Tag Archives: Vote Election Day! – November 8!

TRUMP DIDN’T CHANGE TRAJECTORY IN THIRD DEBATE

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Vote! pic:R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

While the debate performance of Donald J. Trump had clearly improved since the first two debates, Trump manifestly failed to change the trajectory of the presidential race, and reverse the historical tide flowing in favor of Hillary Clinton during the third Presidential debate. Trump needed a big win at the October 19, 2016, debate to expand his voter base. Trump didn’t get one.

The biggest winner of the night was Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Unlike the moderators overseeing the previous debates, Wallace didn’t abet Clinton. Rather than be drawn into disputing what either candidate said, Wallace went silent when he saw Trump or Clinton were determined to have their say. He adroitly pivoted to questions on new subjects without being either overbearing or unsubtle. It was a bravura performance by Wallace, one both Wallace and Fox News could take pride in.

Unanimous agreement

Both liberal and conservative pundits were in unanimous agreement on one point: Trump did enormous damage to himself by stating that he would decide after the election, whether or not to accept the legitimacy of the election results.

“I will look at it at the time,” said Trump. “I’ll keep you in suspense.”

On this, Andrew Breitbart, Brit Hume, Megyn Kelly, and Laura Ingraham of Fox News concurred with Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, and James Carville of MSNBC that this was an egregious gaffe that undermined Trump’s entire debate performance.

This showed extremely poor preparation on the part of either Trump or his handlers. Whether Trump would accept the legitimacy of the electorate’s decision had been the subject of widespread speculation before the debate. Indeed, InCity Times published prior to the debate an online article disputing Trump’s assertion that widespread voter identification fraud would result in a “rigged” election. A question on the subject was inevitable.

One pundit pointed that Trump could have avoided this controversy by stating that he, like Al Gore in 2000, would feel free to call for a recount if the margin of defeat in a swing state like Florida was infinitesimal. No one could have objected to such a response. Instead, Trump gave the response Clinton was probably praying for.

Shoring up base

Trump, as happened in the first two debates, started out strong, and made his major blunders in the last half of the debate. His objection to the horrendous procedure known as “partial birth abortion” and 2nd Amendment rights likely shored up Trump’s dissipating base of Republican religious voters and gun advocates. Clinton did the same among pro-choice voters, stressing the torment felt by women who made the extraordinarily difficult decision to have an abortion. Clinton reiterated that she was not against the 2nd Amendment, but wanted to work to stop guns from getting into the hands of mass murderers who commit atrocities, like the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando Florida.

Clinton baited Trump, calling him Vladimir Putin’s “puppet,” and making other comments clearly intended to provoke Trump into making one of his thought-purging diatribes. In this Clinton was wildly successful, as Trump repeatedly spoke angrily, evoking the image of man lacking the necessary temperament to be President. Watching the debate, this writer half expected Trump to pull off one of his shoes and begin banging the podium in a fury, a la Nikita Khrushchev at the United Nations.

Trump spoke several times without thinking, as he demonstrated once again his ingrained prejudices towards women and Hispanics. Trump’s response to a question about immigration included this aside: “We have some bad hombres here and we will have to get them out.” When Clinton criticized Trump, the Donald snarled, “Such a nasty woman.”

The optics favored Clinton. She was more assertive than at the previous debate, smiling like Ronald Reagan when Trump verbally attacked her. Someone apparently forgot to tell Trump that the broadcast would show his face while Clinton spoke. He looked like the Saturday Night Live caricature by Alex Baldwin, grumpily grimacing as Clinton spoke, repeatedly blurting out the word “Wrong.”

In recent weeks Trump in his stump speeches criticized Clinton for spending so much time preparing for this debate. Clinton spent the time well, and was much better prepared for this debate than Trump.

Clinton’s to lose

This election is now Hillary Clinton’s to lose. As it stands now, Clinton – unless there is a massive hidden Brexit-like vote for Trump – will win with long coattails, likely carrying with her into office a Democratic Senate and possibly a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. Unless she makes a stupendous gaffe, or a WikiLeaks download reveals something enormously destructive about her, Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States in less than three weeks.

Decision time: Election Day! – November 8!

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Tuesday, Nov. 8 – GET OUT AND VOTE! pic: R.T.

