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“There is no redemption in being one of the ‘good Nazis.'”

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James Fallows has an interesting column as part of his Trump Time Capsule series. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the conclusion is particularly noteworthy:

. . I realize that cavils of this sort have been pre-dismissed by Trump’s supporters. But if norms as seemingly unchallenged as the release of tax returns, and of  medical medical reports that don’t seem to be written like infomercial copy, can be brushed aside, that is just a taste of what a Trump administration might bring. Three and a half months before the election, he is showing us who he is.

Bonus: it’s word noting for the historical record the unusual editorial that theWashington Post has just put out, with the headline “Donald Trump Is a Unique Threat to American Democracy.” And just now a lifetime Republican official from Illinois has put out a resignation statement, saying “A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the ‘good Nazis.’”

The people who oppose Trump recognize the stakes.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: And while you’re at it, by all means read this Fallows column. From that column:

… A little later that morning Trump tweeted this about Tim Kaine.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 5.30.32 PM

Trump on Twitter.

What’s wrong with this? Exactly the same is true of Mike Pence. It’s not disqualifying for either Kaine or Pence — adjustment to the presidential-nominee’s views is part of running as vice president — but for anyone but Trump it would seem inexplicable to make a point so glaringly vulnerable to a “what about you?” response.

Something is wrong with this man.

Again, read the whole thing.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 July 2016 at 4:08 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

Trump can’t stand criticism, especially when it’s true: The ghostwriter saga continues

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Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker:

When Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s ghostwriter for his 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal,” decided to tell the public about his concerns that Trump isn’t fit to serve as President, his main worry was that Trump, who is famously litigious, would threaten to take legal action against him. Schwartz’s premonition has proved correct.

On Monday, July 18th, the day that this magazine published my interviewwith Schwartz, and hours after Schwartz appeared on “Good Morning America” to voice his concerns about Trump’s “impulsive and self-centered” character, Jason D. Greenblatt, the general counsel and vice-president of the Trump Organization, issued a threatening cease-and-desist letter to Schwartz. (You can read the full letter at the bottom of this post.) In it, Greenblatt accuses Schwartz—who has likened his writing of the flattering book to putting “lipstick on the pig” —of making “defamatory statements” about the Republican nominee and claiming that he, not Trump, wrote the book, “thereby exposing” himself to “liability for damages and other tortious harm.”

Greenblatt demands that Schwartz send “a certified check made payable to Mr. Trump” for all of the royalties he had earned on the book, along with Schwartz’s half of the book’s five-hundred-thousand-dollar advance. (The memoir has sold approximately a million copies, earning Trump and Schwartz each several million dollars.) Greenblatt also orders Schwartz to issue “a written statement retracting your defamatory statements” and offer written assurances that he will not “generate or disseminate” any further “baseless accusations” about Trump.

On Thursday, reached by e-mail on an airplane, Schwartz said that he would continue to speak out against Trump, and that he would make no retractions or apologies. “The fact that Trump would take time out of convention week to worry about a critic is evidence to me not only of how thin-skinned he is, but also of how misplaced his priorities are,” Schwartz wrote. He added, “It is axiomatic that when Trump feels attacked, he will strike back. That’s precisely what’s so frightening about his becoming president.”

That day, a lawyer representing Schwartz, Elizabeth A. McNamara, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, sent Greenblatt a response. (You can read that letter in its entirety at the bottom of this page.) McNamara states that Schwartz “will not be returning any of the advance or royalties from the Book, and he has no intention of retracting any of his opinions about the character of the Republican nominee for the presidency, nor does he have any obligation or intention to remain silent about the issue going forward.” She describes Trump’s cease-and-desist letter as “nothing more than a transparent attempt to stifle legitimate criticism.”

As McNamara notes, Greenblatt’s letter does not actually refute Schwartz’s claim that he, not Trump, wrote the book. Instead, Greenblatt writes that Trump “was the source of all of the material in the Book and the inspiration for every word in the Book,” rather than the author. Greenblatt acknowledges that Trump provided Schwartz “with the facts and facets of each of these deals in order for you to write them down.”

