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Kellyanne Conway Plays With Matches

If Kelleyanne Conway wants to see truly massive protests, she should continue to threaten Harry Reid with (il)legal action for making fact-based allegations against Trump, while herself alleging that protesters against Trump are professional protesters—that they’re being paid.

She seems unaware that she’s playing with matches.  But she is.

 

 

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Anyone still think that Comey and, separately, the NYC FBI ‘indictment’ fabricator DIDN’T violate the Hatch Act?* [UPDATED BY EDWARD SNOWDEN. SERIOUSLY.]

If so, Kellyanne Conway is not among you.

How many of those spiking early votes by Republicans last week in Colorado, especially, but also in Nevada and Arizona, can be attributed to Comey and the NYC FBI leaker?  Apparently, Conway has a pretty damn good idea.

So do I.  There’s an extremely close contest for Colorado’s 6th District House seat between uber-winger Mike Coffman and uber-progressive Morgan Carroll that I’ve been watching pretty closely.  How much did Republican voting spike in that district between Oct. 28 and, well, yesterday?

One thing I’ve noticed in all this talk about whether Obama can, as a matter of practical politics, fire Comey, and if he does not, whether Clinton can—as a matter of practical politics—is how starkly ingrained it is in American political culture to consider only the right’s political grievances.

But, guess what?  That’s now changed.  BIGLY.

BIGLY.

And if the Dems do gain control of the Senate, the Judiciary Committee should hold hearings into this.  Comey should be accompanied by a lawyer.

And the questions should not be limited to matters directly related to Clinton.  This guy has some really strange views of the law itself. And not just the law concerning the actual legal mandate of the Director of the FBI, although he truly does.  He also seems confused about the very concept of evidence.

And then there’s that problem that, accepting him at his word, he doesn’t know what the meaning and the purpose of testimony “under oath” are.  (Which will be a convenient defense against Hatch Act violation allegations.)  I mean … good grace.

For starters.

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*I inserted the word “separately” into the title after initial posting, because Comey’s acts are distinct from that NYC agent’s. By last Wednesday, when that agent leaked that fabrication, Comey already was in the middle of the hurricane he had started the Friday before, and surely played no role in that leak.  Added 11/7 at 11:56 a.m.

 

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UPDATE: Update.

The FBI took its sweet time in updating Comey, or Comey took his time in updating Congress. Seems like a fielder’s choice.

This while early voting was underway in most states.

Updated 11/7 at 12:07 p.m.

Here’s a more comprehensive update, by William Oremus at Slate, posted about an hour ago.

Updated 11/7 at 3:18 p.m.

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Kellyanne Conway Admits That Trump’s Domestic Policy Agenda Is Circa 1980s and Early-to-Mid-2000s.

That Is, the Very Opposite of a “Change Agenda.” Clinton Should Quote Her On That.

“His last tweet last night was how excited he was, how proud of him he was. They talked last night. I talked to Mr. Trump during the debate several times,” [Kellyanne] Conway said of Trump’s response to Pence’s debate performance. “I think the one thing to remember is that, as Ronald Reagan always said, personnel is policy. And Donald Trump has promised as president to surround himself with the best people. You saw last night who the best people are.”

Clinton’s camp insists Kaine walloped Pence on substance, Louis Nelson, Politico, today

So, isn’t it time that Clinton apprise the public of what this particular personnel choice indicates about what would be Trump’s … policy?

When I read yesterday morning (I can’t remember where) that the Clinton campaign had told the reporter that Kaine would be focusing on the Clinton campaign’s slogan “Stronger Together,” I said to myself: Here we go again.  God.

I, of course, had hoped, and until I read that article actually thought, that Kaine would, like, focus on the differences between the two campaign’s, y’know, fiscal and regulatory policy proposals. But, silly me, it was after all the Clinton campaign whose debate plans we were talking about.  So of course the plan was to focus on the “Stronger Together” theme of Trump’s xenophobic, racist, misogynist, anti-“fat”, nuttiness.  Since these are things that have received so little attention that the public surely had forgotten them and needed reminding.

Eh.  I feel like a broken record on this.  The Clinton campaign is really, really, really clueless.

And I’m by no means the only one who desperately wants Clinton to just dump her campaign consultants and strategists.  Or, if the problem is Clinton herself, then … I don’t know …allow herself to be hypnotized and indoctrinated by Jeff Weaver.

