Notes and Comment Blog

Shaken to her core

Oct 13th, 2016 10:34 am | By

Michelle Obama says it too – it’s not just the politics, the guy is a terrible human being.

First lady Michelle Obama delivered Thursday an impassioned denunciation of Donald Trump, calling the recently unearthed comments by the Republican presidential nominee “shocking” and “demeaning,” and below “basic standards of human decency.”

“I can’t believe I’m saying a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said.

Obama said the comments made by Trump in the video, which was recorded in 2005, had left her “shaken.”
“I can’t stop thinking about this,” she said. “It has shaken me to my core in a way I could not have predicted.”
She added: “I know this is a campaign but this isn’t about politics. It’s about basic human decency.”
What I’m saying. He’s a bad man, in every way we know anything about. He’s bad to employees, to people who contract to supply him with goods or services, to wives, to rivals, to colleagues. If he has any pets I feel sorry for them.

Trump’s fragrant history

Oct 13th, 2016 9:53 am | By

Several news outlets have posted updated lists of the current accusations of sexual assault by Trump. New York mag is one.

It was just last week that a tape emerged of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. Since then, Trump has been accused of harassment and assault by anumber of women, with several coming forward to share their harrowing stories of alleged misconduct by a so-called “megalomaniac” who also happens to be running for president. The Cut has compiled a list of all the new allegations against Trump, as well as past accusations of assault, harassment, and discrimination by women.

They will probably have to update it regularly.

Some of the new ones:

Kissing a Former Miss USA Contestant Twice Without Consent

Former Miss USA contestant Temple Taggart McDowell claims Trump kissed her on the lips on at least two occasions without consent when she was just 21 years old. In 1997, McDowell was representing Utah in the beauty pageant, and was “shocked” that he thought he had the right to kiss her on the lips, according to the Daily Beast. After one of the kisses, a woman who accompanied her to Trump Tower allegedly warned her not to go into a room alone with Trump. McDowell told NBC News, “I would never approach or greet somebody like that unless it was somebody that I had been dating.” Trump has called the accusation “ridiculous.”

And yet we know he has told people he kisses women without asking. We heard the Tic Tac box rattling.

Sexually Assaulting a People Magazine Writer

Natasha Stoynoff, a staff writer at People, came forward as an alleged victim of Trump on October 12. In an essay, Stoynoff wrote that Trump assaulted her and forcibly kissed her in 2005 while she was on assignment for the magazine. At the time, Stoynoff was asked to interview Trump and wife Melania on their one-year anniversary at Mar-a-Lago. While there, Trump allegedly insisted upon giving her a tour. Stoynoff wrote:

“We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat. Now, I’m a tall, strapping girl who grew up wrestling two giant brothers. I even once sparred with Mike Tyson. It takes a lot to push me. But Trump is much bigger — a looming figure — and he was fast, taking me by surprise, and throwing me off balance. I was stunned. And I was grateful when Trump’s longtime butler burst into the room a minute later, as I tried to unpin myself.”

Afterward, Trump reportedly told Stoynoff that the two were going to have an affair. The writer says she didn’t report the assault at the time, as she both blamed herself and wrote it off as one of the risks associated with her job.

At the time, she didn’t know he’d be a candidate for president of the US. No one knew that. I doubt that many people fantasized about how great it would be.

Groping a Woman at Mar-a-Lago

Mindy McGillivray claims Donald Trump groped her 13 years ago while she was visiting Mar-a-Lago with her companion, photographer Ken Davidoff. According to the Palm Beach Post, Davidoff brought his friend McGillivray with him to the estate while he covered a concert by Ray Charles. Only 23 at the time, McGillivray allegedly had her ass grabbed by Trump while he stood next to his then-fiancée, Melania.

Well her ass was just standing there right next to him. What was he supposed to do, not grab it? That would be sheer waste! Think of the starving children in Whereverstan! Waste is criminal.

Groping Miss Washington USA 2013

In a Facebook post earlier this year, former Miss Washington USA Cassandra Searles claimed Trump grabbed her ass and invited her back to his hotel room, according toRolling Stone. She called Trump a “misogynist” and accused him of treating women like cattle. Searles wrote that he “lined up [contestants] so he could get a closer look at his property,” a claim that has been corroborated by Paromita Mitra of Mississippi.

Walking in on Teen Pageant Contestants While They Were Changing

Four women who competed in the 1997 Miss Teen USA beauty pageant have accused Trump of walking into their dressing room while the contestants were changing, BuzzFeed News reported. Mariah Billado, a former Miss Vermont Teen USA, told BuzzFeed News that the contestants (who ranged in age from 14 to 19) were “just scrambling” to grab whatever garments they had when he walked in. She said, “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here.’” Trump reportedly responded something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, I’ve seen it all before.”

Since he boasted to Howard Stern about doing exactly that, we have little reason to doubt the story.

