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“Behind Trump, The GOP Really Is Becoming The Racist Party”: It’s Time For The GOP Leaders To Make It Clear Where They Stand

Let me offer some friendly advice to the Republican Party that I learned firsthand as a Muslim American: You don’t want to be defined by your most extreme members. And here’s a little more advice. The longer the GOP leadership remains silent as Donald Trump garners increasing support from white supremacist organizations, the more likely the GOP will become known as the party of racists.

I know, some of my progressive friends will say that’s already the case. But that’s not fair. Sure, there are racists drawn to the GOP, just like we have seen psychopaths attracted to Islam. I’m sure not all Republicans are racists and I bet some are even disgusted by bigotry.

We are, however, seeing a bone-chilling attraction to Trump by white nationalist groups. It’s almost like they view Trump’s candidacy as their last stand against the changing demographics of America. He’s become the poster child for their philosophy that “White Lives Matter More.”

For example, just last week David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux, publicly praised Trump as the best Republican candidate in the 2016 field because he “understands the real sentiment of America.” Duke applauded Trump’s views on immigration that call for mass deportation of families, saying that Trump is ”speaking out on this greatest immediate threat to the American people.”

Trump’s tepid response to Duke’s glowing praise was troubling to say the least: “I certainly wouldn’t want his endorsement. I don’t need anyone’s endorsement.” When pressed by a reporter to repudiate Duke, Trump responded, “Sure, I would if that would make you feel better.”

As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok explained Saturday on my SiriusXM radio show, this response by Trump was “incredibly weak,” noting that Trump “barely repudiated” Duke. Potok explained that as opposed to Trump saying I’ll condemn Duke if it will “make you feel better,” he should’ve made it unequivocally clear he finds Duke’s views despicable and doesn’t want Duke or his white supremacist followers’ support in any way.

In fact, in 2000, when Trump was considering running for president with a new political organization called the Reform Party, the billionaire publicly stated he wanted nothing to do with the party after he learned that Duke was a part of it. But now, with Trump actually running for president, he’s far less vocal in denouncing Duke.

Duke, however, is far from the only person tied to white supremacist or hate groups publicly endorsing Trump. Last week, white nationalist radio host James Edwards, a man who has warned against interracial marriage, called slavery “the greatest thing that ever happened to” blacks, and featured a “roster of white supremacists” on his show, publicly endorsed Trump.

Trump has also been touted by neo-Nazi websites such as The Daily Stormer with articles like, “We are all Donald Trump Now.” And as Media Matters set forth in detail a few days ago, the list of white nationalist leaders supporting Trump is alarmingly long.

The issue is not just that these hate groups see something they like in Trump. These groups have the right to endorse anyone they like. The more alarming issue is Trump’s failure to publicly to condemn them.

Since Trump is not willing to make it clear he wants nothing to do with these hate groups or their followers, it’s time for the GOP leadership to step up and do just that. Trump is currently far and away the leader in the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Consequently, his actions will increasingly define the Republican Party. And the longer the GOP leaders remain silent, the more likely the Republican Party will be defined by the white supremacist groups publicly endorsing Trump.

Luckily, the GOP is in a far better position than Muslim Americans to denounce its extremists. In our case, we are a small minority group with very limited media contacts. Getting the message out that we despise terrorists like ISIS and al Qaeda has been challenging to say the least despite our best efforts to do just that.

In contrast, the GOP has extensive media connections. In fact, the No. 1 cable news network, Fox News, showcases the party’s leaders on a daily basis. It won’t take much for the Republican leaders to get the media to cover their condemnation of the white nationalist and neo-Nazis supporting Trump.

For example, look what happened last year when we learned that the third-highest ranking member of the House Republican leadership, Steve Scalise, had given a speech to a white supremacist group in 2002 when running for office. House Speaker John Boehner simply issued a press release noting that he stood with Scalise because Scalise had acknowledged his actions were “wrong and inappropriate.” That press release was covered by media outlets nationwide.

