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“Trump Flunks Supreme Court Arithmetic”: Counting To Five Should Be Pretty Easy, Unless You’re Donald Trump

For the typical adult, counting to five should be pretty easy. It makes Donald Trump’s trouble with Supreme Court arithmetic that much more puzzling.

On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down arguably the most important abortion-rights ruling in a generation, prompting the Republican presidential hopeful to say … literally nothing. To the consternation of some of his social-conservative allies, Trump acted as if the court’s decision didn’t exist, offering no response in speeches, interviews, or social media.

It took a few days, but this morning the presumptive GOP nominee broke his unexpected silence in an interview with conservative radio host Mike Gallagher.

“Now if we had Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite.”

Actually, no, it wouldn’t have. This week’s ruling was actually a 5-3 decision. Yes, Antonin Scalia’s passing meant the Supreme Court was down one justice, but it doesn’t take a mathematician to know 3 +1 does not equal 5.

Remember, the decision was on Monday, and today’s Thursday. Trump and his team had three days to come up with the candidate’s response to a major court ruling, and this is what they came up with.

In the same interview, the New York Republican complained about Chief Justice John Roberts, telling the host, “He could’ve killed [the Affordable Care Act] twice and he didn’t. That was terrible. And that was a Bush appointment. That was so bad, what happened. And you know, to me, you know, almost not recoverable from his standpoint. Very, very sad situation.”

Actually, the second time the justices considered the constitutionality of “Obamacare,” the law was upheld in a 6-3 ruling. When Trump said today Roberts “could’ve killed” the ACA, his math is still wrong – because 6 – 1 does not equal four.

Do you ever get the impression that Trump hasn’t really thought this issue through? Ever wonder if there’s an issue he has thought through?

Postscript: Trump’s math troubles notwithstanding, the GOP candidate, who used to describe himself as pro-choice, continues to talk about how eager he is to restrict reproductive rights. In this morning’s interview, the host added, “So just to confirm, under a Donald, a President Donald Trump-appointed Supreme Court, you wouldn’t see a majority ruling like the one we had with the Texas abortion law this week.”

The candidate replied, “No, you wouldn’t see that.”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 30, 2016

July 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, John Roberts, Reproductive Choice, U. S. Supreme Court | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

“An ‘In-Kind Contribution’ To The RNC”: The Benghazi Committee’s Final Report Proves Nothing But Its Own Real Purpose

The GOP-lead Benghazi Committee released their final report on Tuesday morning, claiming that with 81 new witnesses and 75,000 new pages of documents, it “Fundamentally Changes the Public’s Understanding of the 2012 Terrorist Attacks that Killed Four Americans.”

Well… not really. The report offers no game-changing information — there are no “bombshells.” Instead, “new details” attempt to paint the Obama administration as a failing bureaucratic machine that allowed the attack to happen despite knowing about possible threats. By being vague on the details, the committee is letting Republican voters fill in the blanks.

Some of the “new details” include:

What officials discussed at a two-hour White House meeting after the attack. (White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that a House Intelligence committee investigation has already “debunked” allegations that the military was too slow to act, and that the report is so obviously a partisan effort that it should be disclosed as an “in-kind contribution” to the RNC.)

The fact that the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wasn’t at the meeting, even though he usually would be, “because he went home to host a dinner party for foreign dignitaries.” (According to the Democratic report on Benghazi, there was nothing the Pentagon could have done differently that night to prevent the attack.)

A Fleet Antiterrorism Security operatives in Spain changing in and out of their uniforms four times because officials weren’t sure about the right protocol for introducing U.S. forces. (State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “Concerns about what they wore had no bearing on the timing of their arrival.”)

What the new details do not include is any evidence at all that Hillary Clinton, or the State Department, could have done anything differently to prevent the deaths of four Americans. Instead, it suggests that Clinton and other officials did not properly address possible threats in intelligence reports, and finds that Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of the four victims, was responsible for securing his post.

In this latest episode of the Benghazi Committee show, Republicans also failed to justify the committee’s own existence as anything other than a source of anti-Democrat propaganda. GOP congresspeople have urged voters to “read the report and make their own conclusions,” knowing full well that likely no one will read the inscrutable 800-page report. By leaving this opening, they leave an empty space for GOP conspiracists to fill.

In a news conference, Gowdy tried to appear somber and unbiased, denying that the partisan investigation had political motives, and refusing to blame Clinton.

The other members of the committee were left to do that. “This was something Hillary Clinton pushed for and got done,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio of the U.S. presence in Libya. He, along with Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, did not think 800 pages were enough, so they released yet another analysis of the attack, called “additional views” where they go after Clinton and Obama more directly, blaming the attack on “a tragic failure of leadership.”

The committee has been using the Benghazi tragedy for two years as a vehicle to attack Clinton and the Obama administration. All seven Republican committee members released statements and took turns speaking at the press conference, expressing outrage at the four lives lost in the attack, before relating it to Clinton’s morality and judgement.

These same representatives have pulled dirty tricks like leaking sworn depositions to conservative media, sending federal marshals to serve  subpoenas to witnesses who weren’t involved with the events on September 11, and perhaps most notoriously, questioning Clinton for 11 straight hours last October without any material findings to show for it.

