So, what happens on November 9?

During this past weekend’s episode of the Saturday Six Pack, I talked at some length with Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan director of the Trump Pence 2016 campaign, about both the possibility of polling place discord on November 8th, as a result of Trump supporters attempting to suppress the vote in “certain areas”, and the likelihood that Trump’s followers, having been told repeatedly by their candidate that the election is “rigged”, may not accept a Clinton win. Hagerstrom dismissed my concern, stating that, over the past 200 years, we’ve never had an issue in this country with the “peaceful transition of power,” and there was no reason to fear that wouldn’t be the case this time as well. In response, I shared the following excerpt with him from the Boston Globe’s coverage of a Trump rally this past Thursday in Cincinnati, where, by the way, the accompanying photos were taken.

…At a time when trust in government is at a low point, Trump is actively stoking fears that a core tenet of American democracy is also in peril: that you can trust what happens at the ballot box.

His supporters here said they plan to go to their local precincts to look for illegal immigrants who may attempt to vote. They are worried that Democrats will load up buses of minorities and take them to vote several times in different areas of the city. They’ve heard rumors that boxes of Clinton votes are already waiting somewhere.

And if Trump doesn’t win, some are even openly talking about violent rebellion and assassination, as fantastical and unhinged as that may seem.

“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take… I would do whatever I can for my country”…

[Video of the entire Cincinnati rally, for those of you who appreciate context, can be found here.]

cusbwvpvmaadoqyYou could argue, of course, that these people interviewed by the Boston Globe, and others in the media, aren’t representative of Trump supporters. You could say, as my guest did on the radio Saturday night, that it’s highly unlikely that any Trump supporters, despite what you might read in “attack” pieces like the one referenced above, would actually take up arms against the administration of President Clinton, should she win the race. And let’s say that’s true. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Dan Bowman was just “blowing off some steam” when he said that Hillary Clinton, if she wins, should be shot. And let’s say the Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, was just kidding around earlier this summer when he told his fellow conservatives at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. that blood might have to be shed if we’re to prevent Hillary Clinton from snuffing out the “candle” of liberty. And let’s also say that every single one of the 21,000 people who attended this recent rally in Cincinnati knew, when Trump said that the election was going to be “fixed” on behalf of his opponent, that it was nothing more than a dramatic flourish from the reality television personality well known for his use of hyperbole. Let’s say that every single person in attendance that night knew better than to take him at his word when he said that his “crooked” opponent, who he also, by the way, said should be “in jail,” is stealing the election so that she can put into motion her “plot (to destroy) U.S. sovereignty.” Let’s just assume, despite all of the evidence to the contrary, that everything is going to be just fine, and all of these people chanting “hang the bitch” just reenter society on November 9, as though nothing had ever happened. It would take us a while to get over it as a society, but, I imagine, in time, we could work through the issues and heal the damage to some extent.

Imagine, however, if just one in a thousand Trump supporters actually believed the toxic nonsense being fed to them. What if, on November 9, when it’s officially announced that Hillary Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States, .1% really think that Hillary had stolen the presidency in order to open our borders to Mexican rapists and set in motion a plan to “destroy” the United States?

In this election, according to the substantial polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight.com, 42.7% of those casting a ballot will likely vote for Trump. Based on voter turnout numbers in the 2012 election, where 129.1 million Americans voted, that would mean that roughly 55,125,750 will be casting their votes for Trump. If we assume that just one in a thousand believes the conspiracy theories being put forward by the campaign, that would mean there are approximately 55,125 people out there who really, genuinely believe that this election is being stolen, and our country is being hijacked. And, for what it’s worth, I think, given recent polling, that’s an extremely conservative number. A month or so, for instance, a poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), which showed that “69% of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election it will be because it was rigged, to only 16% who think it would be because she got more votes than Trump.” The PPP report went on to state, “More specifically 40% of Trump voters think that ACORN (which hasn’t existed in years) will steal the election for Clinton.” This, they concluded, demonstrated “the long staying power of GOP conspiracy theories.”

Sure, these beliefs, even if they’re widely held, may not directly lead to armed rebellion or an assassination attempt, but how can we be expected to function as a nation when we’ve got this fundamental distrust of American institutions eating away at the very foundation of our civil society? And is it really too much to ask that our candidates for the office of president not engage in such talk, encouraging the spread of conspiracy theories, making offhand comments about imprisoning their rivals, completely disregarding the facts, and playing upon the unfounded fears of voters? When asked about this, my guest on Saturday’s show essentially said that we should just get used to it. This, he implied, is our new normal. Citing television shows like Married with Children, he made the argument that we now live in a coarser world, where people are less restrained when it comes to expressing their views in what might once have been considered objectionable ways. Hagerstrom then went on to say that Trump, when you look at him objectively, is really no different from Reagan, who was also talking without a filter during his era, pushing the boundaries of acceptability. Trump, he seemed to be suggesting, was essentially carrying the same pro-freedom, small government message, but tailored to the electorate of today, with their considerably shorter attention spans and heightened appreciation for bombast and showmanship… This, Hagerstrom said, is our future, like it or not.

trumpdirtyIt may be too late to make a difference, but some who are responsible for the rise of Trump, are beginning to pull back. As we discussed a few days ago, many elected Republicans took the opportunity last week, when audio of Trump admitting to sexual assault surfaced, to distance themselves from the candidate and retract their endorsements. More importantly, though, it would appear as though members of the press, sensing the clear and present danger posed by Trump, have decided to lock arms and take him on en masse, hoping to derail this runaway hate train of a campaign that they’re in large part responsible for having set in motion. [It’s estimated that the media has given Trump approximately $2 billion in free coverage.]

