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“Proved Spectacularly Wrong”: The GOP’s ‘2012 Autopsy Report’ Is Now Officially Dead and Buried

It’s hard to think of an official political-party document more thoroughly repudiated by its intended audience than the March 2013 “Growth & Opportunity Project” of the Republican National Committee, better known as the “2012 autopsy report.” Yes, there were a host of recommendations for avoiding Mitt Romney’s fate included in the report, some that have been taken to heart involving campaign infrastructure and communications. But at the time it was abundantly clear the leadership of the GOP wanted to shake its activists and elected officials and get it through their thick skulls that remaining a party of white identity politics was a death trap given prevailing demographic trends.

And the single policy recommendation made in the whole report was underlined with bright flashing pointers:

We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only. We also believe that comprehensive immigration reform is consistent with Republican economic policies that promote job growth and opportunity for all.

A couple of months later, the Senate Judiciary Committee reported the so-called “Gang of Eight” reform bill, with Senator Marco Rubio way out in front on it. And in June 2013, the full Senate passed the bill, a high-water mark for immigration reform that seems astounding today.

This additional language from the report is also worth remembering given the mood among Republicans less than three years later:

If Hispanic Americans perceive that a GOP nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence.

That sentence was a specific repudiation of Mitt Romney’s position on immigration. At present it seems a relatively moderate option for a party whose presidential field is presently led by two advocates of forced deportation, being chased by, among others, a repentant Marco Rubio, who admits now he grievously misjudged public opinion in favoring a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

So it’s appropriate that the “autopsy report” itself be formally buried, and National Review‘s Jim Geraghty does the honors, arguing that it “proved spectacularly wrong in predicting what the political environment would look like at the end of President Obama’s second term.”

The Republican base may or may not be on board with the idea of deporting every last illegal immigrant, but there exists a broad consensus that we must make our southern border as impenetrable as possible and that illegal immigrants should face significant consequences for breaking the law. While there are very few who think legal immigration should cease entirely, 67 percent of Republicans (and 49 percent of all Americans) think legal immigration should be reduced from current levels.

Geraghty goes on to speculate that had House Republicans taken the advice of the “autopsy report” and sent something like the Gang of Eight bill to Obama for his signature, the anti-Establishment rebellion we are witnessing in the GOP ranks this year might have arrived in the 2014 down-ballot primaries:

Instead of seeing historic wins in 2014, the party probably would have ripped itself apart, as immigration restrictionists mounted furious primary challenges to the Republicans who had defied their wishes.

I don’t know about that; a lot of other winds were blowing in the GOP’s direction in 2014, including now-habitual pro-Republican midterm turnout patterns and the near-universal incidence of White House losses, often enormous, in second-term midterms. It’s also entirely possible, given the 2014 Republican Establishment strategy of defeating tea-party insurgents by surrendering to them on policy, that had immigration reform passed, its very enablers would have quickly condemned their own work and escaped the consequences, just as Rubio is trying to do now.

But if the GOP again loses in 2016, it’s a good bet that party poo-bahs will not be so fast to condemn excessive conservatism or insufficient tolerance as the problem. Republicans just don’t want to hear that.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | GOP Autopsy Report, House Republicans, Immigration Reform, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ugly Rhetoric Of The GOP Primaries”: The Republican Candidates Are Finding New And Innovative Ways To Alienate Minorities

It’s safe to say that the Republican nominee for president, whoever he ends up being, will not be getting too many votes from Muslim Americans. Or possibly any votes at all.

Donald Trump who claimed falsely that thousands of Muslims celebrated the downing of the Twin Towers, and who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, is still leading the polls. The one who said that no Muslim should be allowed to be president isn’t doing so well; Ben Carson just fired much of his staff and his campaign is obviously melting down. But Marco Rubio, who appears to be on the rise, sent a clear message to Muslims on Wednesday, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The point, though, isn’t that the Muslim vote will be critical to the 2016 outcome; Muslims make up only around 1 percent of the U.S. population, and many of them are not yet citizens and so aren’t eligible to vote. But the rancid Islamophobia on display in the Republican primary campaign is more than a threat to Republicans’ showing among Muslim voters, it’s a threat to their prospects among all non-white voters. Combine it with the way Republicans have talked about immigration and the way they’ve talked about President Obama, and you could hardly have assembled a better case to minorities that they should reject the GOP.

Back to what happened this week: President Obama visited a mosque in Baltimore on Wednesday, the first such visit of his presidency. He hit familiar notes in his speech, condemning hate crimes against Muslims and noting the long history of Islam in America. He acknowledged a young woman in the audience, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will be representing the United States in fencing at this summer’s Olympics — in her hijab. “At a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect,” he said, “we have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths: We are all God’s children.”

For Marco Rubio, that statement of unity was just too much to bear. “I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done,” he told an audience in New Hampshire. “Always pitting people against each other. Always! Look at today: He gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.” Indeed, what could be more divisive than a plea for solidarity and understanding?

Donald Trump also weighed in on the president’s visit to a mosque, saying, “Maybe he feels comfortable there.” Because he might be a secret Muslim, get it? Ha ha!

Think for a moment about how a member of any minority group — African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim, Jew, Pacific Islander — would view everything that has gone on in this primary campaign, and how inclined it might make them feel to vote for whichever candidate the Republicans nominate.

We often assume that the effect of something like Trump’s comments on Muslims or the GOP debate on who hates “amnesty” the most will only affect the opinions of the particular group being targeted at that moment. But everyone else hears those things too. For people who have the experience of being a minority in America, it doesn’t go unnoticed when one party communicates that it’s actively hostile to people who aren’t white and Christian. Even if you’re, say, Asian-American and you haven’t heard a GOP candidate attack people like you specifically, you’ll probably suspect that that’s only because they haven’t gotten around to it yet. In case you were wondering, Asian-Americans gave Barack Obama 73 percent of their votes in 2012, and they’re the fastest-growing minority group in the country.

The other critical fast-growing group is, of course, Hispanics. While we don’t yet know who the GOP nominee will be, we know that he’ll be someone who spent an awful lot of time condemning undocumented immigrants and trying to get to his opponents’ right on “amnesty.” And as multiple demographic analyses (see here or here) have shown, if Republicans don’t dramatically improve their performance among Hispanics, it will be all but mathematically impossible for them to win.

That’s not even to mention African-Americans, the most loyal segment of the Democratic coalition. They were certainly energized by the presence of the first African-American president on the ticket, and do you think they’ll be motivated to vote against the Republicans who attack Barack Obama with such venom?

There is the chance, however, that the GOP could have the first Hispanic major-party nominee in 2016. But it’s impossible to say how much of an impact Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz would have on the Hispanic vote.

Many knowledgeable Hispanic politicos (at least the Democratic ones) argue that it wouldn’t change Hispanic voters’ feelings much, for three reasons: First, Rubio and Cruz are both Cuban-American, and the ties of solidarity between Cubans and people whose heritage is Mexican or Salvadoran or anything else aren’t as strong as some might think (this is even more true for Cruz, who unlike Rubio doesn’t speak fluent Spanish). Second, Hispanic voters are keenly aware of the policy differences between them and the GOP, differences that have been heightened during the campaign. And third, Rubio or Cruz wouldn’t be able to escape the message of hostility their party has sent to Hispanic voters for years, but especially this year.

They’ll have trouble escaping it not only because of the clear record of the primaries — which among other things included Cruz making clear his opposition to birthright citizenship, a bedrock American principle — but because they’ll find themselves assaulted relentlessly by other Hispanics who oppose them. Recently, Jorge Ramos, the most influential Hispanic journalist in America, wrote a scorching column criticizing Rubio and Cruz (among others), in which he said, “There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That’s a betrayal.” Expect to see a lot more of that in the general election.

You can also expect to see the Republican nominee take a drastically different tone on issues like immigration once the general election rolls around, because he’ll have a different audience and a different set of voters to persuade. He’ll play down the positions he has taken, and talk in more welcoming, inclusive terms. He’ll pull people of all races up on stage with him. The appeals he makes to white resentment will become more subtle and implicit.

