Monday, October 31, 2016

A Stark Choice Between Good And Evil, Competent and Incompetent, Moderate/Progressive and Extreme Right

We have a choice in this election. A man who brags about assaulting women, who incites violence against minorities, who doesn’t pay the people he hires, who has reaped many millions by bankrupting companies and violating contracts, who promises to imprison his opponent, who has no relevant experience for the job, very limited understanding of the issues, and an unstable personality and hair trigger. The list is almost endless… Why is Donald Trump still supported by as many people as he is. To quote a famous song title: It Smells Like Team Spirit. He can be a monster but he’s their monster. By the way, Donald Trump will be brought into court on multiple fraud charges in November, and child rape charges in December.

The other candidate, Hillary Clinton is being questioned about her managing of an email account. Why is this an issue? Because the Republicans could find no other issue to attack her on. Ever Since Nixon the Republican strategy has been to attack the Democrats’ strongest candidate and tear them apart. They’ve done that and found nothing to attack but her womanhood and her use of email. Her strengths are obvious and many. Her weaknesses have all been attacked to death and she is still standing, a remarkable testament to her fiber and courage.

The Email issue is not a scandal, it's a witch hunt. SLATE asks why we're still talking about it with all that's at stake.

Trump meanwhile promises a dangerous sea change unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

Donald Trump’s thirst for revenge is almost as great as his thirst for power and money

NBCNews reports on Donald Trump's vengeful world view. Once in power he will use that power to punish and destroy his opponents.

The GOP is now the authoritarian party angry white men have been dreaming about

New York Magazine has this analysis of the extremist authoritarian angry white man's party the GOP has become.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Email Flap About Nothing May Give Us Our First Fascist President

The emails in question, a mere handful, are not to or from Clinton.

Reported in the LATimes

"Comey wrote in a letter to Congress that the newly discovered messages could be relevant to questions of whether Clinton and her aides mishandled classified information while she was secretary of State. The emails were not to or from Clinton, and contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered, the official said, but in an abundance of caution, they felt they needed to further scrutinize them.”

An abundance of caution designed to be quickly misinterpreted by the voting public is not cautious, it is cynical and manipulative, it is a corruption of the electoral process by a Republican in a key position to do so. It ranks with Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace process in 1968 which won him the presidency.

Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek

This article at SLATE explains why this latest flap is a nothing about nothing.

At this point will it matter what the truth is?

At the end of his term as a Republican appointed to a post of trust in a Democratic administration, Comey appears to have seized this crucial moment to score for his team. Partisan politics has no place in law enforcement. When it’s wrapped in pious phrases about principle and “abundance of caution” it’s especially sickening.

Jane Mayer reports on how Comey decided to violate all FBI and DOJ procedure to win one for the GOP team.

Comey gives every appearance of wanting to steer this election from his post at the FBI.

He seems to be signaling that he’d very much like to be the top policeman in President Trump’s new police state.

In case anyone has forgotten what a real email scandal looks like, there's the case of the 22 million emails the Bush/Cheney White House destroyed while under investigation for firing US Attorneys across the country.

Reported in Newsweek

That was not prosecuted or investigated by the Obama White House because that is against American tradition to prosecute political opponents.

Of course Trump has been promising for months that he will immediately imprison Hillary Clinton if he is elected. It’s what dictators do. And a lot of Americans like the idea.

If Americans are rational and intelligent this will backfire on Comey and the witch hunters in Congress.

Are Americans rational?

I’ve been hearing from Americans who are willing to accept a fascist president because Hillary Clinton is a moderate and not lefty enough.

I’ve been hearing from Americans who are willing to elect a president who denies climate science because Hillary Clinton didn’t lie down in front of the pipeline bulldozers in North Dakota.

I hope we regain our reason.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Health Insurers Have Figured Out How To Play The New System

Question: have the insurers pocketed the significant profits from the millions of low risk young people who previously were not required to have insurance?

It must have been a nice percentage of their profits. I think they have carefully segregated that large increase in low risk revenue from the higher risk people they can punish for their illnesses. Insurance is supposed to use economies of scale to spread risk, but I think insurers are instead carefully segregating risks to maximize premiums where possible.

