Is It Okay To Call Hillary A Liar And Then Ask People To Vote For Her?

A good friend of this blog, Ben Field, is a Bernie supporter, and lately he and I have had some differences over my criticism of the Sanders campaign vis-à-vis the attacks on Hillary Clinton’s honesty. You can read Ben’s latest criticism of me here, and below is my response to it:

Ben,

You know how much I respect you. And in the past you and I have usually agreed on most things, so I’m not comfortable that we are now so far apart on what is happening and what I am saying about it.

Let me try again because perhaps I haven’t made myself clear: I agree with Bernie Sanders on many of his policy issues. I really do. I would be very happy to live in a country that embraces much of his social radicalism. In fact, I used to love the guy—until he started to attack the integrity of a fellow Democrat who has, from her youth, been involved in progressive causes. Along with some of the unpleasant baggage you mention, Hillary Clinton has a record of supporting many of the things you and I support. She isn’t, for God’s sake, a Democrat In Name Only. That honor, if there is to be such a label applied to anyone in this race, would go to Bernie Sanders, who only recently became a Democrat and, as you suggest, has done almost nothing to help the party itself.

I simply don’t like it when Bernie attacks her character, her integrity. No, let me put it bluntly: I hate it. I’m not “bashing” him for anything other than that. He and Hillary could and should argue about domestic and foreign policy, about past votes, and so on. But they should not question each other’s integrity. And I haven’t heard one Hillary surrogate, or Hillary herself, even hint at the idea that Bernie is dishonest or lacks integrity. But I have heard plenty of Bernie supporters, on TV and online, do so about her. It makes me sick to hear it.

Apparently, judging by your comment—“I do not understand bashing Bernie for insinuating Hillary is less than honest”—you think it is okay for Bernie and his campaigners to question the honesty of someone they will inevitably have to (presumably) end up supporting against a Republican. That’s where Bernie’s reputation for authenticity will run into problems. He and his surrogates—his top media adviser especially—have said “she cannot be believed.” I haven’t heard Bernie disavow that statement, have you? How does Bernie, then, in the near future go out with authenticity and urge his supporters to vote for her, if he fails to get the nomination? How would he do that with a straight face? How would he do that and preserve his own integrity?

You say that I should know that Bernie “is nothing like the GOP.” Well, I hate to say this, but in one way he is acting exactly like the GOP. Do you think that it is okay for him to suggest, and for his top surrogate to actually say, “she cannot be believed”? If you do, I don’t understand that kind of thinking on our side. It makes no sense to me. It’s equivalent to calling her a liar, which Republicans do all the time. All the bleeping time. Just the other day on Fox and Friends, they put up a picture of Hillary on television that has been floating through the sewer that is conservative social media. I timed how long they kept that photo on the screen: 38 seconds. Here it is:

liar hillary pic from fox.jpg

Isn’t that sweet? That’s what Fox “News” and other conservative media do to Hillary every single day, in some form or another. Thus, my question: Do you and other Bernie supporters think calling the eventual Democratic nominee the equivalent of a liar—especially when it plays right into the Republican narrative about her that is pushed and funded by big-money donors—is good political strategy? If you do, I guess I don’t understand anything about politics.

Another thing: I am not attacking Bernie supporters, except those that say they will never vote for Hillary and those who say they would support Donald Trump over her. Such people aren’t really Democrats or don’t really subscribe to even a basic form of progressivism. They are just pissed off at the system and their anger is unproductive. I have a lot of Bernie supporters in my family. They aren’t dumb people. They are earnest people who love Bernie’s message. We just have a disagreement over his electability, that’s all. I am sure they will all, like you, end up voting for Hillary because the alternative is unthinkable. But there are some Bernie fans out there who absolutely will not vote for Hillary under any circumstances. And to the extent Bernie is feeding that hateful beast, I will not hesitate to call him on it.

Finally, you say that I “continually bash” your primary choice. No, I do not. I wouldn’t think of bashing your primary choice. We are both Democrats, for heaven’s sake. Any Bernie supporter who will vote for Hillary Clinton, if Bernie loses, is good in my book. I understand how people can differently perceive primary candidates’ chances of winning in the general election. But I will never understand how people can so very publicly call a candidate the equivalent of a liar and then, just as publicly, urge others to vote for that candidate. Sorry. I just don’t get that.

Duane

Here We Go Again. Is It The Sanders Campaign Or The Slanders Campaign?

More agitated than usual, Bernie once again went after Hillary Clinton’s integrity during last night’s spirited debate in Flint, Michigan. Discussing the salvation of the auto industry in Michigan and elsewhere, including here in Missouri, Hillary said:

I think it was the right decision to heed what President-elect Obama asked us to do.

He sent a letter, an authorized letter, asking us to support that to save the auto industry. Yes, were there things in it that you and I would not have necessarily wanted? That’s true. But when it came down to it, you were either for saving the auto industry or you were against it. I voted to save the auto industry. And I am very glad that I did.

Now, Bernie had previously tried to explain why he voted the way he did on the infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) legislation—which contained money President Obama eventually used to save General Motors and Chrysler—saying last night, among other things, “I will be damned if it was the working people of this country who had to bail out the crooks on Wall Street.”

Fine. That was his right to use his very proper and popular disdain for Wall Street banksters as an excuse to ignore not only Mr. Obama’s recommendation, but ignore the pleas from Michigan’s two Democratic senators, who were trying to save the auto industry in their state. It was Bernie’s vote to cast and he cast it. He made a choice. But that choice, if he had prevailed, would have left the auto industry in the region for dead. Millions of jobs were at stake. And Mrs. Clinton has every right to point out that fact to Democratic voters in not only Michigan, but in “Ohio and Indiana and Illinois and Wisconsin and Missouri and other places in the Midwest.” 

