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Aug. 25 2016 10:25 PM

Does Trump Have an Immigration Policy? "The Answer Could Be Yes."

Donald Trump, professional wall-builder, may not realize his remarks are televised. How else to explain Trump’s lack of a pivot foot when undoing his previous immigration “plan” and vaguely replacing it with something else that he’ll let us in on once he’s figured it out. As a candidate for the Republican nomination, Trump was a finger-jabbing tough guy, calling for a “deportation force” to expel the some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., now he’s melted into a word jumble.

Over the past week, each time Trump appears in public, he says something new as part of his immigration improvisation. It's hard for his staff to keep up. Here’s Thursday’s addition to Trump’s immigration week:

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And that was just Thursday.

Aug. 25 2016 6:39 PM

The Alt-Right is Thrilled About Hillary Clinton's Alt-Right Speech

Hillary Clinton’s speech today on Donald Trump and the right wing fringe was supposed to expose to voters Trump’s disturbing links to his white supremacist and conspiracy minded supporters, including the those on the alt-right, a loose confederation of racists and reactionaries active online who are broadly pro-Trump.

Aug. 25 2016 5:28 PM

Today’s Trump Apocalypse Watch: Using the L-Word

The Trump Apocalypse Watch is a subjective daily estimate, using a scale of one to four horsemen, of how likely it is that Donald Trump will be elected president, thus triggering an apocalypse in which we all die.

I’ll let polling guru Nate Silver do the arduous work of listing what the various forecasting models currently say about Trump’s chances of winning in November:

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I will, however, give you my own exclusive analysis of what those numbers mean: Trump’s chances are bad. And the closer we get to the election without a major shift in the polls, the worse his chances get. The pollsters at Quinnipiac, in fact, are starting to use the L-word: Landslide. From a statement:

In the battle of the unloved presidential candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton tops the magical 50 percent mark among American likely voters, leading Republican Donald Trump 51 - 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today ... “We are starting to hear the faint rumblings of a Hillary Clinton landslide as her 10-point lead is further proof that Donald Trump is in a downward spiral as the clock ticks,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

With the election still more than two months off, those rumblings are faint indeed, but after all we’ve been through, they’re still heartening.

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Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 25 2016 5:11 PM

Why Hillary Clinton’s Alt-Right Speech Was Such a Good Sign for Her Chances in November

Donald Trump has spent the past few days attempting to convince a certain set of voters—i.e. college-educated white ones—that he’s not the racist he’s been made out to be on the campaign trail. On Thursday afternoon, Hillary Clinton offered a rather brutal rebuttal to that claim by reminding everyone of all the evidence to the contrary.

“From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia,” Clinton said at a rally in Reno, Nevada. “He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.” She then went on to list—at length—the many times that Trump either espoused, embraced, or generally gave a platform to the ethno-nationalistic words and ideas of the conservative movement that calls itself the alt-right.

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Clinton mentioned: Trump’s claim that an Indiana-born judge couldn’t do his job properly because of his Mexican heritage; his penchant for retweeting white supremacists; his failure to immediately disavow an endorsement from former KKK grand wizard David Duke; his praise for conspiracy monger Alex Jones; his hiring of Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon; his description of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals; his more recent portrayal of black communities as dystopian hellscapes; his call for a Muslim ban; his repeating of a long-debunked claim about thousands of Muslims celebrating in the streets of New Jersey on 9/11; his suggestion that Ted Cruz’s Cuban-born father was involved in the assassination of JFK; his birtherism; and his belief that President Obama “founded” ISIS. (And those are just the ones I managed to make a note of!)

“So no one should have any illusions about what's really going on here,” Clinton said. “The names may have changed—racists now call themselves racialists, white supremacists now call themselves white nationalists, the paranoid fringe now calls itself alt-right—but the hate burns just as bright. And now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well, but don't be fooled.”

