Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Donald Chronicles: Willed Ignorance

Dept. of He Who Lives By the Liar Sword:  T. Goddard reports that independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin told Business Insider that Donald Trump is a "fragile man and a fragile campaign," that “I’m hearing from people inside his campaign that there are times now when he hides in his apartment and doesn’t meet with any people. When he campaigns he goes out to a place he has to fly back home to New York... I’m not sure the RNC can continue to support him given his weakness as a man and as a politician and as a candidate for the presidency.”

Notice that McMullin uses the same kind of vague attribution that Trump does, although Trump is usually even vaguer (i.e. "some people say," "a lot of people are saying," and even "everybody says.")  Now somebody has to circulate videos of Trump appearing to fall, appearing to have a seizure (probably not difficult) etc. and see how he takes it.

On the rabid right Donald-enabled campaign to question Hillary's health, there's a powerful piece in Newsweek on the damage fostered by these ignoramuses like Sean Hannity to understanding real epileptic seizures, and the harm such expressions of ignorance do to those suffering from epilepsy (including the author of the article, and Chief Justice Roberts.)  Such prejudice is consistent with racism and other suspicion of the alien, the Other, as defined by those who consider themselves the standard for the acceptable, or in this case, real Americans.  It starts with willed ignorance.

In addition to not seeing Trump's tax returns, college grades, medical records or birth certificate, we also haven't seen tens of thousands of his emails.  The Clinton campaign pushed back at accusations of influence peddling, but the real eye-opener might be the emails of say, Mitch McConnell, or really any member of Congress to see how many of their big contributors get access.  Clinton made her own case on CNN.

The pros and cons of the Clinton case are reasonably discussed by Eric Levitz.  Experts polled by USA Today state the obvious: no evidence has proven or journalist even stated that Clinton gave favors to foundation donors--at worst it was access.  But even that isn't proven.  Vox exposes more flaws in the sensationalistic AP story that started it all: "I wouldn’t be surprised if there is someone, somewhere whom Clinton met with whom she wouldn’t have met with had that person not been a Clinton donor of some kind. But what we know is that despite very intensive media scrutiny of the Clinton Foundation, we don’t have hard evidence of any kind of corrupt activity. That’s the story."

The Donald and the Book Biz: In addition to the other documented spending of campaign funds on his businesses, family and associates, Trump bought lots of copies of his own book, at full retail, thus paying himself royalties with campaign funds.  Which might be illegal and is certainly unnecessary, even if he gave the books away.  Through their publishers, authors get discounts on their books, so there was no reason to pay retail unless he wanted the royalties.  Or the more typical reason--to inflate book sales and make it look more popular than it is.

Dana Milbank at WPost illustrates just how deep a sleaze Trump's new campaign chief is, the #1 member of Homegrown Hitler Youth, Breitbart's brightest Stephen Bannon.

On Trump's confused and confusing attempts to mollify minorities, Jonathan Chiat notes:The main difficulty Trump faces in dispelling the impression that he is a racist is that Trump is, in fact, a gigantic racist.  At best, these attempts are another example of willed ignorance--Trump never lets reality stand in the way of his trollish assertions.

On the brighter side, Ed Kilgore suggests the Supreme Court is on the cusp of a liberal revolution, and the NY Times' Upshot concludes that at this moment Dems have a 60% chance of winning the Senate.  Every electoral map I've seen continues to show Clinton comfortably over the 270 needed to win the presidency. The conservative (and anti-Trump) National Review concludes that the Donald now has no "credible path to the presidency."

Polls:  Two new polls show Clinton a couple of points ahead in North Carolina--and one poll shows Trump ahead by only two points in South Carolina.

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