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“Republicans Created Trump, They Must Stand Up To Him”: They Must Reckon With What Their Party Has Become

Donald Trump made one of the most stunning political statements in recent memory yesterday when he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Campaign spokespeople quickly clarified that Trump was referring not only to a blanket ban on Muslim immigrants, but also to preventing Muslims from coming to the U.S. as tourists and possibly even preventing American citizens who are traveling or living abroad from returning home. (He generously made an exception for Muslim members of the military.)

Trump continues to be the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary. It’s time for party officials to reckon with what they have created.

Trump is the product of a party that has for decades thrived on stirring up fears of a scary “other” — from the Southern Strategy to Willie Horton to the persistent rumors that President Obama is a secret Muslim or Kenyan or both. The Republican establishment has for years tolerated its candidates rubbing shoulders with the most extreme elements of its base, whether it’s the white nationalists who have spoken at CPAC or the parade of extremists at each year’s Values Voter Summit.

But there are certain things leading Republicans have largely been careful not to say out loud. Until now.

Trump, building off the Right’s campaign to paint undocumented immigrants as dangerous invaders, launched his campaign by announcing that Mexican immigrants were rapists, drug dealers and other criminals. Then, when the news cycle shifted, he shifted his bigotry. He has spent the last several weeks repeating the objectively untrue claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks. He suggested shutting down some mosques and refused to rule out the possibility of a national database of American Muslims.

Trump’s relentless stream of bigotry isn’t turning away the far-right base of the GOP. Instead, he remains at the top of Republican presidential polls.

It’s not enough for Trump’s rivals and the party’s leadership to say they disagree with his absurd plan to bar Muslims from the country. They must reckon with what their party has become and, if they don’t like it, speak out forcefully on behalf of the American values of freedom, liberty and pluralism. It’s not enough for them to reject one outrageous plan. They must speak out against bigotry and prejudice. And they must make clear that even if Trump were to become the party’s nominee, he would be on his own.

The Republican Party created Trump. Now it’s time for them to take responsibility and, if they don’t like what Trump is saying, take a strong stand for what is right.

 

By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For the American Way, The Blog, The Huffington Post, December 8, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Voters | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“None Of Them Have Any Idea Of What’s Going On”: The GOP’s Foreign-Policy Dunces Must Think We’re Stupid

In a rare moment of lucidity, Ben Carson recently confessed that “there’s nobody running [for president] who has a great deal of international experience, except for Hillary Clinton.” This was, he stressed, meant as a knock against the former Secretary of State, whose tenure as America’s top diplomat included cascading foreign policy disasters in the Middle East, a disastrous attempt at rapprochement with Russia, and the bloody chaos of post-Gaddafi Libya.

But like many of his fellow Republican presidential candidates, Carson believes the catastrophic failures of an experienced politician require the fresh thinking of an inexperienced civilian with a “logical” foreign policy. And besides, as a doctor he has “the most experience making life or death decisions.”

It’s not just a deficit of foreign policy experience amongst Republicans that should worry voters, but the stunning deficit of foreign policy knowledge. Just two days before his comments about Clinton, Carson stood before the Republican Jewish Coalition fumbling with a prepared script, correctly identifying the confessional allegiance of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas without having been briefed on how to pronounce Hamas.

One would like to take comfort that Carson’s plummeting popularity is attributable to the comic incoherence of his foreign policy platform. But the continued rise of Donald Trump, whose ideas are dumber (but louder) than Carson’s, neatly disproves this theory.

Since the latest ISIS-affiliated and inspired mass murders in Paris and San Bernardino, Trump has busied himself with solving the problem of violent Islamism. Battling against the scourge of facts, he angrily recalled the 2001 northern New Jersey intifada, in which “thousands and thousands” of Muslims cheered the attacks of 9/11 from across the Hudson River. He demonstrated his conservative bona fides when agreeing that the federal government might maintain a database of “all Muslims” in America. When his supporters cheered that idea, Trump turned the crassness up a few notches and suggested that the United States might block entry of every Muslim on Earth.

And what does one do with all of those Syrian war refugees? Trump, the right-wing Walter Ulbricht, believes in the power of walls to contain most every problem facing America, from trade to immigration to radical Islam. His solution is risible but simple: build a “big, beautiful safe zone” within Syria “so people can live and they’ll be happier.” (Incidentally, his anti-immigration wall in the United States would be “tall” but, as a sop to aesthetes on the southern border, he promises to “make it very good looking.”)

