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The second Trump-Clinton debate: What was new was horrifying

REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Donald Trump listening as Hillary Clinton answers a question from the audience during their presidential town hall debate on Sunday.

My quick reactions after the second Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate from Washington University in St. Louis:

• I learned almost nothing new. Why do I even kid myself that I might? I pay way too much attention to the candidates’ actual records and positions and biographies, which I consider to be the most important things. A debate turns out to be a terrible place to learn any of that, especially if you’ve already been paying way too much attention.

• The one thing that was new, if you take it seriously, was horrifying: Trump pledged to sic a special prosecutor on Hillary Clinton and try to put her in jail. No presidential candidate has ever come close to making a threat like that to his opponent before. At least not in this country. There are countries where the winners throw the loser in prison or have them shot, but we do not consider those to be democracies.

• The evening started with a discussion of Trump’s despicable caught-on-tape bragging about being such a big star that he’s allowed to grab women “by the pussy.” I just have to say that I don’t understand how anyone was shocked or surprised by this, at this point in this campaign. But since it has taken over the last couple of days of our great exercise in democracy, someone must have thought that everyone was surprised.

• Trump got to take his retaliatory shots at Bill Clinton’s philandering, and Hillary Clinton’s alleged complicity in covering it up. I went into the evening expecting this garbage to take over the debate, and possibly the remainder of the campaign. I was relieved that it blew over in the first few minutes. Perhaps the last two days of talk about changing the Republican ticket will also blow over. We are too close to Election Day for that and we have to ride this one out with the lineup we have.

• The crotch-grabbing story may come back. Trump dismissed it as “locker room talk” and made a rare expression of regret, even uttering the “a” word (“apologize”) twice. Anderson Cooper pressed him to answer the question of whether there was any more than “talk,” in other words, whether he had also acted on this particular prerogative of stardom. Trump tried to dodge, but ultimately said no, there was no actual groping, just locker room talk. It strikes me as altogether likely that the Dems will find some women who will contradict that claim, and we’ll be back to talking genitalia. Perhaps the truth will set us free, or perhaps it will impel us into an all-smut last month of the campaign.

Clinton didn’t claim to have evidence of actual proven unwelcome Trumpian groping (or worse than groping). She used it as evidence of Trump’s proven willingness to disrespect not only women but Gold Star families and whole religions, and federal judges of Mexican descent and a disabled reporter.

• I don’t know if he always does this, but Trump last night was seriously in love with calling things a “disaster.” He listed 13 disasters including: “The inner cities of our country, which are a disaster,” and a second specific reference to the schools there as “a disaster”; the NAFTA trade deal signed by Bill Clinton; the current situation in Libya and the situation in Aleppo (both of which are Clinton’s fault, he said); the Iraq War (yes, he repeated the lie that he opposed it in advance, but told the truth that Clinton voted to authorize it); Clinton’s entire record as a Senator; Clinton’s entire record on foreign policy; Obamacare; single-payer health care as it works in Canada; and Clinton’s proposed tax plan. (Trump also identified four things, also mostly Clinton’s fault, that were or are or would be a “disgrace,” but I won’t enumerate them.)

In the instant post-analysis, I heard Tucker Carlson say that Clinton argues that the situation in America could “use some improvement,” whereas Trump looks at the country and sees “a disaster.” There’s a lot to this, and to the wall that the separates the cautiously optimistic from those who see a society in free-fall.

• Clinton, as she has in the past, advocated that the United States create and enforce a no-fly zone and a “safe zone” over Syria, but she did not answer (and never has) whether she would be willing to have the United States shoot down a Russian plane that breached either of these zones, since Russian warplanes are active in Syria, and shooting down a Russian plane would be a very large deal.

• The Syria discussion also led to an awkward moment regarding the Trump-Pence team, which ended with one of Trump’s “disaster” references. It went like this, on the subject of what to do about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo:

Moderator Martha Raddatz: Mr. Trump, let me repeat the question. If you were president, what would you do about Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo? I want to remind you what your running mate said. He said provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and if Russia continues to be involved in air-strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.

Trump: Okay. He and I haven’t spoken and I disagree.

Raddatz: You disagree with your running mate?

Trump: Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and Iran who she made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and very rich nation, very, very quickly. Very, very quickly.

I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. That was the line.

Raddatz: What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls.

Trump: It is a disaster.

Pence may, and should be asked, whether he disagrees with his running mate.

Here’s a full transcript of the debate, via Fortune magazine.

Transcripts, of course, are full of nothing but the words actually spoken. James Fallows, in his Atlantic Magazine piece previewing the debates, wrote that, “the most accurate way to predict reaction to a debate is to watch it with the sound turned off.”

I seriously hate to think that the words don’t matter and the pictures do (also the grunts and sniffs; yes, Trump did the loud sniffing thing again when he was talking), and I don’t trust my own reactions on the visuals, but my best guess is that no one who is not already in love with Trump could possibly like the way he looked last night or the way he behaved.

