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“Classic Kindergarten Bully Antics”: Trump’s Narcissism Makes It Hard For Him To Tack To Center

In the weeks following Trump’s mathematical lock on the GOP nomination, the candidate and party establishment have attempted to come to a detente and make overtures toward tacking to center in the general election. We have seen high-profile politicians say that Trump’s political racism and bigotry is an act he put on to win the primary election that he will drop in the general. We have seen Trump himself attempt to use more generically populist pitches than the specifically nativist themes he has consistently used to win Republican support.

But the problem is that Trump’s personal history and personality are going to make it very difficult for him to move into a less offensive general election mode.

Even the most casual observer can see that Trump is a classic narcissist. Like most narcissists, Trump tends to do and say whatever is best for him even at the expense of everyone else. Most importantly, he is congenitally unable to apologize and take responsibility for past bad behavior, or even concede that a critic might have a valid point. His reaction to being criticized is to immediately engage in childish and petty personal attacks against his critics.

The problem with petty personal attacks is that they quickly tend to devolve into bigotry. So it is that when a judge with a Hispanic surname ruled against Trump in the ongoing scandal of his fraudulent ponzi scheme “university,” Trump’s reaction wasn’t to suggest that all the facts had yet to come out, or that the judge had misinterpreted the data, or even that the judge had a politically motivated agenda as a secret liberal. These are the sorts of defenses that people who aren’t egomaniacal narcissists might make.

But not Trump. Trump’s reaction was to slam the judge for the crime of being Hispanic.

Trump goes for the jugular every time to silence his critics by placing himself (in his mind) on a level above them and denying them the right to even dare to judge him, by virtue of some innate inferiority on their part. It’s classic kindergarten bully antics. And in adult political life, it’s almost impossible to engage in kindergarten bullying without repeatedly stepping across lines of racism, sexism, and bigotry. This isn’t just a problem for him as a candidate, of course: it’s a problem for the entire Republican Party, which is aghast

But then, the GOP did this to itself. You can only use dogwhistled racism and sexism to deprive the middle class of its living standards for so long until that middle class stops buying into the hidden rhetoric and the plutocrat-friendly ideology, and starts to want more overt policies designed to help members of their own tribal identity.

It just happens to be that Republican voters picked a narcissist bully who will be constitutionally unable to do what it takes to win a general election. He just can’t help himself.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 5, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Establishment, GOP Voters | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Fundamental Values And Norms”: The Media Have Reached A Turning Point In Covering Donald Trump. He May Not Survive It

The news media have come in for a lot of criticism in the way they’ve reported this election, which makes it exactly like every other election. But something may have changed just in the last few days. I have no idea how meaningful it will turn out to be or how long it will last.

But it’s possible that when we look back over the sweep of this most unusual campaign, we’ll mark this week as a significant turning point: the time when journalists finally figured out how to cover Donald Trump.

They didn’t do it by coming up with some new model of coverage, or putting aside what they were taught in journalism school. They’re doing it by rediscovering the fundamental values and norms that are supposed to guide their profession. (And for the record, even though I’m part of “the media” I’m speaking in the third person here because I’m an opinion writer, and this is about the reporters whose job it is to objectively relay the events of the day).

If this evolution in coverage takes hold, we can trace it to the combined effect of a few events and developments happening in a short amount of time. The first was Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, the ostensible purpose of which was to answer questions about a fundraiser he held in January to raise money for veterans’ groups. In the course of the press conference, Trump was at his petulant, abusive worst, attacking reporters in general and those in the room. “The political press is among the most dishonest people that I’ve ever met,” he said, saying to one journalist who had asked a perfectly reasonable question, “You’re a sleaze.” These kinds of criticisms are not new — anyone who has reported a Trump rally can tell you how Trump always tosses some insults at the press, at which point his supporters turn around and hurl their own abuse at those covering the event — but Trump seemed particularly angry and unsettled.

To see how the press looked at that revealing event, it’s critical to understand what led to it. It happened because the Post’s David Fahrenthold and some other reporters did what journalists are supposed to do. They raised questions about Trump’s fundraiser, and when they didn’t get adequate answers, they investigated, gathered facts, and asked more questions.

It was excellent work — time-consuming, difficult, and ultimately paying dividends in public understanding. And Trump’s attack on them for doing their jobs the way those jobs are supposed to be done couldn’t have been better designed to get every other journalist to want to do the same. They’re no different than anyone else: When you make a direct attack on their professionalism, they’re likely to react by reaching back to their profession’s core values to demonstrate that they can live up to them. Trump may have wanted to intimidate them, but it’s likely to have the opposite effect.