Sexually Harassing a Woman During the 1993 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

When Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter invited Trump to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 1993 as a “novelty guest,” he allegedly got more than he bargained for. Forty-five minutes after Trump sat down next to Swedish model Vendela Kirsebom, Carter claims she came over to his table, almost in tears, begging him to move her. “It seems that Trump had spent his entire time with her assaying the ‘tits’ and legs of the other female guests and asking how they measured up to those of other women, including his wife,” Carter wrote. ‘“He is,’ she told me, in words that seemed familiar, ‘the most vulgar man I have ever met.’”

And last, for now –

Hiring Women Based on Appearances

Trump gave writer Mark Singer a tour of Mar-a-Lago for an article in TheNew Yorkerin 1997. Singer wrote that Trump introduced him to the property’s resident physician, Dr. Ginger Lea Southall. When she was out of earshot, Singer asked Trump where Southall had been trained.

Trump replied, “I’m not sure. Baywatch Medical School? Does that sound right? I’ll tell you the truth. Once I saw Dr. Ginger’s photograph, I didn’t really need to look at her résumé or anyone else’s. Are you asking, ‘Did we hire her because she’d trained at Mount Sinai for fifteen years?’ The answer is no. And I’ll tell you why: because by the time she’s spent fifteen years at Mount Sinai, we don’t want to look at her.”

The most vulgar man anyone has ever met.

While her looming, lurching, lunatic opponent

Oct 13th, 2016 8:34 am | By

I was thinking what L. V. Anderson says at Slate: that Clinton’s ability to stay calm, cheerful, reasonable, and coherent during that trainwreck of a “debate” on Sunday is a kind of superpower. I was thinking the whole time how totally impossible I would find that. I was thinking about the years of experience she’s had, as a practicing lawyer as well as a campaigner and politician, that must have helped train her, but also that it’s still a superpower.

Trump was as ugly and uninspiring as usual. But here’s what people haven’t been saying in the days since the debate: Hillary was inspiring as all get out.

Yes, I’m familiar with all the arguments against Hillary as inspirer-in-chief. She’s part of the establishment. She’s laden with potential conflicts of interest. Her judgment during the whole email thing was poor. She seems, to many observers, wooden and robotic. Fine. The fact remains that Hillary stood onstage and calmly and persuasively made the case for her candidacy while her looming, lurching, lunatic opponent attempted to humiliate her in front of the entire world. If Hillary can do that, then the rest of us can do whatever we put our minds to.

Or, in fact, if Clinton can do that, she has extraordinary abilities. She didn’t quake, she didn’t turn red, she didn’t sweat, she didn’t lose it and start yelling – in the face of the shocking anomaly of having to deal with a raving barely-literate narcissist bent on insulting and threatening her as the other candidate for that job. That takes a lot of discipline.

What would you do? If I were Hillary, I would blubber incomprehensibly through my rage-tears for the duration of the debate, if I lasted onstage that long.

Exactly. So would I.

I am not saying Hillary deserves credit just for showing up and getting the job done. I am saying she deserves credit for showing up and getting the job done while a psychopath invaded her personal space, lied repeatedly, attempted to degrade her in the basest and vilest terms, and threatened to jail her for the crime of being a successful woman in the public eye.

Or to put it another way…when they go low, we go high.

A highly agitated Mr. Trump

Oct 12th, 2016 5:51 pm | By

Wait, there’s more. Two women say Trump groped or kissed them.

At the debate he said it was just talk; he’d never actually done it.

At that moment, sitting at home in Manhattan, Jessica Leeds, 74, felt he was lying to her face. “I wanted to punch the screen,” she said in an interview in her apartment.

More than three decades ago, when she was a traveling businesswoman at a paper company, Ms. Leeds said, she sat beside Mr. Trump in the first-class cabin of a flight to New York. They had never met before.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, she recalled, Mr. Trump lifted the armrest and began to touch her.

According to Ms. Leeds, Mr. Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

Tried to grab her by the pussy, in short.

Mr. Trump’s claim that his crude words had never turned into actions was similarly infuriating to a woman watching on Sunday night in Ohio: Rachel Crooks.

Ms. Crooks was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan, when she encountered Mr. Trump outside an elevator in the building one morning in 2005.

Aware that her company did business with Mr. Trump, she turned and introduced herself. They shook hands, but Mr. Trump would not let go, she said. Instead, he began kissing her cheeks. Then, she said, he “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

But he’s supposed to be allowed to do that, because he’s a star. He said so himself.

In a phone interview on Tuesday night, a highly agitated Mr. Trump denied every one of the women’s claims.

“None of this ever took place,” said Mr. Trump, who began shouting at The Times reporter who was questioning him. He said that The Times was making up the allegations to hurt him and that he would sue the news organization if it reported them.

“You are a disgusting human being,” he told the reporter as she questioned him about the women’s claims.

No, Trump, that’s you. You’re the disgusting human being. It’s not Clinton who’s full of hate, it’s you. You’re projecting.

