iOS app Android app More

Jason Linkins   |   June 24, 2016   11:12 AM ET

Here in the U.S., we're pretty used to hearing our politicians offer up pleasing-sounding bromides about how simple it is to govern the country -- as if the complexities of our economy can be tamed just by following the advice offered on Successories postersWelp, I'll tell ya, if you can manage a household budget, ya oughta be able to manage the national budget. How many household budgets are subject to the whims of massive corporate interests? Or require a military? (I suppose as the nation inevitably divides itself into gated communities and favelas, we may soon know the answers to these questions.)

But leave it to presumptive GOP nominee and mucilaginous picklemonger Donald Trump, currently and obliviously touring Brexit-torn Scotland in support of his Trump Turnberry golf course, to arrive at the simple-minded take on modern governance that we all knew he was capable of providing. As The New York Times' Ashley Parker reports:

At one point, Mr. Trump even compared his renovation of Trump Turnberry with how he is hoping to overhaul the United States as president. When a reporter pointed out — correctly — that a country is hardly a golf course, Mr. Trump replied: “No it’s not, but you’ll be amazed how similar it is. It’s a place that has to be fixed.”

Ha, well, if Trump's Scottish golf adventures -- which we've previously discussed at length -- are any guide, then running a golf course is more instructive about how to wheedle government through harangues and failed promises than it is about recognizing how to "fix" things. When Trump first arrived in Scotland to found the resort that became Trump International Golf Links, he had to aggressively pester the local governing authorities to grant him the right to build on what was, at the time, an environmentally protected site. As The Atlantic's David Graham reported, Trump's pitch mainly involved "whining throughout the process that the government was going hard on him despite his plans to invest vast amounts of money in the country."

In the end, Scottish officials caved, only to later learn that they'd been sold a bill of goods. The 6,000 jobs Trump insisted would create a windfall for the local economy never materialized, Fortune's Michael D'Antonio reported: "His project has created just 150 jobs, with one golf course, a clubhouse with a restaurant and 19 rooms for rent."

And if you want insight into how Trump's golf experiences might inform his governing style, D'Antonio's account is wonderfully illustrative. He notes that the ersatz mogul got much of his Scottish land holdings through eminent domain seizures, and he chose the path of petty revenge when he couldn't acquire the property he wanted:

The political tide began to turn against Trump as Scots learned of how he was bullying the few landowners who refused to sell to him. When Susan Munro rejected his bid to buy her property, she said Trump’s workers built a ten-foot high berm of earth around it, blocking her view. Munro’s neighbor just to the north, David Milne, saw Trump’s men plant evergreens twenty feet from his windows when he refused to sell. To the south, farmer Michael Forbes was attacked -- his family lived like “pigs,” said Trump — and the developer’s lawyer approached the local government about taking his land by eminent domain.

It's really starting to sound like running and maintaining a golf course can be done by any old grubbing bully. (#NotAllGolfCourses, surely.)

Trump has, of course, staked his presidential claims to the idea that he is, as comedian Nick Kroll might put it, "good at bizness." But those skills aren't as readily transferable to other fields as many people believe. Sorry, meritocracy! In fact, as Millsaps College history professor Robert McElvaine noted in 2012, “The startling bottom line is that the nation’s GDP has grown more than 45 times faster under presidents with little or no business experience than it has under presidents with successful business careers.”

Of course, it's an open question as to whether Trump actually is as successful a businessman as he claims. Maybe he's the precise dunce for the job! If you think so, roll them bones. Be sure to be mindful of the fact, however, that Trump gives two surprisingly-tiny-for-an-adult thumbs-up to Brexit because "when the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry." So, if he ever faces a decision where collapsing the economy might be of great benefit to his balance sheet, you're probably going to pay the price for that.

In the end, we're reminded of something that truly separated Trump from most of the candidates (we'll leave Ben Carson out) that ran against him for the GOP nomination. A fair-minded observation that anyone can make of Mssrs. Bush, Cruz, Rubio, et alia, is that -- irrespective of whatever ideological disagreements you might have with them -- they all convincingly evinced the notion that serving as the American president was a difficult and complicated job, featuring daily encounters with grave decisions that required both diligence and responsibility to properly perform. Trump, on the other hand, thinks that running the country is easy. As simple as running a golf course.

It's going to be a rough day for all of us when he discovers he's wrong. 

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Jason Linkins   |   June 23, 2016    5:46 PM ET

So, that happened. In February 2013, The New York Times Magazine published a 2012 election postmortem titled, "Can The Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence." The author, Robert Draper, profiled several innovative Republican strategists who'd all been left on the sidelines as Republican candidate Mitt Romney went down to defeat. The upshot: All that talent could have made a big difference in the GOP's fortunes.

Flash forward to today, and the new GOP presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, has a campaign in disarray. The campaign is lagging behind on field staff, fundraising, and campaign infrastructure, and Trump has publicly dismissed the idea that he needs to pay for a robust digital operation.

For Patrick Ruffini, a highly regarded digital strategist in Republican circles who was featured in Draper's 2013 piece, Trump's decision to go without those resources mean little to him. As a committed member of the #NeverTrump movement, Ruffini wouldn't have worked for Trump anyway. But we wanted to learn about something in which we had no expertise -- what Trump is giving up by not running a modern presidential campaign. On this week's podcast, Ruffini joins us to give some key insights into whether Trump is going to provide an efficient, effective route to a win, and what Republicans might do if he can't.

 

Also on this week’s podcast: Democratic members of the House Of Representatives this week staged a sit-in to try to force House leaders to allow a vote on gun-safety legislation. But one proposal -- to use the so-called terrorist no-fly list as a screen for gun ownership, comes encrusted in controversy. We're joined by a Democratic legislator at the center of this story, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, to talk about what the Democrats hope to achieve and where things go from here.

Meanwhile, for all of the reported chaos in the Trump campaign, he still has plenty of time to right his ship -- and plenty of voters who have warmed to his message. Is it possible for Hillary Clinton's campaign to become overconfident and complacent running against Trump? We put this question, and others, to the Center for American Progress' Daniella Leger.

Next up, we return to the matter of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Previously, we talked about how these Olympic Games were facing all sorts of storm and stress from ongoing political, social, and public health problems in Brazil. This week, we take on the Olympics as an institution, and ask if this celebrated athletic event has become nothing more than an engine for income inequality.

Finally, closer to home, Maine Gov. Paul LePage has gotten himself into a game of chicken with the Food and Drug Administration over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, threatening to stop administering the program in his state altogether, putting tens of thousands of SNAP recipients at risk of losing their primary source of food. We'll break down the latest in a long line of food stamp fights.

"So, That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney. Joining them this week: Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former White House staffer Daniella Leger, political strategist Patrick Ruffini, and Huffington Post reporter Travis Waldron.

This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Christine Conetta.

To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. You can check out other HuffPost podcasts here.

Jason Linkins   |   June 23, 2016   12:45 PM ET

Just over two weeks ago, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) made news when he became the first of his Republican legislative colleagues to rescind a previously extended endorsement of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump. Now, as Politico's Kevin Robillard reports, he's set to become another famous first in the Trump era: 

The Chicago Tribune confirms that this 30-second spot will be part of a large ad buy -- to the tune of "about $230,000 in broadcast time for the weeklong buy and another $35,520 in cable TV time in Chicago."

