Friday, September 30, 2016

Trump claims moral high ground, then descends into cesspool

After patting himself on the back for not mentioning Bill Clinton's indiscretions, Trump and his campaign decided to reverse course and attack Hillary for - what? - Bill's indiscretions. You see, that's what they have left after (1) we strip away the barrage of lies from Trump and (2) reveal him via his on-stage behavior as the misogynistic bully that he is. Here's part of the AP story from the Daily Star.

The Republican nominee's decision to dredge up the former president's sexual history is a risky move in his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton, whose own team isn't fazed by the attack line. Clinton was asked on her campaign plane whether she has an obligation to speak out if Trump brings up her husband's infidelities. Her answer was a terse "No."

Trump critics say it all could backfire, elevating Clinton in the eyes of female voters and motivating her base.

"The whole notion of trying to get Hillary Clinton to pay for Bill Clinton's infidelities is just strategically a bad choice," said Katie Packer, a longtime Republican strategist opposed to Trump's candidacy. Women in particular, she said, see it as cruel.

Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Trump's reference to Bill Clinton's indiscretions was his low point Monday night among the group of voters with whom he watched the debate.

"They were laughing about it because they thought that was Trump at his worst," Luntz said, adding that undecided voters are especially turned off by personal attacks.

The effort also risks drawing attention to the thrice-married Trump's own unflattering history with women. His first marriage ended following a well-publicized affair, and two of his top advisers, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have had their own well-documented infidelities. The three have had nine wives combined.

But, as I've blogged here this morning Trump supporters are not tuned to facts. Trump could be a character out of a Shakespearean tragedy and obtain a divorce by death and his supporters would not care.

Clinton won the debate, but the media doesn't believe it

Paul Krugman exposes some inconvenient truths in his NY Times column.

Monday’s presidential debate was a blowout, surely the most one-sided confrontation in American political history. Hillary Clinton was knowledgeable, unflappable and — dare we say it? — likable. Donald Trump was ignorant, thin-skinned and boorish.

Yet on the eve of the debate, polls showed a close race. How was that possible?

After all, the candidates we saw Monday night were the same people they’ve been all along. Mrs. Clinton’s grace and even humor under pressure were fully apparent during last year’s Benghazi hearing. Mr. Trump’s whiny braggadocio has been obvious every time he opens his mouth without reading from a teleprompter.

So how could someone like Mr. Trump have been in striking position for the White House? (He may still be there, since we have yet to see what effect the debate had on the polls.)

Part of the answer is that a lot more Americans than we’d like to imagine are white nationalists at heart. Indeed, implicit appeals to racial hostility have long been at the core of Republican strategy; Mr. Trump became the G.O.P. nominee by saying outright what his opponents tried to convey with dog whistles.

If he loses, Republicans will claim that he was some kind of outlier, showing nothing about the nature of their party. He isn’t.

But while racially motivated voters are a bigger minority than we’d like to think, they are a minority. And as recently as August Mrs. Clinton held a commanding lead. Then her polls went into a swoon.

What happened? Did she make some huge campaign blunders?

I don’t think so. As I’ve written before, she got Gored. That is, like Al Gore in 2000, she ran into a buzz saw of adversarial reporting from the mainstream media, which treated relatively minor missteps as major scandals, and invented additional scandals out of thin air.

Meanwhile, her opponent’s genuine scandals and various grotesqueries were downplayed or whitewashed; but as Jonathan Chait of New York magazine says, the normalization of Donald Trump was probably less important than the abnormalization of Hillary Clinton.

This media onslaught started with an Associated Press report on the Clinton Foundation, which roughly coincided with the beginning of Mrs. Clinton’s poll slide. The A.P. took on a valid question: Did foundation donors get inappropriate access and exert undue influence?

As it happened, it failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing — but nonetheless wrote the report as if it had. And this was the beginning of an extraordinary series of hostile news stories about how various aspects of Mrs. Clinton’s life “raise questions” or “cast shadows,” conveying an impression of terrible things without saying anything that could be refuted.

The culmination of this process came with the infamous Matt Lauer-moderated forum, which might be briefly summarized as “Emails, emails, emails; yes, Mr. Trump, whatever you say, Mr. Trump.”

I still don’t fully understand this hostility, which wasn’t ideological. Instead, it had the feel of the cool kids in high school jeering at the class nerd. Sexism was surely involved but may not have been central, since the same thing happened to Mr. Gore.

In any case, those of us who remember the 2000 campaign expected the worst would follow the first debate: Surely much of the media would declare Mr. Trump the winner even if he lied repeatedly. Some “news analyses” were already laying the foundation, setting a low bar for the G.O.P. nominee while warning that Mrs. Clinton’s “body language” might display “condescension.”

Then came the debate itself, which was almost unspinnable. Some people tried, declaring Mr. Trump the winner in the discussion of trade even though everything he said was factually or conceptually false. Or — my favorite — we had declarations that while Mr. Trump was underprepared, Mrs. Clinton may have been “overprepared.” What?

But meanwhile, tens of millions of Americans saw the candidates in action, directly, without a media filter. For many, the revelation wasn’t Mr. Trump’s performance, but Mrs. Clinton’s: The woman they saw bore little resemblance to the cold, joyless drone they’d been told to expect.

How much will it matter? My guess — but I could very well be completely wrong — is that it will matter a lot. Hard-core Trump supporters won’t be swayed. But voters who had been planning to stay home or, what amounts to the same thing, vote for a minor-party candidate rather than choose between the racist and the she-devil may now realize that they were misinformed. If so, it will be Mrs. Clinton’s bravura performance, under incredible pressure, that turned the tide.

But things should never have gotten to this point, where so much depended on defying media expectations over the course of an hour and a half. And those who helped bring us here should engage in some serious soul-searching.

Frank Rich (New York Magazine via RSN) opines on the debate and explores what this election is really about.

... Hillary ... mustered a pitch-perfect response to the boor on the other side of the split screen. She stuck to substance (of which he had none) and waited out his diatribes (many long waits) either by looking slightly bemused or by outright laughing at his absurdities. She refused to get lost in the weeds of his many lies and factual errors — urging viewers to consult fact-checkers online instead — and allowed herself some actual wit. “If we’re actually going to look at the facts … ” she said early on, throwing the line away lightly but devastatingly (though her target seemed oblivious to the dig). When Trump went on and on to try to pin his own birtherism campaign on her, a foolhardy errand in which he assumed the audience understood his oblique references to Sidney Blumenthal and Patti Solis Doyle, she retorted, smilingly, with “Just listen to what you heard.” It was a perfect response, directing the audience simply to watch her opponent as he choked on his own incoherent gusher of words. And when Trump went on his bizarre tear about how he had really, truly been opposed to the Iraq War early on, and how Sean Hannity could vouch for him despite all the evidence to the contrary, she replied with an even bigger smile and the mot juste for the moment: “O-kay!”

All that said, the margin in the instant debate-night poll was virtually the same as the margin that had Mitt Romney killing Barack Obama in the first debate of 2012. I will say for the hundredth time that the one thing Trump is right about is that his supporters would still vote for him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue. And they will still vote for him after this debate. This was a big night for fact-checking by a plethora of major news organizations, but what’s lost in this frenzy of media empiricism, worthy as it is, is that Trump’s supporters don’t care about the facts any more than he does. This election is a culture war, not a debate over policy, and in that war Trump is the white-guys’ guy.

And it seems the media listens to white guys when it comes to women seeking positions of power.

Candidates for Pima District 4 supervisor seat differ on Rosemont

Here's the scoop on the Pima County District 4 race from the Daily Star.

In the District 4 race, Republican Steve Christy and the Green Party’s Josh Reilly will vie to replace outgoing Republican Ray Carroll, who was first appointed to the board in 1997 and won his first election in 1998.

Carroll announced he would not seek reelection earlier this year.

On Aug. 30 Christy handily won a three-way primary contest, taking nearly 55 percent of votes cast.

Reilly, whose party has scant membership in the district and whose campaign filed paperwork stating it would not raise or spend more than $500, faces long odds against Christy, who has raised and spent more money than all other supervisor candidates and seeks to represent a heavily Republican district.

Less than .2 percent of registered voters in the district are in the Green Party, and Democrats make up just shy of 30 percent. Registered Republicans are just over 39 percent.

So Reilly faces long odds but, if you care about water issues and the proposed mine he should have your vote. Here are some of the candidates' positions probed by the Star.

Q. Beyond the issues raised in the previous questions, what is the most significant problem or issue facing your district, and what would you do to address it?

Christy: Economic development and the roads must be top priorities. However, we must find ways to revitalize our home building industry, while reducing spending and property taxes. As a lifetime Tucson businessman, I look forward to applying my experience, leadership, and expertise in cutting costs and increasing efficiency.