When insurers selectively refuse to spread the risk for the benefit of their policyholders it is a fundamental violation of the whole idea of insurance.

I am in a new captive category: individuals who are no longer welcome in the insurance companies’ economies of scale for the “crime" of being an individual and not an employee of a large company. It’s the same old category from before. It appears the insurers have figured out how to sort the insured back into the ghettos which maximize their profits and minimize their expenses.

Wendell Potter, the sharpest observer we have on health insurance issues, has this to say.

Vox has published an interesting conversation about the sudden "problems" with Obamacare.

I think we’ve turned back toward the vicious cycle we saw previously, where the health insurers were motivated to exclude all the unlucky people who actually needed healthcare.

The insurance companies' new insurance pools where premiums are still affordable begin to look like exclusive clubs. The people who are welcomed in enjoy the lower premiums that they qualify for as healthy people and they are encouraged to approve the exclusion of people who are sicker than they are because they benefit from that exclusion.

This is a near perfect example of a vicious cycle, a competitive pursuit of inhumane practices. A more virtuous approach would be to put all Americans into one single risk pool: we are all human beings and all Americans.

There must have been an enormous Obamacare windfall to the insurance companies from the millions of premium-paying low risk young people who suddenly were forced to buy insurance policies. What happened to that windfall? If that revenue was consumed entirely by the increase in healthcare needed by the less healthy who were now insured, how much are the large pools of employee insurance plans being insulated from the increase? It's a perfect example of safety in numbers. Large groups protect their members, but they also select their members. What about the unfortunate people who are not invited in? Working people tend to be healthier than people who are not working, but less healthy people find it harder to stay employed, so these employee plans self segregate, insulating themselves from the ills of "other people."

How are we supposed to respond to this as human beings? If the previously uninsured were suddenly able to get needed care, why are we blaming the system which made the care possible? Obamacare's innovation was pretty simple: it accepted everybody, sick or well, employed or unemployed, as human beings. More than that: it required us to step up to some basic responsibility toward ourselves and our fellow citizens. Why do so many Americans reject this?

An analogy: a person is drowning and crying for help and we jump in to save them. Afterwards when we notice we are cold and wet are we angry about that? Do we blame the person who was drowning? Or do we simply acknowledge that this discomfort is the price we sometimes pay for being and behaving like a human being? The anger over the rise in premiums is like blaming the person who otherwise would have drowned, suggesting we would have been better off if we hadn’t heard their cries for help.

A fairer and more humane way of looking at this is to recognize we are all in the water. We are all human and mortal and prone to disease and catastrophe. Do we want to live in a society where disaster sorts us out as undesirables, leaving us alone and without help? Single payer would be a more rational solution. It would save us from that heartless and selfish part of us that would rather ignore the people in trouble, or that greedy part of us that would actually try to profit from their misery.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Your Daily Trump––Torches and Pitchforks and Burning Crosses

Trump urges his angriest followers to intimidate voters in black and hispanic neighborhoods

Reported by SLATE

And those communities are preparing to face that

Reported by Reuters

We may have a defining moment of Trump the politician.

A revealing and chilling few seconds from debate 3 reported by SLATE

Not since Nixon have we seen a paranoid this close to power.

From SLATE, the paranoid style in Republican politics

Trump’s anger is less political than it is personal. It’s always been about him. He’s addicted to the attention. He enjoys having people afraid of him. The great primatologist says it reminds her of dominance behavior among chimps.

Reported by Alternet

Donald Trump’s lewd and offensively sexist talk has given new life to a bad old habit among men of keeping women down through fear and intimidation.

Reported by SLATE

This stoking of fear is a central theme of his campaign. Trump has been intimidating women, people of color, immigrants, employees, and every group that has experienced repression in the past. He seeks vulnerabilities he can exploit. Any group that can be conveniently and quickly marginalized and excluded is quickly targeted and instructions go out to his millions of supporters, who are mostly white men or people who see an advantage siding with the supremacy of white men.

