Donald Trump’s Policies Are Not Anathema to US Mainstream but an Uncomfortable Reflection of It

Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Two NY City Mayors Play GOLF

 

The political and media establishments in the U.S. — which have jointly wrought so much destruction, decay, and decadence — recently decided to unite against Donald Trump. Their central claim is that the real estate mogul and longtime NBC reality TV star advocates morally reprehensible positions that are far outside the bounds of decency; relatedly, they argue, he is so personally repellent that his empowerment would degrade both the country and the presidency.

In some instances, their claim is plausible: There is at least genuine embarrassment if not revulsion even among America’s political class over Trump’s proposed mass deportation of 11 million human beings, banning of all Muslims from entering the country, and new laws to enable him to more easily sue (and thus destroy) media outlets that “falsely” criticize him. And his signature personality brew of deep-seated insecurities, vindictive narcissism, channeling of the darkest impulses, and gaudy, petty boasting is indeed uniquely grotesque.

But in many cases, probably most, the flamboyant denunciations of Trump by establishment figures make no sense except as self-aggrandizing pretense, because those condemning him have long tolerated if not outright advocated very similar ideas, albeit with less rhetorical candor. Trump is self-evidently a toxic authoritarian demagogue advocating morally monstrous positions, but in most cases where elite outrage is being vented, he is merely a natural extension of the mainstream rhetorical and policy framework that has been laid, not some radical departure from it. He’s their id. What establishment mavens most resent is not what Trump is, does, or says, but what he reflects: the unmistakable, undeniable signs of late-stage imperial collapse, along with the resentments and hatreds they have long deliberately and self-servingly stoked but which are now raging out of their control.

Two of the most recent, widely discussed anti-Trump outrage rituals — one from Wednesday and the other from last night’s Fox News debate — demonstrate the sham at the heart of the establishment display of horror. This week, American political and media figures from across the spectrum stood and applauded a tawdry cast of neocons and other assorted warmongers who are responsible for grave war crimes, torture, kidnappings, due process-free indefinite imprisonment, and the worst political crime of this generation: the attack on and destruction of Iraq.

These five dozen or so extremists (calling themselves “members of the Republican national security community”) were the toast of the town because they published an “open letter” denouncing Trump on the ground that his “own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world.” This was one of their examples:

His embrace of the expansive use of torture is inexcusable.

Most decent human beings, by definition, would express this sentiment without including the qualifying word “expansive.” Even Ronald Reagan, whom virtually all the signatories claim to idolize, advocated for and signed a treaty in 1988 that stated that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever … may be invoked as a justification of torture” and that “each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offenses under its criminal law.” The taboo is on “all acts of torture,” not its “expansive use” — whatever that means.

But the group signing this anti-Trump letter can’t pretend to find an embrace of torture itself to be “inexcusable” because most of them implemented torture policies while in government or vocally advocated for them. So instead, they invoke the Goldilocks Theory of Torture: We believe in torture up to exactly the right point, while Trump is disgraceful because he wants to go beyond that; he believes in “the expansive use of torture.” The same dynamic drove yesterday’s widely cheered speech by Mitt Romney, where the two-time failed GOP candidate denounced Trump for advocating torture while literally ignoring his own clear pro-torture viewpoints.

Here we see the elite class agreeing to pretend that Trump is advocating views that are inherently disqualifying when — thanks to those doing the denouncing — those views are actually quite mainstream, even popular, among both the American political class and its population. Torture was the official American policy for years. It went way beyond waterboarding. One Republican president ordered it and his Democratic successor immunized it from all forms of accountability, ensuring that not a single official would be prosecuted for authorizing even the most extreme techniques, ones that killed people — or even allowed to be sued by their victims.

Many of the high officials most responsible for that torture regime and who defended it — from Condoleezza Rice and John Brennan — remain not just acceptable in mainstream circles but hold high office and are virtually revered. And, just by the way, both of Trump’s main rivals — Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz — refuse to rule out classic torture techniques as part of their campaign. In light of all that, who takes seriously the notion that Trump’s advocacy of torture — including techniques beyond waterboarding — places him beyond the American pale? To the contrary, it places him within its establishment mainstream.