So, yeah, it turns out linking Trump to the loose coalition of far-right fringe groups one liberal watchdog has memorably branded “hipster Nazis” isn’t all that difficult. But more interesting than Clinton’s lengthy refresher on Trump’s troubling views on race was the way she framed her speech. It was evident that her audience was not the black or Hispanic voters who are already all too aware about what Trump thinks of them, but instead those same skeptical mainly white moderate Republicans and independents who her GOP rival is currently desperately trying to win over. Take this passage toward the end of her speech, for example:

You know, my friends, this is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the party of Lincoln has become the party of Trump. It's a moment of reckoning for all of us who love our country and believe that America is better than this. Twenty years ago when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits in the convention hall and told any racist in the party to get out. The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that, Muslims love America just as much as I do. In 2008, John McCain told his own supporters that they were wrong about the man he was trying to defeat. Senator McCain made sure they knew Barack Obama… is an American citizen and a decent person. We need that kind of leadership again.
We can have our disagreements. And believe me, I understand that. I think that's healthy. We need good debates. But we need to do it in a respectful way.

By drawing a bright line between Trump and the GOP nominees who came before him, Clinton is continuing her outreach to more mainstream Republican voters who remain uncomfortable with what they have seen and heard from Trump over the past year. The simple fact that, with 74 days until election day, both candidates are tailoring their appeals to the same set of voters—white Republican voters—suggests that Clinton does not have a lot to worry about.

Aug. 25 2016 4:51 PM

Clinton’s Alt-Right Speech Found the Perfect Frame for Trump’s Bigotry

Hillary Clinton issued an extremely effective attack on Donald Trump on Thursday aimed at refocusing the campaign toward Trump’s racism and away from the ongoing “pivot” that he is attempting to execute. With its mix of anecdotes about Trump’s bigotry and surprising doses of humor, the speech succeeded largely because she appeared so sincere in the utter contempt she displayed for the man she is running against. But the speech also did one other, very important thing.

Clinton’s address was billed as a speech about Trump’s prejudice and his mainstreaming of the “alt-right” voices that support—and now manage—Trump’s campaign. And, indeed, she brought up many of Trump’s racist actions and commented upon the Breitbart-reading trolls who now feel empowered because of Trump’s political success. But she also kept bringing up another aspect of Trumpism: namely, the things that are simply outrageous, bizarre, paranoid, and strange. She didn’t just mention Trump’s racist birtherism; no, she also mentioned other random Trump attacks on Obama, such as the one that he founded ISIS. She noted the misogyny of the alt-right, but she also talked about Trump’s attacks on her health. She mentioned Trump’s kind words about Alex Jones, the conspiracist and weirdo whose conspiracy theories and weirdness are often unrelated to race.

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More importantly, Clinton directly linked all these things to the temperament of the person who wants to be commander-in-chief. Clinton didn’t present Trump’s racism as merely despicable, although she did do that. She also portrayed it as being part of a larger personality that often appears borderline unstable and is in no way equipped to be chosen for the most important job on Earth. The crucial section of the speech thus came near the end, when she brought these points together:

I’ve stood by President Obama’s side as he made the toughest decisions a commander-in-chief ever has to make. In times of crisis, our country depends on steady leadership … clear thinking … and calm judgment … because one wrong move can mean the difference between life and death. The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can’t tell the difference between fact and fiction and who buys so easily into racially tinged rumors. Someone detached from reality should never be in charge of making decisions that are as real as they come. It’s another reason why Donald Trump is simply temperamentally unfit to be president of the United States.

The Clinton campaign has long been faced with the question of whether to portray Trump as a bigot or a madman, a genuine authoritarian or an unstable and ever-changing entertainer. This speech suggested that there is a way to do all of the above.

Aug. 25 2016 4:44 PM

New Lawsuit Has a Real Chance to Help Bring Obama’s Immigration Actions Back In Many States

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the legal battle against President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions is the fact that a single district judge in Texas claimed the authority to block a federal program in all 50 states. Now an ambitious lawsuit is attempting to unfreeze Obama’s actions in 24 states—and thanks to the Supreme Court’s hobbled state, it might actually have a shot.