So, after Hillary said she was “very glad” she voted to “save the auto industry,” Bernie-one-note came back with this:

Let me just say this, while we are on Wall Street, one of us has a super PAC. One of us has raised $15 million from Wall Street for that super PAC. One of us has given speeches on Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, I kind of think if you get paid a couple hundred thousand dollars for a speech, it must be a great speech. I think we should release it and let the American people see what that transcript was.

That glaring non sequitur is revealing to me. Bernie’s response had nothing to do with Bernie’s vote against TARP and the associated auto bailout. It had nothing to do with President Obama’s controversial and bold move to use around $82 billion of TARP money to save millions of jobs, which would not have been possible if Bernie’s right and righteous anger at Wall Street had won the day. So, why does Bernie continue to go back, time and again, to the Hillary-took-money-from-Wall Street-therefore-she-must-be-corrupt strategy? I wish I could answer that, but his continuing to piggyback on the decades-old Republican slander machine is getting annoying.

Just listen to what Tad Devine, a top Sanders adviser, said during an interview this morning with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about last night’s tangle:

CUOtad devine.jpgMO: The question about the auto bailout seemed to give Bernie Sanders some pause. Do you think that that was a vulnerability for him last night with that audience?

TAD DEVINE: No, I don’t. I think it was a vulnerability for Hillary Clinton because what she did was so utterly disingenuous, so false. She said Bernie Sanders opposed the auto bailout. On December 11, 2008, he voted on the floor of the United States Senate to bail out the auto industry. She knew that. But nevertheless she wants to mislead people here in Michigan and elsewhere on the eve of an election. I mean Bernie supported the auto bailout; he voted for it in the Senate…

Cuomo reminded Mr. Devine that it was a second vote to which Hillary was referring, the TARP vote that would eventually include money to help stabilize the failing auto industry. And it is here that Mr. Devine, Bernie Sanders’ top spokesman, got GOP-style dirty:

DEVINE: Yeah, no, what she was talking about was the TARP, the bailout of Wall Street. And to take that money and to say, ha, ha, you’re against the auto industry because Bernie Sanders says the middle class of America should not bail out Wall Street is totally, utterly disingenuous. And it speaks to her great weakness as a candidate: that she cannot be believed.

There you have it. That attack on the integrity and honesty of Hillary Clinton is the exact same message that Republicans have been, are, and will continue sending to the American electorate in order to take control of the entire federal government. And it is damned sad that the Sanders campaign is helping them do it.

Anthony Weiner For President!

The Party of Jesus must be proud of this headline this morning:

Donald Trump Nearly Turns GOP Debate Into Literal Dick-Measuring Contest

Last night’s Republican “debate” reminded me of something. Remember Anthony Weiner and his penis-pic scandal affectionately known as Weinergate?

Tony the Dick’s problem was that he was just a little premature in proudly promoting his presumably to-be-proud-of penis. If he would have saved his sexting prowess for 2016, he could have been president!

Think of the entertaining spectacle of a Trump versus Weiner general election. The two candidates could go on national television on November 8th and, quite literally, show us their entire package. No need to debate the issues, no need for nasty ads, no need for those annoying voting booths. Just a tape measure will do!

God bless the Republican Party.

Romney Sounded A Lot Like Bernie Sanders

Mittens was back in the news big time today with his accurate and articulate attack on Donald Drumpf. The problem is that he didn’t say anything about him that anyone paying attention didn’t already know. So, we’ll see how that goes.

What I want to bring to your attention, in case you didn’t get to hear Romney’s entire speech, is this nice little boost he gave to the Bernie Sanders campaign:

For the last three decades, the Clintons have lived at the intersection of money and politics, trading their political influence to enrich their personal finances. They embody the term “crony capitalism.” It disgusts the American people and causes them to lose faith in our political process.

A person so untrustworthy and dishonest as Hillary Clinton must not become president.

Sound familiar?

I have tried for a while now to point out that the subtext of Bernie Sanders’ criticism of Hillary Clinton is that she is, essentially, untrustworthy and dishonest, which is how Republicans have characterized her for years and exactly how Romney characterized her today. I have objected to this line of attack from Sanders for obvious reasons. She will be the Democratic nominee and it doesn’t help to have a fellow Democrat lob the same rhetorical grenade at her that Republicans have been using to blow up her chances to become president and, among other things, appoint a couple or three Supreme Court justices.

In case there is any doubt about what Sanders has been doing, let me take you back to that famous exchange between the two during a debate just a month ago. Sanders had said that Clinton represented “the establishment” and that he represented “ordinary Americans.” That’s fair enough for a primary campaign fight. Nothing wrong with that. But after she objected to the establishment label, Sanders came back with this:

SANDERS: What being part of the establishment is, is, in the last quarter, having a super PAC that raised $15 million from Wall Street, that throughout one’s life raised a whole lot of money from the drug companies and other special interests.

To my mind, if we do not get a handle on money in politics and the degree to which big money controls the political process in this country, nobody is going to bring about the changes that is needed in this country for the middle class and working families.

Now, any ordinary person, after hearing Sanders make this charge, would immediately conclude that Hillary Clinton is taking money from Wall Street, drug companies, and “other special interests” because she is part of a corrupt political process and she is selling herself and her agenda to the “big money” interests. Clearly, Sanders wants voters to conclude that Mrs. Clinton is corrupt and not to be trusted, which is why she responded this way:

CLINTON: Yeah, but I — I think it’s fair to really ask what’s behind that comment. You know, Senator Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I’ve tried to keep my disagreements over issues, as it should be.

But time and time again, by innuendo, by insinuation, there is this attack that he is putting forth, which really comes down to — you know, anybody who ever took donations or speaking fees from any interest group has to be bought.

And I just absolutely reject that, Senator. And I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you. And enough is enough. If you’ve got something to say, say it directly.

But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received.

