A Glimmer Of Hope For The GOP? Nah, Not So Much

It happened in Delta County, Colorado. Was it a fluke? Was it a misstep by party officials? Did they not get the memo that shame is dead and gone because Donald Drumpf killed it and is hiding the remains in his cantaloupe-colored comb-over?

Delta County’s population is around 30,000 folks, mostly white folks. Uh, mostly white Republican folks—Obama only received 29% of the vote in 2012. You get the idea. But there was something positive that came out of Delta County on Sunday. Let’s start, though, with the negative:

ScreenHunter_4820 May. 30 16.40Republicans in Delta County, Colorado are seemingly scrambling after a racist photo likening President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee was posted on a top official’s Facebook page.

The photo briefly appeared on a Facebook page belonging to Linda Sorenson, who chairs the county Republican Central Committee, and was captured by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

The image was taken from the Ronald Reagan film Bedtime for Bonzo, and shows Reagan bottle-feeding the titular chimpanzee, with a caption saying, “I’ll be damned … Reagan used to babysit Obama.”

We’ve all seen this stuff so many times it doesn’t surprise anymore. Such is how, in the age of The Scary Negro, Republicans make themselves feel better. But what surprised me a little bit was what happened after the Grand Junction newspaper confronted some local GOP officials with the fact that their leader, Linda Sorenson, admitted to a progressive blogger the following about her Facebook post:

I really don’t care if people are offended by it. Un-friend me. Stop looking at me on Facebook.

That is the Drumpf response, right? I mean that’s what the GOP has come to these days. Don’t back down when you’re caught doing or saying something offensive. Own it. Hell, double down on it. But the reaction of two other local party officials was more traditional. According to the newspaper, the vice chairman of the party said,

This whole thing is a hoax. Someone got into the Facebook somehow. It was hacked and somebody got into it, definitely.

The treasurer for the party said,

That whole thing is bogus. Somebody hacked Linda Sorenson’s Facebook page, and posted that out there. We believe it has something to do with Media Matters. They’ve been harassing her the last few weeks.

Now, that is the old GOP right there. Don’t own it. Don’t admit to it. Just say it was the liberal media’s fault. And in that more traditional way of handling things like this we have at least a teensy-weensy slice of hope that Drumpf hasn’t quite finished off the idea of shame in the Republican Party after all. The Grand Junction paper reported that it had asked the local vice chairman why someone would want to hack Ms. Sorenson’s Facebook page. He said,

I have no idea…Just to damage the Republican Party, no doubt. … Just to make us look bad.

You see that? This man is worried that the party will “look bad.” How refreshing is that, after months and months of Drumpf? A Republican Party official is actually out there worried about the image of the Republican Party! Who knew?

A few months ago, Ezra Klein fretted over Drumpf’s “complete lack of shame.” Klein wrote:

It’s easy to underestimate how important shame is in American politics. But shame is our most powerful restraint on politicians who would find success through demagoguery. Most people feel shame when they’re exposed as liars, when they’re seen as uninformed, when their behavior is thought cruel, when respected figures in their party condemn their actions, when experts dismiss their proposals, when they are mocked and booed and protested.

Trump doesn’t. He has the reality television star’s ability to operate entirely without shame, and that permits him to operate entirely without restraint. It is the single scariest facet of his personality. It is the one that allows him to go where others won’t, to say what others can’t, to do what others wouldn’t.

Yes. Drumpf is shameless. He is crass. He is unpredictable. He is ignorant. He’s a bigot’s bigot. But his party’s leadership, at least most of them, have embraced his shamelessness and crassness. And the party itself is coming to terms with his unpredictability and his ignorance and his bigotry.

Marco Rubio is the latest enabler. After Drumpf humiliated him in the primary by way of nasty insults, and after Rubio called Drumpf a “con artist” and a “lunatic,” Little Marco recently said he would be “honored” to speak for Drumpf at the convention. Honored. He actually said the word honored. Oh. My.

But once upon a time there was a different Rubio. One who said of Drumpf and the effect he was having on the country:

This is a man who in rallies has told his supporters to basically beat up the people in the crowd and he’ll pay their legal fees. Someone who’s encouraged people in the audience to rough up anybody who says something he doesn’t like… This is what a culture and society looks like when everybody says whatever the heck they want. When everybody goes around saying I’m just gonna speak my mind. If I’m angry, it gives me the right to say or do anything I want.

Well, there are other people who are angry too, and if they speak out and say whatever they want, the result is it all breaks down. It’s called chaos. It’s called anarchy. And that’s what we’re careening towards in our political process… And you wonder whether we’re headed in a different direction today, where we’re no longer capable of having differences of opinion but in fact now protests become a license to take violence, to take on your opponents physically.

Forget about the election for a moment, there’s a broader issue in our political culture in this country, and this is what happens when a leading presidential candidate goes around feeding into a narrative of anger and bitterness and frustration, and I think we all need to take a step back and ask ourselves: Are we contributing to this?

That was a damned good question. And Rubio has answered it for himself. He has every intention of contributing to “this.” He is willingly contributing to it. He is “honored” to contribute to it. Talk about shamelessness.

Marco Rubio, as well as other Republicans who have stained themselves orange, makes those party officials in Delta County, Colorado—those who actually want to distance themselves from a racist Facebook post because it makes the party “look bad”—appear quaint, makes them look out of step with the new GOP.

Sadly, though, it’s a good bet that those white party officials in Delta County will, like most of the locals they represent, run to the polls in November and vote for Drumpf. Why? Because people like Marco Rubio, John McCain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner, and, yes, Paul Ryan, are in the process of telling them it’s okay to do so, telling them that conscientious Republicans no longer have to be conscientious.

They no longer have to be ashamed of shamelessness.

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Zika, Climate Change, And The Utter Difference Between Ds and Rs

Bernie Sanders once said that “in reality,” there is only “one party—the party of the ruling class.” You sort of get the idea, by the way he has campaigned and is still campaigning, that he hasn’t changed his mind all that much. I know some of his followers agree with the idea that the “establishment” in both parties is part of one bigger establishment that is out to get us all. Just check out the comment section of any article on Bernie or on Hillary Clinton, if you don’t believe me.

In any case, all Democrats and most Bernie supporters know better. There is a hell of a lot of difference between the two parties. And nothing, on this Memorial Day weekend, demonstrates that more than the following two headlines from today’s news:

two headlines

On just those two issues—one a short-term crisis and the other a long-term one—you can see how dangerous it is to ignore, or to understate, the stark differences between what the Republican Party is, and is becoming, and what the Democratic Party has been for some time now: an institution that, although flawed, has its head—a general trust in science—as well as its heart—people ought not to suffer unnecessarily—in the right place.

Meanwhile.

It’s a character issue. That’s all I keep hearing, on cable news channels and elsewhere, regarding Hillary Clinton’s email controversy. CNN and MSNBC (forget Fox) and other outlets are fixated on the idea that the State Department’s Inspector General report—called “scathing” I don’t know how many times by I don’t know how many people on TV—reveals a deep flaw in her character. It reveals how untrustworthy she is. How dishonest she is.

Meanwhile, with all this hysterical journalistic handwringing going on—handwringing about an issue that doesn’t amount to a damned thing—there stands Drumpf, six feet two and weighing in with about 250 pounds of bad character. Every inch of him, every last cell in his body, is infected with character flaws, most of which he embraces without shame.

It’s like this: A policeman is making his rounds through the neighborhood and notices that a crazed man with a large gas can is pouring gasoline all over a big and beautiful house, a house filled with lots of residents. The cop also notices that the man with the can, who is working furiously, has a BIC in his tiny little hand, ready to burn the thing to the ground. But then the officer notices that a woman is trying to get his attention, trying to get him to do something about the man with the gas can. But the man in blue, instead of pursuing the crazed man with the BIC in is tiny hand, decides that the woman, who has served her neighbors well but has a bad reputation among cops, is disturbing the peace with her rather loud request to do something about the man who is about to burn down the house. So, you guessed it, the cop charges the woman with disturbing the peace and takes the time to write her a ticket and to lecture her about her annoying behavior. Then he goes back to the station and tells his pals how he sure showed that woman a thing or two.

Meanwhile, the man with the can and the tiny hands is still working. Furiously.

 

Science Explains Drumpf

Don’t know if you’ve seen the Vox video below, but you should. You also should check out Amanda Taub’s, “The rise of American authoritarianism,” in which she notes that a couple of political scientists—Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler—had “essentially predicted Trump’s rise back in 2009.” How? Taub explains:

That year, Hetherington and Weiler published a book about the effects of authoritarianism on American politics. Through a series of experiments and careful data analysis, they had come to a surprising conclusion: Much of the polarization dividing American politics was fueled not just by gerrymandering or money in politics or the other oft-cited variables, but by an unnoticed but surprisingly large electoral group — authoritarians.

