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“Is Losing The Election Part Of Trump’s Plan?”: The Republican Party Has Provided The Vehicle For Trump’s Joy Ride

What’s Donald Trump really up to? Is he using the election of 2016 to enrich himself, with no intention of assuming the burdens of the presidency? Many wonder. If that’s the plan, he’s going about it the right way.

This may sound like political science fiction, but think. Success in such terms would entail two things: commanding maximum public attention and offending vast numbers of voters he would need to actually get elected. That’s what he’s been doing.

The two work together.

Vanity Fair reported speculation that the Trump endgame may involve establishing a family-run “mini-media conglomerate” — a kind of CNN or Fox News. Trump is already a media phenomenon with an enthusiastic audience. His campaign, meanwhile, has been featuring his wife, his children and a son-in-law as prominent co-stars.

The article said that Trump is sore about providing so much free content to the aforementioned media outlets without his getting a cut of the profits. (So much free airtime would be a source of joy for the conventional politician seeing election as the goal.)

Trump already controls a TV production company. Making the leap to Trump News Network, or whatever it might be called, would not seem so outlandish. The bigger the audience Trump builds dominating the news cycles, the more advertisers will pay for his product. And maintaining that high level of attention requires continually saying inflammatory things that turn off the larger electorate.

Suspicions began growing early on that Trump’s candidacy is a brand-building scheme and little more. Recall how every ludicrous thing out of his mouth — mocking John McCain for becoming a prisoner of war, smearing Latinos and savaging fellow Republicans — was deemed a campaign killer. His candidacy had to collapse. But it didn’t. Trump won more and more support from the so-called Republican base despite (or because of) his vulgarity and disregard for conservative principles that were never widely popular to begin with.

When Trump became the presumptive nominee, the political sophisticates assumed he’d clean up his act and behave in a dignified, presidential manner. He’s done neither.

The Republican Party unwittingly created the conditions for a Trump candidacy. Its leaders have sat quietly for decades as a right-wing media — run by personalities flogging their own wares — normalized crazy political rhetoric. They probably figured that come Election Day, they could easily herd the fired-up base to the proper stalls. And they misread its strong support for Social Security, Medicare and other government programs.

That Trump has almost no campaign funds fits the theory he’s not in it to win it. His people insisted he’s never needed that kind of money. His arresting personality would do the job. Then came the sinking poll numbers.

Trump raised $5.4 million last month and spent over a million of it at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, on private jet service provided by his Tag Air and at other family-owned enterprises. He put in $2.2 million of his own money, but that was just a loan.

Trump’s dumping of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski can be interpreted as a logical response to evidence that he’s wearing thin among likely voters. But there’s no taking anything at face value in the Trumpian house of funny mirrors. It may reflect the family’s concern that it’s losing audience share.

The Republican Party has provided the vehicle for Trump’s joy ride. If at the end he returns a smoking wreck to the counter, not his problem. He’ll be fine, he keeps telling us.

For party leaders, another story. They will need much time for reflection, starting with how they got so royally set up.

 

By: Froma Harrop; The National Memo, June 23, 2016

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Early Stages of Evolution?”: Donald Trump Is Afraid Of Muslim Judges, Too

In an interview with John Dickerson that aired Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, Donald Trump didn’t just hold on to his notion that a judge with Mexican heritage is incapable of treating him fairly in court, he agreed that it was “possible” that Muslim judges wouldn’t be able to either. Referring first to U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Mexican American judge who is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit, Trump reiterated his accusation of prejudice:

[Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans, I’m doing very well with them in my opinion.

So in Trump’s mind, despite his big beautiful wall idea, he’s still “doing very well” with Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexicans, just not the ones that are members of pro-Mexican clubs or societies, and judges. And then there are those Muslims: Dickerson asked Trump if be believed he would also be unable to receive a fair shake from Muslim judges as a result of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Trump responded, “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

When Dickerson asked Trump whether he also believed in the American tradition “that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from,” he replied:

I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense, okay? [Curiel’s] somebody, he’s proud of his heritage. And I think that’s great that he’s proud of his heritage. … You know, we have to stop being so politically correct in this country. And we need a little more common sense, John. And I’m not blaming. I’m proud of my heritage, we’re all proud of our heritage. But I want to build a wall.

Then again, Trump’s pseudo-suggestion that justice is more important than an intense love of one’s racial or ethnic heritage may not register with at least some of his own supporters.

In other news, RNC chair Reince Priebus has told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanics would likely evolve between now and the election in November:

I’ve said that I do think Donald Trump understands that his tone and rhetoric is going to have to evolve in regard to how we’re communicating to Hispanics across the country,. I think he gets that. Now, there’s a lot of time between now and November, and I think you’re going to see an evolution on that particular issue.”

Of course, that theory of evolution is not yet supported by evidence outside the minds of establishment Republicans who now find themselves chained to the Trump Express.

