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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Trump Does Not Understand What Happened in Crimea

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?
TRUMP: I wasn't involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved--
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your people were.
TRUMP: Yeah. I was not involved in that. I'd like to-- I'd have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in it--
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know what they did?
TRUMP: They softened it, I heard. But I was not involved.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, they took away the-- part of the platform calling for provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves. Why is that a good idea?
TRUMP: It's-- look, you know, I have my own ideas. He's not going into Ukraine, okay, just so you understand. He's not gonna go into Ukraine, all right? You can mark it down. You can put it down. You can take it anywhere you want--
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he's already there, isn't he?
TRUMP: Okay-- well, he's there in a certain way.
But I'm not there. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama with all the strength that you're talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this. In the meantime, he's going away. He take-- takes Crimea. He's sort of, I mean--
STEPHANOPOULOS: But you said you might recognize that.
TRUMP: I'm gonna take a look at it. But you know, the people of Crimea, from what I've heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were. And you have to look at that, also. Now, that was under-- just so you understand, that was done under Obama's administration.
And as far as the Ukraine is concerned, it's a mess. And that's under the Obama's administration with his strong ties to NATO. So with all of these strong ties to NATO, Ukraine is a mess. Crimea has been taken. Don't blame Donald Trump for that.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

What a Jerk -- Continued


At The Washington Post, Philip Bump writes about Donald Trump's response to Khizr Khan, the Gold Star dad who spoke at the Democratic convention:
In the ABC interview, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on Khan's question of what he's sacrificed.
 "He says, 'You have sacrificed nothing and no one,'" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Who wrote that, did Hillary's scriptwriters write it?" Trump replied.
"How would you answer that father?" Stephanopoulos asked. "What sacrifice have you made?"
"I think I've made a lot of sacrifices," Trump said. "I've worked very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs …"
"Those are sacrifices?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"Sure. I think they're sacrifices. I think when I can employ thousands and thousands of people, take care of their education, take care of so many things," Trump said. "Even the military. I mean, I was very responsible along with a group of people for getting the Vietnam Memorial built in downtown Manhattan, which to this day people thank me for."
"I raised and I have raised millions of dollars for the vets," he added.
In lieu of participating in a debate on Fox News earlier this year, Trump held a fundraiser at which he said he raised millions of dollars for veterans' charities and given $1 million of his own. When The Washington Post investigated, we found that he had overstated how much had been raised and contributed and that Trump himself hadn't made a contribution.
It was only after that report that Trump wrote a check.
 



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Donald & Vlad

Aaron Blake reports at The Washington Post:
Donald Trump is very bad at making the case that he's not Russia's favored candidate in the 2016 U.S. election.
It's not just the fact that he publicly called for Russia to hack into and obtain the emails Hillary Clinton deleted from her private email server. No, Trump actually said something else at his bizarre, fact-challenged news conference Wednesday that could bring a smile to Russian President Vladimir Putin's face.
Here's the exchange, via a transcript:
QUESTION: I would like to know if you became president, would you recognize (inaudible) Crimea as Russian territory? And also if the U.S. would lift sanctions that are (inaudible)?
TRUMP: We'll be looking at that. Yeah, we'll be looking.
Mark Hensch reports at The Hill:
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump says Russian leader Vladimir Putin is "doing a better job" than President Obama.
“I said he’s a better leader than Obama because Obama’s not a leader,” Trump said in an interview aired Thursday on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends." "He’s certainly doing a better job than Obama is, that’s all.”
Josh Rogin writes at The Washington Post:
In their zeal to portray Donald Trump as a dangerous threat to national security, the Clinton campaign has taken a starkly anti-Russian stance, one that completes a total role reversal for the two major American parties on U.S.-Russian relations that Hillary Clinton will now be committed to, if she becomes president.
The side switching between the parties on Russia is the result of two converging trends. U.S.-Russian relations have gone downhill since Russian President Vladimir Putin came back to power in 2012, torpedoing the Obama administration’s first term outreach to Moscow, which Clinton led. Then, in the past year, Trump’s Russia-friendly policy has filled the pro-engagement space that Democrats once occupied.
And now, for mostly political reasons, the Clinton campaign has decided to escalate its rhetoric on Russia. After Trump suggested Wednesday that if Russia had indeed hacked Clinton’s private email server it should release the emails, the Clinton campaign sent out its Democratic surrogates to bash Russia and Trump in a manner traditionally reserved for Republicans.
Caroline Kelly writes at Politico:
For Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, not only do Donald “Trump's "jokes" about Russia amount to "inviting an adversary to wage cyberwar against the U.S.," but they also "appear to violate the Logan Act and might even constitute treason,” he tweeted Thursday.
Russ Choma reports at Mother Jones:
On Wednesday, Donald Trump angrily told reporters that he had no connection to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I have nothing to do with Putin," he said. "I've never spoken to him. I don't know anything about him other than he will respect me."
But those comments contradict what he said in 2014, when he spoke at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. During this appearance, he discussed US-Russian relations and claimed that he had talked to Putin during a recent visit to Moscow, where Trump held his Miss Universe pageant. Here's what Trump told the Press Club audience:
Russia does not respect our country any longer. They see we've been greatly weakened, both militarily and otherwise, and he certainly does not respect President Obama. So what I would do—as an example, I own Miss Universe, I was in Russia, I was in Moscow recently and I spoke, indirectly and directly, with President Putin, who could not have been nicer, and we had a tremendous success. The show was live from Moscow and we had tremendous success there and it was amazing, but to do well, you have to get the other side to respect you, and he does not respect our president, which is very sad.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Democrats to the Left

Some academics claim that polarization stems mostly from the GOP. Republicans, they claim, have more much farther to the right than Democrats have moved to the left. That argument was always dubious: in Congress, for instance, party unity scores have risen in tandem. And the 2016 election consigns it to the dustbin of intellectual history.

