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“Trump’s Got The GOP By The Balls”: Trump Has The Power To Elect Clinton, And Both He And Priebus Know It

Deflating as it is, the likely Donald Trump scenario is this: He burns hot for a little while longer; he says something really out there in the first debate that roils up the base but makes Reince Priebus and Karl Rove break out in canker sores; but by the time of the baseball playoffs maybe, his act gets old, and somebody else becomes the Herman Cain of October. Then, next year, the primaries will start, and he’ll have to get votes. He’s not going to be all that competitive in Iowa, so it’s New Hampshire where he’ll need to deliver something. And if he doesn’t, he’ll just go away.

That’s the pattern anyway. I seem to recall that at this point in 2011, Michele Bachmann had a pretty good head of steam going. So maybe we shouldn’t get too overheated about him.

But Trump is different from Bachmann, and even from fellow entrepreneur Cain, in one major respect: He doesn’t give a crap about the Republican Party. He cares about Trump. And don’t forget he has the power singlehandedly to make Hillary Clinton president. He knows it, and you better believe Priebus knows it, and it is this fact that establishes a power dynamic between Trump and the GOP in which Trump totally has the upper hand and can make mischief in the party for months.

How does he have the power to elect Clinton all by himself? By running as an independent. Two factors usually prevent candidates who lose nominations from running as independents. One, they lack the enormous amount of money needed to pursue that path (pay the lawyers to get them on 50 state ballots, etc.). Two, they have a sense of proportion and decency, and they figure that if primary voters rejected them, it’s time to go home.

Well, Trump has the dough and lacks the decency. In an interview this week with Byron York, he left the door open a crack to such a candidacy. And that would be all it would take. Given his fame and name recognition, he’d likely hit the polling threshold needed to qualify for the fall debates. And with that kind of exposure, he’d do well—enough. All he needs to get is 5 percent of the vote in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado, and the Republican, whoever it is, is sizzled. Another electoral landslide.

The question is would he, and the answer is who knows? To York, he expressed awareness of the obvious drawbacks, pointing to the spoiler role he says Ross Perot played in 1992: “I think every single vote that went to Ross Perot came from [George H.W.] Bush…Virtually every one of his 19 percentage points came from the Republicans. If Ross Perot didn’t run, you have never heard of Bill Clinton.” He is—shocker—wrong about this, but what matters for present purposes is that he believes it, so maybe that means he wouldn’t follow through.

But he is an unpredictable fellow. Suppose Priebus and the GOP piss him off in some way, and he thinks the hell with these losers. Suppose he decides—and don’t doubt the importance of this—that an independent run would be good for the Trump brand in the long run. And suppose he doesn’t actually mind so much the idea of Hillary Clinton being president. We already know he retains a soft spot for old Bill. And he donated to Hillary Clinton’s senatorial campaign.

All that’s speculative. But even in the here and now this dynamic has consequences. It means the GOP can’t afford to offend Trump. This is why Priebus’s spokesman characterized the chairman’s Wednesday evening phone chat with Trump as “very respectful.”

And it’s why the other candidates’ criticisms of him have been a little, ah, restrained. Politicians aren’t always real smart about any number of things, but one thing in my experience that they almost always have a very keen sense of is risk. Members of Congress, for example, generally know exactly what percentage of their electorate they’re going to sacrifice by casting X vote. Jeb Bush’s Trump criticisms are muted because he has a lot to lose by offending Trump and his supporters. Chris Christie, who’s little more than an asterisk in the polls, has less to lose, so he’s willing to be a bit more blunt. Same goes for Rick Perry.

