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“I Like People That Weren’t Captured, OK?”: Trump Takes The Wrong Message To The Wrong Crowd In The Wrong Way

For those unfamiliar with the “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle rally, the point of the annual gathering is to raise awareness of prisoners of war and American servicemen and women missing in action. If you tried to find the most out-of-place individual imaginable for this rally, you could do worse than pointing to a New York billionaire who avoided military service and who’s publicly mocked POWs, saying last year, “I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

And yet, take a wild guess which high-profile speaker graced Rolling Thunder with his presence this holiday weekend?

Republican Donald Trump told a motorcycle rally on Sunday that people in the U.S. illegally often are cared for better than the nation’s military veterans, without backing up his allegation.

“Thousands of people are dying waiting in line to see a doctor. That is not going to happen anymore,” Trump told veterans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the annual Rolling Thunder event, which brings thousands of motorcyclists to Washington each Memorial Day weekend.

The assertion that veterans often receive worse care than undocumented immigrants is demonstrably ridiculous, though that’s never stopped Trump before.

The presumptive Republican nominee was also apparently disappointed with the crowd size – organizers estimated about 5,000 people were in attendance – arguing that there were 600,000 people who wanted to hear his speech but weren’t allowed in.

Trump complained, “I thought this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people would be lined up from here all the way to the Washington monument, right? Unfortunately, they don’t allow ‘em to come in,” without explaining who “they” are or where these 600,000 people were hiding.

Of course, the more Trump avoids King references when talking about his speeches, the better.

Regardless, think about the chutzpah it took for the Republican candidate to claim credibility of the subject of veterans in the first place.

Even if Trumps’ mockery of POWs wasn’t enough to keep him away, and even if Trump’s plan to privatize veterans’ care wasn’t enough to keep him away, and even if Trump’s avoiding military service during the Vietnam war wasn’t enough to keep him away, there’s also the fact that Trump and his campaign got caught lying about his financial support for veterans’ charities.

This happened, by the way, literally last week – just days ahead of his remarks to an audience committed to raising awareness about a group of veterans.

The GOP candidate might have been disappointed the crowd wasn’t larger, but Trump’s lucky those who were in attendance didn’t just laugh in his face.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, POW/MIA, Veterans | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Kasich Is Sometimes His Own Worst Enemy”: An Amateur, Especially When Talking To And About Women

In a year in which Republican voters have gravitated towards amateurs, John Kasich offers extensive political experience. The Ohio Republican has run two winning gubernatorial campaigns, which followed nine successful congressional campaigns and some state legislative races in one of the nation’s largest states. A rookie he isn’t.

And yet, Kasich has an unfortunate habit of sounding like an amateur, especially when talking to and about women. Slate’s Christina Cauterucci reported today:

At a Watertown, New York, town hall on Friday, John Kasich advised a female college student to steer clear of “parties where there’s a lot of alcohol” to keep from getting raped, assaulted, or sexually harassed.

His comment came after a first-year student from New York’s St. Lawrence University asked the GOP presidential candidate and Ohio governor, “What are you going to do in office as president to help me feel safer and more secure regarding sexual violence, harassment, and rape?”

The governor initially responded by talking about confidential reporting mechanisms and access to rape kits, before telling the young woman, “I’d also give you one bit of advice: Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

The problem with such a response should be obvious. If a woman goes to a gathering and gets assaulted, it’s insane to think it’s her fault for having gone to a party where people were drinking. The solution is for men to stop committing sex crimes; encouraging women to make different choices in their social habits badly misses the point.

As news of his comments spread, Kasich turned to Twitter to make clear his belief that “only one person is at fault in a sexual assault, and that’s the assailant.”

In the broader context, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind.

The first is that incidents like these keep coming up on the campaign trail. Remember the time Kasich asked a woman, unprompted, “Have you ever been on a diet?”

In October, a college student tried to ask Kasich a question about undocumented immigrants, but when the young woman raised her hand at a forum, the governor told her, “I don’t have any tickets for, you know, for Taylor Swift or anything.”

According to the report from the college newspaper, the Republican presidential candidate told another young woman at the event, “I’m sure you get invited to all of the parties.”

A few months later, Kasich told a Virginia audience that, during one of his early statehouse races, women “left their kitchens” to support him.

Remember, this guy has literally spent decades on the campaign trail, honing his communications skills with the public.

The other angle is that Kasich hasn’t just made insulting comments about women, the governor has taken a series of policy steps that undermine women’s health options as part of a conservative culture war.