Asked whether he had ever done any of the kissing or groping that he had described on the recording, Mr. Trump was once again insistent: “I don’t do it. I don’t do it. It was locker room talk.”

But for the women who shared their stories with The Times, the recording was more than that: As upsetting as it was, it offered them a kind of affirmation, they said.

That was the case for Ms. Taggart. Mr. Trump’s description of how he kisses beautiful women without invitation described precisely what he did to her, she said.

“I just start kissing them,” Mr. Trump said on the tape. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“Wait” as in “wait to ask and to receive an affirmative answer.”

Leeds didn’t complain to a flight attendant at the time because she was all too familiar with handsy men in business.

“We accepted it for years,” she said of the conduct. “We were taught it was our fault.”

She recalled bumping into Mr. Trump at a charity event in New York about two years later, and said he seemed to recall her, insulting her with a crude remark.

She had largely put the encounter on the plane out of her mind until last year, when Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign became more serious. Since then, she has told a widening circle of people, including her son, a nephew and two friends, all of whom were contacted by The Times.

They said they were sickened by what they heard. “It made me shake,” said Linda Ross, a neighbor and friend who spoke with Ms. Leeds about the interaction about six months ago. Like several of Ms. Leeds’s friends, Ms. Ross encouraged her to tell her story to the news media. Ms. Leeds had resisted until Sunday’s debate, which she watched with Ms. Ross.

That’s interesting. She resisted until the debate – until Anderson Cooper asked him straight up if he’d done it and he said no. Until she felt like punching the tv.

Guess who’s the disgusting human being here.

The natural urge

Oct 12th, 2016 5:11 pm | By

From The Man Who Has It All:

I resist the natural urge to grab my employees by the testes because I have a husband, son and father. Otherwise I would.

Claire, CEO

Trump’s moral calculator

Oct 12th, 2016 4:16 pm | By

Trump is ramping up the authoritarian nonsense about putting Clinton in jail.

Donald Trump said Wednesday that Hillary Clinton “has to go to jail” because the scandal over her email server, comments that mark a major departure from the American political tradition.

And the outrageousness of it is all the more so given the multiple crimes he is alleged to have committed.

At a morning rally in Ocala, Trump said that he was “embarrassed” Congress had not done more to probe Clinton after the FBI decided not to seek charges against her over the private email server she used as secretary of state.

“Do they make deals like this?” Trump asked.

“This is the most heinous, the most serious thing that I’ve ever seen involving justice in the United States — in the history of the United States.”

“We have a person that has committed crimes that is now running for the presidency.”

The most heinous, the most serious thing that he’s ever seen involving justice in the United States – not slavery, not the genocide of Native Americans, not the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2, not the Tuskegee experiment, not the many right-wing coups fostered by the CIA during the cold war…but a former Secretary of State’s use of a private email server.

What a moral pygmy he is.

Later on, after moving on to Lakeland, Florida, Trump again renewed his vow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton if he is elected.

Clinton “has to go to jail,” Trump warned, adding that the lawyers working for her over the email issue should also be incarcerated.

And her dentist! And her best friend from third grade! And Sidney Blumenthal! And everyone she’s ever known!

If that is not racism, the word has no meaning

Oct 12th, 2016 9:18 am | By

Jessica Lussenhop at the BBC is another who points out that it’s unfortunate the Central Park 5 story got buried last week by the boasting of sexual assault story.

The heinous attack was committed while New York City was in the throes of a crack epidemic and the number of homicides were reaching all-time highs.

In this climate, and in response to the attack, Donald Trump – then known only as the flashy real estate developer who had just purchased the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City – took out a full-page ad in four New York newspapers.

“Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police!” the ad read.

“I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyse or understand them, I am looking to punish them,” he continued.

“Civil liberties end when an attack on our safety begins!”

That’s Trump. He’s not looking to understand anything.

But in 2002 serial rapist and convicted murderer Matias Reyes confessed he’d done the crime on his own, and DNA evidence confirmed it.

Nevertheless, Mr Trump has never apologised for his ads or acknowledged the existence of the true perpetrator.

To this day, he insists the Central Park Five are guilty.

But very soon after he told CNN that, the rapey comments story broke, and grabbed all the attention.

In the ensuing uproar, the Central Park Five comments were lost.

With them went an opportunity to carefully examine why Mr Trump refuses to accept the exonerations of the five men, and what implications that has for a Trump presidency.

There were no questions about it at the Sunday debate.

However, many prominent observers want the moment marked.

“Apparently Mr Trump is unfamiliar with the concept of wrongful conviction,” tweeted documentarian Ken Burns, who made a critically acclaimed film about the bungled investigation and prosecution of the five boys.

“He should be apologising for calling for their death, not claiming they’re guilty,”tweeted California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. “This is not ‘law and order’.”

Some, like the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson, called Mr Trump’s stance blatantly racist.