By Edith Morgan

It’s time to “bite the bullet” and VOTE: decide who will be our next president. I have been a fully convinced supporter of Bernie Sanders and still support his ideas. But with the election less than a month away, it’s time to take sides.

This will not be the first time in my many years of voting that none of the candidates is a perfect match for what I would like to see in government, but this time, there is one choice that is, to me, utterly impossible, while the alternative is one that is at least amenable to reason and can be moved.

If “politics is the art of the possible,” then by his own words and deeds, Donald Trump has pretty much let us all know that he is unmoveable, knows better than the rest of us what to do in all cases, and will not follow advice from any of us. He has said he will practice revenge on anyone who attacks him, has the most simplistic answers (when he answers at all) to complex problems, and appears to believe that violence is the answer to all problems. But even more than those traits, what worries me most is his overbearing egotism and self-centeredness.

I was a refugee from Germany and always grow fearful when I hear talk from someone who spent a lifetime gaming our democratic system, using “the little people” and using all the tricks of the authoritarians that are so familiar to me. European history is replete with stories of the self-identified “supermen” who do not believe that the laws apply to them, that they are exempt from them, and can do what they desire. So, under no circumstances could I ever bring myself to vote for this bosom buddy of the evil Roy Cohn, and who employs the techniques athat many in my age group will recognize from the Joe McCarthy days.

I can not stay home on November 8, because I know, from having attended the State Democratic Convention and watched the National Convention, that we have succeeded in including in the platform of the Democratic Party many of the things we had been supporting. It will be up to us not to go into a coma after the election, but to see to it, by constant pressure, that our platform is carried out.

I know that neither I nor anyone can have any influence on Trump. But I know that Hillary Clinton can be moved – and I do not believe that the e-mails, Benghazi (so many of our overseas personnel were killed constantly before the Democrats were in power) and Bill’s transgressions are anywhere near to what we would get under Trump.

Beyond that, there are other things on the ballot – the 4 Questions and other races. As is often heard, “all politics is local” and the decisions that most closely impact us are closer to home.

The top of the ballot gets the most attention, but the rest of it affects us here in Worcester the most. So let’s pick and choose – but get there – and CHOOSE.

Could Trump happen?

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Vote! pic: R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

The 2016 Presidential election has been one of the most nerve wracking in American history. Partisans on both sides are terrified of the consequences of the other side winning the election, predicting apocalyptic consequences.

If Hillary Clinton wins, Donald J. Trump supporters foresee an America flooded by hordes of job seeking illegal immigrants jamming our communities, the country bankrupted by massive new spending on health insurance, free college education, and illegal immigrants. If Trump is elected, Clinton supporters envision an America bankrupted by massive new tax cuts for the wealthy, large increases in military spending, new wars in the Middle East, the destruction of subsidized health, and a President who is “loose with nukes.”

“I do feel sometimes like this campaign has entered into an alternative universe,” commented Clinton recently on a late night show. It’s a sentiment many Americans share, as both candidates ratchet up the rhetoric in an attempt to find the other’s jugular vein.

Social issues

On social issues, both parties are equally scared of whom the other will appoint to the Supreme Court. Three hot button issues are particularly important: campaign finance, abortion and guns.

The pro-life community is petrified that President Clinton’s America would seek abortion on demand at taxpayer expense. Likewise many Clinton backers, while professing to support the 2nd Amendment, urge a tightening of access to guns to prevent some of the horrible gun massacres that have taken place. Clinton has called for the repeal of Citizens United, the disastrous Supreme Court decision that is polluting American politics with billionaire money. Republicans see Citizen United as leveling the playing field, giving wealthy donors the right to compete with Union campaign financing of Democrats.

Pro-choice voters are terrified that a President Trump would deprive a woman of her right to choose. This writer believes Trump, who was adamantly pro-choice until he ran for President, will do absolutely nothing to stop abortion. Changing abortion laws will be at the bottom of Trump’s to do list as President. Trump is right that law abiding Americans should be able to buy firearms, but like abortion, will do little to change existing laws to stop the mass gun killings. Trump rather brilliantly defused the Citizens United issue by funding his own campaign, something which played a big part in Trump securing the Republican nomination.

