Rats Ahoy!

Trump has to win Florida or it’s all over. He has a shot here; this is a state that elected certified crook and possible alien life form from Planet Reptar Rick Scott as governor twice (albeit with less than 50% of the vote both times).

So given the stakes, if there’s anywhere in the country where the Trump campaign should be staffed with the “best people,” flush with supplies and chugging along on all cylinders, it’s Florida, right? Nope:

A Florida Trump aide resigned Monday because she said she’s uncomfortable with the lack of progress in the campaign. “It is clear the campaign is now going in a direction I am no longer comfortable with and I have decided to move on,” said Healy Baumgardner, who had established herself early on as a public face of the campaign on TV, then saw her role shift to Florida following several campaign shake-ups.

Baumgardner, a 20-year political operative who has worked on four presidential campaigns, said she looks forward “to honorably casting my vote for Mr. Trump on Election Day.”

Clinton is 4 percentage points ahead of Trump in Florida, according to a Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey taken after the debate.

The campaign’s Trump Talk phone banking system is experiencing technical difficulties, said Florida campaign workers who requested anonymity out of fear of getting fired for speaking publicly. The lack of basic campaign staples such as yard signs and bumper stickers forces staff to repeatedly turn away excited Trump backers who want to show their support. There’s disagreement about spending $40,000 to wrap an RV in campaign advertising for a women’s bus tour in Florida.

Healy Baumgardner doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “honor;” she is a rat deserting a sinking ship in a cowardly bid to preserve her employability in future contests. She has an inside view of what’s happening to the campaign, and she doesn’t want to be associated with it.

I have a feeling we’re going to see that pattern repeated many times in the coming weeks. Other party hacks who’ve fastened themselves to Trump like remoras on a bloated orange shark will detach their lips from that foul carcass and suddenly rediscover their “principles.”

They’ll probably get away with it too, given this country’s short attention span and endless capacity to tolerate fools and knaves. Hell, the Republican Party recovered from the Bush 2.0 debacle in just a couple of years.

But those of us who understand the magnitude of what these fuckers have done — their attempt to hook an unhinged demagogue up with the nuclear codes — should never, ever forget it. Not just the party hacks, the voters who support Trump. They’ve shown us who they are. We can’t unsee it. Ever.

ETA: Link to live stream of Hillary Clinton speaking in Florida. She coughed. We’re doomed, DOOMED, I say!



Trump on a Wee-Hours Twitter Tear (Updated)

This fucking guy:

Well, Trump would know from a con. But in this scenario, he is the mark. The D-list political operatives in the Trump organization who are capable of comprehending voter demographics must have been begging their asshole boss to zip it about Machado. But he just can’t shut the fuck up about her. He waited until his handlers fell asleep and then went on a rage-tweet tear.

I think on some level, Trump realizes Clinton outfoxed him during the debate. She laid a rake in his path, and he stepped right on it. But his Hindenburg-sized yet fragile ego is unable to process such a scenario, so he’s desperately trying to alter reality by stepping on the rake over and over, just as he did in his inexcusable feud with the Khans.

It’s difficult to imagine a framing more perfectly suited to alienate the suburban moms whose votes Trump desperately needs than clips of the candidate fat-shaming Miss Universe, rating women’s bodies like the leering creep he is and cruelly bullying female employees. Maybe Clinton can set him up to denounce infants, puppies and kittens next.

The beauty of this scenario is that Trump seems determined to flail around and make things worse for the next week and a half. Then he’ll stomp into the October 9th debate loaded for bear, a serial adulterer and documented sexist itching to tear into Clinton for her husband’s behavior.

And it is a town hall-style debate with questions coming directly from voters, so chances are he broaches that subject with maximum ham-handedness. Popcorn futures are sky-high.

ETA: Also, kudos to CNN for finally mentioning the fact that Trump’s “brain trust” comprises gross old sexist pigs who have no standing to criticize Bill Clinton, let alone Hillary:

2016-09-30

An excerpt:

Days after patting himself on the back for not invoking them on a debate stage, Donald Trump and his campaign are attempting to use Bill Clinton’s sex scandals to cast a shadow on Hillary Clinton.

For any candidate trailing by around 20 points with women in most national polling, this plan of action might seem, at best, curiously wrongheaded. But Trump is a special case — the twice-divorced nominee, who carried on a long affair that disintegrated his first marriage in a howling tabloid spectacle, is uniquely unsuited to finger-wagging.

Still, the irony does not seem to have resonated with his campaign brain trust. On Wednesday, they put out talking points encouraging surrogates to chat about Monica Lewinsky, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. A day earlier, Trump (who is overweight himself) hit back at claims he’d body-shamed a former Miss Universe by noting to Fox News that “she gained a massive amount of weight.”

Odd, but not surprising. Especially when you consider the rogues gallery of advisers Trump has drafted in over the past few months — a pasty collection of older males, mostly media executives and politicians, with a long rap sheet of marital infidelities, sex scandals and worse.

I’ve been astonished at how the Trump camp got away with bringing revolting sexual predator Roger Ailes into the inner circle without much blow-back. Glad to see some coverage of this.



Et tu, Marcolito?

Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald dropped a bombshell on the Trump campaign this morning:

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.

Sounds legit. The Trump Foundation operates as Trump’s personal piggybank / tax evasion scheme, so why not use a charity as a cover for an embargo-busting business expense?

This latest Trump scandal could have huge implications in Florida. Even Marco Rubio, who acknowledged that Trump is a conman but endorsed him for president anyway, issued what passes for a tough statement from that quarter:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Donald Trump will have to “answer some questions” about a Newsweek story reporting that a Trump-owned company allegedly violated the United States’ trade embargo with Cuba in the late 1990s.

“This is something they’re going to have to give a response to. I mean, it was a violation of American law, if that’s how it happened,” Rubio said on the ESPN/ABC “Capital Games” podcast.

A real profile in courage, is our Marcolito. But the vote in Florida is on a knife’s edge, thanks in part to an aging bloc of voters who reflexively vote Republican because of hostility toward the Castros. This might complicate that a bit.



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Going Low

Meanwhile, per TPM:

Eric Trump on Wednesday joined Donald Trump’s surrogates in applauding the Republican nominee for not bringing up Bill Clinton’s sex scandals during the Monday debate, even saying that the moment is “something I’ll always remember.”

“I mean, he very well could’ve looked down—and he said it when he came off the debate stage, ‘I wasn’t gonna respond to that question because I saw Chelsea in the front row and I just wasn’t gonna go there out of respect for her,'” Eric Trump told Iowa radio host Simon Conway, according to a clip highlighted by Buzzfeed News. “And that was a big moment for me and probably will actually become — my life and this campaign — and probably something I’ll always remember.”

He said his dad “really took the high ground where he had the opportunity to go very, very low.”…

Not to worry, though, the kids have figured out the real problem with Dad’s campaign — lousy advisors!

Folks, it’s time to repurpose those playground jokes to target a group that really deserves it…

How many Trumps does it take to change a lightbulb?

***********
Apart from going low, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Two Score and One

The NYT (yes, I’m still occasionally reading it even though I canceled my subscription in a huff…) has an account of how Team Trump is handling the debate debacle and planning to improve on their man’s calamitous performance. An excerpt that describes how things went so wrong:

Mr. Trump’s debate preparation was unconventional. Aides have introduced a podium and encouraged him to participate in mock debates, but he has not embraced them, focusing mostly on conversations and discussions with advisers.

During the primaries, the group briefing him for debates was small and closely held. By the weekend before the debate on Monday at Hofstra University, there were nearly a dozen people preparing Mr. Trump, including the retired Army generals Michael Flynn and Keith Kellogg, neither of whom has experience in presidential debates.

There were early efforts to run a more standard form of general election debate-prep camp, led by Roger Ailes, the ousted Fox News chief, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, N.J. But Mr. Trump found it hard to focus during those meetings, according to multiple people briefed on the process who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. That left Mr. Ailes, who at the time was deeply distracted by his removal from Fox and the news media reports surrounding it, discussing his own problems as well as recounting political war stories, according to two people present for the sessions.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and a friend of Mr. Trump’s who has been traveling with him extensively, took over much of the preparation efforts by the end. But with Mr. Trump receiving so much conflicting advice in those sessions, he absorbed little of it.

The team had primed Mr. Trump to look for roughly a dozen key phrases and expressions Mrs. Clinton uses when she is uncertain or uncomfortable, but he did not seem to pay attention during the practice sessions, one aide said, and failed to home in on her vulnerabilities during the debate.

Trump aides, including revolting sexual predator Roger Ailes and serial 9/11-humper Rudy Giuliani, are casting about for a new strategy so Trump doesn’t get steamrolled during the upcoming town hall-style debate in a week and a half.

But doesn’t the story behind Trump’s shitty debate performance raise a larger question, such as whether a candidate who relies on a degenerate like Ailes, is unable to focus and retain information, etc., is fit for the presidency in the first place? Not to Trump super-fans like the Twittiot below, who are coming up with absurd conspiracy theories to explain why Hillary kicked Trump’s ass:

“Coughing prevention machine”? OMFG! Or maybe it’s a lapel mic power pack — do these people not watch “Ellen”?

It would be odd indeed to wear an earpiece on one’s back. But even dudes — gay or straight — understand that bras often have hooks in the back to allow the wearer to put the bra on rather than the bra magically enfolding the wearer’s boobs, right?

41. More. Days.

[H/T: Buzzfeed story on loopy conspiracy theories]



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Make America I DID NOT SAY THAT

I’m beginning to think that’s not pancake makeup, it’s tinted spackle covering the dings in Trump’s very, very, very thin skin.

Apart from some well-earned gloating, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



I never said that

You know the crazy dream where you just did something with potentially catastrophic consequences and you beg the universe for a chance to take it back*? Apparently Donald Trump thinks you really can do that. Probably that is what growing up in a gilded little box does to you. Let’s say that young lord Fontleroy declares that he never called the cook awful names and daddy pointy hat backs him up. Who can say it ever happened? If your character bends that way already (#notallrichpamperedshits) then starting his work life as the rich boss would just make it worse.

How many times has this guy flatly denied he said something that you could easily find on tape or in writing? The debate added three, maybe four more examples to the list (I had a hard time keeping up). There was the one about the interview where he complained about employees getting pregnant. I predict Trump will especially regret the one about never paying income tax. That was the fatal rumor that scared the hell out of the Romney campaign. It really rubs ordinary voters the wrong way, and explaining it just makes the disconnect between you and them even worse. Instead of parrying the question and answering with transparency like Romney eventually did, Trump bragged about it like an eight year old who found a loophole in the literal terms of his curfew (“It makes me smart!”) and then he telegraphed how stupid that was by denying that he said what he clearly just said on live TV. This is such a gift to the opponent that you almost don’t know where to start. Maybe just stitch the exchange and his denial into a thirty second ad and run it without commentary.

Here’s a question that I dropped in the comments last night – does anyone have a comprehensive list of how many times Trump has denied saying something he is clearly on record having said? This is the sort of thing I used to count on from Steve Benen when he wrote the Carpetbagger blog. Any suggestions appreciated.

(*) If this means I should talk to a professional immediately, I never had that dream.

***Update***

Oh for fuck’s sake.

Trump insists ‘there was no sniffles’ during presidential debate

For the record, yeah, he sniffled a lot during the debate. Maybe he buried his face in coke in the green room, or maybe he’s just sick. Who knows. He should get that checked out.