Now just imagine the media coverage if RNC chair Reince Priebus held a press conference, along with some of the GOP leadership in the House and Senate, to denounce the white nationalist groups supporting Trump. It would make headlines nationwide and send a clear message to all.

Isn’t it time for the GOP leaders to make it clear where they stand on white supremacists supporting their party’s front-runner for the presidential nomination? I, for one, very much look forward to hearing what they have to say on this issue.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, August 31, 2015

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“The Effects Could Be Lasting”: The Collateral Damage From The Iran Nuclear Deal

Often in war, attacks on intended targets can result in collateral damage. The Washington-Jerusalem clash over the Iran nuclear agreement is a case in point. The fallout is producing casualties among both supporters and opponents of the deal that can only gladden the hearts of mullahs in Tehran.

Congressional votes on the nuclear accord are still days away, but now is the time to focus on the damage that’s being done. Left unchecked, the effects could be lasting.

Witness evidence compiled by the New York Times:

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who opposes the deal, was lampooned on the Daily Kos Web site as a traitorous rodent.

Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who also opposed the nuclear deal, said she has “been accused of being treacherous, treasonous, even disloyal to the United States.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who announced his support for the deal, was called, on his Facebook page, “a kapo: a Jew who collaborated with Nazis in the World War II death camps. One writer said Nadler had ‘blood on his hands.’ Another said he had ‘facilitated Obama’s holocaust,’ ” the Times’s Jonathan Weisman and Alexander Burns reported.

And it’s not just a matter of an apparent divide among American Jews or the gulf between major Jewish organizations opposing the Iran deal and the deal’s Jewish supporters. The collateral damage falls across religious and racial lines. As a deal supporter, I know.

In response to a recent column in which I cited senior House Democrat and Congressional Black Caucus member James E. Clyburn’s (S.C.) criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking an end-run around the White House to flay the nuclear deal before a Republican-led Congress, I received this e-mail from a reader using the pseudonym “visitingthisplace”: “Black Jewish relations have always been a two way street. The Jews gave money to black causes, marched and died for civil rights, and in return, the black [sic] looted and burned the Jewish businesses to the ground. . . . In spite of your education and your opportunities, you are still just another anti-Semitic street nigger.”

But it’s more than a case of ugly words and insults.

This public battle over the Iran deal is putting a strain on relationships not just among Israel’s supporters in the United States but also between the two governments.

And the discord comes at a time when what’s needed most is consensus, as President Obama said last week, on how to “enhance Israeli security in a very troubled neighborhood.”

Admittedly, it’s hard to make an effective pitch for an end to the acrimony, since, as the late comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “Folks are so touchy these days.” But reconciliation is essential. When the dust settles, there will be a nuclear accord.

That outcome was nailed down this week when the president secured enough votes in the Senate to sustain a veto of a Republican attempt to derail the agreement.

The question that needs pondering, especially in Israel, is “What’s next?” Netanyahu evidently missed Ralph Waldo Emerson’s admonition, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.”

The prime minister took the undiplomatic step of going over the head of a sitting president to a Republican Congress with the intention of delivering a death blow to that president’s internationally negotiated nuclear accord — and missed.

Political offense of that scale is particularly open to penalty. But Obama is bigger than that.

The “what next” question has urgency. Blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons for at least 10 years will not halt its aggressive intentions in the Middle East. Iran will still support proxies to destabilize opposing regimes in the region. It will continue to pose a threat to Israel. “Death to America” remains the slogan of choice at Iranian rallies.

In recognition of that grim reality, this week in Philadelphia, Secretary of State John F. Kerry outlined steps the United States will take to bolster the security of Israel and the United States’ Gulf state allies: $3 billion for Israel’s missile defense programs; enhanced funding for next-generation missile defense systems; a $1.89 billion munitions supply package; tunnel detection and mapping technologies; and giving Israel first dibs on the U.S.-made next generation F-35 fighter aircraft coming off the line next year.

