Trump’s Moral Bankruptcy

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This isn’t a bankruptcy he can discharge with other people’s money. 

At long last, a line appears to have been crossed with Donald Trump’s own boastful admission about his propensity to engage in sexual predation and unwanted advances towards women. On top of that, CNN revealed some excerpts of Trump interviews with Howard Stern that likely made for great radio, but the content of which is wholly unbecoming a serious political candidate. Every indication is that there is more – much more and possibly much worse – to come. 

The Trump campaign’s response is to claim that this was all “locker room” banter, and to try and pivot to Bill Clinton’s own history of sexual predation. The key difference is that Bill’s sexual predilections were litigated ad nauseum throughout the 1990s; Trump’s have never been relevant to a national political audience until now. To most, Hillary Clinton was one of the victims of Bill Clinton’s womanizing – not an enabler or proximate cause. Right-wing provocateurs claim now that she was somehow worse than her husband; that she viciously dealt with Clinton’s accusers in some poorly sourced and mostly false ways. 

This is the Breitbart wing of the Republican Party having its day in the light. The problem is, that light isn’t coming from the sun. 

For years, the extreme right wing – call them the tea party or whatever – have lamented that the Republican presidential candidate behaved presidentially; they slammed John McCain and Mitt Romney for not behaving more like they. The tea party came into existence in the wake of President Obama’s election as the global economy was in freefall. Things like the stimulus, cash for clunkers, and Obamacare signaled for this constituency that Obama wasn’t a real American, but instead a “globalist” or “socialist” Manchurian candidate hell-bent on destroying this country. Now, they’re literally claiming that Hillary Clinton is a “demon” – literally a supernatural being from hell, because such a thing apparently exists – and that, if elected, she intends to destroy the world. At the debate on Sunday, Donald Trump – the Republican presidential nominee – called Hillary Clinton “the devil” and said she has, “tremendous hate in her heart“. 

That is the foundation of the slimy pit, the mud and mire, occupied by right-wing talk radio, Drudge, Breitbart, World Net Daily, and all the other myriad outlets and commentators who push conspiracy theories about, e.g., Agenda 21, FEMA camps, 9/11 trutherism, and President Obama’s birth certificate. Before the internet, these people occupied the political fringes, relying on pamphlets and short wave radio to spread conspiratorial lies. In the waning days of the Reagan Administration, Rush Limbaugh breathed new life into this world, and when Bill Clinton was elected, it grew like a weed. It saw the advent of the militia movement and conspiracy theories galore; the Clinton “body count” and how anyone with a (D) after their name was coming for everyone’s guns. Fox News, ultimately, mainstreamed the fringe. 

The right-wing tea party extremist fringe used to be something the Republican Party could control. Not anymore. Apologists for this new phenomenon like to say that this is a reactionary jettisoning of the Washington (and other) elites. Not so much. This isn’t about regular folks taking their country back – that was what Bernie Sanders‘ movement was about. Trump’s may be anti-elite, but that’s masks an ugly movement founded on hatred – of immigrants and minorities, and based on fear of pretty much everything. Real leaders would take people’s economic insecurities and channel them into positive change; demagogues direct them towards rage. 

Late last week, audio emerged of Donald Trump talking to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, discussing his technique and prowess with respect to committing sexual assault. From the New York Times

Unknown: She used to be great. She’s still very beautiful.

Trump: I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

Unknown: Whoa.

Trump: I did try and fuck her. She was married.

Unknown: That’s huge news.

Trump: No, no, Nancy. No, this was [unintelligible] — and I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping.

She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture —

I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

Billy Bush: Sheesh, your girl’s hot as shit. In the purple.

Trump: Whoa! Whoa!

Bush: Yes! The Donald has scored. Whoa, my man!

[Crosstalk]

Trump: Look at you, you are a pussy.

[Crosstalk]

Trump: All right, you and I will walk out.

[Silence]

Trump: Maybe it’s a different one.

Bush: It better not be the publicist. No, it’s, it’s her, it’s —

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Bush: Whatever you want.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

Bush: Uh, yeah, those legs, all I can see is the legs.

Trump: Oh, it looks good.

Bush: Come on shorty.

Trump: Ooh, nice legs, huh?

Bush: Oof, get out of the way, honey. Oh, that’s good legs. Go ahead.

This exchange resulted in days’ worth of chaos for the Trump campaign, even compelling the candidate to release a middle-of-the-night non-apology apology explaining that his “locker room talk” wasn’t as bad as whatever Bill Clinton had done. 

At Sunday’s debate, Trump seemed more prepared than at his first outing, but he wasn’t prepared meaningfully to address issues brought up by the undecided voters asking questions. He came instead prepared to humiliate Hillary Clinton and re-litigate 20 and 30 year-old accusations against Bill Clinton. This was the Breitbart gambit – the Roger Stone moment of the campaign; the primal WorldNetDaily style reintroduction to 90s Clinton bashing, and I have no doubt that it pleased Trump’s base of support. The same people who dismiss admissions of sexual assault as mere banter, and stand by while their candidate defames Mexicans, Muslims, war heros, Gold Star parents, African-Americans, immigrants, women, etc. 

As Republican leaders and candidates distanced themselves from Trump over the weekend, the defiant candidate and his cult found themselves like a cornered animal, lashing out in whatever way conceivable with whatever was at hand. 

Locally, Trumpist Congressman Chris Collins had nothing whatsoever to say for about 24 hours after the sexual assault tape came to light. Trump’s first congressional endorser told the Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski that Trump’s remarks were, “frankly unacceptable,” but added: “There is no change in my support of Mr. Trump as our nominee because he remains the only candidate who will bring our jobs back, secure our borders and stand up to our enemies.”

But Trump’s remarks weren’t merely “frankly unacceptable”; they were an admission of a crime. How does a sitting Congressman face female constituents after expressing continued support for someone who cavalierly admitted to assaulting women without their consent and “grab[bing] ’em by the pussy”? This isn’t some one-off “locker room banter”, but evidence of a pattern of behavior

Earlier this year, the New York Times interviewed dozens of women who’ve worked with Donald Trump. Temple Taggart, a former Miss Utah who was 21 when she met Trump in 1997, described Trump behaving exactly as he boasts in the recording.

“He kissed me directly on the lips. I thought, ‘Oh my God, gross.’ He was married to Marla Maples at the time. I think there were a few other girls that he kissed on the mouth. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s inappropriate.’”

and

“That’s exactly what Trump did to me,” [CNN anchor Erin] Burnett said, quoting her friend. “Trump took Tic Tacs, suggested that I take them also. He then leaned in … catching me off guard and kissed me almost on the lips. I was really freaked out.”

In 1997, Jill Harth sued Donald Trump for sexual harassment, claiming he attacked her and groped her without her consent. In a deposition, Trump’s first wife, Ivana, accused him of rape during the marriage. An anonymous woman recently sued Trump, accusing him of tying her up and raping her when she was just 14 years old. 

Trump’s response to all of this is to say that Bill Clinton is bad, too? Despite all this, Chris Collins supports Trump for President.

Not to be outdone, local alt-right degenerate Carl Paladino went on TV with Chuck Todd and, appearing as what can only be described as a sedated, scheming right-wing Teddy Ruxpin, spouted rote recitations of far-out conspiracy theories. FBI Director Comey suppressed evidence! Benghazi was part of an arms deal Hillary cut to aid ISIS! This man is not a serious person and frankly has no business overseeing the education of Buffalo schoolchildren. 

It redefines insanity. Trump may be unqualified, but Paladino is just nuts. Inexplicably, he’s loving this. Finally! A candidate not afraid to be hyperaggressive! 

PALADINO: (laugh)  You know, it is not a big deal to me.

TODD: Why? He talked about unwanted sexual advances.

PALADINO: Chuck, Chuck, listen for just a moment what matters to me and the middle class of America what matters to me is what Hillary has done to America. The negatives of Hillary. The unindicted felon who, under subpoena, erased tapes, gave Gennifer Flowers $800,000, who we know found out was complicit with Obama in starting the Iranian/ISIS thing, who we know know Benghazi has something to do with her shipping weapons over to the ISIS people. This untruthful government has got to stop and that is a lot more important than listening to Trump talk about women 15, 10, 11 years ago.

TODD: You just talked about Benghazi was about a secret arms deal. You are trying to mainstream a whole bunch of speculation and innuendo, none of which are factually correct here. 

PALADINO: You guys missed it. Do you really feel James Comey did a great job for the American people and maintained the integrity of the FBI?

TODD: So let me ask you this, do you assume that because he didn’t bring charges he did a bad job? Why don’t you assume that he didn’t bring charges because he didn’t find enough evidence?

PALADINO: Oh, oh, he gave Mills a walk. He gave Heather Sandstone a walk…

TODD: is it possible he didn’t have evidence to bring charges?

PALADINO: He destroyed the evidence. Part of the agreement was that he wouldn’t look at evidence was January 15th…

TODD: You are accusing the FBI director of destroying evidence?

PALADINO: The man should resign. The man is a parasite on the American people. He has destroyed the integrity of one of the greatest institutions. 

TODD: I will let you go. I know you are full of passion. But you can’t just do this, throw this out there.

PALADINO: The press is out of control….

TODD:  I will let it go there….

TODD: You are accusing the FBI director of destroying evidence?

PALADINO: The man should resign. The man is a parasite on the American people. He has destroyed the integrity of one of the greatest institutions.

TODD: I will let you go. I know you are full of passion. But you can’t just do this, throw this out there.