“For young African American and Latino men, Trump has a clear and ominous message: You must be guilty of something. Not even scientific proof can convince him otherwise,” Robinson wrote.

“If that is not racism, the word has no meaning.”

Or his ominous message is even: It doesn’t matter whether you’re guilty or not, you need to be punished anyway.

I’ll be so glad when this is over.

Trump sources WikiLeaks, Russia, Putin, Sputnik

Oct 12th, 2016 8:51 am | By

NPR reports that Trump is apparently quoting Russian propaganda in order to slime Clinton some more.

A riff by Donald Trump at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Monday night about Hillary Clinton’s culpability in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, is raising questions about where exactly Trump got his information and how.

During his speech, Trump held up a piece of paper. “This just came out a little while ago. I have to tell you this,” Trump said as he read from the page, which he identified as an email from Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal.

“The attack was almost certainly preventable,” Trump read. He continued, “Clinton was in charge of the State Department … if the GOP wants to raise that as a talking point against her, it is legitimate.”

Trump said, “In other words he [Blumenthal] is admitting that they could have done something about Benghazi. This just came out, a little while ago.”

Trump folded the page and let it fall to the floor, and his audience booed.

But – surprise surprise – it’s just another Trump lie.

For Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald, the words Trump read sounded familiar. It turns out they were taken from an article he wrote, which Blumenthal had included in an email. So they were not Blumenthal’s words, but Eichenwald’s.

The misconstrued “email” that Trump was reading had appeared in an article on a Russia-funded website called Sputnik, which has since taken it down.

You can see the original in a screen grab from The Washington Post.

Eichenwald asked in Newsweek “Who in the Trump campaign was feeding him falsehoods straight from the Kremlin?”

Roger Ailes? Rudy Giuliani? His hairdresser?

The Blumenthal email containing the Eichenwald story was posted by WikiLeaks, and apparently hacked from Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s account.

The Obama administration stated last week it is confident that Russia is behind the hacking, which it asserts is “intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”

It just couldn’t be any more squalid, could it.

Daddy god told me it was all mine

Oct 12th, 2016 8:02 am | By

Ahhhhhh that spells it out clearly enough for anyone. Never mind about Trump’s boast about sexually assaulting women, the important principle is that women must not be the boss of men, ever ever ever ever ever pardon me just a moment while I grab my testicles and cry.

When was the last time you heard your pastor give a sermon on the fact that women shouldn’t be in leadership?

Aw, coach, he goes on sarcastically, those are old times. Nuh uh, he says –

I think it’s pretty clear that the Bible teaches us that women should not be in authority over a mayun.”

Why? Well, he explains that.

When women rule over a mayun – when children rule over a mayun – [fraught pause] – it’s a sign of judgment of the lord.

Clearly it’s because women are so stupid and inferior and not good enough.

His scorn is impressive.

Shut up about free speech!

Oct 12th, 2016 7:47 am | By

Jesus and Mo chat about that gymnast who dared to make fun of Islam.


The Patreon is here.


Trump likes waterboarding a lot

Oct 12th, 2016 7:28 am | By

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights doesn’t think much of Donald Trump.

Mr Hussein said at a news briefing in Geneva: “If Donald Trump is elected on the basis of what he has said already – and unless that changes – I think it is without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view.”

Mr Hussein said he was “not keen or intent on interfering in any political campaign within any particular country”.

But he said that when an election could result in an increase in the use of torture “or the focus on vulnerable communities in a way that suggests that they may well be deprived of their human rights, then I think it is incumbent to say so”.

That’s sweetly understated. Trump has been very clear about his contempt for human rights.

During the campaign, Mr Trump has said that “torture works” and has promised to bring back “a lot worse than waterboarding”.

Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques previously used by US forces on terror suspects have been banned by the Obama administration.

Mr Trump said of waterboarding in June: “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”

His comments on migrants, Mexicans in particular, have drawn fire from rights activists.

He has vowed to build a wall along the Mexican border and in June 2015 branded some Mexican migrants “rapists” and “murderers”.

He’s disgraced us all. It will take years to live it down.

An entire nation was wiped off the face of the earth because of it

Oct 12th, 2016 7:21 am | By

5 Pillars editor Roshan Muhammed Salih talks to “scholar” Hamza Sodagar about this whole “execute teh gays” thing. Summary: homosecks is totally evil but it’s up to the state to kill them, not free lancers.

Roshan Muhammed Salih: In a 2010 video you said that the punishment for homosexuality was burning, beheading, throwing them off a cliff, pushing a wall on them or a combination of all five. British newspapers have since labelled you a hate preacher and an extremist and have called for a ban on you entering the UK. Did you call for homosexuals to be beheaded and burned?

Shaikh Hamza Sodagar: This couldn’t be further from the truth – I even mentioned in the lecture that there could be a misunderstanding like this. I was simply explaining the Islamic penal code and if someone disagrees with this code that is their issue. The important thing to say is that it sounds like I’m telling people to go out on the street and find homosexuals somewhere and light them up and chop off their heads. But I am not preaching that, I am also saying that it is actually haraam to do that, even in an Islamic country you have no right to do that.

