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“The Hypocrisy At The Heart Of Trump’s Campaign”: Paul Manafort, A Paragon Of The GOP Washington Establishment

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, had a message to deliver.

“Hillary Clinton is the epitome of the establishment; she’s been in power for 25 years,” he informed Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday.

When Trump, Manafort added, “says he’s going to bring real change to the country, voters believe him — unlike Mrs. Clinton, who has been saying that for 25 years and in those 25 years, the only changes that have happened have made people’s lives worse.”

But then, at the tail end of the interview, Manafort slipped when discussing evangelical Christians’ support for Trump. “In my 40 years in politics, I have never seen such a broad-based base of support within that community for one candidate.”

Forty years in politics? But it’s Clinton’s 25 years that make her the “establishment”?

If that weren’t enough, Manafort was giving the interview from the Hamptons — playground of the eastern elite.

This is the hypocrisy at the heart of the Trump campaign, now under Manafort’s undisputed control. Manafort’s inspiration, which Trump has embraced, is to portray Clinton as the embodiment of the establishment. But Manafort (not unlike Trump) has been the voice of the wealthy and the well-connected for four decades, building a fortune by making common cause with the world’s most avaricious.

Among Manafort’s boasts: representing kleptocrats Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko and Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi, defending Saudi Arabia’s interests against Israel’s and Pakistan’s against India’s, and making the case for a Nigerian dictator, a Lebanese arms dealer and various and sundry Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He successfully lobbied to arm a Maoist rebel in Angola, needlessly extending fighting that killed thousands.

It’s Manafort’s right to represent dictators and thugs and regimes that torture. He has, for decades, helped autocrats who battle human rights and democracy. But now this man, who made his fortune helping the rich and powerful get more so, is setting up a general-election campaign that portrays Trump as a man of the people and Clinton as the captive of special interests.

Manafort has been widely credited with this week’s speech by Trump laying out his general-election theme: that Clinton is the defender of the big-money interests and the “rigged” economy.

“Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and even theft. She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund, doing favors for oppressive regimes,” Trump argued. “Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death. . . . Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States.”

And the man who led Trump to deliver such accusations? Here’s what my Post colleagues Steven Mufson and Tom Hamburger reported in April:

“In one case, Manafort tried unsuccessfully to build a luxury high-rise in Manhattan with money from a billionaire backer of a Ukrainian president whom he had advised.

“In another deal, real estate records show that Manafort took out and later repaid a $250,000 loan from a Middle Eastern arms dealer at the center of a French inquiry into whether kickbacks were paid . . . ”

“And in another business venture, a Russian aluminum magnate has accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million intended for investments, then failing to account for the funds. . . . ”

Manafort has been a paragon of the Washington Republican establishment for two generations, working on Gerald Ford’s reelection in 1976 before helping Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole. He started two lobbying firms, and he has used his contacts in attempts to enrich himself. His lobbying firm recruited veterans of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, then lobbied for $43 million in subsidies for a housing project, while holding an option to buy a stake in the project.

Manafort is steeped in the racial politics Trump has exploited. As Franklin Foer writes for Slate, Manafort ran Reagan’s Southern operation in 1980; the candidate kicked off his general-election campaign outside Philadelphia, Miss., scene of the murder of civil rights activists in 1964. Manafort later became a business partner of Lee Atwater, who gained fame for Bush’s Willie Horton campaign in 1988.

Introduced to Trump by Roy Cohn, lawyer to Joe McCarthy, Manafort helped Trump fight Indian casinos by alleging that the Native Americans had a crime problem; Trump and his associates paid a $250,000 fine after secretly funding advertisements besmirching the Indians.

Now Trump is engaged in a general-election campaign to portray Clinton as the candidate of the establishment. That’s fair enough: She has been atop the country’s elite for a quarter-century. But the man leading this effort spent a much longer career benefiting the wealthy and powerful, including Trump, at the expense of the poor and weak. That’s rich.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, Hillary Clinton, Paul Manafort | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“One Can Only Answer To Conscience”: Should America Apologize For Hiroshima?

The first flash came at 8:15 on a Monday morning. Eyewitnesses remember it as a bolt of soundless light as if the sun had somehow touched down to the Earth.

