Tag Archives: donald trump and isis

The Trump Watch: Mid-August (part 2 of 2)

(continued from yesterday)

The Donald draws large crowds wherever you go – proof, The Curmudgeon believes, that you really can fool at least some of the people some of the time. But his penchant for exaggeration is unquenchable, as the Roanoke Times reported earlier this month:

[Trump] boasted there were 1,000 people standing outside on the Wells Avenue side in 104-degree heat, listening to him on loudspeakers. (There weren’t; there were at most 50, according to a city firefighter who was outside, and the temperature never hit 100.)

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The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported in early August on Trump’s arms’ length relationship with the truth:

The Republican presidential nominee tweeted over the weekend that rival Hillary Clinton and her fellow Democrats “are trying to rig the debates” by scheduling them during NFL games. (In fact, the bipartisan debate commission, independent of parties and candidates, announced the dates on Sept. 23, 2015.)

In sharp contrast to those tiny, tiny hands.

In sharp contrast to those tiny, tiny hands.

He further alleged that “I got a letter from the NFL saying, ‘This is ridiculous.’ ” (The National Football League says it sent no such letter.)

 In an epic interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump declared that Russia’s Vladimir Putin “is not going to go into Ukraine.” (Russia has been in Ukraine since 2014.)

 Trump further asserted that “I have no relationship with Putin,” “I never met him” and “I have never spoken to him on the phone.” (In 2013, he said that “I do have a relationship” with Putin, and in 2014 he said, “I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer.”)

 Trump announced that former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who criticized Trump during the Democratic National Convention, “doesn’t know me well.” (Trump, on CBS in January, said of Bloomberg: “I know him very well.”)

And this:

There isn’t space to mention most of Trump’s whoppers, so let’s take a simple category: those in which Trump debunks himself. He claimed that he never promised to raise $6 million for veterans, that he wanted to keep his fundraising for veterans quiet, that he never offered to pay legal fees for supporters who hit protesters, that he didn’t call Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator,” that he doesn’t “know anything about David Duke,” that he “never mocked” a disabled reporter, that he opposed the Iraq invasion “loud and strong” from the start and that he didn’t support the attack on Libya.

In each case, video, audio and written evidence proves otherwise. So, too, do the facts refute his denials that he called Sen. John McCain a “loser,” objected to Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly as a debate moderator and used a vulgar word to describe Sen. Ted Cruz at a campaign rally.

In each case, Trump surely could have known that a simple Internet search would prove him a liar. This suggests that he may not think he’s lying — and that he sees truth not as an absolute but as the last thing to come out of his mouth.

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Of course, the really menschy thing to do would have been to say "No, that's extraordinarily kind of you, but the Purple Heart belongs to those who earned it the hard way."

Of course, the really menschy thing to do would have been to say “No, that’s extraordinarily kind of you, but the Purple Heart belongs to those of you who earned it the hard way.”

Congratulations to The Donald, by the way, for finally getting that Purple Heart he always wanted. The Curmudgeon is certain that all those soldiers who earned their Purple Hearts the old-fashioned way – by getting wounded in battle – are delighted that he’s joined their ranks.

*            *            *

When The Donald declared President Obama the founder of ISIS, The Curmudgeon – like many others – assumed he meant that Mr. Obama had contributed to an environment that fostered ISIS’s emergence. It may or may not be true but it’s a reasonable argument, even if the word “founder” is a bit much.

A day or two after Trump made this claim he went on a conservative radio talk show and the host offered him an opportunity to explain that he meant that Mr. Obama had not literally founded ISIS.

“I know what you meant – you meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace,” the host suggested.

Trump, though, was having none of it.

No, I meant that he’s the founder of ISIS, I do.

Of course in the following days he retreated from his hyperbole, but you have to wonder: since Trump is a guy who believes the U.S. should wield its nuclear arsenal more effectively, don’t you worry that he’s going to use one of those bombs and then, a few days later, realize that maybe he shouldn’t have?

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As part of the fight against ISIS, Trump has “…called for parents, teachers and others to promote “American culture” and encouraged “assimilation.”