Reilly: The Rosemont mine. Open pit mining is both environmentally and financially catastrophic. A significant percentage of our drinking water comes from the Santa Rita Mountains. We don’t need acid rain, toxic water, and heavy metals polluting our wildlife or us. I disagree with Steve Christy’s idea of passing the buck to U.S. Rep. Martha McSally. We live in a desert, and scarce resources must be preserved for the benefit of local taxpaying citizens, not resourced out to Canada or China while Pima County residents pay the cleanup costs for someone else’s profits. I will vehemently oppose this project using all legal means at my disposal.

That should be enough, but you can read the rest of the Star's report here.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Polls are in: Clinton won the debate.

HuffPollster reports the results of "scientific" polls via email.

HUFFPOST/YOUGOV POLL SHOWS A WIN FOR CLINTON - HuffPollster: “Hillary Clinton scored a decisive debate victory over Donald Trump, coming off as more presidential and better prepared, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. By a 27-point margin, 49 percent to 22 percent, Americans who had heard at least something about Monday’s presidential debate said that Clinton did a better job than Trump. Twenty-two percent said neither had done a better job, while 8 percent were unsure. Those results are broadly in line with other scientific post-debate polls, which also found a sizable advantage for Clinton….Seventy-seven percent of those polled, including a majority in both parties, said that Clinton prepared well enough for the debate, compared to just 27 percent who said the same for Trump. Even 43 percent of Republicans said that Trump should have done more preparation….Those who watched at least part of the debate said by a 30-point margin, 53 percent to 23 percent, that Clinton won, while those who watched highlights or read news stories said so by a narrower 17-point margin, 35 percent to 18 percent.” [HuffPost]

As does NBC/SurveyMonkey - Hannah Hartig, John Lapinski and Stephanie Psyllos: “A majority of likely voters (52 percent) who either watched the debate or said they followed debate coverage in the news said Hillary Clinton won the first presidential debate on Monday night, according to the NBC News|SurveyMonkey Debate Reaction Poll. Just 21 percent of likely voters thought Donald Trump won the debate, and 26 percent said neither candidate won the debate...Though voters agreed Clinton was the clear victor, a majority of voters overall said their opinions of either candidate did not change as a result of the debate. Clinton, however, seemed to boost her image among her own party as a result of her performance — 50 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners said their opinion of her changed for the better as a result of Monday night’s debate. Trump did not have quite the same effect on his own party.” [NBC]

So why does Trump claim victory? He was relying on non-scientific reader polls. HuffPollster, explains the difference: -A quick refresher on the difference between scientific polls and reader polls.

LD2 House race: Ackerley must go

Here is some of AZBlueMeanie's analysis of the three candidates for LD2 House: incumbent Rosanna Gabaldon (D), Daniel Hernandez, and incumbent Chris Ackerley (R).

Ackerley is a math and physics teacher who runs on education issues. He is frequently cast by the media as a “moderate” because he is sane and occasionally departs from his party’s ideological leadership, e.g., referring to Governor Ducey’s and the GOP leadership’s budget for K-12 education funding and Prop. 123 as the “robbing Peter to pay Paul plan”; he was a sponsor of the bill to restore JTED funding slashed by the previous Tea-Publican legislature; he voted to restore KidsCare funding over the GOP leadership’s objection; and he voted against SB 1516, the GOP’s “dark money on steroids” bill, which was enacted into law.

Ackerley sponsored HB 2056, a bill to allow parents to opt their children out of the statewide assessments such as AzMERIT, the state’s rigorous Common Core-based standardized test, and Move On When Reading, the state’s K-3 reading program. The problem is, Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued an AG Opinion in October 2015 that parents of public-school students cannot opt out of statewide assessments. tests

Note: Ackerley also favors parental control of vaccinations. I challenged him on this one back in 2012 when he first ran for office. He seemed OK with, or did not understand the implications of, making kids walking disease factories. So the following is no great surprise to me.

But for the occasional headline grabbing departure from his GOP leadership, Ackerley otherwise votes with his GOP leadership. Leadership tolerates him occasionally going off the reservation in recognition of the fact that Ackerley has to do this to be electable in a Democratic district.

Ackerley voted with the Center for Arizona Policy on 8 out of 11 legislative priorities. Despite his interest in education issues, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) give him a score of only 20% on their priority issues. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Rosanna Gabaldón scored 100% (as did Democratic Senator Andrea Dalessandro). The Children’s Action Alliance gives Ackerley a score of 83% on its priority issues, but incumbents Rep. Gabaldón and Sen. Dalessandro both received a perfect score of 100%. The Sierra Club Report Card assigned Ackerley a grade of “F” on environmental issues. Incumbents Rep. Gabaldón and Sen. Dalessandro both received a grade of “A.” This is a big deal in a district where the controversial Rosemont Mine is opposed by many residents.

We need to elect both Gabaldon and Hernandez and thus reclaim the house seat in this Democratic majority district. Ackerley does not represent LD2. Give him the boot in November.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Republic endorses Hillary Clinton

The Editorial Board of the Phoenix newspaper, The Republic, has endorsed Hillary Clinton, Endorsement: Hillary Clinton is the only choice to move America ahead.

This is a historic first as the Editors explain.

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

There's much to read about their evaluations of the two candidates. It may be one of the strongest cases for a Clinton presidency and one of the strongest cases for why Trump is so unqualified and dangerous to the nation and the world.

Here are The Republic's concluding remarks.

We understand that Trump’s candidacy tapped a deep discontent among those who feel left behind by a changed economy and shifting demographics.

Their concerns deserve to be discussed with respect.

Ironically, Trump hasn’t done that. He has merely pandered. Instead of offering solutions, he hangs scapegoats like piñatas and invites people to take a swing.

In a nation with an increasingly diverse population, Trump offers a recipe for permanent civil discord.

In a global economy, he offers protectionism and a false promise to bring back jobs that no longer exist.

America needs to look ahead and build a new era of prosperity for the working class.

This is Hillary Clinton’s opportunity. She can reach out to those who feel left behind. She can make it clear that America sees them and will address their concerns.

She can move us beyond rancor and incivility.

The Arizona Republic endorses Hillary Clinton for president.

Trump's debate performance exposed his shallowness and deception

Michael Gerson (Washington Post) has a stinging evaluation of Trump's debate performance, Out of his depth, Donald Trump clings to deception. (Gerson's article was reprinted in this morning's Daily Star as its main editorial.) Here is its conclusion.

Past debate criticism has looked for hints and signs to determine losers — a candidate, say, looked impatiently at his watch or sighed in an off-putting way. Rhetorically, Trump drove a high-speed train filled with fireworks into a nuclear power plant. He was self-absorbed, prickly, defensive, interrupting, baited by every charge yet unprepared to refute them. During his share of a 90-minute debate, he was horribly out of his depth, incapable of stringing together a coherent three-sentence case. The postmodern quality of Trump’s appeal culminated in an unbalanced rant claiming, “I also have a much better temperament than she has” — an assertion greeted by audience laughter. And Trump concluded his performance by praising himself for his own grace and restraint, during an evening that showed him to be nasty, witless and deceptive. It should now be clear to Republicans: Vanity is his strategy.

Trump’s defenders will charge his critics with elitism. The great public, it is argued, gets Trump in a way that the commenting class does not. But this claim is now fully exposed. The expectation of rationality is not elitism. Coherence is not elitism. Knowledge is not elitism. Honoring character is not elitism. And those who claim this are debasing themselves, their party and their country.

Is Trump a premeditated liar or just plain nuts?

Michael Finnegan (LA Times) provides the evidence for Scope of Trump's lies are unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate, and then concludes this way.

Marty Kaplan, a professor of entertainment, media and society at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has two theories on Trump's lies.

Perhaps he's just putting on an act, like P.T. Barnum -- a "marketer, con, snake-oil salesman who knows better, knows how to get the rubes into the tent." Or maybe, Kaplan suggested, Trump is just "completely unconstrained by logic, rules, tradition, truth, law."

"I'm confused," he said, "whether the whole fact-free zone that he's in is a strategic calculation or a kind of psychosis."

Translation: Trump is a calculating premeditating liar or just plain nuts, that is, totally delusional. Either way, it is frightening that so many Americans are willing to give Trump a pass on honesty. See Finnegan's article for examples from interviews with Trump supporters.

Borowitz: Objecting to Hillary presence, Trump threatens to skip debates

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (The Borowitz Report)—Plunging the future of the 2016 Presidential debates into doubt, Donald J. Trump said on Tuesday morning that he would not participate in the remaining two debates if Hillary Clinton is there.

“Every time I said something, she would say something back,” he said. “It was rigged.”

He also lambasted the “underhanded tactics” his opponent used during the debate. “She kept on bringing up things I said or did,” he added. “She is a very nasty person.”

“I have said time and time again that I would only do these debates if I am treated fairly,” he added. “The only way I can be guaranteed of being treated fairly is if Hillary Clinton is not there.”