The ad, titled "Even More," aims to present Kirk as an independent-minded, bipartisan legislator. Among other things, it points to his pro-choice bona fides and his support for a Senate hearing on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

But most notably, it takes great care to mention his opposition to Trump. Over a parade of floating headlines, the ad's narrator intones, "And Mark Kirk bucked his party to say that Donald Trump is not fit to be commander-in-chief."

There's another politician who is conspicuously not named in the ad -- Kirk's opponent in his re-election bid, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). In 2010, Kirk squeaked out a win over then-Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias to reach the Senate. Duckworth is a bona fide political superstar -- albeit one who is currently dogged by a civil lawsuit alleging various ethics violations.

There aren't likely to be many Republican incumbents -- especially vulnerable incumbents -- who openly disparage their party's nominee in this fashion. However, the particulars of Kirk's race -- deep blue state, popular Democratic opponent, incumbent who won by a thin margin in a wave election -- probably make slagging Trump in public an essential part of the calculus.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Why C-SPAN Should Thank Paul Ryan

DC Vito   |   June 22, 2016    5:47 PM ET

For most Americans, C-SPAN is like a smoke detector. We know it's there but we rarely watch it, taking for granted the fact that we have a (mostly) subjective broadcast of the goings-on in the highest halls of our government. We notice C-SPAN only on days like today, when the alarm goes off.

Responding to the failure of the Senate this week to move forward on any of four proposed pieces of legislation around gun ownership, civil rights leader and Georgia Congressmember John Lewis led a sit-in on the floor of the House with fellow Democrats. As House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) addressed the House about the effects of gun violence on America, presiding officer Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) put the House into an early recess. House Speaker Paul Ryan's office has said that the House will not be called back into session until Congress members operate "within the rules of the institution."

C-SPAN cameras do not run while Congress is in recess, but in the meantime, the network decided to broadcast the live Periscope feed of Representative Scott Peters (D-CA), noting that they do not control their own cameras:

2016-06-22-1466631018-2791806-cameracontrolledbyhouse.jpg

Around 3:30pm EST, C-SPAN Communications Director Howard Mortman tweeted that C-SPAN had switched over to Facebook Live to stream the sit in:

2016-06-22-1466631064-5719240-MortmanTweet.jpg

So there we have it: The lights in the workhouse were turned back on by the same media which, we coincidentally learned today, we usually use to avoid work in the first place. For the few hours between when the House went into recess and C-SPAN went live to Congressman Peters' personal video feed, everything we knew of what was happening in the House came from the highly objective Twitter feeds of House members themselves. We couldn't see for ourselves, because - it would seem -Speaker Ryan thought it was too dangerous.

Whether Speaker Ryan turned C-SPAN off to punish Democrats for violating some procedural rule or whether it was because he objected to the sit-in itself (having received $36,800 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association), Speaker Ryan committed an act of censorship. He decided that rather than let Americans watch C-SPAN and come to their own conclusions about the actions of the Democrats, he would simply remove our point of information. (To be fair, Democrats have done the same thing, as in July 2008 when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-CA] put the House into a scheduled summer recess before allowing a vote on offshore drilling. Republicans remained in the House talking about gas prices, in the dark with no cameras or microphones.)

As the Executive Director of The LAMP, I wake up every day firm in the belief that a democratic, media literate public depends on independent journalism and diverse voices. The ability of any political leader to deny coverage of an event flies in the face of our rights to a free press. Mortman says C-SPAN has been asking for its own cameras in the House for several years, but leaders of both parties have denied the network. Were it not for today's temporary blackout, most Americans - myself included - would not have been aware of this, partially because we take C-SPAN for granted. It's also because a less-than-free press is not typically newsworthy, lacking as it is in any urgency.

It is difficult to come up with any silver linings that can be borne of a horrific mass shooting such as the one in Orlando. Americans may not all agree about gun rights and legislation, but I do believe we can agree that we have a right to know what our elected representatives are doing during a day at the office. C-SPAN, a nonprofit, was founded on this premise 37 years ago, and it's reprehensible for the leader of any political party to stand in the way. Perhaps this is the moment C-SPAN finally gets its own cameras - or perhaps this is the moment they set up a tripod and a smartphone in the gallery of the House.

Stay tuned for more news, and get plenty of resources for decoding media, by following The LAMP on Twitter at @thelampnyc or visiting online at www.thelamp.org.

Jason Linkins   |   June 22, 2016    3:37 PM ET


These recent news cycles, lo, they have not been kind to presumptive GOP nominee and cursed blood pudding Donald Trump. With national poll numbers cratering, money in unprecedentedly short supply, and a staff in chaos, anxious Republican elites who have bought in to his candidacy are looking for Trump to demonstrate that he's going to start taking his presidential bid seriously and right his suddenly foundering campaign.


Good news, then! Trump will respond to the jangled nerves of his worried supporters by ... pissing off to Scotland on Thursday. Cool, cool. That should do the trick.


See, while Beltway Republicans are waiting, and hoping, for Trump to finally make his vaunted general election pivot, the candidate himself is more concerned with divots. He's making this trip to bonnie Scotland to celebrate the grand reopening of his golf course, Trump Turnberry. It's almost as if he is more serious about tending to his portfolio of business interests, and perhaps launching new ones, than he is about actually starting his general election campaign.


Trump -- whose mother hailed from Tong, a wee village in the Outer Hebrides -- has long claimed to feel a native affinity for Scotland, and he has expressed that affection by stamping a pair of golf courses on the nation: Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire, and Turnberry, in South Ayrshire. As with all things Trump, the mogul's sporting interests were pursued with his trademarked brand of care and diplomacy. As The Atlantic's David Graham related:



Trump had bought a portion of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire two years earlier with the intention of building a golf course and resort there. But the area included sand dunes that were a protected site. He was eventually able to win approval—over the reservations of local residents and government -- and construct the course. Ultimately, Scottish officials decided the economic benefit outweighed the environmental degradation. That didn’t stop Trump from whining throughout the process that the government was going hard on him despite his plans to invest vast amounts of money in the country. “If somebody else had applied, they would have gotten it a lot easier than me,” he said. “The celebrity and all of this media and craziness is probably a liability for me. But it’s an asset for the area and for Scotland. Everybody is talking about this course all over the world.”



More recently, Trump has made himself famous in Scotland for his epic row with former Scottish First Minister and current member of Parliament Alex Salmond over the wind farms the Scottish government approved off Scotland's northeast coast, which Trump considered to be a terrible eyesore for the swells he'd hope to attract to Trump International. Trump's war on wind, fought mainly on Twitter, wended all the way to Scotland's highest court before Trump lost. 






