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“Trump Pivots To the General Election…By Attacking Women”: The Days Of Women Succumbing To Insults Are Long Over

It has been fascinating to observe pundits who claim that Donald Trump will change his stripes during the general election in a way that appeals to a broader constituency. I’ve always thought that those assumptions were based on the idea that he was simply playing a character during the primaries – much as he did on TV. But that ignores the fact that he has been a narcissistic bully for a very long time.

Now that Trump’s competitors have dropped out of the race and he is the presumptive Republican nominee, the bullying insults to anyone who challenges him have not stopped. Last night in New Mexico, his target was Gov. Susan Martinez – who happens to be the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, the first Latina governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of New Mexico. But of course, this is what you get from Trump if you refuse to endorse him.

But the Donald wasn’t done.

Martinez was not the only powerful woman that Trump attacked at the rally. He also went after Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has become an outspoken surrogate for Clinton — and one is not afraid to challenge Trump.

During the rally, Trump repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a reference to the Native American heritage that she claims.

“She is probably the senator that’s doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She’s a total failure,” Trump said. “She said she was an Indian. She said because her cheekbones were high, she was an Indian, that she was Native American. And, you know, we have these surrogates — people like her, total failures.”

The pairing of racial slurs with personal attacks on females who challenge him are a two-fer for the Donald in that he manages to offend pretty much every constituency that isn’t white male. Trump’s ignorance and misogyny are on display when he spews this kind of nonsense and then says that he doesn’t want to lose the votes of women.

“They say I’m setting records with men — it’s so unexciting to me,” Trump said. “I want to set records with women, not with men.”

I suspect that he actually WILL set records with women. He’ll find that the days of women succumbing to insults like this are long over.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Women Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Cult Of Lies”: Who Are You Going To Believe, Trump Or Your Lying Eyes?

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

            –Voltaire, 1698-1774

The first thing to understand is that before it’s a presidential election, it’s a TV program. To the suits at CNN, NBC, and Fox News that means it’s about ratings and money. So of course they’re going to play it as a cliffhanger.

Do they ever say “Tune in Saturday to watch the Alabama Crimson Tide humiliate hopelessly overmatched Kent State!”

Never.

So it’s going to be with Trump vs. Clinton. Almost regardless of what political scientists and number-crunchers say, the race will be depicted as a nail-biter. The fact that Charles Manson could win Texas’ electoral votes with an “R” after his name, while Democrats could take Massachusetts with a Kardashian sister, will prolong the manufactured suspense.

It’s going to be a very long six months.

Even so, it’s hard to imagine a manifest fraud like Donald J. Trump becoming president of the United States. Surely voters have too much self-respect.

“If Trump came to power,” writes Adam Gopnik, “there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks.”

All politicians fudge the truth, exaggerating their successes and minimizing their failures. Trump, however, takes it to a different level. He’s a contemporary version of Baron Von Munchausen, an 18th century literary character whose wildly exaggerated military exploits—riding on a cannonball, voyaging to the moon—made him a comic-heroic favorite for generations.

Trump tells falsehoods so brazen as to redefine political lying. To see what I mean, let’s compare a couple of Clinton classics that emailers harangue me about all the time.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

The beauty of this Clintonian masterpiece lies in the fact that people often misquote it—changing “sexual relations” to “sex.” Because according to the evidence assiduously gathered by independent counsel Kenneth Starr, it’s literally true and therefore perjury-proof.

Cunning and deliberately deceptive, yes. But sexual relations means “intercourse,” and that supposedly didn’t happen. Cute, huh?

That’s Bill Clinton.

Readers who have never lied about sex are encouraged to vent.

Then there’s Hillary infamous Bosnian adventure: I remember landing under sniper fire,” she told a 2008 audience. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles.”

Confronted with CBS News footage that showed her walking calmly across the tarmac of Tuzla airport from an Air Force C-17 in 1996, Mrs. Clinton basically blamed an overactive memory. She’d actually written about the incident in her 2003 book “Living History” without mentioning the imaginary snipers.

Her press secretary later explained the possible origin of Mrs. Clinton’s false memory: “We were issued flak jackets for the final leg because of possible sniper fire near Tuzla. As an additional precaution, the First Lady and Chelsea were moved to the armored cockpit for the descent into Tuzla.”