Last night while feeling not The Bern but just plain burned—really saddened—and skimming the internet for something that would make me feel a little bit better, I came upon something that did.  Sort of.  Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley’s instant-debate-analysis post was titled “We Are Begging the Hillary Clinton Campaign: Stop It With These Terrible, Terrible One-Liners.”  He wrote:*

Early in the Sept. 26 presidential debate, Hillary Clinton rolled out what seemed to be a rehearsed line about Donald Trump’s economic plan, calling it “Trumped-up trickle down economics.” She delivered the phrase with the pleased demeanor of someone who believes they are laying down a devastating burn, then repeated it later. Fact-check: It wasn’t a devastating burn. It was a zero out of 10 on the burn scale.

Tuesday night at the vice presidential debate, Tim Kaine also tried some zingers, and they were also bad. You can see them above. The first:

“Mike Pence: But there’s a reason why people question the trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton and that’s because they’re paying attention. The reality is when she was secretary of state, senator, she had the Clinton Foundation accepting contributions from foreign governments—

“Tim Kaine: You are Donald Trump’s apprentice!”

Woooooooooooof. The second:

“Kaine: On the economy, there’s a fundamental choice for the American electorate. Do you want a you’re hired president in Hillary Clinton or a you’re fired president in Donald Trump? I don’t think that’s such a hard choice.”

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine need to Pokémon Go Fire Whoever Thinks It’s a Good Idea to Use Time Preparing for Debates by Coming Up With These Lines, Which Are Terrible.

Why didn’t he just respond to the substantive allegation regarding the Foundation—as he did, quite well, I thought, later in the debate, but with insufficient precision given the time limitation?

And why the HELL didn’t he tell the public what Trump’s actual fiscal/economic plan is, to the extent that time allowed?  Sorta like, why the HELL didn’t he make clear that Trump’s WILDLY LARGE INCREASE IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES, COUPLED WITH YUUUGE DECREASES IN TAX REVENUE, is not exactly a formula for jobs growth.  And why did he not tell the public at the outset, and with specifics, that TRUMP’S TAX PLAN WILL INCREASE TAXES ON THE MIDDLE CLASS TO PAY FOR THAT MILITARY BUILDUP, while dramatically cutting the income taxes and other taxes of the wealthy?

And why didn’t he tell the public that killing financial-industry reform—the increased oversight and regulation—wouldn’t be, y’know, an economic boon?

His entire debate preparation apparently involved the xenophobia, racism, misogyny, fat-ism, and sheer meanness of Trump.

But Pence had memorized a few imbecilic lines, too—most, um, memorably, that the Clinton campaign is a campaign based on insults.  Of Trump, and of some of his supporters.  A tack that, I’ll guess, most viewers at first were puzzled by and then after Pence repeated for the 16th time, finally got, and found strikingly laughable.  This, I assume—and hope—will become a focus of a Clinton ad.  Along with that “You keep dragging out that Mexican’s” line—or whatever the precise words were.

But, what a missed opportunity last night was to educate the public about Trump’s actual fiscal and regulatory proposals, which Clinton—and Sanders, and Warren, please—need to say, again and again, Pence hardily approves of because it’s the Republican mantra, and has been for 35 years.

Which Kaine failed to say, even in response to Pence’s “Trump’s the change candidate.”  Really?  That’s change?  In the direction the public has in mind when it urges change?

Yes, Kellyanne Conway thinks the one thing to remember is that, as Ronald Reagan always said, personnel is policy. And that Donald Trump has promised as president to surround himself with the best people. You that you saw last night who the best people are. An extremely rightwing, standard-issue Conservative Movement, very Republican Establishment, 12-year former member of that absolutely awesome Congress.

Circa 2001-2012.

The public might like to know this, Hillary Clinton. Tell them.

 

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*Excerpt format-corrected, 10/5 at 3:28 p.m.

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Loose Lips Sink Ships*

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump Jr. has posted a message on Twitter likening Syrian refugees to a bowl of poisoned Skittles.

Seeking to promote his father’s presidential campaign, the younger Trump posted a tweet featuring a bowl of the candy Skittles with a warning.

“If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?” said the tweet on the verified @DonaldTrumpJr handle.

“That’s our Syrian refugee problem,” said the post, which caused a stir and negative tweets on the internet into Tuesday.

Trump Jr.’s tweet said, “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

Donald Trump Jr. likens Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles, Associated Press, today

It is by now hardly a secret that Donald Trump Jr. has, let’s say, friends in the white nationalist crowd.*  I mean, personal friends; not just people he hobnobs with online.