Demonizing each other

But the worst thing about this campaign is the extent to which each Presidential candidate has demonized the other. Clinton, who has never been convicted or been charged with a crime using her public offices, does not warrant being called “Crooked Hillary”. However, Clinton has opened herself up to ethical questions by setting up a private email server in her home and then eviscerating 33,000 private emails. If Nixon had done this to his White House tapes, he never would have faced impeachment. In this regard, Clinton, unlike Nixon, carefully covered her own tracks. It’s harder to tell which was the greater misjudgment by Clinton: setting up the private server to begin with, or her belief that the existence of the private server would not leak out, and cause her the enormous damage that it has. This plays into the Republican perception of the Clintons as unethical.

Much of Clinton’s transparency in revealing her tax returns – a must during the Democratic primaries – led to many of the questions about speaking fees, book deals, etc. Trump, seeing how the media went through Clinton’s tax returns with a fine tooth comb, has probably been wise to withhold his tax returns. They probably contain such election blowing secrets that Trump will never release them. In 1968 candidate Nixon released his tax returns even though they were being audited, the reason Trump now gives for not releasing his tax returns. Said Clinton running mate Tim Kaine: “If you can’t come up to the ethical standard of Richard Nixon, you should not be within ten time zones of being commander in chief!” Like Clinton, Trump is showing himself to be cleverer than Nixon.

Trump has been called a racist, a misogynist, and an authoritarian. Trump’s rhetorical excesses are largely to blame for this. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” This type of statement plays into the hands of those who denounce Trump as a racist, just as his past talk of women as “fat pigs” and “dogs” has opened him up to charges of being a misogynist. It’s not difficult to see why Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin would lead some to believe Trump has authoritarian tendencies.

In terms of experience, both Trump and Clinton would bring to the Presidency experiences beneficial to the job. America will soon be facing enormous budgetary problems; Trump has been considerably parsimonious in building up a bureaucratic campaign organization and dumping vast amounts of money into television advertising. Trump has successfully run a billion dollar, multi-national company; his administrative skills are probably of the highest order, and Trump likely has superior negotiation skills. Clinton’s experience as a Senator and Secretary of State have given her a good understanding of how to build alliances in the legislative process and international arena, skill sets that would prove invaluable in a President.

Why is Trump doing so well?

Given that he has the highest unfavorability ratings of any candidate in history, why is Trump doing so well? It appears to be because Trump has given voice to the concerns and anxieties of a significant section of the American public on three very important issues:

• American has been deindustrialized during the past decade largely due to trade deals. Large masses of Americans have seen their jobs shipped overseas. Many of the jobs not shipped overseas are now being filled by what many perceive as being lower paid illegal immigrants. Trump has given them the perfect scapegoats: Washington bureaucrats and a wave of immigrants willing to work for far lower wages than the average American.

• Trump opposed more Middle Eastern intervention. Trump’s talk of allying America with Russia to take on ISIS in Syria may outrage the political elites. But most Americans would rather see Russians dying to stop ISIS, than the United States dragged into yet another Middle Eastern quagmire by itself.

• America is going through one of the biggest demographic changes since the Irish, Italian, German, Polish, and Jewish immigrants arrived in the latter half of the 18th century. As Trump talks of bringing jobs home and keeping illegal immigrants out, it is not accidental that his message resonates particularly among white male Americans, in an America that is becoming inexorably less white.

It may well come down to whether the number of angry white males supporting Trump outnumber the male liberals, women, Hispanics, and African-Americans supporting Clinton. As the days begin to dwindle down until the election, each candidate continues to chip away at the other’s base.

Pathway to victory

Pundits have talked recently of the difficulty of Trump’s “pathway to victory”, i.e., getting 270 votes in the Electoral College. Polling in Virginia and Colorado, two states which had been solidly Republican in the past, shows Clinton with leads Trump is unlikely to overtake. This means Trump has to take Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina to hit the magic number of 270 Electoral College votes. Right now, polls show Clinton ahead in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Clinton’s campaign apparatus to get out the vote is manifestly superior to Trump’s in these states.

Trump at any moment could make another disastrous tweet, or a TV attack that backfires the way it did with his verbal assault against the Muslim parents of an American war hero. The Russians could dump downloads of Hillary’s missing emails. Clinton’s superior ground organization could turn out the margin of victory on election day. The debates may be the decisive events in deciding the outcome. Right now, this election is anyone’s to lose.

Clinton thumps Trump in first debate

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Tune in to the Presidential debates, America! pic:R.T.