She won’t say so but I’m guessing Hillary got scared, and her mind played a trick on her. Confronted with the discrepancy, however, she owned it.

Suffice it to say that is not the Trump method. With a background in professional wrestling, he understands that there’s a vast audience out there only slightly more discerning than a potted geranium and willing to believe (or pretend to believe) damn near anything.

Trump doesn’t trim or embroider as much as invent huge, thunderous fictions aimed at boosting himself or hurting his enemies—evidence be damned. In Trump World, facts don’t exist. He cannot be shamed.

Trump went on Morning Joe recently to attack Hillary’s terrible judgement about Libya. See, if people had listened to Donald, the U.S. would never have helped NATO overthrow Ghaddafi.

“I would have stayed out of Libya,” he affirmed.

Except that Trump shot a video back in 2011 urging an immediate invasion: “Qaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people,” he said then. “Nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around, we have soldiers all [around] the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage… Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick.”

The candidate does this stuff every day, on every imaginable topic. It’s brutal, demagogic make-believe, demanding his followers blind themselves to reality and enlist in his cult of personality.

So who are you going to believe, Trump or your lying eyes?

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Pragmatism Don’t Know Bernie”: Locked In A Battle With The Party He Ostensibly Seeks To Lead

“You can’t always get what you want.” — The Rolling Stones

A few words in defense of pragmatism.

That ideal has taken quite a beating lately, mostly at the hands of Bernie Sanders and his supporters. The Vermont senator faces a virtually impossible deficit in his battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Pragmatism would seem to suggest it’s time for him to pack it in.

But pragmatism don’t know Bernie. Or Bernie Nation.If this weren’t clear before, it has been made abundantly so in the last two weeks, beginning with Sanders supporters in Las Vegas tearing open the Nevada Democratic convention in a protest so angrily chaotic it was shut down by security, fearing violence. But Sanders supporters weren’t done yet; they also sent death threats to party officials.

The proximate cause of this Trumpish behavior was a dispute over rules, a claim that, as Sanders’ campaign manager put it, the convention had been “hijacked” to award more delegates to Hillary Clinton. Politico rated that false.

Not that this has made much difference to Sanders, now locked in a battle with the party he ostensibly seeks to lead. His denunciation of the convention chaos was as tepid and belated as Donald Trump at his worst. He has blasted the party for being, as he sees it, in the pocket of the rich, and specifically denounced Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In a Monday interview, Sanders told the Associated Press that this summer’s convention could be “messy,” though he later insisted that was not a tacit suggestion of violence.

Given the intensity of the emotions at play and the behavior of his supporters in Vegas, it’s hard to see how it could have been anything but. Which is disappointing. A few days ago, Sanders’ campaign seemed headed for an honorable legacy. But he has apparently decided instead upon a legacy of peevishness and sore losing, which is, as Frank Bruni noted a few weeks back in The New York Times, a hallmark of this political epoch.

Look: There is something to be said, under certain circumstances, for fighting to the last breath. Under certain circumstances, it is noble to stand one’s ground, come what may. Under certain circumstances, it might even be heroic to soldier on past the point of defeat.

These are not those circumstances. Trump awaits. And every second the left spends arguing with itself is a gift to the presumptive Republican nominee.

Let’s not get it twisted. For all that some people now seek to normalize him and his campaign, for all that they fool themselves into thinking he wouldn’t be so bad, for all that a party once appalled to find him its leader now coalesces behind him, Trump is still what he’s always been: a tire fire in an expensive suit.

Yes, Clinton is, putting it mildly, a flawed candidate, stiff at the lectern, shameless in her pandering and disliked for reasons both substantive (she sometimes seems to have only a nodding relationship with truth) and not. (Since when is it a sin — or a surprise — for a politician to be ambitious?) But she’s also intelligent and experienced. And compared to Trump, she’s a plate of Lincoln with a side of FDR.

As such, she might make a good president, might be a middling president, might even be a bad president, but at a minimum, she would be a president unlikely to hand out nuclear weapons like party favors or require customs agents to ask would-be visitors, “Are you now or have you ever been a Muslim?”

Clinton is, in other words, a good, pragmatic choice. And no, that’s not an inspiring battle cry.

