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“Donald Trump, The Hater Is Now A Loser”: Can He Survive Becoming His Most Famous And Frequently Used Epithet?

In Iowa, the hater became a loser.

In the first contest of the Republican nomination, Donald Trump, the man who predicated his entire campaign on his ability to win everything and everywhere, suffered a devastating Iowa defeat to Sen. Ted Cruz. He now faces a second major problem: the surging Sen. Marco Rubio, who finished third, is now the clear establishment favorite, and poses a real threat to Trump in next week’s New Hampshire primary.

Absent policy expertise, his bluster about achieving foreign and domestic “wins” constituted the entire sustaining force of his campaign. As he once said on Twitter, quoting the golfer Walter Hagen, “No one remembers who came in second.” It was a triumphant attitude based on polling leads that continually defied expectations and a successful career in real estate that he elevated to mythological proportions.

Trump was unstoppable, he continually insisted, and faced only an endless string of victories that were all but assured.

That all changed Monday night as a visibly-deflated Trump gave brief remarks to supporters in Iowa. Absent was the swagger of Trump events past: “I think we’re going to be proclaiming victory, I hope,” Trump said of the New Hampshire primary.

It was perhaps his most magnanimous speech of the campaign. He congratulated Cruz on the win in Iowa and repeated over and over again that he loved the people of Iowa.

“I think I might come here and buy a farm,” Trump said, as he closed his speech. To put that in perspective, back in October he insisted to the people that if he lost the Hawkeye State he would “never speak to you people again.”

Polling conducted in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses showed Trump with the lead over Cruz—but the defining question was whether political amateur Trump had the organization in the Hawkeye State to turn out his supporters. Early entrance polling showed that 4 in 10 Republicans had never attended a caucus before, and veteran Republicans in the state expected a record turnout that would boost Trump.

The businessman has also gone after Cruz with a vengeance—while they had once held a joint campaign event, the bromance ended in recent months, as Trump raised questions about Cruz’s eligibility to be president and criticized him for taking an unreported loan from Goldman Sachs, his wife’s then-employer, to finance his 2012 Senate campaign.

Cruz’s victory defied the odds, proving that his much-vaunted ground game in the first presidential contest was the key to victory.

Over 12,000 volunteers worked for Cruz, both from within Iowa and from nearly three dozen other states. At the event Cruz held for his Iowa supporters Monday evening, women line danced as they celebrated a substantial margin of victory.

Volunteers from across the country braved accommodations in college dorms—with the moniker “Camp Cruz”—to go door-knocking and make phone calls. “Let’s put it this way: It was not a four-star hotel,” said JoAnn Fleming, the co-chair of the “Texas Strike Force” that brought volunteers from out of state to support the Texas senator.

“You can spend money on an air campaign but there’s nothing like dedicated volunteers that will spend their own money to go thousands of miles… That’s something money can’t buy,” Fleming said.

Cruz opened his victory speech with a nod to his Christian faith he’s continually referenced since the start of the campaign. “Let me first of all say, to God be the glory,” he said as the crowd roared.

And he wasn’t shy about invoking Psalm 30, which is about David’s soul being lifted up from Sheol, to describe the final months of President Obama’s time in office.

“While Americans will continue to suffer under a president who’s set an agenda that’s causing millions to hurt across this country, I want to remind you of the promise of scripture,” he said. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Cruz’s speech lasted for quite some time, but attendess seemed to stay in high spirits through the 30-minute-plus talk. As he talked about his 18-hour days on the trail, a fan in the crowd yelled “You’re not tired!”

Cruz smiled. “We’re not tired at all.”

His backers couldn’t help but gloat that Trump had, at long last, been vanquished. “He’s not gonna win everywhere. It’s already over. He may win in some places, but he’s not going to win everywhere,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a Cruz surrogate and the former attorney general of Virginia.

