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“Locals Very Anxious About The Bad Vibes”: Republican Insiders Are Dreading Their Own Convention

Cleveland is one of those cities that has invested a whole lot in rehabilitating a once-dismal image, with some success. Now it’s probably better known as a vibrant music center (home of a fine symphony orchestra and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) than as another decaying Rust Belt graveyard full of industrial ghosts. There’s a major NASA facility there. Cleveland has its share of foodies and hipsters. The sports scene once probably best defined by the Ten Cent Beer Night riot that canceled an Indians’ game in 1974 now has produced an NBA championship.

But as is the case in a lot of cities fighting a bad rep, there’s a certain strained boosterism to Cleveland’s self-promotion, perhaps best characterized by the frenetic “Cleveland Rocks!” assertions that festooned comedian Drew Carey’s long-running ABC sitcom. So you have to figure the locals are very anxious about the bad vibes surrounding next week’s Republican National Convention. Will the event be remembered as another (to borrow the term of derision once commonly applied to the huge, frigid Cleveland Stadium until its demolition in 1996) Mistake by the Lake?

Of course, the widespread “dread” of the convention among GOP insiders that Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote about today has less to do with the convention’s locale than with the Trump nomination it will formalize. An unprecedented number of elected officials are finding somewhere else to be next week. Political operatives who would normally no more miss a convention than a child would forget her or his own birthday are planning hit-and-run visits to conduct essential business only. Several big corporations are canceling what would normally be routine sponsorships (Isenstadt reports ominously that some local caterers are laying off staff because of the reduced number of corporate events).

There will not be a shortage, however, of media observers, many of whom are coming to Cleveland in hopes of seeing some sort of garish and horrific spectacle, whether it’s a fight over the convention rules, violence in the streets, or just an exceptionally cheesy Trump-driven agenda of C-class celebrities and washed-up athletes.

Totally aside from the hostility to Trump many Republican Establishment types feel, there’s a sense this convention could rank down there with Barry Goldwater’s Cow Palace convention in 1964 as the kickoff to a general-election fiasco.

But perhaps an even greater source of “dread” is the potential contrast between chaos outside the convention arena and tedium inside.

At a time when the nation is reeling from a series of mass shootings, there is widespread concern about safety in Cleveland. Increasing the worry is the nature of Trump’s campaign events, which have at times resulted in racially charged violence between his supporters and critics. The convention is expected to draw scores of protesters, ranging from Black Lives Matter to white-supremacist groups.

Thanks to Ohio’s robust “concealed carry” law, Cleveland police are being reduced to begging protesters not to bring along their shooting irons. Fortunately, the more respectable Trump supporters are ahead of the curve:

Tim Selaty, director of operations at Citizens for Trump, said his group was paying for private security to bolster the police presence. While Mr. Selaty said people should be allowed to carry guns, his group is banning long weapons from a rally in a park it is hosting on Monday.

“We’re going to insist that they leave any long arms out for sure because we believe that will make sure our people are safer,” he said. “In other words, no AR-15s, no shotguns or sniper rifles — all of the things that you would think somebody would bring in to hurt a lot of people in a very short time.”

Gee, that’s a relief: at least some people in the protest zone will have nothing more troublesome at hand than their hand cannons.

In a terrible affront to both the Second Amendment and the constitutional doctrine of federalism, the Obama Secret Service has banned firearms inside the convention perimeter itself. But the biggest worry Republicans have about what goes on inside Quicken Loans Arena involves Team Trump’s apparent disorganization in planning the convention. Six days out, and more than a week after Trump himself boasted the speaking schedule was full-to-overflowing, there’s still no convention schedule available. A relative handful of isolated announcements have been made about this or that elected official agreeing to speak at the convention, in a sharp departure from the usual assumption that all of them would be there and most of them above the rank of dogcatcher would be offered three minutes during a sleepy afternoon session. We’re all beginning to wonder if there will be a schedule in place when the convention officially opens on Monday.

All in all, it’s not looking good for Republicans or for Cleveland. If the convention is a mess or if violence erupts outside it, you can be sure that media types will reach for long-buried symbols of Cleveland disasters like the occasions in the 1960s and 1970s when the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River caught on fire. Thanks to a generation of environmental efforts nationally and locally, that doesn’t happen anymore. But it could be an apt metaphor if RNC ’16 goes up in flames.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, July 12, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | Cleveland OH, Donald Trump, Republican National Convention | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Feeling A Revolutionary Spirit”: Moved By Donald Trump, David Duke Plots A Comeback

I see that David Duke hasn’t moderated his views since he was an active politician in the early 1990’s. That’s unfortunate. Some people mature with time.

