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“Feeling A Revolutionary Spirit”: Moved By Donald Trump, David Duke Plots A Comeback

I see that David Duke hasn’t moderated his views since he was an active politician in the early 1990’s. That’s unfortunate. Some people mature with time.

Instead, he’s feeling “a revolutionary spirit,” and is seriously considering making a challenge to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Duke has until June 22nd to qualify for the November ballot. Remember, Louisiana has those funky elections where the November election can serve as a primary of sorts if no one reaches 50% of the vote. In those cases, there is a subsequent runoff election.

I don’t remember if Duke is/was a Grand Wizard or an Exalted Cyclops or what exact honorific he used in the Ku Klux Klan.

“There are millions of people across the country who would like to have me in the Congress. I’d be the only person in Congress openly defending the rights and the heritage of European Americans,” he said. “We are on the offensive today. There’s no more defenses.”

He actually thinks he’d make a good running mate for Trump.

Duke compared himself to Donald Trump, who he endorsed for president.

“I’ve said everything that Donald Trump is saying and more,” he said. “I think Trump is riding a wave of anti-establishment feeling that I’ve been nurturing for 25 years.”

Yet, Duke is realistic enough to know that Trump is unlikely to put him on the ticket.

Trump won’t reach out to him because the candidate fears “offending the oligarchs,” a term Duke uses for the political establishment he said is controlled by Jewish, Hispanic and African American interests.

Aware of his checkered history, Duke said he welcomed the backlash that would come if he runs.

In most cases, it’s a cheap shot to highlight a candidate’s most unsavory supporters, particularly if that support is unsolicited and unrequited. But it’s noteworthy to see Duke feeling this energized by Trump’s success. He’s moved by the spirit to stop playing defense and run for office because he sees in Trump the fruition of a quarter century of race hatred that he’s been “nurturing.”

Maybe Duke is just misinterpreting Trump or the political moment or basic reality, but there’s little doubt about what Duke thinks he can accomplish under Trump’s leadership.

Should Duke make it to the House, he said one of his first goals would be to repeal the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, which liberalized immigration laws by eliminating race-based quotas.

Obviously, Duke thinks Trump is a fellow traveler, and he might have been bolstered in that impression back in February when Trump had tremendous difficulty finding one bad thing to say about the KKK.

When asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday about David Duke and the KKK supporting his candidacy, Donald Trump passed on refuting them. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did [David Duke] endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.” When Tapper said he was specifically talking about the KKK, Trump continued saying, “I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about.” He then declared, “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

But who, really, knows nothing about the Ku Klux Klan?

Trump did disavow the Klan’s support, but so tepidly that Duke was obviously encouraged.

So encouraged, in fact, that he’s ready to take on the House Majority Whip. And, in case you’d forgotten or just didn’t know, Steve Scalise has in the past spoken to one of David Duke’s little hate groups (the European-American Unity and Rights Organization) and once campaigned as “David Duke without the baggage.”

If Duke does run, the people of Louisiana’s First District will get to decide if they want their David Duke with or without the baggage.

In the meantime, Oklahoma’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, is telling people that Donald Trump is a racial healer.

I’m just not seeing that.

 

By: Martin Longman, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 13, 2016

July 14, 2016 Posted by | David Duke, Donald Trump, Ku Klux Klan | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Must Be Defeated Through Democratic Means”: Donald Trump Poses An Unprecedented Threat To American Democracy

Last month, I made the case that a Donald Trump nomination would be better for America than the nomination of one of his Republican rivals. I no longer believe that. I began to change my mind when a report circulated highlighting his 1990 interview with Playboy in which he praised the brutality of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. This is not the first time I had seen Trump praise dictators. (He has effused over Vladimir Putin.) But Trump’s admiration for Putin seemed to spring from a more ordinary Republican partisan contempt for President Obama, and closely echoed pro-Putin comments made by fellow Republicans like Rudy Giuliani. Trump’s quarter-century-old endorsement of Chinese Communist Party repression went well beyond the familiar derangement of the modern GOP. This was not hatred of Obama, or some obnoxious drive to stick it to his supporters; it was evidence of an authentic and longstanding ideology. Trump has changed his mind about many things, but a through-line can be drawn from the comments Trump made and 1990 and the message of his campaign now: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak.”

My previous view of Trump was as a kind of vaccine. The Republican Party relies on the covert mobilization of racial resentment and nationalism. Trump, as I saw it, was bringing into the open that which had been intentionally submerged. It seemed like a containable dose of disease, too small to take over its host, but large enough to set off a counter-reaction of healthy blood cells. But the outbreak of violence this weekend suggests the disease may be spreading far wider than I believed, and infecting healthy elements of the body politic.

I remain convinced that Trump cannot win the presidency. But what I failed to account for was the possibility that his authoritarian style could degrade American politics even in defeat. There is a whiff in the air of the notion that the election will be settled in the streets — a poisonous idea that is unsafe in even the smallest doses.

Here is another factor I failed to predict. Trump, as I’ve noted, lies substantively within the modern Republican racial political tradition that seamlessly incorporates such things as the Willie Horton ads and the uncontroversial service of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who once called himself “David Duke without the baggage,” as House Majority Whip. But Trump’s amplification of white racial resentment matters. His campaign has dominated the national discourse. Millions of Americans who have never heard of Steve Scalise are seized with mortal terror of Trump, whose ubiquity in campaign coverage makes him seem larger and more unstoppable than he is. And terror is corrosive.

Marco Rubio, channeling the conservative movement’s response to Trump, has tried to connect him to President Obama, a figure who is Trump’s antithesis in every respect. Rubio has compared Trump’s rhetoric to “third-world strongmen,” an analogy he has in the past used to describe Obama (“It was rhetoric, I thought, that was more appropriate for some left-wing strong man than for the president of the United States.”) Rubio has fixated on the notion that Obama’s appeals to racial tolerance amount to an assault on white America, even condemning the president for speaking at a mosque. Speaking on Fox News Friday night, Rubio connected Obama’s style to the political correctness found on many college campuses and other left-wing outposts:

President Obama has spent the last eight years dividing Americans along haves and have-nots, along ethnic lines, racial lines, gender lines in order to win elections. I think this has gone to the next level here and you know, we’re seeing the consequences of it and that, in combination with the fact that, you know, I think there’s a need to remind people that the first amendment allows people to disagree with issues and say things you don’t agree with, which obviously is just being lost here. And then this sort of sense now on the left that if you don’t like what someone is saying, you have the right to just shut them down as you see happen on many college campuses across America and you saw tonight there in Chicago.

This is mostly laughable. Obama has condemned political correctness on several occasions, urging liberals not to try to prevent political opponents (even the most offensive ones) from making their case, but to win arguments with them instead.

But Rubio is not wrong to draw a connection between p.c. and elements of the left’s response to Trump. Donald Trump may or may not have been forthright about citing safety fears in cancelling his speech Friday night in Chicago, and disrupting the speech may or may not have been the protesters’ goal. But it is clear that protesters views the cancellation of the speech as a victory, breaking out in cheers of “We stopped Trump!”

Preventing speakers one finds offensive from delivering public remarks is commonplace on campuses. Indeed, more than 300 faculty members at the University of Illinois-Chicago signed a letter asking the University administration not to allow Trump to speak. I polled my Twitter followers whether they consider disrupting Trump’s speeches an acceptable response to his racism. Two-thirds replied that it is. Obviously, this is not a scientific poll, but it indicates a far broader acceptance than I expected.

Because Trump is so grotesque, and because he has violated liberal norms himself so repeatedly, the full horror of the goal of stopping Trump from campaigning (as opposed to merely counter-demonstrating against him) has not come across. But the whole premise of democracy is that rules need to be applied in every case without regard to the merit of the underlying cause to which it is attached. If you defend the morality of a tactic against Trump, then you should be prepared to defend its morality against any candidate. Now imagine that right-wing protesters had set out to disrupt Barack Obama’s speeches in 2008. If you’re not okay with that scenario, you should not be okay with protesters doing it to Trump.

