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For The Record  

FTR #894 Physicians, Heal Thyselves: Hypocrisy and the Trump Campaign

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Reinhard Gehlen: Nazi head of postwar German intelligence

Allen Dulles

Introduction: Much press ink and broadcast time have been devoted to decrying the Presidential campaign of Donald Trump. Wringing their hands over the substantively accurate view that Trump is a fascist and his candidacy is a major turn toward the Dark Side, the institutions and the individuals decrying the Trump phenomenon are hypocritical. Far from being an aberration, Trump’s candidacy is a direct outgrowth of powerful forces that have been at work for the better part of a century and that are the embodiment of fundamental elements of American and Western society.

The program begins with two op-ed columns from The New York Times. Timothy Egan highlights the awareness on the part of Trump supporters that race hatred, support for slavery and the neo-Confederate movement, xenophobia and reaction are the substance of what he is about and what they want. Egan notes, correctly, that “beast is us.”  Richard Cohen sets forth the apprehension that Europeans feel about the Trump candidacy, underscoring their experience with the descent of a society into fascism.

Europeans are consummately hypocritical in their condemnation of Trump, although the insights that Cohen has noted are accurate. They are hardly in a position to look down on Trump–European politics are experiencing the same “Perfect Sturm.” Not only are fascist parties riding a crest of popularity in Europe over the “anti-immigrant” gambit, but fascism was never expunged from Europe, due to Cold War politics which will be highlighted below. We note that Slovakia is among the countries witnessing the ascent of fascist parties.

The “Troika” (read “Germany”) mandated the installation of the fascist LAOS Party as part of the provisional Greek government in the late fall of 2011. The Greek citizenry had NO say in this, whatsoever.

Perhaps even more hypocritical than Europe’s bemoaning of the “Trumpfverbande” is the so-called “progressive sector” in the U.S., whose misty-eyed embrace of Snowden, Greenwald, Assange et al constitutes an alignment with PRECISELY the same political forces that are embodied in the Trump candidacy. The so-called “progressives” have allied themselves with the milieu of WikiLeaksEddie the Friendly Spook and Glenn Greenwald, who are part and parcel to the politics of David Duke, the neo-Confederate movement and apologists for slavery. The political forces that Tim Egan correctly identifies as being “Trumpers” are precisely the forces that are behind the Snowdenistas and Assangeholes.

London Calling [David Duke

Martin Bormann (right) with Himmler

Much of the program consists of excerpts from an important new book: The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot. Although virtually none of the material will be new to veteran listeners–we’ve been covering the relevant subject material exhaustively and for decades–it is important and refreshing to have a current book of this magnitude and relatively high profile available.

Some of the points discussed in the book:

  • The Dulles brothers, Sullivan and Cromwell and their roles in the capitalization of Germany and the rise of Hitler’s cartels: ” . . . Foster Dulles became so deeply enmeshed in the lucrative revitalization of Germany that he found it difficult to separate his firm’s interests from those of the rising economic and military power–even after Hitler consolidated control over the country in the 1930s. Foster continued to represent German cartels like IG Farben as they were integrated into the Nazis’ growing war machine, helping the industrial giants secure access to key war materials. . . . . Foster refused to shut down the Berlin office of Sullivan and Cromwell . . . .”
  • The Dulles brothers active and treasonous role in blocking Safehaven, the Roosevelt administration’s effort at blocking the Nazi flight capital program that was to coalesce into the Bormann network: ” . . . . Dulles and [Thomas] McKittrick [of the Bank of International Settlemnts] continued to work closely together for the rest of the war. In the final months of the conflict, the two men collaborated against a Roosevelt operation called Project Safehaven that sought to track down and confiscate Nazi assets that were stashed in neutral countries. . . . . Dulles and McKittrick were more inclined to protect their clients’ interests. Moreover, like many in the upper echelons of U.S. finance and national security, Dulles believed that a good number of these powerful German figures should be returned to power, to ensure that Germany would be a strong bulwark against the Soviet Union. And during the Cold War, he would be more intent on using Nazi loot to finance covert anti-Soviet operations than on returning it to the families of Hitler’s victims. . . . While Allen Dulles was using his OSS post in Switzerland to protect the interests of Sullivan and Cromwell’s German clients, his brother was doing the same in New York. By playing an intricate corporate shell game, Foster was able to hide the U.S. assets of major German cartels like IG Farben and Merck KGaA, the chemical and pharmaceutical giant, and protect these subsidiaries from being confiscated by the federal government as alien property. . . . By the end of the war, many of Foster’s clients were under investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division. And Foster himself was under scrutiny for collaboration with the enemy. . . . But Foster’s brother was guarding his back. From his frontline position in Europe, Allen was well-placed to destroy incriminating evidence and to block any investigations that threatened the two brothers and their law firm. “Shredding of captured Nazi records was the favorite tactic of Dulles and his [associates] who stayed behind to help run the occupation of postwar Germany,” observed Nazi hunter John Loftus . . . .”
  • Dulles collaborated closely with Nazi general Reinhard Gehlen, whose work for CIA (and later BND) constituted a continuation of the Third Reich’s war against the Soviet Union–a war in which he collaborated with Dulles: “. . . . The Gehlen Organization saw the Cold War as the final act of the Reich’s interrupted offensive against the Soviet Union. . . . The covert Cold War in the West was, to an unsettling extent, a joint operation between the Dulles regime and that of Reinhard Gehlen. The German spy chief’s pathological fear and hatred of Russia, which had its roots in Hitler’s Third Reich, meshed smoothly with the Dulles brothers’ anti-Soviet absolutism. In fact, the Dulles policy of massive nuclear retaliation bore a disturbing resemblance to the Nazis’ eterminationist philosophy. . . . We live “in an age in which war is a paramount activity of man,” Gehlen announced in his memoir [prefaced by Holocaust-denier David Irving–D.E.], “with the total annihilation of the enemy as its primary aim.” There could be no more succinct a statement of the fascist ethos. . . .”
  • Dulles and Gehlen’s collaboration on the “Stay Behind/Gladio” project:. . . . He [Gehlen] was prepared to take drastic action to prevent such a political scenario from unfolding in Bonn–going so far as to overthrow democracy in West Germany if necessary. . . . It is unlikely that Dulles was shocked by Gehlen’s proposal to reinstitute fascism in Germany, since CIA officials had long ben discussing such authoritarian contingency plans with the Gehlen Organization other right-wing elements in Germany. In 1952, West German police discovered that the CIA was supporting a two-thousand-member fascist youth group led by ex-Nazi officers who had their own alarming plans for terminating democracy. . . . These authoritarian plans were part of a sweeping covert strategy developed in the earliest days of the Cold War by U.S. intelligence officials, including Dulles, to counter a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe by creating a “stay-behind network” of armed resisters to fight the Red Army. Code-named Operation Gladio, these secret CIA-funded networks attracted fascist and criminal elements, some of which later played subversive roles in West Germany, France, and Italy, disrupting democratic rule in those countries by staging terrorist acts and plotting coups and assassinations. . . .”
  • Dulles’s liaison with the Senate was Prescott Bush, Sr.: “. . . . Dulles’s CIA operated with virtually no congressional oversight. In the Senate, Dulles relied on Wall Street friends like Prescott Bush of Connecticut–the father and grandfather of two future presidents–to protect the CIA’s interests. According to CIA veteran Robert Crowley, who rose to become second-in-command of the CIA’s action arm, Bush “was the day-to-day contact man for the CIA. . . .”

Ronald Reagan and William Casey

Nixon and Kissinger

The program concludes with review of the role of Allen Dulles in hammering together the Crusade For Freedom, a covert operation that had its culminationwith the Reagan administration:

  • . . . . Frustration over Truman’s 1948 election victory over Dewey (which they blamed on the “Jewish vote”) impelled Dulles and his protégé Richard Nixon to work toward the realization of the fascist freedom fighter presence in the Republican Party’s ethnic outreach organization. As a young congressman, Nixon had been Allen Dulles’s confidant. They both blamed Governor Dewey’s razor-thin loss to Truman in the 1948 presidential election on the Jewish vote. When he became Eisenhower’s vice president in 1952, Nixon was determined to build his own ethnic base. . . .
  • . . . . Vice President Nixon’s secret political war of Nazis against Jews in American politics was never investigated at the time. The foreign language-speaking Croatians and other Fascist émigré groups had a ready-made network for contacting and mobilizing the Eastern European ethnic bloc. There is a very high correlation between CIA domestic subsidies to Fascist ‘freedom fighters’ during the 1950’s and the leadership of the Republican Party’s ethnic campaign groups. The motive for the under-the-table financing was clear: Nixon used Nazis to offset the Jewish vote for the Democrats. . . . In 1952, Nixon had formed an Ethnic Division within the Republican National Committee. Displaced fascists, hoping to be returned to power by an Eisenhower-Nixon ‘liberation’ policy signed on with the committee. In 1953, when Republicans were in office, the immigration laws were changed to admit Nazis, even members of the SS. They flooded into the country. Nixon himself oversaw the new immigration program. As Vice President, he even received Eastern European Fascists in the White House. . . . .
  • . . . . As a young movie actor in the early 1950s, Reagan was employed as the public spokesperson for an OPC front named the ‘Crusade for Freedom.’ Reagan may not have known it, but 99 percent for the Crusade’s funds came from clandestine accounts, which were then laundered through the Crusade to various organizations such as Radio Liberty, which employed Dulles’s Fascists. Bill Casey, who later became CIA director under Ronald Reagan, also worked in Germany after World War II on Dulles’ Nazi ‘freedom fighters’ program. When he returned to New York, Casey headed up another OPC front, the International Rescue Committee, which sponsored the immigration of these Fascists to the United States. Casey’s committee replaced the International Red Cross as the sponsor for Dulles’s recruits. . . . .
  • . . .  It was [George H.W.] Bush who fulfilled Nixon’s promise to make the ‘ethnic emigres’ a permanent part of Republican politics. In 1972, Nixon’s State Department spokesman confirmed to his Australian counterpart that the ethnic groups were very useful to get out the vote in several key states. Bush’s tenure as head of the Republican National Committee exactly coincided with Laszlo Pasztor’s 1972 drive to transform the Heritage Groups Council into the party’s official ethnic arm. The groups Pasztor chose as Bush’s campaign allies were the émigré Fascists whom Dulles had brought to the United States. . . .  

Program Highlights Include: 

  • Review of the Bush family’s links to the Thyssens.
  • Review of the Thyssen participation in the Bormann flight capital network.
  • Review of the Bormann group’s collaboration with the CIA.
  • Collaboration of the New York Times with Dulles’s CIA, including the paper’s own incorporation of Nazis. Like the GOP, they are “shocked, shocked” at the Trump candidacy.
1. We begin with the first of two New York Times op-ed columns bemoaning the Trump ascendancy, highlighting the GOP establishment’s laments over “the Donald,” and the vicious awareness that Trump’s supporters manifest.

“The Beast Is Us” by Timothy Egan; The New York Times; 3/04/2016.

You heard the word “scary” used a lot this week, that and much more. Not from the usual scolds. Or Democrats. The loudest alarms came from desperate, panicked Republicans, warning of the man who is destroying the Party of Lincoln before our eyes.

“The man is evil,” said Stuart Stevens, a chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney himself called Donald Trump a fraud on Thursday.

But as much as these “too little, too late” wake-up calls are appreciated, it’s time to place the blame for the elevation of a tyrant as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee where it belongs — with the people. Yes, you. Donald Trump’s supporters know exactly what he stands for: hatred of immigrants, racial superiority, a sneering disregard of the basic civility that binds a society. Educated and poorly educated alike, men and women — they know what they’re getting from him.

This idea that people are following Trump only for the celebrity joy ride, that if they just understood the kind of radical, anti-American ideas he advocates they would drop him, is garbage. If the pope couldn’t dent Trump, Romney surely will not.

For Trump’s voters were not surprised at his hesitancy to disavow the hearty approval of a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. They certainly weren’t shocked when neo-Nazis hailed Trump a savior months ago, so a little added backing from hooded haters was not going to throw them.

They aren’t upset that he’s attacked one of the foundations of an open society — free speech — with his recent call to “open up” the libel laws. Nor does it bother them in the least that he wants to apply a religious test for entry into a country whose founders were against any such thing. A majority of his Super Tuesday backers, in fact, support just that.

And recent kudos from a pro-slavery radio host will certainly not dampen his legions. That support came from James Edwards. “For blacks in America,” he has said, “slavery is the best thing that ever happened to them.”

Yes, Trump cannot choose his allies. But it’s certainly no coincidence that the race haters, immigrant bashers and religious hucksters who’ve been at the fringe for some time are all in for Donald Trump.

With media complicity, Trump has unleashed the beast that has long resided not far from the American hearth, from those who started a Civil War to preserve the right to enslave a fellow human to the Know-Nothing mobs who burned Irish-Catholic churches out of fear of immigrants.

When high school kids waved a picture of Trump while shouting “Build a wall” at students from a heavily Hispanic school during a basketball game in Indiana last week, they were exhaling Trump’s sulfurous vapors. They know exactly what he stands for.

Granted, a huge portion of the population is woefully ignorant; nearly a third of Americans didn’t know who Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was in a Gallup poll last year. But ignorance is not the problem with Trump’s people. They’re sick and tired of tolerance. In Super Tuesday exit polls, Trump dominated among those who want someone to “tell it like it is.” And that translates to an explicit “play to our worst fears,” as Meg Whitman, the prominent Republican business leader, said.

“He’s saying how the people really feel,” one Trump supporter from Massachusetts, Janet Aguilar, told The Times. “We’re all afraid to say it.”

They’re saying it now. So more than a third of Trump supporters in South Carolina wish the South had won the Civil War, and 70 percent think the Confederate flag should be flying over the state capital. And 32 percent believe internment of Japanese-American citizens was a good thing — something that the sainted Ronald Reagan apologized for.

Judge him by his followers, who’ve thrown away the dog whistle. “Voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” said David Duke, the former Klansman. And judge him by those who enabled his rise, out of cowardice or opportunism, two words that will follow Chris Christie to his grave.

“To support Trump is to support a bigot,” wrote Stevens, the former Romney strategist. “It’s really that simple.”

Now that the nomination is nearly his, Trump will start to tone it down and take it back. Just kidding, he’s going to imply. “I hate to say it, but I’m becoming mainstream,” he said.

But it’s not mainstream to toss aside longstanding American policy against war crimes, advocating torture “even if it doesn’t work.” It’s not mainstream to approvingly pass on quotes from the Fascist Benito Mussolini. It’s not mainstream to be “everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten,” as Gov. Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, said.

The German magazine Der Spiegel called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man.” The Germans know a thing or two about the topic.

I would like to think our better angels always prevail. But there are also dark episodes, when the beast is loose, and what stares back at us from the mirror is something ugly and frightful. Now is one of those times.

2. The second Times op-ed piece discusses Europe’s fears of a Trump presidency as the coming of fascism to America.

“Trump’s Il Duce Routine” by Richard Cohen; The New York Times; 2/29/2016.

Europe, the soil on which Fascism took root, is watching the rise of Donald Trump with dismay. Contempt for the excesses of America is a European reflex, but when the United States seems tempted by a latter-day Mussolini, smugness in London, Paris and Berlin gives way to alarm. Europe knows that democracies can collapse.

It’s not just that Trump retweets to his six million followers a quote attributed to Mussolini: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” It’s not just that Trump refuses to condemn David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who has expressed support for him. It’s not just that violence is woven into Trump’s language as indelibly as the snarl woven into his features — the talk of shooting somebody or punching a protester in the face, the insulting of the disabled, the macho mockery of women, the anti-Muslim and anti-Mexican tirades. It’s not just that he could become Silvio Berlusconi with nukes.

It’s the echoes, now unmistakable, of times when the skies darkened. Europe knows how democracies collapse, after lost wars, in times of fear and anger and economic hardship, when the pouting demagogue appears with his pageantry and promises. America’s Weimar-lite democratic dysfunction is plain to see. A corrupted polity tends toward collapse.

Trump is telling people something is rotten in the state of America. The message resonates because the rot is there.

He has emerged from a political system corrupted by money, locked in an echo chamber of insults, reduced to the show business of an endless campaign, blocked by a kind of partisanship run amok that leads Republican members of Congress to declare they will not meet with President Obama’s eventual nominee for the Supreme Court, let alone listen to him or her. This is an outrage! The public interest has become less than an afterthought. Trump is telling people something is rotten in the state of America. The message resonates because the rot is there.

Enter the smart, savvy, scowling showman. He is self-financed and promises restored greatness. He has a bully’s instinct for the jugular and a sense of how sick an angry America is of politics as usual and political correctness. He hijacks a Republican Party that has paved the way for him with years of ranting, bigotry, bellicosity and what Robert Kagan, in The Washington Post, has rightly called “racially tinged derangement syndrome” with respect to President Obama. Trump is a man repeatedly underestimated by the very elites who made Trumpism possible. He’s smarter than most of his belittlers, and quicker on his feet, which makes him only more dangerous.

He’s the anti-Obama, all theater where the president is all prudence, the mouth-that-spews to the presidential teleprompter, rage against reason, the backslapper against the maestro of aloofness, the rabble-rouser to the cerebral law professor, the deal maker to the diligent observer. If Obama in another life could have been a successful European social democrat, Trump is only and absolutely of America.

Part of the Trump danger is that he’s captured an American irredentism, a desire to reclaim something — power, confidence, rising incomes — that many people feel is lost. Trump is a late harvest of 9/11 and the fears that took hold that day. He’s the focus of vague hopes and dim resentments that have turned him into a savior in waiting. As with Ronald Reagan, it’s not the specifics with Trump, it’s a feeling, a vibration — and no matter how much he dissembles, reveals himself as a thug, traffics in contradictions, the raptness persists. Europe is transfixed. The German newsweekly “Der Spiegel” has called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man” and even waxed nostalgic for President George W. Bush, which for a European publication is like suddenly discovering a soft spot for Dracula. The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has tweeted that Trump “fuels hatred.” In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has attacked Trump’s proposed ban on non-American Muslims entering the United States, and more than half a million people have signed a petition urging that he be kept out of Britain. This weekend Britain’s Sunday Times ran a page-size photo of Trump in Lord Kitchener pose with a blaring headline: “America Wants Me.”

So do a few Europeans, among them the French rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is a fan, as are some Russian oligarchs. Judge a man by the company he keeps.

This disoriented America just might want Trump — and that possibility should be taken very seriously, before it is too late, by every believer in American government of the people, by the people, for the people. The power of the Oval Office and the temperament of a bully make for an explosive combination, especially when he has shown contempt for the press, a taste for violence, a consistent inhumanity, a devouring ego and an above-the-law swagger.

As Europe knows, democracies do die. Often, they are the midwives of their own demise. Once lost, the cost of recovery is high.

3. Europeans are hardly in a position to look down on Trump–European politics are experiencing the same “Perfect Sturm.” Not only are fascist parties riding a crest of popularity in Europe over the “anti-immigrant” gambit, but fascism was never expunged from Europe, due to Cold War politics which will be highlighted below. We note that Slovakia is among the countries witnessing the ascent of fascist parties.

The “Troika” (read “Germany”) mandated the installation of the fascist LAOS Party as part of the provisional Greek government in the late fall of 2011. The Greek citizenry had NO say in this, whatsoever.

“In Slovakia, A ‘Fascist’-Led Party Gains Seats” by Ben Thompson; The Christian Science Monitor; 3/6/2016.

. . . . The extreme-right People’s Party took in 8 percent of the votes and 14 seats in parliament. Despite the electoral split, Fico said he would work to rebuild a coalition that could take control going forward, possibly with the Slovak National Party, which took in 8.6 percent of the votes cast.

“As the party that won the election we have the obligation to try build a meaningful and stable government,” Fico said, per The Guardian. “It will not be easy, I am saying that very clearly.”

In order to win back the majority government, Fico’s party could need to form an alliance with multiple groups, which the prime minister had hoped to avoid. Fico’s party entered the election with a platform that included strong anti-migrant and anti-Muslim sentiments, despite Slovakia’s absence from the main migrant routes through Europe and relative disconnect from the ongoing crisis related to that issue.

As other countries in the Balkan region and Central Europe are caught in the midst of a migration surge, Fico’s opposition to allowing refugee quotas backed by the EU and his resistance to the “fiction” of multiculturalism makes Slovakia one of the European nations not open to the migrant flow.

Despite that Smer-Social Democracy position, issues in Slovakia including teacher strikes, unemployment, and corruption in the healthcare system may have diverted votes from Fico’s migrant-heavy platform to the other parties’ greater focus on domestic issues, including the People’s Party, chaired by Marian Kotleba.

Mr. Kotleba, a former leader of a now-banned neo-Nazi party, gained notoriety in 2013 during a successful campaign for regional governor in which he praised the Slovak Nazi collaborationist government during World War II. The Economist describes him as “once fond of wearing uniforms in the 1930s and 40s fascist style.” . . . .

4. The so-called “progressive sector” is in no position to intelligently criticize Trump, because they have allied themselves with the milieu of WikiLeaks, Eddie the Friendly Spook and Glenn Greenwald, who are part and parcel to the politics of David Duke, the neo-Confederate movement and apologists for slavery. The political forces that Tim Egan correctly identifies as being “Trumpers” are precisely the forces that are behind the Snowdenistas and Assangeholes.

5.The Dulles brothers, as we have seen so often, were part and parcel to the establishment of the German corporate and cartel structure that spawned Hitler. For background on this, we recommend–among other sources–the old anti-fascist books available for download on this website. We have done numerous shows on the subject, beginning with Miscellaneous Archive Show M11.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 18-19.

. . . . Sullivan and Cromwell, the Dulles brothers’ Wall Street law firm, was at the center of an intricate international network of banks, investment firms, and industrial conglomerates that rebuilt Germany after World War 1. Foster, the law firm’s top executive, grew skilled at structuring the complex merry-go-round of transactions that funneled massive U.S. investments into German industrial giants like the IG Farben chemical conglomerate and Krupp Steel. The profits generated by these investments then flowed to France and Britain in the form of war reparations, and then back to the United States to pay off war loans.

Foster Dulles became so deeply enmeshed in the lucrative revitalization of Germany that he found it difficult to separate his firm’s interests from those of the rising economic and military power–even after Hitler consolidated control over the country in the 1930s. Foster continued to represent German cartels like IG Farben as they were integrated into the Nazis’ growing war machine, helping the industrial giants secure access to key war materials. He donated money to America First, the campaign to keep the United States out of the gathering tempest in Europe, and helped sponsor a rally honoring Charles Lindbergh, the fair-haired aviation hero who had become enchanted by Hitler’s miraculous revival of Germany. Foster refused to shut down the Berlin office of Sullivan and Cromwell–whose attorneys were [allegedly] forced to sign their correspondence “Heil Hitler”–until his partners (including Allen), fearful of a public relations disaster, insisted he do so. When Foster finally gave in–at an extremely tense 1935 partners’ meeting in the firm’s lavish offices at 48 Wall Street–he broke down in tears. . . .

6. Both Dulles brothers conspired to shut down Operation Safehaven, safeguarding their corporate relationships with Third Reich industry and paving the way for the rise of the Bormann capital network. “. . . . Moreover, like many in the upper echelons of U.S. finance and national security, Dulles believed that a good number of these powerful German figures should be returned to power, to ensure that Germany would be a strong bulwark against the Soviet Union. And during the Cold War, he would be more intent on using Nazi loot to finance covert anti-Soviet operations than on returning it to the families of Hitler’s victims. .  . .”

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 27-29.

. . . . Dulles and [Thomas] McKittrick [of the Bank of International Settlemnts] continued to work closely together for the rest of the war. In the final months of the conflict, the two men collaborated against a Roosevelt operation called Project Safehaven that sought to track down and confiscate Nazi assets that were stashed in neutral countries. Administration officials feared that, by hiding their ill-gotten wealth, members of the German elite planned to bide their time after the war and would then try to regain power. Morgenthau’s Treasury Department team, which spearheaded Project Safehaven, reached out to the OSS and BIS for assistance. But Dulles and McKittrick were more inclined to protect their clients’ interests. Moreover, like many in the upper echelons of U.S. finance and national security, Dulles believed that a good number of these powerful German figures should be returned to power, to ensure that Germany would be a strong bulwark against the Soviet Union. And during the Cold War, he would be more intent on using Nazi loot to finance covert anti-Soviet operations than on returning it to the families of Hitler’s victims.

Dulles realized that none of his arguments against Project Safehaven would be well received by Morgenthau. So he resorted to time-honored methods of bureaucratic stalling and sabotage to help sink the operation, explaining in a December 1944 memo to his OSS superiors that his Bern office lacked “adequate personnel to do [an] effective job in this field and meet other demands.” . . . .

. . . . While Allen Dulles was using his OSS post in Switzerland to protect the interests of Sullivan and Cromwell’s German clients, his brother was doing the same in New York. By playing an intricate corporate shell game, Foster was able to hide the U.S. assets of major German cartels like IG Farben and Merck KGaA, the chemical and pharmaceutical giant, and protect these subsidiaries from being confiscated by the federal government as alien property. Some of Foster’s legal origami allowed the Nazi regime to create bottlenecks in the production of essential war materials–such as diesel-fuel injection motors that the U.S. military needed for trucks, submarines, and airplanes. By the end of the war, many of Foster’s clients were under investigation by the Justice Department’s antitrust division. And Foster himself was under scrutiny for collaboration with the enemy.

But Foster’s brother was guarding his back. From his frontline position in Europe, Allen was well-placed to destroy incriminating evidence and to block any investigations that threatened the two brothers and their law firm. “Shredding of captured Nazi records was the favorite tactic of Dulles and his [associates] who stayed behind to help run the occupation of postwar Germany,” observed Nazi hunter John Loftus, who pored through numerous war documents related to the Dulles brothers when he served as a U.S. prosecutor in the Justice Department under President Jimmy Carter.

If their powerful enemy in the White House had survived the war, the Dulles brothers would likely have faced serious criminal charges for their wartime activities. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, who as a young man served with Allen in the OSS, later declared that both Dulleses were guilty of treason. . . .

7a. In FTR #’s 278, 370, 435 and 475, we discussed the Bush family, their links to Nazi industry and Mr. Emory’s belief that the Bush family is the point element of the Bormann network in the U.S. FTR #370, in particular, highlights the violent cover-up of the Bush family/Thyssen link. Note that Bormann saw Fritz Thyssen as a pipeline to Allen Dulles.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 254.

. . . . Also, Bormann felt [Fritz] Thyssen was his ace in the hole if he ever needed a pipeline to Allen W. Dulles. . . .

7b. Much of the discussion that follows concerns Dulles’s collaboration with Reinhard Gehlen. Note that Gehlen cleared his actions with Admiral Doenitz (Hitler’s successor) and General Franz Halder, indicating that the German chain of command was still in effect even after Gehlen began working with the U.S.

“The Secret Treaty of Fort Hunt” by Carl Oglesby; Covert Action Information Bulletin;  #35 (Fall of 1990.)

Gehlen met with Admiral Karl Doenitz, who had been appointed by Hitler as his successor during the last days of the Third Reich. Gehlen and the Admiral were now in a U.S. Army VIP prison camp in Wiesbaden; Gehlen sought and received approval from Doenitz too! . . .44 

. . . . As Gehlen was about to leave for the United States, he left a mes­sage for Baun with another of his top aides, Ger­hard Wes­sel: “I am to tell you from Gehlen that he has dis­cussed with [Hitler’s suc­ces­sor Admi­ral Karl] Doenitz and [Gehlen’s supe­rior and chief of staff Gen­eral Franz] Halder the ques­tion of con­tin­u­ing his work with the Amer­i­cans. Both were in agree­ment.”

In other words, the German chain of command was still in effect, and it approved of what Gehlen was doing with the Americans.

7c. Bormann’s FBI file revealed that he had been banking under his own name in New York for some time. As we have seen in FTR #305, the CIA actively collaborated with the Bormann network. Note that, in the passage below, Bormann wrote three checks drawn from demand accounts in three U.S. commercial banks in August of 1967. In April and June of the following year, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 205.

. . . . The file revealed that he had been banking under his own name from his office in Germany in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, and on August 4, 5 and 14, 1967, had written checks on demand accounts in first National City Bank (Overseas Division) of New York, The Chase Manhattan Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires. . . .

8. Prescott Bush, Sr. was the Senate’s liaison with Dulles’s CIA.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 249-250.

 . . . . Dulles’s CIA operated with virtually no congressional oversight. In the Senate, Dulles relied on Wall Street friends like Prescott Bush of Connecticut–the father and grandfather of two future presidents–to protect the CIA’s interests. According to CIA veteran Robert Crowley, who rose to become second-in-command of the CIA’s action arm, Bush “was the day-to-day contact man for the CIA. It was very bipartisan and friendly. Dulles felt that he had the Senate just where he wanted them.” . . . .

9a. With the connivance of Dules’s CIA, Gehlen pursued the Cold War as an extension of the Third Reich’s war against the Soviet Union.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 277-278.

. . . . The Gehlen Organization saw the Cold War as the final act of the Reich’s interrupted offensive against the Soviet Union. . . .

The covert Cold War in the West was, to an unsettling extent, a joint operation between the Dulles regime and that of Reinhard Gehlen. The German spy chief’s pathological fear and hatred of Russia, which had its roots in Hitler’s Third Reich, meshed smoothly with the Dulles brothers’ anti-Soviet absolutism. In fact, the Dulles policy of massive nuclear retaliation bore a disturbing resemblance to the Nazis’ eterminationist philosophy. . . . We live “in an age in which war is a paramount activity of man,” Gehlen announced in his memoir [prefaced by Holocaust-denier David Irving–D.E.], “with the total annihilation of the enemy as its primary aim.” There could be no more succinct a statement of the fascist ethos. . . .

9b. Next, the program details the Gehlen/Dulles authorship of the “Stay Behind/Gladio” networks. “. . . . He [Gehlen] was prepared to take drastic action to prevent such a political scenario from unfolding in Bonn–going so far as to overthrow democracy in West Germany if necessary. . . . It is unlikely that Dulles was shocked by Gehlen’s proposal to reinstitute fascism in Germany, since CIA officials had long ben discussing such authoritarian contingency plans with the Gehlen Organization other right-wing elements in Germany. . . .”

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 281-283.

. . . . He [Gehlen] was prepared to take drastic action to prevent such a political scenario from unfolding in Bonn–going so far as to overthrow democracy in West Germany if necessary. . . . It is unlikely that Dulles was shocked by Gehlen’s proposal to reinstitute fascism in Germany, since CIA officials had long ben discussing such authoritarian contingency plans with the Gehlen Organization other right-wing elements in Germany. In 1952, West German police discovered that the CIA was supporting a two-thousand-member fascist youth group led by ex-Nazi officers who had their own alarming plans for terminating democracy. Police investigators revealed that the CIA-backed group had compiled a blacklist of people to be “liquidated” as “unreliable” in case of a conflict with the Soviet Union. Included on the list were not just West German Communists but leaders of the Social Democratic Party serving in the Bundestag, as well as other left-leaning government officials. There were cries of outrage in the German parliament over the revelations, but the State Department worked strenuously behind the scenes to suppress the story, and similar alarming measures continued to be quietly contemplated throughout the Cold War.

These authoritarian plans were part of a sweeping covert strategy developed in the earliest days of the Cold War by U.S. intelligence officials, including Dulles, to counter a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe by creating a “stay-behind network” of armed resisters to fight the Red Army. Code-named Operation Gladio, these secret CIA-funded networks attracted fascist and criminal elements, some of which later played subversive roles in West Germany, France, and Italy, disrupting democratic rule in those countries by staging terrorist acts and plotting coups and assassinations.

In the end, Gehlen didn’t feel the need to overthrow democracy in Bonn, but his organization did undertake a variety of secret activities over the years that seriously undermined democratic institutions in Germany. Backed by U.S. intelligence, Hitler’s former spymaster implemented wide-ranging surveillance of West German officials and citizens, including opening private mail and tapping phones. Gehlen defended the snooping as an internal security measure aimed at ferreting out Soviet and East German spies, but his net grew wider and wider until it was cast across an increasingly broad spectrum of population, including opposition party leaders, labor union officials, journalists and schoolteachers. Gehlen even used his spy apparatus to investigate survivors of the Valkyrie plot against Hitler . . . .

. . . . Gehlen was acting not just on behalf of his U.S. patrons, but his clients in Bonn. Even some CIA officials worried that Gehlen was being improperly used by Hans Globke to gather information on political opponents and fortify the Adenauer administration’s power. . . . On one occasion in the 1950s, the savvy Globke paid a visit to Gehlen’s Pullach headquarters, poring over the dossiers of various German political figures–and taking the opportunity to remove his own file. . . .

9c. As we have seen, Hans Globke was Adenauer’s eminence grise and the architect of the Nuremburg laws.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; p. 279.

. . . . High among those [former Third Reich] officials was Chancellor Adenauer’s right-hand man Hans Globke, who had helped draft the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the racial identification system that served as the basis for the extermination of German Jews. . . .

10a. We review analysis of the Crusade For Freedom–the covert operation that brought Third Reich alumni into the country and also supported their guerilla warfare in Eastern Europe, conducted up until the early 1950’s. Conceived by Allen Dulles, overseen by Richard Nixon, publicly represented by Ronald Reagan and realized in considerable measure by William Casey, the CFF ultimately evolved into a Nazi wing of the GOP.

The Secret War Against the Jews; by John Loftus and Mark Aarons; Copyright 1994 by Mark Aarons; St. Martin’s Press; [HC] ISBN 0-312-11057-X; pp. 122-123.

. . . . Frustration over Truman’s 1948 election victory over Dewey (which they blamed on the “Jewish vote”) impelled Dulles and his protégé Richard Nixon to work toward the realization of the fascist freedom fighter presence in the Republican Party’s ethnic outreach organization. As a young congressman, Nixon had been Allen Dulles’s confidant. They both blamed Governor Dewey’s razor-thin loss to Truman in the 1948 presidential election on the Jewish vote. When he became Eisenhower’s vice president in 1952, Nixon was determined to build his own ethnic base. . . .

. . . . Vice President Nixon’s secret political war of Nazis against Jews in American politics was never investigated at the time. The foreign language-speaking Croatians and other Fascist émigré groups had a ready-made network for contacting and mobilizing the Eastern European ethnic bloc. There is a very high correlation between CIA domestic subsidies to Fascist ‘freedom fighters’ during the 1950’s and the leadership of the Republican Party’s ethnic campaign groups. The motive for the under-the-table financing was clear: Nixon used Nazis to offset the Jewish vote for the Democrats. . . .

. . . . In 1952, Nixon had formed an Ethnic Division within the Republican National Committee. Displaced fascists, hoping to be returned to power by an Eisenhower-Nixon ‘liberation’ policy signed on with the committee. In 1953, when Republicans were in office, the immigration laws were changed to admit Nazis, even members of the SS. They flooded into the country. Nixon himself oversaw the new immigration program. As Vice President, he even received Eastern European Fascists in the White House. . .

10b. More about the composition of the cast of the CFF: Note that the ascension of the Reagan administration was essentially the ascension of the Nazified GOP, embodied in the CFF milieu. Reagan (spokesman for CFF) was President; George H.W. Bush (for whom CIA headquarters is named) was the Vice President; William Casey (who handled the State Department machinations to bring these people into the United States) was Reagan’s campaign manager and later his CIA director.

The Secret War Against the Jews; by John Loftus and Mark Aarons; Copyright 1994 by Mark Aarons; St. Martin’s Press; [HC] ISBN 0-312-11057-X; p. 605.

. . . . As a young movie actor in the early 1950s, Reagan was employed as the public spokesperson for an OPC front named the ‘Crusade for Freedom.’ Reagan may not have known it, but 99 percent for the Crusade’s funds came from clandestine accounts, which were then laundered through the Crusade to various organizations such as Radio Liberty, which employed Dulles’s Fascists. Bill Casey, who later became CIA director under Ronald Reagan, also worked in Germany after World War II on Dulles’ Nazi ‘freedom fighters’ program. When he returned to New York, Casey headed up another OPC front, the International Rescue Committee, which sponsored the immigration of these Fascists to the United States. Casey’s committee replaced the International Red Cross as the sponsor for Dulles’s recruits. Confidential interviews, former members, OPC; former members, British foreign and Commonwealth Office. . . .

10c. While serving as chairman of the Republican National Committee, the elder George Bush shepherded the Nazi émigré community into position as a permanent branch of the Republican Party.
. . . . .It was Bush who fulfilled Nixon’s promise to make the ‘ethnic emigres’ a permanent part of Republican politics. In 1972, Nixon’s State Department spokesman confirmed to his Australian counterpart that the ethnic groups were very useful to get out the vote in several key states. Bush’s tenure as head of the Republican National Committee exactly coincided with Laszlo Pasztor’s 1972 drive to transform the Heritage Groups Council into the party’s official ethnic arm. The groups Pasztor chose as Bush’s campaign allies were the émigré Fascists whom Dulles had brought to the United States. . . . 

12. We conclude with a look at The New York Times’ use of a Third Reich alumnus named Paul Hofmann as a foreign correspondent, beginning with the Gray Lady’s coverage of the CIA’s participation in the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government by David Talbot; Harper [HC]; 2015; Copyright 2015 by The Talbot Players LLC; ISBN 978-0-06-227616-2; pp. 383-384.

 . . . . As the Congo crisis reached its climax, a new correspondent for The New York Times showed up in Leopoldville with a distinctly anti-Lumumba bias. Paul Hofmann was a diminutive, sophisticated Austrian with a colorful past. During the war, he served in Rome as a top aide to the notorious Nazi general Kurt Malzer, who was later convicted of the mass murder of Italian partisans. At some point, Hofmann became an informer for the Allies, and after the war he became closely associated with Jim Angleton. The Angleton family helped place Hofmann in the Rome bureau of The New York Times, where he continued to be of use to his friends in U.S. intelligence, translating reports from confidential sources inside the Vatican and passing them along to Angleton. Hofmann became one of the Times’s leading foreign correspondents, eventually taking over the newspaper’s Rome bureau and parachuting from time to time into international hot spots like the Congo. . . .

Discussion

53 comments for “FTR #894 Physicians, Heal Thyselves: Hypocrisy and the Trump Campaign”

  1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters about a conversation he had with Donald Trump this morning. The topic of the conversation? “I took the opportunity to recommend to him that no matter who may be triggering these violent, uh, expressions or conflict that we’ve seen at some of these rallies, it might be a good idea to condemn that and discourage it, no matter what the source of it is.” So we’re at the point where the GOP’s leading Senator just had to warn the guy that’s on course to win his party’s presidential nomination not to incite violence at political rallies. And these words of caution were passed along to Trump on the same day that he appears to be poised to essentially secure that nomination.

    It’s all part of why a certain very unpleasant question is becoming increasingly relevant. It a question that should never need to be asked, but here we are so we might as well ask it:
    Given the state of US politics, is the ghost of Roy Cohn more pleased? Or more proud?

    The Daily Beast

    Trump’s Mobbed Up, McCarthyite Mentor Roy Cohn

    Donald Trump’s brash and bullying style was learned at the heel of Roy Cohn, one of America’s most infamous lawyers.

    Olivia Nuzzi
    07.23.15 4:07 AM ET

    They met at Le Club, a private disco on the Upper East Side frequented by Jackie Kennedy, Al Pacino, and Diana Ross, according to Trump: The Saga of America’s Most Powerful Real Estate Baron. Donald Trump, the young developer, quickly amassing a fortune in New York real estate and Roy Cohn, America’s most loathed yet socially successful defense attorney who had vaulted to infamy in the 1950s while serving as legal counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy.

    The friendship they forged would provide the foundation for Trump’s eventual presidential campaign. And in hindsight, it serves as a tool for understanding Donald Trump the Candidate, whose bumper sticker-averse declarations—undocumented Mexican immigrants are “criminals” and “rapists”; Senator John McCain is “not a war hero”—have both led him to the top of the Republican primary polls and mistakenly convinced many that he is a puzzle unworthy of solving. It may appear that way, but Trump isn’t just spouting off insults like a malfunctioning sprinkler system—he’s mimicking what he learned some 40 years ago.

    A longtime friend of Trump’s who was introduced to the candidate by Cohn told me it’s a shame that Cohn’s not alive to see the chaos his protégé has wrought.

    “He would have just loved what’s going on right now,” the friend said. “Roy liked upsetting the establishment.”

    Roy Marcus Cohn, born in the Bronx in 1927, was the son of Albert Cohn, a judge and prominent Democrat. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1947, and the day he was admitted to the bar, according to a New York Times obituary, he got a job in the office of the Manhattan United States Attorney thanks to his father’s connections.

    He became known for his arrogant courtroom style, notably in the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, American citizens convicted of conspiring to give information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. They were executed, and Cohn was promoted to assistant U.S. Attorney.

    He moved to Washington, where his first assignment was to prepare the indictment of Owen Lattimore, an expert on China and professor at Johns Hopkins University who had been accused of being “the top Russian espionage agent in the United States” by Senator Joe McCarthy.

    The charges were ultimately dismissed, but Cohn’s aggressive performance left a lasting impact on McCarthy, who named him chief counsel to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. (Robert F. Kennedy was assistant counsel.)

    McCarthy and Cohn, who was gay and would later die of AIDS, claimed that foreign communists had blackmailed closeted homosexual U.S. government employees into giving them secrets. The charge resulted in President Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450, which allowed the government to deny homosexuals employment.

    Cohn helped McCarthy wage similar witch-hunts on the State Department, Voice of America, and the Army.

    When McCarthy was finally censured, in 1954, Cohn was thought to be finished, too.

    He moved back to New York City and joined the law firm Saxe, Bacon & Bolan. But instead of fading into obscurity, Cohn became a socialite with a roster of high-powered, famous, pious, and allegedly murderous clients.

    He represented Andy Warhol, Studio 54, Roman Catholic Cardinals Francis Spellman and Terence Cooke, and mafia leaders Carmine “Cigar” Galante and Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno.

    Cohn’s tactics were thought to be so unethical and dishonest by the legal establishment (he was eventually disbarred) that Esquire dubbed him “a legal executioner.”

    The reputation didn’t hurt his dance card, however.

    Cohn was known for his parties, thrown at his Greenwich estate and attended by politicians, designers, artists, and celebrities. He liked to pretend that Barbara Walters, a friend, was his girlfriend. “He was a very complicated man,” she told SFGate in 2008. “He was very smart and funny. And, at the time, seemed to know everyone in New York. He was very friendly with the cardinal, he was very friendly with the most famous columnist in New York, Walter Winchell. He had a lot of extremely powerful friends.”

    According to The New York Times’ obituary for Cohn, those friends included “dozens of politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, at every level, from Cabinet members to county judges,” including President Reagan.

    Although, Trump’s friend told me, Cohn saw in Trump “front page stuff, and Roy was always attracted to celebrity,” he clearly wasn’t lacking for celebrity in his life. For Cohn, more important than Trump’s status was his attitude.

    “I think he saw in Trump a kindred spirit,” the friend said. “He saw a certain toughness that he also saw in himself.”

    Cohn became Trump’s lawyer. And Trump thought highly of his controversial tactics.

    “If you need someone to get vicious toward an opponent, you get Roy,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “People will drop a suit just by getting a letter with Roy’s name at the bottom.”

    In 1973, at Cohn’s urging, Trump sued the federal government for $100 million in damages, after the government sued the Trump Management Corp. for allegedly discriminating against blacks in its leasing of 16,000 apartment units throughout New York.

    Trump accused the government of making “irresponsible and baseless” charges. “I have never, nor has anyone in our organization ever, to the best of my knowledge, discriminated or shown bias in renting our apartments,” Trump said at a press conference, held at the New York Hilton Hotel, according to a December 13, 1973 New York Times report. Trump said, in true Trump fashion, that the government had singled out his business because it was big. Cohn, for his part, criticized the government for not providing specifics about the people Trump allegedly discriminated against.

    The judge dismissed Trump and Cohn’s suit, saying they were “wasting time and paper.”

    And when Trump was accused of using his political connections to manufacture unfair deals for himself, Cohn jumped to his defense. “Donald wishes he didn’t have to give money to politicians, but he knows it’s part of the game,” he told the Times in 1980. “He doesn’t try to get anything for it; he’s just doing what a lot of people in the real estate business try to do.”

    But the depth of their relationship didn’t end with Cohn’s attack-dog defenses of his client. Cohn, in his own words to the Times, was “not only Donald’s lawyer, but also one of his close friends.”

    When Cohn first got ahold of him, according to his friend, “Donald was a bit of a political neophyte.”

    It was Cohn who helped transform him. “His early political training came from Roy,” the friend told me.

    Cohn, a registered Democrat, was a Reaganphile. On the grand piano in his law office rested a framed photo of the former president and a letter of thanks he sent to Cohn. He and his law partner, Thomas Bolan, who could not be reached for comment, fundraised tirelessly for his 1980 campaign.

    According to Trump’s friend, Cohn acted to “recruit Donald and Donald’s father for Reagan’s finance committee.” In an 1983 Times report, Trump was characterized as a Reagan supporter and was said to have visited the White House “several times.” There’s a picture of the two together, shaking hands. Trump, his hair darker and fuller, in a pinstripe suit and shiny, light pink tie; and Reagan, looking duller by comparison.

    Today, Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America Great Again!” Which was Reagan’s slogan in 1980. Trump has claimed he invented the slogan and trademarked it in order to prevent other candidates from using it in speeches. “I mean, I get tremendous raves for that line,” Trump told The Daily Mail. “You would think they would come up with their own. That is my whole theme.”

    In 1983, according to Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Trump met with Cohn client Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, the boss of the Genovese crime family, in Cohn’s New York apartment. Trump had employed S&A Concrete, owned by Salerno and Paul “Big Paul” Castellano, head of the Gambino crime family, to build Trump Tower. (In response to the allegations made in the book, in 1993, Trump said its author, Wayne Barnett, was “a second-rate writer who has had numerous literary failures, who has been writing negative stories about me for the past 15 years. The book is another example of Mr. Barrett’s personal prejudice and animosity towards me. The book is boring, non-factual, and highly inaccurate.”)

    A year after the alleged meeting, Trump was doing an interview with The Washington Post. He told the reporter, Lois Romano, that he knew how the United States should negotiate nuclear policy with the Soviets, and Cohn, Trump told her, advised him that it was a good idea to use the interview as an opportunity to talk about the issue.

    “Some people have an ability to negotiate,” Trump said. “It’s an art you’re basically born with. You either have it or you don’t.”

    I wonder where he learned that.

    “The friendship they forged would provide the foundation for Trump’s eventual presidential campaign. And in hindsight, it serves as a tool for understanding Donald Trump the Candidate, whose bumper sticker-averse declarations—undocumented Mexican immigrants are “criminals” and “rapists”; Senator John McCain is “not a war hero”—have both led him to the top of the Republican primary polls and mistakenly convinced many that he is a puzzle unworthy of solving. It may appear that way, but Trump isn’t just spouting off insults like a malfunctioning sprinkler system—he’s mimicking what he learned some 40 years ago.”

    As we can see, while Cohn never had kids, he was sort of a second father figure to one up and coming fellow:

    A longtime friend of Trump’s who was introduced to the candidate by Cohn told me it’s a shame that Cohn’s not alive to see the chaos his protégé has wrought

    “He would have just loved what’s going on right now,” the friend said. “Roy liked upsetting the establishment.”

    Although, Trump’s friend told me, Cohn saw in Trump “front page stuff, and Roy was always attracted to celebrity,” he clearly wasn’t lacking for celebrity in his life. For Cohn, more important than Trump’s status was his attitude.

    “I think he saw in Trump a kindred spirit,” the friend said. “He saw a certain toughness that he also saw in himself.”

    But the depth of their relationship didn’t end with Cohn’s attack-dog defenses of his client. Cohn, in his own words to the Times, was “not only Donald’s lawyer, but also one of his close friends.”

    When Cohn first got ahold of him, according to his friend, “Donald was a bit of a political neophyte.”

    It was Cohn who helped transform him. “His early political training came from Roy,” the friend told me.

    Yes, it’s sort of a shame Cohn couldn’t live to see the day. Sort of. But at least the ghost of Roy Cohn is presumably smiling somewhere.

    The ghost of Cohn’s old boss is probably pretty happy too.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 15, 2016, 2:53 pm
  2. Last night, PBS NewsHour had a special about first-time voters, including a profile of a Fayetteville, NC, family volunteering to make calls for the Trump campaign. And the mother working just happened to have big Celtic Cross tattoo on her right and an “88” on her left hand. It was kind of hard to miss.

    Now, the fact that someone with overt white supremacist symbolism is volunteering for Donald Trump isn’t exactly news at this point. At least not breaking news. But it is kind of newsworthy that the racist tattoos weren’t even mentioned in the report. They were definitely visible, but not actually mentioned:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire
    PBS NewsHour Features Trump Volunteer With White Supremacist Tattoos

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published March 16, 2016, 5:50 PM EDT

    In a Tuesday night special about Republican Donald Trump invigorating first-time voters, PBS NewsHour profiled a woman volunteering for the campaign who had prominently visible tattoos of widely recognized white power symbols.

    In the segment, which was first flagged by Gawker, PBS profiles Grace Tilly, who is shown making calls at a Trump campaign phone bank in North Carolina.

    “This is my first time voting,” Tilly tells the camera. “Being 33, that’s kind of crazy, but it says a lot.”

    While Tilly makes a call, her tattoo of a symbol that Gawker identified as a Celtic Cross is easily visible on her right hand.

    According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Celtic Cross is used by neo-Nazis, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and “virtually every other type of white supremacist.” The symbol is also used in the logo for Stormfront, an online hub for white supremacists.

    Gawker also identified the tattoo on Tilly’s other hand as the number 88 which, according to the ADL, is white supremacist shorthand for “Heil Hitler.”

    PBS made no mention of the symbols in the story, Gawker said.

    You can watch a clip of the segment over at Gawker.

    “PBS made no mention of the symbols in the story, Gawker said.”
    Weird. It seems like big, visible white supremacists tattoos would be part of this story.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 16, 2016, 3:04 pm
  3. We’re probably going to see a lot more articles like this as America continues tiptoeing up to the Rubicon:

    The Huffington Post

    How The Trump Campaign Could Evolve Into Organized Violence, In 6 Steps

    State-sponsored thuggery doesn’t happen overnight.

    Daniel Marans, Reporter, Huffington Post
    Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post

    03/17/2016 06:31 pm ET

    Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday floated the idea of paying the legal fees of a white supporter who sucker-punched a black man leaving a rally. Later that day, he claimed “no responsibility” for political violence, suggesting instead that protesters are dangerous and that his supporters are right to “hit back.” He even blamed Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for sending protesters to disrupt his rallies, and threatened to sic his supporters on Sanders in retaliation.

    Extreme political movements like Trump’s often go hand-in-hand with street violence. But organized militias like Adolf Hitler’s brown shirts and Benito Mussolini’s black shirts don’t spring up overnight. They evolve. Here’s how the process works.

    Phase One: Anger

    The election of President Barack Obama in 2008 immediately sparked a spike in anti-black hate crimes. The suspicion and resentment toward Obama began during his campaign, most notably with the birther movement that questioned whether he was born in the United States. (He was.) Some Americans considered Obama not merely a political opponent but a foreign “other,” unworthy of the respect citizens typically accord to presidents.

    Trump, who helped elevate birtherism to national prominence, has fanned the flames of white Americans’ rage, appealing to their most base nationalistic instincts.

    The data show that Trump supporters are more likely to be economically insecure. But that doesn’t explain the timing of Trump’s rise, since the fortunes of working-class whites, like working-class people of color, have been declining for decades. As Jamelle Bouie argues persuasively in Slate, Trump’s followers apparently view Obama’s power as a sign that they have lost the political privilege they once enjoyed just because they were white. Sixty-one percent of Trump’s supporters have continued to believe Obama is a foreign-born Muslim, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released in September.

    Beliefs like that aren’t uncommon among supporters of tyrants and demagogues.

    “What illiberal leaders across the world share is a very deep ideological or nationalistic motivation and sense of being in an in-group where people do not see their opponents just as opponents but as enemies in an existential sense,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who authored the book Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in the Middle East.

    “That contributes to paranoia, conspiracy theories and overall it strengthens the existential tenor of politics, which is something we are not used to,” he added.

    But prior to Trump’s presidential run, many mainstream Republican leaders condemned the most excessive racist attacks on Obama. While running for president on the GOP ticket in 2008, Sen. John McCain famously chastised a woman who called Obama “an Arab.”

    Republican leaders also stood in solidarity with black Americans in the wake of heinous hate crimes. After a white supremacist massacred black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, in June, the state’s conservative Republican governor, Nikki Haley, pushed for the Confederate flag to be removed from the state Capitol grounds.

    Phase Two: Excusing Violence

    The next phase in the evolution of organized violent groups comes when leaders stop condemning violence and start excusing it. That’s what Trump’s doing now — and mainstream Republican leaders have been slow to rebuke him for it.

    Without condemnation from mainstream Republican leaders, Trump-associated violence has spread.

    In August, two Boston brothers who beat up a homeless Latino man cited Trump as inspiration. Trump said he had not heard of the incident, and that it would “be a shame” if it had happened. But he also suggested the incident was a product of his supporters’ passion. “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate,” he said. “They love this country, they want this country to be great again.”

    At a November rally, he said of a black protester who’d been beaten, “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

    In February, he told his supporters at a rally, “If you see somebody who’s getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of him, would you?” He then promised to cover their legal fees. At another rally that month, Trump talked about a protester being taken out “on a stretcher,” adding, “I’d like to punch him in the face.”