Then there’s the outrage du jour from last night. A couple of weeks ago, George W. Bush’s NSA and CIA chief, Gen. Michael Hayden, claimed that members of the military would never follow Trump’s orders if it meant committing war crimes such as torturing detainees or killing a terrorist’s family members (perish the thought). When asked about this last night, Trump insisted that the U.S. military would do so: “They’re not going to refuse. Believe me,” he said. “If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is about.” Of all the statements Trump made last night, this was the one most often cited by pundits as being the most outrageous, shocking, disgusting, etc. Even bona fide war criminals such as the Bush White House’s pro-invasion and torture propagandist got in on the moral outrage act:

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

 

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Clash of Republican Con Artists

So Republicans are going to nominate a candidate who talks complete nonsense on domestic policy; who believes that foreign policy can be conducted via bullying and belligerence; who cynically exploits racial and ethnic hatred for political gain.

But that was always going to happen, however the primary season turned out. The only news is that the candidate in question is probably going to be Donald Trump. Establishment Republicans denounce Mr. Trump as a fraud, which he is. But is he more fraudulent than the establishment trying to stop him? Not really.

Actually, when you look at the people making those denunciations, you have to wonder: Can they really be that lacking in self-awareness?

Donald Trump is a “con artist,” says Marco Rubio — who has promised to enact giant tax cuts, undertake a huge military buildup and balance the budget without any cuts in benefits to Americans over 55.

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MTA seeks community input on rehab work for Hurricane Sandy-damaged tunnels

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has developed a plan to “engage in detailed community consultation” on how to proceed with repairs for the Canarsie Tubes, which carry MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) L trains under the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The MTA plans to meet regularly with residents, businesses and other affected by the Canarsie Tube work. In addition, the agency will consult with elected officials representing the affected areas before making any decisions about the construction process and service alternatives, MTA officials said in a press release.

During Hurricane Sandy, the Canarsie Tubes suffered extensive damage to tracks, signals, switches, power cables, signal cables, communication cables, lighting, cable ducts and bench walls throughout a 7,100-foot-long section of both tubes. Bench walls throughout those sections need to be rehabilitated to protect the structural integrity of the tubes, MTA officials said.

The tubes were flooded with 7 million gallons of saltwater that ate away at the metal and concrete materials that make up the tubes’ infrastructure, according to MTA.

“By soliciting input from the affected communities as this process moves forward, we will develop a stronger and more responsive plan for how to accomplish this vital work while respecting the concerns of those who rely on the L train,” said NYCT President Veronique Hakim.

During the rehabilitation process, the MTA also will make significant improvements to stations and tunnel segments closest to the under-river section. New stairs and elevators will be installed at the Bedford Avenue station in Brooklyn and the 1st Avenue station in Manhattan, along with three new electric substations to provide more power to per ate additional trains during rush hours.

The Canarsie Tubes are one of eight under-river tunnels that flooded during Hurricane Sandy, all of which required extensive rehabilitation and repair, MTA officials said.

Although some of that work was accomplished during night and weekend closures, the R train’s Montague Tubes under the East River were closed for more than a year for a complete renovation.

The MTA has been awarded almost $5 billion in federal aid for recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy.

Cornel West: Most Black Politicians These Days Are Neoliberal Politicians

Hillary Clinton won the South Carolina primary on Saturday night by almost 50 percent of the vote, thanks in large part to her support from the African-American community, which made up a historic portion of the Democratic vote last night. A stunning 86 percent of black voters supported Clinton over Sanders in the first contest between the two candidates in a state with a large black population.

Both candidates have been courting black voters with a series of high-profile endorsements and events in the run-up to not only this race, but looking ahead to the Super Tuesday contests next week. Six southern states, all of which carry large numbers of black Democratic voters, will cast their ballots. But as the campaigns raise questions about each other’s commitment to the black community, some of their surrogates are beginning to turn on each other as well.

Dr. Cornel West, one of the preeminent public intellectuals on issues of a race and inequality and an avid Sanders supporter, had harsh words for civil rights leaders supporting Clinton’s campaign during an interview with VICE News as he toured South Carolina on Sanders’ behalf last week.

West spoke at length of “Brother Bernie’s” activism during the civil rights era, while questioning Clinton’s commitment to the cause. When asked why some civil rights leaders were backing Clinton’s campaign, including Rep. John Lewis, who marched in Selma in 1965, West replied that Lewis and others had lost their way.