Trump's voter intimidation strategy reported by VOX

And by the Boston Globe

And the news media has been complicit. They see a commercial advantage in stoking the ugliness. Fearful audiences watch cable news. Angry audiences are bigger than happy and contented ones.

Reported by Bill Moyers

“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.”

Once again we find sheriffs among the leaders of this pitchfork mob

The Milwaukee sheriff and his pitchfork posse, covered by the Guardian

Is Trump campaign a cult?

Question asked by the New Republic

Beyond the talk of armed revolt, there is the sheer profanity and ugliness of Trump’s revolution.

Reported by the reliably conservative Wall Street Journal

Trump's post election plans may include 24/7 rhetoric on his own news network

Reported by the Christian Science Monitor

In the last debate Trump refused to say he would accept the results of the election. It is growing clearer he will lose and he hates losing. When he loses he needs to say he was cheated.

This is how Republicans and Democrats used to congratulate the winner.

The LATimes looks back on the more gracious politics of George H. W. Bush.

(Of course Bush first won the White House using the Willie Horton ad.)

In an even more disputed election in 2000 Al Gore, who had seen the presidency decided by a split Supreme Court, gave one of the most gracious and dignified speeches of his political life.

Al Gore's speech via CNN. What a different and better and safer world we might have had if Gore hadn't been barred from the presidency by the prejudices of five justices.

One Republican-appointed Supreme Court justice warned of the wave of ignorance and anger we are experiencing today.

Via MSNBC and the Rachel Maddow Show.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Your Daily Trump––He's Wrong In So Many Ways


Trump's ugly, disastrous and malicious business history, reported in Newsweek by Kurt Eichenwald.


VOX reports on how Trump has put bigotry and hate back into the American mainstream.

USUncut reports on the death threats directed at a Republican newspaper that endorsed Hillary.


Michael Tomasky imagines a Trump non-concession concession speech.


In Colorado Springs a high school paper endorses Hillary. From the reaction they got you'd think they'd endorsed Satan.


Slate reports on John McCain's promise to block all court nominees made by Hillary Clinton.

(The GOP is behaving like a former boyfriend that decides to kill their ex so no one else can have her.)


The Independent, in England, reports on the assassination talk in the Trump camp.


Slate reports on the last debate, where Donald Trump showed how incapable, undisciplined, overreactive and irrational he is.


The Catholic bishops have urged all good Catholics oppose Trump.

And with no plans to exit the stage...

Trump has failed big many times but has always managed to escape with the money in a suitcase. The scenario this time is to set up a permanent cable and radio network of hate and bigotry. It would make FoxNews look like Murrow's CBS.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trump and the Alt Right––The Politics of Hate

The Alt Right will not crawl away and hide after this election. If the Republicans hold onto a majority in Congress they will have much greater power.

The Guardian reports on the right wing patriot movement's big recruiting year. They thank Trump.

The groundwork is being laid for Trump’s post-defeat power center as a right-wing hate-media star

Reported by the Financial Times.

This is the ugliness that Trump’s campaign has legitimized. Give a listen to the audience at a Trump rally. From the NewCivilRightsMovement.

The GOP has decided if they can’t win democratically they need to destroy democracy

The Daily Beast reports on GOP ads in Arizona threatening voters.

Even the moderate Republicans [sic] are saying Democratic presidents should not be allowed to nominate Supreme Court Justices.

NPR reports on John McCain's promise to block all SCOTUS nominations by President Hillary Clinton.

A newspaper that hadn’t endorsed a Democrat for president in over a century endorsed Hillary, and then came the death threats

USAToday reports on the death threats received by the Arizona Republic and how they responded.

I have a feeling that the Alt Right takes great comfort from the knowledge that Hitler lost several elections before he gained power. (I didn’t introduce the Hitler comparison, the Alt Right did.)

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Trump Supporters Are Openly Discussing Assassination

Then there is this video story, reported in the Wall Street Journal, of all places.

The Trump juggernaut may be shrinking, but it remains heavily armed and very angry. The alternative course they are discussing, if Trump is not elected president, is for "true patriots” to assassinate President Hillary Clinton.

Politics have reached a dangerous point.