Sure, he was great for business for a while, as his increasingly provocative quotes sold papers, and drew tremendous ratings, but it would appear as though, with the election just about three weeks away now, there’s been a real, concerted effort on the part of just about everyone in the media to ensure that he doesn’t take the White House… If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s probably his tacit approval of Putin’s assassination of journalists that may have been the final straw, but maybe it was his threat to change libel laws if he becomes president, so that he can sue those who oppose him into bankruptcy. Regardless, the ranks are closing around him, and he’s beginning to feel the pressure.

The question is, will it be too little, too late? And, perhaps just as importantly, will the media backlash that we’re seeing right now just reinforce Trump’s message to his followers that there is a “rigged” system working against them? In past years, I think it might have actually hurt a candidate if, like Trump, they didn’t get a single major newspaper endorsement. Now, though, at least with Trump, I think it’s more a badge of honor — definitive proof that Hillary and the Jewish media are working against him and the “real” Americans who comprise his base.

For what it’s worth, Obama also feels as though the media is deserving of much of the blame for what we’re seeing play out right now. On Thursday, as Trump was addressing the crowd in Cincinnati, the President was calling for a return to fact-based news coverage in Pennsylvania… The following comes from Yahoo News.

President Barack Obama on Thursday decried America’s “wild, wild west” media environment for allowing conspiracy theorists a broad platform and destroying a common basis for debate.

Recalling past days when three television channels delivered fact-based news that most people trusted, Obama said democracy require citizens to be able to sift through lies and distortions.

“We are going to have to rebuild within this wild-wild-west-of-information flow some sort of curating function that people agree to,” Obama said at an innovation conference in Pittsburgh.

“There has to be, I think, some sort of way in which we can sort through information that passes some basic truthiness tests and those that we have to discard, because they just don’t have any basis in anything that’s actually happening in the world,” Obama added…

So, let’s add that to the list of things we need to do come November 9, once we put down the armed revolt, and hold our Republican legislators accountable for having allowed Trump to rise to power, OK? Let’s start teaching media literacy in our schools, and let’s hold our journalists to a higher standard. If we don’t, you can be sure this exact same thing will happen again. Only, next time, we might not be able to dodge the bullet… No, it’ll likely be full-on Camacho time.

trumpcangrabIn retrospect, we should have seen this madness coming. The handwriting was on the wall back in 2008, when Republicans, having lost the White House to our nation’s first black president, decided to push the issue of race in order to undermine his effectiveness and put themselves in a position of political advantage. In their attempt to delegitimize the Obama presidency, by casting our newly elected Commander-in-Chief as “a non-American,” they did irreparable harm to the fabric that holds this nation together. By allowing the laughable speculation to continue that our President was, in fact, a Kenyan-born illegal alien, they planted a seed whose roots have continued to grow, pushing deeper into the American consciousness, and creating damage that will take decades, if not centuries, to undo. As it served their political ends, however, the leadership of the GOP went along with it. They turned a blind eye to the false “news” being broadcast by Fox News, and cheered as conservative billionaires, like the Koch brothers, began to undermine the democratic process through the use of front entities, like Americans for Prosperity and the Tea Party. If they didn’t outright say that Obama was a foreign agent who had taken over our country, they certainly didn’t go out of their way to squash those conspiracy theories when they arose. No, they kept right on with it until the monster they created eventually turned on them. The ones that weren’t far right enough were eventually voted out of office. And those who remain, like Paul Ryan, are just biding their time until they’re taken out by the “unshackled” beast they brought to life with the Tea Party, and its corporate agenda of tax cuts, deregulation and global warming denial marketed as “freedom.”

We are all to blame. Every one of us who sat back since the turn of the century, allowing those with power to dismantle our public schools, poison our water, thwart environmental protections, and move us toward a world where corporate money is considered free speech. No, this isn’t just on the “infotainment” media and the lying GOP. This is on all of us who just stopped engaging and retreated into our own lives, hoping for it to all pass as we “Netflixed and chilled.” This is what happens when you stop aggressively fighting back.

As for how all of this ends, I’m not sure. I fear the worst. I’m afraid that threats of violence may keep people from the polls on November 8. I’m afraid that we may not have heard the last of the Russian hackers who have shown again and again that they’ll do anything to deliver Donald Trump to the White House. I’m afraid that Trump may not concede if he loses. I’m afraid that, even if she wins the White House, that conservatives will continue to deny Democratic attempts to move forward with a new Supreme Court justice. And I’m afraid that, if the country remains as divided as it is, we may miss our opportunity to act on global climate change, hastening the end of our species. At the same time, however, I see reasons for optimism. While the GOP base has grown whiter, older and less educated, America is becoming more diverse. We’re no longer a country with a white, Christian majority, and, based on what we’re seeing playout at Trump rallies, I think that’s probably a good thing. As much as I love the religious, white conservatives in my life, I’ve come to accept that we’d probably all be better served if, from here on out, we’re led by people who are less in the mold of Pat Robertson, and more like Neil deGrasse Tyson… We’ve had enough white fear. Let’s give black science a shot.