“There’s no doubt that the great John Lewis of 50 years ago is different than the John Lewis today,” West remarked. “He’s my brother. I love him, I respect his personhood, but there’s no doubt he’s gone from a high moment of Martin Luther King-like struggle to now [a] neoliberal politician in a system that is characterized more and more by legalized bribery and normalized corruption. That’s what big money does to politics. And the Clinton machine is an example of that.”

Lewis’ home state of Georgia will vote on Super Tuesday and has 116 delegates at stake, making it one of the most consequential states that will vote next week. In 2008, African-Americans made up more than half of Georgia’s Democratic electorate.

West repeatedly referred to both Lewis and Rep. Jim Clyburn, who was also involved in the civil rights movement and now represents South Carolina in the House of Representatives, as “neoliberal politicians.” The classification, he explained, refers to “a politics that proceeds based on financializing, privatizing, and militarizing.”

West said that Clyburn and Lewis had become “too well adjusted to Wall Street.” They are now a part of a system, he said, “in which politicians are well adjusted to injustice owing to their ties to big money, big banks, and big corporations, and turning their backs, for the most part, to poor people and working people. Poor people and working people become afterthoughts.”

‘Most black politicians these days are neoliberal politicians, so it’s almost natural for them to side with Hillary Clinton.’

More broadly, West asserted that black politicians supporting Clinton lack the kind of “courage” it takes to support Sanders and to “pursue truth” and justice.

“Most black politicians these days are neoliberal politicians, so it’s almost natural for them to side with Hillary Clinton,” he said. “But with the neoliberal era coming to a close, four months from now [when the party picks its nominee], you watch how the shift sets in.”

Neither Clyburn’s office nor Lewis’ responded to requests for comment for this story.

West’s comments come just eight months after he praised Lewis at a Unitarian Universalists event honoring the congressman, who received a human rights award. At the time, West called Lewis a “moral titan” and suggested that the same young people he now says are more courageous than Lewis could learn something from the congressman.

“When we see you, we see integrity, we see courage and we see someone who is willing to be honest.… Nobody’s all the way right, but even when you’re wrong, you point it out with that love,” West said at the gathering. “What we need is precisely the raw stuff that went into you. How do you translate that to the younger generation?”

The VICE News interview with West this week took place during a trip to South Carolina to examine the role of the black vote in the state as well as the Clinton legacy with black voters in general. Those voters will play a huge role on Super Tuesday, as both candidates compete for approximately one-quarter of the total delegates up for grabs this year.

 

By Sarah Mimms, VICE

Michael Moore: Bernie Sanders “Beats Every Republican When They Go Head to Head” – Hillary Doesn’t

A conversation with the controversial documentarian.

 

fter a six-year hiatus, Michael Moore — the gleefully polemical documentarian from Flint, Michigan — is back on the silver screen with Where to Invade Next, a jovial European excursion that propels Moore into various countries with ingenious ideas for managing a variety of societal constructs, from prison and education systems to parenting.

The grand idea? Moore will travel to these foreign lands in hopes of stealing (or borrowing) the concepts that make them great. In Norway it’s the prison system, which fosters creativity and personal growth by respecting its inhabitants; as a result, the recidivism rate is in the low 20th percentile. In France, children consume healthy and gourmet school lunches that are inexplicably produced for less money than in the United States.

Operating as a sort of lighthearted travelogue across seven different countries, the film briskly continues like this for two hours. Moore is our avatar, the naive traveler in Europe who inevitably discovers that a better life may exist away from America.

And it’s America that Moore appears to be a little less critical of in Where to Invade Next. In many ways, optimism has replaced the unruly skepticism for Washington’s innumerable misdeeds that has long been present in his work. What’s hard to tell is whether this change in temperament signifies wisdom or simply a new outlook brought on by time.

Regardless, the filmmaker appears genuinely content — both in the movie and in conversation — especially when discussing his own success. This was clear when we sat down for an interview to discuss the new film (which is currently in theaters), when Moore also spoke candidly about Bernie Sanders’s presidential run, being attacked in the press by Republicans, and why liberals are slackers.