And suddenly, Hiroshima was gone.

The second flash came that Thursday morning at 11:02. Eyewitnesses recall two thumps — possibly the sound bouncing off the mountains that cradled the city — and a flash of bluish light.

And Nagasaki was decimated.

Japan surrendered the following Wednesday, ending the Second World War.

Last week, when it was announced Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, everyone from Salon to the National Review raised two important questions:

Will the president apologize for what America did 71 years ago this August? Should he?

The White House says the answer to the first question is No. For whatever it’s worth, the answer to the second is, too.

It is a measure of the deep emotion this subject still stirs that that will be a controversial and divisive opinion. Many good and moral people will find it abhorrent. Of course, the opposite opinion would also have been controversial and divisive and would have appalled other people, equally good, equally moral.

In the end, then, one can only answer to conscience, and this particular conscience is disinclined to second guess the long-ago president and military commanders who felt the bombs might obviate the need to invade the Japanese home islands at a ruinous cost in American lives. Remember that the Japanese, inebriated by the “bushido” warrior code under which surrender equals shame and dishonor, had refused to capitulate, though defeat had long been a foregone conclusion.

Indeed, even after Hiroshima was leveled, it still took that nation nine days to give up.

That said, there is a more visceral reason the answer to the second question must be No: Any other answer would defame Americans who endured unimaginable cruelty at Japanese hands.

Should America apologize?

Ask Ray “Hap” Halloran, a B-29 navigator from Cincinnati who was beaten, stoned, starved, stripped naked and displayed in a cage at the Tokyo Zoo.

Ask Lester Tenney, a tanker from Chicago whose sleep was forever raddled with nightmares of a twitching, headless corpse — a man he saw decapitated in the death march on Bataan.

And by all means, ask Forrest Knox, a sergeant from Janesville, Wisconsin. He was trapped with 500 other prisoners in the hold of a Japanese freighter where the heat topped 120 degrees and there was barely any water. Some of the men broke out in gibbering, howling fits of madness, prompting a Japanese threat to close off the hatch through which their meager air came if there was not silence.

The maddened men could not be reasoned with. So American men killed American men. Knox saw this. And participated. And for years afterward, he was haunted by dead men walking the streets of Janesville.

Should America apologize? No.

This was not slavery. This was not the Trail of Tears. This was not the incarceration of Japanese Americans. This was not, in other words, a case of the nation committing human-rights crimes against innocent peoples.

No, this was war, a fight for survival against a ruthless aggressor nation. Japan committed unspeakable atrocities. America did the same. Such is the nature of war. Seven decades later, the idea of an apology feels like moral impotence, a happy face Band-Aid that denies the awful immensity of it all.

There are two words that should be spoken, in fact, reverently whispered, with regard to Hiroshima and they are not “I’m sorry.” No, the only words that matter are this promise and prayer:

Never again.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 15, 2016

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Nuclear Weapons, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Recognizing The Human Rights Of All”: Bravo, Bruce: Springsteen’s Stand Against North Carolina Law

When the forces of intolerance and bigotry prevail, as they have lately in Southern states that passed laws institutionalizing discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, it can be tempting to think they are impervious to argument. There is, however, one thing that lawmakers like those in North Carolina do heed – money.

After North Carolina passed a law last month perpetuating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, PayPal canceled its plans to build a large presence in that state, costing North Carolina 400 jobs at the planned office and countless dollars.

Today, Bruce Springsteen, a champion of social justice in his public and personal life, announced that he was canceling a scheduled concert in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday and will refund tickets.

“North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law,” he said in a statement. The law, he explained, “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”

Mr. Springsteen said the law was “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” He noted that some people and groups in North Carolina were fighting to have the law repealed. “This is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters,” Mr. Springsteen said, adding: “Some things are more important than a rock show.”

He said that this was “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band deserve a huge round of applause, as does Charles Barkley, the basketball great, who has urged the National Basketball Association to move its All-Star Game next year away from Charlotte, N.C., unless the law is repealed. The N.B.A. should do that without hesitation.

Remember, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, said he would move the collegiate sports association’s events out of Indiana unless it deleted a similar law, and other business organizations actually did cancel events in Indiana. The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Pence with great fanfare, was later “fixed” in a foolish and ineffective way, but should simply have been repealed.