As for what Trump will do next, I doubt, given his multiple Vietnam deferments, he’ll be out in front, leading any kind of revolution. I suspect, as other have suggested, he’ll likely go a different route, parlaying this newfound political fame of his into a media business of some kind. Given that the man running his campaign is Steve Bannon, who runs the white nationalist leaning Breitbart News, it makes sense. Trump has captured the imaginations of at least 30% of the American electorate, and he’s not about to just walk away from them if there’s an opportunity to make a buck. History has shown us that. And Bannon is just the guy to help him monetize Trump’s following. So, the same way we had the Trump multi-level vitamin company, Trump Steaks and Trump University, we’ll now have Trump News, constantly broadcasting half-truths and conspiracy theories in hopes of both boosting advertising revenue, while, at the same time, delegitimizing the Clinton White House.

GOP consultant Steve Schmidt, who worked on George W. Bush’s reelection campaign in 2004 and headed John McCain’s campaign in 2008, had the following to say about the future of the Republican Party, and I think it points to the niche post-election Trump will fill.

I think the Republican Party has an outstanding chance of fracturing,” Schmidt said in a recent interview. “There will be the alt-right party; then there will be a center-right conservative party that has an opportunity to reach out, repair damage, and rebuild the brand over time.”

And Donald Trump will become the de facto leader of that Alt Right “Make America Great Again” party, stepping in where Storefront left off, and taking the movement further into the mainstream.

As long as we’re quoting Schmidt, did you happen to see him on Meet the Press last week? If not, here’s what he said.

When we look at where this race is today, the Presidential race is effectively over. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the 45th President of the United States. Chuck Schumer will be the Majority Leader of the United States Senate… And the only question that’s still up in the air is how close the Democrats will come to retaking the House Majority. What this exposes, though, is much deeper and it goes to the Republican Party as an institution. This, this candidacy, the magnitude of its disgrace to the country is almost impossible, I think, to articulate. But it has exposed the intellectual rot in the Republican Party. It has exposed at a massive level the hypocrisy, the modern day money changers in the temple like Jerry Falwell Jr. And so, this party, to go forward and to represent a conservative vision for America, has great soul searching to do. And what we’ve seen and the danger for all of these candidates is over the course of the last year, these, these candidates who have repeatedly put their party ahead of their country, denying what is so obviously clear to anybody who’s watching about his complete and total manifest unfitness for this office…

The whole thing just leaves me feeling ill… I know it shouldn’t surprise me that someone like Trump would be willing to put his personal brand, and the potential to amass even more wealth, before the welfare of this country, but it does. FiveThirtyEight, as of right now, is showing Clinton with an 88.4% chance of winning, and yet Trump, unwilling to accept defeat, is suggesting to his followers that the only way Clinton could possibly beat him would be to cheat. According to the most recent polling data, she’s well ahead in Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. And states that weren’t thought to be in play a few weeks ago, like Georgia and Arizona, now are. As the RNC is cutting support to the Trump campaign, shifting money instead to down ticket races in hopes of retaining Congress, the Democrats are even starting to invest in Texas, thinking that they might have an outside shot at the established Republican stronghold. But, in spite of this, come the night of November 8, when the election results start rolling in, I’m sure we’ll hear from the Trump camp that it was rigged against them. Maybe it’s his inability to accept defeat that won’t allow him to just walk away. Maybe it’s that bluster that got him to where he is in life. How else could someone who has gone bankrupt six times still claim to have the most “tremendous” business mind of all time? It’s so incredibly ballsy, and so uniquely American. And, it would seem, there’s no incentive for him to stop, as the path to even greater financial reward is waiting once all of this is over.

Speaking of which, it’s no longer just a theory. It was reported this morning that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has begun the process of lining up funding to launch the Trump television network.

So, what does November 9 look like? If it’s any comfort, I doubt there will be armed uprisings. I suspect, however, that there will be several tense conversations between old high school friends and relatives, who truly feel as though Clinton rigged the election. And I think it’s up to us, assuming our candidate wins, to extend an olive branch. It might not be accepted. It might even be slapped away at first. But I think it’s incumbent on us to keep trying. That’s the only way we’re going to make it through this. I just don’t see how we can ever move forward the way things are now. We need one another. There needs to be something better. If you have thoughts on how we get there, I’d love to hear them… As for me, I’m working on an idea of my own right now. It’s not fully formed yet, but I’m thinking that we should start simple. Maybe it’s a series of non-partisan neighborhood parties, just to get people talking again. They could be simple. Just small tents set up with free food on November 9. Just something positive for a change. Something set up completely outside the political system. These, as I’m seeing them, wouldn’t “Clinton Gloating Stations.” There wouldn’t be political pamphlets. We wouldn’t be looking to change anyone’s minds. It would just be an opportunity to connect with one another as human beings. It would just be a place to say, “We just made it through one of the most grueling, divisive campaigns in American history, let’s just take a deep breath, enjoy a beautiful, sunny day, and share a box of cookies.”

