Sunday, June 05, 2016

Arthur Bremer, This Blog Turns Its Lonely Eyes To You

Today, this blog rolls out another (thanks to Vannevar Bush) Daily Double about you'll-never-guess-who in his miasma of racism and violence. In fact, Der Blödmann (German for "The Dumbas2") has gone around the bend into his own delusional existence. His followers will reap the whirlwind for sowing the wind. If this is a (fair & balanced) warning to the Dumbos/Teabaggers, so be it.

Vannevar Bush HyperlinkBracketed NumbersDirectory]
[1] Birther Attack On "Mexican" Judge (Margaret Talbot)
[2] Racist Politics (Dan Balz)

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[x New Yorker]
Donald Trump's Birtherism And The Trump Uinversity [sic] Judge
By Margaret Talbot

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Last week, a judge hearing the lawsuit against Trump University ordered testimony unsealed that contained damning assessments from former employees of the now defunct enterprise. Trump University was a “fraudulent scheme,” a former sales manager said, that “preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.” Trump responded with his usual dignity, maturity, and dedication to American ideals of fair play: he suggested that the judge must be against him because he was “Mexican.”

It’s tempting to ignore some of Trump’s outbursts, as a parent picking battles with an out-of-control eight-year-old might do, but there are some that represent patterns so troubling we really can’t afford to. And this is one of them: the vague—and, as it happens, false—imputation of foreign birth to people who criticize him or thwart his will in any way, as though ethnic difference was itself a smear that need only be hinted at to do its damage. At a campaign rally in San Diego last week, Trump declared, “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?” Notice that “we,” which implies a movement of ethnic purists training a beady eye on foreign elements, and then the incoherent and abrupt Trumpian shift to an assertion of how much he—third person—is loved by “the Mexicans.” Then he got threatening about the judge in the case, whose name is Gonzalo Curiel, in a straight-up thuggish way: “They ought to look into Judge Curiel, because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. OK? But we will come back in November. Wouldn’t that be wild if I am President and come back and do a civil case? Where everybody likes it.” Trump kept this going all week—not only in the hopped-up atmosphere of a rally, but in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he said that Judge Curiel should recuse himself from the case.

Here, for those who might care about them, are the facts: Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, in 1953 and attended Indiana University Law School. He is the son of Mexican immigrants. A 2002 Times article credits coöperation between Curiel and his counterparts across the border with bringing down the murderous Mexican cocaine cartel headed by Benjamín Arellano Félix. Investigators and prosecutors from San Diego and Tijuana agreed that the fact that they could speak to each other in Spanish, without interpreters and with some common frame of reference, helped enormously. According to the Washington Post, Curiel “gained acclaim prosecuting drug traffickers along the Tijuana corridor and was reportedly targeted for assassination by the Felix cartel.”

This is not, of course, the first time that Trump has dealt in nativist innuendo. It’s worth remembering that he was the leading public face of the birther canard—the claim that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, as his birth certificate proves, but in Kenya. Back in 2011, Trump took many, many opportunities to riff surreally on this made-up notion. To wit: “I have a birth certificate. People have birth certificates. He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there is something on that birth certificate—maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim, I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that. Or he may not have one.” Of course, if Obama had not been born on American soil, he would not have been eligible to be President. Obama, it should be said, had from the beginning produced a basic birth certificate, along with a contemporary birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper. And some birthers appeared to retreat when Hawaii released his “long-form” birth certificate [PDF], in 2011. But nailing down what happened at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in 1961 was never really the point for Trump. The point was to feed religious and racial prejudice. Trump has never renounced these falsities or apologized for spreading them. When Chris Matthews pressed him on the matter at one of the Republican debates, he finally said, “I don’t talk about that anymore.” That’s not enough. In December, Trump was introduced at a rally by Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who acknowledged him as a fellow birther: “We have something in common—the birth-certificate investigation, which is still going on.” Trump did not disagree.

