Thursday Reads: “We’ll Be Lucky To Live Through It.” — Daniel Drezner

jm081116_COLOR_Trump_Jokes_Hillary_Threat

Good Morning!!

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer for hours now without writing anything. I’m so overwhelmed by the insanity Donald Trump has been spewing since the end of the conventions, that I’m really at a loss. I honestly feel as if I’m in shock.

This morning, the media is struggling to explain away Trump’s latest–his claim in a speech last night that President Obama “founded ISIS” and “Crooked Hillary Clinton” was the co-founder.

“Isis is honoring President Obama,” Trump said of Islamic State. “He is the founder of Isis. He founded Isis. And, I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.”

Trump’s declaration echoed an attack he made against Clinton last week, also in Florida, in which he said the former secretary of state “should get an award from them as the founder of Isis”.

Republicans have long sought to blame the turmoil in the Middle East on the Obama administration’s foreign policy, often criticizing the president for underestimating the threat posed by Isis. But Trump has routinely gone a step further by stating directly that Obama is sympathetic to terrorists.

The former reality TV star employed the same tactic on Wednesday, referring to the president by his full name – Barack Hussein Obama – and repeating it several times for emphasis of his claim that Obama had founded Isis.

The origins of Isis trace back to the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group has been deemed an offshoot of al-Qaida, which carried out the attacks on 9/11. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant terrorist viewed as the founder of Isis, was killed in a US airstrike in Baghdad in 2006.

I’m afraid to think what ghastly thing Trump might say today, but I’m sure there will be something. Just imagine how Vladimir Putin feels!

 

The first link I opened this morning was from Time Magazine: Inside Donald Trump’s Meltdown. Next I opened Twitter and found that the article had been trending for a couple of hours. It’s an extended list of Trump’s outrageous remarks along with hand-wringing by desperate Republicans who just want him to stop saying stupid things. But Trump obviously can’t help it. The piece is a must-read. Here are just a couple of samples:

When Donald Trump mucks things up, the first person to let him know is usually Republican Party boss Reince Priebus. Almost every day, Trump picks up his cell phone to find Priebus on the line, urging him to quash some feud or clarify an incendiary remark.

The Wisconsin lawyer has been a dutiful sherpa to the Manhattan developer, guiding him through the dizzying altitude of the presidential race and lobbying the GOP to unite behind a figure who threatens its future.

But every bond has its breaking point. For this partnership, the moment nearly arrived in early August. Priebus was on vacation when he learned that Trump had declined to endorse Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House and a close friend. The chairman had a frank message for the nominee, according to two Republican officials briefed on the call. Priebus told Trump that internal GOP polling suggested he was on track to lose the election. And if Trump didn’t turn around his campaign over the coming weeks, the Republican National Committee would consider redirecting party resources and machinery to House and Senate races.

Trump denies the exchange ever took place. “Reince Priebus is a terrific guy,” Trump told TIME. “He never said that.” Priebus could not be reached for comment. But whatever the exact words spoken on the phone, there is no doubt that the possibility Republicans will all but abandon Trump now haunts his struggling campaign.

0811toon_wasserman

Of course. Trump also denies the Secret Service spoke to his campaign about his implied threat against Hillary.

Republicans groan that the difficult task of keeping their Senate majority gets tougher with each outré remark. Which is why the RNC is considering shifting some cash and staff away from the presidential race and toward down-ballot contests. That plan is already in motion among powerful outside groups that typically spend hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of the party nominee. “There’s going to have to be some resource reallocation,” says a senior Republican official familiar with internal party deliberations. A second senior party official routinely instructs Senate campaign managers to distance their candidates from Trump. “Don’t worry about the appearances,” the official said on a recent conference call. “Worry about winning.”

That explains why Republicans running for office this year don’t meet Trump’s plane at airports or introduce him at rallies. In some places, the avoidance strategy seems to be working. Senator Pat Toomey is in a statistical tie in his re-election bid in Pennsylvania, a state where Trump trails by about 10 points. In the key swing state of Florida, Senator Marco Rubio is running ahead in his re-election bid even as Trump narrowly trails Clinton. But in New Hampshire, Trump’s troubles may be dragging down Ayotte, who plummeted from a virtual tie to 10 points down in a recent poll.

On calls with Senate campaign donors, Trump often comes up, as moneymen probe for details on coordination with the top of the ticket. “What Trump campaign?” one swing-state Senate campaign manager snapped at a volunteer recently. “We have more offices than they do.” ….

Like the rest of the party, Trump’s staff has been flummoxed by his political naiveté. They describe a candidate who doesn’t understand the basics of modern campaigns, from why you knock on doors to how to read a poll to why he should be dialing for dollars more aggressively. His headquarters has enough palace intrigue and warring fiefs to rival the fictional badlands of Westeros. “You’re always afraid of getting fired,” says one staffer, “but it’s his fault, not ours.”

These staff members are still cashing checks but have begun to lose faith that their boss can or should win the top prize in American politics. Most highly regarded Republican operatives have stayed away from the campaign, wary of being blackballed for future gigs. “If someone applied for a job and brought in a résumé that had Trump 2016 on it,” says a GOP fundraising consultant, “I wouldn’t give them an interview.”

There’s much much more at the Time link, so be sure to check it out.

Secret Service guard Trump's mouth

Secret Service guarding Trump’s mouth

So what’s Trump up to this morning? He’s doubling down on his “found of ISIS” and “second amendment people” remarks. Politico reports: Trump ramps up attack on Obama as founder of Islamic State.

Donald Trump on Thursday escalated his attack on President Barack Obama, doubling down on his accusation that he’s a founder of the Islamic State and claiming that both Obama and Hillary Clinton remain the terrorist group’s most valuable players….

After first leveling the terror-related accusation against Obama and Clinton at a Wednesday night rally, Trump made the claim three more times on Thursday — all before noon.

“Our government isn’t giving us good protection. Our government has unleashed ISIS,” he said as he addressed the National Association of Home Builders in Miami. “I call President Obama and Hillary Clinton the founders of ISIS. They’re the founders. In fact, I think we’ll give Hillary Clinton the — you know, if you’re on a sports team, most valuable player, MVP, you get the MVP award — ISIS will hand her the most valuable player award. Her only competition is Barack Obama.”

His remarks echoed his sentiments earlier Thursday during a phone interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” during which he also named Obama the MVP of ISIS.

“He gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary, she gets it too. I gave her co-founder if you really looked at this speech,” Trump said. “But he and Hillary get the most valuable player award having to do with Iraq, and having to do with the ISIS situation, or as he would call it, ISIL. He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and he probably wants to bother people by using another term, whether it’s more accurate or not.”

And Trump sees no problem with calling the President of the United States a terrorist.

The Manhattan billionaire bristled at the notion that referring to the president and his former secretary of state as the co-founders of a terrorist group intent on killing Americans was somehow inappropriate. He said that he has been successful thus far as a political outsider throughout the election cycle by speaking his mind, and if that ends up costing him the general election, so be it.

“Is there something wrong with saying that? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?” Trump said. “Look, all I do is tell the truth. I’m a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth.”

Unbelievably, there is even more at the link.

trump-second-amendment-people-cartoon-luckovich

Here’s Daniel Drezner at The Washington Post in response to Trump’s implication that Hillary should be assassinated: The 2016 campaign is getting out of control. We’ll be lucky to live through it.

The Trump campaign is trying to spin this every which way they can. Claims that his remark about Democratic rival Hillary Clinton was just a “joke” don’t really hold water in the sense that jokes still mean something, particularly in presidential campaigns. Furthermore, the statement was serious enough for the Secret Service to have a conversation with the campaign about this kind of rhetoric. The fact that Trump won’t apologize for a joke gone bad is indicative of the many other dangerous statements that he never walks back.