Of course, despite being the world's foremost opponent of wind farming -- he famously referred to it as "obsolete wind technology [that] will destroy the magnificence and beauty of Scotland" -- Trump didn't miss a beat when circumstances forced him to pander to Iowa voters earlier this year. As The Washington Post's Philip Bump reported, Trump came face to face with a wind supporter at a televised town hall in Newton, Iowa, who asked if Trump supported the wind-farm subsidies that kept her husband employed. Per Bump:



Trump began by saying, "Well, I'm okay with it." (He then said that he "know[s] a lot about wind," prompting some tittering in the audience.) He noted that it can be hard for wind to be competitive in energy production particularly when prices for fossil fuels are so low, so "you need subsidies." (He paused to marvel: "It's an amazing thing when you think -- you know, where they can, out of nowhere, out of the wind, they make energy.")



Oooh, wind makes energy, fancy that. At any rate, Trump managed to maintain relatively cordial relations with Iowans. The same can not be said of the Scots. Journalist Lesley Riddoch, writing for The Scotsman in 2012, put it rather colorfully:



Donald Trump: an unsavoury blend of Midas and King Canute; an uncomfortable fusion of Simon Cowell and Andrew Neil. It’s hard to think of a less sympathetic character in the eyes of most Scots. Despite all his tartanry and trumpeting of heritage, The Donald is almost the anti-Scot personified.


Left and right, unionist and nationalist, man and woman, young and old -- it takes quite a lot to unite the people of this notoriously fractious little country in a collective shudder. But Donald Trump effortlessly manages to strike the wrong note in just about everything he does.



So, it seems like we finally have a non-fallacious way to refer to someone as "No True Scotsman." 


Animosity for Trump in Scotland has hardly dimmed. As Fortune's Michael D'Antonio reports, "there is probably no country in the world where he is least welcomed." Among other things, the Scottish people retain the memory of Trump promising that his resorts would provide a vital economic boost and create some 6,000 permanent jobs. Trump fell about 5,850 jobs short of his projection. And along the way, Trump had numerous occasions to display his patented petulance -- especially as he attempted to snap up land for his golf courses. Per D'Antonio:



The political tide began to turn against Trump as Scots learned of how he was bullying the few landowners who refused to sell to him. When Susan Munro rejected his bid to buy her property, she said Trump’s workers built a ten-foot high berm of earth around it, blocking her view. Munro’s neighbor just to the north, David Milne, saw Trump’s men plant evergreens twenty feet from his windows when he refused to sell. To the south, farmer Michael Forbes was attacked – his family lived like “pigs,” said Trump — and the developer’s lawyer approached the local government about taking his land by eminent domain.


Opposition to Trump grew, with rallies and protests. An artist displayed caricatures of the man inside the barn on the Forbes property. Hundreds of people became co-owners of the Forbes land, buying tiny interests in the farm in order to make a transfer of the property extremely cumbersome and costly.



When Trump arrives in Scotland, he will be greeted by locals who've endeavored to raise Mexican flags within sight of his properties -- and who will have their animosity for Trump well primed by Vice President Joe Biden, who will be firing potshots from nearby Ireland.


The Scottish people have a saying: "Why don't you go take a running fuck at a rolling doughnut." Reached for comment, Republican strategist Liz Mair -- who, like Trump, is both American and Scottish (but unlike Trump has a more substantial affection for property rights) -- was slightly more measured in offering her perspective on Trump's decision to quit the campaign trail at this heady time.


"With this visit," said Mair, "Trump is temporarily relocating himself from one country of which he is a national, where his fellow citizens largely hate him, to another country that he appears to be a national of, where he is arguably even more hated. Good times."


Good times, indeed, unless you are one of the GOP officials hoping to shepherd Trump through a genial convention, onto a sensible general election footing. Instead of Trump addressing his myriad deficits while the attention being paid to them is boiling, he's going to run at full speed into a hostile territory where there are no electoral votes to be plucked, only more cycles of bad news. It really makes you wonder how Trump's adult children can be smart enough to rid Trump's campaign of Corey Lewandowski, and yet not possess the good sense to say, "Hey, I'll cut the ribbon at your stupid golf course, Dad."


But hey, the Trump campaign is fine! Everything is fine.


Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Jason Linkins   |   June 22, 2016    1:35 PM ET

As we've previously reported, a significant number of convention delegates are conspiring to stop Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention in what would amount to a smash-and-grab heist of the nomination. The mission is daring, a high-wire act with no real certainty of success. To pull it off, the anti-Trump delegate cabal would need quite a bit of help. Here's something they don't need however:

Noooooo, Bill Kristol! My man! You have one job and that's to never offer up predictions. You know this! I mean, look at this nonsense. You are currently competing with ESPN's Steven A. Smith in a desperate battle to see whose oracular abilities are the most star-crossed. 

As The Washington Post's Paul Farhi noted back in February, a black swan event occurred in the lead-up to the GOP primary season: Kristol managed to make two accurate predictions. The Weekly Standard's standard-bearer correctly saw that Rand Paul was not going to succeed in the Republicans' crowded presidential field, and -- in a genuinely nervy moment -- he accurately foretold that Jeb Bush would not win his party's nomination either. “I think there’s no way there will be a Bush-Clinton race in 2016,” he said, in a moment of prescience that rarely comes his way.

Most of the time, however, Kristol's prognostications portend doom for whatever enterprises he seeks to anoint. What he should be doing now is basking in his momentary success and properly anticipating that a reversion to the mean was in the offing. Instead, he's gone all out, predicting that GOP chair Reince Priebus -- who's hitherto demonstrated the fortitude of a box kite trapped in a heavy wind -- will provide the anti-Trump effort with the steely leadership it needs to succeed.

Oh well, R.I.P., Stop Trump Movement.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost Politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Jason Linkins   |   June 21, 2016    2:08 PM ET

Over the past week, a growing number of Republican convention delegates have been organizing to mount an effort to wrest the GOP nomination from the party's presumptive nominee, pan-fried wereferret Donald Trump. For those delegates, the issue has become a matter of conscience. But now that the world has had the chance to absorb the Trump campaign's latest round of financial filings, it might be a matter of competence as well.

Could the "Dump Trump" ranks swell with the news that the candidate's campaign is currently sitting on a war chest that has political reporters searching their thesauri for words worse than "woeful" and "pathetic"? Because it certainly looks like those delegates pledged to Trump are being provided with mountains of evidence that their presumptive nominee is congenitally incapable of mounting a serious presidential bid.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham famously urged his fellow Republicans to look for an "off-ramp" from the Trump nomination. Trump seemingly conning everyone into believing that he'd even attempt to manage a professional presidential campaign is as good an off-ramp as any.

We learned on Monday evening that the Trump campaign is basically broke as hell. According to the report released by the Federal Election Commission, Trump only raised $3.1 million in May -- a time when his nomination was a settled issue. His campaign spent more than he took in that month, and Trump is left with a meager $1.3 million cash on hand.

To say that this is an unprecedented level of campaign incompetence almost doesn't do the matter justice. Just as a means of comparison, let's flash back four years: On June 7, 2012, it was reported that Mitt Romney and the Republican National Committee -- who actually worked well together, unlike the RNC and Trump -- had collectively raised $76.8 million, adding up to $107 million cash on hand. They had significantly outraised, and effectively put the fear of God into, the Obama re-election campaign.

Trump has repeatedly referred to Romney as a loser, but we have a saying in America: $107 million > $1.3 million.

