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“Trump Keeps Insulting Our 9/11 Dead”: Twisting The History Of A Sacred Day Shows Why He’s Unfit To Be President

Because Donald Trump has to destroy everything in his path, why not the true history 9/11? Trump would have us revise and edit our historical memory of 9/11, turning it from a unifying narrative of heroism, tragedy, and war and recast it to serve the political ends of a man unworthy of the presidency.

Let’s be specific, because history matters. Here is Trump’s claim, which he’s been obsessively defending for weeks now:

“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”

Trump’s Big Lie, as every fact checker from across the political spectrum has verified, is both simple and egregious: “thousands and thousands.” On the most-recorded day of our age, no record exists of “thousands and thousands” because it would have been a story of immediate, devastating consequences not only for the Muslims involved, but for this nation. It would have blown back immediately both on Muslims and on President Bush and Mayor Giuliani, who had called on Americans to refrain from assigning collective guilt.

Did any American Muslim celebrate 9/11? I’m sure some did. There are assholes in every walk of life, and in a metro area with 10 million people and a nation of 350 million, I’d be shocked if a couple of idiots didn’t act out. But it’s not a defense of Muslim extremism to stand for the truth of history.

Despite being called out on this lie repeatedly, Team Trump has produced nothing whatsoever to back up the “thousands and thousands” claim. Instead, they’ve produced a handful of anecdotes, secondhand news stories and hazy memories of what might have been a trivial number of Muslims celebrating the attacks.

They’ve failed—of course—to produce video, photos, news stories, police reports, eyewitnesses, or any other evidence for Trump’s “thousands and thousands” claim, and they never will. And when cornered with the facts, Trump’s talk-radio and online cheerleaders allege that a massive media conspiracy is keeping all the documentary evidence supporting the claim under wraps.

So why is this different from any other part of the Trumpendammerung cycle of outrageous statements, tornadoes of lies, and shoot-from-the-lip populism? Because we owe history, and the dead of that terrible September day something better.

We should tell the true stories of that day to honor the memory and sacrifice of those who perished on 9/11 and in the long wars since. We should remember the real events, not transform them into post-hoc, politically expedient exaggerations meant to amplify Donald Trump’s bravado.

The deaths of thousands at the hands of 19 Islamic radicals dispatched by Osama Bin Laden created an inflection point in our history, leading to tragedies and victories, losses and triumphs, in what is becoming a generation of war. We should tell the honest, painful stories of 9/11 because it dishonors the memory of heroes to invent a phony cast of villains when the actual terrorists were terrible enough to tear open this nation’s heart.

Trump is trying to write himself into a heroic narrative at the cost of truth, and of the memories of the real heroes who perished that day. While Trump sat staring at his television and imagining Muslims celebrating, better men and women than he will ever be died in Lower Manhattan.

They were heroes like Terry Hatton of FDNY Rescue Company 1, who charged in to the Towers without a moment’s hesitation, never knowing his wife was pregnant with their daughter. They were men of faith like Father Mychal Judge, who spent his last moments comforting the doomed as the Towers fell around them, praying “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”

They were immigrants to this country like Rick Rescorla—people who fought our wars, embraced our values more deeply than many born here, and died as heroes trying to save his charges in the Towers. They were men like Tom Burnett, whose last whispered conversation to his wife from Flight 93 was, “I know we’re going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it.”

They were stockbrokers, secretaries, office techs, lawyers, waiters, firefighters, cops, and EMTs with stories of heroism and grace. They were Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and everything in between.

The families they left behind deserve a truthful recounting of their end and of that day.

I should know by now that arguing with diehard Trump supporters is largely futile but, if any of you are reading this, I pray you’ll take this issue seriously.

Two equally grim prospects can explain your behavior. The first that you know Trump’s claim is untrue, but enjoy living in his Reality Distortion Field simply to tweak mainstream America and the news media. You’ve become inhabitants of a funhouse-mirror version of the liberal culture and media you mock: insular, aggressively contrarian, obsessed with narrative over fact and anger over history.