And there are consequences for this kind of violent rhetoric. Read some examples at the link.

This is the kind of thing that Trump supporters think is funny. From the Buffalo News last month: Festival apologizes for ‘Hillary Clinton in a coffin’ car show entry.

It seems there’s no escaping the politics of bad taste when a presidential campaign is in full swing. Just ask Leslee Chilcott.

The Village of Hamburg resident has attended BurgerFest for 20 years. But this year, she cut her visit short after visiting the car show with her four children. Hitched to a 1920s Model-T Ford was an open coffin on a trailer hitch with a full-sized doll inside representing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. An image of Donald Trump’s face, attached to the rear car window, making it appear as if Trump is looking down on Clinton’s smiling-but-dead mannequin body. The coffin also featured beer taps on the side.

“That was enough for me,” said Chilcott, who abruptly took her disappointed children home early Saturday afternoon.

When her 6-year-old son asked her why there was a coffin with a dead woman in it named Hillary, Chilcott said, “I had to explain to him that some people are mean. For me, it wasn’t a political stance for this person to have the dummy. It was a living person.”

Hillary-coffin

What’s next? I shudder to think. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread. I’ll add a few more stories there too.


Thursday Reads: The Trump Convention Approaches

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, 2008

Good Morning!!

The next two weeks will be fascinating ones for political junkies. The Republican Convention begins on Monday, July 18 in Cleveland, and just a week later on July 25 the Democratic Convention will be held in Philadelphia. The list of speakers for the GOP Convention was released this morning.

The Washington Post: Republican convention’s ‘non-conventional’ list: Model, astronaut and Trump clan.

Donald Trump’s convention will feature an eclectic mix of cultural figures, from the first woman to command a space shuttle mission to the survivors of the 2012 Benghazi attacks to an underwear model.

But while several Republican Party establishment figures will take the stage next week in Cleveland, the national convention to officially nominate Trump will be devoid of some of the GOP’s most seasoned leaders and brightest new stars.

Republican officials released a long-awaited list of convention speakers on Thursday that are billed as “non-conventional speakers” who emphasize “real world experience.”

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

Barry Goldwater and William Miller at the 1964 GOP Convention in San Francisco

A small number of elected officials and former office-holders have agreed to speak at Trump’s convention, including Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Rudy Giuliani, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Jeff Sessions, Joni Ernst, and Asa Hutchison. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is not included in the list of speakers. It’s not clear whether that means he will be the VP nominee or if there is some reason he won’t be speaking. Another notable omission from the speakers list is Sarah Palin.

The unusual collection of non-political speakers seems designed to broaden Trump’s appeal. They include retired astronaut Eileen Collins, the first woman pilot and first woman commander of a space shuttle mission; Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two survivors of the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya; and Antonio Sabato Jr., a former Calvin Klein underwear model, soap-opera actor and reality-television star.

Some sports figures will take the stage here, including pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White. But some sporting heroes of decades past that Trump has said he would like to see at the convention — former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight and boxing legend Don King — are not listed as featured speakers.

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Thomas E. Dewey at the 1948 Republican Convention

Trump family members and close friends will also speak at the convention.

The Cleveland convention will be orchestrated to help expand Trump’s appeal to the general electorate. To that end, several member of Trump’s family are expected to give speeches, including his wife, Melania, and his four oldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric and Tiffany.

In addition, other speakers who have known Trump and his family through the years plan to take the stage. They include Haskel Lookstein, a rabbi in New York who converted Ivanka Trump to Judaism; Tom Barrack, a wealthy California-based investor who has worked with Donald Trump on real estate deals; and Kerry Woolard, the general manager of Trump Winery in Virginia.

See a full list of GOP convention speakers at Cleveland.com and a tentative schedule of events at Newsday.

In contrast to the weak list of GOP convention speakers, the Democratic Convention speakers list is star-studded. The Washington Post:

The Democratic National Convention is likely to open with a showcase of some of the party’s biggest stars, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and first lady Michelle Obama, according to a source with knowledge of the convention planning.

Although the speaking schedule isn’t yet set in stone, the jam-packed Monday night is also expected to include Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) will introduce Warren in Philadelphia.

Sanders’s name will be entered into the nomination, prompting a roll call vote of delegates for both candidates.

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

Percy Sutton nominates Shirley Chisholm at the 1972 Democratic Convention

As we all expected Sanders will continue trying to get as much attention as he can for as long as he can.

According to another source familiar with the convention planning, the night’s theme will be an economic agenda focused on families. The list of speakers is intended to highlight the unity of the Democratic Party in contrast to the Republican convention that will have come the week before.

The night’s programming, including the speakers and videos, will drive home the theme of Clinton’s campaign, “Stronger together,” by highlighting a populist economic agenda.

The convention speaking list is coming together this week, and more speakers are likely to be formally announced as early as this week.

Presumably, speakers also will include President Obama and former President Clinton as well as rising stars in the party.

The Trump campaign announced yesterday that the presumptive GOP nominee will name his Vice Presidential running mate tomorrow morning at 11AM in New York City. The exact location hasn’t been announced yet. NPR reports: Trump Wraps Up Vice President Auditions, Sets Friday Announcement.

The deadline for a decision comes after the presumptive GOP presidential nominee wrapped up both public tryouts and private meetings with the three men believed to be among the finalists — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

After he campaigned with Pence in Indiana Tuesday evening, Trump his family met with Pence at his Indiana home on Wednesday morning, according toNBC News, while Gingrich and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions also flew to Indianapolis to meet with Trump. Christie met with Trump and his family on Tuesday.

Pence, who gave a tepid endorsement to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before his state’s primary, was more gleefully on board with Trump’s campaign on Tuesday night as he introduced him at a rally in Westfield.

“Donald Trump gets it,” Pence told the crowd. “Donald Trump hears the voice of the American people.” ….

Of the three presumed vice presidential finalists, Pence was the only one who gave a direct introduction for Trump before he came to the stage. Trump also campaigned with Christie on Monday in Virginia and with Gingrich last week in Ohio.

Trump praised Pence at the end of what was a meandering speech — attacking rival Hillary Clinton often but also wandering off into other topics such as immigration and trade and back again.

“I don’t know if he’s going to be your governor or your vice president, who the hell knows!” Trump told the crowd, referring to Pence.

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Richard Nixon at the 1968 Republican Convention

Yeah, who the hell knows? This horrifying man is actually running for president. The other top VP candidates are supposedly Jeff Sessions, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich. TA Frank weighed in on each of these choices at The Atlantic: It’s down to four, but does any candidate offer even a smidgen of hope?

At this point, Trump needs a running mate who amplifies his strengths and, possibly, goes some way toward remedying some of the candidate’s most serious weaknesses: erratic behavior, lack of experience, inadequate grasp of history, and almost zero policy chops. He or she needs to believe what Trump believes—but in a way that suggests there will be an adult in the room. Trump’s vice president is likely to be powerful in the White House, so the pick is about a lot more than campaigning. The question remains, however, whether any of the final four offer a glimmer of hope.

Some excerpts from Frank’s assessments of the top four candidates.

Newt Gingrich

Even in the wake of reports that Fox News and Gingrich have parted ways, perhaps to allow him to be vetted for the post, I still do not think this V.P. possibility is for real. Even Trump has said about Gingrich that “Newt is Newt.” That’s what you say about someone whom you accept despite major flaws. As in: Kanye is Kanye. That sort of stuff. And remember that “erratic” thing that we were trying to remedy? Gingrich is not your man for that.

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

John Kennedy at the 1960 Democratic Convention

Mike Pence

Yes, Pence campaigned with Trump this week in Indianapolis and sang his praises. But he seemed about as believable in his Trump-love as Paul Ryan. O.K., he did a little better than that. At least he wants Trump to win, maybe.

