The Year in Trump

I’m hoping that by posting this end-of-year retrospective before the actual end of the year, the universe will reward me with at least one more outrageous Donald Trump quote before 2016 ends.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” – at his candidacy announcement at Trump Tower in New York City, June 16

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” – speaking of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a former prisoner of war, at a GOP presidential forum in Ames, Iowa, July 18

“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her… wherever.”
— speaking of Fox News GOP debate moderator Megyn Kelly on CNN, Aug. 7

“I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.” – speaking of two Boston men, one of whom had claimed they were inspired by Trump when they beat and urinated upon a homeless Latino immigrant, Aug. 19

“When these people walk in the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh, hello! How’s the weather? It’s so beautiful outside. Isn’t it lovely? How are the Yankees doing? Oh they’re doing wonderful. Great.’ [Asians] say, ‘We want deal!’” – at a campaign rally in Dubuque, Iowa, Aug. 25

“Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” – speaking of Carly Fiorina in Rolling Stone, in September

“They’re going to build a plant and illegals are going drive those cars right over the border. And they’ll probably end up stealing the cars.” – speaking of Ford Motor Co.’s plan to build an manufacturing plant in Mexico in Burlington, Iowa, Oct. 22

“It’s in the book that he’s got a pathological temper or temprament. That’s a big problem because you don’t cure that, that’s like, I could say, they say you don’t cure, as an example: child molesting. You don’t cure these people. You don’t cure a child molester. There’s no cure for it. Pathological, there’s no cure for that.” – speaking of Ben Carson on CNN, Nov. 12

“Look, I’m a negotiator like you folks; we’re negotiators … This room negotiates perhaps more than any room I’ve spoken to, maybe more.” – addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” — at a rally in Mount Pleasant, S.C., Dec. 7

And a video bonus: Trump mocks a reporter with a physical disability at a rally in South Carolina, Nov. 24:


Reactions to the CIA torture report

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Tuesday released the executive summary of the committee’s five-year review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

The study’s 20 findings and conclusions can be grouped into four central themes, each of which is supported extensively in the executive summary:

  • The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” were not effective.
  • The CIA provided extensive inaccurate information about the operation of the program and its effectiveness to policymakers and the public.
  • The CIA’s management of the program was inadequate and deeply flawed.
  • The CIA program was far more brutal than the CIA represented to policymakers and the American public.
  • From President Barack Obama:

    “Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.

    “In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.

    “Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.

    “As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.”

    From U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.:


    “We have made our way in this often dangerous and cruel world, not by just strictly pursuing our geopolitical interests, but by exemplifying our political values, and influencing other nations to embrace them. When we fight to defend our security we fight also for an idea, not for a tribe or a twisted interpretation of an ancient religion or for a king, but for an idea that all men are endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights. How much safer the world would be if all nations believed the same. How much more dangerous it can become when we forget it ourselves even momentarily.

    “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not. This executive summary of the Committee’s report makes clear that acting without conscience isn’t necessary, it isn’t even helpful, in winning this strange and long war we’re fighting. We should be grateful to have that truth affirmed.”

    From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

    “The report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released this morning confirms what I’ve long believed: the CIA not only embraced the widespread use of enhanced interrogation techniques, but also repeatedly misled Congress and the American people about their activities. Furthermore, the report found that the CIA exaggerated the usefulness of these methods in gaining reliable intelligence.

    “The use of torture is unacceptable and morally wrong. These practices undermine our values, endanger our national security interests and exacerbate anti-American sentiment abroad.

    “The release of this report is an important step towards providing the American people with the transparency they deserve. These atrocities are a national disgrace and Congress must work to ensure this never happens again.”

    More, after the jump…
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    Senators target tobacco crop insurance subsidy

    Taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance for tobacco production would be eliminated under a farm-bill amendment introduced Monday by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and John McCain.

    Tobacco fieldThe senators say their amendment would save $333 million over the next decade, and direct all savings to be used to reduce the federal budget deficit. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has indicated the amendment will get a vote.

    “It’s time for the American taxpayer to get out of the business of subsidizing tobacco—once and for all,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a news release. “Tobacco costs our economy $200 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year. In this challenging budget environment, we simply can’t afford to spend hundreds of millions of dollar to incentivize farmers to grow this crop.”

    The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 ended most direct taxpayer support programs for tobacco production. But despite this $10 billion buyout pact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture still offers heavily subsidized crop insurance policies to tobacco farmers. Last year, USDA offered eight separate tobacco insurance products costing $34.7 million in taxpayer subsidies; records show more than $276 million in such subsidies have been spent since 2004.

    “It turns out Joe Camel’s nose has been under the tent all this time,” McCain, R-Ariz., said in the news release.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that cigarette smoking adds $96 billion to domestic healthcare expenses and costs the American economy $97 billion in lost productivity every year; secondhand smoke adds another estimated $10 billion in healthcare costs and lost productivity.

    Tobacco farmers will still be able to buy policies from existing insurance providers at market rate under the Feinstein-McCain amendment, which is supported by the Environmental Working Group, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the American Cancer Society.


    Which senators are gun-control swing votes?

    Guess which two U.S. Senators top the list of those most likely to be swing votes in favor of gun control bills?

    Hint: Not California’s.

    While Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are considered gimmes for such legislation (and in fact are often among its authors), it’s U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who topped the Sunlight Foundation’s swing-vote list as most likely to vote yea. Max Baucus, D-Mont., came up as the Democrat among the swing votes who’s most likely to oppose gun control bills, while John McCain, R-Ariz., was the Republican swing vote most likely to oppose.

    “Absent a major pressure campaign to push senators to support gun control legislation, the political calculus points against the Senate passing any reform,” study authors Lee Drutman and Zander Furnas wrote on the foundation’s blog

    Sunlight collected relevant data on 26 senators (19 Democrats, 2 Independents and 5 Republicans) whom it saw as potentially conflicted on a gun vote. That is, any Republican who didn’t get at least an A rating from the NRA, and any Democrat who didn’t get an F rating. The researchers then created a 0-through-10 scoring system on factors that could lead to a higher likelihood of opposing gun control legislation, including:

      More contributions by gun rights groups to the senator in the last election (and fewer contributions to the senator’s opponent);
      A lower Obama vote share in the 2012 election in the senator’s state; and
      More registered firearm and “destructive device” dealers, manufacturers, importers and exporters per 100,000 residents in the senator’s state.

    Here’s how the list shook out:

    Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) 10
    Sen. Mark Steven Kirk (R-IL) 10
    Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) 9.12
    Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) 8.71
    Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) 8.5
    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) 8.35
    Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV) 7.65
    Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT) 7.64
    Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) 7
    Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) 6.99
    Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) 6.86
    Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) 6.59
    Sen. Angus King (I-ME) 6.38
    Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) 6.34
    Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) 5.95
    Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) 5.82
    Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 5.68
    Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) 5.02
    Sen. Daniel Coats (R-IN) 4.78
    Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) 4.1
    Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) 3.71
    Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) 3.55
    Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV) 2.93
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 1.03
    Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) 0
    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 0

    “Since our baseline assumption is that Republicans will tend oppose gun control, and Democrats will tend to support it, the scores we provide are not comparable between parties. A Democrat with a score of five and a Republican with a score of five, are unlikely to have the same probability of supporting gun control legislation,” the authors noted. “Rather, we offer the scores as a way of comparing between members of the same party.”

    See the Sunlight Foundation’s infographic on this, after the jump…
    Continue Reading


    Reax to Rep. Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., as his vice-presidential running mate this morning in Norfolk, Va.

    (I’m genuinely surprised; I was thinking it would be U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.)

    Here are a few previous pieces on Ryan: reactions to his 2011 budget plan; a town-hall meeting at Facebook’s headquarters less than a year ago; and his speech at Stanford, during that same Bay Area visit, on repealing President Obama’s health care reform.

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called Ryan “a reformer and a proven leader who will be a great partner to Governor Romney in his efforts to get our country, and our economy, back on track.”

    House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, today said Ryan “led House Republicans in voting to end the Medicare guarantee, which increases costs on seniors and weakens America’s great middle class in order to give tax breaks to millionaires, Big Oil and corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

    U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. – who many people think lost the 2008 election the day he named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate – said Ryan “has proven that he is fully prepared to address our nation’s economic challenges, which have only worsened over the last four years under the Obama-Biden Administration.”

    Obama for America campaign manager Jim Messina said Ryan “proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors.”

    Paul RyanFormer Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Ryan’s “command of economic policy and the federal budget will prove invaluable as Governor Romney fights to reform government, accelerate job growth and rein in the out-of-control spending that has been a hallmark of President Obama’s years in office. This courageous choice is the type of leadership American voters deserve. And, I believe it will ensure a victory for the Romney-Ryan ticket this November.”

    Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green called Ryan “a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer.”


    Whitman to raise money tonight in Bay Area

    It’ll be a GOP all-star bash tonight as Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Meg Whitman’s campaign holds a fundraiser at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City. On the headliners list: former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney; 2008 Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

    What an interesting bunch of people with whom to talk, n’est pas? Mais non! “Tonight’s event will be open to the press but there will be no availability for interviews,” sayeth the campaign.