Wednesday, August 31, 2016

He Wins Again

We know that Politico's Edward Isaac-Dovere believes unquestioningly in trade pacts. Today, he refers to "Paul Ryan's anti-trade-focused, Trump-connected primary challenger;" "the anti-trade energy that Trumpand Sanders...."; "anti-trade protesters hounded (Democratic Rep. Derek) Kilmer" of Washington; and "Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.), who enraged anti-trade forces..."

But though the words "fair trade" or "pro- fair trade" evade Isaac-Dovere, the concept of fair trade continues to escape someone far more consequential. We learn

And the White House continues to be on edge, with President Barack Obama nervously pushing for the deal to move in the lame-duck session. Not making a convention fight on TPP was the one request the president made of Sanders when they met in the Oval Office in June at the end of the primaries, according to people familiar with the meeting, and aides conveyed a similar message to Wasserman Schultz about the party platform when she was still guiding it as chair.

It worked: Sanders toned down his public rhetoric on TPP, though many of his supporters still went to the convention floor in Philadelphia holding anti-TPP signs. The platform contains watchful language about trade deals, but not the specific condemnation of the TPP that the West Wing dreaded.

Obama is placing the power of his office behind a deal less about "free trade" than about "patent and copyright protection (which) are really at the core of the TPP" and which "was crafted by and for the pharmaceutical industry, the software industry, the finance industry, the telecommunications industry and other major industry groups." It's how he rolls. If that is not surprising, that's part of the problem.

The tacit support Sanders evidently gave Obama in de-emphasizing the TPP at the convention is disturbing, especially because- in the absence of an explanation- the Senator did the President a favor he did not deserve.

Isaac-Dovere continues

Though he hasn’t needed to all that often, Obama has made good on his promise last year to commit himself to helping any member who faced political trouble for backing trade, recording robocalls for Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), as well as Reps. Greg Meeks (D-N.Y.), Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.). Kilmer also got a TV ad from Obama, and Kind got a mailer with Obama’s endorsement.

They all  won and, Isaac-Dovere observes, "of the 28 House Democrats who were targeted by organized labor and the progressive base for supporting fast-track, Wasserman Schultz is now the 28th who either skated through a  primary challenge or didn't get one at all."

President Obama can't be blamed for the defeat of all 28, only (and merely in part) for those who were defeated by incumbents he actively supported.  But it was the Obama Party, has been the Obama Party, and remains the Obama Party. Back in late March the President (photo by Getty-Mandel Ngan) claimed "Debbie has been a strong, progressive leader in Congress and a hardworking, committed Chair of our national Party since I proudly nominated her to the role in 2011/  She always stands up and fights for what is right for her district while passionately supporting middle class families."

Barack Obama, still doing great stand-up! At the time, Charlie Pierce, too kind to both the congresswoman and the President, explained

Right now, Debbie is passionately supporting middle-class families by trying to deregulate the payday loan industry, which is probably the least excusable business in America until someone finds a way to franchise drive-thru anthrax dispensaries. She's also fighting for what's right by taking gobs of money from the private prison industry, which is probably the third- or fourth-least excusable industry in America. And, of course, in the past, DWS worked hard and was committed to the election of two of the most egregious Republican congresscritters rather than their Democratic opponents.

That's what passes in Obamaworld  for "passionately supporting middle class families." It has been that way for the past few decades, but not until this presidency has such allowance, and such loyalty, been given by Democratic voters to someone who says things like this.

In the manner of Pierce, who is much more forgiving of the President than I am: This is your (our) Democratic Party, friends. Cherish it.  Do so because the next time we have a President like Barack Obama, he or she won't be able to get away with putting a (D) after the name.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Look Over Your Shoulder And Walk Fast!

When Nykea Aldridge, cousin of a future NBA Hall of Famer, was murdered in Barack Obama's hometown last week, Donald Trump initially responded by tweeting (emphasis his) "Dwayne Wade's cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!"  (He later tweeted a more conciliatory and appropriate message.)

The supremely conservative Erick Erickson, whose antipathy toward Trump may be unmatched by any Republican, tweeted "you know when Republicans accuse Democrats of politicizing tragedy? Stop saying now, Republicans."

The Hill posted several tweets, from Josh Jordan,  Tim Miller, David Harris-Gershon, Maggie Haberman, Julie Roginsky, Tom Nichols, and Sam Stein. None of them is a Republican politican, though from Paul Ryan there might have been  "Donald Trump's tweet was the textbook definition of a cruel and insensitive comment. He's my choice for President."

For Spike Lee, himself not a conservative Republican, Trump's tweet "just shows where his heart is,," perhaps as the candidate's initial tweet to the massacre at the Orlando gay nightclub did.  However, Lee noted also "what happens in Chicago is way bigger than Donald Trump who is just trying to capitalize on it."

What happens in the USA is also way bigger than what hapens in Chicago, and Trump is trying to capitalize on all of it by frightening the nation's voters.

Two days after Trump's Aldridge tweets, he tweeted "Inner-city crime is reaching record levels. African-Americans will vote for Trump because they know I will stop the slaughter." German Lopez of Vox explains

Let’s be clear: Both parts of this tweet are completely wrong. Inner-city crime isn’t at or reaching record levels, and black Americans aren’t going to vote for Trump. This is just another example of Trump trying to manipulate voters in his direction.

He might have added "and there is no slaughter going on," unless Grump is confusing the USA witho such nations as Syria, Nigeria, and the Sudan.

The fact-obsessed Lopez continues

The most recent data for crime comes from an analysis by Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, for the US Department of Justice, released in June.

Rosenfeld did find a 16.8 percent increase in the homicide rate — which is used as a proxy to measure all crime, since it’s the most reliable crime statistic — in 56 of the largest US cities from 2014 to 2015.

That comes, however, on top of a crime rate vastly lower than experienced almost a quarter century ago, especially in large cities, about which the candidate is trying to frighten people. Specifically

that increase comes after America’s massive crime and homicide drop over the past couple decades, and the 16.8 percent rise is nowhere close enough to make up the difference. The homicide rate in these cities isn’t even at the highest point in the past 10 years, as Rosenfeld’s chart demonstrates.

This chart masks a lot of variation, too. The homicide rate increased in most large US cities analyzed by Rosenfeld, particularly Orlando, Cleveland, and Nashville. But it actually decreased in 15 of the 56 cities included in this analysis, including Boston, Austin, and Miami.

The recent uptick in the homicide rate is troubling, but it’s unclear if it represents a change in the decades-long trend downward. Crime rates tend to ebb and flow from month to month and year to year — for example, in 2005 and 2006, the national murder rate ticked up by about 5 percent before falling down to the lowest point in decades in 2013 and 2014. So we’ll just have to wait a few more years before we know what the long-term trend is.

Donald Trump won't have to wait, however.  He launched his campaign by declaring immigrants are "bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists." He later added "tremendous, infectious disease is pouring across the border." He condemned "the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.” China is not only a threat but is out to "rape our country. That's what they're doing. It's the greatest theft in the history of the world." Moreover," If we do not get tough and smart real fast, we are not going to have a country anymore."

The country is no longer great, and is just about gone, according to the self-styled "law and order candidate." HIs first tweet about the shooting death in Chicago was cruel and tasteless but far less consequential than propagating the lie that Americans must be very, very careful because crime is soaring.  Donald Trump's rhetoric may be no more overheated and divisive than when he tries to condemn voters to a life of always looking over their shoulders and waiting for other people to strike them dead.

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Sitting While Others Stand

As an NFL quarterback, the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick, born to a black father and white mother and adopted by a white couple, possesses a rare combination of strength, extraordinary arm strength, and nearly unparalleled speed,  Now struggling to keep his starting job, Kaepernick has never been known as "cerebral," the term pro football experts use instead of "smart."

Presumably, the word "cerebral" has become popularized now that analysts recognize that not all black quarterbacks are stupid any more than all white quarterbacks are smart uh, er," cerebral."  Thus, someone criticizing a black quarterback for being unable to master the intricacies of a position requiring a very high degree of football intelligence  cannot be accused of "racism" nor of being "politically correct" if accusing a white quarterback of not knowng how to play the position.

If that seems overly cynical or negative, you may want to stop reading.

Mr. Kaepernick now has opted to sit out the National Anthem during the 49ers' three exhibition games, as the league and his team acknowledge he has the right to do. It's not for show, he credily insists, and

I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed.  "To me this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel like that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand.

Recounting an instance at the University of Nevada in which he and fellow students allegedly had guns drawn on them by police simply because they (the guys, not the guns) were black, Kaepernick argued

You can become a cop in six months and don't have to have the same amount of training as a cosmetologist, "There's a lot of things that need to change. One specifically? Police brutality. There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable. People are being given paid leave for killing people. That's not right. That's not right by anyone's standards.

Fortunately, most police officers are entitled by contract to due process.  Shooting of civilians is invariably subject to invetigation and officers found to have acted irresponsibly are subject to severe punishment   With the rights of labor constantly under attack, too few workers currently enjoy due process or other protection from termination at will.  The right should be extended more to other fields of employment rather than denied to police officers.

Asked about the relationship between the presidential campaign and his protest, Kaepernick called Donald Trump "openly racist" and contended Hillary Clinton "has deleted emails and done things illegally" and "if that was any other person, you'd be in prison."

No one else would have been in prison becuase nobody but Secretary Clinton would have been in a position to delete three e-mails marked as "classified."  Kaepernick, it appears, does not suffer from understatement, having last month commented "this is what lynchings look like in 2016" upon posting to his Instagram account a video of a confrontation with police that left a civilian dead.

What Kaepernick lacks in judiciousness and football intelligence, however, he makes up for in courage.   He recognizes "I think there's a lot of consequences that come along with this. There's a lot of people that don't want to have this conversation."

That includes some fellow football players.  A far better and far smarter football player, safety Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles- described here as "active in social issues"- remarked "He's standing up for what he believes in, but at the end of the day, all the headlines are going to be about him shaming the country and not supporting the troops?"

Those headlines can be about shaming the country and not supporting the troops only if individuals who are respected allow such this false narrative to take shape. Kaepernick did not "shame the country" and his protest had nothing to do with "the troops." It pertained to injustice toward black Americans, especially  in regard to police brutality.   And if Kaepernick's failure to show support for the National Anthem shames the nation or soldiers, the quarterback has a lot of company because, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Ford notes

Paying attention is not required. Fans shift on their feet, forget to remove their hats, surreptitiously check their phones again, take a swig of soda, and wait it out. Again, this is most of the time and most of the people. If you feel differently, and never, ever waver in your laserlike focus on the flag, that's a significant level of patriotism, if that is how you choose to define it, but you are not the norm.

The norm, moreover, includes drowining out the end of the Anthem by feverishly applauding the impending start of the event.

Few people, especially anyone connected with the NFL, will question Colin Kaepernick's cause, however questionable it is.  But if he is slandered by individuals as undercutting "the country" or the "troops," he is in for an undeservedly rough ride.

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just Plain Foks

"It's time," a guy may say, to call "bull_ _ _ _ on that."

It's time to call it on Michelle Obama (photo below from Getty Images).  Vox reports that in an interview with Variety magazine, Mrs. Obama stated "My mom says it all the time: 'People are so enamored of Michelle and Barack Obama.'"

Imagine your neighbors, the Owens, telling you: "My mom says it all the time: 'People are so enamored of Jack and Jill Owens."  Humble folk, your neighbors, who know lots of odd people who use the word "enamored."

That statement at least has the advantage of being, in spirit, undoubtedly accurate.  But Mrs. Obama continues

And she says, "There are millions of Michelle and Barack Obamas." We’re not new. We’re not special. People who come from intact families who are educated, who have values, who care for their kids, who raise their kids — if you don’t see that on TV, and you don’t live in communities with people like me..."

There are millions of Michelle and Barack Obamas who, truth be told, are very impressive individuals.   As of 2013, Michelle Obama's net worth was estimated to be approximately 11.1 million dollars and that of her husband (as she would consider it) a paltry seven million dollars.

