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“Donald Trump’s Fans Only Hear What They Want To Hear”: They Don’t Hear The Policy Nuance, They Hear The Bluster

In a sea of signs protesting President Obama’s nuclear deal on Wednesday, there was one that literally towered above the rest: It loomed 12 feet over the crowd, with TRUMP in huge letters blazoned across a red background. The biggest. The best. An instant media sensation.

“He will confront these people,” said Ed Hunter, a 50-year-old contractor from Maryland who was holding one end of the giant sign, which he ordered off the Internet for $100. “He will not back down. He will not enable little special interest groups. He’s not afraid of anybody.” It was a popular sentiment among the several hundred who’d amassed for the Capitol Hill protest organized by Sen. Ted Cruz to protest the Iran deal. Trump may have staked out one of the most liberal positions on the Iran deal within the 2016 GOP field, and he may even have inadvertently helped the deal happen, but his fans don’t hear the policy nuance—they hear the bluster.

As the rally kicked off, cameramen and photographers and reporters kept coming up to Hunter and his sign-holding partner, Jim McDonald, a 70-year-old retired lawyer from Fairfax. Young men and women posed for photos under the giant sign, grinning broadly despite the sweltering heat. At first, Hunter and McDonald had their backs to the stage, so the Capitol dome would frame the backdrop of supporters’ photos. But before Trump followed Cruz to the stage, they turned it around so that The Donald could see his own name hoisted above the crowd. “I’ve been making lots of wonderful deals, great deals, that’s what I do. Never, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with Iran,” Trump told the cheering crowd, standing in front of a Capitol dome that he described as full of “very, very stupid people.”

Cruz, who has promised to “rip up and rescind” the Iran deal, could easily have attacked Trump for being soft on the issue. In August, Trump said that he would enforce the Iran deal if it’s in place when he takes office. “I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘We’re going to rip up the deal,’” the real-estate mogul told NBC News. “It’s very tough to do when you say, ‘Rip up a deal.'” Instead, Trump said he’d take a hardline approach to enforcing it. “I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance. As bad as that contract is, I will be so tough on that contract.” The only other GOP candidate who’s been as moderate on the issue is Jeb Bush.

But rather than go after Trump, Cruz—who’s only polling around 7 percent nationally—is trying to ride his coattails instead, making him a special guest on Wednesday. Trump, meanwhile, reaped the rewards of Republican outrage over the deal by sharing a stage with the likes of Cruz, who riled up the crowd by accusing Democrats of financing murderous jihad: “You bear direct responsibility for the murders carried out with the dollars you have given them. You cannot wash your hands of that blood.” When Trump took the stage, he didn’t need to mention blood. He could just talk about #winning. “We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning,” he told the cheering crowd.

In the lead-up to Wednesday’s rally, Trump had been moving right on the issue, writing in USA Today that he “will renegotiate with Iran” when he’s elected president. While that’s extraordinarily unlikely, it’s still completely in character for Trump: Somehow, by the sheer force of his personality, Trump will Get Things Done to Make America Great Again. At the rally, Trump promised that he will get things done with Iran before he assumes the presidency. “If I win the presidency, I guarantee you that those four prisoners are back in our country before I ever take office,” he told the crowd, referring to Americans currently detained in Iran.

Since Trump’s entire campaign is based on braggadacio—the swaggering response to anger, frustration, and resentment—his fans don’t tend to parse his policy positions very closely. In fact, gathering from those I spoke with, they tend not to even believe that Trump means it when he sounds a more moderate note. Howard Glickman, a 52-year-old Trump supporter from Philadelphia, waved away the idea that his man would be soft on Iran deal. “He’d enforce it in his way. No bull. Go in and check. Go in and do things,” he told me, echoing Trump’s own blunt vernacular. Glickman’s 26-year-old son Josh believes that Trump would go to even greater lengths to push back against Iran. “He would either write a new deal, or go to war,” said Josh Glickman, wearing a Trump shirt and Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hat, with an Israeli flag draped over his shoulders.

The truth is that Trump has arguably made it easier for Obama’s deal to move forward, as The Atlantic‘s Peter Beinart writes. His candidacy has thrust issues like illegal immigration to the forefront of the debate, taking conservatives’ focus off the Iran deal at the very moment that the White House was working to convince wavering Democrats to support it. Inside the Capitol, while Cruz was imploring protesters to “Stop this deal!”, Obama had already secured the 41 Democratic votes necessary to assure its passage.

