Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Who Will He Be: Teleprompter Trump or Unplugged Donald

UPDATE:  The "overwhelming majority of Americans thinks [Trump] is a lying, divisive hothead who is making race relations much worse. Trump barely has majority support (52 percent) among his most loyal segment of the electorate (whites with no college education). He has managed to turn off just about everyone else. He knows how to feed his base red meat but not how to earn the respect and confidence of everyone else. Several thousand people in an auditorium in Phoenix, it turns out, bear little resemblance to the country as a whole.

Trump can read off a teleprompter as he did in announcing his Afghanistan policy on Monday, behave like a madman on Tuesday and revert to a perfectly adequate (though wooden) speech to veterans on Wednesday. While some Americans might suffer from whiplash, most, we suspect, have figured out which is the real Trump is and which is the Trump who is playing the dummy to ventriloquists trying desperately to protect the country (e.g., Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster).

Trump cannot operate off script without losing his cool and revealing his ignorance; his moments of restraint never last long. When he reads other people’s words and expresses sentiments not his own his delivery is flat and stilted. Only when he is in full rage-mode does he become animated. He must distract and attack lest the focus fall on him and his lack of accomplishments.

This is a man plainly driven by hate, resentment and maybe a little fear — yes, fear that the presidency is beyond his abilities and severely taxing his meager intellectual and emotional resources. Don’t expect him to improve. Failure begets more rage, which begets greater rejection by the public. It would be pathetic if it were not petrifying."

Read the Washington Post, Trump is losing.

A "recurring motif of his presidency: Mr. Trump has toggled between Teleprompter Trump and Unplugged Trump every day since the deadly clashes in Virginia, leaving Washington and the rest of the nation with a chronic case of rhetorical whiplash.

The split speaking personality is not new. Mr. Trump spent years mocking President Barack Obama for using a teleprompter.

But ever since Mr. Trump won his first round of primaries and his path toward the Republican presidential nomination became likelier, his family members and some supporters have urged him — not with a lot of success — to professionalize his performances, and to try to avoid the dangers of the kind of spontaneous remarks he made in Arizona.

There were obvious differences between the venue and audience for the Phoenix speech and those here on Wednesday [in Reno at the national convention of the American Legion]. The first was a campaign-style rally for his most boisterous supporters, against a thumping soundtrack of the Rolling Stones; the second was an official presidential event for an audience of veterans, complete with a bill-signing ceremony.

There were many reasons to believe that the president’s angry performance in Phoenix was the real Donald J. Trump. It was consistent with the way he has reacted to all sorts of setbacks since he took office, including the Senate’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the multiple investigations of his links to Russia. . .

Many presidents, of course, have complained bitterly behind closed doors about their treatment at the hands of the news media or their political opponents. . . .

The difference with Mr. Trump, he said, is that the president not only vents those feelings publicly, but also makes that venting a central part of his message."

Read The New York Times, Different Day, Different Audience, and a Completely Different Trump.

Trump's Big CON: Another Big Shout Out to Birthers & Other Racist

UPDATE V:  "President Trump said after pardoning Arpaio that the former sheriff had been treated 'unbelievably unfairly,' too."

That's not true, the judge who ordered Arpaio to stop racial profiling is "fair, honest, conservative."

Read the Washington Post, Joe Arpaio and President Trump say Arpaio was treated unfairly. That’s not true.

UPDATE IV:  "Repetition is the enemy of maintaining proper distinctions. It is a short road from being serially outraged to being slightly bored to being completely inured.

Thus many are likely to find the pardon of former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio to be just another . . . something. Just another public feeding of President Trump’s base; or just an additional shiny distraction from real issues; or just one more cause for head-shaking and shoulder-shrugging; or just further evidence of the tawdry political company kept by the president of the United States.

This would be a mistake. This presidential action is not 'just' anything. Following his expression of sympathy for the 'very fine people' attending a white- supremacist rally in Charlottesville — who were, he said, defending 'our history and heritage' — Trump must have known his next move would be highly symbolic, either as a retreat from prejudice or as its affirmation. What followed with the Arpaio pardon constitutes the most forthright racist incitement of the Trump era.

Trump has called Arpaio a 'great American patriot,' employing a definition of patriotism that includes extreme ethnic profiling, terror raids, and cruel and unusual punishment. A definition of patriotism that covers using internment camps in extreme heat, parading women and juvenile offenders for the cameras in chain gangs, and degrading inmates in creative acts of bullying. This is not patriotism; it is the abuse of power in the cause of bigotry.

Others have commented on the legal precedent of effectively pardoning someone for abusing the constitutional rights of an ethnic minority. Done in a manner that employs the pardon power as a reward for political loyalty. Resulting from a process that evidently did not involve the normal review and recommendation of the Justice Department’s pardon attorney."

Read the Washington Post, Trump abuses his power to help the cause of bigotry.

UPDATE III:  "Trump sees himself — or what he sometimes aspires to accomplish, anyway — in this local tin-pot dictator.

Think about it. Trump has not exactly proved himself to be the forward-looking, calculating mastermind implied by those alternative explanations. And he makes everything — including the Charlottesville violence, the Houston catastrophe, even the eclipse — about himself.

Trump and Arpaio both built their political careers by demonizing immigrants. They also both raised their national profiles by claiming that Barack Obama was secretly a Kenyan-born Muslim, a racist conspiracy theory that Arpaio even sent a taxpayer-funded deputy to Hawaii to investigate.