And that’s just on the home front.

According to Trump, the nettlesome problem of the genocidal, imperialist “Islamic State” isn’t so nettlesome after all. In a recent radio ad, he offered a glimpse of his new counterterrorism strategy: President Trump would “quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS.” (This is a slight modification of his previously enumerated plan to “bomb the shit out of ISIS”). Not to be outdone, Sen. Ted Cruz has consistently reimagined Raqqa as a desert Dresden, promising to “carpet-bomb [the Islamic State] into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

Cruz later enlarged on his anti-ISIS policies, revealing on Twitter that “if I’m elected president, I will direct the Department of Defense to destroy ISIS.”

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

But can we achieve victory through airpower alone? Having previously knocked Marco Rubio as a “neocon” whose hobbies include “military adventurism,” Cruz dismissed the idea of using ground troops in Syria. But with polls suggesting that Americans are spoiling for a fight with Islamism, the Texas senator now says that he would consider “using whatever ground troops are necessary” to defeat ISIS.

Donald Trump too scorns Republicans who supported the Iraq War. But our post-Paris world demands a little more ideological sinew, so he too has vacillated on American ground troops engaging in the fight against ISIS “if need be.” Marco Rubio has been consistent on this point, but adds that we should videotape our raids on “Sunni leadership nodes” and post to YouTube footage of “ISIS leaders cry[ing] like babies when they’re captured.”

All of this would require significant expenditure, and with the exception of Rand Paul, every conservative on stage tonight desires more government spending on the military. While acknowledging that America’s military is the world’s strongest, Trump believes that fattening the Pentagon’s already bloated budget would provoke the ISIS leadership into retreat. He’ll make “the military so strong no one—and I mean no one—will mess with us.” (Yesterday, Jeb Bush tweeted that “the day that I’m elected president is the day we begin rebuilding the Armed Forces of America,” which suggests that we won’t be rebuilding the armed forces anytime soon.)

All of these policies are fantastically meaningless, an inconvenience that appears to be of little concern to primary voters. But almost every Republican candidate believes in the vapidity of those voters, swapping out coherent strategy for bellicose rhetoric.

One would think that a renewed focus amongst voters on terrorism would be an opportunity for Republicans, who remain the more trusted party on national security. After all, Hillary Clinton did little to stanch the bleeding in Syria and Bernie Sanders’s most comprehensive foreign policy experience is establishing a sister city program with Nicaragua’s Marxist dictatorship in Vermont. Instead, the Republican brand is now associated with oafish suggestions that the United States Air Force flatten Syria and the Department of Homeland Security create a non-Muslim fortress state.

The hated Republican establishment, we are told, is afraid of renegade ideas. Well, no. They’re afraid of bad ideas. They are afraid of candidates who promise to learn as they lead. Indeed, Trump criticized Carson as “incapable of learning foreign policy,” adding that when the professional conspiracy theorists in his campaign tell him what to think “within about two seconds I understand it.” Because to the current Republican frontrunner, the most powerful man on Earth needn’t have knowledge of foreign policy, but the desire and aptitude for on-the-job training.

And Rasputin-like instincts.

“I predicted Osama bin Laden,” Trump said in November. “In my book, I predicted terrorism. Because I can feel it, like I feel a good location, O.K.?”

O.K. I feel safer now. So when do we commence carpet bombing?

 

By: Michael Moynihan, The Daily Beast, December 15, 2015

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Beyond Trump; The Politics Of Courage”: Cracking Open The Locked Vault Of American Politics

If Donald Trump can thrive politically by throwing meat to the American id, what else is possible? How about the opposite?

Trump’s most recent attempt to reclaim poll supremacy — his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our representatives can figure out what’s going on” — is not simply reckless and dangerous, but also starkly clarifying. America’s bully billionaire, so rich he doesn’t have to heed the niceties of political correctness, is channeling old-time American racism, as mean and ugly and self-righteous as it’s ever been. Jim Crow is still with us. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” is still with us.

Americans — at least a certain percentage of them — like their racism straight up, untampered with code language, unmodified by counter-values. Come on! An enemy’s an enemy. A scapegoat’s a scapegoat. Don’t we have the freedom in this country to dehumanize and persecute whomever we want?