I realize that in the GOP’s 2016 field, Kasich is seen as the “moderate” Republican with broad appeal, but given the circumstances, I’m afraid that probably says more about the govenror’s rivals than his own qualities.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2016

April 19, 2016 Posted by | John Kasich, Women, Women's Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Perfect Echo Chamber”: Why Is Matt Drudge Boosting Donald Trump?

Who’s responsible for Donald Trump? The establishment honchos of the Republican Party first and foremost, for not having the stones to stand up and stop the crazy in their party over the last seven years when Steve King and Louis Gohmert and Michele Bachmann and all the others said the unhinged things they said. The cable networks, for covering his every utterance and letting him play them like a fiddle.

A less discussed culprit: Matt Drudge. He may not get the headlines he got 15 years ago, so if you don’t read his site you might think he’s kinda gone away. Well, he has not. The Drudge Report is as huge as ever: Around 700 million visitors a month.

And what they’ve been getting for the last six months is a steady stream of pro-Trump agitprop. Drudge’s own weird, quasi-libertarian, crypto-racialist-populist political views have found their perfect echo in Trump’s campaign. If you’ve read the Drudge site over the years, you know how expert the site has always been at finding and promoting news stories that aren’t capital-P political on their face but whose political moral, and the reason Drudge highlights them, is obvious.

A preposterous-sounding grievance from a minority group member; a left-wing academic making some nutty claim or another; some new manifestation of political correctness afoot. These stories are the mother’s milk of the site, and they create the same paranoia that Trump is creating, and among the same audience.

And the audience is gobbling it up—and regurgitating it in the hoped-for way. As Republican-turned-independent (and now Hillary Clinton supporter) Jimmy LaSalvia noted at Salon recently, after every GOP debate, the Drudge site polls its readers on who won. And every time, Trump has won, usually big.

It’s no wonder. The Drudge site is (gulp) its readers’ most trusted news source, and nearly every day it’s playing a pro-Trump piece high up. As I write this, Tuesday the 29th, the story is “New poll shows Trump strong among minorities.” The link is to a story on World Net Daily, a far-right site whose stock in trade is headlines like “Democrats Think Christians Bigger Threat Than Muslims,” and it’s to a poll commissioned by…World Net Daily! It finds that “40 percent of blacks are lining up behind Trump, as are 45 percent of Hispanics, and even nearly 19 percent of Asians.” Right.

Now, if you’re reacting to this by thinking so what, tell me something new, my answer is that I am telling you something new. In 2012, Drudge generally backed not Newt Gingrich or Ron Paul or Rick Santorum or Herman Cain, but Mr. Establishment himself, Mitt Romney! You can go back and Google it and find loads of stories from that cycle about how Drudge highlighted pro-Romney stories and how the other GOP contenders groused that Drudge was helping Mittens.

Why the change? I’m not exactly a Drudge world insider. The public evidence we have is the big and very rare interview Drudge gave back in October to wingnut radio host Alex Jones, where he delivered gems like this one: “You’ve got to be the greatest you can be now—now. Before this country is so completely altered and we’re left with Hillary’s brain in the Oval Office in a jar. Cuz that’s what we’re getting. She is old and she’s sick. She is not a contender. They’re making her a contender with these propped up Saturday Night Live things; it’s like a head on a stick. And then on the Today show with [Savannah Guthrie]—a head on a stick. She is not a viable, vibrant leader for this country of 300—including the illegals, 380 million—Americans. So the media is trying to put us to sleep.”

Eighty million illegals. And you thought it was 11.5 million. See how the corporate media have been lying to you? For what it’s worth, Drudge has been a major promoter of Jones’ conspiracy-mongering websites, often giving them prominent links.

So now we’re getting to crunch time. How much juice does Drudge still have with GOP primary voters, especially in the key states? Probably a lot is my guess. It’s obviously impossible to say how much Drudge has helped Trump thus far. Trump probably didn’t need a push from Drudge to get where he is. But look at it from the reverse point of view: If Drudge had been anti-Trump these last six months, Trump very well might not be where he is right now.

The more serious question is how much juice Drudge might have in a general election contest. He will want to destroy Hillary Clinton, there’s no doubt about that. If Trump is actually the Republican nominee, Drudge will have his dream match-up: the right-wing nativist fuck-the-establishment candidate versus a Clinton. Destroying, or trying to destroy, a Clinton (Bill) is what made Drudge world famous in the first place, back in 1998. But that didn’t work out for him. And promoting the candidate that half the Republican Party would run away from holding its nose doesn’t seem like the best way to stop this Clinton.

Maybe deep down on some level even they only dimly grasp, all these people want her to be the president. She’s great for ratings and page views, and everything they don’t like about a changing country that they no longer speak to or for can be immediately blamed on her. Only a Clinton victory would support their idea of America as a place where the corporate media are brainwashing people to become diversity-worshipping automatons, and conservative media will be there to ride the decline.

And that’s what Drudge’s move from Romney to Trump proves: On the radical right, it’s not about stopping liberalism anymore. It’s about demolishing conservatism.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, December 30, 2015

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, Matt Drudge | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions About Why Rubio Is So Soft On Immigrants”: The Irony In Marco Rubio And Ted Cruz’s Argument Over “Amnesty”

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are for now the only real candidates with a chance to become the Republican nominee for president (granting that Donald Trump, whatever his chances, is an utterly unreal candidate), and to Rubio’s chagrin, they are engaged in a dispute over immigration that grows progressively more venomous.

This complex policy challenge has been reduced to the question of which of them is more fervently opposed to “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, but the debate obscures an odd fact. Though Cruz is getting the better of the argument, the substance of Rubio’s position on the issue—which he is now desperately trying to justify—is actually more popular with Republican voters. But in this atmosphere, when fear and resentment are the order of the day, even that isn’t enough to help him.

A brief bit of background. In 2013, Rubio joined with a bipartisan group of senators called the Gang of Eight to write a comprehensive immigration reform bill, which passed the Senate but died in the House. Along with increasing border security and beefing up the E-Verify system through which employers check their employees’ immigration status, it provided for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But it was an extremely lengthy path. They would have to register, pay a fine, pass a background check, and at that point they would be granted provisional legal status. After waiting ten years, paying another fine, and showing that they had learned English, they could apply for a green card. Then if they got the green card, they could apply for citizenship three years after that. So it could be fifteen years or more before someone who is currently an undocumented immigrant became a citizen.

As for Ted Cruz’s part, he offered an amendment at the time stripping out the path to citizenship but allowing undocumented immigrants to get work permits. Rubio charges that this means Cruz supported legal status for the undocumented (horrors!), while Cruz says that his amendment was just a poison pill meant to sabotage the bill.

While Rubio has backed away from the bill—he now says he learned that comprehensive reform is impossible, and the answer is to do it piece by piece, with the enforcement pieces coming first—he still says he supports an eventual path to citizenship. But he’s always careful to stress how long it would be before that would even be discussed, much less implemented.

So right now, Rubio is defensively answering all kinds of questions about why he’s so soft on immigrants, while Cruz is the one attacking (and Rubio’s counter that Cruz is kind of an amnesty supporter too has fallen short). Yet Rubio’s position on the path to citizenship question—yes, but after a lengthy process—is quite popular within the party.

It matters a lot how you ask the question, but polling shows that, as a group, Republican voters are perfectly open to letting undocumented immigrants stay in the United States. When Pew asked recently if undocumented immigrants who “meet certain requirements” should be allowed to say, 66 percent of Republicans say yes, with 37 percent supporting citizenship and 28 percent supporting permanent residency.

But the more specific you make the question, the more open Republicans are to citizenship. When pollsters have asked whether undocumented immigrants should be able to apply for citizenship if they pay fines and learn English, clear majorities of Republicans say yes: 72 percent in a January 2014 CNN poll; 69 percent in an October 2013 CBS poll; 63 percent in a February 2013 Fox poll (those and others are collected here).

Those results demonstrate that if you can assure people—even Republicans—that undocumented immigrants will pay a price and assimilate, they have no problem with a path to citizenship. And that’s exactly what the Gang of Eight bill did.

So why isn’t Rubio winning on this issue? One reason is that his position is complex, while Cruz’s position is a rather simpler “He loves amnesty!”—and simpler messages usually prevail. Another reason is that the candidates aren’t actually appealing to all Republican voters, but the somewhat smaller and more conservative group that will actually vote in primaries. And finally, Donald Trump’s campaign, not to mention the general atmosphere of fear stirred up by the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, has made anything resembling rational discussion on this issue all but impossible. Ted Cruz is capitalizing on that atmosphere with an enthusiasm bordering on the gleeful; he’s now airing an ad claiming that the Gang of Eight bill “would have given Obama the authority to admit Syrian refugees, including ISIS terrorists. That’s just wrong.” It should go without saying that his claim is absolutely ludicrous.

It’s possible that each passing day in which Donald Trump is on TV talking about border walls and excluding Muslims has the effect of nudging the Republican electorate to the right on anything that has to do with foreigners. But the polling results of the last few years show that Republicans are not a monolith, and there should be a market for a position like Rubio’s.

