Monthly Archives: October 2016

Voting: It’s About Judgment, Too

When we go about the process of deciding for whom to vote in different elections we naturally consider where the candidates seeking our vote stand on the issues that matter most to us. Some people focus on social issues, some on economic issues, some on diplomatic issues, and some, no doubt, on other issues.

But The Curmudgeon has long thought that we’re voting for more than a candidate’s positions on issues: we’re also voting for someone who is going to exercise judgment on our behalf. Often, that judgment will be exercised on matters on which the candidates expressed no views or that weren’t even issues when they were running for office.

Sometimes this is a matter of an issue not rising to the level where candidates are even talking about it. In the current presidential campaign, for example, we don’t hear much from the candidates about, say, public education or policy in Central America or, to be a little silly, whether cursive should still be taught in elementary school (a controversial issue, believe it or not, in some communities), because either they don’t care about those issues or their pollsters tell them people aren’t interested in hearing about those issues or simply because there are more important issues to discuss.

But what about the issues that don’t arise on the campaign trail because they’re not even seen as issues? Consider, for example, two things during the presidency of George W. Bush: his administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina and its response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. No one ever campaigns on their ability to respond to natural disasters and no one ever asked candidate Bush whether he intended to appoint as head of FEMA a professional in that field or to make a political appointment. Similarly, candidate Bush declared himself uninterested in “nation-building” but President Bush had no choice and found himself doing exactly that after September 11 and the wars that followed. Similarly, no one sought information to help them understand how Jimmy Carter might react to the taking of hostages by Iran or to the continuation of an energy crisis that seemed to have abated before he was elected, but there he was, dealing with those very issues for much of his one sad term in office.

And that’s why, in addition to voting for a set of views on issues, The Curmudgeon also finds himself attempting to gauge candidates’ judgment: how will he or she do on the kinds of issues that none of us are thinking about today? When that crisis arises, will that person make the right decisions? Or is this someone I don’t understand well enough even to sense what his or her judgment might be like in a time of crisis involving an issue he or she has never discussed in public?

The Curmudgeon has long thought about this; yes, he knows, he has too much time on his hands. He knows there are some public officials he doesn’t care for at all whom he believes he can trust under some circumstances. One thing he believes is that the more we know about candidates, the better prepared we will be to develop this leap of faith opinion about their judgment.

The Curmudgeon started thinking about this again recently in the context of the Pennsylvania race for the U.S. Senate between the incumbent, Republican Pat Toomey, and Democratic challenger Katie McGinty. When Toomey was elected six years ago he was one of the most conservative members of the Senate. The rise of the Tea Party, though, has made him seem almost moderate in comparison. Today he’s one of those Republicans whom Democrats consider “reasonable” – a term jackass liberals use for Republicans who normally disagree with them but are occasionally willing to work them on individual issues, as if that willingness to see things their way is a barometer of “reasonableness.”

Toomey is in a tough fight to retain his seat: he has a credible but unremarkable opponent in what has become the most expensive Senate race in the country. His own views and accomplishments aside, moreover, he has a major challenge to overcome: the presence of Donald Trump at the top of his party’s ticket.

For voters, a reasonable question to ask, and to use in considering whether they want to return Toomey to Washington, is the candidate’s views on Trump. Does Toomey like Trump and want us to vote for him? Does he not like Trump and suggest that he will sit out that race? (It’s not fair to expect incumbent Republicans, even those who dislike Trump, to announce that they will vote for Hillary Clinton, so The Curmudgeon won’t even go there.)

And herein lies the rub, and the tie-in to the discussion about judgment: Toomey won’t say.

After the October 9 presidential debate, Toomey shared some of his views in a news release:

Sadly, last night’s debate again showed the shortcomings of both presidential candidates. I have not endorsed Donald Trump and I have repeatedly spoken out against his flawed policies, and his outrageous comments, including his indefensible and appalling comments about women.”

And the following day, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) refused to rule out supporting Donald Trump for president Tuesday, despite mounting political pressure and high-profile defections from other GOP lawmakers.

Toomey said definitively he would not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton — calling her “one of the most flawed nominees in the history of the republic,” — but left open the possibility that he might eventually support Trump, his party’s nominee.

 Locked in one of the country’s toughest Senate races, Toomey has not endorsed Trump and reiterated Tuesday that he has “serious reservations, serious concerns,” about the New Yorker. But when asked if he could rule out backing Trump, Toomey said, “I remain unpersuaded.”