He lurked around the stage, at times almost looking baboon-like in his posture, tried to bully Clinton by standing too close to her when it was her turn to talk, seldom smiled, rebuked the moderators for asking Clinton nicer questions than they were asking him (“It’s three on one,” he complained aloud at one point.) He interrupted Clinton far, far, far more often than she did him, and was also much less willing to wrap up his statements after the moderators told him his time was up. He complained that that they were favoring her by giving her more time, although the stopwatch at the end of the evening indicated that he had exercised his vocal chords a minute or two more than she.

The third and final presidential debate of the season is scheduled for Oct. 19 at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The format will revert back to the single-moderator, with no questions from the audience.

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Comments (44)

  1. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 10/10/2016 - 09:19 am.

    I’m not buying it!

    After a video of Trump talking about some of his disgusting thoughts and behavior from 10 years ago, he went into damage control mode. First, with what he considered a written apology that failed the scrutiny test of believability. Twelve hours later he came out with a video apology obviously written by a team of people. The first half was an insincere apology, done under duress. Then he diverted to Bill Clinton to justify his behavior. He said in the apology video that it didn’t reflect who he is. I disagree. All you have to do is look at his campaign to date, connect the dots, and it is a continuation of his disgusting behavior from 10 years ago. The campaign isn’t quite as lude as the 10-year-old video but it is down the same vein when it comes to how he treats women. It isn’t rocket science. The GOP should have figured this out long ago what everyone else has known since week two of the Trump campaign. Trump supporters are starting to flee saying they can’t support Trump, but would never vote for Hillary. By not voting for Trump they are essentially voting for Hillary. As I said in a previous post, it is time for the Republicans to regroup, rebuild, and come back better. Drop the poison pill, conspiracy theory, fictitious claims, stonewalling, and failed politics. Work to common ground, agree, and move on if they want to move America forward as they claim. Then they can truthfully claim that they actually do work across the aisle.

    The debate was a disaster. GOP members are dropping their support for Trump in an attempt to save a severely wounded party. TOO LATE. YOU ALREADY OWN TRUMP. Let me repeat, YOU-ALREADY-OWN-TRUMP. This is true-to-form GOP politics. They can only see the problem when it affects them. People are so fed up with the GOP’s politics they are willing to accept Trump. Of course, the GOP won’t change their politics. Just like Trump they are unable to admit their policies are wrong even when the GOP is going down the rabbit hole. I see some are suspecting Trump won’t change if he becomes president. Of course, he won’t. The scripted, soft speaking, reserved Trump is not the real Trump. The real Trump is the vulgar, misogynistic, xenophobic guy he is most of the time. The pretend Trump is so hard to keep on point because it isn’t the real Trump. The real Trump is what we would get. NO THANKS!

    • Submitted by Misty Martin on 10/10/2016 - 12:08 pm.

      I’m Not Buying It submitted by Tom Christensen

      I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Tom. You are SO right about Trump. How he EVER got this far is a mystery to me.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/10/2016 - 10:49 am.

    My 2¢

    Sadly, I agree pretty much with every one of Eric’s bullet points. In Biblical terms, it seems to me that my former political party is now reaping what it has spent the past couple decades sowing. Trump is precisely the alt-right candidate you’d expect to get after many years of dissing women, minorities, people who are “other” than white “Christian” Protestant, glorifying the military and authoritarian institutions like the police, and so on.

    As Eric suggested, I learned very little that I didn’t already know. Clinton tends toward the ponderous, and will never be an eloquent speaker, at least not off-the-cuff. Trump was unceasingly rude, but not as loudly rude as he was in the first debate. I could hardly stand to watch the charade this time around, but one thing I did note is Trump’s authoritarian tone. He repeatedly jumped on Clinton for, in effect, not “fixing” this problem or that problem, but our system doesn’t allow a Senator, or a Secretary of State, or a First Lady, to play “Star Trek,” snap her fingers, and say, like Captain Kirk, “Make it so.” Senators have to work with other Senators, not to mention members of the House, Secretaries of State take their orders from the President, and our annoying (to those with fond feelings toward monarchy) Constitution doesn’t really allow for the President to simply make up a law and institute it without first getting Congress on board. Negotiation and compromise are welded into the system.

    Aside from the insufferable boor, what I see in Trump is the intellectual framework of a big-corporation CEO, by which I mean a view of government that parallels the way big corporations work. That framework, as I’m pretty sure I’ve said in commentary previously, is Medieval. The King makes decrees. Vassals do their best to implement those decrees in exchange for the King’s favor (and any material goodies that go along with faithfully serving the monarchy). Serfs are not expected to, and usually are not allowed to, challenge policy decisions from those further up in the hierarchy. Their job is simply to do what they’re told. Nothing about the way Trump speaks about policy suggests to me that he’s at all invested in the concept of democratic government. He doesn’t want to govern, he wants to rule.

  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/10/2016 - 10:52 am.

    No time to build the wall…

    His Hillary special prosecutor remark is keen insight into the heart of the “not so likely” Trump presidency: He will be so all consumed by score settling against anyone and everyone who has ever disrespected him in anyway, nothing else will ever get done. Way too many scores to settle and way too few allies to help him accomplish anything.

    Hillary seemed to be giving it her best “rope a dope” last night. Immediately after the Friday video release the talk all centered on the need for immediate removal of Trump from the ticket. And while Hillary does not win many popularity contests, the current pigs in slop nature of the race has dragged her down to new lows. If Trump were to mysteriously disappear and Pence rise to the top he would have a better chance at getting elected than anytime before or after this. His positions on marriage equality, voting rights, abortion were often to far to the right even for Indiana, much less the rest of the US; but, as a sudden, new alternative to the “pigs in slop” race we have seen he would never have looked a refreshing and better alternative. Fortunately, Trump avoided the full meltdown at the debate that would have been too much to bear. He’s in it till election day when he will give his very unique concession speech and Mitch McConell can congratulate Chuck Schumer on his new role as Senate Majority Leader. And, if Donald can find a couple of more bombs to step on, Paul Ryan can give his congratulations to Nancy Pelosi.

    This is what happens when the inmates run the asylum….

    • Submitted by Tim Walker on 10/11/2016 - 08:46 am.

      Reading your comment caused me to ponder a couple of terrible scenarios.

      What if Trump spirals down so low that even he concedes he cannot win?

      So, he announces that if elected, he would resign immediately after being sworn in.

      Thus, a vote for Trump/Pence is in reality a vote for Pence to become the president.

      Terrible scenario #1 is that this happens, and Pence becomes our next president.

      But then, of course, there is no guarantee that Trump would keep his word, and this is the terrible scenario #2.

  4. Submitted by joe smith on 10/10/2016 - 11:03 am.

    Total crap snowstorm!!

    Thank goodness there was MNF to watch when I couldn’t take any more of the debate. Clinton is so flawed as a candidate and Trump is worse, so watching that debate was painful. One subject that was particularly disturbing was the discussion of Obamacare. Hillary was touting the 20 million folks who are now enrolled (10 million were folks who had insurance prior to the ACA and just moved to the exchanges) and the 3-4 provisions that folks like, Trump called it a disaster….. That was it folks.. No talk of the amount of folks who can’t pay the deductibles with the silver and bronze plans. Hillary being the supposed “policy wonk” either knew about it and didn’t want to mention it or didn’t know, Trump just didn’t know how to pivot to the details. When you are in business, it is all the details that make or break your deals. With the silver plan deductible up 6% to $3,117 and bronze up 11% to $5,737 for 2016, folks who get their subsidies for monthly premiums still can’t pay the deductibles for their plans and either don’t go to the doctor or don’t pay deductible which gets thrown on paying customers. That is why Insurance companies are fleeing the market. With mammograms and colonoscopies being free (does anyone think they are not being paid for by someone??) the cost overruns are imploding on Obamacare. That is why Obamacare doesn’t work. Neither Clinton or Trump explained the details it so folks can understand what needs to be fixed.

    Nothing is more frustrating than politicians being politicians and not trusting the voting public enough to have honest talks about problems that face us as a nation. We have government study after government study to try to influence folks to believe we need more government, anything odd about that? It is like the $15 dollar an hour minimum wage debate, get out a pencil and a small piece of paper and do the math on a small business owner, who makes $60,000 a year, when he goes from paying $10 an hour to $15 an hour…. Decide for yourself if it will affect him… You surely don’t need a study funded by our tax dollars to tell you how to think, figure it out yourself…

    Another debate that was lacking in anything of substance and full of embarrassing insults thrown at each other… The losers were Americans looking for someone to explain why their 20 year old children can’t get a good paying job, why they can’t afford health insurance, how over the past 25 years the elites, 1%’ers and Wall Street flourish while middle class gets crushed, how did we get to 20 TRILLION in debt, why are property taxes going up, why is our education system 35th in the world and a million other questions that didn’t get addressed by either candidate.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 10/10/2016 - 11:37 am.

      Joe, just one point

      You (and a lot of others) stated “That is why Insurance companies are fleeing the market. With mammograms and colonoscopies being free (does anyone think they are not being paid for by someone??) the cost overruns are imploding on Obamacare. That is why Obamacare doesn’t work.”

      Who do you think paid for those costs BEFORE the ACA? Were they just paid for with fairy dust? That argument always blows my mind, like somehow that issue arose only after the ACA!

      • Submitted by joe smith on 10/10/2016 - 12:19 pm.