Dan Balz writes at The Washington Post:
Bill Clinton was the original New Democrat. On Tuesday, he was speaking to a party that had just adopted the most liberal platform in the party’s history. At times in this campaign, he has seemed caught between the then and the now, grappling with the forces that have been buffeting the party’s coalition and altering its priorities. But it is Hillary Clinton who has most had to adapt.
...
Nothing symbolizes the change in the party more than the issue of trade, although because of organized labor’s power within the Democratic coalition, the base of the party has long stood in opposition to most trade agreements.

In 1992, Bill Clinton challenged those conventions, advocating for a North American Free Trade Agreement in union halls in states such as Michigan and eventually steering the agreement through Congress.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Sanders has done anything close to that, even though most presidents, including President Obama, have supported major trade treaties.

Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was at the heart of Sanders’s critique of an economic system that he said has favored the richest Americans over everyone else. Hillary Clinton, who had championed the possible benefits of a TPP as secretary of state, opposed it as a candidate, recognizing that to do otherwise would have carried a sizable political risk.
...
California Gov. Jerry Brown, who lost to Bill Clinton in the 1992 Democratic primaries and whose views then on trade and other issues clashed with those of the former Arkansas governor, described the DLC during a Tuesday interview as “a remnant of another period.”

Reflecting on the centrist views of government’s role vs. the views of Democrats today, Brown said: “They [today’s Democrats] want more interventionist government to make things more fair. They want the instrumentality of government. There’s more belief that more can be done. No one’s going to say government is the problem, not the solution. They’re not going to say that.”
The Iron Law of Emulation is at work.  Just as the right built its network....

At The New York Times, Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports on The Roosevelt Institute:
The progressive organizations in [Felicia] Wong’s rotation take as a matter of course the idea that the Obama administration was a significant missed opportunity for transformation on that order. They do not entirely blame Obama. He had his legislative victories — most importantly in the Affordable Care Act — but one lesson they drew from his time in office was that liberals had long been overly fixated on legislative success. (Johnson had a Congress he could work with; Obama mostly did not, and the next president probably won’t, either.) The right has set the agenda for the past 35 years because they built their economic movement deductively (from the first principle of the unregulated market) and took their victories where they could find them. The left, by comparison, tended to moralize, and spoke in the language of justice instead of growth. When they did talk about economics, it took the form of individual issues — minimum wage, student debt, paid family and sick leave — rather than overarching pronouncements. This muddle worsened during the Bush era, when urgent noneconomic concerns forced the left to privilege short-term electoral tactics over long-term strategy.
Roosevelt was designed to be a place, independent of the party establishment, to unite all of these factions under the banner of long-term, coherent economic thinking. Had such a movement existed in 2008, it might have seized on the financial crisis as an opportunity for structural economic reform. Obama’s recovery model, to the group’s lasting dismay, remained in thrall to old superstitions about growth. The goal of the bailout was to fix the existing financial system and get credit flowing back into the economy while keeping an eye on deficit spending. But today, though high-level macroeconomic numbers like monthly job growth or the headline unemployment rate have improved, almost half of the new jobs created in the first five years of the recovery were poverty-level. Repaired with a kludge, the system went right back to doing exactly what it did before: allowing the extraordinary concentration of power in the hands of the few to dominate the prospects of the many.





Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sanders Lost the Nomination and Won the Party

Jill Lawrence writes at USA Today:
Bernie Sanders is a winner. His supporters don’t think so, since he’s not the Democratic presidential nominee. But believe me, they are having a bully convention, compliments of a party their candidate has never fully embraced.
... 
It's true that the platform ratified Monday does not call for a ban on fracking or reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, both top Sanders priorities. Yet Clinton is now opposed to the TPP, a deal she helped negotiate. And Sen. Tim Kaine may have set a flip-flop record, jumping from TPP backer to "falls short" a day after joining the ticket.
Beyond that, the Sanders effect is obvious throughout the platform. It calls for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, abolition of the death penalty and a path to marijuana legalization — all positions that go further than Clinton’s. It is emphatic about expanding Social Security and fighting any and all cuts. It suggests a new Glass-Steagall Act to stop banks from taking risks with the deposits people entrust to them.
Under pressure from Sanders, who called for free college for all, Clinton is proposing free tuition at in-state public colleges and universities for more than 80% of American families. In other responses to him, she recently came out for more investment in community health centers, a public health insurance option in some states, and allowing people over 55 to join the government’s Medicare health plan for seniors.

Monday, July 25, 2016

DNC Emails

Aaron Blake reports at The Washington Post that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had to quit as DNC chair because of thousands of leaked emails. (WikiLeaks database here.)
Wasserman Schultz's resignation announcement Sunday afternoon comes as a bad situation just keeps getting worse -- and appears as though it might continue to do so. That's because WikiLeaks has so far released nearly 20,000 emails, new details are still being discovered, and there is still the prospect of additional, damaging emails coming to light.
Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage.
...
While the Sanders emails have gained the most attention, some of the more interesting emails involve a peek behind to curtain of how party officials talk about major donors.

In a May 16 exchange about where to seat a top Florida donor, national finance director Jordan Kaplan declared that "he doesn’t sit next to POTUS!" -- referring to President Obama.

“Bittel will be sitting in the sh---iest corner I can find,” responded Kaplan's deputy, Alexandra Shapiro. She also referred to other donors as "clowns."
At The Tampa Bay Times, Alex Leary reports this morning:
A loud, angry group of protesters nearly drowned out Debbie Wasserman Schultz this morning as she called for unity at a Florida delegation breakfast.

"Shame. Shame. Shame," they yelled, holding signs that read "email, a reference to the WikiLeaks controversy.

"So I can see there's a little bit of interest in my being here," the Florida Democrat said, looking shaken as police moved in to control the crowd.

