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The Deplorables I – Jeffrey Lord by
When I listen to the sycophants, the apologists, the surrogates, the spokespersons for Trump Two-Two, I want to scream – not on behalf of Hillary Clinton, but on behalf of reason, on behalf of enlightenment values, on behalf of truth. Never mind Trump. His surrogates – Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany, Corey Lewandowski, Kellyanne Conway, Andy Dean, Katrina Pierson, Bruce Lavell, Darrell Scott, Mark Burns, Scottie Nell Hughes, Omarosa Manigault,– are deplorable in the true sense of the word. They deserve our strong condemnation. Not simply for the man they are defending, not simply for the points they are making, but for their disrespect for the rules of the use of rational language.
I am not talking about the birthers and believers that the world is flat and that the destruction of the Twin Towers was a Zionist conspiracy. I am not talking about the David Dukes, the racists or the defenders of the Second Amendment who seem willing to take up arms in the name of an invented version of part of the American constitution. These are far beyond being deplorable. I am referring to those Trump surrogates who belong to the chattering classes, but seem to be incapable of mounting a rational and evidence-based argument. It is a disgrace. It is shameful. I cannot believe this goes down the line and deep into the Republican Party, but listening to these surrogates makes me suspect that the party has been deeply infected with irrationality and may not be able to be salvaged this time no matter who wins or loses the election. That is lamentable, but it is also inexcusable. The long term history of a once noble party is being sacrificed on the alter of irrationality. Political contests have been transformed into a blood sport in which illogic and the misuse of language have been substituted for rational debate.
This is truly dreadful and atrocious, unpardonable and dishonourable. The situation is deplorable in all the senses of the word. The leading surrogates who contribute to this folly are even more deplorable than the bullying, blowhard, lying Trump Two-Two. For he is a product of business and a vehicle for entertainment. The surrogates, on the other hand, claim and represent themselves of worthy of belonging to a league which requires rational discourse and argument. But they lack any one of its central characteristics.
The worst of it all is that these surrogates are usually set off against, not simply Hillary Clinton surrogates, but against quite brilliant independent analysts like Marc Lamont Hill, Joy-Ann Reid and Angela Rye (who both said to Corey Lewandowski when he put down President Obama and demanded that Obama release his Harvard transcripts –as if this bore any equivalence with releasing tax returns – “You are so out of line right now. Tell your candidate to release his tax returns. Two words: Tax return” and each insisted that “In this moment, I’m going to Beyoncé you: ‘Boy bye.’” Rye added, “You’re so out of line right now.”) Anthony Kapel “Van” Jones (Trump branded him “Mad Max America”) and my personal favourite, Charles Blow, can be added to this list. All are constantly forced to participate in a sham debate in which the proponents of irrationality are given half the media time and these journalists are reduced to taking on the irrationality of their opponents rather than the substantive policies at stake. (As an aside, the Beyoncé lyric comes from her song “Sorry” in which a woman dismisses her husband’s excuses for his affair.)
In accusing them of being deplorable, I am not asserting that the Trump surrogates are ignorant. They have mastered their notes and their rhetorical skills and exhibit them in different ways. I am not accusing them of being stupid. Just defenders and proponents of irrationality even as they demonstrate different degrees of nimbleness in their use of sophistry.
Let me illustrate with reference to each of the surrogates in turn taking on one problem at a time. Perhaps Jeffrey Lord is the person I have seen and listened to the most as a Trump surrogate. With his white hair, whimsical smile and laid back engagement in the debates, he offers himself as a serious defender of Trump Two-Two. He also has a long political pedigree having served in high office in the Reagan administration. There he must have honed his skills in defending Reagan trickle-down economics while burying fiscal conservatism in a bed of debt as Reagan tripled the gross federal debt from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Examine Jeffrey’s defence of Donald Trump’s refusal to make his tax returns public.
Arguments for releasing the tax returns are as follows:
- It is an established tradition going back to Richard Nixon
- It is an expectation of the voters
- It will provide evidence about whether or not he has been truthful about his charitable giving
- It may provide evidence or disproof of the suspicions of many and the evidence of a few that during the last decade, Trump’s businesses depend more and more on infusions of capital from Russian oligarchs connected with Putin and partners associated with disreputable dictators around the world
- Most of all, it will provide evidence about whether he pays his fair share of taxes in any reasonable definition of fairness.
Arguments for not releasing the tax returns are as follows:
- They are under audit and any taxpayer has the right to mitigate his tax exposure, an exposure that can be exacerbated by release of one’s financial situation
- The tax returns provide clues to how Trump operates his various businesses that may expose his positions unfairly to competitors
- The release of the information will provide an enormous distraction from the policy issues as reams of people try to mine the returns in the interest of exposing embarrassments. “He’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from his father’s main message.”
- Unlike other presidential candidates who were political pros, Donald Trump comes from the business world and his returns, as Donald Trump Jr. explained, amount to 12,000 pages in itself creating an enormous fund for troublemaking.
- This is not a burning issue for the public.
What are the arguments offered in refutation of the claims of the opponents and in support of the Trump campaign position? Against the argument that this is a precedent going back to Richard Nixon, Jeffrey Lord argues that there have been 36 presidents who never made their tax returns public. What is omitted is that these constitute 36 of 43 presidents and 35 served prior to Richard Nixon. Many of these served prior to Abraham Lincoln when there were no personal income tax returns to make public. In any case, the argument does not take on the establishment and observance of a well established tradition over the last 7 presidents, excluding Gerald Ford who was not an elected president, but nevertheless released a summary of his tax returns though not the entire income tax return. In other words, it is a tradition that extends over one-third of the period in which there have been income tax returns.
Jeffrey Lord doe not argue against the claim that there is a 47-year-old tradition. Jeffrey Lord does not argue that it is an illegitimate tradition. He demeans the tradition by citing irrelevancies to the case – what presidents before Richard Nixon did. He does not note that Richard Nixon resisted releasing his returns but was forced to do so. This is, of course, the well known red herring form of argument, that is an argument which is not an argument, but a distraction that is irrelevant and simply attempts to draw attention away from the issue.
Jeffrey could have argued that the appeal to tradition of the Democrats was itself a red herring since it does not follow that because the tradition had been established for 47 years that this alone made it a valid tradition to continue. That is itself is a form of red herring argument, but one suspects that if Jeffrey opened that can of worms he would have had to engage in the argument about whether the tradition was a useful one well worth perpetuating for a number of reasons. So distraction rather than engagement seems the preferred course of avoiding a real dialogue.
How does Jeffrey Lord and Trump’s other surrogates handle the argument that the voters expect tax releases to be released? The answer – it is not a burning issue for voters. But the claim was not made that it was a burning issue, only that is was an issue for a large majority of voters overall (74%) and even a majority of Republican voters (62%). The surrogates, however, are probably right that this isn’t a burning issue. In a small sampling in Virginia, the voters were all bothered by Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, but 17 of those voters were more troubled by Hillary’s emails while 11 who were more bothered by Trump’s refusal to release his tax information. Here again, as in the above case, Jeffrey Lord could have insisted that the Democratic case, even the case for the majority of voters, was itself a kind of red herring by concluding that since something is believed in widely does not make it valid. But again the argument is not engaged for the same reasons the first argument was not – because it would mean probing the merits of the practice whether or not a majority believed in it or not. Instead, the counter argument reverted to obfuscation and distraction by the use of the word “burning”.
This is, of course, as irrelevant as the first defence. Issues that are not “burning” in the public mind – the state of Korea’s nuclear arsenal is an example of one far less burning than the issue of release of incomes tax filings – but that does not make it an invalid subject for debate. An issue does not have to be a hot one searing the mind of the public and igniting their fiery wrath to demand attention. It may be only a smouldering rather than a red-hot torrid item, but the stonewalling and sidestepping and engagement in distraction present the possibility of making it a burning issue.
What about the issue of getting to the truth value of Donald Trump’s claims to have given millions upon millions to charity and the assertion that the tax returns would be able to confirm the claim or reveal it as false? Further, even releasing only this part of the tax return could put to rest the suspicion that the claim is an invention, a fabrication, a lie, an inquiry given steam by the evidence that the Trump Foundation had not received a dime of Donald Trump’s personal money since 2007 and that the money it receives has been donated to the foundation by others and then donated in the name of Trump without disclosing the original contributor. However, there is other evidence that in 2009 Trump donated almost a million dollars to charity, $100,000 of that sum ironically to the Clinton Foundation which he subsequently insisted needed to be investigated.
An investigation of Trump’s own foundation was initiated by Eric T. Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, for making an illegal $25,000 donation to a campaign group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013 when she indicated that she was considering joining Schneiderman’s fraud case against Trump University. This is not just an impression of illegality. Non-profits are legally forbidden from contributing to political campaigns.
How did Jeffrey respond? He called Scheiderman a “sleaze” on CNN’s OutFront. This is another kind of red herring illogic, usually called an ad hominem argument in which you attack and insult the messenger instead of dealing with the merits of the claim. It is relevant that Schneiderman is a Democrat, supports Hillary Clinton and may even sit on one of her campaign committees. This creates a perception of conflict of interest between his political affiliation and responsibilities as an Attorney General. But it is incumbent on the accuser to demonstrate the conflict of interest, especially in America where senior civil servants are usually political partisans even when not elected, which they often are.
A perceived conflict of interest takes place when an individual can derive personal, usually financial, benefit from actions taken in their professional capacity. Though Schneiderman’s political beliefs would benefit, there is no evidence or even suggestion that there would be repercussions on his pocket book. Further, if conflict of interest was defined as the tension between one’s political conviction and one’s professional responsibility, then the whole American political system would have to be shut down.
What about the claim that the Trump organization receives capital from Putin’s oligarch friends and other authoritarian leaders across the world that will lead to a conflict of interest problem between Trump’s motivation to protect his corporate interests and the interests of the United States of America? Newsweek in its exposé never offered any evidence that any of these activities were illegal, though one Virginia voter named Beverly said that, “I’m concerned what Trump’s hiding in there. There may be business dealings, illegal business dealings. He’s really good at sweeping things out, and I really think he’s hiding something.” Newsweek did point out the conflict of interests this situation would create between Trump’s personal economic interest and that of the United States. That is a real conflict of interest for an individual with multiple financial interests any one of which could corrupt the motives or professional decision-making of the individual if that individual were to gain high office.
Jeff wrote an article (“The Liberal Media Unhinged” 13 August 2016 for mracNewsbusters) in which he derided The New York Times, The Washington Post and the “liberal” media in general for using ad hominem arguments and personal insults aimed at Donald Trump that give “’permission from a whole segment of America’s political and liberal media class’ to kooks out there to do whatever – no matter how dangerous, despicable or out of bounds – to Donald Trump.” In other words, it is not Trump Two-Two that engages in the use of insults and ad hominem arguments and raises the possibility of violence against Hillary Clinton, but the liberal press who do so against Donald Trump and give license to commit violence against Trump Two-Two. This is another red herring – accusing one’s opponent of the failings you yourself seem so transparently to demonstrate through hyperbole and the use of flagrantly false analogies.
I will only make two further points about this patently silly argument. The first is the use of the adjective or noun “liberal”. Michael Brenner in a recent article on the distortions imposed on our language took as his first case the denigration of the term “liberal.” Barack Obama in his address last evening to the CBC, not the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation but the Congressional Black Caucus and supporters of its foundation, articulately spelled out what it means to be liberal, though it is noteworthy that he avoided the term since it has been so hi-jacked by neo-liberals at the same time as it has been so denigrated that he had to concentrate on its substance. Liberalism means expansion of voting and political rights, equality of justice, increasing the opportunities for all. For Obama, the essence of liberalism is progress based on these measures of improving society on these and other fronts. Liberalism entails the fairer distribution of wealth and making the promise of equality a reality and not just an aspiration. In its idealism, the collective good is equated with the benefits actually enjoyed by individuals.
One can oppose liberalism in the conviction that these benefits are better achieved by decreasing rather than enhancing the role of government, by insisting that a government dedicated to insisting that the collective good and the individual good are best combined, not when the two are presumed to enjoy a synergistic relationship, but when they are seen as in tension and the government as a purported deliverer of fairness is consistently reduced. That is a reasonable ideological division. But when the term “liberal” is used as a slur, when the term is equated with those who lie and malign by the defenders of Trump Two-Two, who has unarguably made a profession of lying, using ad hominem arguments and insults, one despairs for the cause of reason. When words are hijacked and deformed by the language Janissaries, when they laud Trump Two-Two for magnificently ripping “the mask of rationality off the liberal media,” we enter the topsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland who opined in Lewis Carroll’s magnificent satire that, “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrariwise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” When Jeffrey refers snidely to the liberal devotion to science – which he places in apostrophes – in the climate change debate, we know we are in the world of the chattering class equivalent of the flat earth society.
What about the argument that releasing the tax returns will provide evidence about whether Trump Two-Two pays his fair share of taxes? Jeffrey Lord’s defence: Democrats “will make a problem out of something. Something that could be perfectly ordinary and average, and they will make a problem out of it. This is what politicians do.” The tax returns could be perfectly ordinary, but may not be. And the issue is whether the release of tax returns reveal that which is not ordinary or confirm that nothing untoward was done. But instead of addressing the point of the tradition of releasing tax returns, Lord argues that the release may provide ammunition for his opponents so why release them? Precisely to learn whether the returns do indicate that which is not ordinary.
Critics of Trump Two-Two ask why he cannot release the letter from Internal Revenue requesting an audit of certain years? Why can’t Trump Two-two release his returns before 2007 that are not being audited. Those questions are never answered. Instead, all we hear is deflection based on the use of logically fallacious argumentation.
The Deplorables – II Kayleigh McEnamy and Racism by
Kayleigh may be a deplorable in her use of language and illogic, but she is a very accomplished individual. She is perhaps the most intense defender of Trump and is equipped with a rapid-fire delivery and singularity of purpose. She is most easily pointed out as the slender attractive blond on many CNN panels. She has also been a co-host on CNN’s “The Point”.
Kayleigh has a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. This does not mean, in Canadian terms, that she has a Doctor of Law degree (an LL..D), for a J.D. is most frequently used to designate a professional doctorate required for admissions to post-graduate studies in law. Nevertheless, as Barack Obama demonstrated, it is a significant achievement to win entry into and then graduate from Harvard Law School. Kayleigh also attended Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and obtained a BSFS (a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service) in International Politics, which is an accelerated Master’s degree program. She also studied politics and international relations at Oxford University, not, as one might expect of someone so interested in international affairs, at St. Anthony’s, but at St. Edmund Hall, the oldest hall left from the mediaeval days of Oxford going back to the university’s founding in the thirteenth century.
More importantly than being young and attractive, she is gutsy. Like Angelina Jolie and my cousin’s daughter, she had a preventive mastectomy having been found to be BRCA1 positive. This gene causes those who carry it to have a greatly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. After she has her first child or two, she plans to have her ovaries removed as well. Even though her hero, Donald Trump, can refer to a media host as “bleeding from her wherever,” that does not entitle a chattering class combatant to refer to Kayleigh as flat-chested. Being a surrogate of Trump Two-Two does not mean you should be treated rudely, insensitively and just plain mean by radio host, Dana Loesch from Glenn Beck’s, “The Blaze.”.
Unlike Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh’s laugh is bright rather than whimsical. She is more intense that Jeffrey. She is also, perhaps, the smartest but also touchiest and most irrepressible of the Trump surrogates who follow the GMDR dicta: generalize, mock, distract and repeat. Kayleigh on CNN insisted that the accusations that Trump Two-Two is a racist is “gutter politics at its absolute worst.” Tim Kaine, the Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate, had accused Donald Trump of pushing “Klu Klx Klan values.” Kayleigh’s response, using Trump’s preference for exorbitant hyperbole, aoffered her withering description of this as gutter politics at its absolute worst that we have not seen in a presidential election. In contrast, she described a number of instances of Trump’s initiatives in treating Blacks, or African Americans, fairly.
Trump opened his building to the Rainbow Push Coalition. He opened his exclusive Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida to Jews and African Americans. For these actions, he has been praised by Jessie Jackson (at the Rainbow Push 1998 and 1999 annual fund raiser where Trump can be seen next to Jackson) and by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) according to Kayleigh. But the ADL only three weeks after Trump Two-Two announced his candidacy for the presidency, condemned Trump Two-Two’s recent remarks about immigrants as hate speech. “Donald Trump’s hate speech against immigrants is highly inappropriate and we join with the voices of many others around the country who have condemned his offensive remarks.” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s National Director, added, “It is time for Trump to stop spreading misinformation and hatred against immigrants, legal and undocumented.”
Kayleigh accused critics of Trump’s racist policies of taking statements out of context and then comparing Trump to Hitler and Stalin. There has been no equivalent abusive language used by the Trump campaign, she argued. Yet in the history of the Trump organization when first accused of racism in their rental practices, Trump spokespeople responded by calling the investigation a “gestapo-like interrogation” using “stormtroopers” (there were five government officers) to enter Trump offices. Yet Kayleigh went on to refer to Hillary Clinton being endorsed by a KKK dragon (Will Quigg, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan’s California chapter, in March switched his previous September announcement of support from Donald Trump to Clinton), but unlike Trump who initially insisted he did not know who David Duke was and initially refused to reject his endorsement, it was not even necessary for Hillary to question the nefarious intentions of Quigg’s endorsement. It was taken for granted.
Bill Clinton, as Governor of Arkansas, was criticized by Kayleigh for retaining the confederate flag on the front lawn of the state legislature when he was governor. Arkansas observes a Confederate Flag Day along with Arkansas Confederate History and Confederate Memorial Day. Bill Clinton approved a state flag design that carried a star above the word Arkansas as a onetime reference to the Confederacy in a law passed unanimously – including all Republicans – 29-0 in the state Senate, 93-0 in the House. The NAACP representative official in Arkansas, Sharon Pruitt, announced that she viewed the star as an unobjectionable part of the state’s heritage.
While Hillary Clinton praised South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley simply for calling for the Confederate flag to be taken down from the capitol grounds – “It shouldn’t fly there…It shouldn’t fly anywhere,” when it was finally taken down in early February, South Carolina Trump Supporters insisted that they would never forgive Nikki for removing the flag. However, like Clinton, Trump, soon after declaring his run for president, also endorsed taking down the flag, So Kayleigh’s statement was both misleading and wrong.
There is one more point. One way to refer to something is by saying you are not referring to it and then referring to it as you deny you say anything. This enables you to introduce evidence through the back door, especially misleading and erroneous evidence, in a category denied entry at the front door. The back door fallacy is as misleading as ad hominem and red herring arguments.
But the central point is the differentiation between calling someone a racist and saying that Trump engages in racist and discriminatory practices. Kayleigh insists that Donald Trump does not engage in racist practices. But that does not mean he is not a racist. Before we go there, is it accurate that Trump Two-Two does not engage in any racist actions?
With respect to membership in the Mar-a-Logo Club in Palm Beach, Trump Two-Two himself boasted that, in contrast with the exclusive WASP “other” private club in Palm Beach, “There’s nobody that’s done so much for equality as I have. You take a look at Palm Beach, Florida. I built the Mar-a-Lago Club, totally open to everybody. A club that frankly set a new standard in clubs and a new standard in Palm Beach. And I’ve gotten great credit for it. That is totally open to everybody.” Ignoring the bad grammar, you only have to pay $100,000 to join and $14,000 a year membership fees, quite aside from the costs of food or accommodation ($750 to 3,000 per night). But there is no one who has done so much for equality as Trump Two-Two has. Not Martin Luther King. Not Barack Obama. Trump is on the top of the pile for ensuring equality.
Of course, Trump Two-Two did not mean equality. He rarely means what he says and his boasts are patently false. He meant equality of access in terms of race, religion and ethnicity. In fact, to get his permits and what he wanted, he sued the Palm Beach municipality and accused the municipal authorities of racism and anti-Semitism as the grounds for denying his requested exemption from zoning by-laws with respect to his flag pole greatly exceeding height limits permitted. As an aside, Palm Beach now happens to be 40% Jewish.
But does the Mar-a-Lago Club now advertise itself as one open to all races, religions and ethnicities. “Membership at the club provides the highest privileges and an elite lifestyle reserved for a select few.” Those select few include Blacks, such as Michael Jackson who has stayed there, Diana Ross who has entertained there, and the rapper, Sean Combs “Puff Daddy,” who has been Trump’s guest and cavorted with his models there.
Trump Two-Two boasts, “I took this ultimate place and made it incredible and opened it, essentially, to the people of Palm Beach…You have everybody there. You have people from the Middle East. You have Jewish people. I mean, you have Jewish people having dinner with people from the Middle East. You have Christians. You have old-line WASPs.” So Trump Two-Two only discriminates in favour of the elite and wealthy. That suggests that he is not a racist but just a plutocrat. But the American government sued him for not renting apartments to Blacks.
In July 1972, a black woman applied to rent an apartment in a Trump-managed apartment complex. She was told that there were no one-bedroom apartments available. Very shortly afterwards, a white woman applied for the same type of apartment and was shown two available suites. They were both government agents there to enforce the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The Feds had accumulated evidence that employees coded applications by race – “C” for coloured – and rented the latter apartments in “minority” buildings of the Trump 14,000 apartment collection. The Trump organization was practicing a form of “equal but separate”. Trump rental agents informed the FBI that only 1% of tenants at Ocean Terrace Apartments (a Black judge) and 0% of tenants at Lincoln Shore Apartments on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn were Black. Minorities were steered to Patio Gardens on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn which was 40% Black.
How did he deal with the accusations? In the usual Trump unapologetic style of going on the offence. He sued the government for $100 million for falsely accusing the Trump organization of discrimination. He launched a media blitz. Of course, he settled the case quietly, agreeing to comply and advertising so, but “without any finding of liability or admission of wrongdoing,” which was his real goal. In his 1987 autobiography, Trump Two-Two wrote. “I’d rather fight than fold, because as soon as you fold once, you get the reputation of being a folder.” But he does fold, but only in a way where he can say that the accusations against him have never been proven in a court of law, a rebuttal that Kayleigh repeats ad nauseum, but another red herring argument of digression, for the facts were established in the agreement of settlement. As she knows, over 99% of such cases ar settled out of court.
As proof of Trump’s racism, one commentator sparring with Kayleigh referred to Donald Trump leading a lynch mob in the quest for the death penalty to be imposed on the Central Park Five to get these four Black and one Hispanic teenager executed. The five turned out to have been wrongfully convicted in the Central Park rape case, an event that took place in 1989. Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kharey Wise ranged in age from 14-16 and had been coerced to sign confessions. After serving eleven years, in a chance meeting in prison, the real rapist, Matias Reyes, confessed his responsibility to Kharey Wise who had been the oldest of the five. The confession was subsequently corroborated by a DNA test, a test not introduced at the original trial that would have exonerated any of the boys. (See Amy Davidson, the 23 June 2104 edition of The New Yorker, “Donald Trump and the Central Park Five.”)
Trump Two-Two had a history with the case. When his first marriage was breaking up and the tabloids were full of stories about his sexual philandering and his mistress who became his second wife, as well as with multiple bankruptcies and business failures, Trump took out a full page ad that asked, “How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told, as the headline read, “Civil Liberties End When an Attack on our Safety Begins.” Trump called for bringing back the death penalty. Innocent teenagers were crazed misfits who should be executed, according to Trump Two-Two. He might defend his leadership by saying that it was not motivated by racism, but the history of the lynch mob and 4,000 Blacks hanging from trees and other structures suggests a very different narrative.
Trump never apologized for his leadership of the lynch mob in 1989. And when the government finally gave each of the men a million dollars for each year spent in prison (40 years in total), Trump called the settlement a disgrace. After all, there would have been no need for a settlement if Trump Two-Two’s campaign had been successful, for the boys might have been executed. For Trump, in his grand distracting hyperbole, “it was the heist of the century.”
Donald Trump, in promoting the death penalty for the teenagers and denouncing the settlement for their wrong conviction over a decade later, perhaps expressed more his propensity to use violence in contravention of the law more than racism. And his language, whether about himself (I am the best, I know the most, no one is better) or others (they are the worst, they are dumb, they are decrepit, they are beasts, they are crazed misfits), not only tend, but openly tries to be excessive. So why does Kayleigh support him? She certainly recognizes this characteristic in him.
“Like many others, I fully expected Trump to back down from his controversial statements as any good, scripted Washington politician would. After all, such brazenness was not permissible in mainstream political discourse. But rather than backing down, Trump pushed forward and the media was incensed. His audacious, unflinching boldness in the face of an onslaught of criticism is a virtue that I would not just come to accept, but also to appreciate and admire, leading me to endorse him before voting ever began.” “Audacious.” “Unflinching.” “Bold.” Trump is actually all of those. He is resolute, determined, single-minded and dogged. But he is also a verbal arsonist and a liar whose language reflects an underlying extremism.
The problem is that Kayleigh plays with the equivocation in language, always implying the positive and ignoring the negative connotations/ These adjectives carry multiple meanings. Audacious not only means a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks, suggesting a daring, fearless and intrepid warrior, but also depicts impudence and impertinence, insolence and presumptuousness. “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.” The statement is so audacious that it ceases to become bold and becomes outrageous. So when he calls Mexicans who cross the border robbers and rapists – though some are undoubtedly good – when he wants to ban all Muslims from immigrating to the US until the security clearances are cleared up, he both feeds and serves as a cover for racism. And when surrogates like Bruce LeVell see no racism in Trump’s Birtherism, is it surprising that most other listeners to his rhetoric see a supporter of structural racism who may have deep propensities for supporting racist practices, as in the efforts to restrict voting in some states under the pretext of fraudulent voting (10 cased in a decade) as well as reinforcing structural racism?
Deplorables IIIa – Birtherism by Howard Adelman
This blog will say more on the birther issue than you will ever want to know.
The bottom line is that Donald Trump and his surrogates are distorters, deflectors, dissemblers and, most of all, outright liars. Trump Two-Two in an interview with his shill, Sean Hannity, on Fox News on 14 April 2011, when the Donald was being questioned about whether he would run against Barack Obama in the 2012 election, noted, “if I run, I will have to disclose.my…finances.” He never fulfilled that forecast. Yesterday, I wrote about his insistence that he was not and never has been a racist. Yet he engaged in some racist practices and, more importantly, took initiatives to support structural racism. The birther issue discussed in this blog is related to the issue of race because Barack Obama is a Black president whose place of birth and legitimacy to hold high office was repeatedly questioned by Trump Two-Two. On Friday, he broke his vow to no longer discuss the issue. He caved this past Friday, But far too little and far too late.
“”President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
What is the birther issue and what does it have to do with racism? Birtherism is the claim that a political candidate was not born in the United States. It went beyond a mere political tool used by a rival to a widespread movement with the widespread belief that Barack Obama was not, or may not have been, born in the United States; if he wasn’t born in the US, he would be ineligible to be president of the United States.
Birtherism did not start with Barack Obama. The issue was raised with respect to Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney’s father was born in Mexico, yet served as Governor of Michigan and was himself once a Republican presidential candidate running against Richard Nixon in the 1968 contest when the birther controversy first arose.
Note the American constitution does not require that a presidential candidate be born on American soil, only that the person be a “natural born citizen.” That in itself needs deciphering since one readily asks what an unnatural born citizen could be. But “nature” is not being used in the ordinary sense of the natural world, but in the sense of “regular” and consistent with past practices. Regular means in accordance with American citizenship norms. In an article in The New York Law Journal at the time of George Romney’s bid to be the Republican presidential candidate, the author examining the issue concluded that anyone born to a U.S. parent was a natural American and did not need to be naturalized. And, therefore, was eligible to be president. The authoritative Congressional Research Service concurred. The legal meaning of “natural born citizen” refers not only to anyone born on U.S. soil, but anyone born overseas of at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen. End of story. As George Romney wrote years ago, “I am a natural born citizen. My parents were American citizens. I was a citizen at birth.”
This became clear because John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and, more pointedly, Ted Cruz was not even born on American controlled territory but in Calgary, Canada on 22 December 1970. His father was not even an American citizen at the time; his mother was. Which would have put him in the same position as Barack Obama even if he had been born in Kenya, which he was not. Obama’s mother was born in Kansas. Ted Cruz was deemed to be a natural born American because his mother too was born in America. Nevertheless, in January in the primary season when Trump Two-Two had already become the frontrunner, he “attacked Ted Cruz over his birth in Canada, saying it raises questions about his presidential eligibility.” Trump was an equal opportunity swinger. But the question of Ted Cruz’s place of birth never became a movement. Further, though questioned on the law, there was no challenge on factual grounds.
So how did the birth certificate ever become an issue for Barack Obama? Not because it was relevant to his eligibility to run. Not because there was no birth certificate – there was. Why did it continue after President Barack Obama even produced his long form birth certificate and the Republican official in Hawaii authenticated that the certificate was real and that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on 4 August 1961? And it did continue. It did not end because Trump Two-Two claimed he had forced Obama to produce the birth certificate. Trump did not end the issue in 2011. Trump continued to raise the issue and question the authenticity of the birth certificate. “I heard from a very reliable source that the birth certificate was a fraud.”
Did Hillary Clinton or senior personnel in the Clinton campaign initiate the issue in the 2008 run for the presidency against Barack Obama as Trump Two-Two continued to claim? Hillary never raised it, never endorsed it and explicitly condemned even the effort to question Obama as a presidential candidate on the grounds that he did not have American experience in growing up. One connection to the Clinton campaign took place when, in December 2007, a volunteer coordinator in Iowa forwarded another email which was not even about Obama’s place of birth, but about his heritage.
Did Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster and Clinton 2008 strategist, question the President’s birth in a March 2007 memo as Kellyanne Conway tried to argue in defence of the claim that the Clinton campaign in the 2007-08 election first raised the birther issue? Kellyanne insisted that Mark Penn “put President Obama’s citizenship in question when he wrote a famous memo in March of 2007 questioning Obama’s “American roots.” (http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-campaign-manager-birther-clinton-228331) The memo was stupid enough, but it did not mention the legitimacy of Obama’s citizenship. It was not about Obama’s place of birth and eligibility to be president.
Penn offered Clinton bad advice in suggesting the possibility that Hillary raise the issue of Obama’s American experience. Clinton did not take that advice. She not only rejected it, but went on to apologize to Barack for anyone in her campaign raising the issue in the first place. And the issue, to repeat, was not the legitimacy of his place of birth and Obama’s eligibility to run, but whether he had sufficient sense of American having grown up abroad. Clinton told Obama she did not accept the advice and it nowhere made any appearance in the campaign. It was a terrible idea and irrelevant, but it had nothing to do with where Obama was born.
So there is not one iota of evidence that Obama’s birthplace was part of the Clinton campaign when she ran against him. What is the evidence that Trump took the lead in the birther campaign? He was by far the most prominent person to continually raise the issue. But Donald Trump did so, and did so repeatedly:
March 23, 2011
“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate. And you know, I wish he would.
April 7, 2011. Meredith Viera One-on-One with Donald Trump on the To-day Show
“I’ve had very smart people say stay on the China issue, stay on the Saudi Arabia issue, stay on the India issue taking our jobs, stay on the Mexico issue. Get off the birth certificate issue.”
Why don’t you?
“Because, three weeks ago when I started this issue (my italics and bold), I really thought he was born in this country and now I have a much bigger doubt than I ever had before.”
“His grandmother in Kenya said he was born in Kenya and she was there and witnessed the birth.”
[Meredith arguably lost her job and her $11 million dollar contract because she never challenged Trump for perpetuating this fraudulent conspiracy theory for which Trump then accepted leadership.]
April 28 2011
“I don’t make up anything. Let me tell you something. I have done a great service to the American people.
[CNN has broadcast a series of clips showing Donald Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship in the years Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011.
(http://www.politico.com/story/2016/09/trump-obama-birther-race-bruce-levell-228293#ixzz4KlmrHb60)] Dec. 16 2015
I don’t answer because if I do answer, that’s all people want to talk about. Once I answer the question, they don’t want to talk about the economy…
May 4, 2016
“The whole birther thing. Where do you stand?
I don’t talk about it anymore because every time I talk about it, it becomes a story, so I don’t want to waste my time. Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther issue. I ended it by forcing Barack Obama to produce his birth certificate.
The birther issue is irrelevant except as an insight into Donald Trump as a fabulist and about his attraction to material produced by conspiracy theorists. The birther issue is a fabrication alleging Hillary Clinton or her associates initiated the issue. The birther issue became a problem for Trump, because of the reality that Donald Trump promoted it. The birther issue remained alive because Trump did not end the issue after Obama produced his long form birth certificate. The issue continued long after because Trump kept raising it. And even when he finally acknowledged it was a lie, he never took responsibility for his role, never apologized, blamed Democrats and took credit himself for its demise when he kept it alive. The performance was disgusting and insulting to Barack Obama and to Black Americans sensitive to efforts over American history to deprive Blacks of their citizenship rights.
Next: A Black Trump surrogate on the issue