Of course it is Trump who has let loose the wave of fear rippling out from the campaign. And it is Trump who has singled out African-Americans peacefully attending his speeches for mistreatment, and Trump who has glorified sucker-punching attacks on non-violent protesters. This is part of the effectiveness of authoritarian politics. The perception that Trump poses a threat to democracy legitimizes undemocratic responses — if you believe you are faced with the rise of an American Mussolini, why let liberal norms hold you back? The anti-Trumpian glory falls not upon the normal, boring practitioners of liberal politics — Hillary Clinton with her earnest speeches about universal pre-K and stronger financial regulation — but the street fighters who will muster against Trump the kind of response he appears to require. Just the other day, a man charged Trump as he spoke, and came disturbingly close to reaching him. More of this seems likely to follow, and it can spread from Trump’s rallies to those of other candidates.

A huge majority of the public finds Trump repellent. Some of his current unpopularity is the soft opposition of Republican voters who are currently listening to anti-Trump messaging from party sources and would return to the fold if he wins the nomination. But there is simply no evidence that the country that elected Barack Obama twice, and which is growing steadily more diverse, stands any likelihood of electing Trump. He can and must be defeated through democratic means. He is spreading poisons throughout the system that could linger beyond his defeat. Anybody who cares about the health of American democracy should hope for its end as swiftly as possible.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 13, 2016

March 16, 2016 Posted by | Democracy, Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Racism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The White Supremacists’ Candidate”: Trump’s Racial Controversies Leave GOP In Awkward Spot

It was just a few days ago that Donald Trump, pressed to respond to support from former KKK leader David Duke, told reporters, ”I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? I disavow, OK?”

Yesterday, however, Trump was asked again about support from overt racists, and this time, the Republican presidential candidate’s line grew murky.

In an interview Sunday morning, GOP front-runner Donald Trump would not condemn former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke’s support for his presidential campaign, telling CNN host Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that he has no knowledge of the white supremacist leader.

“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on,” Trump said.

Asked about his willingness to condemn white supremacists, Trump was hardly unequivocal. “Well, I have to look at the group,” he told Jake Tapper. “I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. But you may have groups in there that are totally fine and it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

Not surprisingly, the exchange prompted yet another round of “Will this sink Trump’s campaign?” speculation, and it wasn’t long before the GOP candidate’s rivals were publicly criticizing Trump’s apparent reluctance to denounce his white-supremacist allies.

In a year like this one, guessing how conservative voters might respond to various developments is increasingly difficult. That said, it’s important to understand the degree to which the Republican Party is in an exceedingly awkward position.

At a Virginia event yesterday, for example, Marco Rubio was eager to denounce Trump’s latest racially charged controversy. And who was introducing Rubio on the campaign trail yesterday? That would be none other than Virginia’s former governor and senator, George Allen (R), whose career was cut short in the wake of his own racially charged controversy.

What’s more, while Trump evidently no longer knows what to say about David Duke, let’s also not forget that Louisiana’s Steve Scalise spoke at an event for white supremacists several years ago and described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.” House Republicans nevertheless made Steve Scalise the House Majority Whip – the #3 position in the House GOP leadership – and largely failed to even criticize him after the public learned about Scalise’s past.

More to the point, Trump’s most notable contribution to the political discourse – before his racially charged rhetoric as a presidential candidate – was his leadership role in the “birther” conspiracy theory, which, at its core, was racist nonsense. Republican leaders not only failed to denounce Trump’s ridiculous crusade, they also publicly welcomed his support and endorsements, Trump’s “birtherism” notwithstanding.

With this in mind, isn’t it a little late for GOP officials and candidates to wring their hands and claim the high ground? Had Republicans been consistent all along – removing Scalise from his leadership post, denouncing the “birther” garbage from the outset, etc. – the party would likely be in a more credible position now, but that point passed long ago.

Postscript: On a related note, Rachel has an incredibly well-timed piece in the Washington Post that you’re going to want to check out: What does it say about the GOP that Trump is the white supremacists’ candidate?”

