Obama in Nevada: ‘Heck no’ to Trump, Joe Heck

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President Barack Obama campaigned on behalf of Hillary Clinton in Nevada on Sunday, also pushing those gathered to vote for Democrats running down ballot.

After thanking the state for helping to elect him, praising retiring Sen. Harry Reid and touting the process made during his eight years in office, Obama launched into an attack on GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“You’ve got a guy who proves himself unfit for this office every single day in every single way,” he said.

He also criticized Trump for claiming the election process is rigged, saying: “If this was rigged, boy it would be a really big conspiracy.

“The Republican governor is not going to rig an election for Hillary Clinton or rig an election for Catherine [Cortez Masto],” he added, referring to the Democrat running for Reid’s seat.

“We’ve got to have a Congress that is willing to make progress on the issues Americans care about,” he said, before launching an extended attack on Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican facing off against Masto.

He said Heck supported Trump when it was “politically convenient” and asked “What the heck took you so long?” to denounce the nominee. Heck dropped his support for Trump earlier this month, after the now infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about assaulting women.

“Too late!” Obama said. “You don’t get credit for that!”

As he criticized Heck, he asked “Nevada, what the heck?” and then led the crowd in chants of “Heck no!”

Polls show a tight race between Heck and Cortez Masto, the former Nevada attorney general in a race that Heck had been narrowly leading for months.

Clinton is ahead of Trump by nearly 5 points in the RealClearPolitics average, and the latestaverage for the Senate race shows Cortez Masto up by 2 points.

Heck revoking his support of Trump has set off a backlash against from Trump supporters and he’s privately acknowledged he’s in a “very difficult situation” for no longer supporting his party’s standard-bearer.

By The Hill staff


Right-Wing Alternate Reality Collapses As Obama Approval Rating Hits 56% In Fox Poll

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Cage Skidmore


Sorry, Republicans, but Americans think President Obama has done a pretty good job.

In a blow to Republicans living in an alternate reality, President Obama’s approval rating continues to soar even higher in a brand new Fox News poll released on Thursday.

According to the poll, 56 percent of Americans approve of the job the current president has done – the eighth Fox poll in a row to show Obama’s approval rating at 50 percent or higher.

The new numbers directly contradict constant Republican assertions that Obama has destroyed the country and turned the U.S. into a hellscape. Americans actually think the current president has done a pretty good job.

Other recent polling consistently shows the same thing as the Fox Poll: A majority of Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing. According to RealClearPolitics, the current president’s job approval stands at a strong 52 percent when averaging recent polling.

This isn’t just good for the outgoing president, though. It’s also good for the current Democratic nominee.

Obama’s increasing popularity is proof that tying Hillary Clinton’s candidacy to him and calling her a third Obama term won’t hurt the Democratic nominee – if anything, it will only help her chances next month when voters go to the polls.

As we reach the mid-point of October and approach the final few weeks of this campaign, these numbers should have Republicans – particularly Donald Trump – shaking in their boots.


Trump’s Claim That Putin Is A Better Leader Than Obama Is Utterly Insane

Trump’s Claim That Putin Is A Better Leader Than Obama Is Utterly Insane

Photo via Kremlin.ru


Since last night’s Commander-in-Chief forum on NBC, Republicans have been on the defensive about Donald Trump’s reiterated praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s what Trump said:

“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him,” Trump said of the Russian president. “The man has very strong control over a country.”

The GOP nominee added that Putin has been a leader “far more than our president’s been a leader.”

Essentially, Trump’s case for why Putin is a good leader is this: 1. The Russian president has high approval ratings; 2. He has complimented Trump.

We know that there are few things Trump values more than polls and praise.

With that said, the Republican nominee’s decision to wrap his arms around Putin isn’t just insane, but it also shows that Trump’s definition of leadership is pretty frightening.

First of all, Putin is presiding over a terrible economy, which was made even worse by U.S.-led sanctions imposed following his illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia’s overall meddling in Ukraine.