The same day as the press conference, a trove of documents from Trump University was released as part of a class-action lawsuit accusing Trump of fraud. The documents revealed allegations as to just what a scam that enterprise was: high-pressure sales tactics, nothing resembling knowledge being imparted to the “students,” people in financial trouble preyed upon and told to max out their credit cards to pay for more seminars and courses. Some of Trump’s other schemes may have been comical, but as far as we know nobody was victimized too terribly by buying a Trump Steak or a bottle of Trump Vodka. Trump University is something entirely different, and it’s not over yet; questions are now being raised about an investigation the Texas Attorney General’s office undertook of Trump University, which concluded that it was cheating Texans out of large sums of money; the investigation was dropped by then-AG Greg Abbott, who later got $35,000 in contributions from Trump and is now the state’s governor.

Plenty of presidential candidates have had shady doings in their pasts, but can you think of anything that compares to Trump University? A party’s nominee allegedly running a con not just on unsuspecting victims, but on victims specifically chosen for their vulnerability and desperation? It’s no wonder that you can’t find any Republicans who’ll defend it, in a time when ordinarily you can get a partisan hack to justify almost anything their party’s leader is doing or has done.

Then you had Trump’s continued attacks on the judge presiding over that fraud case. It’s unusual enough for a presidential candidate to be publicly attacking a judge in a case he’s involved in, but what’s most appalling is the blatant bigotry at the basis of Trump’s criticisms. First Trump would simply say that in addition to being biased against him the judge is “Mexican” (which is false — the judge was born in Indiana). Now Trump says that because the judge is “of Mexican heritage” he should be removed from the case. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” he says. Given all the other demographic groups Trump has insulted and offended, the natural conclusion would seem to be that only white male judges are fit to preside over Trump’s many, many lawsuits.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, June 3, 2016

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Journalists, News Media | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Trump’s Early Stages of Evolution?”: Donald Trump Is Afraid Of Muslim Judges, Too

In an interview with John Dickerson that aired Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, Donald Trump didn’t just hold on to his notion that a judge with Mexican heritage is incapable of treating him fairly in court, he agreed that it was “possible” that Muslim judges wouldn’t be able to either. Referring first to U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Mexican American judge who is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit, Trump reiterated his accusation of prejudice:

[Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans, I’m doing very well with them in my opinion.

So in Trump’s mind, despite his big beautiful wall idea, he’s still “doing very well” with Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexicans, just not the ones that are members of pro-Mexican clubs or societies, and judges. And then there are those Muslims: Dickerson asked Trump if be believed he would also be unable to receive a fair shake from Muslim judges as a result of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Trump responded, “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

When Dickerson asked Trump whether he also believed in the American tradition “that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from,” he replied:

I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense, okay? [Curiel’s] somebody, he’s proud of his heritage. And I think that’s great that he’s proud of his heritage. … You know, we have to stop being so politically correct in this country. And we need a little more common sense, John. And I’m not blaming. I’m proud of my heritage, we’re all proud of our heritage. But I want to build a wall.

Then again, Trump’s pseudo-suggestion that justice is more important than an intense love of one’s racial or ethnic heritage may not register with at least some of his own supporters.

In other news, RNC chair Reince Priebus has told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanics would likely evolve between now and the election in November:

I’ve said that I do think Donald Trump understands that his tone and rhetoric is going to have to evolve in regard to how we’re communicating to Hispanics across the country,. I think he gets that. Now, there’s a lot of time between now and November, and I think you’re going to see an evolution on that particular issue.”

Of course, that theory of evolution is not yet supported by evidence outside the minds of establishment Republicans who now find themselves chained to the Trump Express.

Referring to the Trump University lawsuit and Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, Priebus added that, while he didn’t know much about the case, “I wouldn’t invoke race into any sort of attack or commentary.”

 

By: Charles Danner, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 5, 2016

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Judiciary, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ethnic Heritage On The Courts”: What Happens In A White Patriarchal Culture Where “Norms” Are The Default Mode

Even as legal experts express their alarm over Donald Trump’s remarks about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel (who is presiding over the fraud cases against Trump University), the presumptive Republican presidential nominee decided to double down.