After tonight’s victory, Cruz is the first Republican to survive a head-to-head confrontation with Trump: Other GOP challengers—Ben Carson and Jeb Bush—wilted away after Trump mocked them. Cruz survived and triumphed.

In typical Trump fashion, the mogul had broken all the rules of campaigning—making fun of Carson’s story about a purported childhood stabbing attempt, and mocking Iowa voters as his grip on the polls slipped a little late last year.

“How stupid are the people of Iowa?” Trump asked. “How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”

Just months ago, Trump was considered a political punchline—pundits predicted that Republican primary voters would soon get over their infatuation with the buffoonish businessman after the “Summer of Trump.”

But the seemingly invincible billionaire rode through controversy after controversy—instead of melting away, he has taken advantage of his celebrity status to dominate news cycles. He lost the lead in Iowa just to regain it again and again.

Trump resilience continued to confound political observers. He made countless comments that would have destroyed the candidacies of other politicians: He characterized Mexican immigrants as “rapists” at his campaign launch event; promised to ban all Muslims from entering the United States; disparaged former prisoner of war Sen. John McCain, saying he liked “people who weren’t captured”; doxxed Sen. Lindsey Graham’s cellphone number; and said of newscaster Megyn Kelly’s debate questions that “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes… blood coming out of her wherever.” All of these statements were seen as campaign-ending gaffes.

But for months, despite the predictions of pollsters and pundits, it never hurt his numbers. He rode in to Iowa as the man to beat, the guy poised to run the table against all his Republican opponents and secure the biggest primary victory of any candidate in modern times.

Instead Trump barely cleared second place in a remarkable defeat. And while it may be too soon to officially declare that the Trump Train has finally gone off the rails, the man who has led the Republican field since early last summer suddenly finds himself in a profoundly difficult battle to regain momentum before New Hampshire.

Trump has withstood mocking from the media and dismissive insults from his opponents. The question now is whether he can survive becoming his most famous and frequently used epithet: loser.

 

By: Tim Mak and Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, February 1, 2016

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Iowa Caucuses | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“No Guns Allowed, Punk”: New York Values; What Tiny Ted Cruz Will Never Understand About The Big City

Exactly what does Ted Cruz mean when he sneers about “New York values” as a reason to reject Donald Trump? Disparaging New York has long been a favorite trope for reactionary loudmouths, always with an ugly undertone of bigotry against racial, ethnic, religious and, more recently, sexual minorities.

Demagogues denigrating New York come and go with boring predictability — and the nation’s greatest city will continue to thrive long after the Texas senator is merely an unpleasant memory. But in the meantime, his cheap insult tells us much more about him than about his target.

For someone who went to the very best schools – and flaunted his academic elitism until that no longer served his ambition – Cruz is remarkably narrow in his outlook, or at least he pretends to be. While he reeks of phoniness, perhaps he truly is so small-minded that he cannot comprehend just how large New York really is, in every way.

Despite the city’s well-deserved liberal reputation, its tolerance for the broadest possible variety of opinions, faiths, and lifestyles is its deepest strength. Conservatives are welcome in New York, birthplace of the Conservative Party and home of the National Review, its late founder William F. Buckley, Jr., and so many who followed in his wake. They could have gone anywhere, but they took Manhattan – just as David Koch and scores of other influential right-wingers do today.

Those rightward-leaning New Yorkers include significant supporters and donors to the Cruz campaign, although one can hope they will reconsider that choice now. Either way, his remark suggests that Cruz is one of those oh-so-clever people who assume that everyone else is stupid. He seems to believe that nobody will notice how eagerly he sucks up to New Yorkers who can benefit him, even as he seeks to inflame prejudice against their hometown.

Of course slurring New York has always served as a thin scrim for traditional anti-Semitism, which is what Cruz evoked with his remark about “money and media” at the Republican debate on Thursday evening. He must think nobody noticed that his wife works for Goldman Sachs – or that he took a big fat loan from that very Jewish-sounding Wall Street outfit when he first ran for the Senate.

