Thursday, September 01, 2016

Cruising the Web

Republican leaders are breathing a sigh of relief as there are more and more signs that Trump is not having much of a negative effect on the chances of the GOP maintaining control of Congress. Last night's results with Rubio and McCain winning comfortably over challengers in their primaries demonstrated that the anti-establishment tone of the primaries is not bringing down GOP incumbents. Rubio challenger, Carlos Beruff, was supposedly the Trump-style candidate in the race running with the support of the odious Ann Coulter. Rubio garnered 72.3% to 18.5%. Trumpism doesn't seem to be successful without Donald Trump. As Steven T. Dennis writes at BLoomberg,
Few outsider candidates have been able to replicate Trump’s recipe for primary success this year, as Republicans successfully swatted away challenges to the party’s incumbents. McCain’s opponent, Kelli Ward, and Rubio’s challenger, Carlos Beruff, each sought to ride the Trump phenomenon to no avail. Neither had Trump’s name recognition, nor his ability to command media attention. They also didn’t have his endorsement.

The wins come not long after Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin trounced his primary challenger, Paul Nehlen, who also ran on a Trumpian message and hoped to repeat Dave Brat’s shocking victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia two years ago, only to score less than 16 percent of the vote.
Both McCain and Rubio seemed to have alienated much of the party with their support of the Gang of Eight bill. That didn't seem to hurt them

Dan McLaughlin looks at the results from Tuesday and finds some welcome signs that Trumpism isn't taking over the party.
A little over three weeks ago, I set out two simple tests to determine whether “Trumpism,” as a set of ideas distinct from Donald Trump’s personality, was taking over the Republican Party. Those ideas could broadly be described as hostility to “globalism,” manifesting itself in hostility to immigration and trade and skepticism of the GOP’s orientation since the 1950s towards an active overseas foreign policy. They might also feature a blunter, more confrontational and sometimes racially divisive form of campaigning. One of those tests is how Trump runs in November as compared to normal Republicans on the ballot with him, especially in Senate and Governor’s races; the jury is still out, but polling consistently shows most Republicans running ahead of Trump.

The other test was decidedly Trumpist primary challenges to three of the GOP incumbents most hated by the anti-globalists, the alt-right, and the Breitbart set (to the extent those are not all the same people): Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio and John McCain. Well, the numbers are in, and ... Rubio (like Ryan) annihilated his opponent, while McCain faced a more serious test but still won by a comfortable double-digit margin.
Another welcome sign is that, yet again, Breitbart's special brand of Trumpian journalism has been proven totally off base. As McLaughlin points out, Breitbart had pumped up polls showing Paul Ryan losing and McCain at risk of losing his seat.
Yet, despite the much lower turnout in Senate primaries as compared to presidential races, both Rubio and McCain came close to matching Trump’s vote totals. According to the official tallies at this writing, Rubio got 1,029,000 votes (a hair under 72% of the vote), not only beating his own showing in the presidential primary by some 400,000 votes, but nearly matching the 1,079,870 votes for Trump in the March 15 primary; McCain got 251,068 votes and counting, compared with 286,743 votes for Trump in the March 22 primary.
Any added demonstration of how bogus Breitbart's biased cheerleading for Trump is all to the good.

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A lot of conservative media were applauding Trump's appearance with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as a political coup for Trump because it made him look presidential to appear on the same stage with a president of a foreign country. Perhaps. I've never been big on the idea that optics are going to sway the electorate. Does it make Trump a different person than he's been for the past year or so? Or a different guy than he's been for the decades he's been a public figure in the United States? I just don't get it. The media are making a big deal of Trump's saying they didn't talk about who would pay for the wall and Peña Nieto saying he told Trump that Mexico wouldn't pay for it. So Trump lied. That's a surprise to anyone? And though I can't remember specific examples, I seem to remember times when Obama met with foreign leaders and we got two different reports from the White House and the foreign leader about how the conversation went. We have certainly gotten different portrayals of what was said in negotiating with the Iranians over that deal and with the payment of the ransom.

For all the reports from the past couple of weeks that Trump was softening his stance on immigration, it wasn't all that softer though it was a lot more substantive than he's been before. Byron York writes, Trump did lighten up a bit on his braggadocio that he was going to deport everyone who came here illegally. That was always ridiculous and was one of the most objectionable parts of his campaign during the primaries. Where Trump came out yesterday in his speech was not all that far from where Rubio ended up.
Trump was addressing the illegal immigrants who would choose to stay in this country — that is, non-criminals and those who chose not to return to their home countries and get in line to return to the United States. If those people stayed here, Trump said, then their situation would be debated after all the enforcement measures are in effect. At that time, there would be "different options" available for them.