In South Carolina, the intervention by big companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire helped force the hands of racists in the state government who had resisted removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Mr. Springsteen is taking to heart the adage that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent. What are others who do business in and with North Carolina waiting for?

 

By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Bruce Springsteen, Discrimination, LGBT | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Death By Privatization In US Prisons”: Maximizing Profits Means Minimizing Medical Staffing And Care

More than 20,000 immigrant prisoners are serving their sentences at 11 privatized, immigrant-only contract prisons run by three companies: the Geo Group, the Corrections Corp. of America and the Management and Training Corp. Many of these prisoners are convicted only of illegal entry.

Private prisons cost less than federal prisons because they provide less. Immigrant prisoners — who are deported after serving time — don’t receive rehabilitation, education or job training, services considered essential for U.S. citizens held in government-operated prisons.

Even worse, these prisons fail to provide minimally adequate health care to inmates, leading to death for some and misery for many. Basic human rights standards require prisons to provide adequate medical care to inmates, regardless of their legal status.

Reports show a pervasive pattern of inadequate medical care at privately run immigrant prisons in the United States. A Jan. 28 report by Seth Freed Wessler, a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, analyzed medical records of 103 immigrant prisoners who died in private prisons from 1998 to 2014. It concluded that in at least 25 of those cases, subpar care “likely contributed to the premature deaths of the prisoners.”

Mexican immigrant Claudio Fagardo-Saucedo was one of the prisoners whose death was investigated by Wessler. Fagardo-Saucedo arrived at a private prison in Texas on Jan. 27, 2009, with a positive tuberculosis screen. Medical protocols call for an HIV test for anyone with a positive TB screen. But he wasn’t tested for HIV. Over the next two years, he went to the prison clinic numerous times in pain, but a doctor never saw him. Instead, the clinic’s licensed vocational nurses, who receive only one year of training, prescribed ibuprofen or Tylenol. Fagardo-Saucedo was hospitalized on New Year’s Day 2011 after he collapsed. He died four days later, shackled to his hospital bed. An autopsy showed an HIV-related infection in his brain.

Martin Acosta, a Salvadoran immigrant who served time at the Texas prison for illegal re-entry at the same time as Fagardo-Saucedo, “began complaining of abdominal pain late in the summer of 2010,” according to Wessler’s report. He went to the prison clinic more than 20 times in less than five months. Despite his complaints of vomiting blood and having blood in his stool, no lab tests were performed. In December 2010 he landed in a hospital, where he was diagnosed with severe metastatic stomach cancer. He died in January 2011.

Nestor Garay had a stroke during the night at another Texas immigrant prison. His cellmates called for help. Prison personnel refused to take him to the emergency room, instead isolating him in another cell. By morning, when he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late for the clot-busting medication that could have saved his life.

Medical care is dismal across the U.S. prison system. Even in publicly run prisons, health care is frequently privatized, penny pinching and inhumane. The Brennan Center for Justice has characterized prisoner medical care as “atrocious.”

But the lack of medical care at these immigrant-only private prisons receives less scrutiny than any public or other private prisons. Families of immigrant inmates often live outside the United States. This limits their ability to fully advocate for imprisoned family members. They have little access to visit or maintain phone contact with prisoners. They don’t have access to U.S. courts for medical malpractice or wrongful death lawsuits. They cannot vote and are not represented in Congress.

The way forward

All prisoners deserve humane treatment and adequate medical care while incarcerated. It is immoral to intentionally discriminate against noncitizen prisoners and segregate them in private prisons with fewer services and woefully inadequate care. A prison sentence should never be a sentence to a miserable, unattended death. Privatization of medical care is deadly and must be stopped not only in immigrant-only prisons but also in all prisons — state and federal — across the country.

When government takes away people’s liberty and exerts total control over their lives, it needs to be held accountable for what happens to those in its custody. Prisoners are vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment by authorities. Some degree of accountability still exists in publicly run prisons. Voters can demand answers from elected officials and can vote them out of office. Accountability is diluted to the vanishing point when the government delegates the running of prisons to for-profit companies.

The first step toward adequate medical care for immigrant inmates is to end the segregation that isolates them in private prisons. The two Democratic presidential candidates — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — have pledged to end privatization of federal prisons.

A second and crucial step is to end the privatization of prison health care and ensure equitable access to medical care for all prisoners. Privatized prison health care is a multibillion-dollar industry, with more than half the states contracting out part of or all prison medical care. But for-profit companies have failed time after time to provide adequate medical care to inmates. And prisoners, particularly noncitizens, have little recourse and no other options for treatment.

Unsurprisingly, private prison companies and the prison health care industry have well-paid lobbyists in Washington and in state capitals. Since prisoners can’t vote or lobby elected officials, voters must speak out for them. In the 2016 presidential election season, we must raise public awareness about the deadly consequences of privatizing prisons and continue to pressure candidates to honor their campaign pledges to end prison privatization.

 

By: Mary Turck, AlJazeera America, February 24, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Immigrants, Mass Incarceration, Privatized Prison System | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Clinton: I Will Fight For Flint”: The Children Of Flint Are Just As Precious As The Children Of Any Other Part Of America!

It was around the time that the Rev. Kenneth Stewart said he hoped a woman would be the next president that the faithful at Flint’s House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church stood and cheered.

Maybe the crowd was more boisterous because the people at the church knew that a possible future president was in the building Sunday morning — Madame Secretary, Stewart called her. But it is difficult to imagine the pastor’s soulful performance as anything but normal for a Baptist church in a town failed by its leaders and virtually forgotten by the country until this recent tragedy struck.

“I don’t know what kind of crisis you are in … but be not dismayed,” he screamed.

There are few words to properly do justice to what Stewart laid down on Sunday morning. It was beyond powerful. It caused him to sweat profusely and run out of breath following a 15-minute rap in which he scoffed at the water crisis troubling this city of nearly 100,000 — what is a lack of clean drinking water compared to the power of God?

It was a tough act for Hillary Clinton to follow.

Originally billed as a “community meeting,” as Stewart’s sermon went on it became clear that Clinton would simply be addressing the congregation from the pastor’s pulpit.

Prepared to tell Flint exactly what it wanted to hear, she performed well.

“The time for action is now.”

“One child with lead poisoning is one child too many.”

“It’s not just the infrastructure, it is a problem for human beings.”

Expand Head Start, and support home nurse programs, more money for special education — “All things that address the problems that lead poisoning can cause.”

Clinton tied in her experience as a senator for New York dealing with lead poisoning there — of the paint chip variety — and she made a promise.

“I will fight for you in Flint no matter how long it takes,” she said, garnering one of the louder applause breaks of her remarks.

With her own sermon stretching on, Clinton was looked on by many in Stewart’s church as a second savior. And without stepping too far into the mannerisms and voice inflections of a black preacher, she was more than willing to play that role.

“If what had happened in Gross Pointe, or Bloomfield Hills,” she said in reference to two mostly white, wealthy communities outside of Detroit, “I think we all know we would have had a solution yesterday.”

“The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any other part of America!”

And the crowd cheered.

Clinton may have served as Flint’s savior on Sunday, but when she leaves the people here will be on their own again, looking to themselves or the original messiah to watch over them and fix this mess.

But having no safe drinking water is the weakest of challenges for the faithful, Stewart reminded his followers. And if you were in the purple pews of his church on Sunday, damned if you didn’t believe him.

“While you tryin’ to figure it out, God already done worked it out!” he proclaimed.

“If a city’s water supply died, can it live again?” he asked.

The answer is yes, because it is always yes as long as you recognize your lord and savior Jesus Christ. Faith cures all. It absolves sin, redeems the sinner, makes pure the wicked, cures the sick, and provides answers when they are in short supply, according to Stewart. Flint’s leaders failed its people, but what the government can’t do, the church and the community can.

Clearly a committed Clinton supporter, Stewart and many in the crowd believe she can help too.

Clinton, Stewart said, is “The one that we been waitin’ on.”

 

By: Justine Glawe, The Daily Beast, February 7, 2016

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Flint Water Crisis, Hillary Clinton, Lead Poisoining | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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