In a Reuters report from yesterday, one Russian employer said, “The Russian economy has hit bottom, but who would have thought the Russians would start digging?”

VOA News also reported earlier this week that Putin’s economy “has plunged millions of people into poverty…”

It’s not just economic conditions that are dire in Russia; life also isn’t so good for those who support a free press.

Since Putin came to power, 25 journalists have been killed. The majority of those killings were carried out by military or government officials, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

If this is the type of strength and leadership that Donald Trump wants to emulate as the President of the United States, then we’re all in trouble.

Meanwhile, in President Obama’s America, the economy has rebounded from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. More than 15 million jobs have been created over the last 78 months – the longest streak of private sector job growth in history. The uninsured rate is at record lows, the stock market is soaring, and the unauthorized immigrant population has actually fallen.

In a recent analysis conducted by Gallup, the American people report that their lives have gotten better during Obama’s two terms as president. Obama’s rising approval ratings only confirm that reality.

All of this despite Trump’s repeated attempts to paint the country under Obama as a hellscape overrun by “illegals.”

For score-keeping purposes: Putin isolated his country from the rest of the world, drove his economy into the ground, and ordered the killing of journalists. Obama halted a second Great Depression, laid the groundwork for sustained economic growth, provided health insurance to millions, and improved – yes, improved – America’s reputation abroad.

The contest of which of these two men is a better leader isn’t even close. In fact, Putin would likely trade his record for Obama’s in a heartbeat.

Ultimately, all of this says more about the Republican nominee than it does about either Putin or Obama. If Putin’s is the leadership that Donald Trump admires then he should be nowhere near the White House.

Republicans’ Congress Lull Could Impede A Clinton Presidency

Republicans’ Congress Lull Could Impede A Clinton Presidency

REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

The National Memo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans in Congress are planning a light legislative agenda as they return from their long summer break on Tuesday, a strategy some say is designed in part to bog down Hillary Clinton if she becomes president.

It is not uncommon for the Congress to take it slow in an election year and legislative delays could work in Republicans’ favor if their nominee Donald Trump takes the White House in November.

But the strategy will also pay dividends if it is Clinton who takes office on Jan. 20. She will be forced to deal with old baggage rather than focus on her agenda of infrastructure investments and immigration and Wall Street reforms.

“If Hillary wins, we force her to waste time, resources, momentum, early good will and political capital – all on cleanup duty,” said a senior aide to one Republican senator.

If all goes as expected this autumn, a U.S. Supreme Court seat, vacant since Feb. 13, will remain unfilled until sometime next year. A sweeping Pacific free-trade deal negotiated by President Barack Obama will be on hold, if not doomed.

And if many conservative Republicans get their way, government agencies will run on stop-gap funding from Oct. 1 until sometime in February or March. That means that the next president would have to negotiate a longer-term deal or face the prospect of government shutdowns in the early days of a new administration.

Senior congressional aides have told Reuters their agenda for the coming months include bills to keep the government funded, combat the spreading Zika virus and renewing laws guarding the nation’s water resources.

Other items would help the majority Republicans score political points with key constituencies before the November elections, even though they have no chance of becoming law.

These include scolding the Obama administration for a $400 million payment to Iran in January after Tehran released American prisoners, anti-abortion measures and, once again, proposals to repeal Obama’s landmark healthcare law.

Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist and former aide to Republican leaders in Congress, acknowledged that public opinion polling is trending in Clinton’s direction.

If Clinton wins, Bonjean added, “The whole mindset (among Republican leaders in Congress) would shift to taking care of the most important business to help Republicans and unloading the more difficult, tense issues for a Clinton administration to deal with.”

Clinton has maintained a lead in most polls since Republican and Democratic conventions, but some surveys showed that lead narrowing. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sept. 2 showed Trump effectively pulling even with the Democratic nominee.

Yet one veteran Republican congressional aide said more and more Republicans in Congress brace for the White House to stay in Democratic hands for the next four years, even if their party manages to maintain control of Congress.

