U.S. Army / Getty

Bowe Bergdahl will face a court-martial on charges of desertion and endangering troops.

The decision is something of a surprise, after the Army’s investigating officer found that Bergdahl should not face jail time or be discharged for leaving his unit in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was held by a Taliban affiliate group for five years until he was exchanged for five Taliban soliders who were being held in Guantanamo. If convicted, Bergdahl could spend the rest of his life in prison. 

While Bergdahl, his family, and his attorneys are certainly scrambling, it’s possible that Sarah Koenig and the team behind Serial, the second season of which focuses on Bergdahl, are as well. The interviews done with Bergdahl were conducted by Mark Boal—who’s working on a movie script about the solider’s time in captivity—before Serial turned its attention to the case. Given the impending court-martial, it seems unlikely we’ll hear more from Bergdahl beyond what Boal already acquired. And despite Serial’s ability to affect the judicial system in its first season—Adnan Syed was recently granted a new hearing—the show hasn’t had to deal with a developing, national story before. The next episode will feature interviews with members of the Taliban, so it’s unlikely we’ll hear about the court-martial until (at least) episode three. 

October 20, 2016

Orjan F. Ellingvag/Dagens Naringsliv/Corbis via Getty Images

Donald Trump is the candidate the pro-life movement deserves.

In The Washington Post today, Fordham University professor Charles Camosy argues that Trump represents an existential threat to the pro-life movement:

[I]f he is elected president, our opponents on abortion will be able to rightly point out that the anti-abortion movement is led by a misogynist, racist, narcissist who is blinded by his own privilege. Successfully making this case is the only way left for abortion rights activists to stop anti-abortion momentum, but it plays into deeply-held stereotypes of the movement—stereotypes still held by media formed during the culture wars.

Camosy neglects to mention that those “stereotypes” of the single-minded pro-life activist are based on facts. He even writes, We [the pro-life movement] have almost completed the struggle of disentangling ourselves from the toxic, simplistic, binary culture wars of the 1970s.”

This is false. The pro-life movement still frames abortion as murder. That framing makes it a binary issue by default and therefore lends itself easily to hyperbole: Good and moral people hate baby murder. Bad and immoral people don’t.

This is tempting prey for someone like Donald Trump. If there is anything he knows how to do very well, it’s crafting a sales pitch. Trump understood that he simply needed to repeat a few pieces of boilerplate in order to win the bulk of the pro-life vote, despite being famously squishy on the issue. And it worked. Pro-lifers backed him; they campaigned for him; they even joined his advisory committee. By endorsing Trump, prominent pro-lifers proved their critics correct: They really do prioritize the welfare of fetuses over the welfare of everyone else.

Donald Trump just declared he won’t accept the results of the election if he loses, and he is going to lose.

“I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election—if I win,” the Republican nominee said at a rally in Delaware, Ohio, on Thursday.

Trump may later claim he was joking about this deadly serious subject—he was smiling broadly as he delivered the line. But he has long claimed that the election is being “rigged” or “stolen” from him, and he spoke without a trace of humor at the rally when he said, “I would accept a clear election result, but I would also reserve my right to contest or file a legal challenge in the case of a questionable result.”

A questionable result, as far as Trump is concerned, is any result that shows he lost. If voters’ current preferences hold, then, it seems clear he’ll be contesting the results of next month’s election.

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Jane Sanders does not beg.

Bernie Sanders’s wife lashed out on Twitter Thursday about a WikiLeaks email from Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook last year saying she twice called Peter Shumlin, Vermont’s Democratic governor, “and begged him to change his mind” about endorsing Clinton in the presidential primary. Sanders also slammed Shumlin for the timing of his endorsement, which came just hours after her husband’s campaign announced plans for its kickoff event.

The Sanders campaign’s frustration was understandable. The press cast Shumlin’s move as a “snub” and evidence the democratic-socialist senator was “not getting support from key leaders in his home state.”


Of course Mark Halperin is trying to defend Donald Trump.

Every episode of Morning Joe is special, but today’s episode was truly very special. Morning Joe bullied Bill Kristol and almost made him cry. And grade-obsessed android and objective member of the elite media Mark Halperin dropped by to decry the elite media’s fixation on Trump’s refusal to say he would respect the results of the election. Here is a portion of the transcript:

MARK HALPERIN: I’m fascinated by a parallel universe in which [Donald] Trump hadn’t said what he said about respecting the results because he had a lot of good moments. I think he got more of his message out than he ever has. He had the demeanor that a lot of people wanted to see. But there’s no doubt that it’s the revenge of the elites. Elites do not accept that that was an appropriate answer and it’s not just the coverage in the immediate aftermath of the debate, the coverage this morning, but until he explains it and gets in sync with everyone on his campaign team I don’t think he’s going to get to talk about much else and that means every bit of good he might have done last night, with a strong performance and her strong performance, I don’t think matters much.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mark, let me ask you. And I’m sure people will disagree with me here—just the implication of my question, the suggestion of my question—how many people in Scranton, Pennsylvania, care about what he said in that answer compared to people in newsrooms that are—whimpering and whining with their, you know—

HALPERIN: Almost --

SCARBOROUGH: With their soy lattes?