Despite Republican promises, there’s little room for the next president to come up with an alternative agreement: While Congress could vote to reimpose sanctions on Iran, they would have minimal impact without the cooperation of China, Russia, and Europe, who would be extremely unlikely to go along once Obama’s deal is already in place. So Trump’s new vow to make an alternative deal magically appear isn’t any more implausible than the promises made by the rest of the Republican field on Iran.

Jay Smith, an 80-year-old from Baltimore who has a party supplies business, isn’t particularly concerned about all that. When I recounted Trump’s moderate remarks from August to him, Smith said he simply doesn’t believe that Trump would ever enforce the president’s deal. “I don’t accept what you’re saying,” said Smith, a fan of Trump who’s undecided about the 2016 race. “Every time he speaks, he says it’s the worst deal in the world.”


Suzy Khimm, Senior Editor, The New Republic, September 10, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Iran Nuclear Agreement | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Racism Vs. Whites? You’re Kidding Me”: Majorities Of Whites Think Anti-White Discrimination Is As Bad As The Anti-Black Kind

Last week, New York Times columnist Tom Edsall, in a piece about Donald Trump’s appeal among conservative voters, cited an alarming survey on white people’s racial attitudes that made me wonder if large segments of white America are completely misinterpreting what racism is and how prevalent it remains in our society.

Edsall pointed to a study conducted last fall by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) that found that 52 percent of white respondents agreed with the following statement: “Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

Among subsets of respondents, 76 percent of those affiliated with the Tea Party agreed with the statement. Another 61 percent of Republicans, and 53 percent of independents. A majority of whites over age 50 also agreed with the statement, and 58 percent of working-class whites agreed. Evangelical Protestants (63 percent) and Catholics (56 percent) also agreed.

62 percent of white Democrats disagreed, and 61 percent of those with a college education. White Americans under 50 also disagreed, even though it was close. Only 48 percent of whites between the ages of 18-29 agreed, and 49 percent of them disagreed. Of whites 30-49, 46 percent agreed and 52 percent disagreed.

Upon seeing these figures I immediately wondered about what exactly white Americans perceive racism to be, and how the supposed racism they receive has become equal to that of African Americans and other minority groups.

Did a leading American presidential candidate refer to large swaths of the white American population as “rapists” and “murderers”?

Have countless white Americans taken to the streets to express their frustrations with a criminal justice system that disproportionately harms and negatively impacts the lives of white Americans?

Are white Americans campaigning against profound levels of income inequality that negatively impact the white community far worse than other racial and ethnic groups in America?

When I look around America I do not see white voices making these complaints. Instead I see large amounts of white Americans expressing their frustration that some traditional white American values are being questioned, or are “under attack,” as some might say.

The controversy over the Confederate Flag has ruffled the feathers of many conservative white Americans because it questions the value and legacy of certain Southern traditions and their heroes. But should it be right for a nation’s or even a state’s decision to refrain from celebrating the lives and ideals of known traitors who were hell-bent on destroying America (who also happened to be white) to be viewed as a racist attack against the white race?

Additionally, the growth of Black Lives Matter has led many white Americans to proclaim that they are “under attack” along racial divisions, but the closest incidents of an “attack” have been occasional protests that have turned violent and resulted in the destruction of property. There has never been a concerted effort to destroy white-owned establishments in the movement, and the random destruction of property is defined as criminality and not racism.

Apart from the recent and unfounded accusation that Black Lives Matter has morphed or been hijacked into a rabid, uncontrollable movement that emphasizes the killing of white law enforcement officials, the greatest cause for concern has been the name of the movement. To some Americans, the name Black Lives Matter implies that other lives do not matter, despite the fact that this notion is actually the inverse of the intent of the name. Black Lives Matter’s intent is to highlight how historically and even to this day, but with lesser severity, black lives have been dehumanized, devalued, neglected, and abused within American society, and that collectively we need to put a stop to this damning status quo.

At no point has the existence of Black Lives Matter been about the dehumanizing or abusing of other races. It has not been about pitting the races against one another and saying that one race is superior to the other. It has been about highlighting the centuries of abuse inflicted upon black Americans, acknowledging the existing abuses, and aspiring to increase the empathy and humanity of the American public to combat these systemic problems.

Proclaiming that the movement should change its name to “All Lives Matter” or creating spin-off, competing slogans such as “Blue Lives Matter” only displays a lack of understanding of the intent of Black Lives Matter. And while the motivations of such reactionary suggestions might be honest and pure, I struggle to see how the misunderstanding of certain segments of white America regarding a national civil rights movement led by black Americans should be interpreted as a racial attack against white Americans.