Trump’s trouble in appealing to important groups of voters, such as Hispanics, African-Americans and Asians, and self-inflicted wounds “have made it pretty clear he’s highly unlikely to get there,” he said.

Leaving the Supreme Court nomination and other high-profile disagreements for 2017 “does bog down” a new administration, “no question about it,” the aide said.

Some election years mean a slow autumn in Congress, but this is not always the case. In 2012 for example, lawmakers dramatically labored all the way through New Year’s Eve addressing a “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax and spending laws.

Not all of the delays in passing legislation are purely on Republican shoulders though.

While Trump has blasted free-trade deals, leading Democrats, including Clinton, also have criticized Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership pact that would create a free-trade zone ranging from Japan to Chile.

Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, downplayed the challenges Clinton might face early on. “She knows how to deal with Congress. She’s been there,” he said referring to Clinton’s years as a senator representing New York.

Besides, he added, if Trump loses, Republicans will be busy dealing with their own problems.

“They’ll have to think seriously about how they got themselves in the trouble that they’re in.”

(Reporting By Richard Cowan; Editing by Julia Edwards and Tomasz Janowski)

5 Ways Donald Trump Is Still ‘Birthering’ Barack Obama

5 Ways Donald Trump Is Still ‘Birthering’ Barack Obama


You’ve probably never heard it mentioned on TV, but President Obama is outdoing President Reagan in what used to be one of conservatives’ favorite ways to judge the economy — private sector jobs.

At the current pace more than 10 million private sector jobs will be created in Obama’s second term, well over a half million more than were created in Reagan’s second term, which Republicans glorified as “Morning in America.” It’s true that the workforce was much smaller in the 80s, but job creation under Obama doubled that under the last two president Bushes combined years ago — with the best years coming as key Obama policies like the Affordable Care Act and tax increases on the rich took effect.

Reagan’s second term saw more jobs created overall because public sector hiring was five times stronger in the eighties than it is now. Was Reagan a better socialist than Obama? Nope, starving public investment was all about one thing — denying this president any measure of effectiveness.

The defining fact of Obama’s presidency is its success despiteincessant Republican attempts to sabotage it.

“The recovery since 2009 has been historically slow, and the disappointing pace can be explained entirely by the fiscal austerity imposed by Republicans in Congress,” The Economic Policy Institute reported early this month.

As elected Republicans undermined the president’s economic plans, shut down the government rather than allow him to implement the health care plan he’d been reelected on, turned epidemics like Ebola and Zika into partisan issues, and refused to even consider his final Supreme Court appointment, the right and its powerful media machine did everything they could to delegitimize Obama.

From the first fake story about Obama being schooled in a madrassa that Fox and Friends debuted in early 2007 to today, the right looked for ways to “otherize” the president and cast suspicion on his origins and motives.

No one has nurtured or exploited these suspicions more than the current Republican nominee for president.

Before birtherism, Donald Trump was a sad guy’s idea of a rich guy who ran for president when he had a book to sell. But by being the most famous person willing to attack Obama’s citizenship by exploiting racist paranoia, he become an extremist macher, an important endorser in 2012, and the party’s standard-bearer in 2016.

Trump’s entire campaign is built on defining Obama as “un-American” and here’s how he’s still doing it as he seeks to win the president’s job.