It's a position that probably seems unfamiliar to those who haven't followed the intricacies of the immigration debate in Washington for the last many years. But the treatment of the 12 million has always been a sticking point in that debate. Democrats wanted immediate legalization, while many Republicans wanted legalization delayed until after enforcement was in place.

GOP immigration hawks didn't like to even debate the 12 million question because they wanted to concentrate first on enforcement, in large part because they have seen many phony enforcement promises in the past. The implicit argument of the hawks, though, was this: If enforcement really happens, if it is really in place, then they, the hawks, would not object to some sort of legalization for the 12 million.

Trump outdid them all last year when he called for the deportation of all 12 million. Washington immigration hawks knew that was impractical, and they were also disappointed that Trump got bogged down in the 12 million question when he should have been focusing on enforcement.

Now, though, in his own way, Trump has come around. In Phoenix, he said that those who choose not to leave and return will have their cases debated after enforcement is in place. Trump didn't say it, but most Republican immigration hawks would interpret that to mean that some sort of legal status would lie in the future for those illegal immigrants who wait for years until enforcement is fully enacted.

It's a complicated situation, and one can get into the weeds pretty quickly. And the answer is simply not entirely satisfying, at least for those who want some certainty in far-reaching plans.
It was the most substantive speech Trump has given so far. There is the usual Trump bluster on how Mexico is going to pay for the wall and the joke about maybe he'd deport Hillary Clinton. Trump just can't help himself. But for all the discussion ahead of time on how he's softening, it really seems that all he did was abandon the ridiculous promise to deport millions of people. If he'd given this speech from the beginning without that bit of ignorant bragging, he'd not have seemed as objectionable and clueless about immigration policy. He's basically moved to the mainstream position that most Republicans have - enforcement first with an added in gloss about hating NAFTA and lying about its results. Are voters supposed to ignore the fact that he bragged about deporting all illegal immigrants for months despite everyone pointing out how impossible that is? Are we supposed to give him brownie points for not bashing Mexico even though he's done that for the past year?

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This is an interesting explanation from Slate about why all movies have some sort of disclaimer saying, “This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental." It turns out to be the result of a lawsuit brought by one of the men who murdered Rasputin in response to a 1933 MGM movie about Rasputin that portrayed the murderer's wife of having been raped by Rasputin. He won the suit and movies have added in that disclaimer ever since.
All seven estimated 90 to 95 percent of NFL front offices felt the same way they did. One executive said he hasn't seen this much collective dislike among front office members regarding a player since Rae Carruth. Remember Rae Carruth? He's still in prison for the plot to murder his pregnant girlfriend.

It seems that officials in NFL front offices don't want to have anything at all to do with Colin Kaepernick. Mike Freeman at Bleacher Report interviewed a lot of such officials and found intensely negative feelings toward the 49ers QB.
One executive said he hasn't seen this much collective dislike among front office members regarding a player since Rae Carruth. Remember Rae Carruth? He's still in prison for the plot to murder his pregnant girlfriend.

There could be some executives who have no issue with Kaepernick, but I doubt there are many. Each executive said he believes Kaepernick will likely get released by the 49ers—and never play in the NFL again.
Freeman concludes,
This is a league that has signed domestic abusers, accused murderers, players who killed another person while driving drunk and dudes who park in handicap spaces. But Kaepernick is the most hated person he's ever seen? A non-violent protest? Really?
If, as a lot of sports analysts are predicting, Kaepernick is let go by the 49ers, it seems that no other team is going to pick him up except maybe the unfortunate Vikings. He says that, in that case, he plans to devote his life to social activism. Maybe he can spend some of his coming free time to read more about the issues that he's been displaying his ignorance about.

Paul Mirengoff is struck
by the timing of Kaepernick's announcement that he would sit out the National Anthem because of his concerns over how minorities are treated in this country.
However, I believe it’s legitimate to ask whether Kaepernick’s sudden decision not to stand for the Anthem may have been influenced by football concerns. After all, pro athletes have been expressing their outrage with allegedly racist policing even since Michael Brown supposedly said “hands up, don’t shoot.” And to my knowledge, nothing important has happened on the Black Lives Matter front since the 49ers opened the preseason a few weeks ago.

Why, then, did Kaepernick wait until the start of the third preseason game to express his contempt for America? Did it suddenly dawn on him that blacks get stopped a lot and occasionally shot by the police?

Maybe. But I don’t think we should rule out three other motives, the first two of which strike me as more likely than the third: (1) his frustration with his status on the team spilled over, (2) he wanted attention, and (3) he was trying to make it more difficult for the Niners to cut him.

San Francisco’s final preseason game will be the 28th annual “Salute to the Military” game in San Diego. If, as expected, Kaepernick doesn’t stand for the Anthem in that particular game, this story will continue to resonate. To the extent that Kaepernick wants ongoing attention, that wish will be fulfilled.