Wednesday, March 30, 2016

What Atrios Said About Feeling the Bern and Liking Hillary

Atrios often nails it. Says he:
What I've found frustrating about the internet discourse surrounding the Dem primary is that so little of it has been about anyone actually trying to persuade someone. It's all "I am right, you are wrong." Yes it's the internet. No this should not surprise me. This is how internet discourse usually works. But I've found the level of "my internet-fu has not convinced you because you are stupid" to be weird. Some people like Clinton. Some people like Sanders. Donate money, make calls, knock on doors if you really want to make a difference. Arguing on the internet isn't going to make any difference. As I've said, I'm a Sanders sympathizer. I'm not trying to hide that. But there are good reasons to support Clinton. If I went all in on one side or another I'm sure I'd convince precisely zero people to vote for candidate X. Activism should be productive, not just narcissism.
He's right. Also, I've gotten worked up over comment threads full of Hillary haters. They're immature for their rants, and I have only myself to blame for taking them seriously.

FDA Sidesteps Red States That Block Abortion

As red state after red state play hardball with abortion restrictions, the FDA figures out a work-around. Good for them. (Typical Obama play.)

Two and done. Now watch to see if states pass laws to get in the way of this solution.

Ending a pregnancy is no easy decision, and not all women who wish to do so can opt for an abortion drug. But its use is becoming more common these days, and states like Texas, for instance, require doctors with admitting privileges at local hospitals AND abortion clinics to follow hospital-grade surgical standards just to hand a woman two pills. It's absurd.

Now the FDA is changing all that, effective immediately. Now nurse practitioners, for example, can prescribe the two-drug course. That's a pretty big game changer in today's anti-abortion climate.

Read about it in the WaPo.

Just to be clear, I'm not a fan of abortion. I expect few people are. But I'm not a fan of men telling women what to do with their bodies. Period. It's all about religiously inspired paternalism. Stupid Stone Age bullshit.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Quantum Computers

If we would only elect Donald Trump, we'd have a yuge quantum computer but quick, that I can tell you.

Quantum computers in our near future?

Obviously The Donald won't speed up research on quantum computers, but then Hillary Clinton -- for all I've praised her recently -- might not have a clue how a BlackBerry actually works. But I'd trust her to know science's place in our national priorities. Ted Cruz, for all I know, would think that a quantum computer was an affront to God Almighty.

I digress. Read this startling article, with a link to a podcast that goes more in depth, on scalable quantum computers that just might bust through our current limits to computing. Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Voting for Bernie and Supporting Hillary Are Not Mutually Exclusive

My one chance to vote for Bernie may be in the California primary. I won't pass it up. But supporting Hillary if she prevails will be easy. Here's why.

One of these two will be president next year. If it's Bernie, fine. If it's Hillary, fine.

I just noted and appreciated Jann Wenner's Rolling Stone endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Bernie fans didn't go wild with enthusiasm. I understand why. Yet, as someone who voted for George McGovern with his very first presidential vote in 1972, I looked idealism in the face and saw Richard Nixon. It was a caution.

I announced on this blog -- to what may be all of 200-300 readers, I admit -- that I supported Bernie Sanders for president, and I still do. But watching Sanders supporters demonize Hillary over the past few months has gotten under my skin.

Now Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone counters his boss' endorsement of Hillary Clinton with a piece that rightly celebrates youthful voters' idealism that leads them to Sanders while wrongly pillorying Hillary will limp, threadbare attacks that don't hold up to scrutiny. Why do Hillary opponents resort to that? It's so transparent. Taibbi should be above it.

So here's a bargain that I'm mostly making for myself: When I walk into the voting booth this June, I'll punch the card for Bernie Sanders, but I won't find it tragic if Hillary Clinton prevails in the race to win the Democratic nomination. There's a simple reason why.

They'll both do well for the American people, and they'll both likely dispatch whichever horrid human being the GOP will attempt to foist on our discombobulated electorate. The masses may be weary, but I expect they'll find their way home.

That is unless idealistic young people ditch Hillary because they're pissed or convinced by the nasty, unkind, and, frankly, dishonest rhetoric of people like Matt Taibbi, whose journalism I have otherwise respected.

Let me call attention to four things:
  • Hillary Clinton, as Jill Abramson recently averred, is fundamentally honest. In fact, as Abramson points out, PolitiFact finds her more honest -- by a hair -- than Bernie Sanders.
  • Fred Kaplan seeks and finds the truth that Clinton did not support Bush's Iraq War. Bush gamed us all. I remember it transpiring just as Kaplan documents in his fair-minded piece on it.
  • On the email issue -- primarily a Republican invention, in my view -- Hillary has answered rather honestly and directly. One, she admits it was an error in judgment, mostly made out of convenience, and, yes, out of caution to protect her privacy after decades of scandals being pulled out of thin air just as this one was; two, neither email systems, hers and, were more secure than the other; three, the emails in question indeed were classified after the fact (something we'll necessarily never know because now they're classified!) and not so when sent or received; four, and probably most importantly, Clinton's email system was never breached and no information, whether "classified" or not, was ever proven to be at risk. The same can no longer be said of the State Department system.
  • She's a woman, and that in itself will be good for America. Here, here, and here are three pieces that explain this well.
I could drop more bullet points, but the above is enough to make a case for why Hillary doesn't deserve the scorn heaped on her by Republicans and Sanders supporters alike. She's fundamentally honest, has admitted mistakes, and has learned from them. Apart from that, she's as prepared to be president as anyone who has ever run, at least in recent years. If she isn't progressive enough for you, fine. Fight for Bernie, he is progressive.

I will vote for Sanders in June, and I will gladly support Clinton and vote for her should she get the nomination. I expect Sanders -- and, I hope, his supporters -- will do the same. And if you need encouragement, read this on the Republicans' idea of what's good for America.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Elite Media Are Freaking Stupid, Charles Pierce Edition

No, Charles is not stupid. But Nicholas Kristof is trying his damnedest to be.

Nicholas Kristof discovers he doesn't know what
he's talking about. Let's listen to him more!

I thought this only happened to David Brooks and Ross Douthat. I was wrong.

We failed to take Trump seriously because of a third media failing: We were largely oblivious to the pain among working-class Americans and thus didn't appreciate how much his message resonated. "The media has been out of touch with these Americans," Curry notes. Media elites rightly talk about our insufficient racial, ethnic and gender diversity, but we also lack economic diversity. We inhabit a middle-class world and don't adequately cover the part of America that is struggling and seething. We spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless.
This is all my bollocks on a number of levels. First, there are people covering the plight of the disappearing middle class all over the place—in local papers, in academic studies, on the electric teevee machine, and even in Kristof's own newspaper. There is a Democratic candidate for president whose entire damn campaign is based on the premise that the American middle class is going the way of the Anasazi. It's a little late for the elite political media that boomed "free trade" and the miracles of the "globalized economy" in a "flat" world to suddenly look up and discover that a 55-year old steelworker in Indiana likely will not be getting a job writing code for the Next New Thing. It's a little late for the elite political media to discover that de-unionization has not been altogether a boon in those few sectors of the industrial economy that haven't been cored out or sent to Vietnam.
Read the rest and weep. We are guided by idiots.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Rolling Stone Just Endorsed Hillary Clinton. What Does That Say to Sanders Supporters?