For the benefit of convention delegates, let's do some further scorekeeping. Hillary Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent, raised $27 million in May and has $42 million cash on hand. In what has to be a first for the party, Green Party candidate Jill Stein only lags behind the presumptive Republican nominee by $1,163,000. There are multiple former presidential candidates with more money than Trump currently has -- including Ben Carson, whose entire campaign was just about letting his hangers-on cash in on his fame.

At this point, I'm pretty sure that J.D. And The Straight Shot, the terrible blues band fronted by New York Knicks owner James Dolan, has more cash on hand than Trump. And as The Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal reports, "When party committees and supportive super PACs are factored in, the disparity between Clinton and Trump becomes astronomical."

He continues: 

Aside from the $26.4 million raised for Clinton’s campaign, Priorities USA Action (the super PAC endorsed by her campaign) pulled in an additional $12.4 million. The Democratic National Committee also raised $12.3 million. In total, these three committees comprising Team Clinton entered June with $103.4 million cash on hand.

Team Trump — his campaign, the Republican National Committee and the super PAC Great America — had a combined $21.7 million cash on hand. That is five times less than what Team Clinton has available to spend.

Those pledged to support Trump at the convention may be wondering what their candidate has been doing all this time. Well, one of the things he has not been doing is working diligently to raise money for his presidential campaign. As Politico reported last week, the RNC gave Trump some pretty clear instructions about how to go about sacking away the scrilla needed to run a modern presidential campaign, only to learn that that Trump is incapable of making even a bare minimum of effort:

While Trump had promised Priebus that he would call two dozen top GOP donors, when RNC chief of staff Katie Walsh recently presented Trump with a list of more than 20 donors, he called only three before stopping, according to two sources familiar with the situation. It’s unclear whether he resumed the donor calls later.

It seems to me like this FEC report finally provides us with an exciting twist ending to that particular story. But in another exciting twist, it would appear that Trump's whole campaign is basically an elaborate scam. As our own Christina Wilkie reports, money taken in by the Trump campaign seems to have an uncanny knack for finding its way back into Trump's own wallet. The latest FEC report shows that "Donald Trump’s presidential campaign paid more than $1 million last month to companies controlled by the presumptive GOP presidential nominee." Per Wilkie:

The figure represents payments for facilities rental, catering, monthly rents and utilities at more than a half-dozen Trump-owned companies and properties. It includes nearly $350,000 that the Trump campaign paid a Trump-owned company, TAG Air, for the use of Trump’s private jets and helicopters.  

The most striking expenditure in the new filings was $423,372, paid by the Trump campaign for rentals and catering at Trump’s 126-room Palm Beach, Florida, mansion, Mar-A-Lago, which Trump operates as a private club.

Trump has also been lying about his fundraising prowess, stretching the RNC's manpower and resources thinner and thinner, and ... well, I'm not sure quite what to say about the fact that his campaign gave money to some shadowy outfit literally named after the fictitious ad agency from the show "Mad Men."

If you started your week by wondering why Trump would send his supposedly indispensable aide-de-camp Corey Lewandowski packing on a Monday morning, thus ensuring that it would dominate the week's news cycle, maybe you should wonder no more.

It's no coincidence that Lewandowski's cashiering came shortly before this FEC report revealed that the Trump campaign's operating capacity was just south of the RMS Lusitania. And when you read the inside-the-campaign account of the firing provided to New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman, it's pretty clear that Trump's campaign wants you to think of Lewandowski as the person chiefly responsible for all that's gone wrong:

According to two sources briefed on the events, the meeting was a setup. Shortly after it began, the children peppered Lewandowski with questions, asking him to explain the campaign's lack of infrastructure. "They went through the punch list. 'Where are we with staffing? Where are we with getting the infrastructure built?'" one source explained. Their father grew visibly upset as he heard the list of failures. Finally, he turned to Lewandowski and said, "What's your plan here?"

Lewandowski responded that he wanted to leak Trump's vice-president pick.

And with that, Lewandowski was out.

Hard as it is to defend someone who clearly belongs in an anger-management diversion program, it's still difficult to see what, if anything, Lewandowski was supposed to have done with the limited resources available to him. It's not exactly perplexing that there's no staffing or infrastructure to speak of: The Trump campaign's fundraising efforts have been feeble; the candidates's statements are toxic to traditional GOP donors; Trump has insisted on shelling out for rallies in reliable Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas.

And given what Lewandowski might have known about the disastrous news lurking in the FEC report, leaking the name of Trump's vice presidential pick was actually a pretty good call -- it would have put the media onto a bigger story and, depending on who that pick was, given a sign to nervous GOP elites that Trump was taking the campaign seriously. Instead, Lewandowski has been made to look like this campaign's chief problem. You shouldn't be fooled: This fish rots from the head.

Trump has basically given all of the people who have pledged to support him in Cleveland a taste of what it's like to be enrolled in Trump University: You sign over your livelihood to a con man, receive very little return on the investment, and spend the next few years of your life regretting having been taken in so badly. Can a party eject its own nominee based upon mounting evidence of total campaign malpractice? There's never been a candidate who's made the case more clearly, and we might be about to find out.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Jason Linkins   |   June 16, 2016    1:36 PM ET

So, that happened. In the wake of last weekend's horrific shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Senate Democrats launched a lengthy "talking" filibuster to try to force Senate leaders to allow the body to consider measures that would help curb the flow of deadly weapons to deranged killers. The threat of terrorism loomed large in their arguments, with President Barack Obama's complaint about being able to keep terrorists off of airplanes, but not to keep them from purchasing weapons, looming large as a talking point.

But with all the emphasis on our well-primed fears of lone wolves taking cues from far-flung terrorist networks to bring mayhem to America, we're losing sight of the fact that the violence we saw in Orlando is very much rooted in a homegrown hatred of the LGBT community -- a hatred that sees itself redeemed every time the state passes a law that infringes on the basic constitutional rights of LGBT people, or -- worse -- helps implant the notion that they are less than human, and that violence toward them is permissible and forgivable.

On this week's podcast, we'll discuss this balance, and whether lawmakers can truly do something good in the wake of this tragedy, if they erase the community upon which it was visited.

 


Also on this week's podcast: Where will Bernie Sanders' supporters go, now that the Democratic primary is over? We have two guests with perspective on the matter: Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, and political commentator and host of the "Tim Black At Night Show," Tim Black. 


Additionally, we return to the deepening debt crisis in Puerto Rico, to find out whether the solution posed by Congress will help ameliorate the island territory's financial woes, or if it will end up setting a bad precedent for democracy.


Finally, as tensions continue to mount between Beltway Republicans and their party's presidential candidate, we turn to noted Donald Trump critic Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) for an update on the lay of the land.


“So, That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney. Joining them this week: Green Party presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, Rep. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), and political commentator and podcaster Tim Black.


This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Christine Conetta.


To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. You can check out other HuffPost podcasts here.


Trump Banning Reporters Echoes Nixon, China

Jonathan Kaufman   |   June 15, 2016    1:47 PM ET

Banning the Washington Post from covering his campaign rallies isn't just a sign of Donald Trump's distrust of the press. Reporters are an early warning system. History shows that politicians who turn against the media and cut off their access don't stop there.

Remember Richard Nixon. Nixon made no bones about it -- he hated the press, made life difficult for reporters, put members of the press on his "enemies list." He tried to block publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times. His vice president Spiro Agnew denounced the press in a famous 1970 speech as "nattering nabobs of negativism." Recordings of Nixon's White House conversations are filled with his attacks on the press and disparaging comments about them.

In the end, the press still uncovered his crimes. Nixon's hatred of the press reflected his paranoia and contempt for all his opponents and for the rule of law.

Several people have asked me recently if I ever had my press credential revoked. It is revealing that the only place that I have run into problems with press credentials has been China where the Chinese government monitors the overseas and domestic press closely and tries to exert control by approving and rejecting reporter visas and residence permits. That creates huge obstacles to reporters trying to do their jobs, especially when it comes to holding the Chinese government and its leaders accountable.

Sound familiar?

In 1989 I was sent to China by the Boston Globe to report on the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre. The Chinese refused to give me a reporting visa so I flew to Hong Kong and entered as a tourist. When they asked my occupation, I put down "English teacher." I think the Chinese visa officials in Hong Kong knew that I was a journalist; many of them were angry about the massacre and wanted it reported. From 2002-2005 I was the China Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal based in Beijing. The Chinese refused to issue visa for some of our reporters whose earlier stories about China they didn't like. At one point we feared they might shut down the Wall Street Journal office because of our aggressive reporting on the SARS outbreak, which China was covering up. In the end they backed off, though we had to be careful we didn't imperil our Chinese sources who were giving us information. A few years ago when I was an Executive Editor at Bloomberg News, the Chinese refused to issue visas for me, other editors, and a number of our reporters because they were angry about Bloomberg's prize-winning investigations of the hidden wealth of China's top leaders. It made covering China much more difficult--which was what the Chinese intended. The New York Times has faced the same obstacles.

Banning the Post from his rallies can only hurt Trump. Most stories on rallies report simply what the candidate said and maybe some audience reaction. Reporters are resourceful and they will get the news. The danger for Trump is that this controversy distracts people from his political message--unless of course he sees political advantage in attacking the press, which I suspect he does.

I took my journalism class to New Hampshire in February to cover a Trump rally and was shocked when, a few minutes before Trump appeared, an announcer came on over the loudspeaker declaring that that "while Mr. Trump respects the First Amendment" he wouldn't tolerate any cat-calls or jeers. If anyone started protesting during his speech, the announcement said, the crowd should surround the protester and security would eject them. In all my years covering campaigns I never encountered anything like that. As we have seen, Trump rallies are now places where protesters are routinely ejected and violent clashes are now taking place.

In a press conference last month, Trump noted that his approach to the press would stay the same if he were elected president. "Yeah, it is going to be like this," said Trump, whose campaign has also banned the likes of Politico, Buzzfeed, and the Daily Beast. "You think I'm going to change? I'm not going to change."

If you want to control a free press, chances are you want to curb other kinds of free speech and criticism as well.

Jason Linkins   |   June 13, 2016    8:43 PM ET


This week, presumptive GOP nominee and peripatetic heap of tannery fleshings Donald Trump announced that his campaign will no longer offer press credentials to The Washington Post. The Post joins a growing number of media outlets that have been similarly blacklisted by the campaign. Over at Gawker, Gabrielle Bluestone runs down the list of those affected. Gawker itself is on the list, as is The Huffington Post. There's also Politico, BuzzFeed, National Review, The New York Times, The Des Moines Register, Mother Jones, The Daily Beast, Univision and The New Tri-State Defender.


Join us. Get on the blacklist.


The Washington Post has found itself blacklisted because it has made a practice of telling the truth about Donald Trump, something that Trump himself does not countenance. In recent weeks, the Post's reporters were at the forefront of a rising demand that Trump disclose the whereabouts of some $6 million he'd promised to veterans charities.


Trump lied repeatedly to Post reporter Drew Harwell, a fact that was subsequently disclosed by Post reporter David Fahrenthold. That disclosure forced Trump to part with $1 million of his own money, in a check written the day of Fahrenthold's disclosure. As The Associated Press reported, Trump had previously lied, telling the Post that this donation had already been made.


The event that seems to have precipitated the Post's blacklisting came on Monday, June 13, when the paper published a story headlined, "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting." Trump took exception to this, calling the paper "dishonest" and "phony." But the paper gave the piece that headline precisely because Donald Trump suggested that President Obama was involved with the Orlando shooting.


Does it seem inconceivable that Trump said this? It shouldn't. It's no more insane than him insisting that Obama was not born in the U.S., or suggesting a link between Ted Cruz's father and the Kennedy assassination. But let's go to the tape. I'll bold all the places where Trump alleged that Obama was either involved with, or tacitly sanctions, the murder of 49 people at a gay club in Florida:



"Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind," Trump said in a lengthy interview on Fox News early Monday morning. "And the something else in mind -- you know, people can't believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can't even mention the words 'radical Islamic terrorism.' There's something going on. It's inconceivable. There's something going on."


In that same interview, Trump was asked to explain why he called for Obama to resign in light of the shooting and he answered, in part: "He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands -- it's one or the other, and either one is unacceptable."



Trump has been given the opportunity to clarify what he intended to say, and he has specifically refused to do so, leaving it to others to come up with their own interpretations. This is nothing more than a litmus test: If you whitewash his ominous insinuations, you stay in his good graces. If you refuse, and tell the truth about what he said and how he said it, you get blacklisted.


My recommendation: Get blacklisted.


As CNN's Tom Kludt and Brian Stelter report, The Washington Post made additional attempts after the original piece was published to be more cautious about what it was reporting:



The Post later adjusted its story to make the headline tamer. The headline now reads, "Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting."


Kris Coratti, a spokeswoman for the Post, told CNNMoney that the headline was changed "shortly after it posted to more properly reflect what Trump said."


"We did so on our own; the Trump campaign never contacted us about it," Coratti said.



In the end, it didn't matter. The Trump campaign revoked the Post's credentials anyway. This has dovetailed perfectly with predictions I'd previously made (if you'll allow me a moment of Trump-like self-congratulation). You cannot insulate yourself from Trump's war on a free press by remaining above the fray. You won't avoid retribution by following what's always been the safe path for political journalism -- performing the ritual of neutrality. Donald Trump makes no distinction between negative commentary about him and objectively true facts that cast him in a bad light. 


So: Does your publication bend over backward to be neutral? It won't help. If you present objectively true facts about Donald Trump that make him look bad -- like, for instance, a verbatim transcription of the words that tumble out of his cakehole -- you're as likely as not to end up on his blacklist.


Save yourself the time and heartbreak by joining us on it now.


Being blacklisted by the Trump campaign will come at a cost. Reporters will lose access to a presidential candidate. They'll be barred from covering his campaign as it wends its way along the campaign trail. Calls won't be returned. Scoops will be harder to come by.


That's OK. You can still do your jobs without all this access, perhaps even better than you did before. If you're uncertain about that, just listen to blacklisted Post editor Marty Baron, who responded to Trump like so:



"Donald Trump's decision to revoke The Washington Post's press credentials is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press," Baron wrote in a statement. "When coverage doesn't correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along -- honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We're proud of our coverage, and we're going to keep at it."