  1. Completely negating the president’s accomplishments.
    Trump speaks about America as if it were embroiled in a mix of the financial crisis of 2008 and the racial unrest of 1968, combined with the massive influx of undocumented immigrants that mostly happened around the turn of this century. In reality, job creation is at an eight-year high, banks are better regulated and far more stable, crime is at or near historic lows (as is net immigration), while the percentage of insured Americans has never been higher. While not perfect, Obama’s administration is a sterling success — especially compared with the recessions left us by our most recent Republican presidents. Trump denies Obama any credit for his accomplishments and smears him as a disaster — but he isn’t convincing many people who don’t despise Obama already. When Trump’s 33 percent approval rating and disapproval in the 60s is contrasted with Obama’s approval over 50 percent, America seems to get who is the real failure.
  2. Pulling privilege when it comes to releasing his own documents. 
    Trump claimed he was just interest in the getting the truth when he sought Obama’s birth certificate and then college records — documents that other candidates had all produced. It was a whiff of nonsense, meant to cover the stench of racism rising from the birther campaign. But now the hypocrisy is just sickening, as Trump seeks to become the first major party nominee since Watergate to withhold his federal tax returns. We have proof that Trump at the very least overstates his wealth and charitable donations. His returns are the best hope of documenting those claims and more. Trump’s new birtherism — attacking Hillary Clinton’s health with no evidence — is as ridiculous as his own joke of a medical record, produced in five minutes while a limo was waiting.
  3. Basing his entire campaign on hyped dangers he accuses Obama of ignoring.
    Trump acts if his ideas to bomb ISIS, vet refugees, and deport criminals are novel, rather than policies that Obama has so fully engaged as to arouse outrage in many of his liberal allies. Trump’s premise isn’t that he’ll do better than Obama. Like much of the the conservative base he believes that Obama isn’t on “our” side — an argument infused with demented racial undertones that would be difficult to pin on a Republican nominee for president if Trump didn’t explicitly suggest it over and over.
  4. Conflating the president of the United States with terrorists.
    When Trump spent half a week saying that Obama was literally the “founder” of ISIS, he was reheating an argument he’s made for years. The most recent iteration had been to say “there’s something going on,” over and over as Trump did after the horrific shooting in Orlando. It’s a sick accusation of treason against the president of the United States and Trump has trafficked in such associations for years.
  5. He’s literally still a birther.
    Trump doesn’t talk about being a birther anymore, and the supine press seems fine with that, but he never disavowed the theory that made him a conservative superstar. The Republican nominee won’t say whether he thinks the current president is a citizen. And with all these questions about his fake revisions to his immigration policies, no one dares to ask him the inevitable question: “Do you plan to deport Barack Obama?”

Obama Shifts Cash To Fight Zika; Vacationing Republicans Take Credit

Brendan Smialowski via Getty Images


WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama’s administration announced Thursday the transfer of some $80 million in additional funds to combat the growing Zika threat after Congress refused to pass a $1.9 billion package before going on a seven-week break.

Nevertheless, congressional Republicans took credit for convincing the White House to act when Congress would not.

“For over six months we have been calling on the administration to use every existing resource at their disposal to address this crisis,” Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said in a statement. “Our calls have been met with little action, while the White House continues to cast aspersions and blame at others for lack of funding.”

The White House asked for $1.9 billion in February, and Rogers and other Republicans responded by questioning the administration’s plans to use the money. The administration then transferred $589 million from other programs ― primarily the effort to combat Ebola ― to begin dealing with Zika.

The Senate passed a compromise Zika package worth $1.1 billion on a bipartisan vote. But when that broadly supported bill came back from negotiations with the House, Republicans added riders to it restricting contraception services, protecting the Confederate flag, cutting Obamacare and weakening the Clean Water Act.

Democrats promptly labeled the riders poison pills and refused to pass the altered bill. Republicans then blamed Democrats for the impasse, as Rogers did again Thursday.

“The House has twice passed responsible, immediate funding legislation for vaccine development, mosquito control, and public health efforts,” Rogers said, referring to the rider-laden measure and an earlier bill that would have provided just one-third of the requested money. “These much-needed funds have been blocked at every turn by Democrats in the Senate, with the backing of the Obama White House.”

Even one of the few Republicans who supported Obama’s initial request, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), blamed Democrats and crowed over the funding transfer.

“Last month I urged President Obama to use all the funds that were already available to fight Zika,” Rubio said in a statement. “Today’s action is long overdue, and the Obama administration should do even more to find unspent funds that can be redirected toward fighting Zika in Florida.”

