Speaking to a large rally in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused President Obama of lying to the American people about the ransom the US paid the Iranians for returning three American hostages.
After lamenting the Obama Administration’s nuclear deal with Iran that gave the latter possession of its frozen assets to the tune of $150 billion, Trump continued, “Not to mention the $400 million in cash, which turned out to be a ransom payment after all, just like I said.”
“In other word, our president lied to us. He lied to us,” Trump concluded.
The cash payment to the Iranian government is the subject of the latest war between the Republicans and the Obama administration, with the Republicans saying the payment was ransom for the release of the three American prisoners from Iranian captivity.
President Obama and the State Dept. have been adamant about denying the ransom accusation, with the president claiming it was money the US owed Iran from well before the hostage incident, and had been announced as part of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic. The $400 million payment was part of the $1.7 billion settlement of a US arms deal with the Shah in the 1970s.
On Thursday the State Department insisted they withheld the payment as “leverage” because it made sense to condition paying the debt on the old deal on letting the Americans go, but that didn’t make it a ransom.
Joseph Schmitz, one of five Trump senior advisers, is accused of boasting that when he was inspector general at the US Department of Defense under President GW Bush, he got Jewish employees fired, McClatchy reported. Schmitz, a Washington attorney, said the allegations are lies, and, according to McClatchy, the three people who made the accusations—one testifying under oath—are involved in employment grievances with the federal government, probably because they were fired.
Daniel Meyer, whose work for the Defense Department involved making decisions on department whistleblowers, noted in his complaint filed against the DOD, according to McClatchy, that Schmitz had described his achievement in the Pentagon inspector general’s office as “I fired the Jews.”
Meyer cited in his complaint a former senior Pentagon official named John Crane, who worked with Schmitz between April 2002 and September 2005, as having witnessed that statement by Schmitz, and also wrote that “in his final days, he allegedly lectured Mr. Crane on the details of concentration camps and how the ovens were too small to kill 6 million Jews.”
Schmitz said Crane made several false accusations against him, and told McClatchy that his wife, although not a practicing Jew, was “ethnically Jewish,” seeing as her maternal grandmother was a Jew (which would make her mother Jewish, of course).
Crane himself refused to comment saying he reserves his comments to the coming hearing of Meyer’s case before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), but his attorney denied Schmitz’s allegation that Crane was the source of all the bad press about him.
Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, this week a Jewish Army engineer named David Tenenbaum cited the Meyer allegations in a letter to Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine as more evidence of an anti-Semitic culture in the military. “The anti-Semitic environment began under a prior Inspector General, Mr. Joseph Schmitz,” Tenenbaum’s lawyer wrote.
The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol has been irate at Trump’s hiring of Breitbart Executive Chairman Steve Bannon as his presidential campaign’s chief executive officer, because back in May Breitbart ran a story under the catchy headline: “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.”
The story used the anti-Semitic holler because Krystol had announced he would not support Trump for president.
Andrew Breitbart, who founded the news website in 2007, died in 2012 and was replaced at the helm by Bannon.
“I knew Breitbart well, and he was a troublemaker but he was a good-hearted person,” Kristol told MSNBC’s Morning Joe, adding, “I hate the fact that it’s called Breitbart News. If they changed the name and called it Right Wing Intolerant Mean-Spirited News, that would be fine.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
The leader of the American Nazi Party has come out with a statement that is making Republicans and their supporters even more nervous than they already are.
Rocky Suhayda proclaimed on his recent radio show that a “Donald Trump White House” could present a “real opportunity for people like white nationalists” to build a pro-white political caucus.
Suhayda predicted during the show that Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton would lose the election to Trump, according to a report by BuzzFeed.
“I think it’s gonna surprise the enemy, because, I think that they feel that the white working class, especially the male portion of the working class, and with him his female counterparts have basically thrown in the towel,” Suhayda said. “Given up hope of any politician again standing up for their interests.”
Although he has publicly denounced racism and anti-Semitism a few times, Trump’s unwillingness to directly confront attacks by neo-Nazis and white Supremacists has seriously shaken his support among Republican Jews.
Many white nationalists have directed internet vitriol towards Israel and at Jewish journalists covering the presidential campaign, and the activities of Jewish politicians. Trump has failed to denounce any of those attacks.
A look at the national, and state-by-state polls over the week since the Democratic convention reveals a devastating picture for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with his opponent leading him by an average of 7 points, but in some polls reaching double digits, and going as high as 15 points. The Republican party is in a panic, obviously, with some suggesting it’s not too late to ask the candidate to bow out humbly and let another take his place. These Republicans have already given up on a chance to take the White House and are concentrating instead on retaining at least one of the two legislative houses. The rule of thumb in American politics is, apparently, that in states where the presidential candidate wins by a certain margin (8 points has been suggested as the accepted mark), he or she also sweep into office their party senators and congress members.
Even candidate Trump seems to have been injured by his campaign’s terrible numbers, because he started accusing a rigged election system in his projected loss come November. But at the same time Trump has been predicting a big victory for his side, and while the general media have treated this statement as just one more case of Trump unruly bravado, he just might know what he’s talking about.
Last Friday the website FiveThirtyEight released a Trump campaign memo from before the start of the RNC primaries, revealing an unorthodox strategy of going after unlikely voters in the primaries, people who rarely if ever participate in elections. The memo charted a campaign that relied on free media, using Trump’s controversial TV appearances, unmatched in media attention by any of his opponents, to bring in those irregular voters.
The memo suggests that Trump’s voters are Americans who are in a “persistent state of disenfranchisement,” and recommends pursuing them, leaving Trump’s opponents to fight over “the same heavily tilled soil” of likely voters. “An unprecedented targeting strategy must be in sync with this unprecedented campaign,” the memo concluded.
Looking back, it appears that this strategy was ingenious, resulting in candidate Trump filling up stadiums with newcomers to the Republican party who were there to answer his call — much the way candidate Obama back in 2008 brought in Black voters who otherwise would not have trusted the system enough to vote.
The Trump strategy worked to deliver him the nomination, so why is he dropping like a stone in the polls? The answer to that question can possibly be found in the mother of all polling failure stories, the 1936 Literary Digest straw poll that predicted a landslide victory for GOP candidate Alf Landon over Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with 57 percent of the vote. Why did the Digest fail, after having predicted correctly every presidential election from 1920 to 1932? The reason was that the Digest polled about 2 million people, whose name were gotten from lists of magazine subscribers, car owners and telephone customers—people who had money during the Depression, and who were outvoted by people who did not have any of the above.
The closer polling services get to November, the more they prefer to draw their random samples from likely voters rather than mere registered voters. Registered voters, according to Gallup, are people who in response to a standard poll question say they are “registered to vote in their precinct or election district.” This is the group whose data Gallup reports most often because they represent an estimate of Americans who in theory are eligible to vote and could vote if they want to.
Gallup established the rules of the polling game back in the same 1936 election, when their use of a random sample of 50,000 Americans yielded the correct prediction of a Roosevelt victory — so it’s safe to assume that most polling services adhere to the same guidelines, more or less.
But Gallup and other surveys know that in the final analysis, not all of these registered voters will actually vote. In fact, only a little more than half of eligible American voters actually show up come election day. And so Gallup has created systems to delineate the likely voters — lists of individuals who are most likely to actually vote, to provide more reliable predictions.
And herein lies the possibility that Gallup and everyone else in the polling business have been overlooking Trump’s voters. If we presume that the Trump victory relied on an untapped segment of the population, what can we expect to be some of this group’s common denominators?
They are white, they feel ignored by the system, they mistrust politicians and the media.
In determining the likelihood of a respondent showing up to vote, Gallup and other services have developed a list of questions for which they give the respondent one point for each positive answer:
1. Thinking about the election (quite a lot, some) 2. Know where in the neighborhood to go to vote (yes) 3. Voted in election precinct before (yes) 4. How often have they voted before (always, nearly always) 5. Plan to vote in 2016 election (yes) 6, Likelihood of voting on a 10-point scale (7-10) 7. Voted in last presidential election (yes)
Let’s assume that a Trump voter gets the call from Gallup and decides to answer the above questions truthfully (it’s always possible that they would decide to fool the pollster, as an act against the hostile media — Israel experienced more than one such case in which polls failed to predict a rightwing victory because rightwing voters lied to pollsters whom they viewed as representing a leftwing media elite).
The Trump voter answering truthfully may answer No to Questions 2, 3, 4, and 7, thus scoring only 3 points and being discarded as unlikely to vote. So that while the bulk of Trump’s outsiders remain under the polling radar, come November they would all show up at the polling stations and possibly give their candidate his unlikely victory.
Finally, some in the rightwing media (Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren comes to mind) have suggested there may be a phenomenon of pro-Trump respondents feeling ashamed of revealing to a stranger, an educated pollster, that they support a man who is vilified by almost every media outlet in the land, the brunt of jokes, a boob, even a potential traitor (called on President Putin to hack into a US party’s computers). They may vote for him in November, but they may be uncomfortable admitting it.
It should be noted that in most of the polls where she is beating Trump by significant margins, Hillary Clinton rarely receives more than 45% of the votes, and that consequently in every such poll, Trump’s votes plus the “I don’t know” votes add up to more than the Democrat’s numbers. With fewer than 55% of Americans normally voting in presidential elections (in midterm elections the figures plummet well below that), all Trump needs is to bring in five to ten percent of the voters who have never gone to the polls before.
Hillary Clinton made history Thursday night at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia as the first woman to accept the nomination of a major American political party for president of the United States.
Introduced to the audience by her daughter Chelsea, Clinton’s speech was hard-hitting and gave no quarter, moving methodically through a checklist of issues that had been mentioned by Sanders and Trump, after initial thanks.
“I want to thank Bernie Sanders. Bernie, your campaign inspired millions of Americans. To all of your supporters here and around the country: I want you to know, I’ve heard you. You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong,” she said.
The “woman thing” was big; Clinton’s daughter spent most of her speech talking about her mother’s commitment to family and women’s issues. Clinton herself returned to the theme repeatedly during her own speech as well. “If fighting for affordable child care and paid family leave is playing the woman card, then deal me in!” she emphasized, to wild cheers from the crowd.
She said she was “proud” of the Iran nuclear deal signed last year with the five world powers led by the United States. “I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot — now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel’s security,” she said. Later in her speech, she again tossed in a single reference to Israel, again the lone throwaway line, “and we must keep supporting Israel’s security,” tucked in among other items on her laundry list. But she offered no details, nor did she make any other reference to America’s strongest ally in the region.
Emphasizing that Trump has “bombast” but “no plan” Clinton offered her own strategy for dealing with the Da’esh terrorist organization: “Strike ISIS from the air and support local forces taking them out on the ground.”
She also took the opportunity to add, “Donald Trump says, and this is a quote, ‘I know more about ISIS than even the generals do.’ No Donald, you don’t.”
Doubling down on her opponent, she accused Trump of disrespect for the nation’s military, using his off-the-cuff slap at the Obama Administration calling the military a “disaster” as a springboard as an opportunity to scold him: “Our military is a national treasure. A president should respect the men and women who risk their lives to serve their country.”
To the delegates, she said, “Just ask yourselves, do you really think Donald Trump has the temperament to be a president of the United States? He loses his cool at the drop of a hat. Donald Trump can’t even handle the rough-and-tumble of a presidential campaign. Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis.
“A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons,” Clinton warned.
A former member of the White House Secret Service detail assigned to the Clinton family who was interviewed by Sean Hannity Thursday night on Fox News warned, however, that Hillary Clinton’s temperament is equally touchy. In fact, he said, there were times that Clinton was downright abusive and ‘staff was terrified.” She was charming “when big donors were around,” but could be vicious at other times, he said.
Producers of the introduction video prior to her appearance made sure to insert a quick photo of Clinton sitting with President Barack Obama and other officials during the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Maqdis al Sharia terrorist siege of the US Consulate and the CIA Annex in Benghazi, Libya.
Donald Trump’s recent statements regarding his respect for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his policies regarding, among other places, Ukraine, are evidence that the United States is becoming pro-Russian, Russian Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev suggested on Thursday.
“Trump has repeatedly proven that he, like no one else, understands the public’s demand for a change in course, and the attitudes of a large part of voters who have grown tired of the Clintons and the Bushes,” Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page.
The fact that a presidential candidate is speaking out in favor of improving relations with Russia means that “similar sentiment is becoming more and more popular in the US, and it can unify political points,” Kosachev added. “Only time will tell whether Trump is ready or—no less important—capable of implementing this. It is definitely too early to celebrate,” the lawmaker concluded.
For now, any predictions of Trump’s plans on recognizing Ukraine’s Crimea as part of Russia and lifting sanctions if he becomes president “are like gazing into a crystal ball, just like with his other vociferous statements,” Kosachev conceded.
Candidate Trump has stated that, if elected, he would consider recognizing occupied Crimea as a Russian territory and lifting sanctions against Russia. Crimea was taken by force in a staged February 2014 coup.