But Mike Pence has a fan club of roughly four, and all four have the last name Pence. This is someone who has the capability to be bungling and divisive on dumb social issues—by all accounts pleasing no one in his management of a religious-liberty law in Indiana, which means he angers social liberals, social moderates, and social conservatives. To be fair, that does leave the apathetic or uninformed.

Chris Christie

We’ve been through this. Christie is, I will admit, an excellent retail politician. He’s a superb attack dog. He’s a social moderate. You like him, and he likes you, or thinks he does. But he’s got that bridge scandal to deal with and no one respects him after he turned into a courtier. Trump’s ticket would become the stuff of comedy. Picture it. Now picture it as a silhouette.

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago's Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Protesters forming a human pyramid in Chicago’s Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention

Jeff Sessions

Here, I must bring up one more crucial vulnerability of Trump: the suspicion that he doesn’t really mean a lot of the things that he says. It’s all pandering: on immigration, on trade, on budgets, on health care, etc. That’s one more reason why Jeff Sessions would pack a punch: Sessions represents Trumpism without Trump. Selecting him as a running mate would signal that Trump actually means what he’s saying.

Read more from TA Frank at the link.

I can’t resist including this assessment of Trump’s VP choices from Gawker: Which of His Potential Vice Presidential Candidates Is Donald Trump Just Fucking With? Check it out at that link.

So . . . what do you think? Will you be watching next week’s GOP clusterf#ck? What other stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: NASA Goes to Jupiter and Other News

Juno spacecraft

Juno spacecraft

Good Afternoon!!

Lots of breaking news this morning. FBI Director James Comey just held a press conference to announce that the FBI will not be recommending criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of State Department emails. NBC News reports:

“No reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey told reporters.

Federal investigators did not find evidence of intentional wrongdoing, he said — but there is evidence the former secretary of state and her staff were “extremely careless.”

Comey said 110 emails sent or received on the Clinton server contained classified information. He also said it’s possible “hostile actors” gained access to the server.

So there’s still plenty of fodder for the Clinton haters and conspiracy theorists to scream out. Meanwhile, Wikileaks released a more than 1,200 of Clinton’s emails. The Independent:

The website tweeted a link to 1,258 emails on Monday that Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state. According to the release, the emails were obtained from the US State Department after they issued a Freedom of Information Act request. The emails stem from a State Department release back in February, The Hill reports.

And from NY Magazine:

If you have some hours to kill, you could do worse than a deep dive into the Clinton emails released by WikiLeaks yesterday. The site went through the emails released earlier in the year by the State Department looking for any mentions of the Iraq War. The 1,258 emails show mostly that people at the State Department are just like us, namely in that they spend their days sending their colleagues links to things they read online.

It doesn’t sound all that exciting, but Julian Assange thinks Clinton should be prosecuted. This from the guy who ran from a rape charge.

Watch Comey’s press conference:

 

There’s been another terrorist attack, this time in Saudi Arabia. Reuters: U.N. rights boss calls bombing near Saudi holy mosque an attack on Islam.

The U.N. human rights chief on Tuesday called a suicide bombing outside the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the Saudi city of Medina an attack on Islam itself and many Muslims expressed shock that their second-holiest site had been targeted.

Three apparently coordinated suicide attacks on Monday targeted Medina, the U.S. consulate in Jeddah and the largely Shi’ite Muslim city of Qatif on Monday. At least four security officers were killed.

No group has claimed responsibility but Islamic State has carried out similar bombings in the U.S.-allied kingdom in the past year, targeting Shi’ites and Saudi security forces.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and a member of the Jordanian royal family, delivered his remarks via a spokesman in Geneva.

“This is one of the holiest sites in Islam, and for such an attack to take place there, during Ramadan, can be considered a direct attack on Muslims all across the world,” he said, referring to the Islamic holy month.

“It is an attack on the religion itself.”

Militant attacks on Medina are unprecedented. The city is home to the second-holiest site in Islam, a mosque built by the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, which also houses his tomb.

NBC News: ISIS Fulfills Promise of Deadly Ramadan as Holy Month Comes to an End.

With Ramadan drawing to a close on Tuesday, ISIS has fulfilled its promise of staining the Muslim holy month with bloodshed around the globe—taking credit for some of the deadly attacks that have killed hundreds in several countries, including in Iraq, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia.

The terrorist group vowed in May, just before Ramadan began, to make it “with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.” And that it was, with many countries remaining on high alert following the attacks.

The past few days have been particularly violent. Suicide bombs rocked two Saudi Arabian cities on Monday, killing at least four security officers, wounding five other people — and coming just hours after authorities in a third city stopped a bomber just feet from the U.S. Consulate.

On the attacks in Saudi Arabia:

In Saudi Arabia, the attacks began Sunday night, when a suicide bomber was stopped by security personnel in a hospital parking lot about 30 feet from the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah.

The bomber detonated an explosive belt, killing himself and “slightly” injuring two officers, the Saudi Interior Ministry said in a statement. No Americans were hurt and all State Department personnel were accounted for.

Hours later, on the other side of the country, a pair of suicide bombers attacked the Persian Gulf city of Qatif, a Ministry of Interior source confirmed to NBC News. Details of casualties in the largely minority Shi’ite city were not immediately available.

Shortly after that, four security officers were killed — as well as a suicide bomber — near the security headquarters of the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, a site considered to be the second holiest in Islam.

The attack occurred in a parking lot outside the mosque, during Maghreb prayers, when the bomber pretended to break the Ramadan fast with a group of security personnel, al Arabiya reported.

 

Now for some positive–even thrilling–news. NASA’s Juno spacecraft is now orbiting Jupiter! CNN:

Jet Propulsion Lab, California (CNN)NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.

Welcome to Jupiter!” flashed on screens at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California.

The Juno team cheered and hugged. “This is phenomenal,” said Geoff Yoder, acting administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate….

The probe had to conduct a tricky maneuver to slow down enough to allow it to be pulled into orbit: It fired its main engine for 35 minutes, effectively hitting the brakes to slow the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second).

Juno was launched nearly five years ago on a mission to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. It’s the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo. Galileo was deliberately crashed into Jupiter on September 21, 2003, to protect one of its discoveries — a possible ocean beneath Jupiter’s moon Europa.

More from Spaceflight Now:

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA's Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

A 1/5th size scale model of NASA’s Juno spacecraft is displayed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, July 4, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK

Setting up post at the king of planets, NASA’s Juno spacecraft fired its main engine for 35 minutes Monday, steering into orbit around Jupiter to peer inside the gas giant and give scientists a better idea of how the solar system took shape 4.6 billion years ago.

Spinning on its axis once every 12 seconds, the probe’s British-built rocket thruster ignited and slowed down Juno just enough to be snared by Jupiter’s strong gravity field into a looping, 53-day-long orbit.

Confirmation of the burn’s successful conclusion reached Earth at 11:53 p.m. EDT (0353 GMT) via a radio tone broadcast by Juno, prompting applause and smiles inside the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“All stations… we have the tone for burn cutoff on delta-v,” a ground controller said over a radio loop. “Welcome to Jupiter.”

Powered by three solar panels arranged in a propeller-like pattern around Juno’s main body, the Jupiter orbiter wrapped up a five-year, 1.7-billion-mile (2.8-billion-kilometer) trip with Monday’s automated rendezvous with the solar system’s biggest planet.

“Tonight, through tones, Juno sang to us, and it was a song of perfection,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno’s project manager at JPL. “After a 1.7-billion-mile journey, we hit our burn target within one second.”