In a letter to lawmakers Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell explained that the transfer comes at a cost. It means that $34 million being shifted at the National Institutes of Health will be used to continue development of one promising vaccine, but that three other vaccine candidates will have to be shelved. It also means that NIH’s work on Zika diagnostics will stall, Burwell said.

Similarly, $47 million being transferred to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will allow the agency to sign contracts with private companies that work on vaccines, but it does not provide enough money to come close to finishing that work.

“With the actions described above, we have exhausted our ability to even provide short-term financing to help fight Zika,” Burwell wrote. She said that if Congress fails to act by the end of the fiscal year next month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and NIH will have to start cutting back Zika efforts.

Burwell opened her letter by noting that, as of Thursday, there were more than 7,300 cases of Zika infection in the United States, including 972 pregnant women with evidence of infection and 15 babies born with Zika-linked birth defects.

And in Florida, where the first local outbreak of Zika has been recorded, there are at least 22 related cases.

Democrats blamed their GOP colleagues for the current state of affairs, and said Congress should come back to work before its scheduled Sept. 6 return to pass the bipartisan Zika bill.

“Without having successfully enacted any funding to fight Zika, Republicans shut down Congress for the longest summer recess in at least 60 years,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “What better use of time do Republicans have right now than to come back here and get the job done for the American people?”

“In its continued failure to enact emergency Zika appropriations, the Republican majority is playing Russian roulette with the health of the American people,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Rogers’ counterpart on the Appropriations Committee. “This failure has forced the administration to divert funding from other critical priorities, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, mental health, viral hepatitis, and home energy assistance for low-income Americans. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is damaging and immoral, and it must stop.”

Michael McAuliff

Obama Explains Why A Changing America Terrifies Donald Trump



President Barack Obama closed out Wednesday night of the Democratic National Convention with a rousing speech that hearkened back to his breakout moment at the 2004 convention. Obama detailed a very different vision of a changing America than the xenophobia that characterizes Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign.

Obama noted that Trump and other Republicans have argued the U.S. has lost a vital quality, which they suggest has been stolen by Mexican “criminal” immigrants, liberal elitists, and Muslim terrorists.

“They tell voters there’s a real America out there that must be restored,” he said. “This isn’t an idea that started with Donald Trump. It’s been peddled by politicians for a long time – probably from the start of our Republic.”

The first black president rejected that idea, instead painting a picture of a tolerant nation that recognizes it’s richer for its growing diversity. He illustrated this with his now familiar “origin story,” debuted in his 2004 speech, about being raised by his white grandparents from the heartland.

“I don’t know if they had their birth certificates,” Obama joked, a dig at Trump’s dogged promotion of a conspiracy theory that the president was born in Kenya.

“My grandparents explained that they didn’t like show-offs. They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, they valued traits like honesty and hard work,” he said. “Kindness and courtesy. Humility; responsibility; helping each other out.”

“And what my grandparents understood was that these values weren’t limited to Kansas. They weren’t limited to small towns,” he continued. “They knew these values weren’t reserved for one race; they could be passed down to a half-Kenyan grandson, or a half-Asian granddaughter.

“In fact, they were the same values Michelle’s parents, the descendants of slaves, taught their own kids living in a bungalow on the South Side of Chicago. They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke; a baseball cap or a hijab.

“America has changed over the years. But these values my grandparents taught me – they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever; still cherished by people of every party, every race, and every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots, is what’s in here. That’s what matters.”

This lofty depiction of a changing U.S. isn’t just meant to give Americans a feel-good antidote to the racism and fearmongering spread by the Trump campaign. It’s also smart politics.

The face of America has changed dramatically, even over the eight years of Obama’s tenure. This year’s election is on track to be the most diverse in U.S. history. Since 2012, more than two-thirds of the new eligible voters in the U.S. identify as racial and ethnic minorities. At the same time, the white share of the electorate is dropping.