Their book concluded that the GOP, by positioning itself as the party of traditional values and law and order, had unknowingly attracted what would turn out to be a vast and previously bipartisan population of Americans with authoritarian tendencies.

This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which “activated” authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien.

These Americans with authoritarian views, they found, were sorting into the GOP, driving polarization. But they were also creating a divide within the party, at first latent, between traditional Republican voters and this group whose views were simultaneously less orthodox and, often, more extreme.

Over time, Hetherington and Weiler had predicted, that sorting would become more and more pronounced. And so it was all but inevitable that, eventually, authoritarians would gain enough power within the GOP to make themselves heard.

At the time, even Hetherington and Weiler did not realize the explosive implications: that their theory, when followed to its natural conclusion, predicted a looming and dramatic transformation of American politics. But looking back now, the ramifications of their research seem disturbingly clear.

Disturbingly clear, indeed. We know that the authoritarians now control the Republican Party. That fight is over and the surrendering is going on as I write. But it remains to be seen if they will control the entire country. It’s possible they will—and Bernie Sanders is out there flirting with that possibility right now by aiding and abetting Drumpf—but until the time comes to find out, at least we should understand what is happening to our country:

Closer To Home: What’s Happening In Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas

MISSOURI

Democrats in the Missouri legislature, the one or two left there, were successful in stopping an anti-gay measure (oh, excuse me, the “religious freedom” thing), with the help of a few courageous (courage is relative around here) Republicans. Same thing on the anti-union bill (oh, excuse me again, the “paycheck protection” thing). But, no doubt, both of those bills will be back next year and there may not be a Democratic governor to veto them.

Republicans, meanwhile, passed a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. They passed a law that allows folks to carry concealed weapons. To go along with that gem, they also expanded our self-defense laws, which will now allow you to kill someone in a public place if he orHillary Clinton 2016 Blue Campaign Button (2.25" Round) she is sporting a Hillary for President button. Okay. It’s not quite that bad. But it’s close. All you need do to legally kill someone is believe a “reasonable” threat is present. For some folks around here where I live, a reasonable threat might be a Clinton presidency.

Meanwhile, our right-wing legislators managed not to do anything significant regarding their phony pet project this year: legislative ethics. Oh, they passed a six-month waiting period for legislators who want to become lobbyists after they’re done legislatin’, meaning that instead of instantly going from lawmaker to moneymaker, they’ll have to wait a little longer now. But there are—still—no limits on campaign contributions in Missouri. The rich can give as much as they want to our representatives. As much as they want, with no questions asked. And if any questions are asked, no one has to answer them. Lobbyists can also—still—shower lawmakers with gifts. Heck, a modest proposal to limit the gifts to forty bucks a day for food and drink and tickets to sporting events couldn’t get passed. Cardinal Nation lives on!

In any case, enough of the depressing stuff going on in Missouri. Here’s a little of what’s happening in the states nearest to Hooterville Joplin:

OKLAHOMA

Deciding that the state of Texas didn’t go far enough by enacting gross restrictions on reproductive rights (a case the Supreme’s will consider soon), anti-choice fascists in the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that would, essentially, outlaw abortion in that state. CNN reported:

According to the language of the bill, anyone who is found to have performed an abortion — except in instances to save the life of the mother — will be found guilty of a felony and can receive up to three years in prison.

Welcome to Drumpf’s world, ladies. Good luck.

ARKANSAS

The United States, according to experts, has the largest hoosegow population in the world, with more than 2.3 million in federal or state prisons. And, effectively, we have the highest incarceration rate. These alarming statistics have even alarmed a few Republicans in Congress, who have sort of tried to get with Democrats to do something about it by reforming our criminal “justice” system.

But not Arkansas’ Tom Cotton. Senator Cotton says the problem isn’t that we have too many folks in jail—we don’t have enough. We need more. Missing the point entirely, he said at a conservative group-think tank:

Law enforcement is able to arrest or identify a likely perpetrator for only 19 percent of property crimes and 47 percent of violent crimes. If anything, we have an under-incarceration problem.

Later on he helped us understand him in, uh, context:

I saw this in Baghdad. We’ve seen it again in Afghanistan. Security has to come first, whether you’re in a war zone or whether you’re in the United States of America.

Well, he has a point. What’s the difference, in the age of Drumpf, between a “war zone” and “America”?