Unfortunately, the figures for this nation I could easily obtain were for 2009 and for individuals rather than households. Still, they are worthy for comparison with fairness compelling me to use the lower figure, Barack's $7,000,000.  In 2009 there were 320,277 individuals in the USA with equal or greater wealth.

It is difficult to determine their precise standing if Michelle's greater wealth ($11.1 million dollars) were added to Barack's wealth and the household figure of $18.8 million were compared to that of other households seven years later, during which wealth of the richest Americans climbed.  However, given  that the $7,000,000 was the lesser figure and relatively few homes feature two very wealthy individuals, their combined wealth compared to that of other couples would be far more impressive than that of Barack's alone.

One conclusion is clear and certain: there are not millions of Michelle and Barack Obamas. Take away their wealth, a move they would understandably find distasteful, and BO is one of 44 individuals ever to be President, and MO one of 45 First Ladies, of the USA ever.

But, gosh, there are millions of us, just average Americans, Michelle Obama assures us. No doubt you have several neighbors in the same class.  And yet, people are so enamored of us!

As much as the very rich claim they are just like you and me, normally something happens to them on the way up. That is nothing they should apologize for, nor anything they should deny. And if anyone reading this is convinced that were I so advantaged I would be even more self-delusional as Michelle Obama, please feel free to convey to me the mere $7 million or so Barack H. Obama is worth. Stocks, bonds, property, cash, or anything else would be gladly accepted at this blog's address.

I'll send you a nice thank-you note. As Donald Trump would say: believe me.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

All Or Nothing Not The Option

On its website, the Center for Immigration Studies proclaims it is "low immigration, pro-immigrant" and it is neither.

Observing Donald Trump's double somersault with a reverse on immigration, Politico notes

Both supporters and critics who study immigration law say it’s clear Trump hasn’t developed much knowledge about how the immigration system actually works since he first promised to build that border wall 14 months ago.

And they say his latest utterances are proof he’s no closer to having a comprehensive, workable approach to a long-broken immigration system.

However, if its director speaks for the organization, CIS supports high immigration while being opposed to the immigrant. We read further

“They were going to have to move beyond this knee-jerk reaction about deporting all the illegals because it’s just not a practical policy, and it never was,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors more restrictions on immigration. “But they could have done it in a more coherent and organized way. Instead it’s slapdash and confused.”

Although Donald Trump is prone to rhetorical excess and once recommended a deportation force, no one ever really believed all "11 million" (a number which has mysteriously declined from 12-13 million in the last 20 years) illegal immigrants would be returned to the country from whence they came.

Whatever is publicly argued, the policy divide is between those who want to deport individuals here illegally but without a criminal record vs. those who believe that absence of a record should provide immunity.

In a March debate, Univision reporter Jorge Ramos asked Hillary Clinton "and that you won't deport immigrants who don't have a criminal record? and Bernie Sanders "And can you promise not to deport mmigrants who don't have a criminal record?"  The replies, responsively: "I will not" and "I can make that promise."

Krikorian, from an organization proudly anti-illegal immigration, wants the illegal immigrants to stay, though short of citizenship.  With an opportunity to gain citizenship, they would not be easily exploited by employers (well, at least no more than native-born workers). Contemptuous of immigrants, he perverts the adjective "illegal" by converting it to a noun to form the derogatory "illegals." They can remain as long as they are dehumanized.  He is high immigration, anti-immigrant.

By contrast, Ann Coulter (whatever her over-the-top rhetoric), is more anti- illegal immigration than anti-immigrant.    Disappointed the flip-flop, softening, reversal, or intentional sowing of confusion was put forth on the day her "In Trump We Trust" was launched,  she issued a series of tweets on Thursday night criticizing the new policy or non-policy.

Most telling among her tweets, all delivered within 25 minutes, was the last, when she caustically commented:        Well, if it's 'hard,' then nevermind.  Trump: ".... to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years.... It's a very, very hard thing."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has not been disbanded. Although conducted too infrequently and "a very, very hard thing," workplace raids lead to the deportation of illegal immigrants and prosecution of their employers.  Especially useful have been the "paperwork raids," which target employers, emphasized by the Obama Administration. There would not be, nor would there ever have been, deportation of all 11-20 million individuals, just as not all street criminals are apprehended by police.

The impediment is not the ability, but the will, to conduct raids.  Nationally prominent Democrats are opposed to the efforts, though the Party's 2016 platform falls (barely) short of endorsing any and all expulsion.  An overwhelming majority of Democratic voters opposes expulsion.

So, too, do many Republicans. The latter demand a wall: it's an act of defiance, a symbol of opposition to Mexicans, would be built by private contractors, and never will have to be paid for because it will never go up.  However, effectively expelling people in the nation wihout authorization requires effort and employment of more border patrol agents, who are government employees and hence anathema to GOP dogma. Lacking sufficient personnel, ICE nevertheless performs an important function, as Coulter realizes.

Even a stopped clock, it is recognized, is right twice a day. As a woman of the right, Ann Coulter isn't right twice a day, and is often bombastic and offensive.  Nonetheless, once a decade or so she makes a valid point other conservatives bypass.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Not Happening

Channeling the minds- no, the emotion- of most Republicans

“Donald Trump understands that enforcing the laws and building a wall are paramount to what the will of the people is,” she told guest host Eric Bolling in an interview on "The O’Reilly Factor" on Fox News. “Thank God he’s still preaching that, because if he were not, then there would be a huge erosion of support.”

The Politico report explained

Trump over the past week has generated a flood of headlines by appearing to back away from his proposal for a "deportation force," saying he is open to "softening" immigration laws and that he's willing to "work with" certain undocumented immigrants if they pay back taxes.

Grump knows where the votes lie, for

In a Pew Research Center survey conducted in May, a solid majority (72%) of Americans – including 80% of Democrats, 76% of independents and 56% of Republicans – say undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.should be allowed to stay in this country legally if they meet certain requirements. Last year, we asked a follow-up question of those who opposed granting legal status to undocumented immigrants: Should there be a “national law enforcement effort to deport” all immigrants here illegally? Just 17% of the public overall favored such an effort, including about a quarter (27%) of Republicans. 

For practical purposes, this puts the majority of Americans- and of Republicans, including some Trumpists- in accord with the general approach of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party. Most individuals evidently want a path to normalization, some supporting citizenship, the others only legalization, a boon to unscrupulous employers and exceedingly destructive policy.

Admittedly, most Republicans want a wall, a vain yearning.  In testimony in May before a Senate committee, Richard Vitiello, deputy chief of border patrol for US Customs and Border Protection, noted "it is not necessary to have a pedestrian fence in places where the nfrastructure doens't support people walking toward the border." Moreover, in addition to pointing out the exorbitant price, this CNBC piece indicates

Border walls work in densely populated areas — such as Israel's wall in the West Bank — where slowing down a person trying to illegally enter by five or 10 minutes can make a difference to border patrol. But when the migrant trying to enter is traveling over remote mountains and deserts for three days, using a fence to slow them down by a few minutes doesn't have the same effect — it borders (pun intended) on the trivial, (deputy director of the US Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute Marc) Rosenblum said.

"There is a reason people don't build fences in the middle of nowhere; it doesn't change the enforcement profile in the middle of nowhere," the migration expert said. "The existing fence has worked because of where it is, near populated areas. Both Democrats and Republicans have testified that they have the fencing they need," Rosenblum said.

Both Democrats and Republicans have testified that they have the fencing they need. The message should be clear to conservatives who demand a wall, progressives who fear a wall, and Sarah Palin, relieved that Donald Grump has not relinquished his public support for a wall. Explosion of testosterone and display of beer muscles (for women and men) and anger at the Other aside, it's not going to happen. There will not be a wall. Believe me.

Up Next:  Mark Krikorian is wrong- and Ann Coulter is right.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Price Still Not Paid

Speaking in Sioux City, Iowa in January, Donald Trump made one of his most telling remarks when he boasted “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters."

In a similar vein (even if not widely understood as such), Trump last year had commented “When I drink my little wine — which is about the only wine I drink — and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness, and I do that as often as possible because I feel cleansed.”  In one fell swoop, Trump had mistaken regeneration for communion and trivialized the latter, patronizingly dismissing one of its elements as "my little cracker."

Trump had thus nearly confirmed his earlier statement, having symbolically stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shot somebody, and losing few voters.

He may be doing it again.  Still a work in progress, Trump's immigration policy is nothing if not muddled now that he speaks of a "softening" but still supports his big, beautiful wall.

There is a strategic calculation taking place not only in seeming- maybe- to move to the center, but also in keeping anyone who is paying attention from understanding exactly what he believes about illegal immigration. However, there is one statement Trump has made in the last few days, while he appears to be working out his values in public, which harkens back to confidence that he could shoot someone or make a remark utterly ignorant of Christianity and still not lose any votes.

On Monday night on GOP TV, Trump explained

As far as everybody else, we're going to go through the process,  What people don't know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country. Bush, the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I'm going to do the same thing.

Trump's campaign was based- we were told by it- on the understanding that the system is rigged, the country is broken, Bush and Obama were wrong about practically everything, and we must "make America great again."   Now he's going to do the same thing as Obama whose, Trump accurately points out, has been quite active in evicting illegal immigrants from the USA. He will act on immigration, he promises, similarly to the Kenyan-born president who founded ISIL, who "doesn't want to know about" terrorism, and "is more angry at me" (than) at the shooter" who murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. (Below, view Trump adviser Sarah Huckabee Sanders inadvertently endorsing the Obama immigration policy.)

Donald Trump may be the liberal Ted Cruz argued he is. Or he may be what he appeared to be, a hateful demagogue (a loving demagogue?).   Alternatively, he all of the above or none of the above, reminiscent of answers to multiple choice questions in secondary school.   Within striking distance of the presidency, however, Trump most clearly is someone who has not paid the electoral price for things he has done as a businessman and said as a presidential candidate.   If you ever see him on Fifth Avenue with a firearm, promptly seek shelter.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Nearly Good Idea From Ben Carson

"This was the moment," Senator Barack Obama declared in June, 2008 upon clinching the Democratic presidential nomination, for which we will be able to look back and recognize "the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

Skeptics might note that with the rate of rise of sea levels growing and the spread of terrorism worldwide, Obama was only slightly more prescient than he was humble. Yet, perhaps the planet has begun to heal, we are leaving our "children a world that's better, kindler, and more just," and we are overcoming egomaniacal politicians and creating nirvana.  It could be- Ben Carson is making sense.

Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" about Hillary Clinton's health, Dr. Carson replied

Well, you know, as a physician, physicians and scientists generally will not make a diagnosis based on something that they see from a long distance.  My diagnosis would be that anybody who is elderly should expose their records. And we the people should know what they are. Because it's a very stressful job.  It's not an eight hour-a day job, it's 24/7 and we need to make sure that is taken care of.

I know, I know. Any nominee for President of either major party should release his or her full medical records. It should not be done based on age, not only to avoid age discrimination but because some people are healthy at 80 years of age and others unhealthy at 40.  Still, Carson wisely suggested both Clinton and Trump should release their medical records.

That should be considered a mild rebuke to  Rudy Giuliani, M.D.  The former New York City mayor, who received his medical degree from The University of Nowhere, had argued on GOP TV that he had witnessed "several signs of illness" in the Democratic nominee and added "go online and put down 'Hillary Clinton illness,' take a look at the videos for yourself."

While you are on online, do a Google search for "Rudy Giuliani gay" and gaze upon "field negro: RUDY GIULIANI'S GAY LOVER COMES OUT AND SAYS....."  It may give your computer a virus, but it's "online" and thus must be true. Rudy says so.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Apology Necessary

Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press reports

Good Morning America co-anchor Amy Robach has apologized for saying "colored people" on Monday's broadcast of the ABC program.

During a segment on diversity in Hollywood, Robach, who was substituting for Robin Roberts, noted recent criticism for casting white actors "in what one might assume should be a role reserved for colored people."

After the broadcast, Robach released a statement explaining she had meant to say "people of color."

She called the incident "a mistake" and "not at all a reflection of how I feel or speak in my everyday life."


Holland continued "her use of the term sparked criticism on soical media." Many Americans are English-impaired.

If you call someone a  "person of intelligence," you're calling her an  intelligent person. If you refer to her boyfriend as "a person of evil," he is an evil person.   And if that makes you a "person of rudeness," you're a rude person.

News flash to fans of "people of color"- you are labeling individuals "colored people."

This shouldn't be so difficult, and wouldn't be if our interests were accuracy rather than using language for strategic purposes.   Deborah E. McDowell, director of the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, responded to the brouhaha by noting "if you are referring specifically to African Americans, people will frequently be specific and refer to us as African Americans."

Presumably that's because such individuals are in fact African-American.  However, McDowell is blowing smoke up our posterior when she claims "the preferred usage is 'people of color' if you are speaking about people of color broadly."

Uh, no. The preferred usage in the USA is "minorities," "ethnic minorities,"  or a more specific term such as "Asian Americans" or Hispanics/Latinos.  "Colored people" was once (unfortunately) acceptable, then recognized as offensive. Hence, though "people of color" often is used when speaking of "people of color" (whomever they are) broadly,  it is sometimes employed to refer to blacks specifically.

But maybe that's just the point. The speaker gets to use it to mean whatever he wants or even to obsure his actual meaning.

In physics, neither white nor black is defined as a color, black because "it is the absence of light, and therefore color."  Hence, it always was scientifically eccentric to refer to black people as "colored" and it is now absurd to refer to them ever as "people of color."

So, please, drop the "people of color" or "person of color" made-up nomenclature.  Given that the majority of people in the USA are considered "white," others may be considered "black." "African-American" is more accurate, assuming the subject is person or persons descended from the African continent. Meanwhile, "people of color" is no more accurate or appropriate than "colored people," at least according to this person absent of color.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Shortsighted Decision

"Supreme Court justices," according to Think Progress in March, "are nominated by the president and appointed with the advice and consent of the National Rifle Association, according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)."

The writer observed

McConnell offered this unusual view of the confirmation process during an interview with Fox News Sunday. In response to a question from host Chris Wallace, who asked if Senate Republicans would consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the election if Hillary Clinton prevails, McConnell responded that he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”

If it is up to former US Representative Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), her husband Mark Kelly, and the PAC they formed, Americans for Responsibile Solutions, NRA ally Mitch McConnell will remain Senate Majority Leader.

That's a little harsh toward Ms. Giffords, who was gravely wounded in the mass shooting incident of January, 2011 in Tucson, in which Jared Loughner killed six individuals and wounded 13 people.  However, having a political blog with no advertising has its advantages.  In an op-ed on CNN's website, Giffords/Kelly write

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Republican Sens. Pat Toomey and Mark Kirk broke from the gun lobby and supported a bill to help prevent felons, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms at gun shows and online.

This week, they are earning our organization's endorsement.

They acknowledge

With so many more candidates running on a gun violence prevention platform, in some places the changing politics of gun safety has made our endorsement decision difficult. In Pennsylvania, Katie McGinty is a passionate advocate for gun violence prevention and would be a consistent vote for life-saving gun safety laws in the Senate. Likewise, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is not only a decorated veteran and an American hero, but has been a champion for commonsense gun laws in the House. We have no doubt she would continue to be a leader on gun safety in the Senate.

Mark Kirk, perhaps the closest Republican in the United States Senate to a "moderate," is a tough call. But Pat Toomey, once the head of the corporate-enamored Club for Growth, should not be, for as the Associated Press reported nine weeks ago

Among the Senate's most vulnerable Republicans, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey stood firmly with the powerful National Rifle Association on the latest ill-fated attempts at gun control. So did Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

Not so Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk....

Toomey, Portman and Johnson — as they did in December after shootings in San Bernardino, California — supported a NRA-preferred measure to deny a gun sale to a known or suspected terrorist, but only if prosecutors could convince a judge within three days that the would-be buyer was involved in terrorism. The three also helped to defeat a Democratic-sponsored bill to close the gun show loophole and expand background checks.

Kirk is an underdog, Toomey probably a slight favorite to retain his seat.  Nevertheless as Pennsylvania's Democratic Party spokesperson pointed out, “Pat Toomey isn't a moderate on guns, period.  He's stood in the way of common sense gun safety laws and he would happily keep Mitch McConnell as the Senate Majority Leader, meaning that gun safety laws have almost no chance in the Senate" (photo from AP/Susan Walsh).

Bipartisanship has its merits as well as rewards, the latter in fundraising, maintaining a moderate image in the mainstream media, not alienating old friends. In this case, however, the fetish of bipartisanship is destructive to the cause Giffords and Kelly (who have supported Democrats as well as Republicans) are interested in.  If Hillary Clinton- as expected- is elected President, Toomey retains his seat, and Democrats end up with 49 Senate seats, the Arizona couple will have a lot to answer for.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Labor On Demand

Buzzfeed reports

In a Saturday meeting with his newly announced Hispanic advisory council, Donald Trump suggested he is interested in figuring out a “humane and efficient” manner to deal with immigrants in the country illegally, according to three sources. Trump, however, stressed that any new announcements will still be in line with the border security-focused approach that has invited intense opposition from Latinos and immigrants since he launched his campaign....

“The idea is we’re not getting someone in front of the line, we’re doing it in a legal way, but he wants to hear ideas of how we deal with 11 million people that are here with no documents,” said Jose Fuentes, who was chair of Mitt Romney’s Hispanic advisory committee in 2012, and attended the meeting.

Donald Trump's interest in "hear(ing) ideas of how we deal with 11 million people that are here with no documents" is nothing new.  As Javier Palomerez, president and CEO of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce informed Chris Hayes on September 1, 2015 (and I noted a few days later), Trump had told him "we agreed on this notion of mass deportation of 11 million people."

(In the video below, Palomarez said they "disagreed" on mass deportation. However, the context of the Hayes discussion suggests "agreed" is an accurate transcription and I heard Palomarez say it live.)

Trump never has opposed allowing illegal immigrants to remain. As a businessperson interested most of all in profit, he recognizes the value of illegal immigrants, beholden and tied to their employer, in maintaining low wage rates, decreasing benefits, and instigating competition among employees.

The GOP nominee's economic team is not composed of populists dedicated to the working class, determined to curb income inequality and reverse the decline of the middle class.  Most are  supply-siders such as FreedomWorks' Stephen Moore, formerly of The Wall Street Journal and the Club for Growth, once succinctly and accurately described by Mike Huckabee as the "Club for Greed." Giving the boot to low-paid workers competing with other workers is the furthest thing from the mind of Moore and most of Trump's advisers.

That makes all the more reprehensible the written statement of the campaign's Steven Cheung, slamming the Buzzfeed account as "clickbait journalism," that "Mr. Trump said nothing today that he hasn’t said many times before, including in his convention speech—enforce the laws, uphold the Constitution, be fair and humane while putting American workers first."

Whatever the merits of what may, or may no, be regarded as a pivot, Trump is definitely not putting "American workers first." He is reflecting the priorities of many GOP base voters and more closely those of the Party's politicians and donor base.

They are not excited about throwing out of the country illegal immigrants, which would simultaneously highlight the effectiveness of Party enemies- government and its workers- while simultaneously providing providing bad optics.  The mantra is "secure the border" or "first secure the border."  They are not necessarily opposed tolegalization, which would increase the number of workers tied to their employer without giving the workers an opportunity to become American citizens.

Failing to acquire the status of citizenship, workers likely would not be eligible for benefits or, as much of the base views it, "free stuff."  Criticially, they would not gain the right to vote.

Building the wall- and it just got ten feet higher- is red meat for the masses. The goal of the movers and shakers of the Republican Party is legalization without citizenship, creating workers who cannot become full-fledged Americans. The goal is more competition for a scarce number of jobs from individuals who, not given a chance to earn citizenship, might respond with the same respect for this (not their) country, thus incurring the nativist wrath of their Party's base. It's a win-win-win!

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

No Substantive Pivot

In January Politifact rated as "pants on fire" the assertion of Michigan Representative Mike Rogers, who had on CNN argued "I think we're missing one important point here. Donald Trump is appealing as much to Democrats as he is to Republicans.And anybody that misses this point by missing the folks on the street who are drawn to his campaign."

It is now seven months later and the meme, now repackaged as support deriving from voters facing economic anxiety, will not die.  Trump's popularity, Steve M. recognizes, now is often mistakenly

attributed to white America's increasing sense of economic displacement, as manufacturing jobs continue to disappear and the well-to-do benefit disproportionately from the economic recovery. We've been told that Trump is appealing to the same sense of economic unfairness that drove the campaign of Bernie Sanders.

It is hogwash now, just as it was early in the year, and SM blows  the whistle on it by pointing out that the voice on Trump's new commercial remarks

In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse.

Donald Trump’s America is secure, terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out. The border secure. Our families safe. Change that makes America safe again. Donald Trump for president.

The ad "starts by telling us that the system is rigged (but) doesn't see any rigging in the economic system."  Instead, the thrust is

about fear of the Other -- including, we can safely infer, that opening shot of a polling place entrance and the words "system rigged," which, to Trump's base, is a dog whistle meaning "Democratic machine bosses in big cities with large non-white populations are going to manipulate the vote in Clinton's favor."

Shortly before the 2012 election, a Monmouth University poll found that 51% of Republicans thought "voter fraud is a major problem nationally," as its analysis put it.  A few months earlier, 57% of Republicans were found by The Washington Post to consider it a major problem in presidential elections.  Earlier this month, Trump claimed he would lose Pennsylvania in November only "if cheating goes on."

 African-Americans and illegal  immigrants, in the minds of many Republicans, are manipulated into voting for Democrats. With surveys now indicating that Hillary Clinton may surpass Barack Obama's share of the two-party black vote, there is little doubt who is suspected of cheating.

The myth is reflected in Trump's recent statement, theoretically directed toward African-Americans, "You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?" Why, he might have asked, do you persist in being manipulated into voting against the Party which in many states is trying to deny you the right to vote?

Just as Trump's ad suggests no manner in which the system- or anything- is "rigged," so he offers no substantive proposals for improving the lot of the impoverished, which in his telling, apparently includes all blacks. (But it's all Hillary Clinton's fault.)

There is no new Trump. There only is the same old Trump, lumping together everyone of an ethnic group (such as blacks, Mexicans, and Arabs), who vote illegally and cheat to get free benefits, all the while manipulating a "rigged" system (or rigged something).   Add it all up, and to Donald Trump, the opposition- like John McCain - represents a bunch of losers.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Right To Vote, As Long As It's For Trump

On Tuesday night in Wisconsin, Donald Trump gave a speech covering a grab bag of issues in a remarkably superficial fashion.  (The only transcript available seems to be the one prepared for delivery, and given the candidate's penchant for going off-strip, any quotes may not be identical to his words as delivered.)   Trade, education, and Islamic terrorism also were trotted out for a cameo role.

It also was a highly partisan speech, in which Grump claimed

The Democratic Party has run nearly every inner city in this country for 50 years, and run them into financial ruin. 

They've ruined the schools.

They've driven out the jobs.

Most of all, crime must be attributed to Democrats, and primarily to his opponent because "Hillary Clinton-backed policies are responsible for the problems in the inner cities today, and a vote for her is a vote for another generation of poverty, high crime, and lost opportunities."

Grump was short on facts, long on generalities and short on specifics, though he did complain about conditions in "inner cities,"  which is nowhere an official designation, unlike cities, towns, townships, boroughs, etc. But for voters over the age of 50 it is translated as "black"  and sounds like a dogwhistle out of Frank Luntz's bag of rhetorical dirty tricks.

It's not surprising that a candidate who has warned "We're going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study make sure other people don't come in and vote five times" had his eyes on the votes of white supremacists as he gave a speech pretending to be concerned about minorities.

No one can say for certain whether Grump in his shout-out to vigilantism was referring to illegal immigrants, obviously a particular scourge to him, or blacks, who make up the dominant voting bloc for Democrats in Pennsylvania.   But Trump has charged the system is "rigged" and supporters have portrayed him as willling to challenge both Democratic and Republican members of the Establishment.

Yet, he didn't mention the effort underway in many states, led invariably by Republicans and typically opposed by Democrats, to prevent blacks from voting.  Were it not intentional from a man who throughout his speech ignored the structural barriers to equality of opportunity in American society, it would be only an egregious oversight.

The GOP tactic of suppressing the vote of blacks and Latinos is no mere oversight, and belies any expression of concern for either group.  In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit struck down a voter idenification law in North Carolina because

The photo ID requirement, which applies only to in-person voting and not to absentee voting, is too narrow to combat fraud. On the one hand, the State has failed to identify even a single individual who has ever been charged with committing in-person voter fraud in North Carolina. On the other, the General Assembly did have evidence of alleged cases of mail- in absentee voter fraud. Notably, the legislature also had evidence that absentee voting was not disproportionately used by African Americans; indeed, whites disproportionately used absentee voting. The General Assembly then exempted absentee voting from the photo ID requirement.

Speaking in Virginia twelve days later, Trump was clear in his support for voter disenfranchisment, remarking

You know, and I just left a great place, North Carolina. And they just had a tremendous loss. Voter ID. Voter ID. They lost voter ID. How do you lose voter ID? You mean, you don’t have to show identification? You don’t have to show that — hey?

Hey? Hey, voter identification fraud is nearly nonexistent, Donald:

Requirement of voter identification is a great way of depressing the vote, and waiting times at polling places varies significantly among ethinic groups, as indicated by the chart below:

In recognizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Senator Barbara Boxer in 2003 wrote "Without a meaningful vote, there can be no equality before the law, no equal access, no equal opportunity." Donald Trump may buck his Party in varied and superficial ways and plead for votes of African-Americans. But promoting voter suppression, as he and his Party are most anxious to do, make clear that Donald Trump's GOP has little interest in the black community.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Most Lives (Maybe) Matter

New York Times Senior Staff Editor Daniel Victor made  a lot of sense when a month ago he explained

Those in the Black Lives Matter movement say black people are in immediate danger and need immediate attention, like the broken bone or house on fire.

Saying “All Lives Matter” in response would suggest to them that all people are in equal danger, invalidating the specific concerns of black people.

“You’re watering the house that’s not burning, but you’re choosing to leave the house that’s burning unattended,” said Allen Kwabena Frimpong, an organizer for the New York chapter of Black Lives Matter. “It’s irresponsible.”

More to the point: It is a given that all lives matter, said Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University.

“That has always been an assumption,” she said. “The entire point of Black Lives Matter is to illustrate the extent to which black lives have not mattered in this country.”

Judith Butler, a professor in the department of comparative literature and the program of critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley, saidin a 2015 interview that “if we jump too quickly to the universal formulation, ‘all lives matter,’ then we miss the fact that black people have not yet been included in the idea of ‘all lives.’ ”

Oddly enough, Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck!) makes a similar point when he remarks

All of us are sitting around a table, and we're all friends. It's time for dessert, and everybody gets pie except for me and you. And you say, ‘I didn’t get any pie.’ Everybody at the table looks at you and says ‘I know. All pie matters.’ You say, ‘But I don't have any pie! What about my pie?’

It all sounds so reasonable. White lives always have mattered in the USA and now black lives must matter, too.   To their credit, Black Lives Matter has now clarified its message as The Washington Post reports

Dozens of Black Lives Matter organizations jointly released a wide-ranging platform Monday spelling out standpoints on dozens of issues.

On almost all of the issues — including education, food insecurity, criminal sentencing and policing — progressive Jewish groups heartily agree. But the new platform’s stance on Israel has angered major Jewish organizations.

The platform calls for an end to U.S. federal aid for Israel. By providing aid, the platform argues, the United States is “complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.” Criticizing the construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian areas and the arrest of young Palestinians, it describes Israel as “an apartheid state.”

One individual, the Times' Victor had noted, had tweeted Dear #AllLivesMatter types... imagine the word "too" appended to #BlackLivesMatter - get it now?

Oh, yes. We all "get it now." Black Lives matter. All lives matter. As for Jewish lives, well, that's another story entirely.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rudy Still Rudy

Slate's Jeremy Stahl believes Rudy Giuliani is getting a bad rap from "some hyperventilating on Twitter from outlets saying that Giuliani was ignoring 9/11."    Stating "his phrasing was misleading," the ex-mayor  "did not rewrite history to delete the worst foreign attack on U.S. soil since the War of 1812."

Stahl argues Giuliani

credited (vice-presidential nominee and former U.S. Representative) Pence’s work on the Patriot Act with preventing more attacks before pivoting to his remarks about eight years without another attack. Giuliani clearly meant there wasn't an attack during the 2001–2009 period after 9/11 and not the entirety of the eight years before Obama took office. Again, this was a poorly worded, misleading statement, but Giuliani clearly did not literally mean that 9/11 didn’t happen.

For whatever reason, media outlets reporting the remark as a gaffe have avoided replaying the remark in its context. So, too, has Stahl avoided that context, although it's easier to understand why he has done so. But as sportscaster Werner Wolf often put it, "let's go to the videotape," in this case the YouTube video below in which the ex-mayor is seen remarking

Mike Pence understands this from his time both as the Foreign Affairs Committee, both on the Foreign Affairs Committee, from his very timely visit which I remember to Ground Zero when we were in desperate need of help he was there  and from his work on the Judiciary Committee where he helped fashion the Patriot Act.  By the way, under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn’t have a successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when [Hillary] Clinton and Obama got into office.

If Giuliani had been crediting primarily Representative Mike Pence rather than President George W. Bush with preventing a terrorist attack, he wouldn't have said "by the way" and "before Obama came along." Giuliani was clearly attributing the absence of in an eight year (not "seven-and-a-half years" or "7+ years") to the Oval Office.

No one believes that the mayor of New York City on 9/11/01 (who did a lousy job both preparing the city for the possibility of a dramatic terrorist attack and managing the aftermath) forgot the events of 9/11; any such reference obviously is meant to be ironic.   There is a reason Senator Biden once quipped "I mean, think about it! Rudy Giuliani. There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There’s nothing else! There’s nothing else!”

For most, failure is nothing to brag about; Hillary Clinton does not go on about her e-mail savvy.  But similar discretion never stopped Rudy Giuliani from working tirelessly to capitalize on the worst attack in United States history for his own political gain.  He never forgot the events of 15 years ago but is only doing what he does best:  manipulating pain for gain. It's the same old Rudy.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Never A Mandate

The relation between President Obama's words and Hillary Clinton's campaign is not immediately clear but is real nonetheless.

Steve M. quotes The New York Times quoting Robert Reich saying of Hillary Clinton "If she’s going to get anything done as president, she is going to have to have a mandate.”   Recognizing that Democrats are best served by running up the score and thereby possibly winning a congressional majority, SM. explains

if Republicans don't have this excuse for blocking all her initiatives, they'll found some other excuse. They'll say they held the House and Senate, or held the House and nearly held the Senate, therefore Americans voted for divided government, and want them to be a check on her radical socialist big-government policies. Or they'll just do what they did in 2009 and 2010: they'll block everything just because they can, and offer no explanation, or say, as they said with Obama, that Clinton campaigned as a healer and then decided to govern as an ideologue, even if this is blatantly contrary to the evidence....

Republicans will never, ever grant that Clinton has a mandate. If the candidate had been Sanders and he'd won in a blowout with an unabashedly ideological, issue-oriented campaign, they wouldn't have granted that he had a mandate. They just don't do that. No election outcome will prevent them from standing athwart history yelling "Stop."

That's a pretty safe bet.  Republicans simply have no reason not to say "no!" to President Clinton's modest proposals, propose a radical, extremist agenda in response, then wait for the mainstream media to demand a compromise.   We know that. We've had eight years observing it.

But Steve M. fails to acknowledge that Obama never did claim a mandate.  Consider Barack Obama's inaugural address in 2008, when, feeling the bipartisan spirit, he declared "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works."

Upon accepting the Democratic nomination for President in 1988, Michael Dukakis had stated "This election isn't about ideology; it's about competence" and once he lost, we all laughed. When Obama rephrased it in 2008, we applauded. However, a week before Obama's second inaugural address, The Nation's John Nichols wrote

After a 2012 election campaign that his Republican foes portrayed as a referendum on the role of government, Obama has a mandate to make government work again for the American people. His inaugural address should claim that mandate with all the passion and all the determination that FDR brought to the mission seventy-six years ago.

The President responded with

Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.    

That was weak tea, steeped for about 20 seconds, and an acknowledgment that we do not have "to agree on every contour of life" could have served as a metaphor for a pragmatic, centist president who chose not to claim a mandate.

Steve M. probably is right that Hillary Clinton, even if she were to win in a landslide, could not claim a mandate Republicans wouldn't disregard and ignore. It is, nonethless, speculation, for we don't have recent experience with a Democrat claiming a mandate. We have only one who elected not to impose any but the most modest reforms on a nation, and progressive allies who barely raised a peep of protest.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Everybody Plays The Fool

Lacking grammatical skill but resplendent in musical talent, young Concetta Rosa Marie Franconero of Newark, NJ once sang "there are no exceptions to the rule. Yes, everybody's somebody's fool." Thirty-one years later, for New Orleans' Aaron Neville it was "everybody plays the fool; no exception to the rule."

As in love, so, too, in sports do most of us play the fool at some time. For the Philadelphia Daily News' Will Bunch, it is now, and it is the Olympics.  Bunch argues that the success of American athletes in

Rio has reminded us about something that might even be more politically harmful for Trump's November prospects: That his portrayal of the U.S. as a nation of losers who can't do anything right is utterly ridiculous. It's 180 degrees from what voters want to hear, and what we want to believe about our nation and ourselves. And there's still 10 more nights of this new American morning -- a sports sunrise that could be twilight for Trump's dark ambition.

Admittedly, refutation in Rio that  the USA is "a nation of losers who can't do anything right is utterly ridiculous" cannot be good news for Grump.

Nonetheless, voters deserve more credit than Bunch is willing to give them because they recognize that athletic success does not signify a nation on the right track, nor that it will do anything to put the USA onto the right track.  As Americans were snapping up Olympic gold in Rio

The black man whose killing by police touched off an outbreak of arson and rock-throwing in Milwaukee was shot by a black officer after turning toward him with a gun in his hand, the police chief said Sunday.

The chief and the mayor gave the account as Wisconsin's governor put the National Guard on standby in case of another round of violence like the one that rocked Milwaukee's mostly black north side Saturday night.

Police Chief Edward Flynn cautioned that the shooting was still under investigation and authorities were awaiting autopsy results, but it "certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds."

Details of the shooting have not yet been confirmed and we have learned that things aren't always as we first assume. Yet whether this is suggestive of the proliferation of firearms in the nation or the disproportionate amount of street crime committed by young black men, or another case of unjustified killing of a black man by a police officer, it is not good. It was, further, compounded by what the journalist reported as "an outbreak of arson and rock-throwing," sometimes referred to as a "riot."

This, too, was not good.  And though crime has been dropping for a couple of decades, guns have long been part of a deadly American subculture, and most police officers remain dedicated, hard-working, and fair-minded, people have grown increasingly concerned about violence in the "homeland."

The optics, at least, are terrible and have persuaded Donald Trump to grab the mantle of the "law and order candidate."  By contrast, as Bunch enthuses, the optics of winning at the Olympics are really great.

We overreact to either one, however, at our peril.  Bunch is absolutely giddy about the "10 more nights of this new American morning -- a sports sunrise that could be twilight for Trump's dark ambition."   But as someone who recalls President Reagan's mythical- yet powerfully effective- "morning in America," he should know better than to vest such faith in the redemptive power of sports.  Reagan's "morning in America" con allowed him to lead the middle class on its ongoing, 30+ year descent.   Victory! in Rio won't end housing segregation or extraordinary poverty in Milwaukee, nor the divide betweeen law enforcement and the community in 49 other states.

Everybody does play the fool. The excellent, here exultant, Will Bunch has proven he is no exception.

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...