The record-setting journey made Juno the farthest spacecraft from the sun to ever rely on solar power, and Monday’s maneuver made the $1.1 billion mission the second to ever orbit Jupiter.

Read more about it at the link.

Hillary will be campaigning with President Obama this afternoon–that should also be exciting. Politico: Obama and Clinton rally against Trump.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama publicly reconciled eight years ago at a celebrated summer rally in Unity, New Hampshire, the two recent rivals were still closer to being opponents than friends.

While both candidates were set on healing the Democratic Party after a divisive primary, the lead-up to the event was fraught. Did their show of warmth — a kiss on the tarmac in Washington, D.C., as they boarded a chartered plane together — appear genuine? Would their praise for each other — “she rocks,” gushed Obama, seeking to win over her supporters — seem too forced?

When President Obama takes the stage at the Charlotte Convention Center with Clinton on Tuesday afternoon for their first joint rally of the 2016 campaign, it will be most notable for how far the two leaders of the Democratic Party have come in the eight intervening years.

“It is as far from fraught as can be,” said Obama’s former chief strategist, David Axelrod, of Obama’s long-anticipated campaign trail debut. “He’s been chomping at the bit to get out there. There’s so many reasons why he feels strongly about this — part of it is his genuine respect for her, part of it is his feelings about the alternative. There’s no half-hearted warrior here.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton confidant, said of Tuesday’s rally that unlike eight years ago, “they have such a great relationship that there’s nothing to psychoanalyze. He wants to do everything he can for her.”

ClintonObama_c0-10-3087-1809_s885x516

I can’t wait to watch them together on stage. On Friday Hillary will campaign with Joe Biden in his birthplace, Scranton, PA.

Here’s something else to look forward to. Buzzfeed is going to be working “a new beat” that will involve countering fake news and viral lies. First Draft News: How BuzzFeed wants to use its social media acumen to take on the hoaxers.

BuzzFeed Canada editor and First Draft Coalition member Craig Silverman will be leading the charge from Toronto, “bringing his deep expertise at debunking hoaxes to our reporting arsenal,” said Scott Lamb, BuzzFeed’s head of international growth, “and acting as a resource for all BuzzFeed editions, as well as a watchdog on behalf of our readers worldwide.”

“We’re in a really early phase of testing” Silverman told First Draft, “and seeing what’s going to work in terms of content produced and what works for the BuzzFeed audience.”

Almost every other story in the last month from Silverman, who founded the (currently dormant) rumour-tracking project Emergent, has been a debunk of one kind or another.Quick stories which set the record straight, in-depth investigations into the phenomenon of misinformation and weekly quizzes of the latest fake news to go viral have all been testing grounds to see what resonates with readers.

The biggest challenge for BuzzFeed – and for fact-checkers and debunkers the world over – will be in figuring out a way to make debunks travel as far and fast as the false rumours they address.

Read more at the link.

I haven’t heard anything about Bernie Sanders for days. I’ve been ignoring him, but he also seems to have dropped out of the news. But he’s still getting Secret Service protection. CNN: Sanders’ campaign is over, yet Secret Service motorcade roars on.

Bernie Sanders is back to his old day job, trading the booming applause of his campaign rallies to the far more tedious work of the Senate….But just off the Senate floor and across the Capitol, one vestige of his presidential campaign remains: his Secret Service detail. And taxpayers are footing the bill.

Protecting a presidential candidate costs about $40,000 a day, a federal official familiar with the Homeland Security budget told CNN. For Sanders, that’s more than a half-million dollars since the last primary on June 14. The cost could grow by nearly $2 million if he stays in the race through the Democratic convention in Philadelphia later.

The federal official said it’s difficult to tally exact costs, since some agents are working on other projects simultaneously, but the overall amount spent on Sanders is far higher when calculating the weeks of protection he received after the nomination was effectively out of his reach, as Hillary Clinton surpassed him in the delegate count.

Sanders waved off questions on the matter.

Maybe he’ll keep right on campaigning through November 8. Nothing would surprise me at this point.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?

Blue Blue Monday Reads and Yes! Let’s politicize homophobia and gun fetishists!

Good Afternoon!

Once again we see the results of toxic religious zealotry and resentment whipped up to the point that some nutter feels compelled to kill in the case of the Orlando massacre.  This occurs all too frequently in this country.  You may recall the images (14)Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting where we saw Robert Dear go on a shooting spree with the same deadly combination of anger whipped up by right wing politicians and preachers, mental illness, and easy access to weapons.  One claimed ISIS inspiration and Islamofascism.  The other was inspired by Christofascists in the US that bring you terror in the name of Fetus Fetishism.

We still haven’t heard about the motives of the Indiana man–a 20 year old white guy–in terms of why he was going after participants and viewers of a California Gay Pride parade.  Suffice it to say, the politicization of the private lives of the GLBT community by Republicans, their presidential candidate, and the various religious whackos that they court likely will come into play at some point.

Harassing and encouraging anger is just one political tool used regularly by Republicans these days.  I have noticed that the silence is deafening right now on James Wesley Howell.  The press can is clearly focused on the bloodbath and the sensational background of the Pulse Shooter rather than wondering why we manage to get bigger and badder displays of hatred and anger these days.  I’m not sure that most people realize that any Abrahamic-based religion is going to beget violence in some folks.  It goes with territory.  A few of them take retribution and strict commandments from their angry sky fairy way too seriously. This is especially the case if they have some kind of severe emotional or mental disorder.

(Spoiler Alert)  It’s the easy access to guns of all kinds in this country. The irresponsible and cynical use of anger and outrage to gain power and money is out of control.  Religion is just another vehicle to whip up the anger and the outrage and it frequently turns deadly.

obama1-703x406The weapon of choice for mass shooters is the AR-15 rifle.  This is one of the weapons that was included in the assault weapons ban signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 that expired in 2004.  The rifle was used in Orlando, Aurora,  Newton, and San Bernadino. It’s easily obtainable and the latest shooter–who had a history of Domestic Violence and was under the eye of the FBI for terrorist rantings–had a license to carry it and to obtain it legally.  Let that sink in.

There were calls to ban the weapon after the Newtown shootings, which led to a spike in sales. Gun manufacturers have called the AR-15 one of the most popular weapons in the U.S., with more than 3 million estimated to be in circulation.

“It was designed for the United States military to do to enemies of war exactly what it did this morning: kill mass numbers of people with maximum efficiency and ease,” lawyer Josh Koskoff, who’s representing Newtown families in their lawsuit against the gun industry, said Sunday.

Regulations on magazine capacity for the weapon vary from state to state, but it can fire 45 rounds a minute.

Most forms of the gun had been prohibited under the 1994 federal assault weapons ban that was allowed to expire in 2004, following ferocious lobbying by the National Rifle Association.

The NRA has used its lobbying might in the years since to bury attempts to revive the ban.

“During the decade of the ban, there were half as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade before, and a third as many casualties in mass shootings as the decade after,” said Richard Aborn of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, a strategist involved in the original legislation.

920x920 (1)Hillary Clinton has called for a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban that her husband signed in his first term.  This is one of the reasons that I am so happy she is the nominee.  Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has some extremely neoconfederate views of gun control that he reiterated yesterday.  He believes it is a state and local issue, voted against the Brady Bill many many times, and has supported relieving gun manufacturers and stores of any liability for the damage done by their product.

Hillary Clinton has called for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban in the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history that left 49 people and the gunman dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

In forthright comments a day after the massacre at the Pulse Club, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic party issued a call for a return to “commonsense gun safety reform” and lambasted the Republican-controlled Congress for what she called a “totally incomprehensible” refusal to address the country’s lax gun laws.

“We can’t fall into the trap set up by the gun lobby that says if you cannot stop every shooting you shouldn’t try to stop any,” she said.

Clinton’s tough stance on gun control sets up a torrid fight with her Republican rival for the White House Donald Trump, who has positioned himself as a champion of the second amendment and dismissed any calls for greater gun controls as weakness. She insisted that while she did believe that law-abiding American citizens have the right to own guns, it was also possible to see that “reasonable, commonsense measures” could be taken that would make people more safe from guns.

One of the things that stuns me is the ease with which a guy on the FBI threat radar could get a permit to carry and purchase a rifle that no civilian should own.

A day after the deadliest mass shooting in US history, questions are mounting over why the shooter Omar Mateen was legally able to buy an assault rifle and handgun despite having been investigated twice by the FBI for suspected terrorist sympathies.

Mateen, 29, launched his attack on Pulse club, an LGBT venue in downtown Orlando celebrating its popular Latin dance night, at 2.02am on Sunday morning.

Twenty minutes into the spree he took the bizarre step of making a 911 call in which he reportedly referred both to Islamic State and the Tsarnaevs, the brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013.

Sunday’s attack – which left 49 clubgoers dead and 53 injured – was launched by Mateen using a .223-caliber assault rifle and 9mm semi-automatic pistol with multiple rounds of ammunition that had been purchased quite lawfully in the week before the rampage using Mateen’s firearms license. Mateen was shot dead by police.

He also held a permit to work as a security guard, which he did at a courthouse in Port St Lucie, Florida, even though he was interviewed three times by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 following separate reports of extremist behavior and connections to terrorism that were in the end deemed insubstantial.

Mateen was released because no evidence of wrongdoing was found by the FBI.  He’s a natural born American so that provides him the usual 4816protections.  This is something that appears to have blown completely pass Donald Trump whose rhetoric and bragging were dialed up to 11 yesterday. He revisited his call to ban all Muslims from entering the country despite the fact that all three of the shooters claiming support for Islamofascim–Nidal Hassn (Fort Hood),Syed Rizwan Farook, (San Bernardino) , and Mateen (Orlando)–were American citizens. Only Farook’s wife–Tashfeen Malik–was foreign born.

The presumptive Republican nominee pulled no punches in a lengthy statement yesterday, going so far as to call for Barack Obama to resign and reiterating his call for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States (despite the fact that the shooter was born in New York).

“In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down,” Trump said in his press release. “If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the Presidency. If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore. Because our leaders are weak, I said this was going to happen – and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to save lives and prevent the next terrorist attack. We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.”

“We admit more than 100,000 lifetime migrants from the Middle East each year. Since 9/11, hundreds of migrants and their children have been implicated in terrorism in the United States,” Trump added. “Hillary Clinton wants to dramatically increase admissions from the Middle East, bringing in many hundreds of thousands during a first term – and we will have no way to screen them, pay for them, or prevent the second generation from radicalizing.” (To be fair, this mischaracterizes Clinton’s position.)

The statement followed a stream of self-congratulatory tweets.

Clinton  has decided to adopt the use of radical Islam.  Let’s hope she will also be brave enough to point out radical Christians like Ted Cruz’s “Kill the 1024x1024Gays” pastor or the horrid group at Westborough Baptist Church.   She used the term on several morning news shows today.

Hillary Clinton on Monday broke from President Barack Obama in referring to the terrorist attack as “radical Islamism,” countering Donald Trump’s accusations that both she and Obama are weak on tackling terrorist threats.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today” on Monday morning, Clinton said words matter less than actions, but that she didn’t have a problem using the term.

“And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him,” Clinton said. “But if he is somehow suggesting I don’t call this for what it is, he hasn’t been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will.”

Both terms “mean the same thing,” Clinton continued, adding, “And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I’m happy to say either, but that’s not the point.”

“I have clearly said many, many times we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering innocent people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism or radical Islamism, whatever you call it,” Clinton said later on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” reiterating, “it’s the same.”

The U.S. cannot, on the other hand, she added, “demonize, demagogue and declare war on an entire religion.” Clinton also said she could assure Americans that she is equally committed to fighting Islamic extremism as well as protecting law-abiding Muslims.

The President spoke on the radicalization of Mateen several hours ago.

President Obama said Monday that the Orlando mass murder was “inspired” by violent extremist propaganda on the internet and there’s no evidence the killing spree was ordered by ISIS.

“We see no clear evidence that he was directed externally,” Obama said from the Oval Office, using another name from the Islamic State terror group. “It does appear that at the last minute he announced allegiance to ISIL.”

Obama said investigators are tracing Omar Mateen’s “pathway” to murder by reviewing his internet searches and other materials.

“It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet,” Obama said.

“All those materials are currently being searched … so we will have a better sense of pathway that the killer took in the making a decision to launch this attack.”

Obama made the brief remarks after meeting with FBI Director James Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and other security officials.

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The Orlando shooting and the shooting that might have been in California both are rooted in hate and easy access to guns. Both shooter and potential shooter had histories of mental illness. The Orlando shooter had a history of Domestic violence which in many states would stop him from getting access to any gun. Clearly, we have a problem in this country with hate and guns turned on the hapless population. One of our political parties has weaponized hatred and bigotry then enabled shooters by catering to all the whims of the most radical elements of the NRA gun lobby.

Clinton is right. This has to end on all accounts.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: It Has Been A Historic Week

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Good Morning!!

Well, it’s been quite a week in politics.

On Monday, the AP and NBC News separately announced that Hillary Clinton had the requisite number of pledged delegates and super delegates to be the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party–the first woman in history to accomplish this.

On Tuesday, Hillary won more than enough votes to hold a majority of pledged delegates and make it impossible for her opponent to do so. She won primaries in New Jersey, California, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Her opponent won only North Dakota and Montana.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed Hillary’s campaign for President and vowed to campaign hard for her. Next Wednesday, President Obama will appear with Hillary at an event in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Obama released his endorsement in a video.

 

 

The Wall Street Journal: Barack Obama Endorses Hillary Clinton for President.

No sitting U.S. president in recent history has campaigned for his party’s nominee as much as Barack Obama plans to for Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Obama endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee on Thursday in a video posted on social media. Her campaign also announced plans for a joint appearance with the president next Wednesday in Green Bay, Wis., kicking off a marathon push to retain Democratic control of the White House.

“I’m fired up,” Mr. Obama said in the video, echoing a chant from his 2008 campaign.

The announcements came just 90 minutes after Mrs. Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, emerged from a White House meeting with Mr. Obama, where the Vermont lawmaker gave his strongest signal yet that he wouldn’t try to block her nomination at the July convention in Philadelphia….

“It means something for him to say she is everything she says she will be, because he was a doubter,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, noting that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton were not natural allies.

Mark Mellman, a Democratic polling expert, said that for Mr. Obama, the potential reward is greater than any risk. “The peril for any president is you get too involved and lose and have it tarnish your legacy,” he said. But if Mr. Obama stayed idle and Mrs. Clinton lost, he would take a hit anyway, Mr. Mellman added, and the president’s policy would be at risk, too.

Mr. Trump said last week that Mr. Obama shouldn’t get involved in the race, warning that “if he campaigns, that means I’m allowed to hit him.”

Go ahead and try, Donald.

Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren quickly threw their public support behind Mrs. Clinton after Mr. Obama’s endorsement. Mr. Biden, in an off-the-cuff comment during a speech Thursday night, said “God willing” the next president will be Mrs. Clinton.

Michelle Obama also said she will campaign for Hillary.

Here’s Warren demolishing Donald Trump yesterday.

 

 

The Boston Globe reports: Elizabeth Warren ‘ready to jump in this fight’ for Hillary Clinton.