"We have a lot to do," Wasserman Schultz said, shouting above the boos. "We know that the voices in this room, that are standing up and being disruptive, we know that's not the Flordia we know. The Florida we know is united.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Trump and Russia

Franklin Foer writes at Slate:
Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump. Over the past decade, Russia has boosted right-wing populistsacross Europe. It loaned money to Marine Le Pen in France, well-documentedtransfusions of cash to keep her presidential campaign alive. Such largesse also wended its way to the former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who profited“personally and handsomely” from Russian energy deals, as an American ambassador to Rome once put it. (Berlusconi also shared a 240-year-old bottle of Crimean wine with Putin and apparently makes ample use of a bed gifted to him by the Russian president.)

There’s a clear pattern: Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO. He’s been a patron of Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. Joe Biden warned about this effort last year in a speech at the Brookings Institution: “President Putin sees such political forces as useful tools to be manipulated, to create cracks in the European body politic which he can then exploit.” Ruptures that will likely multiply after Brexit—a campaign Russia’s many propaganda organs bombastically promoted.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported Trump comments that undoubtedly thrilled Putin:
Donald J. Trump, on the eve of accepting the Republican nomination for president, explicitly raised new questions on Wednesday about his commitment to automatically defending NATO allies if they are attacked, saying he would first look at their contributions to the alliance.

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he added, “the answer is yes.”
Mr. Trump’s statement appeared to be the first time that a major candidate for president had suggested conditioning the United States’ defense of its major allies. It was consistent, however, with his previous threat to withdraw American forces from Europe and Asia if those allies fail to pay more for American protection.
At TPM, Josh Marshall notes that the Trump-Russia connection is disturbing at least.
All the other discussions of Trump's finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.
Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here's a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration ...
Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
... 
Here's where it gets more interesting. This is one of a handful of developments that tipped me from seeing all this as just a part of Trump's larger shadiness to something more specific and ominous about the relationship between Putin and Trump. As TPM's Tierney Sneed explained in this article, one of the most enduring dynamics of GOP conventions (there's a comparable dynamic on the Dem side) is more mainstream nominees battling conservative activists over the party platform, with activists trying to check all the hardline ideological boxes and the nominees trying to soften most or all of those edges. This is one thing that made the Trump convention very different. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump's backing but because he simply didn't care. With one big exception: Trump's team mobilized the nominee's traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it's worth (and it's not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue - in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform - speaks volumes.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Clinton is Sounding a Lot More Like Reagan Than Trump Is

At her first rally with running mate Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton said:
Remember though, when someone shows you who he is, believe him. So part of our challenge, my friends, is to keep this campaign about the future. Keep it about what we want to do together. Recognize we are stronger together. We will be better united than divided. That we are going to work to make sure that America has its best days ahead of us. We're going to make sure every child has a chance at the American dream. And we're going forward, not only strongly, but with pride, confidence, optimism. And we're going to win in November. Thank you, all.”
In his 1984 State of the Union, Reagan said:
Carl Sandburg said, "I see America not in the setting sun of a black night of despair • . . I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God... I see great days ahead for men and women of will and vision."

I've never felt more strongly that America's best days and democracy's best days lie ahead. We're a powerful force for good. With faith and courage, we can perform great deeds and take freedom's next step. And we will. We will carry on the tradition of a good and worthy people who have brought light where there was darkness, warmth where there was cold, medicine where there was disease, food where there was hunger, and peace where there was only bloodshed.

Let us be sure that those who come after will say of us in our time, that in our time we did everything that could be done. We finished the race; we kept them free; we kept the faith.

Thank you very much. God bless you, and God bless America.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Trump and Nixon

At The Washington Post, Dan Balz writes:
There were no echoes of Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” George H.W. Bush’s “kinder and gentler nation” or even George W. Bush’s compassionate conservatism in Donald Trump’s speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination here Thursday night. Instead, in both theme and target audience, Trump offered a powerful echo of Richard Nixon almost 50 years ago.

Trump’s speech proved once again that he would continue to throw out the traditional campaign rulebook that might dictate softer language and broader appeals. Instead, he offered his grim portrait of the country and a law-and-order message in the hope of summoning an army of disaffected and forgotten voters large enough to topple the political status quo in November.
No accident. At The New York Times, Michael Barbaro and Alexander Burns write:
In a startling disclosure on the first day of the convention, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, declared that the candidate was using, as the template for his own prime-time speech accepting the Republican nomination, Nixon’s convention address 48 years ago in Miami Beach. “If you go back and read,” Mr. Manafort said at a Bloomberg News breakfast, “that speech is pretty much on line with a lot of the issues that are going on today.”

Mr. Trump himself, in an interview, drew explicit comparisons between his candidacy and Nixon’s, and between the current political climate and that of the United States in 1968.

“I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first,” Mr. Trump said recently. “The ’60s were bad, really bad. And it’s really bad now. Americans feel like it’s chaos again. 
Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR:
However, in many ways, the America Trump will address differs vastly from Nixon's America. By the time of 1968's Republican convention, both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated, and destructive riots had torn through major U.S. cities. Meanwhile, thousands of young soldiers were dying overseas — that year, casualties in Vietnam would reach their peak — and the Cold War was the backdrop to U.S. foreign relations.
And yet: Amid the horrors and divisions of 1968, Americans weren't as polarized as they are today; the major-party presidential candidates weren't nearly as disliked; and Washington wasn't as distrusted. Nixon was appealing to a nation still hoping for a solution to its ongoing catastrophes — a nation in which an overwhelming majority of Americans believed he was of "high integrity." Trump, meanwhile, is addressing a nation in which a majority of voters view him unfavorably, and where even more have seemingly little expectation that government can solve its problems.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thought for the Night

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles." -- Thomas Jefferson, June 4, 1798