        Jackson, you or I paid for

        our mammogram or colonoscopies before they were deemed “free” with the passing of the ACA. It goes into the bucket of preventable medicine that is covered by Obamacare without being taken out of your deductible. Before Obamacare if we were not over our deductible, our colonoscopy was paid out of pocket, if over deductible, insurance paid for it. So when you are covered (maybe even if you are not, unsure??) by insurance and go in for a test that is deemed “preventable medicine practice” the Government will pay for it, not the patient. That, along with many folks who can’t pay for the deductible and decide not to enroll (mostly young and healthy) are causing insurance companies to flee exchanges. I fear many folks believe the Government is “fairy dust” (that is how so many pooh-pooh the 20 TRILLION in national debt) when it comes for paying for programs they like. At the end of the day, we the tax payers pay for colonoscopy and mammograms now, whereas before either us or our insurance company paid.

        • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/11/2016 - 08:54 am.


          Mammograms and colonoscopies are paid for by insurance premiums. The difference between then and now is that insurance companies aren’t as free to just pocket the premiums and deny the coverage. Insurance companies are fleeing because they’re only making a profit, not a literal killing anymore.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/10/2016 - 03:29 pm.

        Before the ACA

        fewer people got mammograms and colonoscopies, and died earlier as a result.
        That’s why the American life expectancy ranks about 17 in the industrialized world,

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 10/10/2016 - 12:37 pm.

      I’m so old…

      … that I remember way, way back in the aughts when Republicans were the ones telling us that high-deductible health care plans with HSAs were a good thing.

      Funny how that when Democrats implement the Republicans’ own policy, suddenly those deductibles become radioactive.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 10/10/2016 - 01:09 pm.

        Sean, whether high deductibles

        are good or bad is up to the individual buying the health insurance package. My point is not that high deductibles are good or bad but that many folks getting subsidies on monthly premiums, can’t pay the deducible, so it gets thrown back on insurance company (that is why they are getting out) and rates are skyrocketing for folks just above the cut line for subsidies. Again, to go back to my main point on Obamacare and the debate, there was no substance to the Obamacare discussion which affects nearly 20% of our GDP. Folks are not getting any substance just “it is terrible” by Trump and “group tested talking points” by Hillary. How about explaining why both Dems and GOP’ers feel Obamacare (Big Dog Bill C. called it crazy) is not working and how to fix it?

  5. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/10/2016 - 11:16 am.

    nothing new

    Whether it was last week’s audio or last night’s threat to jail Clinton, there was nothing new from Trump. Republicans who act suddenly shocked this week are full of it. All of this was obvious during the primary season. Trump’s history should be clear to anyone literate enough to read a newspaper or web site.

    What has scared me most for the last year is that if he were elected I would fear for martial law. Suspending the constitution would be his way of protecting it. I know certain historical analogies get your posts deleted here but there is historical precedence for traditional pols that thought they could control a brash, authotarian newcomer and lived to regret it.

    • Submitted by Julie Barton on 10/10/2016 - 02:26 pm.

      Sudden shock or a sigh of relief?

      I think many Republicans were simply looking for the “correct” or “right” reason to denounce Trump. And it was like they all got together and said – finally! here it is – we can actually say we aren’t for this guy.

      Because if they were truly surprised, then they are incapable of paying attention and probably shouldn’t have a position in government…..

  6. Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/10/2016 - 11:45 am.

    A couple things

    With respect to the idea that “No presidential candidate has ever come close to making a threat like that to his opponent before. At least not in this country” – Bob Collins has an example otherwise in his NewsCut blog this morning:

    And one other bizarre thing that happened two hours before the debate was Trump lining up three women who had made accusations against Bill Clinton and one who has an accusation against Hillary and staging a “press conference” with them all sitting at the table with him. But it almost got even worse:

    And there are still people who think this man has the temperament to occupy the Oval Office . . . . . .

  7. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 10/10/2016 - 12:01 pm.

    Tyrants . . .

    jail their political opponents, if they are feeling “kind,” and torture and murder them if they don’t. That Trump would threat an opponent in this way shows the kind of “man” he is. When he says he admires people like Putin and Mussolini for their “strength” this is what he admires – the unlimited power to do whatever he wants, with utter disregard for the law or human decency.

    It has been clear to most of us who have been following the election closely for months exactly the kind of monster he is – any of probably a thousand things have made this clear. If he is repudiated in the election, maybe the man-made blizzard of lies and hate will finally be over..

  8. Submitted by Vicki McEvoy on 10/10/2016 - 12:20 pm.

    I cross the street and walk on the other side if there is a man lurking behind me like Trump did to Hillary Clinton. It gave me the willies of nightmare inducing levels just watching it. Totally impressed with Clinton for keeping her composure and handling his intimidation so well.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/11/2016 - 09:01 am.


      It was beyond creepy. And given his comments about how he can assault women and get away with it, I have little doubt that he’s put his looming threat stance into practice before.

  9. Submitted by Donald Larsson on 10/10/2016 - 12:22 pm.

    I’m just waiting . . .

    . . . for the last bit of non-Trump Republican straw-clutching, i.e., hack the Electoral College. This, from Wikipedia:
    “Although no elector is required by federal law to honor a pledge, there have been very few occasions when an elector voted contrary to a pledge.[7][8] The Twelfth Amendment, in specifying how a president and vice president are elected, requires each elector to cast one vote for president and another vote for vice presideny.”
    For more, see Eric’s previous fine series on the strange intricacies of electoral law.

  10. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/10/2016 - 12:39 pm.

    New low

    I don’t think anyone has ever tried to actually bully their way into the White House ever in US history? Trump is threatening EVERYONE who opposes him or fails to support him from his own party to promising jail time for Clinton. He’s gonna get Iran, Isis, the Arab State and everyone else by turning our foreign policy into a protection racket.

    I’m a less nervous now because I think Trump is so far out of his league and intellectually dull that he’s just thrashing around. He doesn’t seem to know enough to finish his own sentences when he speaks. Clinton will scrape together her lead and hold it now until this gawd awful episode is over.

    Particularly encouraging is the bath that shaping up for the Senate and even House republicans. It frustrating because those of us who supported Bernie always predicted that under Trump republicans would implode and whichever democrat that won would not have a much more cooperative congress. It’s frustrating because think in a lot of way the stars are aligned for a progressive president but we’re not going to have one.

  11. Submitted by Mike Downing on 10/10/2016 - 12:44 pm.

    Right or wrong direction?

    70% of Americans believe our country is headed in the wrong direction. Why does MinnPost and most of it’s commenters believe Hillary Clinton will change anything from President Obama’s direction? It makes no sense,

    The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are full of corrupt elites who know how to become multimillionaires on a government salary but do very little for the common man & women. Yes we need a change agent to shake up Washington D.C. and Hillary Clinton is no change agent.

    If you like 1-2% GDP growth, stagnant family incomes, part time jobs, people dropping out of the labor force, Obamacare, ISIS, poor relations with other countries, increased corporate and income taxes, etc. then then yes I suspect you will vote for Hillary Clinton. Hillary will be a continuation of the wrong direction for our country…

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 10/10/2016 - 12:59 pm.

      Change for change’s sake

      You’ve said what you don’t like about the direction you feel Hillary would take this country.

      But change simply for change’s sake is not necessarily good. What specific changes do you feel Trump would make that you WOULD like? Especially as you have acknowledged problems in BOTH parties?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/10/2016 - 01:01 pm.

      The Direction

      Why would anyone–anyone!–who has been paying attention entertain the notion that Donald Trump would be a change for the better? He has shown himself to be bigoted to the core, capable of the most blatant lies, and vindictive in a way that should frighten anyone who realizes what a President could do in a sufficient fir of pique.

      “The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are full of corrupt elites who know how to become multimillionaires on a government salary but do very little for the common man & women.” So let’s elect a guy who gets a $1 million + loan from his father (Not that much, according to his son), takes over a real estate empire, and manages to lose money doing it. Sure, change.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 10/10/2016 - 02:02 pm.

        RB, I am not a Trump fan and am looking for anyone

        but Hillary to vote for (hard to find). The one area I do agree with Trump on is lowering corporate tax rate and bring back off shore money with a tax holiday. That gives us a fighting chance to bring back manufacturing and the ability for a person to get a good paying job that he/she can raise a family on. The economy has been in neutral for 10+ years and needs a jump start that would change the economic future for many regular blue collar folks (low paying minimum wage jobs look good on jobs number report but don’t pay enough to raise a family). With a lower much simpler corporate tax rate (eliminate the loopholes used by big business to escape paying taxes) companies can somewhat offset higher labor costs in the USA. Have a tax holiday on the trillions of dollars in off shore money with a stipulation that 5% has to be used for manufacturing, whether new plants, new hires or new product lines here in the USA.

        That is the only change I can see that has a chance to work and help blue collar workers. The past 20 years has been halcyon days for Wall Street, banks, Big Business, Big Government, elites and the 1%. 70% of regular folks just don’t see the country and their lives moving in the right direction. Rather than disparage them (clinging to God and guns) try to help them. Both parties are trying to bamboozle us not help us with simple solutions that can work.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/10/2016 - 02:56 pm.

          Anyone to Vote For

          I can understand your frustration. I also sympathize with your concerns, even if I disagree with your policy ideas to address them (if manufacturing does come back, technology and automation make it unlikely that the wages will be anything like they were back in the day).

          As a practical matter, our next President will be either Hillary Clinton or (less and less likely every day) Donald Trump. That is our reality, and that is what we all need to deal with. I don’t think I like it any more than you do, but when life hands you a,lemon, take some of the peel and have your martini with a twist.

        • Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/11/2016 - 04:43 pm.

          Read Obama’s article in The Economist for answers

          The Star Tribune on October 11, 2016 reprinted a longish article the Economist had requested from President Obama, on the economy.