“I’m ready,” Warren said in an interview with The Globe. “I’m ready to jump in this fight and make sure that Hillary Clinton is the next president of the United States and be sure that Donald Trump gets nowhere near the White House.”

She added: “I’m supporting Hillary Clinton because she’s a fighter, a fighter with guts.” ….

Warren, a champion of the left who passed up a presidential bid of her own, despite the urging of legions of followers, is uniquely positioned to serve as a bridge between the establishment candidacy of Clinton and Sanders supporters, who are being forced to come to terms with the Vermont senator’s loss.

Democrats view the freshman Massachusetts senator as a path of sorts to party unity, which helps explain an upsurge in buzz about Warren as a potential vice presidential pick. Senators and top staff say talking up Warren for vice president is a way to show Sanders and his millions of followers that the party establishment heard them loud and clear.

Warren appeared on the Rachel Maddow show last night to endorse Hillary. Watch or rewatch that appearance at the link.

Last night, Joe Biden warned of the danger of Donald Trump’s attacks on the federal judge who is hearing a case against Trump “university.”

 

 

Warren will meet with Clinton this morning, according to James Hohmann of the Washington Post.

Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton will meet privately Friday morning, according to two knowledgeable Democrats.

The sit-down, coming just hours after the Massachusetts senator formally endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee, will fuel speculation about her prospects as a potential vice presidential pick.

The women have had several conversations over the past month, including one that lasted around half an hour, sources told The Washington Post. The conversations were broad and focused on large topics and issues, rather than the nitty-gritty of the campaign. Their staffs have been engaged in more tactical discussions.

The two women do not have a particularly deep relationship, but that could change as Clinton rallies Democrats around her in the wake of winning the Democratic nomination in recent days. There were three big endorsements that could have meaningfully helped Clinton wrap up the nomination battle: Warren, President Obama and Vice President Biden. Clinton secured all three on Thursday.

Clinton, a Yale-educated lawyer, like Warren, a Harvard Law professor until she was elected in 2012, is a policy wonk at heart. So the two might talk in more detail about how Clinton could embrace pieces of the progressive agenda that allowed Bernie Sanders to win more than 20 states.

Or maybe she could help educate Sanders’ supporters about Hillary’s already very progressive policy proposals and explain that her plan to take on Wall Street is quite a bit stronger than Sanders’ vague ideas about “breaking up the banks.”

Hillary

Let’s hope we’re close to seeing the back of Bernie Sanders. He held a rally in Washington DC last night, and he plans to compete in the DC primary on Jun 14. I hope by then Democratic leaders will have convinced him to stand down and go back to Vermont. I honestly don’t see how he can campaign for Hillary after he has so poisoned his supporters against her, but maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.

The Washington Post: How Bernie Sanders’s day in Washington got eclipsed by Democratic unity.

Shortly after Sanders emerged from his meeting with Obama, word got out that the president was going to trumpet an endorsement of his former secretary of state in a video. And then it became clear that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a darling of the political left and Sanders’s ideological soulmate, had also chosen Thursday to throw her support behind Clinton.

The theme of the day soon became Democratic unity, drowning out the conversation about what policy changes and other concessions Sanders might exact in exchange for exiting the race….

By the time Sanders arrived on Capitol Hill for a series of afternoon meetings, Clinton’s campaign had released the video of Obama endorsing her, in which he says of Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency : “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.”

After arriving on the Hill, Sanders headed to the suite of Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Sitting on a chair across from Reid by a bookshelf, the Democratic presidential hopeful sat silently as reporters asked him about the six states that voted on Tuesday. Sanders had posted victories in only two.

“Okay you guys, we’re not going to take any questions,” Reid said as Sanders stared straight ahead with his hands on his knees. “That’s kind of the deal that I made.”

Gabriel Debenedetti at Politico: The Sanders wind-down begins.

The walls are crumbling, and Bernie Sanders knows it.

Barack Obama made his support for Hillary Clinton official on Thursday. So did Vice President Joe Biden and liberal hero Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The major political groups surrounding Sanders are saying it’s time to unify.

The campaign is rapidly winding down around Sanders, the Senate gadfly-turned-unlikely revolutionary who outperformed everyone’s expectations, and he finally began to acknowledge it Thursday.

“We need real change in this country. And what people also understand is that no president, not Bernie Sanders, not anybody else, can do it alone,” he told roughly 3,000 supporters gathered near Washington’s RFK stadium on a hot evening, returning to his original stump speech about billionaires, the “corrupt campaign finance system,” and “the broken criminal justice system” without once mentioning Clinton or the Democratic Party’s convention….

The signals that he now accepts the fact that he won’t be the party’s nominee were unmistakable.

The courtship letters his campaign had planned to send superdelegates have been put on hold. His go-to argument — that he polls better against Donald Trump than Clinton — has been scrubbed from his public statements. There are mass staff departures, and his digital firm set up a new site to help laid off staffers find their next gig.

Even his Senate relationship rebuilding effort has begun.

It’s a swift denouement for a campaign that had been bleeding money and staff for weeks, hastened by the surprising margin of Sanders’ loss in California on Tuesday night — which his aides hadn’t anticipated partly because they stopped polling in California days earlier due to the cost.

I really hope Sanders can keep his exit dignified.

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Meanwhile, Ruby Cramer reports at Buzzfeed: Clinton Looks To Add Young Voters To Her Coalition Against Trump.

On Friday, just three days after securing the Democratic nomination, Clinton launched a new “millennial engagement” program, targeting voters under the age of 35 with three new hires — including one from the Bernie Sanders campaign.

The new team comes together after a long-fought primary against Sanders, the Vermont senator whose campaign was able to peel away students and twenty-somethings in large numbers. Clinton aides, now preparing for a general election against Donald Trump, view young people as a crucial piece of the electorate, building on an existing coalition of women, older voters, and people of color.

The program expands on the Clinton’s campus outreach effort, an endeavor that largely failed in primary states against Sanders. Campaign operatives now hope to widen their reach to voters under the age of 30, while keeping a focus on winning back college-age voters.

Kunoor Ojha, a former Sanders aide set to join the millennial engagement program, is the first member of the senator’s staff to join the Clinton campaign, an aide said.

The campaign plans to send the youth outreach team around the country to “listen directly to millennial voters,” according to a Clinton official. The team of three operatives will also work directly with staffers in battleground states to create local outreach programs and hold “working group” meetings with voters under 35.

Read more details at the link.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a fabulous weekend!


Thursday Reads: Preventing a Trump Presidency

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Henri Matisse, Girl with a black cat

Good Morning!!

President Obama spoke at a press conference today in Japan, and he talked about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

NBC News: Obama: Trump Candidacy Has ‘Rattled’ World Leaders.

During a press conference in Japan, Obama said the American presidential election is being “very” closely watched oversees. He told reporters that “it’s fair to say” world leaders are “surprised” Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee.

“They are not sure how seriously to take some of his pronouncements but they’re rattled by him — and for good reason, because a lot of the proposals that he’s made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude,” Obama added.

He suggested Trump’s controversial proposals were more about “getting tweets and headlines” than “actually thinking through” what’s needed to keep America safe or the “world on an even keel.”

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Woman with a Cat c.1880 Edouard Manet

Trump has made China a frequent target of his attacks — such as saying the country will “suck the blood” out of the U.S.

He also has said he wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., called the Iran deal “horrendous,” pledged to “build a wall” along the Mexican border and that he’d have “no problem speaking to” North Korea’s dictator.

Such a conversation would mark a major shift in U.S. policy towards Pyongyang — a country Obama earlier Thursday said was a “big worry.”  ….

Trump also said he was unlikely to have a “very good relationship” with the U.K. — one of America’s strongest allies — though later walked those comments back.

Obama will visit the Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial tomorrow.