Clearly, Toomey has reservations about Trump – something The Curmudgeon appreciates in light of his own dim view of The Donald (and of Toomey). But Toomey is on the fence about his true feelings and has suggested that he may not share any further views on Trump at all before the election.

Like Hamlet, Toomey is having his "To be or not to be" moment.

Like Hamlet, Toomey is having his “To be or not to be” moment.

Which again brings us back to our original premise: that we need to be able to evaluate candidates for public office based on the kind of judgment we might expect them to exercise if elected and not just on their views on specific issues. In this regard, Toomey is making it very difficult for voters to take his measure on questions of judgment – and not just people like The Curmudgeon who don’t like Trump. Trump supporters also deserve to know whether someone asking for their vote supports their boy because again, that is something that can contribute to their own assessment of the Pennsylvania Senate candidate.

To The Curmudgeon, knowing what Toomey really thinks about voting for Trump is an excellent window into the kind of judgment Toomey would exercise if re-elected. Toomey should open that window for those whose vote he seeks; they deserve it.

Or maybe, in choosing the course he is taking, he already has.


Now there’s a subject you never thought you’d see The Curmudgeon writing about, eh?

Well, you’re right: he has no intention of writing about it.

But someone else has, and in a winning way. Paul Rudnick is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker magazine and he can be a pretty funny guy. Last week he wrote a very funny piece about Brangelina, which you can read on the New Yorker web site here or below. (And as The Curmudgeon has suggested in the past, you really should check out the New Yorker.)


 I, Susan Jellowitz-Kessler, am perhaps the world’s most noted and compassionate authority on marital relations. Thanks to the impending divorce of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, my in-box and my Web site have been overwhelmed with queries. In a selfless attempt to satisfy all those who are suffering, I am posting the most frequently asked questions, along with my expert and helpful responses.

 Q: With everything that’s going on between Brad and Angelina, does my own marriage have a prayer?

 A: Yes. Since you and your spouse are undoubtedly far less wealthy and less physically attractive than the Jolie-Pitts, your problems will never be anywhere near as upsetting or as interesting as theirs.

 Q: Should two movie stars ever marry each other?

 A: That’s an excellent point of interest, which I explored in my doctoral thesis, entitled “Excuse Me, He Has a Soulpatch and Highlighted Bangs, He Wears a Little Porkpie Hat, and He’s Been Married Once Already, Not Counting the Broken Engagement to Gwyneth Paltrow, What Did You Expect?” I concluded that, for celebrities, marriage should be considered neither a holy sacrament nor a legally binding contract but, rather, a hobby, like origami or running for President.

Q: A tabloid recently filled its front page with a photograph of Jennifer Aniston laughing. Do you think this was actually Jen’s response to the news about her former husband?

A: Never. Jennifer, from everything I’ve heard, is a kind and openhearted person who harbors no resentment toward her ex or toward the woman who broke up their marriage. Jennifer moved on with her life a long time ago, and has continued acting and also endorsing both a bottled-water brand and a line of skin-care products. I’m told that Jennifer has, as a healing gesture, just shipped a crate of these products to Angelina.

Q: It’s rumored that Brad has been undergoing a midlife crisis. Is such a phenomenon treatable?

A: It can be. Except in men.

Q: Would this be a good time for me to contact Brad, perhaps on Twitter, and suggest that we meet for coffee?

A: Of course. Brad is at an intensely vulnerable juncture, so he might be willing to drunkenly stumble into a Starbucks, take one look at you, and mumble, “Are you out of your mind?,” which would be a beginning, and most likely something you’ve heard before.

Q: If I happen to run into Angelina at, say, the United Nations or on the Academy Awards red carpet, what would be an appropriate and helpful greeting?

A: You might just say, “Hi there!,” in a cheerful manner, and then mime a teardrop rolling down your cheek, or use both hands to form the heart shape that Taylor Swift often uses during her concerts. You could also suggest a favorite tea blend or a machete.

Q: Is it ever possible to forgive infidelity?

A: Yes. Except in men.

 Q: Was the Jolie-Pitt marriage doomed owing to the onslaught of media attention and online scrutiny?

A: Perhaps. But, as the Kardashian family has proved, constant selfies, reality television, and the exposure of visible thongs beneath crocheted jumpsuits can also solidify a marriage. (Although instead of using the word “marriage,” Kim Kardashian prefers the phrases “limited series,” “branding opportunity,” and “this afternoon.”)