But a reality show buffoon unburdened by knowledge, decency or dignity is closing in on the White House. We should probably take a little inspiration from that.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mr. Trump’s All-White Nostalgia Movement”: It’s Demographic Panic, Not Economic Panic, That’s Driving His Rise

Donald Trump, sounding something like Bernie Sanders, says he’s building a “movement.”

And in a sense, Trump is right. He is building a movement, of sorts, but not the kind that will help grow the Republican Party.

While Trump has won a record number of primary votes, he hasn’t done that by creating new Republican voters. Instead, he’s pulled GOP general election voters into the primaries by exciting white male voters like few candidates since Ronald Reagan.

That’s why, despite his historically bad numbers with non-white voters—more than three in four Hispanics and nearly nine in ten African-Americans don’t like him—Trump has been closing in on Hillary Clinton in national polls and in statewide surveys too, particularly when the white vote share is bumped up as it was in Quinnipiac’s Ohio and Pennsylvania polls presuming a whiter electorate in those states in 2016 than in 2012.

Trump leads Clinton 52 percent to 36 percent among whites overall in the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll; a figure driven by his 11-point lead with seniors, his nine-point advantage with men, and his five-point advantage with independents. And while the latter three figures are not broken down by race, Trump’s terrible ratings with nonwhite voters make it clear what lies beneath the top lines.

With Trump’s campaign, America has arrived at a moment that would be familiar in Europe, where ethno-nationalistic parties have surged in countries like France, Belgium and Austria, particularly as the crisis in Syria has driven Arab refugees onto the continent. In the U.S., the drivers of ethno-nationalism are different, but they are similarly related to the jarring impact of demographic change.

The exit polls from nearly two-dozen Republican primaries have yielded lots of data about who the Trump voters are, and the findings belie the myth that their anger is grounded in economic want. In fact, while they have lower incomes than Republicans who supported candidates like Marco Rubio or John Kasich, Trump voters are far from broke—their $72,000 average household income is will above the American average of is $56,000.

They are, instead, more like the profile of Tea Party voters; mostly 45 years of age and older, middle class, and a mix of non-college and some-college educated men and a smaller number of women who believe the country is dangerously off track.

Robert P. Jones of the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has done extensive research into the “why” of the Trump rebellion, and it turns out to have more to do with demographic panic than economic panic.

Sixty-eight percent of Trump supporters believe American culture has become too “soft and feminine”; two-thirds say it bugs them when they engage with an immigrant who doesn’t speak English (just 46 percent of Cruz voters said the same), and nearly half worry about themselves or their families becoming victims of a terrorist attack. Nearly six in ten Trump voters believe the federal government has paid too much attention to the plight of black and other nonwhite groups (vs. nearly four in ten Cruz supporters). And Trump voters overwhelmingly support banning Muslims from the U.S., while a plurality believe Islam is incompatible with American values.

According to PRRI, a majority of Trump supporters agree with the statements that America was better off 50 years ago—when white, Christian men were culturally ascendant, before “women’s lib” and the big victories of the Civil Rights Movement, before busing and affirmative action and the liberalizing immigration actions of the federal government in 1965 and 1986.

Jones calls these voters, who are overwhelmingly white Protestant Christians, “nostalgia voters.” They are nostalgic for the America they believe existed before the tumult of the 1960s; when a white working class man could hold down a blue-collar job and take care of his family, with a secure job for life and a wife who stayed at home, kids who could go to an affordable college, and a retirement padded with a decent pension. Because that is not the America non-white Americans knew, they by and large feel more hopeful about the future, grounded in the knowledge that the country has come far enough to elect a black president.

But for nostalgic Trumpians, who a RAND Corporation March survey found express a sense of “personal powerlessness,” more than any other single trait, the future looks bleak indeed.

That’s why it doesn’t matter what outrageous things Trump says or does. His most fervent supporters want someone who looks and sounds like them but who has the charisma and personal economic clout to shake things up on their behalf. They want someone who makes both a series of connected promises (a wall across the southern border that Mexico is somehow forced to pay for, a ban on Muslim migrants, and no more nation building in the Middle East), and a central one: to put people like them back on top, both here and around the world. With “Mr. Trump” in charge, they figure, the world will look at the U.S. with awe and fear again, and in a way; that means the world will look at them that way, too.

