mykeystrokes.com

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

“Trump’s Flirtation With Fascism”: Evoking The Sort Of Scene Associated With Grainy Newsreels From Italy And Germany

So it has come to this: The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, at a campaign rally in Orlando Saturday, leading supporters in what looked very much like a fascist salute.

“Can I have a pledge? A swearing?” Trump asked, raising his right hand and directing his followers to do the same. He then led them in pledging allegiance — not to the flag, but to Trump, for which they stand and for whom they vowed to vote.

Trump supporters raised their arms en masse — unfortunately evoking the sort of scene associated with grainy newsreels from Italy and Germany.

Among those not engaging in such ominous imagery were the demonstrators, who, by my colleague Jenna Johnson’s account, interrupted Trump’s event more than a dozen times. The candidate watched a supporter grab and attempt to tackle protesters, at least one of them black, near the stage. “You know, we have a divided country, folks,” Trump said. “We have a terrible president, who happens to be African American.”

Loaded imagery, violence against dissenters and a racial attack on the president: It’s all in a day’s work for Trump.

In the preceding days, he had asserted (and later retracted) his confidence that as president the military would obey his orders to do illegal things: torture detainees and target non-combatant kin of terrorists for death. He said House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican, would “pay a big price” for defying him, and he said Sen. John McCain, who criticized Trump, needs to “be very careful.” Trump explained his initial hesitance to disavow support from the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists by saying such groups could have included “the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies” — prompting the head of the Anti-Defamation League to call his words “obscene.”

And some still deny Il Duce Donald’s autocratic tendencies?

Abe Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and the retired longtime head of the ADL, said that Trump leading thousands in “what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States.” He told the Times of Israel that Trump is “smart enough” to know what he was doing.

I’ve perhaps never agreed with Glenn Beck before, but the right-wing radio personality was right to hold up a Nazi ballot on ABC’s This Week on Sunday morning. “We should look at Adolf Hitler in 1929,” said Beck, who usually saves his Nazi analogies for liberals. Beck added: “Donald Trump is a dangerous man with the things that he has been saying.”

The Germans, too, find him dangerous — and they should know. Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, last month called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man” and leader of a “hate-filled authoritarian movement” who “inflames tensions against ethnic minorities …while ignoring democratic conventions.”

I wish I could enjoy Trump, who at last week’s debate defended the size of his penis. But this isn’t a conventional debate between Democrats and Republicans or insiders and outsiders. Trump is on the wrong side of a struggle between decency and bigotry, between democracy and something else.

Yet, incredibly, the other candidates in the race — Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich — all said they’d support Trump if he wins the nomination. The morning after Trump’s salute, the morally neutral Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told CBS’s John Dickerson that his “role is to basically be 100 percent behind” the eventual nominee.

A braver man, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), sent a letter Friday to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking if he would heed orders to torture detainees or to target noncombatant relatives of terrorists. Trump, who in reply said Graham “should respect me” and bragged that he “destroyed” Graham’s presidential candidacy, has retreated slightly, saying he’d change laws to allow things such as waterboarding. Without that, he said, “we’re weak.”

Trump lately shows his strength by talking about his wish to punch protesters in the face or by asking them “are you from Mexico?”

As some Republican office holders and donors belatedly try to unify the anti-Trump movement, more are seeing Trump’s words and deeds foreshadowing darker things. On Monday, Jane Eisner, editor of the Jewish Forward, quoted Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt: “Some people didn’t approve of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, but they went along with it because he was going to make Germany great again.”

And comedian Louis C.K., who says he would like to see a conservative president, wrote to his fans about Trump this weekend that “we are being Germany in the ’30s. Do you think they saw the [expletive] coming? Hitler was just some hilarious and refreshing dude with a weird comb over who would say anything at all.”

Where does Trump’s flirtation with fascism end? Nobody knows.

But don’t say you didn’t see it coming.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 7, 2016

March 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Fascism, GOP Presidential Candidates, Republican National Committee | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted, Yoga And Manhood”: The Debate That Made America Dumber

Thursday’s Republican presidential debate made us all dumber.

It was a disgrace. As people wake up in capitals around the world Friday morning, in London and Addis Ababa and Riyadh and Beijing and Seoul, newscasters will be forced to find a way to discuss, in their local euphemisms, Donald Trump’s dick size.