Q: Will Brad and Angelina ever get married again, perhaps to other movie stars?

A: It’s possible, especially if either of them hits a career lull or needs to promote a documentary. When a patient of mine recently experienced the premature cancellation of a network spinoff, I suggested, “Have you thought about dating Ben Affleck?”

Q: I feel bad for Brad and Angelina, and I wish them only the best. But I wonder: If such a gifted couple can’t make things work, is love possible for anyone?

A: Of course it is. The real explanation for the Jolie-Pitt split is that, unlike the rest of us married people, when they made love they were unable to shut their eyes and imagine either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. 

Yes, We Like Free WiFi, But…

The regional convenience store giant Wawa announced this spring that it’s in the process of installing free WiFi at all of its stores.

And The Curmudgeon wants to know…

Why (Fi)?

In the words some PR hack put into the mouth of a Wawa official,

At Wawa, we exist to fulfill customers [sic] lives [sic, again] every day, and part of this commitment means creating meaningful customer connection points that add the highest level of value and convenience.

That explanation, led by “meaningful customer connection points,” induced a wave of nausea in The Curmudgeon.

But the nausea isn’t over because Wawa’s “partner” in this undertaking, the evil cable colossus Comcast, offered its own insipid explanation:

As more enterprises look to improve the customer experience at their branch locations, fast and reliable Wi-Fi has become a cornerstone for attracting and retaining customers.

Another wave of nausea.

The Curmudgeon occasionally shops at Wawa, although less frequently than in the past because the parking lots at its newest stores are so poorly designed that you’re jeopardizing your life, and your car, every time you enter one. Still, the one thing he absolutely, positively knows is that he wants to get into and out of the store as quickly as possible. If he’s not out of a Wawa within three minutes of entering he views the experience as a failure and he finds it hard to believe that others want to linger in the stores; they’re not big on ambiance and there’s nothing to browse. He cannot imagine how adding free WiFi will do anything to enhance his – or anyone else’s – “customer experience.”

If Wawa wants to “enhance customer experience” it can hire a real engineer, and not some board member’s nephew, to redesign its parking lots, improve its selection of convenience items, or maybe lower its gasoline prices – in the last two months it has gone from having among the best prices in the area to a little higher than average – but Wifi just strikes The Curmudgeon as totally unnecessary.

The Perfect Picture of Paranoia

There are many important issues to discuss – jobs and the economy, education and the environment, immigration, ISIS and the middle east, Russia, and much more, but last week The Donald felt that the issue it was most important to address is the allegation that he is somehow…less than the gentleman he wants us to believe he is (curiously, after years of telling us what a real rake he is with the ladies). His fury about women having the audacity to, as he claims he does, tell it like it is, culminated in an incredibly bellicose and paranoid speech in Palm Beach, Florida last Thursday. The speech is very long, which is why The Curmudgeon isn’t posting it in its entirety, but you can read it yourself here. Below are some of the highlights – well, lowlights.

*            *            *

The Clinton machine is at the center of this power structure. We’ve seen this first hand in the WikiLeaks documents, in which Hillary Clinton meets in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.

So true.

Honestly, she should be locked up. Should be locked up.

And likewise the e-mails show that the Clinton machine is so closely and irrevocably tied to the media organizations that she, that she — listen to this — is given the questions and answers in advance of her debate performance with Bernie Sanders.

Hillary Clinton is also given approval and veto power over quotes written about her in the New York Times.

*            *            *

And the e-mails show the reporters collaborate and conspire directly with the Clinton campaign on helping her win the election all over. 

Let’s be clear on one thing, the corporate media in our country is no longer involved in journalism. They’re a political special interest no different than any lobbyist or other financial entity with a total political agenda, and the agenda is not for you, it’s for themselves.

And their agenda is to elect crooked Hillary Clinton at any cost, at any price, no matter how many lives they destroy.

 For them it’s a war, and for them nothing at all is out of bounds. This is a struggle for the survival of our nation, believe me. And this will be our last chance to save it on Nov. 8, remember that.

This election will determine whether we are a free nation or whether we have only the illusion of democracy, but are in fact controlled by a small handful of global special interests rigging the system, and our system is rigged. This is reality, you know it, they know it, I know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it. The establishment and their media enablers will control over this nation through means that are very well known. Anyone who challenges their control is deemed a sexist, a racist, a xenophobe, and morally deformed.