Jann Wenner, founder and publisher of Rolling Stone, speaks forcefully in favor of Hillary Clinton. A little unexpected? Yes.

After prevailing at the Benghazi hearings, it's hard to imagine the Republicans
taking this lioness down. But they'd chew Bernie Sanders up and spit him out.

I'm a democratic socialist like Bernie Sanders, so I naturally support most of his policies. I would want to go beyond what Hillary Clinton says is doable in our current -- and near-future -- political climate and reach for the goals Sanders has set.

Fine. But I think Hillary will get farther with her pragmatic approach than Sanders will with his idealistic -- read unrealistic -- aspirations. That's a hard thing for someone more progressive than Clinton to admit, but there you are.

So it's with a little bit of satisfaction to see Jann Wenner, co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone, support Hillary for basically the same reasons.
Hillary Clinton has an impressive command of policy, the details, trade-offs and how it gets done. It's easy to blame billionaires for everything, but quite another to know what to do about it. During his 25 years in Congress, Sanders has stuck to uncompromising ideals, but his outsider stance has not attracted supporters among the Democrats. Paul Krugman writes that the Sanders movement has a "contempt for compromise."
Every time Sanders is challenged on how he plans to get his agenda through Congress and past the special interests, he responds that the "political revolution" that sweeps him into office will somehow be the magical instrument of the monumental changes he describes. This is a vague, deeply disingenuous idea that ignores the reality of modern America. With the narrow power base and limited political alliances that Sanders had built in his years as the democratic socialist senator from Vermont, how does he possibly have a chance of fighting such entrenched power?
I have been to the revolution before. It ain't happening.
And that's the nub of it. I was in San Francisco a few blocks away from where Wenner and Ralph J. Gleason founded Rolling Stone, and I went to anti-war rallies, was inspired by the Berkeley free-speech movement, supported Gene McCarthy in 1968, and voted for George McGovern, just like Jann Wenner did. I thought we had a revolution just around the corner. All I got out of it was acid flashbacks and disco.

I've flirted with supporting Bernie Sanders out of residual idealism from my early days. But, if anything turned me off to Sanders, it was reading Sanders' supporters comments on WaPo and NYTimes articles about this year's candidates. The vitriol -- quite undeserved -- that Sanders' supporters aimed at Hillary Clinton was and is completely uncalled for. Wenner spoke to that, too.
I keep hearing questions surface about her honesty and trustworthiness, but where is the basis in reality or in facts? This is the lingering haze of coordinated GOP smear campaigns against the Clintons — and President Obama — all of which have come up empty, including the Benghazi/e-mail whirlwind, which after seven GOP-led congressional investigations has turned up zilch.
Battlefield experience is hard-won, and with it comes mistakes but also wisdom. Clinton's vote authorizing Bush to invade Iraq 14 years ago was a huge error, one that many made, but not one that constitutes a disqualification on some ideological purity test.
I find it embarrassing that fellow progressives fall into the trap of believing the untruths about Clinton propagated over decades of Rovian-style baseless attacks. Hey, Bernbots, how stupid are you, and why would I associate myself with you? You didn't do your hero any good.

Also, I was listening when the Congress voted in support of the president's Iraq initiative, and it was an authorization meant to support a U.N. resolution to force Saddam's hand. That's the spirit with which many Democrats voted for it. When Bush knew the Security Council was going to vote down the resolution, he pulled it before it had a chance to be voted down. It was an act of undemocratic cowardice, which he then turned into an excuse for a unilateral attack on Iraq.

Plenty of wise men and women followed Bush right into Iraq: Andrew Sullivan, Joe Klein, Thomas Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, and even, possibly, Chris Matthews, among others. They were hoodwinked by -- or enamored of -- Bush's sneak attack, and went along with it. Here's Friedman's almost unforgivably smug support, offered on Charlie Rose:

And here's a Fred Kaplan article on Hillary Clinton's Iraq vote that should convince anyone -- who isn't predisposed to dislike Clinton -- that she told the truth, that she supported diplomatic pressure on Saddam, and George W. Bush pulled a fast one. Read the Kaplan article. It's got the key quotes of Clinton addressing the Senate, explaining her rationale for voting. It's exactly the way I remember it. For me, Hillary's off the hook on that one, except for the part about trusting Bush. That was either disingenuous or naive, but it's not as damning as actually wanting the war. She clearly didn't.

So, as we advance toward the conventions, let's get our facts straight and not over-glorify our socialist-democratic candidate. Bernie Sanders is a fine man with fine ideas, but he's no working-class hero -- yet. He's vulnerable to the Republican Wehrmacht that's sure to come. Clinton has already survived it, even thrived under its punishment.

It's why Jann Wenner has gone for Hillary Clinton, and not Bernie Sanders. Yes, he's only a magazine publisher, but he might have his fingers on the pulse of the millennials. I find his viewpoint persuasive.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Sort of Good News: We Can Live Our Lives About the Same as We Always Have

Or can we? We're a little broker, a little more anxious, and less sure about the future. But still...

My family in the 50s and 60s was never like this. So what are my good old days?

I know that my age group -- early baby boomer -- has dodged a bullet or two. Many of us retired on pensions and bought into the housing market before the housing booms and are still living in them. Others of us had the good sense or good luck to play the booms to our advantage.

Our children are a mixed bag, but some of us got our children through college and into good jobs in growth industries. For some of us, it was just in the nick of time.

Sure, the country has gone gun-crazy, but I live in a small, relatively well-off, educated town in Northern California. I often say I live in my own little Denmark, the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm sure there are plenty of gun owners around -- hell, Ben Affleck, noted Hollywood liberal, declared on Bill Maher that he's packing, and Maher nodded, "me, too" -- but here in Sonoma County we've haven't seen many militias roaming the streets.

I know that the rich have gotten richer and the poor have gotten poorer, but my taxes are about the same. I wish our roads weren't so pot-hole-riddled, but the city, county, and state keep up as best they can. I have a better car than I did when if was 25.

I still shop at Safeway, only I buy less beef and eat more kale, you know the drill. I walk, exercise, or play golf as many days a week as I can. Life doesn't suck, not at all.

There's terrorism -- here in America, it's white, gun-toting, far-right extremists or the mentally ill we should fear -- but mostly that's in Europe and the Middle East. Our chances of getting blown up in the U.S. is close to nil.