And more broadly they both seem to use 'law and order' as code for encouraging law enforcement to harass people of color.

Those are the best-known parallels between the two politicians, but they’re hardly the only ones. There are many other ways in which Arpaio has proved to be Trump’s mini-me."

Read the Washington Post, Why did Trump pardon Arpaio? Because he sees himself in the former sheriff.

UPDATE II:  "[O]f all the people with criminal records in this country, Trump chose to make Arpaio his first pardonee.

As sheriff, Arpaio was known for a hostility toward undocumented immigrants that was functionally indistinguishable from hostility toward Latinos. He conducted sweeps of Latino neighborhoods and stops of Latino drivers in attempts to find undocumented immigrants. He held inmates in brutal and degrading conditions. He installed publicly accessible webcams so that the public could gawk at inmates, and one of those cameras showed female prisoners using the toilet. And he was a leading proponent of the racist lie that President Barack Obama was not a natural-born American citizen.

Arpaio’s entire claim to national recognition was based on his being a xenophobe, a racist and an officer of the machinery of government who relished wielding that machinery to degrade some of the most powerless members of our society. . .

Trump pardoned Arpaio because of his actions as sheriff, actions that are consistent with the platform on which Trump campaigned and has attempted to govern. Those actions were appalling — and not only is Arpaio unremorseful, but Trump has actually held him up as a model to be emulated."

Read the Washington Post, The problem with Joe Arpaio’s pardon isn’t the process. The problem is Joe Arpaio.

UPDATE:  "As sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz., Joe Arpaio engaged in blatant racial discrimination. His officers systematically targeted Latinos, often arresting them on spurious charges and at least sometimes beating them up when they questioned those charges. Read the report from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and prepare to be horrified.

Once Latinos were arrested, bad things happened to them. Many were sent to Tent City, which Arpaio himself proudly called a 'concentration camp,' where they lived under brutal conditions, with temperatures inside the tents sometimes rising to 145 degrees.

And when he received court orders to stop these practices, he simply ignored them, which led to his eventual conviction — after decades in office — for contempt of court. But he had friends in high places, indeed in the highest of places. We now know that Donald Trump tried to get the Justice Department to drop the case against Arpaio, a clear case of attempted obstruction of justice. And when that ploy failed, Trump, who had already suggested that Arpaio was 'convicted for doing his job,' pardoned him.

By the way, about 'doing his job,' it turns out that Arpaio’s officers were too busy rounding up brown-skinned people and investigating President Barack Obama’s birth certificate to do other things, like investigate cases of sexually abused children. Priorities!

Let’s call things by their proper names here. Arpaio is, of course, a white supremacist. But he’s more than that. There’s a word for political regimes that round up members of minority groups and send them to concentration camps, while rejecting the rule of law: What Arpaio brought to Maricopa, and what the president of the United States has just endorsed, was fascism, American style.

So how did we get to this point?

Trump’s motives are easy to understand. For one thing, Arpaio, with his racism and authoritarianism, really is his kind of guy. For another, the pardon is a signal to those who might be tempted to make deals with the special investigator as the Russia probe closes in on the White House: Don’t worry, I’ll protect you. . .

What makes it possible for someone like Trump to attain power and hold it is the acquiescence of people, both voters and politicians, who aren’t white supremacists, who sort-of kind-of believe in the rule of law, but are willing to go along with racists and lawbreakers if it seems to serve their interests.

There have been endless reports about the low-education white voters who went overwhelmingly for Trump last November. But he wouldn’t have made it over the top without millions of votes from well-educated Republicans who — despite the media’s orgy of false equivalence or worse (emails!) — had no excuse for not realizing what kind of man he was. For whatever reason, be it political tribalism or the desire for lower taxes, they voted for him anyway.

Given the powers we grant to the president, who in some ways is almost like an elected dictator, giving the office to someone likely to abuse that power invites catastrophe. The only real check comes from Congress, which retains the power to impeach; even the potential for impeachment can constrain a bad president. But Republicans control Congress; how many of them besides John McCain have offered full-throated denunciations of the Arpaio pardon?

The answer is, very few. . .

This bodes ill if, as seems all too likely, the Arpaio pardon is only the beginning: We may well be in the early stages of a constitutional crisis. Does anyone consider it unthinkable that Trump will fire Robert Mueller, and try to shut down investigations into his personal and political links to Russia? Does anyone have confidence that Republicans in Congress will do anything more than express mild disagreement with his actions if he does?

As I said, there’s a word for people who round up members of ethnic minorities and send them to concentration camps, or praise such actions. There’s also a word for people who, out of cowardice or self-interest, go along with such abuses: collaborators. How many such collaborators will there be? I’m afraid we’ll soon find out.

Read The New York Times, Fascism, American Style.

Sheriff Joe 'Scooby-Doo' Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court for defying the Obama administration.

The Donald is under siege as an investigation started under the Obama administration shows The Donald is Putin's Puppet.

What better time to release those 'universe-shattering' revelations that Obama is a "Indo-Kenyan radical Muslim sleeper agent".

But don't hold your breath, it was all a CON job!!!

Instead, Trump had to pardon Arpaio.

Read the Washington Post, Trump asked Sessions about closing case against Arpaio, an ally since ‘birtherism’.

Birthers, hear me now, can you say sucker?