TPM Cafe: Opinion

Speaking at the Stop the Iran Deal Rally with the U.S. Capitol as his backdrop, Donald Trump at first made the proposed nuclear agreement with Iran seem like a simple negotiation gone awry, nothing more.

“We’re gonna do, and we’re gonna get, nothing. Nothing. We are led by very, very stupid people. Very, very stupid people. We cannot let it continue.”

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“Playing politics” is an accusation that gets thrown around a lot in politics, and it’s usually unfair. Oh sure, there is plenty of hyperbolic rhetoric and people exaggerating how much umbrage they’re taking, but by and large most political theater is in service of ideas that people, both on the left and right, actually believe in. Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee are irritatingly self-aggrandizing, after all, but no one doubts that they actually want to stop gay couples from marrying.

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In a development that caught many by surprise, on Monday afternoon the CEO of United Airlines ($UAL) and two senior executives at the airline were forced out of their jobs following an internal investigation into their dealings with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the agency’s former chairman, David Samson.

For the last year Samson, an appointee of and political godfather to N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, has been under investigation by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman, an inquiry that was itself a metastasis of the federal probe of the September 2013 ‘Bridgegate’ lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Earlier this year, prosecutors seemed to settle their attention on Samson’s role as a power broker among the Christie administration, the Port Authority, and United Airlines during the period when the airline was negotiating a 20-year, $150 million lease to continue using Newark Liberty International Airport as its hub.

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When Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announced her support of the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 and Iran, she assured President Obama that his signature foreign policy victory would withstand a congressional challenge. With victory assured, many are trumpeting a victory over some very powerful forces, led by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), by far the most effective foreign policy lobby in Washington.

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The saga of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis is an epic tale of courage for her supporters, who view her as a sort of Appalachian Thomas More—and perhaps even more courageous than the Tudor martyr because she’s refusing to resign her public office (More did lose his head and his life, of course, but those were cruel times). To many of her detractors she’s a joke—a thrice-divorced hillbilly who epitomizes the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of Bible thumpers everywhere.

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Just as prosecutors seem to be closing in on David Samson, the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who is a close confidante of N.J. Gov. and presidential candidate Chris Christie, the chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings was today ousted from his job as the head of the nation’s second largest airline after an internal investigation into his relationship and dealings with the bi-state transportation agency.

Under Jeff Smisek, United had agreed to comply with a request from Samson to begin running a flight from Newark Liberty Airport, a facility owned and controlled by the Port Authority, to Columbia, South Carolina. The route was one of the airline’s least profitable, but happened to be convenient to Samson’s vacation home. According to a source the former Port Authority chief was fond of calling it “the chairman’s flight.”

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It’s become commonplace to complain about how the true meanings of our American holidays have been forgotten in favor of weekend sales, cookouts and family gatherings. But the problem is particularly clear when it comes to Labor Day. While holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July still feature prominent collective and media reminders of their historical and cultural significance alongside the barbeques and beach trips, Labor Day has become almost entirely divorced from its origins and associated instead with one last burst of summer fun before the fall and new school year commence in earnest.

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Slowly but steadily, educational reformers are succeeding in destroying higher education in America much in the same way they did K-12. Its undoing is the product of well-intentioned but misguided liberals, conservatives, and accreditation bodies who are pushing agendas that collectively are undoing the intellectual conditions that made American universities the best in the world.

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It was a surprise to no one that Mitt Romney received just 27 percent of the Latino vote in the 2012 election. The hallmark of Romney’s immigration solution was “self-deportation,” and Latinos were not too keen on that strategy.

Today Romney’s idea sounds downright quaint in comparison to Donald Trump’s proposed immigration reform. Under a Trump administration all undocumented persons would be deported, no exceptions. And Trump has not been shy about adding insult to policy injury. Most recently, a 2015 Latino version of the Willie Horton ad was released, portraying Latino immigrants as criminal dregs.

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Donald Trump has spent the summer slandering Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, calling for mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants (including U.S. citizen children), and proposing to disembowel the 14th Amendment. Over the weekend he leveled an attack on DREAMers—undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children—and on Monday he released a venomous Willie Horton-style race-baiting video attacking Jeb Bush for saying that undocumented immigration can be “an act of love” by using mugshots of undocumented immigrants linked to high-profile murders.

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Want to contribute to TPM Cafe? Email ideas for your pieces to us at talk@talkingpointsmemo.com

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