Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself. 

– attributed to Napoleon

This week’s featured post is “Sexism and the Clinton Candidacy“. Short version: A man can misbehave and be an endearing rogue, but there’s no stereotypic loophole for a woman’s mistakes.

Last week the Sift had its two millionth page view since I moved the blog to in 2011. The push over the line came from “Why Bernie Backed Hillary“, which got over 16K hits.

This week everybody was talking about Trump’s downward spiral

Up until this week, Republicans were willing to rationalize Donald Trump’s rhetorical excesses: It was a strategy, an act, a way to manipulate the media, and so on. He could turn it off and on as necessary to control the news cycle.

But when he went into a full-bore multi-day attack on gold-star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, raising stereotypes about Muslim women, describing his own wealthy lifestyle as “sacrifice“, and even connecting the Khans to terrorism, it became hard to ignore what’s really been going on: Trump has a character flaw that borders on a personality disorder.

There is no strategy here: He kept his self-destructive argument with the Khans going because he simply cannot control himself. If he feels disrespected, he must strike back and keep striking back until he can convince himself that he has won.

In other words, he proved the truth of what Clinton said about him in her acceptance speech:

A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.

Combined with Clinton’s convention bounce, that put Trump’s poll numbers into free fall. Between the conventions, the race was either tied or Trump might even have been a point or two ahead. But this morning both Nate Silver and the RCP average have Clinton up 7 points. BTW, Nate has a great graphic of how the national and state-by-state polling fits together. (If you find this a little hard to read, click it and scroll down.)

Here’s how bad things are for Trump: He’s already making plans for how he’s going to soothe his ego after he loses: He’s going to claim Clinton cheated. More and more, this campaign is reminding me of third grade.

and I thought I was on vacation when …

… I was in Portland, Maine on Friday. I was on my way to my favorite Portland tea shop to read a book I hope to tell you about soon (Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance), when I noticed a big crowd in front of city hall about a block away.

I knew Trump had been in Portland on Thursday, and I had seen on TV that protesters silently holding up pocket copies of the Constitution had been removed from his rally.

In that rally, Trump promoted a local version of the immigrant-crime-wave lie I pointed out in his convention speech.

We’ve just seen many, many crimes, getting worse all the time. And as Maine knows – a major destination for Somali refugees. They’re coming from among the most dangerous territories or countries anywhere in the world. We have no idea of who they are … this could be the great Trojan horse of all time!

To which the Portland Press Herald responded:

Mr. Trump can relax. We know who they are. They are our neighbors and our friends. Some of them work in our schools and hospitals. Some are students. Some own businesses. They pay taxes, which are used for, among other things, maintaining the stage from which he spoke.

What I had stumbled into Friday afternoon was originally supposed to be the Portland Somali community’s counter-demonstration, and it included some of the same Constitution-waving protesters. But when they had asked the mayor if they could hold their rally on the steps of City Hall, he asked if he could spread the word around, because “maybe some other people will want to join in.”

By the time I got there, there were about 400 of us, of all races. (My estimate on the spot matched the one in the newspaper the next morning.) It was not a partisan thing; I didn’t see any Clinton signs. People were there to support their neighbors and the unity of their city against outsiders peddling hate. The Press Herald quoted the police chiefs of Portland and nearby Lewiston, where many Somali refugees have settled. Both made the same points:

  • Crime is down, not up.
  • There is no special Somali-refugee crime problem.
  • Nobody from the Trump campaign had talked to them.

That third point is the one that most enrages me. Anybody can get a fact wrong. But Trump is not trying to get his facts right. He’s going to American cities and raising fear against the immigrants who have settled there without even checking that those fears are based on anything real.

BTW, the Constitution thing is a big deal. Khizr Khan started it at the Democratic Convention when he offered to give Donald Trump his copy of the Constitution. And Trump made a huge blunder when his people ejected the silent protesters in Portland. They weren’t disrupting anything, they were just holding up the Constitution, which Trump’s people saw as a hostile act. The crowd booed them (and their Constitutions) as they were led away.

Up until now, waving the Constitution has been a conservative thing. I imagine Ted Cruz pulling his hair out and yelling at Trump as he watched this on TV: “You let the Democrats take the Constitution away from us?”

and my church is also in the news

First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Bedford, Massachusetts — I know, I live in New Hampshire, but I go to a church 25 miles away in Massachusetts; it’s a long story — is in the middle of an expensive project to bring our carbon footprint as close to zero as we can. After new insulation and HVAC equipment, the last piece of that plan is to put solar panels on the roof of our early-19th-century building, carefully positioned so as not to be too striking from the road.

The local historical commission blocked that, and now we’re going to court. ThinkProgress picked up the story this week, noting that we’re using the kind of religious-freedom legal argument that “is more often used by conservative faith groups”. We’re arguing that publicly fighting climate change is part of living our faith. It’ll be interesting to see what a court does with that reasoning.

and you might also be interested in

No matter who wins in November, or what kind of Congress she gets, the new President will have to face the problem of slow growth. It’s not just an American problem, so it probably doesn’t have a purely American solution.

Both parties have been talking around that. There’s a certain amount of genuine mystery about global growth, so the idea that we can ramp up growth locally by cutting taxes or building infrastructure is a little iffy.

For Obama’s 55th birthday, USA Today put together this compilation of his most endearing moments.

There’s Liberal vs. Conservative, and then there’s Reality vs. Fantasy. Incumbent Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson made it clear which side he’s on in an interview on a local radio show:

First of all, the climate hasn’t warmed in quite a few years. I mean, that is proven scientifically.