Black Americans expressing their frustrations against the oppressive institutions that govern them that have been erected primarily by white Americans should not be viewed as a racial attack against white Americans.

In another PRRI survey, support among whites for public protests to combat an unfair government dropped dramatically—from 67 percent in favor to 48 percent—when the protesters were identified as black.

Criticism and racism are not one in the same, and we should not encourage lazily conflating the two.

The majority of the frustrations I hear white Americans express when racist accusations are made center on two main threads: that their lives and social structures should not be questioned and/or challenged, and secondly, that there is an inherent danger of foreign or dissimilar bodies.

These two perspectives are quite common throughout the world, so they are not necessarily “wrong” per se, but when you combine these attributes with the large expanses of land throughout America, it becomes clear that much of American civilization was built around the creation of various “whitopias”—to borrow the term from author Rich Benjamin.

The narrative of white families fleeing Europe to escape persecution and arriving in America to create their own utopian existence where they can practice their desired faith and associate with “their own kind” has been the heroic narrative that we have sold to the world. America had so much land to colonize—once the Native Americans were killed and forcefully removed from their land—that white people from across the world were encouraged to move here for sanctuary and opportunity. There was never much of a need to tolerate those who were different than you because you could always create a town or a suburban community that separated you and “your kind” from dissenting, dissimilar, or critical voices and people.

America has always been structured in such a way that white Americans were encouraged to build and expand this utopian or “whitopian” environment. Both directly and indirectly this has resulted in the dehumanizing and dismissing of non-white life, and the racist structures that have encouraged this forced separation.

However, in this modern world where information and individuals can move faster than previously imagined, the opportunity to escape and live in your own utopian world where you no longer need to value or listen to dissenting voices and may be fearful of foreign bodies is no longer an option. White Americans must now hear the voices of the previously oppressed.

White Americans receiving criticism from the people they have always demonized and oppressed regarding the structures that white society once thought to be utopian is not an act of racism upon white Americans. It is a step toward building more just and humane institutions and societies for all people regardless of race. Misinterpreting this collective social progress as anything else, and especially as a racially motivated attack, is a step in the wrong direction.


By: Barrett Holmes Pitner, The Daily Beast, September 8, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | African Americans, Donald Trump, Racism, White Americans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jindal To GOP; I’ll Be Your Donald Trump!”: Racist Demagoguery Is Too Important A Task To Be Left To An ‘Egomaniacal Madman’

Well, this is going to be interesting. Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been silent most of the day, and so we haven’t seen any response to Bobby Jindal’s supreme act of provocation at the National Press Club. He is going to be on Greta van Susteran’s show tonight, so maybe he’s saving up some heat-seeking missiles to send Bobby’s way. Will he make exorcism jokes? Mention how reluctant Bobby is to spend time in the state he is supposedly governing, or how unpopular he is there? Mock Jindal’s campaign for resorting to attacks on Trump to get some attention? No telling.

But blowback aside, Jindal’s speech is pretty amazing. It very, very carefully distinguishes between Trump and Trumpism, holding up the latter even as it tears down the former:

I like the idea of a DC outsider.

I like that he doesn’t care about political correctness.

I like the fact that he says things people are thinking but are afraid to say.

I like that he uses Ronald Reagan’s theme of making America Great Again.

Trump’s diagnoses is correct — the professional political class in Washington, including the Republicans, is incompetent and full of nonsense. He is right. The political class in Washington has abandoned us. Trump has performed an important service by taking on the political class and exposing them for being completely full of nonsense.

But Trump doesn’t really believe this stuff, because he only believes in himself.

The message here seems to be that racist demagoguery is too important a task to be left to a “egomaniacal madman” like the guy who’s shown how popular racist demagoguery can be among the GOP rank-and-file.

So Bobby’s offering himself as the vehicle for Trumpism without Trump, or as he puts it, a “politically incorrect conservative revolution.”

I’m not sure what that would look like in practice, but in Bobby’s version it seems to begin with treating Trump the way Trump treats Mexicans: denouncing him in terms that burn any conceivable bridges to smithereens. Indeed, if I were advising Bobby, I’d be a bit worried that he won’t be able to sign the very “loyalty pledge” Trump has signed, which commits the candidate to support of the GOP nominee, even if it’s Trump.

I mean, seriously, listen to this:

Many say he’s dangerous because you wouldn’t want a hot head with his fingers on the nuclear codes. And while that’s true, that’s not the real danger here.

The real danger is that, ironically, Donald Trump could destroy America’s chance to be Great Again.

As conservatives, we have a golden opportunity in front of us. The Democrats have terribly screwed things up, and are basically giving us the next election.

If we blow this opportunity – we may never get it again, the stakes are incredibly high.

It’s true Trump might launch a nuclear war, says Bobby, but “that’s not the real danger here.” Hillary could win the election!

I really didn’t think my opinion of Bobby Jindal could get any lower, or my very low opinion of Donald Trump could get any higher. This continues to be a season of political wonders.


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


September 11, 2015 Posted by | Bobby Jindal, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Little Late To The Party”: Why Kim Davis Has Missed Her Moment

Years ago, I remember Christian right leaders fretting about pastors going to jail if they expressed their anti-gay views; when that didn’t come to pass, they fretted about churches losing their tax-exempt status. These worst case scenarios never happened, because we have this thing called the First Amendment, which protects peoples’ and churches’ right to say gay people are going to hell, or shouldn’t be able to get married, or should be cured by divine redemption.

Years later, the Christian right finally has its martyr in Kim Davis. Thanks to United States district judge David Bunning—who, despite having other options for securing marriage licenses for all Rowan County, Kentucky residents, ordered Davis to jail for six days—a new heroine was born.

Yet while Davis is most obviously a symbol for a Christian right bent on claiming its religious freedom is under siege, she is really a symbol of something else entirely. The Republican Party, and even its most reliable base of support, the Christian right, is being forced to move on when it comes to the marriage issue. According to a 2014 Pew survey, 58 percent of Republican millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) favor gay marriage. A Public Religion Research Institute survey conducted last year found “white evangelical Protestant Millennials are more than twice as likely to favor same-sex marriage as the oldest generation of white evangelical Protestants (43% vs. 19%).” That’s not a majority of millennial white evangelicals, but it’s certainly significant, given that this demographic has long been one of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality.

Davis, then, is a little late to the party, an anachronism delivered to the doorstep of the party’s most desperate presidential candidates. Her host and chief supporter Mike Huckabee reminded us at yesterday’s rally in Grayson, Kentucky, that Davis came to Christ just four and a half years ago. To her, everything is new again, but to evangelicals who have either embraced marriage equality or acquiesced to its inevitability, her rebirth as a celebrity victim of Rowan County’s gay and lesbian betrotheds and of the judiciary’s “tyranny” must feel a bit stale.

The Davis phenomenon has some Republicans worried, as Sahil Kapur and Greg Stohr report at Bloomberg. “I think the longer this lingers, the worse it is for the Republican Party and for the conservative movement,” John Feehery, a Republican strategist and lobbyist, told Bloomberg, adding that Davis’s stance “smacks of bigotry.”

Then there is the matter of the law. Yesterday Davis embraced Huckabee and lawyer Mat Staver, both of whom have pronounced the Supreme Court to be without authority to decide constitutional questions like whether bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. Even Fox News host Gregg Jarrett called this view “stunningly obtuse” and his guest Sharon Liko, a lawyer, called it “ridiculously stupid.” Piling on, the network’s Shepard Smith described the entire spectacle as a “religious play” and criticized Davis’s refusal to accept an accommodation, adding, “Haters are going to hate. We thought what this woman wanted was an accommodation, which they’ve granted her, something that worked for everybody. But it’s not what they want.”

While not a majority view among a group of evangelical thought leaders interviewed for the web site Breakpoint, Hunter Baker, a lawyer and political science professor at Union University, opined, “Kim Davis’s office is obligated to perform the state function of issuing wedding certificates. She disagrees that marriage can exist between two people of the same sex. I agree with her.” But, Baker maintained, “the state of Kentucky has little choice other than to respect the ruling of the Supreme Court.”

Who else agrees with that statement? None other than Donald Trump, who called the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges “the law of the land.”

Trump’s perch atop the GOP field is, of course, driving his adversaries in search of a potent boost from the fractured evangelical base. At yesterday’s rally, a Huckabee aide did the Christ-like thing of blocking Ted Cruz from a key photo opportunity with Davis; after all, the Bible does say those polling in the single-digits shall reap the glory of exploitative publicity stunts.