And, here, with the final word, to remind us once again what we’re up against, is the most recent Twitter post from Donald Trump.

trumpfraud

[note: This post was originally titled “The November 9 War.” I changed it, though, as I’m trying to stay optimistic for the sake of my kids.]

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45 Comments

  1. Posted October 18, 2016 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Those pictures are disturbing.

    There are many different types of people in the world.

  2. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Rigged elections? No concession from the loser? Third parties representing fringe elements? I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories, but there’s a reason why the Saturday Six Pack uses a “radio” station having no true radio broadcast capability. Mark Maynard is trying to take us back to 2000. It’s Deja Vu all over again!

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    Revolution supported by people with whom we disagree is scary. Revolution supported by people we know is a necessary step towards greater equity. It’s a beautiful thing (It think those were Mark’s words) Conspiracy theories perpetrated by people we agree with are no big deal. They are dangerous when they come from the opposition. We live in an era when no one seems at all embarrassed about their demonstrated bias. It even seems to comfort and steel them. I know a lot of Trump supporters. There will be no rebellion. They are going to be sad, because they really really believe that their guy is bringing about necessary change to a corrupt and stagnated government and their voices will finally be heard. They will likely be very very sad for a long while. A few crackpots may do stupid things. Now is the time, and election day itself– when things are their most tense. But usually after an election– even one as close as 2000– people begrudgingly accept the results in large enough numbers that there is no uprising. Jack Lessenberry had a thing recently about politicians who have not conceded elections they lost. The show goes on. We go on.

    At least the Bernie supporters were clever enough to believe the election was rigged by hacking into the voting machines, not imaginary paper ballots.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Thank you for reminding us, Jean Henry, that Bernie and Trump are indistinguishable from one another.

  5. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    No that’s not my point. I don’t believe that, Mark. My point is that the same things that motivate one set of humans motivates another. Human behavioral response is the same across political differences. So maybe if we saw something in common in thevfrustration and rage of the other side that would allow us to see people with different political beliefs as human. If we treat each other as human beings not devils, maybe we can tone down the vitriol and agree to disagree as we have peacefully for a very very long time. But thank you for once again framing my comments as anti-Bernie vitriol do as to dismiss them. You are nothing if not consistent in your complete incapacity to be critical of the left.

  6. Tim
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “I know a lot of Trump supporters. There will be no rebellion.”

    Jean, with all due respect, you also said that Trump would never win the primary.

  7. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    That’s true. –It was rigged! (Jk) — I could be wrong. I’m fairly certain I’m not. Given that I actually know and have talked politics with people who support Trump I feel I can assess capacity for mass rebellion better than people with no exposure reading click bait journalism. It’s worth reading bot George Saunders and Dave Eggers essays on their ventures into Trump rallies. they dispel some of the outsized fear of racism etc and do not play down the bad think happening. It seems it would behoove the left to occasionally question its assumptions– especially when those assumptions are largely a fear response and further divide is as a nation. I’m not saying the prospect of a President Trump isn’t fearful. I just don’t fear his supporters as much.
    The worst possible outcome I foresee from a Trump loss is the prospect of 24 hour misinformation spread on Trump TV. And that is likely to happen. The deals are being made. I don’t think Donald Trump has any intent to mess up his chance at eternal fame and mega profits by spurring an actual revolution.
    It does seem that the alt-right increasingly sees running for political office as a ticket to media success. Interesting times.

  8. Librarian
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Jean brings up Bernie: “At least the Bernie supporters were clever enough to believe the election was rigged by hacking into the voting machines, not imaginary paper ballots.”

    Anonymous points out that she’s incapable of mentioning Trump without making a reference to Bernie: “Thank you for reminding us, Jean Henry, that Bernie and Trump are indistinguishable from one another.”

    Jean becomes irate that someone would have the audacity to suggest that she can’t let go of her hatred for Bernie Sanders: “But thank you for once again framing my comments as anti-Bernie vitriol do as to dismiss them.”

    Wash.

    Repeat.

  9. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I predict 5 responses from Trump supporters will follow his loss: fear, denial, anger, sadness, acceptance– mostly in that order, but not necessarily. plus I’m not so sure they’all get to acceptance– if past behavior is any indication.

  10. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Oh I have no intention of letting go of my dislike for Mr Sanders. Why should I? I think he’s an asshole. That’s just not a reason to dismiss my critique of his movement, anymore than someone else’s dislike of Trump or Stein or Hillary is reason in and of itself to dismiss their perspective.

  11. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Anger and fear go together; bargaining is the step between denial and sadness. Also, Trump is responding to populist and isolationist desires within the electorate, much like Sanders. One is just more vulgar and overtly nativist than the other. These feelings have always been part of America, just politely suppressed. American political structure will always yield only two dominant political parties with the capacity to govern or oppose. People will just move between them. The basket of deplorables were reliably Democratic for the majority of the last century. The author of the New Deal also created internment camps for NOP (not our people).

