Nel's New Day

August 1, 2016

Where Is the GOP Decency?

Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) thought he was on a roll 62 years ago after four years of destroying hundreds of thousands of lives through accusations of Communism. In 1954, however, he tackled the U.S. Army after it accused McCarthy and his staff of trying to get special treatment for Private G. David Schine, a close friend of Roy Cohen who McCarthy had made counsel for his investigative subcommittee. Broadcast on three television networks, the Army-McCarthy hearings gained a high profile : about 80 million people listened to at least part of the committee hearings. During these hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, a young lawyer who the Army’s Special Counsel, Joseph Welch, had intended to include on his staff for the hearings.

Welch’s statement turned the tide against McCarthy. As the senator continued his harangue, Welsh said:

“Senator; you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Those words still reverberate today. Noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin referred to this turning point while discussing Donald Trump’s attack on Khizr and Ghazala Khan after their speech about their heroic son, Captain Humayun Khan, who died protecting his men in Iraq. Journalist Dan Rather used the same point when writing about Trump’s attack.

In his speech at the Democratic convention, Khan accused Trump of never sacrificing anything for anyone, and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-FL) decided to defend his party’s candidate. After Khan’s speech, he tweeted:

“[Trump] has never sacrificed anything for anyone.” Never? Anything? Anyone? C’mon.”

Since then, Trump listed his personal sacrifices:

“I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

He cheated his employees of their wages, drove small businesses into bankruptcies, and left people holding the bag for the costs of his “great structures.” He’s an entrepreneur who made his money at the expense of others. Trump also claimed that he raised millions of dollars for veterans and helped get the Vietnam War Memorial built and that he has raised millions of dollars for vets. His donations to vets came only after the press heavily publicized the fact that he had donated none of the money he raised for them to any veterans’ groups.

After avoiding the draft  through a medical exemption for bone spurs and multiple student deferments, he said that his “personal Vietnam” was the danger of getting sexually transmitted diseases. He added, “I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Trump also commented on the Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention:

“If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

Unfortunately for Trump, Captain Khan’s mother didn’t stay silent. Since that time she has talked about her great pain from the loss of her child and her strong feelings about Trump.

On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Trump what he would say to Khan. Trump said:

“Well, I would say, we have had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism, that’s what I’d say.”

That’s Trump’s excuse for having attacked the parents of a dead soldier hero. On the same day, panelist Alex Castellanos, advisor for Trump’s Super PAC, repeated the same party line on Meet the Press. 

“I think Trump has a legitimate point to make there that he should do something about that and that’s the argument in this election. The status quo, more of what’s going on now, you know, basically letting that happen unfiltered or doing something about it.”

What is someone so closely tied into Trump’s campaign doing on a “panel”? Didn’t Trump claim that he wouldn’t have any super PACs? And the United States carefully “filters” immigrants—much more so than they do gun buyers who continue to kill people throughout the nation.

Trump’s problems concerning the Khans accelerated today when his running partner, Mike Pence, was speaking at a Carson City (NV) casino. Catherine Byrne, a 52-year-old military mother whose son serves in the U.S. Air Force, asked the second question of Mike Pence in reference to the Khan family:

“Will there ever be a point in time when you’re able to look Trump in the eye and tell him enough is enough?”

The crowd booed her, the mother of a man serving in the U.S. military. Pence said that he honored Captain Khan as “an American hero” and honored his family yet he has never spent time around someone who is “more devoted” to military and to veterans than Trump. In true contemporary journalistic fashion, the CBS article described Trump’s attack on the Khan family as a “spat.”

Earlier, Pence blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for ISIS in connection with the Khan family and then reinforced Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He said that in this way “we will reduce the likelihood that other American families will face the enduring heartbreak of the Khan family.”

Corey Lewandowski, fired from the Trump campaign and hired by CNN, said that Captain Khan would be alive if Trump had been president in 2004 because Trump opposed the Iraq War. Trump, however, supported the war until recently. Like Hillary Clinton, Pence voted for the October 2002 Iraq Resolution that gave President George W. Bush the authorization to invade months later. Clinton has since apologized; Pence still believes that the U.S. was right in invading Iraq. Lewandowski’s contract with CNN as a political analyst prevents him from criticizing Trump.

People are still waiting for a scratch in Trump’s Teflon covering that allows all the abusive statements he makes to slip off him. Over a year ago, he started his campaign by declaiming that undocumented immigrants coming from Mexico are rapists, sent by the Mexican government to rid itself of criminals. He continued by calling Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain a loser because he got caught and Megyn Kelly unfair to him because or her hormonal issues. Next he demanded a ban on all Muslim immigration and delayed any disavowal of a KKK leader who has been inspired by Trump’s success to run for U.S. Senate. Trump called for women and people of Mexican and Muslim heritage to be judges on one his thousands of lawsuits because they would treat him unjustly.

Each time, he makes these outrageous statements, most GOP leaders merely shake their heads in dismay and continue to support him for president. None of his competitors, who all suffered from his ire and revenge, deny him support except Ted Cruz, who outraged GOP delegates by speaking his truth at the convention. One pundit predicted that all those people who booed Cruz in 2016 will claim that they cheered him in four years.

The number of conservatives and groups condemning Trump’s words against the Khans since the Democratic convention has grown geometrically, including Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Gold Star Families, and some governors and congressional members. Despite their expressed horror and dismay, however, almost none of them has rejected him for the GOP presidential candidacy. Khan called specifically on congressional leaders House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to repudiate Donald Trump. They have not. Ryan simply says that he already said that he did not approve of Trump’s position toward Muslims. Not even after Trump attacked the Khans again yesterday.

Greg Sargent wrote in the Washington Post:

“If individual Republicans don’t break off their support for Trump’s candidacy now—by, say, withdrawing their endorsements—they run the risk of having no choice but to do so after Trump sinks even further into wretchedness and depravity, to a point of true no return. (Presumably there is such a point.) At that juncture, their move will look unprincipled and desperate, leaving them stained—perhaps irrevocably—with their previous willingness to stick by him during much of his descent, and depriving their break with him of whatever moral force it might have had if done earlier.”

That, as Sargent wrote, is the Republicans’ “brutal trap.”

On All In with Chris Hayes, Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst and former RNC chair, said that the way to solve the Trump’s problem was—in my paraphrasing—to train him not to give a knee-jerk reaction to everything that happens. Chris Hayes responded, “Good luck!” The question is not whether Trump will find some shred decency within himself because more and more people don’t expect this from him. The question is whether Pence, a born-again Christian, will find the decency to find Trump’s behavior unacceptable.

April 12, 2016

Cruz Worse Than Trump

In a panic about the GOP being represented by Donald Trump, Republican establishment types have moved to the presidential candidate who they hate the most—Ted Cruz. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) shifted from wanting to poison his colleague to just saying that the Republican party is “screwed up.” Part of the GOP argument is that Trump is too “liberal,” but when they complain about his actual positions, they are almost identical to those espoused by other Republicans—particularly Cruz. The GOP has temporarily picked its most mistrusted and hated senator, “a serial liar who led the 2013 government shutdown and called Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a fraud on the Senate floor.”

Trump’s briefly held position about punishing women for having abortions is part of the GOP agenda. John Kasich said that individual states should decide how to punish the women. (It’s the usual GOP statement when candidates or elected officials try to weasel out of answering a question.) Cruz has a much worse position when he says farther by saying that states should ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who still denies that  he wants to be president in the same way he denied wanting to be Speaker of the House, “opposes abortion, period,” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During a campaign, he said that he was willing to let states criminally prosecute women who have abortions.

Troy Newman, one of Cruz’ top advisers, wants to execute abortion providers, and another adviser, Kevin Swanson, wants to execute Girl Scout leaders for “promoting homosexuality.” Cruz’ “no” votes include the Paycheck Fairness Act, raising the minimum wage, and reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act. He has voted to defund Planned Parenthood. All three of the GOP presidential candidates are saying, “Vote for us, and we’ll take away your rights.”

Both Trump and Cruz are competing to prove how much they hate Muslims. All eight people who Trump and Cruz appointed as advisers have connections to the Center for Security Policy, a hate group serving as the anti-Muslim movement’s premier think tank, and half of them hold ranking positions with CSP, including founder Frank Gaffney who works for Cruz. On his radio show, Gaffney called Jared Taylor’s openly racist American Renaissance website “wonderful.” Other major Cruz advisers are Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), Executive VP of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council; Claire Lopez, VP for research and analysis at CSP; Andy McCarthy, columnist for National Review and active on the anti-Muslim speaking circuit; and Fred Fleitz, Senior VP for Policy and Programs at CSP.

Trump picked Sen. Jeff Sessions, key politician in the anti-Muslim movement; Walid Phares, anti-Muslim activist and former Lebanese Christian Militia member; and Joseph E. Schmitz, Senior Fellow with CSP. After Trump fired adviser Sam Nunberg for being too racist, Nunberg moved to the Cruz camp.

After Trump promised to “bomb the sh*t” out of ISIS, Cruz promising to carpet bomb the Middle East. Even Fox criticized Cruz’ position, but he was still touting this solution on Easter Sunday, right after talking about salvation. As Jimmy Kimmel pointed out on his late night show, the only difference is that Cruz wants the sand to “glow.”

President Obama reported that he’s “getting questions constantly from foreign leaders about” both Trump’s and Cruz’ “suggestions” including their immigration proposals. Cruz claims that, if elected, he would deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. He also wants the same wall that Trump does and would triple the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Trump and Cruz also show the same positions in issues of no gun control, repealing the Affordable Care Act, picking Supreme Court nominees, and costing taxes by $9.5 trillion through cutting taxes. Jimmy Kimmel shows the striking similarities his late night show.  Both men want religion in government and oppose international agreements.

In his struggle to rise from the bottom, GOP candidate John Kasich summarized their positions although he didn’t give their names:

“a ban on Muslims from entering the country, surveillance of Muslims in the U.S., dropping out of the NATO alliance, allowing nuclear weapons in Europe, and promising to repeal Obamacare ‘simply through the will of a strong man in the White House.’”

USA Today editorial board likened GOP presidential candidate Cruz’ “dogmatic, confrontational and hyperpartisan” rhetoric and tactics to those of Trump.  An analysis of the similarities between Cruz and Trump are striking with the only differentiation that Cruz varies from “generally” to “far” more conservative than Trump.

There is one major difference between Trump and Cruz: Trump backers are proud of their candidate; and Cruz backers are embarrassed by their candidate. John Nichols described Trump as “a crude xenophobic demagogue who has little respect for civil liberties or civil rights and who says terrible things about Muslims, refugees, and immigrants.” Steven Rosenfeld described Cruz as “a conniving, uncompromising, power-hungry demagogue whose policies would serve the richest Americans.” Cruz is just more tied to special interests, rigid, and connected to sleazy campaign tactics.

Cruz also has a super PAC to do his bidding. He claims that “family” is off-limits, but his super PAC started the “war of the wives” by printing a photo of Trump’s wife, causing Trump to retaliate. The difference is that the super PAC didn’t get permission to use a copyrighted photograph whereas Trump pulled his off of a tweet.

Religion is another area in which Cruz is farther away from reality than Trump. Colorado’s Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt is on Cruz’ team of leaders in that state, and Cruz has bragged about the man’s endorsement. As a “preacher,” Klingenschmitt has made many videos, including his claim that God made a hurricane because he was thrown out of the U.S. Navy chaplain. His departure didn’t even come from his crazy beliefs; he violated policy by wearing his military uniform at a right-wing political rally. He lost his position on the state House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee after he declared that a viciously violent attack on a pregnant woman removing her fetus was punishment for America’s legalization of abortion. He also tried to exorcize President Obama—although not in person—and tried to cleanse a woman of the” foul spirit of lesbianism.” His objection to gays serving in the military is their “taking breaks on the combat field to change diapers all because their treacherous sin causes them to lose control of their bowels.” Videos of Klingenschmitt’s “preaching” are here.

Much has been said about how Trump is wonderful because he doesn’t follow “political correctness,” which parents call courtesy when they’re teaching the children how to be well-behaved. Trump takes pride in not being civil while Cruz continues with his wax-face smile and speaks courteously. Yet the same vitriol comes from both their mouths—except when Cruz is worse. Asked about a comparison between him and Joe McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator who destroyed tens of thousands of lives through his hearings in the 1950s, Cruz said, that it “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right.”

Robert Reich listed four reasons that Cruz is far worse than Trump: Cruz is more fanatical, more disciplined and strategic, a true believer, and a loner who’s willing to destroy government institutions to get his way.

The only virtue that the GOP can find in Cruz is, in the words of Lindsey Graham, “He’s not Trump.” No, he isn’t. He’s worse.

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