By Steven R. Maher

Hillary Clinton had to accomplish several things at the first Presidential debate on September 26, 2016. She had to look Presidential, provoke Trump into losing his temper, display a personality that didn’t turn off voters, and show what Trump called stamina, .i.e., appear in good health. In the course of 90 minutes Clinton did all these things.

The real winner of this debate may not be known until the polls close Election Day, November 8, 2016, exactly six weeks from today. Many pundits thought Trump destroyed himself in the Republican debates, only to see his poll numbers rise. So Hillary supporters shouldn’t celebrate too early. But the impression from this observer is that Clinton won on both style and substance.

Ahead on style

Joe Sixpack might not want to take Hillary out for a beer but economically, voting for Clinton may not appear so outlandish to some blue collar workers. Hillary did not make any outstanding gaffes, partly because Trump did not seize his opportunities. At one point the candidates were asked about cyber-security. Instead of leaping in and bludgeoning Clinton on her missing emails, Trump let the question pass. Likewise, Clinton stated that one of the reasons for the 2008 stock market crash was that regulators took their eyes off Wall Street. That would have been the perfect opportunity for Trump to zing Clinton on taking from Wall Street firms millions of dollars for giving speeches, but Trump inexplicably let the opportunity pass by.

The television screen split between Trump and Clinton played to Clinton’s advantage. Viewers saw a cheerful, smiling Clinton while Trump was speaking. They saw mostly a grimacing, grim and grumpy Trump while Clinton spoke.

The contrast of demeanors was extraordinary. Watching Trump, one was reminded of Richard Nixon’s 1960 debate performance, where Nixon sat grimly, his eyes shifting back and forth. Clinton’s smiling was similar to that of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 performance, where Reagan chuckled and smiled on camera when he was attacked by President Jimmy Carter. Reagan gave the appearance of amiability, which Clinton managed to replicate.

The optics thus favored Clinton, who kept up the façade of a happy warrior with one liners that set off laughter in the audience. “I know you live in your own reality,” said Clinton at one point. During the birther debate Clinton said to Trump in a response aimed at the television audience: “Just listen to what you just heard.”

Trump’s gaffes

Trump’s gaffes, while consistent with his performances in the Republican primaries, contained not only verifiable misstatements of fact (“fact checking”), but led Trump to say things better left unsaid. Watching Clinton detour Trump into several political blind alleys, one was reminded of the final scene in “Animal House,” where a character named “The Stork” directed a band into an alley. Trump was like the tuba player in that band, banging out the same old tunes while marching futilely against the wall.

Speaking of walls, Trump did not bring up his emotionally appealing (for some) plan to wall off Mexico. A few other things Trump did not seemed prepared for:

• At a time when he is trying to gain African-American votes, Trump should have avoided the birther issue as if it were Ebola. Clinton learned her lessons about the emails, making a slight confession and appearing contrite. Trump could have worded his answer concisely, used the elasticity of the English language to make a non-apology apology, appeared contrite, and then stopped talking on the subject. Instead he went on a rambling answer that probably did not win him any African-American votes.

• Whereas Trump hesitated to take advantage of several questions to, or answers from, Clinton during the debate, Clinton jumped in with both feet when Trump was asked about his taxes. Clinton detailed all the things Trump could be hiding by not releasing his taxes. We can expect to see this footage in Clinton campaign advertisements, as we can Trump’s statement to the effect that he was too smart to pay taxes.

• When Clinton brought up Trump’s statement that he hoped for a recession so that he could make great buys from bankrupt property owners, Trump stated, “That’s called business.” For millions of Americans, recession means the loss of jobs, bankruptcy and losing their homes. Most Americans don’t have the cash on hand to snap up good property buys when they’re out of work and just trying to survive.

Practice, practice, practice

Why did Clinton outperform Trump? The same way people get to play Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said Clinton’s performance during the debate was “polished and well-rehearsed.” That was essentially the case. Clinton had prepared for the debate, with every smile, line and expression carefully rehearsed for the viewers. Clinton learned from her mediocre performance at the “Commander in Chief” what not to do. Without his teleprompter and advisers, Trump didn’t know when to talk and when to shut up, doing one when he should have done the other.

Trump would have been much better off if he had spent more time preparing for the debates. If Trump learns from this first debate, as well as Clinton did from the commander in chief debate, Trump can still make a comeback.