mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“He’s Made The Republican Party More Trump-Like”: Donald Trump May Not Get The Nomination, But He Has Already Won

In his speech from the Oval Office on Sunday night, President Obama took care to urge his fellow citizens not to equate the extremism of ISIS with the beliefs of Muslims as a whole. “Just as it is the responsibility of Muslims around the world to root out misguided ideas that lead to radicalization, it is the responsibility of all Americans, of every faith, to reject discrimination. It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim-Americans should somehow be treated differently.” Obama made his case on both pragmatic grounds (mistreating Muslims would feed into ISIS’s preferred narrative) and on moral grounds (Muslim-Americans deserve the same rights as the rest of us). Obama’s comments drew particular ire from Senator Marco Rubio, a leading Republican presidential candidate. “And then the cynicism, the cynicism tonight to spend a significant amount of time talking about discrimination against Muslims,” Rubio declared on Fox News. “Where is there widespread evidence that we have a problem in America with discrimination against Muslims?”

It is unclear what sort of evidence Rubio would accept. According to FBI statistics, hate crimes against Muslim-Americans, which spiked in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, have settled in at an elevated level five times higher than before 2001. If Rubio considers these dry statistics too abstract, he could look to current Republican poll leader Donald Trump, who last night proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Trump has dominated the Republican race by channeling the passions of its base more authentically than any other candidate. Trump’s imprint has been felt in ways that go far beyond his mere chances of capturing the nomination, which (I continue to estimate) remain low. Liberals fall into the habit of assuming that the most authentic spokesperson for the party’s base must necessarily be its most likely leader. The vociferous opposition Trump provokes among Republican leaders guarantees the last non-Trump candidate left standing will enjoy their consolidated and enthusiastic support. What Trump has done is to make the Republican party more Trump-like.

After 9/11, George W. Bush mostly succeeded in channeling nationalistic feelings away from anti-Muslim bigotry. Bush’s departure opened a sewer of ugly sentiments. One early episode of right-wing hysteria focused on a planned Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan, which conservatives denounced as a “Ground Zero Mosque.” Republicans argued at the time that freedom of religion, which would normally safeguard a minority group’s right to build a cultural center with a house of worship, was overridden by anti-Muslim anger. (Marco Rubio: “We are a nation founded on strong principles of religious freedom. However, we cannot be blind to the pain 9/11 caused our nation and the families of the victims.”) In the intervening years, Ben Carson has suggested a Muslim should not be allowed to serve as president, and large numbers of his fellow partisans agree. A poll this fall found that only 49 percent of Iowa Republicans believe Islam should be legal. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush have both proposed to allow only Christian refugees into the U.S. — a proposal that has absorbed zero percent of the backlash generated by Trump’s comments despite being three-quarters as noxious.

Republicans distrust Trump for many reasons, beginning with his short and unconvincing record of loyalty to the party’s well-being. As threatening as they have found Trump’s candidacy, it has the convenient side effect of allowing them to define a general tendency in their party as a personal quirk associated with a buffoonish individual. The antipode of the Democratic belief that Trump is certain to rule the GOP is the Republican conviction that the cancer he represents can be cleanly severed from the body.

Take, for instance, David Brooks’s insistence a month ago that Marco Rubio needs to denounce Trump more forcefully if he is to prevail. “I’m sorry, Marco Rubio, when your party faces a choice this stark, with consequences this monumental, you’re probably not going to be able to get away with being a little on both sides.” This high-minded sentiment is actually closer to the opposite of reality. The way to consolidate leadership of a political party is not to polarize it but to straddle its divide. Trump’s most plausible opponents have doled out their rebuttals in carefully calibrated doses. “Well, that’s not my policy,” says Cruz.

