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!


All Talk, No Action on Jobs

Disappoint Mints*

A couple of days ago Newt Gingrich made the bizarre claim that

President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House “is a Paul Krugman presidency.”

Of course we know that Obama cannot stand Paul Krugman, because Krugman has been criticizing Obama since the back in 2008. No, Obama’s is not “a Krugman presidency.” It’s “a ‘the dog ate my homework'” presidency. It’s a “smoke and mirrors” presidency. Or maybe a “confidence fairy” presidency.

In the morning post today, I quoted both White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Treasury Secretary Tim Geither holding forth on what Digby calls “the confidence fairy.”

Here’s Carney yesterday:

Spokesman Jay Carney says there is no question that economic growth and job creation have slowed over the past half year.

But, Carney told a White House briefing, “We do not believe that there is a threat of a double-dip recession.”

Really? And how do you know this, Jay?

He blamed the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, higher energy prices, default worries in Europe and recently resolved uncertainty over raising America’s borrowing limit. Carney said, “We believe the economy will continue to grow.”

Uh huh. But what’s that based on? Where is your evidence? Carney never produced any.

Now here’s Tim Geithner on the dramatic spending cuts included in the debt ceiling bill:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So this won’t cost us jobs?

TIM GEITHNER: No, it will not. Now … if we put this behind us then we can turn back to the important challenge of trying to find ways to make sure that we do everything we can to get more people back to work, strengthen our growth. And we’ll have more ability to do that now with people more confident and we can start to get our arms around the long-term problems.

Leaving aside the fact that no one I know is “more confident,” and Wall Street sure doesn’t seem “confident,” how will “confidence” translate into jobs? Especially now that there are caps on domestic spending that will prevent the government from helping create jobs?

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