Instead, he’s feeling “a revolutionary spirit,” and is seriously considering making a challenge to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Duke has until June 22nd to qualify for the November ballot. Remember, Louisiana has those funky elections where the November election can serve as a primary of sorts if no one reaches 50% of the vote. In those cases, there is a subsequent runoff election.

I don’t remember if Duke is/was a Grand Wizard or an Exalted Cyclops or what exact honorific he used in the Ku Klux Klan.

“There are millions of people across the country who would like to have me in the Congress. I’d be the only person in Congress openly defending the rights and the heritage of European Americans,” he said. “We are on the offensive today. There’s no more defenses.”

He actually thinks he’d make a good running mate for Trump.

Duke compared himself to Donald Trump, who he endorsed for president.

“I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more,” he said. “I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

Yet, Duke is realistic enough to know that Trump is unlikely to put him on the ticket.

Trump won’t reach out to him because the candidate fears “offending the oligarchs,” a term Duke uses for the political establishment he said is controlled by Jewish, Hispanic and African American interests.

Aware of his checkered history, Duke said he welcomed the backlash that would come if he runs.

In most cases, it’s a cheap shot to highlight a candidate’s most unsavory supporters, particularly if that support is unsolicited and unrequited. But it’s noteworthy to see Duke feeling this energized by Trump’s success. He’s moved by the spirit to stop playing defense and run for office because he sees in Trump the fruition of a quarter century of race hatred that he’s been “nurturing.”

Maybe Duke is just misinterpreting Trump or the political moment or basic reality, but there’s little doubt about what Duke thinks he can accomplish under Trump’s leadership.

Should Duke make it to the House, he said one of his first goals would be to repeal the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which liberalized immigration laws by eliminating race-based quotas.

Obviously, Duke thinks Trump is a fellow traveler, and he might have been bolstered in that impression back in February when Trump had tremendous difficulty finding one bad thing to say about the KKK.

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday about David Duke and the KKK supporting his candidacy, Donald Trump passed on refuting them. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did [David Duke] endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.” When Tapper said he was specifically talking about the KKK, Trump continued saying, “I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about.” He then declared, “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

But who, really, knows nothing about the Ku Klux Klan?

Trump did disavow the Klan’s support, but so tepidly that Duke was obviously encouraged.

So encouraged, in fact, that he’s ready to take on the House Majority Whip. And, in case you’d forgotten or just didn’t know, Steve Scalise has in the past spoken to one of David Duke’s little hate groups (the European-American Unity and Rights Organization) and once campaigned as “David Duke without the baggage.”

If Duke does run, the people of Louisiana’s First District will get to decide if they want their David Duke with or without the baggage.

In the meantime, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, is telling people that Donald Trump is a racial healer.

I’m just not seeing that.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 13, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | David Duke, Donald Trump, Ku Klux Klan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Bandwagon Effect”: How Trump’s Dog Whistles Work

The headline from an article by Jill Colvin and Matthew Daly caught my eye: Trump: ‘A Lot Of People’ Feel That Black Lives Matter Is ‘Inherently Racist.” Here’s the context:

Trump also had harsh words for the Black Lives Matters movement, which has organized some of the protests. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, labeled the group “inherently racist” over the weekend in an interview with CBS News.

“When you say black lives matter, that’s inherently racist,” Giuliani said. “Black lives matter. White lives matter. Asian lives matter. Hispanic lives matter. That’s anti-American and it’s racist.”

Asked whether he agreed with Giuliani’s assessment, Trump said the group’s name is “divisive.”

“A lot of people agree with that. A lot of people feel that it is inherently racist. And it’s a very divisive term,” he said. “Because all lives matter. It’s a very, very divisive term.”

We could talk about the racism being expressed by both Giuliani and Trump in that exchange. But the framing of Trump’s statement is something he does very often; “A lot of people agree with that. A lot of people feel…” It is a logical fallacy called argumentum ad populum.

…a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it: “If many believe so, it is so.”

We sometimes call this the “bandwagon effect” captured by the Chinese proverb, “three men make a tiger.”

“Three men make a tiger” refers to an individual’s tendency to accept absurd information as long as it is repeated by enough people. It refers to the idea that if an unfounded premise or urban legend is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be erroneously accepted as the truth.

Jenna Jones noticed Trump’s attachment to this fallacy about a month ago and documented how he used it to spread his conspiracy theories. For example, when he was asked to explain a statement about how President Obama doesn’t understand Muslim terrorists, he said this:

“Well,” Trump said on the “Today Show” Monday morning, “there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be.”