  12. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I knew I had something wrong. Bargaining seems as unlikely as acceptance. Of course the current political climate (right and left) views an unwillingness to bargain or accept as a sign of political and moral integrity. So there’s that.

  13. Jcp2
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Most people will move through the five stages of grieving. It just is so tiring to stay at any one stage. People that get stuck at any one stage usually need some sort of help to move on, as if they don’t, the result is an anxiety disorder or clinical depression.

  14. Lynne
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I cant see a full on rebellion happening but I am worried that the domestic terrorist attacks will increase for a time.

  15. Citywatch
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Please people! Stay focused on the potential problem and solutions, not on each other. None of us believes in the revolt Mark talks about here so let’s think big and mutually propose solutions.

  16. Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Let’s just back the truck up, kids.
    Quote: Citing television shows like Married with Children, he made the argument that we now live in a courser world….

    Did he cite Murphy Brown about out of wedlock births, too? Oh, and the Simpsons had a shirt that said “Underachiever and Proud of It!” Don’t forget that the Uncle Buck show said the word “suck.”

    Seriously, am I back in the late 80s/early 90s? Should I start pity-fucking guys and drinking large amounts of straight vodka again?

  17. jean henry
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Democracy is a process of peaceful mediation between competing interests and points of view. The solution to escalating tension and anxiety is to go towards what we fear. The other. The only answer to threats of violent insurrection is de-escalation.

    Bernie or busters threatened violence and open rebellion too. It didn’t happen. Not enough Bernie supporters were violent fundamentalist pricks for anything to take hold. My bet is not enough Trump supporters are either.

    If you want the prevent violence accept that people in your community and country will have differing views. And that’s ok. In fact it’s great. They are not inherently better or worse than you. We all have our blind spots. If you know no Trump supporters personally, you really have zero basis for assessing their capacity for violence or humanity.

    The threat of violence and righteousness is a form of suppression of discourse– the healthy exchange of ideas. We need to return to civil discourse. We have forgotten how to do it. Mark’s post the other day about the White Supremecist is a fine example of the power of humanizing your opposition and then, from that tiny little foothold of trust, talking, talking, talking across difference.

  18. Kim
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad I stuck all the way with it to the end.

    “We’ve had enough white fear. Let’s give black science a shot.”

  19. Meta
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Speaking of the press going after Trump aggressively, you should all read this article in Newsweek. It’s devastating.

    To anyone who has watched Trump over the past four decades, none of this is a surprise. His presidential campaign is built on the claim that he’s a brilliant businessman worth $10 billion who turns every challenge into success, but Trump is none of those things. Instead, he was born into an exceedingly wealthy family and tried to build upon his father’s success with ever-riskier ventures, and by any rational measure, he failed again and again.

    He’d have done better if he’d never gone into business. In 1982, Trump reported to New Jersey regulators a personal net worth of $321 million, built largely on his father’s connections, as well as loans and guarantees for bank credit. Two years later, a Trump lieutenant testified that his worth had not changed much. In 2004, in reviewing his application for a loan, Deutsche Bank concluded he was worth $788 million. Trump now makes the highly dubious claim that he is worth $10 billion; Forbes estimates that the real number is $3.7 billion. That’s a lot of money, to be sure, but suppose Trump had never done any deals and instead sold all of his assets back in 1982 and invested them in a fund based on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. With dividends reinvested, he would have increased his wealth to $535 million by 1985. By 2004, his personal wealth would have increased to $5.9 billion. And three years ago, he would have exceeded what he claims to be worth now by more than $1 billion; today, he would be worth more than $13 billion, just under three times the Forbes estimate.

    In other words, if the Republican nominee had done nothing but mow his lawn for the past 35 years, he would be a dramatically wealthier man than he is today. The huge bonus in that scenario: Thousands of people would not have been ridiculed, ripped off or otherwise have suffered from encounters with Donald J. Trump.

    Demolition Man

    Donald Trump loves to put his name on buildings, but there are no hospital wings named for him. No museums have a piece of artwork with a plaque reading “A Gift of Donald J. Trump.” No buildings at the University of Pennsylvania bear his name, even though he constantly cites his graduation from its Wharton School as a sign of his intelligence. (Contrary to Trump’s suggestion, he attended the school for only two years as an undergraduate and did not obtain a degree from Wharton’s far more prestigious graduate business program.)

    Trump bears little resemblance to prominent billionaires such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg or Charles Francis Feeney, who have dedicated huge sums of their wealth to aiding the less fortunate. There is no evidence that Trump has done much of anything to make the world a better place; what he has left behind is some buildings, along with a lot of wreckage and rancor.

    Trump regularly cheats at golf, even revising his scorecard after a match to transform defeat into victory, according to two people who have played with him. He persuaded an elderly couple who ran a Florida antique store to let him “try out” two valuable pieces, then refused to return or pay for them, according to someone close to the Trump family. He bought expensive jewelry at Bulgari on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, then colluded with the store to have empty boxes supposedly containing his purchase shipped out of state so he could dodge New York sales tax, court records show. After dragging a buddy through years of litigation, Trump told the man he had filed the suit only because he was angry the friend had not given him enough public credit for his success, according to a person who witnessed the conversation.