Referring to the Trump University lawsuit and Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, Priebus added that, while he didn’t know much about the case, “I wouldn’t invoke race into any sort of attack or commentary.”

 

By: Charles Danner, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 5, 2016

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Judiciary, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Unfuzzy Math”: Bernie Sanders’s Final Few Days of California Dreamin’

So here we are. It all comes down to Calif—hey, wait. No, it doesn’t all come down to California.

That’s how Bernie Sanders has been framing next Tuesday, and the media have completely bought into it. Watching cable news, you’d think that if Bernie wins California, Jerry Garcia’s going to rise from his grave and the Dead will reunite and Sanders will be the nominee.

California’s big, and California’s razor close, and certainly it makes a difference whether Sanders or Hillary Clinton wins it. But not that big a difference. A whopping total of 475 delegates are at stake, but if it’s as close as the polls suggest, the winner stands to net a mere 20 or 30 delegates. Using this excellent delegate calculator, let’s go through all the remaining races and then circle back to the big prize, bearing in mind that right now, among pledged delegates, it’s Clinton up by 268, 1,769 to 1,501.

Saturday June 4, Virgin Islands. Seven delegates are at stake. The U.S.V.I. are three-quarters African American and just 15 percent white. So say Clinton wins it 75-25. She’ll take five delegates to Sanders’s two, netting three.

Sunday, June 5, Puerto Rico. I’ve been banging on about Puerto Rico being important because it has 60 delegates, which is a pretty big prize. Let’s say Clinton wins that one by, oh, 65-35, which doesn’t seem crazy. She’ll win the delegate contest 39-21, netting 18.

Then come all the contests on Tuesday, June 7:

South Dakota has 20 delegates. Say Sanders wins 60-40. He’ll win the delegate race 12-8, netting four.

North Dakota has 18 delegates. Give Sanders another 60-40 win here; again, he’ll win 11-7, netting another four.

Montana has 21 delegates. Give Sanders a third win of about that size. That’s 13-8 in terms of delegates, so he nets five more.

New Mexico is a little more interesting. It has 34 delegates. A poll came out earlier this week showing Clinton with a 26-point lead. I can’t quite believe that, but about half the turnout is expected to be Latino, so give Clinton New Mexico by 14 or 15 and she wins the delegate race 20-14, netting six.

Now we come to New Jersey and its 126 delegates. Not much polling. There was one in early April that showed Clinton +9, but early April was a long time ago. An early May survey had her +28, and a mid-May one +17. Sanders certainly hasn’t been competing there much. Let’s be if anything a little conservative and say Clinton wins it roughly 58-42. That translates into delegate totals of 73-53, so she’ll pick up 20 delegates.

So if these totals are about right, Clinton will win another 170 delegates, Sanders another 136. That would put her at 1,939 and him at 1,637. Which brings us to California.

California’s 475 pledged delegates are awarded in a pretty complicated way (here’s a PDF of the whole plan, if you’re interested). Most of them, 317, are awarded within congressional districts based on who won that district. There are 53 of those. In 2008, according to Bob Mulholland, the veteran California Democratic insider and a Clinton supporter this year, she won 42 of them. “But that’s an eight-year-old race,” as he noted to me, so who knows if it means anything for this year. Another little wrinkle is that all congressional districts aren’t created equal—some have as many as nine delegates, others as few as four. Just 105 delegates are awarded on the basis of the total statewide vote, and then there are 53 elected officials and party operatives who are pledged according to the results. That’s your 475. Then there are 73 superdelegates, from Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer on down.

But put them aside. This is about pledged delegates, right, because that’s what’s up for grabs when people vote. This brings us to one of the great obfuscations of this primary season.

You always read that a candidate needs 2,383 delegates to clinch the nomination. And that is true if you include superdelegates. Hang with me here, this matters. There are 4,051 pledged delegates and 713 supers. Add those two numbers together, then divide that by two, then add one (i.e., 50 percent plus one). That gets you to 2,383.

But if you’re talking pledged delegates only, 50 percent plus one is 2,026. You never see that number, and I guess I understand why—2,383 is the number, officially. But 2,026 is a majority of pledged delegates—you know, the ones you win by persuading voters to pull the lever with your name on it. I’ve been mystified as to why the Clinton people aren’t pushing more awareness of the 2,026 number. If the situation were reversed, we can be sure that Jeff Weaver would be all over cable denouncing the mere existence of 2,383, that strutting harlot of a number!

So it’s next Tuesday night in California. The state-by-state delegate scenario that I played out above has occurred. Clinton is at 1,939, needing just 87 delegates out of California to hit 2,026. Do you know how badly Sanders would have to beat her to limit her to 86 delegates? No, you don’t. But I do. He’d have to win by 82 to 18 percent. That would net Bernie 309 delegates out of California and would get him to 2,026, while she’d have 2,025.

