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Posts tagged as “Donald Trump”

First Take/Trump ban

As I write this, the parliament of Great Britain is debating a proposal to ban Donald Trump, the front-running Republican candidate for president of the United States, from their country.

Across the pond, he has been called "a buffoon" and "poisonous," and even a "wazzock" ("a stupid or annoying person"). They're not fans.

Jack Dromey, a leading minister for the Labour Party, said "I don't think Donald Trump should be allowed within 1,000 miles of our shore." Another MP said, "I draw the line at freedom of speech when it imports a violent ideology." That's a definition of Trump growing up now in a number of quarters.

This was not simply the result of a few MPs playing politics. It happened because a million citizens signed petitions asking for the ban; under British law, Parliament had to consider the idea. (Might something like that be a good idea for us too?) So it represents the views of a lot of constituents.

All of this has generated some debate over on our shores. What if, for example, Trump actually won the presidency?

And then there's the whole idea of banning people, which ought to give all of us pause. On Facebook, one friend remarked a few hours ago, "And while I find this funny, it's not the right precedent to set for develop worlds to ban loud mouth jackasses from their country. I find it better to have very strong freedom of speech protections so that when those loud mouth jackasses start spewing vitriol we others have the freedom to call them out for what they really are."

First take/fistfight

The Republican presidential debate last night was the most contentious of any so far, and for understandable reasons. Donald Trump at one point happily accepted the "mantle of anger" of his candidacy, but the whole stage seemed suffused by it.

The focus clearly was on Trump and Senator Ted Cruz; none of the others could wrest it away for long. Senator Marco Rubio had some inconclusive jabbing back and forth with Cruz; neither seemed to decisively trounce the other, which good enough for Cruz, he being ahead in the polls. Jeb Bush tried to take on Trump on Muslims and other matters, but seemed to be flailing in the wilderness, to the point that Trump didn't even bother to insult him and even threw him a semi-compliment at one point. Governor Chris Christie took some serious jabs at Rubio, his competitor in the middle-stream category and something of a motormouth in this debate, but probably none did much real damage. The others barely registered.

I just finished reading a string of political pieces this morning, and they all have the same tenor: With a couple of weeks to go until the caucusing in Iowa, it looks like a two-man race: Trump and Cruz.

And after the way they opened up on each other last night, I wouldn't expect the battle between them to ease off real soon. - rs

First take/’bye ’15

As we tick away the hours left in 2015, maybe a reflection or two on this year when some new things happened.

Nationally, it was a time for insurgents to take center stage in politics. It was most obvious on the Republican side, where the backers of Donald Trump and Ben Carson and to a point Ted Cruz were backing people at war with the establishment. People like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio and even Rand Paul (running as, maybe, a kinder, gentler libertarian?), who at year's beginning seemed to be lapping the field, were being ground down near the end. Well, maybe not Rubio, if the other establishment guys all quit the race first. But the race, for most of 2015 and now as 2016 begins, is with Trump types. A month from now, when the actual voting begins, that may change, but for now that's the status.

Less dramatically there's some of this on the Democratic side too. the tone and feel and substance of the Bernie Sanders campaign is a lot different from Trump's, but it has the same sense of insurgency and lack of identification with the establishment. Sanders for now seems to be hitting his head against a too-low ceiling, and Hillary Clinton has the odds, but Sanders' campaign still generates the excitement.

Oregon was most notable this year for two big news stories: A new governor (Kate Brown) and legal pot. Both were bigger stories before than after the fact. The governor change happened after a stunning cascade of very personal scandal on the part of John Kitzhaber, who should have known better, didn't, and wound up having to resign. Brown has not been so major a newsmaker in the nearly year she's been in office, which is just as well, but she has gotten (with one major recent exception relating to public records) good marks, and is well positioned for election next year. In the case of marijuana, the big headlines were mostly in the runup to legalization. Without arguing that there's been a pot utopia since, it's been remarkable how few headlines it has generated in the months since legalization, how few serious problems have arisen or been noted. What's the downside to the decision? See if, in another year, we find any then.

Idaho was a more subtle case, but there too a new office holder made for something of a sea change. Under the former superintendent of public instruction, Idaho public schools were an ideological battleground, with lots of ugly messes over money, contracts and - a year ago at this time - a serious problem concerning broadband in the schools. The new superintendent, Sheri Ybarra, who came in with no serious administrative or political experience and might have been expected to make a bad situation worse, instead listened to the people on the ground, got the broadband problem resolved (through local solutions) and turned the battleground into productive turf again. That may have been the most remarkable change of the year in Idaho, the less noted maybe because it involved a reduction rather than an increase of political battling. But note also the arrival of Idaho's new wilderness area, the climax of a long-running battle, the sort of political achievement that many people have come to expect is no longer possible. Representative Mike Simpson showed that it is. - rs

First take/police state

We still encounter people here and there - and nationally, there seem to be a lot of them, though thankfully a long way from a majority - who say they support Donald Trump. What they like about him are phony assets (he'd be independent, though he's already been hat in hand fundraising, for example). But do they listen to what he says?