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Another Trump Day

Andrew Kaczynski reports at Buzzfeed:
An adviser to Donald Trump on veterans issues said on Tuesday that Hillary Clinton should be put in a firing line and shot for treason.
New Hampshire state representative Al Baldasaro, who is also a Trump delegate from the state and has appeared with Trump at campaign events, made the comments on the Jeff Kuhner Show.
“I’m a veteran that went to Desert Shield, Desert Storm. I’m also a father who sent a son to war, to Iraq, as a Marine Corps helicopter avionics technician. Hillary Clinton to me is the Jane Fonda of the Vietnam,” he said. “She is a disgrace for the lies that she told those mothers about their children that got killed over there in Benghazi. She dropped the ball on over 400 emails requesting back up security. Something’s wrong there.”
“This whole thing disgusts me, Hillary Clinton should be put in the firing line and shot for treason,” he added.
By the way, threatening a presidential nominee or a former First Lady is a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 879

The Washington Post reports:
The refrain of this Republican convention hasn’t been “Make America Great Again.” It’s been “Lock her up!”

Over the first two nights of the GOP convention, at least three speakers have called for Hillary Clinton — the presumptive Democratic nominee — to be imprisoned. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recited a series of Clinton’s misdeeds and led the crowd in shouts of “guilty” after each.

“Lock her up!” the convention crowd shouted repeatedly on both nights. The chant — not heard before at Donald Trump’s rallies — has quickly become the theme of the GOP’s gathering in Cleveland.
...

Months ago, Trump — who calls his opponent “Crooked Hillary” — was among the first prominent Republicans to suggest that Clinton should be imprisoned for her use of the private server. That was before the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Clinton, although FBI Director James Comey said she had been “extremely careless.”
“I will say this: Hillary Clinton has got to go to jail,” Trump said at a June rally in San Jose. “Folks, honestly, she’s guilty as hell,” Trump said then. He indicated that, if elected, he would have his attorney general revisit the case against Clinton.
The Washington Post reports:
After a tortured 24 hours in which Donald Trump’s campaign struggled to come up with a coherent explanation for how portions of a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama had reappeared in remarks delivered by Melania Trump at the Republican National Convention, a Trump staff writer said Wednesday that she was responsible and apologized for the “confusion.”

In a statement, Meredith McIver said she was an “in-house staff writer” who had worked with Melania Trump on the speech. McIver took responsibility for including the passages from the first lady’s speech — though she said she had not revisited the earlier speech herself, only listened as Trump read parts of it that she liked to McIver over the phone.
...
 The statement, and Trump’s cheeky messages, capped a dizzying, more than day-long attempt by his campaign to explain — but primarily dismiss — evidence that Melania Trump’s speech on Monday night had repurposed multiple lines from Michelle Obama’s speech in 2008. The attempt was made all the more difficult by Melania’ Trump’s own statement on Monday that she had written the speech herself.
Tina Nguyen reports at Vanity Fair:
Dr. Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon-turned-presidential candidate-turned-perpetually confused Trump surrogate, returned to the political arena Tuesday night with a bizarre six-minute speech at the Republican National Convention in which he first railed against the dangers of political correctness, and then, as if to prove his point, linked Hillary Clinton to Lucifer himself.
“Now, one of the things that I have learned about Hillary Clinton is that one of her heroes, her mentors wasSaul Alinsky,” said Carson, departing from his prepared remarks that were sent to the press ahead of time. “And her senior thesis was about Saul Alinsky. This was someone she greatly admired. And let me tell you something about Saul Alinsky. So he wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom.”
Carson, a prominent figure in the evangelical community, went on: “Now think about that,” he said. “This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator; a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are one nation under God. This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?”
Carson, whose anti-Lucifer position cannot be denied, won a rapturous response from what remained of the Republican crowd in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. “Think about that,” he admonished, once again.
The Des Moines Register reports:
U.S. Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has a penchant for controversy, created an uproar on social media Monday by questioning the contributions of non-white people during a cable television appearance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
...
"This 'old white people' business does get a little tired, Charlie," King said. "I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?"

[Chris] Hayes asked: "Than white people?"

"Than, than Western civilization itself," King said. "It's rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That's all of Western civilization." 
The Daily Beast reports:
Legendary retired Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said Tuesday that immigrants coming into the U.S. made up “an invasion” and that they need to do a better job of assimilating, according to published reports.

Holtz, who supports Donald Trump, was speaking at a luncheon during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
“I don’t want to become you,” Holtz said of immigrants, according to the Daily Beast. “I don’t want to speak your language, I don’t want to celebrate your holidays, I sure as hell don’t want to cheer for your soccer team!”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bad First Day for GOP Convention

In drafting Melania Trump's convention speech, the Trump campaign plagiarized Michelle Obama's 2008 convention speech.Robert Costa, Dan Balz and Philip Rucker report at The Washington Post that the first day brought other problems, too:
Who had vetted the long and rambling speech by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, which prompted so many delegates to walk out that the closing act by Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa — a rare next-generation star willing to address Trump’s convention — came close to midnight in a mostly empty Quicken Loans Arena?

Why had Donald Trump called into Bill O’Reilly’s program on Fox News, resulting in the network cutting away from the emotionally resonant remarks by Patricia Smith, whose son Sean was killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya?

Then there were the day’s earlier developments: the brief revolt on the convention floor from rebellious anti-Trump delegates over a procedural dispute, as well as Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s decision to begin a week-long push for party unity by publicly chastising Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the Bush family over their refusal to support Trump.

The first 24 hours of Trump’s convention left Republican strategists — some of whom have long been at odds with Trump and his team — befuddled and concerned about the capacity of the Trump campaign to run a serious and effective general-election operation against the machinery of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
...
 Manafort and campaign spokesman Jason Miller worked to craft the campaign’s initial statement, which landed in reporters’ inboxes at 1:48 a.m.
“In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking,” read the statement, which was attributed to Miller. “Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”
The statement conflicted with what Melania Trump told NBC News before her appearance Monday night. Asked by Matt Lauer whether she had practiced her speech, she said, “I read it once over, and that’s all because I wrote it with as little help as possible.”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Trump Does Not Read or Write

As he has prepared to be named the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump has not read any biographies of presidents. He said he would like to someday.

He has no time to read, he said: “I never have. I’m always busy doing a lot. Now I’m more busy, I guess, than ever before.”

Trump’s desk is piled high with magazines, nearly all of them with himself on their covers, and each morning, he reviews a pile of printouts of news articles about himself that his secretary delivers to his desk. But there are no shelves of books in his office, no computer on his desk.

Presidents have different ways of preparing to make decisions. Some read deeply, some prefer to review short memos that condense difficult issues into bite-size summaries, ideally with check-boxes at the bottom of the page. But Trump, poised to become the first major-party presidential nominee since Dwight Eisenhower who had not previously held elected office, appears to have an unusually light appetite for reading.

He said in a series of interviews that he does not need to read extensively because he reaches the right decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had, plus the words ‘common sense,’ because I have a lot of common sense and I have a lot of business ability.”
Jane Mayer reports at The New Yorker about Tony Schwartz, who ghosted The Art of the Deal.
Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said.
...
But Schwartz believes that Trump’s short attention span has left him with “a stunning level of superficial knowledge and plain ignorance.” He said, “That’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source—information comes in easily digestible sound bites.” He added, “I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.” During the eighteen months that he observed Trump, Schwartz said, he never saw a book on Trump’s desk, or elsewhere in his office, or in his apartment.
...
In my phone interview with Trump, he initially said of Schwartz, “Tony was very good. He was the co-author.” But he dismissed Schwartz’s account of the writing process. “He didn’t write the book,” Trump told me. “I wrote the book. I wrote the book. It was my book. And it was a No. 1 best-seller, and one of the best-selling business books of all time. Some say it was the best-selling business book ever.” (It is not.) Howard Kaminsky, the former Random House head, laughed and said, “Trump didn’t write a postcard for us!”

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Trump Solicits Illegal Foreign Contributions

Donald Trump's campaign is still soliciting illegal donations from foreign individuals — including members of foreign governments at their official email addresses — weeks after the campaign was put on notice by watchdog groups.
Foreign members of parliament from the United Kingdom and Australia confirmed to The Hill that they received fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign as recently as July 12 — two weeks after a widely publicized Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint issued on June 29 by nonpartisan watchdogs Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center.

These latest campaign finance violations were first reported by the investigative websiteWhoWhatWhy and have been confirmed by The Hill.
The Trump campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

GOP Botches

Donald Trump, it seems, was not internet-prepared for the announcement of Indiana governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate.

On Friday, the Republican presidential candidate announced to the world via his medium of choice, Twitter, that he would be bringing Pence along for the ride.

Politico reporter Shane Goldmacher was quick to point out that almost nothing was ready for Pence's moment of glory.

Not only are there a bunch of squatters sitting on important URLs such as Trumppence.com, even Trump's website hasn't been updated for the important announcement.

Perhaps, the worst fears of Trump's team had come true and the billionaire announced his VP pick on social media without warning, despite saying he would wait to do it "the old fashioned way." Either way, missed opportunities have appeared everywhere.
Goldmacher, Alex Isenstadt and Kenneth P. Vogel report at Politico:
The last-minute plea for $6 million from Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson to rescue the Republican convention has erupted in controversy, as four of the five signatories to the letter from party organizers never saw it before it was sent and major donors flagged serious errors that forced the convention hosts to apologize to one of the GOP’s most influential financiers.
The episode has opened a window into a host committee that is scrambling and still millions shy of its fundraising target, only days before tens of thousands of Republicans arrive in Cleveland, as it acknowledges for the first time that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has put a damper on donations.
The letter, obtained by POLITICO on Thursday, outlined two dozen major corporations — Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Duke Energy and Apple, among them — that it claimed had backed out a combined more than $8.1 million in pledged donations in recent months.
But on Friday, Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee, acknowledged to POLITICO that the list of lost donors in the letter to Adelson was inaccurate — and that the committee has now reached out to Adelson’s aides to apologize.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Trump Does Not Care About the Senate GOP

Like Bernie Sanders, Trump disdains his nominal party.

Robert Draper writes at The New York Times:
For an at-risk Republican senator this fall, to back away from Trump is, by extension, to snub his millions of die-hard loyalists, the one group of party voters that is sure to show up on Nov. 8. But to go all-in for Trump is to take leave of your Republican bona fides and embrace life as a Trump Mini-Me — a gamble that not a single Republican senator up for re-election this fall appears to have the stomach for.

None of this seems to overly concern Trump. When I asked him recently whether the party’s maintaining its majority in the Senate meant anything to him, he replied: “Well, I’d like them to do that. But I don’t mind being a free agent, either.” Trump has shown similarly little interest in helping his party’s committees build the sort of war chests typically required in a campaign year. After winning the presidential nomination on a shoestring budget and with fewer paid staff members than the average candidate for governor, he has been visibly reluctant to help build much in the way of national campaign infrastructure, sending a clear message to his fellow Republicans: This fall, you’re on your own. As Ryan Williams, a strategist with the 2012 Romney presidential campaign, told me: “Traditionally, the nominee has a robust campaign that absorbs the R.N.C. effort and works in tandem with the down-ballot campaigns. We did that with Romney in 2012. This time around, there’s a complete void at the presidential level. Trump’s trying to play a game of baseball and hasn’t put out an infield.”

Newt and Muslims

The attack in Nice has put terror back at the top of the agenda.