On “Good Morning America,” Schwartz told host George Stephanopoulos that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2016 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Books, Election, GOP

Magical economic “thinking” at the GOP convention

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John Cassidy of the New Yorker writes:

After the drama of the first night of the Republican National Convention, when the Donald Trump campaign threw Benghazi, grieving mothers, and angry cops at Hillary Clinton under the rubric “Make America Safe Again,” the theme of Day 2 was “Make America Work Again.” Or that was supposed to be the idea.

Anyone expecting the presentation of an economic plan, or even a vague resemblance of one, to feature in the proceedings was to be disappointed. In place of prominent economists explaining how Trump’s election would kick-start the American economy, we were presented with Chris Christie, who did a fine impersonation of a representative of the Spanish Inquisition but didn’t say much about job creation and raising wages.
Instead of the C.E.O.s of Fortune 500 companies waxing lyrical about Trump’s threat to start trade wars with China and Mexico, we got Andy Wist, the founder of a small New York company that waterproofs buildings. After joking about journalists’ vain efforts to discover who he was after his name appeared on the speakers’ list, Wist said, in a Brooklyn accent as broad as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, “We restore building exteriors.” Turning to other issues, he went on, “It’s a mess. Who’s gonna fix it? Hillary Clinton? After thirty years in public life, her only accomplishment is beating the rap every time she breaks the law.” On the other hand, “Donald Trump is a builder,” Wist assured the crowd. “The only way to keep the American dream alive is by electing Donald Trump president.”
Wist wasn’t the only business figure to endorse Trump and laud his ability to expand economic activity. Dana White, the burly president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which features ripped men and women punching, kicking, and grappling in an octagonal ring, told of how Trump helped him get his start, back in 2001. “It was basically considered a blood sport,” White said. “Nobody took us seriously. Nobody except Donald Trump. Donald was the first guy that recognized the potential.” White recalled how Trump had hosted U.F.C.’s first two events at one of his hotels, cutting a deal “that worked for everyone,” then showing up and sitting in the first row.
Natalie Gulbis, a professional golfer, spoke highly of Trump’s motivational skills, and Kerry Woolard, who runs the Trump Winery, which grows grapes on two hundred acres on the former Kluge estate, in Virginia, recalled how Trump bought the business out of bankruptcy and rebuilt it. “He isn’t a wide-eyed dreamer,” she said. “He’s someone who sees things that others don’t.”
That was good to hear. But it was left to Paul Ryan and Trump’s son Donald, Jr., to explain how Trump’s distinctive economic philosophy would be applied to the world beyond construction, kickboxing, and winemaking. In the event, however, they did nothing of the kind. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2016 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Business, Election, GOP

Richard Cordray: Blacks Are Trapped in a System of Financial Barricades

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens report in Wall Street on Parade:

Richard Cordray and the Federal agency he heads, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), have been in the cross hairs of right wing Republicans and the corporations they front for since the agency opened its doors in 2011 to confront the abuses exposed in the financial crisis of 2008.

The agency’s work to level the playing field for all Americans and stop the vicious wealth transfer system that the deregulation era of the 90s has unleashed on the financially unsophisticated has fueled unprecedented backlash. During the Republican Presidential debate on November 10 of last year, a corporate-funded front group, the American Action Network, with ties to the Koch brothers, repeatedly ran an advertisement portraying the CFPB as a communist group. (See our detailed report here.)

The CFPB presents multiple threats to the financial looters. The CFPB has made it easy for consumers to file complaints; for whistleblowers to come forward; for the public toshare their experiences so that the agency can get an early warning on new financial frauds gathering momentum; and it provides financial education materials to the public covering a broad spectrum. It has also levied hefty fines against wrongdoers and exposed the sordid details of their schemes.