They will attack you, they will slander you, they will seek to destroy your career and your family, they will seek to destroy everything about you, including your reputation. They will lie, lie, lie, and then again they will do worse than that, they will do whatever is necessary. The Clintons are criminals, remember that. They’re criminals.

This is well documented, and the establishment that protects them has engaged in a massive cover-up of widespread criminal activity at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation in order to keep the Clintons in power. 

*            *            *

These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false.

And the Clintons know it, and they know it very well. These claims are all fabricated. They’re pure fiction and they’re outright lies. These events never, ever happened and the people said them meekly fully understand. You take a look at these people, you study these people, and you’ll understand also. 

The claims are preposterous, ludicrous, and defy truth, common sense and logic. We already have substantial evidence to dispute these lies, and it will be made public in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time very soon.

These lies come from outlets whose past stories and past claims have already been discredited. The media outlets did not even attempt to confirm the most basic facts because even a simple investigation would have shown that these were nothing more than false smears.

*            *            * 

We are going to have a policy: America first.

They control incredibly, the Department of Justice.

And they even secretly meet with the Attorney General of the United States. In the back of her airplane, while on the runway — remember he was there — he was going to play golf. Oh, oh gee, there’s the Attorney General. Let me go say hello — plane’s on the runway. Let me go say hello to the Attorney General. He never got to play golf, I understand. And it was Arizona, a place I love, but the weather was about a hundred and some odd degrees — he’s not gonna play. He was never there to play golf, folks, don’t be foolish.

They met for 39 minutes and most likely it was to discuss her reappointment, in a Clinton administration, as the Attorney General, just prior to making a decision over whether or not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, okay? That’s what happened. That’s called real life and that’s pretty sad.

They met for 39 minutes. Remember he said, we talked golf and we talked about our grandchildren. Three minutes for the grandchildren, two minutes for the golf, then they sat there and they twiddled their thumbs. Now I believe they talked about her remaining in her position under a crooked Hillary Clinton administration. That’s what I believe. That’s what I believe folks. That’s what I believe and I think that’s what most people in this room believe.

 Likewise, they’ve essentially corrupted the Director of the FBI to the point at which stories are already saying that the great — and they are truly great — men and women who work for the FBI are embarrassed and ashamed of what he’s done to one of our truly great institutions, the FBI itself.

Hillary Clinton is guilty of all the things that Director Comey stated at his press conference and Congressional hearings and far more. He stated many things, but it’s far more and he knows that. And yet, after reading all of these items, where she’s so guilty, he let her off the hook. While other lives, including General Petraeus and many others, have been destroyed for doing far, far less. This is a conspiracy against you, the American people, and we cannot let this happen or continue.

*            *            *

These are the ravings of a lunatic – and there’s more to come. Faced with the prospect of losing, Trump is going to do everything he can to take down everyone with him and cast aspersions on the integrity of the election and undermine the entire federal government.

That’s the kind of thing madmen do.

Including madmen running for president.

The Trump Watch: Mid-October 2016 (part 2)

It’s about respect.

Or, more precisely, about the lack thereof.

Donald Trump doesn’t respect any one or any thing: not people, not processes, not institutions, not – when you think about it – the American way of life.

And The Curmudgeon isn’t referring now to women who are beautiful or not, thin or not, white or not.

And he isn’t referring to those who come from places with which this country has uncomfortable relationships.

Nor to people whose physical capabilities may not match his own or those of most of the rest of us.

And not to people whose religion differs from his own.

Nor to those who served their country and bear physical and/or mental scars from that experience.

When Trump describes his daughter’s figure and joins in a conversation about her being a “piece of ass,” that’s not a proud papa bragging about his young’un. It’s a man who doesn’t respect his daughter.

When he incites his supporters to violence or profanity, that’s not a sign of respect for those supporters, it’s a signal that he doesn’t respect them and sees them only as pawns to manipulate to his own ends.

When he calls people names, he is showing disrespect for them.

trumpWhen he automatically declares those who dare disagree with him to be his enemy he shows his lack of respect for anyone who does not think exactly as he does.

When he talks to and about elected officials as if they have never accomplished anything, he’s showing a lack of respect for people who have devoted their lives, or parts of their lives, to improving the lives of others. All this from a man whose only goal in life has been to make money. Let us accept, for the sake of discussion, that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with deciding that the only thing worth doing in life is making money – although we certainly know better, don’t we? – but there IS something wrong with expressing contempt for anyone who doesn’t share that objective.

