Monday, October 10, 2016

Cruising the Web

It's so amusing to see people from all sides being shocked, shocked to find out that Donald Trump talks about women like a vulgar boor who has a sense of entitlement towards women simply because of his wealth. When has he ever acted differently? He can assure us all he wants that no one respects women the way he does, but we have heard what he's said about women over his lifetime. He's been going on Howard Stern to brag about his success with women even though he regarded the risk he ran while sleeping around with so many women was his "personal Vietnam." We know he cheated on his first wife and bragged about sleeping with married women. This is the man he has always been. Did anyone suppose that, in his private moment hanging with guys, that he talked respectfully about women? Come on!

I suppose this will serve as the October surprise that dooms his candidacy, but I don't know why it should. He is who he has always been. Perhaps those who believed that he was someone different will have the scales dropped from their eyes and will see that Trump is the guy all his critics have always said that he is.

It's rather amusing to see all these Republicans drop their endorsement of Trump. The ones rescinding their endorsements are the ones who were never enthusiastic about him in the first place, but felt that they had to support him to avoid alienating his supporters. But now they're all dropping him as hostages who have been released from their kidnappers.

And the Democrats clutching their pearls in distress are the same people who told us that the personal didn't matter when it was Bill Clinton in office. From what we know, Trump just made sexist comments and came on to women. With Bill Clinton we have allegations of his raping a woman and the evidence that he was conducting a sexual relationship with a young woman in the Oval Office. And we know a distressingly lot about how he conducted that relationship. He also continued to lie about it until the DNA was tested on the blue dress. And Democrats defended him all along and told us that the boorish activities of a John Kennedy or Bill Clinton didn't matter. But now this tape is what we're supposed to be so upset about from Trump? Please.

There are a whole lot of reasons to detest Trump and believe he is unfit for the presidency. But I don't see any reason why this should be the final straw.

As Jay Nordlinger writes, the man has neither character nor conservatism. Right there is the reason to have opposed him ever since he slithered onto our political scene.
Peggy Noonan wrote a book called “When Character Was King.” It is about Ronald Reagan. In nominating Donald Trump, the Republican party removed character from the equation. But there were supposed to be compensations: In these parlous times, character was a luxury the nation could not afford. We needed a big strong conservative who would fight and tell it like it is.

So, if you don’t have character, do you have conservatism? In May, after he clinched the nomination, Trump said, “Don’t forget: This is called the Republican party. It’s not called the Conservative party.” True enough.

Trump promises, “I’m gonna take care of everybody.” On the trail recently, he said, “We have 41 days to make possible every dream you’ve ever dreamed.” That is one of the least conservative notions ever dreamed. Even Obama, with his “Hope and Change,” might shake his head.

Years ago, WFB edited a book whose title he took from a popular song: “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?

Trump condemns conservative health-care reform as “heartless.” He says that Hillary Clinton’s proposals on infrastructure spending are insultingly small. “I would say, at least double her numbers. And you’re going to really need more than that.” He will not countenance the reform of entitlements, saying that we can save the system by rooting out “waste, fraud, and abuse.” (I remember the same claim from Dukakis.)

He tells us that Saddam Hussein was an ally in the War on Terror. (In fact, he was an ally of terror.) He threatens NATO. He has said this, for example: “You always have to be prepared to walk. It’s possible. Okay?” He is warm toward Putin’s Kremlin.

His feints toward social conservatism are a joke. (Donald Trump against abortion?) He promises conservative judges — fingers crossed. He also promises a wall. A big, beautiful wall, and all that. Again, fingers crossed, if a wall is your bag. (I can certainly see the argument for one, and have for years.)

If you’re going to throw away character, at least get something for it, maybe. What did the GOP get? Such a bad, bad deal. An even worse deal for conservatives.

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Those of us who have been disgusted by Trump all along even as it seemed that the Republican Party was surrendering to his takeover can have another belly laugh at all those who assured us that he was just waiting for some perfectly chosen moment to pivot to acting presidential. There will never be any such pivot because the man is not presidential. He is who he has always seemed like he was. As Jonah Goldberg writes,
I can’t imagine what the Clinton campaign would be unloading if Trump were five points ahead.