Baron has some experience in dealing with subjects who endeavored to keep him at arm's length, nesting in a web of lies. There's a whole movie about that.


Typically, the ability to gain intimate access to a presidential candidate offers reporters sundry rewards. In normal circumstances, you wouldn't want to get blacklisted. Trump is an exception. 


A reporter in a close relationship with a candidate can plumb his or her depths, and get to the deeper thoughts behind his or her ideas. Trump has offered no evidence that he has any deep thoughts. His inventory of ideas is now completely chronicled. A reporter with access could keep a close watch on a candidate's policy positions. Trump's policy positions keep changing. They change by design: Trump's intent, in this election, is to deny reporters the foothold they need to render analysis, and to inform their audience about what he is for, and what he is against.


Trump has made it clear that everything he has to say about policy is just a suggestion. He's stuck us with the job of imagining how his policies could be implemented, because he'd rather see us pin ourselves down than be pinned down himself. This is another litmus test for us: We can either figure out how he could operationalize his zany plans on his behalf, or we call him out for not having done so himself and risk the sort of punishment the Post got.


And what of the scoops? Those nibble-sized bites of campaign intrigue that fuel our daily news cycle? I think you should either trust your own doggedness or learn to live without them. Last week was a glorious heyday for inside-the-Trump-campaign scooplets, fueled in no small part by the fact that this campaign has warring factions that are, in contravention of Trump's overall media strategy, anonymously fighting one another in the press in an attempt to paint the other side as incompetent. I doubt this is going to stop anytime soon.


Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort recently broke with his candidate's overall embargo of The Huffington Post, sitting for an interview with our own Howard Fineman. Manafort told us that Trump was going to moderate his position on a ban on Muslims, saying, "Within his comfort zone, he'll soften it some more." Guess what? Not true. Either Manafort was lying, or he was lied to. Either way, it speaks to the diminishing marginal utility of having access to the Trump campaign.


So, goodbye to all that. Join us on the blacklist.


Donald Trump flouts constitutional norms the way the rest of us draw breath. And he's made it clear that he would wage a blistering war against a free press if given the power to do so. There are many things that he might not get Congress or an independent judiciary to endorse, but he'd have power over numerous regulatory agencies nonetheless. His campaign has threatened the press with the specter of relentless lawsuits. His campaign has threatened to create "such problems" for Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. His campaign has suggested that CNN might be stripped of its FCC license.


Trump explicitly wants media organizations to pick a side. Those that cover him in the manner he approves will be rewarded. Those that don't -- up to and including all of those striving to be scrupulously neutral -- will be punished. There will be those that opt in to Trump's design. Let the Vichy press go their own way. The rest of us face a decision about whether we're willing to defend each other's ability to do our jobs, now and in the future.


Media organizations should understand that many of the people who properly recognize the danger Donald Trump poses -- his disregard for the rule of law, his disdain for broad swaths of America's population, his Know-Nothingness, his threat to America's principles, his disregard for the alliances that have kept the world secure, his open racism, his xenophobia, his unrelenting ignorance -- blame the media for allowing this all to happen. They see us as having aided and abetted Trump's rise. Many people who oppose Trump have even accused the press of deliberately engineering his nomination, by withholding information that could have prevented it, all for the sake of either ratings or for allowing a stronger Republican opponent the opportunity of coming to the fore.


There are parts of this argument that I categorically reject, and which you should as well. Nevertheless, the notion that the media helped give rise to Trump is one that has been argued compellingly enough to give all of us pause. The argument absolutely has enough substance to become part of the accepted history of this moment. I don't know if it will ultimately become part of the historical record. I don't know who, specifically, will be blamed. What I do know is that right now, there's only one possible safe haven from history's judgment on this matter. That refuge of honor is Donald Trump's blacklist.


So join the blacklist. Join The Washington Post. Join The New York Times. Join Gawker. Join Politico. Join BuzzFeed. Join National Review. Join The Des Moines Register. Join Mother Jones. Join The Daily Beast. Join Univision. Join The New Tri-State Defender. Join The Huffington Post.


Join us today.







Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.







 

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

What Does Remix Have to Do with Choosing the Next President?

Emily Long   |   June 10, 2016   11:51 AM ET

"What does remix have to do with writing a letter to the next president?"

This was one of the early questions posed in a webinar for Letters to the Next President 2.0, an initiative from the National Writing Project and KQED. I was presenting during the webinar with my colleague Alan Berry; we both work for The LAMP, a New York-based nonprofit media literacy education organization. We were talking about using The LAMP's MediaBreaker/Studios free, online video editing platform to remix and speak back to media. I think, write and talk about remix virtually every day of my life, and realized in this moment that I had taken its relevance for granted. But, it was a fair question. What does remix have to do with writing letters to a future world leader?

In a word, everything. Remix is a language which, depending on your medium of choice, can be rooted in pictures (moving or still), text or sound. Sometimes, as in remix video, it's a combination of all three. Often we think of a letter as a fairly old-fashioned thing written using words on paper, but that limitation stifles the possibilities of what a letter can be and do. (Consider: How many times have you heard a movie referred to as a love letter to New York City?)

A letter to the next president, then, can consist of just about anything. But a letter made of a multimedia remix seems especially appropriate for a young person learning about the world through social media networks, instant news alerts, streaming video and computers the size of her hand. Media shape virtually everything we know, or think we know, about the world. More to the point, they shape what we think of and expect from our leaders, and can change how we understand the entire democratic process. Tune in to one candidate, and the system is completely rigged. Pay attention to another, and you'll hear that the system is what it is for a reason. The truth depends entirely on where you turn your head.

Remix allows us to utilize media messages about a candidate, instead of allowing the candidate's media to utilize us. For example, take a look at this video breaking down how an ad for then-candidate Ted Cruz attempts to manipulate us through fear:

By inserting critical statements and revealing the mechanics, this remix effectively disarms the original campaign ad. It's one way of telling a future president that we want substance, not fear-mongering.

Another way remix can function is to show, and not tell, why we believe what we believe. Polls have indicated that large numbers of voters find Hillary Clinton dishonest and untrustworthy. Such statements are easily made, but can be more challenging to back up. Here, one remixer uses Clinton's own statements against her to demonstrate why the Democratic candidate comes off as insincere:

Video may not be your medium of choice for composing a (remix) letter to the next president, but even so, you've still got plenty of choices. Also on the webinar with The LAMP was Jeremy Dean of Hypothes.is, who talked about remixing articles and transcripts, and Robert Friedman of Mozilla, who talked about remixing with tools like Thimble and X-Ray Goggles. Like MediaBreaker/Studios, these tools are free.

All summer, Letters to the Next President 2.0 is running a series of Make Cycles to connect educators with tools and resources for classroom making in response to the current election. We at The LAMP are thrilled to be part Make Cycle #1, which you can catch up on here. We hope to see your makes (and breaks) soon!

Stay tuned for more news, and get plenty of resources for decoding media, by following us on Twitter at @thelampnyc or visiting us online at www.thelamp.org.