END SATIRE

"It has been an appalling campaign. It has been a terrible year. But it was a good debate." Read Jill Lepore's review of the debate in historical context at The New Yorker.

LD2 Senate race: Dalessandro vs. Kais

AZBlueMeanie (Blog for Arizona) analyzes positions of the two candidates for the LD2 Senate race. Here's an example.

Kais has hired campaign consultant Constantin Querard (Grassroots Partners) to manage her campaign. Querard also established the conservative Arizona Family Project, a conservative anti-choice organization. Querard only represents candidates who are acceptable to the Center for Arizona Policy, where he served as its Executive Director and CAP-PAC, as well as Director of Development for Arizona Right to Life.

This tells you all you need to know how Kais would vote on issues like access to contraception, funding of Planned Parenthood, and new legislative impediments to safe, legal abortions.

Senator Dalessando is a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood, and an advocate for a woman’s constitutional right of privacy in personal health care decisions without interference from the state or one’s employer.

The choice is clear: solid Democrat vs. right-winger.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Andy Borowitz: Moderator of last night's debate goes missing.

Borowitz at the New Yorker reports.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (The Borowitz Report)—CNN launched an urgent manhunt Monday after Lester Holt, the moderator of the first Presidential debate of the 2016 general election, mysteriously vanished two minutes into the contest.

Network officials became concerned after the two Presidential nominees, Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton, were observed shrieking at each other nonstop for ninety seconds without intervention by Holt.

Actually, Clinton did not shriek but Holt did seem to disappear now and then. On the other hand, who among us could stop the 267 pound bully from being himself? Poor Lester.

For more on Trump's behavior check out Amy Davidson on Donald Trump as a failed bully

"I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament,” Donald Trump said in the first Presidential debate, at Hofstra University, on Long Island, on Monday night. “I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.” On the split screen, his opponent, Hillary Clinton, looked amused, as she did through much of the debate. She appeared to think that she was winning; on balance, she was right.

But then Davidson reminds us of another truth that is cause for a restrained reaction to the debate.

It was hard to say at that point what Trump’s strongest asset might be, if not his temperament. He didn’t exactly display a diversified portfolio of Presidential qualities at Hofstra. This is not over—the polls are too close, the partisan filters through which the debates are viewed too covered with grime. Neither candidate exhibited the crumpling, physical acknowledgement of defeat that is fatal in a debate. But this night, at least, Trump didn’t figure out a way to win.

We should hope that Clinton's win, and it was that, coupled with her mature performance, will inject some fresh enthusiasm into her base.

Advantage Clinton!

That's how they would put it at Wimbledon. The debate score is 1-0 for Hillary. Even the Fox News crew gave it to her.

When I heard that Trump was not practicing and was going to wing it, I figured that Clinton was going to win it. He did, and she did.

Clinton was poised, confident, and prepared with specific proposals for economically advancing America. Her vast experience in government showed. She was patient beyond belief in the face of Trump's constant interruptions.

Trump was ill-mannered, showed no respect for the rules of debate and even less for the moderator. He came across just as he did in his campaign: shallow, ill- or un-informed about major issues, and offering only slogans instead of solutions.

Here is the transcript courtesy of the Washington Post.

Here is my favorite moment. The candidates got into it over crime rates. As usual, Trump went off the rails and exceeded his time, rejecting attempts by the moderator to get him on track and on time.

TRUMP: And I will tell you, you look at the inner cities -- and I just left Detroit, and I just left Philadelphia, and I just -- you know, you've seen me, I've been all over the place. You decided to stay home, and that's OK. But I will tell you, I've been all over. And I've met some of the greatest people I'll ever meet within these communities. And they are very, very upset with what their politicians have told them and what their politicians have done.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, I...

CLINTON: I think -- I think -- I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that's a good thing.

Now I will go out on the web to see what others think.

Just did a little of that. The Daily Star does its he-said, she-said reporting, reminiscent of the announcer in a boxing match - a punch here, another there. At least Fitz got it right.

Here's John Cassidy's take at The New Yorker.

“Words matter when you run for President,” Hillary Clinton said toward the end of Monday night’s happening at Hofstra University, on Long Island. Clinton was criticizing Donald Trump for his loose language regarding America’s allies in Asia, but she could have been summing up the lopsided debate, which saw her doing virtually everything she needed to do while Trump indicted himself with his own words.

Cassidy has a very entertaining account of the exchange about Trump's refusal to release his income tax. Clinton nailed him.

Then there was the damage done by the things he did say. At one point, Lester Holt, the moderator, asked Trump about his refusal to release his tax returns, a subject that Trump must have known would come up. He replied by saying that he would release his returns “when she”—Clinton—“releases her thirty-three thousand e-mails that have been deleted.” Perhaps Trump thought he was being smart with this answer, but it only gave Clinton a chance to respond, which she did with relish.

“So you’ve got to ask yourself: Why won’t he release his tax returns?” she said, seizing the moment. “Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is . . . maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be.” Then Clinton raised another theory, one that I and others have written about: “Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

Here, you’d expect the target of the attack to sense the danger. Evidently, Trump didn’t. Having interrupted Clinton during most of her previous answers, he did so again. “That makes me smart,” he said.

Even on Twitter, where people were pulling apart Trump’s words with the relish of a class of third graders dissecting a worm, it took a few seconds for this statement to sink in. Had he really just boasted that he didn’t pay any federal taxes? Indeed, he had.

Later on it Trump again seemed tacitly admit that he pays no income tax.

TRUMP: ... Our country has tremendous problems. We're a debtor nation. We're a serious debtor nation. And we have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals. And we don't have the money, because it's been squandered on so many of your ideas.

HOLT: We'll let you respond and we'll move on to the next segment.

CLINTON: And maybe because you haven't paid any federal income tax for a lot of years. (APPLAUSE)

And the other thing I think is important...

TRUMP: It would be squandered, too, believe me.

You might complain about one of these tacit admissions from Trump being taken out of context, but not two.

You almost have to feel sorry for the Trump trainers. It's like wielding a wet noodle over a grizzly bear.

Here is another take from the New York Times: Debate Takeaways: Hillary Clinton Digs In and Prevails

Rather than shifting the lines of the presidential race, Monday night’s debate seems likely to deepen them — bolstering Hillary Clinton’s advantage on questions of temperament and tolerance, and amplifying Donald J. Trump’s blustery message of drastic change.
But Mrs. Clinton appeared to gain in strength over the course of the debate, ultimately routing Mr. Trump in a series of late exchanges.

Also, check out Bob Lord's post at Blog for Arizona on the questions we should be asking, and answering, about Trump's tax returns and his refusal to release them.

Trump the Cruel

We all should know by now that Trump is a narcissistic bully who goes to great lengths to aggrandize himself by putting other people down. This is not an uncommon personality trait, but in a nominee for president of a nuclear power it is disgusting and frightening. Conor Friedersdorf collates examples in The Atlantic's Donald Trump's Cruel Streak. "For decades, the candidate has willfully inflicted pain and humiliation." Here are a few snippets.

Donald J. Trump has a cruel streak. He willfully causes pain and distress to others. And he repeats this public behavior so frequently that it’s fair to call it a character trait. Any single example would be off-putting but forgivable. Being shown many examples across many years should make any decent person recoil in disgust.

... even in a realm where the harshest critiques are part of the civic process, Trump crossed a line this week when he declared his intention to invite Gennifer Flowers to today’s presidential debate. What kind of man invites a husband’s former mistress to an event to taunt his wife? Trump managed to launch an attack that couldn’t be less relevant to his opponent’s qualifications or more personally cruel. His campaign and his running-mate later said that it was all a big joke. No matter. Whether in earnest or in jest, Trump showed his tendency to humiliate others.

... none of the examples offered thus far captures the depths of Trump’s cruelty. Understanding that requires hearing the story of the late Freddy Trump, the candidate’s older brother, who died an alcoholic in 1983. After college, Freddy had tried to join the family business, but his heart wasn’t in it. He became an airplane pilot, showing talent in the profession. When his heavy drinking posed a safety risk, however, he quit, and wound up living in an apartment owned by his father and working on one of his maintenance crews, even as his kid brother Donald began to make a name for himself.

Here is the jaw-dropping conclusion to the story, as reported in the New York Times:

In 1977, Donald asked Freddy to be the best man at his first wedding, to the Czech model Ivana Winklmayr, an honor Donald said he hoped would be “a good thing for him.” But the drinking continued, and four years later, Freddy was dead.

Over the next decades, Donald put the Trump name on skyscrapers, casinos and planes.

In 1999, the family patriarch died, and 650 people, including many real estate executives and politicians, crowded his funeral at Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. But the drama was hardly put to rest. Freddy’s son, Fred III, spoke at the funeral, and that night, his wife went into labor with their son, who developed seizures that led to cerebral palsy. The Trump family promised that it would take care of the medical bills.

