Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Team of Awfuls

Once again, a study "finds no evidence of widespread voter fraud" as reported by NBC.--in particular the kind that has so alarmed his Trumped-upness that he wants vigilantes patrolling certain polling places. " A study of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases in 50 states between 2000 and 2012 found the level of fraud was infinitesimal compared with the 146 million voters registered over the 12-year period. The analysis found only 10 cases of voter impersonation, the only kind of fraud that could be prevented by voter ID at the polls."

In fact the only fraud that was found on Friday was the Guardian's revelation of voting fraud currently being committed by Steve Bannon, head of the Trump campaign.  He registered in Florida giving a phony home address: a completely empty house.  Once caught by the Guardian, he changed his registration to the occupied single family home of a Brietbart writer where he also does not live.  He is liable to a felony charge.

It wasn't Bannon's only problem Friday.  Evidence surfaced of a police report documenting a domestic violence incident, and his ex-wife is on record that he threatened her in order to force her not to press charges.

Then on Saturday, a potent example of his anti-Semitism emerged.

This is only exhibit one of the attention the Trumpettes are getting lately.  In a WPost piece entitled Trump's repellent inner circle, former R speechwriter Michael Gerson writes:
Trump’s campaign has been a roiling, noxious, dysfunctional mess from the start, characterized by public feuds, subject to sudden leadership changes and unable to fulfill key functions (like actually having a campaign apparatus in key states). 

And Trump’s personnel selections have been both instructive and disastrous. Consider this list of Trump’s chosen: Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had a brutal and demeaning style that resulted in a staff revolt, and his manhandling of a female reporter overshadowed the Trump campaign for weeks. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid lucrative consulting fees by foreign interests and resigned after reports that Ukraine anti-corruption investigators were scrutinizing millions in alleged payments there.

Longtime adviser Roger Stone is a crackpot conspiracy theorist who asserts that Bill and Hillary Clinton are “plausibly responsible” for the deaths of roughly 40 people and that Hillary Clinton should be “executed for murder.” Confidant Roger Ailes recently stepped down from his job at Fox News under a cloud of sexual harassment claims. And Steve Bannon, Trump’s new campaign chief executive, is known for his bullying tactics and for running a website (Breitbart News) that flirts with white nationalism.

To this team of awfuls, Trump just added the former aide to Chris Christie who was fired for being implicated in the Bridgegate scandal.  Welcome aboard, you'll fit right in here!

Then there's the question of what these folks actually do--in particular, Trump's supposed campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.  In an incisive piece, Josh Marshall maintains that what is known about what Conway does (travels with the Trump, gives lots of interviews including one with Rachel Maddow that got a lot of attention but not necessarily in a good way) isn't consistent with the actual job of campaign manager.  (And nobody, he says, seems to know what Bannon actually does.)  Marshall's conclusion: the Republican nominee for President has no campaign manager.  (His suggestion that these folks basically have their eye on their next career move is exactly my impression from the Conway/Maddow interview transcript.)

Sunday update: Josh Marshall makes another persuasive case, this time that the real "dominant force" in the Trump campaign is currently Roger Ailes, the deposed power of Fox News, driven out for serial sexual harassment.

In the more interesting recent Trumpania, Managing Editor Robert Schlesinger of U.S. News explains Trump's crazed meanderings on immigration last week: I've got a theory to explain Donald Trump's adoption of word salad as his proposed policy on deportation of people in this country without legal permission: Maybe Donald Trump is incoherent on immigration because Donald Trump is incoherent. Maybe what he says doesn't make a lot of sense because he doesn't know what he's talking about."  The piece wraps around some good cartoons, too.

In fact-checking a Hillary ad, the WPost tracks down where in the world Trump products are made, and concludes, yeah, she's right--in at least 12 different countries.  And occasionally in the US.

On the media response to Clinton's speech calling out Trump and the Trumpettes, Ed Kilgore said it best: "Media False Equivalence Is Trump’s Best Friend in the Debate Over Racism: Clinton offered a detailed indictment. Trump replied with an insult. How’s that a draw?"

With the unchanging trend line so far for the presidential election, eyes turn to the future.  The NYTimes explains why Trump may be crippling the R party for a long time in the American West.  And Politico suggests that Rs are already plotting to hobble a Clinton presidency.

That Politico piece presupposes that Rs maintain control of both houses of Congress.  There seems to be a range of opinion these days on whether that's likely.  Some polls suggest that ticket-splitting will favor R candidates, and Dems didn't field their best candidates (not realizing the opportunities Trump presents, not a very complimentary argument.)  But others--like the Times and Josh Marshall--see the trend moving towards a slight Dem majority in the Senate.  The House is less likely but also at this point less readable.

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