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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

“The Politics Of Greed”: It Is Really Important That We Get This One Right

In his op-ed titled Here’s What We Want, Bernie Sanders wrote this:

What do we want? We want an economy that is not based on uncontrollable greed, monopolistic practices and illegal behavior.

Throughout the primary, Sanders has talked about the need to eliminate greed — especially the kind exhibited by Wall Street. That is a sentiment that is embraced by all liberals — especially in an era when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee espouses exactly the opposite.

But the question becomes: what is the role of politics (or government) when it comes to eliminating greed? It is the same question we would ask Christian conservatives who want to eliminate what they consider to be sexual immorality. And frankly, it is similar to questions about how we eliminate things like racism, sexism and homophobia. These are questions about the overlap of politics and morality with which we all must grapple.

At one point during the primary, Hillary Clinton was challenged by members of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said something that goes to the heart of this question.

Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not gonna change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential: to live safely without fear of violence in their own communities, to have a decent school, to have a decent house, to have a decent future.

It is really important that we get this one right. Just as we don’t want a government that tells us who we can/can’t have sex with, we need to realize that we can’t have a government that calibrates how greedy one is allowed to be. I don’t think that is what Sanders was suggesting. He went on to say this:

We want an economy that protects the human needs and dignity of all people — children, the elderly, the sick, working people and the poor. We want an economic and political system that works for all of us, not one in which almost all new wealth and power rests with a handful of billionaire families.

That echoes what Clinton said about racism. What we want from government is a focus on lifting up those who are affected by things like greed and racism — in other words, to level the playing field.

Personally, I believe that greed — like racism and sexism — are learned. Short of informational campaigns that attempt to educate the public, we can’t legislate a change of hearts. What we CAN do is create laws that legislate against the abuses that stem from greed — like fraud and the monopolization of our economy — just as we created laws to combat segregation and discrimination. Otherwise, it is up to movements like Moral Mondays to organize people around their shared values.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 24, 2016

June 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Economic Inequality, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Casual Yet Coldly Calculated Kiss-Off”: Dumping Donald Trump Would No Longer Be A Coup. It’s Just Common Sense

In a campaign season already twisted beyond all recognition, Donald Trump’s atrocious summer has offered shell-shocked Republicans a potential out: Where “Never Trump” has failed, a far more casual yet coldly calculated kiss-off could succeed.

Trump’s missteps, willful and otherwise, are now so severe that Republicans are justified — and would be legitimated — in throwing him overboard in Cleveland. Bye bye, agonized soul searching. Hello, cruel common sense.

All the GOP has to do is relax.

Throughout this presidential campaign, I’ve done my best to remain level-headed. Rather than fearing Donald Trump, rather than venting my loathing for that which is detestable about him, I have tried — and counseled others to try — an attitude of watch and wait. Trump’s pronunciations are not the surest path to civil disorder or public chaos. For that you need a critical mass of the rest of us to lose our nerve, turning panic into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Although many liberals and progressives I know have quietly shared their nightmare-like sense of certainty that Trump is going to somehow win come November, Republicans have had the hardest time trying to maintain sangfroid. Without question, the stakes are high; even a Trump win could prove disastrous to the GOP (and America, of course). And for principled conservatives, a thorny dilemma has grown around how to translate their conscience into political action, regardless of its impact on Election Day. Since Trump hit the magic number of delegates, it has seemed interchangeably counterproductive and embarrassing to field a third-party protest candidate, throw in with Hillary Clinton or perhaps Gary Johnson, or stay in bed with a bottle of bourbon and weep.

But Trump has now had his shot at rehearsing a general election campaign, and he has fallen flat on his face. It was bad enough that he blew his chance to assemble a team of respected foreign policy advisors, or that he swung incomprehensibly from pitching Latinos taco-bowl bromides to haranguing a thoroughly American judge for his Mexican heritage. These political farces were real, but they were not firing offenses. Then came June. Trump’s already discouraging campaign lurched full-tilt toward disaster, from preposterously staggering fundraising problems to public and protracted palace infighting. The kicker came when news recently broke that Trump — in addition to paying large sums to Trump companies themselves — also coughed up cash for a mysteriously inscrutable firm named after the advertising executives from Mad Men. As a matter of sheer political responsibility, nominating this man is madness.

Of course, Trump critics have been saying this since almost the beginning. But until now, the case against Trump has defeated and delegitimized itself because of its ideological grounding. You can’t just stage a convention “coup” because the candidate who clinched the delegates is mean, nasty, or bigoted. You can’t do it because he disrespects NATO or badmouths free trade. And you certainly can’t do it because you despise the rubes in your party who you somehow failed to keep in a box this time around. Sad!

You can, however, dump Trump for the clinical, confident reason that his campaign is collapsing of its own weight and whim. Yes, there’s still time for a miracle turnaround. Yes, the general election is still months away. And yes, some polls show that Clinton still leads by only a handful of points. But the convention is the closest thing the GOP has to a performance review — to the tough-but-fair moment familiar from The Apprentice where, no matter what, if you’ve so far failed to produce adequate results, you’re fired.

Trump’s epic incompetence as a presidential candidate constitutes a political emergency even deeper and plainer than his jangled ideology. Any CEO, board, or shareholders would cut this guy loose and bring in someone who can close in an emergency. Trump’s failure to measure up to the minimum campaign standard — and the prospect of even more spectacular faceplants to come — is the salvation Republicans have been searching for.

All they need now is a new candidate. That’s hardly as daunting as it once seemed — because everyone should agree that almost anyone else will do.

 

By: John Poulos, The Week, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Will Trump Last The Election?”: Republicans Are On The Verge Of Nominating A Psychological Cripple

An ordinary sociopath would have known to pretend shock and sorrow after the terrible mass murders in Orlando. Shielded from ordinary human interaction by his arrogance and wealth, however, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump had no clue how to act. So he sent out an instinctive, self-serving reaction on Twitter:

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Meghan McCain, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s daughter, reacted incredulously: You’re congratulating yourself because 50 people are dead this morning in a horrific tragedy?”

Even more pointed was GOP consultant and TV talking-head Ana Navarro: “Translating Trump: ‘20 people [sic] are dead. 42 people are injured. But of course, 1st, it’s all about Me. Me. Me.’ Ugh.”

Both women spoke for millions. Is there no tragedy so grave, no sorrow so profound, that it can penetrate the hardened carapace of Donald Trump’s ego?

Clearly not. Unless polls showing a steep drop in Trump’s chances to win the presidency are all wrong, many Americans are just now awakening to that reality. Unless they find some way to save themselves, Republicans are on the verge of nominating a psychological cripple: an ego-driven, self-obsessed narcissist preoccupied with fantasies of power, and incapable of empathy.

Too harsh? Overnight, Trump doubled-down. In an interview on Fox News, he allowed as how President Obama had not only failed to prevent ISIS-inspired homophobe Omar Mateen from massacring fifty innocent souls in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, but that he’s probably a traitor.

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it,” he said. “People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on… [Obama] doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable.”

In his withering fashion, the president dismissed Trump’s “yapping” while pronouncing the supposedly forbidden words “radical Islamists.”

“It’s a political talking point,” he said. “It’s not a strategy…”Not once has an adviser of mine said, ‘Man, if we really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around.’ Not once.”

Obama’s mockery makes Trump crazy precisely because it diminishes his shaky self-esteem. People who are genuinely self-confident don’t feel the need for constant boasting. The clinical term for what ails the candidate is “Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”

Improperly—shrinks aren’t supposed to diagnose public figures they haven’t met—but no doubt accurately, a growing number of clinicians have used the phrase to explain Trump’s disturbing personality traits.

“He’s so classic that I’m archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there’s no better example of his characteristics,” psychologist George Simon, who conducts seminars on manipulative behavior, told Vanity Fair.

“He’s like a dream come true.”

And that was back last fall during GOP debates, when Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush and Megyn Kelly were Trump’s targets of choice. Having bluffed and bulldozed his way into the Republican nomination, the candidate now finds himself in a new world where different rules apply. He appears incapable of adjusting.

“Success emboldens malignant narcissists to become even more grandiose, reckless and aggressive,” writes psychologist John D. Gartner. “Sure enough, after winning the nomination, there has been no ‘pivot’ towards more reasonable behavior and ideas, just the opposite. He has become more shrill, combative and openly racist.”

Trump’s unprovoked attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ethnicity appear to have repulsed even voters resentful of liberal cant about racism, but who do think of themselves as fair. In consequence, fully 56 percent in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll had a “strongly unfavorable” view of Trump—the kind of judgement that may be irreversible.

Josh Marshall sums things up from a political perspective: “Almost every day since he clinched the nomination almost six weeks ago has been a surreal tour through Trump’s damaged psyche – the insecurities, silly feuds, the mix of self-serving lies and attacks on people he’s supposed to be courting…The daily particulars are so mesmerizing that you have to step back to see that Trump isn’t even running a campaign.”

So now we learn that the Trump campaign is flat broke. How can that be? This is a guy claims who he’s worth $10 billion and who was supposed to be self-financing his campaign. Except now he’s not.

Ten billion is 10,000 million. If Trump were anywhere near that rich, the $42 million in Hillary Clinton’s campaign coffers would be chump change.

Can he sustain this act until November? Can Trump’s fragile psyche risk losing to a girl?

I’m starting to have my doubts.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Narcissitic Personality Disorder, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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