Timothy Egan of the New York Times has, and here he outlines what a Trump administration would look like.

In wrap: "Take him at his word — albeit, a worthless thing given his propensity for telling outright lies and not backing down when called on them — Donald Trump’s reign would be a police state. He has now outlined a series of measures that would make the United States an authoritarian nightmare. Trump is no longer entertaining, or diversionary. He’s a billionaire brute, his bluster getting more ominous by the day."

Campaign promises are often enough hot air, or undeliverable. But watch what a presidential candidate says on the stump: It usually does reflect what they at least try to do. Which in Trump's case is beyond scary. And beyond un-American. - rs

First take/Trumped

Live by the way too far out there - I mean, we're into honest-to-God fascist territory here - and don't be surprised if a heavily-armed rebuttal comes your way.

Shut down or big mosques? Track people because of their religion? Badges for Muslims (not proposed but not rejected either)? Just part of the plan for Donald Trump, who has gone beyond trash-talking groups of people to issuing this warning:

"We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it…. And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

President Barack Obama has weighed in on some of this, to a point, in the last few days. A satiric piece out on the web on Sunday had him linking on Twitter to "realdonaldtrump" saying, "Perhaps ignorant racists should wear special ID badges too. I'll have one made up for you."

That was satire. But don't be surprised if the real-world responses get a lot tougher.

Today on Daily Beast writer Michael Tomasky quoted former Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who stood up to Joseph McCarthy, as saying about his accusatory movement and the fact that so few Republicans then were standing up to it: "The nation sorely needs a Republican victory. But I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny—Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.” - rs

First take/database

Donald Trump - resurgent in the polls Donald Trump - has a new idea out there: Create a national database for tracking Muslims. He said Thursday "I would certainly implement that. Absolutely."

Tracking people by religion? In this country, you don't do that. Not, at least, by any government agency.

From time to time, I've wanted to check out the religious character of various places or regions. Information along that line is available. One of the best sources is adherents.com, which has a wealth of statistical information. The Association of Religious Data Archives has somewhat more limited but finely tuned resources available too.

But these are statistical resources, and they purport to have no data about individual people. And they are not governmental. You can't find information in the governmental records of this country about who goes to what church, statistical or individual, nor should you be able to. Freedom of religion means it's not my business, or yours, or our society's, what church if any someone attends.

A database of Muslims? What's next? A requirement they wear yellow crescents? Just wait . . .

As journalist Emily Arrowood wrote this morning: "'It can't happen here' used to be a warning that it really can if we're not careful – not a campaign promise that it will." - rs

First take/immigration

This should come as common sense, but it helps make some sense of things. Pew Research, which is as close as we get to a gold standard among pollsters, has some new data about presidential politics and immigration, among other things. Its numbers show that, in the Republican contest, Donald Trump remains in a strong lead (about 25%) over Ben Carson (about 16%) and others far behind. Still no significant change there. Pew also asked questions about several specific issues, including immigration, and among other things emerged with this: "Eighty-four percent of those who favor mass deportation say immigration is the most important issue in the 2016 election, while only 44 percent of respondents who do not favor deportation say immigration is their top priority." That fits: The most extreme response matches with the people who are most emotionally invested in it. - rs

First take/Debate

That was one long debate. I hadn't bothered to check in advance how long Wednesday's Republican presidential debate would run, figuring on the usual hour to 90 minutes. Instead it ran three hours, and close to a real three hours - there were relatively few commercial breaks. It was a little exhausting to watch, and the candidates - standing in place for three hours, always on call - must have been highly stressed. I'm guessing we won't see another anytime soon that runs as long. And for all that, the subject matter was surprisingly limited; in hindsight, it mostly seemed to come down to Iran, abortion, Russia and personal attacks.

It was nicely set up, however, to allow for some free flow and a considerable amount of interaction, and - in spite of the fact that a lot of it had to do with personal attacks - that was a good move away from the traditional glorified press conference approach. The candidates seemed to be (based on the called-out candidate names) boxed in to short answers; considering the long debate time, they should have been given more time to answer. But the interaction overall was welcome.

Candidate impressions? Carly Fiorina had a couple of very strong video moments. Her brief rebuttal to Donald Trump's "face" comment was the sharpest moment of the evening. Trump probably didn't hurt himself with his base, though he probably didn't make additional gains either, and overall he seemed a little diminished. If someone was looking for a candidate willing to substantively stand out from the crowd, Rand Paul gave them that, though whether that helped with the Republican electorate is unclear. Chris Christie seems to have undergone a careful media makeover, and had better delivery. Jeb Bush seemed not to have made needed progress, and lost his slap-match with Trump.

On to the next debate - oh, wait, that's the Democrats. - rs

Women and Trump’s appeal

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Over and over in the last few weeks a cycle has kicked in. Donald Trump will say something, usually about women (a person in particular or more generally) which generates outrage, and comments surface to the effect: Okay, this is it, he's jumped the shark, he's over and done, stick a fork in him. And then polling results comes back showing him either losing no significant amount of support, or maybe even gaining a little.

The latest shot at Fox host Megyn Kelley, for example, on Friday, when - seeking to convey the idea she was being irrational - he referred to "blood coming out of her wherever", evidently a reference to menstruation. (He was a little vague, but if that wasn't the intended reference, I'd like to know what it was.) Lots of response to that, much of it suggesting that no presidential candidate can get away with that. Especially coming on the heels of his regularly recurring comments about women, which are no new thing; those quotes stretch back over years.

How does Trump survive this?

Simple. There's an audience happily glomming on to it. Trump's comments about women specifically are finding an audience for which that's an important statement as a positive qualifier for president. More important, in fact, than whatever he has to say about social policy (which has been, over the years, much more a mixed bag, some of it relatively liberal).

Here's one way we can be sure of this: The reaction to Megyn Kelly in the social media. She has been drawing support, of course, including from many people who have little positive to say ordinarily about Fox News or about her. But there's also a sudden, and large, bump in the social media commentary to and about her which is stunningly pejorative.

An article on the site Vox put some of this together. It presents a chart showing the number of tweets in recent weeks describing Kelly as a "whore" or "bitch" or other perjorative; it took a drastic rise just as the Trump-Kelly battle (which isn't the right word since Kelly, wisely, hasn't much fought back) took off.

Vox writer Max Fisher noted, "Trump, in response to the controversy over his comments, a backlash that has included condemnations from many in the GOP establishment, has not backed down one iota. Rather, he has encouraged the wave of online sexist hatred against Kelly, for example by retweeting this seemingly random twitter user who calls Kelly a "bimbo"."

There's a real streak of hatred against women out there. That much is not especially new. What is, is that it's metastasizing into a political movement, one which is forming a large part of the base for Donald Trump. How large is that movement? Is it now at a floor or a ceiling? Many political stories in the months ahead may turn on that question.

First take

The most surprising thing about the Republican presidential debate was the questions, and how tough many of them were. Most especially the questions aimed at Donald Trump. Those were so fierce - not least the calling-out on an independent candidacy at the beginning, which ostensibly wasn't aimed at a single candidate (though it really was) - that a clear goal on the part of Fox of seriously damaging Trump was evident. If Trump's constituency were of a different kind, it might have worked, too. The questions hit home on such matters as party loyalty, violation of core party stands and more, matters that would kill off most candidates. But while the questions highlighted, they did not unearth. Trump's threat to run a third-party candidacy has been in the news, as had nearly everything else the Fox questioners brought up. Was Trump damaged by the debate? We'll find out more soon in the after-party polling, but I'd guess not. I think it's more likely Fox drove a wedge between itself and some of Trump's constituency, which may be led by the candidate to now view Fox as just another part of the establishment. And did other candidates gain? Maybe Marco Rubio, a little, since he came cross as polished at least and got some easy questions. In the kids' table debate, Carly Fiorina was described as projecting a strong presence, but she's way back in the pack to start. Jeb Bush did himself little good - he didn't crash, but he came across like a dull corporate attorney. Did the debate change the contours of the race? Probably not much. And on to round two.

In our household when we turn to "the news" on television, that has for many years meant Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert - no other regular "news" TV programming need apply, so poor has most of the quality gotten. (CSPAN is welcome, and scattered individual programming, but nothing else on a nightly basis.) So this has been a significant year: First Colbert and now Stewart, as of last night, have departed. The news won't be the same. But the future beckons. Larry Wilmore, while not yet the equal of either of those two, has been gaining some strength. And while we as yet have no idea of what job Stewart's successor will do, we do know that others can do the job well: A year ago, John Oliver did a terrific job filling in for three months, and he was promptly grabbed away to do his own program elsewhere. So good luck to the new order.