Trump’s rhetoric may be accelerating the rate of demographic change. His racist comments about Latinos and immigrants are reportedly spurring naturalization drives for Americans who are more determined than ever to gain their citizenship in order to vote against Trump.

If the current rate of citizenship applications is sustained, nearly a million new voters could hit the polls for the first time in November.

Obama’s candidacy turned out record numbers of African Americans in 2008, an election where one in four voters was non-white. Many wondered if Democrats could sustain that political energy from voters of color, or if they were simply buoyed by enthusiasm for the first black president.

Black voters backed Hillary Clinton in this year’s primary in even wider margins than they supported Obama against Clinton in 2008. But it remains to be seen if minority turnout will rise to the same levels Obama enjoyed in his last two elections.

Obama knows this turnout will be crucial in a tightening contest. On Wednesday night, Obama exhorted listeners, again, “don’t boo, vote!”


This Black Science Fiction Writer Predicted Trump’s Campaign Slogan 16 Years Ago

This Black Science Fiction Writer Predicted Trump's Campaign Slogan 16 Years Ago

(Image Credit: Getty Images)


These four little words combined make a soundbite that has taken up a lot of airtime this election cycle: “Make America Great Again.” The slogan has much different connotations than Hillary Clinton‘s “I’m With Her” or Barack Obama‘s “Yes We Can!” but it’s still the rallying cry that has brought him millions of primary votes and propelled him to become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Was it actually concocted by a black science fiction writer as the slogan for an evil Christian demagogue running for President?

In Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Talents, published in 1998, Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret uses the phrase as a way to shore up support among Evangelical voters. One Twitter user pointed out that Butler wrote the exact same phrase in her book on Thursday on Twitter.

Talents explores what happens when a demagogue is allowed to rise to quell the fears and anxieties that come along with living in a dystopian word where the government is powerless and people must fend for themselves.

The author, Octavia Butler, was a black woman and the first science fiction writer to ever win the MacArthur “Genius Grant.” Butler died in 2006, two years before Trump would become host of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.

This Black Science Fiction Writer Predicted Trump's Campaign Slogan 16 Years Ago

(Source: Evan Agostini/AP)

As the excerpt from the book shows, Jarret riles up his supporters so much that they begin to harm anyone they think to be against them, including Muslims and Jews. Though Jarret condemns the hate violence, he “does so in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear.”

Shawn Taylor, a Butler scholar, told Fusion the book shows “what happens when people are emboldened by a demagogue” and that Trump, like Jarret, gives people “permission to act on their worst impulses.”

Trump’s rallies have garnered a reputation for wanton violence. A hashtag, #SaferThanaTrumpRally even sprang up in response. And through it all, Trump has not condoned the violence and instead has parceled out blamemostly to protesters. While Trump doesn’t exactly say he condones the violence, considering paying the legal bills of violent rallygoers is the exact opposite of condemning violence.

This Black Science Fiction Writer Predicted Trump's Campaign Slogan 16 Years Ago

(Source: Brennan Linsley/AP)

According to The Hill, Trump claims he invented the phrase a year ago.

By Mathew Rodriguez

Innuendo, conspiracy and outright delusion: The bizarro “truth” according to Donald Trump

Innuendo, conspiracy and outright delusion: The bizarro "truth" according to Donald Trump

(Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder)


This piece originally appeared on BillMoyers.com.

After the carnage in Orlando, Donald Trump didn’t wait long before launching yet another guided missile full of insinuation. He didn’t exactly say that the massacre was the doing of an unreconstructed Mau-Mau descendant born in Kenya. Trump is craftier than that. Monday morning, he told Fox News:

Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on… [Obama] doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable. [My italics]

Later he told NBC’s Today’s Savannah Guthrie:

… 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. [My italics]

Something else in mind… Can’t believe it… There’s something going on… Maybe he doesn’t want to get it… People cannot believe… A lot of people think… These are Trump’s characteristic high-frequency whistles, repeated and restated and re-repeated to make sure he gets through to the feebler dogs out on the periphery of his adoring crowd.