Then came the unveiling of Fred Sr.’s will, which Donald had helped draft. It divided the bulk of the inheritance, at least $20 million, among his children and their descendants, “other than my son Fred C. Trump Jr.” Freddy’s children sued, claiming that an earlier version of the will had entitled them to their father’s share of the estate, but that Donald and his siblings had used “undue influence” over their grandfather, who had dementia, to cut them out. A week later, Mr. Trump retaliated by withdrawing the medical benefits critical to his nephew’s infant child.

“I was angry because they sued,” he explained during last week’s interview.

What kind of billionaire withdraws the health insurance of an infant with cerebral palsy in a fit of pique? A person comfortable being cruel to others. “This was so shocking, so disappointing and so vindictive,” his niece Lisa Trump said at the time.

Think. If this man is willing to be so cruel to his own family members, what cruelties do you think he will be willing to inflict on the citizenry he expects to rule?

I could talk about Trump being cruel to others for another 20,000 words. But deep down, even many Trump supporters already know this truth about the man they’re supporting. They’re just so acclimated to his cruelty that they’ve stopped noticing it.

Even the targets of Trump's cruelty have bowed before it and endured it - John McCain, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz and those are just some of the political targets of Trump the Cruel. Check out the Atlantic article for the cruelty heaped on his ex wife, Ivana, in which he publicly compares the mother of his children to his mistress.

Enough. Wake up. Look at this man with fresh eyes.

People disagree about the ideal traits to have in a leader. But almost no one wants a president who has proven himself an addict to being cruel, mean-spirited, and spiteful. For decades, Trump has been deliberately cruel to others, often in the most public ways. He behaves this way flagrantly, showing no sign of shame or reflection.

What kind of person still acts that way at 70? A bad person.

It is that simple.

Giving a cruel man power and expecting that he won’t use it to inflict cruelty is madness. To vote for Trump, knowing all of this, is to knowingly empower cruelty.

Better to recoil in disgust.

h/t Paul McCreary

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Republican Party has embraced the madness called Trump

You most likely know about many shocking things Trump has said in this election (and done in his business and personal life), but Keith Olberman (The Closer/GQ) brings it all together in 17 minutes on YouTube: 176 Shocking Things Donald Trump Has Done This Election. Don't go away. Forget the morning newspapers. Don't bother with the morning talk shows or news networks. Instead, watch the full clip NOW. And then tweet it and post it wherever you can.

h/t Jim Woodbrey

P. S.

Mrs. Scriber thinks I am obsessed with Trump. She is right. But, given Olberman's list and the posts that follow here today, how can you not have a sense of near panic?

The first year of President Donald Trump

Evan Osnos of The New Yorker guides us through an imagining of what a Trump presidency would be like by considering President Trump's first term.

"With the polls virtually tied, the possibility of a Trump victory is no longer the stuff of dark comedy or fan fiction. It is fair to ask: What would he actually be like as President?"

The answer is to be found in Trump's campaign: "His campaign tells us a lot about what kind of Commander-in-Chief he would be."

The article is quite long but is a "must read." I'll illustrate what to expect by focusing on just the US and world economy reacting to Trump.

Let me bring this close to home by asking "What's in it for us retirees?" In a word, lots.

The Economist Intelligence Unit, an economic-and-geopolitical-analysis firm, has ranked the prospect of a Trump victory on its top-ten risks to the global economy. Larry Summers, the Harvard professor and former Treasury Secretary, predicts that, taken together, Trump’s economic and trade policies would help trigger a protracted recession within eighteen months. Even if Trump stops short of applying tariffs, Summers told me, “the perception that we might well be pursuing hyper-nationalist policies would be very damaging to confidence globally and would substantially increase the risk of financial crises in emerging markets.”

If Trump followed through on tariffs, the effects could be larger still. Mark Zandi, a centrist economist who has advised Republicans and Democrats and is now the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, a research firm, forecasts that Trump’s trade plan could trigger a trade war that would put roughly four million Americans out of work, and cost the economy three million jobs that would have been created in Trump’s absence.

But Trump would not need to take any of those steps to have an abrupt effect on the economy. His belief in the power of the threat, which he has used in private business, takes on another meaning if he is the leader of a country with national-debt obligations. In May, Trump, whose businesses have declared bankruptcy four times, said, “I’ve borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts,” and “if the economy crashed you could make a deal.” The notion that he might try to make creditors accept less than full payment on U.S. government debt caused an outcry. Under criticism, he clarified, to the Wall Street Journal, that U.S. “bonds are absolutely sacred,” but the incident left an enduring impression on the financial community.

Trump has done that before by refusing payment to contractors for one of his casinos and then dragging the legal process out until the plaintiffs settled for pennies on the dollar. Here he's talking about doing the same thing on an international scale.

Anthony Karydakis, the chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak, an asset manager, told me that a Trump victory is now generally regarded as “a major destabilizing development for financial markets.” He went on, “If he ever even alludes to renegotiating the debt, we will have a downgrade of U.S. debt, and that event will cause a massive exodus of foreign investors from the U.S. Treasury market.” In 2011, when feuding in Congress delayed raising the debt limit, the stock market fell seventeen per cent. This would be a far larger event. “The rating agencies could not ignore the comment,” he said. “The cornerstone of the right to raise sovereign debt is the willingness and ability of the government to service it normally and fully.” He added, “The markets have no patience for stupidity or ignorance. They get scared.”

And scared markets are not a good place for retirees.

h/t Jana Eaton

Cincinnati Enquirer is latest conservative newspaper to endorse Clinton

And they did so with eye wide open. Interestingly, while they did pit Clinton's strengths against her problems (e.g., the trust thing), they could only enumerate the glaring flaws of Trump. A Trump presidency scares the bejesus out of them. For example:

Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn't recognize it – instead insisting that, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do" – is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized as being hawkish but has shown a measured approach to the world's problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? The fact that so many top military and national security officials are not supporting Trump speaks volumes.

You can read the rest of the endorsement here, and the Editdor's description of their decision-making process here, and AZBlueMeanie's review here.

Prepping for the debate today

We know that Trump is likely to repeat his many lies, as Paul Krugman says. If you take those lies away, what is left for Trump to say?

But if you don't do some form of on-line fact-checking, then Trump has the advantage created by the media's insane insistence on getting its audience to see the world as one populated by false equivalences. The question is who is responsible for that fact-checking. The moderators, such as Chris Wallace (Fox), seem disinclined to be the arbiters of truth. That portrays the media as a mindless machine with one principle: garbage-in, garbage-out. At the very least, I suggest, there has to be opportunities for Clinton to respond to Trump's lies and intervention by the moderator will be crucial.

You can create your own scorecard using the Washington Post's fact-check cheat-sheet.. Not surprisingly, there are far more statements on the Trump side that are demonstrably false. Watch for them.

Monday morning toons

It must be getting closer to the election. The toons are getting darker. From AZBlueMeanie ...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New York Times endorses Hillary Clinton

They do so by detailing her many accomplishments and qualifications: "Our endorsement is rooted in respect for her intellect, experience and courage."

Here is some of what the Editors had to say.

In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate — our choice, Hillary Clinton — has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway. (We will explain in a subsequent editorial why we believe Mr. Trump to be the worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history.)

But this endorsement would also be an empty exercise if it merely affirmed the choice of Clinton supporters. We’re aiming instead to persuade those of you who are hesitating to vote for Mrs. Clinton — because you are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, or for another Clinton, or for a candidate who might appear, on the surface, not to offer change from an establishment that seems indifferent and a political system that seems broken.

Running down the other guy won’t suffice to make that argument. The best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump.

The best case is, instead, about the challenges this country faces, and Mrs. Clinton’s capacity to rise to them.

And the Times forcefully makes that case. It's worth a read.

Through war and recession, Americans born since 9/11 have had to grow up fast, and they deserve a grown-up president. A lifetime’s commitment to solving problems in the real world qualifies Hillary Clinton for this job, and the country should put her to work

Watch this space. The Times promises to make the case against Trump in tomorrow's (Monday's) edition.

... Now, considered alongside the real challenges that will occupy the next president, that email server, which has consumed so much of this campaign, looks like a matter for the help desk. And, viewed against those challenges, Mr. Trump shrinks to his true small-screen, reality-show proportions, as we’ll argue in detail on Monday.

A vet's vote in the most important election of a lifetime

"Roger Angell, a senior editor and a staff writer, has contributed to The New Yorker since 1944, and became a fiction editor in 1956." Angell served in the US Army Air Force in the Pacific theatre of WW II and has voted in 18 presidential elections. He considers this one in 2016 the most important of his life.

Angell will vote, gladly, for Hillary Clinton.