Eight years ago, as President Obama was being inaugurated, Republican leaders met at a Washington D.C. restaurant and swore to oppose everything he proposed and block every person he appointed.

In the antebellum South this was called Nullification. Slave states that didn’t like federal laws limiting the rights of slaveowners and slave traders would simply ignore those federal laws, and ignore any federal courts that upheld them.

In a way, Obama faced what Lincoln faced. When Lincoln became president half the country seceded. That clarified Lincoln’s predicament. But most of these past eight years the modern nullifiers remained in control of Congress, disguising their racism as principle, defying the Constitution while worshiping it, serving in government while actively trying to degrade and destroy its functioning, pouring sand in the works, stirring people’s fear and hatred of our democratic institutions and urging defiance.

When Lincoln's armies won the Civil War, the South was absorbed back into the Union but it remained the same. The treasonous leaders of the rebellion were not hung, they were appointed to head universities. When the South successfully re-suppressed the black majority those Confederate leaders became governors and senators. The new Jim Crow South was, in many places, worse than it had been under slavery.

The United States government did not hang the traitors who had led the rebellion, but one of their embittered followers did assassinate Lincoln.

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Which Americans Prefer Dictatorship?

One thing I’ve been addressing, or trying to address, is this sudden popularity of fascism, of the idea of dictatorship. Why are Americans attracted to something they’ve never experienced? Why do Americans assume that a dictator would take dictation from them personally? Because that is the assumption Trump’s millions of admirers make.

It isn’t a misunderstanding of dictatorship. Dictators have total power but they are products of a machinery which is the source of that power. If Americans think this is a foreign idea or an obsolete idea they are wrong. It’s existed in America for centuries and it’s still here. As most of America has modernized and urbanized there are parts of America that have remained feudal and antebellum.

The regions where Trump is especially popular are actually very familiar with dictatorship.

The only seat of dictatorial power in America (since the decline of the big city machines anyway) is in rural areas where sheriffs run things. Every powerful office in America has a check on its power, a rival power center in the same district–––except small town sheriffs, whose only check is the electorate, an electorate which is more easily cowed and controlled in rural areas.

Rural sheriffs were the enforcers of Jim Crow. But these same sheriffs have also been the enforcers of male rule. Where the sheriff and his posse of good old boys is the only police force you will probably also find that crimes against women are seldom taken seriously. Unless the “violation of sacred womanhood” serves as a useful bludgeon against persons outside the powerful circles surrounding the sheriff.

Former (perhaps not so former) Jim Crow country is also Trump Country and Good Old Boy Country and Women-Do-As-They’re-Told Country. It's familiar from the rural South, but it persists in all corners of the country.

It would be worthwhile to examine and report on what I suspect is a significant difference in how women are protected by the law in these areas compared with the rest of the country, and how women in these areas are coerced into thinking like their menfolk and acting, thinking and voting as they are instructed.

There is an important difference between democratic power––the power of a democratic government––and police power. Certainly, these rural sheriffs are elected, but the actual power exists in the office, which is not subject to vote––these regions do not vote to invalidate the sheriff’s power, they simply rotate the occupants of the office, and the occupants exercise the traditional white male rule, enforcing laws that protect that rule and dismissing complaints that challenge it.

These are the areas where you hear serious discussions of "Obama seizing power", as reported in this MotherJones article. Any exercise of lawful Constitutional powers they dislike or disagree with is considered dictatorial, but their own dictatorial rule is entirely proper because it is local. These areas resent federal laws and judicial rulings and regulations because these are the alternate powers that protect and empower women and minorities.

(This bias against federal law was called Nullification when slave states refused to respect any federal law restricting slaveowners' rights. The strategy of Nullification re-emerged in 2009 as all Republicans vowed to disrespect everything the new black president proposed. This excerpt from a Frontline documentary describes this modern Nullification.)

This article from RightWingWatch describes another example of how rural dictators resent the dictatorial powers of the first black president. They cry out against imaginary dictators while they enjoy their own absolute power. They accuse Washington of dictatorship yet they admire a very real tyrant in Russia, whose spies are working hard to put their man Trump into the White House. (This idea of a local tyrant calling on a foreign tyrant to overthrow the national government is not new. It has roots in the Jacobite rebellions against the British parliament, the discontent that sent floods of emigrants to America, whose descendants still populate America's backwoods South.)

