Trump’s RNC Acceptance Speech – Long, Repetitive, and Rambling!

Courtesy of the Boston Globe. Leon Neal/Getty

Dear Commons Community,

I watched Donald Trump’s acceptance speech of the Republican nomination for president last night and I found it long (about ninety minutes), repetitive, and rambling.  For the first few minutes, he focused on last Saturday’s assassination attempt.  He appeared  humbler and vowed to unify the divisions in our country. He promised during his next term, everyone (Republicans and Democrats, Whites and Blacks, Asians and Hispanics) would be welcome. His portrayals of unity sought to erase the image of a man whose presidency often swirled in chaos and infighting and ended with a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

His new tone lasted about fifteen minutes.

Then, he called on state and federal prosecutors to drop all four criminal cases against him, including the one in which he was convicted of 34 felony counts in May.

“The Democrat party should immediately stop weaponizing the justice system and labeling their political opponent as an enemy of democracy,” he said.

He called former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “crazy.” A few minutes later, he accused Democrats of cheating in elections. Four minutes later, he insulted the news media, referring to the CBS News program “Face the Nation” as “Deface the Nation.”

He repeated the lie that he used to incite the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol — that the 2020 election had been stolen from him through cheating. Immediately after that, he made liars out of staffers who had told reporters that he would never mention the name of the man who had defeated him, claiming Biden, by name, was worse than the previous 10 worst presidents combined.

The speech devolved from there into Trump’s standard, oft-used lies from his rally speeches — that the economy on his watch was the best ever; that his trade agreements were marked improvements over the previous ones; that crime is currently out of control; and so on.

He also repeated promises and warnings with no basis in fact: that he would be able to balance the budget merely by increasing oil and gas production, or that an ongoing influx of illegal migrants would bankrupt Social Security and Medicare.

Below is a New York Times recap of the best and worst moments of Trump’s speech representing a variety of political views.

Tony

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New York Times

July 19, 2024

Welcome to Opinion’s commentary for Night 4 of the Republican National Convention. Here’s what our columnists and contributors thought of the event, which culminated in Trump’s acceptance speech.

Best Moment

Kristen Soltis Anderson, contributing Opinion writer Donald Trump gave a compelling and moving description of what it was like to be under fire and pledged to represent all of America, not just half of America. That may be easier said than done.

David Brooks, Times columnist The first 20 minutes of the Trump speech. If he’d done the story about the assassination attempt and then added 15 minutes of policy, he would be cruising toward victory. He could have plausibly argued that he is a changed man.

Jane Coaston, contributing Opinion writer Hulk Hogan’s speech was his best performance since he beat Macho Man Randy Savage at WrestleMania V.

Matthew Continetti, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute Trump’s account of the attempt on his life was gripping. He displayed a vulnerability and humility that most people had never seen before. And when he kissed the fireman’s helmet of Corey Comperatore, the husband and father who was killed during last weekend’s shooting, Trump created yet another indelible image. It won’t be soon forgotten.

David French, Times columnist Trump’s tribute to Comperatore was touching and appropriate. Placing his uniform on the stage was a powerful visual reminder of the loss.

Matt Labash, author of the newsletter Slack Tide Trump was somewhat muted, nice and gracious. At least while on script. Very un-Trumpy. He almost seemed humbled by being shot. Can it endure? This is Trump. Of course it can’t. It didn’t even last one-fifth of his speech. Humility is for losers in the Trumpverse. So enjoy it while it lasts. Or lasted, since it’s already over.

Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor of Reason Trump’s decision to tear up his first speech and instead open on a note of unity was the right one: “It would be very bad if I got up and started going wild about how horrible everybody is and how corrupt and crooked, even if it’s true,” he said the day after the shooting. As the speech dragged on, he drifted from that resolution.

Dan McCarthy, editor of the periodical Modern Age Eric Trump stepped into the role normally played by his father and delivered galvanizing remarks, hitting all the campaign’s key themes. With the former president resolved to show his comparatively genial and gentler side, his son had the opportunity to lead the rhetorical charge, and he excelled.

Pamela Paul, Times columnist Trump defended the Secret Service men and women who protected him after the assassination attempt, refusing to give fodder to those far-right extremists who have attacked the people risking their lives in service of public figures. This was a rare moment when Trump did the right thing.

Zeynep Tufekci, Times columnist Great evening for golf and professional wrestling! Speakers included John Nieporte, a golf professional who caddied for Trump; Carrie Ruiz, the general manager of a Trump-owned golf course; Hogan (who ripped his shirt off); and Dana White, president of the U.F.C., a mixed martial arts promotion company.

Peter Wehner, contributing Opinion writer The beginning of Trump’s speech, when he recounted the assassination attempt. Parts of it were compelling. There seemed to be genuine gratitude in him, which heretofore had been an alien emotion to Trump.

Worst Moment

Anderson Not long into Trump’s speech, the momentum slowed, and he started playing the hits, only it was the acoustic version. His whole performance felt unusually low energy and unfocused.