We’ll see if Trump has developed that politician’s sense of risk. If he goes too far, one or certainly two more equivalents of “Mexican rapists,” it’ll be open season on him. He’s at a point of maximum leverage right now, and if he wants to stay there, he’s got to tuck it in about 10 or 15 percent and start employing the kind of racialized euphemisms that are not only tolerated but celebrated within the Republican Party—build the damn fence, no amnesty, Al Qaeda is storming the mainland through Obama’s porous border, etc. That way, he’ll hang around. And he’ll build enough of a following that the threat of a viable independent candidacy remains a real one. And that is Trump’s trump card. And it makes Reince Priebus a very nervous man.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Dail Beast, July 10, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Reince Priebus | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“People, Places And Things”: Donald Trump Sued Everyone But His Hairdresser

Future United States President Donald Trump sued Univision last week, after the Spanish-language network said it would not be airing Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants due to his claim that illegal immigrants are “rapists.”

Trump, who says Univision is suppressing his freedom of speech, is seeking $500 million in damages. Meanwhile, Univision is dismissing the complaint as “factually false and legally ridiculous.”

It’s a familiar predicament for Trump.

Over the past few decades, the self-proclaimed “very rich” businessman has sued people, businesses and entire cities and countries. He’s sued a newspaper, his ex wife, a quaint business card store in Georgia and a Native American tribe. He’s cried breach of contract, government favoritism, fraud and libel.

Trump sues when he is made to feel small, insufficiently wealthy, threatened or mocked. He sues for sport, he sues to regain a sense of control and he sues to make a point. He sues as a means of saying “you’re fired” to those he does not employ.

But he sues, most of all, to make headlines and to reinforce the notion that he is powerful. Below, I picked some of the highlights, through a review of news coverage of filed and threatened lawsuits.

If you haven’t yet been sued by Trump, don’t worry, the odds suggest your day might yet come. I expect to be sued for this article.

People Donald Trump Has Sued

In 1988, Trump sued Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin for $250 million for fraud and interference with his contract negotiations with Resorts International Inc., an Atlantic City casino company. Trump ultimately sold his controlling interest in the company to Griffin, who died in 2007.

Trump sued his ex-wife, Ivana Trump, for $25 million in 1992–because she talked too much. Trump accused Trump of fraud and “willful, deliberate and surreptitious disclosure” of details relating to his finances, despite having signed an agreement that she wouldn’t talk publicly about their relationship.

In 1993, Trump and his then-wife, Marla Maples, sued Chuck Jones, Maples’ former publicist, for $35 million. They charged Jones with extortion, theft, fraud and harassment–after Jones had sued them, as well as Trump’s security staff and Maples’ mother. “The only stalking that I’m aware of was when Marla Maples was stalking somebody else’s husband,” Jones said of the counter-suit at the time.

In 2003, Trump’s son, Donald Junior, was assaulted at the Comedy Cellar in the West Village. Trump responded by threatening to sue the men charged with the crime, Anthony Pozzolano and Joseph Derrico, from Brooklyn and Staten Island, respectively. “Donald is soft spoken and wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Trump said of his son, according to the Mail on Sunday.

In 2006, Trump threatened to sue Rosie O’Donnell, then a co-host on The View, after she said he was bankrupt. Trump retaliated in an interview with The Insider, by labeling O’Donnell “disgusting, both inside and out.” He told People “Rosie will rue the words she said. I’ll most likely sue her for making those false statements—and it’ll be fun. Rosie’s a loser. A real loser. I look forward to taking lots of money from my nice fat little Rosie.”  He never sued, and ultimately, they seemed to make peace. In 2012, after O’Donnell suffered a heart attack, Trump Tweeted to tell her to “get better fast. I’m starting to miss you!” She replied, “well thank you donald—i must admit ur post was a bit of a shock … r u trying to kill me ? xx”

In 2011, rapper Mac Miller released a song called “Donald Trump,” which included the lyrics, “Take over the world when I’m on my Donald Trump shit; Look at all this money, ain’t that some shit?” Trump Tweeted at Miller to threaten a lawsuit: “Now I’m going to teach you a big boy lesson about lawsuits and finance.” Miller responded by calling Trump an “ungrateful dog!” before apologizing and asking him to be friends.