The penal code does not apply outside of an Islamic country and inside an Islamic country if people come to know that a male has been involved physically with another male then they have to report that to the authorities and they have to look into it. And if it is established by the authorities then they carry out the punishment, but an individual has no right to carry it out himself and if they do that’s a sin.

And he, Sodagar, is an Islamic “scholar” so he sides with the way things are “inside an Islamic country” so he considers “the punishment” (execution) to be halal and correct and good. He thinks LGB people are evil and should be judicially killed by Islamic states.

In the 1960s the gay rights movement began and they made it sound like they were an organic movement akin to the black rights movement or the women’s movement, but it’s not like that. Homosexuality is something that is unnatural, and this corruption is being forced upon us.

There is a war on religion, whether it be on Christianity, Judaism (real Judaism, not Zionism) and Islam. People of these various faiths are not even allowed to express their views, even the Pope is made to make various compromises and comments which verge on accepting homosexuality. But this is such a severe matter based on what Allah (SWT) has told us in the Quran that an entire nation was wiped off the face of the earth because of it. So if this becomes widespread it will hurt all of us; I am responsible to prevent this evil, this wrong and this corruption from spreading.

Thus he demonstrates how crappy theocratic “thinking” can be. He doesn’t offer a ghost of a reason to think that homosexuality is “corruption,” he simply says Allah says so.

That’s not scholarship.

We need the ability to use political analysis

Oct 11th, 2016 5:48 pm | By

We’re not triggered, we’re pissed off. Susan Cox at Feminist Current:

After it was revealed that Donald Trump bragged on tape in 2005 about getting away with sexually assaulting women because he’s such a big “star,” many American women said Trump’s callous dismissal of his actions as “locker room talk,” as well as Sunday night’s debate, felt “triggering.” As described in a reader letter to The Atlantic:

“Last night’s debate was a triggering event for pretty much every woman I know. That also seems to be the general reaction online amongst women I don’t know. Whether we were raped, assaulted, harassed, or in an abusive relationship, Trump last night embodied everything we have had to deal with throughout our lives.”

Women began sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault online in order to condemn Trump’s words and actions. It’s as if we hoped that if we made our pronouncements of personal psychological suffering loud enough through collective amplification, someone would finally give a damn.

But maybe the world will just think oh the poor feeble things and then go back to business as usual.

When social reality appears as a set of individual “conditions” or dispositions, wherein each person is “born this way,” we lose the ability to use political analysis  as a means to explain social trends or patterns. For example, if BDSM is just another sexual “orientation,” feminism loses the ability to critique the sexualization of dominance and submission in the cultural maintenance of male supremacy.

Especially if the critique is accused of kink shaming.

He was just looking to expand his brand

Oct 11th, 2016 4:34 pm | By

John Scalzi on Trump as the worst ever and the inevitable result of what the Republican Party has been up to.

He’s not some weird “how did that happen??” but the natural outcome of the Republicans’ steady march to the right.

Well, surprise! Here’s Donald Trump. He is the actual and physical embodiment of every single thing the GOP has trained its base to want and to be over the last forty years — ignorant, bigoted and money-grubbing, disdainful of facts and frightened of everything because of it, an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism, threatening brown people and leering at women. He was planned. He was intended. He was expected. He was wanted.

Only, they wanted someone more charming about it, more telegenic, more adorable. They didn’t want an angry pumpkin who can’t string a coherent sentence together. Also they wanted a Republican, someone they could control. Trump is a Trumpist instead of a Republican.

And this is why the GOP deserves the chaos that’s happening to it now, with its appalling and parasitic standard bearer, who will never be president, driving his GOP host body toward the cliff. If it accepts the parasite, it will be driven off the cliff. If it resists, the parasite Trump will rip himself from it, leaving bloody marks as it does so, and then shove the dazed and wounded GOP from the precipice.

Trump was never about being a Republican; he was just looking to expand his brand. As it turns out, like apparently so many things Trump does, he’s done an awful job of it — the name Trump, formerly merely associated with garish ostentation and bankruptcy, is now synonymous with white nationalism, sexual battery and failure — but the point is on November 9th Trump is going to move on and leave the wreckage of the GOP in his wake, off to his next thing (everyone assumes “Trump TV,” in which Trump combines with Breitbart to make white pride propaganda for the kind of millennial racist who thinks a Pepe the Frog Twitter icon is the height of wit — and I hope he does, because the Trump touch will drive that enterprise into the ground, and little would warm my heart more than a bankrupt Breitbart).

I don’t know – I think the GOP will just dust itself off and laugh ruefully and go right back to being the home of the Tea Party.