Charles M. Blow, Times columnist I was nearly suffocated under all the lies and gaslighting during this convention, culminating Thursday in Trump’s attempt at a tear-jerker. They all tried to convince us he was a teddy bear and not a grizzly. They tried to make us empathize with a person who lacks that impulse, who trades in deceit, cruelty and vengeance. But Trump couldn’t resist returning to his familiar darkness, thus wiping out the entire effort to rehabilitate — and hide — the real him.

Brooks The rest of the Trump speech. There is no cure for narcissism. The part after the assassination-attempt story was one of the truly awful and self-indulgent political performances of our time. My brain has been bludgeoned into soporific exhaustion.

Coaston Every political convention feels uncannily like a sporting event for people who tell others how much they hate sports. This one was no different.

Continetti Trump’s acceptance speech was incredibly compelling — for the first 30 minutes or so. Then he began to ramble. The address lost much of its focus and power, but the audience didn’t seem to mind.

French After the first few minutes, the rest of the speech was just as long, rambling and disjointed as a typical Trump rally. It was a greatest-hits collection of Trump talking points, but the delivery was subdued. At times, the speech was actually boring. Trump has many flaws, but he’s rarely boring. On the last night of the convention, he was.

Labash Too many to choose from. All political conventions are cringe-worthy idolatry fests. But even by those low standards, there was so much abject Trump flattery going on among his cultish speakers that if this had been Kim Jong-un’s convention, he’d have told his propagandists, “Hey, fellas, dial it back a little.”

Mangu-Ward Trump made many false claims about immigration throughout his remarks, but the most absurd was: “You know who’s taking the jobs, the jobs that are created? One hundred and seven percent of those jobs are taken by illegal aliens.”

McCarthy Mike Pompeo was not a rousing speaker. And while he faithfully recited Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments, his presence was a reminder that the last administration included many hawkish old-guard Republicans who would have been equally comfortable serving under a president named Bush.

Paul Trump’s effort to convey vulnerability rang entirely opportunist and wholly insincere. It’s hard to imagine a near-death experience could be told in a way that evoked so little emotion. Something tells me this will not, in fact, be the last time he tells the story.

Tufekci Tucker Carlson, who abruptly left Fox News amid its lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for airing false claims about election stealing, showed up with a joke about stolen elections.

Wehner Once Trump really got going, his speech was rambling and narcissistic, filled with lies and nearly endless. It was a fusion of his stump speech and a text speech, making it incoherent and exceedingly boring. I experienced a feeling I was previously unfamiliar with: the desire to bring back Hulk Hogan.

What Else Caught Your Eye?

Anderson Trump was subdued in demeanor in the V.I.P. box. Hogan’s time onstage elicited the biggest smile all week.

Brooks Both parties are clearly working hard to lose this election. Trump’s speech has got to increase the chances that President Biden stays in the race.

Coaston Carlson described Trump as the “funniest person I’ve ever met in my life,” after saying in a text message, in 2021, “I hate him passionately,” because comedy is tragedy plus time.

Continetti The double bill of Hogan and Kid Rock made this Xennial smile.

French The Trump campaign is going hard for the male vote. After hearing from Hogan, Kid Rock and White, I half expected a Call of Duty streamer to come out and bring down the house.

Labash The fall-down funniest line of the night belonged to the Trump lawyer Alina Habba — resplendent in a white pantsuit — who said, “The only crime President Trump has committed is loving America.” She apparently hadn’t seen the Trump Village People “Y.M.C.A.” dance-video montage. Which made for at least two crimes.

Mangu-Ward Carlson’s dark vision of the political psyche. He riffed that Trump “turned down the most obvious opportunity in politics — to inflame the nation after being shot,” which he then called “an opportunity that almost every other politician I’ve ever met, and certainly his opponents, would have taken instantly.” Trying to keep the nation calm after an assassination attempt is the bare minimum.

McCarthy This was the convention that made pop culture great again. Hogan and Kid Rock, both in top form, brought back the cockiness that characterized the mass entertainment of a nation far less neurotic than America has lately become. Trump recognizes the power in that.

Paul The word “fight” was uttered frequently in the run-up to Trump’s speech, evoking his call to “Fight! Fight! Fight!” after a bullet grazed his ear and echoing a frequent theme in Trump’s rhetoric, as my colleague Carlos Lozada just noted. Trump rarely talks about working for America or serving it; he talks about fighting.

Tufekci The band had to play four songs to fill the dead time before Hogan’s appearance. Maybe Trump needed to invite more golf buddies. There were almost no Republican Party heavy hitters. If he wins again, few of the traditional Republicans who populated his first administration will be left to act as a brake.

Wehner Compared with Trump’s acceptance speeches in 2016 and 2020, which were unusual enough, this one was unrestrained, self-indulgent and undisciplined, radiating a sense of grievance. It was Trump untethered, which is the right way to understand what his second term would be. We can’t say we haven’t been warned.

Charles M. Blow, David Brooks, David French, Pamela Paul and Zeynep Tufekci are Times columnists.

Kristen Soltis Anderson is a contributing Opinion writer, a Republican pollster and the author of “The Selfie Vote.”

Jane Coaston is a contributing Opinion writer.

Matthew Continetti is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of “The Right: The Hundred Year War for American Conservatism.”

Matt Labash, formerly a national correspondent at The Weekly Standard, is the author of “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader” and writes the newsletter Slack Tide.

Katherine Mangu-Ward (@kmanguward) is the editor in chief of Reason magazine.

Dan McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review.

Peter Wehner is a contributing Opinion writer and the author, most recently, of “The Death of Politics.”

 

New York Magazine Cover of Near-Naked Trump and Biden Sparks Backlash!

 

Courtesy of Martin Schoeller.

Dear Commons Community,

The July 15–28 Health Issue features a photo illustration by Martin Schoeller depicting the president and his predecessor standing side by side on sets of scales that suggest a medical exam.

It’s based on source photographs of Trump by Seth Wenig and Biden by Mandel Ngan, according to the magazine.

“We had already been thinking about how to address the fact that this health issue would drop in the middle of the presidential campaign, when the presidential debate put the health and age of the candidates in the center of the national conversation,” New York’s executive editor, Genevieve Smith, said of the cover in a press release.

After the magazine revealed the cover on social media Wednesday, people flooded the Instagram comments section with criticism.  Here are several examples.

“This feels wildly disrespectful and inconceivably out of line,” another commenter said.

“Did you really need to make this the cover? It’s so unnecessary and objectifying. Bad form,” read another response.

“I’d just like to note that if a publication photoshopped a woman’s head onto a body in underwear and posted it then the comments would be different. This is such a weird thing to do to anyone,” one person wrote.

Reached for comment, a New York Magazine spokesperson said: “This cover is part of the magazine’s longstanding tradition of political cartoons. We hope our readers found it funny, and are ok that some didn’t.”

The magazine issue includes a special section containing analysis on the “existential crisis Democrats are facing as the nation questions President Biden’s fitness for office,” according to a press release.

Biden sparked a firestorm over his candidacy after he flubbed the June 27 presidential debate, prompting an ongoing discourse over whether he is the best person to take on Trump in the November election.

Meanwhile, Trump, who frequently gives rambling speeches, lied throughout the debate and equivocated when asked if he would honor the election results.

Freedom of the press!

Tony

Republican National Convention booth hosts AR-15 giveaway, days after Trump assassination attempt!

Dear Commons Community,

Days after Donald Trump was shot with an AR-15-style weapon, at a campaign rally, attendees at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee can get their hands on one for free.

The assault weapon is part of a giveaway at a booth for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, an advocacy organization that promotes gun ownership for safety purposes.  As reported by The independent and other media.

On their table, the group had a flyer promoting the AR-15 giveaway from Daniel Defense, an arms manufacturer whose firearms were used in the 2022 Robb Elementary School mass shooting and found in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooter’s stockpile.

Those interested can enter the giveaway by following the QR code on the flyer to a browser that asks for an email and phone number, according to Rolling Stone.

A representative at the booth told Rolling Stone that “some people” expressed surprise at the giveaway but defended the firearm as “one of the most effective and important tools that we have.”

The U.S. Concealed Carry Association said in a statement after the shooting that they were “heartbroken” by the attempted assassination of Trump and that “political violence is abhorrent and has no place in America.”

The group says they “oppose any legislative efforts at the state and federal level that week to strip law-abiding Americans of their Second Amendment right without due process.”

On June 13, Thomas Matthew Crooks shot Trump using a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle at a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. Federal law enforcement has not released the exact make and model of the firearm.

The former president suffered a minor injury to his right ear. Rally-goer Michael Comperatore, 50, was killed and two other men were injured.

The AR-15 was first developed for military use in the 1950s by the company ArmaLite Rifle before the patent was sold to Colt’s Manufacturing Company. Other gun manufacturers have based their own version of the AR-15 on the original design.

Over the last 20 years, AR-15-style rifles have become extremely popular with roughly one in every 20 American adults owning one. The lightweight firearms are easy to use, have little recoil and can be customized with accessories.

But it is also one of the deadliest weapons. It has been used in five of the 10 deadliest mass shootings since 2002.

Nine states have passed laws banning the sale and possession of the AR-15.

Tony

President Biden Tests Positive for Covid!

Dear Commons Community,

President Biden tested positive for Covid yesterday, forcing him to cancel a campaign event in Las Vegas and likely sidelining him for days following the conclusion of former President Donald J. Trump’s nominating convention on Thursday.

The illness, which the president’s doctor said had produced only mild symptoms so far, was diagnosed even as the Democratic revolt over his candidacy got louder, with more of Mr. Biden’s allies and supporters calling on him to drop out of the race, citing concerns about his ability to defeat Mr. Trump. As reported by The New York Times.

Mr. Biden told reporters, “I feel good,” as he boarded Air Force One in Las Vegas to fly back to his beach house in Delaware, where he plans to recuperate. He was not wearing a mask, nor were the people closest to him on the tarmac.

But having Covid is all but certain to complicate the president’s ability to answer his critics, many of whom have said they want him to show that he still has the vigor and energy to prosecute the case against Mr. Trump in campaign rallies, interviews and other events.

If Mr. Biden continues to test positive for the next week or more, it could keep him off the campaign trail. And if he continues to have congestion and a cough, as his doctor reported on Wednesday, it could hamper his ability to perform well in any interviews that his campaign could schedule from his home.

The president and his campaign strategists had hoped to use a two-day visit to Las Vegas to sell his economic and immigration policies to Latino voters in the crucial battleground state of Nevada as he tries to re-energize his campaign after three weeks of instability. In a parallel effort to reach Black voters, on Tuesday he spoke at an N.A.A.C.P. conference and sat for an interview with BET News that was released on Wednesday.

He was scheduled to speak at the annual conference for UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, but canceled after an hourlong delay when his Covid test came back positive.

Mr. Biden is trying desperately to end the conversation about his cognitive capacity and address what polls suggest are three of his biggest political weaknesses: immigration, the economy and slipping support among Latinos. But the Covid diagnosis means he will not be able to mount an aggressive campaign push in the coming days.

Covid is making its way back into our lives.  We need to make sure we are up to date with our booster shots.

Tony

Video: Van Jones Critiques Last Night’s RNC Speeches!

Dear Commons Community,

I was on a plane last night and did not watch any of the Republican National Convention.  I read several recaps this morning and I thought the comments from Van Jones were the most provocative.

Jones offered a blistering critique of two speeches given on the second day of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.  He also named which conservative speaker he believed was “incredibly compelling.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, said Jones, was “terrible.”

“Ron was terrible,” Jones repeated. “He just sounded like ChatGPT for mean people. Every mean thing a Republican could say, he said it really fast and it didn’t really work very well.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, meanwhile, looked like she’d been made to attend “her ex-husband’s wedding and give a toast,” Jones joked.

“She was miserable saying it and Trump was miserable hearing it. So all that stuff didn’t work at all,” he summarized.

Both DeSantis and Haley fiercely criticized Trump during the Republican presidential primary race but have now endorsed the party’s nominee.

In contrast, Jones said Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders “was incredibly compelling to me” because she “told personal stories” and “didn’t use rhetoric.”

“She gave the speech of the night,” he argued.

Jones also called out the way that immigrants were portrayed during multiple speeches, saying that to falsely blame them for the majority of crime is “unfair” and “unwarranted.”

A video of his comments is below.

Tony

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez found guilty in corruption trial!

Bob Menendez. AP Photo/Seth Wenig.

Dear Commons Community,

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was found guilty on all counts Monday after being tried on charges of accepting bribes, including cash and gold bars, to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York whose office prosecuted the case, hailed the verdict, saying Menendez’s “years of selling his office to the higher bidder have finally come to an end.”

Menendez had his hands crossed and his chin resting on his hands as some of the verdict was read and didn’t display any emotion. He’ll be sentenced Oct. 29. As reported by NBC News.

Menendez told reporters outside the courthouse he was “deeply, deeply disappointed by the jury’s decision” and predicted, “we will be successful upon appeal.”

“I have never violated my public oath,” he said. He didn’t answer questions about whether he would resign.

Menendez was charged with 16 counts, including bribery, extortion, acting as a foreign agent, obstruction of justice and several counts of conspiracy. He had pleaded not guilty, as did his wife, Nadine Menendez, whose trial was delayed indefinitely following her surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis.

The jury deliberated for about 12½ hours over three days before returning the verdicts.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Menendez to resign after the jury’s decision. “In light of this guilty verdict, Senator Menendez must now do what is right for his constituents, the Senate, and our country, and resign,” said Schumer.

Schumer had previously said he was disappointed in his colleague and that Menendez hadn’t lived up to the high standards expected of a senator, but he had stopped short of calling for his resignation.

Prosecutors said three businessmen paid bribes to Menendez and his wife in exchange for the senator taking actions to benefit them and the governments of Qatar and Egypt. According to prosecutors, those bribes included gold bars, a MercedesBenz given to Nadine Menendez and more than $480,000 in cash, which the FBI found stuffed into closets, jackets bearing Menendez’s name and other clothing when the bureau searched his New Jersey home in 2022.

Two of those businessmen, Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, faced trial alongside Menendez and were convicted on all counts, as well. The third businessman who was charged, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty and testified during the trial, which lasted nine weeks before going to the jury Friday.

Menendez didn’t testify in his own defense; his team argued that he was acting on behalf of his constituents, as any senator should, and that the government hadn’t proven that the cash or gold bars were given as bribes.

The senator’s sister, Caridad Gonzalez, testified for his defense that their parents were Cuban immigrants and their father discouraged them from trusting banks, so she wasn’t surprised when in the mid-1980s her brother asked her to grab $500 from a shoe box in a bedroom closet. “It was normal. It’s a Cuban thing,” she said.

Prosecutors noted that some of the envelopes of cash in the Menendezes’ home had Daibes’ fingerprints, while others had those of associates of Hana’s. Prosecutor Paul Monteleone told jurors in his closing statement that Menendez was “desperately trying to pass the buck” for the hundreds of thousands of dollars found in the house. “The thousands and thousands of bucks stop here,” he said.

The verdict lands just months before Menendez’s Senate seat comes before New Jersey voters this fall. Menendez decided months ago, as his popularity took a hit, that he wouldn’t seek the Democratic nomination. But he filed to run as an independent, a move that threatened to complicate the dynamics in a race that would ordinarily be a layup for Democrats in the liberal state. The Democratic nominee for the seat is Rep. Andy Kim, and the Republican nominee is Curtis Bashaw.

Menendez must now decide whether to continue pursuing that run. In March, he had indicated in a video statement that his candidacy could hinge on whether he’s exonerated of the charges. “I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election,” he said at the time.

Kim said after the verdict that it was “a sad and somber day for New Jersey and our country.”

“I called on Senator Menendez to step down when these charges were first made public, and now that he has been found guilty, I believe the only course of action for him is to resign his seat immediately. The people of New Jersey deserve better,” Kim said.

It was the second corruption trial of Menendez’s 18-year career in the Senate — the previous one resulted in a mistrial due to a hung jury in 2018, and the Justice Department subsequently dropped the charges against him; Menendez had also denied wrongdoing in that case.

Menendez previously served for 13 years in the House and was elected to the Senate in 2006, eventually rising to become the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His political career dates back nearly four decades to the mid-1980s, when he became mayor of Union City.

The outcome could affect whether he serves out his term. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., has led the charge to push Menendez out for months, disparaging and mocking him as too corrupt to serve. A majority of Senate Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., as well as most of the state’s Democratic House delegation, had also called for Menendez to resign even before the trial.

Though Menendez stepped aside as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee after the charges were brought, he has stayed on as a voting member of the committee and the Senate.

There is no provision barring a senator who’s been convicted of a felony from serving out his term. If he doesn’t resign, the Senate could move to expel, a process that would start with an Ethics Committee investigation. The committee said Tuesday it will complete that investigation “promptly” and consider the “full range of disciplinary actions” available. If the panel recommended his expulsion, it would take a two-thirds vote of the entire Senate — 67 votes — to do so.

Thirty-one Democratic senators had already called for him to resign before the conviction.

Since 1789, the Senate has expelled only 15 members, 14 of whom were ousted for their roles in the Confederacy. The last time a senator was expelled was in 1862. Six senators have been convicted of crimes since then; three wound up resigning, two served out their terms, and one died before the Senate could act.

Justice served!

Tony

 

Who is JD Vance? Things to know about Donald Trump’s pick for vice president.

Vance and Trump.  Courtesy of Joe Maiorana/AP.

Dear Commons Community

Former President Donald Trump yesterday chose U.S. Sen. JD Vance of Ohio to be his running mate for his bid to be elected president in November.  Vance is  a 39-year-old Republican now in his first term in the US Senate.

Here are some things to know about Vance courtesy of The Associated Press.

Vance rose to prominence with the memoir ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

Vance was born and raised in Middletown, Ohio. He joined the Marines and served in Iraq, and later earned degrees from Ohio State University and Yale Law School. He also worked as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley.

Vance made a name for himself with his memoir, the 2016 bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy,” which was published as Trump was first running for president. The book earned Vance a reputation as someone who could help explain the maverick New York businessman’s appeal in middle America, especially among the working class, rural white voters who helped Trump win the presidency.

“Hillbilly Elegy” also introduced Vance to the Trump family. Donald Trump Jr. loved the book and knew of Vance when he went to launch his political career. The two hit it off and have remained friends.

He was first elected to public office in 2022

After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Vance returned to his native Ohio and set up an anti-opioid charity. He also took to the lecture circuit and was a favored guest at Republican Lincoln Day dinners where his personal story — including the hardship Vance endured because of his mother’s drug addiction — resonated.

Vance’s appearances were opportunities to sell his ideas for fixing the country and helped lay the groundwork for entering politics in 2021, when he sought the Senate seat vacated by Republican Rob Portman, who retired.

Trump endorsed Vance. Vance went on to win a crowded Republican primary and the general election.

He and Trump have personal chemistry

Personal relationships are extremely important to the former president and he and Vance have developed a strong rapport over years, speaking on the phone regularly.

Trump has also complimented Vance’s beard, saying he “looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.”

Vance went from never-Trumper to fierce ally

Vance was a “never Trump” Republican in 2016. He called Trump “dangerous” and “unfit” for office. Vance, whose wife, lawyer Usha Chilukuri Vance, is Indian American and the mother of their three children, also criticized Trump’s racist rhetoric, saying he could be “America’s Hitler.”

But by the time Vance met Trump in 2021, he had reversed his opinion, citing Trump’s accomplishments as president. Both men downplayed Vance’s past scathing criticism.

Once elected, Vance became a fierce Trump ally on Capitol Hill, unceasingly defending Trump’s policies and behavior.

He is a leading conservative voice

Kevin Roberts, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called Vance a leading voice for the conservative movement, on key issues including a shift away from interventionist foreign policy, free market economics and “American culture writ large.”

Democrats call him an extremist, citing provocative positions Vance has taken but sometimes later amended. Vance signaled support for a national 15-week abortion ban during his Senate run, for instance, then softened that stance once Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed a 2023 abortion rights amendment.

He is married to a lawyer who was a Supreme Court clerk

Vance met his wife, Usha Chilukuri Vance, at Yale, where she received both her undergraduate and law degrees. She spent a year clerking for future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he served as an appeals court judge in Washington, followed by a year as a law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts.

She had been a trial lawyer for the Munger, Tolles and Olson law firm. Her law firm announced Monday that she had left the firm.

“Usha has been an excellent lawyer and colleague, and we thank her for her years of work and wish her the best in her future career,” Munger, Tolles & Olson said in a statement.

Vance has adopted Trump’s rhetoric about Jan. 6

On the 2020 election, he said he wouldn’t have certified the results immediately if he had been vice president and said Trump had “a very legitimate grievance.” He has put conditions on honoring the results of the 2024 election that echo Trump’s. A litany of government and outside investigations have not found any election fraud that could have swung the outcome of Trump’s 2020 loss to Democratic President Joe Biden.

In the Senate, Vance sometimes embraces bipartisanship. He and Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown co-sponsored a railway safety bill following a fiery train derailment in the Ohio village of East Palestine. He’s sponsored legislation extending and increasing funding for Great Lakes restoration, and supported bipartisan legislation boosting workers and families.

Vance can articulate Trump’s vision

People familiar with the vice presidential vetting process said Vance would bring to the GOP ticket debating skills and the ability to articulate Trump’s vision.

Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative activist group Turning Point USA, said Vance compellingly articulates the America First world view and could help Trump in states he closely lost in 2020, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, that share Ohio’s values, demographics and economy.

Biden and Harris will have their work cut out for them!

Tony

Clarence Thomas helped Judge Aileen Cannon to thwart prosecution of Trump in classified documents case!

Clarence Thomas and Aileen Cannon.  Photos:  Mother Jones; Eric Lee/Pool//CNP/ZUMA; Southern District of Florida

Dear Commons Community,

Yesterday, Judge Aileen Cannon astonished the judicial world by dismissing the classified documents case against Donald Trump. She did so based on a questionable legal argument that the special counsel who brought the prosecution, Jack Smith, had been improperly appointed.

The argument, initially aired by the former US president’s lawyers, had received scant support in judicial circles, given that stretching back a quarter of a century it has been repeatedly rejected by the courts. But there was one jurist who encouraged Cannon to pursue such contrarian thinking: Clarence Thomas.

As reported by The Guardian.

Two weeks before Cannon’s stunning dismissal, Thomas essentially prodded her into making the move. In a concurring opinion to Trump v US, the US supreme court ruling awarding the former president immunity over his “official acts” in the lead-up to the January 6 insurrection, the hard-right justice sketched a legal roadmap that Cannon then duly followed.

Thomas pulled out a line from the appointments clause of the US constitution and used it to argue that the special counsel lacked authority to pursue his two federal criminal prosecutions against Trump. He claimed that in the absence of a law from Congress specifically establishing the role of special counsel, Smith’s appointment was invalid.

As reported last week, Thomas has long used his concurring opinions to signal to outside parties that he would like them to pursue his extreme legal theories. In this case, though he did not mention Cannon by name, he left little to the imagination.

He invited the “lower courts” to look into the “essential questions concerning the special counsel’s appointment before proceeding” with Smith’s prosecutions.

Cannon obediently adopted Thomas’s radical thinking, subsuming it into her 93-page judgment almost to the letter. She cites his concurring opinion in Trump v US at least three times.

Her basic justification for dismissing the criminal case against Trump, in which the former president is alleged to have hoarded secret White House documents in his Mar-a-Lago resort, is identical to Thomas’s. She argues that no statute exists giving Merrick Garland, US attorney general, the “authority to appoint a special counsel like Smith”.

Cannon’s reasoning – just like Thomas’s – flies in the face of decades of legal precedent. Courts have considered numerous cases relating to special prosecutors, from the 1970s Watergate scandal to the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In every case, judges have upheld the principle that attorneys general have the authority, under the power vested in them by the president, to appoint special prosecutors.

Legal observers responded to the touchdown pass thrown by quarterback Thomas to receiver Cannon with barely disguised incredulity. Leah Litman, a law professor at the University of Michigan law school, wryly quipped on social media that “Justice Thomas’s ‘Cannon-currence’ worked”.

Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University law school, posted on X that Thomas had “laid the table and Judge Cannon took a seat”.

As Murray noted, Thomas has now participated in two highly contentious legal decisions, released two weeks apart, upending both federal prosecutions of Trump. Thomas was one of the six rightwing justices who voted to give the former president unprecedented immunity protections relating to his conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 election; and now he has presented Cannon with the arguments that she used to dismiss the classified documents case.

That is bold action from a justice who is already being accused of conflict of interest in his dealings with Trump – not to mention the many other ethics scandals that have led Democrats in Congress to call for his investigation and impeachment. Thomas’s wife, Ginni, is heavily implicated in the 2020 election subversion conspiracy, and yet the justice has consistently refused to recuse himself from any January 6 case.

What shame they bring to Washington!

Tony

Man killed at Trump rally identified as firefighter Corey Comperatore!

  Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Dear Commons Community,

The following was provided by CNN.

Tony

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Man killed at Trump rally identified as firefighter Corey Comperatore , who ‘died a hero’

Zoe Sottile and Kit Maher, CNN

July 15, 2024 at 5:06 AM

Friends and neighbors are remembering firefighter Corey Comperatore -– the man shot and killed during the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump – as a family man who served his community and was quick to help friends in need.

Comperatore was one of the thousands of people who attended the rally in Butler, part of Trump’s 2024 reelection effort. He died trying to protect his family, according to according to Gov. Josh Shapiro. Pennsylvania State Police confirmed his identity on Sunday.

Authorities have identified the gunman in Saturday’s attack as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, who was killed by Secret Service agents at the scene after the shooting. The FBI is investigating the attack as an assassination attempt, the agency said.

Shapiro directed flags to be flown at half-staff in Comperatore’s memory.

“I just spoke to Corey’s wife and Corey’s two daughters,” Shapiro said Sunday.

“Corey was an avid supporter of the former president and was so excited to be there last night with him in the community,” the governor said.

“I asked Corey’s wife if it would be OK for me to share that we spoke. She said ‘yes.’ She also asked that I share with all of you that Corey died a hero,” Shapiro said.

“Corey dove on his family to protect them last night at this rally.”

“Corey was a girl dad. Corey was a firefighter. Corey went to church every Sunday. Corey loved his community. Most especially, Corey loved his family,” said Shapiro.

In addition to Comperatore, two people were critically injured in the incident, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

David Dutch, 57, of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and James Copenhaver, 74, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, are in stable condition, state police said in a news release.

The Marine Corps League of Pennsylvania, Inc. identified Dutch as a commandant in their organization’s location in Westmoreland County. Vice Commandant Matt Popovich said on Facebook that Dutch underwent two surgeries after being “shot in the liver and chest.”

“These victims and their families are certainly in our thoughts today,” said state police commissioner Col. Christopher Paris. “The Pennsylvania State Police continue to work tirelessly alongside our federal, state and local partners as this investigation continues.”

The former president was shot in his right ear, he said on social media, leaving his face covered in blood.

A GoFundMe campaign for the victims’ families, verified by the fundraising platform, had raised more than $3 million by Sunday afternoon, more than triple its initial goal. More than 49,000 donations have poured in, according to the website.

Speaking Sunday afternoon, President Joe Biden expressed his condolences to Comperatore’s family.

“We also extend our deepest condolences to the family of the victim who was killed,” the president said. “He was a father; he was protecting his family from the bullets being fired when he lost his life. God love him. We are also praying for the full recovery of those who were injured.”

A community in mourning

Mike Morehouse, who lived next to Comperatore for years told the Associated Press he counts Comperatore as a hero and intends to vote in the upcoming election in his memory.

“As soon as I heard what happened and then learned that it was to Corey, I went upstairs as soon as I got home and I registered to vote,” Morehouse told the AP. “This is the first time I’ve ever voted and I think it will be in his memory.”

Matthew Achilles, who also lived near Comperatore, told CNN affiliate WTAE, “He was a real good guy. He really was. You hear stories all the time that it’s always the good ones that end up getting taken out, and unfortunately, that’s what happened.”

“He helped us out when I was real sick a couple years ago. I was in the hospital and almost died. Corey was one of the first people to message me and say ‘Hey, how can I help you,’” Achilles said.

Bishop David Zubik of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said in a statement that “Comperatore’s selfless act in the face of danger speaks to his strength of character, deep faith, and dedication to serving others.”

“Let us also take this moment to pray for unity and an end to violence and inflammatory rhetoric in our community and across our nation,” he said.

In the outpouring of sympathy, many have highlighted Comperatore’s dedication to the community he served.

“Corey Comperatore died a hero, the way he lived, shielding his family from gunfire. He was a former fire chief, a proud father and loving husband. We will pray for his family. May he rest in peace,” Robert Brooks, president of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association told CNN in a statement Sunday.

The Buffalo Township Board of Supervisors condemned political violence in a statement to CNN Sunday.

“Corey was a dedicated husband, father, friend, and volunteer to the community, and will be sorely missed,” the statement said.

 

Dietary aide turned sniper: More on Trump Shooter Thomas Crooks!

Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Dear Commons Community,

The following was provided by USA Today.

Tony

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Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY

Updated July 14, 2024 at 8:25 PM

Donald Trump and would-be assassin Thomas Crooks started on their violent collision course long before the former president’s political rally ended in gunshots and death.

Crooks, 20, was a one-time registered Republican, a nursing home worker with no criminal record, shy in school, and living in a decent middle-class neighborhood in suburban Pennsylvania with his parents. Trump, 78, was eyeing Crooks’ state as a key battleground – but not in the way that anyone envisioned on Saturday.

Riding high on polls showing that he’s got a strong chance of toppling President Joe Biden, former president Trump had been campaigning for reelection in swing states, and Pennsylvania is a key prize. Trump won the state in 2016, but lost it four years later.

And on July 3, Trump’s campaign announced he would hold a rally at the Butler Farm Show grounds, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

“Pennsylvania has been ravaged by monumental surges in violent crime as a direct result of Biden’s and Democrats’ pro-criminal policies,” Trump’s campaign said in announcing the event, noting that when he’s elected, he’ll “re-establish law and order in Pennsylvania!”

The Saturday attack on Trump turned the heated rhetoric of the 2024 presidential campaign freshly violent. Authorities said bullets fired from Crooks’ AR-15 style rifle about 150 yards away grazed Trump’s ear, killed a rally attendee as he dove to protect his family, and critically wounded two others. Secret Service agents killed Crooks moments later.

Attack planned well in advance

Investigators are still seeking Crooks’ motive – despite his Republican leanings, he had donated recently to a progressive voter-turnout campaign in 2021 – but indicated he’d planned the attack well in advance.

The shooting marks the first assassination attempt against a former or current U.S. president since President Ronald Reagan was injured in a March 1981 shooting at a Washington, D.C. hotel.

There are many questions about why Crooks turned into a would-be presidential assassin, firing indiscriminately into hordes of political supporters.

FBI special agent Kevin Rojek said on a call with media that law enforcement located “a suspicious device” when they searched the Crooks’ vehicle , and that it’s being analyzed at the FBI crime lab.

“As far as the actions of the shooter immediately prior to the event and any interaction that he may have had with law enforcement, we’re still trying to flesh out those details now,” Rojek said.

None of Crooks’ shocked neighbors or high school classmates described him as violent or that he in any way signaled he was intent on harming Trump. Sunday morning, reporters and curious locals swarmed the leafy streets of the home where Crooks lived with his parents in Bethel Park, about 50 miles from the shooting scene.

Those who knew him described a quiet young man who often walked to work at a nearby nursing home. One classmate said he was bullied and often ate alone in high school.

Sunday morning, neighbor Cathy Caplan, 45, extended her morning walk about a quarter mile to glimpse what was happening outside Crooks’ home.“It came on the morning news and I was like ‘I know that street,’” said Caplan, who works for the local school district. “It feels like something out of a movie.”

Dietary aide turned deadly killer

Authorities say they are examining Crooks’ phone, social media and online activity for motivation. They said he carried no identification and his body had to be identified via DNA and biometric confirmation.

Although no possible motive has yet been released, Crooks nevertheless embodies the achingly familiar profile of an American mass shooter: a young white man, isolated from peers and armed with a high-powered rifle. His attack was one of at least 59 shootings in the United States on Saturday, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

According to records and online posts of the ceremony, Crooks graduated Bethel Park High School, about 42 miles from Butler, on June 3, 2022. That same day, Trump met briefly with investigators at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida as they examined whether he improperly took classified documents with him when he left the White House.

A classmate remembered Crooks as a frequent target of bullies. Kids picked on him for wearing camouflage to class and his quiet demeanor, Jason Kohler, 21, said. Crooks usually ate lunch alone, Kohler said.

Crooks worked as dietary aide at the Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation, less than a mile from his home. In a statement provided to USA TODAY on Sunday, Marcie Grimm, the facility’s administrator, said she was “shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement.”

Neighbor Dean Sierka, 52, has known Crooks and his parents for years. The families live a few doors apart on a winding suburban street, and Sierka’s daughter, who attended elementary, middle and high school with Crooks, remembers him as quiet and shy. Sierka said they saw Crooks at least once a week, often when he was walking to the nursing home from his parents’ three-bedroom brick house.

“You wouldn’t have expected this,” Sierka said. “The parents and the family are all really nice people.”

“It’s crazy,” he added.