Kerry said there also would be increased arms shipments and new security deals with Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

But there are breaches to be repaired.

Israel can take a step toward that end by unhitching its fate to a Republican Party blinded by anti-Obama mania. Israel needs to be a bipartisan issue in Washington.

Another positive step Israel can take? Foster a rapprochement between opposing U.S. pro-Israel camps.

The collateral damage resulting from Israel’s kerfuffle with the Obama administration may have been unintended, but it was not incidental. Never is in a war of words.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, September 7, 2015

 

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Iran Nuclear Agreement, Israel, United States of America | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“What The RNC’s Pathetic Loyalty Pledge Says About The GOP”: They’d All Endorse Charles Manson If He Were Running Against Hillary Clinton

Some news outlets are reporting that Donald Trump will sign the loyalty pledge that the Republican National Committee has demanded of its candidates, in an apparent effort to foreclose the possibility that Trump will run as a third-party candidate if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination. Trump has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon where he’ll make his announcement.

Something tells me that Trump figures that by the time the party gets its nominee, either it’ll be him, or he’ll be bored of running for president by then and won’t want to bother running a long-shot third party candidacy almost sure to fail. On the other hand, if he really wanted to break the pledge because America so desperately needs his super-classy, gold-plated leadership, then he would do it in an instant.

But beyond the question of whether Trump will honor the pledge, this whole affair is an excellent demonstration of just how limited the modern political party’s power is.

Back in the good old days, parties picked their presidential nominees in the proverbial smoke-filled room, where the bigwigs would get together and make whatever choice they thought was best. There was plenty of factional maneuvering, infighting and intrigue, but the voters were only a tangential part of the process. Then between the 1968 and 1972 elections, both parties reformed their nomination processes to ensure that convention delegates would be selected by primaries and caucuses, which delivered power into the voters’ hands. That meant that anybody could run and potentially win, whether he had the support of the party establishment or not. When the 2010 Citizens United decision created a wide-open campaign finance system, the ability of the establishment to guide and shape the nominating contest was reduced even further, because now anyone with a billionaire buddy or two can wage a strong campaign whether they have the support of party leaders or not.

That doesn’t mean that those party leaders have no more influence. They can still deliver key endorsements, raise money, and help candidates move voters to the polls. But in the face of a phenomenon like Donald Trump, none of the tools at their disposal seem to mean very much. Just look at how that establishment helped Jeb Bush raised $100 million, a “shock and awe” campaign that was supposed to drive other candidates from the race and make Jeb the obvious nominee. It’s not exactly working out as planned; in the current pollster.com average, Jeb is in third place behind Trump and Ben Carson, with an underwhelming eight percent support.

Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t need anyone else’s money, doesn’t care about who endorses him, and gets more free media attention than pretty much everyone else combined every time he opens his mouth. If this race comes down to a contest between someone like Bush and someone like Carson, the establishment could help tilt the field in Bush’s favor. But against Trump they’re almost powerless.

The loyalty pledge was sent to all the candidates, and as of yet none of them have said they won’t sign. And why would they? It isn’t as though Marco Rubio or Scott Walker is going to wage an independent campaign for president if they fail to get the party’s nomination. Of course, that means that they’ll be promising to support Trump if he’s the nominee, which might be a little distasteful, but all of them would endorse Charles Manson if he were running against Hillary Clinton.

Since the pledge would be happily violated by the only candidate who it was designed to constrain in the first place, it has little practical significance. But it does make the Republican Party look pathetic. They’re so scared of the guy leading their primary race (as well they should be) that they have to beg him to pinkie-swear that he won’t turn around and screw them over in the general election if they’re lucky enough for him not to be their nominee. But their real problem may be that by the time they get there, he will have already done enough damage that it’ll be too late.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, September 3, 2015

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, RNC Loyalty Pledge | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Conservatives Wrapping Noxious Notions In Code”: ‘Religious Liberty’ Looks A Lot Like Intolerance From Here

To me,” she said in a statement, “this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s word. It is a matter of religious liberty.”

It’s telling that Kim Davis chose those words to defend herself last week. Davis, the clerk of Rowan County, a rural, impoverished, and previously obscure patch of northeastern Kentucky, made international headlines for her refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She had, should it need saying, not a legal leg to stand on, the Supreme Court having ruled in June that states may not bar such couples from marrying. On Thursday, Davis was jailed for contempt. The thrice-divorced clerk had said she was acting upon “God’s authority” and fighting for “religious liberty.”

The political right has long had a genius for wrapping noxious notions in code that sounds benign and even noble. The “Patriot Act,” “family values,” and “right to work.” are fruits of that genius. “Religious liberty” is poised to become their latest masterpiece, the “states’ rights” of the battle for a more homophobic America.

A few months ago, you will recall, “religious liberty” was claimed as the rationale for failed laws in Indiana and Arkansas that would have empowered businesses to refuse service to gay people. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Georgia lawmakers will introduce a new “religious liberty” bill there next year. Last week, Mike Huckabee praised Davis for “standing strong for religious liberty.” Chris Christie, while conceding the need to obey the law, spoke of the need to “protect religious liberty,” as if religious liberty were seriously in danger in one of the most religiously tolerant nations on Earth.

Of course, like all good code, this one hides its true meaning in the banality of its words. Most of us would likely support the right of Native Americans to ingest peyote in their religious rituals, or Jewish or Muslim inmates to grow beards. Some of us even believe no religious order can be required to ordain a woman, admit a congregant of a proscribed race or, yes, perform a same-sex marriage. We understand a core American principle that, within certain broad parameters, one’s right to practice one’s faith as one pleases is inviolable.

But “religious liberty” as defined by Davis and her supporters is about what happens in the wide world beyond those parameters, about whether there exists a right to deny ordinary, customary service and claim a religious basis for doing so. And there does not.

Davis is wrong for the same reasons Muslim cabbies in Minneapolis-St. Paul were wrong some years ago when they claimed a right to not carry passengers who had alcohol on them and Christian pharmacists were wrong when they claimed a right not to fill birth control prescriptions. You have a right to your religious conscience. You do not have a right to impose your conscience upon other people.

And if conscience impinges that heavily upon your business or your job, the solution is simple: Sell the business or quit the job. Otherwise, serve your customers and keep your conscience out of their affairs.

Taken to its logical conclusion, it is not just gay men and lesbians who are threatened by the “religious liberty” movement, but all of us. Is it too much of a stretch to suggest that most of us probably run afoul of somebody’s reading of their religion in some way or another? Who would welcome a future where you couldn’t just enter a place and expect service but, rather, must read the signs to determine if it caters to people of your sexual orientation, marital status, religion or race?

We tried something like that once. It didn’t work.

Sadly, if people like Kim Davis have their way, we may be required to try it again. They call it “religious liberty.”

It looks like intolerance from here.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, September 7, 2015

 

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Kim Davis, Religious Liberty | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Trump Got In Jeb’s Head”: Endlessly Mocking And Belittling, Unlike The Other Bushes, Jeb Can’t Handle It

When Donald Trump calls Jeb Bush a “low-energy person” whose campaigning lacks spark, a voter might be tempted to think Bush suffers from “Low T,” the mostly made-up malady marketed by the pharmaceutical industry. Whatever Trump’s true intention, the psychological warfare he’s so good at waging had the intended effect, finally provoking a response from Bush, the self-described “joyful tortoise” whose passivity toward his tormentor has been baffling.

“If you’re not totally in agreement with him, you’re an idiot, or stupid, or you don’t have energy or blah blah blah,” Bush said in Spanish at an event in Miami last week. He said Trump attacks him every day with “barbarities,” to which Trump responded with choice tweets.

