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The LGM 2016 Election Contest, technical update

[ 37 ] August 3, 2016 |

TLGM2016EC is off to a fine start. Be sure to get your entry in by 5 PM EDT this Friday.

A couple of technical matters:

(1) Percentage estimates expressed in tenths of a percent will be treated thus: 51.1% will be treated as 51.10%.

(2) Not to name names, but if a prominent and beloved commenter submits an entry with percentages adding up to more than 100%, should the entrant be notified and be given an opportunity to re-submit? What if the entrant isn’t notified but re-submits anyway? (Just trying to stave off litigation here). Opinions expressed will be considered advisory.

(3) It’s been pointed out that the final vote count isn’t official until months after the election. For the purposes of this contest, the final vote count shall be the current vote count as reported by the Associated Press as of noon eastern time, the Friday after the election. (Making someone wait several months for vodka-flavored ketchup raises potential 8th amendment issues).

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The LGM 2016 Election Contest

[ 66 ] August 3, 2016 |

alec baldwin

LGM is hosting a prediction contest for the 2016 American presidential election. FAQ below:

Q: How do I enter?

A: Send an email to lgmcontest2016@gmail.com containing the following:

A prediction of what percentage of the overall popular vote Hillary Clinton will receive.

A prediction of what percentage of the overall popular vote Donald Trump, or his replacement, will receive.

Predictions should be expressed to the hundredth percentile, i.e., 43.31%

A prediction of how many electoral votes the winning candidate will receive.

The winner of the contest will be the contestant whose entry features the lowest deviation from the actual percentages received by the candidates. The electoral vote prediction will be used as a tiebreaker, if necessary.

Note: There is no entry fee of any kind. This is not gambling.

Q: What can will I win?

A: First prize: $100

Second prize: A bottle of vodka-flavored ketchup

Third prize: This is a contest for winners. A loser is a loser, and there is no third prize. We’re actually a little embarrassed you asked, so we’ll pretend you didn’t.

Q: Who is eligible to participate?

A: People who post or lurk on this blog. There is a maximum of ONE (1) entry per contestant. Note: Using more than one LGM handle does not make you more than one contestant.

Q: When is the deadline for submitting my entry?

A: 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time (UTC -05:00) Friday, August 5th.

Good luck to everyone, and to the Republic.

The symbolic politics of birtherism and “voter fraud”

[ 231 ] August 2, 2016 |

trump

Donald Trump laid the groundwork, consciously or not, for his current presidential run six years ago, when he jumped onto the birther lunacy. It seems likely that Trump himself, like a lot of people who are or were birthers or birther-curious, wasn’t stupid and/or delusional enough to actually believe that Obama was born in Kenya. (Although it’s always dangerous to flout the explanatory power of Trump’s Razor).

For such people, the birther thing was always a form of symbolic politics: Obama isn’t really an American, for the obvious reason that black people, other non-whites, Muslims, etc. etc. aren’t really Americans, except by sufferance, or very partially and tenuously. Claiming that Obama was literally a foreigner was just a kind of twisted metaphor for the idea that America is a white country, which generously tolerates some number of semi-or-not-really-Americans in its midst.

Now some very mean and irresponsible people might term this kind of thinking “racist,” but an idea that is held by an unknown but pretty obviously large percentage of real Americans can’t be racist, because that would imply that American racism, which admittedly existed in some places in America at one time, wasn’t largely if not completely eliminated by the War of Northern Aggression, Jackie Robinson, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Cosby Show.

Moving right along, somewhere in Trump’s pre-frontal cortex the realization arose that the amazingly widespread and totally-not-racist idea that Obama wasn’t really an American indicated that it might well be possible to win the GOP nomination by simply taking it as a given that real Americans are white Americans, and that political decisions taken without the support of a majority of white Americans are illegitimate by definition.

Now that this plan has come to fruition, Trump is laying the groundwork for making a subtle claim that a failure to elect him president would mean the election was rigged. See if you can detect that implication somewhere in the quote below:

“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged, to be honest,” Trump told supporters in Columbus, Ohio.