The second is that you want it to be true so badly that you’ll invent an imagined outrage rather than focus on the actual, terrible problem of Islamic radicalism (as we saw this week in California) because that fight is harder, more complex and more painful than the hokey nostrums of Trump’s “plan” to fight ISIS. (“Take duh oil! Bomb da shit outta dem!” “Muslim database!”)

Playing out Donald Trump’s lies doesn’t mean you’re fighting some political correct media trope about Muslims or that you’re teaching the press a lesson. It doesn’t mean you’re confronting radical Islam. It doesn’t mean you’re bravely revealing a media cover-up. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to teach the Republican establishment a lesson.

All it means is you’re part of the profoundly recursive Trump dynamic; he feeds your fears, prejudices, and atavistic desires for revenge against your catalog of demons, be they Muslims, Mexicans, or Republicans who fail to kneel before the Donald. You feed his monstrous, boundless ego and like the master con artist he is, he shovels you a fresh line of easily-digested outrage and boob-bait rhetoric.

Embracing the thoroughly discredited claims of a serial liar and proven fabulist over on this history of 9/11 isn’t some bold rebellion or principled stand. It’s an insult to the dead.

 

By: Rick Wilson, The Daily Beast, December 6, 2015

December 7, 2015 Posted by | 9-11, American History, Donald Trump | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Right’s Rekindled Affection For Russia’s Putin”: Back To Drawing Hearts On Their Pictures Of Putin

It was early last year when Republicans decided Russian President Vladimir Putin was an autocrat worthy of their gushing affections. In March 2014, Rudy Giuliani (R) said of Putin, “That’s what you call a leader.” The same month, Mike Rogers, at the time the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed his own admiration: “Putin is playing chess and I think we are playing marbles, and I don’t think it’s even close. They’ve been running circles around us.”

At one point last summer, a Fox News personality went so far as to say she wanted to see Putin serve as “head of the United States,” at least for a little while.

By late last year, however, Republicans were no longer drawing hearts on their pictures of Putin. Russia’s economy was deteriorating quickly; Putin was isolated on the international stage; Russia’s standing and credibility around the world was in tatters; and the sanctions President Obama helped impose on Russia were making a real difference.

Suddenly, the U.S. conservatives who’d enrolled in the Putin fan-club fell quiet, realizing that their contempt for the American president led them to praise the wrong foreign leader.

As of this week, however, many Republicans have apparently come full circle.

One day after President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin made little headway in their standoff over Syria at their first formal meeting in more than two years, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is agreeing with Putin on his backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad. […]

 “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, [Putin’s] getting an ‘A’ and our president is not doing so well,” he said.

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative voice at the Washington Post, added this morning, “In taking this action just days after meeting with President Obama, Putin is delivering one more finger in the eye of a president whom he continues to out-wit and out-muscle.”

Yes, we’ve apparently reached the point again at which Republicans once more see Putin as some kind of strategic mastermind.

As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman explained yesterday, [T]oday’s reigning cliche is that the wily fox, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, has once again outmaneuvered the flat-footed Americans, by deploying some troops, planes and tanks to Syria to buttress the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to fight the Islamic State forces threatening him. If only we had a president who was so daring, so tough, so smart…. Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power.”

For Republicans, the response seems to be, “At least Putin is going after targets in Syria.” What the White House’s GOP critics have refused to acknowledge for the last 14 months is that President Obama has launched thousands of airstrikes against ISIS targets.

There are two main differences between Putin’s engagement in Syria and Obama’s. The first is that the size of Obama’s military commitment is vastly larger. The second is that Russian lawmakers actually authorized Putin’s mission, while the Republican-run Congress in the United States has done literally nothing since the American military offensive began in August 2014, preferring to watch developments unfold on TV while Obama’s mission continues.

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum added this morning, “Do you know how many military bases the US has in the Middle East? Nearly two dozen. Plus the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean and the Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf. Plus a whole bunch of close allies. And we’re supposed to be quaking in our boots because Putin hastily upgraded a single aging base in Latakia under pressure from his sole remaining ally? You’re kidding, right?”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 1, 2015

October 2, 2015 Posted by | GOP, Syria, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Is Outraged By Trump? Oh Please”: No More Out Of Line Than The GOP Has Been For Six Years

I watched all day Friday on cable this juxtaposition of the Trump video and the old John McCain video from 2008, when he gamely told that hair-swept woman that no, Barack Obama is a good family man and a citizen. By the 15th viewing, it hit me just how insidious the juxtaposition is.

Here’s why. The quasi-informed viewer will reflexively think that the McCain video, buttressed by all the talking heads chastising Trump for not having followed McCain’s admirable example, represents the default Republican handling of such situations over the years. But in fact, of course, it’s Trump who comes far closer to representing the way most Republicans have handled such questions over the years.

Think about it. How many videos have we seen over the years of Republican members of Congress at town halls, or being confronted by reporters, and being asked if they think Obama is a Christian or an American or if he loves his country. We’ve seen loads of them, and they all follow the same script. The member of Congress first chuckles nervously. He then glances from side to side to see who’s around, who might overhear him. You can see the gears turning in his head. “What do I say? This will surely find its way back home to my constituents, so what do I say?” So they say something like “Well, it’s not for me to say” and scamper on their way.

Look. There’s a reason 43 percent of Republicans still believe that Obama is Muslim, and that reason is far from mysterious. It’s that elected Republicans have allowed the rumor to fester.

Thought experiment: Suppose that Republicans from Reince Priebus and Michael Steele (his predecessor) to the senators to the members of Congress and governors and on down to the locals had agreed in 2009 that the party line on such matters would be, “Look, we disagree strongly with the President’s policies, but we don’t question his citizenship, his Christian faith, or his patriotism, and we encourage all Republicans to stop doing this.” What would that percentage be today? Not 43, I assure you. If Republicans had spent six years saying that, pollsters wouldn’t even be still asking the question.

But they most certainly did not do that. Steele is someone I’ve gotten to know and like, he’s a very nice man. But I see here that even he gave one of those cutesy answers back in 2009, when GQ asked him if he thought Obama was a Muslim: “Well, he says he’s not, so I believe him.” That too was a classic dodge, that “Well, he says he’s not.” On the moral see saw, the opening note of skepticism weighs far more than the closing affirmation, and thus signals to the conservative listener/viewer/reader, “This guy’s all right.” And while it’s fair to note that Hillary Clinton gave a similarly yucky answer during the 2008 primary, it’s the Republicans that have been singlehandedly promoting this nonsense for the last six years.

On my personal outrage meter, I regard what Trump did as being in fact not as bad as the kind of disingenuous tap-dancing other Republicans have done. Trump was very clearly just tolerating this guy, humoring him. Yes, of course he should have corrected the man, and he didn’t. But he was obviously trying to be vague and get past it fast. He wasn’t nudging and winking and didn’t come up with some coy and dishonest rhetorical pirouette that fed the man’s rage. “We’re looking into it” ain’t red meat.

What I find far more outrageous is the unified chorus of Republicans now denouncing Trump as if the vast majority of them haven’t spent the past six years behaving as Trump did or worse in such situations. This newfound rectitude is awfully convenient, and it obviously has a lot less to do with any devotion to the principle of civil discourse with respect to the sitting President. No, it’s about them taking advantage of a golden opportunity to dump on Trump and present themselves to people with short memories as being far better on this issue than they actually have been.

Permit me to refresh those memories. Here, I don’t even have to go back very far at all. Do you remember back in February when Rudy Giuliani said he didn’t think Obama loves America and “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up”? Well, it set off the usual two-day cable shit-storm, such that all the GOP candidates were asked to comment on it. Here is what they said.

Bobby Jindal was the best (as in worst). He flat-out defended Giuliani, saying that “the gist of what Mayor Giuliani said…is true.”

Scott Walker, flying high then, was a close second. “You should ask the president what he thinks about America,” Walker told The Associated Press. “I’ve never asked him so I don’t know.”

Rand Paul and Jeb Bush both said it’s a “mistake to question people’s motives.” That’s better than Walker, but it’s still pretty cautious and still not a no, the mayor was clearly out of line. Others—Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Ben Carson—didn’t respond to media requests for comment.

Oh, and then there was Lindsey Graham. Now Graham was great on Andrea Mitchell’s show Friday: No, what Trump did was an outrage, of course Obama is a Christian, yadda yadda. Back in February, though, he was hedger too. He said: “I am not Dr. Phil. I don’t know how to look into somebody’s eyes and find out what their soul’s up to.” He did then say “I have no doubt that he loves his country, I have no doubt that he’s a patriot.” He deserves credit for the second part, but why that Dr. Phil business?

I’ll tell you why. Because until Trump got involved and took his current commanding (and to Republicans like Graham, terrifying) lead in the polls, the default Republican position was to find some way to humor the base on these questions about Obama. So saying something skeptical that fed the base’s rage was required. But now that Trump is guilty of doing what most Republicans have spent the better part of a decade doing, suddenly it’s all too outrageous. There is no principle at work here. Indeed precisely the opposite. This is the definition of expediency.

And if Trump is smart, and he is, he’ll find a way to communicate this when he “apologizes,” and the GOP will get precisely what it deserves.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 20, 2015

September 22, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“We Now Have A Low-Information Candidate”: Hey, Trump; America’s Great Right Now, Buddy

The United States “is a hellhole” that “is going down fast.” America “is in big trouble” and “never has victories anymore.” In fact, the United States is a “laughingstock all over the world.”

Who do you think made these comments over the last few months?  A. Vladimir Putin; B. An ISIS recruiter; or C. Donald Trump?

It’s actually a tough question to answer accurately. I know for sure that Trump made those remarks but it’s also possible that words to those effect were uttered by Putin or ISIS’s head honcho Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or even Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (The last two of these people we recently learned Trump wasn’t familiar with. We have all heard of low-information voters, we now have a low-information candidate.)

But we do know Trump has made the above statements and more. He even suggested at a recent event that we are now a nation of losers because we haven’t had victories in years, and he’s no longer proud of America.

Why would Trump badmouth America? Simple, because he’s trying to make the case that America is a disaster and he’s the only one who can “make America great again.” (In Trump’s defense, he does know a thing or two about debacles, given the failures of his Trump vodka, Trump airline, and Trump University, to name just a few of his failed ventures.)

When I hear Trump crapping on America, two thoughts come to mind. First, he’s unequivocally wrong. America is still great today. And second, if a Democratic presidential candidate said the same stuff, the GOP would be labeling that candidate as person who hates America, doesn’t view America as exceptional, or worse.

Look, America can always be better. In fact, President Obama offered this exact sentiment a few months ago with his remarks that our nation is “chronically dissatisfied with itself, because embedded in our DNA is this striving, aspirational quality to be even better.” But the United States is still an exceptional nation, something I have yet to hear Trump acknowledge.

The real question is, how do you measure greatness? In Trump’s case it appears it’s based on if he or others are making more money or if our airports are nicer than the beautiful ones in Dubai and Qatar that he has been bragging are far superior to our own.

But that’s not how I measure it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to see middle-class wages grow, but that’s not why people risk their lives to immigrate to our nation. It’s not why my Palestinian father moved to the United States even though he had no family here, or why my Sicilian grandparents sailed halfway across the world.

It was for the promise that continues today of living in nation where there’s not just economic opportunity, but also a place where you can raise a family without fear of warlords, or a risk of a sudden, massive refugee crisis, or the lack of safe drinking water, or being dragged off by a dictator’s henchmen to be tortured or killed for their political views. It’s the promise of a nation where we can passionately disagree on issues with the understanding that it will be ballots, not bullets that will decide the outcome.  It’s the promise that all men and women are created equal and are guaranteed the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I don’t think for a second Trump appreciates that aspect of America’s greatness. And that’s what makes him vastly different from his alleged political idol, Ronald Reagan.