“Assimilation”? Didn’t we decide that it was okay to express pride in our origins? Also, how do you “assimilate” people who look different from the majority and how has that worked out so far for young black men whose backs seem to be magnets for police bullets?

*            *            *

Also in the fight against ISIS, Trump has, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer,

…vowed to partner with any country that shares his goal of defeating the extremist group, regardless of other strategic disagreements, and named Russia as a nation he would like to improve relations with.

Any country? Really? Has he lost his mind? This is pretty consistent with Trump’s approach to business: you can be a competitor or an enemy but if he has an opportunity to make money with you, you are suddenly his friend and all past disagreements and transgressions are forgotten. There are still a lot of totalitarian governments and dictatorships out there, but this “Trump Doctrine” would make them allies.

Not a good idea.

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Trump recently tweeted

If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%.

The only one putting meaning into Trump’s words is Trump. Every time he opens his mouth he puts his foot into it. If he wants the press to pay more attention to the substance of what he’s saying he has to do two things: first, say something of substance; and second, stop saying things that become major distractions. The only person he has to blame for that is himself. When he gets “credit” for stopping his assault on the father of a Muslim-American killed in battle, you know the campaign has come off the rails.

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And it’s not just the press saying the campaign has come off the rails: professional Republicans are saying it, too. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that

As he skips from one gaffe to the next, GOP leaders in Washington and in the most competitive states have begun openly contemplating turning their backs on their party’s presidential nominee to prevent what they fear will be wide-scale Republican losses on Election Day.

Also,

Republicans who have devoted their professional lives to electing GOP candidates say they believe the White House already may be lost. They’re exasperated by Trump’s divisive politics and his insistence on running a general election campaign that mirrors his approach to the primaries.

 Based on his campaign record, there’s no chance he’s going to win,” said Sara Fagen, the political director for former President George W. Bush. “He’s losing groups of people he can’t get back.

And Trump’s not rising to the challenge.

… in the past seven days, Trump has questioned the advice of senior aides, threatened to stop raising money for the party, dismissed the usefulness of get-out-the-vote efforts and defended his decision not to run any television ads even as his opponents fill the airwaves with spots backing Clinton in several contested states.

And this brilliant observation from the candidate himself:

I’ll just keep doing the same thing I’m doing right now,” he told CNBC on Thursday. “And at the end it’s either going to work or I’m going to you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice, long vacation.”

The result?

More than 100 GOP officials, including at least six former members of Congress and more than 20 former staffers at the Republican National Committee, have signed a letter asking the party chairman, Reince Priebus, to stop helping Trump’s campaign.

*            *            *

And we’re still waiting for those income tax returns. As a reminder, Trump says he “can’t” release those returns while they’re being audited. That’s not true, on two counts: first, not all of his returns are being audited, so there are some that aren’t being contested and can be released; and second, there’s no rule or law that says he can’t release those being audited. It’s not that he can’t; it’s that he won’t.

Has he even filed?

Maybe they’re in a drawer with the Obama birth certificate.

Most likely because he’s in the real estate business, which may offer more opportunities for dodging taxes than any other field, and he desperately doesn’t want voters to see that he barely pays any taxes at all.

Unlike those of us whose votes he seeks and whose interests he says he’ll serve.

Do you find it even remotely possible to imagine Trump serving anyone’s interests but his own under any – any – circumstances?

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On the Campaign Trail (mid-December)

Except to say good-bye to Poor Bobby Jindal – buh-bye, Bobby – this installment of “On the Campaign Trail” is devoted to one and only one of the still-many Republican candidates: Donald Trump. The Donald is already one of the most polarizing and repugnant and divisive characters in the history of American politics but he’s also unquestionably one of the greatest sources of commentary fodder a blogger could ever desire. If The Donald was a sitcom he’d be up there with The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, The Cosby Show (are we still allowed to like The Cosby Show or do we now have to pretend like it never existed?), All in the Family, and My Two Dads.

So let’s look at what The Donald has been up to lately.

When Trump’s remarks in Alabama were interrupted by a Black Lives Matter protester, Trump deviated from his speech to demand the man’s removal.

“Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said on Saturday morning. “Get him out of here. Throw him out!”

trumpLater, Trump told Fox News that

Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.

That seems to be Trump’s answer to a lot of things: violence.

Once upon a time The Donald had only good things to say about Ben Carson, but once Carson’s poll numbers threatened his own, The Donald turned on him.

Carson’s campaign centers around telling his own life story, and part of that life story is that when he was a teenager, he says he had a pretty bad temper. Today, Carson’s a guy who’s so low key it looks like he’s having trouble staying awake, but The Donald, calling on his deep knowledge of and extensive training in psychology, declared Carson’s temper “pathological.” On one hand, Trump rejected one of Carson’s stories about his temper, telling an audience in Iowa “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of this country to believe this crap?” Well, Trump must be one of those stupid people because he told CNN

carsonThat’s a big problem because you don’t cure that. That’s like, you know, I could say, they say you don’t cure – as an example, child molester. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure the child molester.

No matter how you try to explain or justify it, Trump compared Carson to a child molester.

Trump clearly doesn’t know the meaning of words like “pathological.” Another word Trump doesn’t understand: “militaristic.” In August, he told CNN that

I am the most militaristic person you will ever meet.

Do you think he had any idea what he was saying or what that even means?

Of course he didn’t. It was his usual line: he is always the best or the most, no matter what the subject.

After the ISIS attack in Paris, the most militaristic person you’ll ever meet naturally knew what would prevent another such attack:

The toughest gun laws in the world: Paris. If they were allowed to carry — it would have been a much, much different situation.

Hmm, let’s see.

2012: the U.S. population was 314 million and there were 9146 homicides by gun that year.

2012: the population of France was 66 million and there were…35 homicides by gun that year.

gunSo yes, arming the French is a great idea.

Then we have this whole business about Trump insisting that he saw “thousands and thousands of people” in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

It didn’t happen. Did. Not. Happen. No one can find anything even approaching thousands of people cheering, not even hundreds of people cheering, not even dozens of people cheering. There’s not a shred of evidence to support the assertion, but Trump clearly believes that if he keeps saying things they’ll either become true or people will believe they’re true through the sheer force of repetition. He does this all the time.

lie detectorThis is about accountability, and that’s a concept that’s foreign to The Donald. Trump has never been held accountable for what he’s said in the past. He’s on a different and bigger stage now, though: every time he speaks publicly, someone is writing down what he says and someone’s usually recording it. You can’t deny what you’ve said because it’s already a matter of public record.   During the CNBC debate, one of the questioners asked Trump about something he said, and surely the questioner knew, for a certainty, that Trump said it, but when Trump challenged the assertion the reporter backed down. To most viewers that seemed like a concession by the reporter that he (or was it she?) was mistaken, and Trump looked smart and tough. But the reporter wasn’t mistaken, only cowardly.

Hell hath no fury like The Donald when asked a difficult, challenging question, which in The World According to The Donald is not permitted and is practically an act of war. So when New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski asked such a question, The Donald shifted into attack mode. Kovaleski has a chronic condition called arthrogryposis, which limits the movement of his arms, so when The Donald shared his beef with Kovaleski with a South Carolina audience, he accompanied his words with exaggerated gestures that imitated and mocked Kovaleski.

Seriously.

Those of you who have children: your kids surely did this kind of thing at one time, when they were very young – maybe four or five or six. You told them it was wrong and they never did it again. But here’s The Donald, sixty-nine years old, acting like a six-year-old and mocking someone with a physical disability.

The Donald denied it, of course – he always denies it. Watch it for yourself here and just think: this man is asking you to make him president of the United States.

trump noseThe Donald, as we have seen, likes to make up numbers to fit his narrative. Maybe he can do that when negotiating a deal with someone who’s as big a liar as he is but it’s harder to do when intelligent people are watching, scratching their heads, asking themselves “Can that possibly be true?,” and then doing a little research to answer their own question. So when he tweeted a message that black-on-black homicides account for ninety-seven percent of all murders of black people while white-on-white homicides account for only sixteen percent of white murders, the Urban Institute decided to look into the matter.

Here’s what it found.

On Sunday, Donald Trump tweeted out an image of 2015 homicide statistics from the “Crime Statistics Bureau” of San Francisco that purported to show that the majority of black homicides were committed by other black Americans. Black-on-black homicides were shown to be 97 percent of all black homicides, while white-on-white homicides were a mere 16 percent of all white homicides.

If that difference sounds too incredible to believe, that’s because it is.

These statistics have already been roundly and rightly taken apart.  The Crime Statistics Bureau doesn’t exist, and we don’t have public homicide statistics by race for either San Francisco or the nation for 2015. This isn’t a controversial scholarly question of how you slice the data or whether one arcane statistical test or another is the right tool: the data simply don’t exist.

In other words, it’s a pure fabrication.

Trump’s defense in instances like these is “I read it on the internet.”

Which means it must be true. After all, everything you read on the internet is 100 percent accurate, right?

The Donald also claimed he predicted terrorism sponsored by Osama bin Laden.

Like The Curmudgeon predicts that the Kansas City Royals will win the 2015 World Series.

In 2000, Trump published a book that had a chapter on terrorism and in that chapter was a single, off-hand reference to bin Laden. That, in The Donald’s view, qualifies as prescience.

At least his friends think so.

In a speech in South Carolina, he said that

The other thing I predicted was terrorism. [A] friend of mine called [and said] … “You’re the first guy that really predicted terrorism.”

Where did Trump get this amazing skill?

He explained to a Tennessee audience that

I predicted Osama bin Laden … was coming in to do damage. … In my book, I predicted terrorism. I can feel it, like I can feel good location in real estate.

Feel this, Trump.

Once again, The Donald swings and misses. By 2000, when his book was published, CNN had already posted a headline citing bin Laden as a threat, bin Laden also had already been the target of U.S. warplanes for his role in attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and oh yes, he had even been indicted by a grand jury for his role in those bombings. In fact, bin Laden was even mentioned in a pre-9/11 episode of the television series The West Wing.

But The Donald and only The Donald had heard of him.

Next we come to the issue of Muslim immigrants, terrorism, and access to American shores – an access Trump seeks to deny even while his hotels continue to market visits to America throughout the Muslim world. You know the story and The Curmudgeon has no desire to rehash it because it’s all over television and newspapers and it’s beyond ridiculous, but he would like to share some of his favorite parts.

Trump knows, as we all apparently now do, that ISIS uses the internet to recruit people to its cause. What can we do about this? The Donald has a plan:

“We’re losing a lot of people because of the Internet,” Trump said. “We have to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what’s happening. We have to talk to them about, maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way.”

That’s right: he can call Bill Gates and close down just the parts of the internet where ISIS does its recruiting. (You know: http://www.becomeaterroristinyoursparetime.com.)

The Donald even anticipates critics’ objection to his plan:

“Somebody will say, ‘Oh freedom of speech, freedom of speech,’” he added, dismissing the objection with an arm wave. “These are foolish people.”

Yes, silly us, worrying about freedom of speech and the constitution that presidents are sworn to uphold.

Last week the Washington Post offered these observations about the Republican front-runner:

Nothing in modern politics equates with the kind of rhetoric now coming from Candidate Trump. There are no perfect analogies. One must scroll back decades for echoes, however imperfect, of what he is saying, from the populist and racially based appeals of then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1968 and 1972 to the anti-Semitic diatribes of the radio preacher Charles Coughlin during the 1930s.

Historian David Kennedy of Stanford University said there are few comparisons, adding that, in branding an entire religious class of people as not welcome, Trump “is further out there than almost anyone in the annals of [U.S.] history.”

mussoliniA Washington Post columnist, in a piece titled “Donald Trump, America’s modern Mussolini,” wrote last week that

Trump uses many of the fascist’s tools: a contempt for facts, spreading a pervasive sense of fear and overwhelming crisis, portraying his backers as victims, assigning blame to foreign or alien actors and suggesting only his powerful personality can transcend the crisis. He endorsed the violence done to a dissenter at one of his rallies, and he now floats the idea of making entry to the United States contingent on religion.