There are two intertwined strands to the Trump brand of insinuation. One is that traitors have crept into our midst. They are Muslims, Mexicans and other alien inhabitants of Trojan horses, aided and abetted by those who cover up for them, who reassure you that these sinister forces are harmless.

The second strand is that Trump speaks for a movement of folks who get it. He’s not just the leader who glimpses the buried truth. The leader, after all, has the wisdom to channel the “people,” the stouthearted ones, the deprogrammed, those brave souls who can handle the awful truth, who all together will rise to strip the masquerade bare, to evict the aliens — along with corrupting serpents — so as to restore Edenic greatness. The truth that matters, in all fascist and para-fascist movements, is the truth that the savior-masters have unearthed.

In the minds of circle of the adepts, there’s always “something going on” — the inside story that compactly explains the apparent mysteries of the world. What’s “going on” is always deep and dark. A special craft of intelligence is required to discern it. They, the conspirators, either are invisible to the official channels of information, who are at best naïve — at worst, complicit — because they ignore the common sense of the common folks who do get it.

In this view, official opinion is made up by know-it-alls who really know nothing, because they have an interest in concealment. They’re cover-up artists, the liberal-mainstream-lamestream media and their elite pals. They suppress the knowledge that, against all odds, the circle of deep knowers have patiently scraped together. It takes a special brand of astuteness to join the ranks of the adepts, to get down with the connoisseurs of the International Communist Conspiracy and the grassy knoll and the “false flag” and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Jews who stayed home from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Here are words out of Trump’s mouth, to Bill O’Reilly, in 2011:

I’m a very smart guy. I went to the best college. I had good marks. I was a very smart guy, good student and all that stuff. Because what they do to the birthers, which is a term I hate because a lot of these birthers are just really quality people that just want the truth.”

We get it. They don’t. They refuse to. Because — well — you know about them…

Conspiracy nuts despise official knowledge. What they relish is their own knowingness. Just when you think you’ve refuted their canards, they dance away. One mark of this sort of conspiracy theory is that it never says die. Blocked at the end of one cul-de-sac, it reverses field and rushes off to find another one. So, during his effort in 2011 to force Obama to present his birth certificate to prove his citizenship, Trump implied to Fox News that the reason for the president not showing it was “because maybe it says he is a Muslim.”

Having lifted that rock, Trump couldn’t let it go undisturbed. Just this Februaryhe tweeted:  “I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque?” Well, he didn’t say Obama was a Muslim, did he? He only implied that Obama has a special feeling for Muslims. Which takes us straight to his insinuations about Orlando.

Fortunately for the Trumps of the world, they have their own efficient, instantaneous, echo chambers at their disposal. They delude themselves that what other people think doesn’t matter, because they are deafened by the applause that reverberates through their own arenas.

This doesn’t mean that what mainstream media say and don’t say, expose and fail to expose, are irrelevant. Writing in The Washington PostPaul Waldman goes too far when he laments that mainstream media exposés are now helpless because there is no single media figure who has the audience or the stature that Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite had. But the multiplication of sources hasled to a Balkanization of information — there’s no common text among voters that functions the way the evening news functioned a half-century ago. Further, the profusion of opinion available to everyone means that there’s no perspective or analysis, no matter how extreme, to which the public doesn’t have access.

As I noted last week, a good many journalists are at long, long last finding their ways through the conundrum of how to cover a serial liar without covering up. Untruths that passed unchallenged as run-of-the-mill Republican rhetoric during the primaries have now slipped into what the media scholar Daniel Hallin has called “the sphere of legitimate controversy.” Reporters are not so fearful of highlighting and challenging Trump’s steady assaults on truth. Investigative reports are catching up with his past of deception, greed and fraud. One reads this, for example, by Jenna Johnson in The Washington Post:

For months, Trump has slyly suggested that the president is not Christian and has questioned his compassion toward Muslims. Years ago, Trump was a major force in calls for the president to release his birth certificate and prove that he was born in the United States. On the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly stated as fact conspiracy theories about the president, his rivals and Muslims, often refusing to back down from his assertions even when they are proven to be false.