The trouble for the GOP is that for all the passion and fervor of the Trump moment, there simply aren’t enough of these voters left in the population for them to easily have their way. Unlike in midterm elections, when voters of color typically opt out, if turnout rates remain as they have over the last 20 years of presidential election cycles, it will be tough for him to grow his “Trump bump” of around 46 percent today, to above the 50 percent threshold.

Especially since white voters are themselves split, with a plurality continuing to side with Democrats on economic and cultural matters, from union support to the minimum wage to a more liberal view of economics, immigration and culture. Trump may well match or even exceed Mitt Romney’s 59 percent white vote share in 2012, but he’ll likely need something more like Ronald Reagan’s never-since-equaled 66 percent in 1984 to overcome what could be an historic deficit with voters of color, who Pew Research estimates will comprise 30 percent of the electorate this year.

If Trump can do that, it will be a revolution indeed.

 

By: Joy-Ann Reid, The Daily Beast, May 24, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Demographics, Donald Trump, White Male Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Public-Relations Effort For Himself”: Donald Trump’s ‘Shady’ Support For Veterans

When Democrats make the case that Donald Trump has a controversial background when it comes to veterans’ issues, it’s not just wishful thinking. The presumptive Republican nominee, for example, has drawn criticism for supporting a privatization plan for veterans’ care. His associations with the sketchy Veterans for a Strong America exacerbated the problem.

And it certainly didn’t help matters when Trump, who avoided military service during the Vietnam War, said he “felt” like he’d served in the military because his parents sent him to a military-themed boarding school as a teenager. The Republican went so far as to boast that his expensive prep school gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

Making matters much worse are new questions about Trump and veterans-related fundraising.

In January, the New York Republican skipped a debate in Iowa to instead hold a fundraiser for veterans. Trump repeatedly boasted at the time that, thanks to his bold leadership, he’s raised $6 million for vets. Trump added that he’d contributed $1 million out of his own pocket.

Whatever happened to all of that money? The Washington Post took a closer look.

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said the fundraiser actually netted about $4.5 million, or 75 percent of the total that Trump announced.

Lewandowski blamed the shortfall on Trump’s own wealthy acquaintances. He said some of them had promised big donations that Trump was counting on when he said he had raised $6 million. But Lewandowski said those donors backed out and gave nothing. […]

Lewandowski also said he did not know whether a $1 million pledge from Trump himself was counted as part of the $4.5 million total. He said Trump has given that amount, but he declined to identify any recipients.

The number of questions, which the campaign does not want to answer, represents a real problem. Exactly how much did Trump raise for veterans? His campaign doesn’t know. How much of it has been allocated? His campaign doesn’t know that, either. Who were the beneficiaries of Trump’s $1 million contribution? The campaign doesn’t want to talk about it.

I’m trying to imagine how the political world would react if Hillary Clinton and her team tried this.

The Post’s report added:

In recent weeks, Trump and his campaign repeatedly declined to give new details about how much they have given away. “Why should I give you records?” Trump said in an interview with The Post this month. “I don’t have to give you records.”

Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said Trump’s refusal to divulge how much of the money he had distributed raised questions about whether the candidate intended the fundraiser primarily as a public-relations effort for himself.

“That’s just shady. Right? No matter how you cut it, that’s just shady,” Rieckhoff said. “If he was going to make it right, a couple of weeks before Memorial Day would be a good time to do it. It behooves him, not just politically but ethically, to come forward and account for this money.”

Just so we’re clear, there’s ample evidence that Trump did raise millions for veterans and some organizations benefited from the donations.

There is, however, additional evidence that Trump’s specific claims about the amount of money raised weren’t true, and for whatever reason, the Republican candidate and his team have been reluctant to account for the money in detail. Indeed, when asked for details about how Trump’s $1 million was allocated, the GOP candidate’s campaign manager responded, “He’s not going to share that information.”

Postscript: To put this in a slightly larger context, in April, the Washington Post reported on Trump’s frequent boasts that he’s given “more than $102 million to charity in the past five years.” The newspaper found, however, “Not a single one of those donations was actually a personal gift of Trump’s own money.”

Update: Several readers reminded me that Trump’s troubles with veterans also extend to his condemnation of John McCain and servicemembers who “get captured.” It’s an important point.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 22, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Charitable Donations, Donald Trump, Veterans, Veterans Administration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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