The unfolding Trump phenomenon is stunning to behold because there’s no telling how far — or where — it will go. Following his latest reckless “proposals,” which include mandatory IDs for Muslims, he’s being compared with Adolf Hitler. He’s also being called the best friend ISIS could have, as he spreads outrage and hatred across the globe and, in the process, helps foment the same war they’re attempting to engage.

Fascinatingly, some of Trump’s biggest critics are neocons and fellow Republicans, who, though not that far away from him politically, feel threatened by his reckless candor. The conservative strategy, at least since the Nixon era, has been to use and manipulate American racism rather than directly rouse it to a fever pitch. That sort of volatility isn’t so easy to control and could be counterproductive to the economic and geopolitical interests of the stewards of American empire.

For all the baseness of Trump’s scapegoat politics, he’s doing, it seems, one thing right, which is what makes him unacceptable as the Republican presidential nominee. He’s speechifying as though values matter, as though they supersede market and strategic interests. The danger Trump represents cuts in multiple directions.

All of which makes me wonder whether American democracy is, in spite of itself, at a transition point. I mean, it’s been decades, from my point of view, since real, society-changing values have been on the line in a presidential election. Questions of war and peace, among much else, have been utterly off the table, with any serious questioning of U.S. militarism ignored and belittled by the mainstream media and completely excluded from the corridors of national decision-making.

The Republicrats rule and war is no longer merely inevitable but eternal. At the same time, the security state has grown like cancer and the prison-industrial complex has expanded exponentially. America in its exceptionalism is the world’s largest arms dealer, snoop, jailer and hell raiser. We destabilize the planet in the interests of the corporate few and call it exporting democracy.

And none of this is Donald Trump’s doing.

But the fact that he’s a threat to this status quo raises some interesting questions. Trump is a dangerous idiot, but perhaps as he pursues his own interests he is also, unintentionally, helping to crack open the locked vault of American politics.

“He’s essentially the American id,” writes Glenn Greenwald, “simply channeling pervasive sentiments unadorned with the typical diplomatic and PR niceties designed to prettify the prevailing mentality.”

The challenge Trump poses, it seems to me, is this: If the basest of human instincts — fear and revenge and the hunger to blame our troubles on a scapegoat — can enter, or re-enter, American politics, can the best of human nature enter as well and, in the process, challenge the prevailing status quo more deeply and profoundly than Trump could ever imagine?

Let me put it another way. “In the practice of tolerance,” said the Dalai Lama, “one’s enemy is the best teacher.”

Such a statement poses a serious challenge, of course, on the order of a quote I heard several years ago from a seatmate on a transatlantic airplane flight: You’re as close to God as you are to the person you like the least.

What if such ideas had political resonance? What if — even in the face of tragedy, even in the face of murder — we lived within a social and political structure that was committed not to dehumanizing and destroying a designated enemy but to understanding that enemy and, my God, looking inward for the cause of problems, not simply flailing outward with high-tech weaponry? What if human compassion, soul deep and without strings attached, played a role in international relations?

Believe me, I’m not asking these questions simplistically, with some pat belief that the answers are obvious. Rather, I’m pressing forward into a dark unknown, or so it seems.

“It is terrifying that on the one hand there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts, and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said earlier this year, in the context of a global refugee crisis staggering beyond belief.

To grow spiritually is to begin to realize how little one knows and practice reaching out not with aggression but with humility. This is what takes courage. Can we begin creating nations with this kind of courage, whose “interests” embrace the welfare of the whole planet?

 

By: Robert Koehler, an Award-Winning, Chicago-based Journalist and nationally syndicated writer; The National Memo, December 13, 2015

December 15, 2015 Posted by | American Exceptionalism, Democracy, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Muslim-American Soldiers To Trump: STFU”: Some Choice Words For Draft-Dodging Donald Trump

Republican presidential frontrunner @realDonaldTrump’s repeated insistence that he “love[s] the Muslims,” and believes that they are “great people,” is consistently undercut by his stated desire to impose fascist policies on millions of Muslims.

Over the past several weeks, these have included proposals for a Muslim database, closing down mosques, killing families, and—as a response to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks—the “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until Congress figures out “what is going on.”

The proposed halt on Muslim immigration and travel was swiftly condemned by the White House, Republican and Democratic presidential contenders, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, the RNC, and the Pentagon, which warned that Trump’s blanket ban would weaken the fight against ISIS, not prevent domestic terrorism.

“There are Muslims serving patriotically in the U.S. military today as there are people of many faiths,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters on Tuesday. “Anything that tries to bolster, if you will, the [ISIS] narrative that the United States is somehow at war with Islam is contrary to our values and contrary to our national security.”

Many were quick to point out that the ban would include tourists and Muslim-American citizens who are currently abroad—including men and women serving in the American armed forces who are stationed abroad and who happen to be Muslim.

The prospect has not been going over well with Muslim-American military personnel, given how Donald J. Trump is running to become their commander in chief. (For more on Trump’s own draft deferments, see here.)

“I think what Donald Trump said is completely un-American,” Abdi Akgun, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, told The Daily Beast. “It’s completely outrageous. There are a lot of Muslims in this country who have pledged to be an American, that are paying their taxes, and are law-abiding citizens. And for Donald to make statements that are bigoted in nature is … not what being an American is about.”

Akgun joined the Marines in August 2000, right after high school. Two years later, he was fighting in Iraq in the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. When asked about the possibility of serving under a President Trump, he simply released a brief sigh of exasperation and conceded that, “Well, there is a possibility, yes.”

“I really don’t have any [further] statement to make,” he continued.

Mohammed Shaker, a Rand-Paul-supporting Young Republican, was deployed to Iraq as an Army medic with the 82nd Airborne. He is, to put it generously, also perplexed by Trump’s position.

“If we’re being completely honest, I have no idea what Donald Trump is doing or why,” Shaker said. “It just doesn’t make sense to me … His policies are very dangerous. One of the worst things we can do, after any kind of tragic event … is to limit people’s freedoms.”

Shaker told CNN that, “as a veteran and as a service member of the United States military, yes, I would serve under Donald Trump,” because the job and mission is still “all about protecting America and our liberties.” However, that doesn’t mean he’s not unsettled by the Republican frontrunner’s rhetoric.

“It is very scary thing,” he told The Daily Beast. “There always will be someone running saying stuff like this … There’s always going to be one sort of authoritarian candidate … Hopefully he doesn’t get to implement any of that stuff.”

Shaker can only imagine what his family and life would have been like if there had been a blanket ban on Muslim immigration in decades past.

“If Donald Trump was president in 1989, or 1984 … if he had been president and had these policies in effect, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now because maybe I never would have been born in America,” he said. “I would have been in Egypt. I never would have heard of Ron Paul. I never would have served … If we had his policy in practice now, what kind of people would we be stopping from coming to this country?”

Tayyib M. Rashid, also a Muslim-American, dropped out of college at the age of 19 to join the Marines; he served from 1997 to 2002. “We [Muslims] know the frustration we feel when people label us for [an] act of terrorism,” Rashid wrote for USA Today in July, addressing fellow American Muslims. “I say to you to keep your head up and walk proud. Continue to follow Prophet Muhammad’s example of compassion, service to humanity, and love for all, hatred for none.”

Rashid is another proud veteran who has no plans to endorse The Donald.

“This guy is hijacking America from Americans,” he told The Daily Beast.

“Mr. Trump’s suggestion is absolutely preposterous, hate-filled, and bigoted,” he said. “This kind of rhetoric is dividing our armed forces, and actually making us less safe. The personal offense is there, but thinking far beyond that, it could give some extremists within the U.S. the desire to take the law into their own hands. I am concerned about Muslim-Americans’ safety, and I’m concerned about Muslim service members’ safety. There are people who could take Mr. Trump’s comments as sponsorship for their own hate-filled actions.”

Rashid went on to stress that, as a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, he wants to “engage our fellow Americans in dialogue … to drive out hate and fear.”

“This is the root of defeating extremism,” he said. “We can’t continue to bomb terrorism out of existence, it just doesn’t work that way.”

It’s the kind of nuance that frequently seems to evade Trump, especially when the topic of conversation turns to war, Muslims, or mosques. For his part, the real-estate mogul and one-time reality-TV super-star would much rather settle for, “bomb[ing] the shit outta them [until] there would be nothing left.”

 

By: Asawin Suebsaeng, The Dail Beast, December 9, 2015

December 11, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Muslim Americans, U. S. Military, Veterans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Out Of Control Now”: First, Donald Trump Came For The Muslims

I have never truly feared for the well-being of my family or friends because of the words uttered by an American politician. But that has changed after Donald Trump’s comments over the past few days about Muslims.

When I tell you that Trump’s remarks about what he has planned for Muslims in America if elected president are bone chilling, I’m not exaggerating. But to me the most frightening—and yes, I mean frightening—incident in all of this is what happened Saturday at Trump’s rally in Birmingham, Alabama.  It was not just his words, but the way Trump conveyed them and the setting that conjured up a truly dark time in human history.

During his rally Saturday deep in the heart of Dixie, Trump told the crowd of thousands in no uncertain terms what Muslims could expect if he leads our nation. “Just to set it clear,” Trump stated, pausing slightly for dramatic effect. A sternness then came over his face as he declared emphatically: “I want surveillance of these people.”

You see to Trump, we are not your fellow Americans who are teachers, doctors, taxi drivers, member of Congress, etc. No, he has dehumanized us into a faceless group he calls “these people.” And Trump has unilaterally determined that “these people,” Muslim Americans, are not worthy of the same rights as other Americans. That we, Muslims, are less than fully American simply because of our faith.

Trump then implored the crowd to cheer for his plan that would strip the constitutional rights of a minority group in America with the call, “Are you ready for this? Are you ready?” And on cue, thousands in the crowd cheered as their leader beckoned.

Then something else happened at the event that should give all Americans pause. In this sea of adoring Trump fans stood a black man by the name of Mercutio Southall Jr., a well known local activist. Southall had been shouting “Black Lives Matters,” which had so upset Trump supporters that some began to assault him.

Trump, who later admitted that he had been annoyed with the interruptions by this black activist, can be heard bellowing out to his followers as they are assaulting Southall: “Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Adding, “Get him out of here. Throw him out!

And shockingly on Sunday morning when Trump was asked on Fox News about the assault of Southall, he defended it: “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.

But Trump’s demonization of minorities in his quest for power didn’t begin or end on Saturday. He launched his presidential campaign in June in a way that earned him the praise of white supremacist groups for his demonization of Latino immigrants. But I’m sure Trump was already on the radar of these hate groups, which he has refused to denounce, given his infamous racist birther campaign versus President Obama.

And earlier last week, Trump commented to a reporter that he was open to creating a Muslim database and possibly even requiring Muslims to carry special ID cards.

Trump has also doubled down in the past few days on his pledge to order warrantless spying on Muslim Americans and even to close down American mosques. This is no different than racial profiling of Latinos and blacks and it’s no less unconstitutional.

Trump, however, was not done with his Muslim bashing.  In fact, he upped it Saturday by claiming that “thousands and thousands” of Arabs and Muslims in New Jersey were cheering as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11. This is a lie. And that’s not a matter of opinion, it’s fact. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos challenged Trump on Sunday, telling the GOP’s leading candidate point blank that the “police say it didn’t happen.” Yet Trump refused to back down, claiming he saw this on television 14 years ago.

The bigger question here is why Trump would even bring up this incident that occurred more than 14 years ago? How is it relevant to the key issues in the 2016 presidential campaign? It’s not. It simply plays well with the GOP base. In fact, just a few days before Trump began his jihad versus Muslims, a poll was released finding that three-quarters of Republicans think Islam is “at odds” with American values. Trump’s demonization of Muslims, as well as other minority groups, is simply part of his strategy to achieve power.

Thankfully, we have seen a cross section of Americans pushing back against Trump’s hate. Therein lies the silver lining. On the claim that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after 9/11, numerous elected official from the Garden State have made it clear that Trump is absolutely wrong. These include the current mayor of Jersey City and longtime New Jersey State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who tweeted bluntly:  “To Trump: Stop your inflammatory lies about Americans.

Even the Anti Defamation League (ADL) swiftly condemned Trump, telling BuzzFeed that Trump is “giving new life to long-debunked conspiracy theories about 9/11.” The ADL dubbed it a “a variation of the anti-Semitic myth that a group of Israelis were seen celebrating as the Twin Towers fell.”

And many on social media made it clear that if Trump ever required American Muslims to register with the government, they would too, even they weren’t Muslim. One of the most moving shows of support came from Rabbi Joshua Stanton, a man who says he tries to avoid politics, but still felt compelled to pen a touching article titled, “Register Me, Too, Mr. Trump.

The GOP is at a crossroads that will define its party for years.  They can nominate Trump, a man who has demonized American minority groups, or choose someone who truly embraces American values. But if Trump is the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, they will have made it clear to America that the Grand Old Party is no longer the party of Lincoln, but the party of hate.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, November 23, 2015

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Donald Trump, Muslim Americans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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