The idea of a local police force answerable to no one outside the community is sacred in the parts of America that gravitate toward Trump. Because how things have always been done in these areas is the only right way to do things. It was that way when Eisenhower tried to “interfere" with their Jim Crow law enforcement. It’s that way now when they scream about Obama’s planned dictatorship. Regulation by a fairer national law is anathema to them. What they call "liberty" we could just as well call defiance. They are defying the Constitution they claim to worship. In areas where women and people of color and newcomers who are simply “not from here" are not protected by the law, the system isn’t a democratic one, it’s a kind of dictatorship. These are the areas which want dictatorship on a national scale.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Surreal Election Year

These Alex Jones broadcast bits are beyond creepy. He’s one of Donald’s biggest cheerleaders on talk radio.

In this one Jones begs Americans to see the danger of Obama and Hillary and bursts into tears.

This Alex Jones bit examines the evidence that Obama and Hillary are sent by Satan.

This next bit is amusing…but is it safe to be amused? Should we satirize? Maybe this normalizes the monster.

From comic Peter Serafinowicz.

Do we laugh or cry? Or hide?

We vote.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some Americans Long For A Dictator

Trump continues to talk like a dictator. Jailing his opponent? Who does that? Tin pot dictators do. Putin does that and worse. Journalists and political opponents and garden variety critics in Russia are disappeared fairly routinely.

There are a lot of Americans who want a dictator and they seem to have the weird idea that this dictator would take dictation from them personally.

Maine's embarrassing bigoted governor said this week that America needs Trump to assert some "authoritarian power." Find the story here, via USAToday. Governor LePage longs for a bully boss, a mob-enforcer-in-chief, a dictator. The same people who shout the loudest about enforcing the Constitution shout even louder demanding we tear it up.

Americans are unfamiliar with what dictators do, because we’ve never had one here.

Actually, we have. I think the people (white, male, angry, Southern and rural predominantly) who long for a dictator may base their longing upon the experience of local dictatorships, local sheriffs for instance, who they’ve never felt the hard, sharp edge of, never suffered from, because they’re white and they’ve been chummy with these little rural dictators. These weren't the sweet, gentle Southern sheriffs played by Andy Griffith.

There may be some in urban areas who miss the old city bosses in once corrupt cities like KC and Chicago and points east. You can bet that Trump's supporters in those places are nostalgic for the days when their political boss meted out vengeance on the other party's followers when he won.

Trump's most rabid supporters don't mind the idea of dictatorship here because they were never the ones who suffered when it occurred. They were the ones favored by these corrupt bosses and tinpot sheriffs. They received the benefit of harm done and confiscations targeted at various minority groups.

If it sounds familiar in another way, this was the way Nazi Germany financed its economy during the thirties, by confiscating the property and businesses and land owned by the Jews. In the Jim Crow South sheriffs routinely swept up black laborers returning home from work, charged them with loitering, and sent them as unpaid laborers to the timber and mining operators; they also financed their county budgets out of the fees these industries paid them for the slave labor, and out of the fines the laborers were charged for "loitering." An excellent and disturbing film was recently made about this and broadcast on PBS.

This tin-pot caricature is a familiar one from movies and novels about the South and Jim Crow. African Americans remember its ugly side even if most Americans have never learned about this sorry legacy. Women suffered too. Abused women who tried to get justice over sexual assault know this good ol’ boy clubbishness and how it invalidated their full citizenship. The authorities dismissed any complaint a woman might make the same way Senator Jeff Sessions dismissed the outrage over Trump's sexual assault boasting.

The dictator figure has been very real and a problem in the parts of America where Trump’s fan base lives.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Case For And Against Hillary

LeBron James tells why he’s voting Hillary. (Let’s hope it tips Ohio.)

Via Business Insider

The Nation (America’s progressive magazine) states the strong progressive case for Hillary Clinton

And why failing to vote for her risks electing Trump. (The presidency cannot be ordered a la carte.)