While Trump’s summertime standing with evangelicals was thought to be a blip, it has persisted into September—along with continued analyses of why. “Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Obama administration and of Republican Party leaders has many social conservatives cheering for him,” the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

Writing on the Fox News website, Robert Jeffress, the Texas megachurch pastor who in 2011 called Mormonism a “cult,” maintains, “No Evangelical I know is expecting Trump to lead our nation in a spiritual revival.” But, he goes on, President Barack Obama has “drastically lowered the threshold of spiritual expectations Evangelicals have of their president. No longer do they require their president to be one of them. Evangelicals will settle for someone who doesn’t HATE them like the current occupant of the Oval Office appears to.”

Do evangelicals need Kim Davis, political motivator? She may very well have missed her moment.


By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, September 9, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Christian Right, Kim Davis, Religious Freedom | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Wrong Then, Wrong Now”: What Cheney Left Out Of Iran Speech: His Own Record

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Obama administration of giving Iran everything it needs to wage a nuclear war on the U.S.

What Cheney left out was that Iran made significant advances with its nuclear program while he was in office.

With a nuclear accord with Iran all but guaranteed to survive a challenge from congressional Republicans, Cheney escalated the blame game between President Barack Obama’s White House and some former members of President George W. Bush administration over responsibility for spiraling turmoil in the Middle East.

“This deal gives Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” Cheney said. “It is madness.”

Cheney, one of the chief architects of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, said the agreement negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers with Iran would “accelerate nuclear proliferation” in the Mideast and enable the Islamic Republic to attack the U.S. or its allies.

While criticizing Obama’s handling of Iran, Cheney has struggled to explain the advancement of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program during the Bush administration. Iran had about 6,000 uranium centrifuges installed at its Natanz nuclear research facility at the start of the Obama administration in 2009, up from zero eight years earlier, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran’s Centrifuges

“I think we did a lot to deal with the arms control problem in the Middle East,” Cheney said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” without specifically responding to a question from host Chris Wallace about Iran’s centrifuges.

Before Cheney began speaking Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, the White House sought to preempt his argument with a video, distributed via social media, of Cheney’s past statements about the Iraq war titled: “Wrong Then, Wrong Now.”

Cheney’s warnings before the invasion that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction were wrong, and since leaving office he has frequently predicted devastating attacks on the U.S. by hostile nations or terrorist groups that have never materialized.

Iraq Justification

He again defended the Iraq war on Tuesday: “To argue that we should not have gone after Saddam Hussein is to argue that he still should be in place today,” he said.

He also said the Iraq invasion led to Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, offering to surrender his own nuclear program.

Cheney’s speech was interrupted by a protester from Codepink, an anti-war group that protested the Iraq invasion and is planning a series of events this week in support of the Iran deal.

“Dick Cheney’s a war criminal!” a young woman shouted before she was forcibly removed from the event. “Try diplomacy not war.”

Cheney did not address the woman, only saying “thank you,” after she was escorted out by security.

Cheney’s speech on Tuesday came 13 years to the day after the New York Times reported that Iraq was trying to obtain thousands of “aluminum tubes” to construct uranium centrifuges. Cheney confirmed the report — initially attributed to anonymous Bush administration sources — later that day in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

Ten days later, Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly labeling Iraq “a grave and gathering danger” and citing the tubes as one piece of evidence for a nuclear program.

Aluminum Tubes

The Iraq Survey Group, which investigated Hussein’s alleged weapons programs after the invasion, determined that the tubes were most likely intended to build conventional rockets. No evidence ever emerged that Iraq tried to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

Obama has argued that opposition to the Iran accord has been drummed up by many of the same people who supported the ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

“VP Cheney was wrong on Iraq, and now he’s making false claims about the #IranDeal,” Eric Schultz, the White House’s deputy press secretary, said on Twitter as Cheney spoke.

Cheney’s speech comes as several presidential candidates prepare to make public statements about the Iran deal. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to join Donald Trump at a rally for opponents of the agreement on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak on the deal Wednesday.

Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday after a five-week recess and lawmakers have until Sept. 17 to act on the agreement. As of Tuesday, 41 Democrats in the Senate have announced they will support the deal when Republicans, who have majorities in the House and Senate, attempt to advance a resolution of disapproval.

The Democratic support means that if the disapproval passes, Republicans won’t have enough votes to override a promised veto by Obama. Democrats also may have sufficient votes to filibuster such a resolution in the Senate, preventing it from ever reaching the president’s desk.

It isn’t clear if all 41 senators who have said they support the deal would also support blocking a vote on the disapproval resolution.


By: Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg Politics, September 8, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Iraq War | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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