That same year, Trump threatened to sue MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for suggesting he was worth less than $1 billion. Trump Tweeted that he was actually worth “substantially more than 7 billion dollars” with “very low debt, great assets.”

In 2012, Trump sued Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin after she claimed in a Facebook post that the pageant was “rigged,” because the five finalists were chosen before the pageant took place. Trump called her “a beautiful young woman who had sour grapes because she wasn’t a top-15 finalist,” according to The Atlantic. A court ordered Monnin to pay Trump $5 million in damages.

In 2013, after Trump said he would donate $5 million to charity if President Obama would release all of his personal documents to the public, Bill Maher appeared on The Tonight Show and joked that he would give Trump $5 million if he could prove that his father was not an orangutan. Trump sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate. When Maher didn’t pay up, Trump sued him for the $5 million. He eventually dropped it.

The same year, Trump threatened legal action against Angelo Carusone, who had organized a petition to force Macy’s to stop selling Trump-branded products. Trump didn’t sue. Macy’s cut ties with Trump this week.

News Outlets Donald Trump Has Sued

In 1984, Trump sued The Chicago Tribune for $500 million after the publication’s architecture critic, Paul Gapp, penned an item suggesting Chicago’s Sears Tower, then the world’s tallest building, would remain as such, despite Trump’s plan to build a taller structure in downtown Manhattan. Trump claimed the story “virtually torpedoed” his dreams, according to The Associated Press, by depicting his would-be tower as “an atrocious, ugly monstrosity” even though, Trump said, he hadn’t even yet hired an architect or drawn a plan.

Trump threatened to sue ABC in 2005, after he learned the network was planning to produce a 2 hour biopic about him and his family. Trump said he would “definitely sue” if the film was “inaccurate,” according to The Washington Post, but “as long as it’s accurate, I won’t be suing them.” The biopic never happened, and he never took legal action.

In 2006, Trump sued New York Times reporter Timothy L. O’Brien, author of “A TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald” as well as the book’s publisher, Warner Books, for saying Trump is worth $150 million to $250 million when Trump claimed, at the time, he was worth $2.7 billion. Trump said the error was “egregiously false,” according to Agence France Presse.

In 2009, the suit was dismissed. Trump now claims he’s worth “$8,737,540,000.”

Places Donald Trump Has Sued

In 1989, Trump threatened to sue Palm Beach County if it couldn’t figure out a way to muffle the loud noises coming from Palm Beach International Airport.

Trump sued New York State in 1995, when a video game, Quickdraw, based off the casino game Keno, was introduced in New York restaurants and bars. The game presented a rival to Trump’s Atlantic City casinos where Keno was played, but he claimed he was really just worried that the game’s presence in New York would bring “tremendous amounts of crime” and “destroy businesses in New York,” according to CNN, because gambling addiction would render residents unable to pay their rent.

In 1997, Trump sued the state of New Jersey. At the time, Trump wanted to prevent Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn from encroaching on his Atlantic City territory with the construction of a $330 million tunnel leading to Wynn’s very own resort. Trump filed suit against the state, claiming it was illegal for New Jersey to aid Wynn’s tunnel project in any way with money it collected from casinos. The Star-Ledger reported Trump claimed that if the state used casino funds to support the tunnel, it would be”taking money from widows and orphans” the elderly, and people with disabilities.

In 2002, Trump sued New York City for $500 million, claiming that a tax assessor scandal had forced him to sell apartment in his 72-story Trump World Tower near the United Nations for below market prices.

Trump sued the town of Palm Beach, Florida in 2006 for $10 million after he was cited for violating zoning codes by flying a too-big (for non-patriots) American flag over his club, Mar-a-Lago. The lawsuit claimed “a smaller flag and pole on Mar-a-Lago’s property would be lost given its massive size, look silly instead of make a statement, and most importantly would fail to appropriately express the magnitude of Donald J. Trump’s and the Club’s members’ patriotism,” according to The Associated Press. Trump promised any damages awarded to him would be donated to Iraq war veterans. In 2007, Trump and the town settled. The Tampa Bay Times reported the town dropped the fines, and Trump donated $100,000 “to various charities for veterans of the war in Iraq, the American flag or veterans’ hospitals.”

