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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

“Trump Pivots To the General Election…By Attacking Women”: The Days Of Women Succumbing To Insults Are Long Over

It has been fascinating to observe pundits who claim that Donald Trump will change his stripes during the general election in a way that appeals to a broader constituency. I’ve always thought that those assumptions were based on the idea that he was simply playing a character during the primaries – much as he did on TV. But that ignores the fact that he has been a narcissistic bully for a very long time.

Now that Trump’s competitors have dropped out of the race and he is the presumptive Republican nominee, the bullying insults to anyone who challenges him have not stopped. Last night in New Mexico, his target was Gov. Susan Martinez – who happens to be the chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, the first Latina governor in the U.S. and the first female governor of New Mexico. But of course, this is what you get from Trump if you refuse to endorse him.

But the Donald wasn’t done.

Martinez was not the only powerful woman that Trump attacked at the rally. He also went after Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has become an outspoken surrogate for Clinton — and one is not afraid to challenge Trump.

During the rally, Trump repeatedly referred to Warren as “Pocahontas,” a reference to the Native American heritage that she claims.

“She is probably the senator that’s doing just about the least in the United States Senate. She’s a total failure,” Trump said. “She said she was an Indian. She said because her cheekbones were high, she was an Indian, that she was Native American. And, you know, we have these surrogates — people like her, total failures.”

The pairing of racial slurs with personal attacks on females who challenge him are a two-fer for the Donald in that he manages to offend pretty much every constituency that isn’t white male. Trump’s ignorance and misogyny are on display when he spews this kind of nonsense and then says that he doesn’t want to lose the votes of women.

“They say I’m setting records with men — it’s so unexciting to me,” Trump said. “I want to set records with women, not with men.”

I suspect that he actually WILL set records with women. He’ll find that the days of women succumbing to insults like this are long over.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 25, 2016

May 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Women Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Those Who Can’t Afford To Forget”: We Cannot Sleepwalk Through Life; We Cannot Be Ignorant Of History

Recently I linked to an important article by Charles Pierce titled: When We Forget.

The 2016 presidential campaign—and the success of Donald Trump on the Republican side—has been a triumph of how easily memory can lose the struggle against forgetting and, therefore, how easily society can lose the struggle against power. There is so much that we have forgotten in this country. We’ve forgotten, over and over again, how easily we can be stampeded into action that is contrary to the national interest and to our own individual self-interest…

A country that remembers, a country with an empowered memory that acts as a check on the dangerous excesses of power itself, does not produce a Donald Trump.

While that spoke powerfully to what we are witnessing in the current Republican presidential primary, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something missing. This morning while I was writing about President Obama’s commencement address at Howard University, I finally figure out what that was about. Here is a part of what he said when talking about the unique role of African American leadership:

…even as we each embrace our own beautiful, unique, and valid versions of our blackness, remember the tie that does bind us as African Americans — and that is our particular awareness of injustice and unfairness and struggle. That means we cannot sleepwalk through life. We cannot be ignorant of history.

Think about that for a moment…why can’t African Americans be ignorant of history? It is because any attempt to understand their place in this country today has to be informed by our collective past. For example, African Americans can’t tackle BlackLivesMatter without some understanding of the fact that – throughout our history – they haven’t. White people have the privilege of being able to forget that story…Black people don’t.

Remembering isn’t simply about knowing the history of how things used to be. It is also about remembering the people who fought the battles of the past and the strategies they used in the struggle. That’s what President Obama’s speech at Howard was all about – the Black theory of change.

But it isn’t just African Americans who can’t afford to forget. Finding authenticity as a woman means understanding the history of patriarchy. Native Americans must remember the genocide that nearly obliterated their culture. Asian Americans can never forget the straightjacket foisted upon them by being the “model minority.” LGBT Americans remember everything from Stonewall to Matthew Shepard. And Mexican Americans remember that many of their people were here prior to this country’s settlement by European Americans – who now assume they are the “immigrants.”

I know I’m glossing over centuries of history, but I’m doing so to make the point that there are those who can’t afford to forget because, as Faulkner wrote, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 9, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | African Americans, American History, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The ‘Wait and See’ Republicans”: The Idea Of Sending A Narcissistic Bully To The White House Should Be Unthinkable

Republican reaction to Donald Trump as their presumptive presidential nominee is all over the map. Of course there are those who are lining up to support him, some are digging in their heels and saying #NeverTrump, and a few are simply planning to remain silent. Regardless of how you feel about Trump’s candidacy, it is possible to make a case that those are principled positions. But the most bizarre (and unprincipled) reaction comes from those who are saying that they’ll “wait and see.”

That is apparently the case that Joe Scarborough made this morning. But its most ridiculous (and unprincipled) form came from Sen. Susan Collins.

“Donald Trump has the opportunity to unite the party, but if he’s going to build that wall that he keeps talking about, he’s going to have to mend a lot of fences,” said Collins. “He’s going to have stop with gratuitous personal insults.”

“You mean, like saying Ted Cruz’s father killed JFK,” the host interjected.

“Yes, that was the most bizarre yet, I think,” responded Collins, adding Trump needed to now articulate what his presidency would look like through policy, plans, and programs beyond his slogan.

“I think he’s perfectly capable of doing that,” Collins said. “It will be interesting to see whether he changes his style, he starts acting more presidential, and whether he brings people together.”

That is a bizarre position on a couple of levels. First of all, does Collins really need Trump to articulate in more specificity his proposals like banning all Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.? Or his plans to deport all undocumented immigrants? Or targeting the families of terrorists? Or reduce taxes by $1 trillion per year and balance the federal budget? Or his promise to torture prisoners? Or his plan to start a trade war with China? I could go on, but perhaps you get the point. Trump’s policy, plans and programs are absurd and dangerous. Getting into them in more detail over the next six months won’t change that reality.

Secondly, there is this ludicrous notion that the Donald is going to start acting “more presidential” and stop the “gratuitous personal insults.” What Collins probably means is that he will stop bullying Republicans and focus his attacks on Clinton. We all know that is coming. But the truth is that Trump hasn’t just been bullying politicians. He goes after anyone that he sees as a challenge to his ego. Over the last few months that has included Mexican immigrants, the disabled, reporters, women, etc.

I find it hard to comprehend how anyone would think that a man with a long history of narcissistic bullying is suddenly going to become “presidential” over the next few months. Contrary to what some people would have you believe, this isn’t an act that Trump has assumed since he became a reality TV star or decided to run for president. He has a long record on that front. Perhaps some people have forgotten about how he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five before they were ever convicted. Recently we’ve been hearing about his attack on Native Americans when he was battling them over casinos.

The most egregious example of this came in 2000 in upstate New York, when Trump began bankrolling an ad campaign to stop a casino from being built in the Catskills. As the New York Times reported last month, the local newspaper ads showed “hypodermic needles and drug paraphernalia … [and] warned in dire terms that violent criminals were coming to town.”

“Are these the kind of neighbors we want?” the ad asked, referring to the St. Regis Mohawks Tribe at Akwesasne, which was planning to build the casino. “The St. Regis Mohawk record of criminal activity is well-documented.”

This narcissistic bullying from Trump is not an act. Its who he is. As I’ve said before, if you doubt that, go back and read what Mark Bowden wrote about the time he spent with Trump in 1996.

It just might be possible for Trump to keep a lid on things over the next six months (although I doubt it). But this is the temperament of the guy the Republicans will nominate to be our next president. No one needs to wait and see how all of that is going to turn out. The idea of sending a narcissistic bully to the White House should be unthinkable.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 6, 2016

May 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Nominee, Susan Collins | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Story About How We Treat The Poor”: Sometimes, Race Is More Distraction Than Explanation

Dear white people:

As you no doubt know, the water crisis in Flint, Mich., returned to the headlines last week with news that the state attorney general is charging three government officials for their alleged roles in the debacle. It makes this a convenient moment to deal with something that has irked me about the way this disaster is framed.

Namely, the fact that people who look like you often get left out of it.

Consider some of the headlines:

The Racist Roots of Flint’s Water Crisis — Huffington Post

How A Racist System Has Poisoned The Water in Flint — The Root

A Question of Environmental Racism — The New York Times

As has been reported repeatedly, Flint is a majority black city with a 41 percent poverty rate, so critics ask if the water would have been so blithely poisoned, and if it would have taken media so long to notice, had the victims been mostly white.

It’s a sensible question, but whenever I hear it, I engage in a little thought experiment. I try to imagine what happened in Flint happening in Bowie, a city in Maryland where blacks outnumber whites, but the median household income is more than $100,000 a year and the poverty rate is about 3 percent. I can’t.

Then I try to imagine it happening in Morgantown, West Virginia, where whites outnumber blacks, the median household income is about $32,000 a year, and the poverty rate approaches 40 percent — and I find that I easily can. It helps that Bowie is a few minutes from Washington, D.C., while Morgantown is more than an hour from the nearest city of any size.

My point is neither that race carries no weight nor that it had no impact on what happened in Flint. No, my point is only that sometimes, race is more distraction than explanation. Indeed, that’s the story of our lives.

To be white in America is to have been sold a bill of goods that there exists between you and people of color a gap of morality, behavior, intelligence and fundamental humanity. Forces of money and power have often used that perceived gap to con people like you into acting against their own self-interest.

In the Civil War, white men too poor to own slaves died in grotesque numbers to protect the “right” of a few plutocrats to continue that despicable practice. In the Industrial Revolution, white workers agitating for a living wage were kept in line by the threat that their jobs would be given to “Negroes.” In the Depression, white families mired in poverty were mollified by signs reading “Whites Only.”

You have to wonder what would happen if white people — particularly, those of modest means — ever saw that gap for the fiction it is? What if they ever realized you don’t need common color to reach common ground? What if all of us were less reflexive in using race as our prism, just because it’s handy?

You see, for as much as Flint is a story about how we treat people of color, it is also — I would say more so — a story about how we treat the poor, the way we render them invisible. That was also the story of Hurricane Katrina. Remember news media’s shock at discovering there were Americans too poor to escape a killer storm?

Granted, there is a discussion to be had about how poverty is constructed in this country; the black poverty rate is higher than any other with the exception of Native Americans, and that’s no coincidence. But it’s equally true that, once you are poor, the array of slights and indignities to which you are subjected is remarkably consistent across that racial gap.

That fact should induce you — and all of us — to reconsider the de facto primacy we assign this arbitrary marker of identity. After all, 37 percent of the people in Flint are white.

But that’s done nothing to make their water clean.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Flint Water Crisis, Poor and Low Income, Poverty, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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