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 29, 2016

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio, White Supremacists | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Governing-By-Crisis Has Gotten Even Worse”: The Risk That America Will Default On Its Debts Is Now Higher Than Ever

It’s tempting to say that the upcoming need to increase the debt ceiling is another depressing iteration of the governing-by-crisis that we’ve gotten used to over the last five years since Republicans took control of the House. But it isn’t. It’s worse. The chaos that is the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives is about to have some very serious effects on the entire country.

Why is this crisis different from those that came before it? In all of the government shutdown/debt ceiling crises of the last five years, we knew how they would end: eventually, after putting up a show of fighting against that dastardly Obama administration, John Boehner would allow a vote on a bill to either fund the government or raise the debt ceiling, knowing that it would pass only with the votes of Democrats plus a few dozen Republicans sane enough to want to avoid catastrophe. The conservatives would cry “Betrayal!” but the crisis would be over.

But now even that may not be possible. Here’s the latest news from Politico this morning:

House GOP leaders initially planned to vote on a red-meat proposal Friday pitched by the Republican Study Committee to increase the debt ceiling while imposing new limits on executive-branch power. That measure stood no chance of passing the Senate, but would at least show effort.

Yet when House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) team tested Republican support for the legislation, it fell far short of the needed 218 votes, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) postponed any floor action.

Now, the U.S. government is 12 days from reaching the debt limit without a clear plan of what to do.

Boehner, McCarthy and other GOP leaders are refusing at this point to move ahead with a “clean” debt ceiling bill insisted on by President Barack Obama. Senior leadership aides said they couldn’t find the 30 Republican votes needed to join with all 188 Democrats to pass that proposal — a bleak indication of the current state of play.

So there aren’t even 30 Republicans in the House willing to keep the United States government from defaulting on its debts. How did we get here?

First, let’s establish some context, since it’s been a while since we had a debt ceiling crisis. For some idiosyncratic historical reasons, the United States has a statutory limit on how many bonds it can issue to pay for what Congress buys, meaning that after it passes a budget, Congress has to pass an extra bill allowing the government to pay for that budget (the only other industrialized country that has a debt ceiling is Denmark, which might dim Bernie Sanders’ affection for the place, though theirs is set so high it doesn’t become a political football). For almost a century, debt ceiling increases were an occasion for brief political theater, as members of the party out of power would make some floor speeches about the administration’s outrageous spending, and then the bill would pass extending the ceiling for a year or two, because even the most committed opponents of the administration weren’t so deranged as to actually want to risk the United States government defaulting on its debts. But that was before the Tea Party came to town.

If a new bill raising the ceiling doesn’t pass by November 3rd, we will default. The Obama administration, as it always has, insists upon a “clean” debt ceiling increase — just increase it, and then we can argue about our other policy disagreements without threatening the full faith and credit of the United States. Republicans, however, see this as a great opportunity for blackmail.

So why are we even more likely now to fail to pass an increase than we were when we had this same crisis in 2011, then again in 2013, then again in 2014? Look at what’s going on in the House. Conservatives there are feeling emboldened because they just got rid of John Boehner, as they had wanted to do for so long. They feel strong and empowered, so naturally they believe that this is a battle they can win, even if they’ve lost before. And they’ve upped their demands.

Now they want not just general budget cuts in exchange for raising the ceiling, but cuts specifically to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. That demand was contained in a document the House Freedom Caucus put out recently, and the conservative Republican Study Committee’s proposal would raise the ceiling in exchange for $3.8 billion in cuts to those programs over the next decade, along with a freeze on all regulations until Barack Obama leaves office. If they think Democrats would ever accept those terms, they’ve lost their minds. But they seem serious.

But it isn’t just this recent revolt. As Jackie Calmes and David Herszenhorn of the New York Times recently pointed out, today’s House is even more conservative than it was when we came so close to defaulting before:

The legislative math has only grown more difficult. When Congress last voted in February 2014 to suspend the debt limit, 28 House Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in support; 199 Republicans were opposed. Now there are fewer Democrats in the House and if all 188 of them voted for an increase, Republican leaders would need 30 votes from their side for a 218-vote majority — two more than last year.

Yet nine of last year’s 28 Republican supporters have left Congress and at least three of their Republican successors — Representatives Dave Brat of Virginia, Steve Knight of California and Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina — are almost certain to be opposed.

Also, 14 Democrats who voted to increase the debt limit are gone, replaced by Republicans, some of whom are likely to vote no.

That’s why they can’t even find 30 Republicans to vote for a clean increase. Then there’s the question of the next Speaker, who will be the one actually shepherding this crisis if Republicans stick to their schedule of electing the new Speaker next week.  While Paul Ryan hasn’t said publicly what he thinks ought to be done, he voted against the increase last year. This topic surely came up when he went to the Freedom Caucus to win their support. What did he tell them? They fervently want to use the threat of default to extort the administration into satisfying some of their policy goals. Is one of Ryan’s first acts a Speaker going to be turning his back on them? Don’t bet on it.

All this suggests that every force involved is propelling Republicans not just toward forcing a crisis, but forcing an actual default. At some point, they might realize that “Republicans are holding a gun to the head of the American economy and they’ll fire unless we let them slash Social Security and Medicare” isn’t exactly a winning political message to send. But who knows how much damage will be done before they realize that?

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line, The Washington Post, October 23, 2015

October 25, 2015 Posted by | Debt Ceiling, House Freedom Caucus, House Republican Caucus, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Who Wants The Worst Job In Washington?”: Who In Their Right Mind Would Actually Volunteer For The Job Boehner Is Giving Up?

House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) communications director told Time magazine yesterday, “He’s not going anywhere. If there’s a small crew of members who think that he’s just going to pick up and resign in the middle of his term, they are going to be sadly mistaken.”

That was literally yesterday afternoon, reinforcing the fact that this morning’s news was, to put it mildly, unexpected.

There are all kinds of questions surrounding this story, but near the top of the list is a pretty straightforward inquiry: who in their right mind would actually volunteer for the job Boehner is giving up?

Not only is it practically impossible to lead the current crop of House Republicans, but there’s also the inconvenient fact that recent GOP Speakers tend to meet unwelcome fates: Newt Gingrich resigned in disgrace; Bob Livingstone resigned in disgrace; Dennis Hastert is under criminal indictment; and John Boehner is quitting mid-term.

Already today, we know that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has withdrawn from consideration. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who tried to oust Boehner, said he’s not running, either. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was going to be Speaker, but his Republican constituents abandoned him in a primary last year.

And that apparently leaves his successor, current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Politico reported today:

[McCarthy] is widely expected to serve as the next speaker. But there is serious unrest in the House Republican ranks, as a small clutch of conservatives have continuously clashed with establishment Republicans. It takes 218 votes on the House floor to win the speakership, and many GOP insiders believe that McCarthy is the only person who could cobble together a coalition to win. […]

 Boehner allies appear to be rallying around McCarthy for speaker already, providing him a hefty base for the internal House Republican Conference election, and a speaker vote on the House floor.

It would have been difficult to imagine such circumstances up until very recently.

Remember, when McCarthy was elevated to the #2 slot in the House Republican leadership, he’d only been in Congress for seven years – making him easily the least experienced Majority Leader in American history. By one count, during his brief tenure, McCarthy sponsored only three bills, and only two of them actually passed.

One of them renamed a post office.

The other renamed a flight research center.

Now he’s going to be Speaker of the House and second in the line of presidential succession?

In June 2014, I wrote that with Boehner’s future uncertain, McCarthy is “well positioned to lead the House in the not-too-distant future, despite a very thin resume and an extremely brief tenure in Congress.” And 15 months later, here we are.

I noted earlier that there was some scuttlebutt about House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) eyeing the Speaker’s gavel, but that chatter quickly faded and the far-right Louisianan has instead announced his intention to run for Majority Leader – which reinforces the impression that McCarthy is poised for a historic promotion.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 25, 2015

September 26, 2015 Posted by | House Republicans, John Boehner, Speaker of The House | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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