          All Republicans should read it, to find out about how higher taxation of those who can pay more (all the 1%, for example) can lead to more infrastructure repair and replacement/updates, which will employ more people, plus investment in new energy systems and fighting global warming. That’s the way to jump-start the economy. Which is way better than it was when Obama started!

          Obama also has a great explanation of why those manufacturing jobs will NEVER come back to the blue collar class in the U.S., because of globalization and automation of jobs. In fact, he points out, the U.S. manufactures many more goods today than it did ten years ago. We just don’t use the workers we did.

          This is systemic, and permanent, change in how work functions in our lives. Big changes.

    • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/10/2016 - 01:09 pm.

      And the other direction is?

      A Randian revolution that leaves 99% of us as landless serfs with no medical coverage or social security while an elite 1% or rich and powerful people use the federal government to cement their position with violence and prison.

      We all have our idea of what the wrong direction is. For me it is the demise of a workable two-party system where laws are passed based on compromises and fairness to all. It is a place that accepts torture and values the principle of every man (white anyway) for himself. I’m sure a lot more people dropped out of the labor force during the Bush recession than anytime since the 1930s. It is obvious that the only cure for our messed up health care system is a full single payer system like the rest of the first world.

      ISIS? Hang that on Bush and our wars in the Middle East and our support of despots everywhere.

      Republicans want to starve the government and then complain when it can’t function. Taxes aren’t a necessary evil, they are a necessity.

      For me the right direction includes marriage equality, racial justice and inclusiveness, one health care plan for all, rich or poor. I want a country where white ultra Christians aren’t free to impose their will and ideas on others, a place where we all pay our fair share, a place where those that have the most give the most.

      So while we both may agree that the country is heading in the wrong direction we disagree about what that direction is.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/10/2016 - 01:28 pm.

      These are the good old days…

      And since 1972 and the start of right track / wrong track polling, right track has NEVER won. In 2008 at the time of Obama’s election, wrong track was at 91%. Now reduced to 64%. A 30% improvement!

      Yes, these are the good old days.

      As long as one party (the one out of power) has as its’ sole mission telling us how miserable we are, things will not change on the right track/wrong track front.

      Imagine if the GOP had declared victory when the Heritage Foundation conceived and Romney tested ACA passed, instead of some socialist, single payer alternative and both parties took credit and spent their time telling us how great it is and how when we do have a problem we fix it that same spirit of bipartisanship?

      It would be a self-fulfilling prophesy: tell me I am great > I think I am great > I am great!

      Instead we get the dark knight of doom who has expanded the number of synonyms with disaster exponentially…

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 10/10/2016 - 01:39 pm.

      Just wondering…

      …where the 70% figure came from.

      I also wonder which direction is considered to be the “wrong” one. I’m inclined to think that Donald Trump would be more an agent of change than Hillary Clinton, I just don’t have much enthusiasm for change in the direction that Donald Trump seems to be going.

      I do think both parties are far too heavily influenced by people of dubious character and very deep pockets, but I doubt they made their millions via a government salary. Note the hue and cry when Governor Dayton wanted to raise the salaries of the department heads in his administration. Meanwhile, the CEO of UnitedHealth made dozens of millions of dollars without so much as a single public protest. Your health insurance premiums might be significantly lower if Stephen Hemsley took a voluntary pay cut to “only” $10 million, instead of the $66 million he was paid in 2014, or the $102 million he was paid in 2010. Government is not responsible for greed in the executive suite.

      As for your examples, 7% growth is, literally and mathematically, unsustainable, especially in a country (and on a planet) with finite resources. That might be the biggest truth that both the citizenry and its purported leaders have failed to grasp. Stagnant family incomes used to be called “stable” family incomes, but that was back in the day, when the CEO only got paid a handful of times what the average worker made. Now, the disparity in pay is often much, much larger, but again, that’s not government action, it’s the corporate board that approves executive pay. The number of jobs available, whether full-time or part-time, and at what pay level, is largely out of the hands of the federal government, and is determined by corporate boards and the executives they hire. The tax burden on American businesses is, at worst, middle-of-the-pack among industrial nations on paper, and in practice, it’s less than that, since there are numerous loopholes built into tax law in the U.S. that don’t exist elsewhere. Businesses that move offshore to lower their taxes are simply greedy, not escaping some onerous burden. They’re doing their best to avoid paying their fair share of the infrastructure that fostered and maintains their business.

      Employers make those decisions based on their guesses about what the economy is about to do. Much has been said and written about the desire of business executives for “clarity” and “certainty,” but that desire is a chimera. The whole rationale for capitalism is that “certainty” is not possible. If it were, there’d be no reason for profit, since “certainty” would mean there was no risk being incurred by a business, and thus no rationale for rewarding those risks with profit.