President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima is stirring conflicting emotions on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some 140,000 people were killed when the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945. Countless others suffered after-effects that endure to this day.

The White House has stressed Obama will not apologize for America’s use of the bombs when he visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on Friday — the first sitting president to do so….

“Of course everyone wants to hear an apology. Our families were killed,” Hiroshi Shimizu, general secretary of the Hiroshima Confederation of A-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, told The Associated Press.

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

Woman with a cat, Auguste Renoir

However, it would risk alienating Americans back home — especially giving the trip’s timing just ahead of Memorial Day.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Lester Tenney, 95, spent more than three years in Japanese prison camps, and still has the blood-stained, bamboo stick Japanese troops used to beat him across the face.

“If you didn’t walk fast enough, you were killed. If you didn’t say the right words, you were killed, and if you were killed, you were either shot to death, bayoneted, or decapitated,” he told The Associated Press. “I’ll never forget it. And so for that reason … there’s no reason for us to apologize to them, not any reason whatsoever.

I have mixed emotions too. I’ve written here before that I probably wouldn’t be here today if Truman had not dropped the bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father was on a ship to Japan when the news came, and he and the rest of his companions celebrated, because it meant they would be going home instead of to their likely deaths. How can I not be glad that my father survived?

When I worked at M.I.T., the head of my department was a man who had survived the Bataan Death March and then spent years in a Japanese prison camp. He was lucky to come through that alive; hundreds of Americans and Filipino prisoners did not.

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

Pablo Picasso, Reclining female nude playing with a cat

From the LA Times: Obama can’t endorse during the Democratic primary, so he’s just pointing out how hard the job is instead.

…Obama’s week abroad not so subtly serves a purpose beyond foreign relations: how he can help Democrats’ looming campaign against the billionaire GOP presidential candidate.

Pledging to stay neutral in the Democratic primary, Obama has instead struck a middle ground to help the party’s likely nominee, Hillary Clinton. He has engaged in a twist on the so-called Rose Garden campaign strategy where incumbent presidents lean on the trappings of their office to remind voters of their power and achievements. Obama is instead reminding voters of the seriousness of the job and, by extension, his belief in Clinton’s readiness for it.

On Friday, this president who has repeatedly pointed to the heady challenges on his desk as an argument against making a former reality show star the next commander in chief travels to Hiroshima, where one of two nuclear bombs ever used in warfare was dropped, to underscore the horrors of war and the life-or-death decisions that presidents face.

He doesn’t plan to talk about presidential politics at all in proximity to his trip to a memorial for victims of the atomic blast that killed about 140,000 people, a grim reminder of the devastating impact of a military attack that Obama finds defensible.

But the trip nonetheless provides a vivid illustration for the question Obama wants voters to ask themselves as they consider a presidential candidate — can you trust this person with the nuclear codes?

“We are in serious times, and this is a really serious job,” Obama said from behind the seal of the president at the White House lectern this month. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show.”

White House officials say that the president is eager to begin making a case to voters about the stakes of the race to replace him in the Oval Office, and will do so vigorously once the primaries are over.

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

Lilla Cabot Perry, Woman with cat

I can’t wait until President Obama hits the campaign trail for Hillary! One thing we Democrats have over the Republicans is some very powerful surrogates who will work hard to hold onto the White House and save the country from Trump: Elizabeth Warren, John Lewis, Joe Biden, Elijah Cummings, John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and so many more.

Warren has been getting under Trump’s skin for awhile now, and on Tuesday she attacked him in a high-profile speech.

Greg Sargent: Elizabeth Warren just absolutely shredded Donald Trump. There’s a lot more like this to come.

Elizabeth Warren delivered an extensive, blistering speech last night about Trump that will serve as a template for how Democrats will attack him — both in terms of how they’ll prosecute his business past and how they’ll try to undercut his central arguments about the economy….

The line that is driving all the attention this morning is Warren’s suggestion, in the context of Trump’s 2006 comment that a housing crash might enrich him, that the Donald is a “small, insecure money-grubber.” But Warren isn’t merely dissing Trump’s manhood. Warren — who went on to note that Trump “roots for people to get thrown out of their house” because he “doesn’t care who gets hurt, as long as he makes a profit” — is making a broader argument. Trump is not just a small, greedy person, but a cruel one, too.

That theme is also threaded through Warren’s broadside against Trump on taxes. He isn’t just paying as little as possible — and openly boasting about it — because he’s greedy. He isn’t just refusing to release his returns because he doesn’t want to reveal he’s not as rich as he claims (another shot at Trump’s self-inflated masculinity). All this, Warren suggests, also reflects a larger moral failing: Trump plays by his own set of rules, engorging himself, while simultaneously heaping explicit scorn on social investments designed to help those who are struggling in the same economy that made him rich. Warren notes that Trump recently likened paying his taxes to “throwing money down the drain” — i.e., he is reneging on the social contract — after “inheriting a fortune from his father” and “keeping it going by scamming people.” Thus, Warren is making a broader argument about Trump’s fundamental cruelty.

Here’s a video:

 

It’s time for the media to stop helping Trump and start dealing with the danger he poses to the country. If nothing else, they should be motivated by his attacks on the reporters who cover his campaign and on the the First Amendment. A few days ago, Jake Tapper gave a clinic for journalists on how to handle Trump’s outrageous lies.

Raw Story: Jake Tapper hammers Trump’s Vince Foster murder conspiracy mongering as ‘fiction born of delusion.’

CNN host Jake Tapper laid into GOP candidate Donald Trump for dredging up a debunked conspiracy theory that his likely opponent in the general election, Hillary Clinton, was somehow responsible for the death of then-Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster.

Foster’s 1993 death was ruled a suicide.

Tapper called Trump out for saying in an interview that the circumstances around Foster’s death were “very fishy,” adding, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”

“Except of course you just did that, Mr. Trump,” Tapper said. “But you’re right, it’s not fair that you did that, certainly not to Mr. Foster’s widow or their three children.”

Watch the video:

 

We need much more of this kind of fact-checking of Trump from the media and a whole lot less obsessing about Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Another good treatment of Trump from CNN: Donald Trump has a woman problem — 3 of them.

The presumptive Republican nominee spent the past 24 hours blasting his likely opponent, Hillary Clinton, and his most provocative antagonist, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
But he didn’t stop there. He also slammed New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, the nation’s only Latina governor and a Republican. Martinez might be seen as an obvious choice for diplomacy, or even intensive courtship, given Trump’s standing among women and Hispanics.
Trump chose a different approach: He told the residents of New Mexico to get rid of her.
In all three cases, the clashes were classic Trump. Slight him, diss him, hit him — and he’ll hit back harder. Much harder.
But they also could play right into Democrats’ plans to brand Trump as a serial misogynist as he goes up against a rival who could become the first female president in history. His poor standing with women — a CNN/ORC poll in March found he was viewed unfavorably by 73% of registered female voters — is one of his biggest liabilities heading into the fall.
“He makes a habit of insulting women,” Clinton said Wednesday afternoon as a campaign stop in California. “He seems to have something about women.”

Let’s hope Don the Con keeps this up. If Republican women vote against Trump, he could lose all 50 states.

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Giovanni Boldini, Woman with cat

Finally, folks in Cleveland are getting nervous about the upcoming Trump convention: “Will Cleveland’s GOP convention be a mistake by the lake or a moment in the sun?”

Amid recurring violence at political rallies held by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, many local officials and activists are increasingly worried that this lakeside city is ill-prepared to deal with tens of thousands of protesters and agitators expected to descend on the Republican National Convention here in July.

Some worry that police might be overrun or that the city has not stockpiled enough water to hydrate the masses in the mid-summer heat. Others, particularly on the left, oppose new restrictions that will be placed on demonstrators and object to the kind of military-style equipment law enforcement authorities may use to control the crowds.

There is also unhappiness among groups on both sides over the slow progress the city has made in approving parade and demonstration permits with less than two months to go.

On Wednesday, under the threat of a federal lawsuit by some groups upset by delays, city officials finally unveiled an official parade route and speakers’ platform in a major downtown park. Parades and protests will be allowed, but plans by some groups to bring in trucks, horses and, in one case, a giant bomb-shaped balloon might need to be rethought.

A bomb-shaped balloon?! So classy.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!


Tuesday Reads: Berning It All Down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Bernie bros getting ready to burn it all down

Good Afternoon!!

Once again, I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to figure out where to begin a post on what’s happening in the news today. So far May has been so terrible for me personally and for my family that I can barely deal with the insanity that is happening in the world of politics. Has it ever been this bad before? I suppose it has, but somehow this election year seems so tawdry, so ugly, so ridiculous, and so horrifying that it’s hard to find a comparison, at least in my lifetime.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified candidates for POTUS ever, is being forced to deal with two insane old white men who are using lies and conspiracy theories to try to bring her down as well as an irresponsible media full of “journalists” who want nothing more than to see her shamed and brought low. If they could get away with burning her at the stake, I believe they would do it without hesitation. I’m not alone. I found this in my Twitter feed:

It is well past time for Bernie Sanders to drop his vicious attacks on Hillary and the Democratic Party, but it has become clear that he is not going to do it. I’m beginning to believe that he actually wants to help elect Donald Trump so that “the revolution” he (Sanders) has dreamed of all of his life will come to fruition.

Bernie is delusional, and I don’t think the Democrats in DC realize the extent to which he has begun to live in his own fantasy world. I don’t think he is going to stop his attacks, and I would not be at all surprised if he tries running third party. I hope and pray that I’m just catastrophizing because of my own stress level.

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One of the first things I clicked on this morning was a link on Memeorandum to Cannonfire: A sin against democracy. It’s a rant about what has become of Salon. You need to read the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

Salon has become something worse than Fox. Comparing the two, I’m reminded of Steve Martin’s great line from Leap of Faith: “Manipulators are sneaky. I’m obvious!” Fox, at least, has the virtue of being obvious.

Here’s the truth: The Clinton Foundation is a charity. Watchdog groups consider it transparent and honest. It does an enormous amount of good. Liars have painted a completely false picture of that Foundation, what it does and how it runs. (They’ve also seeded the internet with utterly bogus stories about how much money actually reaches the needy.)

The attacks on the Clintons Foundation mirror the infamous “swiftboat” attacks on John Kerry’s war record. That, too, was a Republican smear campaign designed to target an opponent’s strength.

If people like Rove, Stone, Atwater — and the writers for Salon — had been around in 1960, they would have found ways to make people believe that JFK had acted abominably in the PT109 affair. I’m not sure how they would have created that impression, but casuistry can achieve miracles.

While you’re at Cannonfire, you can also check out Joseph Cannon’s previous post: 50 reasons why Sanders would lose all 50 states.

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Yesterday the DNC let Bernie pick five of his supporters to be on the platform committee at the Democratic Convention in July. I’ll give him this much credit: he didn’t name Susan Sarandon or Rosario Dawson.

Sanders’s slate includes James Zogby, a longtime activist for Palestinian rights as well as a DNC member and official. Zogby currently co-chairs the party’s resolutions committee. His inclusion is a sign of Sanders’s plans to push the party’s policy on Israel toward what he has called a more even-handed approach to the Palestinian cause….

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, who will chair the committee, was named by Wasserman Schultz. Most others named by Wasserman Schultz and Clinton are party stalwarts or Clinton supporters — the establishment Sanders has railed against to great effect. Sanders’s picks include people from outside the usual sphere of party influence, including a Native American activist and author and racial justice activist Cornel West….

Sanders also named Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, among his most prominent elected backers, author and environmental activist Bill McKibben and Native American activist Deborah Parker….

The Clinton campaign’s choices are Wendy Sherman, a former top State Department official and Clinton surrogate; Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a longtime Clinton confidante; Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois; Carol Browner, a former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency; Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece; and Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

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I wonder if Cornell West will ask for inclusion of a plank containing some of his most outrageous attacks on President Obama? Read examples at the links below.

Cornel West: Obama Is First ‘Niggerized’ Black President, by Karoli Kuns.

The Ghost of Cornel West, by Michael Eric Dyson.

Bernie Sanders should be invisible at this point, but he just won’t stop screaming for attention, and neither will his abhorrent surrogates. Rosario Dawson was in fine form in California yesterday. The Daily Mail:

Actress Rosario Dawson told Bernie Sanders supporters this afternoon that winning the White House is only the beginning of the political revolution.

It’s time for a ‘clean sweep,’ she said.

‘It’s time for us to start looking at everyone down the ballot and go, “Are you really representing us?’ Dawson said at this afternoon at a Sanders rally in East LA. ‘Who are these superdelegates? Who are these Congress people and these senators – are they really with you?’

Dawson told the California crowd, ‘We need to reform, not conform.’ ….

At a rally later in the day for Sanders in Santa Monica she said ‘when they’re telling us that your vote doesn’t matter right now, but on the side they’re talking about party unity, what they’re really telling you’ is to conform….

Dawson intimated this afternoon as she campaigned for the U.S. senator in California ahead of the June 7 primary that the rest of the Democratic Party establishment ought to watch its back, too.

‘We need to vote together. They’re gonna do anything and everything in their power to stop you from doing that,’ she said, ‘to say that it doesn’t matter.’

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Tommy Christopher at Mediaite: Rosario Dawson Thinks Prince’s Ghost Will Help Bernie Win California or Something.

Rosario Dawson, last seen bringing up Monica Lewinsky at a rally in Delaware [is now] somehow connecting a predicted Bernie Sanders win in the California Democratic primary to the birthday of recently-deceased music legend Prince. To cries of “Down with Hillary!”, Dawson explained that Bernie’s appeal to Republicans, Democrats, and independents meant that they were all going to “vote purple,” so,

So actually, I think it’s quite fitting that on June 7, the day that we’re going to win California, that that would’ve been Prince’s birthday.

Bernie is never going to go away. Never.

Meanwhile Donald Trump is doing his darndest to swiftboat Hillary with tired 1990’s attacks on her husband Bill, who is not running for anything. When will the mainstream media start writing about what Trump’s campaign is really about?

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TPM Muckraker: Great White Hope: Trump Unites Generations Of White Nationalists.

According to Taylor, this year’s conference saw a 100-person jump in attendance from 2015; a show of hands identified half of the participants as first-time attendees and one-third as under the age of 30.

This is the man Bernie Sanders is helping–presumably because he thinks a Trump presidency will trigger a left-wing “political revolution.”

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More links to explore:

NYT: Kenneth Starr, who tried to bury Clinton, now only praises him.

Business Insider: Bill O’Reilly confronts Donald Trump over Bill Clinton attacks: ‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea.’

NBC News: Obama Hits Highest Job Approval Since Second Inauguration.

Right Wing Watch: Trump ‘Christian Policy’ Adviser Is A ‘Prophet’ Who Stopped A Tsunami, Says AIDS Is Result Of ‘Unnatural Sex.’

TPM: Sanders: It’s ‘Insulting’ For Clinton To Decline Fox News Debate.

Amanda Marcotte: Bernie insults voters: He must drop notion that everyone who disagrees with him is corrupt or a dupe.

Hollywood Reporter: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Drops Tommy Chong as Intro Speaker Hours Before L.A. Rally.

Dana Millbank: Donald Trump, the welfare king.

What stories are you following today? Please share in the comment thread below.