Jason Linkins   |   June 9, 2016    3:33 PM ET

For a hot minute, it looked like it might happen. Weeks after GOP elites were forced to come to terms with the fact that Andy Serkis' latest motion-capture monster project, Donald Trump, had won their party's nomination, House Speaker Paul Ryan finally bestowed his blessing on the arrangement, and it looked for all the world as if Beltway Republicans might reach the end of their long, dark walkabout with Kübler-Ross' stages of grieving.

That's when Trump, in an entirely predictable reversion to the mean, resumed his long-running racist performance art project, disparaging U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel while simultaneously reminding everybody that he stands accused of massively scamming the benighted attendees of his "Trump University." That sent Republicans plummeting back toward depression, anger, and bargaining. Now, amid all the recriminations and revoked endorsements, an old hope has been revived: the contested convention.

Okay, man, but isn't it getting a little bit late in the day for this? The possibility of a contested convention happening was a remote possibility back when Ted Cruz and John Kasich were supposedly, and ultimately unsuccessfully, teaming up to strategically heist delegates from Trump while the GOP primary was still a going concern. Since then, it had looked like the "Never Trump" movement had settled on the desperate hope of mounting some long-shot independent presidential bid to save the day.

Trump's decision to attempt the character assassination of Judge Curiel scrambled the calculus, however. Earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added new momentum to the notion that a contested convention might be the way out. As the Washington Examiner's Gabby Morrongiello reported:

"Let's face it: meet the old Trump, just like the new Trump. We've got what we've got," Flake told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That's not somebody who can win the White House."

"Where there's no talk of a convention challenge or anything else, this might spur it," he added.

Well, consider it spurred. A day later, conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt called on the Republican National Committee to dump Trump with all deliberate haste. And while Hewitt suggested that an opening overture might be to simply "step up and talk to [Trump] about getting out of the race," he also recommended that convention rule-makers take it upon themselves to plant the seeds of Trump's forceful removal:

“The Republican National Committee can do one thing: they can change the rules to make the first two ballots advisory,” Hewitt said.

He also suggested making the first ballot require a supermajority of votes.

Talk of a convention coup has echoed from there. As Yahoo News' Jon Ward reported, "anti-Trump conservatives ... have begun looking more closely at attempting to persuade delegates at next month’s GOP convention to nominate someone other than Trump." Per Ward:

“There is a rapidly moving train toward the convention to try to obstruct it at the convention. Trump in the last 72 hours has given hope to people who think it’s now possible,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative radio talk show host and one of Trump’s most resolute critics.

“He’s starting to give everybody hope that he should be stopped at the convention,” Erickson said, though he cautioned that if Trump “cleans up his act then I think that hope will go away.”

One of the central players inside the movement to recruit an independent conservative candidate also said Monday that an anti-Trump group was “actively recruiting and setting a convention strategy.”

NBC News' Vaughn Hillyard followed on:

Bob Vander Plaats, a supporter and campaign co-chair of former candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, suggested that a convention coup at next month's Republican nominating convention in Cleveland is possible.

"Everything's got to be on the table," said Vander Plaats, acknowledging to NBC News that could mean an effort to unbind the delegates from having to vote for Trump on the convention floor.

So it's established: The dream of a contested convention to save the Republican Party from Trump's toxic embrace has been fully revived and it now beats in the stout hearts of those who couldn't quite work out how to do this the first time the idea of a palace coup was floated. Can they pull it off now? I think all signs point to "nope," but let's consider the prospect, just for funsies.

Right now, according to the rules, Trump has earned the magic number of pledged delegates, and should be properly confirmed on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Had he fallen short of the magic number, it might have opened up the possibility that he might lose the nomination on successive ballots, because the current rules allow for delegates in increasingly larger numbers to become "unbound" from their pledges as voting goes into later and later rounds of balloting. 

But all of these rules are, technically, superseded by a larger rule governing the convention that says that if you can get enough people to agree to do it, the whole convention can become a game of Calvinball, and all the rules can be changed at any time.

The specific change that the who's who of this new coup have fixated upon is one in which the delegates are unbound from their pledges at the very outset of the convention, freeing them to vote for whoever they want as long as they aren't under any legal obligations imposed on them by their state party. This would create a circumstance in which many of the delegates who are required to cast their vote for Trump on the first ballot would be immediately freed from this obligation. 

How could this be brought about? First, a majority of members on the Republican National Committee's Rules Committee would have to agree to unbind the delegates. It's rather uncertain that they'd do this, if only because RNC Chair Reince Priebus has already made it known that anyone in the RNC who can't get on board with Trump should take their leave.

If the Rules Committee could be convinced to allow this to happen, a majority of the convention delegates would also have to agree to this -- and for all we know, there are enough sincere Trump delegates to prevent this rule from being enacted. But even if there were a majority of delegates who'd rather Trump not become the nominee, that doesn't mean they'd necessarily follow through on their hearts' desire and overturn the will of the primary electorate. As Vox's Andrew Prokop notes, there's a reason this scheme is referred to as "the nuclear option" -- if it was triggered, there would be a lot of fallout:

As in any gathering of 2,472 people, there will likely be a spectrum of political opinion — from out-and-out Trump supporters to die-hard #NeverTrumpers and everything in between. So how many of Trump's delegates will truly support him, and how many will be [Trump supporters in name only]? And how many delegates overall will be truly hell-bent on stopping Trump, versus willing to tolerate his nomination?

Just as crucial is the delegates' tolerance for risk and willingness to court controversy. The delegates know full well that these decisions aren't being made in a vacuum, and those with political ambitions could face political consequences back home. 

Beyond this, there's another massive piece of the puzzle missing: If not Trump, then who? What candidate would these newly freed, disaffected delegates swarm behind as an alternative. Speaker Ryan, who depending on who you talk to is either a hapless captive of Trump or has brilliantly checkmated him somehow, is forever bandied about as an acceptable alternative. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's name got floated as a coup beneficiary, a rumor he has endeavored to shoot down. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is said to be lurking in the background. Mitt Romney is probably still in the mix. And we've a plethora of defeated candidates from the primary season and unity-candidates-to-be-named-later that are perhaps waiting in the wings.

Do the anti-Trump forces winnow this field? Can they winnow it? If multiple contenders step forward, will Trump still benefit from the splitting of the delegation's votes? If so, who drops out? And how much patience will the delegates have before they just give up and do what they were sent there to do in the first place?

And to be honest, we are getting ahead of ourselves just posing these questions, because this scheme won't work if the would-be Trump-supplanter is flying into the convention blind. To successfully deny Trump the nomination, some alternative candidate would have to be working at the edges of the game right now. They'd need to be reaching out to members of the Rules Committee to find out if they'd pull the trigger to unbind the delegates. They'd need to be able to assure those people that they won't be going it alone. They'd also need to be delegate hunting in earnest, earning the certainty that they'd have enough votes to actually secure the nomination in a putsch.

They'd also have to do all this outreach without news of these ongoing communications getting leaked to the press, which is no easy feat. The fact that we've not seen a story about some kind of behind-the-scenes skullduggery is probably proof enough that no serious attempt to change the rules and deny Trump the nomination is currently happening. 