If Donald Trump were elected president, heaven forbid, or Ted Cruz even, I doubt my lifestyle would change. Even if they didn't raise a finger to fight climate change, it's possible our goose is cooked already. They indeed might carpet-bomb Syria, or saber-rattle with Iran, and generally provoke Muslims. They could even refill Guantanamo Bay. We've alienated a couple of generations of Muslims already, so what's the dif?

But one thing as parents and grandparents we should be concerned about, beyond whether our lives will play out somewhat like we expected or hoped for, is the world we leave behind. What would that world look like?

A socialist like Bernie Sanders would actually try to give us our own Denmark or Sweden, which is not a bad thing at all. Income inequality is not nearly as severe there, and there's a reason the Danes are the most contented citizens on the planet. Sure they pay high taxes, but they're in their motherland's arms from cradle to grave. Poverty is near impossible in their nations, and that's better than having a choice between getting lucky and ending up like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or getting unlucky and ending up poor in Flint with your children drinking lead for breakfast.

A centrist liberal like Hillary Clinton wouldn't be so obviously Scandinavian, but she would work toward social and income equality nonetheless. I'm somewhat concerned about her bellicosity, but then I've always thought that she believes if she said, "I am woman, hear me declare peace," she'd never get elected to the presidency of a nation that thrives, sorry to say, on a near constant state of war. So I have hope she'll be even less war-centric than Barack Obama, who's done his best to back off the war throttle.

As for centrists, hell, there are no centrists.

As for the Republican Party, there are no center-right politicians anymore. The Tea Party made sure of that. In fact, it's really a joke on America that George W. Bush feels like a centrist after what has transpired politically since he left office.

The Tea Party "patriots," where they don't hold sway, have enough juice to frighten centrists into declaring themselves the most conservative conservatives you've ever seen. All Republicans must now agree that
  • taxes must be cut for jobs, jobs, jobs,
  • unions must be destroyed for business, business, business,
  • the minimum wage must never be raised,
  • health care can never be a right,
  • the Confederacy was more of a heritage than a calamity that fighting for slavery forced on the South,
  • guns make us safer, safer, safer, so more, more, more,
  • climate changes, who knows, what the hell,
  • immigrants are bad for our country, even if they do the jobs we don't want to do (and all of us are the descendants of immigrants),
  • the poor are poor because they are a bunch of slackers and losers who drink lead for breakfast,
and so on.

There's one thing about living our lives and going through our days pretty much the way we always have, with our parents sending us to college, which gave us the skills and wits to succeed, and us sending our children to college, which gave them the skills and wits to succeed: Those days are coming to an end.

Many of us will get by to the end of our days. We don't live in in a poor or mismanaged state like Louisiana, Kansas, even Wisconsin, where the infrastructure of success is degrading daily, so that "lives about the same as they always have been" is no longer guaranteed.

The I've-got-mine-screw-you philosophy we see in the Republican Party may have turned them into snakes eating their own tails. Let's hope so. Otherwise, well, you know the rest.

There is one other possibility: Our kids, the millennials, who seem more progressive, will change things for the better, and slowly make the needed changes, save the planet, and stop the war machines. Damn, I hope so.

Wow. Then maybe our kids could live lives about the same as we always have, and maybe their kids, and so on. That would sort of be good.

While Republicans Writhe and Twitch, Obama's Approval Ratings Go Positive

Trump or Cruz, Trump or Cruz, what's a party to do? Reach for the Pepto.

Barack Obama is doing better in the polls these days. Why? Compared to what?

Presidents who've done reasonably well during their presidencies tend to see their numbers rise in the final year or so of their last term. Almost all presidents experience negative numbers at one time or another. But if they haven't been awful -- like George W. Bush, for example -- they make a comeback while they're singing their swan song.

I can't help but compare favorables of the Republican candidates with Obama's, which have turned positive in recent weeks. Trump is disliked and distrusted by 63 percent of the American public, while Ted Cruz doesn't fare much better at 33/51 favorable/unfavorable. People don't like these two.

That doesn't always mean much. The term "hold their noses and vote for..." is quite common. After all, Hillary Clinton's numbers are negative, too, at 41/54. Yet we know that a lot of that damage will dissipate by the time of the general. By the way, Clinton's numbers were really great after her term as Secretary of State, at 63/28; it was only after she announced her candidacy and the right-wing machine went after her on Benghazi and her email server, both phony scandals of the highest order, that her numbers drifted south. Consider her polling was still at 52/42 in February of 2015.

(I'm no Hillary shill, but face it, there's absolutely no there there with Benghazi -- remember her shredding of the House Benghazi Committee members, who, after 11 hours, gaveled the hearing in defeat -- and the email server is yet another cooked up story. When you think of this email server scandal, repeat after me: NOTHING HAPPENED.)

As soon as Clinton defeats Sanders for the Democratic nomination, her favorables will return to positive territory, if not back to the stratospheric heights of Jan. 2013, while Donald Trump's numbers will never be positive. As for Ted Cruz, I can see his numbers reaching a 48/48 zone, with a lot of people trotting out the "I'm holding my nose and voting for Cruz because for heaven's sake, Hillary??"

Final thought on Barack Obama: His last year will represent a strong underpinning for Hillary Clinton's chances. It's very hard for a political party to win a third term in a row, especially if the retiring president has negative numbers. After the economy remains firm, if not flying, and the war against ISIS is largely over and successful -- yes, I predict virtual victory within months -- with Obama picking up points for his handling of his SCOTUS nomination, Cuba, and Iran, the landscape will be set to aid a Democratic victory. By and large, Obama's legacy is positive in both the short- and long-term.

That's good for Dems up and down the ballot. Trump and Cruz? If I were a Republican, I'd be running away from them at full speed. Only, to where, to whom?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

After Brussels, Trump Seems Petty and Unprepared, Period.

Donald Trump goes to the Washington Post to show his policy chops, instead shows his hands. Who thinks this guy isn't dreadful?

Okay, Trump now we know you have no problem,
except what a wacky, narcissistic dick you are.

(Note. Several WaPo links here may well be behind a paywall. Right-clicking on the links and choosing to view in private or incognito windows with your browser lets users often slip past these paywalls or extend their free-view allotment.)

Watching the reports of Brussels this morning, I look at the presidential candidates, and, let's face it, it comes down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. All right, maybe it's not over, but for all intents and purposes it is.

So, before the people, let's put the question: In this world that we see today reflected in the unfolding tragedy that is terrorism in Brussels -- and beyond, to be sure -- who do you want in the Oval Office, given our choices?

