Donald Trump has picked up support for his presidential campaign from white supremacists, including David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who said Trump was “the best of the lot” running on the GOP side.

Duke during his radio show (8/18) said his views on Trump were “evolving” and he pointed out some concerns with the hotel mogul, including what he called “deep Jewish connections.” Still, his overall assessment of Trump—or, at least, his immigration stance—was positive, Daniel Marans and Kim Bellware reported for HuffingtonPost.com (8/25).

Evan Osnos, reported on Trump’s appeal for The New Yorker (8/31), noted that Trump enjoys the support of a who’s who of contemporary white supremacist and neo-Nazi leaders and institutions. The members of what one might call Trump’s white supremacist fan club include:

• The Daily Stormer, a leading neo-Nazi news site, endorsed Trump (6/28). “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people,” the site said in its endorsement. It then urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

• Richard Spencer, director of the National Policy Institute, which promotes the “heritage, identity, and future of European people,” said that Trump was “refreshing.” “Trump, on a gut level, kind of senses that this is about demographics, ultimately. We’re moving into a new America,” Spencer said. “I don’t think Trump is a white nationalist,” Spencer added, but he embodies “an unconscious vision that white people have—that their grandchildren might be a hated minority in their own country. I think that scares us. They probably aren’t able to articulate it. I think it’s there. I think that, to a great degree, explains the Trump phenomenon. I think he is the one person who can tap into it.” Spencer, Osnos notes, is not the stereotype of a prejudiced yokel: At 36, he is clean-cut, and boasts degrees from elite universities. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Osnos says, calls Spencer “a suit-and-tie version of the white supremacists of old.”

• Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance, a Virginia-based white nationalist magazine, said: “I’m sure he would repudiate any association with people like me, but his support comes from people who are more like me than he might like to admit.” Taylor later told Osnos: “Why are whites supposed to be happy about being reduced to a minority? It’s clear why Hispanics celebrate diversity: ‘More of us! More Spanish! More cucaracha!’”

• Michael Hill, head of the League of the South, an Alabama-based white supremacist secessionist group, said Trump was “good” for the white racist cause. “I love to see somebody like Donald Trump come along,” Hill said. “Not that I believe anything that he says. But he is stirring up chaos in the GOP, and for us that is good.” Osnos attended a speech Hill gave to a crowd of cheering followers in which he railed against the “cultural genocide” of white Americans, which he said was “merely a prelude to physical genocide.”

• Brad Griffin, a member of Hill’s League of the South and author of the popular white supremacist blog Hunter Wallace, has written that his esteem for Trump is “soaring,” and has lauded the candidate for his “hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”

Patrick Buchanan, a longtime Republican operative, who many of the white supremacists that Osnos interviewed named as a major intellectual influence, also sees a kindred spirit in Trump. Buchanan, who ran for president in 1992, 1996 and 2000 on a platform of right-wing populism, has lamented what he calls the “end of white America” due to immigration and increasing rights for people of color. Buchanan told CNBC in early August that he sees his issues “sort of come to fruition” in Trump’s campaign, and that he is “delighted” Trump is running.

While Buchanan, Duke and other leading white supremacists backing Trump do not explicitly condone violence toward immigrants, some of his rank-and-file supporters appear ready to engage in a literal war on immigrants.

Jim Sherota, 53, a landscaper who attended Trump’s rally in Mobile, Alabama (8/21), told the New York Times before Trump’s arrival that he hoped Trump would announce a plan to issue licenses for hunting undocumented immigrants and offer $50 for “every confirmed kill.”

Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has already inspired violence against immigrants. Scott and Steve Leader, brothers who are accused of severely beating up and urinating on a Latino homeless man in Boston (8/19), apparently justified the act using Trump’s anti-immigration pronouncements. “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported,” Scott told the state troopers who arrested him. It turned out, according to CNN, that the victim was in the US legally and had a valid Social Security number. Trump’s condemnation of the attack was half-hearted at first. When reporters asked the candidate about the assault the day it happened, he called it a “shame,” but then implied that it was an unintended consequence of the passion he inspires. “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate,” he said. “They love this country, they want this country to be great again.”

It took Trump two days to offer an unequivocal apology. He tweeted that the assault was “terrible,” and said he would “never condone violence.”

But a conservative Iowa radio host, Jan Mickelson, embraced the immigrant bashing to propose reinstating slavery to deal with undocumented immigrants who won’t leave the country within an allotted time. Under Mickelson’s plan, which he aired (8/17) on clear-channel WHO Radio in Des Moines, foreigners who couldn’t prove they were here legally would become “property of the state” and compelled to do public works, such as building a wall on the US-Mexican border. His talk show is influential among conservatives in the state and Republican candidates routinely appear on his broadcast.

TRUMP, SANDERS LEAD IN N.H. POLLS. The latest Public Policy Polling survey in New Hampshire (8/25) showed big shifts on both the Democratic and Republican side, as Donald Trump widened his lead over the rest of the Republican field with 35% to 11% for John Kasich, 10% for Carly Fiorina, 7% each for Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, 6% for Ben Carson, 4% each for Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, and 3% for Rand Paul. Candidates falling outside the top ten in the state are Rick Perry at 2%, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum at 1%, and Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, and Bobby Jindal all at less than 1%.

The candidate who dropped the farthest is Walker—he’s gone from leading at 24% in April all the way down to 7% in this newest poll.

On the Democratic. Bernie Sanders now leads Hillary Clinton among NH Democrats 42% to 35%.That’s a reversal from April, when Clinton led with 45% and Sanders got only 12%, but Elizabeth Warren drew 23%. Sanders is popular with the Democratic electorate, as 78% see him favorably, while only 12% have a negative opinion—which makes him easily the most popular candidate on either side with their party’s voters. Clinton’s favorability numbers have dropped from 78/10 with Democratic primary voters in April, to a 63/25 spread in August.

PPP had the second poll showing Sanders leading Clinton in the Granite State, Kerry Eleveld noted at DailyKos.com (8/25). The first was earlier in August by a little-known pollster at Franklin Pierce University for the Boston Herald, which showed Sanders leading Clinton 44-37, “but the PPP poll demonstrates legit Bern-mentum,” Eleveld wrote.

An Iowa poll conducted by Suffolk University found Clinton with support of 54% of Iowa Democrats, with 20% for Sanders, 11% for Joe Biden and 4% for Martin O’Malley.

“There is a fierce loyalty to Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa,” Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos said in a statement.

The poll also found 52% of Iowa Dems think the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server while leading the State Department will hurt her in a general election, though 76% said Clinton did not break the law when she opted to use a private server.

Two weeks after the first GOP debate, Donald Trump maintained his big lead among the 17 Republican presidential candidates, as a CNN/ORC International poll showed Trump with the support of 24% of Republican registered voters, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush second at 13%, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 9%, Florida Sen. Marco Rubo and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 8%, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul 6%, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former tech CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all at 5%. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee rounded out the top 10 with 4%.

HILLARY STILL LEADS POTENTIAL GOP RIVALS. Beltway pundits have been braying about Hillary Clinton’s “falling poll numbers,” eager to fan the flames of Democratic discord and generate column-inches about intra-party conflict where none exists, David Nir noted at DailyKos.com (8/26). But the combined average of every national poll taken since 3/1 that pits Clinton against the 10 leading Republican candidates—197 matchups in all, courtesy of Huffington Post Pollster, shows the race has been remarkably static.

In fact, at the beginning of March, Clinton led the GOP field by an average of 50.3 to 42.6, or 7.7 percentage points. In late August, she leads 48.7 to 41.2, or 7.5%. “Clinton’s ‘collapse,’ in other words, is 0.2%! No serious analyst would consider that anything more than a rounding error.” (And the picture is the same if you dial it back to 1/1.)

“So what are these pundits on about? Well, they’re very focused on Clinton’s favorability rating, which has indeed trended negative over this same timeframe. But it’s also been headed downward for years—long before anyone ever heard about any email servers—and for a very simple reason: When you leave a high-profile, nonpartisan post like secretary of state to run for elective office, you can’t possibly sustain the broad appeal you once did when you were globe-trotting to meet with foreign leaders. As soon as you’re back in the muck of the campaign trail, you’re going to get viewed through the polarized prism of American politics. For Clinton, it was a predictable development that many did indeed predict.

“Now of course any politician wants her favorability numbers to be in positive territory. But it doesn’t matter nearly as much as you might think, because if you’re running for president in this 50-50 nation of ours, there’s a very good chance your opponent is also under water. Clinton’s favorables, according to HuffPo’s average, stand at 42-50 today—not great, but Jeb Bush’s are quite a bit worse, at 33-47. Yet we haven’t seen panicked media reports about Jeb’s lousy numbers. That ought to tell you something.

“Want an even sharper contrast? Look at Donald Trump: He’s at just 37% positive to 56% negative. In fact, every single Republican contender tracked by HuffPo (except for Ben Carson) currently sports a negative favorability score. This is why pollsters test direct head-to-head matchups between actual candidates, because favorability ratings can only tell you so much. If you have two popular—or unpopular—candidates, someone still has to win.