Victor Morton reports at The Washington Times:
In an interview Thursday night on Fox News’ Channel’s “Hannity” show, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for the monitoring of mosques and said America’s ruling class is too afraid to do this.

“This is the fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary,” he said. “We better rethink the rules, or we’re going to lose the war.”

“You have to monitor the mosques,” Mr. Gingrich said. “Where do you think the primary source of recruitment is? We should … test every person here who is of a Muslim background, and if they believe in shariah, they should be deported.”    
On this issue, he has been consistent. In a 2011 presidential debate, he compared Muslims to communists and Nazis.  Of course, he also acknowledged that, under questioning people can simply lie.  ABC reported:
At the New Hampshire debate Monday night, Gingrich responded to questions about loyalty tests for administration officials, saying, "The Pakistani who emigrated to the U.S., became a citizen, built a car bomb which luckily failed to go off in Times Square, was asked by the federal judge, how could he have done that when he signed and when he swore an oath to the United States. And he looked at the judge and said, 'You're my enemy. I lied.'"
"Now, I just want to go out on a limb here. I'm in favor of saying to people, if you're not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period," Gingrich added to applause.
But Gingrich didn't stop there, despite an attempt by moderators to interject. He compared hiring Muslims to how Americans dealt with Nazis in the 1940s.
"We did this in dealing with the Nazis. We did this in dealing with the Communists. And it was controversial both times and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say, 'No,'" he concluded.
ABC Breaking News | Latest News Videos

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Evangelicals' Faustian Bargain


Evangelical voters are rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Indeed, the latest Pew Research Center survey finds that despite the professed wariness toward Trump among many high-profile evangelical Christian leaders, evangelicals as a whole are, if anything, even more strongly supportive of Trump than they were of Mitt Romney at a similar point in the 2012 campaign. At that time, nearly three-quarters of white evangelical Protestant registered voters said they planned to vote for Romney, including one-quarter who “strongly” supported him.1 Now, fully 78% of white evangelical voters say they would vote for Trump if the election were held today, including about a third who “strongly” back his campaign.
Robert P. Jones writes at The New York Times:
Today, white evangelicals are not only experiencing the shrinking of their own ranks, but they are also confronting larger, genuinely new demographic and cultural realities. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, white Christians (Catholics and Protestants) constituted a majority (54 percent) of the country; today, that number has slipped to 45 percent. Over this same period, support for gay marriage — a key issue for evangelicals — moved from only four in 10 to solid majority territory, and the Supreme Court cleared the way for gay and lesbian couples to marry in all 50 states. The Supreme Court itself symbolized these changes, losing its last remaining Protestant justice, John Paul Stevens, in 2010.

A recent Public Religion Research Institute-Brookings survey shows the alarm that white evangelical Protestants are feeling in the wake of demographic and cultural changes. Nearly two-thirds are bothered when they encounter immigrants who speak little English. More than two-thirds believe that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against other groups. For discrimination against Christians, that number is nearly eight in 10. And perhaps most telling of all, seven in 10 white evangelical Protestants say the country has changed for the worse since the 1950s.
...
Mr. Trump’s ascendancy has turned the 2016 election into a referendum on the death of white Christian America, with the candidate appealing strongly to those who are most grieving this loss. Mr. Trump instinctively understood this from the beginning of his campaign. Take his speech at an evangelical college before the Iowa caucuses in January: “I’ll tell you one thing: I get elected president, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” He added that Christianity will be resurgent “because if I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power — you don’t need anybody else.”
Also at The Times, Peter Wehner writes:
The calling of Christians is to be “salt and light” to the world, to model a philosophy that defends human dignity, and to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is to stand for justice, dispense grace and be agents of reconciliation in a broken world. And it is to take seriously the words of the prophet Micah, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?”

Evangelical Christians who are enthusiastically supporting Donald Trump are signaling, even if unintentionally, that this calling has no place in politics and that Christians bring nothing distinctive to it — that their past moral proclamations were all for show and that power is the name of the game.

The French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul wrote: “Politics is the church’s worst problem. It is her constant temptation, the occasion of her greatest disasters, the trap continually set for her by the prince of this world.” In rallying round Mr. Trump, evangelicals have walked into the trap. The rest of the world sees it. Why don’t they?
 

Veep Leaks

Leaks about the vice presidential selection are not always accurate.  From 2004:

Scandalabra Is Weighing on Clinton

The New York Times reports:
Hillary Clinton has emerged from the F.B.I. investigation into her email practices as secretary of state a wounded candidate with a large and growing majority of voters saying she cannot be trusted, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

As Mrs. Clinton prepares to accept the Democratic Party’s nomination at the convention in Philadelphia this month, she will confront an electorate in which 67 percent of voters say she is not honest and trustworthy. That number is up five percentage points from a CBS News poll conducted last month, before the F.B.I. released its findings.

Mrs. Clinton’s six-percentage-point lead over the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, in a CBS News poll last month has evaporated. The two candidates are now tied in a general election matchup, the new poll indicates, with each receiving the support of 40 percent of voters.

Any single poll is but a snapshot, and many other polls show Mrs. Clinton with a narrow but consistent lead over Mr. Trump. The Times/CBS News survey was conducted shortly after the release of the F.B.I. report on her email practices that suggested they were imprudent but not illegal. The damage from those revelations may or may not prove lasting.