No wonder Trump just took the step of revoking the Post’s credentials for upcoming events. He made this decision before the Post did him the favor of this weasely headline: “Donald Trump spreads unproven theories.” Not “unproven” — false and crackpot!

What took journalists so long to rise to the occasion? Aside from normal, everyday deference, false equivalencies and the fear of being seen as knowing too much (aka “partisanship”), mainstream journalists suffered from lack of material from campaign rivals. The New Republic’s Brian Beutler usefully explains that one reason journalists failed to puncture so many of Trump’s hot-air balloons is that they weren’t getting any help from other candidates’ opposition — or “oppo” — research:

Political reporters have done a pretty good job unearthing the unflattering details of Trump’s past, but they can only do so much on their own. If the media could document everything untoward every candidate had ever done, campaigns and advocacy groups wouldn’t employ opposition researchers. But there’s a reason they do: In general, campaigns outgun and outpace the press at investigating rival candidates (particularly with respect to archival information that can’t be found online, and that requires expertise to obtain and decipher). They have more resources, no daily print deadlines and no need to worry about impartiality.

…[R]epublican campaigns and anti-Trump activists did an absolutely abysmal job sifting through his dirty laundry between June 2015 and today… [F]or too long, most Republicans mistakenly assumed Trump would collapse on his own… They were also inhibited from attacking his wealth (or lack thereof), his tax avoidance and his barking-mad tax reform plan, because that would contradict fundamental conservative dogma: that taxes are terrible, that they can’t be cut enough and that the wealthy are wise to pay as little as possible.

Most Republicans were loath to attack Trump in any meaningful way at all, until it was too late, because they didn’t want to alienate the front-runner and his millions of supporters.

Can millions of supporters be wrong? As Lindsey Graham said in December: “[T]here’s about 40 percent of the Republican primary voter[s] who believes [sic] that Obama was born in Kenya and is a Muslim.”

The freak show is not over. Fatuous commentaries and foolish questions still resound through cable TV land. On FoxHoward Kurtz opined that “it probably would have been better if Trump had let one of his aides or surrogates” make the points the candidate made that he was “right on radical Islamic terrorism” and, “I said this was going to happen—and it is only going to get worse.” Not better in the sense of more revealing of the actual sentiments of the putative Republican nominee — better in the sense of less damaging to Trump’s reputation, such as it is. No doubt more advice to Trump about how to airbrush his dirty pictures will be forthcoming in days to come.



Obama: ‘Politics’ Makes It Easy For Terrorists To Buy Weapons


(AP Photo)


Obama, speaking at a makeshift memorial at the Phillips Center with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, said the city was “shaken by an evil and hateful act.” He implored lawmakers who defend easy access to assault weapons to meet the families of the shooting victims for themselves.

The President vowed that “we will destroy” terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, but that it would take “more than just our military” and intelligence team to prevent lone-wolf attacks like the one in Orlando from occurring.

“I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing,” Obama said.

“We can’t wipe away hatred and evil from every heart in this world. But we can stop some tragedies,” he continued. “We can save some lives.”

Obama said politics had made it as “easy as possible” for a terrorist and “disturbed” individuals to legally buy powerful weapons. He said that the families of the victims “don’t care about the politics.”

“Neither do I,” Obama said. “Neither does Joe and neither should any parent out here whose thinking about their kids being not in the wrong place but being where kids are supposed to be. This debate needs to change. It’s outgrown the old political stalemates.”

Obama noted that while the motives of the shooter in Orlando were different than those of the gunmen in Aurora or Newtown, the “instruments of death were so similar.”

“We’re all going to have to work together, at every level of government, across political lines, to do more to stop killers who want to terrorize us,” Obama said.