That isn’t going to happen. What’s going to happen, even if Sanders wins the state by, say, three or four points, is that he will net about 20 delegates, but she will still have won around 225 or 230, meaning she will exceed 2,026 by about 150 delegates, and Sanders will be short of the magic number by about the same amount. And then there’ll be a little cherry placed on the sundae the following Tuesday when the District of Columbia votes and Clinton wins big and nets another 10 or so delegates.

So that’s the unfuzzy math. It has nothing at all to do with the superdelegates Sanders and Weaver have spent months traducing. It’s pledged delegates, earned in the voting booth (or at the caucus hall). Superdelegates will never, ever, ever undo such an outcome, and they never, ever, ever should. In a season when Sanders people have alleged a rigged system and sometimes outright theft, that would be the only actual case of theft in this season—for superdelegates to tell the voters sorry, you made the wrong choice when you chose your candidate, who is (incidentally) the first woman nominee in our party’s history.

And then California Democrats will meet after the fact at the Long Beach Hyatt Regency on June 19 to formalize everything, just like that recent meeting in Nevada. But let’s not even go there.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, June 3, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, California Primary, Hillary Clinton, Pledged Delegates | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Lazy And Ineffectual, But He Wants Her Endorsement”: Trump Decides He Likes New Mexico’s Governor After All

During the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump was so unimpressed with Ted Cruz, he gave the senator a nickname: Lyin’ Ted. Yesterday, however, Trump held a rally in California where he announced a change of heart.

“Ted Cruz is no longer a liar,” Trump declared. “We don’t see ‘Lyin’ Ted’ anymore. We love Ted, we love him.”

The Texas senator evidently isn’t the only beneficiary of Trump’s magnanimity. The Republican presidential hopeful is apparently mending fences with Karl Rove – who called Trump “a complete idiot” in the recent past – and the Sante Fe New Mexican published a report overnight that suggests Trump is even ready to cozy up to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R).

In a stunning reversal of rhetoric and tone, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday said he respects New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and wants her endorsement. Trump’s comments in a phone interview with The New Mexican came just days after he castigated Martinez in front of 8,000 people in Albuquerque, saying her job performance was so poor that he might have to run for governor of New Mexico.

Trump’s criticisms of Martinez turned to praise Thursday, signs of their months long war thawing to a détente.

“I’d like to have it,” Trump said in a phone interview when asked if he wanted Martinez’s support. “I respect her. I have always liked her.”

Well, “always” appears to be an overstatement. It was literally last week when Trump appeared in New Mexico and told a local audience that Martinez, the nation’s first and only Latina governor, was lazy and ineffectual.

“We have got to get your governor to get going,” he said. “She’s got to do a better job, okay? Your governor has got to do a better job. She’s not doing the job…. She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on, let’s go, governor.”

Three days ago, Trump was asked about why he targeted Martinez. Apparently referring to the governor’s stated reluctance to appear with him publicly, Trump told reporters, “She was not nice. And I was fine – just a little bit of a jab. But she wasn’t nice, and you think I’m going to change? I’m not changing, including with her.”

That was Tuesday. Yesterday, however, Trump called the governor’s home-town newspaper, said he is changing his attitude towards Martinez, and he’d like her endorsement.

At a certain point, shouldn’t Trump’s erratic temperament warrant some scrutiny?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 2, 2016

June 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New Mexico, Susana Martinez | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Ethnic Heritage On The Courts”: What Happens In A White Patriarchal Culture Where “Norms” Are The Default Mode

Even as legal experts express their alarm over Donald Trump’s remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who is presiding over the fraud cases against Trump University), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee decided to double down.

In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

So here’s how that breaks down: Trump makes racists proposals against Mexican immigrants and then assumes that presents a conflict of interest for a judge with Mexican heritage. Based on all of his racist and sexist comments, that might wipe out a pretty good portion of the judiciary from ever presiding over a case in which he is involved.

But there is something deeper at work here. I have no illusions that a man like Trump will ever understand it. But it’s important for us to be clear about what it means to single a judge out for their ethnic heritage.

As I’ve been watching this unfold, I am reminded of the Republican attacks on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Because of her compelling story and exemplary career, they settled on going after her for her remarks about a “wise Latina.” They were part of a lecture she gave in 2009 titled: A Latina Judge’s Voice” in which she addressed the question of what it means to have more women and people of color on the bench.

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life…

Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

Now…compare that to what Sam Alito said during his confirmation hearing when Sen. Tom Coburn asked him to let us see a little bit of his heart.

…when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.”

The only real difference between what Sotomayor and Alito said is that her family is from Puerto Rico and his are from Italy. And yet one nominee’s words were cause for a firestorm and the other’s were heralded as heartfelt – when noticed at all. That is what happens in a white patriarchal culture where “norms” are established as the default mode for expectations.

Let’s take a look at how Justice Sotomayor ended her lecture.

Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.

There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.

One has to wonder whether Justice Alito questions his own assumptions, presumptions and perspectives that stem from being a white male on the court. The systemic bias we witness in the courts is largely a result of the failure to do so.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 3, 2016

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Judiciary, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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