“It’s the 2016 version of ‘the Wimp Factor,’” says Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College in California.  That’s hitting Jeb where it hurts. When his father announced his presidential candidacy in October 1987 to succeed President Reagan, the cover of Newsweek featured the Vice President piloting his yacht with the words, “Fighting The Wimp Factor.”

It was a searing metaphor for the elder Bush’s passivity and his seeming lack of toughness. A decorated World War Two veteran whose heroism had never been questioned, Bush’s New England patrician sensibilities had long ago obscured his war record, and eight years as a subservient vice president didn’t help.

The elder Bush went on to win the nomination and to run a campaign second to none in its toughness. He set down a marker that his first-born son followed – George W. embraced the psychological warfare it takes to win— and perhaps now his second-born son will, too.

But for now, Trump is the master. He’s taunting and mocking and belittling the other candidates, and if the other candidates ignore him on the theory they don’t want to feed the beast, he gets covered and they sink in the polls. If they engage him, as Bush has tentatively begun to do, it’s the same phenomenon. He gets covered and they sink in the polls.

“Candidates routinely play with each other’s heads, but no one has been as blatant and brazen as Trump,” says Pitney. He recalls Bob Dole barking to Bush in the ’88 race, “Quit lyin’ about my record,” and Bush needling Republican rival Pete Dupont by calling him “Pierre.” Now, it’s an every day occurrence for Trump to call other candidates “morons” or “idiots” or “losers,” and with rare exception they take the broadsides.

The dynamic is reminiscent of a joke President Reagan used to tell about a guy who seeks help from a psychiatrist because his brother thinks he’s a chicken. How long has this been going on, he’s asked. Fifteen years. Why didn’t you seek help sooner? Because we needed the eggs, he replies.

That sums up the dilemma Republicans face. They need the eggs; they don’t want to offend Trump’s supporters.

Trump has shone a harsh light on the rest of the Republican field, exposing the vapidity and mediocrity of the candidates, who have been touted as this sterling field of current and former governors and senators. None has shown good political chops; they don’t know how to make themselves and their ideas stand out, to the extent they have any beyond the usual sound bites.

“One of the problems is they’re all scared to death he’ll take his marbles and go home,” says Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former domestic policy advisor in the Clinton White House. “An independent Trump candidacy would destroy the Republican Party’s prospects, and they know it. They have no idea where his limits are—if any exist.”

Trump is very good at negotiating tactics and he’s using the leverage of a potential third party bid to suppress the full-throated response that many of the candidates would like to voice but don’t dare for fear of what Trump might do. He’s now signed the RNC’s “loyalty pledge”, but not everyone is convinced that a non-binding agreement will ensure Trump doesn’t play the spoiler.

As for what motivates Trump, I turned to Dr. Jerrold Post, Founding Director of the Political Psychology Program at George Washington University and author of Narcissism and Politics: Dreams of Glory, which was published last year. Post said he was sorry he didn’t have a chapter on Trump, and in keeping with the ethics of his profession, he spoke about narcissists in general, rather than singling out Trump.

Narcissists react to any kind of rivalry and have a very difficult time in sharing the limelight. They are “exquisitely sensitive to slights.” Anyone who vaguely stands up to Trump gets this massive pushback.

“The aspect that is interesting is the ease and sense of mastery—the consummate narcissist believes in his capacity to run the world basically, and conveys such a sense of confidence with such absolutely absurd positions,” says Post. For example, Trump on immigration, what he conveys is, “I am supreme; I am able to do anything, and if I say the Mexican government will pay for this, it will be done.”

Trump’s success in the polls for now has a lot to do with his followers and “the empowerment he provides,” says Post. “He offers something to the person who feels inadequate in himself.” Voters powerless to change a government that is failing them are an easy sell for Trump’s sense of mastery and strength and power.

“You stick with me and I’ll get rid of these people who are using the system,” is the message that Trump conveys.  Call it populist, or narcissistic, when it comes to mind games, Trump has not yet met his match.

 

By: Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast, September 7, 2015

September 8, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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