Donald Trump is a fundamentally dishonorable and dishonest person — and has been his whole adult life. The evidence has been in front of those willing to see it all along. And there’s more to find. And there’s more in the Clinton stockpile.

Character is destiny. The man in the video is Donald Trump. Sure, it’s bawdy Trump. It’s “locker room Trump.” And I’m no prude about dirty talk in private. But that isn’t all that’s going on. This isn’t just bad language or objectifying women with your buddies. It’s a married man who is bragging about trying to bed a married woman. It’s an insecure, morally ugly man-child who thinks boasting about how he can get away with groping women “because you’re a star” impresses people. He’s a grotesque — as a businessman and a man, full stop.

If you can see that, but still think Hillary Clinton would be worse. Fine. Just be prepared for an endless stream of more embarrassments in your name. And, for my friends in the media and in politics, if you minimize, dismiss, or celebrate his grotesqueness out of partisan zeal, just keep in mind that some people, including your children, might think you mean it. Or, they might know you don’t mean it. Which means they now know you lie for a living.

And if you can’t see what a hot mess Donald Trump is yet, I doubt you ever will and I wonder what fresh Hell will allow the realization to penetrate your consciousness. Either way, this video is not an aberration. It is not a special circumstance. It’s him. There’s no pivot in him. There’s no “presidential” switch to flip. He’s Donald Trump all the way down. And he will humiliate and debase his defenders so long as they feel the need to defend this indefensible man.
Goldberg then goes on to quote Alexander Hamilton.

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John Podhoretz also laughs at the idea that Donald Trump was some glorious truth-teller who has come save this country.
The ludicrous comedy of Republicans and conservatives embracing this slanderer of millions, this libeler of rivals, derives from the central conceit that he tells it like it is and isn’t cowed by political correctness. But for Trump, “political correctness” means something different than the effort to choke off debate on touchy matters by shaming anyone who steps beyond the bounds. It means the gleeful embrace of stereotype and the rejection of nuance. It means flaunting disrespect in the most caricaturish terms for people different from you. It means shouting out that you’re an a**hole at the top of your lungs and saying that anyone who isn’t an a**hole like you is a liar or a wimp or evil.

Without question, the constant effort to suppress the workings of free thought in this country about the problems that haunt it through the shaming system of political correctness has helped lead us to this pass. When our cultural authorities declare thought processes illegitimate, they do not end the thought processes, they just redirect those thought processes underground—through the muck into the fever swamps.

Still, the reckoning for the American people and the Republican party after November (or sooner) isn’t just about the willingness of so many in the GOP and in the general electorate not merely to tolerate such a person because people thought he was better than the alternative but about the fact that they thought he was a curative tonic. He isn’t. He’s an emetic, and he is about to be vomited up.
And he may well take the GOP Senate and perhaps some governorships down with him.

To tell the truth, I'd never heard of Billy Bush before. I'm just that out of things Hollywood or the Today Show. But I was surprised to learn that he is a first cousin to Jeb Bush. I'm trying to imagine what that family reunion will be like. "So, Billy, when this guy was bashing Jeb for months, did you ever think to bring up what he'd said to you at Access Hollywood? Why is it that the Democrats could get hold of that tape, but not your own cousin?"

And are we ready for what else will be leaked in the next few weeks? It's just going to get more charming. There are already rumors about what is on the old Apprentice tapes from unaired footage.

John Fund has a list of other scandalous October surprises that we could find out about in the following weeks. There are probably more tapes about Trump to come out and maybe more tax returns leaked. THere could be more from WikiLeaks, particularly about the intersection of her time at State and the Clinton Foundation. So brace yourselves.

This is why having early voting weeks before November 8 is such a bad idea.

Charles Lipson explains why this leak, even though it didn't tell us anything new about Trump is still going to matter. It's about sex so that's easier to understand than Hillary's speeches. It's on audio which gives the media something to play over and over again and people don't have to wade through a transcript of a speech. Having audio or visuals matter. And it will have an impact on those who hadn't firmly made up their minds.
There may not be many undecided voters, but there are plenty of weakly committed ones. After learning what Trump said about women, some of his least-committed supporters will simply stay home. That is particularly true of Christian conservatives, who were never comfortable with Trump to begin with. The nomination of Gov. Mike Pence reassured them; these tapes rattle them, as they did Pence himself.

