room, badly shaken. The doctor’s report noted that she had injuries consistent with rape.
The “she laughed about it” part came after a 1980s interview Hillary gave to a reporter, in which she is heard laughing at this surprising development, in speaking of her client:
He took a lie detector test! I had him take a polygraph, which he passed, which forever destroyed my faith in polygraphs [Laughter].
She didn’t “get him off” of the rape charge, she made a plea deal to a lesser charge — “found guilty of Unlawful Fondling of a Child Under the Age of Fourteen” — which the prosecutor agreed to at the behest of the victim and her mother, "to make a quick plea deal rather than have the [victim] go through the ordeal of a court trial, with the mother actively interfering in the investigation to bring about that result”, with the sentence "that carried a five-year sentence, of which the judge suspended four years and allowed two months credit of time already served towards the remaining year.” 
“We both wanted it to be over with,” the victim told Newsday. “They kept asking me the same questions over and over. I was crying all the time.” ... 
In 2005, while working in a laundry, the victim stole several hundred dollars worth of checks from her boss to buy drugs. She is now living in a halfway house and looking for work. 
Despite these problems, she bears Hillary Rodham Clinton no ill will and was eager to read “Living History” — at least pages 72 and 73, which contain her case.
Which brings us to today:
Eight years later, in 2016, the UK's Daily Mail identified the victim (who had previously spoken anonymously to the Daily Beast) as Kathy Shelton and quoted her as saying that she "cannot forgive Hillary Clinton for defending her rapist" and that she was unaware for many years that Hillary Clinton was the person who had represented the defendant in her case. 
'It's put a lot of anger back in me,' said Shelton, now 54, in an exclusive interview at her Springdale, Arkansas, home. 'Every time I see [Clinton] on TV I just want to reach in there and grab her, but I can't do that.' 
For decades, Shelton said she had no idea that Clinton was the same woman as the lawyer who defended her rapist in 1975.
That’s the tragic thing about fame and history and how they combine to effect people! Think about it:

Had Hillary Rodham never married some guy who went on to become president of the United States, then real life sexual-assault victim Kathy Shelton, who all her life held no ill will toward the woman who defended her rapist, might never have changed her opinion about her, and therefore, would never have gotten a prominent seat at this second Trump-Clinton debate, and would have missed her own very small place in American history!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Response to The Last Friday

(See: Just Above Sunset: The Last Friday)

Well, that does it for me!

Hearing the truth about the sorts of things the man says when he thinks nobody is listening has finally convinced me, once and for all, that I will not, because I cannot, in good conscience, ever, ever again vote for Bill Clinton!

(Note to self: Try to remember that if Bill ever runs for office again.)

But as for Donald Trump? Oh, for god’s sake, big whoop.

I mean, there seemed to be an epidemic of Casablanca Shock spreading through the Republican party yesterday, with all these folks who have already endorsed him being suddenly shocked! shocked! to learn he was the kind of guy who thought this way about women!

These people just cannot catch a break! One can imagine how hard they look forward to this whole national nightmare ending, and it no longer matters how it ends. Meanwhile, not a day goes by that this cretin in their midst doesn’t do or say something that ends up putting their collective private parts through a wringer.

Still, I do hope Donald Trump doesn’t drop out of the race in favor of Mike Pence. Let’s not confuse this election any more than it already is. Besides, I for one kind of like the way things are going now. (As of this morning, Nate Silver's group had Hillary’s chances of winning up to 81.8%!)

But what I am really looking forward to seeing is how attacking Hillary by bringing up Bill’s adventures plays out in this election.

Although it defies common sense, Trump seems to have convinced his disciples that women voters everywhere will become incensed at Hillary, once they are reminded of how viscously she attacked the women who had sex with, or claimed to have had sex with, her husband.

If Donald somehow brings this up in debate, wouldn’t you think she could just turn the tables on him by asking him to "answer, truthfully, how you would feel about any man who you learned had an affair with Melania — or for that matter, any of your many wives — while you were married"?

In fact — and only because he brought it up — does he happen to know how his first wife, Ivana, felt about Marla Maples when she learned she was having an affair with her husband? Of course, we’ll never know, since he forced her to sign a gag-agreement about their marriage.

And speaking of how presidential candidates treat women, she could ask him, "Is it true, as has been alleged, that the reason you left your first wife is because you could no longer be attracted to a woman who had given birth to any children? And by children, I mean, your own three children?"

But then again, I’m sure Donald will get a chance to test his “Bill Clinton Attack Strategy” during any of his many debate prep sessions before Sunday night.

Oh, wait! I forgot! Donald Trump doesn’t need no stinking’ debate prep!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Response to The Indirect Trap


Instead of completely agreeing with you (and Waldman), I think I’ll stick with my comment of yesterday — those voters who care more about appearances and less about actual truth will continue to claim that Pence won, while those who think truth matters can argue that Kaine won. Both sides make their point, and never the twain shall meet, at least this late in the campaign.

What happens in the next few years if Trump loses?

It could go either way — either Republicans will, at least for a while, try to do what the Germans did with Hitler after WWII, which is try to never mention him and see if he’ll be erased from public memory, or eventually say, “Yes, he was awful, but we had no knowledge of what he was doing”; or what Republicans tried to do with GWB after he was gone, which is try to never mention him and see if he’ll be erased from public memory, or eventually admit what they were forced to admit, which is that the Iraq War actually was a big mistake, but then pretend it was made infinitely worse by the inactions of (fill in name of Democratic villain/s, to be named later).

In other words, eventually the truth of history will be irrefutable, and all they’ll really be able to do is somehow mitigate its damage, in hopes of making it easier for those future “voters who care more about appearances and less about actual truth” to defend their team.

Let’s face it, there will always be those who believe that we should do what we feel like doing, rather than what we really should be doing, and that, since the ends always justify the means for these people, the truth can always be safely denied the opportunity to interfere with conservative policymaking.

But Wait! There’s more!

There’s always the chance future Republicans won’t have to struggle with any of this! Now let’s try to imagine what Republicans will do if Trump wins!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Response to How It's Done

(See: Just Above Sunset: How It's Done)

Until I realized that Tim Kaine was just "taking one for the team", as one CNN pundit pointed out in their after-debate show, I thought he was pretty much just making a fool of himself with all those interruptions, and that Mike Pence was "winning” the debate by coming off as the adult.

But because neither campaign is any longer really fighting to change minds — since both sides seem to realize those voters who are still undecided at this point will probably vote for neither, the plan being just to settle for who they already got — then this whole debate was just a playful but meaningless exercise that neither side really won. Kaine, who otherwise seems kind of meek, played the part of the slugger, hoping to throw Pence off balance — and nicely performed, I must say! I couldn’t have done that! — and Pence’s job was to not fall down, which he mostly didn’t.

Did Pence fail to defend Trump from damaging blows? Probably not really, since his base doesn’t care, and neither does the other side. And was Pence really just setting himself up as the nominee for 2020? Maybe, but since he’s such a non-entity today, I really doubt he’ll be a real contender by then either.

I guess both sides did what they came to do, but since what they did actually didn’t need to be done, then I really didn’t need to stay up late to watch them do it. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Response to Death by Taxes

(See: Just Above Sunset: Death by Taxes)

Could this New York Times tax returns story be the "October Surprise" we’ve all been waiting for? I don’t get the feeling it is. Maybe it’s that it’s too early in the month for that, but something just doesn’t feel right about it.

In fact, I’m wondering if the real October Surprise will come along when Donald Trump confesses that he himself mailed doctored phony documents to the Times, just to catch them in a trap, just to expose how gullible the lying press is, so anxious to embarrass Trump that they’d jump on anything juicy that appears over the transom. His ex-accountant could even be in on it.

But in the meantime, let’s assume the documents are real, in which case, Trump’s not looking like the genius he and his gang of thugs think he is.

My point is that, while Donald Trump was looking out for, shall we call it, his big fat “bottom line”, I and lots of my fellow Americans were shelling out many of our dollars to keep the country going. A lot of people dont realize it but even undocumented immigrants pay federal and state income taxes, which means the people he wants to throw out of the country have been doing more for it than he has. 

While he might argue that he has been paying all his workers and keeping the economy churning, but for all that, so do drug kingpins. And just possibly drug dealers actually don’t cheat their workers out of their hard-earned pay like Donald famously does.