There’s another truth we should acknowledge in this debate. What a President Cruz would actually do on immigration is almost identical to what a President Rubio would do: not much. The last few years have proven that the Republican House has no appetite for comprehensive reform, no matter what the circumstances. And today’s GOP caucus is even more conservative than it was in 2013, after the sweep of 2014 brought in a whole new class of ultra-right members. Most Republicans hail from safe Republican districts, where they fear only a challenge from the right, so there’s no reason why they’d embrace comprehensive reform. The Republican Party itself may want to reach out to Hispanic voters, but your average Republican member of Congress has little reason to; indeed, all his interests run toward vehement opposition.

And if a Republican does somehow win the presidency, the urgency in demonstrating any goodwill toward Hispanics will be gone. So what will happen? The Republican Congress will pass a bill or two hiring more Border Patrol and ICE agents and building some more fences, the Republican president will sign those bills, and they’ll all call it a day—whether the public, including even Republican voters, would favor a path to citizenship or not.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, December 21, 2015

December 22, 2015 Posted by | Amnesty, Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Not The Worldview Of Most Americans”: Donald Trump Ushers In A New Era Of Pitchfork Populism

Donald Trump became the driving force in U.S. politics by giving voice to anger, fear and resentment that were already there, just below the surface, waiting for their moment and messenger.

At present, Trump’s target is any believer in Islam who seeks to enter the United States. Back in June, he launched his campaign with invective toward any Latino immigrant living in this country without documents. He attacks President Obama less for his policies than for his identity — not for what the president does but for who he is. Trump has made himself the champion of a fading, embattled “us” in a life-or-death struggle against a swarming, threatening “them.”

The blustery billionaire’s “us” is nowhere near a majority of the U.S. electorate, but it might be enough to win him the Republican nomination for president. And even if he falls short, the forces he has loosed will not easily be tamped down.

Trump’s rally Monday in Mount Pleasant, S.C., was a lesson in what his campaign is really about. Just hours earlier, he had issued a statement saying all Muslims should be barred entry to the United States in light of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist rampage. The subtext was clear: All Muslims are potential terrorists. We have to keep them out.

Some commentators pronounced, for the umpteenth time, that “Trump has finally gone too far.” But the Mount Pleasant crowd apparently thought otherwise.

“I wrote something today that I think is very very salient, very important and probably not politically correct, but I don’t care,” Trump said. Then he read his no-Muslims statement and the crowd responded with a huge, raucous ovation.

And Muslims were not his only target at that rally. He railed at the journalists covering the event, pointing them out at the back of the room and calling them “scum” for supposedly never showing how big his crowds are. He also focused the crowd’s attention on Black Lives Matter protesters in the back of the room, declaring that they should be ejected but treated gently.

Trump’s audience in Mount Pleasant appeared to be overwhelmingly white. If it mirrored his support base in the polls, it was also older and less educated than the Republican electorate as a whole. A vastly wealthy tycoon who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and lives in a Manhattan penthouse has somehow become the unlikely spokesman for a segment of voters who feel most threatened by what the nation has become.

Demographic change means that whites will no longer be the majority by the middle of the century. When you call the electric company to pay a bill, you’re asked to push as a button “ para continuar en español .” Incomes are stagnant except for those at the very top; manufacturing jobs are gone; and if you don’t have a college degree, you’re trapped on the wrong side of the wall between middle-class comfort and lower-class misery.

To add insult to injury, serving his second term as president is a black man who was educated at Ivy League schools and whose father was a Muslim. For Trump’s supporters, it is hard to imagine a more perfect target for fear and loathing.

The people at Trump’s rallies do not necessarily believe he will do all the things he promises. Is it really possible to round up and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants? Will Mexico really pay for building an impenetrable wall along the border? Is it legally or practically feasible to identify and turn back every Muslim seeking entry to the country? Is a pledge to “bomb the s—” out of the Islamic State any different from what Obama is already doing or any more likely to prevent another terrorist attack?

It’s not that Trump will do the impossible, it’s that he might do something .

Trump gives unfiltered voice to the anger and frustration some Americans feel. When he says he refuses to be “politically correct,” what he means is that he rejects the traditional constraints of public discourse. He doesn’t chastise his supporters for racism, nativism or religious bigotry; instead, he validates such views, bringing them out of the closet where they had been hiding.

Whatever happens to Trump’s candidacy, he has exposed a kind of rage that we haven’t seen in many years. His pitchfork populism is not the worldview of most Americans, to be sure. But it is likely to remain a significant political force — even if the Republican establishment somehow quashes the Trump rebellion.

 

By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 10, 2015

December 14, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fearmongering, GOP Voters, Muslims | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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