Yes. Barack Obama Is Responsible For Donald Trump. And We Should Thank Him For It.

disintegrateto break or decompose into constituent elements, parts, or small particles

A among the many things we should thank Barack Obama for is just how much his working in the White’s House—not as a servant or employee of a white president, but as president himself—has helped lead to an ugly disintegration of what has become an ugly Republican Party, a disintegration that is now happening before our very eyes.

The Obama-related dissolution and demoralization began in 2009 with the rise of an angry Tea Party, where nuttiness became normalness. Where—even putting aside the occasional and unseemly displays of racism that came with our first African-American president—questioning Mr. Obama’s devotion to his country and his chosen faith became as natural as questioning his birthplace. And the most prominent birther, of course, was Donald J. Trump, a man now the front-runner and face of his party, positioned to win a number of primaries tomorrow. Thus, even though it was quite unintentional, even though it wasn’t part of a clever national Democratic Party strategy to undermine the integrity of the GOP, Barack Hussein Obama is, ironically, cracking up The Party of Lincoln.

Donald Trump has divided conservatives from the Republican establishment. He has divided conservatives from other conservatives. He has divided reactionary evangelicals from other reactionary evangelicals. He has divided the right-wing donor class from working-class Republicans. He has challenged the integrity of the Republican Party’s official public relations arm, known as Fox “News,” relentlessly and classlessly attacking one of it most popular propagandists, Megyn Kelly. He has made two Tea Party extremists, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz—both of whom believe the government should force a rapist-impregnated woman to bear her rapist’s child, and both of whom represent his toughest conservative competition at this point—seem a more rational choice for the Republican nomination than Trump. And he now has prominent Republicans openly saying they will not vote for him in the general election.

Perhaps most important, in terms of non-Fox, right-wing media coverage, Trump has now turned his most prominent cheerleader, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, into a critic. Look at this header from today’s HuffPo:

huffpo and scarborough

I heard the very conservative Scarborough talk this morning. And I found his comments amazing. After months of rooting for Trump, defending him, giving him advice on the air, Scarborough is now all of a sudden surprised that Trump would do something so dumb as not denounce David Duke and the KKK. After years of Trump’s racist birtherism; after make america grreat againmonths of Trump’s assaults on Hispanic immigrants and Muslims, including women and children war refugees; after Trump’s hate-filled attacks on journalists and his most recent suggestion (which he repeated this morning) that, as president, he would make war on a free press and “open up our libel laws” so politicians like him could sue for “lots of money”; after all that and much, much more, it finally dawns on Joe Scarborough that Trump may not be qualified for president?

That tells you what you need to know about the condition of the Republican Party.

Trump’s awkward refusal, on ABC’s This Week, to disavow both David Duke and the KKK shouldn’t have surprised anyone, including Joe Scarborough and the Morning Joe crew. He has, without much pushback from the Republican establishment, openly courted bigots from the very beginning. That’s why he has been very popular among white supremacists and other haters, like Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But Trump, who knows very little about a lot of things, thought he could get away with not rejecting the support of open racists on a prominent Sunday political show because, as he has said before, he really believes he is invincible. He believes he can disavow Duke on one trump rally.jpgday, then pretend not to know who he is on another day, followed by a phony explanation as to why he didn’t openly disavow him or the KKK on ABC. He can do all that, he believes, because his bigoted supporters will get the message: “Yeah, I had to eventually sort of disavow the racists, but my ambiguity should tell you something.”

Apparently it does. Judging by his rally at Radford University in Virginia today, he hasn’t lost an inch of ground. Thousands came out to wildly, and I mean wildly, cheer him and his tiresome bigotry. “We’ve gotta unify our country,” he told his audience, after loudly and rudely ordering a few protesters from the premises. That coming from perhaps the most purposely divisive figure in modern American political history.

Joe Scarborough, born and raised in the South, tried to tell his Morning Joe viewers today that the South has changed. That Trump’s attempt to appeal to racists in tomorrow’s mostly southern primaries won’t earn him one vote. Oddly, Scarborough also said that Trump will win most of the races tomorrow. In other words, according to Scarborough, Trump’s shameless and clumsy appeal to racism on Sunday won’t win him any votes in the South but alswon’t cost him any votes.

If that is true, if Trump wins big tomorrow and becomes very difficult to stop on his way to the nomination, that tells you something not just about the South, but about the Republican Party. The GOP is splintering and will soon no longer be a national party at all, but one that will have to deal with a shrinking group of anxious and angry white constituents who give the party most of its energy, but who just can’t cope with Barack Obama and the browning of America and the loss of white privilege that he so impressively represents.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

Marco’s Balls Have Dropped!