Back in 2011, after the release of the long-form certificate, President Obama did a number on Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth-certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that’s because he can finally get back to focussing on the issues that matter—like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?” That was when it was still possible to laugh at Trump’s obsessions without worrying that he might actually have a chance to impose them on the country. Last month, at his first press conference after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee, President Obama said this: “We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the Presidency of the United States.” One of the hardest things about this election is that Donald Trump just isn’t funny anymore. Ω

[Margaret Talbot joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 2003. Previously, she was a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine and, from 1995 to 1999, an editor at The New Republic. Her New Yorker stories cover manners and morals, social policy, and popular culture. In 1999, she received a Whiting Writer’s Award. She is the author of The Entertainer: Movies, Magic and My Father’s Twentieth Century, about Lyle Talbot, her father. Talbot received a BA (history) from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA (history) from Harvard University.]

Copyright © 2016 The New Yorker/Condé Nast Digital

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[x Washington Fishwrap[
Pushing Racial Boundaries, Trump Draws Rebuke From A Fretful GOP
By Dan Balz

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Donald Trump, whose campaign for president has crashed through one barrier after another, has again moved his candidacy into highly questionable territory, threatening to stir more racial animosity in an already divided country and putting at risk his party’s relationship with the nation’s fastest-growing minority group.

Over the past week, Trump has repeatedly cited the Mexican heritage of US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing a lawsuit brought by former students of Trump University alleging fraud against the institution. Trump accused Curiel of a conflict of interest in hearing the case because, according to his reasoning, the judge’s Mexican heritage puts him at odds with Trump’s proposal to build a wall on the US-Mexican border.

When challenged to explain why he believed the judge was biased, Trump said, among other things, “He’s a Mexican.”

Curiel is an American, born in 1953 in Indiana to parents who were Mexican immigrants. The judge has not publicly expressed an opinion about Trump’s proposed wall.

Politicians and others across the ideological spectrum have rebuked Trump in the past for “dog whistle” politics, or worse. In this case, the condemnations have been swift and cutting, as Republican leaders scramble to protect their party against charges that their presumptive presidential nominee is engaging in a racist attack against a sitting judge.

“I don’t know what Trump’s reasoning was, and I don’t care,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been supportive of Trump, said in an email. “His description of the judge in terms of his parentage is completely unacceptable.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has seemed immune from the typical effects of this kind of rhetoric and behavior. He has repeatedly survived, even thrived, after making controversial statements, whether attacking former president George W. Bush as a liar who took the country to war in Iraq under false pretenses or claiming that Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a prisoner in the Vietnam War who was tortured repeatedly, was not a hero because he had been shot down and captured.

Those are just two of a number of instances in which Trump has insulted politicians, private citizens or entire groups of people. Based on the record, it is premature to draw conclusions about how his attacks on Curiel will affect him politically. But they have prompted deepening concern among others in the Republican Party that he is pursuing a strategy — if it actually is a strategy — with worrisome ­longer-term consequences for the country and the GOP.

The 2016 presidential campaign is playing out against a backdrop of heightened racial, ethnic and cultural tensions. Violence at Trump rallies, which flared again Thursday in San Jose, has sometimes pitted angry anti-Trump demonstrators, many of them Hispanics, against the candidate’s equally passionate, predominantly white supporters. At one time or another, each side has been responsible for inciting the violence that ensued.

One issue that has inflamed the national debate is police shootings of unarmed African Americans and the relationship between police departments and the black community. Another is the question of how the country should deal with threats of domestic terrorism from Islamic radicals and whether there should be new restrictions on those seeking entry into the United States from countries in the Middle East.

Trump’s candidacy has been fueled by anger over illegal immigration and by rhetoric that began with the opening days of his candidacy, when he said many of those coming to the United States from Mexico illegally were “rapists, . . . murderers” and criminals. Later, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, CA, Trump called for a ban on all Muslims seeking to enter the country until the federal government could put in place a more effective system for background screening.

In this latest instance, Trump vehemently denied a charge from Hillary Clinton that he had launched a racist attack against the judge. But his behavior was enough to prompt some of the most prominent members of his party to call him out.

On Friday, just one day after announcing his support for Trump, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) denounced the New York billionaire during an interview with WISN radio in Wisconsin. He said Trump’s accusations against the judge had come “completely out of left field,” adding, “It’s reasoning I don’t relate to. I completely disagree with the thinking behind that.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) criticized Trump for an earlier attack on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, and expressed his concern that Trump’s language and behavior could permanently alienate Hispanics from the Republican Party in much the same way that 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped turn African Americans into the most loyal voting block in the Democratic coalition.