H/t G Felis

Real costs

Oct 11th, 2016 11:45 am | By

And all this groping and copping and leering and following isn’t just a nuisance, unpleasant, irksome – it works as a kind of purdah, restricting us in ways we shouldn’t be restricted (in ways men are not restricted). Amanda Taub in the Times calls it a tax.

The leaked footage of Donald J. Trumpboasting of sexually harassing and assaulting women is just one particularly notable example of an all-too-common phenomenon: Far too many men treat women’s bodies as if they are fair game for anyone who happens to encounter them.

This kind of behavior isn’t just offensive; it also imposes real costs on women. The burden of avoiding and enduring sexual harassment and assault results, over time, in lost opportunities and less favorable outcomes for girls and women. It is effectively a sort of gender-specific tax that many women have no choice but to pay.

How do you avoid assault when it’s ubiquitous? You stay home, or you go out only if someone can go with you, or you avoid particular situations. It’s all a tax, it’s all purdah.

Dangers that common are practically impossible to ignore, and many women have had no option but to learn how to protect themselves in such an environment. As my Times colleague Amanda Hess put it, “When Trump is alone with the guys he brags about assaulting women. When women are alone together we warn each other about men like him.”

From an early age, many American women absorb the message, subtle but unmistakable, that they cannot assume others will prevent or stop men from groping, harassing or even assaulting them, so it is their job to anticipate and avoid such acts.

Schools, parents and society at large tell women to take “personal responsibility” for their safety, even if that means limiting their own freedom.

And of course it always does mean limiting their own freedom. Don’t go out alone, don’t go to this park or that area, don’t drink, don’t don’t don’t.

Whereas men can freely seize an opportunity, women must pause and weigh the costs. Here are some examples of the questions women may ask themselves:

■ Is it worth accepting a professor’s offer for one-on-one research mentorship on the assumption that his interest in me is strictly academic?

■ At a business dinner, when drinking gets heavy and the clients start to seem awfully friendly, is it worth staying in the hope that the sale will close and things won’t turn uncomfortable, or worse?

■ At a conference, when networking happens late, at a bar, and the conversation starts to turn, is it worth staying to make valuable professional connections?

And so on. Men don’t have to ask themselves those questions.

If you watch the leaked 2005 “Access Hollywood” video closely, you can see the tax in action. Mr. Trump and Billy Bush, the host of the segment, approach Arianne Zucker, an actress, and request hugs. After she stiffly complies, Mr. Bush demands, over her obvious discomfort, that she choose which man she would prefer for a date.

It’s impossible to know precisely what Ms. Zucker was thinking, but she looks far from pleased by the line of questioning.

However, despite her unease, she complies. Refusing the hugs or ignoring the question would have risked angering two powerful men, which could have had consequences for her job.

They treated her like a bimbo, and she had to go along with it.

These taxes are the broader cost of the kind of behavior Mr. Trump boasted about in the leaked footage. Sometimes that cost is the pain and humiliation felt by the women who men directly grope, kiss and harass. But it’s also the aggregate losses of all the women who stayed home, who stepped back, who didn’t take an opportunity because that would have meant risking pain or humiliation that, at the time, just didn’t seem quite worth it.

It may well not be worth it – but that’s the tax. It’s as if all men’s opportunities came with a decent chance of being bitten by a tiger. Many such opportunities would seem not quite worth it…and that would be a tax.

Trump’s words struck a particular nerve

Oct 11th, 2016 11:13 am | By

Trump’s “grab them by the pussy” has triggered another one of those social media floods, the Times reports.

It was the author Kelly Oxford, a social media powerhouse, who got things started on Friday night.

“Women: tweet me your first assaults,” she wrote on Twitter at 7:48 p.m. “They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.”

When she first posted the message, Ms. Oxford said in an interview later, she did not expect more than a handful of replies. “It was such a personal question,” she said. “I thought, ‘No one is going to share anything on Twitter.’”

Yet by Saturday morning, she was getting as many as 50 responses per minute: often-explicit, first-person accounts of molestation. A hashtag had materialized: “#notokay.” The Twitter posts continued to pour in through the weekend. And by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Ms. Oxford’s Twitter page.

There’s probably not a woman on the planet who hasn’t experienced it, multiple times.

Facebook pages and Twitter feeds filled with comments and multiplying threads from women who recalled being groped by doctors, by piano teachers, by photography instructors, by perfect strangers. They told stories of being flashed on the bus by masturbators, of having male colleagues rub up against them at the copy machine in their office, of dates and bosses demanding sex.

It’s a wonder more women aren’t put off sex for life. In fact…it occurs to me that this ubiquity makes it very strange – stranger than I already thought it – that libertarian feminists like to call radical feminists “sex negative.” Why wouldn’t many women be “sex negative” given this background? Why isn’t that a perfectly understandable and legitimate (however sad) response to an experience of repeated sexual assaults? It’s good that most women don’t hate sex, but it’s pretty generous of them not to.