      The ACA is hardly health care Nirvana, but that’s largely because the original idea came from Republicans, and the law was written to favor not citizens in need of health care, but health insurance companies looking for ways to maintain profits as public anger over health care costs began to focus on those same health insurance companies. It’s increasingly clear – to me, at least – that what’s needed is a single-payer system of some sort. As a certified old person, I’m reasonably satisfied with Medicare, but that’s not the only model out there. Every other industrial nation on the planet has a better health care system than we do, and in most cases, their citizens get better care at less cost. I’d argue that the primary reason for the disparity is that health care is viewed elsewhere on the planet as a public service, while in this country it’s viewed as a business. An industry, actually, with profit (instead of good health) as the driving motivation.

      Terrorist organizations have no respect for either national borders or political ideologies. ISIS is Islamic fundamentalism distorted from the Q’uran, and implemented with explosives. It seems possible to me that we’d be better off simply removing any and all American troops from those areas. In recent decades, we’ve intervened in the internal affairs of several countries in the Middle East without benefit to either them or us, which suggests that a military solution is probably not likely.

      That said, please define “poor relations with other countries.”

      I don’t mind taxes. Taxes are the price you pay for civilization. There’s no free lunch, and at the national level, I’m inclined to agree with Vice-President Biden that “Paying taxes is patriotic.” I live on a fixed income, so I’m never happy to see taxes go up, but I’m also aware that government typically buys materials and services from the private sector. When private companies charge the federal governmment or Minnesota or the City of Minneapolis more for a product or service, it’s because their costs have gone up, or perhaps because they’re greedy and want more profit. In either case, when costs go up enough, the city, state or nation has to choose between raising income to pay for that product or service, borrowing money to pay for it, or doing without. You’re welcome to drive on dirt roads, but I have a car, not a tractor, and when it comes to driving surfaces, I much prefer pavement, which is inordinately expensive. So is the world’s largest military establishment. We could cut a lot of red ink at the federal level by reducing the size of that military establishment, but, curiously, people who like to call themselves “conservative” rarely consider that as an option, despite the fact that there’s no credible state-level threat to the United States.

      • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/11/2016 - 08:24 am.

        To add..

        A quick note of agreement about the CEO salaries at United Health Group. Past CEOs Burke and now McGuire made the transition from Doctor to healthcare administrator to CEO to the single most distinctive example of wretched excess: pro sports team owner.

        Burke with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes and now McGuire with our local soccer franchise.

        Them and theirs have plumbed billions out of our healthcare system in the name of efficiencies we never see.

        And that is what most ACA opponents seek to protect and grow.

  12. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 10/10/2016 - 04:23 pm.

    I thought Hillary Clinton showed real class last evening in remaining calm and cool and trying to stick to issues and some substance about them.

    Trump and his boys (Christie; Giuliani, Kushner, et al.) came up with numerous ways to try to intimidate her out of that composure and sure-footedness: Place Bill Clinton’s ex-conquests right in front of her. Stalk her on the stage. Interrupt her again and again and again. Take up time that is really hers in the debate. Threaten her verbally. Raise your voice to a shout as often as possible. Call her names. Repeat yourself with a drumbeat, as if you were pounding on a table. If the moderators try to rein you in, start complaining that they’re biased and Unfair! Or simply ignore the moderators and talk over them and over Hillary (it worked in the GOP primary debates, if people remember that–he interrupted and talked over all others). Avoid any questions that demand specific policy details on any issue.

    Like a woman said earlier in this thread: If a man like Trump gets in my face the way he got too close to Hillary Clinton last night, I cross the street to get away from him.

  13. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/11/2016 - 08:40 am.

    Healthcare, economy and climate change.

    Those issues should be debated at length.

    Three issues where there are no easy answers.

    Total healthcare spending is rising. Whether we go back to the previous system, or continue on with the present, the real fact is that total spending on healthcare is rising beyond the rate of inflation or economic growth–which is obviously unsustainable. What is going on right now is “squeezing the balloon”, where restrictions in one area causes bulges in others. The complaints about cost-increases arise because the old back-door ways costs were covered for the uninsured and under-insured have changed and there are new cost “bulges” in places where they weren’t before. It all depends on what part of the balloon you are on. But, in fact, it is all unsustainable. The issue is what you do to address that unsustainability.

    The real issue with the economy in the US and the world is that we can produce goods and services at a far greater rate than people can afford to consume them. Fewer people are needed to make what is consumed. Lower employment rates, falling or stagnant wages. That is the long term trend, with those who weren’t on the economic train to begin with will probably never be able to get on. That is the source of much of the instability and unhappiness in the US and the world.

    And of course, no matter what you do, you have to live in the world and climate you have created. The pressures and costs associated with climate change add an intensifying factor to all of the other problems in the world. But, while the other problems can be addressed at any point and if determinedly approached, resolved with a decade or two– the effects and continuity of climate change as a problem is ultimately unresolvable by humans when we reach that unknow final tipping point.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 10/11/2016 - 08:43 am.