“And the person who’s winning is Hillary Clinton. She was winning half a year ago, and she’s still winning now. Could that change by next year? Of course. But the point is that despite efforts to foment panic in certain quarters, nothing’s changed in the last six months. If Clinton’s margins were to remain the same going forward (and she were to secure the Democratic nomination), she’d win as big a victory as Barack Obama did in 2008. If anyone should be worried, it ought to be the Republicans.”

QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUMP’S DEALS, MOB TIES & CORPORATE WELFARE. The longer Donald Trump stays at the wheel of the Republican presidential clown car, the harder it will be for the political journalists to ignore some of the strange associates the real estate mogul has developed.

For example, David Cay Johnston said on Democracy Now! (8/19) Trump’s most famous building, the 58-story Trump Tower, was built by S&A Concrete, owned by “Fat Tony” Salerno, the head of the Genovese crime family in New York, and Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino family. “Trump used the same company for other projects that he built, even though they were more costly than using steel girder construction,” said Johnston, who as an investigative reporter covered Trump off and on for 27 years. He won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting while at the New York Times and is now president of Investigative Reporter and Editors. He recently wrote a column for NationalMemo.com titled “21 Questions for Donald Trump.”

When Trump tore down the Bonwit Teller building to make way for the Trump Tower, Johnston noted, Trump had about a dozen union house wreckers on the site and about 150 Polish workers, all of them illegally in the country, who he paid $4 to $5 an hour and who did not have hard hats. “Trump claimed in a lawsuit that he had no idea that these workers were there in any way other than an appropriate way,” Johnston said. “And a federal judge mocked him, pointing out that they were easy to spot because they were the ones who had no hard hats.”

Trump’s personal helicopter pilot, Joseph Weichselbaum, was a convicted cocaine and marijuana trafficker whose criminal case landed before Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Donald Trump’s sister. Judge Barry recused herself, but in the process, she made every other judge in the federal system aware of the sensitivity of this particular case.

Trump has been found repeatedly to have not paid people he owed money to. He let people think that he fixed Wollman Rink in Central Park for free. He was paid $10 mln, but some of his contractors were never paid, because he told them this was a public service project, Johnston said. And he’s been sued innumerable times for racial discrimination of his businesses, Johnston said. As for his wealth, in 1990, when Trump claimed $3 bln in net worth, Johnston, then reporting for the Philadelphia Inquirer, found a banker’s net worth statement that showed Trump was worth a negative $295 mln. “I think the record now is pretty clear. He’s probably worth a billion or somewhat more than a billion, but nowhere near $10 bln,” Johnston said. And while Trump claims $400 mln annual income, he probably doesn’t pay any income taxes, because federal tax law allows real estate developers or operators to write off paper losses for the depreciating values of their property, even if the value is going up.

Asked about Trump’s casino operations in Atlantic City and his association with mob figures there, Johnson said, “Donald never had a dollar invested in Atlantic City. And by his own account in The Art of the Deal, he brags about deceiving his partners, the directors of the old Holiday Inn motel company, who owned Harrah’s casinos. And he boasts about tricking them and deceiving them. He needed to buy a particular piece of land. And Donald always says he’s such a great negotiator. So who did he send to negotiate with the representative of Nicky Scarfo, the head of the Atlantic City crime family? Well, he sent his lawyer, Harvey Freeman. He didn’t go himself. And I think that’s consistent with Donald having so assiduously avoided the draft. Donald is not a guy to put himself in any position that he thinks might represent any kind of physical danger to him whatsoever.”

Trump is a dealmaker, not a manager, Johnston said. “And the principal elements of Trump deals are these: You borrow a lot of money. You then arrange later to pay back less than you owed, whether you do it through private transactions, by threatening to go to bankruptcy court, or actual bankruptcy, in the case of his casino company. You don’t pay people who work for you or vendors what’s promised.

“And what I don’t understand … is not one major news organization has even tried to check these things out. ... Nothing has appeared. And that’s because, in this country, politics reporters cover the horse race, and they do not vet the candidates the way they should. And Trump, if vetted properly, would quickly disappear from the polls,” Johnston said.

REPUBLICANS STILL HOPE TO BLOCK IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL. Supporters of the proposed deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities appear to have the momentum to prevent Republicans from blocking the deal, but Greg Sargent noted at WashingtonPost.com (8/25) that it is not the slam-dunk that some media narratives portray.

Republicans hope to pass a bill rejecting the agreement that the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China reached with Iran to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to US and UN economic sanctions, but President Obama has said he would veto the bill. In the Senate, which has 44 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Dems, Obama loyalists hope to muster 41 votes to sustain a filibuster. If that fails, Democrats need 34 votes to block the overriding of the president’s veto, which requires a two-thirds majority of both chambers. So far, 29 Dems have declared their support for the Iran deal, while only Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) are joining with Repubs to oppose the deal. Democratic senators who are undeclared include Michael Bennet (Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Bob Casey, Jr. (Pa.), Chris Coons (Del.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Nancy Pelosi is whipping support for the agreement in the House, where, as of (8/25), The Hill reported, 67 Dems have declared support for the deal, 14 were leaning yes, 13 were opposed, 3 were leaning no and 91 were undeclared. If all 246 Republicans unite in opposition to the deal, they would need at least 44 Dems to vote for the override in the House.

MARKET PLUNGE EXPOSES DANGERS OF PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY. The stock market had three days of volatility from Friday (8/21) through Tuesday (8/25) as the Dow Jones and other indexes took huge hits before they surged back on Wednesday (8/26). The fluctuation may have knocked a good deal of money out of people’s 401(k) retirement accounts, but Bryce Covert noted at ThinkProgress.org (8/24) that Social Security benefits remain by and large untouched by such fluctuations.

Some Republicans, however, are interested in changing that. In June, presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that he thinks the next president will have to try to privatize Social Security. Others have gotten behind the idea as well: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) drafted a plan in 2013 that included partial privatization, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is in favor of using private accounts. House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has included privatization in his budget blueprints.

The market drop, and ones before, expose the dangers of such a plan, which usually entails diverting some or all of the money workers contribute to Social Security through their paychecks into private investment accounts. That would put individuals in charge of making smart enough investment choices in the market to make big enough returns to support themselves in retirement. But the reality is that’s not within reach for most individual people. During a market rout, many people will panic and sell. “We know a lot of people do what economists say is irrational, they sell at a low point,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center on Economic and Policy Research. The best thing to do during a downturn is to hold out if possible. But that’s not how most people will react. “People see something like this and go, ‘I better get out,’” Baker said. “When they see the market start to go up, they say, ‘I better buy in,’ and then they’ve lost a lot.” Putting people’s Social Security contributions into private accounts makes them far more exposed to the irrationality of the market. “What’s beautiful about Social Security is that in the long the return workers get on contributions is linked to productivity growth and wage growth,” said Monique Morrissey, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “Whereas markets are notoriously volatile and often behave in ways that are not based on the fundamental strength and weakness of the economy.”

SOME UTILITIES WANT SURCHARGE FOR SOLAR GENERATORS. As the cost of installing solar panels drops, at least 11 utilities in nine states have attempted to impose extra charges on customers who generate their own energy; to date, five have succeeded, Zahra Hirii reported at InsideClimateNews.org (8/14).

Power providers say these new rates are needed to ensure their customers using solar and other forms of so-called “distributed generation” continue to pay for basic costs associated with maintaining the grid. Clean energy advocates fiercely object, calling these efforts “attacks on solar.” They argue that the utilities don’t adequately account for solar users’ benefits to the grid: less electricity is lost during transportation across power lines; less money spent by utilities on infrastructure for transmission and distribution; credits the utilities can potentially use to reach renewable energy goals or tax credits.

The new charges have ranged from an extra $5 per month for the average Arizona Public Service customer to $90 per month for typical Wisconsin customers of Rock Energy Cooperative. These fees largely fall into two categories: fixed charges, which remain stable every month, and demand charges, which vary depending on a customer’s peak electricity usage. In certain cases, consumers and environmental activists are pushing back by suing the electricity providers or appealing the rates with state regulators. Their latest win came in August, when Minnesota’s regulatory commission shot down about $5 worth of monthly fees that Minnesota’s People’s Electric Cooperative put in place for their handful of distributed generation users.

Brad Klein, senior attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, who participated in the rate appeal, told Inside Climate News, “I’m pleased the Commission so clearly determined that [People’s Electric Cooperative] failed to justify the fee under Minnesota law. It is a clear signal to other utilities that they will need to do a lot more work to be able to justify these kinds of [distributed generation] fees and penalties.”

The cost of installing distributed solar at the residential level has declined steadily over the last five years, according to a new report by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 2014, the median installed price of US residential solar hit a record low of about $4-per-watt compared to more than $12-per-watt in 1998.

From The Progressive Populist, September 15, 2015


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