Sam Fragoso
It’s strange to think about now, but the first time most people probably saw Bernie Sanders was in your 2009 movie Capitalism: A Love Story. Michael Moore
It was probably the first movie he was in. Perhaps the only movie. Sam Fragoso
When you were talking to Sanders for that documentary, was there any part of you that thought, “This man could be our next president?” Michael Moore
Well, I think those of us who’ve known for him for a long time have always put that out there. Wouldn’t that be cool if he won? But that’s as far as it ever went. I remember flying up to Burlington [Vermont, Sanders’s home state] in 1990, the second time he ran for Congress. And he has asked me — right after Roger & Me was released — to do a rally in support of his run. Sam Fragoso
Are you surprised that he is doing as well as he is? Michael Moore
I’m not surprised at all, because I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of this country. If you’re just out there, you realize you can’t throw millions of people out of work over these last two decades and evict people from their homes. The No. 1 cause of bankruptcy is medical bills. The list goes on. The people have been battered in a pretty brutal manner. So that someone like Bernie would rise up is not surprising at all. Sam Fragoso
Do you think if Bernie — a man of the people — is not elected, the country will be inching closer and closer to a revolt? Michael Moore
Well … I don’t think [that will happen], because he’ll be elected. It’s not a feeling. I look at the poll numbers. He beats every Republican when they go head to head. Hillary loses to one of them, ties another, and beats another by 5 points. She beats Trump by 5 points. Bernie beats Trump by 10 points. I’m optimistic that the person who is most popular will win the contest. Sam Fragoso
Technically, yes. But for many people, it’s hard to not be fearful of Washington’s machinations. Michael Moore
I’m not so worried about that. I’m more afraid that my side of the political fence is the slacker end of the fence. Getting people out to vote on Election Day is the big issue. Sam Fragoso
You think liberals are slackers? Michael Moore
I think liberals, Democrats, most of my friends, myself, yes. I think we have the slacker gene in us. Sam Fragoso
And where does the gene come from? Michael Moore
[laughs] I don’t know. It’s like in The Walking Dead, you know? The guy at the CDC tells them at the end of season one, “We all have it.” On the other side of the political fence, the Republicans will be up at 6 in the morning voting on an election day. The only time [Democrats] see 6 in the morning is if we’ve been up partying all night. The other side is committed, disciplined, organized, lots of money. Democrats are stumbling into Starbucks at 10 in the morning. Sam Fragoso
Do you think it’s possible to change that? Michael Moore
I don’t know if it can be changed. Just like with any kind of disorder, medicine has been created for a lot of them. In our case, the medicine is going to have to be: You get up that day and go vote. And you gotta bring 10 people with you. Sam Fragoso
Since the beginning of your career, you’ve been attacking big institutions from the position of the little man. However, your career has greatly ascended. You’re more Goliath than David now. Michael Moore
Isn’t that incredible? Goliath implies you have power. Yes, I’ve been successful and have a very large fan base, but I don’t have the kind of political power or the power in Hollywood where I actually can make something happen with the snap of my fingers. Sam Fragoso
Sure, but you’re not where you were when you made Roger & Me. Michael Moore
I know, isn’t that great? It’s like, “Here I am.” I have a high school education. When I made Roger & Me I was collecting $98 a week in unemployment, and now I have an apartment in Michigan and an apartment on the Upper West Side of New York. I can’t believe how lucky I am. Sam Fragoso
Well, I’m happy for you. Michael Moore
I’m happy. And my friends are happy for me. They never knew if I would ever amount to anything. Now I could just make whatever movie I want. Sam Fragoso
I can’t tell if you’re being a little sarcastic with me. Michael Moore
It sounds sarcastic, but I really feel that way. I mean, c’mon! If you were me, wouldn’t you feel that way? Sam Fragoso
Do you ever regret not finishing school? Michael Moore
I regret it mainly because there are great books that I know I would’ve read if I were forced to read them in a class. I wish I spoke languages other than English. Sam Fragoso
Of all the ideas presented in Where to Invade Next, which one were you most excited by? Michael Moore
The idea of no homework. I love that idea. Finland, they’ve got it made. When I think back to when I was in high school, if I didn’t have to do homework, I know exactly how I would’ve used that time: doing more of the things I enjoyed doing. I would’ve spent more time on my underground newspaper that I put together. I would’ve finished a play that I was writing. I would’ve done a lot of things, probably, and that was back in a time when there wasn’t much homework — especially compared to now. No one in my day was up till midnight doing schoolwork. Sam Fragoso
What happened to your play? Michael Moore
Exactly! What did happen to it? I actually finished it the year after high school, and I put on a production of it. It upset the community quite a bit. In fact, I was on the board of education — I had been elected when I was 18 — and they started a recall campaign that removed me from the school board because of this play. Sam Fragoso
What was the play about? Michael Moore
It was called The Tunnel, and you gotta remember this was 1973. I didn’t know at the time what the word avant-garde meant, but I would say it would fall into that category. [It involves a play within a play, and] in the final scene, the actor playing Jesus is up on a huge cross on the stage. And the cross is wrapped in aluminum foil, and Jesus pulls the nails off his hands and decides he doesn’t want to be crucified, and comes down off the cross.Then a bunch of Republicans in the audience are very upset that Jesus is not where he should be (up on the cross). He’s now come off the cross and is speaking gibberish about how to treat poor people and how to take care of the world. So the audience of Republicans rush the stage and kick him and beat him, and a guy gets out a gun and shoots him. Then they drag him back up to the cross and get him back up there where they like him. That was the play.