Where did this Hillary hatred come from? It’s a thirty year-old industry. (I guess if she’s elected those are jobs that won’t be going away.)

The ugly history of hating the Clintons via the Daily Beast.

A former Hillary hater says she changed her mind after reading Hillary’s emails. There was no scandal there.

Via Blue Nation Review

Snopes, the leading debunker of lies and rumors, debunks one that the Right is throwing around about the Clinton Foundation.

One of the guys whose resumé was built upon his career as an anti-Hillary witch hunter in the 90s now says it would be dangerous NOT to vote for her.

Via Bloomberg.

The Politifact measure of truth gives Hillary a huge edge in honesty. Most of what Trump has said this year is untrue.

Columbia Journalism Review discusses the apparatus that sold us the birther lie

The LATimes endorsement of Hillary is worth reading. Most newspapers have endorsed her. Most have also condemned Trump as a danger to this country.

In a year when millions are hoping to elect a deranged con man to the White House, you can understand why this writer might feel a bit angry.

Via GQ

A quick summary of the VP debate via Twitter. Some viewers thought Tim Kaine was impolite to point out Trump’s lies. They thought Pence was very polite when he lied to cover them up.

The summary via Twitter.

The case against Hillary? I guess if you are determined to trade our democracy for a fascist state run by con men and brownshirts nothing is going to change your mind. Trump and Pence are the goons you want.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Your Daily Trump––Trump the Business Failure

Everyone who is not in his cult now knows that Trump lost close to a billion dollars in 1996 and got American taxpayers to reimburse him for his stupidity.

Pulitzer Prize winning financial journalist David Cay Johnston goes over the fiasco in this article.

Frontline takes a close look at how the Trump failure unfolded, and it gives you a pretty good idea how rich people avoid losing big even when they fail big. His bankers didn’t foreclose on him publicly. They figured his name on the casino and hotel buildings was worth more than the encumbered real estate, so they left his name up. It appears that his name in large gold letters––just the letters, not the buildings–– might be the only real estate Trump owns. So the Trump name works as a neat metaphor for something that is all show and no substance.

That wasn’t the first time he lost that much. The first time was in 1990, as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Chris Christie, Trump’s poodle who is also governor of New Jersey, is trying to spin the loss of $900+ million as a smart move. Even FoxNews laughed.

Christie himself softened Trump’s losses in New Jersey by cutting him a sweetheart bankruptcy deal. New Jersey's own reporters covered this story.

While Trump’s casinos lost millions Trump made millions. It’s very hard to lose money running a casino. Usually this is because casinos always make money. Trump’s didn’t. But Trump paid himself as if they did. Everyone who invested with him lost their money, but Trump paid himself millions. Reported by VOX.

By the way, the immigrants Trump says “steal American jobs”? They don’t. Billionaires do. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine appointed a task force which crunched the numbers and discovered the truth. Of course the folks inTrump’s cult despise experts. Reported by Bill Moyers.

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Your Daily Trump––Fascism and Insanity

The question is How can any decent sane person be voting for Trump?

Psychology Today examines the strange psychology of the Trump supporter.

Some months ago I said the Republican ticket would be Dunning/Kruger.

Politico explains the Dunning Kruger Effect as it embodies the Trump faithful: the more ignorant people are the more intelligent they think they are.

It’s called the Alt Right. As if it’s equivalent to non dairy creamer. It’s fascism and racism at its purest and most evil. And it’s all for Trump.

The Week reports on the Alt Right's devotion to Trump.

Raw Story: "Every Nazi I know is campaigning for Trump"

In the aftermath of Princess Diana’s death, Trump discussed how he “could have nailed her” on national radio.

Daily Kos listens to an old conversation Trump had with Howard Stern.

Trump routinely, almost ritually, demeaned and degraded women who appeared or worked on his television programs.

WPTV and the AP report on Trump's degradation of women.

The rage spiral Trump falls into is not presidential.

Talking Points Memo analyzes the dangerous way Trump's mind works at 3 AM and around the clock.

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