A few days ago, in trying to emulate his father and his father’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway by attributing to Clinton, or the news media’s coverage of her, a high-profile trait of Donald Trump, or a routine practice of the mainstream media in covering the Trump campaign—the Trump campaign’s bizarre, kaleidoscopic modus operandi—Trump Jr. claimed that the political-news media was far harsher toward his father than to Clinton, whom, he said, the media had been letting off the hook.  His choice of analogy? Warming up the gas chamber.

In a blog post titled by the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake last week titled “A lot of Donald Trump Jr.’s trail missteps seem to involve white nationalists and Nazis,” the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake wrote about Trump Jr.’s comment:

“The media has been her number-one surrogate in this,” Trump said in a Wednesday interview with a Philadelphia radio station, referring to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. “Without the media, this wouldn’t even be a contest. But the media has built her up. They’ve let her slide on every indiscrepancy [sic], on every lie, on every DNC game trying to get Bernie Sanders out of this thing.”

Then he added: “If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.”

Blake noted also that after Clinton made her “basket of deplorables” comment, Trump Jr. “Instagrammed a mock-up of a ‘The Expendables’ movie poster with his, his father’s and his father’s supporters’ faces superimposed over the words ‘The Deplorables.’  The problem: One of the superimposed faces was of Pepe the Frog, a symbol that has been co-opted by white supremacists and nationalists.”

In response to criticism about it, as Blake recounted, Trump Jr. said a friend sent it to him:

On “Good Morning America,” Trump said he didn’t know the frog was such a symbol. “If I’m glib — perhaps that’s the case — I’ve never even heard of Pepe the Frog,” he said. “I thought it was a frog in a wig. I thought it was funny. I had no idea that there’s any connotation there.”

It may well be that he—likely like most Americans (I, among them)—was unaware of the backstory to that image.  But what about the friend who had sent it to him?  And why did the expression “warming up the gas chambers” come so quickly to mind for him—an obviously weird analogy to news-media criticism of a presidential candidate?  This guy seems as mentally off as his father.

Although maybe this Wharton School bachelor’s degree holder, admitted there undoubtedly based, like his father before him, solely on his school transcripts, SAT score, and extracurriculars—I’m presuming no indiscrepecies there regarding the school’s admission of either father or son—inherited something else from his father: the sheer coincidence of regularly saying things that are misunderstood by, well, everyone.

Last weekend, NYT columnist Timothy Egan, in a column titled “America the Plunderer” that in my opinion should be nominated for a Pulitzer, discussed something that dismays be as much as it does him: During Matt Lauer’s infamous interviews of the two candidates two weeks ago, Trump reiterated his position, expressed during the primaries but (I believe) not in several months, that this country should have appropriated Iraq’s oil fields, and that it should do so now.  Yet virtually no one, including the Clinton campaign, noticed.  Or at least has cared to make this a major public point.

Egan wrote:

Because he’s being graded on a doofus curve that is unprecedented in presidential politics, Donald Trump said more than a dozen outrageous, scary or untrue things in the last 10 days and got away with all of them. But with at least one statement, marking a profound shift in how the United States would interact with the rest of the world, Trump should be shamed back to his golden throne.

He wants the United States to become a nation that steals from its enemies. He’s already called for war crimes — killing family members of terrorists, torturing suspects. He would further violate the Geneva Conventions by making thieves out of a first-­class military.

“It used to be to the victor belong the spoils,” Trump complained to the compliant Matt Lauer in the now infamous commander­-in-­chief forum. Oh, for the days when Goths, Vandals and Nazis were free to rape, pillage and plunder. So unfair, as Trump said on an earlier occasion, that we have “all sorts of rules and regulations, so the soldiers are afraid to fight.”

As with everything in Trump’s world, his solution is simple: loot and pilfer. “Take the oil,” said Trump. He was referring to Iraq, post-­invasion. And how would he do this? There would be an open-­ended occupation, as a sovereign nation’s oil was stolen from it. Of course, “you’d leave a certain group behind,” he said, to protect the petro thieves.

A certain group. Let’s be clear what he’s talking about: Under Trump’s plan, American men and women would die for oil, victims of endless rounds of lethal sabotage and terror strikes. That’s your certain group. He thinks we could get in, get the oil, and get out. Just like the cakewalk of occupying Iraq. And if such a seizure violates international law, what’s the rest of the world going to do about it? “Anything is legal” in war, as the deranged Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani explained.