The first debate impends, and the odds that Donald Trump may be elected President appear to be narrowing. I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence. From the beginning, her life has been devoted to public service and to improving the lives of children and the disadvantaged. She is intelligent, strong, profoundly informed, and extraordinarily experienced in the challenges and risks of our lurching, restlessly altering world and wholly committed to the global commonality. Her well-established connections to minorities may bring some better understanding of our urban and suburban police crisis. I have wished at times that she would be less impatient or distant when questions arrive about her past actions and mistakes, but I see no evidence to support the deep-rooted suspicions that often surround her. I don’t much like the high-level moneyed introductions and contacts surrounding the Clinton Foundation, but cannot find the slightest evidence that any of this has led to something much worse—that she or anyone has illegally profited or that any legislation tilted because of it. Nothing connects or makes sense; it beats me. Ms. Clinton will make a strong and resolute President—at last, a female leader of our own—and, in the end, perhaps a unifying one.

But he is also motivated by the specter of a Trump presidency.

We know Mr. Trump’s early transgressions by heart: the female reporter who had “blood coming out of her whatever”; the mocking of a physically impaired reporter; the maligning of a judge because of his Mexican parents; the insulting dismissal of the grieving, Gold Star-parent Khans; the promised mass deportation of eleven million—or two million—undocumented immigrants, and more. Each of these remains a disqualifier for a candidate who will represent every one of us, should he win, but we now are almost willing to turn them into colorful little impairments. “Oh, that’s ol’ Donald—that’s the way he is.”

So given all that, which I am sure you know by heart, why am I once again bothering you with Trump's "transgressions"? Angell explains.

... I stick at a different moment—the lighthearted comment he made when, in early August, an admiring veteran presented him with a replica of his Purple Heart and Mr. Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” What? Mr. Trump is saying he wishes that he had joined the armed forces somehow (he had a chance but skimmed out, like so many others of his time) and then had died or been scarred or maimed in combat? This is the dream of a nine-year-old boy, and it impugns the five hundred thousand young Americans who have died in combat in my lifetime, and the many hundreds of thousands more whose lives were altered or shattered by their wounds of war.

I take this personally, representing as I do the last sliver of the sixteen million Americans who served in the military in my war. I had an easy time of it, and was never in combat, but, even so, as I have written, I experienced the loss of more than twenty close friends, classmates, and companions of my youth, who remain young and fresh in memory. ...

I too take it personally. All Trump's other falsehoods and fabrications I can deal with as a partisan observer of the political scene. But this one really bugs me. You see, like Angell, I served in the US Army during the Vietnam era for three and a half years (1963-1966). Like Angell, I was never in combat. But unlike Trump, I gave my country three years of my time (as a voluntary enlistment) and an extra six months extension to complete two tours in the far east.

Donald Trump has never done anything for his country - nothing! He has remained on the sidelines, dodging the draft and doing only those things that enriched himself and fed his narcissistic appetite for looking good. Angell wraps up.

Mr. Trump was born in 1946, just after this cataclysmic event of our century, and came of age in the nineteen-sixties, when the implications and harshness of war were being debated as never before, but little or none of this seems to have penetrated for him—a candidate who wants to give nuclear arms to Japan and South Korea and wishes to remain unclear about his own inclinations as commander of our nuclear triad. This makes me deeply doubt his avowed concern for our veterans or that he has any sense of their sufferings.

I harbor no doubt. Trump's concern for our veterans is all about looking good. And as a vet, that pisses me off.

Veterans for Trump is an oxymoron. There should be not one veteran voting for Trump.

Trump and the truth: His charitable giving

This is just one more area in which Trump and his representatives lie to the American people. John Cassidy of the New Yorker pulls together the facts - numbers that prove, when it comes to philanthropy, Donald Trump to be a penny pinching piker. Equally importantly, it appears that his foundation has recently been making donations of a political nature to other "charities." Here is some of the Cassidy wrap-up.

By looking at the Trump Foundation’s annual tax returns, it is easy to see the change in its funding sources. For example, the organization’s 2008 return shows that Trump donated $30,000 that year, while the Willard T. C. Johnson Foundation, a charity established by the heirs to the Johnson Foundation, had given $250,000, and the Charity Fight Night Foundation, a celebrity charity that raises money for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and other causes, had donated $150,000. (Woody Johnson, the owner of the Jets, is a friend of Trump’s.) In 2011, Trump gave his foundation nothing, while Richard Ebers, a ticket broker to celebrities and rich people, donated $450,960. In 2012, Trump again gave nothing, while Ebers gave $522,828, and NBC Universal Media, which made “The Apprentice,” the reality-television show that starred Trump, donated $500,000.

In addition to confirming that Trump didn’t donate a penny to his foundation from 2009 to 2014, the tax returns show a change in the foundation’s outlays. For years, many of the foundation’s biggest contributions went to well-known charities, such as the Red Cross, the American Cancer Foundation, and various hospitals. Also high on the list were charities associated with famous golfers, such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer. In recent years, however, the Trump Foundation also made large donations to charities associated with political causes. In 2012, $100,000 went to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which is now run by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s conservative son. In 2013, $50,000 went to the American Conservative Union Foundation, part of the conservative lobbying group that William F. Buckley, Jr., founded. In 2014, $100,000 went to the Citizens United Foundation, which is part of the network run by David Bossie, the conservative activist.

Trump hasn’t explained these donations. But the recipients of that money have helped Trump in his bid for the Presidency. Last year, when Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Franklin Graham defended the proposal. Earlier this month, Trump hired Bossie as his deputy campaign manager.

... Trump likes to portray of himself as a great philanthropist, and the numbers simply don’t justify that image. When you also consider the fact that he has managed to convert his personal foundation into a mechanism for giving away other people’s money, rather than his own, it brings to mind something Marco Rubio said back in February: “This guy is a con artist. He’s always making things up. And no one holds him accountable for it.

Has Trump committed perjury?

If you sling enough bulls#!t some of it will come back on you. Apparently Donald Trump has yet to learn that one.

Daily Kos has a piece by Mark Sumner in which Trump is caught either lying during a RNC debate or has lied under oath in court, Donald Trump lied—like always—but this one might be a felony. The original reporting was by Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek, Donald Trump either lied to the Republicans or broke the law.

Trump said one thing about bringing gambling to Florida at a Republican primary debate but said something else a few years earlier in court. (Then Governor Jeb Bush was against the expansion of gaming and that prompted the heated exchange during the debate.) Here's Eichenwald's closing.

Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year and at worst committed a crime.

FYI: That crime would be perjury.

per·ju·ry (pûr′jə-rē)

n. pl. per·ju·ries Law

1. The crime of willfully and knowingly making a false statement about a material fact while under oath.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

On the impending coronation of Deplorable Donald

Aaron Blake (Washington Post) asks "Why is Clinton not much further ahead in a race that her supporters — and many in the media — thought was un-lose-able?" and provides three answers in This is why Hillary Clinton isn’t ’50 points ahead’ — or even 10 points ahead

1) Rank partisanship

If you're a major-party presidential nominee in this day and age in American politics, you’ve frankly got to work pretty hard to get less than 40 or even 45 percent of the vote. Because we’re just that partisan.

Party lines have hardened - dramatically so. In 1984, voters in 43.7% of the congressional districts were split, but in 2012, only 5.7% of the districts split.

The point is that, whether through the parties becoming more polarized or people becoming more polarized (or both), voters are much more predictable when it comes to definitely pulling the lever for the Republican Party or the Democratic Party.

Trump certainly has his faults — and his record-high unfavorable rating proves it — but he hasn’t alienated that 40-plus percent. And he probably never will.

2) Enthusiasm

Beyond predictable partisanship, there’s the matter of turnout and who can actually get their supporters to the polls. And when it comes to doing that, it helps to have enthusiasm. Right now, Trump may have more of it.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month showed that while 46 percent of Trump backers were “very enthusiastic" about voting, just 33 percent of Clinton backers said the same. And 93 percent of Trump backers were certain to vote in November, as compared with 80 percent of Clinton backers.

3) Hillary Clinton

The big reason this election isn’t a blowout right now may be Hillary Clinton herself. Trump’s image numbers are bad enough that a candidate with even middling numbers of his or her own would probably be leading him by a substantial margin. But Clinton’s numbers are also bad, and it makes the race close.

Clinton is running against a highly flawed opponent who has done plenty to hurt himself in this race. She also happens to be running to continue the policies of a suddenly quite popular incumbent Democratic president in Barack Obama. So perhaps she should be further ahead. (Obama himself has offered some theories as to why she isn’t, including partisanship and sexism. “This should not be a close election, but it will be, and the reason it will be is not because of Hillary’s flaws,” he told supporters at a recent fundraiser.)

But the idea that this race would ever have been a complete blowout for her was always far-fetched. It’s just not how politics in this country work these days, and it ignores the fact that Clinton has long been a very polarizing politician in her own right.

The polls are mixed, but here is the latest from the HuffPollster averages (via email).