Sam Fragoso
In a way, Michael, that’s kind of you. Michael Moore
The guy on the stage? I hope not! I’m still going. It’s the fifth day of Republicans talking about me now in the news, and it’s like, geez, I haven’t made a movie in six years. One day after the opening of my new movie and [Ted] Cruz and [Jeb] Bush are all talking about me. It’s funny because they’re trying to come up with the person that is the most opposite of what they believe in. And I’m the person that pops into their minds — which of course makes me very proud. Sam Fragoso
I saw that Jeb Bush likened you to Donald Trump. Michael Moore
They use my name as if it’s an epitaph. To say Donald Trump is like Michael Moore is like telling the public a good thing. You want to compare Donald Trump to the devil, or Charlie Manson. If you’re trying to attack Trump, don’t use somebody who is beloved by tens of millions of people. That’s only going to draw more people to Trump. And in fact, the day after they said that, he went up 3 points in the polls. Sam Fragoso
Did you think this was how your life would pan out? Michael Moore
Yeah, sort of, in a way. When I was a little kid — 5, 6, 7 years old — I had my own TV show. You get a big cardboard box and you cut out one end of it. That would be the TV screen, and I’d bring people inside the box to interview them. I had my own theme song. I remember at 6 years old my cousin made me memorize Kennedy’s inaugural address. Somewhere between 6 and 9 I thought I’d be president someday. Sam Fragoso
So being in front of the camera was always part of the plan? Michael Moore
I just think I was enamored with the idea of interviewing people. I’d start with my sisters. They were always my guinea pigs. I was a curious kid and had a lot of questions. Sam Fragoso
Have you ever found it difficult to stay curious? Michael Moore
Oh, no. It’s not something I work at. I’m just naturally that way. Most of us are, don’t you think? When you go through life, a lot of it gets squelched, but hopefully not. Sam Fragoso
What would you consider the most salient issue plaguing this country? Michael Moore
I would say the state of journalism. I picked up a copy of Time, and I don’t think there were more than 20 pages in the magazine. It’s funny how thin it was. Sam Fragoso
It’s a sad reality. Michael Moore
What happened? Sam Fragoso
People don’t enjoy paying for journalism, especially when most of it can be consumed for free. Do you ever feel that resistance with your movies? Michael Moore
No, not really. I don’t like to pay my mortgage. I don’t like to pay the car payment. I think it’s a normal thing that you don’t want to pay for anything. If you want to go see my movie this week, you have to pay $10 to $12 to go do that. And I believe I make the kind of movies that you’re not going to get on the internet. So people will pay for it. Sam Fragoso
Is there a part of you that wants to be a journalist? Michael Moore
Of course, but I don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up.

 

By Sam Fragoso, Vox

GOP Candidates Promise Four Major Ground Wars, Murder of Innocents, and Large Genitalia

At yet another GOP debate, there was a foreign policy section, which Fox News predictably put under the heading of “terrorism.”

Brett Baier asked Marco Rubio about Daesh (ISIL, ISIS), noting that Rubio has proposed “sending a larger number of American ground troops to help defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq…”

Rubio was annoyed that Baier only thought Rubio would invade two countries. Rubio replied, “That’s correct, and Libya.”

Rubio went on about Daesh:

“So they need to be targeted wherever they have an operating space. They do need to be defeated on the ground by a ground force made up primarily of Sunni Arabs themselves. This is a radical Sunni movement. They can only be defeated if they are driven out and the territory is held by Sunni Arabs. But it will require a specific number of American special operators, in combination with an increase in air strikes. And that will include, if necessary, operating spaces in Libya, which, in fact, they are using to project into the Sinai against Egypt and ultimately into Europe, as well.