Despite the serial backlash Cordray has faced and the ongoing efforts to strip his agency of its independence, he isn’t backing down. Yesterday, Cordray became something of a whistleblower himself, delivering a speech to the NAACP’s annual convention in Cincinnati and exposing the myriad ways that African Americans are targeted by the institutionalized wealth stripping apparatus that has its entrenched tentacles spread across America. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2016 at 5:20 pm

Obama Is the Guy Who Made America Work Again

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At Mother Jones Kevin Drum has an excellent post with two illuminating charts:

The theme of the convention tonight was supposed to be “Make America Work Again.” But Donald Trump has a famously short attention span, and apparently that’s spilled over into the scheduling of the entire convention. As near as I can tell, not a single person talked about jobs and the economy except maybe soap opera star Kimberlin Brown, who grows avocadoes and spent several minutes railing against Obamacare.

However, I didn’t watch every minute of the convention, so maybe I missed one of the early C-list speakers talking about jobs. On the off chance that this happened, I have two charts for you. First, here’s a re-up of one of my favorites, showing that Republicans did everything they possibly could to keep America from recovering while Obama was president:

spending_recessions_26_quarters_1

As you can see from the various red and orange lines, Republicans were eager to increase spending for Reagan, Bush Jr., and Bush Sr.—at least until he lost the election and Clinton took over. Then they cut back. For Obama, they depressed public spending from the start. That’s the blue line. Today, more than six years after the official end of the recession, public spending is more than 20 points lower than the trendline for Reagan and Bush.

Nonetheless, check out Obama’s record on job growth:

job_creation_bush_obama

Even with two big tax cuts and a housing bubble, Bush Jr. managed to create only 10.9 million jobs. Obama, even with the headwind of Republican obstruction, has created 13.1 million jobs so far. . . .

Continue reading.

What’s odd and disturbing is that these facts will have zero influence on the GOP. Neither officeholders nor voters in the GOP seem to have any interest in factual evidence. Indeed, look at how they are almost rabid with anger at Hillary Clinton because she lies. Haven’t they noticed that Donald Trump lies incessantly, and continues to tell the same lies even when it is clear that they are lies and the person he’s talking with knows that they are lies and even points out that they’re lies. That doesn’t even make Trump pause: he continues to tell old lies and make up new lies constantly. And the GOP doesn’t like Hillary because she lies?

I don’t get it.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 July 2016 at 1:44 pm

When Subpoenas Threaten Climate Science

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And despite the title, the threat is to science generally, though this specific case is climate science. Ken Kimmel, president of the Union of Concerned Scientist, writes in the NY Times:

Last week, my organization — the Union of Concerned Scientists — received a subpoena signed by Lamar S. Smith of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The subpoena orders me to hand over correspondence between my staff members and state attorneys general, and between my staff members and environmental organizations and funders. This demand impinges on our group’s constitutional rights, and it would set a terrible precedent affecting many other advocacy groups were we to comply with it.

The subpoena concerns our efforts to inform state attorneys general of our research into Exxon Mobil. Our research details, among other things, how much Exxon Mobil knew about the dangers posed to the planet from carbon emissions from its products at the same time it was spending millions to misinform the public about the science of climate change.

Mr. Smith makes no claim that our organization violated any law or regulation; he simply demands to see our correspondence. This is a deeply troubling request. It is, in effect, a bullying tactic that threatens the work that advocacy groups like mine do under the protection of the First Amendment when we “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Are we to expect a subpoena every time we have a conversation with a public official if some committee chairman dislikes or disagrees with us?

Mr. Smith’s demand also interferes with continuing law enforcement proceedings by New York and Massachusetts state attorneys general who — acting under their own state laws — have commenced investigations into Exxon Mobil’s potentially fraudulent actions. (Mr. Smith has sent similar subpoenas to the other environmental organizations and funders as well as the offices of the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts.)

The controversy began last summer, when our organization published a report documenting deception about climate science by Exxon Mobil, other leading fossil fuel companies and industry trade groups. Since that time, two teams of investigative reporters have uncovered further corroborating evidence that for decades, Exxon Mobil’s own scientists warned the company of the dangers of carbon emissions at the same time the company was aggressively promoting a very different message in public and to its investors about climate science. As a result of these revelations, the state attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts commenced their investigations into Exxon Mobil.

Mr. Smith, joined by members of Congress, claims that our organization, the other groups and the state attorneys general have engaged in a conspiracy to deprive Exxon Mobil of its First Amendment right to debate the science of climate change and to chill the work of scientists. This is simply nonsense. Exxon Mobil’s scientists are not being targeted for investigation, and no one is intimidating them to keep them from performing their work. Instead, the investigations center on whether Exxon Mobil misled the public and its own investors when it publicly disparaged, played down or even dismissed outright the growing evidence (from its own scientists and others) that burning fossil fuels causes irrevocable harm to the planet.

Disseminating false information to help sell a product finds no protection in the First Amendment. Imagine if it did: Tobacco companies could get away with saying cigarettes are safe; car companies could deny manufacturing defects that endanger drivers; and pharmaceutical companies could mislead consumers about the efficacy of drugs — all by cloaking themselves in the First Amendment. Fortunately, courts have repeatedly rejected such arguments.

Beyond its lack of a factual or legal basis, Mr. Smith’s subpoena sets a dangerous precedent because it violates our constitutional rights. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2016 at 5:10 pm

David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, comments on the Trump plagiarism

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David Frum writes in the Atlantic:

On Tuesday night, Melania Trump delivered a speech that included passages lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 address to the Democratic National Convention. Here are ten reasons why Melania Trump’s speech matters and will continue to matter.

1) Melania Trump’s speech was the first and best opportunity to humanize Donald Trump. That opportunity was not only wasted, but the whole project of humanizing Trump has become a farce that will haunt the later attempts by Trump’s children to undo Monday night’s debacle.

2) The speech has unleashed a cycle of internal finger-pointing and blame-shifting that will consume Trump’s already dysfunctional campaign. Even more fatally, the cycle of recrimination now threatens to extend into Trump’s most intimate advice group: his family. Suppose now that Donald Trump’s children by his previous marriages succeed where Melania so humiliatingly failed. What does that unleash in Trump’s delicately blended family?

3) Since Sunday, every journalist at this convention has been collecting examples of the Trump campaign’s failures and incompetence: the quarrel with Ohio Governor John Kasich, the absent senators and governors, the no-show donors, the convention’s financial embarrassments, the floor fight over rules, the lack of a proper schedule, and the defective apps and other technology. Suddenly, there is one easy-to-understand incident that encapsulates in one grim joke all this convention’s cavalcade of derp.

4) To this point, the Hillary Clinton campaign has been unsure how to attack Donald Trump. There has been noticeable hesitation, uncertainty, and even mutually refuting contradictions in its early attacks. How can Trump both be a cynical con man and a dangerous extremist hate-monger? Now at last the script writes itself: Trump as doofus, the guy who went broke running a casino—and can’t even find someone to write an ordinarily competent speech for his wife’s big self-introduction to the American public.

5) Trump has just vividly demonstrated that his campaign—never mind the campaign, he himself—have zero skill at crisis management. Confronted with this comically absurd failure, their instinct is not only to lie, shift blame, and refuse responsibility, but to do so in laughably unbelievable ways. It’s all a big joke when the crisis in question is a plagiarized speech by a would-be first lady. It won’t be so funny when a President Trump tries to manage a truly life-and-death crisis in the same blundering, dopey, and cowardly way.

6) The incident throws a harpoon into the heart of the Trump campaign’s racial politics. Trump’s message: Non-white people are ripping off hard-working white Americans who play by the rules. “They” cheat; “we” lose. Could there be a sharper reversal of that racialized complaint than Melania Trump in her designer dress stealing Michelle Obama’s heartfelt words?

7) . . .

Continue reading.

And James Fallows points out (in an excellent column):

In short: success as a campaigner obviously does not guarantee success as a president. Robert Redford’s final words in the McGovern-era film The Candidate are one of many reminders of that point. But if you can’t handle the complexities of running your own party’s convention, how on Earth can you begin to juggle the complexities of the entire Federal budget; and dealings with the Congress; and the foreign crises that crop up each day; and filling the thousands of politically appointed positions in the executive branch; and right on down an endless list.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2016 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Election, GOP

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