In Trump’s response, he spoke angrily and eloquently of 9/11 — a moment when most of the nation rallied around the city, with admiration for the resilience and solidarity displayed by its people. Later, New Yorkers learned how shallow that support could be, notably among Republicans in Congress who resisted approving the aid they always expect when their own districts confront disaster, and even sought to deny assistance to suffering first responders. At worst, support for New York turned into an excuse for hatred of Muslims and immigrants.

But the aftermath of 9/11 represented a perfect expression of real New York values: tolerance and charity across all boundaries of ethnicity, religion, lifestyle, class, and occupation; decency and justice toward those who have the least, suffered the most, and sacrificed for all; cooperation and collaboration in the face of tragedy; and the kind of knowing toughness that is sometimes mistaken for cynicism. Only a rube thinks that New York is about money and media alone; it is much, much bigger than that. New York values have always been the most enduring American values.

Now along comes Ted Cruz, who wants to grub New York money and then insult New Yorkers by suggesting they are somehow less upstanding than he claims to be. Since he’s such a tough guy — blustering on about assault weapons and carpet-bombing innocent people far away – he should try running his mouth about New York on the streets of Queens or Brooklyn, and see how that works out. (But no guns allowed, punk.)

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, January 15, 2016

January 16, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New York, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wall Street’s Threat To The American Middle Class”: Do We Really Need To Be Reminded About What Happened Six Years Ago?

Presidential aspirants in both parties are talking about saving the middle class. But the middle class can’t be saved unless Wall Street is tamed.

The Street’s excesses pose a continuing danger to average Americans. And its ongoing use of confidential corporate information is defrauding millions of middle-class investors.

Yet most presidential aspirants don’t want to talk about taming the Street because Wall Street is one of their largest sources of campaign money.

Do we really need reminding about what happened six years ago? The financial collapse crippled the middle class and poor — consuming the savings of millions of average Americans, and causing 23 million to lose their jobs, 9.3 million to lose their health insurance, and some 1 million to lose their homes.

A repeat performance is not unlikely. Wall Street’s biggest banks are much larger now than they were then. Five of them hold about 45 percent of America’s banking assets. In 2000, they held 25 percent.

And money is cheaper than ever. The Fed continues to hold the prime interest rate near zero.

This has fueled the Street’s eagerness to borrow money at rock-bottom rates and use it to make risky bets that will pay off big if they succeed, but will cause big problems if they go bad.

We learned last week that Goldman Sachs has been on a shopping binge, buying cheap real estate stretching from Utah to Spain, and a variety of companies.

If not technically a violation of the new Dodd-Frank banking law, Goldman’s binge surely violates its spirit.

Meanwhile, the Street’s lobbyists have gotten Congress to repeal a provision of Dodd-Frank curbing excessive speculation by the big banks.

The language was drafted by Citigroup and personally pushed by Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

Not incidentally, Dimon recently complained of being “under assault” by bank regulators.

Last year JPMorgan’s board voted to boost Dimon’s pay to $20 million, despite the bank paying out more than $20 billion to settle various legal problems going back to financial crisis.

The American middle class needs stronger bank regulations, not weaker ones.

Last summer, bank regulators told the big banks their plans for orderly bankruptcies were “unrealistic.” In other words, if the banks collapsed, they’d bring the economy down with them.

Dodd-Frank doesn’t even cover bank bets on foreign exchanges. Yet recent turbulence in the foreign exchange market has caused huge losses at hedge funds and brokerages.

This comes on top of revelations of widespread manipulation by the big banks of the foreign-exchange market.

Wall Street is also awash in inside information unavailable to average investors.

Just weeks ago a three- judge panel of the U.S. court of appeals that oversees Wall Street reversed an insider-trading conviction, saying guilt requires proof a trader knows the tip was leaked in exchange for some “personal benefit” that’s “of some consequence.”

Meaning that if a CEO tells his Wall Street golfing buddy about a pending merger, the buddy and his friends can make a bundle — to the detriment of small, typically middle-class, investors.

That three-judge panel was composed entirely of appointees of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

But both parties have been drinking at the Wall Street trough.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, the financial sector ranked fourth among all industry groups giving to then candidate Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee. In fact, Obama reaped far more in contributions from the Street than did his Republican opponent.

Wall Street also supplies both administrations with key economic officials. The treasury secretaries under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, respectfully, had both chaired Goldman Sachs before coming to Washington.

And before becoming Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner had been handpicked by Rubin to become president of Federal Reserve Bank of New York. (Geithner is now back on the Street as president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus.)

It’s nice that presidential aspirants are talking about rebuilding America’s middle class.

But to be credible, he (or she) has to take clear aim at the Street.

That means proposing to limit the size of the biggest Wall Street banks;  resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act (which used to separate investment from commercial banking); define insider trading the way most other countries do – using information any reasonable person would know is unavailable to most investors; and close the revolving door between the Street and the U.S. Treasury.

It also means not depending on the Street to finance their campaigns.

 

By: Robert Reich, The Robert Reich Blog, January 26, 2015

February 2, 2015 Posted by | Big Banks, Campaign Financing, Wall Street | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“U.S. Chamber Carrying The Tea Party Label”: The Tea Party and Wall Street Are Even Closer Than We Thought

Ever since the Tea Party Republicans arrived on the scene in Washington, I’ve cast a wary eye at the notion of them as grass-roots insurgents disconnected from the party’s big business and Wall Street base. Heck, when I went looking for one Tea Party tribune, Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, the night of the August 2011 vote to resolve that summer’s debt-ceiling showdown, I found him at a fundraiser in AT&T’s box at National Stadium.

But even I, with my lack of illusions on this score, was startled to see just how tight the business lobby-Tea Party bond has been, as revealed in today’s Washington Post by Tom Hamburger and Jia Lynn Yang, with help from the Center for Responsive Politics. They report:

The American Bankers Association gave more money over the past two election cycles to GOP lawmakers who in effect voted to allow the United States to default on its debt than those who voted against that scenario. The ABA contributed $2.2 million to lawmakers who ultimately ignored the group’s warnings, second only to the Club for Growth and just ahead of Koch Industries, both of which are leading sources of funds for conservative candidates…

At financial services firms, including hedge funds and major banks, contributions totaled more than $26 million over the past two election cycles to the Republican lawmakers who voted against a deal to reopen the government and avoid a first-ever debt default. Employees and the political action committee of Goldman Sachs, which didn’t comment for this article, gave $1.06 million from 2009 to 2012 to the group of GOP lawmakers who voted against the deal. At Bank of America, which also declined to comment, contributions totaled $1.03 million. Hedge funds gave $1.7 million….

Employees and political action committees at Honeywell, the manufacturing conglomerate [whose CEO David Cote was among the Fortune 500 types warning against the shutdown] contributed nearly $2.1 million to last week’s naysayers while providing slightly less to yes-voting Republicans. At AT&T, contributions reached $1.9 million for no-voting members and $2.1 million for those voting “yes.”

Even the proud leader of the defund-Obamacare government-shutdown movement got the business lucre:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), whose 21-hour floor speech helped spark the crisis and who voted against the debt-ceiling deal, received $786,157 from financial services companies — more than the $705,657 he received from the Club for Growth. Cruz’s wife works at Goldman Sachs, whose PAC gave $5,000 to her husband in 2012.