In short, whoever that nominee is, he’ll try to make everyone forget the ugly rhetoric of the Republican primaries. But by then it will probably be too late.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, February 5, 2016

February 7, 2016 Posted by | GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“In The Murky Depths Of The Internet”: Trolls And Nazis Mourn Trump Loss

To Donald Trump’s seedy Internet fan club, he’s some sort of god. So when the final numbers were tallied in the Iowa caucus on Monday night, no one was more upset than the online trolls.

Trump’s Internet forum star-status is fueled by white supremacists and Neo-Nazis as well as the kind of snarky nihilists that lurk on 4chan. Stormfront, a website dedicated to providing a “voice to the new embattled White minority,” has touted Trump as a beacon of hope in months past, politically aligning itself with other white nationalists who recorded robocalls for Trump in Iowa.

Between posts discussing the best images from the Third Reich and theories about Hillary Clinton’s bowel issues, Stormfront had difficulty emotionally comprehending Trump’s loss, especially given the robocalls recorded in the state by the leader of the White Nationalist American Freedom Party. Some chalked up Cruz’s win to an elaborate conspiracy to keep Trump from becoming the president.

“This has probably been rigged in favor of Cruz, by elitists behind the scenes who fear they won’t be able to control a President Trump,” user GreyWolf1972 wrote.

Others surmised that the uptick in support for Rubio, who ended up a close third in the final tally, was orchestrated by undercover Democrats on a mission to bring Trump down.

“How many Hispanic Democrats switched to Republican party in Iowa tonight to vote on Latino anchor baby Marco Rubio?” Diet_Cokeaholic wondered.

These fervent Trump bootlickers can only imagine that a conspiracy must have foiled their golden-haired idol. He is the only person who validates their nationalism, the one man who suggests their ideas might not always be confined to the darkest corners of the Web. Now that Rubio may be the candidate to beat, they really hate his guts.

“On the CNN the Jews and the Negro Van Dindoo are making even less sense,” wrote user piltene. “Marco Rubio like a little shark smiling and bragging now.”

Instead of spouting epithet-ridden laments, 4chan reacted to the loss as if their pet died.

A “Trump Support Group Thread” emerged moments after word of his loss to Ted Cruz spread around the internet. “TRUMP IS GOING TO GET REKT INTO 3RD ITS ALL OVER,” someone further down on the thread wrote. Another thread, which featured an image of an angry Ron Jeremy, read in all caps: “IOWA DOES NOT DECIDE THE REPUBLICAN.” The first commenter so desperately wanted to agree but you could tell he was worried.

“Faggot, we know that,” he wrote. “Trump needs 2ND PLACE though. 3rd place or lower, and every MSM will start ramming their dicks onscreen for a month straight trying to slay the god-emperor.”

4chan is the website where users have invested hours into crafting elaborate memes of the candidate they either ironically or seriously or somewhere in the middle, refer to as “dank.” In one instance Trump manually retweeted a video called “You Can’t Stump the Trump (Volume 4)” to the uproarious delight of every basement-dweller in the forum. This is their unlikely hero and on Monday night, he let them down.

Yet at least one person speculated that this loss was intentional and that Trump was creating a distraction for everyone to get a leg up as the race continues.

“Gotta lull your opponents into a false sense of security, and the media will do exactly that,” wrote user IMFUCKINGZYZZBRAH. “For Trump, for free. We accept defeat for this battle, but not for the war.”

In the conspiracy wing of the Internet, there was still hope for a brighter future.

“It’s what they expected—a narrow loss,” InfoWars radio host and paranoia proliferator Alex Jones said in an audio message to The Daily Beast. He has touted Trump’s nationalist appeal on his show in the past, even having the GOP frontrunner on for an interview in between ads about DNA-altering supplements. “Then he goes on to dominate New Hampshire and other states. He was advised not to campaign there,” Jones said referring to Iowa. “That’s what’s going on. The evangelicals—some of them just couldn’t vote for Trump.”

For the fringe arm of the cultish and conspiratorial Internet, anyone who is not Trump is a waste of space, often a meaningless minority or extension of the Jewish powers that be.

In this snake pit, Trump is king. But on Monday night, he got a dent in his crown.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, February 2, 2016

February 3, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Iowa Caucuses, White Supremacists | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Trump’s Conversation With God”: I’m A Great, Great Christian. Got A Bible And Everything!

An absolutely true news item: In an interview with CNN, Donald Trump said, “I have a very great relationship with God.”

God responds: What relationship? I haven’t heard from you in, like, 40 years.

Trump: Look, I’ve been busy becoming fabulously successful. Making business deals, banking billions of dollars, hosting my top-rated reality show, buying and selling beauty pageants, marrying and divorcing amazingly gorgeous women.

My life’s fantastic, almost as good as Yours!

God: And now you’re running for president of the United States.

Trump: That’s right, and I’m totally killing it in the polls! Everybody loves me, especially the evangelicals.

God: You have got to be kidding.

Trump: Don’t act so shocked. Who else could these people vote for? Huckabee’s a total zero, Cruz is a nasty Canadian, Jeb is a low-energy loser, and Rubio’s a punk.

They’re pathetic, and I say that with all due respect.

God: And this is how you think a devout Christian talks?

Trump: Hey, I’m a great, great Christian. Got a Bible and everything!

God: Yeah, I heard. The one your mother supposedly gave you.

Trump: I carry it everywhere. Actually, somebody on my staff carries it for me. But it’s an unbelievably great, great Bible. I spend all my spare time on the jet reading it.

God: I saw the YouTube clip from Liberty University. ‘Two Corinthians’? Really?

Trump: Two Corinthians, Second Corinthians, what’s the big deal? Those kids knew what I meant.

God: They were laughing, Donald.

Trump: Sure, because they love me. Everybody loves me. Have you seen the crowds at my rallies? Unbelievable! Ten thousand people showed up in Pensacola!

God: Ten thousand white people. I was there.

Trump: Look, we ran out of tickets for the others. It happens.

That doesn’t mean African-Americans don’t love me. Hispanics love me, too. Even Muslims love me, and by that I mean the good Muslims, which I assume some of them are.

God: I’m just curious. Are you remotely familiar with the concept of tolerance? Compassion? Humility?

Trump: That’s the problem.

We’re too nice. Why do you think America is such a disaster? We’ve gotta stop being so nice. The rest of the world thinks we’re weak.

Your son Jesus, with all due respect — he was way too nice.

God: Excuse me?

Trump: In one of those gospel blogs, I forget which, they quote Jesus saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Seriously? Because, frankly, my neighbors in Palm Beach are a pain in the a–. And, even if they weren’t, I couldn’t love anybody as much as I love myself.

God: That was Matthew, FYI.

Trump: McConaughey? Where? He’s amazing. Did you see “The Dallas Buyer’s Club?”

God: No, I’m talking about the disciple Matthew. That’s the gospel you were citing. He was one of the original evangelicals.

Trump: I knew that. Everybody knows that. Matthew was a great, great disciple. He would have been absolutely fantastic on The Apprentice.

God: Know what? We’re done here.

Trump: What I was saying before? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge, huge fan of Jesus. An incredible guy, and a helluva carpenter.

If he ever comes back, I’d hire him in a heartbeat. Tell him I said so.

God: I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.

Trump: But, frankly, all that stuff he preached about turning the other cheek, not hating your enemies — it didn’t work out so great for him, did it?

That’s my point. Being nice doesn’t cut it. Being nice gets you crucified.

God: Do me a favor, Donald — quit dropping my name in your speeches and interviews. Just knock it off.

Trump: I will, I will. Right after the South Carolina primary.

God: No, stop it right now.

Trump: But what about Iowa? And New Hampshire? Please, Lord — can I call you Lord? — I really need that Christian vote.

God: I still can’t believe they’re buying this lame act.

Trump: Oh, they’re totally eating it up. Amazing, right?

God: The Bible’s not supposed to be a political prop. Put it away.

Trump: Oh, come on. You know how long it took my staff to even find that thing? How many of my warehouses they had to search?

I’ll make you a deal. If You let me keep using the Bible in my campaign appearances, just for a few more weeks, I promise not to quote from it.

No more Corinthians. No more McConaugheys.

God (sighing): See you in church, Donald. You can Google the directions.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 25, 2016

January 26, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, God, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What A Guy!”: Donald Trump’s Plan To Defeat Hillary Clinton Is Even More Delusional Than You’d Expect

The human brain has a magnificent capacity to adapt to bizarre circumstances and rationalize them as normal. Donald Trump’s chances of winning the Republican nomination — which even his skeptics (like me) now regard as plausible, and many consider likely or even inevitable — has caused a reconsideration of his standing with the public. Yes, polling data would suggest Trump is wildly unpopular with a solid majority of the public and would probably lose soundly. But polling data does not account for other, uh, factors imagined by Trump’s supporters, who now present their case to the media. “How Donald Trump Defeats Hillary Clinton” is the headline of a Politico story, and possibly the least convincing electability argument ever published in a mainstream publication.

The author, Ben Schreckinger, cites numerous arguments for why Trump would fare better than you think. Here are the most entertaining ones:

  1. Black people love him. “If he were the Republican nominee he would get the highest percentage of black votes since Ronald Reagan in 1980,” says Republican pollster Frank Luntz. “He behaves in a way that most minorities would not expect a billionaire to behave,” adds another pollster.

More likely, the Republican candidate to arrest the party’s deep decline among African-Americans is not going to be the candidate who spent his own money to whip up public demands for the execution of five African-Americans for a rape they did not commit, and who publicly questioned the legitimacy of President Obama’s birth certificate. It is true that Trump does not behave the way minorities would expect a billionaire to behave, or, for that matter, the way white people would expect a billionaire to behave. You could expect a billionaire not to act like a racist buffoon. Trump’s non-stereotypical behavior does not necessarily give him special political appeal to the targets of his demagoguery.

  1. He has a brilliant plan to make Latinos stop hating him. “Trump minimizes his losses with Hispanics by running Spanish-language ads highlighting his support for a strong military and take-charge entrepreneurial attitude, especially in the Miami and Orlando media markets,” the story explains.

That’s all it takes! Just some Spanish-language ads in Miami and Orlando talking about the military and having a take-charge entrepreneurial attitude! Why didn’t Mitt Romney think of this?

  1. He’ll use Bill Clinton’s affairs against Hillary. Trump, continues Schreckinger, uses a weapon he has already begun to deploy: “He draws the starkest possible outsider-insider contrast with Hillary Clinton and successfully tars her with her husband’s sexual history.” Schreckinger allows that Trump running as a candidate of sexual propriety would be “audacious.” But there is also the problem of whether this tactic could succeed. Hillary Clinton’s popularity reached its highest level ever during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which suggests that voters are unlikely to punish her for being victimized by her husband’s infidelity.
  2. Trump will draw “extraordinary levels of working-class white voter turnout.” Somehow, though, all of this excitement he creates among voters who love Trump will not also excite countermobilization among voters who hate and fear him.
  3. If Republican pollsters can frame the election in a controlled setting, they can make voters agree. This part of the argument has to be read in its entirety to be believed.

[Sam Nunberg, a former Trump aide] asked women in Connecticut who opposed marijuana legalization who they respected more: a politician who is also charitable and a world-renowned businessman, father and grandfather or an “Elderly woman who not only openly allows her husband to have affairs but tries to silence the women.” The figure with the favorable abstract framing of Trump beat the figure with the negative abstract framing of Clinton by more than 20 points, according to Nunberg.

Well, okay. Likewise, if you asked some voters if they prefer a small-business owner who rose from poverty in an immigrant community over a bearded trial lawyer who murdered hundreds of thousands of Americans, they would report that they indeed believe John Gotti would make for a better president than Abraham Lincoln.

  1. Women can’t resist Trump. “He’s a masculine figure and that will attract women to him,” adds Nunberg. “It’s their dirty little secret. They like Donald Trump.”

Yes, Trump treats women with extreme levels of contempt, unashamedly valuing them entirely on the basis of their sex appeal, including his own daughter. But, hey, women obviously love him, as evidenced by the fact that they keep marrying him. The attraction will surely apply to voting as well. Women will feel drawn to him irresistibly. They may even want to vote against Trump, but they will find themselves physically unable to pull the lever for Clinton.

If you’re scared that Trump can win the election, you probably shouldn’t be.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, January 19, 2016

January 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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