Gingrich issued a warning to the presumptive GOP nominee to stop freelancing and begin listening to advisers and others about how to run his general-election campaign. “If Trump doesn’t start consulting and coordinating with his allies, he will not have any,” Gingrich wrote in the email.

Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government at the University of Texas, emailed: “There is a long history of race-based unhappiness with court decisions (e.g. George Wallace’s tirades against desegregation orders). But Trump’s rhetoric amounts to a uniquely personal attack on a federal judge that signals a decidedly ‘un-presidential’ disrespect for the legal process. This cannot help his candidacy.”

John Weaver, who served as chief strategist to the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), said in an email, “Trump’s unwarranted and unhinged attacks on a fine American public servant are echoes from this nation’s demagogic past. . . . There is no stopping him from being our nominee, sadly, but this type of racially charged rhetoric will ensure he is adrift and alone before he is defeated in November.”

There have been other episodes in which Trump has veered into the controversy over issues involving race. Last winter, ahead of a crucial round of Southern primary contests, he refused, in an interview on CNN, to denounce former Ku Klux Klan leader and one-time Louisiana politician David Duke or to disavow any expressions of support from Duke or white supremacist organizations.

Trump’s hesitation to speak out forcefully in that interview prompted a parade of Republican elected officials to publicly criticize him in an effort to insulate the party from any fallout. Trump defended himself, pointing to an earlier statement disavowing Duke’s support, but he could not explain satisfactorily why he had not repeated that disavowal during the CNN interview.

When he was exploring a possible 2012 presidential campaign, Trump raised the issue of whether President Obama was born in the United States, a discredited charge that nonetheless was accepted as true by a fifth of the population nationally and by a somewhat higher percentage of Republicans.

Asked in 2013 whether he believed he had carried the “birther” issue too far, Trump said in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, “I don’t think I went overboard. Actually, I think it made me very popular. . . . I do think I know what I’m doing.”

In his race this year, Trump repeatedly raised the issue of whether Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was ineligible to serve as president because he had been born in Canada to a Cuban-born father and American mother.

Trump has brushed aside criticism that he could so alienate Hispanic voters that he would have no chance of winning in November. He has boasted throughout the campaign that he will do far better among Hispanics and African Americans than current polling suggests and better than Mitt Romney did with those voters four years ago.

Exit polls showed that Romney got 27 percent of the Latino vote and 6 percent among African Americans. Current polling shows Trump getting anywhere from 10 or 12 percent of the Hispanic vote to about 30 percent.

This is hardly the first time Trump has found himself the target of criticism for crude and insensitive language. Campaigning Friday in California, he pointed at one person in the audience and said, “Look at my African American over here.”

Early in the campaign, he was taken to task for retweeting from his official Twitter account a racially tinged comment about Jeb Bush’s wife, Columba, who was born in Mexico. The original tweet said, “#JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife.” Trump said he had not personally done the retweeting. The retweet was soon removed from Trump’s feed.

The unfolding case of Trump challenging Curiel began at a rally a week ago when he delivered a lengthy commentary about the Trump University case. He called Curiel a “hater of Donald Trump” and also said that the judge “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.” On Thursday, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he charged that Curiel should not be handling the case because of obvious bias. “I’m building a wall,” Trump said. “It’s an absolute conflict of interest.”

On Friday, Trump was pressed repeatedly by CNN’s Jake Tapper to explain the link between the fact that Curiel’s parents were Mexican immigrants and the judge’s ability to handle the case involving Trump University. “I’ve been treated very unfairly by this judge,” Trump said. “Now, this judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, okay? I’m building a wall.”

Trump continued to spar with Tapper, who eventually said, “If you are saying he can’t do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?” Trump replied, “No, I don’t think so at all.”

The question and the response were reminders that Trump continues to go where no major-party nominee in recent history has gone. Ω

[Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent. He is the co-author of two books, including the New York Times bestseller The Battle For America 2008, a narrative history of the 2008 presidential campaign. He is the recipient of the American Political Science Association award for political coverage and shared the Gerald R. Ford award for coverage of the presidency. In 2011, he received the White House Correspondents’ Association’s Merriman Smith award for deadline writing about the presidency. Balz received both a BA and an MA (communications) from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.]

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Post

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