Here’s what he said in an attempt to insinuate that the Clintons were involved in the death of Vince Foster:

“I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it,” Trump said in an interview with The Post in May. “I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

Jones points out that this is how Trump maneuvers in order to be able to backtrack when circumstances require him to do so.

Trump frequently couches his most controversial comments this way, which allows him to share a controversial idea, piece of tabloid gossip or conspiracy theory without technically embracing it. If the comment turns out to be popular, Trump will often drop the distancing qualifier — “people think” or “some say.” If the opposite happens, Trump can claim that he never said the thing he is accused of saying, equating it to retweeting someone else’s thoughts on Twitter.

What is important to remember is the part about why he does it in the first place. It is a way for Trump to give a wink and a nod to white supremacists and conspiracy theorists to say, “I hear you, I’m with you.” That is his way of doing dog whistle politics.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 12, 2016

July 13, 2016 Posted by | Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, Racism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump Backer Says He’s Running ‘As A Racial Healer'”: Is Trump Prepared To Acknowledge His Role In The Problem?

Donald Trump has been called all sorts of things over the course of his controversial presidential campaign, but yesterday was probably the first time anyone, anywhere, said he’s positioned to play the role of “racial healer.”

CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), a vice presidential contender, and the host noted that he’s heard from “a number of Latino-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Native-Americans, Jewish-Americans, African-Americans, all expressing concerns about some of the things Donald Trump has said.” The Republican governor insisted most Americans have the same security concerns, regardless of who wins the election.

It led to this amazing exchange.

TAPPER: Respectfully, governor, you didn’t answer my question. Do you think Donald Trump has campaigned as a racial healer?

FALLIN: I think he is trying to campaign as a racial healer. I think that has been part of his message….

In case you’re curious, the governor said this with a straight face.

This comes on the heels of the Trump campaign issuing a statement on Friday morning, responding to the mass-shooting in Dallas, which read in part, “Our nation has become too divided. Too many Americans feel like they’ve lost hope. Crime is harming too many citizens. Racial tensions have gotten worse, not better.”

Questions about racial tensions are inherently difficult and multi-faceted, and Trump has done little to help answer them. But if the presumptive Republican nominee is correct, and tensions have intensified, is Trump prepared to acknowledge his role in the problem?

Slate’s Catherine Piner put together a lengthy collection of incidents involving Trump’s racially divisive campaign tactics, adding, “His observation about racial tensions is especially curious given the many racially and ethnically divisive statements he has made.”

I’m also reminded of this column in June from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank.

The things Trump is doing now – disparaging the “Mexican” judge, disqualifying Muslim judges, calling somebody claiming Native American blood “Pocahontas” and singling out “my African American” – is very much in line with what he has been doing for the past year, and before.

More than six months ago, I began a column by proposing, “Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.” His bigotry went back decades, to the Central Park jogger case, and came to include: his leadership of the “birther” movement suggesting President Obama was a foreign-born Muslim, his vulgar expressions for women, his talk of Mexico sending rapists into America, his call for mass deportation, his spats with Latino news outlets, his mocking Asian accent, his tacit acceptance of the claim that Muslims are a “problem” in America, his agreement that American Muslims should be forced to register themselves, his call to ban Muslim immigration, his false claim about American Muslims celebrating 9/11, his tweeting of statistics from white supremacists, his condoning of violence against black demonstrators and his mocking of a journalist with a physical disability.

This assessment – a sampling, really, of Trump’s record on matters of diversity and respect – was published a month ago, and things have gotten even worse since.

All of which brings us back to the truly breathtaking assertion that Trump is “trying to campaign as a racial healer.” The next question for the GOP candidate’s allies is, if the last year is what it looks like when Trump is trying to bring people together, what would it look like if he were trying to tear us apart?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 11, 2016

July 11, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Mary Fallin, Racism | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Enough With The ‘Optics’ And The ‘Narrative'”: There’s No Reason Journalists Should Have Any Shortage Of Questions To Ask

When an important news story breaks, Americans turn to journalists for answers. Answers to questions like: Does this story “play into a narrative”? And what are the “optics” of the story? Because that’s what really matters, right?

Or so you might have thought if you had been reading or watching the news for the past few days. Journalists and pundits were all in a tizzy because when Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch crossed paths recently at an Arizona airport tarmac, Clinton jumped on Lynch’s plane to chat with her for a half hour, about such shocking topics as Clinton’s grandchildren and their mutual friend Janet Reno.

The ensuing controversy looks like a prime example of the “Clinton Rules,” under which the media treat even the most ludicrous allegations against Bill or Hillary Clinton as reasonable and worthy of extended examination, assuming all the while that their actions can be motivated only by the most sinister of intentions. And if the underlying substance of a story is indeed ludicrous—like the idea that Clinton hopped over to talk to Lynch because he wanted to urge her to put the kibosh on any possible indictment of his wife (in a semi-public setting with a bunch of other people standing around), and not because he’s Bill Clinton and he loves chatting with important people—then you can just fall back on judging the “optics” and noting sagely that the story “plays into a narrative.” Whatever you do, don’t mention that the “narrative” is one you yourself are in the process of creating and sustaining, and when you say that the “optics” are bad, what you’re really saying is, “It was a mistake because here I am on TV saying it was a mistake.”

Here’s a handy rule of thumb: The more people you see in the media talking about “narratives” and “optics,” the less substantively meaningful the controversy they’re talking about actually is. So: Is there a reason to condemn Clinton or Lynch for their tarmac chitchat that doesn’t rely on the idea that one or the other should have known how it would look? The closest thing you can argue is that if there’s an active FBI investigation of a matter that involves the wife of a former president, that former president should have no contact, private or public, with the attorney general. Even if that’s an informal rule more intended to safeguard against the appearance of impropriety than actual impropriety, it’s still a perfectly good idea. On the other hand, the fact that their talk took place with other people around makes any kind of undue influence vanishingly unlikely; you’d have far more reason to be concerned about something like a private phone call.

Here’s what was going to happen if Clinton and Lynch had never spoken: The FBI would complete its investigation, the career prosecutors at the Justice Department would or wouldn’t recommend an indictment, and Lynch, as the department’s chief, would or wouldn’t accept that recommendation. I doubt any serious person thinks the outcome of that process would be affected by the conversation Clinton and Lynch had. Yes, there are Republicans, including Donald Trump, who will say otherwise. But there are also lots of Republicans who think that the Clintons killed Vince Foster and that Barack Obama was born in Kenya; that doesn’t mean you have to treat those ideas as anything other than the lunacy they are. But in the end, Lynch recused herself from the final decision on an indictment anyway. Why? Optics, of course.

Although this kind of thing happens with particular frequency to Bill and Hillary Clinton, that isn’t to say that that faux controversies don’t get whipped up about Republicans, too. For instance, over the weekend, Donald Trump retweeted an image of Hillary Clinton superimposed over a pile of money, with the words “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” contained within a Star of David. Anthony Smith of mic.com tracked down the source of the image: a particularly rancid online forum of racists and white supremacists. I won’t link to it, but when I visited the forum Sunday afternoon, the top post was a story about Elie Wiesel under the headline, “DING DONG THE KIKE IS DEAD,” followed by lengthy discussions on the criminality of non-white people, the dangers of race-mixing, and the superiority of the white race. And it isn’t like this was an isolated incident. As David Weigel of The Washington Post noted, “For at least the fifth time, Trump’s Twitter account had shared a meme from the racist ‘alt-right’ and offered no explanation why.”

When the tweet started getting attention, the Trump campaign deleted it and replaced it with an altered image, this time with the Star of David replaced with a circle. My guess is that Trump got the image from one of his followers and retweeted it without giving it much thought. So is it a big deal, one worthy of multiple days of coverage? In and of itself, no. It doesn’t prove anything new about Trump. But it’s another demonstration of something that is troubling: Trump’s words and policy goals have garnered enthusiastic support from racists, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis.

Jews are pretty far down on the list of groups Donald Trump is trying to get voters to hate and fear, so to be honest, I’m not much more concerned about his tweet than I am about Bill Clinton telling Loretta Lynch how cute his grandkids are. In both cases, the last question we should care about is what the optics or the narrative are. Either Hillary Clinton did or didn’t do something wrong by using private email while at the State Department (she did), and either it will or won’t be determined to be a crime (it almost certainly won’t). In Trump’s case, it isn’t whether voters will react negatively to his extended game of Twitter footsie with white supremacists (much as one hopes they would). There’s something real and meaningful underneath the tweets: the fact that Trump is running the most nakedly racist presidential campaign, in both rhetoric and substance, since George Wallace in 1968, or maybe Strom Thurmond in 1948.

I have no idea what lies within Trump’s heart, and there’s no way to know for sure. But when members of the KKK are endorsing you, neo-Nazis are praising you, and every steroid-addled racist frat boy rage-monster is totally pumped about your campaign, there’s something much more important than the details of your retweeting habits at work. There’s no reason journalists should have any shortage of questions about that to discuss.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect, July 3, 2016

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Bill and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Journalists, Loretta Lynch | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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