CLINTON LEADS IN NATIONAL PRE-DEBATE POLL - A new McClatchy/Marist survey, like NBC/WSJ, gives Clinton a 7-point lead over Trump. Sean Cockerham and Lesley Clark: “Hillary Clinton heads into the first presidential debate with a 7-point lead over Donald Trump, but doubts among voters about about her trustworthiness and stamina are keeping Trump in the race, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll….She leads in a two-way matchup with Trump by 48-41. She leads in a 4-way contest 45-39, with Libertarian Gary Johnson drawing 10 percent support and Green candidate Jill Stein getting 4 percent….The weakness she’s been unable to shake is the public’s view of her honesty and trustworthiness. While voters don’t trust Trump either, skepticism of Clinton runs deeper and provides an opening for Trump to potentially tighten the race in the final month and a half.” [McClatchy]

Clinton’s lead is remaining stable - Additionally, an AP/GfK poll out Thursday shows Clinton up by 6 points. The Democratic nominee lost about a point in the HuffPost Pollster aggregate after a week that included the “deplorables” comment and nearly collapsing at the 9/11 memorial. But the decline has stopped, and her lead appears to be stable ― and possibly increasing again..

But one prediction runs counter to the polls. Peter Stevenson at the Washington Post interviewed a college professor who has used his own "keys" - true/false statements, to predict accurately the winning presidential candidates in every election since 1984, and this year Trump is headed for a win, says professor who has predicted 30 years of presidential outcomes correctly.

Nobody knows for certain who will win on Nov. 8 — but one man is pretty sure: Professor Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1984.

When we sat down in May, he explained how he comes to a decision. Lichtman's prediction isn't based on horse-race polls, shifting demographics or his own political opinions. Rather, he uses a system of true/false statements he calls the "Keys to the White House" to determine his predicted winner.

And this year, he says, Donald Trump is the favorite to win.

You can check out Lichtman's predictive "keys" in the article. But before jumping off the nearest bridge over the Santa Cruz "river", bear in mind that Lichtman admits this year is a predictive nightmare. He says this about Trump.

We've never before seen a candidate who's spent his life enriching himself at the expense of others. He's the first candidate in our history to be a serial fabricator, making up things as he goes along. Even when he tells the truth, such as, "Barack Obama really was born in the U.S.," he adds two lines, that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement, and that he finished it, even though when Barack Obama put out his birth certificate, he didn't believe it. We've never had a candidate before who not just once, but twice in a thinly disguised way, has incited violence against an opponent. We've never had a candidate before who's invited a hostile foreign power to meddle in American elections. We've never had a candidate before who's threatened to start a war by blowing ships out of the water in the Persian Gulf if they come too close to us. We've never had a candidate before who has embraced as a role model a murderous, hostile foreign dictator. Given all of these exceptions that Donald Trump represents, he may well shatter patterns of history that have held for more than 150 years, lose this election even if the historical circumstances favor it.

My naive puzzlement is, given that list of Deplorable Donald's horrors, why so many of my neighbors have Trump/Pence signs in their yards. My only answer is Blake's #1 reason why Clinton is not doing better: rank partisanship - or, in other terms, tribalism. Trump voters either do not know, or or do not care to know, or just do not care about the reasons why Trump should have been dumped long ago. If Adolph Hitler or Jack the Ripper were on the "R" side of the ballot, my neighbors would vote "R." And this year they will do so in spite of the documented crookedness of the Republican candidate.

Let me leave you with this thought. Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) covers the pronouncement of a Trump aide in Trump aide: Critics will ‘bow down to President Trump’.

Perhaps now would be a good time to talk a bit about Donald Trump’s messianic streak.

Donald Trump’s director of African-American outreach has an ominous warning for all who dared to criticize the Republican presidential nominee: Soon, they will have to bow down to “the most powerful man in the universe.”

No, really. Omarosa Manigault, a reality-show personality who joined the Trump campaign as a staffer in July, told PBS – out loud, on the record, on camera – “Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump. It’s everyone who’s ever doubted Donald, who ever disagreed, who ever challenged him. It is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.”

Of course, quotes like this one stand out largely because they fit into a pattern. Let’s not forget, for example, that in his Republican convention speech, Trump boasted, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it…. I am your voice.”

Around the same time, Trump told supporters, “I feel like a supermodel, except like times ten. It’s true. I’m a supermodel. I’m on the cover of these magazines – I’m on the cover of the biggest magazines.”

A couple of months prior, the Republican declared, “Politicians have used you and stolen your votes. They have given you nothing. I will give you everything. I will give you what you’ve been looking for for 50 years. I’m the only one.”

Remember when rhetoric like this used to be considered creepy in American politics?

Trump has predicted his own anointment. The press has bowed to him. Republican voters have abandoned their own party's historic ideals in the coronation known as the Republican National Convention. Now all that remains is for America to hand the crown and scepter to Despicable Donald the First.

If this thought scares the crap out of you, then you'd best see that there is only one firewall between our constitutional democracy and an imperial Trump. And that is voting for Clinton. Sitting it out or voting third party guarantees the "supermodel" the keys to his kingdom.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Journalism in the age of Trumpiness: A tale of two narcissists

Edward R. Murrow? Walter Cronkite? Dan Rather? Bill Moyers? Two are dead and the others are not exactly competing in the same arena as CNN, Fox, and the other main networks. I know, there are good people doing solid investigative reporting, for example, Rachel Maddow, and our own John Dougherty. But, with apologies, they are not playing in the same league of audience share as the big networks mentioned above. That means that truth gets transformed into truthiness and ultimately replaced by Trumpiness. This state of affairs has not escaped notice among media critics.

So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth... Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that's the only place you're ever going to find any real truth. Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch).

You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. -Max Shumacher (played by William Holden).

Those are harsh words from the 1976 academy award winning movie, Network.

The great journalist Edward R. Murrow put it more succinctly but no less critically. He predicted accurately how the media is complicit in spreading misinformation: "The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be untrue." That rapid distribution likely amplifies the conference of referential validity. Hasher, Goldstein, and Toppino (1977) showed that "repetition of a plausible statement increases a person's belief in the referential validity or truth of that statement.". The media's 24x7 barrage of untruths, partial truths, and lack of context thus distorts the informational environment of the audience.

The media's consistent search for "balance" is another way in which the media distorts the truth. For example, the reporting in 2016 has been portraying the political world as 50-50 when in fact is it 70-30 (70% truth from Clinton and 70% lies from Trump). Regardless of the base frequency of true and false statements, the media, finding one falsehood for one candidate, will seek evidence for another falsehood spoken by the other candidate. That leads to the illusion that both candidates are similar in their treatment of truth.

At least from my limited vista, some in the media are finally waking up to the fact that the media has been a willing partner with Donald Trump. Eric Alterman exposes the media's attempt to make Trump appear "normal."

Harry Enten of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com titled a recent post “The More ‘Normal’ Trump Can Make This Race, the Better His Chances.” This is obviously true, and hence every effort by the media to treat Donald Trump as a “normal” presidential candidate brings us closer to the potential destruction of our democracy. And yet we can see it taking place at virtually every level of our media.

Silver recently estimated Trump’s chances of victory at about one in three. Remember, we are talking about a psychopathic narcissist whose alt-right agenda offers so many threats to the well-being of our country and the world, they defy simple enumeration or categorization. Even Republican political professionals are amazed. Scott Reed, chief strategist for the US Chamber of Commerce — who also managed Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, among others — finds it “really quite amazing that after the Trump adventure this is still a competitive race.”

The media deserve a good deal of blame here, not only because of the billions of dollars’ worth of free airtime television networks have given to Trump but also because of their insistence — against all evidence — that he is someone other than the person he clearly presents himself to be.

Paul Waldman at the Washington Post charges the media with "journalistic malpractice" and predicts "History will not be kind to the mainstream media."

And just this morning the Daily Star ran an editorial by Harvard Professor Thomas Patterson, If Clinton loses, blame the media.

If Hillary Clinton loses the presidential election in November, we will know the reason. The email controversy did her candidacy in. But it needed a helping hand — and the news media readily supplied that.

Patterson provides evidence for the media's drumbeat negative slant on Clinton from his analyses of media content. For example,

Few presidential candidates have been more fully prepared to assume the duties of the presidency than is Clinton. Yet, her many accomplishments as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state barely surfaced in the news coverage of her candidacy at any point in the campaign. She may as well as have spent those years baking cookies.

How about her foreign, defense, social or economic policies? Don’t bother looking. Not one of Clinton’s policy proposals accounted for even 1 percent of her convention-period coverage; collectively, her policy stands accounted for a mere 4 percent of it. But she might be thankful for that: News reports about her stances were 71 percent negative to 29 percent positive in tone. Trump was quoted more often about her policies than she was. Trump’s claim that Clinton “created ISIS,” for example, got more news attention than her announcement of how she would handle the Islamic State.

Patterson then concludes:

Decades ago, the Hutchins Commission on Freedom of the Press concluded that reporters routinely fail to provide a “comprehensive and intelligent account of the day’s events in the context that gives them some meaning.” Whatever else might be concluded about the coverage of Clinton’s emails, context has been largely missing. Some stories spelled out how the merging of private and official emails by government officials was common practice. There were also some, though fewer, who tried to assess the harm, if any, that resulted from her use of a private server. As for Clinton’s policy proposals and presidential qualifications, they’ve been completely lost in the glare of damaging headlines and sound bites.