I don't even need to answer that question. Let's let the Washington Post Editorial Board answer:
There was, first, [during Trump's interview with them] a breezy willingness to ignore facts and evidence. Are there racial disparities in law enforcement? “I’ve read where there are and I’ve read where there aren’t,” Mr. Trump said. “I mean, I’ve read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that.” Global warming? “I am not a great believer in man-made climate change,” he said.
In that, Mr. Trump is not different from many Republican politicians these days. But no one can match the chasm between his expansive goals and the absence of proposals to achieve them. He would remake the nation’s libel laws, but how, given Supreme Court jurisprudence on the First Amendment? “I’d have to get my lawyers in to tell you,” he said. How could he implement a ban on noncitizen Muslims entering the country? “Well look, there’s many exceptions,” he said. “There’s many — everything, you’re going to go through a process.”
His answer to racial disparity and urban poverty is to create jobs. But how? “Economic zones,” “incentives” and improving the “spirit” of inner-city residents. “You have to start by giving them hope and giving them spirit, and that has not taken place,” Mr. Trump said. How would he push back against Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea? “We have to be unpredictable,” Mr. Trump said. “We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad.”
Predictable is bad. What's bad is how unpredictable a Trump presidency would be, given how he dances around real answers to real questions. WaPo's The Fix analyzed Trump's answers and found them baffling:
Post publisher Fred Ryan asked Trump if he would consider using a tactical nuclear strike against the forces of the Islamic State, were he president. Trump responded that he didn't want to "start the process of nuclear," then reminding the editors that he was "a counter-puncher."
"Remember, one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counter-puncher," Trump said. "Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. He spent, by the way -- he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting..."
Ryan jumped in. "This is about ISIS," he reminded Trump. "You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?"
"I’ll tell you one thing," Trump replied. "This is a very good looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I’m talking to?"
Trump never got around to answering the question. Surprise, surprise.

Answers and facts, during Trump's campaign at least, are the least of Trump's concerns. Again, at WaPo, fact-checker Glenn Kessler runs down Trump's truthiness:
There’s never been a presidential candidate like Donald Trump — someone so cavalier about the facts and so unwilling to ever admit error, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. At last count, nearly 65 percent (17 of 27) of our rulings of his statements turned out to be Four Pinocchios, our worst rating. By contrast, most politicians tend to earn Four Pinocchios 10 to 20 percent of the time. (Moreover, most of the remaining ratings for Trump are Three Pinocchios.)
I'm not a big fan of mainstream media's fact-checking services -- it's often shoddy and off-target and full of judgments like "Obama's main statement may be essentially true, but so much else around his comments seem off the mark, so we'll give him a "Mostly False." -- but Trump needs busting, and Kessler's assembling of a list whoppers does offer a glimpse of Trump's disdain for facts.

And that's just in today's Washington Post. Considering how dangerous the world is out there, especially in light of what has just transpired in Brussels, let's not let a counter-puncher, who's "unpredictable," who's got big hands and has "no problem down there, I assure you," get anywhere near the presidency. That will be a disaster, that I can tell you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

GOP Squirm Time: Americans Really Don't Like What You're Doing

Donald Trump is running away with the nomination of the Republican Party, despite his toxicity. Republicans aren't helping themselves as they twitch and shake.

Trump doesn't care if he wins or loses. Either way, he thinks he wins.

For Donald Trump, if he loses the presidency, at least he doesn't have to be president. Sounds like a lot of work. Who needs it?

Sound silly? Yes, but The Donald is a little bit silly, right?

If he takes down the Republican Party in the process, does he care? No, because he's not a Republican, he's running as a Republican. Does that make him a Democrat? No, it doesn't. He was never either one. He's a businessman who makes deals. That much is true. Is he a winner? Maybe, maybe not, but one thing's for sure. He's a champion spinner, and if he loses the presidency, watch out for Donald Trump the spinner: He didn't lose, all the disgusting reporters and disgusting low-energy turncoats in the GOP stabbed him in the back. For a while, he'll try to figure out who to sue. Then he'll announce that he's the bigger man and won't sue because he's done wasting his time trying to save a bunch of losers.

Where am I wrong here?

Moving on to the Republicans, it's a really different story. The party elites woke up one morning and realized that, even though they cultivated the far-right base with the help of the far-right media -- who were actually just trying to get more tax cuts for the rich approved while destroying government so they could say, "Look how fucked government is, would you just look?" -- and now realize what a good job they actually did. The extreme, far-right loonies actually captured enough of the base to force almost all of the party to be as totally cray-cray as they are, unleashing the hounds of doom on the party structure. Did you ever wonder why John Boehner quit? (he knew everyone had gone insane) or why Mitch McConnell takes the positions he takes (he knows everyone has gone insane)?

That's right, even when
  • most NRA members favor common-sense gun-control laws, like background checks,
  • most Americans favor improving relations with Cuba,
  • most Americans approve of the Iran nuclear deal,
  • 60% of Americans view Donald Trump unfavorably,
  • a majority of Americans favor confirming Merrick Garland,
  • crime is sinking like a stone among the young and minorities and rising among middle-aged whites,
  • most Americans want tax increases on the wealthy to help pay for an expanded safety net,
  • a majority of Americans now view Barack Obama favorably,
  • a large majority of Americans favor allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S., with a majority of those Americans favoring a path to citizenship,
the GOP still acts as if their views represent the majority of Americans. They don't. Base politics -- figuring out how to keep your seat by pleasing your base and, hopefully, bamboozling voters in the general -- dictates that Republicans sound batshit crazy most of the time.

This worked until, I don't know, maybe when Donald Trump decided to run with all the batshit crazy ideas as if they were what would Make America Great Again. That works on dazed and confused white people who fear the Obummer, but, as Lindsey Graham said (in August of 2012!), "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." Mouthful there, Lindsey.

What the Republican elites in D.C. have come to realize is that their goose may be cooked, and they had better scramble to find a way out. Trouble is, the way out involves
  • hijacking the Republican nomination from Trump, who'll go rogue with his own third-party campaign (or tell his voters to sit this one out),
  • force a GOP third-party effort,
  • or tell all the House and Senate GOPers that they're on their own, just try to save your asses.
That's not a pretty picture, and the Republicans have brought it on themselves by playing with fear, anger, and resentment, most of which isn't the default setting of enough Americans to win a general, BUT is enough to nominate a Donald Trump.

Good on ya!

Donald Trump Doesn't Want You to Know What's Happening at His Rallies

Freedom of the press is central to the American experience, even as its business model undergoes turmoil. Trump wants it to go away.

The press penned in at a Trump rally: He calls journalists "disgusting."

Writing or reporting about Donald Trump is somewhat of a "Alice Through the Looking Glass" kind of effort. Asking whether or not his near-pathological liar status will hurt his chances at the presidency depends on who's asking and who's listening. A rational person might answer, "There's no way he can go on like this and win the presidency." A Trump partisan might answer, "Who listens to you, you disgusting pathetic tool."

