In case you were wondering how Donald Trump became president.

Just had a surreal debate with somebody who was incredibly bitter about Hillary losing, especially as she won the popular vote and Obama lost the popular vote in 2012. I said Obama did not lose the popular vote in 2012. He said he did. I said he didn’t and told him by how much Obama had beat Romney (just under 4%). He insisted Obama had lost. I showed him a link to the official election results. He said so you are saying ABC was wrong and posted an article from today. In it, Donald Trump is insisting in a 2012 tweet that Romney won the popular vote. Trump was lying, of course, but no matter. This young progressive Democrat believed Donald Trump over, well, reality. Just in case you were wondering how Donald Trump became president.

Presidential election on drugs

So Trump says Hillary is on drugs? And all this time I thought I was on some really bad acid. Maybe Trump is flying on a Viagra/PCP cocktail. Damn, things are so weird I’m sounding like Hunter S. Thompson. Bad deja vu. Nixon must be stirring somewhere, amidst indignant reporters, slouching toward Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Lehigh Valley, battleground central. I stared at the television news while in line at the pharmacy and wondered why I bothered with seizure medications at all. Look at Trump there raging at a rally like a lunatic. Look at that crowd confusing a presidential election with professional wrestling. Look at the silver haired ladies in obscene tee shirts screaming lock her up and talking revolution. And it’s Hillary who needs a neurologist? Half the country seems to be completely out of its mind. I could lay off these meds right now and fit right in.

Trump makes the best TV ever

(October 10, 2016)

Donald Trump was never a politician, and billionaires are a dime a dozen (or billion a dozen, anyway) but what made Trump special was that he was a blowhard billionaire reality star with no substance at all, which meant that he could not be judged by the same standards as real politicians. He swept away the competition in the GOP that way, with the press–the television press especially–holding all his opponents to much higher standards of behavior, awareness, truthfulness and anything even remotely presidential, while The Donald acted like, well, a billionaire blowhard reality star. In the process, Trump and the television press managed to lower the level of discourse and debate to cataclysmically low standards, especially as no matter what Donald Trump said, the press began repeating it with deadly seriousness. Perhaps they scoffed a bit at his penis references–heh heh–in the early GOP debates, but they accepted his armchair neurologist diagnosis of Hillary as an epileptic with drop dead seriousness. She needs to get to a neurologist right now! demanded Brian Williams live on NBC as Hillary stumbled, weakened from a mild case of walking pneumonia. Apparently Brian had seen those fake spasm videos so much he was believing them, medical science and truth be damned.

But then Brian Williams was just doing what the press has been doing all along. Whatever Trump says the media will echo, and they will find surrogates for their panels to defend even his most outrageous and stupid prevarications, to which his opponents–at long last only Hillary–are compared with. They have to show that their network too is fair and balanced, so if Trump says something horrible, then Hillary too must have said something horrible too. If Trump did something awful, then Hillary must have done something just as awful. Think how differently Nixon’s career would have turned out had the Washington Post insisted that the Democrats were just as guilty of illegalities as poor Dick Nixon. But here was no sense of innate balance then, the press didn’t have to find McGovern’s evil ying to match Tricky Dick’s criminal yang. Fair and balanced did not mean everyone must be equally guilty.

Yet that is the way so much of the press coverage is presented in this election, particularly on television . And the White House press corps, raised on the ethos of All the President’s Men, make no attempt whatsoever to conceal their overweening sense of intellectual and moral superiority over the politicians they cover. It oozes like molasses across all the TV coverage, as if they, the press, had nothing to do with the disgraceful displays of lies and filth and hate we heard from Trump in last night’s debate, when they in fact are almost completely responsible for it being on that stage at all. They cultivated it. It made good TV. Trump makes the best TV ever. Hell, look at the ratings. A presidential debate buried the NFL, twice. Advertising revenues must be going through the roof. Traffic to websites reaching astronomical levels. Even Kim Kardashian is buried under the stuff coming out of Trump’s mouth. This is certainly better than any of those deadly dull issues discussions. No one watches TV to learn about education. This is politics as show biz. And no one knows show biz better than Trump. He is the P.T. Barnum of politics, and there is a reporter born every minute.

You could see all this in the glare of the post debate analysis last night on MSNBC and CNN (I couldn’t get myself to watch FoxNews). Maybe half the men–and none of the women–on the panels insisted that Trump had a good debate. It was all on style points. Threatening to jail your opponent? Well, yeah, that was bad, but his base loved it. Throwing Mike Pence under the bus? Well, yeah, that was bad, but his base loved it. About glorifying Putin? Admitting utter ignorance about Russia? Bragging about not paying taxes? All bad, but his base loved it. Somehow all that mattered to these men was that the sloppy, bigoted, and collectively none too deep base that was the ragged Greek Chorus off stage dug everything that Trump said, no matter how hateful, how much a lie, how authoritarian, how blatantly ignorant. And the consensus after a couple hours discussion on both CNN and MSNBC? Trump won the debate. How? By not losing. Hillary–though none of them uttered the word–lacked stamina.

Was that the debate you saw? No. And how did these genuinely very intelligent guys come to that counter-intuitive conclusion? By holding Trump to a much, much lower standard than Hillary. So low that there was no way to even approach Trump’s level with aping Trump. Apparently, that is a hood thing for Trump. His base loved it. The rest of us do  not count in this analysis. Donald Trump seems to have a big male chunk of the Washington press corps completely under his spell. Hypnotized. Crow like a rooster. They crow like a rooster. Dance. They dance. Quote everything I say. They quote everything he says. They do all that without even a hint of discussing the issues. Not even a hint of journalistic self-awareness that they are not talking about the issues. Indeed, they still feel terrific about themselves as professional journalists. Mark Halperin had a brief moment of self-consciousness about this on his show a few days ago, but decided it was the fault of the candidates. Co-host John Heileman said how could they report on issues when the two campaigns–Hillary and Trump–are essentially moral and issueless cesspools?  Of course, Hillary’s campaign is perhaps more issue oriented than any other nominees in American presidential history, but never mind, the press has spoken. They report only on scandals, therefore this campaign is only about scandals.

Of course, it is reporting on those scandals that gets you on TV. All those talking head appearances on the networks help pay the mortgage, help boost your Twitter following, help make you a TV personality. Besides, you don’t get called back if you insist on talking about the deficit. The press covered the nomination campaign as a horse race, and since the conventions they’ve covered it as heavyweight boxing match, and issues be damned, integrity be damned, that’s how it will be reported. By that measure, and that measure only, Trump had a good debate. What the hell? It’s only show biz.

Epilepsy is such a dirty word in a presidential election

When the Alt-Right and Trump’s media surrogates began alleging that Hillary was having seizures, I knew she was in trouble. Americans perhaps alone among western countries are notoriously hung up about epilepsy, often terrified of it, always uncomfortable around it, and almost universally uninformed. And when you actually go and utter the terrible word and apply it to a presidential candidate, even if it is a complete lie, it sows severe doubts in a lot of people in this country. Hillary, of course, is NOT epileptic (though Chief Justice John Roberts is), but no matter, this is a TMZ world, people believe the stupidest stuff, and now several million Americans think that Hillary is, or might be, epileptic. And you know what that means. Well, no, almost nobody does know what that means. Except that Donald Trump suddenly looked a lot more presidential to a lot of people whose neurological knowledge isn’t that far removed from the Middle Ages. Hell, even Tom Brokaw flipped out. And when an anchor man says that Hillary better see a neurologist right now, then there must be something to it.