Perhaps most seriously is Brian Beutler's conclusion that the "false balance" coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is all about the press's self-interest. And that pairs one narcissist (the press) with another (Trump). Changing the mores of an institution the size of the conglomeration of modern news networks would be a monumental effort.

Judging from the recent polls, we seem to be a country on the verge of making a horrible mistake, aided and abetted by the mainstream media - electing a man characterized by his connections to the mob, Moscow, and madness. Will the press forgive his violation of campaign finance laws if he does assume the presidency? Will they finally expose his alleged tax evasion? If not, then what?

Has America come to this, a welcoming of a narcissistic bully as the representative of our national ideals? If so, the blame will fall heavily on the modern media. I'll then end with another quote by Edward R. Murrow because it too is an apt message to America. Good night, and good luck.

The Nation interviews Bernie Sanders: Thoughts about Clinton, Trump, his campaign, and more

Sanders: “I’ve got to do everything that I can to make sure that Trump does not become president.”

So do we all. Here is a part of The Nation's interview with Bernie Sanders. Interviewers were Katrina vanden Heuvel and John Nichols.

The Nation: You’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton. Some of your supporters feel you’ve betrayed them. What do you say to them now?

Sanders: I’m a United States senator, and I have a responsibility to the people of my state—also to the people of this country. The first thing that I’ve got to think about is: What does a Donald Trump presidency mean for the people of my state and for the people of this country? And for the people of the world? I think it would be an absolute disaster. It would be beyond a disaster. Therefore, as a United States senator, I’ve got to do everything that I can to make sure that Trump does not become president.

Now, do I have strong differences of opinion with Hillary Clinton? I think the whole world knows that. The goal here is not to say, “Hillary Clinton is the best thing in the history of the world—she’s great, she’s wonderful, she’s terrific.” What we should be saying is that if you look at virtually all of the issues of importance to the people of this country—issues like making public colleges and universities tuition-free—Hillary Clinton is now on record for doing that for people making $125,000 a year or less. You know what? That is pretty revolutionary. That will transform the lives of millions of families in this country. That’s what Clinton stands for.

Clinton is on record supporting a doubling of community health centers in this country, which will mean that tens of millions of people—poor people—will have access to health care that do not have it today. Is that significant? It is very significant. Clinton is on record supporting pay equity for women, so that women do not continue to make 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. I happen to believe that one of the great crises facing the planet is climate change. Donald Trump happens not to think that climate change is real. Clinton takes it seriously.

The point is not to say that we love Hillary Clinton or that we agree with her on all of the issues. The goal is to go above that and ask: Which candidate will do a better job for middle-class and working-class families? I think the answer is obvious.

The second point to be made is that politics does not end the day of the election. The day after the election, when Hillary Clinton wins, you can be assured that I and other progressives will be saying to President-elect Clinton, “Take a good look at the Democratic platform that you supported—because together, President-elect Clinton, we are going to implement that platform. We’re going to involve millions of people in the process who are going to break up the large Wall Street banks, who are going to make public colleges and universities tuition-free, who are going to be very aggressive on climate change and transforming our energy system.”

But if Trump is elected president… I just don’t know what America looks like four years after his election, in terms of the kind of bigotry that will be erupting, in terms of the kind of divisiveness that we will see, the kind of demagoguery that we will see.

That’s where I am. I’m not going to sit here and say to you that Hillary Clinton is going to be great on all these issues with absolute confidence. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that on many, many issues, her views are progressive. In many areas, they are awesome. Where they’re not progressive, we’ve got to push her, and the day after the election, we will mobilize millions of people to make sure that we make her the most progressive president that she can be.

The lesson from Bernie is this: Berniecrats will never, never get the progressive changes Bernie advocates if Trump wins. But if you keep up the fight for those ideals, you have a chance to enact real change under a Clinton presidency.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Toons for the week ahead...

... and weeks past. Getting slowly caught up, now blogging from UK.

After review of headlines I missed, I am thinking to go back to Africa and lay down with lions. Their hair is better looking and their politics are much simpler. Moreover, there is no shame in being an elephant.

Oh, well. Here are the latest toons from AZBlueMeanie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Correction: What we have to fear is Trump's Court Jesters

That's the title of the New Republic's editorial.

From the start of Donald Trump’s erratic, improbable campaign, political observers of all stripes have been waiting for him to “pivot.” Surely, the thinking went, Trump would eventually set aside the bombast and insults and strive to reassure voters that he could be presidential. “Very shortly,” opponent-turned-supporter Ben Carson said back in March, “I think you’re probably going to see him pivoting more in the direction of everybody, rather than just those who are angry.”

But such thinking always misconstrued Trump’s nature. It’s not just that he approaches politics as a reality-TV series in need of a ratings boost, or that his entire brand is based on an attention-grabbing blend of provocation and hyperbole. It’s that Trump has never been oriented to the idea of a Trump administration. The word, with its implications of organization and stability and control, is the antithesis of what has made Trump a success. As a boss, Trump does not look for established thinkers or veteran insiders to provide him with wise counsel or even a diverse range of opinions. He surrounds himself with people—mostly white, mostly men, often wealthy—who look and sound and think just like him. He is, for all practical purposes, a party of one.

So his supporters are not voting Republican - they are voting Trump.

With his showman’s flair, Trump has assured anyone who will listen that he will compensate for his political inexperience and policy indifference by surrounding himself with the “best people.” They’ll be the “smartest.” Not to mention the “greatest.” Unfortunately for Trump, no one with those qualifications wants to work for him. When his campaign approached hundreds of aides to the 16 losing GOP candidates—including more than 150 who worked for Ted Cruz—the vast majority passed on the opportunity. When Trump tried to scare up endorsements in Congress, he ended up with a handful of backbench extremists. When he cobbled together a foreign policy team, he couldn’t even find a respectable ex-general from CNN, much less a credible think-tank wonk. When he put together an economic advisory team, he found exactly one willing economist.

So Trump has been forced, for reasons of his own making, to assemble what could well be the worst political team in presidential history: a rogues’ gallery of outcasts and opportunists, has-beens and never-weres, conspiracy-mongers and crackpots. Few of the advisers in his inner circle possess any real qualifications for the positions they hold. Some have been ousted from their previous jobs for incompetence, corruption, or outright craziness. Many, exiled to the political fringes, see the campaign as a way to get back into the game. Most of them, sad to say, have sunk so low that Trump looks like a big step up.

The survey of Trump’s closest advisers presented here does much to explain why his campaign went off the rails in such a spectacular fashion over the summer. Rather than compensate for his own shortcomings, both political and temperamental, Trump has surrounded himself with people who reflect and exaggerate them. It is the mark of a man who feels deeply insecure about his own worth. “Always be around unsuccessful people,” Trump advised his supporters at a rally in Wisconsin, “because everybody will respect you.” But one thing is certain: Whether or not Trump wins in November, there will not be—can never be—a Trump administration in any meaningful sense of the word. There is, in the end, only Trump. As the candidate himself boasts, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain. My primary consultant is myself.”

Will our democratic republic end its days with the rise of Donald the First and the court jesters who carry out Donald's greatest whims?

The only thing we have to fear is the press itself

Brian Beutler of the New Republic explains Why the Media Is Botching the Election.

His conclusion: The "false balance" coverage of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is all about the press's self-interest.

One might even think about a charge of journalistic malpractice when journalistic self-protection trumps (pardonnez moi!) democratic ideals and their violations.

Here is a flavor of his argument.

News outlets are less alarmed by the idea that Trump might run the government to boost his company’s bottom line, or that he might shred other constitutional rights, because those concerns don’t place press freedoms squarely in crosshairs. Controversies like his proposal to ban Muslim travel into the U.S., create a deportation force to expel millions of immigrants, and build a wall along the southern border are covered less as affronts to American values than as gauche ideas that might harm his poll numbers with minorities. Trump’s most damaging scandal may have been his two-week political fight with the Khan family, but even there, the fact that Trump attacked the Khans’ religious faith was of secondary interest to questions like whether attacking a Gold Star family of immigrants would offend veterans and non-whites who might otherwise have voted for him.

And let's not forget the bribery/coverup scandal of Trump U and Pam Bondi that the press still has not really dug into.

Against that backdrop, it’s no surprise that when liberal intellectuals argue the press’ coverage of Trump and Clinton is out of whack, in ways that imperil the democracy itself, members of the media don’t see a world-historical blindspot that must be urgently corrected. They see an attack on the trade itself—and reflexively rush to protect it.

The press was not the only culprit in Trump securing the GOP nomination, but they contributed to it. Our country is perilously close to Trump securing the presidency. If he does so, the press will have the majority share of the responsibility for that. And when, with new-found powers, Trump cracks the journalistic whip, will the press cave once again?