I was reading a Huffington Post article about how Mitch McConnell will "free up" GOP senatorial candidates to "go rogue" if Trump becomes the GOP candidate. Vaguely interesting article, for sure, but this note at the bottom of the article -- like a disclaimer or full-disclosure statement -- caught my eye:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Do you get that? It's almost as if an editor felt it necessary to point out that this is not reported in the mainstream media, and it's handy to know, in general terms, that Donald Trump operates in a parallel universe, free from regular fact-reporting.

It might have something to do with A) cable news wants the cray-cray story that Trump's candidacy is to keep rolling, bringing in the bucks and the ratings, and B) regular reporting is having a hard time penetrating the national narrative because Trump and his minions simply say, "Oh, these reporters are disgusting, and what you say happened in that video that you say is obvious we say never happened. Ever. Disgusting. Go away."

And everyone sort of goes: What? And the story is somehow he-said, she-said. Who you gonna believe that disgusting reporter or your lyin' eyes?

Anyway, Seth Stevenson of Slate went into the snake pit that is covering the Trump campaign and came back alive to report. Holy shit:
As the planned start time for the event drew near, a pair of men with Trump pins on the lapels of their suits sealed the media pen’s exit. “They’re not allowed to leave anymore,” I overheard one suit instruct the other. “Not until he”—the “he” being Trump—“has left the building.”
The flare-ups continued and intensified. Police swarmed into the stands. Everyone was on their feet, shouting and pointing. When a PA announcement informed us that the event had been canceled, the place detonated.
Reporters scurried to edges of the media pen, still hemmed in, and leaned their cameras over the barricades. Realizing this was folly, they soon mounted a jailbreak. I followed them and found myself amid a churning mob on the arena floor—scuffles everywhere, people shrieking at each other, ripping signs from hands, knocking hats from heads, shoving, stumbling. The cameras raced from one brawl to the next.
When the bedlam flowed outside, I went to a spot where protesters were screaming at people trying to exit the parking garage in their cars. Trump supporters on the garage’s upper levels were jeering at the protesters below, throwing popcorn. “Oh, you’re gonna spit on us now?” said an angry protester, looking up into what did appear to be a hail of expectoration. I saw a newspaper reporter I’d just met inside wading into the fray with her notebook in hand, trying to gather quotes.
The next morning, scanning news about the rally, I learned that [CBS new reporter Sopan] Deb—while attempting to film the ruckus in the streets—had been thrown to the ground by Chicago cops, handcuffed, arrested, and detained overnight in jail.
Read Stevenson's whole account. This isn't your father's presidential campaign, it's Thunderdome: Donald Trump Hits the Trail. If I'm allowed a bit of understatement, he must be stopped.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Has the GOP Political Bargain Blown Up in Their Faces?

Lyndon Johnson handed the Dixiecrats to the Republicans by signing the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. And now the chickens have come home to roost.

All you need to know: George Wallace was a Democrat.

Richard Nixon didn't invent the Southern Strategy. It was handed to him on a silver platter. Lyndon Johnson understood this when he declined to run again. Vietnam had certainly wounded him, but giving civil and voting rights to "nigras," as George Wallace used to call them, had ruined him in southern voters' eyes.

Now, almost a half-century later, a kind of reverse implosion is occurring. The GOP had managed its own form of a big tent by bringing a seemingly incongruous gang together: actual conservatives, Randian libertarians, evangelicals, disaffected whites (also known as Reagan Democrats), and, yes, outright racists. Because of long-simmering resentment of John Kennedy and his Bays of Pigs fiasco, this tent also included a hefty number of Cuban exiles. Because many Latinos are religiously conservative, they too found some room. George W. Bush, in fact, relied on them in his win (cough) in 2000, garnering 35 percent of their vote, a number that startlingly rose to as much as 44 percent in 2004.

Those days are long over. As the Republican Party drifted rightward over the last two decades, they've shed a lot of supporters, many of them because the party just hasn't delivered what these groups were looking for and, quite likely, never intended to.

Now we have a definite rarefied breed: Trump Republicans. Timothy Egan writes about them in today's NYTimes:
Long ago and far away, in the days when white men in power ties and women in funny hats gathered in air-conditioned caverns to hammer out the Republican Party platform, it was a predictable affair. The G.O.P. was for less taxes and less government, free trade and free people, a scolding of victims and grievance-mongers, and a vision of social norms circa 1952.
As time went on, they let the cranks and the racists in, the fact-deniers and the extreme gun nuts, the xenophobes and the nature-haters, because the big tent could take in all that extra gas without overheating. They would tolerate those people, who you picture looking like that dude who sucker-punched a protester at a Trump rally, because they needed them.
Now imagine the Republican Party gathering for its convention in Cleveland and hammering out a vanity platform in Donald Trump’s image. It’s all walls and no bridges. Free trade is gone. Taxes? Who knows. There will be a call for more government, through a bloated military, and untouched benefits for seniors who must be pandered to. Most significantly, it’s a party of grudges and grievances, of anger and fear by that formerly detested class — victims.
Yes, they are victims, victims first of the party that pandered to them and gave them nothing, and victims to the shrinking opportunities that plague America. Cutting taxes on the "job creators" turns out to not create jobs, and eventually the Supreme Court was going to figure out what the word equality means and apply it to a host of freaky freaks, including women (!) and LBGTQers. What's a straight white guy to do? Hint: Vote for Trump.

This is finally a bridge too far for David Brooks, who danced around apostasy until he realized he owned it. No, Not Trump, Not Ever:
The question is: Should deference be paid to this victor? Should we bow down to the judgment of these voters?
Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.
Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.
And yet reality is reality.
Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.
Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.
Brooks doesn't simply say he cannot support Donald Trump. He is, more or less, ordering American citizens to come to their senses before it's too late. For the central conservative columnist for the Paper of Record, them's some serious words.

We shouldn't be surprised when his liberal counterpart ramps up the schadenfreude on the Republican establishment with his Friday column. Krugman lays it on thick:
To be sure, social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)
And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.
Furthermore, the writers at National Review are right to link these social ills to the Trump phenomenon. Call it death and The Donald: Analysis of primary election results so far shows that counties with high white mortality rates are also likely to vote Trump.
Krugman goes on to point out two crucial facts, born out by studies: one, that this white working-class is suffering the same calamities long experienced by blacks, and, two, that this is not happening in European social democracies with better safety nets for their citizens, even as their economies suffer through even worse downturns than we in America have faced.

Donald Trump is fiercely unpopular, netting an unfavorable rating of 60 percent. So this candidacy of a particularly ill-chosen leader of the downtrodden whites seems doomed at the outset. But history teaches us not to be over-confident. If only we could have shown Germans in 1928 images of 1945, they might have reconsidered. Let's hope Americans can avoid a similar mistake.