In 2011, Trump sued Scotland. Trump claimed the government had assured him a planned offshore wind farm would never actually be constructed, and so he built a golf course and made plans for a neighboring hotel. When the wind farm was built, Trump sued the government. He ultimately lost.

Businesses Donald Trump Has Sued

Trump purchased Eastern Airlines’ shuttle service in 1988 for $365 million and planned to relaunch it as “Trump Shuttle.” But a problem arose—a different company, Trading and Finance Corp. Ltd., was already using the name. In 1989, Trump sued for the rights to the name.

In 2008, Trump sued Crescent Heights Diamond, a real estate developer, because, Trump said, they had licensed his name for a 70-story building in Ramat Gan., and then cut him out of the profits.

In 2011, Trump sued H. Pixel International Trade Ltd., an Israeli company he discovered was using his name and likeness on vodka bottles without his consent. Trump has over 700 trademarks and as of 2011, his name was commercially protected in 80 countries.

In 2014, Trump sued Trump Entertainment Resorts, which he holds a 10 percent stake in, to remove his name from the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Plaza casinos in Atlantic City, which he said did not live up to his standard of quality.

Misc.

In 2003, Trump announced that he planned to sue the Eastern Pequots, a Native American tribe of less than 1,000 from southeastern Connecticut. Trump claimed he had spent close to $10 million helping to promote the tribe’s brand in exchange for the right to negotiate the tribe’s casino agreements. Ultimately, the tribe selected a different developer to handle their deal, which was the source of Trump’s ire.

 

By: Olivia Nuzzi, The Daily Beast, July 6, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Businesses, Donald Trump, Lawsuits | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Kasich And Bush: The Lehman Brothers”: Mixing Investment Banking With Politics In A Robber Baron Era

Most of the stuff being written about soon-to-be official GOP presidential candidate John Kasich involves his struggle to qualify for the August 6 Fox News debate, though some observers really seem to think he’s a serious dark horse candidate if he can get his act together and deal with conservative anger at his decision to accept a Medicare expansion as governor of Ohio.

But an old problem for him is beginning to reemerge: his seven years as a managing director at Lehman Brothers, the firm whose meltdown in 2008 touched off the global financial crisis that in turn led to the Great Recession. Bloomberg Politics‘ Mark Niquette has the story:

Kasich’s Lehman career, which included deals for companies from Google Inc. to Cleveland-based manufacturer ParkOhio, will test the presidential campaign that the two-term Ohio governor plans to start this month.

While his opponents have depicted his stint at the doomed bank as a period during which he cashed in as millions suffered, Kasich makes the case that he gained finance experience that made him a better public official.

“If people want to attack me, I’ll tell them what I did, and I think it’s been great,” Kasich said in an interview Wednesday during a visit to South Carolina.

This is why Niquette describes Kasich’s Lehman tenure as representing a “Rorschach Test” for how one view’s Kasich’s career: did it taint him or enhance his long resume? The same could be asked of his service as one of Newt Gingrich’s lieutenants in the Republican Revolution of the 1990s.

As it happens, Kasich is not the only Republican candidate who worked extensively for Lehman Brothers. So did Jeb Bush, who was an “advisor” to the firm and then to its successor, another bank with a less than ideal reputation, Barclay’s. In a Daily Beast column last week, Charles Gasparino suggests that Bush’s refusal to answer questions about what he did for both banks could significantly undermine the claim of total transparency he made when releasing old tax returns.

Not much is known about what Bush actually did for Lehman—the firm that went belly-up in 2008 and sparked the wider financial crisis, and Barclays, the bank that purchased Lehman out of bankruptcy and continues to work out of its midtown Manhattan headquarters. He began working for the former after his term as Florida governor ended in 2007, and continued working for the latter until the end of 2014, when he decided to run for president.

The two banks were his biggest sources of income in recent years: Bush earned more than $14 million working for Lehman and then Barclays, which based on my understanding of simple math accounted for nearly half of the $29 million he made after he left government. Yet in Tuesday’s disclosure, and even in many of his public comments, Bush has downplayed his work for the two banks.

“I also was hired as a senior advisor to Barclays where I advised their clients on a wide range of global economic issues with a mind towards navigating government policies,” he writes in an essay that accompanied the tax returns. It is the only sentence that refers to his time at Barclays. And he doesn’t mention Lehman at all.

Bush has denied any responsibility for one bit of toxic Lehman Brothers fallout: the huge bath taken by Florida state agencies and local governments who invested their assets in a state fund managed by the bank when it folded. Despite the denials, suspicions remain thanks to this big coincidence noted by the Tampa Bay Times:

The storied bank hired former Gov. Jeb Bush as a consultant in June 2007, five months after he left office. As governor, Bush also served as a trustee for the State Board of Administration, which invests public money.

Lehman was the dominant Wall Street broker that sold the SBA $1.4 billion of risky, mortgage-related securities that started tanking in August 2007.

Bush has said he had nothing to do with those sales.

So there’s some smoke but no fire so far, but I doubt the association of two presidential candidates with a bank whose name is a byword for failed promises will entirely go away. Indeed, if Kasich’s campaign survives its early tests I wouldn’t be surprised if one of their many rivals starts referring to them together as the “Lehman Brothers.” No specific allegation will be necessary to make the line damaging. Them’s the breaks when you mix investment banking with politics in a Robber Baron era.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 9, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Lehman Brothers | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“No Longer Any Political Margin To Be Gained”: Why Republicans Won’t Object To The Return Of ‘Death Panels’

There was a lot about the period leading up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that was ridiculous and maddening, but perhaps no episode was worse than the controversy over “death panels.” Here you had a small provision of the bill that doctors, patient advocates, and health care experts all agreed would lead to better care, not to mention cost savings. Then Republicans concocted a lie about it, spread that lie as far as they could, and finally saw the provision removed from the final legislation.

Well, now Medicare is finally doing what that provision of the ACA would have done.

Under a newly proposed rule, it will reimburse doctors for the time they spend with patients planning how they want to be cared for near the end of their lives. And just you watch: this provision that Republicans said six years ago was so horrifying? They’re not even going to bother opposing it anymore, now that doing so serves no political purpose. It’s barely going to be a controversy at all.

That’s not what everyone else seems to be predicting. All over the web there are articles about this issue, many illustrated with photos of Sarah Palin, predicting that this is going to blow up into another angry debate. But I say it won’t. Here’s why: Republicans’ opposition to end-of-life counseling was always utterly cynical, a performance enacted for no purpose other than undermining the legislation. At this point, with the law implemented long ago and the major legal challenges over, there’s no longer any political margin to be gained in shaking their fists at patients and doctors talking about the options for end-of-life care.

Let’s review a little history. This whole thing got started when conservative activist Betsy McCaughey appeared on the radio in 2009, when versions of the legislation were working their way through Congress, and said this about the one in the House:

“And one of the most shocking things I found in this bill, and there were many, is on Page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years, people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner, how to decline nutrition, how to decline being hydrated, how to go in to hospice care. And by the way, the bill expressly says that if you get sick somewhere in that five-year period — if you get a cancer diagnosis, for example — you have to go through that session again.”

To paraphrase what Mary McCarthy said about Lillian Hellman, every word of that statement is a lie, including “and” and “the.” The actual provision stated that if a patient wanted to have a consultation about their options, including how to create an advanced directive that would lay out what sorts of treatment they wanted and didn’t want if they got to a point where they couldn’t communicate it themselves, Medicare would pay the doctor for the time counseling the patient. Nothing was mandatory, nothing would require doctors to “tell them how to end their life sooner,” and nothing required anyone to have the session again. It was all lies.