PALADINO: The press is out of control….

TODD: I will let it go there….

Carl Paladino doesn’t think sexual assault is a big deal probably because it doesn’t even come close to the equine stuff he’s into. He also thinks that Infowars is news. To the Washington Post, Paladino reacted to Trump’s proclivity for sexual assault thusly

Carl Paladino, Trump’s New York state co-chairman, a former gubernatorial candidate who had his own scandals over sexism and racism, said Trump’s “gutter talk” was something “all men do, at least all normal men.” 

The only people concerned with this are Hillary people right now and the treacherous ones in the Republican Party,” Paladino said. “The people in America look at this and say it’s another day in the life of Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter to them.”

Get that – Carl Paladino says that “normal men” – query what, precisely, he means with that adjective – boast about unwanted sexual advances against female strangers. Remember that Paladino is an elected official in a school district overseeing, among other things, issues relating to inappropriate sexual misconduct. As of right now, an online petition demanding Paladino’s removal from the school board has over 1,600 signatures. Channel 4 got a hold of this faux moralist

“I think I was probably misstating when I said that all men do that. I meant to say a great deal of men do that. I think it’s very unfortunate, unfortunate that it happened. I think Donald Trump apologized. I think in 99 percent of the cases, it’s exaggerated.”

The petition also references the proposed gender identity policy in Buffalo schools. It would allow a transgender student to use the restroom and locker room that corresponds with their gender identity. Paladino has spoken out against the policy.

“I don’t think that the notice of parents is adequate. I don’t think we should expose the sensitive and gentle minds of children at young ages. ..that’s what they’re upset with. they have another agenda here,” Paladino said.

The “sensitive and gentle minds of children” are ill-served by degenerate rape apologist Carl Paladino. 

But back to Sunday’s debate – seriously, leave it to these morons to once again transform Hillary Clinton into a sympathetic figure. Trump says that if more audio of him being misogynist or racist come out, he’ll hit Bill Clinton even harder. Trump, it should be noted, lied repeatedly throughout the debate. He is a liar and a huckster trying to argue that Hillary Clinton is dishonest. He is an admitted sexual assailant whose best defense is that Bill did it, too. Trump is a guy who doesn’t pay taxes that pay to make “America great”, makes our allies nervous and our enemies excited. This is bizarro world stuff. 

The debate itself was a contrast in tone and demeanor. On the one hand, you had an intelligent and informed woman answering questions from the audience and responding to challenges from the moderators and the predator with whom she shared the stage; and on the other hand, you had an uninformed man whose only play was to try and humiliate his opponent, and accuse her of being a criminal or worse. 

Much has been made of Trump’s pledge to throw Hillary Clinton in prison should he become President. Rightly so. It is the stuff of banana republics. It is not strong, broad-shouldered American strength, but politically weak dictatorial threats. It’s no surprise Trump so admires Vladimir Putin; they’d be birds of a feather if Trump had even a fraction of Putin’s experience playing this game. Donald Trump is the guy who literally kicked off his campaign by tweeting a picture of Waffen SS with an American flag overlay. One of his first pronouncements was that he would ban birthright citizenship. This campaign is founded on race hate. 

Last December, in the wake of Trump’s Muslim ban announcement, I wrote that his campaign was nothing more than a hate group. In July 2015, I wrote, “Trump is one of about 15 Republican Presidential hopefuls, and he not only threatens the viability of his own brand, but the Republican brand in general. The more nonsense that comes out of his unfiltered mouth, and the more he beats up on the most vulnerable and powerless in our society, and the more he demeans his fellow candidates, you’d not be crazy to think that he might actually be a liberal plant setting up the GOP for self-immolation. Enjoy the ride, Republicans, but remember that whatever Trump’s doing, he’s only in it for Trump.”

For us in western New York, we hold an especial responsibility here, because the Trump ascendancy was largely spawned by our local ultra-right politicians, consultants, and media. Trump skulked behind Clinton like a predator, interrupted her, and otherwise fed the Breitbart beast that makes up his base. He had to reassure them that he was still in this fight, and that he would fight as dirty as necessary. The problem for Donald Trump is that he can’t win with just his base, and polls are showing a precipitous drop in his support right now. Sure, this could all change on a dime, but the trend right now looks very bad for him. That’s why he’s irresponsibily claiming that the polls are “rigged” and that if he loses, it’s due to voter “fraud”. Because, in his mind, he can’t lose fair and square – it has to be a fix. That’s dangerous talk that’s, frankly, un-American. 

Donald Trump is not running for President of the United States. He’s running for dictator of some other country – one without long-standing functioning institutions of state and the rule of law. 

If he loses, after so many years of the hard right demanding that their candidates talk and act like Trump, what will they say next? The only thing happening here is the hastening of the dismantling from within of the Republican Party. 

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