No doubt we're at a most bizarre set of crossroads. This time, we must know which way to go.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

NPR's David Greene Haz a Sad about Cokie Roberts' Objectivity. Whaa??

The vacuous conceit of objectivity damages our journalism without informing it. As Barton Swaim maintains, fairness should be our objective.

Notice the "commentator" in the chyron, from an 8/31/2014
article. This is not new, David Greene.

I was listening, as I often do, live on Monday mornings, to Cokie Roberts and her political commentary, this particular time with NPR Morning Edition regular, David Greene. I heard his question to Cokie about her column with her husband, fellow journalist Steve Roberts, condemning the candidacy of Donald Trump:
"Objectivity is so fundamental to what we do. Can you blame people like me for being a little disappointed to hear you come out and take a personal position on something like this in a campaign?”
I winced when I heard him question her journalistic objectivity, to which she answered, "“There are times in our history, when you might be disappointed if I didn’t take a position like that.” She had pointed out that she hadn't been a full-time reporter with NPR for more than twenty years and that she had long been considered a "commentator." Yet Greene questioned the propriety of the anti-Trump stand she'd taken.

I find journalistic objectivity to be one of the least valuable notions in today's media. Not only is it vague, but it's also highly abused, with Fox News' motto, "Fair and Balanced," being the most egregious example. So, I was pleased to read today's WaPo commentary by Barton Swaim about the Roberts-Greene interaction.
All this is why, I think, the objectivity ideal lends itself so easily to a kind of philosophical confusion. Consider Roberts’s comments to NPR’s David Folkenflik: “Here is my basic approach to life,” she says. “I am a totally unpartisan human being. I don’t care which party has the right ideas – or which party has the wrong ideas. I am very, very, very interested in civility. I am interested in government working.”
So to be objective, according to Roberts, is to care nothing about party and only about “government working.” But no one cares about political parties for their own sake. Parties, as the 19th century British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli remarked, are only “organized opinion.” To care about the opinion rather than the organization – to care about “government working” rather than party labels – only means you’re a sensible person, not that you are objective or neutral or unprejudiced by ideology. Certainly it’s no reason to congratulate yourself.
But leave aside all the abstruser points of philosophy and consider this gritty fact: No one who knows anything about her believes Cokie Roberts is anything but a liberal. The very fact that she describes her “totally unpartisan” outlook by saying she cares only about “government working” is itself evidence of her liberal worldview: Liberals value the beneficial propensities of government’s functions in ways that conservatives do not. American liberalism is not my worldview, but it is an honorable one, and I see no reason why we should be nervous about acknowledging that a respected journalist holds it.
Back in the 1990s when I was becoming fascinated with political thought and opinion, I was a fan of This Week with David Brinkley and always waited with anticipation for the commentary segment that featured Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, and others. I found them smart and, I suppose, reassuring. Only later did I begin to grasp that they were essentially mainstream and not particularly insightful, which at the time was not a deal breaker. These days, mainstream is a cautious, almost useless position, for me taken by either the timid or the insiders who want to be in the DC insiders club.

Still, I look forward to hearing Cokie Roberts' Monday morning commentary. Why? Because I find it helpful to hear a mainstream voice, if only to know what the "usual suspects" think, just as I watch Fox News from time to time to remind myself of their rather hideous -- and obvious -- right-wing slant. (Yep, it's still there.) And yes, as a liberal, I tune in to MSNBC quite a bit because, one, they're a bit on the left (some more than others) and, two, to hear a center-left interpretation of the news. I used to also tune in to CNN for a centrist position, which they mostly hold, but the current packaging is quite nearly unwatchable.

The best part of this whole discussion was Swaim's assertion that Cokie Roberts was obviously liberal because she cared that government works, something that is anathema to conservatives, so much so that they'll work to make sure it doesn't work so they can condemn it, as well as congratulate themselves for knowing it.

I'll welcome Swaim's definition of liberal and proudly wear its mantle. I, too, want government to work.

Monday, March 14, 2016

From Reagan to Bush to Trump, Dog Whistles Become Shouts

It was no accident that Reagan began his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi or that W. began his South Carolina pitch at Bob Jones U. in 2000. Now Trump is channeling the implicit racism of the GOP. Who didn't see it in his every word since declaring?

Civil rights workers murdered in Philadelphia, Miss. in 1964. Ronald Reagan
knew exactly what he was doing when he opened his 1980 campaign there.

Donald Trump's vitriolic speech didn't become so hot, violent, and racist overnight, as Paul Krugman points out in his NYTimes column this morning. Dog whistles so long employed by the GOP to signal to the good ole boys that they had their backs have become loud and clear at Trump rallies. Was violence far behind?

Trump, ever the in-your-face, narcissistic provocateur, who wrote in his book, The Art of the Deal, that deception is okay as long as it advances your brand, has, as his folks are getting all the more fired up in the face of now-routine protests, doubled down and blamed the violence on Bernie Sanders while hinting he'll pay the legal fees of those who punch people in his defense. Sanders, he said, should be forewarned: We're coming to get you.

As should have been obvious for a long time, the Tea-Party takeover of the GOP base in 2010 turns out not to be temporary. Nor is it a single-issue event. It was a coalescence of forces building for almost forty years (longer if you factor in Nixon's original incantation of the Southern Strategy in concert with the hot-tongued rantings of his favorite attack dog, Spiro Agnew), and it successfully built a coalition of the increasingly alienated and disenfranchised white working class, the values-challenged evangelicals, and, let's face it, the low-information, under-educated whites easily duped by Fox News and right-wing radio into thinking that "libruls" were coming to get them and their tax money.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Republican big tent: The cause was hijacked by the business interests of the billionaire class -- if it hadn't always been theirs to manipulate. Under Republican leadership, wages started to spiral down as spending spiraled up; abortion remained legal; gay marriage became so; a BLACK PRESIDENT WAS ELECTED; and roads, and bridges, and schools continued to crumble. Government got worse and worse at solving things, which under conservative ideology is a feature, not a bug, of GOP standard operating procedure. If you can wreck government, it's easy to blame it for being no good.

And school prayer was still illegal. Go figure.

But here's the key: As long as "the other" could be blamed, whether it's blacks, Latinos, Asians stealing tech jobs, or liberals out to raise your taxes and give it to the slackers while letting terrorists get away with murdering Christians, the GOP could keep their brand strong.

What changed was that the Republican establishment never delivered, but we already knew that.

So what do we end up with? An unruly, dangerous mob in search of an unruly, dangerous leader who will promise to take back the country for them.

Enter Donald Trump and his minions. The Republicans want to put this genie back in the bottle, and the Democrats wouldn't care one way or the other if it would help elect a Democrat but are scared a bit because this is the way fascism gets rolling.


I'm rooting for the Republican establishment figuring a way to smash Trump in the mouth on the way to the convention and he, then, mounting an independent run, smoothing the way for either Hillary or Bernie, while smashing up the GOP just enough for the Democrats to take back the Senate. The House will take much longer.