Another favorite comeback of Trump’s is that the “government doesn’t spend its money well anyway”, but the answer to that is that one might think Donald Trump would have earned his right to complain about the way the government spends our money if any of it came from him.

And if the point he’s trying to make to his not-so-wealthy political base is that, while he may be a hugely wealthy shit-head, at least he’ll be a shit-head on their behalf, then the real question seems to be, when and if he becomes president, is there any evidence that he will work to change the law, making it no longer possible for extremely rich guys like him to get away with paying no taxes in this way? 

Chris Christie said, “this is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.” The New Jersey governor practiced some of his best spinning on “Fox News Sunday,” arguing that the Times story showcases “the genius of Donald Trump” because he knows tax policy better than anyone. 
“And that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it,” Christie said. “There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver about the tax code as he rightfully used the laws to do that. And he’s already promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don’t have this kind of situation.”
That sounds good, except that I’ve not been able to find any evidence of him actually proposing to do that in his tax plan, which he has already released. If I missed it in there, please let me know, but I’ve heard nobody else can find it either.

On the other hand, even the conservative Tax Foundation has predicted that, while his present tax plan "would significantly reduce income taxes and corporate taxes, and eliminate the estate tax”, it would also "reduce federal revenue by between $4.4 trillion and $5.9 trillion on a static basis.”

Is that good? Only if you don’t want the government to have enough money to pay for what it needs to pay for, or if you don’t mind the country increasing its debt by up to six trillion (that’s “trillion”, with a “t”) dollars. Trump always complains about the size of our debt as it is.

And by the way, maybe any comparison of Trump’s business dealings to that of Leona “The Queen of Mean” Helmsley is even more appropriate than immediately apparent, at least from glancing at her entry on Wikipedia:
Despite the Helmsleys' tremendous wealth (net worth over a billion dollars), they were known for disputing payments to contractors and vendors. One of these disputes would prove to be their undoing. 
In 1983, the Helmsleys bought Dunnellen Hall, a 21-room mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, to use as a weekend retreat. The property cost $11 million, but the Helmsleys wanted to make it even more luxurious. The work included a $1 million dance floor, a silver clock and a mahogany card table. 
The remodeling bills came to $8 million, which the Helmsleys were loath to pay.
Sound familiar?
A group of contractors sued the Helmsleys for non-payment; they eventually paid off most of the debt. 
In 1985, during those proceedings, the contractors revealed that most of their work was being illegally billed to the Helmsleys' hotels as business expenses. The contractors sent a stack of the falsified invoices to the New York Post to prove that the Helmsleys were trying to avoid tax liabilities. The resulting Post story led to a federal criminal investigation. 
Also, Jeremiah McCarthy, the Helmsleys' executive engineer, alleged that Leona repeatedly demanded that he sign invoices to bill personal expenses to the Helmsley company and, when McCarthy declined to do so, Helmsley exploded with tyrannical outbursts, shouting, "You're not my fucking partner! You'll sign what I tell you to sign.”
But then there’s this interesting little tidbit:
In 1988, then United States Attorney Rudy Giuliani indicted the Helmsleys and two of their associates on several tax-related charges, as well as extortion.
I guess he’s glad he’s no longer in the prosecuting business; otherwise, he might have to indict one of his closest friends.

Anyway, her husband was let off because of failing health, but she was eventually convicted on "one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of tax evasion, three counts of filing false personal tax returns, sixteen counts of assisting in the filing of false corporate and partnership tax returns, and ten counts of mail fraud.” The extortion charge was dropped.

She was sentenced to 16 years, but her appeals lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, eventually got that reduced, and she was released after serving only 19 months.
She was forced to give up control of her hotel empire, since most of her hotels had bars and New York does not allow convicted felons to hold alcohol licenses. Mrs. Helmsley lived her final year at her penthouse atop the Park Lane Hotel.
She left a $12 million trust fund for “Trouble”, her Maltese dog, but that was later reduced to $2 million, "as excessive to fulfill its purpose.” I don’t know if Donald has pets, but I can just about see all that other stuff happening to him.

And so we’ll just have to wait and see if this new story in the news about Trump being a cad will make any difference to his support. Even if the staunchest Trumpeters won’t be able to make any sense of it, maybe it will be just enough to keep independents from swinging in his direction.

And do you remember that school dance scene in "Back to the Future", in which Marty (Michael J. Fox) watches as his family fades away in the family photo, and out of his future, as his teenaged mom and dad fail to hook up on the dance floor? I’m reminded of that every time I look at and see Hillary’s chances dropping.

But then I see his family fading back into the photo whenever I go there on days like today, and see her fortunes improving — pushing 70%! — seemingly in response to this Times story, but it probably wouldn’t happen that quickly.

Maybe it’s just because America is coming to its senses anyway, the closer we get to the crucial day.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Response to Number Nineteen

(See: Just Above Sunset: Number Nineteen)

The good news about a possible President Trump might be that, when that famous 3:00 AM call comes in, he’ll already be awake for it. Of course, the bad news is, he’ll be too busy sending out his snarky tweets to take the call.

Donald Trump hates it when people ask what his plans are, such as his plans for defeating ISIS, since that lets the other guy know what to watch out for, but he’d have nothing to worry about if ISIS turns out to have the attention span that he does.

In fact, I’d been worried about what would happen if Trump were to actually listen to all these pundits on TV advising him to not take Hillary’s bait, since her campaign had telegraphed their intention to try to “get under his skin”, but I know now that there was nothing to worry about. We now can assume he hears all these warnings, but just ignores them!

No need anymore to talk behind his back! Why bother, since he obviously never takes advice from people who give it to him to his face! The man listens only to himself!

You heard the latest, from an interview he gave to The New York Times?
Donald J. Trump unleashed a slashing new attack on Hillary Clinton over Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions on Friday as he sought to put the Clintons’ relationship at the center of his political argument against her before their next debate.
Yay!!! Go for it!

(Donald, pay no attention to me, assuming you’re reading this.)
He said he was bringing up Mr. Clinton’s infidelities because he thought they would repulse female voters and turn them away from the Clintons, and because he was eager to unsettle Mrs. Clinton in their next two debates and on the campaign trail.
I wonder if it occurs to him that, if he really knew what it is that “would repulse female voters and turn them away from the Clintons,” he would probably already have their vote. But he doesn’t. My advice would be, he really needs to give this more thought — but then, why would I expect him to take my advice? I could tell him this stuff right to his face and it would be the same as telling it to Henry, my cat!
But when asked if he had ever cheated on his wives, Mr. Trump said: “No — I never discuss it. I never discuss it. It was never a problem.” 
Asked specifically about his affair with Ms. Maples when he was married to Ivana Trump, Mr. Trump said: “I don’t talk about it."
He thinks nobody knows about these things? What is the matter with this guy?

But it turns out, he wasn’t making up being distracted by some problem with the microphone:
Mr. Trump said he did not think he needed to prepare more rigorously for the next debate than he did for the first one, because any shortcomings on Monday, he argued, were because of a problem with the microphone at his lectern, which he “spent 50 percent of my thought process” dealing with. The Commission on Presidential Debates, which sponsors the events, said on Friday that there were “issues” with Mr. Trump’s audio.
And apparently, the problem only effected how he was heard inside the hall, not how he was heard on TV. Still, speaking of getting rattled while making a speech, remember this? a speech Clinton gave to Congress on 22 September 1993 detailing the Clinton health care plan, the teleprompter was loaded with the wrong speech. Specifically, the one he gave to a joint session of Congress shortly after he was sworn-in in 1993. Teleprompter operators practiced with the old speech and it was accidentally left in, forcing Clinton to ad-lib for almost ten minutes.
And the president handled it so deftly that nobody was the wiser, at least not until the screwup was revealed after the speech. To my memory, Clinton neither lost his cool, nor complained about it. But maybe that’s because some people are just that good.

But back to that Times interview:
“She’s nasty, but I can be nastier than she ever can be,” Mr. Trump said.
Precisely! Do it! Then make sure you brag about it afterward! Let Trump be Trump!

And whatever you do, Donald, don’t go check your odds of winning at, which, as I’m writing this, show you’ve dropped over 12% since the debate.