Xavier Becerra for vice president

A lot of veepstakes talk in the air. Personally, I’m hoping Hillary picks Xavier Becerra. It’s true that Liz Warren (my second choice) would help bring some of the angrier Bernie voters on board. And it’s true that Corey Booker (my other second choice) is a helluva man. No kidding. Rescued a man from a burning house, literally. Hard to top that. But both he and Warren are senators, and we need every senator we can get. And both are also future and exceptionally qualified presidential candidates, and being veep is rarely a path to the oval office without somebody getting shot first. So I’m loathe to pluck someone out of the Senate. It doesn’t help any that both Massachusetts and New Jersey have Republican governors who would not replace either with a Democrat.

Corey Booker’s base is solidly Democratic and already vote at a higher rate than anyone else in that Democratic base….including nice white middle class Democrats. (Indeed, boomer/gen-x black women have the highest rate of voting of all Americans.) And to pick Liz Warren to draw Berniecrats seems a little unseemly. Most of them are going to come over anyway, and a fifth will vote for Trump whether or not Liz Warren in on the ticket. There’s no doubt that selecting the eminently qualified Elizabeth Warren would be interpreted, unfairly and wrongly, as pleading for Bernie votes. Still, that is how many would interpret it, Hillary pleading for votes. Begging even. And a presidential candidate should never beg. Jimmy Carter begged the voters once. He never recovered.

Xavier Becerra, though, not only rewards one of the key components of Hillary’s winning coalition, but it would dramatically increase the amount of Hispanics who will vote on election day, always a weak point for the Democrats. There were already record numbers of Hispanics registering to vote in the primaries this year, such was their fear and loathing of Donald Trump. With Xavier Becerra on the ballot, the son of Mexican immigrants much like a certain Indiana judge, versus Donald Trump, who has called everyone from Mexico to potential rapists and degenerates, the number of Mexican American voter registrations will sky rocket. This would not only help the Democrats beat Trump this year, but would have profound long term implications for political power in the south west. If Hispanics began voting at the same level as whites, a lot of crazed Tea Partiers and redneck sheriffs can kiss their political asses goodbye. At last there would be a price to pay come election day for all that Republican nativist ranting.

Becerra could turn the southwest into an electoral vote nightmare for the GOP. The increase in Mexican-American voters coming out for a second generation immigrant a heartbeat away from the presidency will deliver Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico to the Democrat column, turn Arizona into a swing state and even force the Trump campaign to spend its limited resources in Texas, where the Hillary campaign will make a huge effort if only because the Republicans will have to spend so much money fighting it (Texas with its seventeen media markets is very expensive for statewide TV advertising.) Becerra on the ticket will give an increased edge in Illinois, make things that much harder for Trump in Florida, and dramatically increase fundraising in California. And above all, it puts Trump’s vicious anti-Mexican bigotry (and his prejudice in general) in the front row seat all campaign long. With Becerra on the ticket, Trump will be a racist 24/7.

And besides all that, Becerra is thoroughly qualified, smart as hell, and a nice guy. He was our congressman for years, and come to think of it, he actually knocked on our door once. As did his brother. The man walked the precincts, old school.

Yeah, Xavier Becerra for vice president

End of pitch.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

That incredible scene by Bernie delegates at the state convention in Vegas was basically a huge temper tantrum because there were more Hillary delegates present than Bernie delegates. If you remember back to February 20 when this campaign was still fresh and new, Hillary had won the initial caucuses (step one of the ridiculously complex Nevada process) which appointed delegates to the county conventions. The Bernie campaign made sure all their delegates showed up to the county conventions (step two of the process), while Hillary’s campaign did not, so Bernie wound up with more delegates present at the various county conventions, thus flipping the results of the February caucuses. So Bernie wound up with 2,124 delegates to this past weekend’s state Democratic convention, and Hillary 1,722. But this time it was the Bernie campaign who slipped up, and only 1,662 of Bernie’s 2,124 delegates showed up at the state convention (the third and final step of the states delegate selection process), while all but 27 of Hillary’s showed up. Basically, about 22% of Bernie’s delegates flaked out, and less than 1.5% of Hillary’s did. To make things worse for Bernie, a number of his delegates who did show up had forgotten to register as Democrats by the May 1 deadline, and so were denied entry. After a procedural tussle (with a lot of screaming and threats) about Bernie delegates supposedly not allowed in, an additional six more Bernie delegates were found that were officially registered. The final result–1,695 Hillary delegates to 1662 for Bernie meant that there were 33 more Hillary delegates than Bernie delegates at the convention. A razor thin 1% majority but a majority nonetheless. The Sanders delegation was not happy about the turn of events but rather than ask why one out of five of Bernie’s chosen delegates could not be bothered to attend, they began grumbling about conspiracies. Hillary’s 32 delegate margin gave her seven of the available 12 delegates seats to the national convention, and Bernie five, which was actually in line with the original caucus results back in February. What seems like a fairly even split, however, did not sit well with the Bernie Sanders contingent. Apparently they expected to sweep the slate with their huge majority of delegates they’d picked up at the county conventions. Which was impossible, of course, even had all of them attended. But Bernie’s campaign manager Jeff Weaver keeps telling them that the path to the nomination is possible if they win 60% or 70% or even 80% of all the remaining delegates. Nothing is impossible, he tells them, if we are united. Apparently 22% percent of the delegates didn’t get the message. The Bernie delegates who did show up responded to their embarrassing minority status with rage, screaming, booing, chanting, throwing chairs and finally, after the Casino management turned the lights off in the hall, holding the inevitable sit-in in the dark. Sheriffs finally got them to leave.

Bernie Sanders has lost all but nine of the primaries but won every non-primary state delegate selection contest since the original Nevada caucuses because he could pack them with supporters. Alas, in Nevada Hillary’s campaign at last did a much better job of getting their delegates to the state convention, something the Bernie delegates could not accept. Darn that democratic process anyway. So what is a revolutionary to do? Of course, occupy the darkened hall. Hey hey, ho ho, they chanted by the light of their iPhones, Hillary Clinton has got to go. Then they went. The Nevada Revolution was over.

Bernie Sanders supporters Las Vegas

Bernie Sanders delegates booing that notorious reactionary Barbara Boxer. (Photo by Chase Stevens, Las Vegas Sun)

Not everybody is voting the way white people think they should vote.

I’m getting tired of some of those on the paranoid fringe of the Bernie movement who insist that Bernie is actually winning and Hillary is only ahead because of vote fraud. Think about it: Bernie has received nearly three million fewer votes than Hillary, and Bernie can only consistently win in caucus states, which is a far less democratic way of selecting candidates. Bernie consistently loses primaries (he’s won only five of the twenty two primaries so far, but won ten out of twelve caucuses). But Bernie can’t possibly lose, so something must be wrong. Obviously, Hillary is cheating. It can only mean that Hillary’s black and Hispanic (and women’s) votes are being counted (or perhaps over counted) and Bernie’s overwhelmingly white votes are being undercounted. That could be the only possible explanation. It’s not that the majority of voters in these contests actually preferred Hillary over Bernie. No, that is inconceivable, impossible, or maybe just politically inconvenient. Especially when everybody they know on Facebook is pro Bernie, and Facebook is never wrong.

But when this fringe of Bernie supporters claim that Bernie has been cheated in every primary he has lost, they are engaging in disenfranchisement just like Republicans do when they too do not like the way blacks and Hispanics vote–they claim voter fraud. Not everybody has voted the way white people think they should vote this year. That is the real issue here. The only states these paranoid Bernie conspiracy nuts think that wide spread fraud is not happening are the extremely white states that Bernie Sanders wins. It’s ironic that some on the left are adopting the thinking of those on the right–if you can’t get those people to vote for you, scream vote fraud. Apparently white privilege is not just for Republicans anymore.

FoxNews first reported a completely bogus voter fraud claim at the Iowa caucuses.

FoxNews first reported a completely bogus voter fraud claim at the Iowa caucuses. Though Media Matters exposed it as bogus, the story was believed by enough Bernie supporters to keep it alive.

Fox Resorts To Bogus “Voter Fraud” Claims To Downplay Clinton Caucus Victory