The exchanges on the stage at the Fox Theater in Motown centered around erstwhile reality television star Donald Trump, who found, as usual, a way to be even more outrageous than he has been in previous debates.

Sen. Marco Rubio—a 44-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—had made fun of Trump’s hand size, implying that his manhood was not so large.

“I have to say this. He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I have never heard of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands?” Trump responded, on a nationally televised debate to become leader of the free world.

“And he referred to my hands, if they are small, something else must be small,” Trump deadpanned. “I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

There was shouting inside the debate hall and out. As a light snow fell on Woodward Avenue across from Ford Field, progressive protesters growled about their issues of the day: their objections to “racist” Trump; their demand for a higher minimum wage; calls for an immediate solution for the lead-poisoned people of Flint.

But the shouting and chanting was statesmanlike compared to the childish theatrics indoors. You could practically hear your brain cells crying out in pain as they died out, answer after answer.

There were insults, and Donald Trump defending war crimes, and Cruz treating the businessman like a small child. Trump called Rubio “little Marco,” and Cruz “lyin’ Ted.”

It was beyond satire. The first question, to Trump, was about former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who had delivered a scathing speech challenging Trump’s fitness to become president.

“He challenged you to answer with substance, not insults. How do you answer Mitt Romney, sir?” asked Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

“He was a failed candidate,” Trump shot back. “He failed miserably, and it was an embarrassment to everybody.”

When Rubio challenged Trump on whether he’d answer a policy question substantively, the businessman responded like an adolescent: “Don’t worry about it, little Marco.” Rubio fired back: “Let’s hear big Donald.”

It was like a kindergarten brawl: a lot of cheap insults, a lot of whining, culminating with the need for everyone to have a time out. Sen. Ted Cruz—a 45-year-old U.S. senator! A grown man! With children!—treated Trump much like he would his two young daughters.

When Trump tried to interrupt him during an answer, Cruz responded patronizingly, “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated—Count to 10. Count to 10.”

“Yelling and cursing people doesn’t make you a tough guy,” Cruz said, as if lecturing an infant on the playground.

Meanwhile Trump one-upped everyone by defending torture, and insisting that the military would follow through with illegal orders if he gave them. Trump had previously said that his national security policy would involve targeting the innocent family members of terrorists and the use of interrogation methods even more extreme than waterboarding.

“They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me,” Trump said. “We should go for waterboarding… and tougher than waterboarding… I’m a leader, I’ve always been a leader… if I say do it, they’re going to do it.”

And on targeting the family members of terrorists, a potential war crime? “I have no problem with it,” Trump said.

The businessman struggled to square these authoritarian instincts with one of his key selling points: that he’d be the man who could make a deal with Congress, with China, with Vladimir Putin. He has a “strong core” that is also “flexible,” he said.

“You can breathe,” Cruz told Trump, during yet another shouting match. “I know it’s hard.”

“When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Rubio butted in.

“I really hope we don’t see yoga on this stage,” Cruz responded.

“Well he’s really flexible, so you never know,” Rubio quipped.

On a day that former governor Romney gave a speech in Utah decrying Trump’s excesses, the dumbest presidential debate of all time took place. It must have made much of the American public yearn for a less stupid time—when the biggest controversy of the day was Romney’s car elevator and awkward word choices. How quaint that all was.

 

By: Tim Mak, The Daily Beast, March 4, 2016

March 5, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Presidential Candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Weakness Of President Trump”: Trump Would Be Beyond Embarrassing For The United States On The World Stage

This is happening, America.

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald J. Trump—a man who has never held elected office—swept the Super Tuesday primaries last night, dominating seven of eleven contests. His authoritarian-enamored supporters remain inexorably drawn more than anything else to the candidate’s presumed strength.

That strength is supposedly a massive correction to the perceived weakness and fecklessness of President Obama on the world stage. The globe may be on fire, but it will fall in line—if only the American president would be more pugnacious and demanding towards allies and adversaries alike. In this view, Trump’s force of personality is a panacea; his self-fulfilling assurances about his own intelligence, likability, and winning record cease to be a means to policy and become the policies in and of themselves.

But what if Trump’s supporters aren’t just wrong (they are), but catastrophically so? What if that so-called strength—the forwardness, unapologetic aggression, and of course the distaste for “political correctness”—that they so love about candidate Trump turns out to be a debilitating weakness for President Trump and, by extension, our country?

Imagine, for a moment, how President Trump would actually function on the world stage.