You would think the Committee would hang up the cleats after that hearing. If only. The Benghazi committee’s investigation is estimated to have cost $7 million over two years.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 28, 2016

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Benghazi, Hillary Clinton, House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Loretta Lynch Is Now Public Enemy #2”: Guess Why The GOP Hates Our Black Attorney General?

It’s something I always figured would happen, and now it has. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is now public enemy #2 to the conservative media, after the president. The Justice Department’s initial decision to remove mentions of ISIS or the Islamic State from the transcript of conversations between Orlando massacre shooter Omar Mateen and the police not only showcase Lynch’s supposed incompetence, but also her inability to recognize what they see as America’s gravest threat: “radical Islam.” And the recent release of the full unredacted transcript has done little to dampen their ire.

Breitbart, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Fox News, and more have become apoplectic with indignation. “The Orlando attack confirms Donald Trump’s analysis of the threat,” wrote Joel B. Pollack of Breitbart.

Lynch’s press conference in Orlando only increased their fury after she encouraged love in the face of hate and said that she did not know the present whereabouts of Mateen’s wife.

Sure, we’re all entitled to complain about how the transcript was released and the whereabouts of Mateen’s wife. Who can argue against it being better for the investigation if the shooter’s wife’s location is known and she has been questioned by authorities? Personally, I’m not too bothered by how the transcript was released, but I also don’t think “radical Islam” is our gravest domestic threat. Yet dismissing the importance of compassion, unity and love in the face of terror and hate is not only bizarre and dehumanizing, but perpetuates a divisive us vs. them narrative.

To the right, Lynch is an Obama lackey who just wants to “manipulate the truth” and “rewrite history.”

It is clear that they dislike her because she’s an Obama appointee—her arduous confirmation process is proof enough—but also, her fairness toward other groups signals an end to the predominantly pro-white male favoritism they have grown accustomed to. As a black woman, her experiences, perspectives, priorities and struggles will naturally clash with theirs. The increasingly polarized and radicalized conservative base also means that reason and compromise will be shunned, demonization will be encouraged, and that Lynch would inevitably climb up their hit list.

Lynch’s nomination was delayed for over 160 days. That is longer than the nomination process of the previous seven AGs combined. Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who has well-known racial issues of his own, led the charge against Lynch’s confirmation based on her support for Obama’s immigration executive actions. Senator Ted Cruz also vociferously disapproved of her confirmation. And many other Republicans wanted her to distance herself from outgoing AG Eric Holder before approving her.

Holder had a tumultuous relationship with Republican legislators to say the least, including being held in contempt in 2012 by the GOP-led House in relation their “Fast and Furious” investigation. Holder too found it inconceivable how long Lynch’s nomination was being delayed, especially since this meant that he had to stay in the job until she was approved.

The absurdity of her delay was so stark that Democratic Senator Dick Durbin compared it to Jim Crow Segregation by saying that Lynch was being asked to “sit in the back of the bus.” Republican Senator John McCain responded to Durbin by saying that it was beneath the decorum of the United States Senate to “suggest that racist tactics are being employed to delay Ms. Lynch’s confirmation vote.”

Yet despite McCain’s ire, there’s a long history of racist tactics being used to prevent African American participation and advancement. And when you factor in nearly eight years of unprecedented Republican obstruction toward America’s first black president, combined with the opposition his two black AGs have faced from the GOP, these race-based accusations become even less outrageous.

Accusing the GOP of outright racism, especially since Donald Trump is their presumptive presidential nominee, and given the party’s opposition to virtually every civil-rights position that African Americans care about, is hardly an outrageous claim. But is it productive? Sure, some members may harbor racist or bigoted sensibilities, but does assigning a group an inflammatory label provide clarity in a complex situation? Does this label enable progress through compromise, or does it perpetuate an unhealthy polarization of our society?

Throughout Lynch’s tenure she’s applied an unbiased application of the law and a willingness to prosecute white-collar criminals and defend civil liberties and civil rights. These positions bizarrely appear antithetical to modern-day GOP ideology.

Few would have imagined the amount of corruption rife within FIFA, the world soccer body, until the Justice Department got involved. Following the terrorist attack by Dylann Roof at Emanuel AMC Church, Lynch announced that Roof would be charged with a hate crime after it was confirmed that white supremacist beliefs were the motivation for the attack.

She’s also launched a historic investigation into the Chicago Police department following the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. Hers and the Obama Administration’s stance in favor of allowing transgender people the right to use the restroom of the gender they identify with also continues her application of the law that prioritizes equality regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

The investigation into the Orlando shooting also follows this pattern since it demonstrates an unwillingness to demonize, demean, or unjustly label a person or a community until the facts are evident and the investigation has concluded.

The GOP’s dislike of Lynch, Obama, and Holder may be motivated by race, but it may also be far more complex than that. Yet there is very little doubt about how dangerous their myopic us vs. them mentality that encourages rushing to judgment and demonizing “them” has become. They’ve encouraged a prejudicial environment within a society where guns are readily available, and have a presumptive presidential nominee who has campaigned on stoking these societal divisions. This sounds like a dangerous radicalization that has nothing to do with Islam.

 

By: Barrett Holmes Pitner, The Daly Beast, June 27, 2016

June 28, 2016 Posted by | Conservative Media, Domestic Terrorism, Loretta Lynch | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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