As if listening to The Donald speak isn’t torture enough, candidate Trump declared that if elected, he would bring back waterboarding. According to the online publication Politico,

“I would bring it back,” Trump said. “I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us, what they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head. That’s a whole different level, and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

Between that and his proposal to conduct surveillance of mosques, we see that the guy is a real champion of civil liberties and human rights.

And we already know how he feels about ordinary human decency.

One right Trump apparently does believe in is the right to celebrate Christmas, which may explain his suggestion that people boycott Starbucks because the company’s Christmas cups aren’t Christmas-y enough for him.

oreosThe Donald apparently is a boycott kind of guy. He’s suggested boycotting Starbucks; boycotting Fox News’s Megyn Kelly, for asking him hard questions in a debate and then being a woman and causing him to make inappropriate remarks about her; Macy’s, which had the audacity to drop his clothing line after his obnoxious remarks about Mexicans; Univision, the Spanish-language television network, which also didn’t like his comments about Mexicans and dropped his beauty pageant and had the nerve to send a reporter to one of his press conferences to ask about those comments; Mexico, because one of his business deals in the country went awry; Italy, briefly, until Amanda Knox was released; Oreos, for moving a factory to Mexico (a two-fer!); HBO, because of nasty things Bill Maher said about him; Rolling Stone magazine, for putting the Boston bomber on its cover; and a brand of Scotch called Glenfiddich because the company sponsored an award given to a man who wouldn’t sell a piece of land Trump wanted for a golf course he hoped to build in Scotland.

Something he does like? McDonald’s, apparently: when discussing an upcoming state dinner with the leader of China, The Donald said President Obama should cancel the affair and serve Xi Jinping hamburgers from McDonald’s.

He would be such a star on the diplomatic front, wouldn’t he?

For those of you who like to explore, The Curmudgeon would like to leave you with a few resources for your entertainment and education.

Stephen Colbert had some very funny observations about The Donald. See them here.

Last week the New York Times took a big picture look at the Trump phenomenon in an article titled “95,000 Words, Many of Them Ominous, From Donald Trump’s Tongue.” For the piece, the Times analyzed every public utterance of The Donald for a week – the 95,000 words – and offered its findings and conclusions. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post took a similar big picture look at Trump. The Post’s is more entertaining: while the Times’s approach is analytic, the Post focuses more on the name-calling, lying, and demagoguery. Here are links to the Times and the Post articles; if you’re going to read only one, go with the Post.

trump universityHave you ever heard of Trump University? It’s a “school” for people who want to learn how to be real estate tycoons just like The Donald. Does it sound like a scam to you? That’s what some of the students/victims are asking the courts to decide right now. The Curmudgeon suspects that it’s sleazy and disgusting but ultimately not illegal. Judge for yourself with the help of this Time magazine article.

Late last week, Frank Luntz, probably the most influential Republican pollster in the country, conducted a focus group of Trump supporters for CBS news to test their loyalty to their strangely coiffed hero. The results were extraordinary: the more Luntz did to call their attention to the sheer idiocy of The Donald, the more the people liked him. Yes, extraordinary – and frightening. See an excerpt from the focus group here and find a Washington Post article about it here.

Finally, The Curmudgeon would like to leave you with something he just ran across the other day that appeared in the October 26 New Yorker (like most New Yorker readers, The Curmudgeon is often a few weeks behind):

Consider, too, the G.O.P. candidates for the White House. Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the only Republicans polling in double digits, daily clear their throats with that ritual preface of modern self-satisfaction – “I am not politically correct” – and then unleash statements, positions, and postures so willfully detached from fact that they embarrass the political culture that harbors them. Trump is willing to say anything – anything racist, anything false, anything “funny” – to terrify voters, or rile them, or amuse them, depending on the moment. The worst of his demagogic arousals are reminiscent of Lindbergh’s speeches in America First rallies and his fear, as he wrote in Reader’s Digest, of a “pressing sea of Yellow, Black and Brown.”

Scary.