It’s finally happened. Marco Rubio has reached political puberty.

During last night’s embarrassingly puerile GOP debate, the previously puny Rubio finally dope-slapped the dopey bully, and although the bully didn’t exactly collapse, he was roughed up. And Trump’s move this morning to bring in another bully, Chris Christie, to give him moral support may be a smart way of trying to minimize the damage that Rubio did to Trump last night, but there is no doubt that—if journalists don’t get distracted by the slick Christie play—some real and lasting damage was done. And even given the Christie endorsement of Trump, there are now a lot of Republican bigwigs who have some hope, especially with Romney raising the issue of Trump’s tax returns, that Rubio can somehow stop Trump before he destroys what’s left of their national party.

Don’t get me wrong. Marco still has some growing up to do. He didn’t exactly look the bully in the eye while he was, among other things, ratting him out for his fraudulent university and for hiring undocumented Polish workers and losing a civil lawsuit for doing so. But he did what he has been afraid to do up until now and that is attack, attack, attack. Desperation, and sagging poll numbers in his home state, is the mother of invention, I suppose.

This morning, CNN broadcast most of Rubio’s new anti-Trump stump speech, which he debuted in Dallas. All you have to know about it is that he told his audience, “Friends don’t let friends vote for con artists!”

Well, yes they do. Because no matter whether your Republican friends vote for Donald J. Trump or Marco Rubio—or Ted Cruz, who will never be the nominee—they will most certainly be voting for a con artist. Thanks to Vox (“We’ve lost sight of how wildly irresponsible the Republican tax plans are” and The huge Republican tax cut plans, in 4 charts“) we can see why. I’ll steal just two charts from Vox to make the point.

For all the talk right-wingers do about the national debt, their tax plans would wildly increase it, even more than the famously disastrous Bush tax cuts: How tax cuts compare
And for all the talk Republicans do about taking care of the middle class, they won’t. As always, their plans would take care of their rich donor-constituents:

Javier Zarracina/Vox

Finally, because I don’t think Donald Trump or Ted Cruz will ever be president, I want to specifically focus on Marco Rubio’s tax plan. Again, Vox points out that Rubio’s tax cuts amount to $6.8 trillion over ten years. And Vox asks the simple question: How will he pay for his supply-side voodoo? Here are some possibilities that demonstrate what a con he is running:

On day one of Marco Rubio’s presidency, he announces that he’ll pay for his tax cuts by doing something truly big: ending funding for Medicaid and for the Children’s Health Insurance Program — which 71 million Americans, or 22 percent of the country,rely on for health care. Impressive, right?

The problem is that only gets Rubio about $4.7 trillion.

To close the gap, Rubio could find another trillion dollars by eliminating all education spending — Pell grants, the Department of Education, K-12 funds, school nutrition programs, Head Start, all of it. That gets him to roughly $5.7 trillion.

Knocking out all justice spending could net another $561 billion. But there might be some political resistance to wiping out the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, much of the Department of Justice, all United States attorneys, the entire federal judiciary, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The good news is Rubio is pretty close now. All he needs is another $540 billion or so. And he could get that by wiping out international spending — so closing all US embassies and consulates around the world, zeroing all aid to developing nations, ending all military funding for allies, and closing the State Department, among other functions.

At this point, Rubio’s there. Of course, he’s also proposed increasing military spending by somewhere in the range of $1 trillion, so he somehow needs to pay for that, too. And then to fulfill his balanced budget promise, he’s got to get rid of the deficits that already exist and are projected to grow in the coming years.

By now you get it. Rubio, even with his newly engorged testicles, is as big a con artist as Donald Trump. It’s just that most journalists would rather cover the admittedly entertaining circus that is the Republican primary than cover the nuts and bolts of what Republicans claim they would do if they had total power in Washington.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you heard a journalist ask the remaining Republican candidates about their ridiculous tax plans?

Time Out From Politics For A Look Up

When I was very young, I became fascinated by astronomy. I read books about it and learned as much as I could. And so when I would go out and look at the sky at night, I had a pretty good idea of what I was seeing, at least for a kid. Where I grew up, the sky was dark enough to see numerous stars and that wonderful band across the sky, our own Milky Way galaxy, to which I and all those stars I could see were somehow connected. Since I knew what that band across the sky was and what it represented, I was totally awed by its magnificence and its beauty.

And I miss it. I miss being able to walk outside my house and look up and see it. It somehow comforted me to know it was there, that the Earth, though small in comparison, was part of something so spectacular. These days, though, I live here in Joplin, where the city lights make it impossible to step outside the door and see that beautiful band, our real celestial city, the Milky Way. Thankfully, today there are other ways to see it.

According to National Geographic, this week the European Southern Observatory, located in the Atacama Desert in Chile, released a composite image—187 million pixels—of our galactic plane, an image that took almost three and a half years to produce from more than 700 separate observations. It is called the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy. The APEX telescope is more than 39 feet in diameter and sits more than three miles above sea level in one of the oldest and driest deserts on the planet, a perfect place to put a telescope, since there are few clouds and almost no light or radio interference.

The amazing image of our galaxy was produced using wavelengths of light that fall between infrared and radio waves and thus reveals details invisible to our parochial eyes. As National Geographic described the image:

It reveals finer details of the galaxy than seen in earlier images, including most of the places where new stars are born—such as the mysterious Galactic Center—and cold regions where dust and gas hover mere fractions of a degree above absolute zero.

Just below is a beautiful 8-minute video of the image, set to music. I urge you to put it on full screen and watch it in a dark room with the music turned up. Just sit there and appreciate who we are in this universe. Our galaxy may have as many as 400 billion suns in it and is some 100,000 light-years in diameter—588,000,000,000,000,000 miles! And our galaxy is just one among what may be 200 billion galaxies out there. So, sit there and appreciate the strange beauty of it all, from its size and composition to the possibility that some other forms of life may be living somewhere in that image, forms of life we will never know. Perhaps above all, appreciate the amazing and inquisitive earthbound minds that desire to and can produce and utilize such unfathomable technology for purposes of peace, for purposes of expanding our knowledge about the universe in which we live, rather than for war and defending and perpetuating religious dogma.

How A Joplin Globe Columnist Reveals Why National Republicans Treat Obama Like An Uppity Negro

It is now official. The Scary Negro will have to stay seated in the back of the constitutional bus:

Senate Republicans on Tuesday launched an unprecedented blockade of President Barack Obama’s yet-to-be-named Supreme Court pick, saying they won’t give any nominee a hearing or even meet with the candidate.

obama is a communistLet’s please stop shying away from what that word “unprecedented” means in the context of Obama’s pigmented presidency and even before. From the beginning, he has suffered one unprecedented Republican-led assault on his dignity after another, whether it be absurd doubts about his birthplace and citizenship, or irrational claims that he doesn’t love his country and wants to destroy it, or embarrassing cheers for that infamous shout of “You lie!” during a speech to Congress.

He has been called “lazy” by a Romney surrogate. He has been called “uppity” by a Georgia congressman, and so too his wife by the most popular right-wing radio host in history. There has been constant talk of impeachment, constant charges that he is a Constitution-trampling, lawless dictator. Those and many more personal affronts were either authored by or quietly endorsed by national figures in the Republican Party.

So, what goes on in the minds of people so poisoned by hatred for Barack Obama?

Let’s take a frightening peek into one of those minds, one of those minds that Republican leaders play to when they do such unprecedented things like denying a hearing to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. This mind does not belong to a national figure, thank God. He is a local writer here in Hooterville, a regular columnist for the Joplin Globe. And this local columnist has referred to President Obama as a “monkey” (full explanation here) and yet he is still featured prominently in the paper. In the past, he has used Obama’s name in connection with the word “boy,” and that bothered no honcho at the Joplin Globe. He still refers to our president as Dear Leader, a reference to a dead North Korean communist dictator whose crimes against humanity can’t be numbered. Again, that witless reference is acceptable to his newspaper employer.

After Obama’s reelection in 2012, this regular Joplin Globe columnist called the president an “asshole” and “unAmerican.” He tweeted:

caldwell and obama destroying americaNow, I don’t have the credentials to accurately diagnose what exactly is wrong with someone who would write something so utterly stupid. But The Scary Negro’s reelection was so devastating to white conservatives, that at I am forced, through sheer decency, to at least pity their poor, broken souls.

Following that humiliating election defeat of a lily-white Romney, our lily-white local Joplin Globe columnist lamented that “we left God and he has left us as a country.” He tweeted, “unfortunately life as we all knew it ended…with a minion media sponsored coup by ignorant idiots.” A coup? And just who were those idiots? Why, they were sick Democrats of course:

caldwell and democrats disabledIn case you have never visited there, this kind of sophomoric nonsense passes for brilliance in the strange and nasty conservative Twitterverse. Here is more right-wing brilliance from the local Joplin Globe columnist:

caldwell and the enemies of AmericaYep. That’s so clever. And so insightful. Apparently it is such brilliance that qualifies you to be a regular columnist for our local paper of record. As does this bit of nastiness:

caldwell go fuck yourselves

For the uninitiated, “Argofyourselves” translates, “Ah, go fuck yourselves.” Isn’t that classy stuff, all you selfish bastards? And very worthy of a local Joplin Globe columnist who advertises his Christian faith and his love for his fellow countrymen.