A hopeful scenario. We'll all know soon enough.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Trump Campaign Is Dangerous for Women, Too

Slash-and-burn politics in the Twitter Age can be horrifying. The Trump campaign is trying to master it. On women reporters.

Michelle Fields, seconds before Trump's campaign manager yanked her away.

Read this Michelle Goldberg piece in Slate. It's chilling. Here's a taste:
Nevertheless, Trump’s camp not only denies that any incident [Trump's campaign manager grabbing Fields] occurred—it has tried to destroy Fields’ reputation, painting her as an attention-seeking drama queen. First, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks issued a statement insisting that nothing happened, adding, “We leave to others whether this part of a larger pattern of exaggerating incidents, but on multiple occasions she has become part of the news story as opposed to reporting it.” Hicks mentioned that Fields reported being beaten by police while covering Occupy Wall Street in 2011. It is well-documented that many reporters covering Occupy Wall Street were roughed up by the NYPD. There is photographic evidence that Fields was one of them; Thursday night, her boyfriend, Daily Caller editor Jamie Weinstein, tweeted a photograph of her being pushed down by police at the protest. 
Thursday afternoon, Lewandowski tweeted, “Michelle Fields is an attention seeker who once claimed Allen West groped her but later went silent.” He included a link to an article by the right-wing writer Charles Johnson about two women who’ve accused West of sexual harassment; it makes it clear that Fields, who “repeatedly and emphatically refused comment on the record,” tried to stay out of the story. The sum total of the case against Fields, then, is that in several years of journalism, she has allegedly encountered both one lecherous man in power and one instance of police behaving badly. I know of no female journalist who covers breaking news for whom the same could not be said.
There's growing evidence that Lewandowski did physically restrain Michelle Fields while she was engaged in the very common practice of sidling up to a politician to get a chance at a quick one-on-one question as an event, such as a press conference, ends. Now it's okay to drag a woman nearly to the ground, then attack her mercilessly on Twitter and in the press.

Disgusting. Read the whole Goldberg piece.

Building around this story:
My best guess is this lasts another 24-hour news cycle and dies. Or, we hear about what happened with the charges, weeks from now, below the fold. Meanwhile, everyone remembers something about that hysterical reporter who used to work for Breitbart. (hope not, but...)

When America's Flaws Rise to the Top

The collapse of civility at Trump's rallies wasn't surprising. It was inevitable.

Chicago made the dividing lines pretty clear.

What's the progression here?
  1. Donald Trump starts his campaign for president by accusing Mexican immigrants of being rapists and thieves (and some, he imagined, were "good people").
  2. Rather rapidly, he moves on to saying, in essence, "Also, no Muslims."
  3. He appears to enjoy protesters at his rallies getting roughed up. "Get 'em out. Get 'em outta here!"
  4. He says everything's "a disaster" and that he'll Make America Great Again. His message resonates with angry whites.
  5. His message resonates with blacks, Latinos, Muslims, and their white allies, only the opposite way.
  6. He keeps up the vitriol and race-baiting for months on end.
  7. Black Lives Matter activists begin to crash the party.
  8. Not long after declaring "Islam hates us," the party crashes in Chicago, with a precursor earlier in the day in St. Louis.
  9. Anti-Trump protesters now have a model to follow. Will they?
  10. How will his angry whites react now?
There's no question there's a thing called the Trump phenomenon. And there's no question this phenomenon caused angry whites -- the so-called Reagan Democrats, which actually means the angry whites who moved to the GOP after Nixon executed the Southern Strategy so well -- to gather around his campaign, which has from day one been fueled by resent toward "the other."

So, welcome, America, back to the days when men were men and blacks knew their place. We never got very far from there, did we? It's ingrained in our history as well as, sadly, our national character. We stir it up at our peril.

But, no question, it has been stirred.

"Get 'em outta here. Get 'em out!!" (Then he says, "I'm a unifier." Right.)

Friday, March 11, 2016

OMG, the GOP Was Civil, and Full of Crap

According to the Washington Post, last night's Republican debate had winners and losers, which, I suppose, is true if by that it meant that one guy's bullshit exceeded the others.

Awwwh, GOPers, why so glum? Your fans are buying your bullshit.

The civility fest that was the most recent GOP debate featured more than civility. It featured four people who spun fairy tales that none of the rest challenged. Progress!

The fact-checking in the Media Matters post is helpful. So is this overview provided by's Ezra Klein.

Since John Kasich is passing himself off as the experienced Republican mainstreamer who went to Washington in the 1990s to teach the place about budget surpluses, here's a special post dedicated to his bullshit.

John Kasich's Special Brand of BS: I'm Why Bill Clinton Had a Budget Surplus!

Kasich patented shtick includes how he fixed the debt back in the 90s. Too bad the truth is different.

Trust me. I thought of this bullshit all by myself.

John Kasich voted against the two bills, one by W.'s father and the other by Bill Clinton, that had the biggest effect on achieving a federal budget surplus in the last two years of Clinton's presidency. Clinton had a lot of help, but that help didn't come from John Kasich:
The key element of the Kasich myth is the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which he credits with producing surpluses in the 1990s. “I balanced the budget in Washington as a chief architect,” he claimed at the last Republican debate, echoing a frequent boast. Kasich’s iteration of his origin story is almost a pure inversion of fiscal reality. Two major laws eliminated the structural deficits of the Reagan era. The first was the 1990 budget deal George Bush struck with congressional Democrats, which cut spending, imposed new rules forcing any new tax cut or social program to be paid for, and increased taxes. Kasich, like most members of his party, voted against it because it raised taxes. That law reduced the deficit by 1.4 percent of gross domestic product over five years. In 1993, President Clinton, working with Democrats in Congress, passed another major deficit-reduction plan. (Clinton’s cuts reduced the deficit by 1.2 percent of GDP over five years.) Kasich voted against that, too, for the same reason, and also predicted that its increase in the top tax rate would “kill jobs” and “[put] the economy in the gutter,” and insisted, “This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I’d have to become a Democrat.”
Instead of the recession Kasich predicted, an economic boom followed, which led to much faster growth and higher revenues than even the Clinton administration had forecast. If the events following the passage of Clinton's deficit plan did not show that it worked, then no evidence could prove that it worked. Nonetheless, Kasich did not become a Democrat.
In fact, by 1997, the deficit was on course to disappear. Lawmakers in both parties decided to capitalize on the good fortune by passing a budget they could call a “Balanced Budget Act,” thereby taking credit for something that was set to happen without any action. The resulting deal cut Medicare, but split the savings between a new Childrens’ Health Insurance plan, which Democrats liked, and a capital gains tax cut, which Republicans liked. It barely netted out, trimming the deficit by just 0.2 percent of GDP.
Kasich, in other words, opposed the two main laws that created the balanced budget in the 1990s, and supported one that had nothing to do with it. He continues to maintain that he would oppose any tax increase, even a budget deal that combined a 10-1 ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes.
I wish I could say that John Kasich, having been called out by numerous reporters and fact-checkers, would halt the flow of this bullshit, but I can't. He'll spout it until he's the GOP nominee or isn't and will continue to spout it until someone in his nursing home tells him to shut the fuck up. Then he just keep spouting it. Give it a rest.