Naturally, when someone is challenging your integrity, especially someone in your own party, you get a little defensive. And Mrs. Clinton sure did. She should expect that treatment from Republicans, but has a right to get a little upset about having to hear it from a fellow Democrat.

And Bernie Sanders hasn’t stopped. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal described his attacks on her integrity yesterday in Portland:

At a rally here ahead of Maine’s caucuses this Sunday, Mr. Sanders pressed Mrs. Clinton to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street firms and mocked the idea that anything she said could have been worth the six-figure speaking fees she collected.

The Bangor Daily News described what he said during that rally this way:

bernie in maineSanders has vowed to stay in the race and take his fight to the Democratic National Convention in July, and his supporters certainly don’t want to settle for Clinton, who has squabbled with the underdog over her ties to Wall Street and big banks.

He hit Clinton on that in Portland, saying there’s “one candidate” taking contributions from banks, the fossil fuel industry and billionaires, “and that candidate is not me.”

Let me be clear about this. I am all in favor of ridding our political system of big money. There is no doubt it is a corrupting influence overall, even though corruption is often hard to prove in any individual case. I was worried when Barack Obama took all that money from Wall Streeters in 2008, but as we all know now it didn’t exactly corrupt him. He still went after them with Dodd-Frank and most of them still hate him for it.

The problem with what Bernie is doing is that attacking Hillary Clinton’s integrity is the kind of thing that will leave some voters unable to vote for her, no matter how much Bernie comes to terms with the fact that she will be the nominee and he will have to endorse her and, presumably, campaign for her. It’s one thing to have policy disagreements with your opponent and challenge his or her judgment on this or that political decision. You can do that and still, after losing, endorse your opponent with credibility.

But it is quite another thing to challenge the trustworthiness and honesty of your opponent and then expect your most ardent followers—in Bernie’s case, mostly young folks—to believe you when you tell them they should put their trust in the person whose trust you have been questioning. Consider this recent headline:

Don’t Assume Bernie Sanders Supporters Will Back Hillary Clinton If She’s The Nominee

I will pull just one quote from that article. It was said by a Sanders supporter named Patt Coltem from St. Paul, Minnesota:

I would vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in a heartbeat. She’s just too shady. She’s a pathological liar. He’s the only other person in this race who doesn’t have someone backing him. Trump is crazy; he does a lot of weird stuff. I would prefer not to vote for him for president, but that’s how much I dislike Hillary Clinton.

We can only hope that there aren’t a lot of Patt Coltems out there. And we can only hope that Bernie Sanders will, if he keeps fighting to the bitter end, at the very least stop sounding like a Republican by attacking the integrity of the eventual Democratic nominee.

[Bottom photo from “Grassroots Action for Bernie”]

 

You Say You Want A Revolution, Bernie? Here Is A Way To Start One

Dear Bernie,

You said it again last night: “This campaign is not just about electing a president. It is about making a political revolution.” Okay. Allow me to take you seriously. Allow me to believe you mean that. Allow me to have high hopes that this election isn’t just about electing you president, but about starting that revolution you talk about all the time.

And please allow me to speak honestly. You said last night that your campaign was partly “about dealing with some unpleasant truths that exist in America today and having the guts to confront those truths.” Bernie, one of those unpleasant truths is that you will never be president. I’m sorry about that. You’re a good and decent man. But Hillary Clinton now has over 1000 delegates. You have 371. Estimates are you would have to win almost 60% of the vote in all the elections to come in order to catch up with her. We both know, or should know, that just isn’t going to happen. So, I ask you this: why prolong the inevitable? Why give a speech last night in which you don’t even bother to congratulate your opponent, who is now, after all these years of your independence, a fellow Democrat? I have to admit that there was something about that touch of gracelessness that bothered me.

Still, though, I want to tell you that I admire what you have done so far. It has been fairly impressive. You have raised a lot of issues that all of us need to think about. And most of the time you ooze with authenticity. But I have to tell you that it disturbs me that your constant line of attack against Mrs. Clinton—essentially questioning her honesty and integrity—is exactly the line of attack that Republicans will use against her later this year. In fact, they aren’t waiting. Right-wing super PACs have spent months and a lot of money attacking her honesty and integrity. In fact, they are actually using your own words against her, and I haven’t heard a peep about that from you. Is that because you stand to benefit from those attack ads? I hope not. I hope you’ve just been too busy planning your revolution to notice how your attacks blend so nicely with those of our real political opponents, including Dangerous Donald.

Which leads me to the real reason for my appeal to you. You said last night your campaign “is about transforming America.” You know how you can really help do that, Bernie? By suspending your campaign and taking all those millions of dollars that those earnest, well-meaning Americans have given you and put it to good use, like helping Democrats win competitive House and Senate races, so that a Democratic president can actually get done some of the things that you and I want done. Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to become the country’s largest cheerleader for Hillary Clinton if you don’t want to. But you can become a cheerleader for Democrats at least taking back the Senate, so that a President Hillary Clinton can transform the Supreme Court for a generation. Isn’t that something you would be proud of? Wouldn’t that count as sufficiently revolutionary, especially since it has been 40 years since progressives have had control of the Court?

Today, as you know, the Court is considering the most important reproductive rights case in 20 years, a case out of right-wing Texas that will likely result in a 4-4 deadlock. Women need a Hillary Clinton and a Democratic Senate next year to get that fifth vote in some future precedent-setting case generated by anti-choice reactionaries in some other Republican-controlled state. I can’t think of too many things more transformative than establishing a choice-protecting majority, can you? Unless maybe it would be that same majority protecting the voting rights of minorities or overturning Citizens United. The point is, the revolution you speak of can begin with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate actually having the power to stop Republicans around the country from turning back the clock on so many issues important to all of us who care about the rights of women, of minorities, and of ordinary citizens who, as you often say, live at the mercy of the millionaires and billionaires among us.

Think about it. You can have a tremendous effect in many strategic places around the country where Democrats facing purple electorates need the impressive enthusiasm of your young supporters. You could show up in targeted districts and states and campaign for the transformation you say you want. You can give much-needed money—money you got from folks who believe in your revolutionary spirit—to the Democratic National Committee so that candidates in those purple districts and states have the resources to defeat their wealthier opponents. In that way, Bernie, you could demonstrate that you mean it when you say this isn’t just about electing a president, but about starting a political revolution.

Finally, last night you said this: “Now, I know that Secretary Clinton and many of the establishment people think that I am looking and thinking too big. I don’t think so.” You are right about that, Bernie. You’re not looking and thinking too big, you are actually looking and thinking too small. You seem to be thinking only about your own candidacy, which faces the longest of odds and which, if you continue to the bitter end as you and your spokesman say you will, risks severely damaging the chances of Democrats keeping the White House, and will help Republicans keep control of the all-important Senate.

So, I am asking you to really think big, Bernie. Think about what good you could actually do for not only your new political home, the Democratic Party, but about the country that you have, up until now, so admirably served.

Sincerely,

The Erstwhile Conservative

 

The Real Donald Drumpf

Simply the best and funniest and truest exposé of The Donald you will ever, ever see:

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

 

Remarks And Asides, 2/16/16

And I thought it was God who killed Justice Scalia in his sleep. Nope:

world nut daily scalia conspiracy

Just for the helluvit, here is the first paragraph from that WND article, written by a gal named, uh, Cheryl Chumley:

A couple of photographs of President Obama shaking hands with a wealthy Democrat Party donor named John Poindexter, who also owns the ranch resort where he found Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dead, has fueled the whispers that radio host Michael Savage just gave wings to with the blunt broadcast question: “Was [he] murdered?

And just for fun, here is a comment on the article from a person called “brimp”:

Note to Trump, don’t take vacations with Obama cronies.

Note to brimp: There’s no way Obama would have Trumped killed. He is too valuable an asset for the Democratic Party.

___________________________

Speaking of Trump, I kid you not that I heard him asked yesterday, during that strange presser he did, how he deals with pressure. And, I kid you not, his answer, which was lost in all the talk of lies, lawsuits, and Bush II’s 9/11 liability, was the following:

I think I deal with pressure well. I mean, I’ve won many club championships—you have to deal with pressure—you know I deal with pressure, that’s what I do…

Yes. I can see how whacking a crucial drive in a club championship prepares you for the presidency. ISIS golfers must be trembling in fear, as they contemplate the sight of a driver-toting Donald walking up to the tee box. Thwack!

 

___________________________

Speaking of heavy-set golfers, Rush Limbaugh just said that,

Ted Cruz is the closest living thing to Ronald Reagan we’re ever going to have in our lifetimes. I don’t know what more I can say about Ted Cruz.

Maybe Rush, a former Trump cheerleader, doesn’t know what more he can say about Ted Cruz, but Trump does. He has now, cumulatively, called Ted Cruz an unstable lying Canadian pussy. If that’s the closest thing to Ronald Reagan we are ever going to have in our lifetimes, maybe there is a God.

____________________________

More Trump: Not only has he defined Cruz as an unstable lying Canadian pussy and threatened to sue him, he has attacked Bush II for not keeping the country safe and for starting a war that destabilized the Middle East. Of the low energy and sleepy Bush III he has said that “the last thing our jesus  trumpcountry needs is another BUSH! Dumb as a rock!” He compared Ben Carson to a child molester and said there’s no cure for his pathological disease. He has pointed out that Marco Rubio sweats like “he just came out of a swimming pool” and “when we get in with Putin we need people that don’t sweat.” He has connected John Kasich to the “crashed” Lehman Brothers and called him “a complete and total dud!” and a “total failure.”

The more I think about it, the more I am starting to realize that maybe there is a higher power after all and Trump was sent to us by a loving, all-knowing Democratic God.

______________________________

Speaking of Democrats, our president received some sage advice from the loving, all-knowing Newt Gingrich today about what Mr. Obama should do regarding the new Supreme Court vacancy:

If he really wants to get somebody approved, sit down with Mitch McConnell and with conservative senators like Mike Lee, ask them who they would approve and nominate somebody who is in the Scalia tradition.

Dammit! I bet Obama never even thought of that!  That’s exactly what he should do! Thanks, Newt!

_______________________________

And now, finally, back to that conspiracy in which talk radio nut Michael Savage suggests that Scalia may have been murdered. According to Media Matters, Donald Trump was
gop pillowactually a guest on the radio nut’s show and the radio nut asked Trump if he would support a Warren Commission-type investigation into Scalia’s death. Trump said he had just heard about the conspiracy talk and that he couldn’t give an answer, but:

They found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.

Well, I can tell you one thing. If I were a Republican these days, placing a pillow, a very heavy pillow, over my face would be exactly what I’d do.

 

What Hath God Wrought?

Whether you think God killed Justice Antonin Scalia in his sleep in order to reward him for his work here on earth or whether to save the country from further damage done by his judicial philosophy or whether to simply inject some seriousness into this year’s presidential campaign, you have to admit God has a thing for timing.

As Democrats, let us first stop to recognize the public service the 79-year-old Scalia rendered to his country. It is proper we do so because we belong to the party of government. We believe government is a force for good and we should therefore honor all those who sincerely believe they are serving the interests of the people. And whatever you thought of Antonin Scalia, he certainly was sincere in his belief that he was serving the interests of the people—even if it was the people of the 18th century, who were mostly white, male, Christian, and gun-toters.