KANSAS

In my old home state, the dive continues. Without sufficient revenues, mostly due to cutting taxes on rich people, we get this headline from the Lawrence Journal-World:

Brownback signs Kansas budget and orders $97 million in allotment cuts, slashing KU funding

Slashing KU funding? Huh? OMG! Will that hurt my favorite basketball program, my beloved Jayhawks? Of course it won’t, but that reminds me:

Why Bill Self doesn’t pay Kansas taxes on about 90 percent of his earnings

I love me some Rock Chalk round ball. I even love me some Coach Self. But come on, peeps:

A report by public radio station KCUR noted that Self for years has had the bulk of his compensation paid into a limited liability company. Since 2012, that arrangement has become a tax perk, as Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Legislature approved a new tax law that exempts Kansas income taxes on LLCs and other pass-through businesses. In total, about 334,000 Kansas business are receiving the tax break.

Get dis:

Self earns a base salary of $230,000 per year, according to a contract extension he and KU agreed upon in 2012.

In addition, Kansas Athletics pays Self’s LLC a minimum of $2.75 million per year for “professional services” rendered by the coach, according to the contract.

Sweet, ain’t it? Self has had his LLC since his coaching days at the University of Illinois in 2000. While I don’t understand the whole LLC thing, when it comes to college coaches and tax liability (I suspect, though, there is a rea$on for it), I do understand that Brownback has made it very easy on Self, when it comes to paying taxes on his compensation—the highest for any state employee in Kansas. The idea is, so goes the economic theory known as voodoo, to let Self keep his tax money and it will, like a cascade of kindness, magically fall down on everyone else in the form of jobs and increased revenue.

But what is falling down on folks in Kansas is pain, pain caused by the Brownbacks of this world:

Gov. Sam Brownback signed a budget bill into law Wednesday while at the same time ordering $97 million in allotment cuts, mostly through cuts to higher education and Medicaid funding.

Schools and poor folks. That’s who gets hit when Republicans hand out tax cuts to the rich. Always happens. That’s why, by the way, we have a crowd-drawing Bernie Sanders.

As noted in the headline previously, a large chunk—$10.7 million—of those “higher education” cuts will fall on KU itself. Maybe next fall, when the faithful students gather at Allen Fieldhouse to watch Kansas play, they can pass the hat to Bill Self and ask him to chip in a little. Who knows, he may have some spare change left over from all that job-creatin’ he’s surely doing with that extra money, right?

Speaking of passing the hat, if Republicans win this November, we will need lots of hats to pass around in order to help teachers, students, the sick, the poor, the working class, and other non-LLC owning folks survive the Browndrumpf's plan for womenbacking and Drumpfing of America.

And women will need lots of hangers.

And gays will need lots of closets.

And, of course, war-torn America will need lots of hoosegows.

America The Sick

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

—Katharine Lee Bates, America the Beautiful

No, this is not about Drumpf, although he, too, is evidence of a sick America. This is about another man, himself sort of a representative of the kind of people who have crowned a certified bigot as the leader of the Party of Lincoln.

George Zimmerman will finally get his big payday for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an African-American kid armed with nothing but candy and a drink, who was on his way home from a convenience store in Sanford, Florida. According to USA Today:

George Zimmerman said Wednesday the online auction has ended for the sale of the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin in 2012 and he was immediately notifying the winner.

“The winner.” Let that sink in.

I’ve got nothing much to say about this sad and sick moment in our nation’s history, except to note that Zimmerman wants his “Fellow Patriots” to know that he is still in good with the Almighty:

First and foremost, I would like to thank and give the glory to God for a successful auction that has raised funds for several worthy causes.

zimmermanIn the disturbed and disturbing mind of George Zimmerman, God may get the glory. But Americans, those who think it is okay to shoot unarmed kids, those who think it is okay to shoot unarmed kids and then profit from it, deserve the shame.

America the beautiful? Not today.

More Bernie Buts

My fellow Democrats. Get used to it. Stop kidding yourselves. There will always be a “but” with Bernie. He’s not one of us.

He likes the Democratic Party, but. He likes Obama, but. He will support Hillary Clinton, but. He condemns the nastiness in Nevada, but.

It is clear that Bernie is not in this thing to be president anymore. He’s not in this to win the nomination—for him to continue to say he is amounts to defrauding his donors—and at this point he isn’t in it to defeat Drumpf. He’s in it because he first wants to destroy the Democratic Party as it now is and then become the leader of a revamped party, a party created in his image. That’s it. That’s what he’s doing.

Last night in California, at another big rally, he attacked Democratic leaders. The crowd booed those leaders. Bernie’s okay with that. He doesn’t care. Just like, at first, he didn’t much care that some of his supporters went wild in Nevada, that some of them threatened the chairwoman—a volunteer—of the state Democratic Party. He eventually put out a statement condemning what happened, but it came with a patented Bernie-but.

Last night, after all that had happened in Nevada over the weekend, where his supporters were furious at the “establishment,” Bernie sent out this tweet:

bernie tweet

Yes, Democrats are Bernie’s enemy. He’s running against Democrats. He literally loathes the party. So, why would we expect him to enthusiastically embrace it after this is all over? The most we will get from him, after Hillary Clinton wins the nomination and after he conducts a nasty fight at the convention over the party platform, will be a lukewarm endorsement of her—largely on the grounds that a Drumpf is unacceptable. That will be it.

It’s sad, but that is what it is.

Will Bernie Folks Listen To Van Jones And Noam Chomsky?

CNN contributor Van Jones, you may remember, once worked for President Obama as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs, or as some liked to call it, the “green jobs czar.” You also may remember that Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked him after his appointment in 2009, essentially suggesting he was, like Obama, a left-wing terrorist who hated white people. Other conservatives attacked him, too, including Republican members of Congress. Those ol’ boys were mostly offended because Jones, just before Obama appointed him, attended a lecture at Berkeley, in which he was asked why Democrats couldn’t get that famous stimulus packaged passed in 2009 even though they had 58 votes in the Senate:

QUESTIONER: …how were they, Republicans, able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators, but somehow we cant?

JONES: Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.

QUESTIONER: I was afraid that was the answer.

JONES: As a technical, political kind of term. And Barack Obama is not an asshole. Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.

As you can imagine, since this was pre-Drumpf, everyone on the right was outraged that the Scary Negro’s appointee, himself an even scarier Negro, called lily-white legislators “assholes,” even though it was true and even though he did so before the Scary Negro appointed him. Here’s a screen grab from Fox “News”:

I want to particularly call out one Republican congressman who went after Jones. His name is Mike Pence from Indiana, who is now the governor of that Drumpf-loving state. Back in 2009, Pence was very upset with Jones and demanded his resignation, saying, “His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.” Yes. Pence said that. He said that extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in government or in public debate. None. Nope. No place.

Except when they do.

Less than a month ago, while meekly endorsing Ted Cruz, Pence said,

I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”

Hmm. Things have changed a bit since 2009. Not long after Pence made that statement about Drumpf giving “voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans,” Cruz got shellacked in Indiana’s GOP primary. Shortly after that, Pence endorsed the extremist views and coarse rhetoric approach:

I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the State of Indiana. I’m going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House.

He meant, of course, that Indiana needs a partner in the White’s House, even if that partner is really, truly a profane extremist. Apparently, Pence, like other Republicans in bed with Drumpf, don’t mind white folks doin’ all that fussin’ and cussin’; they just don’t like uppity Negroes doin’ it. Ain’t acceptable.

In any case, Van Jones resigned in September of 2009, after it became clear President Obama wasn’t in the mood for a fight. There were important things to get done and Jones was a distraction. That was too bad for the Obama administration but good for Jones. He has enjoyed a pretty good career since then, including a lot of face time on television, where he appears often, these days as a Bernie supporter.

But even though Jones is a Bernie man, he ain’t nuts. He isn’t about to let the Bern get the best of him or his country. I have never seen him badmouth Hillary in the way most Bernie people do when they get in front of a camera. He’s cool about it. That’s why he made a video for van jones videoMoveOn.org, an organization that also went all-in for Bernie, but apparently understands that things are getting out of hand with some Bernie folks. The video is a warning that Drumpf can win the general election if we, liberals and leftists and anyone else who doesn’t like Orange Man, don’t “work together” to make sure the profane extremist doesn’t make the White’s House his home.  (You can watch the video at https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmoveon%2Fvideos%2Fvb.7292655492%2F10153454110680493%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560  and then come back for a word from a leftist’s leftist, Noam Chomsky.)

The comment section accompanying the video is an interesting read. There are some real Hillary haters on there, folks who won’t vote for her no matter what. Even if it means a President Drumpf, they don’t care. They want a “clean conscience.” Which brings me to Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky is a real radical leftist. Over the years he has said some things I agree with and some things I think are ridiculous. No need to go into that here. What I want to do is post something he said to yet another leftist, Amy Goodman, on her fine program, Democracy Now! After raising the point that corporate forces are funding elections and writing legislation and that a “countervailing force” is necessary to defend “popular interests, needs and concerns,” Chomsky said this:

noam chomskyBut now, going back to who should you push the button for, well, my own—in the primaries, I would prefer Bernie Sanders. If Clinton is nominated and it comes to a choice between Clinton and Trump, in a swing state, a state where it’s going to matter which way you vote, I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat. I don’t think there’s any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for, say, a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. So—but meanwhile, do the important things.

I have to admit that surprised me. We are, after all, talking about Noam Chomsky. But even though clearly he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton—heck, even Bernie isn’t quite radical enough for him—he still has enough sense to see that even radical leftists should not commit national suicide by voting for a third party candidate or not voting at all.

Now, I say this to all you earnest Bernie folks out there: If Noam Bleeping Chomsky can “push the button” for Hillary, you can too! We can’t afford to let the assholes win! “Do the important things.”

Don’t Miss The Forest For The Sleaze

Because I have watched MSNBC’s Morning Joe for so long now, I guess I have become sort of use to what has been happening. The show has, after all, become a platform for defending, advising, and promoting Drumpf, who is friends with or acquaintances of most of the regulars on the show. They just can’t bring themselves to admit the obvious about him.

Today was no different. Morning Joe’s opening segment at 7:00 am CST was all about that New York Times article (“Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private“) published over the weekend that documented some of Drumpf’s boorish encounters with women, claims of sexual harassment, as well as a few of the good things he has done in promoting women in his business. Morning Joe, though, was all about attacking the Times rather than criticizing Drumpf’s behavior. Panelist Donny Deutsch, who has admitted to being a Friend of Drumpf, even gave him a hint this morning on how to proceed: hit the whole Jeffrey Epstein-Bill Clinton thang. It really was an embarrassment for MSNBC, although it won’t stop. Drumpf = ratings. And insulting Drumpf = boycott. Thus.

I just wanted to remind you of something critically important that may, now, get lost because one of the women in the Times report said her story was misused by the newspaper and that she “did not have a negative experience” with Drumpf. What may get lost has nothing to do with that Times article. Anyone paying attention knows that Drumpf’s problems with women have much more to do with what he has said since he has been a candidate than any revelation that he once had the hots for a model, whom he outfitted in a bikini so he could show off her assets to a group of Drumpf groupies at a Mar-a-Lago pool party, the same model who now says she was flattered by the whole episode.

So, before it gets lost in the storm of nonsense and ugliness that is the Drumpf campaign, before it gets lost in the ADHD-like television coverage of that nonsense and ugliness, let’s look at a weird story, published in The Washington Post on May 13, “Donald Trump masqueraded as publicist to brag about himself.” I know by now you know most of the details—Drumpf posing as publicists “John Miller” and “John Barron”—so I won’t go into them. Suffice it to say that the story, if it weren’t about Drumpf, would, like so many other things he has said and done, doom anyone else. It would disgrace any other presidential candidate, who would slink away with a shame-hung head. But this is Drumpf. His answer to it? Lie. He didn’t do it. The voice that everyone knows was his, on those phone calls to reporters, wasn’t his, he says. And his groupies, both professionals and amateurs, are behind him. If he says it wasn’t him, it wasn’t. Move on. No biggie. There are more important things to talk about.

Surprisingly, the journalists I have seen covering this issue on television, and those paid to be “analysts,” have it all wrong. They are focusing on the lie Drumpf told. They want him to come clean about that. Their coverage goes something like this: “If only Drumpf would simply admit he was ‘John Miller’ or ‘John Barron’ and confess to doing something dumb, a joke really, this would all go away and we’d move on to something else.” I heard CNN’s Chris Cuomo say something like that the other day.

Well, no. That isn’t the point.

We all know Drumpf is a liar. That has been established beyond doubt, just as it has been established beyond doubt that he was John Miller and John Barron (he has actually admitted as much before). So, any revelation that he is currently lying about the fact he was pretending to be his own publicist would not be surprising. It would just be an addition to what we already knew. What we don’t know is what it is that makes a prominent man do something so clumsy and crass. What is it in his brain that makes him want to do it in the first place, but then—most important to mewhat makes him think no one would catch him doing it? That’s what has been lost in all this. There is, truly, something wrong with his mind, with his thought process, with his ability to understand what is going on in other minds.

I’ve said before that since I’m not a medical doctor, I can’t diagnose Drumpf’s problems—although others have done so. We can all see that he acts and talks like a narcissist. We can see that he lies, when telling the truth would be a much easier path to follow. His lying appears to be pathological. We can all see that Tiny Hands is insecure, which also appears to be some kind of disease. All that is troubling enough. But think about it. This man called reporters, reporters who knew his voice, pretending to be someone else. Why couldn’t he figure out in advance that those reporters would know it was his voice? That he would be asked about it? That he would be asked to produce John Miller and John Barron at some point, since they allegedly worked for him? Huh? And why can’t he see that now?

Disturbing stuff. And it isn’t just limited to gossip magazines or tabloids. It has real-world implications. Consider Drumpf’s embrace of Vladimir Putin. In that sorry case, did some kind of pathological disorder get the best of Drumpf? Remember that Putin, a murderous authoriatarian, said the GOP candidate was “a very bright and talented man,” and an “absolute leader.” Rather than responding as any normal American would do, that is, by rejecting the endorsement of a trained and practiced Russian killer, Drump said,

When people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.

“It’s always good.” Always. If Charles Manson calls you brilliant from his prison cell, that’s good. If Kim Jong-un takes time out of his busy day in North Korea and calls you brilliant, that’s good, too. For a Drumpfed-up mind, there are no conditions under which receiving flattery is a negative.

When confronted with the charge that Putin has either ordered the killing of journalists in Russia or created a climate in which they could be essentially killed with impunity, Drumpf has responded in different ways. Once he said, “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing, too…” Another time,

Nobody has proven that he’s killed anyone. … He’s always denied it. It’s never been proven that he’s killed anybody. You’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, at least in our country. It has not been proven that he’s killed reporters.

Now, that comes from a man who, with exactly no evidence to back him up, has questioned Barack Obama’s citizenship and Christianity, who says he sent investigators, perhaps John Miller and John Barron, to Hawaii and “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” It comes from a man who, just last year as a presidential candidate, said of President Obama, “I don’t know if he loves America.” Who said, “I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque?”

Giving the benefit of the doubt to a horrific Russian despot who strategically strokes your ego, while trashing the credibility of your own president, is a symptom of some profound personal problem, as far as I’m concerned as an American. It demonstrates that Drumpf’s awareness of himself, that his perception of others, is twisted. It proves that he is unfit to be our commander-in-chief because his judgment about what may be happening in the minds of other people, whether they are reporters or world leaders, is so utterly and hopelessly flawed.

Drumpf’s petty attempt to pass himself off as publicists John Miller and John Barron—and expect that he could get away with it—just adds to the case that he is a very disturbed man. But it is also disturbing that much of the press, at least on television, isn’t that interested in the original disqualifying behavior, but only in getting Drumpf to admit to it so cable news can move on to the next act in this gloomy Gong Show. Perhaps the only thing that can save us all is if Drumpf comes out soon and lets us in on his little joke. And The Washington Post can write a new article, “Donald Trump masqueraded as presidential candidate to brag about himself.”

[Mural image by artist Mindaugas Bonanu]

 

The Devil On Drumpf

Every now and then, the Devil comes by the spacious offices of The Erstwhile Conservative for a short interview. He only had a few minutes, since this is his busy season, but I managed to get in some important questions. Here is the lightly edited interview:

TEC: Thanks for stopping by. I want to quickly ask you what I think is a fairly obvious question, but one I’ll ask anyway: What part have you played in the rise of Drumpf? I can see your fingerprints all over this.

TShutterstockHE DEVIL: Yeah, I know. It is kind of obvious, isn’t it? But that couldn’t be prevented, given what we were working with. Look, I don’t want to give away too much right now because there is still so much to be done, but I can’t help but brag a little bit. This is one of the most brilliant campaigns we have ever run—

TEC: One of the most?

THE DEVIL: Okay, dammit. You got me. It is the most brilliant campaign we have ever run. Okay? And I’m so damned proud of it I can’t barely hide it. 

TEC: How did you get this all started anyway?

THE DEVIL: Oh, this thing has been in the making for years now. It started out with that whole birther thing. Do you know how hard it was to get someone to take that bait? It was damned hard, let me tell you. But we found him! And when I first started getting reports from the field, from our demons assigned to the task, that Drumpf was biting on it, I couldn’t believe it. But I gave orders to keep after it and keep after him and see if there was something more there we could build on. And it turns out there was a lot there we could build on.

TEC: So, what was the next step, after he took the birther bait?

THE DEVIL: This is where it gets good. And this may surprise you. But it came to me one night in hell, as I was thinking—seething, really—about how miserably we have failed to get a majority of Americans to give into their cultural anxieties and put a real hate-generating reactionary in the Oval Office. We’ve been successful in Congress, but we need it all to do our devilish damage.

TEC: And, so, what came to you?

THE DEVIL: Political correctness! We simply had to do away with it. We had to get people to resent it, to will it away. 

TEC: Why?

THE DEVIL: Because by getting rid of political correctness that would allow people to act out their racism and sexism and other forms of anxiety and hatred without fear of retribution.

TEC: Without fear that someone would call them on it.

THE DEVIL: Exactly. If we could get rid of the idea that there are some things Americans shouldn’t say about each other, we could get our foot in the door. So, one of our most promising demons came up with the idea of planting in Drumpf’s head the notion that political correctness had to go. And like the birther stuff, he bit. He went for it. And from there, it was easy to get him to run for president, and the next thing you know, he’s starting out his campaign by talking about Mexican rapists. Brilliant!

TEC: But it didn’t stop there.

THE DEVIL: Of course not. Once the political correctness door got knocked down, no one was immune. Blacks, Muslims, women. Drumpf would say anything. We could literally get him to say anything. He puts up almost no resistance! Heck, just for fun one day, one of our demons told him to say that he could shoot someone on the street and he wouldn’t lose any voters. And he went out and said it! 

TEC: Yeah, I remember that.

THE DEVIL: But we’ve done other things just for the hell of it, just for laughs.

TEC: Like what?

THE DEVIL: We got the Drumpf campaign to put a white nationalist on the delegate ballot in California!

TEC: I heard that.

THE DEVIL: Who could have believed that a year ago? Or who could believe that we could get David Duke to whisper to his racist followers that Drumpf is really one of them? I get chills just thinking about how successful we’ve been with this thing. It’s massive. 

TEC: You mean yoooge.

THE DEVIL: Let’s be serious.

TEC: Okay, okay. What is it you like most about what has happened so far?

THE DEVIL: Without a doubt my favorite part of this effort has been taking those devil-hating evangelicals and turning them into Drumpfkins! They are always talking about how much they love God, the Enemy, and now they’re running to the polls voting for my guy! How sweet is that? Now, I don’t want to brag, but I’ve heard that even God himself is impressed by that feat! And, listen, take it from me, God’s not easy to impress.

TEC: I bet he isn’t. But I want to ask you about Bernie Sanders and how he fits into all this.

THE DEVIL: Well, I hesitate to talk about that too much right now because it’s a subtle operation and it is still ongoing. But just look at what we did last night in West Virginia. Our ground operation there was so good—our dsanders voters not voting for clintonemonic forces in that region are some of the best—that we got Bernie a victory—

TEC: But Bernie has won a lot of states—

THE DEVIL: Sure he has, but what happesanders voters voting for trumpned last night was remarkable. We got him a majority of voters, most of them saying they would never vote for Hillary! And, get this, we got a lot of those who voted for Bernie last night to say they wouldn’t vote for Bernie in November! Now, dammit, that’s a hell of an accomplishment, isn’t it?

TEC: Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty impressive. 

THE DEVIL: You’re damn right it is! But, hey, I have to go. There’s still a lot to do. We’ve got to stop all that damnable talk of a third party out there.

TEC: Okay, but before you head out, where do we go from here? What’s next with the Drumpf campaign?

THE DEVIL: Look, you know I can’t tell you what’s coming next, as much as I want to. Suffice it to say it will be the general election from hell. We intend to see one of our own sitting in the White’s House next January. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now because, dammit, we want this campaign of ours to remain unpredictable!

TEC: Oh, my. Well, thanks for stopping by. 

THE DEVIL: No problem…heck, okay, I can’t help myself. I’ll tell you something we’re working on right now with Drumpf. We’re trying to get Newt Gingrich on the ticket!

TEC: Wow. Are you serious? Newt bleeping Gingrich?

THE DEVIL: I have probably said too much. I gotta go.

[dark image: shutterstock; Drumpf evangelicals: Getty Images]
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