Hey, GOP: Please, Please, Please Nominate Donald Trump

The Republican elite are hard at work trying to dump Trump. They aren't succeeding.

Trump supporter punches protester, cops handcuff victim. Trump's America?

Liberals like me (read human beings who actually remember the Golden Rule) have been entertained and outraged by the Donald Trump campaign, not the least because of the possibility of its success. Now, as his rallies escalate in violence and hatred, aided and abetted by the candidate himself (as well as his staff and his Secret Service protection), I find myself wanting to see him punished in some way. Inciting violence is not an actual criminal offense unless it produces imminent lawless action, which is hard to prove. In fact, it must lead to this imminent lawless action in order to be considered outside of 1st and 14th Amendment speech protections. Yet, Trump has made clear his views on how to handle protesters at his rallies.

Sounds like protected speech, as horrid as it is.

Then, on the other hand, what better way to see him -- and the political party that enables him -- punished than to hope for him to succeed in his quest for the Republican nomination for president. With the amount of ill-will he's amassing along the way, as well as the YouTube and other paper-like trails that he's laid out, he will be quite easy to defeat.

I feel better now. Early polls often don't reflect reality later in an election year, but how does Trump improve his numbers the more the electorate gets to know him? Not easily.

Also, in spite of the voter ID laws his GOP cohorts have passed in an attempt to disenfranchise minority and other classes of Dem-leaning voters, Donald Trump will end up the poster child for energizing the opposition at the polls in November.

Please, please nominate him, GOPers. I can't wait to participate in his defeat. I will drink a whole bottle of Veuve Clicquot myself on election night. Okay, my friends can have some, too. They'll have earned it.

Donald Trump showing his empathy toward the average chump.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Yes, We Have No Hillary Scandals, Univision Edition

In last night's debate, Jorge Ramos confronted Hillary Clinton about Benghazi and her emails. He forgot to mention that the scandals were based on conservative talking points, not fact.

"Hey, Jorge, your mind is a clusterfuck of bullshit, and I don't mean that in a bad way."

Jorge Ramos, like all debate moderators since Jim Leher, doesn't want to appear that he's giving a pass to any candidate, especially Hillary Clinton. So he goes hardball on Benghazi and the email server.

Trouble is, the "scandals" are based on made-up shit, then recycled through the media, just as Ramos did in the debate he moderated. This does not make him look tough, it makes him look idiotic in the way most Fox News hosts look idiotic.

Someone tell Jorge this is the way media bullshit works, unless he already knows.

When Conservative Anger Crashs Up Against Progressive Idealism

A singularly strange phenomenon -- Trump's supporters lining up with Bernie's crew -- creates a false sense of equivalence: The two groups have little but angst in common.

This is the face-off of the election cycle, whether either is the candidate or not.

Philosophically, both U.S. parties are moving toward their political extremes, but don't mistake this for equivalence. The Dems started from center-left and have organically moved toward progressivism, while the GOP started from far-right and went farther-right. The reasons, though, are surprisingly similar.

So, in this view Donald Trump and and Bernie Sanders were products of a similar shift, at least as political phenomena. Trump doesn't get near the nomination if the newly minted Republican base weren't mad-as-hell. And Bernie would have found no traction without the Occupy Wall Street insurgence laying the foundation.

But that's where the similarity ends. Both sides are mad-as-hell but for differing reasons. Sure, the right is just as pissed about their shitty jobs and shrinking standards of living as the left is, but, among other things, Trumpanistas hate labor unions and immigrants, while FeelTheBerners despise banksters and billionaires. Obviously different crews, right?

The Slovakian People's Party: When Europe
moves right, this is the way they roll.
Right. In this political season, it's not surprising that extremists are on the rise, but the far-right extremists that fall in line behind Trump are more in the mold of the supporters of the far-right movements of Le Pen's National Front in France, Marian Kotleba's People's Party in Slovakia, the Dutch Freedom Party, and the goons of Hungary's Jobbik party than anything else. Bernie Sanders seems downright mainstream by comparison. What Trump and his European counterparts share is their overriding hatred of "the other" who, in their eyes, have stolen both their livelihoods and their national pride.

Bernie's minions bear no resemblance to those on either extreme. Sanders' progressive followers are idealistic, with none of the nihilism of far-right extremists or the anarchism of the anti-global far-left. Bernie's people are puppy dogs against such a backdrop. When they occupied Wall Street, Main Street, and even Oakland, they were a cool crew, at least until, in the case of Oakland, the anarchists and the police stole the show. (Also, the Occupy movement went cold because they had zeal but scant policy proposals.)

Turns out it wasn't, but points for trying.
This is not an indictment of the movement Sanders has spawned. They have real ideas that, despite what the labels progressive and socialist imply, are in no way extreme. Tax the 1 percent and redistribute the bounty? Sure. Like the European left, give everybody the healthcare they deserve? Absolutely. Stop trade agreements that mask giveaways to corporations that don't need welfare? You bet. That doesn't make you much of a socialist. It makes you a Canadian, which is pretty North American if I remember correctly.

 When all is said and done, we're likely to not get the game-changing movement in U.S. politics that both sides crave. Donald Trump has only a slight chance at election, but if that weird aberration should come to fruition, he'll move toward the center faster than you can say yuuge. And as likely as Hillary Clinton's nomination and election seem preordained, if Sanders gets anywhere near the White House, he'll be left cooling his jets more because of realpolitik than a revanchinist and resistant Republican Congress.

I've left links out of this post and urge you to do some research into areas you may be unfamiliar with, but I'll offer one link -- to a Paul Krugman blog post -- that shows how fired up Sanders supporters are and how anti-Hillary fever is a real feature of the slightly farther left. Read the comments to see what I mean. An honest-to-goodness liberal thinker like Krugman is brutally savaged for postulating that a pragmatic Hillary is more honest that a progressive dreamer like Bernie. I get why. But the vitriol is out of place in what should be a reality-based and reasoned discussion of policy goals and how to get there.

If Trump and Sanders supporters do have one thing in common, it's this wish to burn down the house and start over. I feel the Bern, too, but, like Krugman, would rather remodel the house than bring it crashing down around us. But I lived and grew up through the cultural movement of the 1960s, and all I got was long hair and Richard Nixon as president. Didn't quite work out the way we thought, especially the disco.