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“Just Another Day On The Campaign Trail”: Donald Trump To Republican Lawmakers: Hey, Losers, Vote For Me

Donald Trump spent his day on Capitol Hill calling fellow Republicans losers, complaining that the media is just too mean, and doubling down on his defense of Saddam Hussein.

So basically, just another day on the campaign trail for the GOP nominee.

It’s just 124 days til the election and less than two weeks until he gets officially nominated, and Trump’s stop on Capitol Hill proved that—while he’s won some converts—Republican unity is still very theoretical.

Some of his relationships here are complicated. Others are simple. You can put his dynamic with Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the latter category.

The Washington Post reported that Kirk skipped Trump’s Capitol Hill huddle, and that Trump called him a “loser” in the closed-door meeting. The mogul also predicted that Kirk will lose his re-election bid, but that Trump,  himself, will win Illinois—a state which hasn’t voted for the Republican nominee since 1988.

Kirk told reporters, flatly, that he thinks Trump is wrong.

“I’ve never been defeated in Illinois,” he said.

Then he added that he thinks Trump will bomb in Illinois, predicting that he will do about as well as Alan Keyes did in 2004—when he only got 27 percent of the vote in the Senate race against then-state Sen. Barack Obama.

Kirk wasn’t the only Senate Republican to tussled with Trump. Sen. Jeff Flake, of Arizona, confronted him in the meeting, according to the Post, criticizing him for belittling Sen. John McCain’s time as a POW in Vietnam. Next on Trump’s “to alienate” list:  Sen. Ben Sasse for criticism.

Sasse is a dogged, long-time opponent of Trump, and called him a “megalomaniac strongman” on the Senate floor last December. He left the meeting long before his fellow Republican colleagues did, and was blank-faced and silent as reporters swarmed him with questions.

Later, his spokesman released a statement saying the 2016 contest “remains a dumpster fire. Nothing has changed.”

Trump’s courtship of House Republicans didn’t seem to generate that level of fireworks. But it also wasn’t a lovefest.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio in the primary, told reporters that Trump’s overtures left him unmoved.

“It was a lot of stream-of-consciousness again,” he said of the mogul’s remarks, “like what you’d hear at the rallies but with less cheering.”

Multiple members told reporters that Trump doubled down on his comments on Saddam Hussein. When asked how it felt to hear the Republican presidential nominee say nice things about the late Iraqi dictator, Kinzinger gave a one-word response:

“Awkward.”

He added that he thinks giving him credit as a terrorist-hunter is “disgusting and despicable.”

“To somehow give him credit for killing terrorists—he also killed a lot of innocent people, fed them into acid and did some really terrible things,” he said.

And Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from a swing district in Pennsylvania, also told reporters that when a member asked Trump how he would reach out to Hispanic voters, he gave an answer we’ve all heard before.

“He said Hispanics love him,” Dent said.

Dent added that the polls do not back up that assertion, and that Trump also said he is “all for trade.”

When asked if Trump’s remarks about supporting trade were persuasive, Dent chuckled.

“No!” he said.

Other members said they were charmed.

Rep. Peter King, who once joked he would leave politics if Republicans nominated Trump, said the mogul got a warm welcome. He added that his daughter, Ivanka, got even more applause. She attended the meeting along with her husband, Jared Kushner. And Rep. Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, said he’s made a complete 180 on Trump. He was a longtime detractor, but now said he’s enthusiastic about the candidate.

“I may have been one of Trump’s most vociferous opponents in the primary, and I am now one of his most committed supporters,” he said, “partially because I understand the profound significance of the coming election. If I tell you that the party’s coming together, you can believe it. Because I’m living proof.”

Kirk and Flake probably beg to differ.

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, July 7, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, General Election 2016, GOP | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hillary’s Double-Standard Dance”: Same Dance Women, Especially Female Candidates, Have Been Expected To Do For Years

Things I heard Hillary Clinton talk about Saturday night in Denver at the Colorado Democrats’ Jefferson-Jackson dinner: Supreme Court appointments. Health care. Gun violence, with a catch in her voice when she mentioned Aurora, Columbine and Sandy Hook families turning their grief into action. Electing Morgan Carroll to Congress to represent Colorado’s sixth district, returning Michael Bennet to the Senate and regaining Democrats’ state senate majority. Anti-abortion personhood measures. The reopening of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Monday.

Things Bernie Sanders talked about: The Supreme Court and Citizens United. Income equality. Single-payer health care. Zero mention of helping other Democrats in swing-state Colorado, or much specific to Colorado at all.

As my hero Ann Richards famously said, “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”

So how much does Hillary Clinton have to do backwards and in high heels before she gets the credit she deserves? I agree with Bernie Sanders’ positions on the issues (guns aside), as do most Democrats, even though he wasn’t one until a year ago. But Sanders’ positions wouldn’t exist without the groundwork Hillary Clinton has done on health care, women’s rights, LGBT rights, civil rights, as secretary of state and in 40 years as a child advocate, including creating the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and starting with her first job as a staff attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund.