One story the press should be on like flies on a horse's droppings is Trump as the Man from Moscow. Instead, the press seems content, for the above named reasons, with Trump as the Man from Media.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Trump Foundation is Trump's personal slush fund ...

... using other people's money. And making non-charitable expenditures. To put it charitably.

Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) provides a summary of the latest investigation into the Trump Foundation, Trump Foundation faces controversial new allegations. Snippets follow.

For months, Donald Trump’s foundation, ostensibly created to help the New York billionaire manage his charitable giving, has faced a series of allegations, most notably an illegal campaign contribution in support of Florida’s attorney general – while she was considering an investigation into Trump’s so-called “university.”

But the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who’s done exceptional work digging into the Trump Foundation, isn’t done with this story. The Post published this report over the weekend:

The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. An investigation of the foundation – including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries – found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.

For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money – an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation.

Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.

It’s a story so odd, it’s almost hard to believe. The point of creating the Trump Foundation in the first place was to create a vessel for Trump to support charitable work. And while it’s true that the foundation has made contributions to worthy causes in recent years, the Post’s investigation nevertheless found that the Donald J. Trump Foundation has distributed other people’s money – not Donald J. Trump’s. The self-professed billionaire solicited funds from allies, and then distributed the money under his own foundation’s name.

As usual, Trump spokespersons provide no details about the 10s of millions Trump is claimed to have given from his personal funds.

And then there’s that giant portrait of Trump bought with foundation money.

In 2007, for instance, Trump and his wife, Melania, attended a benefit for a children’s charity held at Mar-a-Lago. The night’s entertainment was Michael Israel, who bills himself as “the original speed painter.” His frenetic act involved painting giant portraits in five to seven minutes — then auctioning off the art he’d just created.

He painted Trump.

Melania Trump bid $10,000.

As it happens, nobody tried to outbid Trump’s wife, who nevertheless increased her bid to $20,000. She won the auction and the Trump Foundation paid for the portrait.

The painter told the Post, “I understand it went to one of his golf courses.”

For much of the political world, the presidential candidate with controversial ties to a charitable foundation is Hillary Clinton. There’s ample evidence, however, that it’s her rival with a real scandal on his hands.

This is a disgrace. Now if the rest of the media would follow up ...

How many deplorables are in a basket?

The answer depends on which demographic group is polled.

Recent polls show that the only demographic which does not believe that Trump is biased against non-whites and women is white men without college degrees. Greg Sargent (Washington Post/Plum Line) reports in The American people agree with Clinton: Trump is a bigot. This new poll confirms it.

The Post poll, which found Clinton leading Trump by five points among likely voters nationwide, also found that 60 percent of Americans believe Trump “is biased against women and minorities,” with 48 percent believing that strongly. According to the crosstabs, college educated whites believe this by 57-41, and college educated white women — a crucial demographic that the campaigns are fighting over — believe it by 61-39.

What’s more, majorities of college educated white men and non-college white women also believe this. Indeed, as James Downie puts it: “At this point, the only group of voters that doesn’t think Trump is biased is white men without a college degree.”

So the size of the basket is like 40%, not 60%.

Beyond all the politics, it just so happens to be, you know, true that a lot of Republican voters actually do agree with Trump’s more wretched pronouncements and prescriptions on Muslims and undocumented immigrants. A number of observers murmured their disapproval with Clinton’s lack of tact in pointing this out. But this disapproval is best understood as just an extension of the fact that many have danced around the true nature of Trumpism’s appeal for the better part of a year now. That massive failure should be engaged with more openly, and maybe Clinton’s comments will help a bit with that.

Scriber hopes that we can keep public scrutiny focused on Trump the Man from Moscow and dispense with Trump the Man from Mainstream Media.

Oops - got to get back to filming elephants crossing the tributary of the Zambesi that is our front yard today. Tomorrow? Stay tuned.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Bubblegum Only Holds For So Long

The Arizona Republic reported this morning that two Glendale Elementary School District (GESD) schools would be closed for up to five weeks for structural deficiencies uncovered during a weatherization project. Inspections by architects and structural engineers found “varying degrees of damage to outside walls in every building on campus” said Jim Cummings, spokesman for Glendale Elementary.
What Glendale is experiencing, though, is just a peek at what is to come statewide. One of the GESD schools, after all, was built in the 1920s. Likewise, the majority of Yuma Elementary School District facilities are over 50 years old. In my district, Oracle Elementary, most of our facilities are over 40 years old and one was built in 1938. These are just a few examples of our aging district infrastructure in the Arizona.
In 1998, the National Center for Education Statistics reported the median age of schools in the West as 39 years, with 25 percent of the schools built before 1950. Admittedly, this report is old and, doesn’t hone in on Arizona, but current Arizona data just isn’t available. Thing is, it should be.
In 1994, the Arizona Supreme Court declared the state’s systems of school capital finance unconstitutional because it failed to conform to the state constitution’s “general and uniform” clause. "The system relied on the secondary property tax, driven by the property wealth of a school district, and general obligation bonding.” Under a court order to develop a constitutional system of school capital finance, then Governor Hull signed legislation to create Students FIRST (Fair and Immediate Resources for Students Today.) Late in 1999, the State Facilities Board (SFB) “adopted Building Adequacy Guidelines that now serve as the minimum standards for existing and new school facilities in Arizona.”
 Part of the new Students FIRST law established a deficiencies correction fund to help correct deficiencies in existing school facilities. The SFB was charged with adopting rules setting minimum adequacy guidelines for school facilities, assessing the facilities against those guidelines, and providing funds to get the buildings up to snuff. The SFB finished a statewide assessment of all 1,210 schools and 1,410 building sites, including fix cost, in April 2001. Over $740 million in 5,963 “hard construction” deficiency projects were identified including 904 roofs and 233 fire-alarm systems. By law, the existing deficiencies were supposed to be fixed by June 30, 2004.
The law also established a building renewal fund to maintain the adequacy of existing facilities and a new school facilities fund to construct new schools to meet minimum adequacy guidelines. The entire program was to be funded by appropriations from the State General Fund versus property taxes to level the playing field, but this change also made it easy for the Legislature to repurpose the funds. In fact, the only year the building-renewal fund was fully funded was in 2001, and from 2008 to 2012; school districts only got two cents of every dollar they should have received. To make matters worse, the state stopped providing dedicated funding for preventative maintenance. The repealed Building Renewal statute allowed school districts to use eight percent of their building renewal formula amounts for routine preventative maintenance but no more. And as if it makes everything better, the SFB strategic plan states that they "have expanded the preventative maintenance training and inspections to 'counterbalance the lack of funding.'" I don't know about you, but this sounds pretty ludicrous to me. First, you take away the funding for building renewal, then you train the districts on how to do preventative maintenance (with no funding mind you), and then you inspect whether the maintenance was done even though no funding was provided to do it. Right...makes perfect sense.
The failure of the Legislature to meet its obligations, has led Tim Hogan, executive director of The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (ACLPI), to file a suit. Déjà vu since Hogan is the lawyer who filed the suit in the 90s. Yes, that suit. The one that resulted in “legislators agree[ing] to spend $1.3 billion to bring every school in the state up to a minimum standard, to create a formula to fund school renovations, and to pay for it out of the state’s general fund rather than out of local property taxes." Glendale Elementary School District has already signed on to join Hogan's new effort to force compliance. According to Jim Cummings, “the district voted to become a plaintiff in the lawsuit because the legislature eliminated all capital funding and GESD couldn't raise enough through bonds to meet its capital needs.” Since the legislature eliminated capital funding, GESD has lost $18.7 million despite increasing enrollment. In 2015, Hogan said, “In each of the last two years, the amount appropriated has been about $16 million, far short of the $500 million needed by Arizona school districts.” He went on to say “The state has totally reneged on the commitment that it made to the Supreme Court at the time Students FIRST was presented for approval.”
Let’s be clear. The $3.5B that Prop. 123 will deliver over 10 years to Arizona’s district schools is money that was already due them (actually only 70 percent) per voter mandate and court order. It was funding designed to allow Prop. 301 funding (for facilities, teacher compensation, school performance measurement, statewide database and more) to keep up with inflation. It was not new funding. Yes, it is true that Prop. 123 funding came without strings attached. The majority of districts, though, used it to increase their teachers’ salaries, a more immediate need given the critical shortage of teachers in our state and the looming retirement of many of those who are currently teaching.
It is clear that our district schools are ever-increasingly being forced into making “the lesser of all evils” choices to keep the doors open, teachers retained, and students enrolled and well-educated. Our state legislature is playing games with the future of the one-plus million children that attend Arizona’s district schools. Please remember this when you cast your vote either before or on November 8th. If you want better for Arizona’s children, you MUST vote for candidates who share that vision and have the political will to deliver it. Anything else is just noise.