    When evidence first surfaced earlier this month that Trump’s top aide assaulted a reporter at an event, Trump accused the reporter of making the story up.

    The other GOP candidates have seemed reluctant to renounce Trump. At a Republican debate on March 3, his three opponents at the time committed to supporting him if he were to become the party’s nominee.

    Mitt Romney, the party’s nominee in the 2012 election, had attacked Trump in a speech earlier that day — refuses to entertain the idea of voting for Hillary Clinton, who is likely to be the only viable alternative.

    Just this month, as a protester was being taken out of an event, Trump said, “Try not to hurt him. If you do, I’ll defend you in court, don’t worry.”

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) summarized the GOP response to the candidate on Tuesday.

    “I think our party leadership’s been light on Trump,” he told The Huffington Post.

    That may be because the Republican establishment — like elite classes elsewhere — fomented the rage of the masses for political convenience, but couldn’t foresee, let alone contain, what would happen when it spiraled out of control.

    “The danger is that if you indulge the worst instincts too much, you can no longer control what you have created,” Hamid said.

    Phase Three: Legal Impunity

    The Trump supporter who sucker-punched a black protester in Fayetteville, North Carolina, did so in full view of multiple police officers, yet he wasn’t arrested until video of the assault provoked an outcry the next day. HuffPost has documented that the number of violent incidents at Trump rallies is higher than the numbers of arrests for assault.

    The lack of response from law enforcement and the Republican Party, when combined with the support of Trump himself, likely leads some of his followers to conclude that violence is acceptable, even desirable, and can be carried out with impunity.

    Incendiary, coded rhetoric is key. Even in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, rhetoric does most of the work. Putin and his subordinates routinely describe political disputes as us-versus-them struggles. Implying that the regime’s political opponents are on the U.S. State Department payroll is a common tactic.

    “You will probably have a very difficult time finding Putin making statements instigating violence against opponents,” said Sean Guillory, a scholar who analyzes Russian politics. “The way that violence occurs in Russia is that there is a delegitimization of opponents and criticism.”

    This delegitimization creates an environment in which individuals, oligarchs or regional rulers feel empowered to commit acts of violence against dissenters.

    Sometimes, Putin or his spokesman Dmitri Peskov will offer a lukewarm condemnation of a journalist or activist being beating or killed.

    “The press will ask Dmitri Peskov, or [Putin] will be asked directly about it,” Guillory said. “You will not get an explicit condemnation, but instead get a blanket statement like, ‘People should follow the law.’”

    Trump has not even gone that far, however. During last week’s GOP debate, CNN’S Jake Tapper cited several examples of the candidate encouraging crowds to get physical with protesters. Trump again attributed the attacks to his supporters’ anger and passion — and insisted that the protesters were really the violent ones.

    The ground-up, spontaneous nature of Trump’s support may make it even easier for him to take advantage of mob violence than it was for Putin, said Mark Ames, a founder of The Exile, an English-language newspaper in Russia that Putin shut down in 2008.

    “It probably almost works better if it is not more organized,” Ames, now a reporter for Pando, said. “It is all so much more ad hoc, reality TV.”

    Phase Four: The Opposition Fights Back

    Demonstrators have been a frequent presence at Trump rallies from the start of his campaign, but were typically isolated individuals until recently. Now, with the help of large liberal groups like MoveOn, activists are working in a more organized fashion to disrupt Trump. On Friday, for example, thousands of protesters converged on a rally in Chicago, leading to the event getting canceled.

    The presence of large, organized protests has further radicalized Trump’s supporters. Some have already begun discussing bringing guns to rallies and voting booths in order to “protect” themselves from liberal protesters.

    The prospect of the GOP’s establishment wing thwarting Trump’s nomination in a brokered party convention holds the potential for even greater backlash. Trump suggested on Wednesday that allowing a contested convention — even if he failed to win a majority of delegates and outright earn the nomination — would result in riots.

    “What does that mean for our norms as a country, and the idea of respecting democratic outcomes even if you disagree with them?” asked Hamid, who has studied the effects of the military coup in Egypt. “If millions of Trump supporters felt that the democratic will wasn’t respected, that’s where you could see real polarization that could spill into even more violence.”

    Phase Five: Going On Offense

    Right now most of the Trump rally violence, even against protesters, has been disproportionately directed at people of color.

    Globally, the pattern is often the same: Immigrants are targeted first, then other minorities. Finally, the violence turns directly against whatever communist, socialist, conservative, liberal or progressive opposition exists.

    Trump previewed this approach in a Twitter threat directed at Sanders — who he has taken to calling “our Communist friend” — on Sunday.

    The more Trump succeeds politically, the more brazen he and his supporters are likely to become, said Jeffrey Herf, a historian of fascism at the University of Maryland.

    “If Trump succeeds against all expectations in getting the Republican nomination, and against even greater expectations, wins the presidency, he will not become a more reasonable man,” Herf said. “It is the kind of thing that feeds his ego and his sense of being absolutely right. It is the kind of thing that could lead to midnight raids to deport Mexicans en masse.”

    Herf, like many experts, does not believe Trump is a fascist. But he notes that Italian and German elites’ “underestimation” of fascists was a hallmark of their rise in the 20th century in those countries. Similarly, he said, elites in the U.S. failed to foresee Trump’s ascendancy.

    Now that the violence is escalating, members of the establishment are calling for calm.

    “Donald Trump called this morning, and we had a good conversation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “I took the opportunity to recommend to him that no matter who may be triggering these violent, uh, expressions or conflict that we’ve seen at some of these rallies, it might be a good idea to condemn that and discourage it, no matter what the source of it is.”

    McCain, who tamped down xenophobia eight years ago, is left with little power, particularly after Trump denigrated his prisoner-of-war experience and was only rewarded in the polls.

    HuffPost told McCain that Trump supporters are now talking about arming themselves. “I hope that’s not a serious comment,” McCain replied. “I just think that that would be very unfortunate and I hope that nobody is seriously thinking about that.”

    Polls and reporting indicate that Trump’s supporters have actually become more deeply enamored with the candidate, even as violence has escalated. There are no institutions that can prevent people from voting for a man who incites violence — only norms. And Trump is revealing just how weak those norms are.

    “I was never taught in school that coups, for example, are unacceptable, but it was something I absorbed as an American,” Hamid said. “What happens when those norms erode?”

    Phase Six: Picking A Shirt (Or Hat) Color

    Once violence is normalized, it’s only a short jump to it becoming organized.

    Trump’s thugs might end up looking more like those of Putin (who he openly admires) or the “colectivos” who back the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and less like Hitler’s brown shirts or Mussolini’s black shirts. Turkey, India, Israel and Hungary have all seen a steep rise in and a mainstreaming of ethno-nationalism in recent years, and along with it has come both organized and random street violence.

    Pro-government thugs have been a feature of Caribbean and Latin American political life, for example, for decades, said Peter Hakim, a senior fellow at the Inter-American Dialogue, a network of policy experts across the Western Hemisphere.

    He sees Trump supporters who have vowed to retaliate against liberal protesters as a similar threat.

    “This is often how these groups start. With young kids, this is the kind of bravado they like to use or act on,” he said. “You get people who have not communicated with the campaign who begin to defend their turf. Maybe there is someone on the staff that’s close to them. Maybe they hire a turf protector onto the staff. These are unofficial bodyguards and sometimes they can adopt a little more aggressive position.”

    And sometimes a lot more.

    Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

    “There are no institutions that can prevent people from voting for a man who incites violence — only norms. And Trump is revealing just how weak those norms are.”
    Yep, those norms are looking a little shaky. But they could always get shakier:


    “This is often how these groups start. With young kids, this is the kind of bravado they like to use or act on,” he said. “You get people who have not communicated with the campaign who begin to defend their turf. Maybe there is someone on the staff that’s close to them. Maybe they hire a turf protector onto the staff. These are unofficial bodyguards and sometimes they can adopt a little more aggressive position.”

    And sometimes a lot more.

    So let’s hope we don’t see informal Trump “protection” groups start popping up. Especially groups with names inspired by a Mussolini quote:

    Salon

    “Exposing plots to attack Mr. Trump”: The Lion Guard, a pro-Trump group, is tracking protesters online

    Lion Guard promotes the “safety and security of #Trump supporters by exposing Far-Left infiltrators and saboteurs”
    Michael Garofalo

    Friday, Mar 18, 2016 9:36 PM UTC

    A pro-Donald Trump group calling itself the “Lion Guard” (not to be confused with Disney’s “Lion King” spinoff of the same name) is using social media to “identify and expose plots to attack Mr. Trump, Trump Supporters, and their rallies before they even can happen.”

    Lion Guard’s Twitter bio describes it as “an informal civilian group dedicated to the safety and security of #Trump supporters by exposing Far-Left infiltrators and saboteurs.” The group’s name is derived from a variation on the Benito Mussolini quote Trump retweeted in February that appears on the Lion Guard website: “Better to be a lion for a day, than a lamb for eternity.”


    A March 15, post titled “Lion Guard is Born” explains that the group was formed after clashes between protesters and Trump supporters forced the cancellation of a Trump rally in Chicago on March 11. The post explains that the group’s main objective is “to search out for any Anti-M.A.G.A. [Make America Great Again] social media account that is planning to infiltrate, disrupt, attack, or otherwise do harm to Mr. Trump, any Trump rally, or any Trump supporter.”

    To that end, the Lion Guard has been trawling social media for posts from would-be protesters who plan to attend a Trump rally in Phoenix on Saturday, then posting the protesters’ photos to the Lion Guard Twitter account and instructing followers to inform security if they spot the “saboteurs” at the rally.

    The Lion Guard manifesto is careful to avoid any promotion of violence against protesters. While noting that the idea of a pro-Trump paramilitary organization is “not a bad idea,” the Lion Guard says such violence would feed into mainstream media’s anti-Trump narrative. The group sees its mission as “principally to observe and report these vandals to the proper authorities, not confront them with force.”

    “While noting that the idea of a pro-Trump paramilitary organization is “not a bad idea,” the Lion Guard says such violence would feed into mainstream media’s anti-Trump narrative.”
    That’s reassuring.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2016, 4:51 pm
  4. Donald Trump reiterated his calls for torturing terror suspects following an ISIS-affiliated attack in Brussels, explicitly calling for waterboarding but also strongly hinting at significantly more torturous techniques. When asked about the fact that the military doesn’t agree that torture is useful, Trump found two generals that would agree with him. Or, at least, two generals that Trump is pretty sure would agree with him if they hadn’t died decades ago:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump All For Torturing Terror Suspects: ‘He’ll Talk Faster With The Torture’

    By Tierney Sneed
    Published March 22, 2016, 6:41 PM EDT

    Donald Trump amped up his already heated rhetoric about the use of torture to extract information from terrorism suspects, speaking via telephone interview to CNN after Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Brussels.

    “Look, I think we have to change our law on the waterboarding thing, where they can chop off heads and drown people in cages, in heavy steel cages and we can’t water board,” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “We have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight at least on almost equal basis. We have laws that we have to obey in terms of torture. They have no laws whatsoever that they have to obey.”

    Blitzer brought up Salah Abdeslam — a chief suspect in the Paris attack who was detained last week and who it has been speculated might have connections to the Brussels attackers — and asked Trump whether he would begin “torturing him right away,” since Belgian authorities have said Abdeslam was already talking to investigators.

    “He may be talking, but he’ll talk faster with the torture,” Trump said, suggesting torture could have prevented Tuesday attacks which have left at least 30 people dead.

    “I would be willing to bet that he knew about this bombing that took place today,” Trump said. “We have to be smart. It’s hard to believe we can’t waterboard which is — look, nothing’s nice about it but, it’s your minimal form of torture. We can’t waterboard and they can chop off heads. ”

    Trump said he would “go further” than waterboarding and would listen to the “military people” about how to do it. Blitzer brought up that military leaders don’t support torture and that it is not a part of the U.S. military code of conduct.

    “I think they believe in it 100 percent. You talk to General Patton from years ago. You talk to General Douglas MacArthur,” Trump said. “I will guarantee, these were real generals, and I guarantee you, they would be laughing. Right now they’re crying and right now they’re spinning in their graves as they watch the stupidity go on.”

    Trump added that it was a “political decision” to oppose torture. Blitzer also pointed out that torture violates international agreements that the United States has signed.

    “I would say that the eggheads that came up with this international law should turn on their television and watch CNN right now, because I’m look at scenes on CNN right now as I’m speaking to you that are absolutely atrocious,” Trump said. “And I would be willing to bet, when I am seeing all of the bodies laying all over the floor, including young, beautiful children laying dead on the floor, I would say if they watched that, maybe, just maybe they’ll approve of waterboarding and other things.”

    “I think they believe in it 100 percent. You talk to General Patton from years ago. You talk to General Douglas MacArthur…I will guarantee, these were real generals, and I guarantee you, they would be laughing. Right now they’re crying and right now they’re spinning in their graves as they watch the stupidity go on.”
    Well, Douglas MacArthur would indeed probably be spinning in his grave today. Not for the reasons Trump cited, but related reason:

    Salon

    When Rudy goes waterboarding

    The former mayor says “liberal newspapers” have exaggerated the technique’s brutality. Perhaps he should try it himself.

    Joe Conason
    Friday, Oct 26, 2007 05:28 AM CST

    Echoing Michael Mukasey, his friend and associate who likely will soon be the next attorney general, Republican presidential front-runner Rudolph Giuliani claimed Wednesday that he doesn’t know whether waterboarding is torture. Having become accustomed long ago to making the most absurd declarations without fear of challenge, Giuliani went further than Mukasey’s hesitant demurral.

    “I don’t know what is involved in the technique,” Mukasey replied during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, when Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a former prosecutor, asked whether Mukasey thinks waterboarding constitutes torture and is therefore illegal as well as unconstitutional. Perhaps Mukasey (and Giuliani) should be subjected to the technique for strictly educational purposes so that they will become aware that it involves reclining the victim on a bench or table, covering his face with a cloth and then pouring water over his nose and mouth to make him feel as if he is drowning.

    People who have suffered this kind of treatment — at the hands of Japanese military intelligence officers, for instance — have described it as horrific. Experts have determined that it can result in permanent physical and psychological damage and can even result in death.

    If tough Rudy does go waterboarding, however, he should have no illusions about its status under American law and tradition. As a former federal prosecutor, he should know that the United States has indicted, convicted and punished a substantial number of torturers whose offenses included waterboarding or, as it used to be known, “the water cure.” American prohibitions on the mistreatment of prisoners date back to George Washington, but the earliest prosecution of an American military officer for using that particular technique occurred in 1902, during the U.S. occupation of the Philippines under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

    Following a series of Senate hearings led by Massachusetts Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, the Army tried Maj. Edwin Glenn in a court-martial in the Philippine province of Samar for misconduct and breach of discipline, including “infliction of the water cure” on suspected Filipino insurgents. The Army’s judge advocate general rejected Glenn’s defense of “military necessity,” and he was suspended from his post for a month and fined $50 (not an insignificant sum in 1902). President Roosevelt affirmed the major’s conviction.

    More severe punishments were meted out to the Japanese imperial officers who inflicted the water cure on Allied military officers and civilians during World War II in such places as Korea, the Philippines and China. In war crimes trials overseen by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander in the Pacific and a great Republican hero, testimony about water torture led to numerous convictions — and sentences that ranged from years of imprisonment at hard labor to death by hanging. As head of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, MacArthur voted to uphold those convictions and sentences.

    Just so there can be no mistake about what the Japanese perps were convicted of doing, here is a sliver of the copious testimony that can be found at Law of War, where an excellent essay on waterboarding and American law can be found. It comes from the trial in Manila of Sgt. Maj. Chinsaku Yuki, a Japanese military intelligence officer. The witness is Ramon Lavarro, a Filipino lawyer suspected by the Japanese of providing assistance to resistance forces. “I was ordered to lay on a bench and Yuki tied my feet, hands and neck to that bench lying with my face upward,” Lavarro testified. “After I was tied to the bench Yuki placed some cloth on my face and then with water from the faucet they poured on me until I became unconscious. He repeated that four or five times.”

    Such testimonies all sound very much the same because waterboarding is a simple practice that even Giuliani should be able to comprehend. When he argues that it is an act whose significance depends on who does it and under what circumstances, does he mean to suggest that the Japanese war criminals were wrong, but the CIA is right? Does he think that laws and treaties apply only to foreigners and not to Americans? Or that the president can abrogate those laws and treaties at will? That is a formula for tyranny — and it was rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike, all much better men than he.

    In war crimes trials overseen by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the supreme commander in the Pacific and a great Republican hero, testimony about water torture led to numerous convictions — and sentences that ranged from years of imprisonment at hard labor to death by hanging. As head of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, MacArthur voted to uphold those convictions and sentences.”
    So, unless Douglas MacArthur is spinning in his grave over regrets that he used water boarding as a reason to convict people of war crimes, it seems like Donald Trump is going to need to find another dead general to justify his torture policies.

    Then again, when you consider polls like the December 2014 Pew poll showing Americans overwhelming approve of waterboarding, it’s not like Donald Trump really needs military approval to help sell his torture policies. A majority of the American public is apparently already sold on the idea. And given Trump’s near inevitability as the GOP, it would appear that the Republican party is already sold on “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding”. It’s a pretty disturbing state of affairs. Except, perhaps, for Dick Cheney. And, of course, ISIS.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 22, 2016, 6:02 pm
  5. The rise of Donald Trump is raising a number of disturbing questions for the US political establishment, with “how did we contribute to this?” being one of the key questions finally getting asked by many of those in mainstream media. And given the calamitous impact on the nation and world when one of the two major US parties goes insane, there’s no doubt plenty of blame to go around, so let’s hope such questions continue to get asked. Fortunately, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two very mainstream political analysts, are about to publish a revised version of their book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism“, that examines the political dysfunctional in Washington DC and comes to the startling conclusion: DC’s dysfunction is primarily due to the GOP’s extremism and isn’t simply a “both parties are at basically equally at fault” phenomena. *Gasp* What a shocking conclusion.

    So with all the Trump-related hand wringing these days, we’ll see if the revised version of Ornstein’s and Mann’s makes more waves than it did in 2012. And hopefully the new addition includes much more on the role of the media plays in these dysfunctional dynamics. After all, following the 2012 rollout of their book, Ornstein and Mann were almost immediately shunned by a media establishment that had, until that point, been very friendly. No more TV appearance, no more Sunday morning talk shows. The dynamic duo of the beltway punditocracy suddenly became unpersons. All because they wrote a book pointing out that the GOP’s growing extremism is disproportionately to blame for the dysfunction in DC. That seems like the kind of mass media collusion of delusion should also share quite a bit of the blame:

    Media Matters

    Seven Years Late, Media Elites Finally Acknowledge GOP’s Radical Ways

    Blog ››› 3/29/2016 ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Now they tell us the Republican Party is to blame? That the Obama years haven’t been gummed up by Both Sides Are To Blame obstruction?

    The truth is, anyone with clear vision recognized a long time ago that the GOP has transformed itself since 2009 into an increasingly radical political party, one built on complete and total obstruction. It’s a party designed to make governing difficult, if not impossible, and one that plotted seven years ago to shred decades of Beltway protocol and oppose every inch of Obama’s two terms. (“If he was for it, we had to be against it,” former Republican Ohio Sen. George Voinovich once explained.)

    And for some of us, it didn’t take Donald Trump’s careening campaign to confirm the destructive state of the GOP. But if it’s the Trump circus that finally opens some pundits’ eyes, so be it.

    Recently, Dan Balz, the senior political writer for the Washington Post, seemed to do just that while surveying the unfolding GOP wreckage as the party splinters over Trump’s rise. Balz specifically noted that four years ago political scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein examined the breakdown in American politics and zeroed in their blame squarely on Republicans.

    “They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party — in particular its most hard-line faction — as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing,” Balz acknowledged.

    “We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional,” Mann and Ornstein wrote in The Washington Post in 2012. “In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”

    They continued:

    The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

    Tough stuff.

    And what was the Beltway media’s response when Ornstein and Mann squarely blamed Republicans during an election year for purposefully making governing impossible? Media elites suddenly lost Mann and Ornstein’s number, as the duo’s television appearances and calls for quotes quickly dried up. So did much of the media’s interest in Mann and Ornstein’s prescient book.

    “This was far too much for the mainstream press,” noted New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. “They couldn’t assimilate what Mann and Ornstein said AND maintain routines and assumptions that posited a rough symmetry between the two parties. (‘Both sides do it.’) It was too much dissonance. Too much wreckage. So they pushed it away.”

    For anyone who still harbors the naïve notion that the political debates staged by the Beltway press represent freewheeling discussions where anything goes, the Mann/Ornstein episode helped shed some light on the fact that certain topics and analysis remain off limits for public debate for years — even topics that are accurate, fair and essential to understanding our government’s current dysfunction.

    Mann and Ornstein stepped forward to accurately describe what was happening to the Republican Party and detailed the calamitous effect it had on our democracy, and the mainstream media turned away.

    So committed was the pundit class to maintaining its safe narrative about “bipartisan gridlock” and Obama’s puzzling inability to find “middle ground” with Republicans (i.e. why doesn’t he just schmooze more?), the press was willing to ignore Mann and Ornstein’s solid, scholarly research in order to wish the problem away.

    Quite predictably, that problem has only worsened since 2012, which is what Mann and Ornstein address in their latest offering, “It’s Even Worse Than It Was.

    “It is the radicalization of the Republican party,” they recently wrote, “that has been the most significant and consequential change in American politics in recent decades.”

    “The radicalization of the Republican party” — talk about the topic the Beltway press simply doesn’t want to dwell on, let alone acknowledge. Instead, the press has clung to its preferred narrative about how the GOP is filled with honest brokers who are waiting to work in good faith with the White House. Eager to maintain a political symmetry in which both sides are responsible for sparking conflict (i.e. center-right Republicans vs. center-left Democrats), the press effectively gave Republicans a pass and pretended their radical, obstructionist ways represented normal partisan pursuits. (They didn’t.)

    Today’s Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP’s gun law obstruction, the Violence Against Women Act obstruction, the sequester obstruction, Supreme Court obstruction, minimum wage obstruction, 9/11 first responder obstruction, government shutdown obstruction, immigration reform obstruction, Chuck Hagel’s confirmation obstruction, Susan Rice secretary of state obstruction, paid leave obstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act obstruction, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees.

    The 2014 obstruction of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was especially galling, as a single Republican senator blocked a vote on the crucial veterans bill.

    At the time of the bill’s blockade, Media Matters noted that there was virtually no coverage of the radical obstructionism on CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS, as well as news blackouts in the nation’s six largest newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, and Chicago Tribune

    In other words, the GOP’s radical brand of obstructionism not only doesn’t get highlighted as something notable, radical, and dangerous; it’s often met with a collective shrug as the press pretends these kind of nonstop impediments are commonplace.

    As Obama works his way through his final year in office, at least pundits like Balz are highlighting that Mann and Ornstein (and yes, Media Matters) were right about the GOP and the asymmetrical blame the party deserves for trying to wreck our functioning government.

    “And what was the Beltway media’s response when Ornstein and Mann squarely blamed Republicans during an election year for purposefully making governing impossible? Media elites suddenly lost Mann and Ornstein’s number, as the duo’s television appearances and calls for quotes quickly dried up. So did much of the media’s interest in Mann and Ornstein’s prescient book.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 29, 2016, 3:17 pm
  6. (CNN)Is Donald Trump a fascist?
    http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/09/opinions/bergen-is-trump-fascist/

    Note the following points not covered in the article about Donald Trump:
    1. He is tacitly supporting violence against hecklers at his rallies.

    2. He is being supported by White Supremacists and does not clearly disavow their support.

    3. He, like Hitler has a huge ego and believed that he is the solution to the nation’s problems.

    Here is the article:

    Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. He is the author of the forthcoming book “United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown Terrorists.”

    (CNN)Is Donald Trump a fascist?

    To answer that question it is helpful to examine three interrelated phenomena: the history of European fascism, the rise of far-right nationalist parties around the West today and what historian Richard Hofstadter famously termed “the paranoid style in American politics.”

    Let’s start with the classic 2004 study “The Anatomy of Fascism” by American historian Robert Paxton, who examined the fascist movements of 20th-century Europe and found some commonalities among them. They played on:
    • “A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of traditional solutions.” Trump’s ascendancy outside the structures of the traditional Republican Party and his clarion calls about America’s supposedly precipitously declining role in the world capture this trait well.
    • “The superiority of the leader’s instincts over abstract and universal reason.” Trump’s careless regard for the truth — such as his claims that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered the 9/11 attacks, or that Mexican immigrants are rapists and murders — and the trust he places in his own gut capture this well.
    What else can besieged American Muslims do?
    What else can besieged American Muslims do?
    • The belief of one group that it is the victim, justifying any action. Many in Trump’s base of white, working-class voters feel threated by immigrants, so Trump’s solution to that, whether with Mexico (build a wall) or the Islamic world (keep them out), speaks to them.
    • “The need for authority by natural leaders (always male) culminating in a national chief who alone is capable of incarnating the group’s destiny.” This seems like quite a good description of Trump’s appeal.
    In Paxton’s checklist of the foundational traits of fascism there is a big one that Trump does not share, which is “the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will when they are devoted to the group’s success.”
    From America to France, extreme politics reign

    From America to France, extreme politics reign 11:18
    There is no hint that Trump wishes to engage in or to foment violence against the enemies, such as immigrants, he has identified as undermining the
    American way of life.

    One is therefore left with the conclusion that Trump is a proto-fascist, rather than an actual fascist. In other words, he has many ideas that are fascistic in nature, but he is not proposing violence as a way of implementing those ideas.

    Don’t collectively punish Muslims
    Don’t punish all Muslims after San Bernardino (Opinion)
    So how else might we frame the Trump phenomenon? It’s useful to view in the context of the wave of the far-right nationalist movements that have swept Europe in recent years and that are defined by hostility to immigrants and minorities.

    On Sunday, Marine Le Pen’s National Front far-right party finished first in the initial round of regional elections in France, transforming her party, in the words The New York Times, from “a fringe movement into a credible party of government.”

    The National Front obtained more than a quarter of the votes and is leading races in just under half of France’s 13 regions.

    The National Front was doubtless given a boost last month by the Paris massacres that killed 130 and were carried out, in part, by second-generation French immigrants.

    A similar phenomenon to Trump can be found in Hungary, where the popular Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, has ordered the construction of fences to prevent Middle Eastern refugees from reaching his country and has said it will only offer asylum to Christian refugees.
    Trump’s pronounced anti-immigrant stance is reminiscent of both Le Pen in France and Orban in Hungary, although he is far from alone in taking such positions in much of today’s Republican Party.
    Finally, it’s helpful to position Trump in the long tradition of what Hofstadter had termed in 1964 “the paranoid style in American politics,” his well-known analysis of an American far-right that believed vast conspiracies were undermining the United States.
    Trump participates in the Republican debate in Cleveland

    Trump has updated the paranoid right for the post-9/11 era: Instead of a communist plot to take over America, the conspiracy theory favored in the 1950s, the threat is now immigrants, whether they are Mexicans or Muslims. (Earlier waves of American jingoistic paranoia in the 19th century were directed at Masons and then Catholics.)
    Trump displays many of the traits of a proto-fascist, and he is also part of a wave of right-wing nationalist movements that is sweeping the West. He can also be positioned in the long, American right-wing tradition of fearing “the Other,” whether they are Catholics or Jews or, now, Muslims.

    If the party of Lincoln wishes to become the party of intolerance, selecting Trump to be its presidential candidate is a good way forward.

    Posted by Anonymous | April 1, 2016, 2:03 am
  7. Donald Trump is once again having to distance itself from pro-Trump robocalls by the openly white nationalist American Freedom Party, this time in Wisconsin. And while the the Trump campaign has disavowed its enthusiastic white nationalist supporters in the past, those disavowals haven’t exactly worked, as evidenced by the latest round of robocalls. And then there’s the fact that the David Duke has already publicly told Trump to “do whatever you need to do to get elected,” so it’s not like Trump can really make his white nationalist support diminish simply through disavowals. You’d need policies the white nationalists can’t stomach, and it’s very unclear what Trump could come up with that fits that category. Although his recent refusal to rule out nuking Europe might be a start:

    Mother Jones

    Donald Trump Won’t Rule Out Using Nuclear Weapons in Europe

    —By Tim Murphy
    | Wed Mar. 30, 2016 9:15 PM EDT

    Donald Trump refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe during a town hall in Wisconsin on Wednesday. The Republican presidential front-runner was asked about his recent contradictory statements about nuclear proliferation—in which he said he was concerned about the spread of nukes while also suggesting that more countries, including Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia, should be allowed to acquire them.

    MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the host of the town hall, tried to pin Trump down on what circumstances might compel President Trump to deploy the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

    “Look, nuclear should be off the table, but would there a time when it could be used? Possibly,” Trump said.

    Matthews asked Trump to tell the Middle East and Europe that he would never use nuclear weapons, but Trump continued to evade. Asked again if he’d use nuclear weapons in Europe, Trump held firm. “I am not—I am not taking cards off the table,” Trump responded.

    “Matthews asked Trump to tell the Middle East and Europe that he would never use nuclear weapons, but Trump continued to evade. Asked again if he’d use nuclear weapons in Europe, Trump held firm. “I am not—I am not taking cards off the table,” Trump responded.
    Well, at least a few of Trump’s white nationalist supporters probably weren’t super thrilled to hear that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2016, 5:42 pm
  8. With a GOP contested convention looking more and more likely lately, it’s worth keeping in mind that Donald Trump still has a not-so-secret weapon: the threat of imploding the party via giant riot if he doesn’t get the nomination. It’s a threat Trump has already dabbled with, having previously suggested that there would be riots at the GOP convention if he doesn’t get the nomination, and then, just yesterday, Trump tweeted a video featuring clips of anti-Trump protests, violence, and a bloodied police officer with the narration “We’re at war”. So the threat of violence, whether directed towards anti-Trump forces on the right or left, is already a part of the Trumpian zeitgeist.

    But it’s also worth nothing that the threat of violence is a threat Trump doesn’t need to personally issue through vague statements or tweets. Roger Stone is already doing it for him:

    Buzz Feed

    Trump Ally Roger Stone Says He’s Planning “Days Of Rage” At The Convention

    The former Trump adviser says he’s planning protests and rallies in Cleveland — and street theater.

    Rosie Gray
    BuzzFeed News Reporter
    posted on Apr. 1, 2016, at 9:34 p.m.

    Roger Stone, the longtime Republican political operative and current ally of Donald Trump, says he’s trying to organize protests at the Republican convention in Cleveland this summer to disrupt any effort by the party to “steal” the nomination from the frontrunner.

    Stone tweeted several times on Friday evening about his plans, announcing a “Stop the Steal March on Cleveland” and calling on supporters to get to Cleveland for the convention in July.

    Stone told BuzzFeed News over email that he is planning “#DaysofRage,” a seeming reference to the Weatherman-organized Days of Rage protests that took place in Chicago in 1969. Asked to elaborate, Stone said he was talking about “rally-protests -at delegate hotels street theater.”

    Stone said the campaign was not involved in organizing this, instead saying the protests will be “organized by Trump nation,” but said that “we did inform them.” He said he had “issued the call to action” on Infowars, the Alex Jones-run conspiracy show, on March 30, that they “will stage protests at hotels of state delegates of states supporting the BIG STEAL,” and that he and Jones would be speaking (Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are both invited).

    In the same GQ interview, Stone hinted at unrest at the convention, saying “I think there’d be extreme anger by the Trump supporters. I don’t know that it would boil over into violence. Trump is certainly not advocating violence.”

    There have been a spate of violent incidents at Trump rallies, and the campaign appears to condone violence from the top down — Trump has stood by his campaign manager who has been charged with simple battery after grabbing a reporter, and has promised to pay legal fees for supporters who physically confront protesters. This has led to concerns that a contested convention this year could boil over into violence in Cleveland fueled by disgruntled Trump supporters; Trump himself has predicted “riots” if the convention doesn’t lead to him as the nominee.

    It’s unclear how serious Stone is about his protest plans, but he is certainly stoking the flames of the idea that Trump is about to get the nomination stolen out from under him. “The Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Romney, Ryan, McConnell faction has united and is moving into high gear to steal the nomination from Trump,” Stone wrote in a column for Infowars earlier this week.

    “Stone said the campaign was not involved in organizing this, instead saying the protests will be “organized by Trump nation,” but said that “we did inform them.” He said he had “issued the call to action” on Infowars, the Alex Jones-run conspiracy show, on March 30, that they “will stage protests at hotels of state delegates of states supporting the BIG STEAL,” and that he and Jones would be speaking (Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul are both invited).”
    Roger Stone and Alex Jones to the rescue!

    So is Stone serious, or is this just talk? Well, if it is serious, there’s going to be a lot more talking from Roger Stone, since he’s promising to tell all of his protestors which hotels and room numbers house the GOP delegates:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Roger Stone Threatens To Sic Trump Voters On Delegates Who ‘Steal’ Nom (VIDEO)

    By Sara Jerde
    Published April 5, 2016, 1:20 PM EDT

    Roger Stone, an informal adviser to Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, said Monday that in the event of a contested GOP convention he planned to disclose where delegates are staying in Cleveland so that Trump supporters could give them a piece of their mind.

    Stone issued a scathing condemnation of the GOP nomination process in an interview on Freedomain Radio, and urged Trump’s supporters to “march on Cleveland” if delegates were to “steal” the nomination from the real estate mogul.

    “Join us in the Forest City. We’re going to have protests, demonstrations,” Stone said. “We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal. If you’re from Pennsylvania, we’ll tell you who the culprits are. We urge you to visit their hotel and find them.”

    Stone’s comments follow weeks of violence at Trump campaign events, which are often disrupted by protesters and there have been multiple physical altercations between his supporters and protesters. Trump himself has gone so far as to suggest he would pay the legal fees of people who attack the protesters.

    Trump has also said he believes there would be “riots” if he lost the nomination.

    “Join us in the Forest City. We’re going to have protests, demonstrations…We will disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in the steal. If you’re from Pennsylvania, we’ll tell you who the culprits are. We urge you to visit their hotel and find them.”
    Well, it’s probably for the best the petition for the open-carry of weapons at the convention was a joke and didn’t pass, because it’s very unclear that Stone is joking. Trump’s supporters sure aren’t. So, who knows, we might very well see Roger Stone and Alex Jones lead some sort of pro-Trump militia in Cleveland, dedicated to finding where the delegates sleep and giving them ‘a piece of their mind’.

    Of course, if Stone is really serious about making this threat the kind of threat that the GOP might take seriously, why wait until the convention to ‘rage’? After all, the biggest super-duper delegate of them all, Charles Koch, appears to be leaning towards not just ‘stealing’ the nomination from Trump, but stealing it from all the other candidates who stuffed themselves into the clown car and giving the nomination to Paul Ryan. Granted, they’re denying the story. But it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that the GOP “establishment” (which is basically the Koch brothers these days) appears to be seriously gearing up for at least the possibility of contested convention. So it’s not at all an improbably story, which raises the question: if Stone and Alex Jones are actually serious, why not send the Trump militia to start ‘raging’ at Charles’s house now?

    The Huffington Post

    Charles Koch Is Privately Committed To Getting Paul Ryan Nominated In Cleveland: Source

    A major investor in the Republican Party sees a chance to snatch back the nomination.
    04/04/2016 02:27 pm ET | Updated 1 day ago

    Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for The Huffington Post
    Sam Stein, Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

    Charles Koch is confident House Speaker Paul Ryan could emerge from the Republican National Convention as the party’s nominee if Donald Trump comes up at least 100 delegates shy, he has told friends privately.

    Koch believes Ryan would be a “shoo-in” at a contested convention, should the campaign get to that point. Though Koch’s wealth gives him significant influence within the Republican Party, it does not necessarily translate into skill in political prognostication. Still, he and his brother David are fond of Ryan. As a source close to the brothers told The Huffington Post, they appreciate the agenda he has pursued as speaker, including opposition to tax extenders and heightened warnings against corporate welfare — positions that contrast with the admittedly vague portfolio pushed by Donald Trump.

    One source close to Ryan said he would only be interested in it if the party could unite behind him, a scenario he can’t envision. “I don’t know what to tell you? He doesn’t want the nomination. And can you imagine the backlash from the Trump forces if someone who didn’t run for president wins the nomination? It would be complete chaos,” he said.

    A second source close to the Koch brothers said he wasn’t aware of a conversation about Ryan, but it didn’t surprise him.

    Emails to Charles and David Koch were not returned.

    Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries, told HuffPost the claim was “completely false.”

    “Let me be clear, we never have advocated for a specific candidate in a presidential primary, and we have no plans to do so now,” Holden said.

    People close to Ryan continue to insist publicly that he has no interest in the nomination. And one associate of the speaker said he “guarantees” there has been no conversation with Charles Koch about the possibility, “because Paul has not had any conversation about it. He won’t engage any conversation about it.”

    Despite the repeated denials of interest, speculation about an 11th hour Ryan nomination has only grown louder. Part of it is nervous chatter from Republicans over the prospect of Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) being the party nominee.

    On Monday morning, Mike Allen, writing in Politico’s Playbook, quoted unnamed establishment Republicans talking up Ryan’s chance of claiming the nomination. And in a column Sunday, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos backed off his earlier prediction that Trump had the thing locked down, and used the same figure of 100 votes that Koch has used privately.

    [I]f Mr. Trump is one hundred or more votes away from the nomination, it is unlikely he can find the delegates to get the ball in the end zone on the first ballot. He will turn the ball over on downs though nearly at the goal line. (OK, no more sports metaphors.) On the second ballot, he drops 200 or 300 votes or more and starts bleeding. Ultimately, he bleeds to death on the convention floor — which you think would be good news for the candidate in second place, Senator Ted Cruz, unless, of course, you’ve met Senator Ted Cruz.

    Cruz, Castellanos argues, is only attractive as an alternative to Trump, and as Trump fades, so does Cruz’s rationale. As attention moves to John Kasich, he adds, the question changes:

    If GOP delegates start looking for an alternative to both Trump and Senator Cruz, why settle for Miss Ohio when you could marry Miss America? Why not wipe the slate clean and go for what delegates really want, the Republican Speaker? Former Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is a larger political figure. He has national experience and appeal. The Speaker has also managed to bring together unruly Republicans in the House, the Capitol’s hotbed of insurrection. Most importantly, he is a fresher face, a new and more promising generation of Republican. He would have a better shot at uniting the Republican Party.

    A Ryan associate dismissed the convention scenarios as conspiratorial folly spread by people who’ve watched too much TV drama. “This is where ‘House of Cards’ has totally changed things,” said the associate. Ryan “views himself as a check on the madness. As this Rock of Gibraltar during the chaos. And if he suddenly becomes part of the circus, it is hard for him to play that role.” (It’s unclear whether Charles Koch watches “House of Cards.”)

    To that point, there are many serious hurdles that would need to be cleared in order for Ryan to even be in the realm of consideration for the Republican nomination. First and foremost, Trump would have to end up with roughly 1,137 delegates — or 100 short of the necessary 1,237.

    The second hurdle is the rules. Under current bylaws, for a candidate to be nominated, he or she must have a majority of the delegate votes in each of at least eight states. That rule, 40(b), can be changed: The Rules Committee would have to suggest an alteration or amendment and then a majority of the delegates who vote at the convention would have to affirm it. But Cruz’s campaign has moved deftly to put allies on the Rules Committee. And it is hard to imagine that both he and Trump would not instruct their delegates (which will very likely constitute a majority when combined) to defeat any effort to undo Rule 40(b), since maintaining the eight-state threshold would limit the potential nominees to just themselves.

    “The easiest way for someone like a Paul Ryan is you have to change the rules to allow nominations from the floor, which means you have to eliminate 40(b), and put in a line in there that nominations would be accepted from the floor,” said a Republican source involved in managing the convention process for the party.

    The source went on to acknowledged that Rule 40(b) could be challenged after the first ballot — as in, if no one wins in the first round of voting, an argument would be made that the eight-state threshold no longer applied. But even doing that would risk tremendous backlash from the very fervent supporters of Trump and Cruz.

    “It’s an extremely difficult proposition. Not impossible. But extremely difficult,” the source said. Asked what would happen if it succeeded, the source replied: “Days of rage.”

    Conservative radio personality Hugh Hewitt asked Ryan about the convention rules during an interview in Israel on Monday. “You are going to be chairman, and there is quite a lot of talk about Rule 40(b). Do you think the rules of the 2012 Convention ought to bind this convention, Mr. Speaker?”

    “You know, I don’t know, that’s not my decision,” Ryan said. “That is going to be up to the delegates. I’m going to be an honest broker, and make sure that the convention follows the rules as the delegates make the rules. As you probably know, the Rules Committee meets the week before the convention. I believe it’s two delegates from each state and territory, about 112 people who’ll set the rules, and I’m not going to make an opinion or a judgment one way or the other, because it’s their decision, the delegates’ decision, who are the grassroots of the party, by the way. It should not be our decision as leaders. It is the delegates’ decision. So I’m not going to comment on what these rules look like or not. But I do believe people put my name in this thing, and I say get my name out of that. This is — if you want to be president, you should go run for president. And that’s just the way I see it.”

    UPDATE: An astute reader notes that the Koch brothers have a history of pushing Ryan for the White House. As the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported in her book, Dark Money, Sean Noble, a Republican consultant often referred to as a “Koch operative,” tried “for months” to persuade Ryan to run for president in 2012. And he did so with the assent of the Kochs.

    “The billionaire backers were eager for him to apply his ‘sharp knives’ to the federal budget,” Mayer wrote. “But Ryan had demurred. Neither he nor his wife relished a presidential marathon. ‘Wouldn’t it be easier just to be picked as vice president?’ he asked an emissary from the Kochs, in a meeting in the congressman’s Washington office. ‘Because then it’s only, like, two months.’”

    Ryan ended up getting his wish: He was selected by Romney to be the vice presidential nominee, only to be stuck on a losing ticket.

    “If GOP delegates start looking for an alternative to both Trump and Senator Cruz, why settle for Miss Ohio when you could marry Miss America?”
    Could Paul Ryan, the GOP’s Miss America, become the GOP’s peace-maker? If that report is accurate, the Kochs appear to think so. But that doesn’t mean the Trumpian legions agree. So, in the spirit of being pro-active, shouldn’t the ‘Days of Rage’ Stone has planned for Cleveland start in Wichita?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 5, 2016, 2:46 pm
  9. One of the big questions that arose when Roger Stone announced his ‘Days of Rage’ plan to stalk GOP delegates at their hotel rooms in the event of a contested convention was how on earth the Trump campaign was going to keep the taint of Stone’s dirty tricks from becoming part of the narrative for why the party should choose someone else. After all, there are some pretty persuasive arguments the Trump campaign could use for why it should ultimately get the nomination even if he falls short of the majority of delegates he needs, but “if you don’t nominate me, Roger Stone’s mob will find you and make sure you nominate me” probably isn’t one of them.

    So how exactly the Trump campaign was going to maintain a distance from Stone’s dirty tricks machine during a chaotic convention was always going to be one of the more interesting things to see play out once Stone made his ‘Days of Rage’ call to arms. And, because this is the Trump campaign we’re talking about, it just got more interesting:

    Media Matters

    Longtime Roger Stone Ally Paul Manafort Gets Larger Role In Trump’s Campaign

    Blog ››› 4/8/2016 ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Donald Trump has elevated strategist Paul Manafort within his presidential campaign. The increased role is a win for Roger Stone, a dirty trickster who reportedly recommended Manafort to Trump and has been Manafort’s longtime friend and former business partner.

    Stone has long been a friend and adviser to Trump, and he now heads a pro-Trump super PAC. He formed the anti-Hillary Clinton group C.U.N.T. in 2008 and has spent much of the 2016 cycle pushing smears about the Clintons. He has a history of lobbing racist and sexist attacks against media figures, and was recently banned by CNN and MSNBC. Stone has been under fire this week for his stated plan to “disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in” allegedly stealing the nomination from Trump at the Republican convention.

    The New York Times reported on April 7 that Trump is “reboot[ing]” his campaign by giving a “stepped-up role” to Manafort. Media outlets have reported that campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sees Manafort as a “threat” to his power. Stone, who left the Trump campaign last year after reportedly clashing with Lewandowski, has criticized Trump’s campaign manager in the media.

    Manafort and Stone co-founded the lobbying and consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMS&K). The Washington Post noted that BMS&K “garnered considerable scrutiny for their tactics and clients”:

    Manafort is the co-founder of two lobby and consulting firms, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMS&K) and, later, Davis Manafort. Even in the lobbying industry, where the buying and selling of influence can blur ethical lines, both businesses garnered considerable scrutiny for their tactics and clients.

    BMS&K, founded in 1980, was investigated by a congressional panel in 1989 for its role in obtaining millions of dollars in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to rehabilitate a low-income housing complex in New Jersey.

    In exchange, Manafort and his partners received consulting fees from developers. During the investigation, Manafort acknowledged that the work he performed in return for consulting fees could be termed “influence peddling,” The Post reported in 1991. The firm was sold to public relations giant Burson-Marsteller in 1991 for an undisclosed price.

    BMS&K also appears to be the early link that connected Manafort and Trump decades ago. The firm lobbied on behalf of the Trump Organization on gaming, taxes and other issues related to Trump’s hotels, at both the federal and state levels in New York and Florida, said lobbyist and GOP strategist Charlie Black, Manafort’s former business partner.

    Stone has frequently talked up Manafort’s credentials in media appearances.

    “[Manafort is] the single best vote counter and convention strategist in the Republican Party,” Stone said during a March 29 appearance on Fox Business.

    “My partner Paul Manafort, partner of 15 years, a friend of mine of almost 50 years, someone I’ve known since childhood, is without any question the single best convention organizer and strategist in the country,” Stone said on an April 6 appearance on The Alex Jones Show. “Whether the Trump campaign gives him the authority and the resources he needs to score a win for Donald Trump remains to be seen.”

    After news of Manafort’s increased role broke, Stone tweeted an old picture of himself with Manafort and wrote, “I have every confidence @realDonaldTrump will be nominated with the experienced leadership of Paul Manafort.”

    “After news of Manafort’s increased role broke, Stone tweeted an old picture of himself with Manafort and wrote, “I have every confidence @realDonaldTrump will be nominated with the experienced leadership of Paul Manafort.””
    It’s hard to see how tweets like that are going to fall down the memory hole if things get crazy in Cleveland. Oh well, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer party.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 8, 2016, 2:50 pm
  10. It looks like Roger Stone’s “Days of Rage” scheme is getting started a few months early:

    Politico

    Colorado GOP chairman considers bringing sheriff to convention over Trump supporter threats

    By Eliza Collins

    04/13/16 02:08 PM EDT

    The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party has gotten such a violent reaction to the results of his state’s caucus last weekend that he says he is considering bringing a local sheriff as one of his guests to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer.

    “I’ve made the decision that I would not take my wife along. I am certainly at the very least going to use my personal guest pass to bring along a Republican sheriff,” Steve House told POLITICO in an interview. “People might think that’s crazy, but not after what we’re growing through right now.”

    What House is “going through” is 50 to 60 calls an hour, emails, text messages and online death threats from angry Donald Trump supporters since Sunday night when his contact information was released (it is not clear who originally sent out the information).

    “Some of them are absolutely not repeatable, I wouldn’t even read them to my wife, let alone my children,” House said about the messages. He added later that he was thankful because out of his six kids, only one lives at home, and the one who does is in his 20s, though he added his family is “concerned.”

    House told POLITICO he was forwarded one email that was originally sent to the Republican National Committee that said “He will not make it to Cleveland [for the convention] he and his family will be six feet under before that happens.”

    He has heard there will be a protest outside of his office and another outside his house on Friday, adding that he is working with local law enforcement to make sure his house and street are monitored.

    The anger from Trump supporters came after the billionaire didn’t receive a single delegate in Colorado on Saturday. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz scooped all 34 delegates (30 are pledged to him, four have expressed publicly that they’ll vote for him) and Trump has accused the state party of stifling the will of the people. His delegate adviser Paul Manafort on Sunday accused the Cruz campaign of employing “Gestapo tactics” to gain delegates.

    Colorado did not hold a presidential primary preference caucus or primary for the public vote for a candidate (the decision to do without it came last summer), meaning Cruz’s win Saturday means both Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will not receive any delegates from the state.

    House said that people incorrectly believe the system was rigged and that “we’re somehow against Donald Trump and we’re not, it just isn’t true.”

    “It’s not complicated, it’s simple math,” House said.

    On Tuesday in an interview with Sean Hannity’s radio show, Cruz accused Trump and his campaign of behaving like a “mobster and thug” citing the threats House has received. Cruz made similar remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show Tuesday.

    “I am very troubled at the Trump campaign’s consistent pattern of inciting violence and threatening violence,” Cruz said to Hannity.

    He said he believes that part of the anger comes from the fact that Trump did not win any delegates but others happened because of a tweet that was sent from the state’s Republican party account Saturday night, reading “We did it. #NeverTrump.”

    The tweet was deleted, and almost immediately the party tweeted out that it wasn’t them and came from an unauthorized user.

    House told POLITICO it was still under investigation but his party had nothing to do with it.

    “That didn’t come from us, we don’t know who it came from,” he said Wednesday.

    The RNC did not immediately respond to request for information about the guest badges House was discussing.

    “What House is “going through” is 50 to 60 calls an hour, emails, text messages and online death threats from angry Donald Trump supporters since Sunday night when his contact information was released (it is not clear who originally sent out the information).”
    Keep in mind that we’re living in the age of anonymous digital communication tools, so assuming these Trump supporters are up to date with their cypherpunk technologies of choice we could end up seeing a wave of digital threats with little recourse. It’s all rather ominous seeing a major party issue death threats against itself, although it would be even more ominous if it involved a party that wasn’t, itself, sort of a giant death threat against life on earth. Still, even uncivil parties like the GOP should be able to select their nominees in a civil manner. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, even for parties that are basically enemies of the democratic process.

    So let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come, although it’s worth noting that it’s a sign of things already happening:

    Talking Points Memo DC

    GOPers Face Wave Of Threats From Trump Fans Incensed By Delegate Counts

    By Tierney Sneed
    Published April 13, 2016, 6:00 AM EDT

    Death threats — including threats that describe death by hanging.

    References to where you live.

    Not-so-subtle allusions to your family.

    Warnings that your personal information will soon become public — or perhaps it has already.

    These are just some of the reports coming in from low-level GOP officials around the country about the threats they claim to have received from pro-Trump forces. As Trump accuses other politicians and the party at large of denying him delegates, ominous messages believed to be coming from freelance Trump backers — usually hiding behind anonymity — have injected fear and anxiety into the usually low-stakes delegate selection process at the local and state level.

    It will likely be sometime before we know whether the GOP confab in Cleveland will be a full-blown contested convention, but the current backlash from Trumpites portends some dark days ahead if Trump is denied the nomination.

    From Indiana to Colorado to Tennessee, those involved in the delegate selection process are receiving harassment and even death threats from Trump fans who believe that the system has been “rigged” against the real estate mogul. The normally humdrum process of picking the party rank-and-file who will attend the summer convention has attracted intense scrutiny with the prospect that Trump might arrive in Cleveland with less than the 1,237 delegates required to earn the nomination automatically. His chief rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), has capitalized on the complicated state-by-state machinery that selects who could be choosing the nominee if Trump doesn’t meet the threshold. The low-level state and local officials are already bearing the brunt of Trump fans’ disgust that might not win the nomination.

    “There has definitely been some activity that’s ranged from proper First Amendment, if not proper English, responses to public comments to things that are a little bit more spooky or problematic,” Tom John, a GOP district chair in Indiana, told TPM, adding that most of the backlash he has received has been in emails or on Twitter.

    “There have been a few [messages] for myself and others that have referenced personal things, things you’ve said on social media, references to our families, references to our houses, things like that that feel a little bit more ominous,” he said.

    Indiana hasn’t even hosted its Republican primary yet. But due to the quirks in the timing, its delegate selection process is already underway and an April 9 Politico story, where some local party members doubted that Trump had much support among the delegation, have attracted the scorn of his followers.

    John and Indiana Republicans quoted in the Politico story have been receiving threatening messages, according to the Indy Star, in which they were warned their personal information and their families’ would be released to the public.

    “Think before you take a step down the wrong path, the American people want to have faith in your but it looks like a future in hiding is more appealing,” one message said, according to the Star. The state police have even begun reviewing the messages, the Star reported Tuesday In Colorado — where the Cruz campaign’s success in securing loyal delegates earned inflammatory headlines on the Drudge Report — the state GOP chair said he has been receiving death threats after an anonymous Trump fan tweeted his personal information and the personal information of other party officials.

    In Tennessee, local police monitored the state GOP convention to choose its 14 delegates earlier this month, according to a report by the Times Free Press. Party officials confirmed to the outlet that there were death threats ahead of the contest including one that “involved trying to hang people.”

    Trump’s campaign operation in Indiana condemned the threats made towards officials there. Trump himself has continued to beat the drum that his supporters are somehow being “disenfranchised” by the Republican Party. A spokesperson for Trump’s national campaign did not return TPM’s request for comment.

    Roger Stone, a former adviser to Trump, suggested he would send Trump voters to the hotel rooms of delegates in Cleveland if they tried to “steal” the nomination from him. Trump’s convention manager brushed off the rhetoric by saying Stone was not “an official part of the campaign.”