So Rubio wants US ground troops wherever there is a Daesh cell– now he is adding Libya and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. That’s 4 wars he is pledging. There will be US casualties in these wars.

Rubio’s notion of a Sunni alliance against Daesh shows ignorance of the region. No Sunni state sees Daesh or ISIL as the primary threat, the way Washington does. Turkey obsesses about the Kurds. Saudi Arabia is focused on Iran and Shiites. The most effective fighters against Daesh so far have been Shiites and leftist or secular Kurds.

Rubio can’t admit he needs the Shiites, including Iran, because his backers forbid him to make nice with Iran.

Then Baier turned to Kasich:

I will say, look, let me tell you what happened with Libya. And I pointed out in the last debate — Hillary Clinton worked aggressively to depose Moammar Gadhafi. We had no business doing it. He was working with us. He was cooperating with us. He denuclearized. And now they pushed him out, and now we have a fertile ground for ISIS.

So the “moderate” GOP candidate supports a dreadful dictatorship guilty of massacring its opposition and of planning to commit genocide in Benghazi. That the Middle East was more stable under murderous dictators is also a Trump theme. If they were so stable, why did their people rise up and overthrow them? (It wasn’t NATO that fought off Gaddafi’s tanks in Misrata, it was the people of Misrata).

Then, having castigated Sec. Clinton for involving herself in Libya, Kasich urged a multinational invasion of that country in which we, the US, “have to be there on the ground in significant numbers. We do have to include our Muslim Arab friends to work with us on that. And we have to be in the air.” His model for this new ground war in North Africa is the Gulf War, when George H. W. Bush sent hundreds of thousands of US troops into Kuwait along with hundreds of thousands of allied troops. That war was a major one, in which there were larger tank battles than any time since the end WW II.

I don’t understand Kasich’s plan. If Hillary was wrong to get involved in Libya, why is Kasich right to? And, is he really proposing a war on Libya on the scale of the Gulf War? Doesn’t that lead to a quagmire?

Mr. Baier then asked Trump what would happen if the US military refused to obey his ilegal orders to murder the innocent women and children of terrorists.

“TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

BAIER: But they’re illegal.

[Trump] … that’s the way I feel. Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

BAIER: Even targeting terrorists’ families?

TRUMP: Well, look, you know, when a family flies into the World Trade Center, a man flies into the World Trade Center, and his family gets sent back to where they were going — and I think most of you know where they went — and, by the way, it wasn’t Iraq — but they went back to a certain territory, they knew what was happening. The wife knew exactly what was happening.

They left two days early, with respect to the World Trade Center, and they went back to where they went, and they watched their husband on television flying into the World Trade Center, flying into the Pentagon, and probably trying to fly into the White House, except we had some very, very brave souls on that third plane. All right?

TRUMP: I have no problem with it.

Trump is hinting that the families of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi and that they had been vacationing in the country their men were about to attack, but then abruptly returned to Saudi Arabia. But none of the family members of the hijackers were in fact in the US. The Bush administration more or less evacuated prominent Saudi families for fear of popular reprisals against them. It isn’t plausible that these Saudis knew that the 9/11 attacks were coming (they could have vacationed elsewhere) or that Saudi mainstream people were involved (they have big investments in the US stock market, and took a bath after the attacks).

But to be clear, Trump appears to believe that the US should have tortured and killed those Saudi vacationers, in reprisal for Daesh, which did not exist in 2001.

“BAIER: Senator Cruz?

CRUZ: … As president, I will do the exact same thing with radical Islamic terrorism. We will rebuild this military so that it remains the mightiest fighting force on the face of the planet. And then, when I am commander-in-chief, every militant on the face of the Earth will understand that if they go and join ISIS, if they wage jihad against the United States of America, they are signing their death warrant.

(APPLAUSE)

The US already has by far the best military in the world, and there are only 25,000 or so Daesh fighters. Cruz’s power fantasies can’t change the fact that conventional armies face obstacles in fighting small groups of guerrillas on unfamiliar terrain. Bankrupting us all by increasing an already bloated Pentagon budget is not going to change that.

