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“Let’s Make Torture Great Again”: Donald Trump Thinks America Must Commit War Crimes As A Matter Of Principle

Hours after Tuesday’s massacre at Ataturk International Airport, Donald Trump called on America to “fight fire with fire.” The presumptive GOP nominee told supporters in Ohio that, while he likes waterboarding, it probably isn’t “tough enough.”

“We have to be so strong,” Trump said. “We have to fight so viciously. And violently because we’re dealing with violent people viciously.”

On Thursday night in New Hampshire, Trump reiterated his belief that America should hold itself to the same standard as a fascist death cult. Asked by local station NH1 to respond to Senator John McCain’s claim that torture is “not the American way,” Trump replied:

Well it’s not the American way to have heads chopped off and have people drowning in steel cages … And so we can have our disagreements, but we’re going to have to get much tougher as a country. We’re going to have to be a lot sharper and we’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable almost.

It’s worth remembering that, for the Republican standard-bearer, ordering the military to hunt down and kill the wives and children of suspected terrorists falls under the “thinkable” column.

That Donald Trump will happily court human beings’ worst instincts for political gain is not breaking news. What’s interesting about his renewed support for deliberate war crimes is that there’s no evidence such heinousness even has a political upside. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the American people were scared. Eight in ten told pollsters from the Washington Post and ABC News that they were afraid of lone-wolf terrorism. But those respondents also overwhelmingly preferred Clinton’s response to the tragedy over Trump’s, and had more faith in her capacity to handle terrorism than they did in the mogul’s. This marks a departure from past campaign cycles, in which Republican candidates have consistently enjoyed higher marks than their Democratic rivals on matters of national security.

Part of this change can be explained by the unusually stark discrepancy between the two presumptive nominees’ levels of foreign-policy experience. But in the previous Washington Post–ABC News poll, taken in May, Trump was only three points behind Clinton on the issue of terrorism; he fell 11 points behind her in the wake of Orlando. Thus, it appears that the American people find a former secretary of State calmly laying out a detail-oriented plan for reducing terrorism to be more comforting than a real-estate mogul shouting that the nation must chose between his radical agenda and certain doom.

In light of this finding, it seems unfair to assume that Trump’s pledge to do the “unthinkable” is motivated by crass political calculations. Rather, pundits should give the presumptive GOP nominee the benefit of the doubt, and assume his support for war crimes is a genuine expression of a deeply held faith in the cleansing power of sadistic violence.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, National Security, Torture | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“If You Have To Ask…”: Trump’s Baffled; ‘Why Am I Not Doing Better In The Polls?’

Last weekend, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and expressed nothing but confidence about the state of the race. Chuck Todd noted recent polling showing Hillary Clinton leading and asked Manafort whether he’d concede that his candidate was trailing. “No,” he replied, adding, “[W]e’re confident that we are not behind the Clinton campaign.”

Obviously, the polling evidence is readily accessible, but more to the point, Manafort doesn’t appear to have convinced his boss. Politico had this report yesterday on Trump’s appearance on Mike Gallagher’s conservative talk-radio show.

“Well, you know, I really feel it, Mike. I go to Ohio, we were there two days ago, and Pennsylvania and near Pittsburgh and we – I was in West Virginia, the crowds are massive. And you know, I walked out of one, and I said, ‘I don’t see how I’m not leading,’” Trump said, invoking the size of his crowds.

“We have thousands of people standing outside trying to get in, and they’re great people and they have such spirit for the country and love for the country, and I’m saying, you know, ‘Why am I not doing better in the polls?’”

First, the fact that Trump is even asking the question is notable, given the campaign’s pretense that Trump is doing just fine in the polls. “I don’t see how I’m not leading” is the sort of thing a candidate says when he knows that he’s … not leading.

Second, and more important, is the fact that the first-time candidate doesn’t seem to understand the difference between having fans show up at public events and actually winning at the national and statewide level. Bernie Sanders also saw “massive” crowds, and as impressive as that was, the senator still came up short in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Every major presidential candidate can draw an audience. That doesn’t mean he or she is going to win.

That said, these comments from Trump aren’t just amateurish, they also shed light on why he assumes the polls are wrong. In the Republican’s mind, if the surveys were correct, he wouldn’t have thousands of people showing up to cheer him. That doesn’t actually make any sense, but from his perspective, it’s easier to believe “crowds = victory” than to accept polls showing him trailing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, Junly 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort, Presidential Polls | , , , , | 1 Comment

“This Land Is Your Land”: A More Honest Look At What Patriotism Really Means

As we head into this July 4th weekend, I’m thinking about the fact that a lot of liberals struggle with the whole idea of patriotism. That’s because the word has often been associated with the air-brushed view of this country that omits the struggles and focuses mostly on symbolism. President Obama’s speech at the 50th anniversary of the Selma march gave us a more honest look at what patriotism really means.

And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people –- unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many, coming together to shape their country’s course?

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?

That’s why Selma is not some outlier in the American experience. That’s why it’s not a museum or a static monument to behold from a distance. It is instead the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents: “We the People…in order to form a more perfect union.” “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

In honoring a true patriot, that is exactly how Bruce Springsteen described Pete Seeger at his 90th birthday celebration. Bruce used the occasion to recount the time he and Pete sang together at Obama’s first inauguration – when he took the opportunity to tell an overjoyed Seeger, “You outlasted the bastards, man.”

Bruce’s description of Pete tells us what a true patriotic hero looks like:

Despite Pete’s somewhat benign grandfatherly appearance, he’s a creature of stubborn, defiant and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won’t let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger to the heart of our country’s illusions about itself…He reminds us of our immense failures as well as shinning a light towards our better angels on the horizon where the country we’ve imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us.

So as you enjoy your holiday weekend, take a few minutes to enjoy this patriotic song (all 4 verses).

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | 4th of July, American Values, Patriotism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Won’t Be Enough To Win”: Trump Considers Another Old White Male Politician For Veep

Donald Trump’s shortlist for VP looks like just another communications and demographic nightmare for the GOP. The main candidates that we know of so far appear to be Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich and now appears to include Indiana governor Mike Pence:

According to two Republicans familiar with the meeting, the conversation between Trump and Pence lasted for more than an hour, and the governor was joined by his wife, Karen, as he visited with the real-estate mogul.

One person described the session as “warm and friendly,” while the other called it a “getting to know you thing, a chance for both of them to connect.” They both noted that the presence of Karen Pence is probably a sign that the Pence family is comfortable with the prospect of the Republican governor joining the ticket, although they said they have not spoken with her.

Both people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their knowledge of the meeting, the location of which had been closely guarded for days.

Pence’s stock has been rising in Trump’s orbit, they said, describing him as respected by the candidate, despite Pence’s endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) in the Republican primary.

Trump’s camp says that he will pick a running mate before the convention. That would be common sense. Less commonsensical is Trump’s shortlist of older white male Republican government types as VP. Even Trump must realize at this point that political appeals to older white men won’t be enough to win him the election. He has to expand his base to have a prayer of winning that doesn’t depend on Hillary Clinton self-imploding.

Trump could try to win votes by expanding demographically by picking a woman or minority. The challenge for him there is that he has alienated most of the reasonably potential choices, from Nikki Haley to Meg Whitman. He could try to expand the map geographically by choosing someone from the midwestern states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

Or he could use the vice-president slot to communicate that he’s not your typical Republican politician by selecting someone from the business community, perhaps a tech entrepreneur.

But it’s not at all clear what Trump stands to gain from picking someone like Christie, Gingrich or Pence. The voters to whom those figures appeal, Trump already has. And that won’t be enough for him in November.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Vice Presidential Nominee, White Men | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump And Chuck Grassley Look Doomed In Iowa”: No Republican Can Be A Legislator In This Day And Age

Looking at the internals of the Loras College Statewide Iowa Survey, it seems like it’s a pretty well put together poll. Comparing their sample to the latest Iowa registration numbers, it appears that Loras may have undersampled the NO Party/Independents, but they have about the right mix of Democrats and Republicans. And, in any case, an undersampling of independents probably skews the results towards Donald Trump and Chuck Grassley.

For example, Grassley has a net favorable/unfavorable rating of 48%/42% with independents, and is losing with them to Patty Judge by a 41.9%-48.0% margin. So, if you add more independents to the sample, he probably loses his overall 46% to 45% lead.

Likewise, Donald Trump is getting crushed 48%-34% (-14) in the poll, but among independents he’s losing by a mammoth 44.7%-23.5% (-21) margin.

The survey is made up of 35.0% Republicans, 33.0% Democrats, and 29.8% Independents, but according to the Secretary of State, there are now more independents (670,068) than Republicans (639,476) or Democrats (610,608) who are registered to vote in the Hawkeye State. Maybe the independents don’t turn out at the same rate as party members, so it’s possible that the sample is dead-on. What’s doubtful is that it is skewed toward the Democrats.

Either way, it shows that Donald Trump is not competitive and Chuck Grassley is in a dead-heat. It’d be tempting to blame Grassley’s woes on Trump’s unpopularity (54.7% of Iowans have a very unfavorable view of Trump, and 68.9% have an overall unfavorable view of him), but we know that Grassley has been in the news as the lead architect of the Senate’s refusal to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It’s costing him because he’s historically been very popular but he now has a 41.4% unfavorable rating. That’s not terrible, but it’s far below where he’s been in the past. If he’s going to hold on, he’s going to need a lot of crossover votes, but less than a quarter of Democrats (24.8%) have a favorable view of him right now.

Now, Grassley has been in Congress since 1975 and a senator since 1981. He’ll be 83 years old on Election Day. I don’t know if this is really how he wants to go out. I am not even sure why he wants to continue in the job. He’s got to be frustrated. Just this week he had to announce that he almost definitely won’t be able to get his criminal justice reform bill through the Senate this year.

“I don’t see how it gets done before” July 15, Grassley said, referencing the day the senators depart from Washington and won’t return until after Labor Day. “It’s a real big disappointment to me because we’ve worked so hard to do what the leadership wanted to get out more Republican sponsors.”

The criminal justice reform bill was probably the best chance this Congress had to pass a meaningful bill and they can’t get it done. Unless Grassley just likes the prestige and lifestyle of being a senator, I see no reason for him to want to continue. He used to be a legislator, but no Republican can be a legislator in this day and age, and certainly not under a prospective President Hillary Clinton.

If I were him, I’d drop out before Patty Judge cleans his clock in November.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 1, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Donald Trump, Patty Judge | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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