Conversely, the tapes will galvanize some of Hillary's previously weak supporters to come out and vote, less for her and more against Trump. Either way, she benefits, as she does from the slow meltdown of Libertarian Gary Johnson's campaign. Johnson was taking votes from Hillary, and virtually all his dramatic drop has gone to her. (There will be some Republicans now who might vote for neither party's nominee, as John McCain has announced he would, but that won't help Trump, either.)

Even a small increase in Hillary’s margins matters. That’s because our electoral system is designed to convert small differences in raw votes into large differences in electoral votes. Additionally, the larger Hillary's margin of victory, the more likely Democrats are to carry the Senate.

Jonathan Tobin points to the hypocrisy of those Democrats so very outraged by Trump's crude talk. And the Republicans are worse.
While Trump’s attempt to change the subject by talking about Bill Clinton’s behavior is no defense of his own conduct, those who raise that subject are right to the extent that it shows that most Democrats are hypocrites. It was only 18 years ago that liberals were telling us to “move on” from any discussion about the 42nd president’s behavior, which included proven instances of sexual harassment, not to mention Juanita Broaddrick’s accusation that Clinton raped her. Democrats told us then that this was “just sex” and an attempt to deflect the country from important issues. The Republican drive to impeach Clinton, which was technically about perjury but perceived by the country as an inquisition of his personal conduct was denounced as sexual prudery by much of the same liberal mainstream media and political establishment that currently wants to burn Trump at the stake. But Democrats aren’t the only hypocrites nor are they the most egregious examples of those who have adjusted their moral compass to suit the needs of their party.

Clinton’s impeachment trial may have been about perjury, but conservative commentary about his scandals was not limited to the question of lying. William Bennett spoke for many if not most conservatives when he wrote in his 1999 book The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals, that something more important was at stake in the debate about Clinton’s indiscretions. Bennett demolished the idea that “private misdeeds” had no impact on a leader’s ability to govern or on society as a whole. To the contrary, he reminded us that toleration of immorality undermined the very fabric of our political system because democracy simply doesn’t work without a belief in virtue.

Yet sadly, Bennett and many others on the right—including those who specifically present themselves to the public as religious conservatives—no longer seem to think virtue is a prerequisite for the presidency. Just as Clinton’s defenders decided that anything he did could be defended no matter how repugnant because the alternative meant granting victory to their Republican foes, conservatives have made the same immoral calculus in sticking with Trump.

They argue, not without some justification, that ditching Trump means abandoning the field to Hillary Clinton with incalculable consequences for the future of religious liberty and other key issues. But the price they are paying for their loyalty to Trump is higher than they seem to realize. The Democrats’ hypocrisy about Clinton and Trump is appalling, but their views were always rooted in the sort of situational ethics and moral relativism that is at the heart of the liberal worldview. Conservatives were supposed to be standing for something bigger than just what’s good for the Republican Party at any given moment. The case for conservatism as not merely arguments about fiscal sanity or foreign policy but also public virtue and constitutional principles is being undermined by the willingness of so many people to toss away their principles because of their abhorrence of Clinton. That many of these same people who spoke about the impact of the death of outrage with regard to Clinton are now willing to rationalize Trump’s egregious behavior makes their hypocrisy even worse than that of their liberal counterparts.
The WSJ is also struck by liberal hypocrisy.
Our email inbox is filled with Republicans saying this is a double standard because while Mr. Trump may talk like a lout, Bill Clinton acts like one and Hillary Clinton enables him. Oh, and Democrats still revere JFK, who was a sexual predator in the White House.

This is all true, and it is a bit much to see the same liberals who said Mr. Clinton’s actual exploitation of an intern was merely about sex, or who called Paula Jones trailer trash, now wax indignant about Mr. Trump’s bragging. The same moralists who celebrate misogyny in pop music and a sex-crazed culture are also conveniently outraged by a man who was marinated in that culture before he entered politics.

Yet as a matter of cold political reality these objections don’t matter. Mr. Trump’s behavior is offensive to traditional standards of decent male behavior, and conservatives rightly made the case that “character counts” against Mr. Clinton in the White House.

Even before the tape and his half-apologies, Mr. Trump was underperforming with college-educated Republicans, especially women. The tape may disqualify him with these voters, and more such tapes may surface. Democrats know how to do opposition research, and Mr. Trump’s past is an opponent’s field of dreams.

And those hoping that there is some way to get Trump off the ticket, think again. He's not going to quit. There might be a chance if he were to drop out. Any movement by the RNC to replace him is contingent on his removal before they could vote. And early voting has already voted and many states have deadlines that have already passed to get him on their ballots.

Yes, he did okay in the debate last night. But that was only relative to his epic fails in the first debate. Sure, he remembered to keep talking about Clinton and attack her for her many deficiencies. And he got out somewhat coherent responses on some of the more substantive questions. However his answer on Syria was just an attack on Obama with nothing realistic about what he'd do now. He was still rambling in all his answers and I can't believe that people who don't follow this stuff religiously have any idea who Sidney Blumenthal or Jon Gruber are. He seems to think that he's addressing Sean Hannity's audience who might be up on all the anti-Clinton and anti-Obama lines of attack instead of finding a way to quickly and coherently explain his references. And all that won't matter because the big takeaway will be his telling Hillary she'd be in jail if he were president. A moderately less-than-disastrous debate performance is not going to staunch the bleeding.

But we will still have Clinton's ridiculous Lincoln defense for telling Wall Street bankers something differently than what she tells the public. Really, she was just doing what he did to pass the 13th Amendment? Sure. How much brainstorming among her staff came up with that ludicrous defense of her hypocrisy? If Trump weren't her opponent, we'd have spent the weekend going through those leaks of her transcripts and talking about her mendacious and corrupt history.

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For those of us who are so very demoralized at the atrocious choice ahead of us, Geoffrey Norman has the idea that I've had since May - to write in Bill Belichick.
Or, as someone said to me while we were exchanging texts on a lazy football Sunday, "How about Bill Belichick for prez? You want a winner and someone who knows how to deal with the media .  .  . he's your guy." (For the uninitiated, Belichick is the most successful pro football coach of our generation.)

"Ur rite," I texted back. "Brilliant. Guy has forgotten more about 'winning' than Trump ever knew."

The person I was texting had spent time in Iraq and had both a professional and a personal interest in the war on terror. She hates the way things are going over there and texted back, "Belichick would never say he wouldn't put boots on the ground. He wouldn't give away anything about what he might—or might not—do. He'd keep em guessing .  .  . and very, very worried."

"Absolutely," I texted back. "Gives the enemy no help. He won't even say who he is starting at quarterback until the rules say he has to. Always keeps them guessing."

"Right," my correspondent texted back, fast and furious. "But if he did put boots on the ground, they would stomp the bad guys into a puddle and then stomp the puddle dry. Belichick isn't about sending signals. He is about stealing yours and using them to beat you."

And so on.

Bill Belichick isn't going to be president, of course. He has no discernible interest in anything beyond seeing his New England Patriots teams win. Still, you can't help wishing that some of our silver-tongued pols would copy his style when it comes to dealing with the press. His monosyllabic answers to rote questions frustrate the journalists who think that he owes them more. And .  .  . so what? There is never any uncertainty about who is in control. His job is to win football games and their job is to write stories. Nowhere is it said that he has to help them write their stories. They certainly don't help him win football games. He gives just as much as he has to and no more. This isn't to say that the man cannot mobilize language when he wants to. Compare Hillary Clinton's insipid and ubiquitous "Stronger together" with this from the coach: "There is an old saying about the strength of the wolf is the pack, and I think there is a lot of truth to that. On a football team, it's not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together."

I texted that quote back to the other member of the "Draft Belichick" movement.

"Yeah," she texted back. "Yeah .  .  . wolves. That's what I'm talking about. You think Bill Belichick would spend five seconds talking about some babe in a beauty contest and how fat she is .  .  . or isn't?"...

So we have arrived at a place where we have to choose between a couple of narcissists, both badly flawed and plainly unable to resist the approval of crowds and cameras which, for them, is the only measure of success.

We become less as they become more.

That is the trouble with charismatic leadership. You end up worshiping power and surrendering to it. Belichick, the anti-charismatic man, does not appear ubiquitously on magazine covers. You do not read "items" about him in the gossip columns. He is not a frequent guest on late-night television. He goes to work. Does his job. Gives his obligatory press conferences in which he answers questions with a kind of phrasing and demeanor that is guaranteed to take any stray electricity out of the room....
I've been daydreaming about a Popovich-Belichick ticket for a while. From this article in the WSJ about Coach Pop, it seems that, unlike Belichick, Pop wants his team to think about more than how to win the next game.
Popovich has been quizzing the Spurs on current events and world history for years. Now he wants them to engage more than ever. So this season, for the first time, he also plans to track which players know the most about everything other than basketball.

“What’s cool is that everybody looks at that person, like: How do you know that?” Popovich said. “Then you walk away and you watch and two or three guys are talking over here and two or three are talking over there. Or if I say something about Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or the political system, they talk about it. It brings them together. There’s a purpose to it—and it’s fun for me.”
There is even a Popovich for President Movement. Jason Gay at the WSJ wrote about it back in February before we even knew for sure that Trump would win the nomination.
The Spurs think analytically and globally, bringing in players from every corner of the planet. If they think you’re smart and can fit with their system, they want you. Last year, the Spurs hired a former women’s basketball star, Becky Hammon, as an assistant. Hammon probably is going to wind up being the first female NBA coach ever.

At the center of it all is Popovich, the East Chicago, Indiana-raised child of a Croatian mother and Serbian father who attended the Air Force Academy, became one of the greatest coaches in basketball history and usually exudes the attitude of a dad on the front porch at prom night.

You do not mess with Pop.

He does not play around. He does not seek acclaim. He does not suffer fools. Popovich is perhaps best known for his clipped in-game interviews, in which he offers all the detail and candor of a fisherman asked to reveal where his secret spot is.

Here was a classic exchange with TNT reporter David Aldridge during Tuesday night’s Spurs-Heat game.

Aldridge: Pop, your impressions of the first quarter?

Popovich: We’re behind and they’re ahead.

Aldridge: Why is that?

Popovich: They scored more than we did and we were pretty crappy on defense. It’s been fun.

As Popovich turned to walk away, Alridge asked him if he wanted the New Hampshire primary results. Popovich paused.

“Sanders and Trump,” Aldridge said.

And for a moment, Popovich stood wordlessly and shook his head, like he’d just been told the Supreme Court had banned beer and pizza.

OK: Why not jump into the race, Coach?

A Popovich platform would be characteristically no-nonsense. It would promote excellence, teamwork, and no back-to-back games for anyone over 30. It would keep the talking to a minimum.

Just imagine the White House news conferences.
I would support a Belichick-Pop ticket or a Pop-Belichick ticket. Between the two of them there wouldn't be a wasted word from the Executive Branch for at least four years. The press conferences would be epic must-see TV like Norman Schwarzkopf's used to be. Basketball and Football would no longer be as interesting, but sometimes we have to sacrifice for the greater good.

You can go ahead and buy your Pop for President T-Shirt.

Speaking of the NFL, I can tell them one reason why their ratings are going down. Their expensive TV package gives viewers little choice on what game to watch. As a New England fan, I wanted to watch the Patriots-Cleveland game. I bet there were a whole lot of people around the country who wanted to watch Brady's return. But instead, here in North Carolina, CBS carried the Jets at Pittsburgh game. I can understand when they choose to show Charlotte, but their algorithm seems to be either random or to pick the one geographically closest instead of most interesting that week. Verizon has an app that allows you to watch the game on your phone, but they were showing the Redskins - Ravens game. I was even thinking of buying the pass to watch games this year since I have decided to pay more attention to sports since politics is so demoralizing. But it seems that I have to have satellite TV to do that. That's a disk too far.

So I ended up watching the Red Zone which basically makes me feel like I have ADHD. Then I listened to the Boston radio broadcast while keeping track on the ESPN game tracker. By the way, I finally found out where Trump is running ads. There was a Trump ad on the radio broadcast basically every 15 minutes. I hope they're doing that to play in New Hampshire, because he's not going to win Massachusetts. So I can't even escape the election when I'm trying to distract myself from politics. Such is the horror of this year.