But that didn’t prevent the claim from taking off like a rocket. Sarah Palin floated the “death panel” talking point. Chuck Grassley told a crowd back home, “We should not have a government program that determines if you’re going to pull the plug on grandma.” Although media outlets tried to explain that the allegation was false, millions of people believed it anyway. Chastened Democrats removed the provision from the bill.

So now that Medicare is finally moving ahead with this provision, are Republicans really going to fight it? No, they won’t. I’ve been looking around for condemnations from conservative media outlets or prominent Republican politicians, and so far I’ve come up empty. There was one small item on the National Review’s blog, with no substantive objection, just a little harumphing about bureaucracy. No outraged statements from Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, no thunderous denunciations from the presidential candidates, nothing.

Maybe they just haven’t gotten around to it yet, and the indignation is on its way. But I wouldn’t bet on it. In this somewhat cooler environment, it isn’t going to be easy for them to argue that patients shouldn’t sit down with their doctors and plan for their future care. And with congressional Republicans all but giving up on repealing the ACA, this isn’t a battle that offers much to be gained.

So five years after the ACA was passed, doctors will know that they can get paid for this absolutely vital service, explaining the options to their patients and making sure that when the time comes, those patients’ wishes are honored. The people like McCaughey, Palin, and Grassley who back then lied to the country in order to score a few points against Barack Obama ought to hang their heads in shame. But at least it’s finally happening. Better late than never.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, July 9, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Death Panels, Medicare | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“This One’s A Doozy!”: House Republicans Manage To Trip Over Confederate Flags

The recent debates over Confederate symbols have been limited almost entirely to states and local communities. Federal policymakers can show some leadership on the issue – and many have – but the decisions about Confederate flags, statues, road names, and license plates aren’t made in Washington, D.C.

This week, however, congressional Republicans found a way to trip over the issue anyway.

The developments started rather innocuously. Late Tuesday, after just a couple of minutes of debate, the U.S. House passed a measure sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) that would “prohibit the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries.” Earlier in the day, the House also instructed the National Park Service to no longer sell Confederate flag in gift stores.

The measures passed by way of voice votes, and the developments didn’t generate much attention. That is, until last night, when Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) announced a dramatic change: a Republican amendment was set to undo what the House had just done.

Facing pressure and brewing media interest, late this morning, House GOP leaders were forced to pull the underlying bill altogether. Politico reported:

House Republican leadership was forced to pull a spending bill from the floor Thursday after an uproar over the Confederate flag threatened to sink the entire measure.

This one’s a doozy, so let’s unpack what happened.

At issue is an Interior Department spending bill, which was already considered controversial because it includes funding for the EPA – and the right does not care for the EPA. But some Southern Republicans complicated matters, telling the leadership they were prepared to help kill the spending measure altogether over the anti-Confederate amendments.

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, for example, said in a statement, “Congress cannot simply rewrite history and strip the Confederate flag from existence. Members of Congress from New York and California cannot wipe away 150 years of Southern history with sleight-of-hand tactics.”

House Democrats, not surprisingly, responded with apoplexy over the GOP majority reversing course, defending Confederate flags, and attempting to scrap two amendments that passed without controversy just two days ago.

Faced with growing turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) pulled the spending bill from the floor. Boehner told NBC News’ Luke Russert that the spending bill “is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution.”

The Republican leader added that he does not want to see the issue become a “political football.” If today’s floor fight is any indication, it would appear Boehner’s too late.

South Carolina lawmakers managed to get this right, but the same cannot be said about Congress.

Postscript: It’s worth noting that while Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) was the member who announced the proposed reversal, he was not the one pushing for the change. Calvert said he introduced the amendment at the behest of the House Republican leadership, which was acting under pressure from Southern lawmakers.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 9, 2015

July 10, 2015 Posted by | Confederacy, Confederate Flag, House Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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