Asked later by Fox News host Sean Hannity to explain the remark, Trump said “I’ve been hearing about it for a long time,” and he suggested voter fraud by saying that four years ago, “you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican.”

Josh Marshall:

It’s true that Republicans have been very disingenuously pushing the ‘voter fraud’ con for years, especially as the power of minority voting has grown over the last two decades. However, as bad as that has been, there’s a major difference. Republicans to date have almost always used bogus claims of ‘voter fraud’ to rev up their troops and build support for restrictive voting laws, largely focused on minority voters. A number of those laws have been overturned by federal courts in the last week. A notable case was North Carolina where the Court found that the changes were intentionally designed to limit voting by black North Carolinians.

What Republicans politicians have virtually never done was use this canard to lay the groundwork for rejecting the result of a national election. This is Donald Trump, not a normal politician. You should not be surprised if he refuses to accept the result of an electoral defeat or calls on his supporters to resist it.

The other point goes to the raced nature of all voter suppression legislation. They focus overwhelmingly on claims that African-Americans commit rampant vote fraud in “inner cities” and that immigrants, particularly Hispanic immigrants do the same. These are of course two of Trump’s main group enemies. Combining the animosity he has already stoked among his followers toward these groups with the claim that they will now try to “steal” the election through fraud is nothing less than striking a match in a gas filled room.

Whether Trump is starting to lay the groundwork for contesting the election on claims of widespread voter impersonation fraud or some kind of broader effort for election officials to falsify results, we’re entering a dangerous new phase of the 2016 election campaign.

The parallel with the birther nonsense is that what claims of “voter fraud” are really about is not actual voter fraud, which as Marshall has documented exhaustively is extremely rare, but a deeper sort of “fraud,” which is the wrenching away of America from real Americans by the Others, and their white enablers who dominate Democratic party elites, i.e., the race traitors. That’s what Trump’s entire campaign is about, and that’s what the movement that will unfortunately survive him will continue to be built around by politicians far more skillful and less overtly clownish and thuggish than Trump himself.

Was Merrick Garland’s name ever mentioned during the DNC?

[ 64 ] July 29, 2016 |

garland

This guy says it wasn’t, and he has a theory as to why:

[R]ight now the conventional wisdom is that Republicans are blocking Garland’s nomination on the outside chance they can win the presidency and fill Scalia’s seat themselves; and if Clinton wins, they’ll just confirm Garland after the election, during the lame duck session. This plan will work, even if the Republicans lose the Senate, because they’ll still hold the majority until their replacements take office in January. The only way this doesn’t work is if Garland’s nomination is withdrawn. So what if the Garland nomination is withdrawn?

Look, I believe Obama nominated Garland because Garland is who he actually wants on the Court. But the Republican pitch on filling Scalia’s seat is “the voters should decide.” I’ve already explained why that doesn’t make any sense—the voters decided who should fill Supreme Court vacancies when they elected Obama. But a pitch that’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The GOP has handed Obama an excuse to withdraw Garland’s nomination the morning after the election. (Obama: “Guys, guys, you wanted to let the voters decide, and the voters have decided they want Hillary Clinton to fill this seat.”)

Do I think Obama would actually withdraw Garland’s nomination? I didn’t a week ago. But that was before we witnessed an entire week of the DNC, packed with speeches about Democratic goals and priorities—with plenty of talk about Supreme Court decisions that need overturning and plenty of promises to nominate justices who will overturn them—but not a single mention of confirming Merrick Garland.

My theory: If we get deep into August and the polls are showing not only a strong lead for Clinton but also promising leads in enough of those senate races, it will take only credible whispers of withdrawing Garland’s nomination to make the Republicans nervous enough to go ahead and confirm him before the election. And how do you create a credible threat of withdrawal? By taking the stage before millions of viewers for a week to talk about goals and priorities, and the importance of the Supreme Court, without mentioning Garland. There was an effort to rally Democratic voters behind the importance of appointing the right people to the Supreme Court—but no effort to rally Democratic voters behind Garland. Why? Because absenting Garland from the DNC was a signal. The Party didn’t commit itself to Garland. Clinton didn’t commit herself to Garland. Even Obama didn’t push for Garland. The signal: after this week, the possibility of withdrawing Garland on November 9 is real.

This is superficially plausible — and it’s certainly noteworthy that Garland wasn’t mentioned, assuming he wasn’t — but I can’t see the GOP folding on Garland right before the election even if the polls look dismal for them. That sort of show of weakness would just enrage the base further, assuming that particular dial won’t already be cranked up to 11 by then.

Clear and present danger

[ 180 ] July 27, 2016 |

lindbergh

Jill Stein isn’t going to let Donald Trump win the battle to utter the most noxious and irresponsible things during this news cycle without a fight:

Democrats are now accusing Russia of manipulating our presidential election… exactly what DNC was caught doing. #DNCleak

One problem with political rhetoric is that it naturally tends to be hyperbolic. People claim electing somebody as president would be a genuine catastrophe for the country, when in fact that’s not really very likely, given political inertia, institutional checks and balances, informal norms of governance and campaigning, and so forth.

Then Donald Trump comes along, i.e., a candidate who really would be a genuine catastrophe for the country, because he’s an utterly unqualified narcissistic sociopath who is completely unconstrained by ordinary formal or informal institutions and norms. And pointing this out (over and over again) rings rather hollow, because after all people are always making hyperbolic claims of this sort. But in this case it’s not hyperbole. If anything it’s an understatement, because it’s both hard to grasp and hard to express just how crazy and dangerous it would be to elect Trump president of the United States.

Anybody who does anything to help Trump get elected, which is what Jill Stein is working to do every day, is every bit as culpable in regard to increasing the existential danger the nation now faces as Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters. That’s the practical and moral reality of the situation. Such people should be treated with the contempt they deserve, and what they did shouldn’t be forgotten once the present danger passes, assuming it does.

Major American political party nominates woman for president

[ 132 ] July 27, 2016 |

sufferage

Gallup has been asking people since 1937, with some variations in wording, whether they would cast their presidential vote for an otherwise well-qualified candidate who was a [ ].

For “woman” the percentages of Americans who said yes they would:

1937: 33%

1958: 54%

1978: 76%

1999: 92%

2007: 88%

2015: 92%

Jennifer Rubin thinks Hillary Clinton’s nomination isn’t particularly notable, because gender is not as important as race in contemporary America:

[G]ender simply is not as big a deal in 21st-century America as race still is. We’ve had women in high places for decades, and we do not have a divide between the sexes (thank goodness) to the degree that we still have along racial lines. We fought a civil war and a brutal battle to do away with Jim Crow. I could go on, but most would agree that this is not as big a deal as nominating or electing the first African American.

We probably need Camille Paglia’s take on this question before we can make generalizations about what most people think about it.

No brain toilers for Trump

[ 122 ] July 26, 2016 |

holy trinity

Updated below

Holy Trinity Church is an 1892 SCOTUS case, mildly famous among lawyers, which is often cited to support the doctrine that legislative intention can trump statutory plain meaning. The case involved the apparent violation of one of the earliest federal immigration laws, when a New York church paid to bring an English pastor to America, to become the church’s minister. The statute forbade employers from paying to bring foreigners into the country, subject to exceptions that didn’t seem to apply to the pastor’s case. The Court got around that by citing legislative history for the proposition that Congress hadn’t intended to stanch the flow of “brain toilers,” as opposed to manual laborers, across our teeming shores:

It appears also from the petitions and in the testimony presented before the committees of Congress that it was this cheap, unskilled labor which was making the trouble, and the influx of which Congress sought to prevent. It was never suggested that we had in this country a surplus of brain toilers, and least of all that the market for the services of Christian ministers was depressed by foreign competition.

The opinion is chock full of nativist paranoia, that makes for amusing reading in these more enlightened times:

“[The act] seeks to restrain and prohibit the immigration or importation of laborers who would have never seen our shores but for the inducements and allurements of men whose only object is to obtain labor at the lowest possible rate, regardless of the social and material wellbeing of our own citizens, and regardless of the evil consequences which result to American laborers from such immigration. This class of immigrants care nothing about our institutions, and in many instances never even heard of them. They are men whose passage is paid by the importers. They come here under contract to labor for a certain number of years. They are ignorant of our social condition, and, that they may remain so, they are isolated and prevented from coming into contact with Americans. They are generally from the lowest social stratum, and live upon the coarsest food, and in hovels of a character before unknown to American workmen. They, as a rule, do not become citizens, and are certainly not a desirable acquisition to the body politic. The inevitable tendency of their presence among us is to degrade American labor and to reduce it to the level of the imported pauper labor.” (Quoting the House committee report).

Anyway, it’s in my view a shame that MR. JUSTICE BREWER’S verbal conceptualization of a laboring “class whose toil is of the brain” never caught on, and we are stuck with the word “intellectual,” which is admittedly a much narrower concept, and also a term which basically can’t be used without irony or sarcasm (indeed you are almost required to add the sneering modifier “so-called” whenever describing anyone as such).

Which brings me at last to my point, which perhaps surprisingly does not involve remarks on the wearing of onions on belts in bygone days: there are almost no intellectuals anywhere on the political spectrum who are actually supporting Donald Trump’s candidacy. At most on the right you can find a few Victor Davis Hanson types who will make a lesser of two evils argument, but the heavy lifters of right-wing brain toiling — your Brooks’s and Douthats and Kristols and Wills et. al., — remain vehemently opposed to him, even now, after all hope has been lost of stopping him from being the GOP candidate.

Of course anybody to the brain toiling left of these gentlemen recoils in unmitigated horror from the prospect of a Trump presidency, with the rare exception of the very occasional apparently brain-damaged not a dime’s worth of difference Princeton professor.

What’s interesting about this I suppose is that it’s some evidence of the shall we say limited influence of intellectuals of any type on either public opinion or the shape of national politics. Basically no thinking person, loosely speaking, is willing to admit to even moderate enthusiasm for the potential reign of Herr Trump, and yet here we are.

Update: Thanks to Newish Lawyer for flagging this very interesting Vox interview with Avik Roy:

The available evidence compiled by historians and political scientists suggests that 1964 really was a pivotal political moment, in exactly the way Roy describes.

Yet Republican intellectuals have long denied this, fabricating a revisionist history in which Republicans were and always have been the party of civil rights. In 2012, National Review ran a lengthy cover story arguing that the standard history recounted by Roy was “popular but indefensible.”

This revisionism, according to Roy, points to a much bigger conservative delusion: They cannot admit that their party’s voters are motivated far more by white identity politics than by conservative ideals.

“Conservative intellectuals, and conservative politicians, have been in kind of a bubble,” Roy says. “We’ve had this view that the voters were with us on conservatism — philosophical, economic conservatism. In reality, the gravitational center of the Republican Party is white nationalism.” . . .

Conservative intellectuals, for the most part, are horrified by racism. When they talk about believing in individual rights and equality, they really mean it. Because the Republican Party is the vehicle through which their ideas can be implemented, they need to believe that the party isn’t racist.

So they deny the party’s racist history, that its post-1964 success was a direct result of attracting whites disillusioned by the Democrats’ embrace of civil rights. And they deny that to this day, Republican voters are driven more by white resentment than by a principled commitment to the free market and individual liberty.

“It’s the power of wishful thinking. None of us want to accept that opposition to civil rights is the legacy that we’ve inherited,” Roy says.

He expands on this idea: “It’s a common observation on the left, but it’s an observation that a lot of us on the right genuinely believed wasn’t true — which is that conservatism has become, and has been for some time, much more about white identity politics than it has been about conservative political philosophy. I think today, even now, a lot of conservatives have not come to terms with that problem.”

This, Roy believes, is where the conservative intellectual class went astray. By refusing to admit the truth about their own party, they were powerless to stop the forces that led to Donald Trump’s rise. They told themselves, over and over again, that Goldwater’s victory was a triumph.

But in reality, it created the conditions under which Trump could thrive. Trump’s politics of aggrieved white nationalism — labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists — succeeded because the party’s voting base was made up of the people who once opposed civil rights.

“[Trump] tapped into something that was latent in the Republican Party and conservative movement — but a lot of people in the conservative movement didn’t notice,” Roy concludes, glumly.

What are the sources of Trump’s support?

[ 169 ] July 25, 2016 |

h and t

I agree with Scott that polls taken a couple of days after a convention mean almost nothing in regard to predicting who will win an election that’s still more than three months away. I also agree with him that Clinton should still be considered a solid to heavy favorite because Trump appears to be both a uniquely awful and incompetent candidate (he still has nothing resembling a normal campaign organization, nor is there any evidence that he’s raising real money).

Still, we now have several recent polls which show Clinton and Trump essentially tied in regard to the national popular vote. And although this fact has in itself very little predictive significance, it’s still plenty depressing for other reasons.

There’s a famous garbled anecdote, misused by right wing pundits as a supposed example of out of touch left wing intellectuals failing to predict elections, regarding how Pauline Kael said she couldn’t understand how Nixon beat McGovern when everybody she knew voted for McGovern. OK, but . . . Donald Trump??? How is it possible that he’s polling even with Clinton at present? Potential explanations, from least to most disturbing:

(1) A general anti-establishment mood in the electorate, that’s hurting uber-establishment candidate HRC. To the extent this explains Trump’s popularity, then it’s like that somebody like Warren would be killing him.

(2) Low information partisan responses. Relative to the average person who posts or comments on political blogs, most people pay essentially no attention to the details of day to day politics, or the actual positions espoused by particular candidates. On this account, Trump’s support has little to do with anything about him other than that he’s not the Democrat Party’s candidate.

(3) Hatred of Clinton specifically. Part of this is a product of 25 years of GOP hysteria with its endless fake scandals, etc. Part of it is no doubt old fashioned misogyny. Part of it is that Clinton has shown poor judgment/a political tin ear on a number of issues, such as taking millions of dollars from banksters for giving a few speeches on the eve of her presidential run. I think one reason people swooned for Kaine so much on Saturday was simply that he wasn’t Clinton, and a lot of people are suffering from Clinton fatigue, for both bad and good reasons.

(4) Ethno-nationalist nativism, soft version. “I’m not a racist but . . .” (I hate PC, immigrants are taking our jobs, I hate the bilingual signs at Home Depot, yeah Trump says some bad things but Hillary” etc etc).

(5) Ethno-nationalist nativism, hard version. “I believe in white supremacy. If that makes me a racist then I guess I’m a racist.”

Obviously all these things are factors in the astonishing fact that at the moment nearly half the American electorate (and fully half of the electorate once you toss out votes for Gary Johnson and Jill Stein) is made up of people who say they’re going to vote for Trump. The extent to which the factors at the top of the list predominate determine whether something other than deep pessimism about the overall political situation is warranted. What that extent actually is I have no idea.

Grading on a curve

[ 136 ] July 22, 2016 |

curve

Donald Trump hasn’t lowered the bar in regard to political discourse in America: he’s drilled a hole halfway to the center of the Earth and thrown that bar down it.

So last night, when he didn’t call Obama the N word, or grab the ass of his daughter who he has more than once said he would like to have sex with (he just came awfully close), or suggest rounding up American Muslims and deporting them to Madagascar, he got a kind of credit for showing some restraint.

Although pretty much everybody agreed that as delivered the speech was interminable and boring and way too shouty, plenty of not-stupid people also described it as “powerful,” at least in its paper form.

This is grading on the Trump curve. Here’s a characteristic passage:

Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on January 20, 2017, safety will be restored.

This is pure cult of personality stuff. Besides relying on an exact inversion of the truth (violent crime in America is at historically low levels), it also indulges in unabashed magical thinking: the speech did not include any indication of how this miraculous overnight transformation of the world’s third-largest country was going to be achieved.

The whole thing was like that. The speech’s only message was: you are scared children, I am your stern but lovable daddy, and I will make it all better, don’t ask me how. Authoritarianism for Dummies, in other words.

The big speech

[ 175 ] July 21, 2016 |

There’s a draft of Trump’s speech making the rounds, and according to both Chris Hayes and Ross Douthat it’s something of a straight reboot of Pat Buchanan’s infamous “cultural war” speech from the 1992 convention:

Trump speech tonight is the *full* Buchanan. Very very dark, dystopic. Straight up nationalism no chaser.

Ross Douthat ‏@DouthatNYT 34m34 minutes ago
If the draft I’m seeing is right, the speech is basically Buchananism without religion.

A couple of thoughts:

I’m actually surprised by this. What I expected was for at least Trump’s script to be somewhat toned down, so that whoever is currently playing David Broder in this bad political novel we’re now living in could burble about DJT’s new mature and statesman-like approach, his timely pivot toward the center, and so forth. Whether he would stick to that script during the speech would be another matter, as Trump obviously has trouble doing so — he gets bored very easily, he wants nothing less than pure adulation from his most rabid admirers, he loves to ad-lib etc.

But apparently even the prepared script is pretty hair-raising. If that’s correct, it would be irresponsible not to speculate regarding what’s really going on. I’m just throwing this out there: Could Trump be trying to extort the GOP powers that be to get him quit the race for the right price? If he gives a speech that makes it perfectly obvious that he’s not going to even try to pursue an electoral strategy that will be anything less than a full-on disaster, could this be interpreted as a kind of opening bid?

The reason I don’t think this is impossible is that I think there’s a non-trivial chance that Trump doesn’t even really want to be POTUS when you get right down to it (It is a real job after all, which requires sitting in meetings all day and other things he has no patience for).

Of course there are lots of alternative explanations, such as that Trump is stupid and vain enough to think that what works with the most unhinged elements of the GOP base will work well in the general. Or maybe it’s all a bait and switch and the “real” speech will be all semi-moderate and stuff, after he has caused a panic with a fake leaked document. Really anything is possible with this guy, so who knows? But everybody will be watching, which at bottom is no doubt ultimately what this has always been about.

You give *one* Nazi salute to a national television audience and the PC crowd is all over you

[ 139 ] July 21, 2016 |

li

I mean come on, it’s not like she explicitly called for the extermination of the untermenschen. (I didn’t see the speech but I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt).

BTW it turns out the Nazis more or less lifted that concept from this guy, immortalized in The Great Gatsby:

“Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”

“Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

“Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

“Tom’s getting very profound,” said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. “He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we ——”

“Well, these books are all scientific,” insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. “This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.”

“We’ve got to beat them down,” whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

“You ought to live in California —” began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and ——” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. “— And we’ve produced all the things that go to make civilization — oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?”

There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more.

The emperor of the world

[ 217 ] July 21, 2016 |

trump

Jane Mayer’s portrait of Donald Trump via an in-depth interview with Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of The Art of the Deal, is must reading. What emerges is a genuinely terrifying picture of a narcissistic sociopath with severe attention deficit issues to boot:

“Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.

Schwartz sees Trump’s presidential run as the logical endpoint of the junkie’s search for ever-higher doses for his fix:

Schwartz reminded himself that he was being paid to tell Trump’s story, not his own, but the more he worked on the project the more disturbing he found it. In his journal, he describes the hours he spent with Trump as “draining” and “deadening.” Schwartz told me that Trump’s need for attention is “completely compulsive,” and that his bid for the Presidency is part of a continuum. “He’s managed to keep increasing the dose for forty years,” Schwartz said. After he’d spent decades as a tabloid titan, “the only thing left was running for President. If he could run for emperor of the world, he would.”

Trump emerges as a compulsive liar and an ignorant, utterly out of control narcissist, who reads nothing but his own press clippings (it’s doubtful that he’s ever read a book as an adult). He does watch a lot of TV though.

In a perfect denouement to Mayer’s story, Trump took the time in the midst of the convention that is crowning him king of the Republican party to order one of his lawyers fire off a ludicrous cease and desist letter to Schwartz. In his typical fashion, Trump had his mouthpiece bluster about Schwartz’s supposedly defamatory statements, without bothering to specify any, while making farcical demands that the lawyer, assuming he has a triple digit IQ, is well aware are both legally frivolous and have zero chance of drawing any response other than derision.

As a few Russian novelists have observed, people can get used to anything with time, but we shouldn’t get inured to the astounding fact that this disgraceful joke of a human being is now the Republican candidate for president of the United States, and therefore has a non-trivial chance of becoming the most powerful man in world.

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