All of this may sound confusing and arcane, but the legal maneuvering here is actually quite simple. When Obama announced his plan to defer deportation for the undocumented parents of citizens and permanent residents, 26 states sued, arguing that he had exceeded his executive authority. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction to halt the program’s implementation in all 50 states. Soon after, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit affirmed Hanen’s decision. Then, last June, the Supreme Court deadlocked on the merits of the program, leaving the judge’s ruling in place without actually affirming it.

But can one judge actually block the implementation of a new federal program across the country, even in states that would welcome the program? That’s uncharted territory—and the new lawsuit argues that he cannot. The plaintiff, New York resident Martín Jonathan Batalla Vidal, had received deferred deportation status through the program, but saw that status revoked after Hanen’s decision.

Aug. 25 2016 4:32 PM

You Know, It Really Is Crazy That One of Trump’s Most High-Profile Fans Thinks Sandy Hook Was a Hoax

Hillary Clinton just gave a speech about Donald Trump's many connections to the online community of racists and bigots known as the "alt-right," and Slate has a lot of coverage of her speech forthcoming. I'd like to pick out one example of one alarming Trump tactic that she highlighted, though, which may be the most insane of the thousands of insane things that Trump has done during the 2016 campaign: Welcoming the support of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who thinks that 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government and that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax carried out by child actors.

Clinton's words:

[Trump's delusional view of the world] is what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who claims that 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombings were inside jobs. He said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.
I don't know what happens in somebody's mind or how dark their heart must be to say things like that. But Trump doesn't challenge these lies. He actually went on Jones' show and said, "Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down." This from the man who wants to be president of the United States.
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The thing about this that is amazing is that it is simply, non-hyperbolically true. Donald Trump really did effusively praise and appears to have no problem accepting the support of someone who is sick enough to insist in public that the Sandy Hook massacre, in which twenty 6- and 7-year old children were methodically murdered with an assault rifle by a stranger, was just some propaganda gag staged by actors.

"Dark" is the right word for it, all right. How the hell did we get here?

Aug. 25 2016 2:04 PM

How Will Hillary Clinton Tie Donald Trump to White Nationalists? Like This.

Hillary Clinton is set to give a speech later Thursday on the so-called alt right, the white nationalist political movement that sees Donald Trump as something of a hero. But before Clinton takes the stage in Nevada, her campaign offered up a peek at how she will tie her Republican rival to a group that one liberal watchdog has memorably branded “hipster Nazis.”

Whoa.

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The 70-odd-second video opens with a shot of a white-robed man—identified as an Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan—explaining that, “The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes, we believe in.” That’s a theme the video returns to again and again, as we hear former KKK grand wizard David Duke declare that, for whites, voting against Trump “is really treason to your heritage,” and listen to the editor of white-supremacist magazine American Renaissance explain that Trump’s closed-borders worldview is “very appealing to a lot of ordinary white people.” Eventually, the ad moves on to Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, who in recent years has turned Breitbart News into the de facto home page for much of the alt right. “If Trump wins,” the closing on-screen graphic reads, “they could be running the country.”

Much of the ground the ad covers is well-trodden by now—particularly Duke’s endorsement of Trump and Trump’s conveniently slow denunciation of it (which the ad noticeably omits)—but seeing it all in one place makes for a rather powerful statement.

For its part, the Trump campaign quickly condemned the ad shortly after it went live. “Hillary Clinton and her campaign went to a disgusting new low today as they released a video tying the Trump Campaign with horrific racial images,” Mark Burns, a black pastor and Trump supporter, said in a statement released by the campaign.

Clinton’s current focus on Trump’s alt-right support comes as he tries to convince voters—specifically, college-educated white voters—that he isn’t the racist he’s made out to be and that it’s actually his rival who is the real racist. (“Hillary Clinton is a bigot who sees people of color only as votes,” Trump declared Wednesday, standing onstage in Mississippi before an overwhelming white audience.) In that sense, Clinton’s social-media attack is remarkable for two reasons: 1) that Clinton is swinging back so hard, and 2) that landing the punch appears to be so easy.

Aug. 25 2016 11:51 AM

Trump Betrayal of Ann Coulter Timed Perfectly to Release of Ann Coulter Book About Always Trusting Trump

Donald Trump's waffling on the question of what to do about undocumented immigrants passed a critical milestone on last night's episode of Hannity when the Republican nominee said he's considering the idea of not deporting gainfully employed undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for a long period of time. From the transcript (Trump is directing his questions to Hannity's live audience):

You have somebody who's terrific, who's been here 20 years. Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? ... Tell me. I don't know. You tell me.  ... So now we have the person 20 years, upstanding person, the family's great, everyone's great. Do we throw them out, or do we work with them?
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You'll note that this position—of not deporting undocumented individuals who are otherwise upstanding citizens—happens to be the one advocated by Trump's greatest nemesis, President Barack Hussein "ISIS" Obama. Indeed, it's a position that hard-line conservative activists have a name for: amnesty. And Donald Trump has been vocal for years about hating amnesty.

In the primary:

Donald Trump's most ardent far-right fans also hate amnesty. And one of the most prominent of those fans, Ann Coulter, actually published a hagiographic book this week called In Trump We Trust in which she stated explicitly that the one thing Trump could never be forgiven for is changing his position on immigration:

For the record, Trump told Sean Hannity that he was not considering "amnesty as such." But that's what every Republican who supports the granting of legal status to some undocumented immigrants says; indeed, prominent immigration hard-liner Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa, answered in the affirmative when a CNN host asked if what Trump is considering was "tantamount to amnesty."

What it definitely is, unambiguously, is a reversal of Trump's previous position. Trump, in a February debate:

We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out.

Then: "They will go out." Now: "Do you think they have to get out? ... I don't know." Yeah, who knows?

Either way, Ann Coulter—whose book-launch party was Wednesday night in Washington, D.C.—is NOT HAPPY.

She's being sarcastic, as one will do when one is let down by one's nationalist goon hero-savior; there's more on her feed. She's even implying that she might cancel her book tour (though she says she will still ultimately continue to support Trump because of the "blind loyalty" he earned from her by giving his "Mexican rapist speech").

Meanwhile, Twitter's Daniel Lin has a suggestion for what Trump might call his next publishing project:

Sounds about right. Sorry, Ann Coulter.

Aug. 24 2016 11:15 PM

U.S. Soccer Terminates Hope Solo’s Contract for Comments After Early Olympics Loss

U.S. Soccer terminated star goalkeeper Hope Solo’s contract and issued a six-month suspension Wednesday for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles” in response to Solo’s comments following a penalty shootout loss to Sweden in Rio earlier this month. The move could signal the end of the 35-year-old’s illustrious national team career. Solo has been the team’s starter in goal for more than a decade, including through three World Cups and three Olympic Games. Solo’s performance off the field, however, has always been more problematic.

Wednesday’s suspension came in response to Solo’s most recent incident where she blasted Sweden’s style of play following an emotional loss in the quarterfinals. Solo said Sweden played like “a bunch of cowards” for playing defensively in an effort to counterbalance the U.S.’s talent advantage. The stunning loss bounced the U.S. from the tournament without a medal after winning three-straight gold medals in Athens (2004), Beijing (2008), and London (2012). “The best team did not win today,’’ Solo continued after the match. “I strongly and firmly believe that.’’

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Sweden Coach Pia Sundhage, who knows Solo and the rest of the national team well after coaching them to a gold medal at the 2008 and 2012 games, took the comments in stride. “It’s OK to be a coward if you win,’’ Sundhage said after the game when asked about Solo’s remarks. “They played more attacking football than we did. We defended very well.’’

U.S. Soccer, however, was far less forgiving. “The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. “Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”

This is not the first time Solo has run afoul of U.S. Soccer rules. Solo was suspended from the team last year for 30 days. “In 2007, she was ostracized by the national team for several months after ripping its coach at the time, Greg Ryan, for starting her backup in a World Cup semifinal that the Americans lost, 4-0,” the New York Times notes. “At the 2012 Olympics, she took to Twitter to publicly criticize the former player Brandi Chastain, who was calling the team’s games for NBC.” Then there was Solo’s 2014 arrest for domestic violence.

Solo had this to say about her suspension:

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