Imagine President Trump listening to speeches at the United Nations General Assembly. Say another foreign leader bruises his ego, perhaps with a well-intentioned joke or a purposefully mocking barb. President Trump will not be able to sue, so where will he turn next? From denouncing the leader with juvenile insults to espousing racist sentiments on the world stage, the consequences are sure to be embarrassing.

Imagine President Trump’s childish demands falling on deaf ears in the international community. Suppose Mexico refuses to pay for his luxurious wall, or that allies like Japan and Germany decline to pay tribute for hosting U.S. military bases on their soil. President Trump will not be able to bend them to his will through endless bloviating, so what will become of American credibility? From the alienation of longtime U.S. allies to a full-scale evaporation of U.S. soft power, the consequences are sure to be crippling.

Imagine President Trump in top national security briefings, surrounded by patriotic men and women trying desperately to educate and advise him on the nuances of U.S. foreign policy. If he makes good on his campaign promises, he’ll be ordering them to pursue catastrophic escalations with rival states or execute war crimes against civilians and combatants alike. President Trump will not be able to force them to abide by his un-American dictates, so what will happen to our nation’s civil workforce? Whether we see mass resignations or a full-scale revolt by the people who spend their professional lives working to keep us safe, the consequences are sure to be disastrous.

There are plenty of policy-oriented reasons to decry the prospect of Trump as commander-in-chief—he has a childlike understanding of the world around him, including an astounding ignorance of the details about our enemies, the value of our allies, and the capabilities of our own country. There are obviously moral arguments against him too, among them his unabashed support of torture and his coziness towards any dictator that bats his eyes in Trump’s direction. But perhaps more than anything else, it is Trump’s temperament that disqualifies him from leadership: The “strength” he loves to flex to raucous applause would leave the United States weaker, isolated, and sapped of all credibility.

Trump would be beyond embarrassing for the United States on the world stage. His gaffes, infantilism, and self-assured ignorance would, intentionally or not, systematically destroy our reputation as a world leader, taking down the international order that the greatest generation raised from the ashes of World War II along the way. Trump’s unpredictable and fragile ego — the ego of a man who sends rebuttals to his “losers and haters” signed, literally, in gold sharpie—would become the proxy for how the United States is perceived in the world.

Since 1990, Trump has bemoaned that America is “laughed at” around the world. It is an emotional sentiment that resonates well with his base, but the joke is on them. Should President Trump make his way to the Oval Office, there is little doubt the world will be laughing even harder.

 

By: Graham F. West, The National Memo, March 3, 2016

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Foreign Policy, National Security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The GOP Presidential Primary Is Fraught With Male Anxiety”: A Phase Of The Campaign That Is Turning Positively Comical

As Chris Matthews memorably put it many years ago, Democrats are the “mommy party,” handling things like education and health care, while Republicans are the “daddy party,” concerned with things like crime and foreign threats. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but there’s some truth there, and it helps explain the persistent gender gap, with Democrats usually winning female voters and Republicans usually winning male voters.

But in this year’s presidential primary, we’ve entered a phase of the campaign that is turning positively comical in its expressions of male anxiety.

Just consider some of the things that have happened of late. Yesterday at a Donald Trump rally, a woman in the audience responded to Trump’s criticism of Ted Cruz for being insufficiently enthusiastic about torturing prisoners by shouting, “He’s a pussy!” Almost bursting with glee, Trump pretended to scold the woman, first telling her to repeat it, and then repeating it himself to the explosive delight of the audience.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is trying to make an issue out of the fact that when his opponents were asked if women should register for the draft since they will now be serving in combat positions, they said Yes. Said Cruz:

“I’m the father of two little girls. I love those girls with all of my heart. They are capable of doing anything in their heart’s desire, but the idea that their government would forcibly put them in a foxhole with a 220-pound psychopath trying to kill them doesn’t make any sense at all.”

What actually doesn’t make sense is why Cruz thinks the military would be putting any soldier, male or female, in a foxhole with another soldier who is a psychopath trying to kill them, but in any case, Cruz is here to stand tall. As the National Review put it in an editorial today, “Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters.”

This comes after Marco Rubio got ridiculed for wearing fancy boots (“A Vote for Marco Rubio Is a Vote for Men’s High-Heeled Booties,” tweeted a Cruz staffer). And after Donald Trump spent weeks mocking Jeb Bush for being “low energy.”