Soy lattes! Hell yeah! Everything old is new again—like the Volvo that I am driving right now while reading The New York Times.

What Halperin and Morning Joe are doing is throwing around signifiers—they signify “smug liberal elite”—even though Trump’s comments have been condemned across the ideological spectrum. Do people in Scranton care about the possibility of mass unrest? I grew up nearby and have no idea, but that’s not the point. The point is to ask what it means when Trump says the election is rigged. Oh, and also don’t ask what an imaginary person in Scranton thinks about everything.

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There’s a twisted reason Donald Trump thinks Hillary Clinton is “such a nasty woman.”

At the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night, Hillary Clinton slipped in a dig at her opponent while explaining how she wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to help pay for Social Security.

“My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s—assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it,” she said. “But what we want to do is to replenish the Social Security trust fund—”

“Such a nasty woman,” the Vulgarian interjected, his short index finger wagging in the air like a baby carrot in the grip of a hungry toddler. Then he flashed a self-satisfied smirk, quite like toddlers do when they wet their diaper.

Viewers rightly mocked Trump, the most famous nasty person in America, for having the audacity to call someone else nasty. After all, this is the man who has bragged about his penis size during a Republican primary debate; said “it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass”; called Rosie O’Donnell a “disgusting” “slob” and a “big, fat pig”; allegedly described Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner, as “Miss Piggy”; told New York Times columnist Gail Collins she had “The Face of a Dog!”; said Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her ... wherever”; couldn’t imagine Carly Fiorina as president because “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”; and said his fame allows him to grab women “by the pussy” without their consent. Not to mention that so many women have accused him of sexual assault that I’ve stopped counting.

This is a mind-boggling list of offenses for any human, let alone one who still has a viable, if diminishing chance of running this country for the next four years.

But given all of these horrific things Trump has said and done, his “nasty woman” remark could be characterized as just the latest hypocritical outburst from a known sexist and misogynist. And yet, Trump’s insult of Clinton isn’t precisely hypocritical—not within the logic of his warped mind. His entire worldview is founded on a perceived inequality of the sexes. Thus, he may accuse a woman of being nasty, even if he’s infinitely nastier, because he holds the sexes to different standards.

In Trump’s world, men are allowed to be fat and ugly—orange hair, say, and stubby fingers—as long as they’re powerful, and they’re allowed to treat women as sex objects, brag about sexual assault, and even commit sexual assault. Women are supposed to be thin, polite, hot, and, most importantly, deferential to men in all aspects of life, if not outright subservient. When women behave this way, Trump treats them with ... well, sometimes he gropes them, allegedly. But he thinks he treats them with respect, anyway.

When women behave otherwise, Trump makes no such pretense; women who do not act ladylike are not deserving of respectful treatment. This is why the women who have criticized him publicly, from O’Donnell to Kelly to Machado, have been on the receiving end of his nastiest comments. And it’s why he devolved into a petty toddler when a powerful, attractive, brilliant woman attacked him on national television, emasculating him in front of millions of women whom he sees as nothing more than future sexual conquests.

Watching Bill Kristol and Morning Joe yell at each other makes me feel good.

The third presidential debate was a nightmare. Its defining moment was a rain check for post-election malaise, if not outright violence. With the 2016 race all but over, it increasingly feels like a big, long national crack-up.

Most of this is anxiety-inducing. But every now and then, it is deeply funny. Today’s Morning Joe was full of the usual morbid symptoms: Kellyanne Conway trying to spin Trump’s refusal to accept the election results as “smart,” and Joe “Morning Joe” Scarborough claiming it wasn’t a big deal because Democrats were mad that Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the White House in 2000. Then came the catharsis. It was almost as if Joe and Mika “Morning Joe” Brzezinski knew that the nation needed to forget its troubles, even briefly, when they trotted out Bill Kristol and yelled at him for five minutes.

Here is the best bit:

KRISTOL: A lot of people accommodated Donald Trump at different times. I think I’m— but I’m not going to get into it.

SCARBOROUGH: Well no no no you just did. You lied. Please don’t come on my air and lie. You said in late ‘15, in early December—I can’t even believe you’re doing this, I don’t know why you’re so bitter.

KRISTOL: I’m not bitter. I’m trying to say that Republicans, I’m trying to say that Republicans need—

SCARBOROUGH: You’re practically crying. You’re practically crying.

KRISTOL: I am upset about this election. That’s right Joe, because you think it’s amusing that Donald Trump is the nominee.

To be fair to Scarborough, Kristol really did sound like he was crying. And to be fair to Kristol, the coverage of Trump on Morning Joe has been truly shameful. But Bill Kristol—who is as responsible as any other elite Republican for creating the historical conditions for Trump and Trumpism—is not the person to make that claim.

But whatever: Watching Morning Joe and Morning Mika yell at Bill Kristol, and watching Bill Kristol almost start crying, is very funny. It almost makes last night worth it. Almost.

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I am tired of Donald Trump.

I am tired of seeing his scrunched-up face on TV. I’m tired of hearing his voice through a microphone, amplifying his absolutely bonkers, incoherent arguments. Tonight, some pundits will say that Trump did well, because he stood behind a podium and said some words. But the truth is that it’s insane that Hillary Clinton—honestly, any human being—had to go through a third debate where Trump constantly interrupted her by bellowing the word “WRONG.” Where Trump can say, to her face, that Clinton is “such a nasty woman” without being challenged. Where he can cite crazy conspiracies—including that Clinton and Barack Obama paid people $1,500 to incite violence at his rallies and that the women who are accusing him of sexual assault are Clinton campaign plants—and the debate marches on.

Once again, Trump said things that are completely disqualifying—calling immigrants “bad hombres,” insisting that the election is “rigged”—and the post-debate analysis will still focus on who “won.” I am tired of Donald Trump. I hope America is, too.


Only one thing mattered in the final presidential debate.

The third debate had its memorable moments. The “You’re Putin’s puppet”/“No you’re the puppet” exchange was funny. Hillary Clinton’s “I mean, who does that?” about Donald Trump using his own charity’s money to buy a painting of himself was one of the election’s better burns.

But until Trump fully descended into incoherent babbling in the final half-hour, the third debate felt like three people cosplaying a presidential debate. Hillary Clinton remained the well-prepared professional. Donald Trump tried to sound like someone who is running for president. (He was mostly incoherent.) And Chris Wallace played to type: He hit both candidates equally, but his questions had a distinct Fox News sheen to them. Normally that would’ve helped the Republican candidate, but we’re talking about Donald Trump here.

CNN led its post-debate coverage by being shocked—shocked!—that Trump said he might not accept the result of this election, despite reassurances from Mike Pence and his own daughter that he would. Deciding after the election if you will respect the tradition of democracy is a shocking thing. But it’s also in keeping with everything Trump has said for weeks. The setting was different, but Trump hasn’t exactly respected the sanctity of national debates.

This was a microcosm for the third debate as a whole. Trump was shocking and repugnant and disgusting in ways that he has been shocking and repugnant and disgusting for months. Presidential debates are interesting because they reveal how the candidates think about complicated issues. But Trump’s thinking—his seat-of-his-pants, temperamental thinking—was abundantly clear in those first two debates. Make no mistake about it: Trump’s performance in the third debate was a nightmare. But it did nothing to change anything about this nightmare of an election.

Pool/Getty Images

By rudely interrupting Clinton all night, Trump sent a dangerous message.

“Excuse me,” he said during crossfire about her experience in the State Department. “My turn.” It was at though he had not been interrupting her for the past hour, bellowing “WRONG” into his microphone while she attempted to answer the questions that moderator Chris Wallace had directed at her.

“I did not say that,” he said later, interrupting her once again. “Did. Not. Say. That.”

Towards the end of the debate, as Clinton was answering a question about entitlements, Trump muttered into his microphone: “Such a nasty woman.”

This is not new. In the first presidential debate in September, Trump interrupted Clinton more than twice the amount that she did him, according to Vox.

But the most sobering part about his behavior is that it’s all too typical. Men interrupt women at far higher rates than women do men. In a formative 1975 study, two researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, concluded that men were responsible for 47 of 48 interruptions they recorded. In fact, decades of research show that when women do speak out in meetings or even in job interviews, they are often penalized—their evaluators tend to think worse of them. That’s often what holds many women back from getting raises and rising to leadership positions.

Clinton knows that. She’s faced it throughout her career. In this historic presidential campaign, the first to see a woman on top of the ticket of a major party, she has had to listen to Trump, has been interrupted by Trump, and has smiled politely at Trump while he insults her.

When he gets up on stage and attempts to silence a better qualified woman, it sends a powerful message: that any man can do the same, whether it’s in a debate, a meeting, or a job interview.

Donald Trump’s insistence that the election is “rigged” is toxic for democracy.

In spite of the fact that his campaign manager, his running mate, and even his daughter said this week that Trump will accept the outcome of the election, Trump still refused to promise on Wednesday night’s debate stage that he would gracefully bow out if he lost. “I will tell you at the time, but I will keep you in suspense,” he said, claiming as he has for weeks that the election is “rigged.”

On the campaign trail, Trump has urged his supporters to monitor the polls on Election Day, which has resulted in concerns about public safety at polling stations, particularly the safety of minority voters. Some of his supporters have warned of an uprising.

“That is horrifying,” Hillary Clinton responded. “That is not the way our democracy works. We have had free and fair elections. We have accepted the outcomes, even when we do not like them.”

If Trump’s reaction to Mitt Romney’s loss in 2012 is any clue, he would take a 2016 loss kicking and screaming: