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“The Nation’s Cult Leader”: From ‘Yes We Can’ To ‘I Alone Can Fix It’

At roughly this point eight years ago, when Democrats were desperate to reclaim the White House after two terms of a Republican president, then-Sen. Barack Obama accepted the party’s nomination and delivered a speech that emphasized unity. “In America, our destiny is inextricably linked,” he said, “that together our dreams can be one.”

The speech used the word “we” constantly. “America, we cannot turn back,” Obama said. “We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future.”

The campaign’s slogan, of course, was “Yes we can.”

It was therefore a little jarring last night to hear one of the more memorable lines from Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention: “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” He added, “I will restore law and order to our country.”

Trump concluded, “I am your voice.”

The language was a little jarring, as The Atlantic’s Yoni Appelbaum explained very well.

[Trump] did not appeal to prayer, or to God. He did not ask Americans to measure him against their values, or to hold him responsible for living up to them. He did not ask for their help. He asked them to place their faith in him.

He broke with two centuries of American political tradition, in which candidates for office – and above all, for the nation’s highest office – acknowledge their fallibility and limitations, asking for the help of their fellow Americans, and of God, to accomplish what they cannot do on their own.

To be sure, the Republicans in attendance didn’t seem to mind. The more Trump positioned himself as the nation’s savior, the more the crowd cheered.

But as a rule, when a man with authoritarian instincts condemns the political system and declares, “I alone can fix it,” he sounds less like a president and more like a cult leader.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Republican National Convention | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Nothing To Do With The Office He’s Seeking”: Trump’s Scottish Trip Is A Bigger Mistake Than He Realizes

There’s a fair amount of precedent for presidential candidates traveling abroad ahead of the election. In July 2008, for example, then-Sen. Barack Obama wowed international audiences with a historic visit to Berlin. Almost exactly four years later, in July 2012, Mitt Romney took an overseas trip of his own. (It really didn’t go well for the Republican.)

So when Donald Trump’s campaign said the presumptive GOP nominee would travel to Scotland ahead of the Republican convention, it was only natural to assume Trump was headed abroad to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

But as the New York Times reported, the truth is a little more complicated.

His campaign is desperately short of cash. He has struggled to hire staff. Influential Republicans are demanding that he demonstrate he can run a serious general election campaign.

But, for reasons that emphasize just how unusual a candidate he is, Donald J. Trump is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday to travel to Scotland to promote a golf course his company purchased on the country’s southwestern coast.

This may sound like some sort of joke, but it’s quite real. This isn’t a situation in which an American presidential hopeful has scheduled meetings with foreign officials, and he’s checking in on his business interests while he’s there; it’s largely the opposite. Trump’s Scottish sojourn appears to have practically nothing to do with the office he’s seeking.

The Times report added that Trump’s business interests “still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.” The Republican’s itinerary “reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation,” complete with “a ceremonial ribbon cutting.”

Scott W. Reed, senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, added, “Everyone knows this is the wrong thing for the nominee to be doing now, and it is amazing this can’t be stopped.”

Wait, it’s even more amazing than that.

If the Scottish golf course were a wildly successful venture, Trump could at least point to this as evidence of his prowess as an international businessman.

Indeed, Trump has made exactly such an effort. In a Scottish newspaper, he recently wrote an op-ed with a headline that read, “How Scotland will help me become president.” In the piece, the Republican candidate wrote, “When I first arrived on the scene in Aberdeen, the people of Scotland were testing me to see just how serious I was – just like the citizens in the United States have done about my race for the White House…. I had to win them over – I had to convince them that I meant business and that I had their best interests in mind. Well, Scotland has already been won – and so will the United States.”

The problem, as the Washington Post reported yesterday, is that the entire venture has been a bit of a disaster.

[T]o many people in Scotland, his course here has been a failure. Over the past decade, Trump has battled with homeowners, elbowed his way through the planning process, shattered relationships with elected leaders and sued the Scottish government. On top of that, he has yet to fulfill the lofty promises he made.

Trump has also reported to Scottish authorities that he lost millions of dollars on the project – even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.

In early May, Trump, in an entirely serious way, pointed to his role in the Miss Universe beauty pageant as evidence of his international experience. Unfortunately for the GOP candidate, his Scottish golf course is his other piece of evidence, and it’s a failure.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 23, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, Presidential Candidates | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Brexit Is A Warning To Young American Voters”: Historically Low Young Voter Turnout Trend

The results of the Brexit referendum shine a light on the importance of the youth vote, and young Americans should learn from them as we approach our own crossroads in November.

Seventy-five percent of voters 24 and younger were against the Brexit, and for remaining in the European Union. British voters 49 and younger also favored the Remain option, according to polls conducted before the vote.

A poll taken before election day showed that 34 percent of pensioners backed Remain, and 59 percent backed the Brexit.

“Young people voted to remain by a considerable margin, but were outvoted. They were voting for their future, yet it has been taken from them.” Liberal Democratic leader Tim Farron said of Britain’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.

British youth overwhelmingly took to social media to express feelings of helplessness about facing a future they did not choose. Many were angry that older voters who have enjoyed the benefits of the European Union decided on a different, uncertain path for the future generations.

“This decision was made by an aging population who has spent decades reaping the many benefits of the EU. These people have voted for a future that is not their own,” wrote university student Alana Chen in a Facebook post. “They will not be here to feel the full effects of the devastation they have caused with their votes. It’s us, the student generation that now have to live with something we voted against. Tell me how that’s fair?! Our country is crumbling and we’re completely helpless to stop it. Utterly devastating.”

Political journalist Nicholas Barret wrote in a now-viral reaction to the vote: “The younger generation has lost the right to live and work in 27 other countries. We will never know the full extent of the lost opportunities, friendships, marriages and experiences we will be denied. Freedom of movement was taken away by our parents, uncles, and grandparents in a parting blow to a generation that was already drowning in the debts of our predecessors.”

Even voters who chose the Leave option have expressed regret after their side won.

“I did not think that was going to happen, I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain,” a young man named Adam told the BBC.

Voting preferences showed a strong correlation with age. East coast areas, which have the largest pensioner populations, scored the highest pro-Brexit votes. YouGov poll results in the days before the vote told a clear story:

Age breakdown on Brexit polls tells underlying story. Older generation voted for a future the younger don’t want: pic.twitter.com/kMPECqQF6u

— Murtaza Hussain (@MazMHussain) June 24, 2016

The Guardian broke down the British youth vote:

Voter ages are not recorded, but in urban areas where the average age was 35 and under, electoral commission data showed overwhelming support for remaining in the EU. This was particularly marked in the London local authorities of Lambeth, Hackney and Harringey, where the average age is between 31 and 33, and which all voted over 75% in favour of remaining in the EU.

Oxford and Cambridge, the councils with the highest percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds, were also remain strongholds, as was Tower Hamlets, which has the highest percentage of 21- to 30-year-olds. According to YouGov polling before the referendum result, 64% of under-25s said they wanted the UK to remain. With a life expectancy for that generation of 90, younger voters have approximately eight more decades to live compared with the voters who most favoured leaving, the over 65s.

For all their agreement on the right direction for Britain, youth turnout to vote was, perhaps predictably, low. In the largest turnout election in decades in Britain, the number of attainers, or newly eligible voters, fell by 40 percent.

The vote was also held over the summer, when many young people are in summer vacation from college.

According to a Times poll taken at Glastonbury music festival, 22 percent of the young attendee’s did not vote, with 65 percent of those saying they wanted to vote to Remain but did not register in time. They would have added about 15,000 votes to the Remain side.

Michael Sani, a member of the youth voting group Bite the Ballot, said that young voter turnout was negatively affected by the direction of both campaigns, which ignored youth engagement because of the historically low turnout of young voters.

“If no one inspires you, that is how you end up being marginalized, divided and fearing,” Sani told The Guardian. “This generation are so passionate, they care so much about issues, but they are just not empowered to use the means of communication to get through to make real change. Both campaigns have been a disaster in terms of meaningful engagement on such complex issues.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has announced his resignation after the Brexit, missed his chance to appeal to young voters. The Cameron-lead government rejected requests from Labour, Liberal Democrats, and the Scottish National Party to allow 16- and 17-year olds to vote in the referendum.

As America faces its own vote in November — one that has been compared to Brexit by presumptive Republican candidate Donald Trump, who backed the Leave option — young people can have a voice in what is sure to be a decisive moment in American history.

They will either follow the historically low young voter turnout trend that contributed to Britain’s exit from the EU, and has been a consistent factor in American politics, or they could learn from this seismic moment in British history and break the pattern.

 

By: Germania Rodriguez, The National Memo, June 24, 2016

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Brexit, Donald Trump, European Union, Young Voters | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“At This Point, I Am Out Of States”: Trump’s Path Goes Through Michigan And Pennsylvania

Right up front, I want to provide the caveat that I don’t think presidential polls, even state rather than national ones, amount to a hill of beans this early in the process. Having said that, let’s take a look at what it would mean for the Electoral College if the latest Quinnipiac polls out of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are correct.

The polls show Clinton with a clear lead in Florida (47%-39%), but locked in ties in Ohio (40%-40%) and Pennsylvania (42%-41%).

So, let’s say that Florida is solidly blue at this point but suddenly Pennsylvania is winnable for Trump. Or, to be more precise, let’s look at what it would mean if Trump lost Florida but won in both Ohio and Pennsylvania.

For starters, Obama won in 2012 with 332 Electoral College votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. If we keep everything the same and award Ohio and Pennsylvania to Trump, the result is 294-244.

So, winning Ohio and Pennsylvania is a good start, but without Florida being a possibility, it’s hard to get from 244 to the 270 votes needed to win.

Let’s give Trump Virginia. That get’s him to a 257-281 deficit. New Hampshire gets him to 261-277.

I don’t feel like I can give Trump Iowa based on his poor performance there in the caucuses, but even if I did, he would still lose 267-271. At this point, I am out of states. I can’t see Trump doing well in Nevada or Colorado. He seems terribly weak in Wisconsin. The only remaining state out there that is theoretically ripe for Trump is Michigan.

So, if Trump can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia and New Hampshire and Michigan (but not Iowa). That gets him a 277-261 victory. In fact, in this scenario, he doesn’t even need New Hampshire.

This seems like his only path.

And it assumes that he won’t lose Arizona or North Carolina or Indiana or Georgia, or any other states that were carried by Romney. But, of course, John McCain lost North Carolina and Indiana to Obama, and Georgia and Arizona are going to be hotly contested this time around.

If Quinnipiac is correct and Florida isn’t even a swing state this time around, the path to Republican victory is very, very narrow. But it is at least discernible. Trump will need to go after Pennsylvania and Michigan with everything he’s got.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 21, 2016

June 22, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Electoral College, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Platitudes And Rhetorical Nonsense”: How Trump Has Managed To Dumb Down The Immigration Debate

New evidence sugggests Donald Trump’s ignorant and devisive rhetoric on immigration parallels the political discourse on Twitter, suggesting that the bloviating of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee may have an impact on how the immigration debate unfolds.

In collaboration with MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social MachinesFusion explored a correlation between Trump’s campaign and an increase in Twitter discussions around aspects of the immigration debate, including mass deportation and Trump’s promise to build a “great wall” along the southern border of the United States.

Meanwhile, during that same period, mentions of comprehensive immigration reform fell during Trump’s political rise. The findings suggest Trump is having a direct impact on the immigration debate, ultimately turning people’s attention away from practical, bipartisan solutions and towards platitudes and rhetorical nonsense.

Analyzing a data plot comparing Twitter mentions of offering undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship with Trump’s promise to build a wall, the researchers found a significant decrease in comprehensive immigration reform between May and July 2015, directly correlating with Trump’s announcement on June 16, 2015, that he would seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Talk of comprehensive immigration reform peaked in 2013 after the House of Representatives failed to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which was intended to “modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here.”

A year later, the immigration debate once again focused on providing a pathway to citizenship; in November 2014, President Obama issued several executive actions on immigration, offering deportation relief to five million undocumented immigrants. The Obama administration is currently fighting for those reforms in the Supreme Court.

Prior to Trump entering the race, Fusion reports “28 percent of election-related Twitter chatter about immigration focused on an idea of a pathway to citizenship,” making it the most-discussed immigration-related topic on the popular social networking service. Likewise, less than two percent of immigration-related discussions on Twitter focused on building a wall.

But in July 2015, the conversation flipped, with talk of illegal immigrants, mass deportation and building a southern border wall dominating the political discourse, while comprehensive immigration reform and pathways to citizenship all but disappeared from the Twitter lexicon.

Twitter mentions of mass deportation spiked in August 2015, after Trump promised he would enact a “deportation force” to send back 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living int he United States. As Fusion reports, “in September, [mass deportation] even topped the chart briefly as the most-discussed election-related immigration topic.”

Similarly, as Trump’s pro-wall rhetoric increasingly dominated politics in late 2015, 18 percent of all immigration talk on Twitter focused on building a southern border wall, making it the most discussed immigration topic on Twitter. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of immigration-related mentions discussed a pathway to citizenship.

And the trend continues even as the remaining candidates pivot towards the general election; in May, MIT’s Media Lab recorded 22 percent of immigration-related policy talk on Twitter focuses on the wall, while only 2 percent mentions comprehensive immigration policies, including a pathway to citizenship.

It’s clear Trump’s haranguing about building a wall and kicking out 11 million people resonates with the Twitter users, successfully dominating the political conversation, while sensible solutions fall to the wayside. As the election continues, it remains to be seen whether a comprehensive, bipartisan solution can once again ignite interest on social media, or if Trump’s reductive, anti-immigrant policies continue to monopolize the debate.

 

By: Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet, June 17, 2016

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigration Reform, Social Media | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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