Sunday, July 31, 2016

Last Call For Trump, Master Debater

With the first presidential debate scheduled in just under two months, Donald Trump is already doing everything he can to try to get out of them because he's terrified of Hillary Clinton embarrassing him on live television.

Donald Trump says the fall debate schedule is "unacceptable," raising the specter that he may try to skip them.

In a tweet on Friday night, Trump incorrectly said that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are "trying to rig the debates."

In fact, the fall debate schedule was determined almost a year ago by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, a private group made up of both Republicans and Democrats.

His primary complaint is that two of the debates are scheduled on the same nights as NFL games.

That's true. (It was also true in 2012, and the debates were still high-rated.)

In an interview with ABC News, Trump said he's "fine" with the commission's three debates, but objected to the specific dates.

"I'll tell you what I don't like. It's against two NFL games," he said. "I got a letter from the NFL saying, 'This is ridiculous.'"

An NFL spokesman said Saturday: "While we'd obviously wish the debate commission could find another night, we did not send a letter to Trump." 
On Sunday morning, a Trump aide said that "Mr. Trump was made aware of the conflicting dates by a source close to the league."

"It's unfortunate that millions of voters will be disenfranchised by these chosen dates," the aide added.

Let's get this out of the way now: Trump will show up for maybe, maybe one debate.  He'll scream and whine that debates are part of the "rigged system" (thanks Bernie!) and will declare that he's winning and doesn't need to do them.  The American people, he'll say, already know exactly what the candidates stand for, the campaign's been going on since Spring 2015.

The real issue of course is that Trump will get smashed in a one-on-one debate.  Clinton will ridicule him and get him to rise to the bait so quickly that he may actually drop bad language in front of a live audience with tens of millions watching.  He'll be destroyed and he knows it.

Therefore, he will do everything in his power over the next several weeks to neuter the debates as much as possible, casting them as un-American and rigged as possible against not just him but "the people" as well and it will most likely work.  The story will be Trump refusing to do it, but what price will the rest of us make him pay?  Only the voters will do that, and his racist, hateful supporters will find a way to back him up on not debating like they have everything else.

Indeed the GOP is already backing Trump on his call.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus said he will stand by Donald Trump in his protest of the presidential debate schedule. 
"We're not going to agree with anything our nominee doesn't agree with," Priebus said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We're not going to be having debates on Saturday and Sunday night."

And we're not going to have debates on the weekends will become "we're not going to have debates at all."  Watch.

If Trump doesn't play the game, he can't lose it.

Trump's Buckeye Bullseye

Any path to a Trump victory in November goes through Ohio, period.  It's the one state he absolutely has to win, no Republican has ever claimed the White House without it.  If Trump wins Ohio, he could certainly lose the presidency and almost certainly will if he loses Pennsylvania and Florida as I expect he will.  But if he loses Ohio, he's done for, and as usual the Cincinnati suburbs up in Boehner Country will decide the state.

Take the cluster of counties around Cincinnati, in southwestern Ohio, which constitute a crucial Republican counterweight. Trump needs to run up large margins there to offset Clinton’s built-in advantages in the cities of Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.

Warren County, Ohio, hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. A typical Republican nominee is expected to notch 70 percent of the vote there.

This year, however, there is a prominent Never Trump movement in Warren, and the county’s Republican chairman, Jeff Monroe, indicated that that dynamic could cut into what are typically strong turnout numbers for the GOP nominee.

“We anticipate our folks will certainly turn out for a Trump campaign,” he said. “Whether or not they turn out in the numbers we want is another question, and that’s yet to be answered.”

Winning the bulk of the rank-and-file — which Trump currently looks poised to do — isn’t enough.

If we don’t get Republicans to turn out in Warren County, it is extremely difficult for the Trump campaign to win Ohio,” he said, adding that even an underperformance of 2 percent there could make a difference in a state that Obama only won by around 100,000 votes in 2012—and it would also signal an enthusiasm gap in a critical region for Republicans.

“Warren County is important because it provides a net gain for Republicans to offset where Republicans are disadvantaged,” he continued, pointing to the major urban areas. “If we don’t show up to vote, it does two things: One, it tells us we can’t have the net gain, and second, it’s likely indicative of what we’re seeing elsewhere, which means their Republican vote would also be down.”

That worry is playing out in suburban and exurban areas across the state, in counties like Delaware and Licking, outside of Columbus; and in Lake County, near Cleveland, Weaver said.

In those places, “Donald Trump has many people on the sidelines wondering whether to vote Republican this year. These are folks who voted for Romney last time, John McCain the time before that. One of Trump’s biggest challenges is to convince these Republican-leaning voters that it’s OK to vote Republican this year.”

Trump doesn't need to piss off a lot of Republicans in order to lose in November.  He just needs to do so in the right counties in the right key battleground states to flip it to Clinton.  I believe that's how she's going to win and win big.

They don't have to vote for Clinton, but if they don't vote for Trump, he's toast.

Sunday Long Read: Gold Fever

This week's Sunday Long Read is a good old fashioned treasure hunt mystery, as a Colorado man named Randy Bilyeu was convinced he was on track to find a fortune in gold and jewels hidden in the deserts near Santa Fe, a belief that eventually led to his disappearance and death.

One night early this year, Randy Bilyeu was on the phone with his best friend. He wanted to share some good news: After more than two years of searching Colorado and New Mexico for a hidden treasure chest filled with gold and jewels, he thought he’d finally discovered its location. It wasn’t too far from Santa Fe. Now he just needed to go get it.

Bilyeu was looking for the celebrated Fenn treasure—a 12th-century Romanesque chest hidden by an eccentric arts and antiquities collector that’s said to be packed with 42 pounds of gold coins, rubies, diamonds, sapphires, ancient jade carvings, pre-Columbian bracelets, and gold nuggets. Between 2014 and 2015, Bilyeu made nearly a dozen trips from his Broomfield apartment to Santa Fe in search of the chest. During his hunts, Bilyeu, who was 54 years old and twice divorced, had sent photos to his two adult daughters and to a dwindling number of close confidants, most of whom worried about his safety during his excursions and had become skeptical of the fortune’s existence.

Among them was Tom Martino, a longtime friend in Orlando, Florida, who talked to Bilyeu on January 4. The stash, Bilyeu said, was near the Rio Grande, in a place called Frijoles Canyon on Bandelier National Monument land between Santa Fe and Los Alamos. It would be difficult to get, though. In early January, temperatures, especially at night, would fall far below freezing. He’d been near the spot in the past month, and Bilyeu knew he would need a raft to move down the river and deliver him to a sandy patch from which he could begin his search. Further complicating matters was the fact that Bilyeu wanted to bring his traveling companion, Leo, a nine-year-old poodle-terrier mix. Bilyeu had never piloted a raft, and Leo was afraid of water. “It was the craziest thing I’d ever heard,” Martino says of Bilyeu’s plan. He told Bilyeu the search seemed risky. Bilyeu agreed: It was too cold and the weather was too dangerous to make a hasty search. Even still, he wanted to try.

In fact, he was already close. Bilyeu had driven the roughly 400 miles from Broomfield to Santa Fe with Leo, he explained to Martino. He was staying in a Motel 6 outside downtown. He’d purchased an $89 raft from a local sporting goods store, and he had waders, a wet suit, a backpack, maps, and his phone. Bilyeu sounded impatient. The Rio Grande was fewer than two dozen miles away. Bilyeu would drive there, inflate the raft, and begin his search despite his misgivings about the dangers he might face.

The next morning, a light dusting of snow covered the ground. Bilyeu backed his 2011 Nissan Murano into a space near a well field just off the Rio Grande. A thick cottonwood tree, its bare branches exposed to the elements, stood almost directly in front of him. The river was at least 50 yards wide and likely barely above freezing. Leo wore a miniature white sweater to protect him from the chill.

Bilyeu inflated his new blue-and-gray raft, then loaded the dog, two metal oars, and a manual air pump into it. His phone was turned off, perhaps to conserve battery power. Bilyeu finally lowered himself into the raft and shoved off. Within seconds, he and Leo began moving down the Rio Grande. A few minutes later, they disappeared into the canyon.

Bilyeu's body was found only a few weeks ago and identified last week, but the story of what led him to the Rio Grande canyons of New Mexico is a definite page-turner, the legendary Fenn treasure, worth millions, hidden by a reclusive author.  It's the stuff dreams are made of, even when those dreams become a nightmare that can claim lives.
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