I can and will go on. The Joplin columnist has written that “the world hates the Jews and Obama’s right in there withem.” That despite the fact that Obama wants to increase security assistance to Israel beyond the $3.1 billion we’re already giving them every year. And responding to the 2012 election fact that “Obama won Hispanics 71-27,” our local columnist said, “Racists want what racists want. We pay they take.” By “we” he means, of course, “we white folks” who are supporting all those greedy “brown folks.”

In order to try to understand how profound is the hatred of The Scary Negro, and why national Republicans continue to exploit white racial angst, I want to take you back to November 6, 2012, that great day when Obama was reelected. I want to show you how Obama-inspired hate began to ooze out of our local columnist right in front of God, the Globe, and everyone.

Let’s first start with his pleas to the Almighty Whitey at 4:46am:

caldwell prayer

As it turned out, either Dear Lord thought voters ought to make up their own minds on election day or Dear Lord guided the voters toward Barack Hussein Obama. But so early in the morning, our local columnist didn’t yet know what the will of the voters or the Lord would be. Three hours after that Twitter prayer, hope was still alive:

caldwell put god back in this house

Who knew that God had been homeless since 2009? Where the hell had he been living? In an alley behind Trump Tower?

Anyway, seemingly credible evidence of an Obama defeat was beginning to appear at 2:14pm that day, and it was starting to look like Dear Lord had heard our local columnist’s prayer:

caldwell before election results

You can feel the excitement building! America—excuse me, AMERICA—is coming home! Which would mean that Whites and God will get their House back! But, dammit, at 7:38pm some Almighty Whitey doubts were starting to creep in, and perhaps the earlier optimism was nothing but premature ejaculation:

caldwell on election night

Uh-oh. That didn’t sound very Christianly, did it?  Obama voters didn’t even have one ounce of decency? Or at least one working brain cell? Man. That’s getting close to hating on your fellow man. And by 10:04 in the evening, after even Karl Rove had finally figured out that Obama would live another four years in the White’s House, the Obama-inspired hate was totally unloosed:

caldwell go fuck yourselves2Praise God and the Joplin Globe for making this man a regular on its opinion pages! What Bible Belt class! How proud the locals should be of their Jesus-loving, editorial-writing hero. But our local columnist wasn’t done that night. Besides blaming Ohio voters, he gave a special shout-out to journalists:

journalists are traitors

You’d think that a man who once bragged to me that he had an IQ of 140, could at least correctly spell “traitors” on such a special occasion. But, dammit, he was pissed! God had let him down! This was no goddamned spelling bee! It was the end of the world!

There is this right-wing Twitterer out there who calls himself “White Fright,” for obvious reasons if you read through his tweets. Just to give you a taste, White Fright recently tweeted: “When Trump is elected, I’m going to act just like all the obnoxious blacks did with Obama, and call him ‘MY President.'” Nice expression of white outrage, huh?

Well, it turns out that White Fright was tweeting back in 2012 on election night, when Obama blew White Fright’s mind by beating Mittens. And it turns out our thoughtful and God-fearing Joplin Globe columnist, patriot to the core, had something inspiring to say in response to White Fright’s opinion of the 2012 results:
caldwell white fright response

It is more than ironic that our local Jesus-loving columnist would, in his moment of mental and spiritual agony, turn to atheist Ayn Rand’s goofy white fictional character to express his outrage at four more years of The Scary Negro. But given how much space Mr. Obama occupies in the heads of white conservatives, it is understandable. There is something about our president that brings out the stupid, reveals the nastiness, in white conservatives.

I wonder what it is?

Remarks And Asides 2/23/16

Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, also known as Tim Allen, told Megyn Kelley that as a conservative he likes John Kasich because “the guy’s got a great heart.” Uh-oh. Somebody should tell Tim that there is no room in his party for guys with great hearts. Even now, the party pooh-bahs are busy figuring out a way to talk Kasich into dropping out of the race so a guy with a tinykasich should drop out heart, Marco Rubio, can stop the guy who has no heart at all for Mexican immigrants or Muslim women and children fleeing the horrors of war.

______________________________

Speaking of Kasich, he got in a little trouble for his Leave It To Beavers perspective. Explaining how he first won elective office, he uttered:

We just got an army of people and many women who left their kitchens to go out and go door to door and put yard signs up for me. All the way back, when things were different. Now you call homes, and everybody’s working.

Yep. In their bare feet, pregnant with future Republicans, women in droves left their soufflés and their hungry husbands and helped make John Kasich a future failure as a guy with a great heart in the 2016 Republican primary.

