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“I Don’t Know Where Donald Trump Is Coming From”: Top Trump Ally Distances Himself From Presidential Candidate

Way back in February, when most congressional Republicans were still hoping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign would collapse, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) became only the second federal lawmaker to throw his support behind the controversial candidate.

“We don’t need a policy wonk as president,” Hunter said at the time. “We need a leader as president…. I don’t think Trump wants my endorsement. And that’s one reason why I like him.”

Yesterday, the California Republican said something a little different.

“I am not a surrogate. I am a congressman. I can’t speak for anybody else but me,” Hunter told The Hill later Thursday, explaining his comments to the reporters.

“Everybody’s asking me to explain all these things that he said,” Hunter added. “Some of these things, I don’t know what Donald Trump is thinking. … I don’t know where Donald Trump is coming from.”

The Hill’s report added that Hunter said he was confronted by “like seven reporters” after leaving the House floor yesterday. “I just said, ‘Time out. I am a congressman. I am done talking [about Trump].’”

Under the circumstances, that’s a curious message. Hunter not only endorsed Trump, the congressman is literally the co-chair of Trump’s U.S. House Leadership Committee, serving as a liaison between the presumptive nominee’s campaign and Capitol Hill.

In fact, The Hill’s report said Hunter took it upon himself to lead Trump’s outreach efforts to Congress and currently “feeds national security information to the Trump campaign.”

The Washington Post recently described Hunter as one of the six members of Congress Trump trusts most.

When this guy is telling reporters he can’t explain what Trump is thinking, doesn’t know where Trump “is coming from,” and is “done talking” about Trump, it’s evidence of a presidential candidate who’s even left his allies stumped.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 17, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Duncan Hunter, Trump Supporters | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Reveling In Their Bigotry”: Hillary Clinton Supporters Should Get Ready For An Onslaught Of Insane Bigotry

In the Democratic presidential primary, a great many pixels were spilled over the “Bernie Bros.” This is Bernie Sanders’ supposed army of young white male misogynists, patrolling the internet for any sign of women supporting Hillary Clinton, who they then harassed without mercy or quarter. But if Clinton voters thought the bros were bad, wait till they meet the Trumpists.

Of course, it’s hard to say anything about one online community or another with ironclad certainty, given the lack of reliable statistics. The only actual survey I’ve seen about online abuse by 2016 candidates is from a consulting firm that put together a survey of 1,007 people over 18. It’s not peer-reviewed or published anywhere except online, but it’s as good as we’re likely to get for the time being. Fifty-seven percent of respondents found Donald Trump supporters to be “very aggressive,” as compared to 30 percent for Clinton and 16 percent for Sanders.

If that’s not enough, just look around. Many liberals don’t have that much experience with Trumpists, since so far they have mostly focused their fire on Trump’s most immediate opponents: other conservatives.

So take a peek into the Twitter mentions of Red State‘s Ben Howe, who declared for Clinton now that Trump has secured the nomination — or the signature Trumpist hashtag, which is a more-or-less explicitly white nationalist slogan. You’ll find a sewer of outright bigotry, genocide jokes, misogyny, oh and David Duke.

Better yet, look at Jewish conservatives like Ben Shapiro or Bill Kristol, who are under a constant deluge of bigoted abuse — and not just on social media, but from major pro-Trump writers and publications. (Breitbart, which has been pro-Trump to the point of siding with him against one of their own writers who was allegedly attacked by Trump’s then-campaign manager, recently published an article about how Kristol is a “renegade Jew.”) Some are already constructing a new Dolchstoss Legende blaming American Jews for Trump’s possible election defeat in November.

In this Trumpists take their cue from Trump himself, who has campaigned on open bigotry, repeatedly incited violence against anti-Trump protesters, and otherwise followed the incipient fascist playbook almost to the letter. Most recently, he refused to condemn his supporters’ anti-Semitic harassment of reporter Julia Ioffe, who wrote a profile of his wife (or as the white supremacist site Daily Stormer calls her, “Empress Melania”).

To my mind this is the worst aspect of Trump’s rise. Republicans playing footsie with racist white people to get votes is sadly nothing new. But running a major party campaign about as prejudiced as that of Strom Thurmond in 1948 is something new — particularly when the overall trend had been in the opposite direction. Anti-Semitism used to be political poison, but Trump is bringing it back at least adjacent to the mainstream. It’s no coincidence white supremacists are besides themselves with glee over Trump.

All this is not to say that there is no trace of prejudice on the American left (from liberals to leftists), or that it’s not important to address that when it does crop up. But Trump and his supporters are a fundamental threat to the basic norms that have underpinned American politics for the past half-century. Unlike the leftists backing Sanders, the alt-right crowd supporting Trump does not care a whit for people calling them bigoted. On the contrary, they revel in it.

 

By: Ryan Cooper, The Week, May 17, 2016

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Trump Supporters | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Exploitation Of White Resentment”: Donald Trump’s Ready-Made Constituency

There are competing narratives being discussed right now about what is driving the white male support for Donald Trump. Last weekend, David Atkins did a great job of articulating one of them.

In short, voters really are angry about the economy. They want greater security. They don’t want more jobs so much as they want answers for how their jobs are ever going to pay for the lifestyle and security they deserve. And they want justice and accountability against the people they believe have cheated them.

Another narrative about what is animating white male Trump supporters was recently described by Jamelle Bouie.

…we’ve been missing the most important catalyst in Trump’s rise. What caused this fire to burn out of control? The answer, I think, is Barack Obama.

Bouie goes on to suggest that, unlike the theories about this on the right, Obama has not implemented a radical political agenda. But there is something else at play.

We can’t say the same for Obama as a political symbol, however. In a nation shaped and defined by a rigid racial hierarchy, his election was very much a radical event, in which a man from one of the nation’s lowest castes ascended to the summit of its political landscape. And he did so with heavy support from minorities: Asian Americans and Latinos were an important part of Obama’s coalition, and black Americans turned out at their highest numbers ever in 2008…

For millions of white Americans who weren’t attuned to growing diversity and cosmopolitanism, however, Obama was a shock, a figure who appeared out of nowhere to dominate the country’s political life. And with talk of an “emerging Democratic majority,” he presaged a time when their votes—which had elected George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan—would no longer matter. More than simply “change,” Obama’s election felt like an inversion. When coupled with the broad decline in incomes and living standards caused by the Great Recession, it seemed to signal the end of a hierarchy that had always placed white Americans at the top, delivering status even when it couldn’t give material benefits.

In terms of the shock Barack Obama represented, I was reminded of something Jonathan Chait wrote after watching the movie 12 Years a Slave.

Notably, the most horrific torture depicted in 12 Years a Slave is set in motion when the protagonist, Solomon Northup, offers up to his master engineering knowledge he acquired as a free man, thereby showing up his enraged white overseer. It was precisely Northup’s calm, dignified competence in the scene that so enraged his oppressor. The social system embedded within slavery as depicted in the film is one that survived long past the Emancipation Proclamation – the one that resulted in the murder of Emmett Till a century after Northup published his autobiography. It’s a system in which the most unforgivable crime was for an African-American to presume himself an equal to — or, heaven forbid, better than — a white person.

Perhaps the specter of “calm, dignified competence” reminds you of someone. I have often said that freeing Black people from slavery and giving them civil rights were the first two challenges to the racism that was embedded in this country’s founding. But going from Black people as equals to Black people as leaders is the one Obama put on the table. Even a lot of people who don’t consider themselves to be racist have struggled with that one.

But we really don’t need to see the arguments made by Atkins and Bouie as opposing one another. That is because this country has a very long history of using racial resentment to exploit the economic anxieties of white working poor people. That is the basis on which the modern Republican Party was formed with the advent of the Southern Strategy. But it goes back much further than that. Tim Wise points out that it was the very reason for the development of the concept of “whiteness” in the late 1600’s to use racism as a way to divide and conquer.

Over this country’s history African Americans have gained their freedom from slavery, fought for equal rights, and even risen to positions of leadership. The one thing they can’t do is change the hearts and minds of white people who insist on blaming them for their insecurities. That is on us. Until that happens, the Donald Trumps of the world will have a ready-made constituency to exploit.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 12, 2016

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Trump Supporters, White Men | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“If Trump Wins, Will There Be Blood?”: Maybe It’s Time To Take Crazy At Face Value

That question has gone conspicuously unasked as we enumerate the possible outcomes of November’s election. The potential impact on the nation’s economy, its foreign policy and its standing in the world have all been duly analyzed. But there has been little, if any, discussion of the potential for violence.

It is, of course, Donald Trump’s name on the ballot that necessitates the discussion. His rallies have erupted into brawls with depressing frequency; his followers assaulting demonstrators while he eggs them on.

And then, there’s this: Last year, two South Boston brothers — Scott and Steve Leader — were arrested after allegedly peeing in the face of a homeless, 58-year-old Mexican immigrant sleeping on a bench. They beat him with a metal pole, breaking his nose. Authorities say Scott Leader explained himself thusly: “Donald Trump was right. All these illegals need to be deported.”

Trump’s initial response was simply to note that his followers “love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.” If that is the sort of “passion” a few rallies and speeches incite, how much worse would it be in the event — God help us all — of an actual Trump victory? How emboldened in their bullyboy behavior would people like the Leader brothers become with one of their own in the White House?

And that’s not even the worst-case scenario. What if the far more likely thing happens? What if Trump loses? His followers are already filled with fury and an exaggerated sense of their own victimhood and entitlement. What happens if an embarrassingly emphatic repudiation is added to that mix?

Hate crimes might be the least of our problems. The greater worry might be terrorism.

In a nation conditioned to think of terrorism as the exclusive province of Muslim fanatics with difficult names, the idea will strike some as ridiculous. But to be sanguine about the danger of radical right violence is to pretend Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff in Nevada and the armed takeover of federal property in Oregon never happened. And it is to ignore a litany of radical right terror plots enacted or interdicted in recent years.

From the Oklahoma City bombing to the Atlanta Olympics bombing to a New York state plot to murder Muslims by radiation poisoning, to a massacre at an African-American church in Charleston, to the attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, to the crashing of an airplane into an IRS office in Austin to a mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs to, literally, dozens more, the radical right has hardly been shy about using violence to frighten people as a means of achieving their political goals — the dictionary definition of terrorism.

Small wonder Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center, does not laugh off the possibility of violence from aggrieved supporters of Donald Trump. Radical right terror, he says, “is a worry anyway, as we go through this huge demographic transition in the United States. But the thing about Trump’s voters is that they are angry, they are riled up, and they are expecting to win.” If and when they don’t, he says, terrorism might well be their response.

It’s not as unthinkable as some of us will want to believe. Too often, as the right has descended into tribalistic incoherence, the rest of us have underestimated the crazy, baselessly reassuring ourselves that they’ll go this far, but surely no further. And too often, we’ve been wrong. Maybe it’s time to abandon baseless reassurance. Maybe it’s time to take crazy at face value.

Will there be blood? Here’s a better question:

Will you honestly be surprised if there is?

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Trump Supporters, Violence | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Promoting Videos In Which Hillary Clinton Is Killed”: NRA’s Ted Nugent Sparks Yet Another Ugly Controversy

About four years ago at this time, Ted Nugent, a musician, reality-show personality, and National Rifle Association board member, was doing his best to help Mitt Romney get elected. Appearing at the NRA’s national convention, Nugent said, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either dead or in jail by this time next year…. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions?”

He went on to say, “It isn’t the enemy that ruined America. It’s good people who bent over and let the enemy in. If the coyote’s in your living room pissing on your couch, it’s not the coyote’s fault. It’s your fault for not shooting him.”

The comments, not surprisingly, generated a Secret Service investigation.

Four years later, Nugent has a new target, but he appears to have learned very little. Media Matters noted this week:

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who will deliver a speech at the NRA’s annual meeting this month, shared a fake video that depicts Hillary Clinton being graphically murdered by Bernie Sanders with a handgun during a presidential debate.

In a May 10 post on his Facebook page, Nugent shared a video with the descriptions “Bernie Sanders destroys Hillary Clinton in debate on Vermont gun laws” and “Bernie Sanders absolutely killed Hillary over this issue.”

The video takes footage from a recent debate between Clinton and Sanders, but it’s manipulated to show Sanders shooting Clinton in the chest – complete with an animated blood spurt.

Just to be clear, Nugent does not appear to have created the video, but he helped disseminated it through social media, and he endorsed it with his own poorly written message: “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”

All of this comes nearly nine years after Nugent, commenting on Clinton’s first presidential campaign, delivered an on-stage rant in which he pointed to his gun and said, “Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

I can appreciate why it’s tempting to ignore Nugent’s nonsense. As entertainers in the public eye go, we’re talking about a guy who hasn’t had a hit single since the Carter administration, so it’s safe to say his cultural relevance has faded into obscurity.

Nugent is, however, a board member of the NRA – a group Senate Republicans believe should have veto power over Supreme Court nominees – and he remains a prominent partisan activist in right-wing circles. Indeed, let’s not forget that in 2012, Mitt Romney actively sought, and eventually earned, Nugent’s personal endorsement after a private discussion between the two men.

This year, Nugent is a high-profile Trump supporter – who also happens to be promoting videos in which Hillary Clinton is killed.

At least the Secret Service knows how to reach him if agents have any questions.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 11, 2016

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, National Rifle Association, Ted Nugent, Trump Supporters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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