    When business executives came to his office, Trump bragged about his current wife, Melania, and showed them nude photographs from her modeling days, two bankers say. Trump encourages staff at the Trump Organization to tell him the faults of co-workers who are standing there, creating a vicious corporate environment, a former executive says. His niece and nephew sued him, alleging Trump used his influence over his then-demented father to rewrite his will and cut out his brother’s side of the family. Enraged by the suit, Trump reneged on a family commitment to pay the medical bills for his nephew’s sick baby. (They settled under confidential terms.)

    There are no names attached to those stories because the sources all know the Republican nominee strikes out viciously over any perceived criticism. They all asked to remain anonymous for fear that Trump would drag them to court or try to damage their careers. They know that is one of Trump’s greatest skills : bullying, threatening and suing anyone who criticizes him and cowing most of them into silence.

    He showed his willingness to harm others for his personal benefit early in his career. Using those undocumented Polish workers in 1980 for the razing of the Bonwit Teller building, for example, was deemed part of a civil conspiracy to defraud a union pension fund, a federal judge in New York later ruled.

    Read more:
    http://www.newsweek.com/2016/10/28/donald-trump-business-busts-victims-511034.html

  20. Eel
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    The thing to really worry about is the possibility that Trump may start launching charter schools for our kids.

  21. Josh Chamberlain
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    This is a great post. I think it is important to listen to the ones who aren’t violent old racists, who are just sick of the lies and corruption. Why they can’t see that Trump embodies this to his core is beyond me, but their outrage is still valid. We can’t forget that the establishment lies and manipulates just because a bunch of crazy people say similar-sounding conspiracy theories.

    I will also say I am fascinated by the phenomenon of people just.. saying they’re the best at something, and suddenly millions of people think they are. Trump just claims he has answers for all these problems, and people believe it and start to repeat it. Just like when Lil Wayne said he was the best rapper of all time.

  22. Kat
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Trump’s most recent Twitter announcement.

    “If we let Crooked run the govt, history will remember 2017 as the year America lost its independence. #DrainTheSwamp”

  23. God
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to see more NGT’s in our schools and more RBG’s in the courts.

  24. anonymous
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Not so fast. He does have one big newspaper endorsement.

    http://occupydemocrats.com/2016/10/18/kkks-official-newspaper-just-endorsed-trump/

  25. James Engman
    Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    We were doomed to this when we started color coding elections. Your “Republicans did this” salt in the wound is not an olive branch. That alone – the reduction of political discourse to two wholly opposed camps who treat every discussion as a winner-takes-all binary – is the timeless setting for intolerance, violence, and war. George Washington warned of such polarization in democratic elections: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”

  26. Posted October 18, 2016 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, James, I have no problem with exploring different party structures. I’d just like to know more about the various models that exist, the results they’ve yielded, and how we might go about transitioning. If there’s a system that would deliver less gridlock, more compromise, and better results, I’d be all for it. In the meantime, however, I’d be happy fixing the system that we have, by working to remove money from politics, rolling back gerrymandering, etc. As for olive branches, what do you think would be appropriate, James? Granted, I’m coming at this fro the left, but it seems to me that the Dems have been the better of the two parties when it comes to obstructionism and the like. Case in point, look at the current fight over the Supreme Court. Obama attempted to appoint a moderate conservative, and the Republicans in the Senate still wouldn’t bring him up for consideration.

  27. Tony
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    I wish I could be optimistic but as a student of psychology and recent history, I think Trump has lit the match by mainstreaming American fascism. Have any of you watched his rallies? They aren’t stump speeches like you’d expect at a political rally. They are a call to arms. And, I believe he’s an unwitting participant in it. He simply wants adoration. The piece Garrison Keillor wrote about him was spot on where he’s been trying to crack into the old Manhattan elite but they would never have him so he built buildings in Manhattan with gaudy toilets as proof that he should be let into their club. Folks like Bannon couldn’t be happier that he’s finally lifted the covers off of their disgusting movement and thanks to Trump’s candidacy, they’ve organized it nationally instead of it being a bunch of disparate whackos. I’m terrified.

  28. Jean Henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    “As a student of psychology” Tony, have you met or do you know any actual Trump supporters. Have you asked them what they think, feel or believe and whether or not they feel violence may be necessary?

  29. Anonymous
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Have you, Jean? How big was your sample size?

  30. iRobert
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    It’s funny to see Trump suggesting the election is being rigged, because making Trump the GOP nominee is exactly how the election was rigged for Hillary. It’s so obvious and yet almost nobody has caught on. We really do live in an idiocracy now.

    Any one of the other GOP candidates would have been in a statistical tie with, or leading Hillary right now. YOu wouldn’t have been able to count on them to self-destruct the way Trump has been. It’s great! After the election, I hope Trump starts the phony Trump Alt-Right Cable Network as some have been suggesting he might too. It will be like a giant roach motel, just like his campaign was concocted to be.