For this kind of plunder, there is in fact a precedent for Trump’s plan: Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. The United States fought the first gulf war because the Iraqi dictator tried to seize Kuwait’s oil. We were the good guys, fighting an invading military force that was trying to steal a small country’s most precious natural resource.

I remember upon reading about Clinton’s “basket of deplorables’ the day after she made that comment at an evening fundraiser sponsored by an LBGT group attended, at her invitation, by her campaign’s news media pool, why on earth she would squander the attention of the political press by not using it to describe and highlight information about Trump that most of the public wasn’t aware of—and maybe refute a key claim against her—instead of just reiterating the same-old, same-old about Trump.

What I had in mind specifically then concerned Trump’s financial assistance to Florida AG Pam Bondi’s reelection campaign, including his use of his ostensible charitable foundation to funnel a substantial donation to her PAC at the same time as the public revelation that her office was considering joining New York state’s lawsuit against Trump University and Trump Institute alleging rather clear consumer fraud.  The story finally was gaining steam as a story in the mainstream media, and a reporter-pool-attended Friday evening campaign event struck me as the perfect mechanism to reach a broad spectrum of the electorate.

Equally important—if not more so—it provided the perfect hook for Clinton to compare her own foundation with Trump’s, and to get across to the public what she had failed to even try to do in late August when the story about the emails to State Dept. aides about requests from people connected in one way or another to the Clinton Foundation was omnipresent: the actual specifics of what had occurred, why they had occurred, and the result.

I had not watched the Lauer debacle, and most of the torrent of media outrage about it focused on Lauer’s failure to call Trump on his false reassertion that he had voiced opposition to the Iraq invasion before it occurred—and had used as evidence of it an interview of him more than a year after the invasion.  And about Lauer’s extensive questioning of Clinton about her emails—on the theory that this issue hadn’t received enough news coverage.

And so I didn’t yet know that Trump, after bragging falsely that he had opposed the Iraq invasion before it occurred, then said that as long as we were, y’know, there anyway, we should have confiscated the country’s oil fields as our spoils of victory.  On the theory that we needed most then, and still need most, is to invite universal international outrage against us and deliberately incite terrorism here and worldwide. And do it at the cost of the lives of military personnel who along with their loved ones are, as a demographic, among Trump’s strongest supporters.  Including those who vote in swing states such as Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa.

Trump Jr.’s latest comment will be treated as yet another appalling racist and xenophobic shout-out by this family and this campaign.  But that is not the only reason it should draw attention.  A hallmark of his father’s various proposals during the course of his campaign is that they demonstrate a key, discrete mental trait that should be addressed in and of itself: Trump lacks the intellectual capacity to understand that actions have certain or near-certain consequences beyond the immediate, narrow ones that the policy is intended to have.  He does not know that they do.  However obvious it is that they do.

Thus, he casually suggests that this country should threaten default of its debt in order to negotiate partial default with the country’s bondholders—utterly clueless of the unequivocal repercussions should this actually be threatened, or even hinted at.

He also says, expressly, that he does not know why we can’t use our nuclear weapons, since, after all, we have them.

And he says—repeated as recently as two weeks ago—that we should have appropriated Iraq’s oil fields.  To the victor should go the spoils.  But only if it’s other people’s blood, and other people’s loved ones’ blood, that effectuates it, for no purpose other than that we want to provoke terrorism, here and elsewhere around the world.

Donald Trump is often analogized to a child or adolescent in personality, but this is an intellectual trait, not merely a temperamental trait, of children.

Trump Jr. thinks his picture of a bowl of Skittles says it all.   Actually, it says only some of it all.  An image of U.S. military personnel in heavy combat at an Iraqi oil field in efforts to defend this country’s confiscation and appropriation of it, and a few images of terrorist attacks around the world during this ongoing combat or in the wake of belligerent comments by President Trump, would say some of the rest of it all.

As they used to say back during the two world wars: Loose Lips Sink Ships.

Let’s indeed end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.  And while we’re at it, make clear that the folks who incessantly invoke the moniker “politically correct” are the ones to whom it actually now applies.

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*I just saw this, posted tonight at Slate.  The list it includes hopefully will be widely disseminated.  There are some additional indiscrepancies in it, and all should be noted.  Added 9/20 at 8:48 p.m.

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UPDATE: You really, really should read Paul Waldman’s new post at the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog about Post investigative reporter David Farenthold’s report in today’s Post about the massive illegality Farenthold just uncovered at the Trump Foundation–conduct that is at the  very heart of that foundation.

The title of Farenthold’s article is “Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems.”  The legal problems all concerned fines or debts his businesses owed.  His businesses, folks.

His tax-exempt non-profit, whose funds came entirely from others’ donations to this ostensible charity, paid Donald Trump’s for-profit businesses’ legal obligations. As well as Trump’s payoff to Bondi–as Waldman mentions.

Got that?

That report is just the latest in Farenthold’s series of investigative reports on the Trump Foundation, for which I expect him to be nominated for a Pulitzer.

Added 9/20 at 4:58 p.m.

 

*Yes, it’s loose lips, not lose lips, that sink ships, as reader MS 57 kindly mentioned to me in the Comments thread.  Usually it is, anyway, although losing lips might prevent indiscrepencies of that sort.

Aaaaaargggggh.

Corrected 9/21 at 10:45 a.m.

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Trump apologizes for being too truthful in his statements about Mexicans, Muslims, the Khan family and … me [with update!]

CHARLOTTE — Donald Trump on Thursday expressed regret over causing “personal pain” through ill-chosen words he has used “in the heat of debate,” an unexpected and uncharacteristic declaration of remorse for a candidate whose public persona is defined by his combative and bombastic style.

Speaking during his first campaign rally since rebooting his campaign, the Republican presidential nominee sought to frame himself as a truth-telling candidate who occasionally crosses boundaries in that pursuit. He also sought to contrast himself with his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, whom he accused of dishonesty and pandering.

“Sometimes in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that,” Trump said, with a slight smile, during a campaign rally here.

“And believe it or not, I regret it. I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues,” he said. “But one thing; I can promise you this: I will always tell you the truth.”

The speech marked a sharp departure for Trump, who has avoided apologizing or expressing regret in more than a year of campaigning, after a seemingly endless stream of feuds and controversies.

Trump, speaking after campaign shake-up, expresses regret over causing ‘personal pain’, Jose A. DelReal, Robert Costa and Jenna Johnson, Washington Post, today

Okay, so Trump said he told the truth when he said, for example, that Mexicans streaming across the border are rapists, murders and other types of criminals.  (None of them routinely commit white-collar crimes such as bank fraud, commercial fraud and tax fraud, but we’ll put that aside here.  Trump hasn’t accused them of that, although he knows firsthand how this could be accomplished, but ….)

And he said he told the truth when he said Muslims are coming into this country by the thousands as agents of ISIS or in order at least to commit terrorist attacks in sympathy with ISIS.

Among other such truths he has revealed.

But now he apologizes for being too truthful about these things.  He says he regrets having offended so many voters by being too truthful.

Much of the news media (those Post reporters excepted, obviously, but many others) is playing this as … an apology.  And as big news, since after all Trump said he was apologizing for … something. He regrets … some things he said.

Which I can understand.  If someone—Trump, say—said about me, “Beverly is really ugly, ignorant, stupid and dishonest, and I don’t know how she managed to avoid indictment for that bank robbery she committed a few years ago,” and then said he regretted offending me by being too honest, I would interpret that a heartfelt apology and as a retraction.

Proving the truth of the “ignorant” and “stupid” allegations.  And maybe even the “ugly” one, too.

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UPDATE: OMG! Trump’s new campaign manager says it’s presidential of Trump to reinforce his offensive fabrications of fact:

WHICH REMARKS DOES TRUMP REGRET? On ABC News, Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway tried to explain it:

“He was talking about anyone who feels offended by anything he said,” Conway elaborated today. “He took extra time yesterday going over that speech with a pen so that was a decision he made. Those are his words.”…

“Conway did not clarify whether Trump would apologize for specific comments or whether he would personally apology to the parents of Capt. Khan. ‘He may. But I certainly hope they heard him,’ she said. ‘I hope America heard him because of all the people, David, who have been saying, hey, let’s get Trump to pivot, let’s get him to be more presidential. That is presidential.’”

Never mind the specifics. If the Trump campaign says he’s pivoting and acting presidential, it must be true.

Trump’s ugly and dishonest new TV ad shows he isn’t changing a thing, Greg Sargent, Washington Post, this morning

Actually, no, this isn’t a pivot.  It’s reiterating the false claims—saying they’re true but that it was, well, impolitic of him to have told those truths.

Added 8/19 at 1:04 p.m.

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