Finally, Kasich took a swipe at Cruz saying he’d rebuild the US military the way Reagan had.

KASICH:

And you know, we hear about Ronald Reagan rebuilding the military. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the military. I worked with him. I was there when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the economy. I was there, and I worked with him. I knew Ronald Reagan.

And I’ll leave it right there with what comes after that. You can figure that one out.

I don’t understand why they keep talking about the 1980s when the Soviet Union still existed. The US now has no peer conventional power. Why would you bankrupt the country with military spending when the US is the sole hyperpower? That there are small fringe terrorist threats has nothing to do with Department of Defense spending. Terrorism is a different kind of challenge, and you can’t defeat it with an F-35.

I count 4 wars they are promising us, with US troops on the ground in each. They have some imaginary Sunni military coalition in mind, which doesn’t exist and won’t. And, Trump promised more torture and murder of innocents and no one else on the stage even demurred, except for Mr. Baier (who won’t be making those decisions).

Oh, and yes. Donald Trump replied to Marco Rubio’s allegation that Trump has small hands and a small dick. Trump assures us that both are yuuuje.

That discussion took up as much time as foreign policy.

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

NYC Mayor de Blasio unveils $2.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens streetcar proposal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday announced a plan to build a $2.5 billion streetcar line from Astoria in Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

Known as the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX), the 16-mile route would enable New Yorkers to connect to a dozen waterfront neighborhoods, de Blasio said in his State of the City address last night.

A rendering of a streetcar vehicle in downtown Brooklyn
Source: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector

Explosive housing and job growth occurring along the corridor is putting increased demands on the area’s transit and roadway systems, according to a statement issued by de Blasio’s office.

When the city’s subway system was developed, it largely skipped the area, and north-south transit wasn’t fully developed in areas west of MTA New York City Transit‘s G subway line, de Blasio’s office said. Currently, there are no new plans to build transportation infrastructure to relieve the overburdened subway lines and congested streets in these areas.

“This is about equity and innovation,” de Blasio said in the statement. “We are mapping brand new transit that will knit neighborhoods together and open up real opportunities for our people.”

At full build-out, the BQX would be one of the largest urban streetcar systems in the United States. Streetcar vehicles would operate primarily in a dedicated lane to avoid traffic conflicts.

The initial cost of purchase and installation of the system was estimated at $2.5 billion, or about $156 million per mile. A full engineering study will be required to determine actual costs, de Blasio’s office said.

New York City will offset the costs through a tax incremental financing mechanism that would capture a percentage of the increase in property values of existing and new development along the corridor.

Comets 2 vs. Falcons 1

The Utica Comets jumped out to a 2-0 lead and then held off the Springfield Falcons onslaught Saturday night to win 2-1 at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The game came down to a matter of inches, as the Falcons had a goal waved off due to a high with 24 seconds remaining on the clock.

Taylor Fedun (0-2-2) and Alex Friesen (0-2-2) recorded multi-point nights for the Comets, while Chris Higgins (1-0-1) and Ronalds Kenins (1-0-1) handled all the scoring for Utica. Richard Bachman made 21 saves on 22 Falcons shots to secure the Comets victory.

The Comets started the game’s scoring and struck 6:55 into the first period. From the point and on the power play, Fedun let loose a shot on net that was saved by Niklas Treutle, but Chris Higgins collected the rebound and jammed the puck trickling past Treutle to give the Comets a 1-0 lead.

Utica extended its lead to 2-0, 7:46 into the second period. Ronalds Kenins ripped a shot from the left slot, and put the puck over the glove of Treutle for his third goal of the season and second in as many nights. With the goal the Latvian Olympian now has collected 14 points in his last 10 games.

The Falcons cut into the Comets lead five minutes later when Michael Bunting received a pass from Jordan Szwarz, and slipped it past Bachman to get Springfield on the board.

Springfield looked to have tied it with 24 seconds to go in regulation, but it was called off due to a high stick, sealing the Comets the 2-1 victory.

The Comets finished with 32 shots on goal, while the Falcons had 22 shots. Niklas Treutle had 30 saves for Springfield.

Utica improves to 29-19-5-3 with the win, while the loss drops Springfield to 21-29-3-4.

The Comets will look to go a perfect three for three on the weekend, as they hit the road tomorrow, traveling to Toronto to take on the first place Marlies for the second time in three days. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 p.m.