In 1980, Reagan’s campaign slogan, which Trump has co-opted less one word, was “Let’s Make America Great Again.” At the time, Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter when the U.S. economy was a mess with high unemployment (over 7 percent) and even higher inflation (13.5 percent). Plus, the Iran hostage crisis was weighing on the American psyche.

But Reagan didn’t broadly piss on America like Trump. Instead he provided detailed criticism of Carter’s policies and then offered words to inspire, such as, “the American spirit is still there, ready to blaze into life…the time is now, my fellow Americans, to recapture our destiny.” That’s a far cry from Trump’s  “America is a hellhole, laughingstock that’s going down fast.”

I’m sure some on the right likely cheer Trump’s ridiculing of America because they view his words as an attack on Obama’s policies. However, even Marco Rubio recently called out Trump for his dumping on our nation: “I would remind everyone America is great. There’s no nation on Earth I would trade places with.” And Rubio is not alone in this sentiment. A recent poll found that 84 percent of Americans agreed they would rather live here than any other country.

Trump obviously can choose any words he wants to wage his campaign. But there’s zero doubt that if a Democratic candidate were employing the same rhetoric, many on the right would crucify that person.

Look at what we saw earlier this year when Rudy Giuliani said of Obama, “I do not believe that the president loves America.”  Why did he make that outrageous charge? Well, Giuliani explained, because Obama “criticizes America” so much that he sounds more “like he’s more of a critic than he is a supporter.” Then what does he make of Trump’s daily America bashing?

Even Michelle Obama was attacked during the 2008 presidential race when she said, “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.” Mrs. Obama came under immediate assault from the right for inferring she had not previously been proud of America. Of course, not a peep about Trump no longer being proud of our nation from conservatives.

Trump’s strategy of “America sucks” may end up helping him capture the White House. But even if it does, I still won’t believe that Trump truly grasps what makes America great.

 

By: Dean Obeidallah, The Daily Beast, September 9, 2015

September 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, United States of America | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Two Leaders, Two Countries, Two International Standings”: Are Republicans Ready To Admit Their Putin Adulation Was Misplaced?

For many Republicans, there are some basic truths about international perceptions. President Obama, they assume, is not well respected abroad, while Russia’s Vladimir Putin is seen as tough and impressive.

Last year, Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson wrote a column on how impressed he is with Putin, and argued, “Russians seem to be gaining prestige and influence throughout the world as we are losing ours.”

With this in mind, the Pew Research Center has published a couple of helpful reports of late. In June, Pew’s “Global Attitudes & Trends” study found that impressions of the United States are up around the world – much improved over the findings from the Bush/Cheney era – and President Obama is an especially popular figure across much of the globe.

And this week, the Pew Research Center released related findings on Russia and Putin. Ben Carson may want to pay particular attention to the results.

Outside its own borders, neither Russia nor its president, Vladimir Putin, receives much respect or support, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. A median of only 30% see Russia favorably in the nations outside of Russia. Its image trails that of the United States in nearly every region of the world.

At the same time, a median of only 24% in the countries surveyed have confidence in Putin to do the right thing in world affairs, and there is far less faith in the Russian leader than there is in U.S. President Barack Obama.

If this makes it sound as if Republicans have described the entire dynamic backwards, that’s because they have.

Remember, it was just last year when American conservatives effectively adopted Putin as one of their own. Rudy Giuliani said of the Russian autocrat, “That’s what you call a leader.” Mitt Romney proclaimed, “I think Putin has outperformed our president time and time again on the world stage.” A Fox News personality went so far as to say she wanted Putin to temporarily serve as “head of the United States.”

But by international standards, the GOP rhetoric seems quite foolish.

In all regions of the world, Putin’s image fares quite poorly compared with public perception of U.S. President Barack Obama. Three-quarters of Europeans have confidence in Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Only 15% have such faith in Putin. By more than two-to-one, publics in Africa, Asia and Latin America trust Obama more than Putin.

So, what do you say, conservatives? Ready to admit your Putin adulation was misplaced?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 7, 2015

August 10, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Russia, Vladimir Putin | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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