Even though these last few days he has been given a lot of deserved credit for his unusually colorful written opinions and for his obvious first-rate intellect, Scalia’s judicial philosophy was really a bleak, third-rate heretical hermeneutic that, oddly, viewed the Constitution as a static document—“the good, old dead Constitution,” he said—with nothing to say to an evolving America except: if you don’t like it, change it. If that stale version of constitutional interpretation had prevailed throughout our nation’s history, America would look very different today, especially if you are not a privileged white person with dibs on the front seats of every cultural bus.

Scalia’s passing gives us even further insight into the Republican mind, admittedly a very scary place into which one’s inner peepers shouldn’t peep too long. We find today that Republicans everywhere have decided that a black man, in this case the African-American President of the United States named Barack Hussein Obama, has, in the words of another Supreme Court justice with a Scalia-like view of the Constitution, “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” In other words, Republicans have decided that Barack Obama is sort of an Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 president: three-fifths of an executive who should just sit out his last year in office and keep his uppity hands off the Supreme Court.

Really, though, Republicans, beginning around noon on January 20, 2009, have always treated Mr. Obama as three-fifths of a president, if not as three-fifths of a man. He has never quite been worthy of full respect. His legitimacy as our president has been under assault from the beginning, and today the front-runner—repeat: front-runner— in the GOP primary was and remains a leading proponent of the idea that President Obama isn’t even entitled to a three-fifths benefit of the doubt, since he wasn’t born in America. So, really, it should be no surprise to anyone that Republicans, who say they, like Antonin Scalia, treasure the integrity of the Constitution, are so willing to ignore its provision that demands the president should nominate a replacement for an open seat on the Court, whether it be in his first year in office or his last.

And it should be no surprise that it was Mitch McConnell, who, before Scalia’s lifeless body had cooled down, came out and said the new vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president.” Mr. McConnell has led the charge to make sure President Obama was a three-fifths president, and that fraction is a generous interpretation of Republican congressional obstruction during his two terms in office.

But let us now pass on to the politics of the passing of Justice Scalia. It is clear that Mr. Obama will not get to name his replacement. For an excuse, Republicans, on and off the debate stage, on and off television, have offered up the notion that it would be virtually unprecedented for a president to fill such vacancies during election years. But that is, like so many claims on the lips of Republicans, obviously false. As Vox helpfully points out, there have been 14, the last one being Anthony Kennedy in 1988, who still sits on the bench. Maybe President Obama could make a deal with McConnell: “You get Kennedy to retire, since under your current theory he was confirmed illegitimately, and I won’t nominate anyone to replace either one of them.”

Given that such a scenario is about as likely as a Scalia resurrection, the focus for the rest of this campaign on the Republican side will be how Scalia’s replacement will radically alter the country, if Democrats should win. Here is Ted Cruz:

“I don’t think the American people want a court that will strip our religious liberties. I don’t think the American people want a court that will mandate unlimited abortions on demand, partial-birth abortion with taxpayer funding and no parental notification, and I don’t think the American people want a court that will write the Second Amendment out of the Constitution.”

Many of us know that Ted Cruz will never be the nominee of his party and it is easy to dismiss this talk as utter extremist nonsense. But let’s look at someone who I think does have a chance to become the nominee and who, unfortunately, gets journalistically lazy credit for being a “moderate” in the GOP presidential field. Let’s look at what Jeb!—now lately Jeb Bush!—said this morning. After being pressed by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on the issue, Bush III said it was all up to Mitch McConnell whether to allow a vote on a replacement, and then added:

bush on scalia.jpg“There shouldn’t be deference to the executive, is my point…If there is an up or down vote it should be rejected, based on the history of how President Obama selects judges. If there’s no vote, that’s fine, too. What I’m saying is there shouldn’t be—an Obama justice should not be appointed in an election year. Let this be an important part of the election process. Because there’s a lot riding on this. The Second Amendment, religious freedom, and many other causes that are important for this country will be determined by this pick….there should not be an appointment based on the record of President Obama’s selection of judges. They are way out of the mainstream and this should be an important point that we have in the election. I’m more than happy to litigate that.”

Again we see the three-fifths dynamic at work here, as it applies to President Obama. “There shouldn’t be deference to the executive,” Bush III said, which is an odd thing coming from a man running to be that executive and whose brother enjoyed such bipartisan deference that we ran ourselves into a war in Iraq that has turned the world upside down. But leaving that aside, there is the idea that Mr. Obama’s “history” of selecting judges disqualifies him from, well, selecting judges. Just what that disqualifying history is Jeb didn’t bother to say, mainly because, for Jeb’s audience, it is enough to insinuate that President Obama doesn’t have any rights that a white Senate Republican majority is bound to respect. But it seems to be for Jeb that Obama’s appointments “are way out of the mainstream,” a strange thing to say in the context of Scalia’s death, since the departed justice had been, if anything, fishing in a judicial stream far from the 21st century. But I suppose compared to many of the strange things that have been said by Republicans this election season, Jeb’s critique of Obama is only mildly outrageous, even if wildly ridiculous.

In any case, the Democrats can now, hopefully, stop arguing about pie-in-the-sky single-payer promises and free-tuition-in-every-pot politics. And Bernie can maybe stop insinuating that Clinton is a dishonest, money-grabbing shill for big banks. The party faithful can now clearly see what is at stake here. A loss of the presidency, which would carry with it a certain loss of the House and a likely loss of the Senate, would mean a right-wing ideologue would appoint another Justice Scalia to the bench, and then complete control of the entire government—they’d have it all, people!—would be in the hands of the reactionaries.

That possibility should be enough to scare the Bern out of any Democrat.

 

Don’t Panic, Bernie-Lites

This is how establishment politics works: As the Bernie-lites went down to a rather decisive electoral defeat in independent-voter rich New Hampshire last night, they actually likely won more delegates than the Bernie-ites. So, it’s not time to freak out just yet, Hillary fans.

mcgovern disaster of 1972As Hillary Clinton learned all too well in 2008, it is the delegate count at the end that matters. Bernie racked up a lot of New Hampshire votes, but because of the super-delegate safeguard built into the Democratic primary process, he didn’t last night, and hasn’t so far, racked up a lot of delegates. Superdelegates, as we have come to know, are mostly current or former party pooh-bahs who don’t have to follow the voters’ wishes. The Democratic Party’s decision to create superdelegates was the result of the disastrous nomination of George McGovern in 1972, who was nominated via an open voting process at the convention and who was subsequently destroyed by Richard Nixon.

Many of the superdelegates have already committed to Mrs. Clinton. Here is the Associated Press’s count as of today:

democratic delegate count

People forget that in that 2008 Democratic primary race, Hillary Clinton actually got 48% of the total vote and Obama got 47%. But Obama won the delegate count 2,285 to 1,973. In that race, the Clinton campaign was out-foxed by the Obama team, the latter virtually ceding to Clinton the big prizes that she was sure to win and focusing elsewhere, as an excellent Washington Post article from June of 2008 (“Strategy Was Based On Winning Delegates, Not Battlegrounds”) explains:

“It’s the story that hasn’t been written yet, how Obama did everything right, targeting caucuses, targeting small states, avoiding the showdowns in the big states where he could,” said Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, who watched the strategy play out in microcosm in his own state, “and how in the end Clinton did so much so wrong.”

What Clinton did wrong in 2008 will not be repeated this time. She is competing for every vote in every state. Additionally, she has the backing of the party faithful, including, again, those faithful superdelegates. And as of right now, she can count on strong support in the African-American community, and relatively strong support among Hispanics.

But she will eventually have to start winning to validate her commanding lead in delegates and to assure nervous voters that she can actually overcome the barrage of attacks, including attacks on her honesty, that she has experienced for a generation now.

It is those assaults on her honesty and trustworthiness that I want to focus on, as I end this call for Clinton supporters not to panic. For as long as the Clintons have been national figures (and even before that), Republicans have essentially slandered them both with every kind of nasty deed imaginable—including the infamous “Clinton Body Bags” and the charge that former Clinton lawyer Vince Foster was murdered to cover up, among other things, an affair with Hillary. Now, to be sure, Bill gave us all reasons to question his integrity, especially as it related to his sexual escapades. And Hillary hasn’t exactly been a Mother Teresa in defense of her husband’s political career or her own.

But a lot of what the public perceives about the Clintons is tied to how they have enriched themselves since leaving politics, whether personally or via their foundation. People generally and rightly believe that politicians shouldn’t cash in on their public service, and it makes even the most ardent Hillary Clinton supporters uncomfortable when they consider all the money she has made from giving speeches to powerful bankers and others. But making money, in the way the Clintons have made it, isn’t illegal. Maybe it should be. Or maybe politicians should have to at least enter a plea of post-presidency poverty before people vote for them for that high office.

Until then, though, what Bernie Sanders and his campaign are actually doing to Hillary Clinton, who is still the likely Democratic nominee, is feeding into—and piggybacking on—the narrative that Republicans have used against her and Bill for many years now. Bernie and some of his surrogates clearly want voters to draw the conclusion that Hillary Clinton is bought and paid for by big donors, that she is fundamentally dishonest when she vehemently denies turning tricks for bankster pimps, and that she is not to be trusted to fight for the interests of ordinary folks.

ralph nader bushJust look at the exit polls for New Hampshire: a whopping 50% of voters in the Democratic primary believed “only Sanders” was “honest and trustworthy,” at least a partial testament to his constant insinuations about her ties to donors. And if he continues this not-so-subtle attack, he will not only solidify the Republican-crafted image of Hillary Clinton as essentially a crooked, money-grabbing liar, he will, like the infamous Ralph Nader candidacy that helped elect George W. Bush president in 2000, make it easier for a right-wing zealot to win in November and destroy the Obama legacy.

 

Remarks And Asides: The New Hampshire Primary Edition

♦ I have watched Hillary on the campaign trail, during debates, and on television interview programs. She is almost always on her game. Superbly talented, in command of the issues, and quite likeable. Her biggest problem during this campaign (other than the dumb decision to set up her own server and the even dumber decision to cash in on her pre-presidency celebrity), has been her surrogates or supporters. For instance, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright should stop doing Hillary favors. Now. Before it’s too late.

♦ Speaking of favors, Bill Clinton, who was in charge of explainin’ stuff for Obama in 2012, should do Hillary a favor, too. Stop explainin’ why he wishes he wasn’t married to her. It makes voters think of people like Kathleen Willey, a former volunteer aid in the Clinton administration who accused Bill of sexually assaulting her, and who is now going to campaign against Hillary on behalf of a right-wing PAC.

♦ If you think about it, there is a little bit of a contradiction in Bernie’s criticism of Hillary raking in all that big dough from bankers. He says, correctly, that our campaign financing system is broken and corrosive. But he refuses to say, and only insinuates, that Hillary Clinton has been bought like a prostitute, even if a pretty expensive one. Like Hillary says, if Bernie has somethin’ to say, he should just say it. If he doesn’t, maybe he should save his the-system-is-corrupt message for the Republicans, who generally love the system and who generally are, without a doubt, corrupted by it. If Bernie were to win, how can he accuse, say, Bush! of being corrupted by donors, if he wasn’t willing to say it about his Democratic opponent? Just stop it, Bernie, for now, and explain your tax plan, which is what will sink you in the end if you don’t begin to make people understand how it will work and how it will make the country a better place.

♦ Speaking of Bush! He will surprise. Okay, okay. You may, with good reason, think I’m nuts. But I think Bush! still has a good chance of being the GOP nominee. Yep. Call me crazy, call me insane, call me Ted Cruz. But I think Bush! can still win. Not many of the self-proclaimed revolutionaries, in either party, ever win. When I was a mind-numbed conservative, I was once a Patrick J. Buchanan supporter back in 1992 and 1996. Naively, I thought he had a chance against the Republican establishment. He didn’t. You have to have the professionals with you, no matter how many people populate your rallies or root for you from the cheap seats. Buchanan had many enthusiastic followers, but that was about it.

♦ Speaking of enthusiastic followers, neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz, no matter what happens in New Hampshire, will ever be president. Period. Let’s don’t even discuss it.

♦ Which leads me to this young woman who was interviewed on MSNBC the other day:

“There’s something very “politics” about the way she talks. And Bernie has a refreshing way of speaking,” said the earnest and engaged young lady. That’s the way a lot of young folks feel about the race between two old Democratic politicians. One gets labeled merely as a politician and the other—just as much a politician who has been around forever—gets to set himself up as an outsider whose speech is refreshing.

And it is. Bernie’s speech is refreshing. I have to admit I agree with this sincere young woman. Bernie sounds fresh and new because he is talking about a revolution. Young people tend to like that sort of talk. And there is something very politics in the way Hillary talks. Why? Because she’s a professional politician who understands that having a vision of where the country should go is important, but that it is at least as important to also have a vision of how to realistically get it there. That’s professionalism. That’s politics. That’s not all pie-in-the-sky optimism, but some stick-in-the-mud realism. And, admittedly, muddy realism doesn’t much appeal to young folks who are much more optimistic about what can get accomplished in the American political arena than is good for them. Just like I was when I was a nutty Pat Buchanan supporter in the 1990s, too many, especially too many young folks, don’t appreciate the skills of professionals who can talk “very politics” while also being very good at their jobs.

Any sober survey of the political landscape would lead one to conclude that progress from here to where we Democrats want to go will require a lot of zigging and zagging, a lot of one-and-a-half-steps forward and one-step back compromises that make regular folks cringe. And I understand the resistance to that approach. It would be nice if we could just all march up, pitch forks in hand, and take the highest hill. Unfortunately, though, there are other folks sitting on the hill, who won’t just surrender to our demands. They will fight. And they will fight with as much, or more, fervor as any left-leaning 20-year-old can marshal. That’s how they got to be “the establishment,” by the way.

Thus, Hillary’s biggest job this primary season will be in conveying a sober but still optimistic message, with as much combination of enthusiasm and realism as possible, to those young folks who need to hear it, to those who think we can afford to take a chance on a revolution-minded candidate and a revolution-ready electorate. Because, after all, more than any age group, they have the most to lose if we gamble and Republicans take it all.

 

Democracy Can Be A Scary Thing

I apologize for the quality of the audio in the two-minute clip below, but I think you can make out how scary it is that Bill Yorkell, from Hudson, New Hampshire, likely represents the “thought” processes of a lot of Republican voters:

Let’s Dispel With This Fiction That Marco Rubio Doesn’t Know What He’s Doing

Chris Christie, whose San Andreas-size faults should scare away any trembling voter, has nevertheless done the country, as well as his party, a big favor. He has exposed Marco Rubio as a shallow opportunist, something those of us who have followed his Tea Party career have always known.

marcobotBut as some critics have noted, Christie’s gift wasn’t just in the way he got Rubio to repeat the same phrase time after time (“Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing. He knows exactly what he’s doing“) on the debate stage a few days ago. It was getting him to repeat an idea that is so utterly stupid and anti-American that it will be difficult for any Republican nominee to utter it again, at least in the form Rubio did. They’ll have to be more creative when they want to claim that Obama, and by extension the eventual Democratic nominee, purposely want to destroy the country. And for that, the Republican Party itself owes Chris Christie, who will never be president, some props.

Now, you gotta hand it to Rubio. He ain’t backing down. He and most Republican Party primary voters actually believe this dookey, even if many of them will reject Rubio’s robotics in saying so. This morning, on CNN’s New Day, Rubio’s Communications Director—I repeat: this guy is the director of communications for Marco Rubio—said this stuff “Is what Marco believes,” then bizarrely but quite accurately cited a number of talk radio nuts as support. CNN’s Chris Cuomo cleared up exactly what the message is, when he asked the communications director, “So, the senator really believes that President Obama is intentionally trying to destroy the country?” And the communications director said, “Absolutely. And all the evidence confirms that.”

Below is part of the segment, and as you watch it, keep in mind that as dumb as Marco Rubio sounded repeating it during the last debate, and as dumb as his communications guy sounded defending it and expanding on it this morning, the accusation that Democrats want to destroy their own country will most definitely exit the lips of some future Republican nominee, in some form or another:

Our Criminal “Justice” System

Democrats of all persuasions, Bernie-ites and Bernie-lites, should be grateful for Saint, I mean, Senator Elizabeth Warren. Everyone should spend nine minutes watching her “two legal systems” speech below:

 

Here’s a link to the report she mentions in the video (“Rigged Justice: 2016: How Weak Enforcement Let’s Corporate Offenders Off Easy”). The report, which Warren’s office released,

highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families. […]

The 20 cases highlighted in Rigged Justice illustrate problematic enforcement patterns by federal agencies across a range of areas, from financial crimes to student loan rip-offs to auto safety violations to environmental disasters. In many of the cases described in the report, corporations reached settlements with the federal government that required no admission of guilt and held no individual executives accountable.

 

Islam And Our Founding

If you missed the entire speech President Obama gave in a mosque yesterday, you missed yet another example of why we have been so fortunate to have had him in the White’s House these past seven years.

Speaking before the Islamic Society of Baltimore, he did something he shouldn’t have had to do: assure Muslim Americans that they are, well, Americans. And he wanted them to know that the weirdly popular Republicans who scapegoat them, who are partly responsible for the surge in “threats and harassment of Muslim Americans,” who can take some credit for bullied Muslim children and vandalized mosques, those Republicans are the anti-Americans. At least that was my takeaway from the speech.

The president mentioned a forgotten fact:

Islam has always been part of America. Starting in colonial times, many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.

He then referenced Jefferson:

Back then, Muslims were often called Mahometans.  And Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom he wrote was designed to protect all faiths — and I’m quoting Thomas Jefferson now — “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.”

That would later lead to a humorous part of his speech. He talked about staying “true to our core values,” including “freedom of religion for all faiths.” Which led to this:

Now, we have to acknowledge that there have been times where we have fallen short of our ideals.  By the way, Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim — so I was not the first — (applause.)  No, it’s true, it’s true.  Look it up.  (Laughter.)  I’m in good company. (Laughter.)

Turns out you can look it up in The New Republic (“Thomas Jefferson Was a Muslim”), among other places. Back in the 1790s, Christians, much as they do today, “viewed all Muslims as agents of religious error and a foreign threat.” The issue then was a form of terrorism, piracy around Muslim North Africa. And sounding like many evangelical scaremongers and fear merchants today, Christian zealots then were worried about losing culture-controlling power. But despite being called a Muslim, a gross slander in those days, Thomas Jefferson was no Barack Obama. As Denise Spellberg, a scholar of Islamic history, makes clear:

Suffice it to say, Jefferson did subscribe to the anti-Islamic views of most of his contemporaries, and in politics he made effective use of the rhetoric they inspired.

Despite cynically using his fellow Americans’ anti-Islamic views, Jefferson at least understood, in the words of Abbas Milani, the author of The New Republic piece,

that Muslims should enjoy the full rights of citizenship. Indeed, some of the critical elements of [John] Locke’s views of toleration were developed precisely in his attempt to defend the rights of Muslims—not because he believed in the righteousness of their cause or their religion, but because he believed in the right of liberty and the toleration of others.

Liberty and tolerance together form the essence of the American experiment, and who could have guessed that defending the rights of Muslims was crucial to its beginning?

I want to be clear. I despise many of the views of both conservative Christians and conservative Muslims. I don’t want either group to have any influence on American politics whatsoever. But both groups remain free to exert as much influence as citizens will accept at the ballot box. And both groups, as long as they believe “in the right of liberty and the toleration of others,” can and should proudly call themselves Americans. And let us all hope, with President Obama, “that ultimately, our best voices will win out.”

 

The Androcentric Universe

You no doubt remember Wendy Davis, former member of the Texas legislature who, before she unsuccessfully ran for governor, conducted a well-publicized filibuster over anti-choice legislation Republicans were pushing in her state. For her efforts, she was labeled “Abortion Barbie,” among other derogatory things. So, clearly she understands something about how female politicians are treated in the political workplace.

Davis recently discussed Megyn Kelly’s famous questioning, in that first Fox debate, of Donald Trump about the terrible things he has said about women throughout his career. Davis said she wasn’t surprised by how Trump responded or how the men, both on the debate stage and in the audience, reacted. But she was surprised by something else:

So when Megyn Kelly pointed out his derogatory statements, he doubled down on them. And when he did, he got great laughter and applause. And if you remember, the camera panned the audience, and what was so disappointing was to see the number of women who were applauding and laughing at those comments.

I remember that, too. The audience seemed to turn on Megyn Kelly for daring to suggest that it wasn’t okay to call women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.” It was really a remarkable moment in what it said about the Republicans, both men and women, in that room, if not in the country at large.

This morning, I witnessed something similar on MSNBC’s version of Fox and Friends, a program called Morning Joe. For those of you not condemned to watching the program, let me give you an idea of how the show works. The host, right-winger Joe Scarborough, praises Donald Trump every other segment, bashes Hillary Clinton every other segment, and generally bullies every panelist until they just stop talking. All the while, Scarborough’s co-host, Mika Brzezinski, mostly sits beside him and either nods or otherwise affirms Joe’s point of view. Mika, who is supposed to represent a Democratic point of view, isn’t exactly a feminist icon, if you know what I mean.

During a segment this morning, the panel was discussing, as they often do, Hillary Clinton. And as they often do, they were trashing her. Three women and two men sitting around the table trashing the winner—I repeat: winner—of the recent Iowa contest, as if she hadn’t won and as if she wasn’t capable of winning any election. One of the panelists was the much-overrated Bob Woodward, whose quality of analysis is shriveling up faster than a wiener in a hot tub. At one point he said,

I think a lot of it with Hillary Clinton has to do with style and delivery, oddly enough. She shouts. There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen. […]  I’m sorry to dwell on the tone issue, but there is something here where Hillary Clinton suggests that she’s almost not comfortable with herself…

He then later said, she needed to “lower the temperature” and “kind of get off this screaming stuff.”

christy in new hampshire and bubble boyNow, I must point out that just before this discussion, Morning Joe played a long portion of Chris Christie rather forcefully telling reporters in New Hampshire that Marco Rubio was a “boy in the bubble” and those reporters had better force him to answer some tough questions. And we all know how Christie has talked in the past. He isn’t much for lowering the temperature or getting off the screaming stuff. Funny thing, though. No one on the panel said a word about his style and delivery. No one accused him of being unrelaxed or that his tone indicated he wan’t comfortable with himself.

When Howard Dean, a third man on the panel who is a Clinton supporter, dared to defend her against what was clearly sexist criticism, he was almost laughed off the set. And he was almost laughed off the set not just by the men, but by the three women.

From Wendy Davis’s “Abortion Barbie” experience, to the Megyn Kelly debate episode, to the double-standard that Hillary Clinton constantly has to endure on the campaign trail— the fascination with her hairstyle and clothing and her “tone”—clearly our politics and some of the punditry that surrounds it is still an androcentric universe. And, sadly, there are still too many women willingly orbiting around male dominance.

 

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