In other words, this race is sounding like a bunch of elementary-school boys on the playground shouting “You’re a girl! No, you’re a girl! Girly girl! Girly girl!” I’m beginning to think the whole thing should be narrated by David Attenborough, whispering from behind a bush as we watch the candidates in action: “Here, we see the males bellowing and stomping their feet in a classic dominance display, each one more puffed up than the next, until one lucky silverback, his chest heaving with exertion and a rush of testosterone, forces his competitor to slink off in shame, his genes never to be passed on.”

Obviously, much of this festival of male anxiety is driven by Trump, whose entire life at times appears to be an extended attempt to prove he’s a Real Man. But this is an old story in presidential politics; indeed, in almost every election of the last few decades there are times when Republicans have implied or said directly that the Democratic candidate is effeminate and weak, whether it was Ronald Reagan challenging Walter Mondale to arm-wrestle, George H.W. Bush saying Michael Dukakis hailed from the “Harvard Yard’s boutique,” or Republicans mocking John Kerry for supposedly “looking French” (you know what that means).

The message all this is supposed to communicate is that real men vote Republican, and if you vote for the wrong candidate then your own masculinity might be in question. In a primary campaign where all the candidates fetishize “strength” and have equally belligerent foreign policy ideas, distinguishing yourself on this score requires getting increasingly personal.

Looming in the background is the fact that whoever gets the GOP nomination will probably be running against an actual woman, not a man who can be mocked as effeminate. This complicates matters, to say the least. The sexual politics around Hillary Clinton have always been fraught with ideas about proper gender roles; indeed the most common joke late-night writers made about Clinton throughout her career was that she is in fact not a woman at all, but a man (they were particularly fond of jokes about Clinton having balls).

So it wasn’t a surprise that when a reporter for Mic.com tracked down the woman who shouted out at the Trump rally, she was happy to go on an extended riff about the size of the various candidates’ testicles and which fruits they most closely resemble. But the real target here is male voters, the ones who want to make sure nobody calls their own virility into question. To appeal to them, the candidates are turning that attack on each other. Every American male knows from a young age that the worst thing your peers can call you is a girl; some people just never get over it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, February 9, 2016

February 10, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Gender Gap, GOP Primary Debates | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“No Sense In Which That Description Is True”: Being Less Crazy Than Donald Trump Does Not Make Marco Rubio ‘Moderate’

Marco Rubio built his presidential campaign upon a strategy that has succeeded many times in the past, and (if betting markets are correct) stands a strong chance of succeeding again. He is running a campaign that is more or less optimized for the general election rather than the primary — a tactic that holds him back from viscerally channeling conservative anger, but which, by maximizing his electability, makes his nomination more attractive to party elites. But because Rubio has found himself principally challenged by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who are running campaigns based purely on gratifying Republican base instincts, his strategy has magnified the contrast to the point where Rubio’s principal ideological identifier is now “moderate.” The term has been employed everywhere — by Rubio’s rivals, by his friends, and by neutral reporters. There is no sense in which that description is true — not in relation to modern Republican politics, and perhaps not even in relation to his allegedly more extreme opponents.

Rubio burst onto the national scene in 2010 as a self-described “movement conservative” who managed to draw backing from important Establishment Republicans, like the Bush family, and tea party groups. On foreign policy, he has embraced full-scale neoconservatism, winning enthusiastic plaudits from figures in the right-wing intelligentsia, like William Kristol. While much of the Republican Party has recoiled from the excesses of the Bush administration’s wild-eyed response to the 9/11 attacks, Rubio has not. He was one of 32 senators to oppose the USA Freedom Act, which restrained the federal government’s ability to conduct surveillance. He was one of just 21 senators opposing a prohibition on torture, insisting, “I do not support telegraphing to the enemy what interrogation techniques we will or won’t use.” Indeed, Rubio now delights his audiences by promising to torture suspected terrorists, who will “get a one-way ticket to Guantánamo, where we’re going to find out everything they know.”