______________________________

Talk about failure, a headline on HuffPo announced: “The Sunday Talk Shows Didn’t Ask A Single Presidential Candidate About The Kalamazoo Shooting.” The story noted:

There were over 350 mass shootings in the United States in 2015, and on an average day in this country, guns kill 88 people, according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety. That adds up to an annual average of over 30,000 gun deaths a year.

Now, clearly there are very good reasons why the Sunday interlocutors weren’t interested in asking any questions about the Kalamazoo shooting. The killer’s skin was light, not dark. The killer’s name was Jason Brian Dalton, not Jalal Bakri Dhakir. And according to reports, neighbors said he was a ‘laid back guy’ who ‘likes guns,” not a laid back guy who likes Allah. So, let’s all move on.

_____________________________

And let’s move on to Ted Cruz, a good evangelical Christian who follows at least one of the ten commandments to the letter: “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” We don’t need The Donald to tell us what a cheating liar Cruz has been lately. And now, apparently, we don’t need The Donald to build a big beautiful wall down south and then deport those 12 million paperless immigrants who live here and who have been driving conservatives crazy by raping and killing everyone in sight, when they’re not housekeeping for rich Republicans or renovating their big homes or picking fruit on their huge farms.  We now have another big-government conservative who can do that big-government job:

Cruz told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Monday that yes, should he be elected president, his administration would deport all 12 million undocumented people estimated to be in the U.S. and wouldn’t allow them to return.

Wow! Cruz out-Trumped Trump! Not only will he ignore the words of his alleged Lord and Savior el Jesús —“Love your neighbor as yourself!”—he will use a mammoth government bureaucracy to round up those rapists and killers and housekeepers and construction workers and fruit pickers. Plus, and plus, plus, plus, he won’t let ’em back in the country like Trump will! Jesus Almighty. What can Trump do to top that? Just wait. He’ll think of something. It’s only Tuesday.

______________________________

Meanwhile, Trump rightly celebrated his great victory in South Carolina by saying this:

short people.jpgWe won with everything. We won with women; I love the women. We won with men. I’d rather win with women, to be honest. We won with evangelicals, like unbelievable. We won with the military. We won with everything. We won with highly educated, pretty well educated, and poorly educated. We won with everything. Tall people, short people, fat people, skinny people.

I must say I am very surprised and disappointed that Trump won the short-people vote. They really do have no reason to live.

_______________________________

Poor Marco Rubio. The communications director for Ted Cruz claimed that Rubio told a person reading a Bible: “Got a good book there, not many answers in it,” which, if you think about it, isn’t all that bad a thing to say to someone reading the Bible. Turns out, though, that what Rubio really said was something much dumber: “Got a good book there, all the answers are in there.” All the answers are in there? Not just a couple? Not just some? You really mean all the answers are in there? Okay, then, some smart journalist should ask Mr. Rubio where in the Bible are answers to the following questions:

  • How do we cure cancer?
  • Why are people born with birth defects?
  • Why does a loving, omnipotent Heavenly Father stand by and watch millions of children starve to death every year or suffer in useless religious wars or otherwise experience unspeakable horrors?
  • What is that strange mess on top of Donald Trump’s head?
  • What is that strange mess inside of Donald Trump’s head?

Tell us, Marco, give us chapter and verse, as to exactly where we can find these and other answers in the Bible, since they are all in there somewhere.

_________________________

Finally, speaking of mysteries, there is Ben Carson. The man was by all accounts an amazing brain surgeon. And that is very strange because the man appears not to have a properly functioning brain himself. Forget all the dumb things he wrote in his book or has said on the campaign trail since he started. His most recent comments about President Obama (in an interview with Politico’s Glenn Thrush) aren’t even comprehensible. He was asked about how he felt about the 2009 inauguration of our first African-American president. Here is the transcript:

GLENN THRUSH: It was a pretty interesting moment in American history, right? Did you derive any joy out of that? Any sense of pride? How did you sort of‑‑how did you process that?

DR. CARSON: You know, I did not. I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but I also recognize that his experience and my experience are night-and-day different. He didn’t grow up like I grew up by any stretch of the imagination.

GLENN THRUSH: That’s right.

DR. CARSON: Not even close.

GLENN THRUSH: He’s an “African” American as opposed to an African-American.

DR. CARSON: He’s an “African” American. He was, you know, raised white. Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.

GLENN THRUSH: That’s interesting.

Interesting? Nope. Like Ben Carson, it’s just plain weird.

Finally, The Real Scalia

It was proper to pay respects to Antonin Scalia. That’s what civilized people do. What has been improper has been the way his views have been represented, actually misrepresented, in the press and, particularly, on television.

Finally, someone has come along and explained, without the sugar and honey, the real record and, more important, the real intent of the late justice. In a short essay (“Looking Back“) focusing on the historical context of Scalia’s hurtful tenure, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s senior legal analyst, began:

Antonin Scalia, who died this month, after nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, devoted his professional life to making the United States a less fair, less tolerant, and less admirable democracy. Fortunately, he mostly failed. Belligerent with his colleagues, dismissive of his critics, nostalgic for a world where outsiders knew their place and stayed there, Scalia represents a perfect model for everything that President Obama should avoid in a successor. The great Justices of the Supreme Court have always looked forward; their words both anticipated and helped shape the nation that the United States was becoming. Chief Justice John Marshall read the new Constitution to allow for a vibrant and progressive federal government. Louis Brandeis understood the need for that government to regulate an industrializing economy. Earl Warren saw that segregation was poison in the modern world. Scalia, in contrast, looked backward.

You should read the entire piece, especially noting that Scalia, for all the credit he got for a mammoth intellect, confessed that he “received his news from the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times (owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church), and conservative talk radio.” Mix that stunning admission in with a reactionary religious upbringing and a silly and self-serving theory of constitutional interpretation, and you have a professional jurist who should always have been fairly viewed as a fairly dangerous man.

But Toobin makes the salient point relevant to this year’s election:

The Court now consists of four liberals (Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan) and three hard-core conservatives (Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Alito), plus Anthony Kennedy, who usually but not always sides with the conservatives. With Scalia’s death, there is a realistic possibility of a liberal majority for the first time in two generations, since the last days of the Warren Court. A Democratic victory in November will all but assure this transformation. Republicans are heading to the barricades; Democrats were apparently too blindsided to recognize good news when they got it.

Blindsided or not, Democrats, if they can come together this summer, if they can merge the youthful enthusiasm behind Bernie Sanders with the experience and electability of a seasoned Hillary Clinton, can realize Toobin’s two-generation dream of ridding the country of a conservative majority that has done much damage to the country, but damage that can still be undone if our side wins in November.

A Brazilian Waxing

Donald Trump’s fairly comprehensive victory in South Carolina yesterday of course has a lot of Republicans worried. And by “a lot of Republicans” I mean those who don’t want their party to be represented by a bigoted xenophobic billionaire, a sexist buffoon who thinks our current African-American president is too much African and not enough American, who believes that Mexican immigrants tend to be rapists and killers, and, well, you know the long list of embarrassing and dangerous nonsense he has uttered.

Just how many of those Republicans who worry about the appearance of the party are actually left in the party remains to be seen. But what doesn’t remain to be seen is perhaps the most significant result of yesterday’s Republican primary. The party, for good or for ill, has now deliberately de-Bushed. The party’s pubes have been waxed. And who knew that jeb waxingamong Donald Trump’s increasing talents as a Republican front-runner was a talent for stripping clean the party’s privvies, a talent for ridding the GOP of unwanted Bush? Trump’s devastating attacks on Jeb effectively branded him as an unsightly growth, something that, as much as it might hurt, had to go. “Enough is Enough- no more Bushes!” exclaimed The Donald.

Wikipedia tells us that Brazilian waxing “can be a physically painful experience during and after.” We have all seen the agony as the campaign has progressed and we saw it last night as Jeb, without the exclamation mark, surrendered his campaign. You could hear the moans and groans of a party in pain, as the last strip of Bush was hurtfully stripped away. Wikipedia also reminds us of an important fact about Brazilian waxing:

There is also a health risk involved if it is not done properly, as well as a risk of infection if done on a person with a weakened immune system.

Trump’s rise and his latest success proves that the Republican Party has a weakened immune system. There’s no doubt about it. And that weakened establishment system is working overtime to fight the pathogens in the party. What we don’t yet know, however, is whether that system will prevail, or, after the waxing of Jeb Bush, whether a devastating infection is to follow, that is, the nomination of Donald J. Trump.

 

Bernie And The Nukes

During a press conference on Tuesday, President Obama made some critical remarks about Donald Trump and the entire field of GOP presidential candidates. As usual, he spoke the truth, saying essentially that the contenders are anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and anti-science, and he made the obvious point that such rhetoric is a problem for “foreign observers,” especially the denial of climate change:

I think that’s troubling to the international community, since the science is unequivocal. And the other countries around the world, they kind of count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense, because they know that if the United States does not act on big problems in smart ways, nobody will.

It is that last part, that part about the United States acting on big problems in smart ways, that should have led Mr. Obama to also honestly show his hand regarding the current race on the Democratic side and tell his Democratic supporters where he stands on the Bernie-Hillary contest. If you have followed the matter closely, it isn’t hard to figure out that he believes Hillary Clinton gives Democrats the best chance to win in November. He just doesn’t want to say so this early, instead saying silly things like this on Tuesday:

…the great thing about primaries, is everybody is trying to differentiate themselves, when, in fact, Bernie and Hillary agree on a lot of stuff and disagree pretty much across the board with everything the Republicans stand for. So my hope is, is that we can let the primary voters and caucus-goers have their say for a while, and let’s see how this thing plays itself out.

Hooey. He should, before things get out of hand, just call out Bernie’s electability problem and tell Democrats, most of whom still love and respect Mr. Obama, the truth, before too many people start to believe that he actually has a chance to win in November—as some meaningless national polls seem to show right now.

It may be correct for the President to say that “Bernie and Hillary agree on a lot of stuff,” but it is certainly not true that they agree on things that will matter in a general election against Republicans. And I’m not just talking about that whole democratic socialist thing. For sure Republicans will exploit that glaring weakness, using the public’s ignorance or misunderstanding of what democratic socialism is. That is a given. But what hasn’t been talked about much at all is another issue that will even trump the Bernie-is-a-Marxist meme that he will face. It is his problem with national security and our military, two subjects Bernie doesn’t talk about that often. And there are good reasons he doesn’t.

Michael Crowley, former senior writer for The New Republic and now a senior foreign affairs correspondent for Politico, has done Democrats a favor with his latest article (“Bernie Sanders versus the Pentagon“) detailing Bernie’s past positions on military spending and by implication giving us his overall view of what Obama said should be America’s crucial world role in acting “on big problem in smart ways” because if we don’t, “nobody will.” The very first sentence of Crowley’s piece is this stunner about Bernie’s record:

In 1995, he introduced a bill to terminate America’s nuclear weapons program.

What? Huh? You have to be kidding, right? Nope, he’s not kidding. You can go here and see for yourself: H.R.1511, introduced by Congressman Sanders, a bill with exactly zero co-sponsors. Needless to say because we still have nukes, Bernie’s bill was not successful. And needless to say, that bill will come back to haunt a general election Bernie in ways that will make his democratic socialism look like an asset.

And before you shout out, “But that was in 1995! It was so long ago,” let me introduce you to a woman named Judy Elliott, who in May of last year, after Bernie announced his intent to run for president, had this exchange with him at a town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

JUDY ELLLIOTT: “Senator Sanders, I’m Judy from Canterbury NH. The United States already has thousands of nuclear weapons in its active military stockpiles, many of them on hair-trigger alert. And yet there is a plan, which the Administration apparently buys into, for a massive rebuilding of our nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles. A new fleet of submarines, heavy bombers, cruise missiles. It’ll cost a trillion dollars. Big profits for the corporations, but what do you think of this plan?”

BERNIE SANDERS: “Well, I’ll tell you what I think of it. It takes us right back to Carol’s question [previous question about a disabled child]. How does it happen that we have a trillion dollars available to expand our nuclear arsenal, but we don’t have the money to take care of the children in this country? What that’s about … What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex who has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting? And that’s what, in a sense, this campaign is about.”

Is that what his campaign is about? Really? Because I don’t hear him talk about it in those terms anymore. Oh, I hear him talking about a lot of good and necessary things that we ought to do with our national money, but I haven’t lately—since people have begun to take him seriously as a candidate—heard him talk about dismantling, or allowing to fall into disrepair, our nuclear defenses. Have you? But I can guarantee you that you will, should he become the Democratic nominee. If you don’t think Republicans will grossly exploit Bernie’s stand on not just our nuclear arsenal but on our military and its use in general, then you don’t know how politics works and how effective such attacks can be under the right circumstances.

It is true that we have a lot of nuclear weapons, and it might be true that we have more than enough to do the job, should that sad day ever come. And it is certainly true those weapons cost a lot of money to maintain and modernize, since our nuclear arsenal is aging. And there is no doubt, as Bernie has said, there is plenty of waste in the Pentagon’s budget and that we could and should spend some of that wasted money on people-helping policies. But like his revolutionary rhetoric regarding economic justice, it should be obvious that his radical proposals on our nuclear deterrent, as well as his past attacks on the Pentagon, are perfect targets for Republicans to exploit and to paint him as not only a radical socialist, but a dangerous radical socialist who will not keep the country safe.

Yes, you might say, that’s what Republicans always try to do to Democrats. Just ask John Kerry, a war hero who in 2004 was made out to be a lying coward who would coddle terrorists were he to become president. They always paint us as weak and dangerous. But in Bernie’s case, they won’t have to make up stuff. It’s right there in his record.

I will leave you with this paragraph from Michael Crowley’s excellent article:

The last Democrat to propose deep cuts in Pentagon spending was the party’s 1972 nominee, George McGovern, who campaigned on a nearly 10 percent reduction to its budget. McGovern’s defeat in a historic landslide prompted deep soul-searching within the Democratic Party and kindled a new movement of pro-defense Democrats.

mcgovern disaster of 1972There’s that George McGovern shellacking again coming up in the context of Bernie Sanders’ campaign. It keeps coming up for a reason. It keeps coming up because it is relevant for Democrats to think about, when they are thinking about who their nominee should be. And more than anyone else, President Obama has the pulpit from which he can make Democrats think about it long and hard. He should do so soon and not wait and “see how this thing plays itself out,” because this thing might not play itself out in the way he thinks.

If You Bernie-ites Don’t Believe Me, Try Barney Frank

Thanks to a commenter on this blog, I was reminded of a segment from MSNBC’s Hardball that featured Barney Frank—last summer—who made many of the points about the Sanders-Clinton race that I have been trying to make lately. I would ask—no beg—all sincere progressives who don’t like Hillary Clinton and are enamored of Bernie Sanders to watch the six-minute segment below and read Frank’s essay (“Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie“) and then think about what is at risk if Republicans win this fall:

Another Plea To Bernie Supporters

Okay. I have been having a debate in the comment section with Tige Gibson, a Bernie Sanders supporter who thinks I am making a mistake in judgment by supporting Hillary Clinton. You can see Tige’s latest response here, but let me sort of summarize from Tige’s remarks what I see as the biggest objection to my support of Mrs. Clinton and the present Democratic establishment, an objection that I find a lot of people on the left share:

This weakness of the Democratic Party leads people to support someone like Clinton who is to the right enough to appeal to people in the middle…. Supporting Clinton is just dragging out the conservative era for another term as she has always been comfortably center-right.

Because I am worried about what is happening among Democrats, I responded this way:

Tige,

Let’s try to get something cleared up. Did the Democratic Party, after losing to Richard Nixon in 1968 and getting trounced in 1972 (with an extremely liberal Democrat on the top of the ticket), turn a bit to the right with Jimmy Carter? Yep. And guess what? They won an election.

Then, Carter lost for a host of reasons and the unimaginable presidency of Ronald Reagan suddenly was upon us. Then came the 1984 whoopin’ of a fairly liberal Mondale and then the 1988 defeat of a northeastern liberal named Michael Dukakis. Thus it came to pass that a group of Democrats, tired of losing the presidency, sought to figure out a middle way to victory. Alas! Enter Bill Clinton from Arkansas, which was heavily Democratic at the time, even if those Democrats were quite conservative and would later become, like the rest of the conservative Democrats in the South, Republicans.

The results of the effort to move toward the middle in 1992 was two presidential victories that had some important consequences, not only for the economy (millions of jobs and budget surpluses) but for the courts (some horrific shit has been stopped by Clinton-appointed judges, and let’s don’t forget Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, who are still on the Supreme Court and are fairly solid liberal votes). If you don’t think any of that matters, if you don’t think it is important to figure out a way to win the White House, then I don’t know what more I can say that would convince you.

Now, I can understand why some lefties didn’t and still don’t like the Clinton years, in some important ways. Take the crime bill for instance. That turned out to be a big mistake, as Bill Clinton has now admitted. But Bernie voted for it and used it as a campaign issue. So, was Bernie a squish? A tool of the establishment? Did he stray away from leftist orthodoxy and is now unfit for office?

Finally, in some ways Hillary Clinton is more conservative than my tastes prefer. But I much prefer winning with Hillary over losing with Bernie because, as I have tried desperately to point out, losing not only has negative consequences for a lot of people we Democrats have pledged to help, it deprives Democrats of the ability to appoint judges to the bench who can help in the future fight for economic justice, for voting rights, for immigration reform, and for any number of causes that you and I would certainly join together to support.

Just being mad at the Democratic Party for its past “concessions” or for its lack of a “strong leftist position”—and therefore voting for a likely lost cause named Bernie Sanders—isn’t enough to win in a country as divided as our is. I hate to keep pointing this out, but about half of the country doesn’t share our vision of the future or see things the way you and I want them to. We have to figure out a way to win and make at least some progress. In this current political environment, only the Republicans are in a position to have control of the entire government. We aren’t in that position. Bernie, as I have pointed out, even if he was miraculously victorious, will still not bring with him a solid left-wing majority of Democrats in the House or Senate. He will face the same phalanx of obstructionism that has bedeviled Mr. Obama. So, it’s just not worth the risk of nominating someone so self-admittedly outside of the mainstream of our current politics. Again, there is just too damn much at stake to take that chance.

Duane

 

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