  31. jean henry
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I personally know maybe 50 Trump supporters. I always ask for their political take. And (shockingly) I keep my mouth shut. I usually suggest the kind of change they want is very unlikely no matter who wins the presidency and they agree. (Same as Bernie supporters) I have engaged in online forums with people from my hometown who support Trump and others who don’t. It’s mostly civil . They have to co-exist. I’d say the percentage of Trump supporters on line there who qualify as alt right conspiracy theorist breitbart junkies is about equal to the number of Bernie or busters who have emerged from my Ann Arbor friend circle. Mostly white and male (but not all), very deeply committed to their political beliefs as a marker of their personal moral integrity. Very committed to their candidate. The rest are less convinced. They are committed to the need for change. They just want to push the center of the field a bit more in their direction.

    I just don’t see that they are buying everything Trumps selling.

  32. Meta
    Posted October 19, 2016 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    On voter intimidation.

    “Is Trump Urging His Gun-Toting Supporters To Break Voter Intimidation Laws?”

    Donald Trump is engaging in an unprecedented campaign of voter fraud fear-mongering. Not only is he putting Americans’ trust in the bedrock of U.S. democracy at risk, but what he has urged his supporters to do — in stump speeches across the country — would, if carried out, likely be a form of illegal voter intimidation.

    Civil rights groups are already gearing up for an especially tense Election Day. Meanwhile, the federal government has been hobbled by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling in its ability to monitor elections in places with histories of voter intimidation. Of particular concern are states with loose open carry laws, where already, some armed Trump supporters have shown an interest in making their presence known at voting sites.

    “The idea that people would be standing outside the polls with guns, or even inside the polls with guns, clearly has the potential to turn people away. There’s a long history of this,” said Deuel Ross, an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which is very active in voting rights litigation.

    His group plans to be observing elections in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina.

    “These are places with a history of voter intimidation and also very liberal gun laws,” Ross said.

    Trump has for months complained about the possibility of an election somehow “rigged” against him, but recently, the rhetoric has taken on a more ominous, and even racially-tinged tone, that specifically mentions voter fraud at the ballot box. Last week, he told a mostly white crowd in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to “watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us.” He said at rally in Michigan late last month that his supporters, after they vote, should “pick some other place … and go sit there with your friends and make sure it’s on the up and up.”

    It appears that some of his supporters are prepared to heed his call. Steve Webb, a 61-year-old Trump supporter from Ohio, told the Boston Globe he planned to go “watch” from his precinct “for sure.”

    “I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

    Two Trump supporters in Virginia last week staged a 12-hour open carry “protest” outside a Democratic campaign office, though they denied they posed any kind of threat. If that sort of the activity is the harbinger of things to come at polling places on Election Day, it could be a violation of federal law.

    The Voting Rights Act includes a provision that prohibits any attempt to “intimidate, threaten, or coerce” a person trying to vote, and there’s a section of the federal criminal code banning voter intimidation as well. In theory, that could set up a confrontation between federal voter intimidation laws and state open-carry laws (federal law would generally trump state law). However, according to Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, federal laws are rarely ever used to address voter intimidation claims.

    Read more:
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/is-trump-urging-his-gun-toting-supporters-to-break-voter-intimidation-laws

  33. General Demitrious
    Posted October 20, 2016 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    I was just looking up the landslide victory of Nixon over McGovern in 1972, an incredible drubbing of 572 electoral college votes to 17. McGovern was a Ph.D. He flew 35 missions over Germany in WWII (in a B24 built at Willow Run). He won the distinguished flying cross for saving his crew. He was elected to the Senate 4 times.

    McGovern, this incredibly accomplished individual looks like he will continue to hold the record of biggest presidential loser.

    The fact that Trump, an unaccomplished man-child, can continue polling in the 40’s, is almost beyond comprehension, and he can still win this thing. I asked one of my conservative friends how he can vote for Trump. The answer is the anti-abortion vote. He said that he would vote for Satan to keep control of the Supreme Court. “I figure that Satan could only do so much evil in four years.”

  34. Kimberly Baker
    Posted October 21, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    A view from abroad: I watched the final debate last night and really the central “theme” of this whole election is really “what the hell is a democracy anyway”? This election has seemed to bring up the following: It’s messy and we don’t understand our own political system and have to revisit what it means for us as Americans moving forward in the world. All of our dirty laundry has been on display for the world and this election has brought our confusion to the forefront. Two questions from both sides: Is a democracy a system that allows a Donald Trump to become a potential leader? Is it also a system that is “rigged” and we can’t trust it anymore? Ultimately, where do we go from here? The world is watching and waiting for the results.

  35. Tim
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Things are about to take another turn.

    Just in: The FBI will re-open an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email servers http://4.nbcny.com/2PJuDB2

  36. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Some balance: “Comey’s letter doesn’t say his agents have discovered new witnesses or documents suggesting a criminal act occurred. Rather, he only suggests that evidence that had not yet been examined and, because it was relevant to the case, needs to be reviewed.

    There’s also a political dimension. Had Comey not told Congress and it emerged after the election that new materials had come into its possession, the director and his entire agency’s credibility might have been questioned.”

    http://www.newsweek.com/fbi-reviewing-more-clinton-emails-514825

  37. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    https://twitter.com/kurteichenwald/status/792079725329907713

    3 emails. None ny Hillary. It’s already collapsing. Ryan et al were ready to jump up to the mike within minutes of announcement. Hmmm.

  38. Bob
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Where do you get that it is “already collapsing?” You’re such a shit-talker, Jean. It probably isn’t much, and it’s certainly political, but the story just broke. Nobody has any idea yet. Certainly not Jean Henry. You are so in the bag for Hillary. It’s just creepy.

  39. M
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I hope you’re right, Jean. That would be a huge relief.

  40. Meta
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    “How one Congressman punked the media on the FBI letter about Clinton’s emails”

    FBI Director James Comey alerted Republican members of Congress on Friday that bureau investigators would review some additional emails that might relate to Hillary Clinton’s email server. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee who has already vowed to spend the next several years investigating Clinton should she be elected president, quickly rushed to announce the news, falsely claiming that the case had been “reopened.”

    Minutes later, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan repeated Chaffetz’s incorrect assessment and demanded that Clinton’s classified intelligence briefings — something provided to both major party nominees — be ceased.

    In a rally in New Hampshire, an ebullient Donald Trump told supporters, “The FBI has just sent a letter to Congress informing them that they have discovered new emails pertaining to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s investigation and they are reopening into the case into her criminal and illegal conduct.”

    Though nothing in Comey’s letter said the case was being reopened, an array of news outlets repeated Chaffetz’s incorrect characterization. NBC News initially posted a story with this framing, later changing the headline and lede to drop the claim. USA Today tweeted, falsely, that the FBI director had said the probe was being reopened. The Hill and Bloomberg also got the facts wrong.

    Other Republicans in Congress were quick to make the same false claims.

    Despite the initial overreaction to the news, NBC’s Pete Williams has already reported that the newly found e-mails were not originally withheld by Clinton nor her campaign, the emails are not from Clinton, and the letter was sent to the Congressional leaders “out of an abundance of caution.” The AP reported that the emails did not come from Hillary Clinton’s private server. NBC’s sources called the story less than a game-changer.

    But that did not stop Clinton’s critics from trying to turn it into one.

    Read more:
    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-chaffetz-fbi-investigation-lies-e9fff5359102#.fk5fzphph

  41. Maria Huffman
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The candidacy of Donald Trump was a Hail Mary pass by the Republicans.He wasa terrible choice to become the Presidential nominee, I think even he knows it. Any day I expect he will resign and let Mike Pence be the true Presidential candidate. I think the Donald may end up in jail for all his efforts. I personally am tired of the Obama administration playin-both-sides shtick…Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter campaigns, for instance. I do not like Obama’s jokes anymore, I just think some days the man has no common sense. I will vote for Hillary Clinton, carefully and grudgingly, and I recognize the crap the Obama administration pulled was mostly in having allowed states to do things like have Emergency managers and run outrageous educational legislation through unchecked and unchallenged. Not that anyone asked for my opinion….

  42. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Bob– if you looked at the twitter link I provided, albeit quickly. you would see why I felt what I said was backed up. In general, though my theories and interpretations may be my own. I tend to back them up. Which usually annoys you because then it seems I’m being long-winded. I went for brevity, too subtle perhaps.

    1. Case not reopened. 2. Comey had to correct testimony. 3. Involves 3 emails whose classification must be determined. 4. None were witheld by HRC. 5. None of the 3 in question originated with HRC

    So who is the shit talker, Bob?

    Did you have anything relevant to say about this? Or did you just jump in to tell me I’m wrong without any substantiation?

  43. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    More:
    These are the 33,000 emails that HRC supposedly withheld. They have been recovered. Of the 33,000 only 3 raised any question re classification and none came from Hillary. So maybe, just maybe, they were about yoga and grandkids and stuff. And maybe some were about Bill’s bad behavior. But they weren’t about her colluding to deny the American people of the means to prosperity or their right to vote. Nothing like that. She might just be well-intentioned after all. All the scrutiny in the world and a whole lot of power turns up not much. So maybe they arent all plotting against us? Even if you disagree with her policies, the question of why she has been attacked so relentlessly without any proof, is something the Left and the Right should be examining.

    I have never heard a conspiracy theorist say they were wrong and then examine how it was they came to firmly believe something that was untrue.

    I hope to see that some day.

  44. Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Apparently they had 15,000 of them back in August.

    But seriously, who gives a fuck? I read about this “scandal.” Nonsense.

  45. Jean Henry
    Posted October 28, 2016 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    We care because this election matters. A lot. And Trump has been closing in on the polls.

    It looked bad for a minute. The spin was going nuts. the major news outlets except NBC got the story wrong and said the case was re=opened. We have seem this all before. We still fall for it, but it all gets resolved a lot faster– The spin actually stops now. Points for pattern recognition.

    There was a New Yorker Cartoon a while back. Two middle aged ladies having cocktails. One says, “Ive gotten really good at dating. I can work through an entire relationship in 30 minutes now.”

    The Hillary scandals are like that.

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