On social issues, Rubio has endorsed a complete ban on abortions, even in cases of rape and incest (a stance locating Rubio to the right of George W. Bush). He has promised to reverse executive orders protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination and to appoint justices who would reverse same-sex marriage. The centerpiece of Rubio’s domestic policy is a massive tax cut — more than three times the size of the Bush tax cut, and nearly half of which would go to the highest-earning 5 percent of taxpayers. By reducing federal revenue by more than a quarter, Rubio’s plan would dominate all facets of his domestic program, which is otherwise a mix of conventional Republican proposals to eliminate Obamacare, jack up defense spending, and protect retirement benefits for everybody 55 and up. Rubio has voted for the Paul Ryan budget (“by and large, it’s exactly the direction we should be headed”). He has proposed to deregulate the financial system, thrilling Wall Street. (Richard Bove, author of Guardians of Prosperity: Why America Needs Big Banks, wrote a grateful op-ed headlined, “Thank you, Marco Rubio.”)

What, then, accounts for Rubio’s moderate image? One reason is the issues Rubio has chosen to emphasize. His conventionally conservative domestic policies would, if enacted, bring about an epochal shift in the role of government and the distribution of wealth in the American economy. (And given his party’s entrenched majorities in Congress, Rubio would be able to enact those policies.) But Rubio has not emphasized these ideas publicly. He has given far more attention to his plan to increase college affordability. As Rubio has said, “You’ll hear me spend a tremendous amount of time talking about higher-education reform.” This formulation perhaps gives away more than Rubio intends. Rubio’s higher-education reform plan, while largely innocuous, is also minuscule in scale — a third-tier throwaway line in a State of the Union speech. Its importance is trivial in comparison to his radical domestic-policy commitments. Rubio spends a tremendous amount of time talking about it because doing so allows him to position his platform as new and different from those of a generic Republican without any of the risk of actual heterodoxy.

A second reason is Rubio’s ill-fated 2013 attempt to shepherd bipartisan immigration reform through Congress. Because of the prominence of his role in that episode, which consumed a large share of his brief tenure in national politics, Rubio’s support for reform has disproportionately colored his public image. But his history provides no reason to believe the issue sits close to Rubio’s heart. As a Senate candidate in 2010, Rubio forcefully opposed any path to citizenship as “amnesty.” In the wake of the 2012 election, after the Republican Party wrote a post-mortem calling for the passage of immigration reform and efforts to reach out to young people and minorities, Rubio loyally reversed his position and led the pro-reform charge, and initially he drew support from important figures in the party. But when restrictionists revolted against the bill, Rubio abandoned his own proposal and has promised never to support comprehensive reform again. The fairest conclusion to draw from his two reversals is that Rubio does not hold especially strong beliefs on the issue at all, taking whichever position seems to be the most effective means of advancing traditional Republican policies (for which he has displayed consistent support). Republican donors naturally adore Rubio.

While Rubio’s willingness to sponsor immigration reform tells us very little about his convictions, though, it reveals a great deal about his political strategy. Rubio is a political pragmatist. And pragmatism is the fundamental divide inside the GOP. While split on foreign policy between neo-conservatism and neo-isolationism, Republicans have near-unanimity on economic and social policy. A domestic Rubio presidency would look very much like a Cruz presidency or a Bush or a Walker presidency. Any Republican would sign the bills passed by Paul Ryan’s House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate.

What Republicans disagree about is how to handle a situation where the president does not sign those bills. Cruz’s response to whip up conservative suspicions that the Republican failure to enact its agenda over President Obama’s objections represents a secret betrayal. Trump’s response is to break the stalemate through unique force of personality. Both of them signal their solidarity with the base through demonstrations of anger and cultural resentment. But, while making themselves attractive to their base, Trump and Cruz harden a cultural polarization that seems to leave their party at a disadvantage in the general election. He avoids statements that make him appear ostentatiously deranged, like Cruz visually comparing Obama to a Nazi, or Trump … doing just about everything Trump has done. The third cause of Rubio’s moderate image is that he declines to indulge right-wing paranoia on such topics as whether Obama is a Marxist, or the looming threat of Sharia law in the United States, trading the opportunity to indicate solidarity with the base for general election viability. He husbands his potential electoral weakness for matters of policy, not symbolism.

Rubio’s value to the party is that he approaches its predicament realistically. He will reach out to Democratic-leaning constituencies with personal appeal without compromising on core agenda items Republicans care about. Everything Rubio says — his message of generational change, a “new American century,” his frequent invocations of his parents — ties into his youth and heritage as the son of immigrants. If Democrats attack his policies, he will change the subject to his biography. “If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck?” he boasted at a Republican debate. “I was raised paycheck to paycheck.” Rubio is the embodiment of the Republican donor class’s conviction that it needs to alter nothing more than its face.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 6, 2016

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: