Thursday, August 31, 2017

Daddy Nation




Joy Ann-Reid appeared Tuesday on "The Daily Show" and together with host Trevor Noah expressed the conventional wisdom about presidential leadership. That which passes for wisdom spans the political spectrum from far right to far left and, presumably, is especially strong among independent, non-ideological individuals. Noah remarked

Donald Trump is currently traveling as president, counseling the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Could this not be- could this not be the moment to where he pivots to presidential, and unifies the nation duing its time of crisis?.... This is a valid question.

After chuckling, Reid responded

Only if he goes into Trump Tower, locks himself in, sends out a different person that isn't Donald Trump, that his name is Donald Trump, who is a completely different person, and maybe that person can pivot and be the president we need. Donald Trump is 71. Do you know any 7-year-olds? I do. They are what they are. They're not going to change. He is that guy. 

The ellipsis in Noah's comment replaces "You guys are all assholes- every single one of  you." Evidently, Noah is unaware that the audience laughter which annoyed him reflects his own perspective (and that of Reid) that we actually want the President to be "presidential" as he- and most others- define it.





But as Charlie Pierce explains in criticizing Glenn Thrush's yearning that  President Trump "recapture some of the unifying power of his office he has squandered in recent weeks

This is how Ronald Reagan skated on the crimes of the Iran-Contra affair. In Mark Hertsgaard's study of the press in the Reagan era, On Bended Knee, Ben Bradlee, the hero editor of Watergate, says flatly that another "failed presidency" would be disastrous, and that Katherine Graham, the hero publisher of Watergate, "called for a retreat" in her newspaper's aggressiveness in the wake of Watergate and the rise of the Reagan Administration. You can see this at work as well in TheNew York Times's decision to bury the story of the George W. Bush administration's illegal surveillance program so as "not to affect" the 2004 election, even though that is precisely what that sort of story is supposed to do.

This is more than mere deference to power. A lot of institutions are powerful but still subject to an aggressive press and a skeptical public. But the presidency has grown to the point where a failed president shakes the comfort zone down to its foundations. Too many people want a unifying Daddy in the White House so much that, if a president is not up to the job, those people will create that unifying Daddy out of shoddy material and wishful thinking. As Hertsgaard wrote, reflecting on the presidency of Ronald Reagan:

      "…[it was] a time when the national political debate was dominated by a bundle of ideas  that almost without     exception were contradicted by objective facts, common sense, or  both."

We don't even have to go back some 30 years to the dramatically overrated President Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).   We have an example in this century alone, when in the wake of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, President Bush climbed onto a fire truck at Ground Zero, put his arm around a retired firefighter, and spoke to the crowd through a bullhorn, at which time

The crowd began chanting “U.S.A., U.S.A.” As the cheers died down, Bush started speaking. Someone from the crowd yelled that they couldn’t hear the president. Bush, with his arm still draped around Beckwith, shouted into his bullhorn, "I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

The president’s words were met with whooping and hollering from the crowd.

The media swooned. The politicians swooned. The country swooned. And the Bush Administration made its dishonest argument to the nation, now fertile ground for tales of aluminum tubes, yellowcake uranium powder, and "weapons of mass destruction."  In the  end, the Administration launched an ultimately disastrous war in Iraq. Compounding the error, to this very day the federal government is partnered with Saudi Arabia, the nation giving birth to most  of  the 9/11/01 terrorists, in a bombing campaign which has caused the death of approximately 8,000 Yemenis and the displacement of millions.

"Be careful what you wish for" is a useful aphorism. Presidents Reagan and Bush 43 were both great unifying figures in times of crisis, and we are the worst off for it.  Fortunately- whether or not because of  age- whatever unifying power President Trump, a would-be autocrat, may exhibit in the next few days will not last, and we will be the better off because of  it.










Share |

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Always Room For Senseless Violence




On Monday, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulose Oliver stated

I am deeply saddened to hear about the shooting that occurred at a public library in Clovis earlier today. There is no place for acts of senseless violence like this in our communities. My staff and I will be keeping the victims, their families, and the brave men and women who responded to the situation in our thoughts and prayers tonight.

Unforunately, Toulose Oliver is speaking only for herself and, probably, a dwindling number of other individuals.  On Tuesday, The Washington Post explained

Authorities in Clovis, N.M., intend to file first-degree murder charges against a 16-year-old high school student accused of killing two and wounding four during a shooting rampage inside the city’s library.

Clovis Police said Tuesday that Nathaniel Jouett was armed with two handguns when he entered the facility about 4:15 p.m. Monday and killed two library employees: Wanda Walters, 61, and Kristina Carter, 48. Officials identified the wounded as Howard Jones, 53, Jessica Thron, 30, Alexis Molina, 20, and Noah Molina, 10.

All four remain hospitalized, with Thron and Alexis Molina the most seriously injured, officials said.





On Tuesday morning, while Jouett was in custody at a juvenile detention center, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran on the bottom of its second page an article reporting the incident, which occurred too late for the Tuesday's morning edition of daily newspapers.

Admittedly without knowing what daily newspapers are circulated in the evening (a much-dwindling number), on Wednesday I surveyed the first 100 English-language, USA- published newspapers (nearly all published daily) displayed in the Newseum's "online gallery" of front pages.

This was not a cross-section, but given the alphabetical nature of the listing, included newspapers from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, and Connecticut.

None of them included the shooting deaths in the Clovis, NM library.  Three of the newspapers from which it was absent were those with the best names, Pueblo (AZ) Chieftain and Greenwich (CT) Time; and the Daily Boulder (Colorado) with the great headline "Philly's Naked Bike Ride Just Days Away." (The city is Philadelphia, but otherwise...)

The day's news featured the climactic catastrophe in Texas, which may be seen in hindsight as the biggest story of the year. However, there was no major development to report in the Mueller/Trump saga. A juvenile walking into a library and gunning down two individuals and wounding four others is simply seen as a big deal nowadays.

This is not merely a failure of the media but reflects the political climate. A month ago, former Philadelphia, Pa. and Washington, D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey noted "lawmakers on Capitol Hill are debating a dangerous proposal that would force each state to recognize the concealed-carry laws of other states, even those that have far weaker standards."

If this became law, every state would be requred to permit "almost any person" from the twelve states which "do not require any permit or training to carry hidden loaded guns in public" to carry a concealed weapon and

it would be nearly impossible for law enforcement officers to quickly and easily verify that individuals are carrying lawfully. It’s not just the state laws for who can carry concealed that vary significantly across the states. The actual permits vary significantly, too. Some state permit cards contain no photograph of the permit holder; others are as flimsy as library cards. This would require law enforcement to contact out-of-state issuing authorities to verify the permit’s authenticity. Law enforcement is most effective when officers are out on the street fighting violent crime, not stuck behind a desk doing administrative work...

Most alarmingly, the bill in the House goes so far as to open up law enforcement to the threat of personal litigation. If a law enforcement officer mistakenly questions a person’s legal authority to carry a concealed firearm, they can be sued, personally. If an officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that someone is carrying a firearm unlawfully, the last thing they should ever have to worry about is whether that individual may turn around and sue them and bankrupt their family.

Speaking to law enforcement officers in Suffolk County, NY a month ago, President Trump went full pander when he stated "When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon. You see them thrown in rough. I said, 'Please don't be too nice,.'" During the presidential campaign a year earlier, he had declared "I am the law and order candidate" and "We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent."

The President, fresh off pardoning Arizona's most notorious law-breaker, could demonstrate an interest in "law and order" by sending the Vice-President or the Attorney General to Clovis, New Mexico. He also could signal opposition to any expansion of concealed-carry or open-carry. But he is a Republican and will do nothing to discourage the reality that there is a place for "acts of senseless violence" in Trump's USA.






Share |

Monday, August 28, 2017

Suppressing Testimony





The "law-and-order" president has struck again.

Pardoning former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio for violating a federal court order, President Trump did not wait for an application, sentencing, admission of guilt, or expression of remorse. A political scientist and authority on presidential pardons wrote

Hundreds of persons have applied for clemency and have waited for years, some for 10 or 15. Imagine how demoralized they must feel now. Now, more gasoline will be poured on the classic misconception that clemency is only for famous persons, rich people, political supporters, insiders, the "connected.

It doesn't help that the indivdual in question, who defied the rule of law by defying a court order, is dangling the possibility of running for the United States Senate.

Still, aside from the individuals who have actually applied for clemency, no one cares. Most Americans already realized the famous, wealthy and powerful get preferential treatment and many of them- in a spectacular case of cognitive dissonance- cast their presidential vote for a guy famous, wealthy, and powerful man whose business model relied on intimidation, deception, and corruption.

Two Democratic members of Congress have a better idea. We learned from Politico 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Saturday that President Donald Trump's pardon of former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio could reverberate in the Russia investigation.

The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee wrote on Twitter that Trump-aligned witnesses might be inclined to not cooperate with investigators, since the president has shown his willingness to pardon allies.

"Arapio action was appalling & political. It also sends a message to the witnesses in the Russia investigation to keep quiet, stay loyal & get pardon," Schiff tweeted on Saturday afternoon.

And Raw Story reported that Connecticut Senator Richard

Blumenthal — who has gone toe-to-toe with Trump in previous media skirmishes about the Russia investigation — told anyone counting on a “get out of jail free” card from the president that their options may be more limited than they currently realize.

“Any witness counting on a Russia investigation pardon should think again,” he wrote on Twitter. “Trump’s loyalty is limited, witnesses can still be compelled to testify, and the pardons apply only to federal crimes.”

Unfortunately, if they refuse to testify and thus are cited for contempt, the President then can pardon them prospectively for that offense. It is, further, unlikely that any of Trump's cronies will heed their warning.

But if other Democrats join in, there might be some effect. They will make it clear that people are on to Trump, that they recognize that he is sending a message to the rats on his ship to keep quiet. It reeks of obstruction of justice, an effort to keep shut people up. The widespread recognition that they are following marching orders from the White House may make them uncomfortable and persuade them to be less relcutant to keep quiet or develop amnesia.

It's not much. But it surely beats Democrats going on to the next shiny object as they forget about the predictable, yet reprehensible pardon of the former Maricopa County concentration camp commandant.










Share |

Those Very Bad People In The News Media Strike Again




On Friday, a co-host on Fox News' "The Five" complained "You could see this coming. CNN didn’t wait long to bring up climate change in its Hurricane Harvey coverage.”

There is one likely explanation: because the storm has been more severe because of climate change. Hockey stick  climatologist Michael Mann explains the

simple thermodynamic relationship known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation that tells us there is a roughly 3% increase in average atmospheric moisture content for each 0.5C of warming. Sea surface temperatures in the area where Harvey intensified were 0.5-1C warmer than current-day average temperatures, which translates to 1-1.5C warmer than “average” temperatures a few decades ago. That means 3-5% more moisture in the atmosphere.

That large amount of moisture creates the potential for much greater rainfalls and greater flooding. The combination of coastal flooding and heavy rainfall is responsible for the devastating flooding that Houston is experiencing.

Environmental Defensee Fund Senior Climate Scientist Scott Weaver pointed out

in the span of just five months, the United States logged no fewer than four deadly 1,000-year floods in states as widespread as Texas, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana – following a 1,000-year-flood that ravaged South Carolina last October.

He notes this is a long-term ttrend (map below from National Climate Assessment, 1958-2012) in that

observations over the last 60 years indicate that over the United States, the amount of water falling in heavy rain events has increased substantially, and an astonishing 71 percent over portions of the mid-Atlantic and northeastern U.S.










Note, moreover, that he wrote "In other words, if there were two storms with an identical structure over Boston, Massachusetts – one in 1955 and one in 2016 – the one in 2016 would, on average, produce 71 percent more rainfall."

"In 2016," Weaver maintains- because his explanation has not come on the heels of Harvey but nearly twelve months ago.

"They have been fake news for a long time. They've been covering me in a very, very dishonest way," President Trump whined in Poland.  And now, the network has the temerity to put tropical storm Harvey in context. If Trump and Fox News don't keep their eye on them, there is no telling what those reprehensible CNN people will do next:









Share |

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Censoring Unpleasant Speech




Have Arena Will Travel. In the past few years Bill Maher has been almost everywhere on tour, including the usual suspects such as California, Canada, Las Vegas, and New York City, but also in Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

He was even in San Francisco, on April 23, 2017. That may not seem surprising except that

Protesters opposing a right-wing gathering in liberal San Francisco claimed victory Saturday when the event was cancelled after city officials walled off a city park, a move that the event’s organizer said was more about silencing his group’s message than preventing a violent clash.

Civic leaders in San Francisco, a cradle of the free speech movement that prides itself on its tolerance, repeatedly voiced concerns that the event organized by Patriot Prayer would lead to a clash with counter-demonstrators.

Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American and leads Patriot Prayer, said his group disavows racism and hatred and wanted to promote dialogue with people who may not share its views. He cancelled a planned rally Saturday at a field under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge after he said his members received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

Well, at least his right to speak his mind would be protected. Well, maybe not:

San Francisco officials closed the park where Gibson had planned a news conference after cancelling the rally at Crissy Field. City officials surrounded Alamo Square with a fence and sent scores of police officers —some in riot gear — to keep people out. Lee defended the city’s response.

If you would like to believe- as would I- that the city merely wanted to prevent violence, you'll be disappointed that

“If people want to have the stage in San Francisco, they better have a message that contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them,” Lee said. “That’s why certain voices found it very difficult to have their voices heard today.”

Reports that Mayor Lee emphasized his point by employing a visual aid, setting fire to the First Amendment as he spoke, are greatly exaggerated. I think. Evidently, however, at least some citizens are being encouraged by city fathers and mothers to engage in dialogue and voice their opinion, given that

More than a thousand demonstrators against Patriot Prayer still turned out around Alamo Square park waving signs condemning white supremacists and chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Hundreds of others took to the streets in the Castro neighbourhood.

“San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind,” Bianca Harris said. “I think it’s a really powerful message that we’re sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it’s just not welcome in this city.”

Benjamin Sierra, who organized counter protesters, said the demonstration had become a “victory rally.”

Not a victory for the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which Ms. Harris skipped over when she read the document.  Fortunately, Mr. Maher of "Real Time," speaking generally the day before the rally, is here to explain

This has got to stop- ths idea that people have to go away if they've offended me even for one moment. How about just move on? Turn the page. Go to the next thing in your life. This idea that you cannot suffer one moment of pain.

There are consequences to this dreadful over-sensitivity. Maher stated also

If you talk to Trump people, they're not unaware of his flaws. But what they always say, like the first thing, what they love about hm is he's politically incorrect. 

You know all those years ago, when I called the show "Politically Incorrect", I wasn't exactly wrong. I failed miserably at driving a stake through its heart but that was a problem and it is a problem and we've been choking on it, and he played that and he still plays that. And they love that and even though they know he's bad in a lot of ways, they'd rather be on his team than (on) the insufferable people on the left. That's how they think.





The First Amendment protects sweet and sour and love and hate alike. It allows speech that not only comforts and reassures, but sometimes annoys and angers. Were it not so, it would be as worthless as Mayor Lee is making it out to be.





Share |

Saturday, August 26, 2017

From Many, One




President Trump  only yesterday announced a nearly unconscionable pardon of former Maricopa County, AZ sheriff Joe Arpaio, unwise on a few levels.At first glance and thought, this is awkward and odd timing, especially for a blog ostensibly of the left Upon further review, however, the timing is neither odd nor awkward. First, wisdom from the August 6, 2017 segment of "Fareed's Take." in which Fareed Zakaria (though wrong  about the late Robert Casey and abortion in 1980) explains

Look at the Democracy Fund's voter survey done in the wake of the 2016 election. If you compare two groups of voters, those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then Hillary Clinton in 2016 and those who voted for Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016, the single biggest divergence on policy between those two groups is immigration.

In other words, there are many Americans who are otherwise sympathetic to Democratic ideas, but on a few key issues, principally immigration, think the party is out of touch.

And they are right. Consider the facts. Legal immigration in America has expanded dramatically over the last four decades. In 1970, 4.7 percent of the American population was foreign-born. Today, it's 13.4%. That's a large shift in a small period of time. And it's natural that it has caused some anxiety.

And the anxiety is about more than just jobs. In his 2004 book, Who Are We?, the Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington asserted that America had more than just a founding ideology. It had a culture, one that had shaped it powerfully.

Would America be the America it is today if, in the 17th and 18th centuries, it had been several not by British Protestants, but by French, Spanish or Portuguese Catholics, Huntington asked. The answer is no. It would not be America. It would be Quebec, Mexico or Brazil.

[10:05:07] Democrats must find a middle path on immigration. They can battle Trump's drastic solutions, but still speaking the language of national unity and identity. The company's motto after all is Out of Many, One, not the other way around.






If you are tempted to believe this bears any resemblance to Donald Trump's perspective, don't. This is as alien to Trump's approach as the lifestyle of Louise Linton (Mnuchin) would be to, say, that of the Dalai Lama.  Even before he was President, Trump condemned immigrants because, in his view, they are criminals.  In Phoenix this past week, he claimed

The people of Arizona know the deadly and heartbreaking consequences of illegal immigration, the lost lives, the drugs, the gangs, the cartels, the crisis of smuggling and trafficking. MS-13 -- we're throwing them out so fast, they never got thrown out of anything like this. We are liberating towns out on Long Island. We're liberating.

Illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico and in a moment's notice, showing up on the eastern end of New York State. Only in America, I guess. He continued

Can you imagine, in this day and age -- in this day and age in this country, we are liberating towns. This is like from a different age. We are taking these people. They don't shoot people, because it's too fast and not painful. They cut them up into little pieces. These are animals. We are getting them out of here. We're throwing them in jails, and we're throwing them out of the country. We're liberating our towns...

In 1996, at the tail end of the cocaine crisis, Hillary Clinton referred to "superpredators" and never heard the end of it in 2016.   Illegal immigrants, however, are in Trump's telling "animals" holding our towns hostage.

Back to the gangs. in whch "One by one we are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminals who prey on our people. We are throwing them out of the country or we're putting the hell, fast in jail..."

And to the "wall," without which our existence as a nation is questionable:

Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: You are putting all of America's safety at risk. You're doing that. You're doing that...

And that wall is also going to help us, very importantly, with the drug problem, and the massive amounts of drugs that are pouring across the southern border....

It wouldn't be Trump without conflating immigrants, crime, and refugees, who are terrorists. Therefore, he contended

So you put pressure, but believe me, one way or the other, we're going to get that wall. Immigration security is also a matter, remember this, of national security. That's why we're implementing tough new vetting and screening protocols to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country.

This is not about one nation with a unifying culture forged with contributions from many cultures throughout the world. It is a view of The Other untethered to reality, geared to dividing the country further.  It is not "out of many, one" but "this is our land, not your land and it neve will be, so get lost."






Share |

From Many Cultures, One





President Trump  only yesterday announced a nearly unconscionable pardon of former Maricopa County, AZ sheriff Joe Arpaio, unwise on a few levels.At first glance and thought, this is awkward and odd timing, especially for a blog ostensibly of the left Upon further review, however, the timing is neither odd nor awkward. First, wisdom from the August 6, 2017 segment of "Fareed's Take." in which Fareed Zakaria (though wrong  about the late Robert Casey and abortion in 1980) explains

Look at the Democracy Fund's voter survey done in the wake of the 2016 election. If you compare two groups of voters, those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and then Hillary Clinton in 2016 and those who voted for Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016, the single biggest divergence on policy between those two groups is immigration.

In other words, there are many Americans who are otherwise sympathetic to Democratic ideas, but on a few key issues, principally immigration, think the party is out of touch.

And they are right. Consider the facts. Legal immigration in America has expanded dramatically over the last four decades. In 1970, 4.7 percent of the American population was foreign-born. Today, it's 13.4%. That's a large shift in a small period of time. And it's natural that it has caused some anxiety.

And the anxiety is about more than just jobs. In his 2004 book, Who Are We?, the Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington asserted that America had more than just a founding ideology. It had a culture, one that had shaped it powerfully.

Would America be the America it is today if, in the 17th and 18th centuries, it had been several not by British Protestants, but by French, Spanish or Portuguese Catholics, Huntington asked. The answer is no. It would not be America. It would be Quebec, Mexico or Brazil.

[10:05:07] Democrats must find a middle path on immigration. They can battle Trump's drastic solutions, but still speaking the language of national unity and identity. The company's motto after all is Out of Many, One, not the other way around.






If you are tempted to believe this bears any resemblance to Donald Trump's perspective, don't. This is as alien to Trump's approach as the lifestyle of Louise Linton (Mnuchin) would be to, say, that of the Dalai Lama.  Even before he was President, Trump condemned immigrants because, in his view, they are criminals.  In Phoenix this past week, he claimed

The people of Arizona know the deadly and heartbreaking consequences of illegal immigration, the lost lives, the drugs, the gangs, the cartels, the crisis of smuggling and trafficking. MS-13 -- we're throwing them out so fast, they never got thrown out of anything like this. We are liberating towns out on Long Island. We're liberating.

Illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico and in a moment's notice, showing up on the eastern end of New York State. Only in America, I guess. He continued

Can you imagine, in this day and age -- in this day and age in this country, we are liberating towns. This is like from a different age. We are taking these people. They don't shoot people, because it's too fast and not painful. They cut them up into little pieces. These are animals. We are getting them out of here. We're throwing them in jails, and we're throwing them out of the country. We're liberating our towns...

In 1996, at the tail end of the cocaine crisis, Hillary Clinton referred to "superpredators" and never heard the end of it in 2016.   Illegal immigrants, however, are in Trump's telling "animals" holding our towns hostage. Back to the gangs:

One by one we are finding the gang members, the drug dealers and the criminals who prey on our people. We are throwing them out of the country or we're putting the hell, fast in jail...

And to the "wall," without which our existence as a nation is questionable:

Let me be very clear to Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stand in the way of border security: You are putting all of America's safety at risk. You're doing that. You're doing that...

And that wall is also going to help us, very importantly, with the drug problem, and the massive amounts of drugs that are pouring across the southern border....

It wouldn't be Trump without conflating immigrants, crime, and refugees, who are terrorists. Therefore, he contended

So you put pressure, but believe me, one way or the other, we're going to get that wall. Immigration security is also a matter, remember this, of national security. That's why we're implementing tough new vetting and screening protocols to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country.

This is not about one nation with a unifying culture forged with contributions from many cultures throughout the world. It is a view of The Other untethered to reality, geared to dividing the country further.  It is not "out of many, one" but "this is our land, not your land and it neve will be, so get lost."





Share |

Gary Not From Indiana





President Trump signs military transgender ban; Robert Mueller issues supbpoenas to individuals associated with Paul Manafort; Sebastian Gorkas resigns/is fired; the President pardons former Sheriff Joe Arapaio; and Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc along the Gulf Coast.

And so I've been thinking of Gary Cohn,  who wrote the draft of a resignation letter as director of the White  House Economic Council. Sometime afterward, he met with President Trump, who persuaded him to stay, though as The New York Times reports

in a stunning critique of the president, Mr. Cohn told The Financial Times in an interview published on Friday that the Trump administration “can and must do better” to condemn hate groups and “do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”...

“I have had numerous private conversations with the president on this topic,” Mr. Cohn told The Financial Times, adding that “I have not been bashful saying what I think.”

Spare us.  Former Missouri senator John Danforth has written in The Washington Post "We cannot allow Donald Trump to redefine the Republican Party. That is what he is doing, as long as we give the impression by our silence that his words are our words and his actions are our actions. We cannot allow that impression to go unchallenged."

Unfortunately Danforth, perenially overrated as a US Senator by a media always ready to laud Republicans who are not racist or vitriolic, argues that Trump has departed from traditional GOP values and decorum and "is not a real Republican."  Given his moves on climate change, deregulation, health care, scientific research, immigration, financial reform, the estate tax, the environment, and so much more, that's a crock. However, Danforth did note, accurately and courageously, that the constitution's framers

created a constitutional structure and a Bill of Rights that would accommodate within one nation all manner of interests and opinions. Americans honor that principle in the national motto on the presidential seal: “e pluribus unum” — “out of many, one.” Today, the United States is far more diverse than when we were a nation of 3 million people , but the principle remains the same: We are of many different backgrounds, beliefs, races and creeds, and we are one...

Trump is always eager to tell people that they don’t belong here, whether it’s Mexicans, Muslims, transgender people or another group. His message is, “You are not one of us,” the opposite of “e pluribus unum.”

Yet Gary Cohn insists to Financial Times "as a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job.”

Someone notify Mr. Cohn that it's not necessary to be Jewish to leave a President who signals his support to neo-Nazis; that President Trump's response to Charlottesville was in keeping with his tone and rhetoric of the past two years; and that "Jewish American" is an ethnic group and not a religion. By contrast, God himself once wrote "Breaking news from Mt. Sinai: Judaism is a religion. The millions of allusions to me in every single text and commentary and ritual of the past 3,000 years probably should have been a giveaway."

But most of all inform Gary Cohn that when the story of this most extraordinary and destructive period is written,  it will not deal kindly with someone who was complicit in this Administration because he wanted to be a player in tax cuts for corporations or to be appointed chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board.

Expressing mere concern about one of Trump's many outrageous incidents may allow him to maintain a modicum of credibility in the financial community once the President he serves goes down.  But it will not spare him the harsh judgement of history. Ask John Danforth.










Share |

Friday, August 25, 2017

Foremost Tactic




In his speech in Phoenix, President Trump grotesquely misled the American people about his comments delivered during the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He bragged about being a better student at better schools and living in a bigger apartment than the "elites," whomever they are. He knocked and tried to undermine public schools and "Obamacare," condemned Senators Flake and McCain, and had little positive to say about anyone or anything other than convicted criminal Joe Arpaio, police, and the Pentagon, the latter because, well, that's what "populists" do.

The most significant vitriol, however, was reserved for the media, as in

We're all, like, we have a certain sense. We're smart people. These are truly dishonest people. And not all of them. Not all of them. You have some very good reporters. You have some very fair journalists. But for the most part, honestly, these are really, really dishonest people, and they're bad people. And I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that. And I don't believe they're going to change, and that's why I do this. If they would change, I would never say it.

The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself, and the fake news.

Given that the speech was as disjointed as hateful, it included other criticism of the press, an indispensable part of the President's strategy. Members of a generally hard-working, middle-class group seeking facts, they represent what many Trump supporters- prone to emotionalism and impulse- most hate and fear.

The more doubt the President sows in what journalists do, the more confusion is sown in voters, and truth eventually becomes virtually impossible to distinguish from fiction. Trump's other motive, as Jon Meacham has observed is as a "pre-emptive strike on the media for whatever bad news might be coming.





Donald Trump may go. He will not go quietly, and will attack his critics far more than he will defend himself. There will be no reprise of "to have served in this office is to have felt a very personal sense of kinship with each and every American."

This in turn lays bare the silliness of cable news talk over possible opposition to the President's renomination in 2010.  Once Mueller's report is released, it will become increasingly obvious that Trump will not be able to run for re-nomination. And in the unlikely event he does, revelations in the investigation- coupled with events over the next two years- will drive the possibility of a GOP challenge to the President more than anything which has occurred thus far.

The linchpin of President Trump's strategy is to undermine confidence in legitimate media. If he is able to do that, the eventual introduction of Articles of Impeachment will provoke the response in his followers predicted by Roger Stone, and which the Donald Trump believes he needs.






Share |

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What Goes Around, Comes Around





Donald J. Trump was raised in Queens and made his billions in Manhattan. It knows him well, part of the reason he was shellacked in New York City in November, 20016. He in turn knows the area well enough that he shouldn't need his daughter, a convert to Judaism, or his son-in-law to explain to him the meaning of the word chutzpah.

Evidently, an August 9 telephone conversation between the President and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell included an argument about the Senate investigation(s) into Russian interference in the presidential election and the bill passed by Congress limiting the President's ability to reduce sanctions against Russia. It featured swearing by the President and was followed by the tweet

Senator Mitch McConnell said I had "excessive expectations," but I don't think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?
2:14 PM - Aug 9, 2017

When Republicans attempted for the third time to overturn the Affordable Care Act, their "skinny" repeal amendment failed as three Republicans joined all 48 Democrats in voting it down. Afterward, The Washington Post observed "On average, 55 percent of Americans opposed the GOP proposals to replace Obamacare while 22 percent supported them, according to an average of health-care polls tracked by PollingReport, which we compiled starting in March."

Mitch McConnell got 49 of 52 GOP senators to vote for the last of the three initiatives despite the overwhelming preference of American voters that the Party drop its effort.

John McCain,  whom Senate Republicans successfully persuaded to return to Washington despite recovery in the hospital from a brain tumor, was one of the only three Republicans to vote it down.

McCain's own explanation suggests that he thought that if the amendment were approved, it might be passed unchanged by the House of Representatives, thus denied the normal process McCain evidently wanted it to face.

But that might have occurred with either of the other two amendments, both of which passed by healthy margins and both of which McCain voted for.  When his vote was critical, in what McConnell had largely acknowledged was the do-or-die moment, the Arizona senator voted "no."

Perhaps Senator McCain, whose health imperils a Senate career which- at his age- may have been drawing to a  close anyway, considered a legacy he didn't want marred by a bill which would have resulted in 15 million Americans losing their health insurance.  Still, there may have been an additional reason: revenge is a dish best served cold. We recall July 2015 when

Mr. Trump upended a Republican presidential forum here, and the race more broadly, by saying of the Arizona senator and former prisoner of war: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Mr. McCain, a naval aviator, was shot down during the Vietnam War and held prisoner for more than five years in Hanoi, refusing early release even after being repeatedly beaten.





If this played a role in Senator McCain's vote, it is not merely a matter of being vindictive.   Trump's remark a little more than two years ago brought into stark relief early in the campaign the nature of the individual which would become ever more obvious the longer the campaign (and now the presidency) went on.

Twenty-five months later President Trump, who once denied the senator the credit every politician and pundit and nearly every American has given him, now has been denied a major legislative victory by that same John McCain.   President Trump, who figuratively pointed to John McCain and said "he's a loser," has become the loser.

And now he blames master parliamentarian Mitch McConnell, who knows the Senate and what drives it better than (arguably) anyone, for the failure to "repeal and replace Obamacare." That, as Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and many people could tell him, is a textbook example of chutzpah.





Share |

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unwise Prudence




It is, Fox News' Howie Kurtz remarks, not only "political correctness" but also "almost a parody." The New York Times reports

ESPN has removed an announcer from its broadcast of the University of Virginia’s first football game next month because he has the same name as a Confederate general memorialized in statues that are being taken down across the country.

The network announced late Tuesday that the announcer, Robert Lee, a part-time employee who calls about a dozen college football and basketball games a year for ESPN, would no longer participate in the broadcast of the Sept. 2 game in Charlottesville, Va., which became the center of violent clashes this month during a white supremacist gathering.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis flooded into Charlottesville, marching through the University of Virginia campus with torches, to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of the Confederacy’s top general, Robert E. Lee.

Well, okay. We know that removal of the statue was more a pretext than the reason, but never mind. The Times continues

“We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name,” ESPN said in a statement. “In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue.”





It's a shame that ESPN has chosen to make it an issue by making it a topic of conversation.  At first glance, the network's decision seems wrongheaded. At second and third glance, it looks worse.

If looks don't deceive, this guy is of east Asian descent.  There would be no purpose for the left to protest his broadcast even if he looked like a descendant of a shipmate on the Mayflower. And the right, if anything, would be partial to a guy named Robert Lee, even though he's not Robert E. Lee.

Admittedly, that merely means ESPN's decision was foolish. However, it could give fuel to the fire of the aggrieved right, always on the lookout for "political correctness."  And of course, they will misinterpret it as giving in to "liberals" rather than a highly successful, overly cautious corporation allowing the profit motive to get in the way of common sense.





Share |

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

History Does Not Conveniently Vanish




Early this year, Julius Krein founded a journal named "American Affairs," dedicated to conservatism and its more earthy manifestation in Donald Trump.

Krein last week received favorable attention for an op-ed in The New York Times in which he acknowledged having "supported the Republican in dozens of articles, radio and TV appearances, even as conservative friends and colleagues said I had to be kidding." He now concedes "my optimism was unfounded. I can't stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and  I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president."

Anyone who wants to join the fight is to be welcomed. Still, Eric Armstrong of The New Republic does a credible, if short, takedown of Krein, concluding "even in his denunciation of Trump, Krein whitewashes and justifies Trump’s actions."

There are at least two important items Armstrong missed, the first surprisingly, the second nearly inevitable coming from someone on the left.

Krein writes

The administration inexplicably downgraded infrastructure and corporate tax reform — issues with potentially broad-based support — to pursue a warmed-over version of Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal, which ended, predictably, in a humiliating failure.

This is a warmed-over version of the inside Washington view, parroted by pndits and media types everywhere, that the fundamental problem with Trump's rhetoric and focus on health-care reform is that it has prevented  high-minded consideration of massive infrastructure spending and "tax reform." (To Krein's credit, at least he refers to it as "corporate tax reform.")

"Tax reform," however, as the GOP brands it, is reduction of taxes for the wealthy and for corporations.  Moreover, Trump's vision of infrastructure spending- let alone the only sort Speaker Ryan would support- is largely a tax giveaway to corporations and privatization scheme.  And Obamacare repeal did not end "predictably" in failure, but rather by one vote, which might not have occcurred had John McCain (bless his heart) not been stricken with a brain tumor and stared at his legacy.

Writing before the President's Afghan policy was sort-of announced on Monday night, Krein argues that President Trump has betrayed the principles of candidate Trump, whom he claims included

question(ing) elements of what is often called the neoliberal policy consensus — totally open borders for capital and labor; transferring power from national governments to transnational technocracies; unfettered markets; and democracy promotion as the sole premise of foreign policy. In other words, the disappointing legacy we inherited from the Bushes and the Clintons that helped pave the way to Mr. Trump’s election.

Bush 41 served as president from 1989-1992; Clinton 42 from 1993-2000; and Bush 43 from 2001-2008. It is now 2017. Krein seems to have forgotten someone.

He has forgotten someone who (aside from "Obamacare repeal") he didn't remember at all in his piece.   Donald Trump, however, did not forget Barack Obama. Six months ago, Michelle Ruiz (emphasizing Trump's hypocrisy) noted the candidate had "conducted a years-long vendetta against President Obama over his golf game, arguing that the president was neglecting everything from the economy to terror attacks by spending time on the green."  He "regularly railed against President Obama for taking vacations" and called Obama "the founder of ISIS."





The GOP presidential candidate wisely tweeted “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?” thereby reinforcing the base's perception of the President as dictator-in-chief.  He joined the Party in opposing Obama's Supreme Court selection and tweeted "President Obama will go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States."





Without the birther controversy he promoted, led, and kept alive beyond a reasonable expiration date, Donald Trump probably wouldn't even have been a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.





Donald Trump ran directly against Hillary Clinton for President. But he also ran against eight years of President Obama, as he and GOP primary voters imagined him.  In Krein's tellling, this somehow became "the disappointing legacy we inherited from the Bushes and the Clintons," despite President Obama's preference for "free" trade; "open borders for capital" and sympathy for immigrants; a transnational outlook that featured TPP and the Paris Accord; and market-based health care reform.

The period from January 20, 2009 through January 19, 2007 featured both accomplishments good and bad , as well as a lack of accomplishment, which in the case of failure to secure approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was fortuitous.  Let us not forget- as Julius Krein has- that the 2016 presidential election was won by the individual who most vociferously and viciously condemned Barack Obama.






Share |

Monday, August 21, 2017

How Soon We Forget





In an interview with Chauncey DeVega of Salon, Van Jones stated "The We Rise tour is trying to pull people back together. That's what happened in 2008 with Obama."

You'll remember that Jones was the "green jobs czar" for President Obama when he resigned because the President was under pressure from hysterical GOP criticism of Jones.  Jones told DeVega

There was only one white guy in Hillary Clinton’s ad and it was Donald Trump. You’re sending a signal, 'I’m not going to govern for all the people. I’m going to govern for these new folks,' and then you’re mad that that signal got picked up. You call people "deplorable.'

If I looked at an ad and the only time I saw a black person in the ad it was a negative or they were not there at all, and somebody called me “deplorable,” I’m probably not going to vote for him. I mean some of this stuff is real simple. We like to make simple stuff complicated. I didn’t say, “Erase our circle and draw a new circle.” I just said, “Draw our circle larger.”

That is warm and fuzzy, a vague and ultimately useless postmortem from a fellow who seems to have forgotten this:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

That's a heck of  a way of drawing the circle larger.  Obama nevertheless prevailed while Clinton was not  able to survive the "deplorable" comment against a candidate who ran the explicitly anti-immigrant campaign Obama was spared the task of facing.

It is an interesting but ultimately futile exercise to hypothesize about whether Barack Obama, if constitutionally permitted, would have won a third term. People change, circumstances change, and the Obama presidency would have been defended by the incumbent himself rather than by Mrs. Clinton.

It would have been Barack Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton, who would have had to appeal to the supporters of Donald Trump, who made anti-immigrant and anti-free trade sentiments the virtual foundation of his case against the status quo.  I don't know how that would have come about- especially without angering discontented voters even more- and despite his implication, neither does Van Jones (interview from four months ago, below).










Share |

Too Few





In "Fareed's Take" on Sunday, Fareed Zakaria both slammed politicians and applauded the nation's "military brass" for their remarks on the events in Charlottesville, Va. In between, he remarked

Business leaders meanwhile are still among the most respected and envied people in America today. They run vast organizations, get paid on a scale that makes their predecessor from just 25 years ago look middle class and live in a bubble of private planes, helicopters and limousines.

In other words, they have all the wealth, power and security that should allow them to set standards and, well, lead. Instead, for the most part, business leaders have also been cowards, most of them surely think Trump is a charlatan, a snake oil salesman.

In the past, many chose not to do business with him because they believed he was unethical. Others were initially amused by his candidacy, but regarded his rhetoric on trade, immigration, refugees as loathsome. And yet, almost none of them spoke out against him.

Few even distanced themselves from him after he blamed many sides for the violence in Charlottesville. Had Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier not resigned from one of Trump's advisory boards, it's unclear whether others would've spoken out.

And even then some jumped ship only when it became clear there was really no alternative, after Trump doubled down on his initial comments.

America once did have more public-minded elites, but they came from a small clubby world, the Protestant establishment. Not all were born rich, but they knew they had a secure place atop the country.

They populated the country's boardrooms, public offices, and its best schools. This security gave them greater comfort in exercising moral leadership. Today, we have a more merit-based elite, what is often called a meritocracy.

It has allowed people from all walks of life to rise up into positions of power and influence, but these new elites are more insecure, anxious, self-centered. Politicians are likely to be solo entrepreneurs, worried about the next primary or the fundraiser.

CEOs live with the constant fear that they might lose their jobs or their company might lose its customers in an instant. They may not think they have the luxury to be high-minded, but they do. They are all vastly more secure than most people in America or in human history.






The Washington Post seemed to have uncovered this self-assuredness when last week it reported

Three fundraising giants decided to pull events from President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on Thursday, signaling a direct blowback to his business empire from his comments on Charlottesville’s racial unrest.

The American Cancer Society, a high-dollar client at the club since at least 2009, cited its “values and commitment to diversity” in a statement on its decision to move an upcoming fundraising gala. Another longtime Mar-a-Lago customer, the Cleveland Clinic, abruptly changed course on its winter event only days after saying it planned to continue doing business at Mar-a-Lago, a leading venue for charitable events in the posh resort town.

The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which raises money for Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, also said it would not hold its 2018 gala at the club “after considerable deliberation,” though it did not give a reason. The charity had one of Mar-a-Lago’s biggest events last season, with about 600 people in attendance....

At least seven other groups that frequented Mar-a-Lago — including the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in New York and the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami — have announced in recent months that they would choose other venues, citing reasons such as political differences and security hassles.

It's admirable that these outfits have gotten religion but the obvious question remains: why did it take them this long?

In a classic Friday night news dump, late on June 16 the White House released a 98-page financial disclosure form in which

One marquis property showing income gain is the Palm Beach resort called the Mar-A-Lago Club, which Trump calls his southern White House and it doubled its initiation fees to $200,000 in January, weeks before Trump took office. The disclosure form includes reported income of $37.2 million for the Florida resort, up sharply from $29.8 million in the prior year’s report.

Trump has hosted foreign leaders such as Xi Jinping at the resort, further blurring the lines between politics and Trump Organization profits. In the five months he has been in office, Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago on 25 days and his golf clubs in Florida and in Virginia, outside Washington, on 31 days.

Corporations and non-profits taking their business to Mar-a-Lago, while not the threat to national security of mainland China and others shoveling money to the President of the United States of America, are getting something in return. Now that some have decided against enriching a President whose willingness to display his bigotry has inspired a new generation of fascists, the American public needs to know who and what are contributing to the Donald J. Trump Slush Fund.





Share |

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Choose




On ABC's "This Week" without George Stephanopoulos, President Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson was asked by Martha Raddatz "What do you think it says he surrounded himself with generals and they remain, and what do you expect going forward?"

Johnson responded

Well, that it's interesting. I don't think anyone would expect -- would have expected we'd have so many retired general officers serving in civilian positions today. There's been a lot of talk this week about people resigning from the White House, whether people should resign from the White House. We saw a number of his advisers resign from advisory councils.

Frankly, if John Kelly, or my friend Jim Mattis, came to me and said I'm thinking about resigning from this White House, I'd say absolutely not. You have to stay.

You're exactly right, Mr. Johnson, so stop right here. Don't go on. However, he couldn't resist adding "As John reportedly said, it's country first. And we need people like John Kelly, Jim Mattis, H.R. McMaster to right the ship."

Oh no, we don't need Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster. Wikipedia explains that when President Trump appointed the General to replace Michael Flynn

McMaster indicated that he "intends to remain on active duty while he serves as national security adviser."

Because McMaster intended to remain on active duty, his official assumption of the National Security Advisor's duties and responsibilities required a United States Senate vote; lieutenant generals and generals require Senate confirmation of their rank and assignments. On March 6, 2017, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 23–2 to recommend to the full Senate that McMaster be confirmed for reappointment at his lieutenant general rank during his service as the National Security Advisor.The committee recommendation was referred to the Senate on March 7, and the full Senate confirmed McMaster by a vote of 86–10 on March 15, 2017.

Those ten senators, all of them Democrats, were right. General McMaster should have been required to make a choice- the active military or civilian service. While on active duty, McMaster- unlike anyone else in the Cabinet- has a commander in chief, and that is the President of the United Statesof America. A conflict of interest prevails because he answers to Donald Trump in a manner no other cabinet head doe.

Three months ago,  The Washington Post reported that President Trump had revealed classfied information to the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in a meeting in the White House.  McMaster was trotted out to take the heat for his commander-in-chief, and he delivered when he

said the president shared the information in “context of the conversation” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying it was “wholly appropriate to that conversation” and “consistent with the routine sharing of information between the president and any leader with whom he’s engaged.”

McMaster would not confirm if that information was classified.

"I was in the room, the Secretary of State was in the room, as you know, the deputy adviser for national security, Dina Powell, and none of us felt in any way that conversation was inappropriate," McMaster said.





It was classified, it was not appropriate, and it was not consistent with practice. The Post's report was spot-on. But McMaster was asked to be a sycophant for his commander-in-chief, and he took orders without complaint. At the time, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote "It is not unreasonable to ask whether McMaster, a lieutenant general who was previously seen as one of the few credible voices in the administration, can now serve the country and protect it from an unfit president only by resigning."

If there is such a thing as a "Deep State," it is this, with three generals in top positions in the Trump Administration. Yet, two of them are retired while one felt privileged and demanded he be allowed to retain active-duty status. He should resign which, of course, he won't do because National Security Advisor is a pretty good gig. Heck, even former government officials belonging to the opposite party, failing to recognize the conflict, can only sit there and salute.





Share |

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Bad News




On Tuesday in Durham, North Carolina activists brought down the Confederate Soldiers Monument. Demanding amnesty, one 22-year-old female participant declared

Everyone who was there—the people did the right thing.  The people will continue to keep making the right choices until every Confederate statue is gone, until white supremacy is gone. That statue is where it belongs. It needs to be in the garbage. … That statue glorifies the conditions that oppressed people live in and it had to go.

More conventionally and amicably

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted on Wednesday night that he would introduce a bill taking down Confederate statues in the building, though he did not give a specific timeline or indicate when the bill would be brought forward....

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) joined Booker’s call to action on Thursday.


“If Republicans are serious about rejecting white supremacy, I call upon Speaker Ryan to join Democrats to remove the Confederate statues from the Capitol immediately,” Pelosi said.


Whatever their methods, all are pursuing a righteous outcome. However, they might consider that emphasis on "white supremacy."

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of 1,125 adults conducted by landline or mobile phone on August 14 and August 15 featured several questions related to the violence the previous weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

The answers to at least one question were staggering.  Respondents were asked "Do you think statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should...." and were given choices of "remain as a historical symbol," "be removed because they are offensive to some people," and "unsure."

I know, I know- the responses were tilted, intentionally or otherwise, in the pro-monument direction. While "honoring leaders" is almost always a positive thing, removing something because it is "offensive to some people" suggests that these individuals are reserving for themselves some special right. (And we all know who "some people" are here.) Additionally, there is an additional reason(s) to remove the monuments.

Still, it is significant and discouraging that 62% opted for for "remain" and only 27% for "remove" (with 11% unsure).  More than twice as many individuals want these shrines to slavery to remain as to be removed.

The phrasing of the question no doubt affected the outcome. Nonetheless, the conclusion is inescapable: most people support continuing to commemmorate slavery. Moreover, 44% of African-Americans came down on the majority side.

This emphasis on "white supremacy" clearly is not working. A new argument- or rather a greater emphasis on an old argument- probably would resonate with more Americans, and certainly a wider cross-section of Americans.

The Confederate generals and other of their military leaders took up arms against the United States of America.  We'll leave it up to the lawyers to determine the legal definition of the term, but we laypeople can put it simply: they were traitors (video below from June, 2015).

The modern-day hero of the statue supporters has painted for over two years a portrait of a country deeply flawed and almost beyond redemption, one that can be saved only by him and be made "great again." Many conservatives, wrapped tightly in the symbol of the flag, won't accept that their heroes of an earlier age committed treason.  But if the left and the center are to take hold of this issue, they must emphasize that the statues celebrate treason against the United States of America.

And to complement the message, we can repeat (in less profane fashion) what Penn Jillette stated on Friday night's Real Time: "if you want a statue, win the goddamn war."










Share |

The President Of The One-Track Mind

You've all seen this tweet, sent by President Trump twelve hours before polls closed in an election I had totally wrong: Donald...