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Posts published in “Trump”

Trump 30: Mob boss

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Does Donald Trump think that the job he's running for is mob boss?

You might think so.

He's had lots of interaction with mob figures over the years. To some extent this is unavoidable given the work he has done, which has involved building construction in New York City. If you do that on a substantial scale for very long, you'll mostly certainly have some interactions with the mob. So the fact of some connections isn't legitimately an enormous deal.

But the relationships seem to be more than fleeting. "There have been multiple media reports about Donald's business dealings with the mob, with the mafia," former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said on February 28. "Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported."

Politifact added that "It’s important to note that Trump hasn’t been charged with any illegal activity, and it’s reasonable to argue that he was unaware or even a victim in some cases. But Cruz has a point that the mogul has been linked to the mob for decades."

David Cay Johnson, the great financial investigative reporter who has been looking into Trump and money for many years, concluded there were serious issues. As Politico reported about his findings, "In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license. But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan. . . . No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks."

But all this isn't the key point.

It's that Trump seems to have looked over at mob bosses and extrapolated that this is how a president could and should effectively do his job. Commentators in Europe speculated that he was really running for mob boss of the United States, based on his demeanor and even patterns of talking, and approach to many issues. His unilateralism - a stunning lack of recognition of the relative roles of the Congress and Supreme Court and states and other participants in our government, is right in line.

He's running for mob boss. Problem is, we don't need one. - rs

Trump 31: Small peccadilloes

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Back in the 90s one of the chief congressional staffer pit bulls sicced on to Bill and Hillary Clinton was Michael Chertoff, a Republican by party (now as then), an attorney by profession and during the George W. Bush Administration secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

He has also said he will endorse and vote for Hillary Clinton for president, saying she has the qualities and background to do the job well.

In an October 7 piece on the National Memo, writer Joe Conason noted this: "Asked about Clinton’s email problems, Chertoff briskly brushed that overhyped 'scandal' aside, comparing it with the Whitewater circus as a frivolous distraction from serious issues."

More exactly, Chertoff said this:

In the end … I go back to Sept. 11, 2001, and I was on duty. I was the head of the [Justice Department’s] Criminal Division and I was part of the immediate response to prevent that from happening again. In looking back on that I realized that in the ’90s we spent an enormous amount of time pursuing issues involving the Clintons’ associations back in Arkansas in the ’80s, Whitewater and other things, and we didn’t spend nearly the same amount of time on what bin Laden was up to and others were up to in the region. And it reminded me that — you know — the ability to spend an inordinate amount of time chasing small peccadilloes is a luxury we only have in a world at peace.

Think now about how much time Donald Trump has spent attacking enemies (many of his own making), getting into battles over basic deportment, and in general devoting a whole lot of his time on pointless junk. A president's time is precious and critical; there is never enough. Does Trump look like the sort of person who will manage it well? Ever? Or have the perspective to understand what is worth his time and what isn't? In the end, only a president can make that call. - rs

Trump 32: War crimes

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Donald Trump seems to take the whole subject of war crimes lightly.

He has spoken of targeting bit just terrorists but also the families ad associates of them.

Waterboarding isn't enough, he said; what we do should be "much tougher."

“We have to be so strong,” Trump said. “We have to fight so viciously. And violently because we’re dealing with violent people viciously.”

For example, in June in New Hampshire, Trump proposed again, as one publication put it, "America should hold itself to the same standard as a fascist death cult."

American military forces long have held to a standard that, while in general orders must be obeyed, war crimes are illegal orders, and as such should be refused.

Trump said that in his administration that won't happen: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. If I say do it, they’re going to do it.” Exactly how that would come to pass, he didn't say.

On a few occasions, such as for a stretch in March, Trump seemed to back off. He said then that "“I do, however, understand that the United States is bound by laws and treaties and I will not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters. I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans.”

Given a few weeks, he reverts to torture and mayhem.

Does this sound like America to you? - rs

Trump 33: Maybe I will

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When can something be both awful and chaotic and wonderfully good news at once?

Donald Trump has provided an answer. Just because he's been running for the last year and a half for the presidency doesn't mean that, you know, he'd actually take the job.

Given the other 99 items on this list, this could stand as terrific news. Of course, he could decide to take the job too, so that's a limited boon.

At the same time, a decision that he would not take the job would be a matter of sheer chaos. The departure of a prospective president - or a new president - under such conditions would leave the country in a mess.

"I'll let you know how I feel about it after it happens," Trump said to the New York Times. Great timing. - rs

Trump 34: Nothing broader

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You can't quite say that Donald Trump is completely unable to draw a connection between his approach to an issue and the way it would affect real people. His first answer in the last presidential debate (though none of his answers afterward), on trade, did contain some linkages along that line. But left alone, without the advice of staff ringing in his ears (even a half-hour after the debate's launch), he loses the plot.

Among many examples of how he has lost the connection between policy ad presidential decisions on the one hand - which is to say, his preferences - and real impacts on the other, you need go no further than one recent comment about a recent incident.

Last month an apparent political coup was launched in Turkey, shortly after renewed conflict in the Kurdistan area.

JF The morning after an attempted coup in Turkey — a country that is a NATO ally, where U.S. nuclear weapons are based, which is at the center of international tensions over refugees and the struggles within Islam and dealing with ISIS and dealing with Syria — Trump’s comments, as potential commander in chief, were, in toto: “So many friends in Turkey. Great people, amazing people. We wish them well. A lot of anguish last night, but hopefully it will all work out.”

Such a broad view of international relations: It goes no further, in the mind of Donald Trump, than the handful of people he personally knows. Nothing else is a factor. - rs

Trump 35: Maybe yes, maybe no

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Up to now, every candidate for president of the United States has been in deadly earnest about taking the office campaigned for. Sincerity in the desire to do that job has never been a question.

Until now.

It is true that in some records Donald Trump has said that of course he wants to serve.

But he also said, responding to a scenarioTrump has scoffed at criticism that he is not serious about becoming president, suggesting that his businesses have not benefited from his controversial presidential campaign and that he is truly in the race to "make America great again." about his winning the election and then declining to serve, that "I'll let you know how I feel about it after it happens," Trump told The New York Times.

As CNN reported, "Trump has scoffed at criticism that he is not serious about becoming president, suggesting that his businesses have not benefited from his controversial presidential campaign and that he is truly in the race to 'make America great again." -

    rs

Trump 36: Chains of command

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We often are reminded in this season that one of the most important roles of a president is that of commander-in-chief: The top-ranking, the ultimate, leader of the military of the United States, which by orders of magnitude has the most powerful and effective military in the world. It is a military formidable enough that, as Donald Trump once put it, no one is going to mess with us.

Well, that almost was his point. Our military really is so powerful that any frontal attack on it would be an outright suicide mission, one reason the attacks we have seen amounted to sneak attacks from guerrillas and terrorists. Which sometimes have had a certain amount of effectiveness (you might remember that incident from years ago called Vietnam), but none of which existentially threatened it. And the years since Vietnam have seen our military transformed into a professional and technically spectacular force beyond the imagining of Americans from a couple of generations ago.

So it's hard to see what Trump uses as evidence that - to extract from his actual statements - our military is so weak and ineffective it invites attack. Nothing remotely like that is true, and in itself such a conclusion represents so drastic a misreading of the real world as to amount to a presidential disqualifier.

But it goes further. Trump, who took five deferments to stay out of the military, believes he understands our military and our military options better than the officers and enlisted military who live and work with the reality every day. “I know more about ISIS than the generals do,” Trump said at the national security forum hosted by NBC.

And it goes much further than that. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank said in a September 9 column, "Trump later implied that he would fire current generals — who, in the American tradition, are avowedly nonpartisan — and replace them with retired generals who have supported him politically. His advisers on defeating the Islamic State will 'probably be different generals' from the current ones. My former Post colleague Tom Ricks, author of 'The Generals' and four other books on the military, tells me that would be 'banana republicanism.'”

Little wonder the bipartisan core of national security experts and advisors - Republicans as much as Democrats - sounds scared out of their wits by the prospect of a Trump presidency. They have good reason. - rs

Trump 37: “Lock her up!”

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One of the many (other) things that long has separated American politics from those of countries in chaos, undergoing violent revolution or in the throes of dictatorship, is that we don't imprison the political loyal opposition.

We don't call for it, either, at least not much. Some people, largely unassociated with organized political activity, have made such calls on occasion in the last 15 years or so. But it's not been part of the campaigns of major candidates, and those major candidates haven't offered support for the idea . . . until this year.

The National Republican Convention was an almost endless chorus of "lock her up!" - her referring to Hillary Clinton (the name hardly needed to be said), and the for what? being, well, unclear. Lock her up for something, apparently.

Actually, something intended to be a bill of goods was once presented, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie positioned himself as prosecutor and the convention delegates as jury - there being, evidently, no need for a judge or for a defense - seeking to build a case against her. It wasn't much of a case. But even if it were, the sense of what was going on here was stunning: A national party convention turned into a pitchforks-and-torches mob, seeking not what party delegates usually do - electoral victory for themselves, defeat for the other guys - but imprisonment, conviction. In the case of those insisting on a conviction for treason, more than that. This was a national party convention turned into a lynch mob.

The peak of that activity preceded Donald Trump's acceptance speech, but it was all of a piece, and it has replicated, over and over, at Trump rallies. We don't want to defeat Hillary and the Democrats. We want to destroy them.

For a while Trump seemed to distance himself, a little, from the "lock her up" business.

But then, speaking on July 29 at Colorado Springs (as reported by CNN), he said: "I've been saying 'let's just beat her on November 8th'. But you know what, I'm starting to agree with you. . . . You know, it's interesting. Every time I mention her, everyone screams 'lock her up, lock her up.' They keep screaming. And you know what I do? I've been nice. . . But after watching that performance (by Clinton at the Democratic National Convention) last night - such lies - I don't have to be so nice anymore. I'm taking the gloves off."

Actually, that was a return to what he had been saying for some time. As the Washington Post noted, "In reality, Trump has made comments for months on the campaign trail about Clinton belonging in prison."

And - oh yeah - he called for Hillary Clinton's imprisonment in his rally on October 1.

Remmber Nixon’s enemies lists? How quaint. - rs

Trump 38: An inciter of violence

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The Phoenix Arizona Republic, which in its more than a century of publication has never endorsed a Democrat, has done so this year, backing Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump. The endorsement was positive for Clinton as well as a negative commentary on Trump.

But in recounting the chain of events that led the Republic to its startling change this year, Editorial Page Editor Phil Boas began with a specific incident from last November:

". . . when an African-American man was beaten at a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. As Boas recalled, Trump, at the lectern, following the man’s beating, said, 'Get him the hell out of here.' Shortly afterward, Trump went on Fox News and said of the man, 'Maybe he should have been roughed up.' This prompted a series of editorials in the Republic that were critical of Trump. 'We found, in that event, the bass notes of authoritarianism,' Boas told me. 'It kind of raised the siren or the alarm for us: that this is a dangerous type of behavior we’re witnessing here, somebody who would incite political violence.'”

Authoritarianism, the strongman approach to government this country was founded in opposition to, has a number of components, but one of the most basic is the use - and the threat of - violence by people in power against the political opposition. That has been the main course for every tinpot dictator in human history, from the beginning of civilization right up to know.

And Donald Trump encourages, incites, even revels in political violence, in a way no major political figure in American history has done before.

Trump himself, of course, has denied this: "I certainly don't incite violence," he said to CNN in March, after he cancelled a Chicago rally after threats of violence had surfaced.

But the site Mashable, in an article published a few days later, noted that "Trump, however, has a history of calling for violent acts against those who protest at his events that goes back until at least August of last year."

Only days after the Chicago incident, Trump said in St, Louis, after another protester surfaced, “You know, part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore, right?"

Days after that, he said in Florida - speaking of another incident of audience violence - that "The audience hit back and that's what we need a little bit more of."

Then in North Carolina: "In the good old days this doesn't happen because they used to treat them very, very rough."

And so on, and on, and on.

Democracy has survived in America in large part because we - metaphorically - check our guns at the door. We may argue, but we don't beat each up because of which candidates we support.

Thanks to Donald Trump, in 2016 that is changing. And he most certainly is inciting it. - rs