Oh, and you know, everyone involved in this heist would probably have to account for the means by which everyone in Cleveland actually gets out alive, because I have this funny feeling that Trump and his supporters would probably not look upon any of this with a sanguine, chilled-out attitude.

In short: Man, I don't know about this. A contested convention at this point is a Herculean lift coming and going. And when you consider the fact that if Trump somehow goes a week or two giving nothing but anesthetized teleprompter speeches, what passion there currently is for preventing his nomination will probably ebb away from all but the most die-hard Never Trumpers. At that point, they'll probably just revive some scheme to run Joe Scarborough or Condoleezza Rice or a Reagan Biography In An American Flag Necktie as some outlier candidate.

So, if you've got money to wager, I wouldn't put a lot of it on the prospect of a contested convention. It's pretty clear that one takeaway here is that it's a far safer bet that any time a candidate has a news cycle like Trump has had, it's going to touch off a frantic round of bedwetting.

Of course, the real lesson here is that maybe somebody should have dealt with the fact that Trump was a racist cretin many, many months ago, when that became obvious. Alas!

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

Jason Linkins   |   June 9, 2016    1:58 PM ET

So, that happened. The primary season, for the Democrats, is now over, and the hard task of knitting up rival factions, and acknowledging the youthful vigor and obvious durability of Bernie Sanders' movement is now the responsibility of the victor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It's going to be one of the more interesting political challenges that any major party nominee has ever faced.

Still, this is a good moment to note that Clinton's nomination has real import for all of us, whether we're inclined to vote for her or not. For all of America's storied history, we've lagged behind the rest of the world when it comes to being accepting and comfortable with women steering the ship of state -- a threshold that nations in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa crossed years ago.

Of course, the chance to make history isn't really a reason to elect a president, something that Clinton had better understand. On this week's podcast, however, we're taking a minute to commemorate the moment.


Also on this week's podcast: Donald Trump has found his own support with Republican elites eroding badly, days after he'd earned the endorsement of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump's problem may be the fact that the general election season brings a higher intensity of scrutiny than he's ever faced in his career. But Trump's saving grace may be that, with so much to scrutinize, it's hard to see how any of it will stick. Maybe too much of a bad thing is a good thing?


Finally, we are weeks away from the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Rio de rio de, Brazil. Back when Rio won the International Olympic Committee's bid, Brazil was enjoying a booming economy and looking forward to joining the ranks of elite nations. Now, in the midst of a historic recession, massive political strife, and the ongoing Zika outbreak, this Olympic Games might be a disaster in the making, with Rio's impoverished population caught in the middle.


“So, That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney. Joining them this week: Huffington Post reporters Amanda Terkel, Travis Waldron, and Christina Wilkie.


This podcast was produced, edited and engineered by Christine Conetta.


To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. You can check out other HuffPost podcasts here.


Jason Linkins   |   June 8, 2016    2:54 PM ET

If you're like, say, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) -- who's given presumptive GOP presidential nominee and foaming man-possum Donald Trump three weeks to "fix" his campaign -- you might be nervously watching for signs that Trump is undertaking an effort to bring order to an organization that has lately lapsed into chaos. Giving a speech with a teleprompter in which the overt white-supremacist content was dialed back a notch might have been a good start. 

But then you read the interview that Trump just gave Bloomberg News and ... wow. I don't know, you guys. Go read the whole thing -- it's a genuine doozy.

As Bloomberg's Michael Bender and Jennifer Jacobs report, there is much that seems off, perhaps even delusional, about how Trump sees the next part of his electoral strategy playing out. He seems not to understand how expensive an undertaking this race is going to be (or he's realizing that donors don't want to be associated with him), and he believes that living off the land of free media is sufficient to the task. Speaking of all that free media, he also seems to think that the issues that have dogged him over the past week -- Trump University and his disparagement of Judge Gonzalo Curiel -- are now effectively in the rear-view mirror.

What might be most alarming to veteran GOP figures is how Trump details his process for choosing a running mate. Bender and Jacobs report that Trump has narrowed his search to four or five politicians, plus two "respected military officials." Of the latter two, Trump says that he probably won't choose them because he believes he will "do very well on national security." (For a counterpoint, see Ian Bremmer in Politico.)

Why Trump would say he'd short-listed two military experts if he's not seriously thinking about choosing them is a genuine mystery. Maybe he reckons they'll be honored just to be on the short list? 

Trump says that the benefit of picking a politician is that the "voters and the media" will have already vetted the person. What this says is that Trump really isn't planning to vet his own candidates, which is generally seen as the essential thing to do when selecting a running mate. As a team of experts at the Bipartisan Policy Center laid out, there are five steps to picking a vice presidential candidate, which I've previously summarized like so:

  1. Take a deep breath, and come up with some names.

  2. Vet their public records.

  3. Narrow the choices and vet them again, this time taking an “‘intrusive’ look at the contenders’ personal lives, including medical and financial matters that could be embarrassing to the ticket.”

  4. Tell your prospects to their faces what you found out and browbeat them into revealing anything that was not “unearthed but which could come out in the media.”

  5. Make a choice, and then pray you did your due diligence and didn’t pick a liar.

So literally three of the steps involve the campaign personally vetting each candidate. Of course, you need to actually have a competent campaign to perform these tasks, and what Trump has is a gaggle of anger-management candidates fighting an anonymously sourced civil war with one other.

Still more unnerving is the process by which he'll disclose his eventual selection. As Bender and Jacobs relate, there has been some tension within the campaign over this, in which "some advisers have worried that Trump may decide on his own to post the announcement on Twitter one night with little warning." But this actually sounds like the saner alternative after Trump describes what he'd really like to do:

"I’d like to save it, give it the old fashioned way, right?” Trump said about keeping the announcement until the convention.

Trump said he'll probably choose one of four or five politicians, and that his short list includes some vanquished rivals who have dropped out of the 2016 presidential race. He is considering at least one ex-rival who has so far refused to endorse him, but who will "come over to my side," he predicted.

Hold up now, let me get this straight: He's going to wait until the convention to make his pick, and it could end up being someone who has not offered Trump an endorsement but who Trump thinks will join up with him anyway? Ordinarily I'd say, "Well, surely he wouldn't actually fail to apprise the selectee of his decision, and nail down whether they'd actually accept the position." But Trump is so enamored of wielding the element of surprise, and so steeped in reality-television tropes, that I can genuinely imagine him springing it on some poor sucker, right there on the convention stage.

You can see it, right? There's an audible gasp, the camera cuts to a shocked Marco Rubio, and some previously unseen emcee asks, "Will Marco accept Trump's nomination? Find out after the break." And then after the break, there are several more breaks, after which Rubio finally renders his decision. "Donald, we'll try to make it work," he says, whereupon a torrent of balloons gently waft down from the rafters as Rubio's soul exits his body in the other direction.

Don't get me wrong -- this would be, on a purely demented level, fun as hell to watch. But I would not, as a matter of practice, recommend this. Trump should definitely not put someone on his short list who has heretofore refused to endorse him, let alone actually name that person as his running mate.

But who knows? The way things are going, he may not have a choice.

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.