[T]o many victims of sexual assault, Mr. Trump’s words struck a particular nerve. It was not simply that he is the Republican presidential nominee, and that a hot microphone had captured him speaking unguardedly. It was his casual tone, the manner in which he and the television personality Billy Bush appeared to be speaking a common language, many women said, that gave Mr. Trump’s boasts a special resonance.

What he said and how he said it seemed to say as much about the broader environment toward women — an environment that had kept many of these women silent for so long — as they did about the candidate. And Mr. Trump’s dismissal of his actions as “locker room talk” only underscored the point.

Exactly. Trump said what he said so confidently, and Billy Bush played up so obligingly – it’s all too obvious that it’s just normal.

“This is RAPE CULTURE — the cultural conditioning of men and boys to feel entitled to treat women as objects,” Jill Gallenstein, 40, a retail executive in Los Angeles, wrote on Facebook. “It’s women and girls questioning what they have done to provoke such behavior. It’s the dismissing of this behavior because ‘it’s the way it has always been.’ It’s justifying the behavior because other powerful men have done it too. ‘Locker room talk’ normalizes this behavior — what we say matters.”

The “locker room talk” is the cultural conditioning of men and boys to feel entitled to treat women as objects. As Deborah Cameron explained, they bond with each other by exchanging these tokens of entitlement and contempt.

Even before the release of the 2005 recording of Mr. Trump, 2016 was shaping up as something of a watershed year for awareness of sexual harassment, between the pending trial against Bill Cosby and the high-profile case of Brock Turner, the former Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault.

For many women watching and reacting to the weekend’s events, the surprise news conference on Facebook Live that Mr. Trump staged before Sunday night’s debate, with three women who have long accused Mr. Clinton of sexual assault or harassment, only compounded the damage he had done in the original recording. They saw him not as giving voice to victims of sexual abuse but as using the women as props.

Props in his project of bullying and degrading a woman who dares to compete with him.

All he has left is trash talk

Oct 11th, 2016 10:14 am | By

Michael Gerson says the Republicans deserve their fate. True. They spent the night in the dog’s bed and now they’re full of fleas.

What Trump actually did was ensure that hardcore conservatives stay with him until the end of his political journey, when Republicans begin the search for survivors and examine the charred black box. Trump’s performance was perfectly tuned to make a loyal Rush Limbaugh listener burst out in “Hell, yeah!” Put Juanita Broaddrick in the audience? Threaten to jail your opponent? Throw WikiLeaks in her face? Blame her for the death of Capt. Humayun Khan in Iraq? Dismiss all the fuss about sexual predation as locker-room talk? Hell, yeah!

This kind of thing has been normalized in far-right discourse for decades. To the most partisan and polarized portion of the right, these excuses and accusations were familiar and appropriate.

To many people outside the talk-radio hothouse, I can attest, Trump’s debate performance was appalling, contemptible, shameful, squalid, vile.

Exactly so. He makes mediocrities like Bush and Reagan seem stellar.

Trump and his advisers must know that the conservative talk-radio audience, and the Republican primary electorate, is different from a national electorate, which actually includes minorities, young people and women who don’t like disgusting boors. Perhaps Trump’s strategy was a recognition that even his strongest supporters were on the verge of bolting and needed to be appeased. Perhaps Trump’s knowledge of policy is so thin that it fills three or four minutes of a 90-minute debate and all he has left is trash talk. Or perhaps he is captive to his impulses, incapable of shame and nasty to the core.

Those last two. It was those. Trash talk is all he’s got, because he is trashy.

This sad Republican fate is deserved. It is the culmination, the fruition, of an absurdly simplistic anti-establishment attitude. The Trump campaign is what happens when you choose a presidential candidate without the taint of electoral experience — and all the past vetting that comes with it. It is what happens when you pick a candidate who has not engaged in serious public argument over a period in which his or her views and consistency can be tested. It is what happens when you embrace a candidate only on the basis of an outsider persona, who lacks actual political skills — like making a policy argument, empathizing with a voter or avoiding a constant stream of distracting gaffes.

The same can be said of Bush and Reagan, to name two. But compared to Trump, they’re Burke reincarnated.

Looming like a mob boss

Oct 11th, 2016 9:41 am | By

A dance critic dissects Trump’s moves in the debate.

Donald Trump, looming behind Hillary Clinton like a mob boss, only reinforced his perception as a schoolyard bully in the second presidential debate Sunday night.

The dance was grim from the start. Trump entered looking exhausted. In a break with protocol, the candidates didn’t shake hands. And then Trump began lurking behind Clinton when she spoke, with his carefully planted stance, his narrowed eyes and his frown.

More a scowl than a frown. He looked ridiculous. Intimidating, yes, but also ridiculous.

“This is exactly who Donald Trump is,” Clinton said, speaking about the tapes. Trump helpfully backed her up with his demeanor. He paced and rocked and grimaced as she spoke; he broke into her time by shouting over her. When she protested that she had not done the same to him, he shot back with all the finesse you’d hear in a middle school gym: “That’s ’cause you got nothin’ to say.”