After 2014 turned out to be the hottest year on record (until 2015 was hotter), the government’s real scientists published this graph, showing that global warming has actually accelerated in recent years.

Senator Johnson went on to explain what really motivates climate change activists:

The reason they’re doing it is it’s such a great opportunity to control, you know, pretty much, government, and control your lives.

Yep, that’s why I drive a hybrid and why my church is going to court for the right to put solar panels on its roof: It’s all part of a nefarious plan to control everybody’s lives. I can’t remember exactly how the plot is supposed to work, but I’m sure somebody explained it to me once.

and let’s close with some Trump songs

Here a busker redoes “The Boxer”:

And Dennis Leary and James Corden put a Trump twist into Leary’s “I’m an Asshole”.

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  • Charles Roth  On August 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Minor nit to pick: contrary to the text, the graph does NOT show that global warming has accelerated; in fact, if taken literally, it shows a SMALLER rate of increase in 1998-2014.

    More to the point: trying to fit those two flat lines (1880-2014, and 1998-2014) is silly. Krakatoa messed up the temperature curve in 1883 and for several years thereafter. If you have to draw a straight line (always a dangerous extrapolation), a better fit to known data is 1910-2014.

    In any case, it’s clear from the data that global warming is happening.

  • Kaci  On August 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I don’t know if it’s the cause of the current slowdown, but it seems to me that on a finite planet, economic growth can’t continue forever. Of course I’m in favor of reducing inequality, but sooner or later we’ll need to find a way of structuring our economy that doesn’t depend on continual growth.

    • 1mime  On August 8, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      And, get people to stop expanding the population….contraception? Make it free, make it acceptable, make it safe, make it a woman’s choice.

      • Kaci  On August 8, 2016 at 9:21 pm

        Absolutely! I kind of think we need a paradigm shift away from parenthood-as-default. I’m not the one to judge anyone else’s reasons for becoming a parent, and once people are here they need to be taken care of, but I think that with where we are now as a species, parenthood should maybe be looked at as a special vocation, not something that everyone does just because.

  • cgordon  On August 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    The argument that putting up solar panels is part of your religious belief presumably protected under the First Amendment makes me uncomfortable. Where does that end?

    On the other hand, given Boerne v. Flores, you might have a legal case.

    • weeklysift  On August 9, 2016 at 9:34 am

      It certainly WON’T end if we let the right-wing Christians get away with monopolizing those rights. They need to know that every right they claim for themselves will also be claimed by people they disapprove of.

  • Maine GSA Grandma  On August 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you for stopping by Portland City Hall to join the 400 of us who came out on a few hours’ notice to stand with our Somali friends, neighbors, colleagues and former students who had been so viciously maligned and targeted by a certain hateful nominee. You can be sure that Portland’s two UU congregations were well-represented in that crowd, and doubtless more UUs from nearby communities as well. A retired teacher, I held a sign saying “We’re all in this together,” in English, Spanish, Arabic and Somali. We insist that the Somali-American community here be treated as the valuable and essential part of Portland that they are. They are school administrators, police officers and so much more. Betsy Parsons

    • weeklysift  On August 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Good to hear from you, Betsy. While deciding what to write about this week, I spent some time sitting in the garden of the UU church on Congress street, a small peaceful spot in the middle of urban bustle.

  • coastcontact  On August 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Your blind allegiance to Hillary Clinton is remarkable. Mrs. Clinton is unable to tell the truth. Where is there a clear statement of facts about Benghazi? If she did make one I cannot find it anywhere on the internet. Most recently was her appearance of Fox News Sunday where she contended that James Comey had said she was honest.

    CHRIS WALLACE: After a long investigation, FBI Director James Comey said none of those things that you told the American public were true.
    CLINTON: Chris, that’s not what I heard Director Comey say, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity, in my view, clarify.
    Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.
    I was communicating with over 300 people in my e-mailing. They certainly did not believe and had no reason to believe that what they were sending was classified.
    Now, in retrospect, different agencies come in and say, well, it should have been, but that’s not what was happening in real time.
    WALLACE: But in a congressionally hearing on July 7th, Director Comey directly contradicted what you had told the public.
    REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C., CHAIR, BENGHAZI COMMITTEE: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her e-mails either sent or received. Was that true?
    JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: That’s not true.
    GOWDY: Secretary Clinton said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” Was that true?
    COMEY: There was classified material e-mailed.
    WALLACE: He directly contradicted —
    CLINTON: Well, I —
    WALLACE: Well, let me just say — he not only directly contradicted what you said, he also said in that hearing that you were extremely careless and negligent.
    CLINTON: Well, Chris, I looked at the whole transcript of everything that was said, and what I believe is, number one, I made a mistake not using two different e-mail addresses. I have said that and I repeat it again today. It is certainly not anything that I ever would do again.
    I take classification seriously. I relied on and had every reason to rely on the judgments of the professionals with whom I worked. And so, in retrospect, maybe some people are saying, well, among those 300 people, they made the wrong call.

    At the time, there was no reason in my view to doubt the professionalism and the determination by the people who work every single day on behalf of our country.
    We are being offered two of the worst candidates for president in modern times. As a former Democrat, now an Independent, I find Clinton’s responses to interview questions totally evasive. At the very least Donald Trump has suggested some new ideas. I have not heard one new ideas from Mrs. Clinton. I have 90 days to change my mind but today my vote would go to the Libertarian Party.

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