    Wrong directions

    It’s important to keep in mind the fact that those right or wrong direction surveys don’t probe to ask people which direction they’d rather be going. For instance I might say we’re going in the wrong direction because we’re not moving towards Medicare for all, we’re not strengthening labor and equality laws, and we don’t have a nationwide livable wage of $15 hence forth adjusted for inflation. Someone else will say we’re headed in the wrong direction because the anti-abortion lobby is collapsing into complete irrelevance.

    I think the most comprehensive evidence from other surveys infers that in general people have lost faith in the nations elite leadership and don’t think their best interests are represented. People are concerned about wealth disparity, affordable health care, and job growth and stability, resurgent racism, and the environment on all sides of the aisle.

    A small percentage of Americans ALWAYS think the nation is on the wrong track and it’s important to remember that THEY don’t represent the majority. Reactionary conservatives will never think we’re on the “right” track unless we roll back the 20th century. Unless we dominate the world militarily, criminalize abortion, repeal income taxes, abolish regulatory agencies, repeal labor and civil rights laws, promote Jesus, and keep those who would disagree from voting we will forever be on the “wrong” track going in the wrong direction. Which means we will always be going in the wrong direction because none of those things are ever going to happen.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 10/13/2016 - 10:08 am.

      Which direction?

      If GWB was 90% wrong direction and let’s say he was heading South, we now get Obama and to listen to both the right and left, we turned 180 degrees and we’re still going in the wrong direction. So, North is not the way to go; but, since Obama is 60% wrong direction and Bush 90% we have made a 30% improvement. Which tells that we either need to head North, Northeast at a 60 degree heading or North, Northwest at a 300 degree heading. And of course, our ability to head in that direction, or any direction, these days is greatly enhanced by GPS. A government program. Of course, all these course corrections imply a 2D change in trajectory and fitting Trump into one of these directions seems impossible. That leaves up and down in our 3D world and the Donald is certainly taking down a hole we have never seen before…

  15. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/11/2016 - 11:37 am.

    Two comments to consider:

    Bill Kristol ✔ @BillKristol
    We’ve never seen a meltdown like Trump’s in a presidential election. Republicans sticking with Trump have no idea how bad things could get.
    7:09 PM – 10 Oct 2016


    “They’ve literally lost touch with reality. They’re face down in the Kool Aid,” Republican John “Mac” Stipanovich, long time lobbyist, on Trump supporters.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 10/11/2016 - 12:51 pm.


      I heard that comment this morning. I literally LOL’d. Now THAT’s telling it like it is. It’s a pity he’s a Republican lobbyist, rather than just a conservative lobbyist. Though, he did suggest that that situation might be fixed after decent, reasonable conservatives (or at least the rank and file) wrestle back the party or leave it if they can’t. So, he might return to being a Republican or change to whatever replaces it.

      • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 10/12/2016 - 11:35 am.

        Did the party already leave them?

        One thing that seems certain in this election is the faction with the smallest constituency is the pro-business, free trade, no corporate taxes or regulations, ambivalent on social issues, regressive tax code, trickle-down, neoconservative, mainstream Republicans. The Democrats don’t like them and neither do the rank and file Republicans. Witness the poor approval ratings of Congress and the lack of influence in the Republican primaries for those candidates. There aren’t enough people who support those policies left to have any power in the Republican party despite those party members ability to write the checks. The numbers are with the cultural conservatives who love Trump’s promise to return to the society where white guys were in charge by default and the religious conservatives who tolerate Trump because they are promised Supreme Court justices. Those factions aren’t interested in building a coalition that can win national elections but they are tired of being sold out by the corporatists.

        It is interesting how many supposed litmus test ideas of the mainstream Republican party Trump has disavowed – support for the war in Iraq, support for international trade, support for democratic allies in NATO, etc. Trump has provided a protectionist, populist blueprint for a coalition that could defeat Clinton in four years if they find a candidate who isn’t so personally repulsive and who tones down the inflammatory rhetoric. This becomes a really effective strategy for the midterms if the Democrats focus on immigration reform as their first major issue and then decide to send troops to Syria.

  16. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 10/11/2016 - 02:37 pm.

    Free at last !

    Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
    It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.
    9:00 AM – 11 Oct 2016

    Now we can anticipate the unfiltered Donald Trump after a year and a half of being restrained.

    Which was worse–that he was unfiltered already, or that he was being filtered ?

    Presidential temperament, indeed.

  17. Submitted by Tom Anderson on 10/14/2016 - 11:42 pm.


    President Obama (perhaps the smartest President ever) has lamented how little that a President can actually do. Certainly a relief to all Americans who are worried that a President Trump could actually do any of the tings that he says that he would do. Fortunately for the other (almost) half of the country, a (2nd) President Clinton will suffer from the same fate. She will, however be the first female American president AND one half of the first husband and wife presidents in American history which checkmarks a couple of boxes so that the next election (starting in only two years) will likely involve some more “firsts”.

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