Ignorant, vulgar, and rude – what an adornment to the office he would be.

When it was his turn to speak, Trump got angry, pointed at her, swung his arms around with alarming force. Clinton had to have been disturbed by the ill temper and aggressive gestures he directed at her, though she seemed remarkably unflappable.

But bullying was on her mind. Late in the evening she mentioned “the Trump effect” and noted that bullies in school are on the rise because of it. She was referring to a 2016 survey of K-12 teachers, titled “The Trump Effect,” that was conducted by Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. It found a recent increase in bullying, harassment and intimidation among students, along with a rise in fear and anxiety, particularly among the minority groups Trump has targeted.

I haven’t read the survey and have no idea how they determined that Trump was cause and not correlation…but it would be odd if he hadn’t had any effect at all. I suppose we could hope that his long-term effect will turn out to be revulsion and a diminution of bullying…Yeah, that will happen…

That jail threat

Oct 10th, 2016 5:57 pm | By

Then there was the part where he announced that if elected he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s email setup. Josh Gerstein at Politico reports that it “provoked a sharp blowback from former U.S. prosecutors, who said Trump’s view of the Justice Department serving the whims of the president is antithetical to the American system.”

Well ok but Trump doesn’t know much about the American system. He knows about real estate profiteering, and cheating, and bankruptcy, and pretending to be a Big Boss on tv. Oh and grabbing women by the pussy whether they want him to or not.

While presidents appoint the attorney general, they do not make decisions on whom to prosecute for crimes — and were Trump to do so, prosecutors warned, he would spark a constitutional crisis similar to that of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in the Nixon administration. In that case, Nixon attempted to fire the prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal, and the top two Justice Department officials resigned on the spot.

Oh well Trump would just have them executed, or sent to Russia, or something.

He said it again at a rally in Ambridge, Pennsylvania this afternoon.

“Special prosecutor, here we come, right? If I win, we’re going to appoint a special prosecutor,” Trump declared.

However, former Republican appointees to senior Justice Department posts used words like “abhorrent,” “absurd” and “terrifying” to describe Trump’s threat to use the legal system to imprison Clinton.

“For Donald Trump to say he will have a special prosecutor appointed and to have tried and convicted her already and say she’d go to jail is wholly inappropriate and the kind of talk more befitting a Third World country than it is our democracy,” said Paul Charlton, who spent a decade as a federal prosecutor before serving as U.S. attorney for Arizona under President George W. Bush.

Just locker room talk. No big deal.

The only way the team wins games

Oct 10th, 2016 4:54 pm | By

Chris Kluwe, a football (US football) player, tells Trump that even football players don’t say the kind of thing he said. I don’t really believe that claim, but he says some good things.

Now, Donald, I’m sure you’re wondering just what it is we talk about in a professional locker room, if we don’t spend all our time regarding 50 percent of the population as mobile fuck receptacles eagerly awaiting our tiny-handed grasp on their love lapels. I shall educate you!

We talk about our families. We talk about our significant others, our children, and our parents. We talk about our fears that if a Hitler wannabe who can’t even string together a coherent statement on domestic policy becomes president, what that might mean for those of us who are married to a member of a minority community, or are a member of a minority community, or have children going to schools where hopefully nobody screams racial epithets at them or tells them to go back to [insert foreign country they couldn’t identify on a map here].

And travel, and foreign cities, and money, and paying taxes – which they actually do, unlike some.

We talk about how all of us pay taxes, every year, and wonder what a presidential candidate might have to hide if he so stubbornly refuses to release his returns, what possible foreign debts might be lurking in that finance closet he so desperately holds shut with every ounce of his contemptible mental faculties.

They talk about accountability.

In a professional sports environment, all of us are accountable to each other. We’re a team. If one of us messes up on the field, it affects everyone. Just like if a president makes a bad decision, it affects everyone. And do you know, Donald, the only way the team wins games? The only way we win is if, in the locker room, we’re willing to accept that accountability, address our mistakes, and work as hard as we possibly can to make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.

We don’t double down on a shitty play simply because a small portion of the fan base got excited by it. We don’t try to carve the team apart from the inside to appease a certain position group. We don’t blame our mistakes on something someone else did, because if we do any of those things, we lose, something you’ve become intimately familiar with on a personal, financial, and political level, and I’m not having too many difficulties reviewing how that happened to you on the game film.

So let me conclude with some advice for you, Donald. The next time you want to claim that something is “locker room talk,” take a moment to recognize the fact that were you in an actual locker room, you would be universally reviled as a cancerous, egotistical train wreck of a disgrace that no team could possibly find the time to employ and, honestly, would never even have on their draft board to begin with.

I’ve been in locker rooms, Donald, and you’re the type of narcissistic, pants-soiling fecal eruption that just doesn’t belong. Even football players are smart enough to know that.

He can play football and he can write.