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“A Casual Yet Coldly Calculated Kiss-Off”: Dumping Donald Trump Would No Longer Be A Coup. It’s Just Common Sense

In a campaign season already twisted beyond all recognition, Donald Trump’s atrocious summer has offered shell-shocked Republicans a potential out: Where “Never Trump” has failed, a far more casual yet coldly calculated kiss-off could succeed.

Trump’s missteps, willful and otherwise, are now so severe that Republicans are justified — and would be legitimated — in throwing him overboard in Cleveland. Bye bye, agonized soul searching. Hello, cruel common sense.

All the GOP has to do is relax.

Throughout this presidential campaign, I’ve done my best to remain level-headed. Rather than fearing Donald Trump, rather than venting my loathing for that which is detestable about him, I have tried — and counseled others to try — an attitude of watch and wait. Trump’s pronunciations are not the surest path to civil disorder or public chaos. For that you need a critical mass of the rest of us to lose our nerve, turning panic into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Although many liberals and progressives I know have quietly shared their nightmare-like sense of certainty that Trump is going to somehow win come November, Republicans have had the hardest time trying to maintain sangfroid. Without question, the stakes are high; even a Trump win could prove disastrous to the GOP (and America, of course). And for principled conservatives, a thorny dilemma has grown around how to translate their conscience into political action, regardless of its impact on Election Day. Since Trump hit the magic number of delegates, it has seemed interchangeably counterproductive and embarrassing to field a third-party protest candidate, throw in with Hillary Clinton or perhaps Gary Johnson, or stay in bed with a bottle of bourbon and weep.

But Trump has now had his shot at rehearsing a general election campaign, and he has fallen flat on his face. It was bad enough that he blew his chance to assemble a team of respected foreign policy advisors, or that he swung incomprehensibly from pitching Latinos taco-bowl bromides to haranguing a thoroughly American judge for his Mexican heritage. These political farces were real, but they were not firing offenses. Then came June. Trump’s already discouraging campaign lurched full-tilt toward disaster, from preposterously staggering fundraising problems to public and protracted palace infighting. The kicker came when news recently broke that Trump — in addition to paying large sums to Trump companies themselves — also coughed up cash for a mysteriously inscrutable firm named after the advertising executives from Mad Men. As a matter of sheer political responsibility, nominating this man is madness.

Of course, Trump critics have been saying this since almost the beginning. But until now, the case against Trump has defeated and delegitimized itself because of its ideological grounding. You can’t just stage a convention “coup” because the candidate who clinched the delegates is mean, nasty, or bigoted. You can’t do it because he disrespects NATO or badmouths free trade. And you certainly can’t do it because you despise the rubes in your party who you somehow failed to keep in a box this time around. Sad!

You can, however, dump Trump for the clinical, confident reason that his campaign is collapsing of its own weight and whim. Yes, there’s still time for a miracle turnaround. Yes, the general election is still months away. And yes, some polls show that Clinton still leads by only a handful of points. But the convention is the closest thing the GOP has to a performance review — to the tough-but-fair moment familiar from The Apprentice where, no matter what, if you’ve so far failed to produce adequate results, you’re fired.

Trump’s epic incompetence as a presidential candidate constitutes a political emergency even deeper and plainer than his jangled ideology. Any CEO, board, or shareholders would cut this guy loose and bring in someone who can close in an emergency. Trump’s failure to measure up to the minimum campaign standard — and the prospect of even more spectacular faceplants to come — is the salvation Republicans have been searching for.

All they need now is a new candidate. That’s hardly as daunting as it once seemed — because everyone should agree that almost anyone else will do.

 

By: John Poulos, The Week, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“For His Next Trick, Trump Questions Clinton’s Religious Faith”: The Last Person Who Should Question Others’ Faith

Recently, most of Donald Trump’s offensive rants have focused on race and ethnicity, but not religion. Any chance he can pick up the slack and start making faith-based insults, too?

As it turns out, yes, he can.

Donald Trump questioned Hillary Clinton’s commitment to her Christian faith on Tuesday, saying that little is known about her spiritual life even though she’s been in the public eye for decades.

Speaking to a group of top social conservative evangelical Christian leaders at a gathering in New York City, Trump said, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”

“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no – there’s nothing out there,” Trump said. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

As The Hill’s report noted, the behind-closed-doors meeting was not open to the public or to journalists, but one faith leader recorded Trump’s comments and posted them online.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee added that the religious leaders in attendance should “pray for everyone, but what you really have to do is pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person.”

Let’s unpack this a bit, because even by Trump standards, this is pretty amazing.

First, to suggest Americans “don’t know anything about” Hillary Clinton “in terms of religion” is absurd. The Democratic candidate has spoken about her Methodist faith many times, including lengthy comments about her views on Christianity and the Bible at an Iowa event earlier this year.

Second, I’d love to hear more about why, exactly, Trump and his like-minded friends had their “guard up” about President Obama’s faith. What is it, specifically, that led Trump and his allies to put their “guard up” about his religion?

Third, when Trump urged faith leaders to “pray to get everybody out to vote for one specific person,” he was approaching a potentially dangerous legal line. Under federal tax law, houses of worship and those responsible for tax-exempt ministries cannot legally intervene in political elections. Taking steps to have parishioners “vote for one specific person” is problematic.

And finally, of any political figure in America, Donald J. Trump is perhaps the last person who should be questioning others’ faith.

The GOP candidate’s clumsiness on matters of faith has been a point of concern for some conservative voters before, and last summer, the New York Republican refused to say which parts of Scripture are important to him, saying it was “private.” (Asked whether he’s drawn more to the New or Old Testaments, Trump said, “Both.”)

And now Mr. Two Corinthians wants to complain that “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion”? Seriously? I don’t expect much from Trump, but for him, there is no upside to picking this particular fight.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Faith, Hillary Clinton, Religion | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Remembering The GOP Before Its Radicalization”: The List Of Officials Quitting The Republican Party Keeps Growing

Two weeks ago, an Iowa state senator who’s had a lengthy career in public service as a Republican announced he just couldn’t take it anymore: citing Donald Trump as a contributing factor, the lawmaker quit the GOP and changed his voter registration to “no party.”

A few days later, the Republican mayor of Hackensack, New Jersey, announced he too is giving up on the GOP, and he was joined by his deputy mayor. Both mentioned Trump in their statements and both switched their registration to “independent.”

Over the weekend, the Charleston Gazette-Mail in West Virginia reported on another joining the club.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones, who has been a Republican for 45 years and has been elected mayor four times as a Republican, has left the party.

Jones announced Friday that he has switched his party registration to “unaffiliated.” He pointed to multiple factors, specifically the social conservative bent of the West Virginia House of Delegates and the rise of Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee.

In addition to his opposition to Trump’s candidacy, Jones noted the “obsession” among West Virginia Republicans to allow private-sector discrimination again LGBT Americans as one of the reasons he’s walking away from the party.

Jones, the mayor of West Virginia’s largest city, added, “I plan to complete my current term, and have no plans to run for any office ever again. I am not trying to pick a fight with anyone.”

It’s important, of course, not to overstate matters based on a handful of examples. Four local officials do not necessarily a trend make.

But every time I read about someone like Danny Jones, I wonder how many other Danny Joneses there are out there: Americans who’ve long considered themselves Republicans, who remember what the GOP was like before its radicalization, and who may be tempted to give up on the party in light of Trump’s nomination and antics.

It’s just not common for elected officials to abandon their party in an election year. The fact that these folks have abandoned the GOP this year probably isn’t a good sign.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 20, 2016

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Discrimination, Donald Trump, GOP | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Running Out Of Excuses”: The NRA And Prominent Republicans Are… Considering Gun Control?

Faced with the tragic killing of 49 people in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, notable conservatives seem to be running out of excuses for why we need less gun control.

Bill O’Reilly surprised many on Tuesday when he said that new laws were “definitely needed” as a response to the Orlando shooting. After going after Democrats for not being tough enough of terrorism, O’Reilly conceded that gun crime is a problem in the U.S., and that guns are too easy to get.

“That’s the fact. So let’s deal with it. We all have the right to bear arms, but we don’t have the right to buy and maintain mortars. Even if you feel threatened by gangsters or a New World Order. No bazookas, no Sherman tanks, no hand grenades.”

“The FBI and other federal agencies need the power to stop suspected terrorists or other evildoers from buying weapons,” he said. “That law needs to be very precise.”

O’Reilly had a much different opinion last January, when President Obama announced a gun control executive action after the San Bernardino attack. “The truth is, terrorists are not going to submit themselves to background checks — neither are dangerous felons or insane people,” he said in his January 6 program. “They are not going to sign any paper when they buy a gun. Do we all get that? They will buy their guns on the black market. And no registration law will prevent that.”

Also on Tuesday, O’Reilly’s fellow Fox News host Gretchen Carlson had a change of heart about gun control in the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy.

“Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer?” Carlson asked. “Do we need them to protect our families? Yes, I’m in favor of people being able to carry. I think some of these mass shootings would have been less deadly if that were the case. But I’m also with the majority today taking a stand. Can’t we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?”

Perhaps most shocking, the National Rifle Association put out a statement on Wednesday saying the organization agrees that terrorists should not be allowed to buy firearms, and that they are “happy” to meet with the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump to discuss the issue.

Oh yeah: Donald Trump announced he was meeting with the NRA, the strongest gun lobby in the world, to discuss keeping suspected militants away from guns.

I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2016

“Anyone on a terror watchlist who tries to buy a gun should be thoroughly investigated by the FBI and the sale delayed while the investigation is ongoing. If an investigation uncovers evidence of terrorist activity or involvement, the government should be allowed to immediately go to court, block the sale, and arrest the terrorist,” the NRA’s statement read.

The NRA tweeted that this statement did not represent a change in their position, and that “due process protections should be put in place that allow law-abiding Americans who are wrongly put on a watchlist to be removed.”

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 15, 2016

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Gun Control, National Rifle Association, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“How Sanders Made Clinton’s Win Illegitimate”: Simple Math, Clinton Has Been Inevitable Democratic Nominee Since April

OK, so the fix is in. In one sense, it’s too bad the Associated Press and the TV networks called the Democratic race for Hillary Clinton before New Jersey, California and four smaller states voted on June 7. Judging by my email and Facebook feed, this decision has inflamed the Bernie-cult’s belief that they’ve been cheated by the “establishment.”

Whatever the results, they’ve been rendered illegitimate in some eyes by the news media’s premature call. Never mind that news organizations feel a professional duty to report the facts as quickly as they are ascertained. Not much imagination is required to grasp the mischief that could result from their doing it any other way.

Never mind too that anybody who can do the electoral arithmetic knows that Hillary Clinton has been the inevitable Democratic nominee since April, when she prevailed in New York and Pennsylvania by 16 and 13 points respectively. There simply weren’t enough populous states left for Sanders to catch up—unless he could win California by an impossible 60 points.

Nevertheless, Bernie soldiered on. Doing his best impersonation of Prof. Irwin Corey, the Brooklyn-born comic billed as “The World’s Greatest Authority,” Sanders (and his advisors) began to make ever more absurd analyses of how he’d wind up on top. Like Corey, who appeared frequently with Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show in professorial garb, spouting hilariously self-contradictory gibberish, Bernie sought to explain away electoral reality.

First came the argument that Clinton’s wins in “red state” Southern primaries shouldn’t count, because the South is the most conservative region of the country. These same strictures did not apply, of course, to Sanders’ victories among downtrodden white Democrats in the Cow States—Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah and Idaho, actually more one-sidedly Republican. Not to mention thinly-populated.

Notwithstanding the likelihood that several Southern states could be in play come November, as Kansas and Idaho almost certainly won’t be, his insult to African-American voters could hardly have been more ill-advised. If it was Sanders’ intention to turn himself into the white-bread college kids’ candidate, he couldn’t have done better.

It must be thrilling to be the 74 year-old Pied Piper of the campus set, because Bernie was hard at it during a recent California stadium rally. He interrupted his ritual chant about millionaires, billionaires and Wall Street to favor the crowd with some old-timey Marxist-style cant.

“’Any objective analyst of the current campaign understands that the energy and the grass-roots activism of this campaign is with us,’ Sanders bellowed, putting an emphasis on that last word. “Not Hillary Clinton.’”

“Objective,” you see, has always been radical-speak for “in my opinion.” Back in his Socialist Workers Party days, I’m sure Bernie won a lot of arguments browbeating people that way.

My own scientific view is that twenty-somethings go to rallies; older people vote. As New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait put it: “Energy and activism are definitely part of the election process. But the way you determine the winner is by holding elections.”

Meanwhile, instead of complaining about the complexity of election rules, Sanders would have been wiser to ignore Wall Street and billionaires for a few minutes to explain those rules to his supporters. No, you can’t vote in a New York Democratic primary unless you’re a registered Democrat. Too bad, but there it is, and it’s been that way for a generation.

Instead, Sanders and his minions went around kvetching that ineligible voters would have put them over the top. They seized upon every election glitch nationwide to complain that they were being cheated.

For example, 132,000 mostly black voters in Brooklyn somehow got left off the rolls. Bernie supporters all, his campaign would have you believe, although Sanders otherwise lost the borough 60-40—and African-American New Yorkers worse than that. Probably the voting errors hurt Clinton, although there’s no real way to know.

Chait acidly sums up the rest of the Sanders camp’s extended whine:  Bernie has won a lot of states, they say. Yeah, 20 as of this writing, exactly 40 percent of the total. With several small grazing states in play on June 7, this number will doubtless change.

No matter, in Electoral College terms, Sanders is nowhere.

The rest of it amounts to a shell game.

Chait: “Clinton has a large lead in pledged delegates, and an even larger lead in super-delegates. You could rely entirely on one or the other, or change the weights between them in any fashion, and Clinton would still win. Sanders simply refuses to accept the combination of the two, instead changing subjects from one to the other. Ask him about the pledged delegates, and he brings up the super-delegates. Ask about the super-delegates, and he changes to the pledged delegates. It’s an infinite loop of bullshit.”

First Bernie denounced “super-delegates” as an impediment to democracy; now he’s counting upon them to begin the revolution by overturning the will of Democratic voters.

Fat chance.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 8, 2016

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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