So yes, there is some frustration among those of us in the Thelma and Louise generation, that while Bernie gets accolades for what he says, Hillary still has to earn them for what she’s done.

The same goes for the entirety of Bernie’s foreign policy, resting on his vote against the Iraq War. That’s nice. Meanwhile, as secretary of state Hillary successfully navigated the complexities of international diplomacy, restored our stature in the world, contributed to our taking out Osama bin Laden, normalized relations with Cuba, negotiated a cease-fire in Gaza, laid the foundation for the agreement to denuclearize Iran and traveled to more countries than any other secretary of state. As Sen. Harry Reid put it, “Nearly every foreign policy victory of President Obama’s second term has Secretary Clinton’s fingerprints on it.”

Bernie Sander wants credit for a day. Hillary Clinton doesn’t get credit for four years.

And a personal note to Bernie-backers: I was Sen. Barbara Boxer’s press secretary when she was one of 23 senators to vote ‘no’ on the Iraq Resolution in 2002. She was up for re-election at the time, and even though her seat, like Bernie’s, was considered safe, our campaign manager nearly had a stroke.

The political atmosphere courtesy of the Bush administration was toxic and just this side of McCarthyism – they were questioning the patriotism of Sen. Max Cleland, an Army captain who left both legs and an arm on a helicopter pad in Vietnam, for disagreeing with President Bush. Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone voted ‘no,’ and had he not been killed in a plane crash he likely would have lost his seat.

So the idea that the senator from New York could have voted ‘no’ a year after 9/11 is simply ridiculous. As Hillary has said, if she knew then what we all know now – that the Bush administration was lying about the connection between Saddam and 9/11 to foment a rush to war – she would have voted differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and apparently politically beneficial.

It’s also worth noting that Sens. Boxer and Franken, the latter the Democratic successor to Paul Wellstone’s seat, have both endorsed Hillary.

Hillary may be in a pantsuit. But she’s doing the same double-standard dance women, and especially female candidates, have been expected to do for years.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, February 17, 2016

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Women, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Never As Consistently Anti-Intervention As Advertised”: Vetting Bernie: He Never Voted For Intervention In Iraq — Except Twice

The only topic that preoccupies Bernie Sanders more than income inequality is his vote against authorization of war in Iraq, which he mentions at every debate and whenever anyone questions his foreign policy credentials. Fair enough: Sanders turned out to be right on that vote and Hillary Clinton has admitted that she was wrong to trust George W. Bush.

But the socialist Vermont senator is under fresh scrutiny today on the (further) left, where his support for intervention in Bosnia and Afghanistan has raised sharp questions. In Counter-Punch, the online magazine founded by the late Alexander Cockburn, his longtime collaborator Jeffrey St. Clair complains that even on Iraq, Sanders is a “hypocrite” who was never as consistently anti-intervention as advertised:

In 1998 Sanders voted in favor of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which said: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

Later that same year, Sanders also backed a resolution that stated: “Congress reaffirms that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic  government to replace that regime.”

According to St. Clair, Sanders has dismissed those votes as “almost unanimous,” but that implies an absurdly elastic definition of the term. Looking up the actual vote, St. Clair found that 38 members of varying ideology and party affiliation voted no. To him, this means Sanders should be held responsible for the bombing campaign that followed, as well as the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children who allegedly perished as a result of US sanctions (which seems to absolve the late dictator of any culpability for the sanctions regime, but never mind).

Certainly it is fair to ask Sanders — who strives to distance himself from his rival on foreign and security policy – why he cast those fateful votes to support Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy in 1998.

 

By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, The National Memo, February 17, 2016

February 18, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Foreign Policy, Iraq War | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Michael Gerson Is An Idiot”: Former Bush Speechwriter Attacks Obama As Vicious Peacemonger

Last week, at a press conference in Turkey, a reporter asked President Obama to respond to the charge that “your reluctance to enter another Middle East war, and your preference of diplomacy over using the military makes the United States weaker and emboldens our enemies.” Obama began with a specific defense of his policies, and eventually added a general defense of his reluctance to send in large numbers of ground troops. “But what we do not do, what I do not do is to take actions either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough, or make me look tough,” insisted Obama, “And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed, and I see a 25-year-old kid who’s paralyzed or has lost his limbs, and some of those are people I’ve ordered into battle. And so I can’t afford to play some of the political games that others may.”

Washington Post columnist and former Bush administration speechwriter Michael Gerson is scandalized at the president’s rhetoric. “It is almost beyond belief: A commander in chief, in a time of national testing, deploying limbless soldiers as a rhetorical trump card against his political opponents … ” he complained. “The United States has a president whose wartime leadership is apparently inspired not by Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt but by Rachel Maddow. His military strategy in Iraq and Syria may be questionable, but Obama is the Eisenhower of political polarization, the Napoleon of the partisan low blow.”

For the sake of argument, let us grant Gerson’s implicit premise that the president’s rhetoric, rather than his policies, is the primary subject — a premise that no doubt appeals to the wordsmith who wrote eloquent justification on behalf of the most disastrous foreign-policy regime in American history. Focus on Gerson’s premise that there is something especially — indeed, world-historically — gross about Obama citing injured soldiers as an argument against committing soldiers to battle. What are we to make of arguments like this one, by George W. Bush, in favor of war with Iraq?

Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security, and for the people of Iraq. …

On Saddam Hussein’s orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.

Again, set aside the fact that Bush was utterly wrong in his case that neither human rights nor regional security could possibly get worse in the case of an invasion. What he believed (no doubt in earnest) was that his opponent’s policies would allow the continuation of the genuine horrors of Saddam-era Iraq. It’s beyond the pale to invoke the specter of a wheelchair-bound soldier to make the case against a ground invasion, but completely fair to saddle your opponents with decapitation, mass rape, and child torture?

 

By: Jonathan Chait, The Daily Intelligencer, November 20, 2015

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Iraq War, Michael Gerson, Middle East | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Wrong Then, Wrong Now”: What Cheney Left Out Of Iran Speech: His Own Record

Former Vice President Dick Cheney accused the Obama administration of giving Iran everything it needs to wage a nuclear war on the U.S.

What Cheney left out was that Iran made significant advances with its nuclear program while he was in office.

With a nuclear accord with Iran all but guaranteed to survive a challenge from congressional Republicans, Cheney escalated the blame game between President Barack Obama’s White House and some former members of President George W. Bush administration over responsibility for spiraling turmoil in the Middle East.

“This deal gives Iran the means to launch a nuclear attack on the U.S. homeland,” Cheney said. “It is madness.”

Cheney, one of the chief architects of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, said the agreement negotiated by the U.S. and five other world powers with Iran would “accelerate nuclear proliferation” in the Mideast and enable the Islamic Republic to attack the U.S. or its allies.

While criticizing Obama’s handling of Iran, Cheney has struggled to explain the advancement of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program during the Bush administration. Iran had about 6,000 uranium centrifuges installed at its Natanz nuclear research facility at the start of the Obama administration in 2009, up from zero eight years earlier, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran’s Centrifuges

“I think we did a lot to deal with the arms control problem in the Middle East,” Cheney said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday,” without specifically responding to a question from host Chris Wallace about Iran’s centrifuges.

Before Cheney began speaking Tuesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, the White House sought to preempt his argument with a video, distributed via social media, of Cheney’s past statements about the Iraq war titled: “Wrong Then, Wrong Now.”

Cheney’s warnings before the invasion that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction were wrong, and since leaving office he has frequently predicted devastating attacks on the U.S. by hostile nations or terrorist groups that have never materialized.

Iraq Justification

He again defended the Iraq war on Tuesday: “To argue that we should not have gone after Saddam Hussein is to argue that he still should be in place today,” he said.

He also said the Iraq invasion led to Libya’s former dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, offering to surrender his own nuclear program.

Cheney’s speech was interrupted by a protester from Codepink, an anti-war group that protested the Iraq invasion and is planning a series of events this week in support of the Iran deal.

“Dick Cheney’s a war criminal!” a young woman shouted before she was forcibly removed from the event. “Try diplomacy not war.”

Cheney did not address the woman, only saying “thank you,” after she was escorted out by security.

Cheney’s speech on Tuesday came 13 years to the day after the New York Times reported that Iraq was trying to obtain thousands of “aluminum tubes” to construct uranium centrifuges. Cheney confirmed the report — initially attributed to anonymous Bush administration sources — later that day in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

Ten days later, Bush delivered a speech to the United Nations General Assembly labeling Iraq “a grave and gathering danger” and citing the tubes as one piece of evidence for a nuclear program.

Aluminum Tubes

The Iraq Survey Group, which investigated Hussein’s alleged weapons programs after the invasion, determined that the tubes were most likely intended to build conventional rockets. No evidence ever emerged that Iraq tried to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.

Obama has argued that opposition to the Iran accord has been drummed up by many of the same people who supported the ill-fated invasion of Iraq.

“VP Cheney was wrong on Iraq, and now he’s making false claims about the #IranDeal,” Eric Schultz, the White House’s deputy press secretary, said on Twitter as Cheney spoke.

Cheney’s speech comes as several presidential candidates prepare to make public statements about the Iran deal. Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is expected to join Donald Trump at a rally for opponents of the agreement on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to speak on the deal Wednesday.

Congress returns to Washington on Tuesday after a five-week recess and lawmakers have until Sept. 17 to act on the agreement. As of Tuesday, 41 Democrats in the Senate have announced they will support the deal when Republicans, who have majorities in the House and Senate, attempt to advance a resolution of disapproval.

The Democratic support means that if the disapproval passes, Republicans won’t have enough votes to override a promised veto by Obama. Democrats also may have sufficient votes to filibuster such a resolution in the Senate, preventing it from ever reaching the president’s desk.

It isn’t clear if all 41 senators who have said they support the deal would also support blocking a vote on the disapproval resolution.

 

By: Toluse Olorunnipa, Bloomberg Politics, September 8, 2015

September 11, 2015 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Iran Nuclear Agreement, Iraq War | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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