Mr. Trump is also distrusted by a large number of voters — 62 percent — but that number has stayed constant despite increased scrutiny on his business record and falsehoods in his public statements and Twitter messages.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Democrats Head Left

William Galston writes at The Wall Street Journal:
The party that Hillary Clinton will lead into battle this fall is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party. In important respects it is not even Barack Obama’s Democratic Party. It is a party animated by the frustrations of the Obama years and reshaped by waves of economic and social activism.
Not surprisingly, the document endorses a range of Hillary Clinton’s campaign proposals ...
Neither is it surprising that the draft incorporates some of Bernie Sanders’s key proposals—most notably, a $15 per hour minimum wage—and that it doesn’t take sides on issues that divided the party, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a broad tax on financial transactions, where neither side would give way.
In other respects, however, the draft is truly remarkable—for example, its near-silence on economic growth. The uninformed reader would not learn that the pace of recovery from the Great Recession has been anemic by postwar standards, or that productivity gains have slowed to a crawl over the past five years, or that firms have been reluctant to invest in new productive capacity. Rather, the platform draft’s core narrative is inequality, the injustice that inequality entails, and the need to rectify it through redistribution.

About Gingrich

I have written extensively about Newt Gingrich since the 1980s. Here are a few pieces that may be useful:

Scholarly Work
Articles in the News Media
Blog Posts

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Choosing Between Liars

Our public square is plagued by habitual, brazen lying. This isn’t entirely new — there have always been some politicians who lied — but I do not believe this country can long survive if the public concedes in advance that people in government do not need to be consistently aiming to tell the truth. In other words, it’s one thing to elect someone who ends up lying to us after the fact. (That’s terrible.) But it’s another thing entirely to conclude in advance that they are both liars, and simply shrug and elect them anyway. That does something to the national soul that tears at the fabric of who we are.
By the way, this is a good time to say that if you really think one of the two presidential frontrunners is genuinely trustworthy, then fine, you should vote and sleep soundly. Sadly, I do not regard either of them as worthy of our trust. This matters a great deal, because before I can vote for someone, a minimum-bar prerequisite is that I must believe that, on January 20, 2017, he or she would be taking the oath to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” and actually mean it.
Today, I do not have this confidence about either of the current frontrunners. I think one of them does not even know what the Constitution is about, and the other doesn’t care.
...
If we shrug at public dishonesty — if we normalize candidates who think that grabbing power makes it okay to say whatever they need to in the short-term — then we will be changed by it. Given what we now know about them, choosing to vote for these two individuals is in some ways less about them than it is about us. I’m not sure how we come back from that.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dissatisfaction

As Republicans and Democrats prepare for their party conventions later this month, a new national survey paints a bleak picture of voters’ impressions of the presidential campaign and the choices they face in November.
Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties – 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans – say they are satisfied with their choices for president.
Roughly four-in-ten voters (41%) say it is difficult to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton because neither would make a good president – as high as at any point since 2000. And just 11% say the choice is difficult because either would make a good chief executive, the lowest percentage during this period. 


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bush Continues to Weigh Down the GOP

Gallup reports:
As Barack Obama's two-term presidency enters its final months, more Americans still blame George W. Bush than Obama for the nation's economic ills. When asked how much they blame each president for current economic problems, 64% of Americans say Bush deserves a "great deal" or "moderate amount" of blame, compared with 50% for Obama.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

No Trump

My former student Clifton Yin writes at The Baltimore Sun:
When I was 22 years old and a delegate to the 2008 Republican National Convention, I made the mistake of voting to make Sarah Palin the party's vice-presidential nominee. In hindsight, she was not ready to be president had John McCain won the election and immediately become incapacitated. That unlikely scenario never played out. But in enabling even the possibility of a novice becoming the most powerful person in the world, I let down my party and my country.
Today, delegates to the upcoming convention face a vote of even greater impact: to potentially make Donald Trump the Republican presidential nominee. I urge them to do everything in their power to prevent that catastrophe.
There's probably little I can say to dissuade those who support Mr. Trump because they agree with his style or statements. Some who have rallied to his cause are clearly just jockeying for positions in a potential administration. Why else would Rick Perry bend his knee after describing Mr. Trump's candidacy last summer as "a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense"? Or Chris Christie? The New Jersey governor never stood taller than when he declared that "ignorance is behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammed," a highly-qualified Muslim-American he appointed to the state bench. Only ambition can thus explain his stooping to endorse someone who proposed a national Muslim-ban as a solution to the chimera of radical Islamic terrorism. There's probably no reasoning with "leaders" like Governors Perry or Christie either.

But many Republican voters and leaders are embracing Mr. Trump hesitantly, engaging in incredible feats of intellectual bargaining to justify their support.
Some rationalize that his primary weakness is impulse control; for example, one congressman advised him to "think before you say what's on your mind." To them, I say it's a much greater concern if he actually believes what he says. Speaker Paul Ryan criticized Mr. Trump recently for making "the textbook definition of a racist comment" in regard to a judge he doesn't like. Taken together with his reluctance to repudiate the support of white supremacists, it means the party of Lincoln could have a racist as its standard-bearer in 2016.
Others opine that despite his radical policy pronouncements, Mr. Trump is a conservative at heart. To them, I say the only common thread in what he professes to believe is incoherence. After all, Mr. Trump bemoans offshoring but manufactured his clothing line in China, and he calls for a trade war against that country but insists they'll help us put pressure on North Korea.
Still others harp on the importance of "party unity," but we are not communists or fascists and therefore are under no obligation to support the party in pursuit of a Pyrrhic victory. The GOP should be a vehicle for conservative solutions, not Mr. Trump's ego and self-enrichment.
To all Republicans, supporters and fence-sitters alike: Mr. Trump will let us down. The word of a man who oversaw four bankruptcies, mocked a disabled reporter, compared his sex life to wartime military service, et cetera ad infinitum has little value and cannot be trusted.
I can't tell the delegates whom to vote for, or even how, as the convention rules have yet to be finalized. But it can't be for Mr. Trump — the stakes are too high.
It would have been difficult to vote against Governor Palin's vice-presidential candidacy, as convention leaders made it a vote by acclimation. I could have held up a sign to show my disapproval, or confided in a reporter, but my opposition would likely have been drowned out and overlooked in a sea of supportive delegates. And the truth is any doubts I had were forgotten in that historic moment as the party nominated a woman to its ticket for the first time..
Speaking out isn't easy, especially when you're voicing an unpopular opinion — but principles only mean something when you stand up for them when they're inconvenient. So I pray that when the delegates stand on the convention floor, they think carefully about the consequences of their actions. I pray they will not be swayed by the fanfare or misguided party loyalty, as I was. I pray they make history again by rejecting Mr. Trump's candidacy.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Outsiders on the Hill

The outsiders are not party animals.

Alexander Bolton reports at The Hill:
Donald Trump feels as though the Republican Party is dragging its feet in unifying behind his presidential candidacy and voiced frustration over it during a private meeting with senators Thursday.
Trump told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who led the meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, that he’s “not feeling the love” from the leader, according to a lawmaker who attended.
Lisa Mascaro reports at The Los Angeles Times:
Sen. Bernie Sanders was booed during a closed meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday, as lawmakers shouted "Timeline! Timeline!" — pressing for his endorsement of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential nominee.
The Vermont senator did not directly answer Democrats' many questions about his intentions, according to a source in the room who requested anonymity to discuss the private session.
...
At one point, Sanders praised Democrats for the most progressive party platform, but then outlined differences he had over trade, climate change and the minimum wage, as well as rules over superdelegates.
But several progressive House Democrats are on the platform-writing committee and some lawmakers pressed for specifics.
One lawmaker said she felt "bullied" and "like a hostage" over his demands, the source said.
At one point, boos erupted when Sanders told the Democrats "the goal is not to win elections," but to "transform America."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Trump Met Congressional Republicans. He Did Not Display Genius.

Trump’s most tense exchange was with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been vocal in his concerns about the business mogul’s candidacy, especially his rhetoric and policies on immigration that the senator argues alienate many Latino voters and others in Arizona.

When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”

“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.

Flake was referencing Trump’s comments last summer about the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero because he was captured.

Flake told Trump that he wants to be able to support him — “I’m not part of the Never Trump movement,” the senator said — but that he remains uncomfortable backing his candidacy, the officials said.
Trump said at the meeting that he has yet to attack Flake hard but threatened to begin doing so. Flake stood up to Trump by urging him to stop attacking Mexicans. Trump predicted that Flake would lose his reelection, at which point Flake informed Trump that he was not on the ballot this year, the sources said.
...
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) left the meeting worried about Trump’s grasp on the basics of the Constitution. At a lunch with reporters afterward, he recalled that the candidate did not seem to know what he was promising to defend.

“I wasn’t particularly impressed,” said Sanford. “It was the normal stream of consciousness that’s long on hyperbole and short on facts. At one point, somebody asked about Article I powers: What will you do to protect them? I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list. There is no Article XII.”
And the lede in this morning's New York Times story speaks for itself:
Donald J. Trump on Wednesday offered a defiant defense of his campaign’s decision to publish an image widely viewed as anti-Semitic — saying he regretted deleting it — and vigorously reaffirmed his praise of Saddam Hussein, the murderous Iraqi dictator.
In the span of 30 minutes, an often-shouting Mr. Trump breathed new life into a controversy that was sparked on Saturday by his posting of an image on his Twitter account of a six-pointed star next to a picture of Hillary Clinton, with money seeming to rain down in the background. The image was quickly, and broadly, criticized for invoking stereotypes of Jews. Mr. Trump deleted it two hours later, and replaced the star image with a circle.
“ ‘You shouldn’t have taken it down,’ ” Mr. Trump recalled telling one of his campaign workers. “I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it.”
“That’s just a star,” Mr. Trump said repeatedly.
It was a striking display of self-sabotage from a presumptive presidential nominee and underscored the limitations of Mr. Trump’s scattershot approach during the Republican primaries — not to mention how difficult he often makes it for his campaign team to control him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Trump and Rape

Attorney Lisa Bloom writes at The Huffington Post:
An anonymous “Jane Doe” filed a federal lawsuit against GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump last week, accusing him of raping her in 1994 when she was thirteen years old. The mainstream media ignored the filing.

...

Two prior women have accused Mr. Trump, in court documents, of actual or attempted sexual assault. (Mr. Trump denies all the allegations.)

Under oath, Ivana Trump accused Mr. Trump of a violent rape.
...

A few years later, after their divorce was settled, Ms. Trump claimed that she did not mean the word “rape” in a “literal or criminal” sense.

Note: virtually every settlement of a case involving a high profile person paying money to a former spouse - or anyone - requires the person receiving the money to agree in writing to ironclad nondisparagement and confidentiality. In plain English: you promise to be quiet and not say anything bad about the party paying you money. This has been the case in hundreds of settlement agreements I have worked on over the years. Ms. Trump was almost certainly contractually prohibited after she signed from saying anything negative about Mr. Trump. And it is also common to attempt to “cure” prior negative statements with new agreed-to language - like, I didn’t mean it literally. (You didn’t mean forcible penetration literally?)


A business acquaintance accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment and “attempted rape”.

A second woman accused Donald Trump of sexual assault, in 1997. According toThe Guardian, then thirty-four year old Jill Harth alleged in a federal lawsuit that Trump violated her “physical and mental integrity” when he touched her intimately without consent after her husband went into business with him, leaving her “emotionally devastated [and] distraught.” The lawsuit called the multiple acts “attempted rape.” Shortly thereafter she voluntarily withdrew the case when a parallel suit against Mr. Trump brought by her husband was settled. When The Guardian reached the woman in 2016 to ask whether she stood by her sexual assault allegations, she responded, “yes.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Scandalabra: No Clinton Indictment, But No Rousing Endorsement, Either

FBI Director James Comey said that the bureau would not recommend indicting Hillary Clinton.  But his statement was not exactly a vote of confidence:
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.

While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.