    The threats that delegates and other Republicans have been receiving reflect the growing anxiety that things could get ugly at Republican National Convention, whether or not Trump is ultimately placed at the top of the 2016 ticket. The Cleveland police has sought additional riot gear anticipating protests, and some Republican lawmakers are considering skipping the convention, reportedly for fear of being associated with what could be a messy floor fight.

    John, the Indiana official, meanwhile, said he was planning on having a discussion with his wife about whether she should join him in Cleveland.

    “I hope it calms down, but it’s given me pause,” he said. “If it doesn’t calm down I may not be comfortable with her coming with me.”

    “There have been a few [messages] for myself and others that have referenced personal things, things you’ve said on social media, references to our families, references to our houses, things like that that feel a little bit more ominous,”
    Yikes. It would appear that Roger Stone’s delegate intimidation plan isn’t going to be limited to stalking hotel rooms. And that means there isn’t really a stalking “off” switch for the plan either, unless the delegates change their names and move. So the Trumpian faction of the GOP is on the cusp of sending the GOP “establishment” into a witness protection program if Trump isn’t the nominee.

    There’s no shortage of reasons for how the GOP got to this point, but poor role models definitely played a YUUUUGE role.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 13, 2016, 3:16 pm
  11. The Trump campaign issued a reassuring prediction for Trump supporters: The campaign forsees that it will easily reach 1,265 delegates by the time all the states have voted, well over the required 1,237. Of course, that’s also an optimistic assessment and there are plenty of scenarios where Trump doesn’t reach the magic 1,237 number and the contested convention nightmare scenario ensues. But it turns out there’s a new development that could shake things up, possibly to the Trump campaigns big advantage:
    34 of Marco Rubio’s pledged delegates aren’t actually pledged anymore and up for grabs:

    NBC News

    Lapsed Rubio Delegates Are Up for Grabs on Convention’s First Ballot

    by Ari Melber
    Apr 14 2016, 12:15 am ET

    When he suspended his campaign, Marco Rubio said he wasn’t running for president but urged local GOP officials to let him keep his delegates.

    A month later, Rubio is still third in the Republican hunt, ahead of John Kasich, with an impressive 10 percent of all delegates awarded so far. It’s a potentially pivotal margin for an open convention.

    It turns out, however, that Rubio won’t get to keep them all.

    The Florida senator’s strategy is hitting some turbulence, NBC News has learned, because several state parties have determined Rubio does not get to hold onto all his delegates.

    Only 34 of the 172 delegates Rubio won in the primaries will be immediately up for grabs on the first ballot in Cleveland. That development is opening up a fierce competition to win these lapsed Rubio delegates, which are located in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisiana.

    “Our state rules say if someone is not on the ballot, they are free to vote for whomever they choose,” said Oklahoma GOP chair Pam Pollard, “and I support that.”

    “We have 12 bound delegates for Rubio,” she told NBC News, “so if he is not on the ballot — those 12 delegates are free to vote whatever way they want.”

    Delegates are liberated to switch teams, under Oklahoma law, when their candidate “is for any reason no longer a candidate.”

    Minnesota, where Rubio won his second largest haul with 17 delegates, applies a similar rule. The state party ruled that delegates may “vote for any candidate” if the one they support is not on the first ballot at the convention.

    The icing on the cake for Rubio’s rivals is that most of his lapsed delegates have not even been selected yet, making them easier to pick off.

    Next month, Minnesota and Oklahoma choose delegates at state conventions. Oklahoma’s application for delegates even includes an excerpt of the state law that authorizes them to switch their selection.

    While Donald Trump is blasting the delegate system on the campaign trail, including criticizing the RNC for allocations made mostly by state parties, MSNBC has learned the Cruz campaign is continuing a laser focus on picking up delegates.

    Cruz supporters are currently running for Rubio spots in Minnesota, and last weekend, Cruz won new delegates at local conventions in Oklahoma. During that effort, the Texas senator’s allies filled a Rubio slot with Robert Carter, a minister from Grove, Oklahoma who backs Cruz.

    Carter said if the GOP advises him the rules allow it, “I will pledge a vote for Cruz on the first ballot,” and the senator’s aides tell MSNBC they are finding a warm reception at the grassroots level.

    “We are pleased at the response that the Rubio contingents at state conventions and congressional delegate selection events are showing our campaign,” a senior Cruz adviser said.

    Another Republican source close to the Cruz campaign said the team has been laying ground work to grow their delegate support from “day one.” Now, they are organizing to fill Rubio slots or win over Rubio backers, arguing, “Ted could move the country more in the direction Marco wanted to go than Trump wants to go,” the source told NBC News.

    The lapsed Rubio delegates are especially crucial for Trump, based on his best path to the nomination, as they are part of a small pool of unbound delegates that, unlike most, are totally up for grabs on the first ballot.

    If Trump finishes the primaries fairly close to the 1,237 majority, he would only need a few of those delegates to put him over the top. (Everything changes on subsequent ballots, when all delegates are unbound from their candidate preference.) So Trump’s best bet is to win on the first ballot, when all his delegates are required to support him under the rules. A few of the extra unbound delegates could close the deal in that instance.

    The Cruz Campaign has been steadily blunting that option for Trump, however, by gobbling up the bulk of unbound delegates to date. Cruz excelled at recent conventions in Colorado and North Dakota, which make up 45 percent of all the unbound delegates under state rules. (The other unbound delegates remain in places like Pennsylvania and Guam.)

    If Cruz also locks down most of the 34 lapsed Rubio delegates, there will be very few left for Trump to woo if he doesn’t achieve a majority in the remaining primaries.

    The maneuvering reveals Cruz’s two-step strategy for a convention: first, denying Trump the nomination on the first ballot by blocking him from unbound delegates; then consolidating the anti-Trump vote on later ballots.

    It is the political equivalent of Owen Wilson’s plea in the final scene of the 2005 film “Wedding Crashers.” Wilson’s character barges into a wedding, quiets the room, and tells his crush, “I’m not standing here asking you to marry me — I’m just asking you not to marry him!”

    Cruz is not playing to win on the first ballot, he’s asking the delegates to hold off on Trump.

    Frank Donatelli, a Republican operative who worked for Reagan at the 1976 contested convention, says the strategy makes sense because “if Trump doesn’t win on the first ballot, he’s in trouble.”

    “If Trump is short and has to go into the uncommitted pool, these are the people you have to appeal to,” he told MSNBC.

    “Only 34 of the 172 delegates Rubio won in the primaries will be immediately up for grabs on the first ballot in Cleveland. That development is opening up a fierce competition to win these lapsed Rubio delegates, which are located in Oklahoma, Minnesota and Louisiana.”
    Boy, 34 delegates sure would be useful for a campaign that’s on track to almost but not quite hit that magic 1,237 number, only to see everything slip through Trump’s well-proportioned hands in the subsequent rounds of convention voting. And yet it’s very obvious that Ted Cruz is the one with the campaign best position to woo those suddenly unbound delegates. And that’s part of why, while it’s certainly possible that Trump could get all the 1,237 he needs before the convention, it’s probably a lot more likely that he almost gets there, but not quite. And the longer this goes, the more it looks like a GOP convention that doesn’t resolve itself in the first found is going to turn into a total fiasco.

    Boy oh boy, it sure would help if the Trump campaign had some means to win over a nice chunk of those 34 delegates because every delegate counts at this point. Oh, that’s right, it does have those means: Roger Stone can unleash the “Days of Rage” hounds and gang-stalk them into submission! Now, before they succumb to Cruz’s sweet siren’s song. Granted, it’s obscene that we even have to think about such possibilities, but it’s not like the gang-stalking and death threats haven’t already begun. Gang-stalking is already the reality of contemporary GOP primary politics.

    Might the Trump campaign be considering such strategies? They’d never admit it, but they haven’t really done much of anything to stop Stone’s current gang-stalking promotion after the death-threats have already started by Trump supporters so it’s not like there’s a compelling reason to think the campaign isn’t at least considering it.

    Beyond that, you almost have to wonder if the broader GOP would disapprove if Trump did it at this point? After all, there won’t be any need for a super-high profile gang-stalking disaster to hit the convention in Cleveland if Trump secures the delegates he needs before getting to the convention. In other words, should the GOP hierarchy, or at least a big chunk of it, conclude that opposing Trump is now more damaging than supporter him, there’s no reason not to sacrifice those 34 delegates to Stone’s Trumpian army to ensure they give Trump the delegates he needs. Sure, there are ethical reasons not to do so, but this is the GOP we’re talking about, so there’s basically reason not to do it except for the bad press associated with getting caught. But it’s not like the Trump campaign is weakened by bad press. If anything it’s the opposite. Bad Boy Trump sells. And don’t forget, the GOP establishment still really hates Cruz too.

    So now that 34 delegates are suddenly free to be intimidated, upending any existing convention strategies on all side, who knows why kind of gang-stalking shenanigans might be under consideration. And not just by the Trump campaign.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 14, 2016, 3:15 pm
  12. Part of what make primary season in the US democracy so interesting is that the non-parliamentary winner-take-all nature the American electoral system doesn’t quite work, mechanistically, when there’s more than two parties running. And that basically means the two major parties are sort of umbrella parties for voters and ideologies that might otherwise be in separate parties under a parliamentary system. And that makes US primaries potentially the closest the US to a more-than-two party vote of major consequence. And when you have a ‘clown car’ primary season like the GOP has had this year, it’s also the closest thing to an election where you have a large number of different “parties” all competing against each other and each of those parties has a chance to gain a significant chunk of the vote. Contests like that almost never happen in the general election, but they aren’t at all unheard of for the primaries.

    And that’s all why, while GOP primaries are generally an endless fount of bad ideas if zombie lies, there is one really great idea that the GOP primary is sort of indirectly promoting this year: Instant runoff voting, where voters don’t vote for a single candidate but instead create an ordered list of who they would prefer. If applied in the general election, instant runoff voting would allow for, say, a Green Party on the left and America First party on the right, garnering votes on election day without the risk of them acting as “spoilers” that inevitably arise in a winner-take-all majority rules system. Democracy could basically work better because people could have greater choices without effectively being punished for it. Wouldn’t that be fun.

    So why is this year’s GOP primary a fabulous argument for instant runoff voting? Well, because just about all the candidates would have probably preferred it in a 17 person race, especially in a “winner to all” state primary. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio could have potentially garnered a much larger chunk of the “no Trump” vote that was getting divided up in the earlier primary races. And Donald Trump’s campaign has often made the argument that it would have probably cinched the nomination by now if he wasn’t running against a fully loaded Clown Car. And Donald Trump may be right. But as the article below points out, maybe not. And that’s part of the fun of instant runoff voting: we’d still get all the excitement that comes from watching a Clown Car go off the rails, but it would be a different kind of exciting:

    FairVote

    Simulating Instant Runoff Flips Most Donald Trump Primary Victories
    Posted by Andrew Douglas, Rob Richie, Elliot Louthen on March 04, 2016

    Super Tuesday has come and gone, but headlines about Donald Trump’s dominance would have been very different if the elections had been conducted under instant runoff voting, the single winner form of ranked choice voting. In fact, in head-to-head matchups with his strongest competitor, it is quite possible that Trump would have lost nine of eleven Super Tuesday states, along with the critically important Feb. 20th South Carolina primary. Instead, Trump has taken a commanding lead in the race for the nomination by winning pluralities in seven Super Tuesday states and a clean sweep of South Carolina’s 50 delegates with less than a third of the vote.

    By only allowing voters to select their first choice candidate, typical American elections do not accurately capture the complexity of voter opinion in a multi-candidate race. This shortcoming is particularly salient in this year’s Republican presidential contest, as support from the majority of GOP voters that oppose Trump is divided among several challengers led by Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Governor John Kasich.

    If Super Tuesday contests had been conducted with ranked choice voting — a proven system that empowers voters to rank candidates by preference in order to elect the candidate with the strongest support and the one most likely to garner the support of a majority — the results would look very different. Our models suggest that Trump would have won Alabama and Massachusetts, competed in toss-up races in Tennessee and Vermont, and lost the remaining seven states.

    To model RCV elections based on the Super Tuesday results, we averaged two Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll datasets from North Carolina and South Carolina that ask respondents about hypothetical matchups between candidates. These questions specifically included candidate preference among the entire field, among the frontrunner three-way race (Cruz, Rubio, and Trump), and respective head to head matchups. By measuring the average change in voter preference for each candidate when other specific candidates are eliminated (and ignoring undecided voters, although evidence suggests that most would have broken against Trump), we were able to estimate the second and third preferences for each candidate’s supporters. This distribution is then applied to the actual Super Tuesday results in each state, using the election results as the first round starting point for each simulation. Our data and model can be reviewed at this spreadsheet.

    To provide a concrete example, the following interactive graphic illustrates our simulated RCV election in Georgia:
    [see graphic]

    Though Trump led the GOP field in Georgia with 38.8% of the vote on Super Tuesday, his support increases only incrementally in subsequent rounds of our simulated RCV election because large majorities of the supporters of other candidates likely would have prefered Cruz and Rubio. Ultimately, Rubio edges Trump 51% to 49% in the final instant runoff round of our simulation, despite Trump’s fourteen point advantage in the initial round — echoing our findings last week about Trump typically trailing in head-to-head polls and our YouGov/College of William and Mary poll.

    Similar outcomes are modeled in the other Super Tuesday southern states, with each election becoming significantly closer when using RCV. Virginia, similar to Georgia, goes to a head to head matchup between Trump and Rubio, where the latter easily wins by more than 10 percentage points. Cruz decisively beats Trump in Arkansas by nearly 10 percentage points under RCV, despite trailing in the first round.

    In the case of Alabama, Trump’s vote share of 22% in the first round lead creates enough of a cushion to still win with RCV. In Tennessee, however, it would have been a toss-up, with Rubio and Cruz in a dead heat for second place once the field goes down to three, and then Rubio defeating Trump one-on-one and Cruz potentially doing so if undecided voters had broken his way. Outside the South, Trump would have easily carried Massachusetts, but Kasich would have seriously contended in Vermont where Trump led by merely 3 percentage points, 33% to 30%, in the actual vote.

    Notably, there is no consistent beneficiary under RCV; rather, the Republican Party clearly has yet to settle on and coalesce around an alternative candidate. Our hypothetical for Super Tuesday shows Trump winning two states (Alabama and Massachusetts), Cruz winning four state (Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas), and Rubio winning three states (Georgia, Minnesota and Virginia) — with Kasich having a real chance in Vermont and Tennessee too close to call.

    These divided results provide further evidence that Republicans are facing a complicated and challenging nomination process no matter the voting system. Nonetheless, RCV would encourage candidates to find common ground with other candidates’ supporters instead of waging scorched-earth, overly-negative campaigns that define politics today. As FairVote’s primary focus series pointed out last week, RCV would almost certainly result in campaigns that are more civil and substantive based on findings from Rutgers-Eagleton Poll surveying seven cities using RCV in 2013-2014.

    All of the Super Tuesday states utilize a form of proportional delegate allocation, where determining the singular winner is less important for delegate counts and more important for commanding media attention and providing campaign momentum. But all one has to do is watch Trump’s Super Tuesday speech from to observe these phenomena in action, as his Super Tuesday victories were seen as a strong affirmation of his status as the frontrunner. For these proportional states, FairVote recommends eliminating candidates from the bottom up until all remaining candidates are above the threshold to win delegates, a change that would have put Rubio over the 20% threshold in Texas this past week.

    In our current primary system, attention and momentum is often misdirected. Ranked choice voting would accurately measure the second and third choice support of GOP voters to truly reveal the energy behind each candidate and ultimately nominate the candidate who best reflects majority opinion within the party.

    “These divided results provide further evidence that Republicans are facing a complicated and challenging nomination process no matter the voting system. Nonetheless, RCV would encourage candidates to find common ground with other candidates’ supporters instead of waging scorched-earth, overly-negative campaigns that define politics today. As FairVote’s primary focus series pointed out last week, RCV would almost certainly result in campaigns that are more civil and substantive based on findings from Rutgers-Eagleton Poll surveying seven cities using RCV in 2013-2014.”
    Just imagine: Trump would be losing and the whole primary process would be more civil. At least in theory! All the GOP needed to do was adopt instant runoff voting. But it’s too late for that this year. Better luck next time. Or perhaps, better luck in Cleveland.

    We now return to our regularly scheduled GOP primary coverage.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 19, 2016, 5:36 pm
  13. When Donald Trump gave his victory speech following his overwhelming win in New York last night, perhaps what stood out most was how little the speech stood out from the standard speeches politicians give. The name calling like “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary” was gone, and Trump merely complained a bit about the primary system being rigged which, again, was a rather subdued for Trump. So subdued that Trump’s victory speech raised the question of whether or not we might be seeing a new ‘Presidential’ phase of the Trump campaign that he’s shaken up his campaign staff and looking more and more like the overwhelming nominee.

    Who knows if anyone believed that was the case, but if the Republican National Committee found itself wishing it was true, you couldn’t really blame them. After all, it’s only been a few days since Trump professed how he really hoped no violence would take place at the GOP’s convention if he didn’t get the nomination due to the rigged system. If you’re at the RNC, and you’ve just received the “that’s a nice convention you have there. It sure would be a shame if something happened to it” treatment from someone with Donald Trump’s pedigree, it’s only natural to hope that your party’s extortionist just turned over a new leaf.

    And perhaps he had actually had turned over a new leaf immediately following his big win. We’ll see *snicker*. But the winds of change are always blowing in that space between The Donald’s ears, and there’s nothing stopping that leaf from turning right back over again which is something that must be worrying even the optimists at the RNC. Especially since, just an hour before his ‘respectable’ victory speech, Donald Trump retweeted a White Supremacist again:

    American Prospect

    As GOP Reconsiders Trump as Standard-Bearer, Candidate Retweets White Supremacist

    Adele M. Stan

    April 20, 2016

    Remember that plan to broaden the party’s appeal to non-whites?

    On the night that he swept the New York Republican presidential primary, showman Donald Trump retweeted good wishes sent his way from a white supremacist.

    You could toss it off as a small thing; perhaps he just hastily hit the RT button without realizing who @keksec_org was. The tweet was generic enough: “Your policies will make this state and country great again! #MakeAmericaGreatAgain.” No time to click on a well-wisher’s Twitter handle on the night you’re winning a major state primary with a campaign based on white male rage—you know, to make sure they don’t identify as a member of the #RWDS crowd (the hashtag standing for “right-wing death squad”). Or as a “neo-Boer,” which roughly translates as being an admirer of South Africa’s abolished apartheid regime. Or have a feed filled with images of very pale, scantily clad women featured under the hashtag #WhiteGirlsAreMagic.

    This, after all, was the night of the polished Trump, according to the television. One commentator even described the triumphant candidate’s victory speech as “gracious,” presumably because he didn’t call anybody names, or call for Mexico to pay for a wall. The new Trump is said to be the product of Paul Manafort, the new, grown-up manager the showman hired to fix things around the time the papers were reporting his presidential campaign to be in disarray.

    Commentators remarked on Trump’s newfound “message discipline,” the message apparently being that the Republican delegate system is “rigged” against him. Of his win in New York, Trump said, “It’s really nice to win the delegates with the votes.”

    It was a swipe at Ted Cruz—whom Trump elevated from the moniker of “Lyin’ Ted” to that of “Senator Cruz” in his Tuesday night speech—in reference to Cruz’s success at winning delegates at state and local party conventions that name some delegates outside of the primary or caucus system. Cruz, with his superior network of local right-wing activists, also proved adept at winning delegates in caucus states. Trump is far ahead of Cruz in terms of share of popular votes cast so far in the GOP nominating contests, but Cruz has been nipping at the showman’s heels in terms of the delegate count. Before Trump’s big win in New York, where he won 89 delegates, Cruz had racked up 559 to Trump’s 756. (With his New York win, Trump now has 845; Cruz did not win any delegates in the Empire State.)

    While Mexico did earn a mention in Trump’s remarks, it was in the context of his economic message, in which he claimed that our neighbor to the south was taking American jobs. He promised that in a Trump presidency, “great business leaders” such as corporate raider Carl Icahn—who bought TWA in the 1980s, folded it, and then sold off its parts—would be negotiating U.S. trade deals, and the jobs would come back.
    And yet, just an hour before that exercise of purported self-discipline—in the Trump universe, such definitions are relative—Trump retweeted a white supremacist.

    And yet, just an hour before that exercise of purported self-discipline—in the Trump universe, such definitions are relative—Trump retweeted a white supremacist. It seems that Manafort’s enforcement portfolio extends not to the candidate’s use of Twitter. Or maybe it does. After all, it’s not the first time that Trump has amplified the tweets of racist far-right activists.

    If the message discipline required of Trump to keep accumulating delegates through the electoral process demands that he back away from his more racially incendiary rhetoric, a seemingly accidental retweet of a white supremacist’s blessing could help keep the haters in the Trump fold. After all, Cruz isn’t exactly a softy on Muslims, Mexicans, or members of other minority groups. His rhetoric is simply more finely coded, as in one of his favorite phrases, “radical Islamic extremists,” which is at times coupled with stoking fears that the implementation of Shariah law is imminent in the United States. It’s a phrase that leaves it to the listener to apply to all Muslims. Trump’s rhetorical weapons are more blunt; he’s called for barring the entrance of Muslims into the U.S., which makes establishment types squirm in their seats.

    Over the course of primary season, as Cruz accumulated delegates in greater numbers than his vote tallies would seem to support, allegations of cheating emerged. Breitbart News, which leans so hard toward Trump you have to cock your head sideways to read it, reported that several pro-Cruz delegates managed to scuttle a plan to switch Colorado’s nominating system to a primary, which would have been much harder for Cruz to win. The Missouri Times described the Show Me State’s Republican Party as schismatic after Cruz worked the state convention system to win a slate of delegates. In Georgia, Trump surrogates walked out of a district convention in protest after a Trump delegate was not seated.

    So as Trump now turns his attention to winning over those delegates described as “unbound” (meaning that they haven’t been pledged to a particular candidate), it seems he’s not above a little vote-buying himself. According to Politico’s Eli Stokols, the plan is to woo delegates to Trump by flying them to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, maybe with a little wining and dining, or possible an expense-paid visit to Trump’s luxury Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

    He’s joined in that thought by members of the Republican establishment, who, according to Stokols, are beginning to get comfortable with the idea of a Trump nomination, seeing as how, in the quest for party preservation, it might be preferable to a riot in the streets of Ohio, which is an open-carry state. The potential riot has been suggested by Trump on several occasions, so now there’s talk of the “real number” of delegates the showman would need to win to clinch the nomination—a number lower than 1,237 but far higher than any tally Cruz is likely to put together.

    RNC member and former Jeb Bush supporter Ron Kaufman, described by Stokols as being close to Mitt Romney, signaled the new thinking by party regulars that it would be a mistake to deny Trump the nomination if he has the vast majority of delegates.

    “In the end, we want to make sure all those millions of people who voted in a Republican primary understand their votes were worthwhile,” Kaufman told Stokols. “You just can’t kick all those voters—more than have ever voted in our primary before—to the curb. We want to make sure they’re with us in November.”

    After all, it’s Trump who has brought all those new voters into the party.

    The morning after The Hill reported Trump’s retweet of a message from a white supremacist, the tweet remained in the @realDonaldTrump Twitter feed. That’s one way to lock in the GOP’s new Aryan constituency, one imagines—with a little subliminal message discipline.

    If the message discipline required of Trump to keep accumulating delegates through the electoral process demands that he back away from his more racially incendiary rhetoric, a seemingly accidental retweet of a white supremacist’s blessing could help keep the haters in the Trump fold. After all, Cruz isn’t exactly a softy on Muslims, Mexicans, or members of other minority groups. His rhetoric is simply more finely coded, as in one of his favorite phrases, “radical Islamic extremists,” which is at times coupled with stoking fears that the implementation of Shariah law is imminent in the United States. It’s a phrase that leaves it to the listener to apply to all Muslims. Trump’s rhetorical weapons are more blunt; he’s called for barring the entrance of Muslims into the U.S., which makes establishment types squirm in their seats.”
    Ted Cruz’s dog-whistles are too quiet so if Trump is going to risk being “respectable” he needs to “accidentally” retweet a “neo-Boer” (and then leave it on his twitter feed even after it’s reported) so he doesn’t lose the pro-#RWDS (right-wing death squad) vote. Aren’t GOP primaries fun?

    And you have to hand it to Trump, catering the right-wing death squad vote does have a lot of synergy. Not only is he securing the the heavily-armed right-wing lunatic voting block from Ted Cruz, but in doing so he makes the threats of violence in Cleveland that mush more threatening:

    So as Trump now turns his attention to winning over those delegates described as “unbound” (meaning that they haven’t been pledged to a particular candidate), it seems he’s not above a little vote-buying himself. According to Politico’s Eli Stokols, the plan is to woo delegates to Trump by flying them to Cleveland for the Republican National Convention, maybe with a little wining and dining, or possible an expense-paid visit to Trump’s luxury Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago.

    While many experts doubt that Trump can accumulate the 1,237 delegates he would need to walk into the July convention as the party’s nominee, all agree that there is now no way in which Cruz can make that cut. “We’ll be going to the convention no matter what happens, and I think we’re going to go in strong,” Trump said.

    He’s joined in that thought by members of the Republican establishment, who, according to Stokols, are beginning to get comfortable with the idea of a Trump nomination, seeing as how, in the quest for party preservation, it might be preferable to a riot in the streets of Ohio, which is an open-carry state. The potential riot has been suggested by Trump on several occasions, so now there’s talk of the “real number” of delegates the showman would need to win to clinch the nomination—a number lower than 1,237 but far higher than any tally Cruz is likely to put together.

    RNC member and former Jeb Bush supporter Ron Kaufman, described by Stokols as being close to Mitt Romney, signaled the new thinking by party regulars that it would be a mistake to deny Trump the nomination if he has the vast majority of delegates.

    “In the end, we want to make sure all those millions of people who voted in a Republican primary understand their votes were worthwhile,” Kaufman told Stokols. “You just can’t kick all those voters—more than have ever voted in our primary before—to the curb. We want to make sure they’re with us in November.”

    “He’s joined in that thought by members of the Republican establishment, who, according to Stokols, are beginning to get comfortable with the idea of a Trump nomination, seeing as how, in the quest for party preservation, it might be preferable to a riot in the streets of Ohio, which is an open-carry state.
    Boy, that sure sounds like GOP leaders are actively rationalizing embracing Trump specifically because if his threats of riots and violence…and the fact that Ohio is an open-carry state. It’s kind of hard to do much about right-wing death squads roaming the streets of Cleveland with open-carry laws. Good thing for the GOP that you won’t be able to carry guns at the actual convention, but with Roger Stone already threatening to publicly give you the hotel rooms of GOP delegates it’s hard to see why Trump’s threats and innocently threatening tweets aren’t something the GOP has to take seriously. And the RNC appears to see that too and is basically coming around to idea that the party is going to be successfully and publicly threatened into submission by the party’s likely nominee.

    We’ve come a long way from the GOP’s 2012 autopsy. And with the way things are going, you just have to hope the 2016 autopsy doesn’t involve actual autopsies.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 20, 2016, 2:48 pm
  14. The Trump campaign took another turn for the weird Thursday: First, we get the news that Trump actually took an unexpectedly humanizing stance towards the transgendered community. It was a little odd considering he’s leading the Republican presidential race. After all, demonizing the transgendered community was looking like the kind of political weapon the party was going to be using more and more going forward. It’s exactly the kind of wedge social issue the party loves.

    And then, later in the day, we curiously get following reports out of a meeting between the Trump campaign and Republican Party leaders in Hollywood, Florida, where Trump’s senior adviser appeared be pushing the message the Donald Trump was merely “projecting an image” to voters and that image was about to change to make him more palatable to general election voters.

    Now, the fact that the Trump campaign would acknowledging to senior GOP leaders that he’s basically acting isn’t really surprise. What’s surprising is that news reports about this admission that the Trump campaign is all an act even got reported at all. Was this an unintentional leak, because the report below doesn’t really indicate that this was was something the Trump wanted to keep under wraps. After all, it doesn’t really help with a candidates perceived authenticity if his campaign acknowledges it’s all an act.

    Unless, of course, the candidate has such high negatives with that proclaiming “it was all an act! Don’t worry. I’ll be way less crazy once you elect me,” is an image booster. And considering Trump’s unprecedented high negatives for a leading candidate, who knows, maybe the new image his campaign is trying to project is that it’s a campaign that merely projects images, with the implication being that voters shouldn’t take too seriously all the things Trump has said thus far to generate those high negatives. Sure, that’s kind of a risky stance, but don’t discount the potential upside here, because that same message will also be heard by all of his existing supporters who might be wondering what the hell happened to the ‘old Trump’ should the the general election usher in a ‘kinder, gentler Trump’.

    In other words, if the Trump campaign can pull this off and project itself as a campaign of projections, he’s basically the Rorschach candidate and that’s not necessarily the worst approach for a candidate with Trump’s negatives. He could go from being the candidate most voters hate to the candidate that’s whatever you believe he might be beneath the projections. He would become the ultimate Hollywood candidate with political shape-shifting special effects, which is why Hollywood, Florida was such a great location for this meeting.
    And, in an odd way, he would become a candidate of hope: if he takes enough positions on enough different issues, you can just pick and choose Trump’s positions you like the most and hope that’s the real Trump. For instance, if you fear the transgendered and view his recent stance with disgust, don’t worry, he walked back that position the next day and basically states should be able to set up whatever anti-trans laws they want. So which Trump is the real Trump? Well, for election purposes, it’s whatever Trump you believe is the Trump for you:

    Reuters

    Trump has been playing a part, will become more presidential: adviser
    HOLLYWOOD, Fla./WASHINGTON | By Steve Holland and Amanda Becker

    Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:57pm EDT

    Top advisers to Donald Trump assured Republican Party leaders on Thursday that the New York billionaire would adopt a more presidential demeanor soon, to temper the image projected during his campaign so far.

    Trump’s representatives, including newly recruited senior advisers Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley, met privately with leaders of the Republican National Committee at an oceanside resort hotel where the party is holding a three-day meeting.

    “The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change,” Trump senior adviser Paul Manafort assured the party leaders, according to an audiotape of the session heard by Reuters.

    Trump has been “projecting an image” to energize voters, Manafort said, adding that he will soon concentrate on “crooked Hillary,” the nickname that Trump has given to Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton.

    “You’ll see a different guy,” said Manafort.

    But in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump suggested he was not ready to change from the style that has brought him close to the Republican presidential nomination.

    “I just don’t know if I want to do it yet,” he said.

    In recent weeks, Trump has railed against the party for developing what he said was a “rigged” system in which Cruz was able to amass delegates in Colorado without Republicans actually voting.

    Chatting over shrimp, crab legs and an open bar, Trump’s advisers expressed confidence that their candidate would win the Republican presidential nomination without the party having to resort to a contested convention in Cleveland in July, according to three attendees.

    Trump, 69, needs 1,237 delegates to win the nomination outright for the Nov. 8 election. Rivals Ted Cruz, 45, and John Kasich, 63, are trying to stop him from getting a majority of delegates, so they can force a contested convention in which one of them could emerge as the nominee.

    Cruz told a conservative talk radio host, Mark Levin, that Manafort’s comments show that Trump’s campaign style “is just an act.”

    Party leaders told reporters after the session that Trump’s envoys said Trump, as the Republican nominee, would be able to expand the party’s electoral map to include several states Republicans have not won in a general election in a generation.

    One attendee, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore, said the Trump team told the group it expected Trump to adopt a “more presidential demeanor” over the next few weeks.Moore said he was taking a wait-and-see attitude on whether Trump would change. “The proof is in the pudding,” he said.

    Manafort told reporters after the meeting that “we talked about how we’re going to expand the map.”

    As for how to change the negative image some voters had of Trump, Manafort said: “We just have to present him in a way that shows all sides of Donald Trump.”

    Trump, who has alarmed some establishment Republicans with his comments on immigration, Muslims and trade, has begun to moderate his message in recent days.

    Trump’s campaign has hired staff versed in the ways of Washington and has begun holding regular meetings on Capitol Hill with current and potential supporters.

    Trump clashed again on Thursday with Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, this time over a North Carolina law passed last month requiring transgender people to use government and school bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates.

    During an appearance at an NBC “Today” show town hall, Trump sided with critics of the law, passed by a Republican-controlled legislature, saying it was unnecessary and that North Carolina was “paying a big price” because of negative business reaction.

    His comments drew immediate criticism from Cruz, a staunch social and fiscal conservative who supports the law and said Trump had caved to political correctness as he seeks to broaden his appeal.

    “The part that he’s been playing is now evolving into the part that you’ve been expecting. The negatives will come down, the image is going to change.”
    Welcome to the next phase of the 2016 campaign: trying to guess which Trump is the real Trump while Trump, himself, pushes this meme too:

    But in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Trump suggested he was not ready to change from the style that has brought him close to the Republican presidential nomination.

    “I just don’t know if I want to do it yet,” he said.

    It’s a pretty clever, if unorthodox, campaign strategy. You have to wonder what inspired the idea. Hmmm….

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 22, 2016, 3:05 pm
  15. Former Indiana University head basketball coach Bobby Knight just gave a historically interesting defense of Donald Trump’s ‘presidential’ qualities in the lead up to next week’s Indiana primary. What did Knight find most presidential about Donald Trump? Knight’s confidence in Trump’s willingness to use nuclear weapons:

    ABC News

    Bobby Knight on Trump: ‘That Son of a B—- Could Play for Me!’

    By Candace Smith

    Apr 28, 2016, 6:57 PM ET

    Republican front-runner Donald Trump seems to have found a kindred spirit in famed, former Indiana University head coach Bobby Knight.

    Knight has appeared with the businessman at two events in Indiana, praising Trump’s “preparedness.” Both have reputations for pursuing the win — Knight boasting 900 career wins and Trump on a primary winning streak.

    But both also have their share of controversies. Trump has come under fire for appearing to be xenophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and for his comments on abortion. Knight was infamously fired from his coaching position after allegations of physical assault. He faced added scrutiny when he made a comparison between handling stress and rape during an NBC News interview, saying, ”I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”

    While speaking to an Evansville, Indiana crowd, Knight defended Trump against claims that the candidate was not presidential enough, comparing him to Harry Truman, who Knight said was accused of the same thing.

    They told him that he wasn’t presidential, and Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944, saved, saved billions of American lives,” Knight said. “That’s what Harry Truman did and he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here’s a man who would do the same thing because he’s going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States.”

    Knight also said during Trump’s Indiana visit that the candidate isn’t beholden to any party. “This man is not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat at heart. He’s just a great American.”

    In Knight’s speech before introducing Trump he exclaimed, “Let me first tell you that I was very, very selective with players during the time I was here. And I’ll tell you one thing that man that was just up here a moment ago, I will tell you, that son of a b— could play for me!”

    While introducing Knight, Trump returned the favor, praising the coach as “the best.” “You don’t get any better, tough, tough. Would you say he was tough enough, would you say?” he asked the audience.

    They told him that he wasn’t presidential, and Harry Truman, with what he did in dropping and having the guts to drop the bomb in 1944, saved, saved billions of American lives…That’s what Harry Truman did and he became one of the three great presidents of the United States. And here’s a man who would do the same thing because he’s going to become one of the four great presidents of the United States.”
    Billions of American lives were saved? Wow. They don’t cover that in the history books. And keep in mind that Trump also reiterated his pledge to not take off the table the use of nuclear weapons against ISIS while simultaneously asserting that nuclear weapons, and not climate change, is the single greatest problem the world faces.

    And in Trump’s defense, he’s sort of correct…assuming he becomes president. Because if president Trump starts dropping nukes, climate change won’t be the biggest problem any more. Nuclear exchanges will easily take that slot. Although it’s also worth keeping in mind that one of the biggest threats associated with nuclear weapons is actually climate change.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 28, 2016, 6:54 pm
  16. Josh Marshall had a piece on Donald Trump’s recent foreign policy speech that makes a point that’s probably going to be more and more important to understand as Trump inevitably pivots to the center after the primaries to make a broader to the US electorate: Part the Trumpian strategy we can see emerging is an attempt to sell Trump’s policies as “realism” that defies traditional policies from the US left or right establishment. And as Marshall notes, yes, Donald Trump is actually presenting a coherent “realist” foreign policy vision…but only if you incoherently assume the US is a has-been military power that’s been systematically abused by its allies and had much of its past wealth and glory maliciously stolen from it. In other words, it’s a “realist” policy for some parallel universe America. So if you assume the US is no longer the unrivaled global military and economy superpower that it actually is, Trump’s vision is actually pretty compelling. Because popular revanchism makes for great politics, even when you’re already on top:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Putting America First

    By Josh Marshall

    Published April 30, 2016, 2:48 PM EDT

    This afternoon I was reading one of Newt Gingrich’s mass emails (I know), in which he argues the case for Donald Trump’s recent foreign policy speech. Trump is neither a “dove” nor a “hawk”, Gingrich explains, but an “owl” who wants vast American military superiority but with a hard-nosed emphasis on diplomacy rather than intervention, which – wait for it! – is what Newt has been arguing for all along. Whatever, that’s standard Gingrich. But in arguing that Trumpist foreign policy is actually a species of Realism and a new emphasis on ‘putting America first’, Gingrich is part of a line of argument which a number non-ridiculous people are now pushing.

    The argument can, I think, best be summarized as this. Don’t be distracted by Trump’s malapropisms and ignorance of particulars. The foreign policy he’s advocating is a coherent foreign policy vision. It’s basically foreign policy Realism and it’s a debate we should be having since so much recent US foreign policy has been dominated by left and right variants of interventionist internationalism which has embroiled us in numerous foreign adventures with great loss of life and money.

    I’m generally sympathetic to the idea that we need more of a Realist orientation if not a total embrace of it and certainly that we should genuinely see military force as a last resort which of course is what everyone always says but isn’t remotely our post-Cold War national policy. But in response to the pretty prevalent ‘we need to take Trump’s Realism seriously’ chorus, let me jump ahead to ‘Let’s not be so naive or oblivious as to think that what Trump is proposing is foreign policy Realism.’

    While there are some superficial similarities, Trump’s foreign policy sees a United States that has been abused and cheated by enemies and allies alike. The goal is to set matters right and reclaim what is rightfully ours – in terms of the global economy and trade, our unmatched military power and the costs of the protection we extend to allies with that unmatched military power. By any reasonable historical or foreign policy big-think standard, this isn’t Realism but Revanchism – a policy of revenge and reclaiming rightful ownership. Such a vision is almost always destabilizing and dangerous. Revanchism may be understandable and perhaps even salutary when the revanchist power has actually lost something. But when the revanchist power already has all the stuff and is the strongest military power in the world, it’s almost certainly a recipe for disaster.

    We might add to this that someone who talks casually about using nuclear weapons in what amounts to urban warfare situations or shaking down longtime allies for protection money probably isn’t a good bet for bringing about a more peaceful or orderly world. It is also worth noting that Trump’s foreign policy maps almost perfectly to his domestic policy – the same mix of grievance and promises of aggression with bad actors transposed from domestic outsiders and rising groups to abusive foreign states.

    The whole rhetoric of “America First” is frankly stupid and dangerous. There’s no foreign policy that has ever gotten a real airing in the US, certainly no application, that doesn’t put ‘America First’. Perhaps not ‘America only’ but certainly ‘America first.’ It is no accident that “America First’s” actual historical progenitor is a 30s-era Nativist, anti-Semitic quasi-isolationism which was effectively allied with Nazi Germany. The real meaning of ‘America First’ has always been that America is being taken advantage of, being exploited and exposed. If Bolivia says ‘Bolivia First’ that’s one thing. They have been exploited and abused, at least arguably. In any case, they lack the power to make much trouble for anyone else. Neither applies to the United States.

    “While there are some superficial similarities, Trump’s foreign policy sees a United States that has been abused and cheated by enemies and allies alike. The goal is to set matters right and reclaim what is rightfully ours – in terms of the global economy and trade, our unmatched military power and the costs of the protection we extend to allies with that unmatched military power. By any reasonable historical or foreign policy big-think standard, this isn’t Realism but Revanchism – a policy of revenge and reclaiming rightful ownership. Such a vision is almost always destabilizing and dangerous. Revanchism may be understandable and perhaps even salutary when the revanchist power has actually lost something. But when the revanchist power already has all the stuff and is the strongest military power in the world, it’s almost certainly a recipe for disaster.”
    Will Donald Trump lead the United States to reclaim all its lost glory? We’ll find out in November. There’s got to be all sorts of past trophies the US could go around the globe hunting down. Maybe he could reconquer Panama? Who knows what he’ll come up with!

    But it’s also worth pointing out that the revanchist nature to Trump’s domestic policies really could have some real realism behind. Not the xenophobic hate mongering, but all of the talk of trade and tariffs and the job losses in the US manufacturing sector. Because at least in that case we really have seen some significant losses incurred by American workers over the past several decades that one could reasonably hope to regain through some combination of policy measures. And while Trump’s domestic policies which are centered around mega-tax cuts for the rich would do little to regain that past economic glory for all those workers who really have lost out with the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, at least there was something really lost for voters to hope to regain. In other words, as opposed to his foreign policy revanchism masking as “realism”, Trump’s domestic revanchism at least has a realistic basis even if his proposed solutions will end up doing more harm than good. Higher tariffs will undoubtedly help some sectors, but that help has to be more than outweighed by the incredible damage a Trump presidency would do to all the other programs that help those same workers too to make a Trump presidency net-helpful for working class Americans.

    It’s also worth noting that the success Donald Trump has had in selling an unrealistic revanchist platform probably had a lot to do with the success past US oligarchs have had in achieving their revanchist platforms. After all, if all the social and economic gains of the New Deal era up through the social revolutions of the 1960’s hadn’t triggered the giant revanchist freakout by the US elites that led to the Reagan revolution, South Strategy dog-whistle tactics, and the rest of the contemporary conservative movement over the past forty years, a large number of those economically devastated Trump supporters who are hoping for a Trumpian miracle in their own lives probably wouldn’t be nearly as susceptible to his revanchist appeal. So, in a sense, Trump’s fantasy revanchist future for the masses is the predictable response the very real revanchist past and present of economic contemporary elites:

    BillMoyers.com

    The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations

    September 14, 2012

    In this excerpt from Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, authors Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explain the significance of the Powell Memorandum, a call-to-arms for American corporations written by Virginia lawyer (and future U.S. Supreme Court justice) Lewis Powell to a neighbor working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    In the fall of 1972, the venerable National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) made a surprising announcement: It planned to move its main offices from New York to Washington, D.C. As its chief, Burt Raynes, observed:

    We have been in New York since before the turn of the century, because
    we regarded this city as the center of business and industry.
    But the thing that affects business most today is government. The
    interrelationship of business with business is no longer so important
    as the interrelationship of business with government. In the last several
    years, that has become very apparent to us.[1]

    To be more precise, what had become very apparent to the business community was that it was getting its clock cleaned. Used to having broad sway, employers faced a series of surprising defeats in the 1960s and early 1970s. As we have seen, these defeats continued unabated when Richard Nixon won the White House. Despite electoral setbacks, the liberalism of the Great Society had surprising political momentum. “From 1969 to 1972,” as the political scientist David Vogel summarizes in one of the best books on the political role of business, “virtually the entire American business community experienced a series of political setbacks without parallel in the postwar period.” In particular, Washington undertook a vast expansion of its regulatory power, introducing tough and extensive restrictions and requirements on business in areas from the environment to occupational safety to consumer protection.[2]

    In corporate circles, this pronounced and sustained shift was met with disbelief and then alarm. By 1971, future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell felt compelled to assert, in a memo that was to help galvanize business circles, that the “American economic system is under broad attack.” This attack, Powell maintained, required mobilization for political combat: “Business must learn the lesson . . . that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination—without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business.” Moreover, Powell stressed, the critical ingredient for success would be organization: “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations.”[3]

    Powell was just one of many who pushed to reinvigorate the political clout of employers. Before the policy winds shifted in the ’60s, business had seen little need to mobilize anything more than a network of trade associations. It relied mostly on personal contacts, and the main role of lobbyists in Washington was to troll for government contracts and tax breaks. The explosion of policy activism, and rise of public interest groups like those affiliated with Ralph Nader, created a fundamental challenge. And as the 1970s progressed, the problems seemed to be getting worse. Powell wrote in 1971, but even after Nixon swept to a landslide reelection the following year, the legislative tide continued to come in. With Watergate leading to Nixon’s humiliating resignation and a spectacular Democratic victory in 1974, the situation grew even more dire. “The danger had suddenly escalated,” Bryce Harlow, senior Washington representative for Procter & Gamble and one of the engineers of the corporate political revival was to say later. “We had to prevent business from being rolled up and put in the trash can by that Congress.”[4]

    Powell, Harlow, and others sought to replace the old boys’ club with a more modern, sophisticated, and diversified apparatus — one capable of advancing employers’ interests even under the most difficult political circumstances. They recognized that business had hardly begun to tap its potential for wielding political power. Not only were the financial resources at the disposal of business leaders unrivaled. The hierarchical structures of corporations made it possible for a handful of decision-makers to deploy those resources and combine them with the massive but underutilized capacities of their far-flung organizations. These were the preconditions for an organizational revolution that was to remake Washington in less than a decade — and, in the process, lay the critical groundwork for winner-take-all politics.

    Businessmen of the World, Unite!

    The organizational counterattack of business in the 1970s was swift and sweeping — a domestic version of Shock and Awe. The number of corporations with public affairs offices in Washington grew from 100 in 1968 to over 500 in 1978. In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in Washington, but by 1982, nearly 2,500 did. The number of corporate PACs increased from under 300 in 1976 to over 1,200 by the middle of 1980.[5] On every dimension of corporate political activity, the numbers reveal a dramatic, rapid mobilization of business resources in the mid-1970s.

    What the numbers alone cannot show is something of potentially even greater significance: Employers learned how to work together to achieve shared political goals. As members of coalitions, firms could mobilize more proactively and on a much broader front. Corporate leaders became advocates not just for the narrow interests of their firms but also for the shared interests of business as a whole.

    Ironically, this new capacity was in part an unexpected gift of Great Society liberalism. One of the distinctive features of the big expansion of government authority in the ’60s and early ’70s was that it created new forms of regulation that simultaneously affected many industries. Previously, the airlines might have lobbied the Civil Aeronautics Board, the steel companies might have focused on restricting foreign competitors, the energy producers might have gained special tax breaks from a favorite congressman. Now companies across a wide range of sectors faced a common threat: increasingly powerful regulatory agencies overseeing their treatment of the environment, workers, and consumers. Individual firms had little chance of fending off such broad initiatives on their own; to craft an appropriately broad political defense, they needed organization.

    Business was galvanized by more than perceived government overreach. It was also responding to the growing economic challenges it faced. Organization-building began even before the economy soured in the early 1970s, but the tumultuous economy of that decade — battered by two major oil shocks, which pushed up inflation and dragged down growth — created panic in corporate sectors as well as growing dissatisfaction among voters. The 1970s was not the economic wasteland that retrospective accounts often suggest. The economy actually grew more quickly overall (after adjusting for inflation) during the 1970s than during the 1980s.[6] But against the backdrop of the roaring 1960s, the economic turbulence was a rude jolt that strengthened the case of business leaders that a new governing approach was needed.

    When he penned his influential memo, Lewis Powell was chair of the Education Committee of the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber was one of a number of business groups that responded to the emerging threat by becoming much more organized. The Chamber doubled in membership between 1974 and 1980. Its budget tripled. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) doubled its membership between 1970 and 1979.[7]

    Keeping Up With the Naders

    The role of the business community not only grew but expanded, shifting into new modes of organization that had previously been confined to its critics. Recognizing that lawmaking in Washington had become more open and dynamic, business groups remade themselves to fit the times. The expanding network of business groups would soon be capable of hoisting the public interest groups on their own petards. Using rapidly emerging tools of marketing and communications, they learned how to generate mass campaigns. Building networks of employees, shareholders, local companies, and firms with shared interests (for example, retailers and suppliers), they could soon flood Washington with letters and phone calls. Within a few years, these classically top-down organizations were to thrive at generating “bottom up”–style campaigns that not only matched the efforts of their rivals but surpassed them.

    These emerging “outside” strategies were married to “inside” ones. Business organizations developed lists of prominent executives capable of making personal contacts with key legislative figures. In private meetings organized by the Conference Board, CEOs compared notes and discussed how to learn from and outmaneuver organized labor. In the words of one executive, “If you don’t know your senators on a first-name basis, you are not doing an adequate job for your stockholders.”[10]

    Business also massively increased its political giving — at precisely the time when the cost of campaigns began to skyrocket (in part because of the ascendance of television). The insatiable need for cash gave politicians good reason to be attentive to those with deep pockets. Business had by far the deepest pockets, and was happy to make contributions to members of both parties. Clifton Garvin, chairman of both Exxon and the Business Roundtable in the early 1980s, summarized the attitude toward partisanship this way: “The Roundtable tries to work with whichever political party is in power. We may each individually have our own political alliances, but as a group the Roundtable works with every administration to the degree they let us.”[11]

    The newly mobilized business groups understood that Democrats and Republicans could play distinct but complementary roles. As the party with a seemingly permanent lock on Congress, Democrats needed to be pried away from their traditional alliance with organized labor. Money was key here: From the late 1970s to the late 1980s, corporate PACs increased their expenditures in congressional races nearly fivefold. Labor PAC spending only rose about half as fast. In the early 1970s, business PACs contributed less to congressional races overall than labor PACs did. By the mid-1970s, the two were at rough parity, and by the end of the decade, business PACs were way ahead. By 1980, unions accounted for less than a quarter of all PAC contributions — down from half six years earlier. The shift was largest among Democrats, who were of course the most reliant on labor money: Nearly half of Senate incumbents’ campaign funds came from labor PACs in the mid-1970s. A decade later, the share was below one-fifth.[12]

    By this time, however, business PACs were shifting away from their traditional focus on buttering up (mostly Democratic) incumbents toward a strategy that mixed donations to those in power with support for conservative political challengers. Such a pattern was evident in the critical election year of 1978. Through September of the election season, nearly half of corporate campaign contributions flowed into Democrats’ coffers. In the crucial weeks before the 1978 election, however, only 29 percent did. By the end of the 1978 campaign, more than 60 percent of corporate contributions had gone to Republicans, both GOP challengers and Republican incumbents fighting off liberal Democrats.[13] A new era of campaign finance was born: Not only were corporate contributions growing ever bigger, Democrats had to work harder for them. More and more, to receive business largesse, they had to do more than hold power; they had to wield it in ways that business liked.

    Read the Powell Memo. (Download the PDF.)

    “Powell, Harlow, and others sought to replace the old boys’ club with a more modern, sophisticated, and diversified apparatus — one capable of advancing employers’ interests even under the most difficult political circumstances. They recognized that business had hardly begun to tap its potential for wielding political power. Not only were the financial resources at the disposal of business leaders unrivaled. The hierarchical structures of corporations made it possible for a handful of decision-makers to deploy those resources and combine them with the massive but underutilized capacities of their far-flung organizations. These were the preconditions for an organizational revolution that was to remake Washington in less than a decade — and, in the process, lay the critical groundwork for winner-take-all politics.
    Now that’s how you do revanchism. And without the wild success of the elites’ socioeconic revanchism of the past generation (which no doubt helped Donald Trump) and the growing number of socioeconomically screwed workers still waiting for the revanchist “trickle-down” scam to work its magic, Trump’s revanchism for the masses would probably have little popular appeal.

    So whether or not Donald Trump’s unrealistic revanchism is going to translate into political success, it’s going to be worth keeping in mind that the popular appeal of the revanchism he’s peddling is partly rooted in the popular discontent generating by the ongoing success of one of the most successful revanchist movements in American history. It’s reactionary fantasy revanchism in response to real revanchism. Could it work at the ballot box? Well, why not? Stranger things have happened.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2016, 6:05 pm
  17. If you’ve been pining for a joint Trump/Cruz dream ticket this November, never give up that cheery optimism. But you might want to give up that particular dream:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Floats Conspiracy Theory That Ted Cruz’s Dad Linked To Lee Harvey Oswald (VIDEO)

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published May 3, 2016, 9:48 AM EDT

    Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on Tuesday aired a tabloid story that said Rafael Cruz, Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father, was seen with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    Asked by the “Fox and Friends” crew about the elder Cruz saying not voting for his son could mean “the destruction of America,” Trump veered without warning into conspiracies surrounding Kennedy’s death, without ever mentioning the late President by name.

    “It’s disgraceful that his father can go out and do that. And just – so many people are angry about it. And the Evangelicals are angry about it the way he does that. There’s a whole thing,” he said. “You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot.”

    Trump continued: “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it. But I think it’s horrible. I think it’s absolutely horrible that a man can go and do that. What he’s saying there.”

    Fox News host Brian Kilmeade interjected at that point to explain the National Enquirer published what the tabloid claims is a photo of Rafael Cruz distributing pro-Castro leaflets with Oswald in August 1963.

    But the GOP frontrunner interrupted to ask, “What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting? It’s horrible.”

    Aside from experts who spoke to The Enquirer, the authenticity of the photo and the identification of Rafael Cruz have not been confirmed.

    The Cruz campaign strenuously condemned the story as “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage” after it was published in April. In a Tuesday statement to MSNBC after Trump’s remarks, the campaign said, “It is further evidence of how detached from reality Donald Trump is. He will say anything to make news regardless of whether or not it’s factual.”

    “What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
    Trump/Cruz 2016! It can still happen. Give it time. At least a couple months. Although if the evidence starts piling up that Ted Cruz’s dad really was working with Oswald in New Orleans in the period before JFK’s assassination that would certainly complicate selecting Cruz for Veep. What if Rafael gets frisky again?

    So was there anything behind the National Enquirer’s claims? Well according to the article below, maybe, maybe not, it depends on who you ask:

    Miami Herald

    Trump links Cruz’s father to JFK assassin, channeling National Enquirer

    By Maria Recio
    April 22, 2016 8:06 PM

    WASHINGTON

    Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael B. Cruz, of being alongside John F. Kennedy’s assassin several months before he shot the president, channeling a National Enquirer story that the Cruz campaign has denounced as false.

    Speaking to Fox News Tuesday morning by phone, Trump said Cruz’s father “was with Lee Harvey Oswald” prior to Kennedy being shot.

    “The whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said. “What is this? Right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

    At a campaign event in Indiana, Cruz told the press, “Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.”

    Trump responded in kind. “Ted Cruz is a desperate candidate trying to save his failing campaign. It is no surprise he has resorted to his usual tactics of over-the-top rhetoric that nobody believes,” he said in a statement.

    The explosive suggestion that Cruz’s father would have had any affiliation with Oswald is not corroborated in any other way. Cuban-born Rafael Cruz is now a fervent anti-communist, but there was a time he supported then-rebel leader Fidel Castro. His son, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, frequently relates his father’s arrest and torture by government officials and subsequent escape to the United States.

    The elder Cruz ended up at the University of Texas at Austin and still supported Castro, who led the revolution that overthrew the Batista regime in 1959. Castro formally declared himself Marxist in 1961.

    “The U.S. government was duped. The American people were duped. I was duped,” Rafael Cruz wrote in his book, “A Time for Action,” released in January. “When people ask me why I supported Castro in over-throwing the Cuban government, I readily admit that I didn’t realize he was a communist.”

    There are photos of Rafael Cruz participating in a pro-Castro rally in 1959 and an article in the student newspaper where he describes his support for Castro. And one report questions the extent of the elder Cruz’s connections to Castro before fleeing Cuba.

    The photos of Oswald distributing pro-Castro literature are from August 1963, just a few months before the JFK assassination in Dallas, which the Warren Commission Report on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy said was carried out by Oswald.

    The tabloid hired photo experts who compared the elder Cruz’s photos from the late 1950s and early 1960s with the ones released by the Warren Commission. The man in the white shirt next to Oswald was never identified by the commission, and the Enquirer is now saying it was Cruz and blasted on its May 2 cover that “Ted Cruz Father Now Linked to JFK Assassination!”

    The Enquirer has a testimonial from Mitch Goldstone, president and CEO of ScanMyPhotos, a California-based digitizing photo service, who told the tabloid, “There’s more similarity than dissimilarity. . . . it looks to be the same person and I can say as much with a high degree of confidence.”

    And Carole Lieberman, a University of California – Los Angeles forensic psychiatrist and expert witness based in Beverly Hills, California, compared the photos and told the Enquirer “they seem to match.” Neither Goldstone nor Lieberman returned phone calls from McClatchy.

    But Gus Russo, an author and journalist who has written extensively about the JFK assassination and Oswald, is dubious. Russo told McClatchy in an interview that Oswald, who was living in New Orleans in 1963, was not connected to the Cuban community there and would not have had a Cuban supporter helping him. “He was the ultimate loner,” said Russo. Another man seen in the video handing out leaflets had been hired by Oswald to do so at an unemployment office, according to the Warren Commission. Rafael Cruz also lived in New Orleans, but it was later in the 1960s.

    As for the photo “evidence,” Russo said, “It’s very subjective. It’s not proof. It’s just an opinion. To charge something this big, you’d better have better proof than that ‘it looks like him.’”

    The FBI would not comment about its photo recognition and aging identification techniques but referred McClatchy to a web page about its Investigative and Prosecutive Graphic Unit.

    The Enquirer has focused on Ted Cruz during the presidential campaign with sensational stories about his alleged mistresses and supposed connection to the DC Madam. The tabloid, which has endorsed presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, said in a “declaration” published on a page of the story that the paper had been approached by someone it does not identify during the New York primary with the photos. “In this instance, we believe American voters have a right to know the truth about the Cruz family,” it says.

    This story was last updated May 3, 2016.

    “The tabloid hired photo experts who compared the elder Cruz’s photos from the late 1950s and early 1960s with the ones released by the Warren Commission. The man in the white shirt next to Oswald was never identified by the commission, and the Enquirer is now saying it was Cruz and blasted on its May 2 cover that “Ted Cruz Father Now Linked to JFK Assassination!””
    So, at a minimum, the Rafael Cruz is being named as a guy the Warren Commission knew of, but was never able to identify, which would suggest quite a few people have looked over that photo over the years and that photo wasn’t just doctored by someone. But Rafael Cruz presumably wasn’t one of the possible suspects people were looking into all those years so it’s going to be interesting to see what, if any, additional evidence comes out now that photographic evidence of someone who appears to be Rafael Cruz is part of the national discourse.

    It’s also going to be rather interesting to see what additional nuggets of this nature emerge from the National Enquirer over the rest of the campaign season. After all, for the first time ever, the National Enquirer endorsed a candidate this year. Guess which one:

    Talking Points Memo News
    Enquiring Minds Want To Know: Just How Cozy Are Trump And National Enquirer?

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published May 3, 2016, 3:02 PM EDT

    Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s airing the tabloid conspiracy theory that Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) father associated with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald put his cozy relationship with the National Enquirer, which has paid dividends in 2016, in the spotlight yet again.

    Cruz fired back Tuesday at the Oswald “scoop,” which the New York City-based supermarket tabloid published as its cover story, accusing Trump of using the notorious tabloid as his personal “hit piece to smear anybody and everybody” in the 2016 race. He noted that the paper, which is run by Trump’s friend David Pecker, has also attacked his family: in late March, an off-the-wall Enquirer story made unsubstantiated claims that Cruz had extramarital affairs with five women, including a former staffer.

    It’s widely known that Pecker, the Enquirer CEO, is a personal friend of Trump’s, a relationship an anonymous Enquirer source told New York magazine is “very close.” The tabloid endorsed Trump’s campaign for President in March, which appeared to be the first time it had ever endorsed a presidential candidate.

    Sources echoed those sentiments to the New York Daily News, with one unnamed person saying because “Trump is a big friend of Pecker” there wouldn’t be any “John Edwards-type investigations,” referring to the Enquirer’s breaking news of the former Democratic presidential candidate’s affair, which effectively ended Edwards’ political career.

    Trump also tweeted Pecker would be a “brilliant choice” to service as CEO of Time magazine in 2013.

    When the Enquirer’s Cruz sex scandal story hit, Trump denied any involvement but didn’t go as far as to torpedo the story about his rival “Lyin’ Ted.”

    “I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it,” he wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer.”

    He went to say while the tabloid was “right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”

    While the Enquirer has repeatedly hammered Trump’s GOP opponents—and claimed Democrat Hillary Clinton is on her deathbed—Trump has been spared the tabloid’s scorn.

    By contrast, The Enquirer has for years celebrated the real estate mogul on its pages. In 2015, the paper ran a three-part series penned by Trump as a chummy look at “The Man Behind The Legend!” Earlier this year, the tabloid heaped praise on “the man who has energized millions of voters with his no-nonsense and businesslike run for the White House” and claimed Trump has “quietly donated a huge chunk of his fortune to charity.”

    “It’s widely known that Pecker, the Enquirer CEO, is a personal friend of Trump’s, a relationship an anonymous Enquirer source told New York magazine is “very close.” The tabloid endorsed Trump’s campaign for President in March, which appeared to be the first time it had ever endorsed a presidential candidate.”
    That’s a pretty big endorsement. And not just for what it says about Donald Trump but also what it mean the National Enquirer won’t say about Donald Trump but could. The silence huuuge.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 3, 2016, 3:19 pm
  18. This is one of those Trumpian moments that’s got to give Roger Stone heartburn: When asked if Donald Trump really believes that Ted Cruz’s father was connected to Lee Harvey Oswald, Trump replied that of course he didn’t believe that. He just said it because he wasn’t the presumptive nominee at the moment he said it and apparently felt justified saying something he didn’t believe. And, yes, he actually said that:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump: ‘Of Course’ I Don’t Think Cruz’s Dad Was Linked To JFK’s Assassinator

    By Sara Jerde Published May 4, 2016, 6:23 PM EDT

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Wednesday that “of course” he doesn’t believe the conspiracy theory that the father of his former opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), was connected to Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

    CNN host Wolf Blitzer said to Trump on Wednesday that he wanted him to clarify his previous claim.

    “You don’t really believe that Ted Cruz’s father had anything to do with the assassination of President Kennedy,” Blitzer said to Trump.

    “No I don’t,” Trump replied. “Of course I don’t think that.”

    Cruz dropped out of the race after Trump won in the Indiana primary on Tuesday. Blitzer told Trump that he is now the presumptive GOP nominee and Trump argued back that he wasn’t when he circulated the Enquirer’s story.

    Trump said that Cruz’s father said “horrible” things about him and that it’s not a “one-way street” when he does something.

    “So I was not a presumptive winner at that time. I was going against them, they were going against me,” Trump said.

    “But — bottom line you don’t believe in that conspiracy,” Blitzer countered.

    “Of course I don’t believe that. I wouldn’t believe it, but I did say ‘let people read it,'” Trump replied.

    “So I was not a presumptive winner at that time. I was going against them, they were going against me.”
    Well, there goes the inevitable “the Clinton’s killed JFK Jr.” meme. Well, ok, the meme will no doubt be aggressively pushed in coming months since Roger Stone is writing a book making that assertion, but so will the “Trump will say anything when he’s in a campaign and he admits it” meme. And that’s a meme that doesn’t just apply to Trump’s forays into conspiratorial speculation. He basically admitted that he feels perfectly fine just throwing random stuff out there as long as he’s facing a political opponent.

    So now, whenever Trump says anything that sounds outlandish, the default response is “oh yeah, and Rafael Cruz killed Kennedy, right?” That seems like Trump potentially committed a big political “oops” right there. Unless, of course, Rafael Cruz really was involved with Oswald and that subsequently gets confirmed, in which case Trump may have actually sort of helped expose the connection…and then covered it up by casually dismissing it as a crass political ploy. Oops.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 4, 2016, 3:02 pm
  19. The National Republican Senatorial Committee told lobbyist and donors on Thursday that candidates should feel free to skip the GOP convention in GOP. It was a rather notable declaration by a major Republican organization soon after Donald Trump become the party’s uncontested presumptive nominee, but not as notable as the declaration by the party’s highest elected official: Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and the highest elected GOP official in the country, just refused to endorse Donald Trump. At least, he refused to endorse Trump “at this point”. He’s apparently waiting for Trump to unify “all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement” before he gives his endorsement. And as the article below also points out, this is on the same day freshman Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse called for a third-party run this fall as part of a last ditch attempt to maintain some sort of ‘purity’ within the conservative movement. So after Donald Trump’s historic surge to become the GOP’s most controversial nominee in decades, due in large part to the GOP base’s extreme loathing of the GOP “establishment” types like Paul Ryan, it looks like Trump won’t get the backing of the much loathed “establishment” unless he spend the next couple of months trying to placate it:

    CNN

    Paul Ryan: ‘I’m just not ready’ to back Donald Trump

    Eric Bradner

    By Eric Bradner, CNN

    Updated 5:51 PM ET, Thu May 5, 2016

    Washington (CNN) – House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he cannot yet support presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

    “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now,” the Wisconsin Republican told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” in an interview.

    Ryan’s position makes him the highest-level GOP official to reject Trump since the real estate mogul became the last candidate standing in the party’s nominating contest. His move gives down-ballot Republicans cover to hold off on supporting Trump. It could also keep his agenda in the House from being overtaken by Trump’s policy positions.

    Ryan said he hopes to eventually back Trump and “to be a part of this unifying process.” The first moves, though, must come from Trump, he said.

    Ryan said he wants Trump to unify “all wings of the Republican Party and the conservative movement” and then run a campaign that will allow Americans to “have something that they’re proud to support and proud to be a part of.”

    “And we’ve got a ways to go from here to there,” Ryan said.

    Asked whether Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, his opposition to free trade and his call to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants would preclude him from ever supporting Trump, Ryan said: “We got work to do.”

    Ryan’s comments were striking because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday night that he’d back Trump.

    Neither of the last two Republican presidents — George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — will attend the GOP convention in Cleveland. Nor will the 2008 nominee, John McCain, or the 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney.

    The House speaker said he’d only started considering whether he’d support Trump after the real estate mogul won Indiana’s primary Tuesday — knocking both Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich out of the race and ending the possibility of a contested convention.

    “I thought about this two days ago. I thought, actually, this thing was going to go to June 7 at the very least — probably to a convention — and so this is all pretty new for us,” he said.

    “The bulk of the burden on unifying the party will have to come from our presumptive nominee,” Ryan said. “I don’t want to underplay what he accomplished. … But he also inherits something very special, that’s very special to a lot of us. This is the party of Lincoln and Reagan and Jack Kemp. And we don’t always nominate a Lincoln or a Reagan every four years, but we hope that our nominee aspires to be Lincoln- or Reagan-esque — that that person advances the principles of our party and appeals to a wide, vast majority of Americans.”

    He continued: “And so, I think what is necessary to make this work, for this to unify, is to actually take our principles and advance them. And that’s what we want to see. Saying we’re unified doesn’t in and of itself unify us, but actually taking the principles that we all believe in, showing that there’s a dedication to those, and running a principled campaign that Republicans can be proud about and that can actually appeal to a majority of Americans — that, to me, is what it takes to unify this party.”

    Decision came ‘very fast’
    Ryan’s decision to oppose Trump, at least for now, came “very fast,” a source familiar with Ryan’s thinking told CNN, adding that the speaker “truly was not prepared for this. He really did not expect Cruz to drop out. He was prepared for a contested convention. And when this happened, he just decided to go with his gut — which was to hold off.”

    His comments about Trump quickly became a political football, with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign highlighting the speaker as part of a “growing list of conservatives rebuking Trump” in an email.

    A Republican strategist involved in Senate races told CNN that he’s worried Ryan has set up a situation that will be difficult for him to eventually get out of.

    “What are the conditions by which Ryan will ever endorse? I don’t know how this ends,” the strategist said. “What would make him get to a yes on Trump? I’m not sure what Trump can do, other than change his positions.”

    The strategist added, “It helps people by giving them cover. On the other hand, if you think of all the people who have already gone out of their way to endorse Trump, they’re asking themselves, ‘I have already jumped into the pool, where is Ryan?'”

    Ryan has expressed misgivings about Trump’s campaign for months.

    When Trump proposed indefinitely banning Muslims from the United States in December, Ryan responded that such a move is “not who we are as a party” and in violation of the Constitution.

    “This is not conservatism,” he said then, adding, “Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islam terror are Muslims.”

    In March, Ryan slammed Trump’s refusal to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in an interview with Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    “If a person wants to be the nominee of the Republican Party, there can be no evasion and no games. They must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices,” Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill.

    But as recently as last week, Ryan was downplaying his rift with Trump. He’d encouraged Republicans to attend the party’s convention in Cleveland, and said he’d had a “very pleasant conversation” with Trump.

    “I feel like we will be able to unify Republicans and conservatives to offer the country this fall,” Ryan told CNN, “a very clear and compelling choice so that the people of this nation get to decide where we go as a country.”

    Conservative blogger and #NeverTrump movement leader Erick Erickson told CNN he and other Trump opponents are searching for a candidate who could mount a third-party bid against Trump and Clinton.

    “Donald Trump cannot consolidate the Republican base and many Republicans cannot accept a Hillary Clinton donor as the Republican nominee,” Erickson said. “If the delegates ratify this madness in Cleveland, many of us will look elsewhere for a credible candidate to oppose both Trump and Clinton.”

    Freshman Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse has emerged as a central figure in the movement to oppose Trump. He argued for a third-party candidate in a Facebook post early Thursday morning.

    “Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years?” Sasse wrote. “You know … an adult?”

    “A Republican strategist involved in Senate races told CNN that he’s worried Ryan has set up a situation that will be difficult for him to eventually get out of.”
    Uh, yeah, that’s certainly something for Ryan to be worried about. Especially since Trump predictably responded later in the day with I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda.” If the ball is in Trump’s court, as Ryan sees it, it looks like Trump’s response is going to be take the ball and writing nasty words about GOPers like Paul Ryan on it.

    So the question of whether or not Trump has earned Paul Ryan’s support is now staged to be one of the biggest open questions between now and GOP and convention in July. What could Trump do meet Ryan’s “unifying the party” criteria? Well, it’s worth pointing out that one of the main sources to GOP establishment concerns over Trump as the nominee doubles as an opportunity to “unify the party”…assuming unifying the party entails Trump disavowing the variously politically toxic elements of the party that have rallied around Trump and fueled his rise. For instance, the next time David Duke comes out in support of Trump, will another disavowal do the trick? It’s an open question:

    The New York Times
    First Draft

    Donald Trump ‘Disavows’ David Duke’s Remarks on ‘Jewish Extremists’

    May 7, 2016 12:48 pm ET
    By Maggie Haberman

    In response to calls from the Anti-Defamation League, Donald J. Trump on Thursday said he “disavows” comments by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, about “Jewish extremists” who opposed his candidacy.

    It is the latest instance of Mr. Duke praising Mr. Trump, who was condemned by politicians across the spectrum months ago for refusing to explicitly disavow Mr. Duke, a white supremacist who has exalted the the Manhattan businessman’s political rise. Mr. Trump has previously rebutted the criticisms by saying he had disavowed Mr. Duke on other occasions.

    “Jewish chutzpah knows no bounds,” Mr. Duke said on his radio program, excoriating some of the donors involved in the “Stop Trump” movement. Those donors include the billionaire financier Paul Singer, a Jew for whom Israel’s security is a primary focus in determining the candidates he backs.

    “I think these Jewish extremists have made a terribly crazy miscalculation because all they’re really going to be doing by doing the ‘Never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, their anti-American-majority position to all the Republicans,” Mr. Duke said. “And they’re going to push people more into awareness that the neo-cons are the problem, that these Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem and the reason why America is not great.”

    Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that “David Duke’s latest remarks – smearing Jews and Jewish Republicans specifically – are as unsurprising as they are hateful.”

    “The onus is now on Donald Trump to make unequivocally clear he rejects those sentiments and that there is no room for Duke and anti-Semitism in his campaign and in society,” he said. “Mr. Trump can and should speak up now. If not, his silence will speak volumes.”

    Later Thursday, Mr. Trump said in a statement that he “totally disavows” Mr. Duke’s remarks.

    “Antisemitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” said Mr. Trump, who has been accused of using overtly racial appeals to motivate his largely white, working-class political base.

    The Anti-Defamation League has criticized Mr. Trump before, and has redirected his previous donations to the group because of his remarks about Muslims and others. Mr. Trump has often cited his ties to the Jewish community, noting, for instance, that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an Orthodox Jew, and that his daughter, Ivanka, converted to Judaism.

    ““Antisemitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” said Mr. Trump, who has been accused of using overtly racial appeals to motivate his largely white, working-class political base.”
    Well, at least Trump isn’t unifying the GOP with white supremacists quite as much as before. That sounds like the kind of ‘step forward’ the GOP establishment is trying to extract from Trump as the price to pay for the party’s full backing. At least, it seems like the kind of ‘step forward’ that could put Trump on the path towards gaining that full party backing…assuming he doesn’t take two steps back just before he makes that step forward:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Won’t Condemn Anti-Semitic Threats On Journo Who Profiled His Wife (VIDEO)

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published May 5, 2016, 11:46 AM EDT

    After a journalist was met with a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse and threats over her GQ magazine profile of Melania Trump, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump refused to condemn the attacks from his supporters.

    During a sit-down interview Wednesday night on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked what Trump’s message is to the hoards who have “viciously attacked” reporter Julia Ioffe. The profile revealed Melania Trump had a secret half-brother still living in her native Slovenia and covered a legal dispute over the former model’s caviar skincare line.

    Trump said while he hadn’t read the article, he heard it was “very inaccurate” and “nasty.”

    “I’m married to a woman who is a very fine woman. She doesn’t need this, believe me,” he said, recounting how Melania Trump was “tremendously” successful as a model and “made a lot of money.”

    He also described his wife as a “very high-quality woman who loves people and has a big heart,” saying, “they shouldn’t be doing that with wives.”

    Blitzer interrupted: “But the anti-Semitic death threats that have followed –”

    “Oh, I don’t know about that. I don’t know anything about that. You mean fans of mine?” Trump replied.

    “Supposed fans of posting these very angry – but your message to these fans is?” Blitzer continued.

    “I don’t have a message to the fans,” the billionaire said. “A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate.”

    He went on to rail against the “dishonest” media, saying he’s used to their treatment.

    After Ioffe’s profile was published in GQ, she was met with an onslaught of images of her face edited onto Holocaust photos and caricatures of Jews being executed. She also told the Guardian US she had received multiple threatening phone calls.

    “I don’t have a message to the fans…A woman wrote an article that’s inaccurate.”
    Of course he has no message to his fans. Except, apparently, that that they were doing the right thing in subjecting Julia Ioffe to an onslaught of images of her face edited onto Holocaust photos and caricatures of Jews being executed. That definitely appears to be part of his message to his fans. But it was also a message to folks like Paul Ryan that aren’t quite sure if they’re ready to climb aboard the Trump Train. So will Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP that hasn’t yet purchased tickets for the Trump Train express be ready to purchase those tickets soon? It’ll be a trainwreck either way, but we’ll see.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 7, 2016, 3:56 pm
  20. Guess which Silicon Valley billionaire just ended up on the list released by California’s secretary of state of the Trump campaign’s list of selected GOP convention delegates. Hint: He really, really likes Ted Cruz. And called Trump “symptomatic of everything that is wrong with New York City,” back in 2014. But is apparently totally fine with Trump now:

    Vanity Fair

    Which Billionaire Silicon Valley V.C. Is a Donald Trump Delegate?

    The Facebook board member is breaking ranks with the tech world by publicly backing the presumptive G.O.P. nominee.

    by Tina Nguyen

    May 10, 2016 9:08 am

    Most of Silicon Valley’s Republican elite may hate Donald Trump, but at least one major tech-industry venture capitalist is throwing his support behind the G.O.P.’s presumptive presidential nominee.

    Peter Thiel, the billionaire PayPal co-founder, hedge-fund manager, and L.G.B.T.-rights advocate, is listed on the California ballot as a delegate for Trump at the upcoming Republican convention, according to a list of delegates submitted to California’s secretary of state by the front-runner’s campaign. He is listed as one of three representatives from California’s 12th congressional district. State election law dictates that delegates are selected by the candidates themselves, not the party, and the Trump campaign has been vetting potential delegates for several weeks.

    Thiel’s politics are complicated. The Silicon Valley powerbroker donated heavily to both Ted Cruz and his later running mate, former H.P. exec Carly Fiorina, despite both candidates not supporting gay marriage. (Thiel’s name did not appear on a list of Cruz delegates the Texas senator submitted before dropping out last week.) The outspoken libertarian has also been a close ally and adviser to Kentucky senator and former presidential candidate Rand Paul, and previously donated millions to his father, former congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president in 2012. Thiel may be more closely aligned with Trump on the social-issues front: Thiel, who is gay, is an ardent supporter of L.G.B.T. causes (Trump, while echoing some social conservative rhetoric, recently opposed North Carolina’s anti-transgender “bathroom bill,” saying someone like Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever restroom she saw fit). More importantly, however, he is an avowed anti-elitist, despite his personal wealth, telling the New Yorker in 2011 that the worldview of America’s elites was “skewed in an optimistic direction” due to luck and privilege. “[Their] story has been one of incredible, unrelenting progress for 61 years,” he said at the time. “Most people who are 61 years old in the U.S.? Not their story at all.” Thiel is well-known for the fellowship he set up in 2010 to encourage entrepreneurial teenagers to drop out of college to start their own companies instead of pursuing a traditional education.

    “Peter Thiel, the billionaire PayPal co-founder, hedge-fund manager, and L.G.B.T.-rights advocate, is listed on the California ballot as a delegate for Trump at the upcoming Republican convention, according to a list of delegates submitted to California’s secretary of state by the front-runner’s campaign. He is listed as one of three representatives from California’s 12th congressional district. State election law dictates that delegates are selected by the candidates themselves, not the party, and the Trump campaign has been vetting potential delegates for several weeks.
    Yes, the guy who once penned a piece for Cato Unbound explaining why democracy and capitalism are incompatible now that women can vote is now a Trump delegate. Well, ok, that kind of fits. If Thiel wasn’t a right-wing nut job who always supports right-wing nut jobs this would almost be surprising, if only because of Thiel’s previous backing for Ted Cruz. And while this announcement probably had to sting Cruz a bit, at least Thiel’s checkbook will probably be there for Ted’s next presidential run.

    So were there any other not-so-surprising surprises in the Trump campaigns list of California delegates? Yep, and for the next not-so-surprising surprise it’s worth keeping in mind what the above article pointed out: The Trump campaign is vetting these delegate lists:

    Mother Jones

    Trump Selects a White Nationalist Leader as a Delegate in California
    Meet William Johnson, head of the American Freedom Party.

    —By Josh Harkinson
    | Tue May 10, 2016 3:56 PM EDT

    On Monday evening, California’s secretary of state published a list of delegates chosen by the Trump campaign for the upcoming Republican presidential primary in the state. Trump’s slate includes William Johnson, one of the country’s most prominent white nationalists.

    Johnson applied to the Trump campaign to be a delegate. He was accepted on Monday. In order to be approved he had to sign this pledge sent to him by the campaign: “I, William Johnson, endorse Donald J. Trump for the office of President of the United States. I pledge to cast ALL of my ballots to elect Donald J. Trump on every round of balloting at the 2016 Republican National Convention so that we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” After he signed, the Trump campaign added his name to the list of 169 delegates it forwarded to the secretary of state.

    Johnson leads the American Freedom Party, a group that “exists to represent the political interests of White Americans” and aims to preserve “the customs and heritage of the European American people.” The AFP has never elected a candidate of its own and possesses at most a few thousand members, but it is “arguably the most important white nationalist group in the country,” according to Mark Potok, a senior fellow for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups.

    Johnson got the news that he had been selected by Trump in a congratulatory email sent to him by the campaign’s California delegate coordinator, Katie Lagomarsino. “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” Johnson tells Mother Jones. “I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody.”

    Johnson says that in his application to be a delegate for Trump he disclosed multiple details about his background and activism, though he did not specifically use the term “white nationalist.” The Trump campaign and Lagomarsino did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Whether or not Johnson was vetted by the Trump campaign, the GOP front-runner would have a hard time claiming ignorance of Johnson’s extreme views: Johnson has gained notice during the presidential primary for funding pro-Trump robocalls that convey a white nationalist message. “The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called ‘racist,'” Johnson says in one robocall pushed out to residential landlines in Vermont and Minnesota. “Donald Trump is not racist, but Donald Trump is not afraid. Don’t vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.”.

    Armed with cash from affluent donors and staffed by what the movement considers to be its top thinkers, the AFP now dedicates most of its resources to supporting Trump. Johnson claims that the AFP’s pro-Trump robocalls, which have delivered Johnson’s personal cellphone number to voters in seven states, have helped the party find hundreds of new members. “[Trump] is allowing us to talk about things we’ve not been able to talk about,” Johnson says. “So even if he is not elected, he has achieved great things.”

    On multiple occasions, Trump has failed to forcefully repudiate this sort of support. After being endorsed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in August last year, Trump told Bloomberg News, “I don’t need his endorsement; I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement. I don’t need anybody’s endorsement.”

    Asked in February about the robocalls, which are funded by Johnson through a super-PAC, a Trump spokeswoman would only tell CNN that the candidate had “disavowed all super-PACs offering their support.” In April, the Huffington Post reported that Trump returned a $250 donation to his campaign from Johnson.

    The SPLC’s Potok says Trump has “legitimized and mainstreamed hate” in ways we haven’t seen since the days of George Wallace. Though nobody can say for sure how many people belong to America’s largest hate groups, the SPLC has found that the number of such groups grew by 14 percent in 2015, reversing years of declines. Potok worries that Trump could fuel the spread of the AFP’s ideas for years to come.

    Short, graying, and 61 years old, Johnson favors pressed white shirts and bookish black-framed glasses. He grew up in predominantly white neighborhoods in Arizona and Oregon before moving to Japan in 1974 to study the language. It was there that locals engaged him in “open” discussions about differences between the races, and he came to see America’s European heritage as its biggest—and most vulnerable—asset. (This trajectory is not uncommon: Jared Taylor, head of the white nationalist group American Renaissance, also speaks fluent Japanese, and Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler became a white supremacist while immersed in the caste system in India.) In 1985, Johnson published, under a pseudonym, Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America, a book calling for the abolition of the 14th and 15th Amendments and the deportation of all nonwhites. He tried to sound a practical tone, allowing, for instance, that African Americans should receive “a rich dowry to enable them to prosper in their homeland.”

    The book was a hit on the talk show circuit, and Johnson suddenly found himself appearing on television alongside neo-Nazi skinheads and Klansmen. By 1989, his notoriety and clean-cut appeal convinced a group of white nationalists in Wyoming to tap him to run for Dick Cheney’s vacant congressional seat. He garnered a flurry of press coverage when he earned enough signatures to qualify for the ballot; around the same time, the building housing his California law office was bombed. Johnson says the FBI accused him of detonating it himself in a bid for more press. (The bureau declined to comment.)

    Twenty years later, after unsuccessfully running for various other offices, Johnson became the head of the American Freedom Party (then known as American Third Position), at the request of a group of Southern California skinheads. Johnson’s post was supposed to be temporary: “The skinheads thought I was too extreme to run the organization,” he explained. But they were the ones who ended up dropping out, replaced by what has become a sort of white nationalist brain trust: Party leaders now include a former Reagan administration appointee and a professor emeritus at California State University-Long Beach.

    After our Korean lunch, Johnson rushed back up to his office to host the latest episode of For God and Country, a Christian AM talk show currently broadcast in California, Louisiana, and Texas. His Filipino American co-host, the Rev. Ronald Tan, nodded approvingly as Johnson praised Trump on the air for “busting up the concept of political correctness.”

    The show allows Johnson to push a Trump-centric version of white nationalism to a potentially receptive audience—up to a point. Several radio stations in Iowa recently canceled the program out of objection to its content. During a commercial break, Johnson fidgeted. “Are you going to quote any more Scriptures?” he asked Tan nervously. “Has the station said that we’re not Christian enough?” Back on the air, Tan pivoted to 1 Samuel 16, comparing Trump to King David.

    In addition to promoting Trump on the radio and over the phone, the AFP streams a podcast called the Daily Trump Phenomenon Hour. It has set up a “political harassment hotline” for Trump supporters who wish to consult with an attorney about being attacked or verbally abused by anti-Trump protesters. Johnson has personally spent $30,000 on the Trump promotions, including $18,000 for the robocalls.

    The robocalls, the radio show, and the “harassment hotline” were all things that Johnson mentioned in his application to become a Trump delegate. He specifically cited an anti-Romney robocall commissioned in Utah this past March, which begins, in part, “My name is William Johnson. I am a farmer and a white nationalist.”

    After wrapping up the radio show, Johnson led me through his office, where a brush-painted screen hangs alongside shelves stacked with Japanese books and dictionaries. Many of his legal clients, it turns out, are foreigners who speak English as a second language. Yet Johnson says he sees no problem with Trump’s isolationist foreign policy, even if it hurts his business—ideally, he’d like to give up his practice and serve as Trump’s secretary of agriculture.

    We ended up in a mirrored conference room to meet with three AFP sympathizers, two middle-aged women and a young man. They talked about how Trump had enabled a new kind of “honest discourse,” how he wasn’t a racist but a “racialist,” and how he had left them feeling “emancipated.” Johnson also now finds it easier to be himself: “For many, many years, when I would say these things, other white people would call me names: ‘Oh, you’re a hatemonger, you’re a Nazi, you’re like Hitler,'” he confessed. “Now they come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re like Donald Trump.'”

    “For many, many years, when I would say these things, other white people would call me names: ‘Oh, you’re a hatemonger, you’re a Nazi, you’re like Hitler,’…Now they come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re like Donald Trump.'”
    Yep!
    And now that Johnson claims he was very open about his White Nationalist pro-Trump activities on the application:


    The robocalls, the radio show, and the “harassment hotline” were all things that Johnson mentioned in his application to become a Trump delegate. He specifically cited an anti-Romney robocall commissioned in Utah this past March, which begins, in part, “My name is William Johnson. I am a farmer and a white nationalist.”

    So was this just an innocent mistake, or this for real? Well, according to the Trump campaign, it’s all an innocent “database error”:

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    White supremacist leader chosen as a California delegate for Donald Trump, but campaign blames it on ‘database error’

    BY Cameron Joseph, Adam Edelman
    Updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 6:24 PM

    he apparent ineptitude of the Donald Trump campaign has resulted in the selection as one of the hate-spewing huckster’s delegates in California a notorious white supremacist leader.

    William Johnson, the leader of the American Freedom Party — a group that promotes white nationalism — was chosen as one of the presumptive GOP nominee’s Golden State delegates, according to a list of Republican delegates for the party’s upcoming primary obtained by Mother Jones magazine.

    Johnson had reportedly applied directly to the Trump campaign to be a delegate and was apparently accepted earlier this week.

    In a series of emails to the Daily News, however, the Trump campaign first flatly denied the report altogether, then later said Johnson’s name was only included as the result of a “database error.”

    Initially, Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The New that the Mother Jones “report is totally false.”

    “He has not, nor will he be, selected as a delegate,” Hicks said of Johnson.

    But when the Daily News pointed out that Johnson was indeed listed on the California Secretary of State’s website as a delegate, Hicks said he had been included because of a “database error,” though she did not immediately clarify whether she was blaming an internal campaign error or the California Secretary of State’s office.

    “Yesterday the Trump campaign submitted its list of California delegates to be certified by the Secretary of State of California. A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016,” she responded.

    When once again asked whether that meant, even with the initial error, Johnson was still a California Trump delegate, Hicks responded: “No he was rejected in February.”

    But if that is true, Johnson has yet to get the memo.

    He told Mother Jones that he had been notified of his selection by the Trump camp in a congratulatory email from Katie Lagomarsino, the candidate’s California delegate coordinator.

    White Trump hasn’t spoken of Johnson in particular, the mogul has appeared on many occasions to embrace other elements of the white nationalist movement.

    Earlier this year, he repeatedly refused to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (although he eventually did so after growing public pressure), suggested Black Lives Matters activists deserved to be “roughed up,” tweeted inaccurate crime statistics used by various KKK sympathizers and cited polls conducted by known Islamophobes.

    “But when the Daily News pointed out that Johnson was indeed listed on the California Secretary of State’s website as a delegate, Hicks said he had been included because of a “database error,” though she did not immediately clarify whether she was blaming an internal campaign error or the California Secretary of State’s office.”
    While this could obviously be the latest iteration of the Trump campaign’s pattern of embracing, and then disavowing (and then reembracing) White Nationalist supporters, who knows, maybe all the political footsie has resulted in the Trump campaign’s staff getting infiltrated by white supremacists who are operating on their own. Either scenario seems very possible since they’re almost the same scenarios at this point. What a fun mystery.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 10, 2016, 3:29 pm
  21. Donald Trump had an unexpected prompt disavowal of one of his supporters who posted a desire to see President Obama executed for treason, as opposed to the distressed, delayed disavowals he’s issued over the vocal support from figures like David Duke. Perhaps this recent prompt disavowal had to do with the fact that the man calling for Obama’s execution is Trump’s long-time butler. It is a bit awkward. But if Trump’s rule for prompt disavowals is that he only has to disavow the support of those who have a long history with him, there’s some more belated prompt disavowing still to do:

    Media Matters

    Trump Disavowed Racist Butler, But Works With Ally Who Said Clinton Should Be “Executed For Murder”

    Blog ››› 5/13/2016 ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Donald Trump publicly disavowed his former butler after violent, racist comments from him emerged, but as recently as last week Trump spoke with Roger Stone, who said Hillary Clinton should be “executed” and called an African-American commentator a “stupid negro.”

    Mother Jones reported that Donald Trump’s former butler, Anthony Senecal, who also served as the in-house historian for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, had posted a series of racist Facebook posts filled with violent imagery directed at President Obama.

    Senecal said “our pus headed ‘president’” should “have been taken out by our military and shot as an enemy agent in his first term.” He also referred to Obama as a “prick” who “needs to be hung for treason.”

    After the story was published, the Secret Service indicated it would be investigating Senecal’s alleged threats.

    The Trump campaign told CNN that they “totally and completely disavow the horrible statements made by him regarding the President.”

    But Trump is still closely connected to dirty trickster Roger Stone even after Stone’s history of violent and racist rhetoric had been exposed.

    Stone worked for Trump’s presidential campaign until August of last year, and since then has promoted Trump’s candidacy and runs a super PAC supporting Trump. Stone said he speaks with Trump “on a semi-regular basis” to discuss politics and the campaign.

    On the May 6 edition of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show, Stone said he had spoken with Trump earlier that day.

    Stone has used rhetoric very similar to the butler that Trump has now condemned.

    On his Twitter feed, Stone claimed that Hillary Clinton “must be brought to justice – arrested , tried , and executed for murder,” and called Bernie Sanders a “Soviet agent” who “should be arrested for treason and shot.” Stone also said philanthropist George Soros should be “detained, charged, tried, convicted and executed” and called for Connecticut governor Dan Malloy to be hanged.

    Stone also fantasized about the deaths of several media figures. He told journalist Jill Abramson to “DIE BITCH,” wrote about CNN commentator Ana Navarro “killing herself,” and said of Fox commentator Ed Rollins: “If he isn’t dead he should be.”

    Stone used racist language online as well. He said that commentator Roland Martin is a “stupid negro” and a “fat negro,” called radio host Herman Cain “mandingo,” and described former Rep. Allen West as an “arrogant, know-it-all negro.” Stone also said Al Sharpton is a “professional negro” who likes fried chicken.

    He also referred to Roland Martin (who is African-American) and Ana Navarro (who is Latina) as “quota hires” because they are “so dumb and unqualified that one can reach no other conclusion.”

    Alex Jones, who has emerged as a leading Trump supporter, called for columnist George Will to “blow what little is left of your brains out” in response to his opposition to Trump’s candidacy.

    “On his Twitter feed, Stone claimed that Hillary Clinton “must be brought to justice – arrested , tried , and executed for murder,” and called Bernie Sanders a “Soviet agent” who “should be arrested for treason and shot.” Stone also said philanthropist George Soros should be “detained, charged, tried, convicted and executed” and called for Connecticut governor Dan Malloy to be hanged.”
    Ok, well at least we sort of know where the line is that gets a Trump disavowal if you cross it: if you’re close to Trump, and call for the execution of elected officials, you might get a prompt disavowal. It’s a fuzzy line.

    No word yet on whether or not Trump has turned down Duke’s recent request to be Trump’s running mate. His eventual earlier disavowals of Duke presumably preclude a Trump/Duke ticket, but you never know!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 13, 2016, 1:46 pm
  22. Back in August, when Donald Trump was a relatively new occupant of the GOP’s still-full 2016 Clown Car and not yet its driver, Paul Krugman asked a question that simultaneously has many answers and yet no single answer: why is it that all of the GOP presidential candidate take such a deeply unpopular stances on things like “entitlement reform”, which everyone knows means gutting Social Security and Medicare? Why is that such a uniform stance when so many people are competing for the nomination? It’s a question that comes up election after election and the partial answers can range from ideological madness to a deep confidence in GOP vote-rigging. But for this election, thanks to Donald Trump’s candidacy, there was a slight modification to the question: why is it that every GOP candidate, except Donald Trump, is pledging to do something so unpopular despite the political costs?

    The New York Times
    The Opinion Page

    Republicans Against Retirement

    Paul Krugman
    AUG. 17, 2015

    Something strange is happening in the Republican primary — something strange, that is, besides the Trump phenomenon. For some reason, just about all the leading candidates other than The Donald have taken a deeply unpopular position, a known political loser, on a major domestic policy issue. And it’s interesting to ask why.

    The issue in question is the future of Social Security, which turned 80 last week. The retirement program is, of course, both extremely popular and a long-term target of conservatives, who want to kill it precisely because its popularity helps legitimize government action in general. As the right-wing activist Stephen Moore (now chief economist of the Heritage Foundation) once declared, Social Security is “the soft underbelly of the welfare state”; “jab your spear through that” and you can undermine the whole thing.

    But that was a decade ago, during former President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize the program — and what Mr. Bush learned was that the underbelly wasn’t that soft after all. Despite the political momentum coming from the G.O.P.’s victory in the 2004 election, despite support from much of the media establishment, the assault on Social Security quickly crashed and burned. Voters, it turns out, like Social Security as it is, and don’t want it cut.

    It’s remarkable, then, that most of the Republicans who would be president seem to be lining up for another round of punishment. In particular, they’ve been declaring that the retirement age — which has already been pushed up from 65 to 66, and is scheduled to rise to 67 — should go up even further.

    Thus, Jeb Bush says that the retirement age should be pushed back to “68 or 70”. Scott Walker has echoed that position. Marco Rubio wants both to raise the retirement age and to cut benefits for higher-income seniors. Rand Paul wants to raise the retirement age to 70 and means-test benefits. Ted Cruz wants to revive the Bush privatization plan.

    And no, Social Security does not face a financial crisis; its long-term funding shortfall could easily be closed with modest increases in revenue.

    Still, nobody should be surprised at the spectacle of politicians enthusiastically endorsing destructive policies. What’s puzzling about the renewed Republican assault on Social Security is that it looks like bad politics as well as bad policy. Americans love Social Security, so why aren’t the candidates at least pretending to share that sentiment?

    The answer, I’d suggest, is that it’s all about the big money.

    Wealthy individuals have long played a disproportionate role in politics, but we’ve never seen anything like what’s happening now: domination of campaign finance, especially on the Republican side, by a tiny group of immensely wealthy donors. Indeed, more than half the funds raised by Republican candidates through June came from just 130 families.

    And while most Americans love Social Security, the wealthy don’t. Two years ago a pioneering study of the policy preferences of the very wealthy found many contrasts with the views of the general public; as you might expect, the rich are politically different from you and me. But nowhere are they as different as they are on the matter of Social Security. By a very wide margin, ordinary Americans want to see Social Security expanded. But by an even wider margin, Americans in the top 1 percent want to see it cut. And guess whose preferences are prevailing among Republican candidates.

    You often see political analyses pointing out, rightly, that voting in actual primaries is preceded by an “invisible primary” in which candidates compete for the support of crucial elites. But who are these elites? In the past, it might have been members of the political establishment and other opinion leaders. But what the new attack on Social Security tells us is that the rules have changed. Nowadays, at least on the Republican side, the invisible primary has been reduced to a stark competition for the affections and, of course, the money of a few dozen plutocrats.

    What this means, in turn, is that the eventual Republican nominee — assuming that it’s not Mr. Trump —will be committed not just to a renewed attack on Social Security but to a broader plutocratic agenda. Whatever the rhetoric, the GOP is on track to nominate someone who has won over the big money by promising government by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.

    “What this means, in turn, is that the eventual Republican nominee — assuming that it’s not Mr. Trump —will be committed not just to a renewed attack on Social Security but to a broader plutocratic agenda. Whatever the rhetoric, the GOP is on track to nominate someone who has won over the big money by promising government by the 1 percent, for the 1 percent.”
    Well, the nominee is indeed Mr. Trump, so does that mean we’re going to see the first GOP presidential candidate in decades who isn’t going to have gutting entitlements one their agenda? After all, he has been pretty adamant about not wanting to touch Social Security.

    Well, this is Donald Trump we’re talking about here, and if Trump, the politician, is adamant about anything, it’s being adamant about being adamant about everything…and yet simultaneously vague. And that’s part of why he can be adamant about anything at all, including being adamant about the stuff that’s the opposite of what he was already adamant about:

    The Huffington Post

    Trump Was For Cutting Social Security Before He Was Against It
    He just thinks candidates don’t win elections if they admit they support cuts.
    03/11/2016 12:53 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2016

    Daniel Marans
    Reporter, Huffington Post

    Since the start of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has distinguished himself from his Republican rivals by pledging not to cut Social Security and Medicare. It’s a pledge he repeated at the GOP debate in Miami Thursday night.

    “I will do everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is; to make this country rich again,” he said Thursday.

    “It’s my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is,” he added. “Not increase the age and to leave it as is.”

    Trump repeated that he would accomplish this by making “America rich again,” mostly by negotiating better trade deals.

    Like his hostility toward free-trade agreements, Trump’s promise to protect Social Security shows he has benefitted politically from jettisoning Republican economic orthodoxy in favor of a populist platform. But Trump’s past statements suggest that his opposition to cutting Social Security is merely political posturing that he would dispense with once elected.

    In 2011, when Trump was openly considering a presidential run, he expressed approval of bipartisan talks on a budget deal that would cut Social Security and Medicare and raise revenues as part of a debt ceiling increase.

    “But how do we get this debt under control? Do you think, do we have to look at everything, is there anything you don’t cut?” radio host Dave Price asked Trump in March of that year.

    “You really have to look at everything,” Trump affirmed. “I must tell you, the Republicans and the Democrats are starting to say — and it’s very interesting ‘cause the entitlements, and you have all the other things that people are saying have to be cut and nobody wants to bring it up. But they’re really starting to say now that they’re going to have to look at that whether they like it or not.”

    He admitted to Price that demanding greater concessions from other countries in trade deals — the heart of his current plan to “make the country rich again” — was likely not enough to put Social Security and Medicare on solid financial footing.

    Cutting the popular social insurance programs would “probably” be necessary, Trump said, “unless I’m really 100 percent right about the ripoff of our country by other countries.”

    A month later, Trump reiterated his belief that Social Security and Medicare should be cut in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

    But Trump said that it was too politically costly for Republicans to propose it first, without Democratic buy-in.

    “The real money… the trillions are in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, there’s got to be some adjustment,” Hannity suggested.

    “Things have to be done, but it has to be done with both parties together,” Trump responded. “You can’t have the Republicans get too far ahead of this issue.”

    “They are going to lose elections,” he added.

    Trump singled out now-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was then the chair of the House Budget Committee Chair, for political criticism. Trump said Ryan’s budget, which proposed transforming Medicare into a voucher program, endangered the party politically.

    “I have a lot of respect for Paul Ryan,” Trump said. “I do worry that he’s a little bit far out in front because the Democrats are going to take that Medicare word, that little word called Medicare which to a lot of people mean seniors citizens. And they are going to take that word, and they’re going to say, ‘oh, senior, senior.’ And the Republicans have to be careful not to fall into a Democratic trap.”

    Trump reiterated his negative assessment of the Ryan budget in an interview that July with conservative writer Erick Erickson, calling it “political suicide for the Republican party.”

    That candor is all but gone in the current presidential run. Trump has only on rare occasions allowed his previous views on Social Security and Medicare to surface.

    Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Oct. 25 whether he agreed with Ben Carson that Medicare would need to be phased out, Trump said, “It’s possible. You’re going to have to look at that.”

    Perhaps remembering his own political advice, Trump walked back the statement two days later.

    “Abolishing Medicare, I don’t think you’ll get away with that one,” Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “It’s actually a program that’s worked. It’s a program that some people love, actually.”

    “Cutting the popular social insurance programs would “probably” be necessary, Trump said, “unless I’m really 100 percent right about the ripoff of our country by other countries.”.”
    Huh. So it turns out that Trump isn’t simply demanding that Mexico pay for his planned border wall. Mexico is effectively going to have to start helping paying our Medicare bills. Or else Medicare gets the axe. Yikes. He’s going to have to eat A LOT of taco bowls for that kind of diplomatic push.

    But assuming President Trump can’t somehow use tariffs and mass deportations to close any holes in the long-term entitlement programs, does that mean grandma is definitely going on the cat food diet? Well, when you factor in that most of the hysteria about a looming entitlement program crisis is divorced from reality and it wouldn’t actually be that difficult a fix, then there is hope for grandma.

    Although, when you also factor in that Donald’s Trump’s proclaimed tax plan would cost the trillions of dollars in revenues and probably induce a general budget crisis, than perhaps we shouldn’t be so hopeful. Especially after Donald Trump’s policy adviser, Sam Clovis, signaled to the pro-austerity Peter g. Person Foundation that, contrary to Trump’s repeated assertions otherwise, a Trump administration would indeed be open to modifying the programs…but only after Trump’s tax plan gets passed. His tax plan that’s projected to cut tax revenues by $10 trillion over the next decade:

    Reuters

    Trump open to Social Security changes if elected: adviser

    WASHINGTON | By Emily Stephenson
    Wed May 11, 2016 7:04pm EDT

    Republican Donald Trump would consider changes to Social Security and Medicare if he is elected U.S. president, a top adviser to the New York businessman said on Wednesday, signaling a shift from Trump’s earlier stance that he would not touch so-called entitlement programs.

    Policy adviser Sam Clovis said at a Washington conference that Trump would be open to a bipartisan look at entitlement spending once he implemented his other policies, such as his tax plan.

    “I think after the administration’s been in place, then we will start to take a look at all of the programs, including entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare,” Clovis said at an event hosted by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

    The foundation is known for its attacks on deficit spending, and it supports revamping Social Security and Medicare.

    “We’ll take a hard look at those to start seeing what we can do in a bipartisan way,” Clovis said, adding Trump was not proposing any entitlement changes now.

    On the campaign trail in Wisconsin last month, he attacked Republicans who he said would cut Social Security benefits.

    “It’s my absolute intention to leave Social Security the way it is,” Trump said during a Republican debate in March. “I want to make our country rich again so we can afford it.”

    Clovis said Trump’s economic policies would spur growth, and he estimated a $4.5 trillion to $7 trillion surplus over 10 years. The conservative Tax Foundation has estimated Trump’s tax plan, which calls for simplifying the tax code and slashing corporate rates, would cut U.S. tax revenues by about $10 trillion.

    Trump may retool that tax proposal to bring down the price tag, said Stephen Moore, a conservative economist with the Heritage Foundation. He said he and Larry Kudlow, who hosts a program on CNBC, have proposed changes to the tax plan.

    “What we were working with the campaign a little bit on is how can we get that cost down, cut it by half or more, without disrupting the main growth elements of the plan,” Moore told Reuters.

    Hope Hicks, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said the tax plan was not being re-written. Moore said Trump had not yet signed off on any proposed tweaks.

    “Clovis said Trump’s economic policies would spur growth, and he estimated a $4.5 trillion to $7 trillion surplus over 10 years. The conservative Tax Foundation has estimated Trump’s tax plan, which calls for simplifying the tax code and slashing corporate rates, would cut U.S. tax revenues by about $10 trillion.”
    So Trump’s $10 trillion tax cut is projected by the Trump advisers to stimulate growth so much that it actual leads to a $5-7 trillion surplus over the next decade. Which, of course, means that those entitlements programs are going to be looking awfully unaffordable should this latest iteration of supply-side tax cut mania doesn’t actually result in some sort of miracle economy. Sorry grandma.

    And note the new advisors he’s brought in to help flesh out his plans:


    Trump may retool that tax proposal to bring down the price tag, said Stephen Moore, a conservative economist with the Heritage Foundation. He said he and Larry Kudlow, who hosts a program on CNBC, have proposed changes to the tax plan.

    That’s right, in order to address the $10 trillion price tag for Trumps tax package, he’s enlisted Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow to “retool” the plan. So long grandma. It’s a reminder that when Donald Trump takes over as the driver of the GOP’s 2016 Clown Car, the car isn’t otherwise empty now that he had no more opponents. It just gets filled with new minion clowns.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 16, 2016, 6:07 pm
  23. Fox News host Megyn Kelly interviewed Donald Trump for her new interview show on the Fox broadcast network. It was unclear what to expect from the interview given the past sparring between the two, but it turns out we actually learned something about Trump and what makes him tick. Or at least we learned what he would like us to believe makes him tick. And based on his comments, it would appear that Donald Trump would like us to believe that Donald Trump behaves like Donald Trump because he’s wounded and in need of healing…and that’s why he wounds others:

    The Washington Examiner

    Trump: I wound people to ‘unwound myself’

    By Gabby Morrongiello • 5/17/16 8:40 PM

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said Tuesday that his penchant for insulting others stems from a desire to heal his own wounds.

    “When I’m wounded, I go after people hard and I try to unwound myself,” Trump said in a much-anticipated interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that aired Tuesday night on FOX.

    The Fox News anchor was the subject of Trump’s vitriol for nearly 10 months after she confronted the billionaire about his treatment of women during the first GOP primary debate last summer. On more than one occasion, Trump retweeted Twitter users who called Kelly a “bimbo” and encouraged his supporters to boycott Fox News.

    On Tuesday, Trump said he was raised to “fight back” and doesn’t have many regrets about his feud with Kelly or the insults he’s hurled at others.

    “To look back and say, “Gee, I wish I didn’t do that’ – I don’t think that’s good. I don’t even think in a certain way that’s healthy,” he told Kelly.

    Trump also suggested that every negative comments he’s made about one of his Republican opponents or a member of the media was “in response to something they did.”

    “I view myself as a person and like everybody else, I’m fighting for survival,” he said.

    “To look back and say, “Gee, I wish I didn’t do that’ – I don’t think that’s good. I don’t even think in a certain way that’s healthy
    Remorse is unhealthy, whereas hurting others to heal yourself is just something one does. You have to wonder what other ethical gems are hiding in that psyche.

    But also keep in mind that, while comments like this might make him come off as kind of a psycho, it also makes him a humanized, wounded psycho that only does what he does because of all the pain he’s suffering. He hurts because he’s been hurt. Very deeply apparently. And fighting for survival.

    So remember, the next time you see an advertisement that’s basically a montage of hurtful, degrading Trump comments, that’s just Donald trying to process all the hurt he’s feeling so he can survive another day. He’s actually quite deep and feels deeply. Except for remorse. He doesn’t feel that. But he feels lots of other emotions, hence all the hurt and subsequent hurting of others.

    You have to hand it to him: No one sells sociopathy quite like The Donald. It’s pretty brilliant.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 17, 2016, 6:01 pm
  24. The Trump campaign had another pair of “oops” moment this week regarding its delegates when one of its Maryland delegates was indicted for the unlawful transport of explosive materials, the illegal possession of a machine gun, and using a minor to produce pornography. And then there’s the campaign’s latest “white pride” delegate who was just profile in the Chicago Tribune. Oops. And this is all, of course, in the wake of the revelation that William Johnson, leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party was selected as one of the campaign’s California delegates due to a “database error”. So what’s next? Well, if William Johnson’s predictions in a recent interview are accurate, what’s next is that Trump will win the election in November at which point we’ll learn that there were more “database errors” who will be a lot more willing to self-identify themselves as “proud” database errors:

    Mother Jones

    White Nationalist Party Claims More of Its Members Are Now Trump Delegates
    Is Trump their ticket into the GOP convention and the mainstream?

    Josh Harkinson
    May 19, 2016 6:00 AM

    On May 10, Los Angeles attorney William Johnson resigned as a delegate for Donald Trump to the Republican National Convention after Mother Jones reported that Johnson is the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. The Trump campaign, which selected Johnson as one of its California delegates, blamed his inclusion on a “database error.” But white nationalist leaders, including one who has contributed to an online hate forum, are now claiming that other members of their movement have become delegates for Trump.

    “[H]ere is what they don’t know: we have more delegates!” the American Freedom Party wrote on its Facebook page last week, in response to the Mother Jones report.

    Johnson said in an interview that he is not directly involved with the AFP’s Facebook page, but he confirmed that the page is run by Robert H. DePasquale, whose covert activism as a white supremacist is well documented. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, DePasquale is a web designer in New York City who has built sites for white supremacist groups and has pseudonymously posted more than 20,000 racist and anti-Semitic messages on Stormfront, a leading online hate forum. (The forum’s motto is “White Pride World Wide.”) DePasquale did not respond to requests for comment. The AFP’s Facebook post, captured by Mother Jones in this screen shot, was soon deleted:
    [see screenshot]

    The AFP has come to see the Trump campaign as its path to taking white nationalism into the mainstream. In recent months the group and a related super-PAC have produced and funded pro-Trump robocalls, set up a “political harassment hotline” for Trump supporters, and promoted Trump on a talk radio show.

    But movement leaders appear torn about how much to shout from atop the Trump bandwagon versus staying in the shadows. Johnson told Mother Jones that he knows of at least one other AFP member who has been selected by a state party to attend the GOP convention this July. Johnson declined to identify the person for fear of compromising the person’s involvement with the GOP, but he disclosed that he is an “honorary” delegate for Trump from an Eastern state. So-called honorary delegates do not have voting power, but typically are selected by state parties to attend the convention, often as a perk in exchange for political donations.

    At Johnson’s request, the AFP delegate for Trump agreed to be interviewed by Mother Jones, but later backed out. Johnson said there are additional white nationalist Trump delegates who have been in touch with movement leaders, though “I don’t actually know who they are. There are people who are surreptitious,” he said.

    “Right now people are still a little bit afraid because they will have the same reaction that happened to me,” Johnson explained. “We just have to give it a few more months before people feel comfortable.”

    The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

    Johnson believes that Trump’s rise will motivate other white nationalists to express their views publicly. “You’ve got to realize that I’m out in the open and upfront, but a lot of people aren’t there yet,” he said. “Talk to me in eight months and more people will be out. Particularly if Donald Trump gets elected.”

    “At Johnson’s request, the AFP delegate for Trump agreed to be interviewed by Mother Jones, but later backed out. Johnson said there are additional white nationalist Trump delegates who have been in touch with movement leaders, though “I don’t actually know who they are. There are people who are surreptitious,” he said.
    It sure sounds like the open white nationalists are having success at infiltrating the almost open white nationalist Trump campaign which, itself, is sort of an insurgency within the not quite but almost as openly white nationalist Republic Party. It’s been a good year for white nationalism (on top of a pretty good few decades).

    So if the white nationalists have been joining the Trump campaign with such ease, you have to wonder what else is hiding in that campaign? And what possible impact could the Trump unorthodox delegate selections have in the actual election? That’s hard to say, although if this trickle of trouble remains steady throughout the next few months it seems like it could have at least some sort of effect on the public’s perception of Trump’s character and judgement. Don’t forget that William Johnson wasn’t hiding his views at all when that “database error” happened and the guy had been running pro-Trump white nationalist robocalls for months. But whatever impact the Trumpian delegate selection process has on how the public perceives Trump’s agenda, it’s probably not going to have as big an impact as the Trump campaign’s decision to not even vet itself:

    Mother Jones

    Trump’s Political Advisers Wanted to Vet Him. He Said No.
    The apparent GOP nominee declined to go through the standard campaign practice.

    David Corn
    May 19, 2016 6:00 AM

    For most major presidential campaigns, it is a routine act: You conduct opposition research on your own candidate. The reason is obvious; campaign officials and candidates want to know what they might have to contend with once the you-know-what starts flying. But not Donald Trump. At least not at the start of the campaign that would lead to him becoming the presumptive GOP nominee. According to a source with direct knowledge, when Trump was considering entering the presidential race early last year, his political advisers, including Corey Lewandowski, who would become his campaign manager, suggested that he hire a professional to investigate his past. But the celebrity mogul said no and refused to pay for it.

    Marital infidelity, connections to mob-related persons, bankruptcies, the hiring of undocumented workers, policy flip-flops, deals gone bad, legal troublesTrump’s life is an opposition researcher’s dream. That was no secret to his political lieutenants, who prior to his announcement discussed the need to conduct a deep dive into the tycoon’s background. The point was to do more than Google searches and perusing of the many books written on Trump—and to instead mount a full forensic examination of everything Donald. Especially before anyone else did. (Trump’s aides had heard a rumor that wealthy conservative donors, perhaps including the Koch brothers, were underwriting a private opposition research effort aimed at the former reality TV star.)

    “Everyone does this,” says a former Mitt Romney aide. “I don’t know a campaign that didn’t. It’s a standard procedure.” Political research firms specialize in this sort of work. “It’s an off-the-shelf service they provide,” this aide notes. “For X dollars, you get a different level of digging. I’ve never known a campaign that didn’t do this. After all, you’re expected to know your own record. Any responsible campaign would do that.”

    The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

    One subject on the mind of Trump’s advisers was Jeffrey Epstein, the finance mogul who was arrested in 2006 and subsequently pleaded guilty to having solicited paid sex with a minor. He ultimately served 13 months in prison and had to register as a sex offender. (Several years ago, alleged Epstein victims filed a lawsuit against the US government claiming Epstein received too sweet a plea bargain.) Trump’s advisers didn’t know of anything in particular to worry about. But they knew Trump had been linked to his fellow Palm Beach resident. In 2002, Trump had said of Epstein, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life.” Epstein had occasionally visited Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s estate and club down the road from Epstein’s mansion. Trump also had flown on Epstein’s plane and had dined at his house. And Virginia Roberts, an alleged Epstein victim who tried to join the civil lawsuit, maintaining that Epstein kept her as a sex slave for several years when she was a teenager, was working at Mar-a-Lago as a changing room assistant when she was recruited, at age 15, to be a masseuse for Epstein. (A judge recently denied Roberts’ bid to become a plaintiff in the case.)

    Trump has downplayed his association with Epstein. But these connections would be enough to cause any senior campaign staffer to want a full examination. “This vetting process was not for the purpose of looking at Epstein specifically,” a Trump insider says. “It was to be an audit to see what could be found on anything.” (Conservatives have pointed to Bill Clinton’s friendship with Epstein—he often was a passenger on Epstein’s private plane—as possible ammunition to be used in the 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton.)

    Though Trump would not authorize an extensive research effort to identify what oppo might be most harmful to his candidacy, his campaign did prepare responses to obvious lines of attack against the billionaire. Mother Jones reviewed one campaign memo outlining possible replies to expected assaults, but most of these topics were policy and political matters already in the public realm. What about Trump’s 1999 proposal to raise taxes on the well-to-do? Trump merely had proposed a one-time fix designed to erase the national debt, a move that showed that Trump possessed the foresight to see that deficits would become a major problem. What about his past donations to Democrats? Trump was supporting incumbents of both parties as an act of civic participation, and since 2011 he has only contributed to Republicans. What about Trump manufacturing his clothing line in China? He had played no role in the decision to outsource, and China was picked because US regulation and red tape made it too expensive to manufacture goods in the United States. What about his failure to serve in the military? Trump had received student deferments, and as a graduate of a military academy he has been a strong proponent of the US military and veterans.

    These were talking points designed to deal with the existing public record—not responses crafted to address new revelations. At the beginning of his presidential crusade, Trump would not allow his aides to prepare for that. The candidate, who now refuses to release his income taxes, did not want his own campaign scrutinizing his past. He was not willing to be transparent—not even for his own team.

    “Marital infidelity, connections to mob-related persons, bankruptcies, the hiring of undocumented workers, policy flip-flops, deals gone bad, legal troublesTrump’s life is an opposition researcher’s dream. That was no secret to his political lieutenants, who prior to his announcement discussed the need to conduct a deep dive into the tycoon’s background. The point was to do more than Google searches and perusing of the many books written on Trump—and to instead mount a full forensic examination of everything Donald. Especially before anyone else did. (Trump’s aides had heard a rumor that wealthy conservative donors, perhaps including the Koch brothers, were underwriting a private opposition research effort aimed at the former reality TV star.)”
    Yep, it’s not just the Trump delegation that’s filled with yet to be disclosed secrets. Trump’s own life is filled with yet to be disclosed secrets. And that’s no secret.

    And that’s all part of why the Trump campaign’s lack of vetting Trump himself could be such a fascinating election issue: When you consider that the campaign seasons in the lead up to an actual vote is the period when democracies are supposed to vet their potential leaders, the Trump campaign’s obvious vetting issues, combined with the constant flip-flopping and secrecy of Trump’s policy stances, are a great reminder that a vote for Trump at this point is a vote against vetting. It’s a vote against a lot of other things too, but also vetting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2016, 3:53 pm
  25. One of the big questions of the day that’s probably going to be a question historians are probably going to ask for centuries to come about the character of humanity’s 21st century leadership is whether or not the global elites basically believed that man-made climate change was a real phenomena and just chose to play dumb and do what it takes to ensure nothing meaningful is done to prevent it or reduce the impact. Because if it turns out that folks like, say, Donald Trump really do believe that man-made climate change science is pointing towards potentially catastrophic scenarios but chose for whatever reason to tell the public that it was all a giant hoax, well, that would basically be super-villain behavior.

    And if it turns out that a whole bunch of the people in Trump’s social strata are engaged in the same malicious nihilism, well, then we have a league of super-villains trying to destroy the planet. And the greater the oncoming environmental catastrophe, the greater the incentives future historians will have to ask the question of whether or not humanity’s 21st century elites intentionally set the planet on an collision course with doom. It’s going to be a pretty compelling future question. Especially if it also turns out that those same elites who were telling us it’s all hoax were quietly preparing their personal empires to deal with catastrophic climate change:

    Politico

    Trump acknowledges climate change — at his golf course

    The billionaire, who called global warming a hoax, warns of its dire effects in his company’s application to build a sea wall.

    By Ben Schreckinger

    05/23/16 05:35 AM EDT

    Donald Trump says he is “not a big believer in global warming.” He has called it “a total hoax,” “bullshit” and “pseudoscience.”

    But he is also trying to build a sea wall designed to protect one of his golf courses from “global warming and its effects.”

    The New York billionaire is applying for permission to erect a coastal protection works to prevent erosion at his seaside golf resort, Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Ireland, in County Clare.
    A permit application for the wall, filed by Trump International Golf Links Ireland and reviewed by POLITICO, explicitly cites global warming and its consequences — increased erosion due to rising sea levels and extreme weather this century — as a chief justification for building the structure.

    The zoning application raises further questions about how the billionaire developer would confront a risk he has publicly minimized but that has been identified as a defining challenge of this era by world leaders, global industry and the American military. His public disavowal of climate science at the same time he moves to secure his own holdings against the effects of climate change also illustrates the conflict between his political rhetoric and the realities of running a business with seaside assets in the 21st century.

    “It’s diabolical,” said former South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis, an advocate of conservative solutions to climate change. “Donald Trump is working to ensure his at-risk properties and his company is trying to figure out how to deal with sea level rise. Meanwhile, he’s saying things to audiences that he must know are not true. … You have a soft place in your heart for people who are honestly ignorant, but people who are deceitful, that’s a different thing.”

    Neither Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, nor Alan Garten, the general counsel of the Trump Organization, the umbrella company for Trump’s business ventures, responded to requests for comment.

    For years, owners of seaside assets, investors, and industries like reinsurance have been busily adapting to and hedging against climate change – a reality widely acknowledged by the world’s top business leaders.

    “If you’re being responsible you are protecting your property and investing in these things,” said Cynthia McHale, director of the insurance program at Ceres, a nonprofit that works with businesses and institutional investors to promote sustainability. “It’s certainly best practice.” But McHale added that many commercial developers of seaside properties fail to account for climate change in their decisions because they are focused on short time horizons.

    Trump snatched up the golf resort from a distressed buyer in February 2014, after a winter in which an unusual number of severe storms hit the west coast of Ireland. The businessman immediately took an active hand in advancing and promoting his Irish investment.

    In April of 2014, Tony Lowes, director of Friends of the Irish Environment, said Trump called him to offer the group help in opposing a proposed offshore wind project in a nearby, environmentally sensitive area. The group, which has since come out against Trump’s proposed wall, declined the businessman’s offer.

    The next month, Trump gave an interview about the golf resort, also known as Trump Doonbeg, on Irish radio, vowing to invest up to €45m in the property. “If I didn’t have confidence in Ireland I would never have made this big investment,” he said. He also promised to “reshape it and make it one of the greatest golf courses in the world.”

    But Trump has encountered obstacles to that vision. Days before he concluded his purchase, a single storm eroded as much as eight meters of frontage in some parts of the golf course. Since acquiring the property, Trump has been trying to build coastal protection works to prevent further erosion.

    Earlier this month, after failing to win special approval from the national government for the structure, Trump re-submitted a planning application with the Clare County Council seeking permission to build the wall, which would consist of 200,000 tons of rock distributed along two miles of beach. As part of the application, Trump International Golf Links submitted an environmental impact statement — prepared by an Irish environmental consultancy — which argues that erosion is likely to accelerate as sea levels rise more quickly.

    The statement acknowledges one Irish government study that assumes a steady rate of erosion through 2050, but argues that the study fails to account for the effects of climate change: “If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland. In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring. … As a result, we would expect the rate of dune recession to increase.”

    The bigger problem, though, according to the impact statement, will be the erosion caused by larger, more frequent storms. “As with other predictions of global warming and its effects, there is no universal consensus regarding changes in these events,” it states. “Our advice is to assume that the recent average rate of dune recession will not alter greatly in the next few decades, perhaps as far into the future as 2050 as assumed in the [government study] but that subsequently an increase in this rate is more likely than not.”

    Later, the statement argues that rising sea levels make taking action unavoidable. “A Do nothing/Do minimum option will have the least impact on [natural] processes but the existing erosion rate will continue and worsen, due to sea level rise, in the next coming years, posing a real and immediate risk to most of the golf course frontage and assets,” states the conclusion of an analysis of various options for responding to the erosion.

    Trump’s company has warned not only the county council of the perils of climate change, but also local residents. An appendix to TIGL’s planning application includes a scan of a brochure that the company has distributed to residents to make the case for building the proposed coastal protection works. The heading of one page — emblazoned with a “Trump Doonbeg” logo — is “Need for Coastal Protection.” The page lists four bullet points, the last of which is, “Predicted sea level rise and more frequent storm events will increase the rate of erosion throughout the 21st century.”

    The statements in the filings contradict positions publicly held by Trump, who has weighed in repeatedly on climate change in recent years – mostly to dismiss it outright. In 2012, he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” though he has since insisted the tweet was a joke. In 2013, he tweeted, “We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!” In January 2014, he tweeted, “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.”

    In some recent comments, Trump has continued to defy the widely held scientific consensus about man-made climate change, but his statements have become more complicated, if not entirely clear.

    “I’m not a believer in global warming. And I’m not a believer in man-made global warming,” Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in September. “It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point. And you know, in the early, in the 1920s, people talked about global cooling.”

    That same month, Trump appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and said, “I consider climate change to be not one of our big problems. I consider it to be not a big problem at all. I think it’s weather. I think it’s weather changes. It could be some man-made something, but you know, if you look at China, they’re doing nothing about it. Other countries, they’re doing nothing about it. It’s a big planet.”

    Asked by a Washington Post editorial writer in March, “Don’t good businessmen hedge against risks, not ignore them?” Trump responded, “I just think we have much bigger risks. I mean I think we have militarily tremendous risks. I think we’re in tremendous peril. I think our biggest form of climate change we should worry about is nuclear weapons.”

    The Pentagon, however, describes climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.”.

    “It’s conceivable that he might swing around on this,” Inglis said. “Of course it would be a smart political move for him or for anyone because that’s where the public’s already going. That’s where millennials are going. That’s where the future is.”

    “The statements in the filings contradict positions publicly held by Trump, who has weighed in repeatedly on climate change in recent years – mostly to dismiss it outright. In 2012, he tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” though he has since insisted the tweet was a joke. In 2013, he tweeted, “We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!” In January 2014, he tweeted, “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.””
    Huh. So at the same time Donald Trump is advocating policies that will destroy coastal real estate around the world, he’s trying to make his own golf courses climate-change proof. Well, at least future historians will be able to give him plenty of credit for super-villain league ambitions. Less credit for super-villain league originality.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 23, 2016, 2:23 pm
  26. Buffalo New York Congressman Chris Collins, one of the Trump campaign’s allies in congress who has emerged as a surrogate or sorts, dropped a bit of a bombshell last week when he suggested that Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico was really just rhetoric. Well, not quite rhetoric. There will be a wall, according to Collins, but it will be a “virtual wall” and undocumented immigrants will be virtually deported through the virtual wall:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Top Trump Surrogate Says Border Wall and Mass Deportation Will Be “Virtual”

    By Josh Marshall
    Published May 18, 2016, 11:04 PM EDT

    Buffalo New York Congressman Chris Collins (R-NY) was the first member of Congress to endorse presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and he’s become a key campaign surrogate for the reputed billionaire businessman. But in a Tuesday interview with The Buffalo News, Collins said he believed two of Trump’s signature campaign proposals would never be carried out.

    Collins said he believed the wall Trump promised to build along the US-Mexico border would be more an idea than a physical wall. “I have called it a virtual wall. Maybe we will be building a wall over some aspects of it; I don’t know.”

    Collins also said that Trump’s controversial plan to deport roughly 3% of the current US population would be a “rhetorical” exercise rather than a physical deportation.

    From The Buffalo News

    “I call it a rhetorical deportation of 12 million people,” Collins said.

    He then gestured toward a door in his Capitol Hill office.

    “They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States,” Collins said. “So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”

    Collins added: “We’re not going to put them on a bus, and we’re not going to drive them across the border.”

    Collins went on to say that he was sure Trump would deny these plans. But he was nonetheless confident that Trump’s bold assertions were merely opening gambits in a long negotiation.

    “They go out that door, they go in that room, they get their work papers, Social Security number, then they come in that door, and they’ve got legal work status but are not citizens of the United States…So there was a virtual deportation as they left that door for processing and came in this door.”
    Wow. That’s quite a twist. And the best part is that Mexico will probably be more than happy to pay virtual money for this virtual wall. It’s win, win, win!

    Except it’s not a win for the anti-Latino segment of the Trumpian hordes that’s been salivating over the prospect of rounding up and deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants for years, and that’s a pretty big segment. So how will they react if President Trump makes virtual mass deportations across the virtual wall his method for making good on his campaign pledge? It seems like they would be non-virtually livid.

    But, of course, the real disappoint with that kind of virtual betrayal of his supporters will be taking place within the broader context of everything else that’s going on during a putative Trump presidency. And there’s nothing stopping Trump from doing an array of other anti-Latino/anti-immigrant actions to sort of make up for the fact that his key campaign pledge that propelled him to victory was a sham all along. For instance, what if, instead of building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the US, Trump chose a VP that could dedicate his presidency to building a wall between Democratic voters and the voting booth. Would that be enough “red meat” to keep a disappointed base from feeling like they were just bamboozled by another billionaire? Based on the Trump supporters in the following article, choosing a VP who would build that wall between voters and the voting booth would probably go a long way. Especially if the VP is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach:

    MSNBC

    Far-right nativists eye Kris Kobach for Donald Trump’s vice president
    05/23/16 06:15 PM

    By Zachary Roth

    Far-right Donald Trump supporters are eyeing Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and a leading figure in the Republican assault on voting rights, as a potential running mate for the presumptive GOP nominee.

    The two appear to have similar worldviews. For decades, most modern Republicans have talked about the need to shrink government in order to protect liberty. By contrast, Trump and Kobach are more likely to emphasize “security” – both on the border and at the polls. Call it big-government conservatism.

    Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, endorsed Trump in late February. And last month Kobach said Trump’s idea for getting Mexico to pay for a border wall came from him. The plan involves cutting off remittances from the U.S. to Mexico, which inject about $20 billion a year into the Mexican economy. In response, goes the thinking, Mexico would agree to fund the wall, which is projected to cost about $10 billion, as the cheaper option.

    “Mr. Trump was receptive to that idea. And I think he’s an excellent negotiator, and he looks for opportunities to put pressure on opposing parties in negotiations, and this fits the bill,” Kobach told the Topeka Capitol-Journal.

    Experts have said the idea would only drive remittances onto the black market and could needlessly alienate an important regional partner.

    The nativist website VDARE.com has promoted Kobach as a veep selection for Trump. Peter Brimelow, the site’s founder, called Kobach’s endorsement of Trump “a very brave move,” adding: “Kobach for veep.” The Southern Poverty Law Center describes VDARE, which has regularly published writing by white nationalists and anti-Semites, as a hate group. It’s named for Virginia Dare, said to be the first English child born in the New World.

    In March, Kobach served as a de facto surrogate for Trump in an interview with PBS, in which he appeared alongside Marco Rubio supporter Henry Barbour. Kobach praised Trump for “taking the strongest position that we’ve ever heard a presidential candidate take on illegal immigration” and attacked Rubio as a supporter of “amnesty.”

    The performance drew raves from VDARE. “In a GOP party that was living up to its professed principles, people like Kobach, and not Barbour, would be running things,” a writer for the site enthused, describing Kobach as “a stalwart warrior against the illegal immigrant invasion.” The post also appeared at the neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, whose founder has endorsed Trump.

    Last week, the vice presidential speculation went more mainstream with a tweet from Mickey Kaus, a former writer for The New Republic and Slate who has adopted an increasingly hard line on immigration.

    Kobach, a former aide to then-Attorney-General John Ashcroft, was the lead author of immigration laws passed by Arizona and Alabama in recent years, which are seen as the strictest immigration measures in the nation. The laws require law enforcement to try to determine a person’s legal status during any legal stop if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented.

    As Kansas’ top elections official, Kobach has been equally well-known for making it harder to vote. He championed a 2011 state law that requires people to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote. In November 2014, Kobach kept around 24,000 voter registration applications in limbo because they didn’t include documentary proof of citizenship. Last week, a federal judge ordered Kobach’s office to begin processing suspended applications submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles, significantly weakening the law. Kobach’s office is appealing the ruling. And in January he convinced the director of the federal agency that helps states oversee elections to make a highly controversial change to the federal voter registration form that allows his state, as well as Georgia and Alabama, to ask for proof of citizenship. Both of those states have passed similar laws to Kansas’. That move, too, has drawn a lawsuit. Kobach claims non-citizen voting threatens the integrity of elections but has been able to point to only a tiny number of cases.

    Kobach’s record as a supporter of voting restrictions and especially of proof of citizenship requirements may well appeal to Trump, who has several times voiced support for tight voting laws and suggested, without evidence, that illegal voting is a serious problem. “I want to see voting laws so that people that are citizens can vote,” Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this month. “Not so people that can walk off the street and can vote, or so that illegal immigrants can vote.”

    “You’ve got to have real security with the voting system,” Trump said on the campaign trail in January. “This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times.”

    Earlier this month, Kobach told The Wichita Eagle that he intends “to be available to Mr. Trump to continue to provide any advice he needs on immigration issues” but that he has no expectation of a post in a Trump administration.

    “Kobach, a former aide to then-Attorney-General John Ashcroft, was the lead author of immigration laws passed by Arizona and Alabama in recent years, which are seen as the strictest immigration measures in the nation. The laws require law enforcement to try to determine a person’s legal status during any legal stop if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is undocumented.”
    That’s right, Kansas’s secretary of state is not only a one-man voting rights wrecking crew. He was also the architect of Arizona’s notorious SB-20170 “papers please” law which was sponsored by neo-Nazi fellow traveler Russell Pearce and would have basically forced latinos to carry around proof of citizenship wherever they go or face potential arrest and jailing. You can see why the white nationalists describe above would LOVE Kobach for VP. But he also seems like a pretty good general fit for the Trump campaign in general. Kobach certainly aligns well with the Trumpian component of the national zeitgeist.

    Of course, this all assumes that Rep Collins was correct and Donald Trump really does have no plans for anything other than a virtual wall with virtual mass deportations. But given the absurdity of Trumps proposals, it’s hard to rule Rep Collins’s suggestion out. And while we proles may not get to know Trumps real intentions before the election, Trump himself presumably knows if his wall pledge was a real or virtual pledge. And if Trump does know it’s a virtual pledge, he also knows he’s going to have to really do something dramatic and really mean to Latinos in order to please the Trumpian hordes once they find out they’ve been fooled. So, while Kobach as VP might be a little too risky for the general election, Kobach for attorney general or something along those lines could be the kind of post-election decision a president-elect Trump could make this Fall in anticipation of the big “virtual” disappointments he’d eventually have to admit.

    It’s all one of those unpleasant thoughts that makes the prospect of a Trump presidency that much more unpleasant, although it would be kind of nice if his mass deportation/wall plans really are virtual plans. And should we end up with a Trump president, keep in mind that there is still hope. Granted, it’s virtual hope, but that’s pretty good.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 24, 2016, 3:10 pm
  27. While Donald Trump may be branding himself as an anti-politician who cuts through the political bluster to get things done it’s easy to forge that he’s actually a highly skilled politician. For instance, when you can convince both neo-Nazis calling for the death of Jewish reporters critical of Trump and Jewish conservatives that you’re secretly on their side you’re obviously highly adept at strategic bluster. And, in this case, strategic silence:

    The Huffington Post

    Trump’s Neo-Nazi And Jewish Backers Are Both Convinced He’s Secretly On Their Side

    Which works out great for him.

    Jessica Schulberg
    Foreign Affairs Reporter, The Huffington Post
    05/26/2016 03:54 pm ET | Updated 11 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON — “He’s not Hitler,” Melania Trump said earlier this month in defense of her husband.

    It’s a disclaimer not typically offered about the presidential nominee of a modern political party. But white nationalists and neo-Nazis have embraced Donald Trump — sending robocalls on his behalf, calling him their “Glorious Leader” on hate websites, and sending threatening messages to Jewish journalists covering him — and the presumptive Republican standard-bearer has repeatedly declined opportunities to denounce them.

    Trump stalled before disavowing the endorsement of David Duke, a former KKK leader, and missed a deadline to take white nationalist honcho William Johnson off his delegate list. “I don’t have a message to the fans,” Trump said when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked if he had anything to say to his supporters who sent Holocaust-themed memes and offered overnight casket delivery and homicide cleanup services to Julia Ioffe, a HuffPost Highline contributor who wrote a GQ profile of Melania.

    Trump still hasn’t spoken out against his anti-Semitic supporters, who also threatened New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman, called for the death of conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro and his children, and told conservative writer Bethany Mandel she deserved “the oven.”

    That silence has both Trump’s neo-Nazi fans and his Jewish supporters convinced the candidate is secretly on their side.

    “We interpret that as an endorsement,” Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, named for the Hitler-era tabloid Der Stürmer, told The Huffington Post in an email.

    “Glorious Leader Donald Trump Refuses to Denounce Stormer Troll Army,” Anglin, who describes himself and his readers as “virulent” Trump supporters, posted on his website after the CNN interview. “We support Trump because he is the savior of the White race, sent by God to free us from the shackles of the Jew occupation and establish a 1000 Reich,” Anglin told HuffPost.

    Anglin and Trump’s other neo-Nazi supporters love that he called Mexican immigrants rapists, and back his plan to ban all of the planet’s 1.6 billion Muslims from entering the U.S. But they’re also convinced he’ll take on Jews.

    And although many Jewish conservatives are disgusted that Trump’s campaign has invigorated and delighted fringe neo-Nazi groups, some top Jewish Republicans have decided to simply look the other way.

    Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, for whom support of Israel is the key issue in selecting a candidate to back, endorsed Trump shortly after Ioffe filed a police report over the death threats she’d received from his supporters.

    Ari Fleischer, who was a spokesman for President George W. Bush and who now sits on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, announced on Twitter that he preferred Trump to likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

    The anti-Semitic attacks on Ioffe won’t stop Fleischer from supporting Trump, he told HuffPost.

    “The fact that the Black Panthers came out for Barack Obama doesn’t make Barack Obama a Black Panther sympathizer,” Fleischer, who noted that Trump was his “17th choice” as the Republican candidate, told HuffPost. “You cannot ascribe to a candidate the views of the worst radical fringes that may support them. … These arguments about how Donald Trump shouldn’t be supported because fringe radical groups have said good things about him — I reject entirely.

    “I’m sure you’ll find Communists and socialists supporting Clinton,” Fleischer said.

    Orthodox Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a controversial media personality, wrote in praise of Trump’s support of Israel and “long friendship with the Jewish community.” (Boteach has said he disagrees with Trump’s call to ban Muslims from visiting the U.S.)

    The Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that says it “works to sensitize Republican leadership in government and the party to the concerns and issues of the Jewish community,” issued a statement on Tuesday suggesting that anti-Semitism is just as much of a problem among Hillary Clinton supporters and Bernie Sanders supporters as it is among Trump’s.

    “We abhor any abuse of journalists, commentators and writers,” the RJC said, “whether it be from Sanders, Clinton or Trump supporters.”

    But the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors the activity of hate groups, singles out the Trump campaign for fueling the white nationalist movement.

    “The person who was privately reading a hate site before is now commenting on a hate site or posting on Twitter,” said Heidi Beirich, who heads the SPLC’s intelligence project. “This is the first time they’ve had a mainstream candidate.”

    Anglin and his followers are “making a scene to force an audience, wittingly or not, to consider an extreme political position,” Keegan Hankes, one of Beirich’s SPLC colleagues, wrote earlier this year. “What used to dwell in the darkest corners of the web, has now crept into the mainstream.”

    There are other indications that Trump’s candidacy, which a KKK spokeswoman told The Washington Post has opened “a door to conversation” about white nationalism, is helping hate groups.

    A record number of people attended the annual conference for The American Renaissance, a white supremacist publication. Jared Taylor, its founder, attributes the attendance spike, in part, to Trump — although he suspects Michael Brown and Freddie Gray “contributed even more,” he wrote in an email.

    The Daily Stormer’s traffic has steadily increased since Anglin started it in 2013, and has more than doubled over the past six months, reaching 120,000 visitors a day, said Anglin, who monitors the traffic using Cloudfare analytics.

    Some reporters, including The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, have questioned whether the army of pro-Trump Nazi sympathizers who attack the candidate’s critics on Twitter are real people or just bots operated by a handful of people with multiple accounts. (There are “six million,” several of the Twitter trolls told Goldberg, referencing the number of Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust.) Neo-Nazi tweeters rarely use real names or photographs, which could be a sign of a bogus account, but could also mean the user wants anonymous protection to hate-tweet.

    Twitter would not say whether there has been an increase in anti-Semitic behavior on its platform, or whether the harassment is coming from real Twitter users. But HuffPost ran 53 pro-Trump neo-Nazi accounts through “Bot or Not,” an algorithm that analyzes Twitter users’ tweets, followers and metadata and produces a score indicating how likely it is the account is a bot. The lower the score, the more likely the account is to be operated by a real person. Of the 53 accounts, 47 received a score below 40 percent — the threshold that Filippo Menczer, who worked on the Bot or Not tool, said is a fairly good indicator that an account is controlled by a real person. The average score of the 53 troll accounts was 30 percent — slightly higher than my own score of 22 percent.

    Anglin, whose own Twitter account was shut down, says he is “certain” that the accounts of the people who targeted Ioffe and Weisman are real, because he knows them personally. On his website, commenters bragged about their harassment with links to their tweets; shared anti-Semitic memes and hashtags they used on Twitter; and posted the contact information of their targets.

    Trump’s continued silence on these sorts of attacks serves a political function: It allows both his Jewish and his neo-Nazi backers to believe he’s with them. Maybe that’s the point.

    Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg, the founder of the Facebook group Rabbis for Trump, argues that Trump’s daughter’s conversion to Orthodox Judaism is proof enough that he harbors no ill-will toward Jews. “You’ve got two Trumps — The Trump that’s trying to get the vote, and the Trump in real life,” said Rosenberg, who renamed his group “Rabbi for Trump” after failing to attract support from other Jewish clergy members.

    Anglin agrees that there are two Trumps, and he isn’t worried that Trump has Jewish supporters and family members. Trump, he said, is too savvy to openly announce his views on Jews, and only allowed his daughter to convert to Judaism to trick Jews into supporting him. “He couldn’t simply say it straight,” Anglin wrote. “That just wouldn’t fly in America.”

    But Rosenberg, who, like Anglin, is attracted to Trump’s plan to deal with “extremist Muslims,” is convinced the neo-Nazis have Trump wrong. “I don’t think he’s going to go out and hurt Jews — between Ivanka, and the grandchildren … that’s not going to happen,” Rosenberg said. “He’s not Hitler.”

    “I don’t think he’s going to go out and hurt Jews — between Ivanka, and the grandchildren … that’s not going to happen…He’s not Hitler.”
    Wow. Not Hitler. That’s a high bar. Still, Trump does seem to have a magic touch. At least with stalwart GOPer Jews. Maybe not so much with the rest of the GOP-leaning Jewish electorate but we’ll see.

    Either way, given the reality that one of the lasting impacts of someone like Hitler is a historical lowering of the bar for all leaders (“hey, at least [insert horribly destructive leader X] isn’t Hitler!”), it’s worth keeping in mind that by breaking the contemporary GOP mold and openly embracing or at least quietly tolerating the neo-Nazi faction of American politics, Donald Trump has basically lowered the contemporary bar for the foreseeable future for the GOP. Going forward, any Republican politician who simply says, “I don’t agree with the KKK and I won’t hesitate to make that clear,” is now a moderate Republican who you apparently shouldn’t be scared to elect. Because, hey, [insert horribly destructive GOP candidate X] is no Donald Trump, but just a traditional, respectable Republican. There’s nothing to fear. In other words, if Donald Trump wins, the GOP gets one more chance to destroy the nation from the executive branch. But if he loses, and loses big, the entire GOP going forward can claim to be ‘moderate’, or at least more moderate than Trump, simply by condemning neo-Nazis.

    Donald Trump is proving to be quite a politician. And at least he’s not Hitler!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 27, 2016, 11:42 am
  28. William Johnson, the leader of the white nationalist “American Freedom Party” party which has been robocalling for Trump, is reportedly begging the Republican National Committee to allow him to volunteer for the Trump campaign at the party’s convention, promising to be respectful and not make a scene now that he’s no longer an official Trump delegate.

    Along with the robocalling, it’s a somewhat puzzling tactic to keeping publicly clamoring for an official position in the Trump campaign for someone like Johnson who claims to be one of Trump’s biggest fans. One the one hand, it should be obvious to someone like Johnson that the open embrace by Trump of an overt white nationalist like Johnson might not actually help Johnson’s favorite candidate to get elected (didn’t he get the memo?). But on the other hand, perhaps Johnson has already come to the conclusion that an open Trumpian embrace of a white nationalist like Johnson really doesn’t make that much of a difference at this point. It wouldn’t be an unreasonable conclusion at this point:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Over the Waterfall Into Trump’s Racist Abyss

    By Josh Marshall Published May 31, 2016, 12:49 PM EDT

    Some events are important to take note of. One of them happened on Friday when the Republican nominee for President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, again used a campaign rally to launch into a racist tirade against the federal judge presiding over two of the three fraud lawsuits against Trump’s now defunct “Trump University.” Federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was born in 1953 in East Chicago, Indiana. He was a federal prosecutor from 1989 to 2006, primarily working in narcotics enforcement. He was a state judge from 2006 until 2012 when President Obama nominated him to serve as a Federal District Court Judge in the Southern District of California. While serving as US Attorney in 1997, Curiel was reportedly the targeted for assassination by members of the Arellano Felix drug cartel during his ultimately successful prosecution of the cartel.

    Nor is this the first time Trump has gone after Curiel as a “Mexican” who is attacking Trump because of his ethnic heritage.

    Trump’s first attack on Curiel came in late February just after Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and others started calling attention to claims of fraud against “Trump University,” what I called at the time a “clownishly crooked scam that exploited people who didn’t have a lot of money but bet it all on Trump’s razzmatazz.” In that now notorious February 25th debate where Rubio went all in with often antic attacks on Trump, the one that really hit home was the one on what Rubio called Trump’s ‘fake school’.

    Two days later at a rally in Bentonville, Arkansas, Trump sought to minimize the on-going fraud suits as the product of a personal vendetta by Judge Curiel who Trump suggested had a “tremendous hostility” toward him because he was “Spanish”. (There is an entirely separate state suit in New York State.)

    The judge should have thrown the case out on summary judgment. But because it was me and because there’s a hostility toward me by the judge, tremendous hostility, beyond belief––I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine, he’s Hispanic, which is fine, and we haven’t asked for a recusal, which we may do, but we have a judge who’s very hostile.

    The next day on Fox News Sunday, Trump told Chris Wallace …

    I think the judge has been extremely hostile to me. I think it has to do with the fact I’m very, very strong on the border, and he happens to be extremely hostile to me. We have a very hostile judge. He is Hispanic, and he is very hostile to me.

    Then on Friday Trump devoted roughly twelve minutes of a campaign speech in San Diego to an even more barbed racist tirade against Curiel.

    “Here’s what happens. We’re in front of a very hostile judge. The Judge was appointed by Barack Obama … Frankly he should recuse himself … This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily. Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel … The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine … You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK? … I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?”

    It is unprecedented for a presidential candidate to personally attack and even threaten a federal judge. (To be fair, I’m not sure there’s been a nominee being sued for fraud during the presidential campaign.) But here we have Trump making an openly racist argument against a federal judge, arguing that Curiel is pursuing a vendetta against him because Trump is, he says, “I’m very, very strong on the border.”

    Today while taking questions after announcing belated donations to veterans groups, CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed Trump on his criticisms of Judge Curiel. Toward the end of the exchange, in which Trump repeated his claims about bias and unfairness, Acosta asked Trump: “Why mention that the judge is Mexican?” Trump answered: “Because I’m a man of principle. Most of the people who took those courses have letters saying they thought it was great, essentially.”

    In other words, Trump didn’t answer the question and Acosta seemed not to have a chance to follow up or chose not to.

    As we’ve noted, quite apart from the policies he’s embraced, Trump has shown himself over the course of the campaign to be an emotionally needy, pathological liar. Here we see that he also not only happily launches defamatory racist attacks on a federal judge but impugns the patriotism of an entire ethnic community in the United States.

    As I write, the issue is being discussed on the cable nets in terms of why Trump thinks it’s a good idea to attack a judge hearing his case, whether there’s any evidence that Curiel is “biased” or “unfair.” (It’s worth noting that Curiel did Trump the inestimably valuable favor of acceding to his lawyers’ request to push the trial back until after the November election – this despite the fact that ‘elder abuse’ infractions put a premium on conducting an expeditious trial.) But handicapping the wisdom of Trump’s attack or analyzing them in substantive terms is an immense dereliction of journalistic duty.

    The press routinely goes into paroxysms – often rightly so – about innuendos or phrasings that might in some way be racist or suggest racial animus. Here we have it in the open, repeated and showing itself as basically Trump’s first line of attack when he is in anyway threatened. That’s infinitely more dangerous than most things that routinely focus all the media’s attention. Any reporter who gets a chance to ask Trump to justify his actions and doesn’t is not doing his or her job. Few cases show more vividly how dangerous a person Trump is.

    “Here’s what happens. We’re in front of a very hostile judge. The Judge was appointed by Barack Obama … Frankly he should recuse himself … This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily. Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel … The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine … You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK? … I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?”

    So that’s one more little preview of what a Trump Presidency would be like: If you’re Hispanic, any criticisms of President Trump can be invalidated simply by pointing out that you’re Hispanic. And if you’re a Hispanic judge, you should probably recuse yourself of any cases involving the Trump administration for never quite articulated reasons having to do with you being Hispanic. But still please understand that President Trump loves Hispanics and they love him back. It’s just you that doesn’t love him…because you’re Hispanic.

    And if you’re Hispanic and can’t still quite make sense of all that, don’t strain yourself too much. It’ll be crystal clear to the target audiences.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 31, 2016, 6:20 pm
  29. One of the more interesting and frightening behavioral patterns of today’s GOP is that when the party has a bad presidential election year, a meme begins to take hold in the right-wing media and base that the party lost because it wasn’t ‘conservative’ enough. Sure, the party itself might engage in something like the “GOP autopsy” of 2013 that concluded that the party wasn’t inclusive enough to reach out to minority groups. But the message that takes hold within the care right-wing media and voter base is that the candidates were too wishy-washy and didn’t portray bold, pure vision that could attract new voters. In other words, the candidates weren’t bat sh#t crazy enough.

    So with the 2016 race shaping into one where a number of the top elected GOP officials, most notably House Speaker Paul Ryan, have only barely endorsed Donald Trump, it’s going to be very interesting to see what sort of meme might emerge assuming Trump doesn’t become President elect Trump this November. Will a loss be because Donald Trump’s loudmouthed bigot shtick didn’t actually sell that well? Or will a loss be framed as the of the party leadership’s tepid embrace of the GOP’s bold, courageous new leader? We’ll have to wait and see. But as the article below makes clear, if Trump does lose, there’s probably going to be no shortage of excuses and rage for that loss directed at Paul Ryan less than enthusiastic Trumpian support:

    Talking Points Memo DC

    What Endorsement? Ryan Is About To Roll Out His Counter Message To Trump

    By Lauren Fox
    Published June 3, 2016, 11:26 AM EDT

    Just a day after House Speaker Paul Ryan endorsed Donald Trump for president, he began his effort to define his party’s policy agenda in the election cycle, a job usually reserved for the party’s presidential nominee.

    On Friday, Ryan gave a sneak peak of “a better way,” his six-part policy initiative to show the American people what Republicans stand for. Beginning next week, Ryan will roll out policy plans to target issues from poverty to tax reform. The plans are not intended to be legislation that the GOP-controlled Congress actually votes on. Instead, they are supposed to give voters a sense of what Republicans stand for (again something that usually becomes very clear with the top of the ticket message.)

    Even before Trump was declared the presumptive nominee, Ryan planned to release the aggressive policy agenda. Yet, the project seems to have taken on greater significance now that the policy disagreements between Trump and Ryan on everything from trade to entitlement reform have illuminated themselves. Ryan is about to introduce specifics at a time that the GOP’s nominee speaks in vague, catchy one-liners.

    In a video Ryan released Friday, the speaker promises that now the Republican Party is going to give the American people a plan that lets them know what the GOP stands for instead of just talking about what the party is against.

    “We can get angry and we can stay angry or we can channel that anger into action,” Ryan said in his video.

    “We don’t give into division,” Ryan said in the video. “We find a better way.”

    Ryan it seems is beginning his fight to preserve the conservatism he believes should be at the center of the party’s identity just as Trump is redefining what it means to be a Republican.This week Ryan and Trump officially came together to unite the party, but these policy papers will likely reveal their visions to be very different still.

    Ryan it seems is beginning his fight to preserve the conservatism he believes should be at the center of the party’s identity just as Trump is redefining what it means to be a Republican.This week Ryan and Trump officially came together to unite the party, but these policy papers will likely reveal their visions to be very different still.”
    That’s right, Paul Ryan is trying to retain and reinvigorate the contemporary GOP’s facade of ‘conservatism’ that masks the party’s oligarchical agenda right at the same time Donald Trump is trying to create a whole new facade to mask the party’s oligarchical agenda.

    It’s quite a conundrum for the party’s top elected official. Especially when you consider that Paul Ryan is obviously salivating at the prospect of his own 2020 bid for the White House. If Trump, Ryan is the obvious leader of the party and front runner for 2020. But if Trump loses and trashes the GOP’s national image in the process, Ryan’s 2020 bid is going to be a lot harder. And while Ryan could scuffle with Trump as a sort of back up plan to salvage the party’s traditional image in the wake of a big Trump defeat, that also sets Paul Ryan up to be the big scapegoat who cost Trump the election if Trump loses but just barely loses. There just aren’t any great options for someone in Paul Ryan’s position.

    And that’s all part of why it’s going to be very interesting to see how Paul Ryan handles the task of simultaneously back Trump while keeping his distance with an eye on 2020. For instance, when Donald Trump attacks the judge in his Trump University lawsuit for bias because the judge’s parents were Mexican, it’s not really clear what Paul Ryan should do. Sure, ethically it’s pretty clear. But for someone in Paul Ryan’s position, it’s not really clear, which is why we probably shouldn’t be surprised that Ryan just condemned Trump’s comments about the judge in an interview as being a form of logic Ryan just can’t understand and then talked about he still endorses him:

    Talking Points Memo Live Wire

    Paul Ryan Scolds Trump For Judge Attacks: ‘Totally Out Of Left Field’

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published June 3, 2016, 1:19 PM EDT

    One day after endorsing presumptive nominee Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the businessman’s attacks on a federal judge for his ethnicity have been “totally out of left field” and he “completely” degrees with Trump’s reasoning.

    In a Friday interview with Milwaukee talk radio host Vicki McKenna, Ryan brought up the real estate mogul’s repeated attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over two lawsuits over Trump university, while talking about the party’s policy agenda.

    “The comment about the judge the other day was totally out of left field,” the Wisconsin congressman said. “I completely disagree with the thinking behind that,” he continued, calling the attacks “reasoning I don’t relate to.”

    Ryan went on to say Trump “clearly says and does things I don’t agree with” and said he would continue to speak up if necessary.

    Speaking about his Thursday endorsement of Trump in his hometown newspaper, Ryan said at the end of the day, Republicans need a “willing partner” in the White House to help advance their policies.

    “Ryan went on to say Trump “clearly says and does things I don’t agree with” and said he would continue to speak up if necessary.”
    Yep, Paul Ryan completely disagrees with Donald Trump’s racist attacks against a judge, calling it “reasoning I don’t relate to.” But that hasn’t changed his Trump endorsement because Republicans need a “willing partner” in the White House to help advance their policies. And if that “willing partner” is an open bigot, well, so be it! At the same time, Ryan pledges to continue to speak up if necessary. It’s presumably the kind of bold leadership that should do wonders in the 2020 primaries.

    And when it comes to condemning Donald Trump’s open bigotry while still endorsing him, it appears that Paul Ryan will have plenty of more options to demonstrate that kind of bold leadership this year:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Spells Out Judge Attacks: ‘We’re Building A Wall. He’s A Mexican’

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published June 3, 2016, 5:19 PM EDT

    Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump doubled down Friday on attacking a federal judge for his ethnicity and argued that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel should recuse himself from cases involving scandal-plagued Trump University.

    In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Trump insisted Curiel’s ethnicity means he can’t be an impartial judge in matters involving him because of his immigration policy.

    “I’ve had terrible rulings, I’ve been treated very unfairly. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage,” Trump began. “I’m building a wall. I’m building a wall.”

    “So no Mexican judge could ever be involved in a case that involves you?” Tapper asked.

    Trump replied that Curiel is a member of a very “pro-Mexico” group, saying “that’s all fine” but he should recuse himself from the cases.

    Tapper again pressed Trump on his personal attacks. “You’re invoking his race talking about whether or not he can do his job,” he said.

    “Jake, I’m building a wall. OK? I’m building a wall. I’m trying to keep business out of Mexico. Mexico’s fine!” he said.

    Tapper reminded Trump that Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is American.

    “He’s of Mexican heritage and he’s very proud of it, as I am,” Trump replied.

    “I’ve had terrible rulings, I’ve been treated very unfairly. Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage…I’m building a wall. I’m building a wall.”
    Say hello to the new Trumpian GOP facade: If you oppose or criticize the GOP, it’s because you’re just angry about something the GOP did or wants to do to your particular demographic, and therefore you’re a bigot. Or, rather, an anti-bigot bigot and that anti-bigot bigotry invalidates your criticism of the GOP.

    And while House Speaker Paul Ryan claims to vehemently disagree with above reasoning, he still endorses the guy pushing it. It’s complicated reasoning. At least, he still endorsed Trump before Trump doubled down on the “you can’t judge me if you’re ethnically Mexican” argument. But now that it appears this is going to be a central theme to the Trump campaign we get to see if Ryan sticks to his pledge to continue to speak up if necessary.

    So is it once again necessary according to Ryan? We’ll find out. But as Ryan certainly knows, the more he trashes Trump, justifiably or not, the more likely it is that Paul Ryan ends up being the scapegoat in 2017. At least if Trump loses a close race.

    But if Ryan makes criticizing Trump a regular thing and Trump loses BIG, Ryan gets to claim the “I told you so” mantel and can walk away from a 2016 electoral disaster even more likely to be the 2020 GOP nominee. Will he do so? It’s possible, but there’s going to be a lot more complicated reasoning involved in that leadership decision.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 3, 2016, 6:41 pm
  30. With Donald Trump making the Mexican heritage of the judge overseeing lawsuit over the charges that Trump University was a scam, it’s easy to forget that there have been multiple Trump University scam investigations. We already knew about the 2013 investigation where Florida’s GOP attorney general dropped the investigation following a $25,000 Trump donation to her super PAC. But now we’re learning about another state investigation that was dropped in 2010 for reasons a former Texas state regulator is saying could have only been political given the strength of the evidence he had acquired. And the person who ordered this state regulator to drop the investigation is Texas’s then-Attorney General and current governor Greg Abbott. But we may not learn too much more about this case of apparent political corruption since Texas’s current Attorney General put a gag order on the former state regulator:

    Associated Press

    Ex-Texas Official Says He Was Ordered To Drop Trump U Probe Due To Politics

    By MICHAEL BIESECKER
    Published June 4, 2016, 9:42 AM EDT

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton moved Friday to muzzle a former state regulator who says he was ordered in 2010 to drop a fraud investigation into Trump University for political reasons.

    Paxton’s office issued a cease and desist letter to former Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection John Owens after he made public copies of a 14-page internal summary of the state’s case against Donald Trump for scamming millions from students of his now-defunct real estate seminar.

    Owens, now retired, said his team had built a solid case against the now-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but was told to drop it after Trump’s company agreed to cease operations in Texas.

    The former state regulator told The Associated Press on Friday that decision was highly unusual and left the bilked students on their own to attempt to recover their tuition money from the celebrity businessman.

    According to the documents provided by Owens, his team sought to sue Trump, his company and several business associates to help recover more than $2.6 million students spent on seminars and materials, plus another $2.8 million in penalties and fees.

    Owens said he was so surprised at the order to stand down he made a copy of the case file and took it home.

    “It had to be political in my mind because Donald Trump was treated differently than any other similarly situated scam artist in the 16 years I was at the consumer protection office,” said Owens, who lives in Houston.

    Owens’ boss at the time was then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now the state’s GOP governor.

    The Associated Press first reported Thursday that Trump gave donations totaling $35,000 to Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign three years after his office closed the Trump U case. Several Texas media outlets then reported Owens’ accusation that the probe was dropped for political reasons.

    Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said Friday that the governor had played no role in ending the case against Trump, a decision he said was made farther down the chain of command.

    “The Texas Attorney General’s office investigated Trump U, and its demands were met — Trump U was forced out of Texas and consumers were protected,” Hirsch said. “It’s absurd to suggest any connection between a case that has been closed and a donation to Governor Abbott three years later.”

    Paxton issued a media release about the cease and desist later Friday, saying Owens had divulged “confidential and privileged information.”

    Owens first learned about the state’s action against him on Friday afternoon when contacted by the AP for response.

    “I have done nothing illegal or unethical,” said Owens, a lawyer. “I think the information I provided to the press was important and needed to be shared with the public.”

    Paxton faces his own legal trouble. He was indicted last year on three felony fraud charges alleging that he persuaded people to invest in a North Texas tech startup while failing to disclose that he hadn’t invested himself but was being paid by the company in stock. Paxton has remained in office while appealing the charges.

    Texas was not the only GOP-led state to shy away from suing Trump.

    Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi briefly considered joining a multi-state suit against Trump U. Three days after Bondi’s spokeswoman was quoted in local media reports as saying her office was investigating, Trump’s family foundation made a $25,000 contribution to a political fundraising committee supporting Bondi’s re-election campaign.

    Bondi, a Republican, soon dropped her investigation, citing insufficient grounds to proceed.

    In New York, meanwhile, Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Trump over what he called a “straight-up fraud.” That case, along with several class-action lawsuits filed by former Trump students, is still ongoing.

    “It had to be political in my mind because Donald Trump was treated differently than any other similarly situated scam artist in the 16 years I was at the consumer protection office.”
    While this latest Trump University revelation will no doubt continue to feed into the growing image problem Trump has a giant scam artist, part of what makes this particular charge of political corruption possibly more interesting than the case involving Pam Bondi in Florida is that Bondi dropped those charges in 2013, a couple years after Donald Trump had already established himself as the King of the Obama ‘Birther’ movement in 2011. But the case in Texas was dropped in 2010.

    So you have to wonder, given the fact that Trump was undoubtedly aware by 2011 that he was potentially facing all sorts of lawsuits in a variety of states, was Trump’s sudden political realigned into a hard core GOPer in recent years driven largely by a desire to make him politically indispensable to at least one political party in order to avoid at least some of the potentially embarrassing lawsuits? Because when you look at the structure of Trump’s business empire, selling the Trump “brand” is a pretty big part of that empire and a series of lawsuits and investigations that label Trump University a scam could have seriously damaged the value of the “Trump” branding component of his web of businesses.

    In other words, could it be that when Trump called President Obama possibly the “greatest scam in the history of our country” in 2011 over the ‘Birther’ claims, that Trump just engaged in a giant scam in order to create political value for himself so he could get political protection from the various investigations into his scams? That’s probably worth investigating.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2016, 5:38 pm
  31. Uh oh. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s cold feet about his Donald Trump endorsement are getting colder now that Trump is making his attacks against the Mexican American judge overseeing some of the Trump University lawsuits a central emerging theme of the Trump campaign. And with Trump’s rhetoric only heating up, Ryan and the rest of the GOP had better find political shelter soon because that heated up rhetoric is only going to make their feet colder and it’ll be a lot hard for Dr. FrankenGoper to run from his Trump Monster creation with frostbitten feet:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Ryan: Trump’s Judge Attacks ‘The Textbook Definition Of A Racist Comment’

    By Sara Jerde
    Published June 7, 2016, 10:20 AM EDT

    House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that he wouldn’t defend presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s attacks on a federal judge’s ethnicity because they were “indefensible.”

    “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” Ryan said at a news conference. “I think that should be absolutely disavowed.”

    But, Ryan said that Republicans would still be better off with Trump in the White House than Hillary Clinton.

    “I’m not going to defend these kinds of comments because they’re indefensible,” Ryan said. “I’m going to defend our ideas. I’m going to defend our majority.”

    Trump had said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over cases against Trump University in California, has a conflict of interest because of his “Mexican heritage.” The businessman has railed against Hispanics since he launched his campaign, when he infamously stated that some undocumented immigrants were “rapists” and “criminals.”

    Ryan’s comments on Tuesday are much stronger than they were last week. A day after Ryan endorsed Trump, the House Speaker said the real estate mogul’s comments were “totally out of left field.”

    “But, Ryan said that Republicans would still be better off with Trump in the White House than Hillary Clinton.”
    Oh no, he’s still endorsing Trump after repeatedly railing against him as a racist! Are his cold feet going numb? Perhaps. Or perhaps someone needs to inform Speaker Ryan that having a heart of ice doesn’t make his feet immune to frostbite. Especially when Trump is reportedly instructing his campaign to turn his racially inflaming rhetoric into a full fledged racist campaign brush fire:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Reportedly Sics Allies On ‘Racist’ Reporters Covering Judge Attacks

    By Sara Jerde
    Published June 6, 2016, 4:50 PM EDT

    Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump reportedly instructed his surrogates Monday to follow his lead in attacking a judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University, according to reports from CNN and Bloomberg News. Trump also reportedly encouraged them to intensify their comebacks to reporters covering the both the lawsuit and his attacks on the judge.

    An anonymous Republican source told CNN that Trump and a campaign official who was also on the call told surrogates to raise the issue of judicial activism when talking about Curiel. Bloomberg reported that Trump noted Curiel is a “member of La Raza”; Curiel is associated with La Raza Lawyers of California, a bar association.

    Bloomberg talked with two people on the call who spoke on anonymity and said Trump instructed his surrogates to let what he portrayed as hypocritical TV reporters “have it.”

    “The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” Trump reportedly said, seeming irritated. “I would go at ’em.”

    Trump had said that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over cases against Trump University in California, has a conflict of interest because of his “Mexican heritage.” The businessman has railed against Hispanics since he launched his campaign, when he infamously stated that some undocumented immigrants were “rapists” and “criminals.”

    On the call with his surrogates, the real estate mogul also reportedly contradicted instructions distributed to surrogates by his own staff member. A memo sent Sunday by a staff member and obtained by Bloomberg told surrogates that they were not at liberty to discuss the Trump University lawsuit publicly.

    “Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?” Trump said, as quoted by Bloomberg. “That’s one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren’t so smart.”

    The memo was distributed to some of Trump’s campaign staffers, including Hicks, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and a top aide to Paul Manafort, who is Trump’s top strategist.

    “Take that order and throw it the hell out,” Trump said, as quoted by Bloomberg.

    “”The people asking the questions—those are the racists,” Trump reportedly said, seeming irritated. “I would go at ’em.””
    Yes, it appears that Trump himself is now overriding his campaign strategists and instructing his staff to aggressively label as the REAL racists any reporters who raise questions about the racist nature of his attacks on Judge Curiel. So “I know you are, but what am I?” is now apparently the official response to charges of racism by the GOP’s new standard bearer. Somehow it doesn’t seem like that’s going to warm Paul Ryan’s poor frigid feet.

    Let’s hope no amputations end up being required once this is all over. It’ll be hard for the GOPers to walk the populist oligarch tightrope without all their toes. But it’s hard to see how some sort of surgery won’t eventually be necessary if those cold feet don’t warm up sooner or later.

    And preferably sooner, because as the article below suggests, it would appear that Trump’s staff is already taking his orders to heart and the Trumpian rhetoric is only heating up and expanding beyond mere racism. And that means the GOPers’ ice cold feet have an arctic blast heading their way:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Spox Suggests Trump’s Sister Could Be ‘Biased’ As A Female Judge

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published June 7, 2016, 9:42 AM EDT

    Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman on Monday suggested that Trump’s own sister, a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, could be biased as a result of her gender.

    “If somebody were to say to her she was biased in regard to some case because she’s a woman, that would be awful, wouldn’t it?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Katrina Pierson of Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry.

    “Well, it would depend on her past and decisions she made as a judge,” Pierson replied. “There is no question that there are activist judges in this country.”

    Trump has pushed this stance heavily in the last few weeks, arguing that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a fraud case involving the now-defunct Trump University, is “biased” against him because of his “Mexican” heritage. The presumptive GOP nominee took this identity-based argument for unfair treatment further on Monday, arguing that a Muslim judge could “absolutely” be biased against him, too, because of his proposal to temporarily ban Muslim immigration to the United States.

    Pierson said Trump had no plan to “start saying and doing what everybody else says to say and do.”

    “He is not backing down because the media wants to pressure, call him names, call him racist,” Pierson said. “Doesn’t matter which GOP individual comes out, they’re not there and they don’t have the facts. That’s why Mr. Trump is the nominee.”

    “He is not backing down because the media wants to pressure, call him names, call him racist…Doesn’t matter which GOP individual comes out, they’re not there and they don’t have the facts. That’s why Mr. Trump is the nominee.”
    Katrina Pierson does have a point: Mr. Trump is the nominee, which would suggest that the cold feet GOPers like Paul Ryan are feeling isn’t actually shared by the GOP electorate.

    So if anything can warm Paul Ryan’s cold feet up, perhaps the best method is for Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership to keep in mind that their fears of Donald Trump destroying the GOP by rebranding it as a haven for racist misogynists who have fallen under the racist and misogynistic siren’s song of a billionaire are probably largely unfounded fears because that’s what the party was already viewed as by the public at large long before Trump threw his hat in the ring. So there’s a good chance Donald Trump won’t make the GOP’s public image significantly worse than it already was. Maybe it will just be a slightly different flavor of a now familiar kind of bad taste.

    In other words, it’s hard for the GOP’s general public image to get much worse so there isn’t really a lot for the GOP to lose here. . So, in a way, because the public image that Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership can’t really get much worse, the GOP leadership’s current Trumpian conundrums could be worse. Hopefully increased awareness of the GOP already toxic image will warm Paul Ryan’s poor cold feet.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 7, 2016, 11:13 am
  32. Check out Donald Trump’s bank of choice: Deutsche Bank! As the article below points out, it’s a long relationship going back to the early 90’s, with at least $2.5 billion lent. But there have been past differences too, especially following the crash of 2008 when Trump tried to wriggle out of his debt by claiming the crash was an act of god. And as a consequence of all the the commercial lending arm of Deutsche Bank basically wants nothing to do with Trump. But that’s ok, since the Private Bank branch has decided Trump is an ok customer. Or at least a good enough customer to lend Trump $300 million in recent years:

    The Wall Street Journal

    When Donald Trump Needs a Loan, He Chooses Deutsche Bank

    Despite some clashes, the Republican front-runner has been a regular client of the German lender

    By Anupreeta Das
    Updated March 20, 2016 1:35 p.m. ET

    One of Donald Trump’s closest allies on Wall Street is a now-struggling German bank.

    While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter.

    That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities.

    The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman.

    But the relations at times have been rocky. Deutsche Bank’s giant investment-banking unit stopped working with Mr. Trump after an acrimonious legal spat, even as another arm of the company continued to loan him money.

    Other Wall Street banks, after doing extensive business with Mr. Trump in the 1980s and 1990s, pulled back in part due to frustration with his business practices but also because he moved away from real-estate projects that required financing, according to bank officials. Citigroup Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are among the banks that don’t currently work with him.

    At Goldman Sachs Group Inc., bankers “know better than to pitch” a Trump-related deal, said a former Goldman executive. Goldman officials say there is little overlap between its core investment-banking group and Mr. Trump’s businesses.

    Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump dates to the 1990s. The bank, eager to expand in the U.S. via commercial-real-estate lending, set out to woo big New York developers such as Mr. Trump and Harry Macklowe.

    One of the bank’s first loans to Mr. Trump, in 1998, was $125 million to renovate the office building at 40 Wall Street. More deals soon followed, with the bank agreeing over the next few years to loan or help underwrite bonds worth a total of more than $1.3 billion for Trump entities.

    By 2005, Deutsche Bank had emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s leading bankers. That year, the German bank and others lent a Trump entity $640 million to build the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Deutsche Bank officials badly wanted the deal because it came with a $12.5 million fee attached, said a person familiar with the matter.

    Mr. Trump charmed the bankers, flying them on his private Boeing 727 jet, according to people who traveled with him.

    But when the housing bubble burst, the relationship frayed.

    In 2008, Mr. Trump failed to pay $334 million he owed on the Chicago loan because of lackluster sales of the building’s units. He then sued Deutsche Bank. His argument was that the economic crisis constituted a “force majeure”—an unforeseen event such as war or natural disaster—that should excuse the repayment until conditions improved.

    His lawyers were inspired to invoke the clause after hearing former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan describe the crisis as a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami,” according to a person who worked on the case for Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Trump also attacked Deutsche Bank’s lending practices and said that as a big bank, it was partially responsible for causing the financial crisis. He sought $3 billion in damages.

    Deutsche Bank in turn sued Mr. Trump, saying it was owed $40 million that the businessman had personally guaranteed in case his company was unable to repay the loan.

    Deutsche Bank argued that Mr. Trump had a cavalier history toward banks, quoting from his 2007 book, “Think Big And Kick Ass In Business And Life.”

    “I figured it was the bank’s problem, not mine,” Mr. Trump wrote, according to the lawsuit. “What the hell did I care? I actually told one bank, ‘I told you you shouldn’t have loaned me that money. I told you that goddamn deal was no good.’”

    The court rejected Mr. Trump’s arguments but the suit forced Deutsche Bank to the negotiating table. The two sides agreed to settle their suits out of court in 2009. The following year, they extended the original loan by five years. It was paid off in 2012—with the help of a loan from the German firm’s private bank.

    While Deutsche Bank didn’t lose money on the deal, the fracas soured its investment bankers on working with Mr. Trump. “He was persona non grata after that,” said a banker who worked on the deal.

    But not everyone within Deutsche Bank wanted to sever the relationship. The company’s private-banking arm, which caters to ultrarich families and individuals, picked up the slack, lending well over $300 million to Trump entities in the following years.

    “But not everyone within Deutsche Bank wanted to sever the relationship. The company’s private-banking arm, which caters to ultrarich families and individuals, picked up the slack, lending well over $300 million to Trump entities in the following years.”
    It’s nice now they were able to find a way to kiss and make up. And continue lending Trump hundreds of millions of dollars. Presumably there’s a leadership quality on display there. But the fact that Donald Trump recently borrowed a large sum a money to one of the financial world’s biggest serial regulatory violators does seem like the kind of thing that could become an issue in the 2016? At least it’s seems very possible. Especially since Deutsche Bank still faces multiple investigations, still really, really wants to see the post-crisis regulations go away, and Trump still has at least $100 million that it’s waiting for Trump to pay back:

    Mother Jones

    Trump Has a Conflict-of-Interest Problem No Other White House Candidate Ever Had
    He owes at least $100 million to a foreign bank that’s battled with US regulators.

    Russ Choma and David Corn
    Jun. 1, 2016 6:00 AM

    In his most recent financial disclosure statement, Donald Trump notes he has billions of dollars in assets. But the presumptive GOP nominee also has a tremendous load of debt that includes five loans each over $50 million. (The disclosure form, which presidential candidates must submit, does not compel candidates to reveal the specific amount of any loans that exceed $50 million, and Trump has chosen not to provide details.) Two of those megaloans are held by Deutsche Bank, which is based in Germany but has US subsidiaries. And this prompts a question that no other major American presidential candidate has had to face: What are the implications of the chief executive of the US government being in hock for $100 million (or more) to a foreign entity that has tried to evade laws aimed at curtailing risky financial shenanigans, that was recently caught manipulating markets around the world, and that attempts to influence the US government?

    Trump’s disclosure form lists 16 loans from 11 different lenders, totaling at least $335 million, and the aggregate amount is likely much more. Deutsche Bank is clearly his favorite lender, and Trump’s financial empire has become largely dependent on his relationship with this major player on Wall Street and the global markets. The German bank has lent him at least $295 million for two of his signature projects. In 2012, Deutsche provided Trump with $125 million to help him buy Trump National Doral golf course. Last year, it handed Trump a $170 million line of credit for his new hotel project on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

    Should Trump move into the White House, four blocks away from his under-construction hotel, he would be its first inhabitant to owe so much to any bank. And in recent years, Deutsche Bank has repeatedly clashed with US regulators. So might it be awkward—if not pose a conflict of interest—for Trump to have to deal with policy matters that could affect this financial behemoth?

    Richard Painter, an attorney who teaches at the University of Minnesota and who was the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, says a situation in which a sitting president owes hundreds of millions of dollars to any entity, especially a bank that jousts with regulators, is disturbing. There have been wealthy presidents and vice presidents, Painter notes, pointing to John Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller, but none were as heavily leveraged as Trump. “They had large assets and usually diversified assets. They weren’t in a situation where someone could put pressure on them to do what they want,” Painter remarks. “Whereas having a president who owes a lot of money to banks, particularly when it’s on negotiable terms—it puts them at the mercy of the banks and the banks are at the mercy of regulators. Painter adds: “In real estate, the prevailing business model is to own a lot but also owe a lot, and that is a potentially very troublesome business model for someone in public office.”

    Members of a Trump cabinet would have to recuse themselves from any government business that would have a direct impact on their personal financial interests. If a Treasury secretary held this sort of loans, he or she could not participate in policy deliberations and actions that might have an impact on Deutsche Bank—and that would likely be many. But the president and vice president are excluded from this requirement. As president, Trump would have no obligation to divest his vast business holdings, though recent presidents and presidential candidates have taken steps to avoid any concern. President Barack Obama has even put off refinancing his Chicago home to save money because it would mean establishing a financial relationship with a bank, and that could prompt questions. In 2011, Mitt Romney promised to use a blind trust for his substantial personal business interests, though there were concerns regarding how “blind” the trust was.

    Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank means he is in league with a financial giant that has been at odds with US government regulators and has attempted to skirt reforms designed to prevent Wall Street firms from wrecking the US economy once again. Last year, around the same time Trump secured the $170 million for the Washington project, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay a $2.5 billion fine to regulators here and abroad for its role in rigging interest rates. This included $600 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services, $800 million to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, and $775 million to the Department of Justice. As Reuters reported, “Slamming Germany’s largest lender for ‘cultural failings,’ regulators squarely blamed senior staff for misleading them, failing to be open and cooperative, and prolonging the investigation.” From roughly 2003 to 2010, as the news service put it, the bank ran a scam to “fix rates…used to price hundreds of trillions of dollars of loans and contracts worldwide.” The bank also recently reached settlements in lawsuits alleging it had manipulated prices for precious metals and their derivatives.

    Like most big banks, Deutsche Bank has been at odds with regulators over the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform measure. But it went to unusual lengths to dodge some of the law’s requirements. For years, the bank operated in the United States through two subsidiaries that were legally considered to be American entities. Yet in 2012—after Dodd-Frank was enacted—the bank tried to rewrite its own corporate structure to make it less American. Under the new law, a foreign-based bank’s subsidiaries were required to maintain certain minimum levels of capital—as much as $20 billion worth of reserves in Deutsche Bank’s case—so that the bank could weather another financial catastrophe like the one that occurred in 2008. The consequence of the rule also restricted how freely an American subsidiary of a foreign bank could invest and how much risk it could assume. This was the point of the law: to prevent gargantuan financial firms from behaving recklessly, collapsing, and, once more, requiring a taxpayer-funded bailout.

    Rather than accept these limitations, Deutsche Bank reorganized itself, moving its commercial banking subsidiary out of the holding company for its American operations, which also contained its investment arm. Deutsche Bank then claimed this banking subsidiary was not subject to the new Dodd-Frank regulations. The Federal Reserve didn’t fall for this stunt.. The bank eventually was forced to comply with Dodd-Frank requirements.

    That was only the beginning of Deutsche Bank’s problems with Dodd-Frank. Last September, in its first enforcement action on new Dodd-Frank provisions, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined Deutsche Bank $2.5 million for failing to report properly on its trading of swaps, which are complex financial derivatives.

    And like most big banks, Deutsche Bank lobbies heavily in Washington. Last year it spent $600,000 on a stable of lobbyists. In 2010, the year Dodd-Frank was enacted, the bank spent nearly $2.6 million on influence-peddlers in the nation’s capital.

    So how might Trump, should he become president, handle the conflict of interest posed by his relationship with Deutsche Bank?

    “There would be enormous tax consequences from just giving it all to the children,” Painter says. “But just merely letting his [children] run the business doesn’t solve the problem. You really have got to figure out a way to sell your interest in the business and sell off the risk.” Other wealthy presidents have tended to own assets that could easily be unwound or sold off. But for Trump, disposing of his real estate holdings would be a special challenge. “I think what you need to do is wind down or sell off the real estate portfolio, and that probably takes time,” Painter says. “It’s not like liquid securities that are easy to sell. Or he’d need to start to focus on paying off this debt.”

    Selling the parts of the businesses that he has mortgaged might be particularly difficult, because some of the debt may be tied to him personally. In the past that has led to problems, even with Deutsche Bank. In 2005, Trump borrowed $640 million from Deutsche Bank and several other lenders for the construction of a Chicago hotel tower. When he failed to pay back the money on time in 2008, the banks, including Deutsche Bank, demanded he pay up the $40 million he had personally guaranteed. In response, Trump sued Deutsche Bank for $3 billion, saying the project’s financial troubles were the fault of the economic recession, essentially an act of God, and accusing the bank of undermining the project and his reputation.

    Trump and Deutsche Bank patched things up, and hundreds of millions of dollars in credit subsequently flowed from the German behemoth to Trump. But with all his debt to Deutsche Bank coming due before the end of what would be Trump’s second term as president, there’s more to this relationship than what’s on the financial ledger. The American public, too, has much at stake when it’s possible that the next president will be deeply in debt to a global financial player that has been caught trying to use its influence to rig the financial system.

    “Trump and Deutsche Bank patched things up, and hundreds of millions of dollars in credit subsequently flowed from the German behemoth to Trump. But with all his debt to Deutsche Bank coming due before the end of what would be Trump’s second term as president, there’s more to this relationship than what’s on the financial ledger. The American public, too, has much at stake when it’s possible that the next president will be deeply in debt to a global financial player that has been caught trying to use its influence to rig the financial system”
    That would indeed appear to be a notable conflict of interest. Especially since it could lead to decisions that aren’t just super helpful to Deutsche Bank but all of Wall Street. That’s not very populist.

    Still, since Trump is a billionaire, he’ll presumably just argue that there’s no need for the public to be concerned about that potential conflict of interest because why should he care about $100 million when he has billions? We’ll see how that argument goes if it comes to that. It might not go well.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 9, 2016, 2:11 pm
  33. With the US once again looking into the causes of act of home-grown ISIS-inspired terrorism following the slaughter in Orlando, it probably isn’t going to come as a surprise that that some sort of toxic mix of mental illness and poisonous religious fundamentalism once again appear to be the twin forces driving this attack since anyone that did what Omar Mateen did would have to be either completely insane and/or have a really skewed notion of what constitutes a pious life. So the fact that the Mateen’s ex-wife describes him as a violent and unstable individuals is probably the least surprising aspect of this whole tragedy. And while some sort of deeply religious home life would also be expected for a case like this, the particular religious background of this shooter is indeed pretty unusual:

    CBS News

    Orlando gunman’s dad walks back condemnation of gays

    June 13, 2016, 2:05 PM

    PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The father of the shooter in the Orlando nightclub massacre told CBS News he wants the world to know one important thing: there is no excuse for what his son did.

    Seddique Mir Mateen said he asked CBS News correspondent David Begnaud to his home in Port St. Lucie to clarify any ambiguity that may have been left after aa video surfaced showing him saying "God will punish those involved in homosexuality," adding it’s, “not an issue that humans should deal with.”

    The elder Mateen said his son Omar Mateen was wrong to not just target gays, but to inflict suffering on any other human being, most especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

    “He doesn’t have the right, nobody has the right to harm anything, anybody,” Mateen told CBS News. “What a person’s lifestyle is, is up to him. It’s a free country. Everybody has their own choice to live the way they want to live.”

    Mateen said he did not raise his son in America to become a terrorist, and that he never suspected a turn to the dark side of extremism.

    In the wake of the shooting, the statements and earlier videos by Seddique Mateen lend some insight into the environment in which his U.S.-born son was raised.

    Seddique Mateen hosts a program on a California-based satellite Afghan TV station, aimed at the Afghan diaspora in the in the U.S., called the “Durand Jirga Show.”

    A senior Afghan intelligence source tells CBS News correspondent Lara Logan that the show is watched by some in people in Afghanistan but the primary audience is ethnic Pashtun Afghans living in the U.S. and Europe.

    The Taliban Islamic extremist movement is comprised almost entirely of Pashtuns, and Mateen’s show takes a decidedly Pashtun nationalistic, pro-Taliban slant; full of anti-U.S. rhetoric and inflammatory language aimed at non-Pashtuns and at Pakistan, the source told Logan.

    The name of the show references the Durand line, the disputed border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that was established in the 19th century by Britain. It has long been at the heart of deep-seated mistrust between Afghans and Pakistanis.

    Seddique Mateen once campaigned in the United States for current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — seen as a moderate leader — who appeared on his program in 2014. But since then Seddique has turned against Ghani in both his broadcasts and numerous videos posted to a Facebook account.

    In his Facebook videos, the alleged gunman’s father has often appeared wearing a military uniform and declaring himself the leader of a “transitional revolutionary government” of Afghanistan. He claims to have his own intelligence agency and close ties to the U.S. Congress — assets he says he will use to subvert Pakistani influence and take control of Afghanistan.

    After watching his videos — none of which were recorded in English — CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar said it seemed possible that Seddique Mateen is delusional. “He thinks he runs a government in exile and will soon take the power in Kabul in a revolution,” notes Mukhtar.

    “After watching his videos — none of which were recorded in English — CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar said it seemed possible that Seddique Mateen is delusional. “He thinks he runs a government in exile and will soon take the power in Kabul in a revolution,” notes Mukhtar.'”
    Ok, so it looks like the father of the gunman has his own pro-Taliban Afghan political TV show that and is either leading a secret “transitional revolutionary government” of Afghanistan with US congressional support, or he’s totally delusional. Keep in mind that the shooter praised the Tsarnaeve brothers in his 911 phone call during the attack and reportedly told co-workers previosly that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers, although the FBI later concluded that no direct relationship existed. Still, it’s worth nothing the strange ‘spooky’ echos between the US intelligence connections Tsarnaev family and the bizarre “transitional Afghan government with US intelligence help” claims of Mateen’s father.

    So trying to make sense out of insanity is basically unavoidable with an event like this and while Omar Mateen was clearly a homicidal mad man, whether or not his father is also delusional or running some sort of strange scam/propaganda operation is an open question at this point. Unfortunately, that’s not the only open question of an individual’s sanity raised by these events. Yes, Donald Trump shared some thoughts on the Orlando massacre:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Suggests Obama May Secretly Be Working with Muslim Terrorists (VIDEO)

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published June 13, 2016, 10:01 AM EDT

    Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump hinted Monday that President Barack Obama is either naive about the threat of terror or actively working with extremists in a Fox News interview after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

    After tweeting that he was getting “congrats for being right” about Sunday’s attack in Orlando, Florida, Trump told the “Fox and Friends” crew he was still getting “thousands of letters and tweets” praising his judgement.

    “I mean, I’ve been right about a lot of things, frankly, I was right about ‘take the oil,’ I was right about many, many things,” he said, “Our government, we’re led by a man – look, guys, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind, people can’t believe it.”

    “They cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism,” he continued. “There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”

    Trump also said Obama either “doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands – it’s one of the other, and either one is unacceptable.”

    The New York businessman also tweeted Sunday that Obama should immediately resign for refusing to use the terror terminology favored by conservatives.

    Amid peak birther fervor over Obama’s birth certificate in 2011, Trump told Fox News that perhaps the President wanted to suppress the document because “maybe it says he is a Muslim.”

    ““They cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism,” he continued. “There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
    That’s right: because President Obama doesn’t breathlessly repeat the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” in the wake of an act of radical Islamic terrorist, it must mean he’s on the radical Islamic terrorists’ side! It’s the only explanation! This is coming from the guy with a nearly 50/50 chance of becoming the most powerful person on the planet in November.

    So it looks like the GOP’s general response to the Orlando attack is going to be to use the opportunity to engage of one more round of “Obama is a secret Muslim” bashing. Real helpful.

    But since Hillary Clinton is already using the term “radical Islamic terrorist” (while mocking the Right’s fixation with it), the question is raised of what the Trump campaign is going to use to ascribe guilt for the attack to Hillary. And whenever there’s a question about what kind of sleazy attack Donald Trump might use to further debase our national discourse
    Roger Stone has the answer:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Trump Ally Suggests Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Could Be ‘Terrorist Agent’

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published June 13, 2016, 1:40 PM EDT

    Longtime Donald Trump confidante Roger Stone said Monday that the Orlando terrorist attack was a good opportunity for his candidate to question whether top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin could be a “terrorist agent.”

    “I also think that now that Islamic terrorism is going to be front and center, there’s going to be a new focus on whether this administration, the administration of Hillary Clinton at State, was permeated at the highest levels by Saudi intelligence and others who are not loyal Americans,” Stone said on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily.” “I speak specifically of Huma Abedin, the right-hand woman, now vice-chairman or co-chairman of vice—of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”

    Stone also published a lengthy post on Breitbart’s site laying out similar baseless allegations.

    For years, far-right pundits have circulated unsubstantiated rumors about Abedin’s alleged family ties to proponents of Sharia law and to Saudi officials. In 2012, then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) earned rebukes from the State Department and some in her own party for claiming that several of Abedin’s relatives were “connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.”

    Stone cast suspicion on Abedin’s ties to the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a think tank founded by her father that studies minority Muslim communities around the globe in the service of securing their rights.

    “She has a very troubling past,” Stone said. “She comes out of nowhere. She seems to have an enormous amount of cash, even prior to the time that she goes to work for Hillary. So we have to ask: Do we have a Saudi spy in our midst? Do we have a terrorist agent?”

    Stone said people would only focus on Abedin’s backstory “if Trump himself raises the question.”

    ” “I also think that now that Islamic terrorism is going to be front and center, there’s going to be a new focus on whether this administration, the administration of Hillary Clinton at State, was permeated at the highest levels by Saudi intelligence and others who are not loyal Americans,” Stone said on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily.” “I speak specifically of Huma Abedin, the right-hand woman, now vice-chairman or co-chairman of vice—of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.””
    Hillary’s top aide is a secret Saudi agent! It’s no wonder Obama, a secret ISIS sympathizer, hired her. And now you know.

    Of course, using that same logic, what does that say about Trump’s loyalties? After all, Bill Clinton reportedly had a phone call with Donald Trump last year just weeks before Trump announced he was running when Bill may have encouraged Donald Trump to run for president. So, according to Trump/Stone-style speculation, isn’t it reasonable for us to assume that Donald Trump is also a secret ISIS/Saudi agent, perhaps working to destroy the GOP’s reputation forever so that Obama and Hillary can usher in Sharia Law over a then-discredited opposition party? And might Trump’s calls for a ban on Muslims, combined with his general insanity, also be an attempt to actually weaken the international “soft power” of the United States and lend credibility and status to groups like ISIS and Wahhabist theocracy?

    In other words, are the American people really supposed to believe that Donald Trump is acting the way he acts and can’t stop trying to debase America’s highest office? There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 13, 2016, 3:05 pm
  34. @Pterrafractyl–

    I have many more questions than answers about this incident, but a number of things come to mind as points of inquiry:

    a)–Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s friend, Mr.Todashev, spent time in Florida, whether or not Mateen actually knew the Tsarnaev brothers.

    b)–The Nusra Front (the cadre with which an associate of Mateen enlisted) is part of a loose coalition of jihadist groups backed by elements of U.S.intel.

    c)–In FTR #392 (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-392-desert-flowers-the-bushes-of-arabia/), we noted Saudi money and jihadi elements present in Orlando. Remember, also, in this context, that Disney’s resorts division received much financial support from Prince Alwaleed. Shortly after being cited as an alleged Al-Qaeda financier by Zaccharias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker,” Al-Waleed got out of “the business business” and donated his wealth to charity.

    d)–The investigation into Sami al-Arian, the key George W. Bush supporter who claimed he won Florida for Dubya in 2000, precipitated the Operation Green Quest raids of 3/20/2002. See: http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-538-bushs-buddy%e2%80%94the-acquittal-of-sammy-the-aryan/

    e)–The imam of the mosque at which Mateen worshipped is, take a deep breath, pro-Trump! http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/283218-orlando-shooters-imam-is-pro-trump

    Keep up the great work!

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 13, 2016, 8:58 pm
  35. @Dave: And the twists keep coming with this case. Now we’re learning that Omar Mateen apparently admitted he was gay to ex-wife, or at least had a history of going to gay clubs, before they were married. In addition, a former classmate used to go to gay bars with Mateen and at one point Mateen tried to pick him up. Mateen was also known to use a gay dating app was seen as a patron at the club he attacked, Pulse, at least a dozen times before. So it’s looking like Omar Mateen was either engaged in some very in depth and long term ‘scouting’ to plan an attack on the gay community or he was a confused young gay man that somehow morphed into an extremely self-loathing suicidal anti-gay gay jihadist.

    Adding to all this is that Mateen’s second wife, Noor Salman, who he was still married to when he did this attack, claims that she knew about Mateen’s plans and even drove him to Pulse and a gun store at one point. She also claims she tried to talk him out of it, but it’s looking like she’s probably going to be facing charges for not turning him in.

    And as the article indicated by the below, Salman appears to come from a deeply religious family, with one anecdote her mother refusing to dine at the house of family friends due to the fact they owned dogs. At the same time, it sounds like Mateen wouldn’t actually allow Salman’s mother visit her in Florida.

    So in addition to Mateen’s father’s politics, which appear to be less jihadist and more along the lines of “the enemy of Pakistan is my friend [including the Taliban]”, Mateen’s current wife Noor, who appears to be a co-conspirator of sorts in his plans, came from a deeply religious household. Whether or not she turns out to a fully radicalized wife like Tashfeen Malik in the San Bernardino shooting or more of a passive assistant remains to be seen. But now we know that Omar Mateen’s increasingly bizarre attack on Orlando’s gay community, a community he may have been trying to join for years, wasn’t concocted and executed completely on his own:

    NBC News

    Portrait Emerges of Noor Zahi Salman of Rodeo, California, Wife of Orlando Shooter

    By Riya Bhattacharjee, Raquel Marie Dillon and Lisa Fernandez
    6/14/2016

    A portrait of the Orlando gunman’s wife began emerging on Tuesday, the day the FBI said she knew about the attack at the gay nightclub and tried to stop it.

    Noor Zahi Salman, 30, grew up in Rodeo, California,, about 45 minutes away from San Francisco, is cooperating with the FBI but could still face criminal charges, NBC News first reported..

    That’s because she told the FBI she was with her husband, Omar Mateen, when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case told NBC News. She also told the FBI that she once drove him to Pulse nightclub, because he wanted to check it out. And even though she told the FBI she tried to talk him out of it, NBC News reported that authorities are now considering whether Salman failed to tell them what she knew before the attack.

    Salman had four listed email accounts in a public records database, including one to the now-defunct Heald College in Concord. She did not respond to any of the four emails sent to her Tuesday by NBC Bay Area, though two bounced back. One of the emails had Mateen’s name in the prefix: MissesMateen86@hotmail.com. Calls to her phone number did not work.

    Neighbors on the quiet street in Rodeo where she grew up told NBC Bay Area on Monday that Salman was the daughter of Ekbal Zahi and Bassam Abdallah Salman, who died of a heart attack several years ago. The couple has three other daughters – the youngest is 14. Salman’s mother still lives at the home but did not come out to speak. According to neighbors, she attended John Swett High School in nearby Crockett, California.

    Salman married Mateen, neighbors said, and moved to Florida about five years ago, despite the fact that there is no known marriage license on record. All the neighbors described her as kind and normal, and a young woman who came from a nice Muslim family. Neighbors told NBC Bay Area they thought Salman looked beautiful in her dress on the lawn of the home before she headed off to her ritual Muslim wedding.

    In fact, Salman’s mother was so devout, neighbors said, she didn’t eat at the home of her Punjabi neighbors because they had a dog. In strict Muslim interpretation, dogs can be seen as impure.

    A Miami news station reporter tweeted that Salman left Port St. Lucie, Florida after midnight on Tuesday, and lowered her head before the media frenzy camped out there. She deleted her social media accounts, minus one photo of her and Mateen with their 3-year-old son. It appears as though the couple has been together since 2013 based on mortgage records.

    Facebook accounts for her relatives show they are Palestinian, the Daily Beast reported. The Daily Mail obtained photos from inside Mateen’s apartment, and also reported that Salman is a second-generation American, born to a well-heeled Palestinian family who emigrated to California from the West Bank in the 1970s.

    And it appears as though Salman had been married previously in Palestine and then moved to Illinois with Ahmed Aburahma from 2005 to 2009, NBC News reported. Aburahma moved to Tucson and has since remarried.

    “She’s a nice person,” he told NBC News. “She liked to go out. She liked to eat out. She was nice.”

    He added he hadn’t heard from her in a while.

    Mateen also had been married before. That ex-wife, Sitoria Yusufiy, told reporters this week that she left Mateen because of possible mental illness and abuse.

    Back in California, Rodeo neighbor Sarwan Kaur said Mateen apparently wouldn’t let Noor Salman’s mother visit her in Florida.

    “Like, even when she was in the hospital, her husband wouldn’t let her come see her own mother,” Simrat Chahal said on behalf of his grandmother.

    “That’s because she told the FBI she was with her husband, Omar Mateen, when he bought ammunition and a holster, several officials familiar with the case told NBC News. She also told the FBI that she once drove him to Pulse nightclub, because he wanted to check it out. And even though she told the FBI she tried to talk him out of it, NBC News reported that authorities are now considering whether Salman failed to tell them what she knew before the attack.
    So whether or not it turns out that Omar Mateen was being directly influenced and radicalized by someone else close to him, it’s looking increasingly like Mateen was a self-loathing gay Muslim and, for reasons yet to be determined, he decided to basically commit suicide by attacking the very same gay community that could have been a safe-haven from exactly the kind of hate-filled, and often self-hate-filled, people Mateen turned into.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 14, 2016, 5:49 pm
  36. The Democratic National Committee shared some unpleasant IT news yesterday: two separate groups of Russian hackers hacked the DNC’s server. Both groups appear to be working separately. One group had access for a year, while a second group only recently joined in on the fun. And what did that second group seem most interested in? The DNC’s opposition research on Donald Trump:

    The Washington Post

    Russian government hackers penetrated DNC, stole opposition research on Trump

    By Ellen Nakashima June 14 at 3:09 PM

    Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.

    The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.

    The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.

    “I completely rule out a possibility that the [Russian] government or the government bodies have been involved in this,” Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, told the Reuters news agency in Moscow.

    Some of the hackers had access to the DNC network for about a year, but all were expelled over the past weekend in a major computer cleanup campaign, the committee officials and experts said.

    The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers.

    The intrusions are an example of Russia’s interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president — much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders.

    The depth of the penetration reflects the skill and determination of the United States’ top cyber-adversary as Russia goes after strategic targets, from the White House and State Department to political campaign organizations.

    “It’s the job of every foreign intelligence service to collect intelligence against their adversaries,” said Shawn Henry, president of CrowdStrike, the cyber firm called in to handle the DNC breach and a former head of the FBI’s cyber division. He noted that it is extremely difficult for a civilian organization to protect itself from a skilled and determined state such as Russia.

    “We’re perceived as an adversary of Russia,” he said. “Their job when they wake up every day is to gather intelligence against the policies, practices and strategies of the U.S. government. There are a variety of ways. [Hacking] is one of the more valuable because it gives you a treasure trove of information.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken favorably about Trump, who has called for better relations with Russia and expressed skepticism about NATO. But unlike Clinton, whom the Russians probably have long had in their spy sights, Trump has not been a politician for very long, so foreign agencies are playing catch-up, analysts say.

    “The purpose of such intelligence gathering is to understand the target’s proclivities,” said Robert Deitz, former senior councillor to the CIA director and
    a former general counsel at the National Security Agency. “Trump’s foreign investments, for example, would be relevant to understanding how he would deal with countries where he has those investments” should he be elected, Deitz said. “They may provide tips for understanding his style of negotiating. In short, this sort of intelligence could be used by Russia, for example, to indicate where it can get away with foreign adventurism.”

    Other analysts noted that any dirt dug up in opposition research is likely to be made public anyway. Nonetheless, DNC leadership acted quickly after the intrusion’s discovery to contain the damage.

    “The security of our system is critical to our operation and to the confidence of the campaigns and state parties we work with,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the DNC chairwoman. “When we discovered the intrusion, we treated this like the serious incident it is and reached out to CrowdStrike immediately. Our team moved as quickly as possible to kick out the intruders and secure our network.”

    Clinton called the intrusion “troubling” in an interview with Telemundo. She also said, “So far as we know, my campaign has not been hacked into,” and added that cybersecurity is an issue that she “will be absolutely focused on” if she becomes president. “Because whether it’s Russia, or China, Iran or North Korea, more and more countries are using hacking to steal our information, to use it to their advantage,” she said.

    A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign referred questions to the Secret Service.

    DNC leaders were tipped to the hack in late April. Chief executive Amy Dacey got a call from her operations chief saying that their information technology team had noticed some unusual network activity.

    “It’s never a call any executive wants to get, but the IT team knew something was awry,” ­Dacey said. And they knew it was serious enough that they wanted experts to investigate.

    That evening, she spoke with Michael Sussmann, a DNC lawyer who is a partner with Perkins Coie in Washington. Soon after, Sussmann, a former federal prosecutor who handled computer crime cases, called Henry, whom he has known for many years.

    Within 24 hours, CrowdStrike had installed software on the DNC’s computers so that it could analyze data that could indicate who had gained access, when and how.

    The firm identified two separate hacker groups, both working for the Russian government, that had infiltrated the network, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer. The firm had analyzed other breaches by both groups over the past two years.

    One group, which CrowdStrike had dubbed Cozy Bear, had gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC’s email and chat communications, Alperovitch said.

    The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff — an average of about several dozen on any given day.

    The computers contained research going back years on Trump. “It’s a huge job” to dig into the dealings of somebody who has never run for office before, Dacey said.

    CrowdStrike is not sure how the hackers got in. The firm suspects they may have targeted DNC employees with “spearphishing” emails. These are communications that appear legitimate — often made to look like they came from a colleague or someone trusted — but that contain links or attachments that when clicked on deploy malicious software that enables a hacker to gain access to a computer. “But we don’t have hard evidence,” Alperovitch said.

    The two groups did not appear to be working together, Alperovitch said. Fancy Bear is believed to work for the GRU, or Russia’s military intelligence service, he said. CrowdStrike is less sure of whom Cozy Bear works for but thinks it might be the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the country’s powerful security agency, which was once headed by Putin.

    The lack of coordination is not unusual, he said. “There’s an amazing adversarial relationship” among the Russian intelligence agencies, Alperovitch said. “We have seen them steal assets from one another, refuse to collaborate. They’re all vying for power, to sell Putin on how good they are.”

    The two crews have “superb operational tradecraft,” he said. They often use previously unknown software bugs — known as “zero-day” vulnerabilities — to compromise applications. In the DNC’s case, the hackers constantly switched tactics to maintain a stealthy presence inside the network and used built-in Windows tools so that they didn’t have to resort to malicious code that might trigger alerts. “They flew under the radar,” Alperovitch said.

    The two groups have hacked government agencies, tech companies, defense contractors, energy and manufacturing firms, and universities in the United States, Canada and Europe as well as in Asia, he said.

    Cozy Bear, for instance, compromised the unclassified email systems of the White House, State Department and Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2014, Alperovitch said.

    “This is a sophisticated foreign intelligence service with a lot of time, a lot of resources, and is interested in targeting the U.S. political system,” Henry said. He said the DNC was not engaged in a fair fight. “You’ve got ordinary citizens who are doing hand-to-hand combat with trained military officers,” he said. “And that’s an untenable situation.”

    The firm has installed special software on every computer and server in the network to detect any efforts by the Russian cyberspies to break in again. “When they get kicked out of the system,” Henry predicted, “they’re going to try to come back in.”

    “The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff — an average of about several dozen on any given day.”
    Huh. That’s an interesting target. Especially given the Putin-Trump bromance. But also keep in mind that the report indicated that the Clinton, Trump, and various GOP campaigns were also targeted. There just hasn’t been any info on those hacking attempts or outright hacks publicly released yet. So it seems unlikely that this was part of some pro-Trump Kremlin Watergate operation.

    At the same time, it’s also worth keeping in mind that there is one very big reason why the Russian government might actually be VERY interested in the Democrat’s opposition research on Donald Trump: Donald Trumps real estate empire has done a lot of business with Russian oligarchs. And it’s the kind of business that typically raises the eyebrows of money-laundering investigators:

    The Nation

    Miami: Where Luxury Real Estate Meets Dirty Money

    The buyers come from all over the globe, bearing cash and complicated pasts.

    By Ken Silverstein
    October 2, 2013

    If you fly into Miami International Airport and drive east toward the city and north on Interstate 95, you bypass South Beach and midtown and in about thirty minutes reach the 163rd Street exit. Heading east toward the ocean leads you past several miles of strip malls filled with convenience stores, pawn shops, bodegas, gas stations, chain restaurants, nail salons and an occasional yoga center. Then rising unexpectedly in the distance is a row of condominium skyscrapers so baroque and unattractive that they conjure up the name of only one man: Donald Trump.

    You have arrived in the city of Sunny Isles Beach, or “Florida’s Riviera,” as its political and business leaders have dubbed it. Massive skyscrapers along beachfront Collins Avenue include three Trump Towers and three other Trump-branded properties, including the Trump International Beach Resort, where I stayed—very comfortably, I confess—for eleven days in June.

    Other luxury properties on the stretch include the gaudy Acqualina Resort & Spa, where the penthouse recently went on sale for $55 million, and the Jade Ocean, which offers “beach amenities thoughtfully conceived to continue attentive service and lavish appointments all the way to the water’s edge” and a Children’s Room featuring Philippe Starck furnishings and a baby grand piano. Meanwhile, ground was recently broken on the Porsche Design Tower, which its developers describe as “the world’s first condominium complex with elevators that will take residents directly to their units while they are sitting in their cars.”

    Until the late 1990s, this Miami neighborhood was populated by retirees and tourists and was dotted with dozens of theme motels, many of them named after Las Vegas properties: the Dunes, the Sands, the Desert Inn and the Aztec. Between the 1920s and ’50s, Sunny Isles catered to visitors like Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth, Grace Kelly, Burt Lancaster and Guy Lombardo, but later became a destination for tourists of modest means.

    Everything changed in 1997, when real estate developers and other business groups succeeded in passing a referendum to incorporate Sunny Isles as a town. From that point on, building, planning and zoning decisions were stripped from the Miami-Dade County Commission and put in the hands of the industry-dominated Sunny Isles City Commission, whose current members consist of a real estate executive, a property lawyer and a former advertising executive. What happened next was the most spectacular neighborhood transformation seen in Miami since cocaine money rebuilt the city’s downtown area beginning in the late 1970s.

    The first mayor was David Samson, a parking garage magnate from Chicago who retired to Sunny Isles and helped “remake a sleepy area of low-rise motels built along Collins Avenue in the 1950s into a sparking city of condominium towers,” according to his 2003 obituary. Norman Edelcup, a former banker and real estate executive, succeeded Samson upon the latter’s death, and the city has been a property developer’s wet dream ever since.

    For all of its wealth, Sunny Isles, which spans just one square mile and has a population of 20,832, is as bland and boring as its political leadership. “Residents are as pampered as hotel guests,” says the glossy official guidebook, which features photos of the beach, shopping boutiques and, mostly, luxury condos. “World- class spas, unparalleled concierge service, beachside wait staff ready to serve, free city transportation, and dozens of cultural opportunities is why Sunny Isles Beach stands out amongst the rest.”

    I interviewed a Siberian-born realtor in the lobby of Beach Club, a luxury condominium on South Ocean Drive in Hallandale, just north of Sunny Isles. “Miami is a brand,” she told me as we sat on a sofa in the building’s huge foyer. “People from all over the world want property here.” Developers were only putting up luxury properties because they “know that the crisis has not affected people with money,” she added. By way of example she pointed to the Regalia, a new Sunny Isles condo with only thirty-nine units, one per floor, with prices starting at $6 million.

    Most of her clients are Russian—there are now three direct flights per week between Moscow and Miami—and increasing numbers are moving to Florida after spending a few years in London first. “It’s a money center, and it’s a lot easier to get your money there than directly to the US, because of laws and tax issues,” she said. “But after your money has been in London for a while, you can move it to other places more easily.”

    * * *

    Florida was at the epicenter of the housing bubble that collapsed the country’s economy, and the state’s overall foreclosure rate remained the highest in the country through the first half of 2013. But the luxury real estate market in Miami is flourishing. A March story in Property Week said the “dark age” of the 2009 crash was over: “Fewer than ten percent of downtown Miami units are left and they’re going fast. Meanwhile, super-luxury penthouses at the exclusive southern tip of South Beach…are selling for $25 million.”

    This remarkable boom in high-end real estate has been driven by foreign money, with “buyers coming from all over the world but with the highest concentration from Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Russia,” according to the website for Miami Condo Investments, which offers high-end properties for sale. Twenty-six percent of real estate sales to foreigners in the United States occur in Florida, more than anywhere else in the country and twice as high as second-place California, according to the National Association of Realtors. Seventy-six percent of condo buyers in Miami don’t take out mortgages but pay cash, versus a national average of 32 percent for cash sales for all properties.

    Jorge Pérez, a developer known as the “Condo King,” told a local real estate conference earlier this year that all these foreign buyers make Miami the only city in America where the cash model works. “It’s a very local market,” he said. “It’s for people who are used to paying cash for most of their second homes.”

    Born in Argentina to Cuban parents, Pérez faced financial ruin during the last housing bubble. By 2010, his Related Group had lost four of its seven Florida developments to foreclosure and was desperately trying to reschedule $1.5 billion in debt. Now he is hawking a new slate of luxury projects, including One Ocean at the tip of South Beach and the SLS Hotel, a brand whose flagship property is in Beverly Hills.

    Enticing foreign buyers may have saved the financial skins of Miami real estate investors like Pérez, but all that offshore money entails risks as well. Obviously not all of the money flowing into Miami from abroad is illegitimate. Yet there are abundant signs—beyond the city’s traditional role as a repository for dirty cash and the fact that much of the inflow is from countries particularly rife with corruption—that significant numbers of foreign condo buyers are political figures and businesspeople seeking to illegally export capital abroad, launder profits or evade taxes.

    Corruption and bribery cost developing countries up to $1 trillion per year—lost revenues they are increasingly serious about attempting to recapture. Some of the money ends up in traditional offshore havens like Nevis, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands, and huge amounts also flow to Western financial centers like Geneva, London and New York. But Miami, and its real estate market in particular, is an especially popular haven for ill-gotten cash. “South Florida has always been a favorite destination for international visitors and political figures, whether it is for vacation or to purchase property along its sandy and sunny beaches,” said a May 2011 Treasury Department report. “As such, Miami finds itself in the distinct position of being a reoccurring hot spot for funds pilfered by politically exposed persons (PEPs) and other criminal proceeds.”

    * * *

    The combination of tax haven accessibility and weak banking secrecy and corporate registry rules—as in Wilmington, Delaware, where nearly 300,000 businesses are registered at a single address—has created a huge global problem. For the past year, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has been making public a vast trove of leaked offshore records that have revealed tax evasion by billionaires, oligarchs, emirs, princes and multinational corporations around the globe. A recent report by the Tax Justice Network described tax havens as “the economic equivalent of an astrophysical black hole” and estimated that they collectively held as much as $32 trillion—roughly double the annual GDP of the United States.

    In February, a member of Russia’s ruling party, Vladimir Pekhtin, was forced to resign from the Duma when a blogger published documents showing that he owned three Miami properties worth more than a combined $2 million. Pekhtin’s holdings were especially embarrassing because he had not disclosed his overseas properties in his annual financial disclosure filing, as is legally required under a bill he had written as chairman of the Duma’s ethics committee. In Russia, which saw illegal capital outflows of more than $200 billion from 1994 to 2011, charges of corruption and lavish spending overseas have become major political issues.

    In September of 2012, The New York Times reported that wealthy Argentines had been pouring money into Miami real estate “by expensive and sometimes illegal means.” Hugo Chávez’s presidency prompted massive illegal capital flight by wealthy Venezuelans, with vast sums pouring into Miami. His re-election in October 2012, five months before his death, prompted some local realtors to joke that Chávez should have been named condo “Salesman of the Year.” Alvaro Lopez Tardon, the alleged leader of a Spanish drug gang, is currently facing trial in Miami on charges that he bought fourteen condos and a fleet of luxury vehicles to launder $26.4 million in cocaine profits.

    It’s difficult to discover who specifically has been snapping up high-end properties, because many buyers are not individuals but Florida limited liability companies (LLCs). In August 2012, a 30,000-square-foot house on Indian Creek Island with thirteen bedrooms and fourteen bathrooms sold for $47 million, the most expensive home sale in Miami’s history. Media accounts identified the anonymous buyer as a Russian but the listed owner is AVK Land Holding, a Florida LLC, whose business address is a pay-by-the-day business center in midtown Manhattan and which was registered a few months before the sale by a Tallahassee company called Incorporating Services Ltd. AVK’s annual report is signed by Andrey M. Kaydin, an attorney based in Coney Island who has also served as a beard for buyers of luxury properties in New York City.

    Buying property through business entities set up in Delaware or offshore havens is also common. Condo owners at properties in Sunny Isles include companies that were established or have legal representatives in a multitude of locations, including Argentina, Belize, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Chile, Guatemala and Trinidad.

    Trump’s partner in Sunny Isles is Dezer Development, which began buying up property in 1995 and now owns twenty-seven acres of oceanfront. According to company president Gil Dezer, his firm handles the due diligence on condo buyers. “We do make sure we know our customer by asking for personal information at the time of signing the contract,” Dezer wrote in an e-mail. “We also make sure that anyone buying with an LLC proves to us that they are the rightful owner of that LLC and we check again at closing to make sure that we are still dealing with the same person at the time of delivering title.”

    Offshore entities are an especially bright red flag, but domestic LLCs offer a simple means of obscuring property ownership from tax and law enforcement agencies or an aggrieved business partner or spouse. Peter Zalewski, a consultant to real estate developers, told me that Pekhtin “was either naïve or cheap. If he’d just hired a local attorney, he could have structured things in a way that he never would have been caught.”

    Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan has long tried to address rampant money laundering by passing a bill that would require companies registered in the United States to reveal their true owners, but it has been blocked by the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Bar Association, and lobbyists for states including Delaware and, notably, Florida. Meanwhile, Florida’s political leaders have been spearheading the fight against a new Treasury Department rule mandating that foreign banks tell the IRS about accounts held by US taxpayers—and which would, reciprocally, require US banks to share the same information with foreign governments. Not surprisingly, Florida banks and realtors don’t like the idea of more sunlight on their lucrative dealings with foreigners. “There is a huge amount of dirty money flowing into Miami that’s disguised as investment,” said Jack Blum, a former congressional investigator and Washington attorney specializing in money-laundering cases. “The local business community sees any threat to that as a threat to the city’s lifeblood.”

    I uncovered more than a score of notable foreign property holders in Miami, from a former senior Angolan official to various oligarchs, political cronies and controversial figures from Eastern Europe and Latin America (for summaries of their backgrounds and Miami holdings, see sidebars). That small window came after more than six months of research; dozens of interviews with money-laundering, banking and real estate experts; a visit to the city; and countless hours poring over Florida real estate and corporate records by myself and several research assistants.

    I was especially interested in the growing presence of Russians and other Eastern Europeans, who began purchasing properties in Miami soon after the collapse of communism. Early arrivals included various Russian pop stars, among them Igor Nikolaev and Alla Pugacheva, but more than a few bad apples as well. Miami soon became a boomtown for former government officials and post-perestroika businessmen who looted the state during privatization and for mobsters who trafficked cocaine, bought strip clubs and set up offshore banks around the Caribbean. In his book Red Mafiya, Robert Friedman wrote that “Versace-clad” Russian gang leaders found Miami to be an ideal base for money laundering, “where each new day brought the potential for a multimillion- dollar score.” By 1996, according to a Miami Herald story that year, some 300 former Soviet citizens had bought properties in South Florida.

    Isaac Feldman, who came to Miami after first emigrating to Israel, founded a real estate agency and became rich selling condos, mostly to Russians. Feldman didn’t seem overly concerned about the source of his clients’ money. “That some people [in the former Eastern bloc] operate by not paying taxes and duties and paying some bribes, yes, that could be,” he was quoted as saying in the Herald story.

    Mayor Edelcup later appointed Feldman as a community adviser, and in 2010 he received 26 percent of the vote in a run for the Sunny Isles City Commission. Feldman vowed to mount another campaign, but his political career was cut short when he and two other Russians were indicted last December for conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. The trio had employed young Eastern European women to lure rich tourists to bars that bilked them—to the tune of $43,000 in the case of one customer—for overpriced caviar, vodka and champagne.

    Thanks to its heavy Russian presence, Sunny Isles has acquired the nickname “Little Moscow.” Shops at a mall across the street from the Trump International Resort include a delicatessen offering blintzes and beef stroganoff, a furniture store with white leather sofas in the display window and restaurants serving an Eastern European clientele.

    One night I had dinner at Lula Kebab House, where I felt like I’d been transported into a Russian version of Goodfellas. A Russian singer performed on a small stage with disco lights while customers ordered skewered sturgeon, eggplant salad and pierogis, and clinked forks on glasses to announce toasts before downing shots of vodka. At the table behind me, a man who looked to be almost 70 spoke in Russian to his wife, who appeared to be at least 40 years younger. At a table out front, a man of about the same age was seated with a young woman dressed in blue jean shorts, a halter top and cowboy boots.

    Sunny Isles also has numerous real estate agencies owned by Russians that cater heavily to Eastern European clients, among them Exclusively Baranoff Realty, which operates from an office in the lobby of the Trump International Beach Resort and, according to an advertisement hanging near the elevator bank, represents “the most exclusive residences in Sunny Isles Beach, from $250,000 to more than $20 million.” A purple-and-gold advertising flier on a table out front of the agency that listed numerous properties for sale was in English on one side and Russian on the other.

    I approached several realtors as a potential buyer. One agent I met with, a beautiful dark-haired Eastern European woman, told me that luxury properties in Sunny Isles were selling fast, mostly to foreigners and New York hedge funds. There were about 300 units in each of the Trump properties in Sunny Isles, but only ten were available in the $2-million-and-up range (which I had said I was looking for). If I was serious about buying, I’d have to move quickly and pay cash.

    She took me to see a three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit on the thirty-eighth floor of Trump Palace, which looked out on the turquoise waters of the Atlantic and was on the market for $2.3 million. Building amenities included a bar, business center, cabanas, exercise room, indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and sauna, and tennis courts. “Living in a Trump property is like living in a hotel,” she told me, echoing the sales pitch in Sunny Isles’ official guidebook, as we stood on a balcony and gazed out on the ocean. The unit was attractively priced, she said cheerfully, and all the more so as the owner, a Russian looking to buy a bigger condo elsewhere in the area, had spent at least $350,000 on improvements.

    Later that day, I obtained the property records for the condo. The legal owner is a company registered in Belize, an offshore haven where, according to a government website, there “is no requirement to file annual returns or public disclosure of directors, shareholders, charges, loans or agreements.”

    In other words, the true owner of the Trump Palace unit is untraceable. He may be a perfectly respectable businessman, but the arrangement was a typically murky Miami affair.

    Rampant Corruption, Lax Regulation

    Through boom and bust, one constant in Miami has been the political and business establishment’s embrace of offshore cash. Predictably, this has led to an assortment of foreign rogues regularly washing up in the city.

    In 2003, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) set up what became known as the Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami to track down assets held by foreign officials and business executives in the United States. Within months, the group—which was based in Miami due to the large number of requests for assistance that the local office received from foreign governments—seized a $3.5 million Key Biscayne condo owned by Byron Jerez, former head of Nicaragua’s tax office. The following year, the United States returned to Nicaragua $2.7 million worth of assets that had been stolen by former President Arnoldo Alemán, who was sentenced in his home country to twenty years under house detention for embezzling $100 million from the state treasury. The assets included various Miami bank accounts, a cabana at the Key Biscayne Ocean Club, and a $150,000 deposit for the purchase of another Key Biscayne condominium.

    In 2008, after Uruguayan authorities alerted ICE, the feds agreed to extradite Juan Peirano Basso, an international fugitive wanted for embezzling more than $800 million from financial institutions in Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, and who had been living comfortably in Miami. Basso’s actions “are believed to have caused the collapse of the Uruguayan economy and to have caused the South American financial crisis of 2002,” said an ICE press release announcing his extradition. Since its inception, the Foreign Corruption Investigations Group has made eighty criminal arrests, secured 148 indictments and seized more than $131 million in assets, according to ICE.

    Drug lords and other criminals and swindlers have no doubt been drawn to Miami for some of the same reasons that tourists and retirees flock there—the ocean, sun and natural beauty—but Florida’s reputation for corruption and sleaze has surely been a lure as well. This is, after all, a city that is notorious for bizarre political and business scandals. Earlier this year, Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Ari Pregen was fired after he flashed his work badge to gain free admission to a strip club and pulled out his credentials again when the bill came, to avoid paying a 15 percent credit card surcharge.

    Overall, Florida led the United States in federal convictions of public officials—781—between 2000 and 2010. Just this summer, three suburban Miami mayors were arrested on corruption charges within a month. “This is a place where it’s easy to lose your moral compass,” says Zalewski, the real estate consultant. “Everyone who moves to Miami wants to live in South Beach, which is fun, but the rule should always be to not renew your lease after the first year. If you do, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll end up in rehab.”

    Adding to the area’s decadent appeal is that banks and real estate developers have frequently played fast and loose with the rules as well. Allen Stanford, now serving a 110-year prison sentence for running a massive Ponzi scheme, set up his bank in Florida in 1998 after the state’s banking director authorized it to move huge amounts of money offshore without informing regulators.

    Florida’s rate of mortgage fraud was higher than anywhere else in the country between 2000 and 2008. In the latter year, Don Saxon, Florida’s top mortgage industry regulator, was forced to resign after a Miami Herald investigation found that 10,000 criminals—including burglars, cocaine traffickers and identity thieves—had been approved to broker home loans in Florida and had committed at least $85 million in mortgage fraud.

    Some flagrant abuses have been addressed, partly due to tighter rules imposed under the Patriot Act following the 9/11 attacks, but Florida banks still have a lot of room for improvement. In 2011, Miami-based Ocean Bank forfeited $11 million to the federal government for willfully failing to establish an anti–money laundering program for seven years. During that time, Ocean Bank took in large sums of cash from Colombia’s Bernal-Palacios drug trafficking organization. Among the group’s leaders was Ricardo Mauricio Bernal Palacios, whom the DEA once described as “one of the most wanted money laundering fugitives in the world.”

    The real estate industry is more lightly regulated than financial institutions. Banks are required to file a Suspicious Activities Report (SAR) with the Treasury Department if they suspect a client is depositing or transferring corrupt money. Real estate agents and title insurers are exempt from that requirement—as are businesses that primarily sell luxury goods such as jewelry, yachts and private planes—which makes property an especially attractive vehicle to money launderers. Furthermore, bank tellers don’t receive a commission on the deposits they accept, so they are more likely to ask questions of a dubious customer than a real estate agent, who stands to make a huge commission on a multimillion-dollar luxury condo deal. “SARs are hugely important and often lead to exposure of major cases,” Stefan Cassella, an assistant US attorney based in Baltimore and the former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, told me. “Requiring a broader range of players to file them would be a big help to law enforcement in terms of keeping corrupt money out of the United States.”

    A Law to “Smoke Out” Owners

    In 2007, Bradley Birkenfeld, an American director of UBS’s wealth management division in Geneva, approached the Justice Department and revealed disturbing information about his employer’s business practices. In addition to disclosing that he had smuggled diamonds (in a toothpaste tube) across borders for a client, he told US authorities that UBS was helping thousands of rich Americans hide their assets offshore to avoid paying taxes.

    The US government went after UBS, and in 2009 the bank settled the case and avoided criminal prosecution by paying a $780 million fine. More important, UBS turned over to the US government the names of more than 4,500 American account holders, and the case “put the first big cracks in Switzerland’s vaunted bank secrecy,” in the words of The Economist. At home, the IRS introduced amnesty programs that allowed Americans to pay a small penalty to repatriate undeclared offshore accounts, a move that has brought the Treasury an estimated $5 billion in back taxes and penalties.

    Another result of the UBS affair was that in 2010 Congress enacted the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which requires foreign banks to notify the IRS about accounts held by US taxpayers or face stiff penalties.

    One section of FATCA that has elicited particularly intense hostility is its provisions for reciprocity, meaning that American banks would have to provide foreign governments with the same information about their nationals who hold US accounts. FATCA was opposed by investment banks like JPMorgan and Bank of America and foreign financial institutions like the Zurich Insurance Group and the Hong Kong Securities Association. But no one fought harder against the rule than Florida bankers, real estate developers, politicians and regulators, who feared it would slow the flow of foreign money into the state’s economy, especially in Miami.

    And so it goes in Miami, where the welcome mat for the globe’s most pampered people is always out. Today, even as much of Florida has yet to pull out of the last real estate quagmire, at least 170 new condo towers are planned for Miami, many by the same developers behind projects that went bust during the last bubble. The Real Deal, a South Florida real estate publication, recently reported that a new influx of money from the Far East was further buoying the market and that the Ritz-Carlton Residences Palm Beach had already completed several deals with Chinese buyers.

    Earlier this year, Flagstone Development announced it would build a mega-yacht resort called Island Garden that will feature high-rise towers, a hotel, shopping and a marina. The project was originally planned five years ago but fell apart when the real estate bubble brought down the global economy. Flagstone promises it will be open for business in 2019.

    Jack Blum, the money-laundering investigator, recounted to me a work trip to Miami two years ago, when he was stunned to see condominiums going up in the poor Liberty City neighborhood. “I was in a cab and asked the driver what was going on,” he said. “He didn’t miss a beat—he said, ‘That’s from money laundering.’ When it’s that obvious to cabdrivers, you know the situation is bad. But that’s what the city’s economy is built on, and it is a monumental challenge to fix it.”

    “In February, a member of Russia’s ruling party, Vladimir Pekhtin, was forced to resign from the Duma when a blogger published documents showing that he owned three Miami properties worth more than a combined $2 million. Pekhtin’s holdings were especially embarrassing because he had not disclosed his overseas properties in his annual financial disclosure filing, as is legally required under a bill he had written as chairman of the Duma’s ethics committee. In Russia, which saw illegal capital outflows of more than $200 billion from 1994 to 2011, charges of corruption and lavish spending overseas have become major political issues.
    Well, while there are plenty of other possible reasons why opposition research on Trump was specifically targeted in the most recent hack, the fact that the Kremlin is cracking down on illegal capital outflows and Donald Trump is apparently the king of foreign high-end real estate in the Miami market which is know for being a money-laundering haven and has a heavy Russian presence seems like a pretty big reason why the Kremlin, or any Russian oligarch who has done business with Trump, might be really interested in learning about what the Democrats have learned about the Republicans nominee. Dirt on Trump is sort of dirt on Russian power structure too and most of that dirt is presumably going to be public by November.

    Given all that, you have to wonder what other groups might be trying to get an early look at all that Trumpian dirt.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2016, 9:35 am
  37. @Dave: Here’s another wrinkle to the Orlando shooter’s background: when the FBI investigated him previously, they dispatched an informant who unsuccessfully attempted to lure him into a plot:

    Alternet
    The Grayzone Project

    Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, The FBI Tried To ‘Lure’ Him Into A Terror Plot
    New revelations raise questions about the FBI’s role in shaping Mateen’s lethal mindset.
    By Max Blumenthal, Sarah Lazare

    June 19, 2016

    Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons at the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce his participation in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St. Lucie County told the Vero Beach Press Journal that after Mateen threatened a courthouse deputy in 2013 by claiming he could order Al Qaeda operatives to kill his family, the FBI dispatched an informant to “lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite.”

    While self-styled terror experts and former counter-terror officials have criticized the FBI for failing to stop Mateen before he committed a massacre, the new revelation raises the question of whether the FBI played a role in pushing Mateen towards an act of lethal violence.

    Since 9/11, the FBI has relied heavily on informants to entrap scores of young, often mentally troubled Muslim men and send them to prison for as long as 25 years. As Aviva Stahl reported for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, the FBI recently encouraged an apparently mentally disturbed recent convert to Islam named James Medina to bomb a South Florida synagogue and pledge allegiance to ISIS, a militant group with which he had no prior affiliation. On trial for planning to commit an act of terror with a weapon of mass destruction, Medina has insisted through his lawyer that he is mentally ill.

    The revelations of FBI manipulation have cast Mateen’s case in a uniquely troubling light. Though he refused to “bite” when an FBI asset attempted to push him into a manufactured plot, he wound up carrying out a real act of spectacular brutality years and, and allegedly swore loyalty to ISIS in the midst of it.

    “It looks like it’s pretty much standard operating procedure for preliminary inquiries to interview the subject or pitch the person to become an informant and/or plant an undercover or informant close by to see if the person bites on the suggestion,” Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, told AlterNet. “In the case of Mateen, since he already worked for a security contractor [G4S], he was either too savvy to bite on the pitch or he may have even become indignant that he was targeted in that fashion. These pitches and use of people can backfire.”

    To highlight the problematic nature of informants, Rowley pointed to the case of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian physician whom the CIA used to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda,. The CIA ignored obvious warning signs like Balawi’s extremist online manifestos and never subjected him to a vetting process. While Balawi claimed to have penetrated Al Qaeda’s inner circle, he was actually exploiting his CIA security clearance to plan a major attack. On December 30, 2009, Balawi strode into Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, and detonated an explosive vest that killed seven CIA agents and wounded six more — the deadliest attack on CIA personnel in 25 years.

    Mateen, for his part, displayed many of the psychological characteristics that typify both FBI informants and those they attempt to ensnare in bogus terror plots. Raised in a troubled home by an abusive mother and an apparently eccentric father, Mateen exhibited signs of erratic, violent behavior throughout his life. His ex-wife told reporters that he physically abused her and was “unstable and mentally ill.” He transformed from a chubby adolescent to a burly young man with the help of steroids, yearning all along for a career in law enforcement.

    Seven months into a job as a prison guard in 2007, Mateen was fired for threatening to bring a gun to class. He settled on a career as a low level security guard for G4S Security Solutions, a global security firm that employed him for nine years. Though Mateen’s applications to two police departments were rejected, he was able to pass a G4S background check and receive several guard assignments. (The world’s third largest private employer, G4S has accumulated a staggering record of human rights abuses, including accusations of child torture.)

    While the full extent of Mateen’s contact with the FBI is unknown, the fact that an informant encouraged Mateen to agree to carry out a terror attack should provoke serious questions and further investigation. Whether or not manipulation by a FBI informant had any impact on Mateen’s deadly decision, there is no denying that the attempt to entrap him did nothing to protect the public.

    “The FBI should scrutinize the operating procedure where they use undercovers and informants and pitch people to become informants,” said Rowley. “They must recognize that, in this case [with Mateen], it had horrible consequences if it did, in fact, backfire.”

    ““It looks like it’s pretty much standard operating procedure for preliminary inquiries to interview the subject or pitch the person to become an informant and/or plant an undercover or informant close by to see if the person bites on the suggestion,” Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, told AlterNet. “In the case of Mateen, since he already worked for a security contractor [G4S], he was either too savvy to bite on the pitch or he may have even become indignant that he was targeted in that fashion. These pitches and use of people can backfire.””
    Well, while we don’t know if this attack was the result of the FBI’s prior entrapment attempts belatedly backfiring, the FBI still might want to review the possible costs of its ‘plant terror seeds and see what blossoms’ counter-terrorism methods.

    In addition, the FBI might want to look into Mateen’s contacts with organizations beyond Islamist terror groups. Organizations his father was associated with. Organizations like the CIA:

    Mad Cow Prod

    ORLANDO SHOOTING DAD A LONGTIME CIA ASSET

    Posted on June 13, 2016 by Daniel Hopsicker

    The father of the man who slaughtered 50 people in the Orlando nightclub shooting Saturday night is a longtime CIA asset, whose TV show receives funding from the Voice of America -Dari. Pictured below is Seddique Mateen with California Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

    [see pic]

    Rohrabacher was initially elected to Congress in 1988, with the fundraising help of friend Oliver North. Rohrabacher’s decades-long involvement in “all things Afghan” eventually earned him the nickname “Gunga Dana.” Today he chairs the United States House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.

    “It’s like calling Blackwater XE”

    Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s father said his son was not motivated by Islamist radical ideology, but in a Facebook video posted early Monday he said, “God himself will punish those involved in homosexuality.”

    My own suspicion was first awakened on Monday morning when U.S. news outlets uniformly reported that the father’s TV show aired on “a U.S.-based Afghan satellite channel.”

    That sort of circumlocution is typical when something is being hidden which the corporate media prefers we not ask questions about.

    The name of the nameless Afghan satellite channel, Payam Afghan, is said to be widely-known in Southwest Asia as a CIA-Pakistani ISI construct, as this picture from Flicker shows.

    The identification of shooter Omar Mateen also involved deception. He was said to work for a security company called G4S, which few have ever heard of. However, “G4S” is merely a re-branded “Wackenhut Corporation,” a name with a storied reputation for scandal in the U.S. and around the world.

    Rohrabacher has stated that he sees radical Islam as the source of a major terrorist threat to the U.S. Calls to his office today to request comment on whether he views CIA assets relocated in the U.S. as a terrorist threat have not been returned.

    The name of the nameless Afghan satellite channel, Payam Afghan, is said to be widely-known in Southwest Asia as a CIA-Pakistani ISI construct, as this picture from Flicker shows.”
    Note that Congressmen Rohrabacher, Ed Royce (R), and Charlie Rangle (D) have all confirm meeting with the senior Mateen to discuss Afghan/Pakistan relations. Also note that Mateen’s father’s Afghan nationalist tv show is vociferously opposed to all things Pakistan, which would presumaly include the ISI. And yet Payam Afghan, the sattelite tv station running this channel, a characterized as a widely-known CIA-ISI construct.

    So while it’s certainly possible that Omar Mateen ‘self-radicalized’ over the internet, especially given the number of personality “red flags” he was generating over the course of his life, let’s hope investigators still keep in mind that there’s going to be no shortage of ‘blowback’ catalysts in the lives of individuals whose fathers are on the intelligence community’s international propaganda payroll producing anti-Pakistani tv shows on a CIA-ISI funded satellite tv network.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 20, 2016, 12:42 pm
  38. Donald Trump had an interesting campaign fundraising pitch yesterday: he’d really like more GOP fundraising support, but if he doesn’t get that’s fine because he’s got lots of cash and can just do it all on his own. While the “I’m so rich I don’t need anyone’s money” might help when selling yourself to the public, it’s rather counter-intuitive fundraising strategy. We’ll see how it goes.

    In related news, Donald Trump announced a big speech for Wednesday that set off rumors that it would include his VP selection, although Trump later tweeted that it would mostly be a critique of ‘crooked Hillary’. Either way, it will be interesting to see if the speech includes any sort of generic fundraising pitch because, unless Trump really is planning on spending a billion of his own dollars this year, he really does need to start raising some money. And, somewhat ironically, based on the Trump campaign’s recent FEC fundraising numbers and the tepid relationship Trump has had with the GOP’s mega-donors thus far, if the speech does happen to include a VP selection, the GOP had better hope his VP is an actual billionaire:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Yep, Trump’s Stone Broke

    By Josh Marshall
    Published June 21, 2016, 9:59 AM EDT

    I confess even I’m surprised at what the overnight FEC filings revealed about the Trump campaign. Posting the ‘Trump is Broke‘ column yesterday made me feel at least a touch exposed since I figured he’d add (either from his own money or fundraising) at least some additional funds to the paltry $2.4 million cash on hand in his previous filing. Appears not. Now on top of that it’s revealed that he’s been using his presidential campaign to funnel millions of dollars back into his own businesses. The new filing shows the campaign had only $1.3 million in cash on hand at the beginning of this month, in comparison to $42 million on hand for the Hillary campaign.

    Yes, Clinton has massively more money than Trump. But that’s about the amount of money she should have. This isn’t to take away from the accomplishment. It’s a lot of money and it came while she was still having to spend money on the on-going primaries. But it’s in the range of what you would expect from a well-oiled team of professionals drawing on a robust fundraising apparatus. Trump’s amount of cash wouldn’t be terribly impressive for a competitive House race. His campaign is essentially broke. Which, as I noted yesterday, means Trump must be broke, too, or so cash poor as to amount to the same thing for the purposes of this campaign.

    Even more revealing is the fact that Trump has been using a huge amount of campaign expenditures to cycle money back through his own businesses. According to an analysis by the AP, through the end of May Trump had plowed $6.2 million into various Trump companies, which is to say, back into his own pocket. That’s roughly 10% of his campaign spending so far, which is almost entirely from the loan (which he can still repay to himself out of future fundraising) he made to his campaign. He kept up the pace in May, spending $6.7 million on his campaign and more than a million of that to various Trump enterprises.

    What’s notable about that roughly 10% of money back into his own pocket is that Trump only has businesses in so many sectors. He doesn’t appear to have a company to make red trucker hats and he doesn’t own radio and TV stations to run ads. So that 10% is basically as much as he could possibly run to own companies.

    Perhaps the most revealing detail about the May filing is that Trump actually did loan his campaign additional funds – a bit over $2 million. But this shows more just how hard up Trump is. His campaign is in desperate need of funds. Like I said, $1.3 million cash on hand is stone broke for a summer presidential campaign. He clearly has no principled resistance to loaning his campaign more money. And he’s in desperate need of a few tens of millions of dollars. Put this together with having to be shamed into coughing up the $1 million contribution to a vets organization and the implication is clear: Trump is very hard pressed to come up with even a few million dollars. And this from a man purportedly worth $10 billion.

    Trump’s promises of vast riches got the GOP into a bind relying on him to fund a general election on his own. But that was all a lie. He’s broke or near broke. And the GOP is now facing mid-summer with a campaign that is broke, has no fundraising apparatus, no candidate with big bucks and no field operation. He’s done the GOP worse than the most screwed over creditor he ever sharked.

    “Perhaps the most revealing detail about the May filing is that Trump actually did loan his campaign additional funds – a bit over $2 million. But this shows more just how hard up Trump is. His campaign is in desperate need of funds. Like I said, $1.3 million cash on hand is stone broke for a summer presidential campaign. He clearly has no principled resistance to loaning his campaign more money. And he’s in desperate need of a few tens of millions of dollars. Put this together with having to be shamed into coughing up the $1 million contribution to a vets organization and the implication is clear: Trump is very hard pressed to come up with even a few million dollars. And this from a man purportedly worth $10 billion.”
    Stingy billionaire or broke billionaire? That’s not a great selection of public images but it appears to be the options the Trump campaign has at this point unless he suddenly frees up a lot of cash very soon and starts spending it. And it’s only going to get more and more expensive the close we get to November.
    Keep in that that Trump is already promising that his June fundraising numbers are going to be “incredible”, and maybe that will be the case. Maybe the Trumpian hordes will flood his campaign with small dollar donations and he’ll be able to claim the ‘populist’ mantel. But if those hordes reasonably conclude that Trump’s frequent touting about how he won’t owe anyone anything because of his ability to self-fund indicate that he doesn’t actually need donations, it’s looking like the GOP mega-donors are going to have to start shelling out bilionaire-league donations if they want their orange antihero to win the day. And then what would that do to Trump’s “I’m uncorruptibly rich” shtick?

    It all the kind of news that makes Trump’s recent joke about dropping out of the race for $5 billion a lot more funny. Still, this is Trump we’re talking about and we can’t forget how much free publicity the guy is able to generate just by being Trump. So maybe he’ll be able to get the publicity, and contributions, he needs simply by standing in front of the cameras and going off on a Trumpian rant like he always does. Just turn on the razzle dazzle, add a few pitches for contributions, and watching the money come pouring in. Heh.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2016, 9:22 am
  39. The Traditionalist Worker Party’s spokesman has a message for America following the multiple stabbings at their neo-Nazi in Sacramento: You haven’t seen the last of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Especially if you’re planning on attending the GOP convention:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    White Nationalists Involved In Bloody Calif. Rally Will Be At GOP Convention

    By Allegra Kirkland
    Published June 28, 2016, 8:50 AM EDT

    Members of a prominent white nationalist group have pledged to provide some unsolicited protection to supporters of Donald Trump at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Traditionalist Worker Party spokesman Matt Parrott told McClatchy on Monday that about 30 members of his group, which held a rally at the California state capitol over the weekend where at least five people were stabbed, will head to the convention to “make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.”

    That was the thinking behind Sunday’s rally in Sacramento, which was organized along with the Golden State Skinheads: to publicize what they see as acts of aggression against Trump supporters. The rally dissolved into chaos, with anti-fascist and anarchist protesters physically clashing with the approximately 30 skinheads who showed up at the event. At least 10 people were injured.

    The altercation heightened concern about the potential for violence at the July convention, where other groups including Bikers for Trump, Truckers for Trump and the Cleveland Tea Party have promised to hold pro-Trump events. Thousands of opponents of the divisive GOP nominee will also converge on Cleveland.

    City officials claim that they’ve thoroughly prepared a plan for the convention. This security preparation so far has involved ordering Cuyahoga County to clear the dockets for arrests made during the event, reserving 200 beds for arrestees, and ordering new gear including 100 body cameras and 2,000 riot control suits.

    Parrott told McClatchy that the heavy police presence would prevent any large-scale acts of violence, although “there might be a couple of isolated skirmishes.”

    Still, the brawls that have broken out at dozens of Trump campaign events are already casting a shadow over the upcoming convention. Matthew Heimbach, head of the Traditionalist Worker Party, was one of several white Trump supporters who forcibly ejected a black protester from a Louisville, Kentucky rally in March.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, has described Heimbach as “the face of a new generation of white nationalists.”

    “Traditionalist Worker Party spokesman Matt Parrott told McClatchy on Monday that about 30 members of his group, which held a rally at the California state capitol over the weekend where at least five people were stabbed, will head to the convention to “make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs.”

    That was the thinking behind Sunday’s rally in Sacramento, which was organized along with the Golden State Skinheads: to publicize what they see as acts of aggression against Trump supporters. The rally dissolved into chaos, with anti-fascist and anarchist protesters physically clashing with the approximately 30 skinheads who showed up at the event. At least 10 people were injured.”

    So the Traditionalist Worker Party, led by Mathew Heimbach, who has already been caught on video roughing up a protestor at a Trump rally, viewed their march as a kind of Trump rally and wanted Americans to associate the street brawls between anti-fascists and neo-Nazis with “acts of aggression against Trump supporters”. And they apparently held this rally in the hopes of violence breaking out so they could make that association between neo-Nazis and Trump supporters.

    Ok. That seems like a reasonable association to make. Thanks for the reminder.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 28, 2016, 9:35 am
  40. For Americans concerned about the possible role foreign money is playing in influencing US election following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, it’s worth noting that the lobbying that pushed for a recently passed House bill which would formally allowed for completely anonymous donations to tax-exempt groups, like political super PACs, wasn’t paid for with foreign money. It was paid for with nice wholesome domestic Koch brothers money. Phew! Nothing to worry about:

    USA Today

    House panel approves Koch-backed bill to shield donors’ names from the IRS

    Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY 1:13 p.m. EDT April 30, 2016

    The House’s powerful tax-writing committee approved a bill Thursday that would ban the IRS from collecting the names of donors to tax-exempt groups, enraging campaign-finance watchdogs who say the move could open the door to secret, foreign money in U.S. elections.

    The measure, however, has the support of the Koch brothers’ company and its main political arm, Freedom Partners. The group, which operates as a tax-exempt trade organization, has directed hundreds of millions of dollars to an array of groups that help support candidates and causes aligned with the Kochs’ libertarian views.

    In an interview with USA TODAY, Freedom Partners chairman and Koch Industries executive Mark Holden said Americans have the right to “anonymous free speech.”

    Information about donors “is not used for any real, legitimate purpose” he said, “but, by and large, seems to be used by people or activists groups to get lists together to target and intimidate people, and that’s completely inappropriate.”

    The Ways and Means Committee’s approval of the bill, by a 23-15 party-line vote, comes a week after a federal judge in California shot down efforts by state officials to learn the identities of donors to another Koch-aligned group, Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The state’s Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, plans to appeal the ruling.

    Details on who donates to tax-exempt groups are not publicly disclosed, but the organizations must tell the IRS who provides their funding.

    Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., the bill’s sponsor, said the IRS doesn’t need donors’ identities to do its work. “Tax-exempt groups should not be forced to expend precious resources on unnecessary documentation and tax administration rather than focusing on their charitable missions,” he said.

    Tax-exempt groups have become increasingly active in politics, pumping $500 million in federal elections since 2011, according to Fred Wertheimer, president of the watchdog group, Democracy 21.“What the House Republicans on the committee are doing is taking a major campaign-finance problem and making it worse,” he said.

    Wertheimer’s group joined several others in publicly opposing the measure.

    IRS review, he argued, helps ensure that foreign contributions, which are illegal in U.S. elections, don’t enter politics by secret means. “You are eliminating any ability to hold nonprofits accountable,” he said.

    “Information about donors “is not used for any real, legitimate purpose” he said, “but, by and large, seems to be used by people or activists groups to get lists together to target and intimidate people, and that’s completely inappropriate.””

    That’s the view of Koch’s Freedom Partners: if you force political nonprofits to disclose their donors to the IRS, there’s no legitimate use for that information and the IRS will just harass Republicans. And it’s a view apparently shared by every GOP member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the view House GOP caucus as a whole since the House passed the bill earlier this month. Of course, the bill would have to pass in the Senate and be signed into law by President Obama if this bill was to become law, but it’s still pretty notable that a bill that makes foreign political donations basically untraceable just passed the House of Representatives.

    So, since this bill isn’t actually a law yet, we’ll just have to wait for President Trump to sign it into law. Someone should probably inform the Trump campaign about that last part:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Trump Foreign Contributor/Derp Update

    By Josh Marshall
    Published June 29, 2016, 11:20 AM EDT

    Yesterday, Caitlin MacNeal reported that Donald Trump had been bombarding MPs from the United Kingdom with fundraising emails asking for money to fund his campaign against “Crooked Hillary.” Then last night I reported that Trump and his sons have been upping the ante and sending emails to every member of the parliament of Iceland also asking for money.

    “I have no idea why he emailed me the letter,” said MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, a member of Independence Party. “This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless,” said MP Katrín Jakobsdóttir, head of the Left Green Party. If you’re wondering if this is as bizarre as it sounds, Yes, it totally is. Trump and his wastrel sons appear to be developing a new composite literary form – the hybrid campaign money ask/Nigerian email scam email. ‘Dearly Beloved in Christ, I am former billionaire Donald Trump, now fighting to regain my fortune from Crooked Hillary …” But once I posted about Iceland, the floodgates truly opened. Those weren’t the only countries.

    I’ve now confirmed that Trump and sons have also been sending emails to all the MPs in Australia and Denmark. I have unconfirmed reports that MPs in Canada also received them. Indeed, Labor MP Tim Watts of Australia tells me he’s gotten a flood of emails from the Trump’s asking for money to defeat Crooked Hillary.

    Now, you’re likely asking: what on Earth is going on here? Obviously, it is strictly against US election law to receive campaign contributions from foreign nationals. I suspect knowingly soliciting them is likely also illegal. And when you’re soliciting money from foreign parliamentarians it’s probably a pretty good bet they’re not US citizens. But obviously, as big as a buffoon as Trump is, and as crooked as he is, there’s no possible way his campaign is intentionally soliciting small donor contributions from members of foreign parliaments. Somehow this must be incompetence in how they bought their email solicitation lists. But how?

    Candidly I didn’t know you could easily buy the email list of all members of the Icelandic parliament. But it seems like you can.

    Now a few people suggested that maybe someone was just pranking Trump – going to the website and signing up various foreign parliamentarians and dignitaries. But this seems far too systematic for that. It does appear to be every member of each parliament. You’d need to collect each email and then manually add them in on the Trump website, somehow get them to confirm the opt-in confirmation email. It’s too complicated. These are lists that were almost certainly added from within the campaign.

    The only plausible answer seems to be that the Trump campaign either dealt with a sloppy or disreputable list broker or was so desperate after its horrible May FEC report was released that it went to a broker and just said they wanted every list and they’d sort it all out later. I confess that both scenarios seem a little farfetched. But some version of one of them basically had to happen, unless there’s a prankster actually inside the campaign.

    To give another example, I heard this morning from a Democratic Senate Chief of Staff who also got the emails. Folks like that get fundraising emails from everyone under the sun. No surprise. But he told me he never gets them at his senate.gov email. And it’s obvious why. You’re not allowed to do that and it’s the easiest thing in the world to scrub a list of all the .gov addresses.

    For right now, we’re scouring the world to find all the other parliaments the Trumps are currently spamming. And they do seem to be hitting these people with multiple emails. Like a lot.

    So again, how can they be this incompetent, raining shame down on America by bombarding the descendants of Vikings with perplexing emails about his battle with Crooked Hillary?

    As one of my colleagues noted, they need to be raising a ton of money right now, like before midnight tomorrow. Why? Because the June fundraising report will drop in late July, right during the GOP convention. If it looks as ridiculous as the last one, that will be a big problem. So basically, Iceland, Denmark, Australia, blast out the rafters. They appear to be desperate and incompetent and, because they’re desperate and incompetent, traumatizing members of parliament in countries around the world because of it.

    As one of my colleagues noted, they need to be raising a ton of money right now, like before midnight tomorrow. Why? Because the June fundraising report will drop in late July, right during the GOP convention. If it looks as ridiculous as the last one, that will be a big problem. So basically, Iceland, Denmark, Australia, blast out the rafters. They appear to be desperate and incompetent and, because they’re desperate and incompetent, traumatizing members of parliament in countries around the world because of it.”

    Keep in mind that even if the House bill became law, it still wouldn’t allow for direct campaign donations like what the Trump campaign is soliciting from foreign MPs. But it would facilitate a pretty hefty injection of foreign money into nonprofit super PACs, which is apparently what the House GOPers think is of no concern. Still, it’s pretty hilarious that just a couple weeks after the House passes the anonymous super PAC donor bill, we get reports that the Trump campaign is harassing every single MP in UK, Canada, Australia, Iceland, and Denmark for campaign donations. Oh, and Finland too.

    So it it possible that this was done intentionally avoid embarrassing fundraising figure right in the middle of the GOP convention? It seems totally implausible even for the Trump campaign and some sort of email list screw up seems like the Occam’s Razor answer here.

    But if this wasn’t just a screw up, the July fundraising number theory is the best motive we have in part because it’s the only plausible motive we have. Unless, of course, the Trump campaign doesn’t understand how a bill becomes law, like a bill recently passed by the House that anonymizes foreign donations, and also doesn’t understand the differences between super PAC donations and campaign donations. Sure, that’s a pretty implausible explanation too and if the Trump campaign really was trying to solicit foreign donations it’s unclear why it would have sent the solicitations to every MP in multiple European countries. It’s hard to keep that a secret.

    But the mere possibility that this was done intentionally does raise a useful question when considering the potential impact of the Koch’s anonymous money bill: let’s say that bill was already law. Does anyone think the Trump campaign wouldn’t be actively soliciting secret foreign donations? Just how confident are we that the Trump campaign wouldn’t be quietly hitting up MPs and wealthy people around the world right now if it could get away with it? Don’t forget, this is the alleged billionaire with extensive mob ties, foreign oligarch ties, and who once cashed a 13 cent check. Would someone like that be likely to turn down foreign donations if laws are in place to make it the perfect crime.

    How about the rest of the House GOP members who voted for bill? Why wouldn’t they be constantly offered secret foreign super PAC donations and why shouldn’t we believe they would be more than happy to accept those donations when they pass laws like this? Perhaps we’re to assume that, in post-Citizens United world, they won’t need the money.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 29, 2016, 6:05 pm
  41. We already knew that Donald Trump was a student of Hitler’s speeches, according to a 1990 interview of Ivana Trump. And it’s long been clear that flirting with neo-Nazis and is going to be a key component of his campaign messaging strategy, with a particular emphasis on “accidentally” retweeting the tweets of his white supremacist supporters.

    Well, it looks like we’re seeing the next phase of Trump’s voter outreach strategy: tweeting anti-semitic tweets that appear to be created by the Trump campaign itself:

    The Huffington Post

    Donald Trump Launches Blatantly Anti-Semitic Attack Against Hillary Clinton
    This is not a dog whistle. It’s not subtle.

    Sam Levine Associate Politics Editor, The Huffington Post
    Sam Stein Senior Politics Editor, The Huffington Post

    07/02/2016 12:33 pm ET | Updated 1 hour ago

    Donald Trump tweeted a blatantly anti-Semitic image Saturday morning, causing an immediate backlash online and further confirming the Republican nominee is willing to sink to depths well beyond usual, acceptable bounds of politics.

    The tweet, posted at roughly 8:30 a.m., featured a picture of Hillary Clinton pasted over a backdrop of $100 bills with a six-pointed star — the Jewish Star of David — next to her face.

    “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” the star read.

    [see tweet]

    This is not a dog whistle. It’s not subtle. It is anti-Semitic imagery aimed at a candidate who isn’t even Jewish.

    The irony, of course, is that Trump has Jewish relatives. His daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism when she married Jared Kushner, who is Jewish himself. Their kids are Jewish too. Trump even has a number of Jewish backers.

    This hasn’t exactly mellowed his instinct to give telling winks to people who hate Jews. Trump has retweeted support from white supremacists and neo-Nazis in the past and he’s notably refrained from condemning the anti-Semitic mob of his supporters that has attacked Jewish reporters online.

    Usually, he’s responded to criticism in the past by playing dumb, as if he’s unaware of what he’s doing. And that same pattern held true — somewhat — on Saturday morning. Moments after tweeting out the Star of David image, he put out a second image with the same language, but with a red circle instead of a star. The first tweet remained up for some time, however, before eventually being taken down.

    Ari Fleischer, a Jewish Republican who served as press secretary to former President George W. Bush, criticized the Trump campaign for the tweet.

    “I suspect this was a case of stupidity and not malice, but no matter what, his campaign keeps making foolish mistakes,” he said. “It would be nice to make it through a 3-day weekend without his campaign hurting itself.”

    As for Clinton’s faith, she’s a Methodist. Trump has attacked her for that in the past too. At a meeting of evangelical conservatives last month, he suggested there was little in the public record about her religion and that she might not actually be Christian: a blatantly false missive that was offensive in its own right but one that seems somewhat quaint in light of Saturday’s tweet.

    Trump adviser Roger Stone sent an email to HuffPost several hours after this article was posted, with the subject line: Total Horseshit.

    “A sheriff badge is the same shape as the Star of David,” Stone wrote. “You should be ashamed to publish crap like this – but then you don’t work for a real news organization.”

    “Usually, he’s responded to criticism in the past by playing dumb, as if he’s unaware of what he’s doing. And that same pattern held true — somewhat — on Saturday morning. Moments after tweeting out the Star of David image, he put out a second image with the same language, but with a red circle instead of a star. The first tweet remained up for some time, however, before eventually being taken down.”

    But, insists Roger Stone, it was just a sheriff’s badge! Heh. As many Jewish GOPers like Ari Fleischer must be thinking these days, “It would be nice to make it through a 3-day weekend without his campaign hurting itself.” Let’s hope he’s actually hurting himself.

    So that’s how Donald Trump decided to start off the 4th of July holiday weekend: with a homemade anti-semitic tweet directed at Hillary. And in a way might clear up one of the mysteries created when Trump recently questioned whether or not Hillary was truly a Methodist. While it would be reasonable to assume that he was implying that she’s a secret Muslim, this latest tweet suggests that maybe he was implying that she’s secretly Jewish? And that Obama and Hillary are part of a Muslim/Jewish cabal to destroy America?

    Who knows if that’s the direction Trump is taking is allusions or it’s just a random mishmash at this point. Maybe he’s just trying to cover his bases.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 2, 2016, 2:32 pm
  42. Uh oh. It looks like the Trump campaign wasn’t the original source of the Hillary Clinton-Star of David tweet. It originated as an alt right neo-Nazi meme a week earlier on the /pol/ forum. Of course:

    News.Mic

    Donald Trump’s “Star of David” Hillary Clinton Meme Was Created by White Supremacists

    By Anthony Smith July 03, 2016

    Donald Trump tweeted a meme Saturday that used dog-whistle anti-Semitism to announce that his political rival, “Crooked Hillary,” had “made history.” The meme Trump tweeted prominently featured the Star of David — a holy symbol of the Jewish religion that Nazis attempted to pervert by forcing Jews over the age of 6 to sew it onto their clothing during Hitler’s reign.

    Emblazoned onto the Star of David in Trump’s meme are the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!”

    The star lies atop a giant pile of money.
    [see tweet]
    Mic discovered Sunday that Donald Trump’s Twitter account wasn’t the first place the meme appeared. The image was previously featured on /pol/ — an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump’s rhetoric — as early as June 22, over a week before Trump’s team tweeted it.
    [see alt-right forum image]

    Though the thread where the meme was featured no longer exists, you can find it by searching the URL in Archive.is, a “time capsule of the internet” that saves unalterable text and graphic of webpages. Doing so allows you to see the thread on /pol/ as it originally existed.

    Of note is the file name of the photo, HillHistory.jpg, potentially a nod to the Neo-Nazi code for “HH,” or “Heil Hitler,” which the alt-right is fond of hiding in plain sight.

    The watermark on the lower-left corner of the image leads to a Twitter account that regularly tweets violent, racist memes commenting on the state of geopolitical politics.
    [see image]
    Other examples of images tweeted by this account include violent propaganda about Muslims and refugees and racist images of Clinton:
    [see tweet]
    [see image]
    [see image]
    Mic previously reported white supremacists rally on the internet to expose what they believe to be a vast anti-white conspiracy, centuries old, in which Jews have paid off politicians and infiltrated the media to undermine Western society from the top down. The Clinton meme Trump tweeted — which first appeared on perhaps the biggest bastion of the anti-Semitic alt-right — has brought that same hateful paranoia into the mainstream.

    One relationship of particular importance to their “anti-White conspiracy” is that between Jewish reporters and Hillary Clinton, whom they believe to be working in tandem to undermine the Western world, preventing nations like the U.S. from becoming more like their vision of utopia — a nation with racial purity among its core values.
    [see image]
    On Saturday, Trump deleted his original tweet of the meme and in its place uploaded an alteration that replaces the Star of David with a circle.
    [see tweet]
    In November, Trump retweeted a meme perpetuating the racist lie explicitly that black people committed more violent crimes against white people than any other race. That was found to have originated from the alt-right internet as well.

    Mic discovered Sunday that Donald Trump’s Twitter account wasn’t the first place the meme appeared. The image was previously featured on /pol/ — an Internet message board for the alt-right, a digital movement of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites and white supremacists newly emboldened by the success of Trump’s rhetoric — as early as June 22, over a week before Trump’s team tweeted it.”

    Yes, two days before Independence Day and two weeks before the GOP convention, the GOP’s nominee retweeted neo-Nazi meme. Once again.

    It’s going to be alright. Or rather, it’s going to be alt right. That’s the overt face of the GOP this year. And alt right face. No more dog whistling. We’re on the verge of electing a smirking neo-Nazi troll to the most powerful office on the planet and he’s skating by with minimal push back and the bulk of the GOP establishment fully on board.

    Ok, so it’s not going to be alright. But if there’s one good thing about situations that aren’t alright it’s they make one appreciate just how precious alright situations truly are and how potentially rare they are if we don’t work on keeping things alright and might prompt pondering on to make things alright. The future isn’t usually particularly bright when things aren’t already alright. Inertia works that way. But they can always be made better. Unless you’re doomed. so watching one of the two major US parties casually nominate an open alt right troll is the kind of situation that should prompt one to take some time and ponder how much worse things can get, and remain, if alt right neo-Nazi trolling becomes normalized as a form of anti-PC protest.

    How can things be made better? Is the GOP doomed? Does that mean the rest of us are too? These are the kinds of questions we unfortunately need to be asking now that a neo-Nazi troll is one unfortunate election away from trashing the world. Trashing the world is not alright. How do we avoid trashing the world? That’s a question we actually have to urgently ask. And answer. Soon.

    Happy Independence Day Eve.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 3, 2016, 9:35 am
  43. Here’s one more reason why we should probably expect more neo-Nazi ‘oops’ tweets from the Trump campaign: Trump can’t lose. At least he can’t lose with the neo-Nazis. For instance, here we have a tweet from David Duke celebrating the original Trump tweet with the Star of David as a ‘red pill’ for society. And what’s Duke’s response after Trump replaces the Star of David with a plain ‘ol circle? He welcomes the exposure of “the hidden hand”:

    Talking Points Memo Livewire

    Ex-KKK Leader David Duke Loved Trump’s Star Of David Tweet

    By Katherine Krueger
    Published July 5, 2016, 8:38 AM EDTs

    Avid Donald Trump supporter and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was a big fan of the presumptive GOP nominee’s controversial tweet over the weekend, which was widely read as anti-Semitic.

    After the Trump camp pulled an anti-Hillary Clinton tweet that included a six-point star and posted an edited version, Duke tweeted Saturday that he welcomes the exposure of “the hidden hand.”

    Trump’s original tweet featured a meme, apparently plumbed from a corner of the white supremacist internet, labeling Clinton the “most corrupt candidate ever,” inside a six-point star and overlaid on a bed of money.

    Trump later claimed the image was a “sheriff’s star” and blamed the “dishonest media” for labeling the image a Star of David.

    “After the Trump camp pulled an anti-Hillary Clinton tweet that included a six-point star and posted an edited version, Duke tweeted Saturday that he welcomes the exposure of “the hidden hand.””

    Well, ok, so it’s pretty clear that there’s basically nothing Trump can do to piss off the neo-Nazis…except maybe ignore them. But the same doesn’t apply fore the rest of society which is why so many are questioning whether or not Trump is a full blown anti-Semite or just crassly courting them.

    Well, as Josh Marshall suggests below, it’s almost unambiguous that Trump is indeed a racist if you examine his person history. But while he does appear to hold stereotypical views of different groups, like Jews, he doesn’t appear to hold any personal animus towards Jewish people. Instead, the non-stop flirtation with neo-Nazis and the Alt Right appears to be more driven by a personal desire for adulation and a recognition that when he pushes those kinds of memes he gets rewarded by an increasingly dedicated fan base. Also, he just seems to be more at home with people of a racist, bigoted persuasion. His tribe is the hyper-tribalist ‘Alt Right’, even if he isn’t personally attached to all its themes, and that’s why he keeps doing things like this. It’s what he knows.

    So if Josh Marshall is correct in his Trumpian analysis, Trump is not, in his heart, an anti-Semitic neo-Nazi. There’s not enough overt hate in his heart for that. But he does appear to share many of their views and also has a deep need for authority and praise. And, lo and behold, discovered that by embracing neo-Nazi memes he can fulfill those deep authoritarian need. In other words, while the neo-Nazis might be using a Trump campaign to mainstream their ideas, he’s using them too, and not just for vote. For the seemingly unconditional love. They complete him:

    Talking Points Memo Editor’s Blog

    Understanding the Trump/Star of David Blow Up

    By Josh Marshall
    Published July 5, 2016, 1:38 PM EDT

    We now know that Donald Trump tweeted an anti-Semitic image which in fact came from a notorious white supremacist/anti-Semitic Twitter account. The most notable fact about this incident is that while it would likely destroy most presidential campaigns, in Trump’s case it will likely be no more than a two or three day story. This is in part because, at this point, it’s just not terribly surprising (dog bites man, as journos say) but also because Trump is sure to embrace or broadcast some other racist or anti-Semitic meme within a day or two. The next blow up will push this off the front pages. The second most notable thing is that the Trump campaign can’t seem to decide what its story is: unfortunate but inconsequential mistake the campaign quickly corrected? example of political correctness run amok? or it’s a Sheriff’s badge just like these nine other Trump supporter accounts are pointing out? Trump has thus far managed the genuine feat of simultaneously holding the support of a significant chunk of the right-wing Zionist community and virtually all online anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, an accomplishment we should not overlook.

    It all raises the question: is Donald Trump really an anti-Semite?

    If the question is: is Donald Trump a racist, the answer is straightforward: Yes.

    Running a blatantly racist campaign should probably be enough to answer this question. But if it’s not, even a cursory look at Trump’s public career going back decades shows racism (albeit not always this blatant) and racial grievance are strikingly consistent themes. But is he an anti-Semite?

    Here the question gets a bit more complicated. And the nature of that complexity is worth exploring a bit to understand Trump and the nature of the campaign he’s running. I don’t see any evidence that Trump is anti-Semitic in the sense of holding a particular animus toward Jews, though he does seem anti-Semitic in a way that sometimes presents itself as philo-semitism: holding stereotypical views that Jews are high achievers, good with money, etc.

    One of the most telling things Trump has said during this campaign is that he doesn’t go into rallies with any script or even terribly prepared sense of what he’s going to say. He starts talking and then waits to get a feel for what the audience responds to. In other words, he homes in on affirmation.

    This is largely because Trump is a narcissist. But it’s also a trait of a salesperson. You intuit and understand what the client wants or needs (not the same thing) and then get about selling it to them. For these reasons and on both these fronts, I doubt Trump believes 3/4 of what he says on the campaign trail in the sense most of us understand the word. That is to say, things we believe in or believe to be true and would largely continue to believe even if it became less helpful to do so.

    Racism and authoritarianism are core Trump values that predate and are separate from this campaign. The other thing that’s very apparent about Trump is that he’s shockingly, almost totally ignorant of the details of almost every public policy issue – much, much more than even your typically caricatured politician who knows little about the issues of public life without their advisors feeding them lines. This makes him more porous to the views and desires of his supporters because he has little to no matrix of pre-existing knowledge or core beliefs to reference them against or challenge them with.

    Because of this – intuiting his audience and almost total ignorance and indifference to policy questions — Trump’s core racism and authoritarianism have been amplified and accentuated, even radicalized to an almost unprecedented, perhaps unique degree by his interaction with his supporters. This is not to exonerate Trump in any way. But it’s important to see that ‘beliefs’ isn’t really a metric that is very useful with Trump. If you see a chameleon who is orange, it doesn’t tell you much about the chameleon. It just means he’s standing in front of an orange background. Trump may himself be intrinsically orange. But the analogy definitely applies.

    Trump started with a racist, authoritarian message, drew around him a supporter base of racists and authoritarians and has been in a feedback loop of mutual radicalization and openness ever since. In this article Fortune did a comprehensive analysis of Trump’s twitter feed and retweets. While Trump has almost 10 million followers, his retweets were heavily weighted toward people who either are or follow highly prominent accounts (so-called ‘influencers’) in the ‘White Genocide” community. (Yes, there is a “white genocide” community.) Even weirder, Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokesperson who’s black, also follows a lot of Trump-supporting ‘White Genocide’ leaders on twitter. (Just so we’re clear, these folks don’t like black people.) Trump turns out to be the embodiment of that immortal Onion article: "Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My Cock?" (Read it when you have a moment. It’ll be a revelation.)

    Neo-Nazis and White Nationalists believe that Trump is sending them signals by RT’ing them, giving a wink-wink that he’s their guy. Dave Weigel quotes a guy named Andrew Anglin, who writes for the major neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, who says, “The evangelicals will listen to his pro-Israel statements, while we will listen to his signals. By pushing this into the media, the Jews bring to the public the fact that yes, the majority of Hilary’s [sic] donors are filthy Jew terrorists.”

    I don’t think this is actually how this works. I don’t think Trump is sending signals by frequently retweeting white nationalists and alt-right racists or bringing their ideas into his speeches. I think these are the circles he and his key advisors are circulating in — online and off. Their ideas resonate with them and they adopt them; at least they pass them along. Does he know they’re “alt-right” or “white nationalist” as opposed to another Trump diehard keeping it real? Maybe. But I doubt it.

    In the case of Jews, I think Trump is an anti-Semite in the sense of believing in stereotypes of Jews – there’s quite a bit of evidence of this. But I don’t think he has a standing hostility for Jews. It just happens to be that the white nationalists and alt-right racists he’s bonded with so deeply are virtually all also anti-Semites. So that’s just another part of the milieu, the pool of hate filth he’s swimming in. It’s almost akin to the way adaptive genetic mutations can sometimes drag along unrelated genetic traits simply because they’re proximate to each other on the DNA strand.

    Perhaps I’m naive and Trump is very tactical about all of this. But I very much doubt it. That would be inconsistent with everything I’ve observed about the man. One might say, with tongue very much in cheek, “Jews have nothing to worry about. Trump’s not an anti-Semite. He’s just very deeply steeped in the neo-Nazi subculture. So these things slip in some time.”

    For Jews, I think this is kind of true, in an immediate sense. He has no beef with them, at least not yet. But the whole bizarre story — the neo-Nazi Star of David incident, the countless retweets of white supremacist memes and twitter accounts – tells us one thing clear: Trump repeatedly repeats, broadcasts, embraces racist memes because he and his campaign are racist. It’s not in the articulate and often systematic way you’ll find with many ‘professional’ white nationalists. But he’s running in that crowd and he frequently hears stuff he likes and agrees with. The fact that it’s hardcore, often blatant racism rather than the sort of prettied-up version that passes as ‘extreme’ but acceptable in the mainstream political dialog is simply irrelevant — both because Trump doesn’t really know the difference and because he doesn’t or wouldn’t care if he did. Again, that’s the crowd he’s running in. He feels right at home. The Star of David brouhaha is in a sense the exception that proves the rule. Trump keeps ‘accidentally’ retweeting and embracing authoritarian racism because he’s an authoritarian racist.

    In the case of Jews, I think Trump is an anti-Semite in the sense of believing in stereotypes of Jews – there’s quite a bit of evidence of this. But I don’t think he has a standing hostility for Jews. It just happens to be that the white nationalists and alt-right racists he’s bonded with so deeply are virtually all also anti-Semites. So that’s just another part of the milieu, the pool of hate filth he’s swimming in. It’s almost akin to the way adaptive genetic mutations can sometimes drag along unrelated genetic traits simply because they’re proximate to each other on the DNA strand.”

    Yes, if you’re a Jewish American concerned about the growing bonds between the GOP and overt neo-Nazis, at least it appears that Donald Trump’s neo-Nazi love might not be reflective of personal hostility towards Jewish people. He just really, really, really craves the approval of neo-Nazis. In part this is because the white nationalist faction of American politics appears to be the group he’s most at home with and surrounds himself with, but also because that’s the group that’s been giving him nearly unconditional love at this point. So you should be worried less about the US electing a Hiterlian figure and more about the US electing a figure who is willing to do what it takes to get the adulation of the kinds of voters that would love a Hiterlian figure. It’s a worrisome situation.

    But perhaps that analysis of Donald Trump’s needs and emotional motivations can give us a path out of this national predicament: Is there a way we could send a signal to Trump that he would be deeply, profoundly loved by many, many people if he renounced his campaign and declared it all a massive hoax? Just imagine him holding a press conference and being like “Surprise, this was all a joke. I’m not really going to ban Muslims or build a wall. This was all intended to be an exercise to see how far America would go in electing an authoritarian nut job and America failed. Shame on us.” And then he renounced his platform, dropped out of the race, and threw a giant global solidarity rave at multiple Trump hotels around the world.

    Wouldn’t lots of Americans LOVE Trump at that point? Sure, not the neo-Nazis, but for every neo-Nazi he loses just imagine how many Trump supporters he would immediately pick up. Donald Trump: Master of the Con-con. He could become a beloved historic figure! If the guy is willing to do anything to find a crowd who love him, there’s no reason it has to be something foul. And the more over-the-top the Trump campaign’s antics get the easier it will be to eventually reverse course and yell, “Surprise! You’ve been Trumped!”

    He could even make a TV spinoff involving apprentices he mentors in hoaxes that help humanity all get along. There’s undoubtedly a network somewhere that would pick it up.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 5, 2016, 3:11 pm
  44. Donald Trump gave a speech yesterday where he said he wish his staffers had never deleted the now notorious Star of David tweet. And it included quite a VP teaser: “Newt has been my friend for a long time. And I’m not saying anything, and I’m not telling even Newt anything, but I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt Gingrich is going to be involved with our government…That I can tell you.”:

    ABC News

    Trump Says Newt Gingrich ‘Is Going to Be Involved in Our Government’

    By Meghan Keneally
    Candace Smith

    Jul 6, 2016, 7:52 PM ET

    Donald Trump stoked speculation about his potential vice presidential pick once again by giving Newt Gingrich a big shout out at a campaign event in Cincinnati tonight.

    “Newt has been my friend for a long time. And I’m not saying anything, and I’m not telling even Newt anything, but I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt Gingrich is going to be involved with our government,” he said. “That I can tell you.”

    Trump said Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House is “smart” and “tough.”

    “He gets it. And he says I’m the biggest thing he’s ever seen in the history of politics,” Trump said. “Now, Newt is going to be involved, if I can get approval from his wife. That may be tough, but that’s okay.”

    The former Speaker of the House was on hand to introduce Trump at tonight’s event, and the pair hosted a brief Facebook Live video shortly before the start of the event.

    During his introduction, Gingrich said that Trump “is going to kick over the table” in Washington, should he be elected. The former Speaker, known for his contentious relationship with then-President Clinton, seemed to relish attacking his old foes.

    Trump also touched on the scandal surrounding a Tweet that his social media director shared that featured a six-pointed star that some interpreted as a Star of David, prompting accusations of anti-Semitism.

    “When I looked at it I didn’t think anything,” Trump said.

    “My boy comes home from school, Barron, he draws stars all over the place. I never said ‘That’s the Star of David, Barron, don’t!'” he said. Trump said that he wishes he staff never deleted the controversial tweet.

    He was also staunch in his defense of another of his controversial remarks, defending his praise of dictator Saddam Hussein.

    “I don’t love Saddam Hussein. I hate Saddam Hussein, but he was damn good at killing terrorists,” Trump said.

    “I said last night it’s the Harvard. It’s the Harvard University. It’s the Harvard of terrorism. That’s where you want to learn to be a terrorist, you go into Iraq. Boom, you’re a terrorist. Boom!”

    “He gets it. And he says I’m the biggest thing he’s ever seen in the history of politics.”

    Newt Ginrich: Fascist Ego Fluffer Veep of Doom. It would be a fitting final chapter for Newt’s political career. But let’s face it, Newt has always wanted to be President. He has to be relishing these rumors.

    But whether Newt gets tapped for that position or not, it’s worth noting that while the VP selection is always at least somewhat important for a president candidate, in the case of Donald Trump his choice for Vice President is quite possibly going to be one of the most substantive decisions he’s going to make during the campaign. Why? Because, thus far, one of the key features of Trump’s candidacy has been the fluid nature of his views and positions. The guy took 5 different positions on the abortion issue in three days. He’s against cutting Social Security and for cutting it. He’s going to build a wall with Mexico. But maybe it will be a virtual wall. Is he intentionally retweeting neo-Nazi dog-whistles or just repeatedly making an innocent mistake? With the Trump campaign, the ambiguity of what he stands for isn’t a bug. It’s a feature.

    But while Trump has been running as a Rorschach Candidate so far, once someone like Newt Gingrich gets tapped as the choice for VP, there’s no changing that. And whoever Trump chooses almost instantly becomes the most meaningful voter guide to Trump’s real values. Unlike policy positions, Trump can’t choose multiple VP candidates simultaneously. There can be only one.

    So whoever Trump taps to become VP, the American electorate might finally see what a Trumpian administration is going to look like. And if one of the latest rumors sweeping DC has any truth to it, Trump’s VP pick might also give us a much better idea of who would actually be president if Trump wins the election:

    The New York Times

    Would Donald Trump Quit if He Wins the Election? He Doesn’t Rule It Out

    By JASON HOROWITZ
    JULY 7, 2016

    The traditional goal of a presidential nominee is to win the presidency and then serve as president.

    Donald J. Trump is not a traditional candidate for president.

    Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

    “I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.

    It is, of course, entirely possible that Mr. Trump is playing coy to earn more news coverage. But the notion of the intensely competitive Mr. Trump’s being more interested in winning the presidency than serving as president is not exactly a foreign concept to close observers of this presidential race.

    Early in the contest, his rivals, Republican operatives and many reporters questioned the seriousness of his candidacy. His knack for creating controversy out of thin air (this week’s edition: the Star of David Twitter post) and his inclination toward self-destructive comments did not instill confidence in a political culture that values on-message discipline in its candidates.

    Those doubts dissipated after Mr. Trump vanquished his Republican opponents and locked up the nomination.

    “I’ve actually done very well,” Mr. Trump said. “We beat 18 people, right?”

    But as the race has turned toward the general election and a majority of polls have shown Mr. Trump trailing Mrs. Clinton, speculation has again crept into political conversations in Washington, New York and elsewhere that Mr. Trump will seek an exit strategy before the election to avoid a humiliating loss.

    Now he is refusing to rule out an even more dramatic departure, one that would let him avoid the grueling job of governing, return to his business and enjoy his now-permanent status as a media celebrity.

    Told of Mr. Trump’s noncommittal comment, Stuart Stevens, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney in 2012 who has become one of Mr. Trump’s most vocal critics, said that Mr. Trump was “a con man who is shocked his con hasn’t been called” and that he was looking for an emergency exit.

    “He has no sense of how to govern,” Mr. Stevens said. “He can’t even put together a campaign.”

    Even Mr. Trump’s supporters acknowledge that his past campaigns had the air of a vanity tour. That impression lingers. A recent Trump news release promising “a speech regarding the election” prompted many reporters and political fortunetellers to predict a declaration of his departure. But just the fact that a routine news release prompted paroxysms of conjecture throughout the political universe suggested that, as Mr. Trump might say, “there’s something going on.”

    In Mr. Trump’s case, the disruption is everywhere. Last fall, he said in television interviews that if his standing collapsed in the Republican primary polls, he could very well return to his business. In mid-June, amid an onslaught of negative news coverage, he joked to a crowd that he would consider leaving the race for $5 billion.

    On the off chance he actually is planning to back out, what would happen?

    Alexander Keyssar, a historian at Harvard who is working on a book about the Electoral College, said the process of succession would depend on “the precise moment at which he said, ‘Nah, never mind.’ ”

    The party representatives who make up the Electoral College would suddenly have real power rather than a rubber stamp. If Mr. Trump bowed out after winning on Nov. 8 but before the electors met in each state to cast their ballots on Dec. 19, then the electors could have the opportunity to vote for another candidate, Professor Keyssar said.

    A majority of the 538 electors would be Republicans, but they might not agree on the best alternative candidate. If no one won a majority of the electors, the contest between the top three vote-getters — one of whom would presumably be Mrs. Clinton — would go to the House of Representatives, where each state would be given one vote, while the Senate would select the vice president. House Republicans hold 33 states to the Democrats’ 14, with three evenly split. It is unclear whether the vote would take place before or after newly elected representatives were seated.

    It is also unclear what would happen, Professor Keyssar said, if Mr. Trump bid adieu after the electoral votes were cast but before they were officially counted, per the 12th Amendment, by the president of the Senate before a joint session of Congress in January. And if Mr. Trump left after the votes were counted in Congress but before he was sworn in on Jan. 20, Professor Keyssar said the closest guidance would probably come from Section Three of the 20th Amendment: “If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the president, the president-elect shall have died, the vice president-elect shall become president.”

    “Nothing like this has ever happened,” Mr. Keyssar said.

    And nothing like it will this year, Mr. Trump’s supporters say.

    “It’s going to be too late by then,” Roger Stone, Mr. Trump’s longtime political adviser, said of the go-out-on-top theory. “If he got elected president, he’d certainly serve. I’m fairly certain about that. You think he’d resign? I don’t see that happening. There is only one star in the Donald Trump show, and that’s Donald Trump.”

    “This is silly,” said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which has tried hard to make the Trump campaign more professional. “He’s in it to win it.”

    But the only person who could truly put any doubts to rest seemed instead to relish the idea of keeping everyone guessing, concluding the recent conversation with a you’re-on-to-something grin and handshake across his cluttered desk.

    “We’ll do plenty of stories,” Mr. Trump promised enigmatically. “O.K.?”

    “Presented in a recent interview with a scenario, floating around the political ether, in which the presumptive Republican nominee proves all the naysayers wrong, beats Hillary Clinton and wins the presidency, only to forgo the office as the ultimate walk-off winner, Mr. Trump flashed a mischievous smile.

    “I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” he said, minutes before leaving his Trump Tower office to fly to a campaign rally in New Hampshire.”

    That’s a bit ominous. So is a vote for Trump really going to be a vote for Trumps VP? That appears to be a question of timing:

    Alexander Keyssar, a historian at Harvard who is working on a book about the Electoral College, said the process of succession would depend on “the precise moment at which he said, ‘Nah, never mind.’ ”

    The party representatives who make up the Electoral College would suddenly have real power rather than a rubber stamp. If Mr. Trump bowed out after winning on Nov. 8 but before the electors met in each state to cast their ballots on Dec. 19, then the electors could have the opportunity to vote for another candidate, Professor Keyssar said.

    A majority of the 538 electors would be Republicans, but they might not agree on the best alternative candidate. If no one won a majority of the electors, the contest between the top three vote-getters — one of whom would presumably be Mrs. Clinton — would go to the House of Representatives, where each state would be given one vote, while the Senate would select the vice president. House Republicans hold 33 states to the Democrats’ 14, with three evenly split. It is unclear whether the vote would take place before or after newly elected representatives were seated.

    It is also unclear what would happen, Professor Keyssar said, if Mr. Trump bid adieu after the electoral votes were cast but before they were officially counted, per the 12th Amendment, by the president of the Senate before a joint session of Congress in January. And if Mr. Trump left after the votes were counted in Congress but before he was sworn in on Jan. 20, Professor Keyssar said the closest guidance would probably come from Section Three of the 20th Amendment: “If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the president, the president-elect shall have died, the vice president-elect shall become president.”

    So if Trump wins on November 8, but then drops out before Dec 19, the Electoral College could just elect whoever they want. If he drops out after Dec 19 and before Jan 20, it’s probably going to be the vice president-elect that’s sworn in. And, of course, if he leaves office after Jan 20 he would replaced by the vice president.

    In other words, Newt Gingrich is quite possibly a lot closer to becoming President than almost anyone is assuming right now. At least that assuming Trump’s mischievous smile and cryptic comments really are indicative of what he has in mind. So is installing President Gingrich going to be Donald Trump’s career-defining ‘I’m The Best, F#%$ You World!’ mega-grift? Considering he’s the Rorschach Candidate, it’s rather difficult to interpret the mischievous smiles and cryptic comments and it is a rather outlandish scenario. But given the surrealist hoax-like nature of the Trump campaign thus far, it’s hard to rule the possibility out.

    That’s all something to keep in mind, especially if Newt really does end up being Trump’s pick(he’s got competition). Because if you’re the President, and Newt Gingrich is your Vice President, that means your pulse is the only thing standing between Newt Gingrich and the Presidency. Isn’t it a lot safer to get out of the way in advance?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 7, 2016, 4:01 pm
  45. It sounds like Donald Trump might need to forget who David Duke is and belated sort of denounce him again. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise probably isn’t going to be super thrilled either. Yes, David Duke appears to recognize that, with Trump as the GOP nominee, this just might be the right year for another Duke run:

    The Daily Beast

    David Duke Plans to Run for Congress
    The former KKK grand wizard said he wants to defeat Steve Scalise, who reportedly once called himself “David Duke without the baggage.”

    Gideon Resnick
    07.12.16 3:55 PM ET

    David Duke says he is getting ready to run for Congress.

    The former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and ex-candidate for Louisiana governor told The Daily Beast he is heavily leaning towards challenging Rep. Steve Scalise. Scalise is the No. 3 Republican in the House who reportedly once called himself “David Duke without the baggage” and spoke at a white nationalist group that Duke founded (two event attendees later said Scalise never attended the conference).

    “I’ve very seriously set up an exploratory committee to run for the United States Congress against Steve Scalise,” Duke said. “I expect to make a decision in a few days” ahead of the July 22 ballot deadline.

    Duke said the killing of five white police officers in Dallas by a black militant pushed him to the brink of running.

    “I don’t take any satisfaction in the fact that I was right, but I have been right,” he said. “Unless European Americans stand up, they are going to lose everything they care about in this country.”

    Duke sees 2016 as his year to win against “sellout Steve Scalise” because of new racial tensions.

    “There are millions of people across the country who would like to have me in the Congress. I’d be the only person in Congress openly defending the rights and the heritage of European Americans,” he said. “We are on the offensive today. There’s no more defenses.”

    Duke founded a KKK chapter in 1974, and won election to the state legislature in 1989 by campaigning on drug testing welfare recipients. After an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate in 1990, Duke made the runoff for governor in 1991 against opposition from the party all the way up to President George H.W. Bush. Duke lost to Democrat, former governor, and ex-convict Edwin Edwards.

    For the past 25 years, Duke has been busy as an occasional candidate and outspoken “racial realist.” In 2000, he founded the European-American Unity and Rights Organization. That’s the group, Duke claims Scalise addressed in 2002 when he was a state lawmaker. (Duke later called Scalise a “fine family man.”)

    When the alleged address was revealed in 2014, Scalise feigned ignorance of the Duke group’s message.

    “I didn’t know who all of these groups were and I detest any kind of hate group,” he said. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous.”

    Scalise’s denouncement and his vote to ban Confederate flags in Veterans Administration cemeteries has earned him Duke’s ire.

    “He crawled on his hands and his knees to the black caucus. This should not stand,” Duke said.

    The Daily Beast has reached out to Scalise’s office for comment about Duke’s current political aspirations.

    Should Duke make it to the House, he said one of his first goals would be to repeal the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which liberalized immigration laws by eliminating race-based quotas.

    Duke compared himself to Donald Trump, who he endorsed for president.

    “I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more,” he said. “I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

    On the same day that Newt Gingrich rose in Trump’s veepstakes, Duke blasted the former speaker of the House as a “total sellout cuck.” Duke was angry that Gingrich recently said white people don’t understand what it’s like for blacks who routinely face discrimination.

    “I would be a better pick,” Duke said. “I had a perfect Republican voting record. If he had me as a VP he would have a life insurance policy. But again, I don’t see him doing that. That’s just a fantasy.”

    Trump won’t reach out to him because the candidate fears “offending the oligarchs,” a term Duke uses for the political establishment he said is controlled by Jewish, Hispanic and African American interests.

    “I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more…I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

    Well, he does have a point.

    At least if Duke does run we’ll finally be able answer an unfortunate, yet, compelling question contemporary politics unfortunately begs: who wins in a race between David Duke without the baggage and David Duke with the baggage? Of course, the answer is that David Duke wins in either scenario, but it will still be grimly interesting to see how the vote goes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 12, 2016, 6:46 pm
  46. With recent polls showing an alarming close race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the key swing states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, it’s unfortunately the case that every utterances that come out of Trump’s mouth over the coming months has to be taken at least somewhat seriously. For instance, when Donald Trump condemns the calls for moments of silence to commemorate the Dallas shooter Micah Johnson, we unfortunately have to point out that, no, there were no calls for moments of silence. It was dangerously unserious statement. But as Josh Marshall notes, it was a dangerously unserious statement made by a man with an apparent authoritarian personality who is on the verge of becoming the next president which is why we have to take it so seriously:

    Talking Point Memo Editor’s Blog

    A Propagator of Race Hatred and Violence

    By Josh Marshall
    Published July 13, 2016, 2:26 PM EDT

    This isn’t getting a lot of attention. But it should/. Everybody took note when Donald Trump repeatedly claimed that American Muslims across the river in New Jersey celebrated and cheered as the Twin Towers fell on 9/11 – an entirely fabricated claim. Last night on Bill O’Reilly’s show and then separately at a rally in Westfield, Indiana he did something very similar and in so doing cemented his status an impulsive propagator of race-hatred and violence.

    The details of a the rapid-fire fulmination are important. So let’s look at them closely.

    Trump claimed that people – “somebody” – called for a moment of silence for mass killer Micah Johnson, the now deceased mass shooter who killed five police officers in Dallas on Thursday night. There is no evidence this ever happened. Searches of the web and social media showed no evidence. Even Trump’s campaign co-chair said today that he can’t come up with any evidence. As in the case of the celebrations over the fall of the twin towers, even to say there’s ‘no evidence’ understates the matter. This didn’t happen. Trump made it up.

    The language is important: “When somebody called for a moment of silence to this maniac that shot the five police, you just see what’s going on. It’s a very, very sad situation.”

    Then later at the Indiana rally: “The other night you had 11 cities potentially in a blow-up stage. Marches all over the United States—and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac! And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer!”

    A would-be strong man, an authoritarian personality, isn’t just against disorder and violence. They need disorder and violence. That is their raison d’etre, it is the problem that they are purportedly there to solve. The point bears repeating: authoritarian figures require violence and disorder. Look at the language. “11 cities potentially in a blow up stage” .. “Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac!” … “And some people ask for a moment of silence for him. For the killer.”

    At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, if you translate the German, the febrile and agitated language of ‘hatred’, ‘anger’, ‘maniac’ … this is the kind of florid and incendiary language Adolf Hitler used in many of his speeches. Note too the actual progression of what Trump said: “Marches all over the United States – and tough marches. Anger. Hatred. Hatred! Started by a maniac!” (emphasis added).

    The clear import of this fusillade of words is that the country is awash in militant protests that were inspired by Micah Johnson. “Started by …”

    We’re used to so much nonsense and so many combustible tirades from Trump that we become partly inured to them. We also don’t slow down and look at precisely what he’s saying. What he’s saying here is that millions of African-Americans are on the streets inspired by and protesting on behalf of a mass murderer of white cops.

    This is not simply false. It is the kind of wild racist incitement that puts whole societies in danger. And this man wants to be president.

    There have continued to be protests. There’s no reason why there should not be. But every Black Lives Matter leader of any note has spoken clearly denouncing Johnson’s atrocity. Indeed, if anything the continuing protests have been tempered calls for an end to violence on all sides. For all the horror, the outrage has spawned moments of bridge-building, unity. So these are combustible times. But they’re not the times Trump is describing. Indeed, what Trump said in the passage above is something verging on the notorious “big lie”. Micah Johnson didn’t inspire any marches. No one is marching on his behalf. Even the truly radical and potentially violent black nationalist fringe groups had apparently shunned him even before the shooting. No one called for a moment of silence on Johnson’s behalf or honored him in any way. This is just an up is down straight up lie served up for the purpose of stoking fear, menace and race hate.

    These are the words, the big lies rumbling the ground for some sort of apocalyptic race war, of a dangerous authoritarian personality who is either personally deeply imbued with racist rage or willingly to use that animus and race hatred to achieve political ends. In either case, they words of a deeply dangerous individual the likes of whom has seldom been so close to achieving executive power.

    “…Indeed, if anything the continuing protests have been tempered calls for an end to violence on all sides. For all the horror, the outrage has spawned moments of bridge-building, unity. So these are combustible times. But they’re not the times Trump is describing. Indeed, what Trump said in the passage above is something verging on the notorious “big lie”.…”

    Keep in mind that Trump made the claim that he saw these calls for moments of silence twice in one day: at a rally and during an interview on Fox News. So this wasn’t a standard “some people say…” kind of innuendo. He really wanted to push that meme.

    Given that this behavior is part of a well established Trumpian pattern of spreading disinformation that promotes his agenda, and given that the Trump agenda appears to be an agenda of ramping up racial tensions and constantly pushing ‘race war’ memes, it’s worth noting that we might actually be on the verge of seeing a second consecutive Republican president that lies the US into a completely avoidable and disastrous war. But unlike President Bush lying the US into a war in Iraq, a Trump administration would clearly do everything it can to lie the US into a war with itself. The madness is coming full circle. Imagine that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 13, 2016, 2:43 pm
  47. With all the attention given to Melania Trump’s bewildering Republican National Conventions speech, which was plagiarized almost word for word from Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech, there’s been no shortage of concern that all the focus on Melania’s speech cribbing ended up overshadowing an opening convention night that bore a stunning resemblance to a CPAC convention, filled with violent undertones, fear-mongering and disturbing attempts at incitement. It’s also worth noting that Melania’s plagiarism also distracted from the fact that she Rickrolled the nation, although there’s understandably very little concern over the lack of focus on that part.

    So that happened. Along with all the distractions. But in an odd way, Melania’s plagiarism kerfuffle and associated distraction concerns does actually have the potential to remind us of one of the key aspects of the Trump candidacy: Donald Trump’s particular strain of celebrity authoritarianism that is being treated as a kind of reimagining of the Republican Party is, itself, a giant distraction from the fact that the only thing changing with the larger GOP platform is that it’s getting crazier with each election. And that kind of change is nothing new:

    The New Republic

    The Republican Party Blew It

    Trump’s rise was an opportunity to broaden the GOP’s appeal. Instead, party insiders drafted a toxic platform designed to lose the White House—again.

    By Laura Reston and Alex Shephard
    July 18, 2016

    If there was a silver lining to Donald Trump’s victory in the GOP primary, it was that part of his appeal lay in real moderation. Trump is racist and demagogic, but he’s also secular and focused on workers, not the Wall Street tycoons and religious right that have driven Republican policy for the past three decades. In that spirit, Trump dialed back on Republican nostrums like the opposition to abortion and gay marriage, and struck a cautious tone on military intervention. That he won the primary by opposing party orthodoxy essentially obliterated the assumption that ideological conservatives were a majority faction within the GOP.

    In doing so, Trump alienated many who had counted themselves among the party faithful, the activists and insiders who waged the “culture wars” of the 1980s and ’90s. Back then, Republicans believed they were fighting a “war for the soul of America,” as Pat Buchanan called it in his 1992 convention speech—a struggle that pitted conservatives against the secular, progressive factions in American politics who advocated for abortion, gun control, affirmative action, and the separation of church and state. Most of the Republican nominees in the last two decades played up the culture wars, too—until Trump. His past support for abortion, history of philandering, and blatant lack of interest in going to church has turned off many party insiders.

    Still, Trump’s rise should have been a reckoning for the political insiders and activists who were drafting the Republican platform in Cleveland last week. But there was no such soul-searching. They doubled-down on the culture wars while also adopting Trump’s most extreme positions. The platform that will be presented on Monday calls for erecting a wall along the Mexican border, the demand that the government “destroy ISIS.” But it also calls for blocking women from serving in combat roles in the military, abolishing federal funding for abortion, and rolling back the spread of pornography, which Republicans lament as a “public health crisis.”

    The platform, in other words, is caught between two poles, both of which are toxic to much of the country. This was a missed opportunity for the Republicans. Had they adopted the softer social positions championed by Trump, and retained their traditional devotion to free trade, military intervention, and trickle-down economics, their party might have become more palatable to the broader public. Instead, Republican insiders drafting the platform redoubled their efforts to pull the party further to the right.

    This might seem insignificant. After all, who cares about a Republican platform that will hold little sway over what Trump would do in the White House? But it’s actually a glaring indication of the party’s identity crisis—one that will make it even tougher for the next Republican nominee to broaden his (or her) appeal four years from now. In short, the platform is the perfect blueprint for not winning the White House.

    It’s possible that Republicans have simply had enough soul-searching. In 2013, reflecting on having lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, the RNC released its now infamous post-mortem—the “Growth and Opportunity Project”—which investigated the party’s difficulty winning national elections. Here’s a particularly relevant segment:

    Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us…

    If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies…. Other minority communities, including Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, also view the Party as unwelcoming.

    The 2016 Republican platform does absolutely nothing to reach out to those groups, or to reach out at all. It’s a phenomenally inward-looking document, a kind of patchwork quilt of Republican and conservative preoccupations rather than a cohesive governing manifesto. What happened to all that goodwill in the 2013 autopsy—the idea that the Republicans could embrace all sort of new demographic groups?

    For one thing, the Republican Party did very little in practice to convince voters that it was interested in changing, or in accommodating new ideas or principles. But more recently, Trump happened. His candidacy has damaged the Republican Party’s ability to remodel itself for a more diverse America and ensured that the platform would adopt harsh anti-immigrant language and alienate many non-white voters, particularly Hispanics.

    Once Trump had ruled out the possibility that the party could bring new constituencies into the Republican fold, the platform committee had two choices: Either maintain the status quo and play up the culture wars, as the party has been doing for decades, or move away from social issues altogether to look more like Trump himself. Torn between these two choices, the Republican insiders drafting the platform this year decided on the former—and in the process, passed up on an ideal opportunity to rework their policies for the twenty-first century.

    Trump, bucking the social conservatives in his party, has voiced more moderate views on some of these issues, bringing his party more in line with prevailing public opinion. Some committee members have tried to do the same. On Monday, Rachel Hoff, the first openly gay member of a Republican platform committee, introduced an amendment acknowledging that Republicans have a “diversity of opinion” on gay marriage, according to Time. But social conservatives squashed her proposals, clinging to planks that have stayed largely the same in the last 50 years even as they seem less and less in line with prevailing public opinion. The debate underscored how hardline conservatives are the ones calling the shots in Cleveland, to the detriment of the party’s electoral hopes.

    “If Republicans are very lucky,” MSNBC’s Steve Benen wrote last week, “the vast majority of Americans will have no idea what’s in the party’s new platform.” He has a point. Party platforms almost always create turf wars at the conventions, with certain factions in a party vying to leave their stamp. But in the end, very few people pay close attention them—sometimes not even the candidates. In 1996, the Republican nominee, Bob Dole, miffed the party had rejected a plank he wanted included in the abortion section of the Republican platform, said he didn’t even read it.

    Still, some research suggests that party platforms do matter: People form their opinions about the party based on what the platform includes. Political scientists Elizabeth Simas at the University of Houston and Kevin Evans at Florida International University have found that in years that parties adopt particularly conservative platforms, voters tend to see the nominee as more conservative too. “Voters are in fact picking up on the parties’ objective policy positions,” they wrote in a 2011 paper. That means that a platform like this one could have lasting impacts on how the Republican Party is perceived.

    If so, the perception of the Republican Party gleaned from its platform is one of a party in an ongoing existential crisis, torn not only between various contradictory constituencies, but between the past and the future. Trump, for all his reactionary positions on immigration and trade, would have brought the Republican Party a little closer to the future, at least on social issues. A platform that incorporated traditional Republican planks like tax cuts and military intervention with Trump’s moderate positions on social issues would still be far from what the average American believes, but much closer to what the 2013 autopsy called for.

    But rather than leaping at this chance to broaden its appeal, the party decided to bow to its traditional base of older, white voters. Therein lies the problem for Republican elites interested in convincing the rank-and-file that they need to accommodate new constituencies and ideas. The base is getting older. Conservative Republican voters believe that their traditional values, despite having grown increasingly unpopular in the last eight years, are American values. Unless someone else comes along after Trump who can convince the Republican base that they need to shake up their positions on social issues, the party will appear increasingly out of touch with the mainstream. For now, however, the party will continue to exist in a state of existential confusion, their platform working like a series of walls between the Grand Old Party and the very voters it needs to survive.

    “But rather than leaping at this chance to broaden its appeal, the party decided to bow to its traditional base of older, white voters. Therein lies the problem for Republican elites interested in convincing the rank-and-file that they need to accommodate new constituencies and ideas. The base is getting older. Conservative Republican voters believe that their traditional values, despite having grown increasingly unpopular in the last eight years, are American values. Unless someone else comes along after Trump who can convince the Republican base that they need to shake up their positions on social issues, the party will appear increasingly out of touch with the mainstream. For now, however, the party will continue to exist in a state of existential confusion, their platform working like a series of walls between the Grand Old Party and the very voters it needs to survive.”

    Yep, Trump came along, offered the GOP a golden opportunity to engage in some crucial soul searching and reform. And instead of guiding the GOP into a more inclusive future with broader appeal, Trump skipped the soul searching, completely caved to the far-right social conservatives, and acquiesced to a platform that’s like the worst of all worlds: overt nativism and the same far-right social conservatism that’s made the GOP an aging, dying party. Now that’s bold leadership!

    So now, thanks to the GOP’s grand missed opportunity, not only does the party still find itself in need of someone to ride in on a white horse to save the party from its traditional demons, that mystery person is going to have to purge the GOP of all the additional Trumpian demons unleashed over the last year too. Who could that be?

    Well, there’s always Mitt Romney. Believe it or not he’s reportedly eying a 2020 run and he loves the idea of riding in on a white horse to save the day. That’s convenient. But, of course, he’s Mitt Romney, which is pretty inconvenient. And it’s definitely not going to be Paul Ryan.

    So who could that mystery person be who is simultaneously capable of speaking to the GOP id as it exists today and guide it towards a saner tomorrow? Hmmm….

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 19, 2016, 6:30 pm
  48. A recent poll out of Ohio showed Donald Trump garnering…wait for it…a whole zero percent of the African American vote. Now, keep in mind that the poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percent, so maybe Trump’s support in Ohio’s black community is closer to three percent than zero percent. Perhaps. But if so, it might be getting a lot closer to zero if the people who have known Trump for decades help the rest of America get to know the Trump they’ve known for years:

    The Washington Post

    Trump’s courtship of black voters hampered by decades of race controversies

    By Michael Kranish
    July 20

    CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s campaign has tried to use this week’s Republican National Convention to court African Americans by arguing that President Obama has failed them on jobs and crime. But when the GOP presidential nominee delivers his acceptance speech here Thursday, he will address an estimated 18 blacks out of 2,472 delegates.

    Although that handful includes some of Trump’s most vociferous backers, the overall lack of ethnic diversity at the convention illustrates one of his greatest challenges: how to court black voters after four decades of controversy over his racial views, including campaign-trail rhetoric that has alienated many minorities.

    Twelve years ago, the GOP seemed on its way toward broadening its base, boasting 167 black delegates at its convention. That year, President George W. Bush drew 16 percent of the black vote here in Ohio, unusually high for a Republican, to help secure his reelection, as well as 11 percent nationally, and party leaders had hoped to increase minority engagement in 2016.

    But as Trump heads to the general election, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found Democrat Hillary Clinton leading Trump among blacks by 89 percent to 4 percent, and a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll said Trump has zero support among African Americans in Ohio.

    That is frustrating to the black delegates here, several of whom said in interviews that Trump has a compelling case to make to African Americans.

    “The rest of America has to see the person I sat down with,” said James Evans, the chairman of the Utah Republican Party, who last month met privately with Trump after unsuccessfully trying to draft Mitt Romney to seek the nomination. “The Democratic playbook is that if you are a white Republican candidate, you are a racially insensitive candidate. Let’s look at the policies of the political left and how they devastated the black community, and you tell me who is more racist.”

    Bruce LeVell, a delegate who heads Trump’s National Diversity Coalition, said he faces discrimination as a Trump supporter. “To be a black American in Georgia, and to be a Republican and to be for Trump, I can’t even tell you all the things I’ve been called,” he said.

    Trump’s outlook on race has come under new scrutiny in recent days as he has stepped up his criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it is “very divisive.” He asserted that after a black man shot five white police officers in Dallas before being killed, adding, “I have seen, you know, moments of silence called for … this horrible human being.” The assertion came despite the fact that leaders of Black Lives Matter condemned the killing of police officers.

    Trump has vowed that he would unify the races as president.

    “I am not a racist,” he told The Washington Post in an interview earlier this year. “I’m the least racist person that you’ve ever interviewed.”

    Trump, however, faces many challenges in winning over black voters, in part because he has been at the center of controversies regarding his racial views for decades.

    The first front-page news story about Trump was a 1973 report about the federal government’s lawsuit against him and his father in a racial bias case. Trump denied discriminating against black housing applicants and settled the case without admitting guilt.

    Several years later, after Trump had expanded his real estate empire by building casinos in Atlantic City, a former executive from his business accused him of making racist statements. John O’Donnell, who was president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and later wrote a memoir about his experience, said Trump blamed financial difficulties partly on African American accountants.

    “I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!” O’Donnell’s book quoted Trump as saying. “I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. … Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

    O’Donnell said in an interview that he admonished Trump not to talk that way.

    “You’re sitting there listening to him talk in stereotypes about black people being lazy and that it was a trait in his mind. And you just go, ‘Oh my God,’ ” O’Donnell said.

    Trump told Playboy magazine that O’Donnell’s memoir was “probably true.” He told The Post earlier this year that the book was “fiction,” although he hadn’t read it. Trump said he fired O’Donnell, but O’Donnell said he quit.

    In 1989, Trump inserted himself into a racially charged case in New York City. Five boys, four black and one Hispanic, ages 14 to 16, had been arrested for the brutal attack and rape of a woman who had been jogging in Central Park. Two weeks later, Trump paid for a full-page ad in four New York newspapers urging the return of the death penalty and warning of “roving bands of wild criminals.”

    The jogger suffered permanent damage. The boys were convicted and served six to 13 years in prison. But years later, a career criminal confessed to the rape, providing a DNA match. The convictions were overturned, and the city paid $41 million to settle a wrongful-imprisonment suit that the men had filed. Trump called the settlement “a disgrace,” refused to apologize, and said, “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”

    A few months after the Central Park incident, Trump appeared on an NBC-TV special called “Racial Attitudes and Consciousness Exam,” hosted by Bryant Gumbel. He appeared to criticize affirmative action.

    “A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market,” Trump said on the program. “I think sometimes a black may think they don’t have an advantage or this and that. I’ve said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black, because I believe they do have an actual advantage.”

    During Trump’s time as the star of his reality show, “The Apprentice,” he worked with a number of African American contestants.

    Kwame Jackson, a Harvard Business School graduate who was on the first season of the show, said he saw the “Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde” nature of Trump. During the taping of the show, Jackson said, Trump was respectful and Jackson didn’t think of him as racist. But when Trump became a leading voice of the “birther” movement and questioned whether Obama was born in the United States, and then spoke critically of Mexicans and Muslims, Jackson said he sadly came to a different conclusion.

    “People thought he is flirting with racism, or manipulating American anger, then it became pure racism,” he said. “My distance [with Trump] grew to true disdain.”

    In November, Trump drew criticism when he retweeted a tweet that said blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims. The claim quickly was shown to be false. The actual number was 15 percent; 82 percent of whites were killed by whites.

    The number of black delegates was disclosed last month in a Republican Party email reported by Post columnist Jonathan Capehart. A party official did not respond this week to a request for comment.

    Trump declined an invitation to speak to the NAACP’s annual convention, which was held in Cincinnati this week. The civil rights organization said Trump’s campaign cited a scheduling conflict with the Republican convention.

    Trump, meanwhile, said in the interview earlier this year that his candidacy would be best for African Americans.

    “Somebody said Make America Great Again is a very negative theme,” he said. “I said, ‘No, it’s a very positive theme because people have been disenfranchised.’ Look at African Americans. I mean, I’m going to be so great. I think I’m going to do great with African Americans.”

    “I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and at Trump Plaza — black guys counting my money!” O’Donnell’s book quoted Trump as saying. “I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. Nobody else. … Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is; I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.”

    Keep in mind that the exchange discussed there is supposed to have taken place in the 70’s. So who knows, perhaps he’s changed. For instance, when this happened last November…


    In November, Trump drew criticism when he retweeted a tweet that said blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims. The claim quickly was shown to be false. The actual number was 15 percent; 82 percent of whites were killed by whites.

    …maybe it was a completely innocent mistake that he retweeted false statistics from a white supremacist twitter account named WhiteGenocideTM. Maybe.

    In other news, the co-author of Trump’s autobiography The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwarz, is warning the world that Trump exhibited the characteristics of a sociopath when he observed him and that civilization would be at risk if he ever got his hands on the nuclear codes. So who knows, maybe Trump was acting like a sociopath back when he was writing the book but is a totally changed person now. Maybe.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 23, 2016, 6:22 pm
  49. This is rather amusing, or would be amusing if it wasn’t a symptom of a broken society: Donald Trump bragged on the campaign trail yesterday about how well he was doing with women. He actually has a record high 24 point gender gap with women, but he bragged about how well he was doing anyway. Sort of:

    The Huffington Post

    Donald Trump Thinks He’s Doing Well With Women Voters
    The real estate mogul, who has a documented history of sexism and misogyny, added: “Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.”

    Marina Fang Associate Politics Editor,

    07/25/2016 09:53 pm ET | Updated

    Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has a documented history of sexism and misogyny, bragged to voters at a North Carolina rally that his campaign “is doing well with the women.”

    In his usual routine of informing his supporters of his latest polling numbers, Trump on Monday claimed that in spite of polls showing a significant gender gap among his support base, “I think I’m doing well with the women.”

    He later added: “Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know.”

    “Fifty percent of our country is men, where I am doing very, very well, record-setting numbers, folks,” he said. “That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. The women, I don’t know what is going on with the women here, but I think, I think I’m doing well with the women.”

    For the record, Trump’s favorability ratings and polling numbers among female voters are abysmally low, which makes sense, given that he has a history of calling women “fat pigs,” “dogs” and “disgusting animals.” Earlier this month, the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics aggregated 22 national polls and found that the gender gap between Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is a record 24 points.

    Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, did not help matters when last week he claimed that women would support Trump because the real estate mogul would make sure their husbands could “pay for the family bills.”

    But Trump, in typical Trumpian fashion, continued to brag about his female supporters.

    “Everywhere we go, we have massive crowds like this and so many women signs all over the place,” he said Monday. “Women for Trump.”

    “Fifty percent of our country is men, where I am doing very, very well, record-setting numbers, folks…That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. The women, I don’t know what is going on with the women here, but I think, I think I’m doing well with the women.”

    Ok, so Donald Trump isn’t sure, but he may or may not be doing well with women voters. Still, he’s apparently feeling pretty confident that he’ll eventually get their support. And who knows, with his “law and order” campaign theme, maybe he’ll be able to close that record high gender gap by scaring the bejeesus out of everyone voters. Are you more scared of ISIS or Trump? That’s the campaign pitch he’s almost certainly going to make. Especially to the ladies.

    Interestingly, and appallingly ironically, with Roger Ailes out as the CEO of Fox News over charges that he is a serial sexual predator (and apparently created a culture there that encourages similar behavior by others in management), it’s entirely possible that Ailes could be Trump’s secret weapon to get women voters by becoming the new mastermind of the Trump’s “Law and Order” pitch just like Ailes did for Richard Nixon in 1968:

    Reuters

    Commentary: Can Roger Ailes help Trump win as he did with Nixon in 1968?

    By Michael W. Flamm

    Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:11am EDT

    Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is the self-proclaimed master of the “art of the deal.” But if he wants to increase his likelihood of winning in November, he needs to persuade Roger Ailes, the ousted chairman of Fox News, to run his campaign.

    Whether the 76-year-old conservative kingmaker would accept Trump’s offer is an open question. But if he did, Ailes could return to his roots as a Republican strategist and operative, thumb his nose at former Fox employees who hastened his exit (including anchor Megyn Kelly) and perhaps achieve a last hurrah in a storied career.

    For Trump, the candidate of law and order, the benefits are also obvious. No one knows better than Ailes how to energize and mobilize conservative voters. He was the mastermind behind Richard M. Nixon’s innovative 1968 television campaign, which was also based on law and order. So Ailes could help Trump fully exploit the issue and perhaps ride it into the White House.

    Ailes was a television producer when he first met Nixon, who appeared as a guest on the The Mike Douglas Show. The two jousted over the importance of television in politics. But the one-time advertising executive later joined the former vice-president’s campaign and created a devastating series of political commercials.

    The vivid and lurid ads brilliantly evoked the fear and anxiety then felt by middle-class, middle-aged white voters in Middle America, a constituency Trump views as his own path to power. They were, as Nixon memorably described them, the “silent majority,” a phrase Trump recently appropriated.

    For these voters, Ailes carefully created and showcased the image of a “New Nixon” who was calm, cool and collected. Yet, he was also tough enough to confront the crisis of authority and security in America in 1968, where violent crime had jumped by 50 percent since 1964.

    Order was the title of one of Ailes’ most effective campaign commercials. The path-breaking ad featured a photomontage of police and protesters, dissonant music, jump cuts and a voice-over from Nixon himself, who repeated a popular line from his GOP convention speech: “Let us recognize that the first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence.”

    The ad resonated across the nation because television had brought images of anti-war demonstrations and urban riots into America’s living rooms. For many in the silent majority, the country seemed on the brink of widespread chaos and anarchy. Fear of crime was rampant, and protests on college campuses were commonplace. Riots erupted in more than 100 cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The murder of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy further damaged popular faith in peaceful progress. Violence tore through the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, inside and outside the convention hall.

    In 1968, law and order was the decisive factor in Nixon’s narrow victory over Democrat Hubert Humphrey. The issue was far more immediate and visceral to most Americans than the distant Vietnam War. As Humphrey’s pollster privately confided, “[He] is soft in the area of law and order, and this softness is hurting him more than anything else.”

    Of course, 2016 is not 1968 — at least not yet. There is little data to support a widespread and acute fear of crime, despite a series of mass shootings. Urban unrest is far from the upheavals of the 1960s. The United States is not waging a war on the scale of its effort in Vietnam.

    But conditions are ripe and the “fear factor” looms large in American politics. The shootings of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, have put law enforcement on high alert. In red states, the culture wars over transgender bathrooms and gay marriage continue to rage. And after mass killings at a San Bernardino, California, office party and an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, the wild card is the real possibility that international terrorism might lead to even more domestic violence in coming months.

    If that is the hand dealt to Trump, who better to help him play it than Ailes?

    “For Trump, the candidate of law and order, the benefits are also obvious. No one knows better than Ailes how to energize and mobilize conservative voters. He was the mastermind behind Richard M. Nixon’s innovative 1968 television campaign, which was also based on law and order. So Ailes could help Trump fully exploit the issue and perhaps ride it into the White House.”

    It is unfortunate looking like a year made for Ailes’s talents. Might it happen? Well, as the article below points out, Trump himself has been teasing reporters that many “are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.” So that does sound like a real possibility. And if it happens, we shouldn’t be shocked if Trump actually ends up closing that gender gap, assuming the hiring of Ailes doesn’t, itself, widen the gap. But if that backlash doesn’t happen, it’s not like Ailes isn’t a pro at psychologically manipulating the masses. This is what he does.

    So don’t be super shocked if Roger Ailes climbs aboard the Trump Train. As Trump made clear, he really likes Roger and can’t understand how anyone could accuse him of anything:

    USA TODAY

    Trump lauds Roger Ailes after Fox departure

    Samantha Nelson,
    2:17 p.m. EDT July 25, 2016

    Over the weekend, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump defended Roger Ailes, the former chairman and CEO of Fox News who resigned from his position Thursday amid allegations of sexual harassment.

    On Showtime’s The Circus, Trump called Ailes a “great guy” and lauded him for his achievements in media. “Roger is – I mean, what he’s done on television, in the history of television, he’s gotta be placed in the top three or four or five,” Trump said, adding that his resignation is “too bad.”

    During his appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Trump noted that many of the women who have accused Ailes were also helped by the former Fox News leader in the past.

    “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them,” he said. “Now all of a sudden, they are saying these horrible things about him; it’s very sad because he’s a very good person.”

    Trump said that the media mogul had been a friend of his “for a long time.” When asked if Ailes was helping Trump’s campaign, Trump declined to comment but noted that many “are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.”

    On July 6, Ailes was sued by Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox & Friends co-host, over claims of sexual harassment. New York magazine reported that more than a dozen women have contacted Carlson’s attorney with detailed sexual allegations against Ailes over a 25-year period.

    While several female broadcasters spoke out in support of Ailes during the controversy, Fox News broadcaster Megyn Kelly stayed silent until she also told investigators that Ailes had harassed her too.

    “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them…Now all of a sudden, they are saying these horrible things about him; it’s very sad because he’s a very good person.”

    Get ready for campaign mastermind Roger Ailes. And quite possibly President Trump.

    You have to wonder what position Ailes will get in Trump’s administration. Chief of Staff?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 26, 2016, 12:55 pm
  50. Check out the Trump campaign’s latest campaign shakeup: There’s a new campaign chief executive: Breitbart chief Steve Bannon, patron media saint of the Alt-Right! What a huge change! Might this be part of the long-awaited “pivot” towards the general election? Well, it’s not a pivot in direction since the campaign is still almost exclusively focused on pushing far-right/Alt-right memes. But it is a pivot if you imagine Trump pivoting downward at the waist while his feet remaining firmly planted towards his far-right/Alt-right base, which is otherwise known as a bow:

    The Daily Beast

    Alt Right Rejoices at Donald Trump’s Steve Bannon Hire
    As Breitbart’s chief, Steve Bannon did a lot to normalize the racist, anti-Semitic world of the alt right. Now they rejoice as he joins the campaign of their king.

    By Bestsy Woodruff and Gideon Resnick
    8.17.16 3:10 PM ET

    Donald Trump’s campaign is under new management—and his white nationalist fanboys love it.

    The campaign’s new chief executive, Stephen Bannon, joins from Breitbart Newswhere he helped mainstream the ideas of white nationalists and resuscitate the reputations of anti-immigrant fear-mongers.

    White nationalists today invest a lot of energy worrying about growing Hispanic and Muslim populations in the U.S. Turns out, Breitbart News spends a lot of time worrying about those things, too. And in Bannon, they see a media-friendly, ethno-nationalist fellow traveler.

    “Latterly, Breitbart emerged as a nationalist site and done great stuff on immigration in particular,” VDARE.com editor Peter Brimelow told The Daily Beast.

    VDare is a white supremacist site. It’s named after Virginia Dare, the first white child born to British colonists in North America. Brimelow said he and Bannon met briefly last month and exchanged pleasantries about each other’s work.

    “It’s irritating because VDARE.com is not used to competition,” Brimelow added. “I presume that is due to Bannon, so his appointment is great news.”

    Brimelow isn’t the only prominent white nationalist to praise the Bannon hire. Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.

    “Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart,” he said. “In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers. I don’t think it has done this deliberately; again, it’s a matter of elective affinities.”

    Spencer said Breitbart and Bannon have helped Alt Right ideas gain legitimacy—and, more importantly, exponentially expand their audiences. He cited the work of Milo Yiannopoulos as evidence of this.

    “As is evident with Milo’s piece on the Alt Right, Breitbart has people on board who take us seriously, even if they are not Alt Right themselves.”

    Yiannopoulos wrote a piece on March 29, 2016, about the Alt Right, praising its members as “dangerously bright,” and cheering the VDARE and American Renaissance sites as an “eclectic mix of renegades.” American Renaissance is helmed by Jared Taylor, who advocates for voluntary racial segregation and says African Americans are genetically predisposed to be criminals.

    Yiannopoulos defended Brimelow and Taylor by saying they “don’t want to commit any pogroms,” which is… not a very comforting sentiment.

    Reached for comment, Yiannopoulos referred The Daily Beast to Breitbart editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow. He has not returned a request for comment.

    The Clinton campaign immediately pounced on the announcement in a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, noting Bannon’s Alt Right ties. “After several failed attempts to pivot into a more serious and presidential mode, Donald Trump has decided to double down on his most small, nasty and divisive instincts by turning his campaign over to someone who’s best known for running a so-called news site that peddles divisive, at times racist, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters.

    The Clinton campaign did not respond to a follow-up email asking if they will continue to provide press credentials to Breitbart reporters.

    Bannon didn’t just make Breitbart a safe space for white supremacists; he’s also welcomed a scholar blacklisted from the mainstream conservative movement for arguing there’s a connection between race and IQ. Breitbart frequently highlights the work of Jason Richwine, resigned from the conservative Heritage Foundation when news broke that his Harvard dissertation argued in part that Hispanics have lower IQs than non-Hispanic whites.

    Bannon loves Richwine. On Jan. 6 of this year, when Richwine was a guest on the radio show, Bannon called him “one of the smartest brains out there in demographics, demography, this whole issue of immigration, what it means to this country.”

    One former Breitbart worker puts it a little differently. Kurt Bardella, who had the site as a client until quitting this year, said Bannon regularly made racist comments during internal meetings.

    “I woke up and the world came to an end,” he told The Daily Beast. “They have put in place someone who is a dictator-bully—a figure whose form of management is verbal abuse and intimidation.

    “He made more off-color comments about minorities and homosexuals than I can recount,” he added.

    Bardella, who lives in Virginia and was formerly a Republican Hill staffer, said this November, for the first time in his life, he will vote for a Democrat: Hillary Clinton.

    “The campaign’s new chief executive, Stephen Bannon, joins from Breitbart News—where he helped mainstream the ideas of white nationalists and resuscitate the reputations of anti-immigrant fear-mongers.”

    Well, it always helps when new leadership understands the culture of the organization. He should fit right in.

    So, OK, that probably doesn’t qualify as a pivot. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a pivot still coming. Specifically, the pivot in the reasoning employed by rest the establishment for explaining why exactly the GOP isn’t basically a far-right, and increasingly seditious, white nationalist party run by and for bigots and the billionaires who find them useful. There’s probably going to be all sort of those kinds of pivots over the next few months. And probably years. Perhaps even decades.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 18, 2016, 2:45 pm

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