The question now, of course, is whether big business and Wall Street keep shoveling money toward those in the congressional suicide caucus. There are already signs of a rethinking underway, with talk of non-lunatic business-backed challengers in Michigan and Utah, and with some donors holding off on writing the usual checks to the GOP. Still, the Post’s report reminds us that we should not be surprised if this shift is marginal at best. The fact is, Ted Cruz and his ilk were making no bones at all about what they planned to do in Washington, and got plenty of backing from supposedly sober business types nonetheless. Why? Because their interests overlap more than the new talk of a rift acknowledges, on everything from taxes to organized labor to government regulations. What was the final demand that many in the shutdown caucus were making? The elimination of a tax on some of the highest-margin companies in the country—not exactly a typical pitchfork-wielding cause. Make no mistake: The great Shutdown Debacle of 2013 may have carried the Tea Party label, but it was made in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the C-suite.

Addendum, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday: It’s worth noting that Ted Cruz is not just getting big financial support from Wall Street. He’s also on its health plan.

 

By: Alec MacGillis, The New Republic, October 23, 2013

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Big Business, Tea Party, Wall Street | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Risky Business”: Corporate Leaders Bemoan Tea Party Default Crisis Created By Their Own Donations

America’s great minds of business and finance have reached a consensus on the government shutdown and worse, the prospect of a debt default: While the latter is worse, both are bad. Those same great minds are well aware how the shutdown came to pass and why default still looms on the horizon, whether next week, next month, or next year.

Yes, the frightened corporate leaders surely know how this happened — because their money funded the Tea Party candidates and organizations responsible for the crisis.

Consider Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL), a Tea Party freshman whose outspoken stupidity on a default’s potential benefits, such as an improved U.S. credit rating, has provided a bit of dark humor in these dark days. Yoho, a large-animal veterinarian, announced months ago that he would never vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Like most Republican candidates, he had no problem raising contributions from business interests, notably including contractors, insurance companies, manufacturers and agricultural processors — all of which presumably share the horror of default expressed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But no doubt Yoho parroted the usual right-wing clichés about taxes, regulation, labor, and health care, so all the business guys wrote a check without caring that Yoho is an ignorant yobbo.

Or consider Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), who came to embody the idiocy of the shutdown when he declared “we’re not going to be disrespected” by the White House, but couldn’t articulate precisely what Republicans needed in order to reopen the government and avoid default.  Another low-wattage Tea Party newcomer, Stutzman likewise raised plenty of money from commercial banks, real estate firms, insurance companies, and various manufacturers. Why do these executives write checks to elect someone like him?

Then there are the Tea Party leaders in the upper chamber, including such adornments of democracy as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and of course Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Johnson says there need be no debt default, no matter what Congress does, while Cruz, the “Defund Obamacare” mastermind, is more culpable than any other single legislator for the paralysis gripping Washington and the country. Johnson’s top donors include an investment firm called Fiduciary Management, Inc., ironically enough, as well as Northwestern Mutual, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Mass Mutual Life Insurance, and naturally, Koch Industries (which now claims, disingenuously, that it doesn’t favor the Cruz shutdown strategy or a debt default).

As for Cruz, guess who paid for his campaign? Very close to the top of the list of donors for the despised Texan is none other than Goldman Sachs — whose chairman Lloyd Blankfein showed up at the White House a few days ago to bemoan the catastrophic threat of default. Not only did Blankfein and his fellow bankers warn of what might happen if America breaches its full faith and credit, but he even hinted that the fault lies with Republican hostage takers. Which is only partially right, because Blankfein and his fellow financiers need to look in the mirror, too. Cruz also got a big check from Berkshire Hathaway, corporate home of the venerated Wall Street sage Warren Buffett, who just compared the impact of default to “a nuclear bomb.” If that nuke wipes out the markets, Berkshire’s investment in Cruz will have lit the fuse.

If any of these business leaders honestly cared about fiscal responsibility and economic growth – let alone the constant threat of shutdowns and defaults – they could step up to warn the Republicans that the money won’t be there anymore unless they cease and desist from such assaults on democracy. They have more than enough money and power to end this crisis – and make sure it never happens again – but they seem to lack the necessary character and courage.

 

By: Joe Conason, Featured Post, The National Memo, October 11, 2013

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Big Business, Default, Government Shut Down | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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