When he interrupts his political opponents when they are talking it shows lack of respect for those opponents.

And lack of respect for the people who invited him to speak.

And lack of respect for those who chose to watch him and his opponents so they could learn more about the choice they must make at the polls.

When he tells us he knows more about some matter than the generals or the experts or anyone who has ever run for president or served in public office or walked the face of the earth, he’s showing his lack of respect for the people who came before him and for those who have devoted their lives to something in which he has only recently decided to dabble recreationally.

When he talks about prosecuting or jailing his political opponents he shows his lack of respect not only for those individuals but also for the very nature of the government, of the very people, he aspires to lead.

When, as he did during the town hall debate last week, he stalks his opponent while she talked, repeatedly interrupted her, badgered the moderators, insulted his hosts, repeated his lies and denied they were lies despite irrefutable evidence to the contrary, insulted his opponent’s family, diminished her lifetime body of work even though he has not a single comparable accomplishment of his own, he showed his lack of respect for every single resident of this country. He is telling us that someone who has never shown any interest in public affairs, has never done anything for anyone other than himself, believes he can just flick a switch in his own brain and automatically know more than anyone – including those generals – about everything he’s spent the past 70 years ignoring.

And when, as he did last week, he tells an audience that “If I don’t win, as good as you say I have done, if I don’t win, I will consider it a total and complete waste of time, energy and money,” he is declaring his lack of respect – his compete and utter contempt, really – for all of us, the people who make this decision at the polls, and for the American form of democracy. He is telling us that his own success is more important than the will of the other 300 million people who live in this country.

And when, as he did this past weekend, he throws around allegations about his opponent’s alleged drug use without offering a single shred of evidence to support his accusation, he also is telling us that he thinks each and every one of us is just plain stupid.

To Trump, it’s all entertainment. You saw it when he talked about how television ratings are better when he participates in debates and in how he judges news people based on their popularity rather than the quality of their work. To him, debating people who are running for president is like appearing on the old Crossfire show or with that idiot Bill Maher or other programs of that ilk: the person who shouts the loudest and longest and makes the most outrageous statements is the one who gets all of the attention. His role models are Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and Robert Novak, all entertainers, and not Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush, all serious people.

The Crossfires and Mahers and others like them show their lack of respect for their audiences when they encourage their panelists to act in this manner and reward them for doing so, but Trump needs no such encouragement: when it comes to showing his lack of respect the talent just comes to him naturally and the man is in a class by himself.

We can only hope that come November 8, the American people will declare “Class dismissed.”

An Idea for Improving the Next Presidential Debate

A moderator better equipped to deal with chaos:



Stating the Obvious

In an article about purchasing insurance or warranties for things in newly purchased homes – things like hot water heaters, roofs, appliances, and the like – the Philadelphia Inquirer ran the following caption under a photo of an electrician performing a repair:

If the seller provides a one-year home warranty, don’t assume that if something breaks, it will be repaired in record time.

To which The Curmudgeon says “Duh!”

Repair workers preparing to dash to fix your leaky faucet.

Repair workers preparing to dash to fix your leaky faucet.

Seriously: does anyone think that when something breaks in their home it will be repaired “in record time”? Does the Inquirer think that some of its readers, if not so advised, will assume that any of their repair needs will be addressed “in record time”?

A little nit-picky? Sure, but really…

The Trump Watch – mid-October (part 1 of 2)

(Less than a month from now we’ll all be voting so this two-part Trump Watch will be the last or next to last. No sense bothering with the Billy Bush tapes; by the time you read this you will be all Billy Bushed out. Still, there are observations to be made about this appalling man who, at least from a blogger’s perspective, is the gift that keeps on giving. Part 2 will appear on Monday.)

In late August the Washington Post published an article titled “‘Racialists’ are cheered by Trump’s latest strategy.” Among the highlights:

“Imagine a media that was more Breitbart than New York Times,” Taylor [Jared Taylor, former editor of a white nationalist magazine and organizer of racialist conferences] said. “Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown have been even more important than Trump, in one respect. They are the people who make whites realize that what the media have been telling them about race relations is simply wrong.”

A major part of Trump's "base."

A major part of Trump’s “base.”


“I’m honestly delighted that Trump is putting a team together that has such reasonable views on immigration,” said Jason Richwine, a policy analyst who left the Heritage Foundation after a backlash to his study of race and IQ and who has appeared on Breitbart’s XM show.

And this gem:

“What the GOP needs to do is Southernize the white vote,” Brimelow [Peter Brimelow, founder of an organization named after the first white person born in America] said. “You need to have everybody in the country voting the way that Southern whites vote.”

And this brilliant observation:

“I really don’t think that African Americans want to be stuck where they are,” Johnson [Frances Johnson, a Trump supporter at a rally in Charlotte] said. “They’re basically glorified slaves — they get free this, free that, free this, free that, and they can’t get a good job and depend on the government. What else do you call it?”

Ladies and gentlemen: the people behind the candidate.

*            *            *

Remember how The Donald bragged about how he was funding his campaign out of his own pocket so he wouldn’t be beholden to any special interests? Well, in July he raised $34.7 million and contributed $2 million of his own money.

So much for self-funding.

*            *            *

Before, during, and after his first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump insisted that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil when we overthrew Saddam Hussein. As the Los Angeles Times reported,

“It used to be, ‘To the victor belong the spoils,” Trump said. “Now, there was no victor there, believe me. There was no victor. But I always said: Take the oil.”

A member of the Bush Jr. foreign policy team who is pretty far on the right wing – practically a reactionary zealot – had this to say about taking the oil (again, as reported in the LA Times):

“‘Antiquated’ is a nice way to put it,” said Douglas J. Feith, a top defense official for George W. Bush during the invasion. “‘Barbaric’ would be more apt.

“It basically aligns him with the views of Stalin after World War II,” he added. “The Soviets after World War II went into Germany and dismantled every piece of equipment that they could find and stripped the country down.”

Putting aside for a moment the questions of how many soldiers we’d need to keep there to protect this new oil interest and how many workers would be needed to pump the oil out of the ground and who would sell the oil and how the proceeds would be distributed, isn’t the bigger issue that taking Iraq’s oil would be…stealing?

And aren’t we involved in these overseas adventures because we think we’re the good guys? And wouldn’t stealing the oil make us no better than the bad guys we’re fighting?

But is there any way such questions ever even cross the mind of a guy whose sole focus in life for 70 years has been making money?

*            *            *

While The Curmudgeon has defended politicians’ occasional flip-flops based on his belief that people are allowed to change their minds about things, Trump’s flip-flop on the question of where President Obama was born was pretty funny – and pretty disingenuous. When pressed on why he finally conceded that Obama was born in the U.S., Trump said he did so because he didn’t want to talk about the issue anymore.

Not exactly convincing. He still doesn’t believe it, and when this whole thing is over he’s going to brag to us that he still doesn’t believe it. Count on it.

*            *            *

Sticking with the birther issue, this was something The Curmudgeon didn’t know until he read about it recently: the man who introduced Trump for the speech in which he announced that he was finally conceding that President Obama was born in the U.S. was retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney. According to the Vox web site,

…McInerney has spent years publicly arguing that there are “legitimate concerns” about whether Obama was born in the US. He even submitted a court affidavit in support of birther Army Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he did not believe Obama was a legitimate president.

A curious choice, no?

What’s more, here’s an excerpt from that affidavit:

For the foregoing reasons, it is my opinion that LTC Lakin’s request for discovery relating to the President’s birth records in Hawaii is absolutely essential to determining not merely his guilt or innocence but to reassuring all military personnel once and for all for this President whether his service as Commander in Chief is Constitutionally proper. He is the one single person in the Chain of Command that the Constitution demands proof of natural born citizenship. This determination is fundamental to our Republic, where civilian control over the military is the rule. According to our Constitution, the Commander in Chief must now, in the face of serious– and widely held– concerns that he is ineligible, either voluntarily establish his eligibility by authorizing release of his birth records or this court must authorize their discovery. The invasion of his privacy in these records is utterly trivial compared to the issues at stake here. Our military MUST have confidence their Commander in Chief lawfully holds this office and absent which confidence grievous consequences may ensue.

Yikes: the inmates are running the asylum.

*            *            *

To the Donald, this stands out as a great accomplishment.

To the Donald, this stands out as a great accomplishment.

Trump also has stated that he believes he performed a great public service in getting Obama to share his birth certificate. So what he did, essentially, was spend several years badgering an American to prove he is an American.

And Trump considers this a great accomplishment.

*            *            *

As part of his “What have you got to lose?” pitch to African-American voters – even though most of us realize the answer is “A lot!” – The Donald is telling his mostly white audiences that African-Americans are worse off now than they have ever been, apparently including those days as slaves. In fact, he’s suggesting that since apparently all African-Americans subsist only with the help of government programs, they’re little more than slaves today.

And a lot of people in those nearly all-white audiences are buying it.

Like those folks in Kenansville, North Carolina who roared in approval when he told them that

We’re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they’ve ever been in before. Ever, ever, ever.

Looks like Trump is one of those people who subscribes to the “carefree days of slavery” theory.

And this:

You take a look at the inner cities, you get no education, you get no jobs, you get shot walking down the street. They’re worse, I mean honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities…

Tell that to the approximately 35,000 African-American millionaires in the U.S. today and the nearly 40 percent of African-American families that are middle class. Or the 4.5 million African-Americans with bachelor’s degrees and the 1.1 million who have master’s degrees. Trump is correct in suggesting there are problems but, as is his wont, ignores facts and overstates it.

*            *            *

Trump practically called Holt one of "those people."

Trump practically called Holt one of “those people.”

If you’ve read this far you no doubt saw the first debate, moderated (is that a verbification?) by Lester Holt. Trump was making excuses even before the debate began, telling Fox News that

Look, it’s a phony system. Lester is a Democrat. I mean, they are all Democrats. OK? It’s a very unfair system.

Two observations here.

First, Lester Holt is a registered Republican.

Second, “…they are all Democrats”? Who are they “all”? Does he mean news people or does he mean African-Americans? Or maybe people with mild speech impediments?

And Trump has not – at least not so far – protested that Chris Wallace, of Fox News, will be hosting the fourth debate. While most of us know Wallace as the less intelligent member of the Wallace news family, what many may not know is that Wallace is a registered Democrat.

*            *            *

In late September the New York Times ran a feature it called “A week of whoppers from Donald Trump” in which it recounted some of the taller tales The Donald had told in recent days.

Trump told Fox News that a supportive crowd chanted, “Let him speak!” when a black pastor in Flint, Michigan asked him not to give a political speech in the church.

According to the Times, there was no such chant.

Trump told an audience in North Carolina that

You see what’s happening with my poll numbers with African-Americans. They’re going, like, high.

Well, if you consider three percent to be “like, high.”

He claims to have made similar inroads among Hispanic voters but the online publication Politico has him trailing Hillary Clinton 65-17 among Hispanic voters.

Trump loves me; he loves me not.

Trump loves me; he loves me not.

Trump told Fox News that he “was never a fan” of Colin Powell. Apparently he didn’t read his own book: in his The America We Deserve he cited Powell as among the “best and brightest” in American society.

According to the Times,

He said Mrs. Clinton is calling for “total amnesty in the first 100 days,” including “a virtual end to immigration enforcement” and for unauthorized immigrants to receive Social Security and Medicare.

Just one problem: she didn’t.

And the Times wrote that Trump said that

Mrs. Clinton had “the power and the duty” to stop the release of unauthorized immigrants whose home countries would not accept their deportation after they were released from prison.

Again, one problem: this is not what secretaries of state do and while they may have influence over decisions made in this area, they have no power and no authority.

In two speeches he said unemployment among young African-Americans was 58 percent.

It’s 20.6 percent, so he was off.

Just a little.

Trump told a New Hampshire audience that

Hundreds of thousands of people are being approved to pour into the country. We have no idea who they are.

Well, if you consider 10,000 to be “hundreds of thousands.”

*            *            *

Back to the debate for a moment. Do you remember when Hillary reminded people that Trump calls women “fat pigs” and he replied “Only Rosie O’Donnell.”

Which what, makes it okay?

*            *            *

Sticking with the debate, Trump said there were no sniffles, that the problem was a defective microphone. While there were, in fact, problems with his microphone, they affected only what the studio audience heard, not what television viewers saw and heard – and one thing you could clearly see was the sight, not just the sound, of Trump’s sniffling. Why would he deny that – and why would he then accuse the debate’s organizers of intentionally sabotaging him?

And wasn’t the sniffling still very much in evidence in the second debate?

*            *            *

During the first debate, Trump complained that Hillary Clinton’s television commercials said very unkind things about him. Never mind that they were true, and that those commercials aren’t interpretive at all but simply show clips of Trump’s own words: he thought they were unkind. After the debate he suggested he could unleash some dirt on Hillary, too, intimating that he could talk about Bill Clinton’s indiscretions. Trump said he refrained mostly because Chelsea Clinton was in the audience.

But then the next day, like the day before, he was on the campaign trail again calling his opponent “Crooked Hillary.”

So much for his bow to civility.

*            *            *

If Trump ever does attempt to open that can of worms on a debate stage, Hillary Clinton should just turn to him and say, “Look at me, Donald. You’re running against me. You’re not running against my husband and you’re not running against Barack Obama. You’re running against me, so talk about my proposals for tomorrow and not their deeds of yesterday.”

*            *            *

Even before The Donald launched his campaign The Curmudgeon wrote about his frequent use of bankruptcy to solve his financial problems. (Side note: what kind of judge permits a guy who brags about being worth billions to declare bankruptcy?) When you declare bankruptcy you stiff a lot of people: you stiff banks, you stiff investors, you stiff union pension funds, and more. But most important, you stiff ordinary workmen and small businesses.

The Washington Post let one of those little guys tell his story: a man whose company sold the Trump Taj Mahal hotel in Atlantic City $100,000 worth of pianos.

But when I requested payment, the Trump corporation hemmed and hawed. Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000.

 Losing $30,000 was a big hit to me and my family. The profit from Trump was meant to be a big part of my salary for the year. So I made much less. There was no money to help grow my business. I had fewer pianos in the showroom and a smaller advertising budget. Because of Trump, my store stagnated for a couple of years. It made me feel really bad, like I’d been taken advantage of. I was embarrassed.

A billionaire stiffing a guy over $30,000? Really? What kind of person does that?

Oh yeah:  we know what kind of person.

*            *            *

As he has written before, The Curmudgeon is reluctant to hold candidates for public office accountable for things their supporters say. But when a supporter is as close as Rudy Giuliani, The Curmudgeon thinks such criticism is fair: Rudy is clearly acting as a Trump spokesman and surrogate.

It's not exactly a surprise that Rudy sees limited uses for women.

It’s not exactly a surprise that Rudy sees limited uses for women.

But it’s not a stretch to believe that when Giuliani told the ABC News program that

Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman…

…that he was absolutely, positively echoing his candidate’s view.

*            *            *

"Finally, another law and order candidate like me."

“Finally, another law and order candidate like me.”

Finally, one of the themes Trump repeats consistently on the campaign trail is that we need more “law and order” and that he is the law and order candidate.

The last person to run for president as the law and order candidate was Richard Nixon.

And we all know how that worked out.

(Part 2 will be here on Monday.)
















Well, Maybe They Got the Date Right

Two Sundays ago the New York Times had an interesting profile of Elvis Costello. While only a casual fan, The Curmudgeon listens to his music occasionally and has a book by Costello on his Kindle for future reading.

Elvis sang it but the Times lived it - again and again and again and again.

Elvis sang it but the Times lived it – again and again and again and again.

The article was interesting, but it was what came at the end of the article that was truly eye-opening. Here it is verbatim:

A cover article this weekend about Elvis Costello’s long history with New York misspells the given name of the jazz pianist and singer to whom Mr. Costello is married. She is Diana Krall, not Dianna. The article also misidentifies the festival that Mr. Costello played in July. He was at the Newport Folk Festival, not at the Newport Jazz Festival. In addition, the article misidentifies the location of the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. It is on West 44th Street, not West 43rd Street. And the article misspells the surname of the bass player for Mr. Costello’s band, the Imposters. He is Davey Faragher, not Farragher.

It’s enough to leave you wondering if there ever even was an interview at all.

A Fly on the Wall

That’s what The Curmudgeon wishes he could have been when the folks at Saturday Night Live sat down with the censors, er, “standards and practices” people, at NBC last weekend to discuss their desire to use the now-infamous Donald Trump interview “p-word” on a sketch this past weekend.

If you notice – at least as far as The Curmudgeon’s own, limited television-watching suggests – even news programs, which have a legitimate reason to use the word, aren’t doing so. Instead, we’re being subjected to more frequent use of the word “genitalia” than this observer recalls at any time since Marlin Perkins was awkwardly trying to explain what those crazy tigers – or lions or bears or hyenas or zebras or whatever other animals were the subjects of his individual programs – were doing during 1960s and 1970s episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Animal Kingdom.