In an interview, Mr. Trump said U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel had “an absolute conflict” in presiding over the litigation given that he was “of Mexican heritage” and a member of a Latino lawyers’ association. Mr. Trump said the background of the judge, who was born in Indiana to Mexican immigrants, was relevant because of his campaign stance against illegal immigration and his pledge to seal the southern U.S. border. “I’m building a wall. It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” Mr. Trump said.

So here’s how that breaks down: Trump makes racists proposals against Mexican immigrants and then assumes that presents a conflict of interest for a judge with Mexican heritage. Based on all of his racist and sexist comments, that might wipe out a pretty good portion of the judiciary from ever presiding over a case in which he is involved.

But there is something deeper at work here. I have no illusions that a man like Trump will ever understand it. But it’s important for us to be clear about what it means to single a judge out for their ethnic heritage.

As I’ve been watching this unfold, I am reminded of the Republican attacks on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Because of her compelling story and exemplary career, they settled on going after her for her remarks about a “wise Latina.” They were part of a lecture she gave in 2009 titled: A Latina Judge’s Voice” in which she addressed the question of what it means to have more women and people of color on the bench.

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life…

Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

Now…compare that to what Sam Alito said during his confirmation hearing when Sen. Tom Coburn asked him to let us see a little bit of his heart.

…when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.”

The only real difference between what Sotomayor and Alito said is that her family is from Puerto Rico and his are from Italy. And yet one nominee’s words were cause for a firestorm and the other’s were heralded as heartfelt – when noticed at all. That is what happens in a white patriarchal culture where “norms” are established as the default mode for expectations.

Let’s take a look at how Justice Sotomayor ended her lecture.

Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.

There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.

One has to wonder whether Justice Alito questions his own assumptions, presumptions and perspectives that stem from being a white male on the court. The systemic bias we witness in the courts is largely a result of the failure to do so.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 3, 2016

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Judiciary, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Donald Trump And The Courts”: Represents Everything GOP Claimed To Be Against When It Comes To The Court System

Usually when the judicial branch of government comes up during presidential campaigns, the discussion focuses on what kind of judges the candidate would nominate to the Supreme Court. For Donald Trump – his list of potential nominees is cause for concern. But that doesn’t even begin to capture the problem.

We’re hearing a lot lately about the lawsuit brought against him by former students of Trump University. His response hasn’t just been racist. It is downright disturbing.

“I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said at a campaign rally in San Diego, adding that he believed the Indiana-born judge was “Mexican.”

He also suggested taking action against the judge after the election: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. Okay? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am president and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it. Okay. This is called life, folks.”

Legal experts are right when they suggest that this kind of personal vendetta undermines our courts.

On the other hand, Trump has “suggested” that he wants to exploit the judiciary in an attempt to bully his critics.

During a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump began his usual tirade against newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, saying they’re “losing money” and are “dishonest.” The Republican presidential candidate then took a different turn, suggesting that when he’s president they’ll “have problems.”

“One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,” Trump said.

Out goes the First Amendment and it’s protections of a free press. Think he’s kidding? Nick Penzenstadler and Susan Page provide history and data to demonstrate Trump’s pattern.

An exclusive USA TODAY analysis of legal filings across the United States finds that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and his businesses have been involved in at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades. They range from skirmishes with casino patrons to million-dollar real estate suits to personal defamation lawsuits.

OK, so that’s 3,500 cases over 3 decades. How does it look in the present?

Just since he announced his candidacy a year ago, at least 70 new cases have been filed, about evenly divided between lawsuits filed by him and his companies and those filed against them. And the records review found at least 50 civil lawsuits remain open even as he moves toward claiming the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in seven weeks.

Trump likes to dismiss this kind of thing as simply the cost of doing business. But Penzenstadler and Page compared this record to the legal involvement for five top real-estate business executives and found that “Trump has been involved in more legal skirmishes than all five of the others — combined.”

Trump’s abuse of the court system is simply another example of the way he exposes himself as a narcissistic bully.

He sometimes responds to even small disputes with overwhelming legal force. He doesn’t hesitate to deploy his wealth and legal firepower against adversaries with limited resources, such as homeowners. He sometimes refuses to pay real estate brokers, lawyers and other vendors.

In other words, Trump represents everything the Republicans have claimed to be against when it comes to exploiting the court system. As a friend of mine used to say…”Now run and tell that.”

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 2, 2016

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Judicial System | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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