Rubio goes a bit further: “I disagree with Donald Trump’s latest proposal. His habit of making offensive and outlandish statements will not bring Americans together.” But note the contrast between Rubio’s condemnation of Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry and his earlier condemnation of Obama’s rejection of anti-Muslim bigotry. Rubio impugns Obama’s motives for rejecting discrimination against Muslims. (“Cynicism”!) He makes no such judgment about Trump’s motives. Rubio needs to harness the same passions that Trump is exploiting, but to do so more carefully. His anti-anti-bigotry message cleverly redirects conservative resentment away from Muslims and toward the liberals who cynically denounce anti-Muslim prejudice and refuse to present the case against ISIS as a war of civilizations.

Parliamentary systems channel far-right nationalistic movements of the sort Trump is leading into splinter parties. The American winner-take-all system creates two blocs that absorb far-right movements into the mainstream. Rubio, like all the Republican contenders, has promised to endorse Trump if he wins the nomination, a constraint that limits their ability to denounce him. You can’t call a man a fascist while promising to support him if he collects the requisite delegates. Unless Republican elites are willing to actually cleave the GOP in two — and they have displayed no such inclination — they are going to live with the reality that they are part of an entity that is substantially, if not entirely, a party of Trump.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, December 8, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | 9-11, Donald Trump, ISIS, Muslims | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Real Danger In Trump’s Rhetoric”: Hurting America’s Standing With Allies And Helping Recruit More Extremists

September, 2015: “I love the Muslims, I think they’re great people.”

Would he appoint a Muslim to his cabinet? “Oh, absolutely, no problem with that.”

Yes, that was Donald Trump three months ago. Now, his campaign’s Dec. 7 press release states: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This comes in addition to his calls for surveillance against mosques and the possible creation of a national database of Muslims in the U.S.

Many of the Republican candidates for president have not hesitated to echo Trump’s bellicose rhetoric on immigration or other anti-Muslim statements. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz even introduced legislation to keep refugees from coming to the U.S. for at least three years who are from countries where there is a “substantial” amount of control by the Islamic State group or al-Qaida.

But, now, they seem to have had enough: Jeb Bush tweeted that Trump is “unhinged”; Ohio Gov. John Kasich condemned Trump’s “outrageous divisiveness that characterizes his every breath”; former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore called it “fascist talk”; Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted “every candidate for president needs to do the right thing & condemn” Trump; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said “we do not need to resort to that type of activity.”

Even Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney said, “I think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been a very important part of our history and where we came from. A lot of people, my ancestors got here, because they were Puritans.”

But the real danger of Trump’s rhetoric and policies is not domestic or political here at home – though one can argue that it makes us less safe and more vulnerable – it is from our friends and allies abroad.

Here is what the French prime minister tweeted: “Mr. Trump, like others, strokes hatred; our ONLY enemy is radical Islamism.” A spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron called the remarks “divisive, unhelpful and quite simply wrong … what politicians need to do is to look at ways they can bring communities together and make clear that these terrorists are not representative of Islam and indeed what they are doing is a perversion of Islam.”

A columnist for Israel’s Haaretz wrote: “For some Jews, the sight of thousands of supporters waving their fists in anger as Trump incited against Muslims and urged a blanket ban on their entry to the United States could have evoked associations with beer halls in Munich a century ago.” In Pakistan it was called “the worst kind of bigotry mixed with ignorance” by a leading human rights activist.

Trump’s ban would even include world leaders who are Muslim. They would not be allowed into the United States, let alone tourists or relatives of Americans or world renowned individuals coming for a scientific meeting here.

Just like his plan to deport 12 million people, the absurdity is readily apparent. But put yourself in the shoes of of one of the 1.7 billion people across the globe who is a Muslim, 23 percent of the world’s population; you are watching the leading Republican candidate for president of the United States making these statements.

How many recruits will the Islamic State group gain from Trump’s move toward fascism? How confused will young, angry, poor Muslims in the war-torn Middle East be, and how many Muslims will believe “successful” Donald Trump represents American thought and values and our approach to the world?

How long will it take for us to undo this damage? How many years? What price will we pay?

Those may be the scariest questions of all.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Political Strategist and Head of Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, December 9, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, ISIS, World Leaders | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump Proves That Liberals Have Been Right All Along”: Republicans Letting Expediency Get The Better Of Them

If you’ve been following Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and his effect on the Republican primary closely, you were perhaps beset Monday by a strange sense of speechlessness—one born less of ineffability than of tedium.

Trump’s plan to prohibit Muslim immigration into the U.S. is indeed extreme, but to students of the Trump phenomenon and conservative politics more broadly, it was neither unexpected nor the source of any new or profound lesson.

While closing the country to foreign Muslims altogether is a radical idea relative to our founding ideals and current policy, it is but an incremental step relative to the outer bounds of legitimate debate in the GOP primary. Republican presidential candidates have supported discriminating against Muslims in our refugee policy, and opposed the very notion of a Muslim-American president, all without subjecting themselves to universal condemnation. The most surprising part of the latest Trump story is that it proves a Republican candidate can take Islamophobia too far for his party’s tastes.

For most liberals, and for the Trump-backing or Trump-curious segments of the right, the Trump phenomenon needs little further explanation. The only people who claim to be befuddled by the Trump phenomenon are officials on knife-edge in the party he leads.

On the left, the view that Republicans allowed the conservative grassroots to turn their party into a political action committee for white ressentiment has evolved over the years from an argument into a creed. Since at least 2012, liberals have been warning (at times mockingly, but never disingenuously) that by indulging and at times fanning the hostilities and procedural extremism of this part of their coalition, Republicans were letting expediency get the better of them.

When large swaths of the conservative movement resisted the notion that the GOP needed to widen its appeal to minorities, and could win by appealing to a broader base of whites, it was liberals who warned that these voters would drag the party into a racial abyss.

Trump is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Better than any Republican candidate in recent memory, he intuits the mood of the disaffected Republican electorate. Or rather, because he’s almost entirely uninterested in straddling party factions, he gives voice to their paranoia and racism without massaging it the way the pretenders to his lead do. It’s possible to imagine a more traditional politician, like Ted Cruz, taking up Trump’s mantle without ever making Reince Priebus or House Speaker Paul Ryan angry, but their platforms would look practically identical.

This is the main reason GOP protestations, five months after Trump reached the top of the polls, ring so hollow. Republicans behave as if Trump is both a self-contained phenomenon and a singular mouthpiece for the most important segment of their electorate. An unmetastasized malignancy and a vital organ, simultaneously. The former view serves to reassure the rest of the public (and GOP donors among them) that Trump is merely a passing fad—an unlovely figurehead for a perfectly lovely segment of the voting base. That once he’s gone, everything will return to normal.

But the former view is also facially incompatible with the latter. It’s why their condemnations of Trump are either half-hearted, or paired with some alternate, less overtly discrediting appeal to his fans. The modus operandi of second-tier candidates has been to tiptoe around Trump’s controversies, rather than create contrast with them. Even Ryan, who denounced Trump’s Monday comments in the most unambiguous terms, still pledged to support him should he win the Republican nomination.

The Republican National Committee developed its candidate pledge as a way to hem Trump in. The pledge has evolved into a symbol of the party’s commitment to keeping Trump’s fans in the fold. If Trump were to vanish suddenly, his supporters would either defect to an alternate poll leader over whom the party could better exert control, or else the remaining candidates would enter a race to the bottom to win their support.

And yet, while there’s something novel and fascinating about the pageant—the Republican House speaker rebuking his party’s presidential frontrunner; the fraying ties between Trumpistas and the rest of the party—the nature of the crisis is totally mundane to liberals. So common is it on the left to compare the Trump phenomenon (and the Sarah Palin phenomenon before it) to a Frankenstein’s monster, that the analysis has become trite.

To really shake things up—to raise new questions and provoke new thinking about conservative politics—the Republican Party would have to do something drastic like rescind the loyalty pledge as it pertains to Trump. Unless and until that happens, Trump is likely to continue shoring up support on the basis of increasingly grotesque views, and leave those of us who’ve been clear-eyed about it all along with nothing much to add.

 

By Brian Beutler, Senior Editor, The New Republic, December 9, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Liberals, Muslims | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tea Party Turns On ‘Megalomaniac Strongman’ Donald Trump”: A Bridge Too Far For Tea Party Members In Congress

The Tea Party’s infatuation with Donald Trump may be over.

Now, “may” is the operative word, since rumors of Trump’s demise, as you might have noticed, have been a touch overstated. But the Republican presidential frontrunner’s recent call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration has put him at odds with some of the most conservative people on the right—including congressional Tea Party darlings.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a Tea Party favorite who won support from Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz in his Republican primary campaign in Nebraska, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to criticize the mogul.

“Monday night was a flood,” Sasse said, referring to Trump’s bombastic campaign-rally speech about Muslim immigration. “Neither are what our people need or really what they, at their best, want.”

Though the senator didn’t mention Trump by name, the allusion was clear as day.

Sasse then proceeded to characterize the mogul in extraordinarily harsh terms while blaming President Obama and other Washington insiders for Trump’s support.

“The people who are supposed to be laser-focused on defending the American people—that is us—mouth silly platitudes that show we’re either too weak or too confused to keep our people safe,” he said. “Then a megalomaniac strongman steps forward, and he starts screaming about travel bans and deportation, and offering promises to keep all of us safe, which to some and I think actually to many more than those of us in this body seem to understand, to some will sound much better than not being protected at all.”

Rep. Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican who defeated then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a shocking primary upset due in large part to his tough-on-undocumented-immigration stance, also criticized Trump’s approach.

“You gotta be very careful on lines of thought when you’re conveying these lines to the media,” Brat said. “The right way to go is just to talk about overseas threats, and quantifying those based on what’s in the best interests of American citizens.”

Rep. Randy Hultgren, an Illinois Republican who won his seat in the 2010 Tea Party wave, shared those concerns in a press release that criticized the mogul’s stance as a religious freedom problem.

“Singling out any faith community for the actions of extremists is not conservative, it is hostile to our founding,” Hultgren said.

Off the Hill, other movement conservative firebrands were distressed by Trump’s call for a religious test.

“I think that calling for a religious test is contrary to our founding principles and that our Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves right now,” said Penny Nance, who heads Concerned Women for America.

She added that Trump’s decision to single out Muslims for extra scrutiny undermines the principles of religious freedom that protect other religious minorities—a category that includes, in her opinion, evangelical Christians.

“I think in our society that evangelical Christians are viewed less and less favorably, and we should be very concerned,” Nance said. “It begins a slippery slope that eventually ensnares all of us.”

In the wake of Kim Davis’s arrest and legal targeting of conservative Christian bakers and florists who refused to serve gay couples’ weddings, evangelical Christians—including Nance—have increasingly focused on religious freedom issues. She wasn’t the only conservative to argue that singling out Muslims could result in similar discriminatory treatment of Christians.

Taylor Budowich, executive director of the Tea Party Express, also said the real estate baron’s stance is incompatible with the Constitution.

“A religious qualification is unfitting,” he said. “It kind of flies in the face of the founding principles of the government.”

“Our public policy focus should be on ensuring security and preventing those wanting to do us harm from entering our country, not just haphazardly creating religious barriers,” he added.

That said, it remains to be seen if Trump supporters will share Tea Party leaders’ views of their idol.

Billie Tucker, who co-founded the First Coast Tea Party in Florida, said Trump’s foes shouldn’t hold their breath.

“People are very excited to hear somebody speaking out—things that they’ve been thinking and no one will say,” she said. “He is saying a lot of stuff that people think.”

 

By: Betsy Woodruff, The Daily Beast, December 9, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Evangelicals, Religious Freedom, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Emotionally Committed To Binary Thinking”: Why Are Hard Truths So Hard For Conservatives?

Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

The sort of people who watch cable news coverage of terrorism 24/7 seem to think it’s your patriotic duty to run around with your hair on fire. It’s the American Way.

Following the latest mass shooting event in San Bernardino, California, President Obama gave a nationally televised address from the Oval Office. Because last week’s killers were a husband and wife team of deranged Muslims instead of the stereotypical lone male demento, the White House sought to offer reassurance.

As is his custom, Obama expressed calm determination.

“The threat from terrorism is real, but we will overcome it,” he vowed. “We will destroy ISIL and any other organization that tries to harm us. Our success won’t depend on tough talk, or abandoning our values, or giving into fear. That’s what groups like ISIL are hoping for. Instead, we will prevail by being strong and smart, resilient and relentless.”

Among much of the electorate, however, calm and resilient have gone out of fashion. Overstimulated by a presidential race resembling a WWE promotion, they look for something along the lines of professional wrestling extravaganza, with heroes, villains, vainglorious boasting, and hyperbolic threats.

The affiliation between Donald J. Trump and World Wrestling Entertainment head honcho Vince McMahon has been previously noted here. Indeed, the portly GOP candidate with the flowing hair has participated in WWE spectacles with former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali—to name just one Muslim-American athlete he was unable to recall after Obama’s speech. (Trump has also conducted a one-sided public feud with former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.)

Trump himself, however, was very far from the only GOP hopeful to respond to Obama’s speech with bombast. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, ex-commander of the Princeton University debate team, vowed to “utterly destroy” ISIS as president.

Remember “Shock and Awe”? Like that. “We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” Cruz promised. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”

Is he really threatening to nuke ISIS’s ragtag “caliphate”?

And then what? Re-occupy Iraq? Syria? With whose army? For how long? The senator needn’t say. It’s simply a pose.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio thinks Americans aren’t frightened enough. He told a Fox News audience that “people are scared not just because of these attacks but because of a growing sense that we have a president that’s completely overwhelmed by them.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also ran to a Fox News studio to denounce “the idea that somehow there are radical elements in every religion” as “ridiculous,” an argument Obama never made. Indeed the president’s GOP detractors spoke as if confident their intended audience had no clue what his speech actually said — probably a good bet.

To Bush, as to all the rest, the president’s failure to pronounce the words “radical Islamic terrorism” has left the nation undefended. This odd bit of magical thinking has become an article of faith on the right.

This obsession with the phrase “radical Islam” puzzles me. Why if only Obama had uttered the magical trope, it seems, a bespectacled duck resembling Groucho Marx would have descended from the ceiling with a crisp new $100 bill, throwing ISIS terrorists into disarray.

Oops, wrong TV show. And yes, I’m showing my age. On Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life everything depended on guests accidentally pronouncing the secret word.

But yes, of course Obama has resisted saying that the U.S. is at war with Islam. So did George W. Bush, Kevin Drum points out, “and for good reason: he wanted all the non-terrorist Muslims in the world to be on our side. Why is this so hard to understand?”

Basically because everything is hard to understand for Fox News initiates emotionally committed to binary thinking: good vs. evil, white vs. black, Christian vs. Islamic, etc. After all, this is pretty much the same crowd that Trump has spent years persuading that President Obama’s a foreign-born imposter of suspect loyalty. Counting higher than two strikes them as decadent, a sign of weakness.

Along with his race and his suspect parentage, it’s precisely Obama’s resistance to melodrama that makes this crowd think he’s weak.

“ISIL does not speak for Islam,” Obama insisted. “They are thugs and killers, part of a cult of death, and they account for a tiny fraction of more than a billion Muslims around the world—including millions of patriotic Muslim Americans who reject their hateful ideology…”

“That does not mean denying the fact that an extremist ideology has spread within some Muslim communities,” the president added. “This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse.”

Far from weakness, it’s precisely because he sees America and Americanism as infinitely stronger than ISIS that Obama retains the moral authority to speak such hard truths.

Led by Trump, Republican blowhards have thrown it away.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, December 9, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Cable News, Conservatives, Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: