Sunday, January 30, 2022

"Racist, Racist, Racist, Racist"


As Joe Biden prepares to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a black woman for the US Supreme Court, blogger Steve M. makes a legitimate, probably valid, point when he argues

Chuck Schumer is informing the press that Senate Democrats intend to have a rapid confirmation process for Biden's appointee. That makes sense, but why say so? Why let the public know that you want to put this nomination on a glide path, so Mitch McConnell can very publicly score a victory when he throws up roadblocks, even if he can't prevent confirmation?

Similarly, he argues

What if Biden had kept this plan private and simply fulfilled it when the time came? He could have told historians for the record that he had a strong belief that the Court would benefit from the presence of a Black woman. He could have allowed his actions to speak, not his words. Now this is a subtext to the confirmation process. Is that a good thing?

But though it is tactically wise not to show your hand before it's necessary, Steve M lapses into an argument which has proven, and continues. to be a long-term strategic error. He states that the nomination process is

already being accompanied by grumbling that his pick will come with an "asterisk" and is an example of "affirmative action." This is racist talk, obviously, but it filters into the discussion. It influences the thinking of middle-of-the-road voters, in a country where many voters aren't solidly in either the racist or anti-racist camp.

Well, no, it is not obviously "racist" talk, inasmuch as even he acknowledges that it might influence the attitudes of moderate voters. And given that Joe Biden explicitly signaled that his choice would be limited to individuals only of a certain race (and gender), it's a little rich to label as racist the talk that the nomination is determined by race.

Moreover, the left has suffered by commonly charging, whatever the merits, that racism is determinative in statements or actions we on the left disprove of. This is in part why Donald Trump said what he did on Saturday:


The prosecutors are not racist. Yet, the charge of "racist" did not come merely out of Donald Trump's fevered, demagogic imagination. Conservatives characteristically believe they are unfairly labelled as racists and don't like it. Being able to turn the accusation on its head, to accuse liberals, Democrats, or any of their other enemies of being "racist," is pure gold. What do you think of that, libs?!

Racists and racism exist in this country, as it probably has in every society heterogenous society. exemplified most dramatically in our most recent ex-President.  But as a serious charge and one intended to be understood that way, it should not be bandied about and used indiscriminately.  Otherwise, real racists and racism are more likely to be written off as unserious. And as Donald Trump has demonstrated, it can be wielded as a weapon by not only the left but also the right.

 


Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Larger Picture


During his monologue on January 21 (beginning at 2:31 of the video below), Bill Maher (at 2:31 of the video below) had remarked

I don't want to live in your paranoid world anymore, your masked, paranoid world. You know, you go out, it's silly now, you have to have a card, you have to have a booster, they scan your head like you're a cashier and I'm a bunch of bananas. I'm not bananas, you are.




These restrictions do exist but in very few jurisdictions outside of California and New York . Given Maher's persistent depiction of the Democratic left as elitist, it is an egregious oversight to regard as oppressive restrictions largely relegated to selected places on the coasts while the vast majority of the country is more relaxed or libertine.

Inasmuch as there now are well over 2,000 deaths a day in the USA from Covid-19- the most in eleven months- Maher's consistent, continuing condemnation of restrictions is at best ill-timed.

His obsession with precautions toward a coronavirus imposed or suggested by government(s) may bleed over into a more serious misunderstanding, dangerous at any juncture, about policy. At 27:41 of the video below from 1/28, Maher can be seen contending

It starts to.... it starts to look like every other government program. And what is the common thread of government programs?...

They never end, exactly.

Whatever Maher's opinion about restrictions to curtail Covid-19, he either does not understand the nature of government programs which "never end" or he is lapsing into dangerous libertarianism. (Forgive the redundancy.)

Those government programs which never end are entitlement programs. They are comprised of the non-contributory programs of "welfare programs such as SNAP (food stamps) or Pell Grants" and of the contributory programs of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance. The former have been controversial for decades, but are necessary; the latter have not been controversial the past few decades, but are necessary.

Coronaviruses come and, hopefully, go. None of us alive today ever has been confronted with such a pandemic and our understanding, and opinions of, the crisis are evolving and continue to evolve.

However, government programs which "never end" are the backbone of our commitment to one another.  The complaints about them, in a society welcoming free expression, are acceptable, but they are an attack upon a cornerstone of the social contract we Americans have with ourselves.




Friday, January 28, 2022

McEnany: "We Broke It, You Fix It"



Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump's last press secretary, has been spinning her disinformation as a commentator for Fox News for the last eleven months. In a recent segment, she and four other conservatives offered opinions in response to a report that Black Lives Matter had complained, in the wake of the shooting of a New York City police officer, that such individuals should not automatically be deemed "heroes."  Veering off topic to the increase in violent crime the past couple of years, McEnanay maintained (beginning at 3:20 of the video below)

When did crime start going up? It started going up in 2020. President Trump was president then. Yes, but why did crime start going up? Why are we seeing homicides at this rate?

It dovetailed exactly with the defund the police movement. It dovetailed with candidate Joe Biden being very wishy washy on defund the police at one point saying, yes, I support redirecting funds.

It did not dovetail with the "defund the police" movement nor with Joe Biden's remarks responding to the protests that summer.. Rather, as The New York Times reported, "murders were already elevated in the first few months of 2020, then increased significantly in June and stayed high through the remainder of the year." Moreover,

..... 2020 appeared to be a year of racial reckoning in the United States. The fight against systemic racism reverberated throughout the country with protests, boycotts and calls to “defund the police.” But, a year after slashing police budgets in response to the growing defund movement, many cities have restored the funding — seeming to confirm activists’ suspicions that city leaders weren’t serious about the change in the first place.

At least a dozen cities cut their police funding or decreased officer numbers during last summer’s protests against police violence following the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. But one by one, city governments began to bolster their police budgets in 2021, with an additional $200 million allocated to the New York City Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department seeing a 3 percent increase in the year after the city council approved a $150 million cut.

The "defund the police" movement is limping along, mostly with the urging of Black Lives Matter, the support of Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and virtually no one else. It has been largely a dud, except in the imagination of Republicans using it as a cudgel to blast Democrats and Democrats (including kingmaker James Clyburn) insisting on saying Democrats should not be using the phrase.

Unfortunately, McEnany continued, claiming

So to get elected he flirted with the defund the police movement. Now it's his responsibility to call out defund the police movement. Give national addresses on crime. Do listening sessions with these families. You are part of the reason we are here. Now, go fix it.



The vast majority of policing in this country is done on the local (municipal or county) or state level, and a President has little direct authority over federal law enforcement. (If McEnany would enjoy a more active Department of Justice currently, she's welcome to say so.) There are approximately 15,400 local police departments and approximately 89,000 local governments in the USA.  In none of the police departments is Joe Biden called "chief" and in none of the municipalities is he called "mayor."

If speeches or "listening sessions" were effective, those local officials would be busy giving or doing them. However, they are often merely performative and would do little to nothing to stem violent crime, with the odds heavily against "little."

Joe Biden is not the reason we are here. The pandemic President Trump encouraged is very likely far more instrumental in promoting violent crime than anything President Biden has said or done or not said or done. Joe Biden is President Biden because of the mounting death toll President Trump was pleased with and because Trump mishandled other problems, and because many Americans (especially black voters) were fed up with the hatred and violence he spewed, encouraged, and has come to represent.



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Suck it Up




An adjunct fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, Eric Kaufmann, has written an article lamenting support for cancel culture among young people. Kauffamn, blasting "cultural conservatism (existence of which is highly debatable), notes (emphasis mine)

Another front in the culture war is censorship of speech, usually justified on grounds that such speech would inflict psychological harm on minorities and that power should be redistributed to “marginalized groups.” Activists pushing for such censorship organize online flash mobs and pressure campaigns, wielding accusations of racism, homophobia, or transphobia to ruin a person’s reputation and have them fired from their position. The problem is especially acute in higher education: the number of academics targeted for cancellation has exploded in recent years.

Would it that support for censorship of speech now was limited to the left.  President Biden is filmed and recorded as referring to a Trump TV reporter as "a dumb son of a bitch," and the right is throwing a bit of a tantrum.  

 

Goldberg et al. are right about this, but no matter. The View is not The New York Times, and requiring- or expecting- it to adhere to a strict code of political neutrality is absurd.

We learned last week from CNN that

A bill backed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that would prohibit Florida's public schools and private businesses from making people feel "discomfort" or "guilt" based on their race, sex or national origin received first approval Tuesday by the state's Senate Education Committee.

The Republican-controlled committee approved the bill with six Republican senators in favor of the bill and three Democratic senators opposed to it.

Although the bill, named "Individual Freedom," does not mention Critical Race Theory, the term is used in the attached bill analysis that was given to senators.

DeSantis also referred to CRT when he announced the proposed legislation at a media event in December, saying the proposed law would help keep CRT out of the schools and out of the workplace, calling it "state-sanctioned racism" that creates a "hostile work environment."

Even for one opposes the teaching of Critical Race Theory in primary and secondary schools, the bill is seemingly unnecessary because "under Florida Department of Education rules that took effect last June, CRT cannot be taught in schools."

The bill goes way beyond teaching race-centric history in public schools.  CNN continues

The legislation would prohibit individuals from making people "feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin."

Though distorting the topic, DeSantis recognizes that one objective of Critical Race Theory- or CRT-adjacent instruction- is to foist guilt upon the sons (and daughters) for sins of the fathers. However, he does not wish that history be taught objectively, but instead in a manner not to make students feel bad, "discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress." (He, like many of his critics, believe American history should be taught from the perspective they favor.)

Schools should not be used to implant what educators believe to be a proper sense of social justice, nor to shield them from developing the "anguish" they might develop were they to be exposed to any hard truth. A black state legislator in Florida understands "This isn't even a ban on Critical Race Theory, this is a ban on Black history. They are talking about not wanting White people to feel uncomfortable? Let's talk about being uncomfortable. My ancestors were uncomfortable when they were stripped away from their children."

Once upon a time- maybe four, five years ago- liberals understandably were slammed by conservatives as being "snowflakes," unable or unwilling to face harsh realities and melting in the face of criticism. This tendency now has spread to the right. DeSantis and his allies don't want to hurt people's feelings.   Lisa Ling is upset that a conservative reporter has had his feelings hurt by the President of the USA.

Oh, boo hoo. Conservatives, as with many hyper-sensitive liberals, need to grow up.

 


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

"Biden The Nazi"


President Joe Biden called Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy “a stupid son of a bitch” Monday on a live microphone, after Doocy asked Biden whether inflation was a political liability for him.

The verbal slip took place during a White House event on Biden administration efforts to combat inflation. After the president complained that all the press questions were about the military buildup around Ukraine, Doocy shouted: “Will you take questions about inflation? Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?”

Thinking his microphone was turned off, Biden responded sarcastically: “No, that’s a great asset. More inflation.”

He added, “What a stupid son of a bitch"....

Doocy said later Monday evening that Biden called him later in the afternoon to apologize for the remark. The White House did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Doocy regularly baits Biden during press events, shouting over other reporters and trying to catch the president off guard.

Biden has a long record of swearing on hot microphones, so the comments were not entirely out of character.


You can be forgiven if you've written off this event as relatively trivial, especially because Doocy "regularly baits" Biden, whose apology appears to have been accepted. However, this incident will not be as easily forgotten by the American-born and accomplished journalist Glenn Greenwald, a Russiagate denier living with his husband in Rio de Janeiro.

What the Nazis did, to members of the press and to Gypsies, Slavs, gay people, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews (most notoriously), and others is a little worse than calling someone a stupid son of a bitch.  It shouldn't be necessary to explain that to anyone, and Greenwald is no exception.  He is a very knowledgeable individual and never has shown, as far as is known, any signs of psychosis.

However, his Wikipedia page suggests that, though now partial to New Age philosophy, Greenwald was raised as a young child as a Jew. His outburst should warn us that, no matter a person's background, he is not immune to the trivialization of Nazism strain of anti-Semitism.

 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Journalistic Diversion


Democrats made a good start on Sunday- and it wasn't by a Democrat. On CNN's State of the Union, Dana Bash seemingly asked (at 2:08 of the video below) Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT)

Here we are, one year into the Biden presidency- those two key priorities are stalled in the Senate, the social spending bill and climate bill, the election reform legislation. It's because of senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema won't get on board. How frustrated are you?

This was less a question than a statement. Bash's point was that progress is being blocked by two Democrats, from West Virginia and Arizona.

Sanders got off on the right track by responding

Well, it's not only those two. It's fifty Republicans who have been adamant in not only pushing an anti-democratic agenda. but also by opposing our efforts to try to lower the cost of prescription drugs, try to expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing, and eyeglasses, to improve the disastrous situation in home health care, child health care, to address the existential threat of climate change.

You've got fifty Republicans who don't want to do anything except criticize the President and then you have, sadly enough, two Democrats who chose to work with the Republicans rather than the President and who have sabotaged the President's effort to address the needs of working families in this country. 

"It's fifty Republicans" and "you've got fifty Republicans," states the Independent who is typically more a Democrat than are most Democrats. Subtly bashing Democrats as well as Republicans- CNN's twist on "fair and balanced"- Bash claims the two Democratic priorities are being stalled because of two Democrats. The fifty Republicans- 50 out of 50- who oppose both pieces of legislation are neatly disappeared by the news host.  Instead, she targets the 4% (two out of 50) of members of the Senate Democratic caucus who are standing in the way.

The Vermont senator continued

Is it frustrating? It sure is but my view, Dana, is we need a new direction, a new approach, in the Senate. I think after six months of negotiating, so-called negotiating, we need closed doors with Manchin and Sinema. We need to start voting. We need to bring important pieces of legislation that impact the lives of working families, right on to the floor of the Senate and if Republicans want to vote against lowering the cost of prescription drugs, climate change, whatever it may be and if the Democrats (or two Democrats) want to join them, let the American people see what's happening, then we can pick up the pieces and pass legislation. But the current course of action..... 

Even after recommending a "new approach" to persuading Manchin and Sinema, Sanders still knows to lay primary responsibility upon Senate Republicans: "if Republicans want to vote against...."


  "


The question posed by Bash represents terrible journalism, and media personalities need to recognize they are being used. If Senate Republicans stand united- as they do on almost all pieces of significant legislation- they need only one Democrat to break ranks with his/her own party.  That results in either the bill getting watered down into virtual nothingness or being killed outright. If the latter, Republicans and the media are enabled to complain that Joe Biden specifically or "the Democrats" generically are ineffective and incapable of governing.

Much of the media, in this case a CNN host, then blames Democrats generally or certain Democrats by name. That plays out as a distinction without a difference because voters conclude that the Democratic Party cannot get out of its own way and is useless at best.

One of the members of the Democratic caucus was having none of it on Sunday.  Others should do the same. The irony, of course, is that the individual standing up for our one pro-democracy party actually is not a registered Democrat.



Saturday, January 22, 2022

How Times- And Opinions- Change


On Real Time on Friday evening, Bill Maher, railing about violent crime, read (at 27:46 of the video below) what he described as an "amazing quote" from San Francisco mayor London Breed.  On December 15 of last year, Breed stated "It's time the reign of criminals who are destroying our city come to an end. And it comes to an end when we take the steps to (be).....  less tolerant of all the bull_ _ _ _ that has destroyed our city."

Maher raved "this is how you talk like a real person. You say the word bull _ _ _ _."  However, guest Bari Weiss noted

But the reason that's such an important bellwether is if you go back, just wind back the clock to 2020, when she was talking about being soft on crime and defunding the police. She was running around talking about that and the switch is a great, great sign.



I don't know whether Breed was running around, driving, or merely walking. But Weiss' claim about Breed's earlier perspective can be confirmed by a video (below) of an appearance the mayor made at a rally in front of City Hall on June 1, 2020. She stated "what happened to George Floyd was because he was black," a statement which in those days could be made with no fear that anyone would attempt to rebut it. For better or worse, though, Officer Derek Chauvin's motive in killing Floyd was never determined.

Following that incendiary, albeit unfortunately uncontroversial, remark, it went downhill. Breed declared  "I don't want to see one more black man die at the hands of law enforcement. That's what this movement is about. Not one more."

Everyone makes mistakes- but Breed's statement was exposed as less humanitarian than boastful when she led a kneel down and announced "I don't want to see one more black man die at the hands of law enforcement. That's what this movement  is about." She then led a chant of "not one more."


 


Nineteen months later, we know that in 2021 alone there were an estimated 283 blacks killed by police. Safe bet: a large majority of them were male, which would make the mayor's estimation off by percent infinitum. Evidently, the movement has failed miserably. And the mayor had promised something that couldn't be delivered, a prime reason so many people have been losing faith in government since Donald Trump was merely a corrupt and bigoted businessman in New York City.

Weiss understands that Breed is singing a different tune now than she did in those heady days of summer 2020, when polls indicated support of black lives matter and of Black Lives Matter, the extremist group which advocated (total) defunding of the police and elimination of the nuclear family.

After the murder of Floyd, public expressions of support for "black lives matter" were in vogue, though the protests were more narrowly focused on police brutality toward blacks. It was easy not to notice the danger of a mayor who would proclaim, as she did three times during her speech, "I am a mayor but I'm a black woman first," laying bare her disregard for the residents of the city for which she was elected to be chief executive.

As violent crime increased- largely coincidentally- in wake of that summer's racial justice protests, voters recall the protests as they are bombarded with stories about theft, robbery, and murder. Mayor Breed can read the room, however, and now rails against criminals with a profanity or two to impress people (not only Maher) that she is a tough guy. Whatever the sincerity- or lack thereof- it is certainly a dramatic change of tone that Bari Weiss recognized.

 


Thursday, January 20, 2022

How Dare He? Really?


A former sports talk show host, formerly a National Football league linebacker, would periodically state "if you're scared, get a dog." Revised for politics, it might be "if you're offended, get a dog."

Kristen Welker, who inexplicably is paid a salary by NBC News, asked President Biden at his news conference Wednesday "what do you say to those who were offended by your speech (on voting rights)"?

At the conclusion of his reply, Biden noted "That wasn’t an accusation; I was just stating a fact.  What has changed?  What happened?  What happened?  Why is there not a single Republican — not one?  That’s not the Republican Party."

Yes, actually it is. Nonetheless, arguing otherwise is a hard sell to the mainstream media (hence to the public), which believes that Biden's characterization does not define the Republican Party and that Donald Trump is an aberration, out-of-step with well-meaning GOP officials and voters.

Not content with merely one stupid question, Welker followed up with "is the country more unified than when you first took office?"

The President's response was uninspiring and a little rambling. He should have replaced it with a story he told later in the presser, in which GOP governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, considering a run for US Senate, said that he had spoken to Republican senators and

“They were all, for the most…” — quote — “They were all, for the most part, content with the speed at which they weren’t doing anything.  It was very clear that we just had to hold the line for two years.  Okay, so I’m just going to be a roadblock for the next two years?  That’s not what I do,” Sununu said.

He went on to say, “It bothered me that they were okay with that.”  And then he goes on to say, “I said, okay, so we’re not going to get stuff done if we win the White House back” — “if we win the White House back.”  “Why didn’t [we] do [anything] in 2017 and 2018?”

Sununu's conversation indicated that Republicans have no interest in governing or, as voters would understand, doing anything for the American people.

Alternatively, Biden could have pointed to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel's admission, "one hundred percent of our focus is on stopping the new Administration." The remark was made eight months ago but the Kentuckian still is the leader of Senate Republicans and the nation's most powerful and second most influential Republican. And on Tuesday, shortly after President Biden had concluded his event


What could be more unifying than distinguishing between "Americans" and African-Americans?

That startling distinction was made explicit only after Biden's appearance. However, the President could have turned Welker's first question around and asked her if she was offended by his voting rights speech. 

But the President, similarly to most Democrats, still hasn't figured out that a prime objective of the mainstream media- including NBC/MSNBC- is to convince Americans that the left is out-of-touch with their values.  In humblebrag, Biden could have admitted an inability to comfort with sweet words individuals who want a President, the government, and the country to fail.  In a nod to a past President, he should have added "I'm not hurting them or giving them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell."



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Privilege Of Being Able To Call Others Privileged


Although it has gained a little renewed attention recently, on June 2, 2020 Jimmy Kimmel included in his monologue

"I know that a lot of white people bristle when they hear the word ‘privilege,’ as in ‘white privilege,’ because there are millions of white people who didn’t grow up with money, or a good education, or a solid family background, or maybe even a family at all. So when they hear the word ‘privilege,’ they go, ‘What privilege? … You hear the phrase ‘white privilege’ and it’s easy to get defensive. The first time I heard it, I did. To me, white privilege was what Donald Trump had, a wealthy father and a silver spoon in his mouth. It wasn’t what I grew up with, so I rejected it because I didn’t understand what white privilege meant. But I think I do now. I think I at least understand some of it.

"White people “don’t have to deal with negative assumptions being made about us based on the color of our skin.” It rarely happens, if ever, whereas black people experience that every day. And please don’t tell me you don’t ever make assumptions about people based on the color of their skin, because I just don’t believe it. We all do. I know I have. I’m embarrassed to say it, but I have.

"I read something last night that I think makes a lot of sense,” Kimmel concluded. “It’s this: 'White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder.’ Wherever you stand, I don’t see how you can argue with that.'"

This perspective can be easily critiqued by noting that it only barely takes class into account. Were one as successful as Kimmel, a college dropout (and son of an IBM executive) who has become fabulously wealthy, it would be understandable to conclude that having white skin alone would make one privileged. It's easier to embrace and lament one's own privilege as a white person than to recognize (or at least admit) having more in common with, say, a wealthy black man than a poor white man. Suggesting that a reasonably affluent black is more privileged than a poor white is simply out of bounds (what was once known as "politically incorrect").


Kimmel helpfully concedes "there are millions of white people who didn't grow up with money, or a good education, or a solid family background, or maybe even a family at all," which is more than is usually acknowledged by race reductionists. Moreover, his skepticism that people avoid assumptions about individuals because of their color is well-founded.

But people are not necessarily automatically privileged because of their skin color, though given Kimmel's extraordinary success in the entertainment field accompanied by a lack of higher education, he can almost be excused for assuming otherwise. And people do "bristle," as he patronizingly put it, at the assumption that life has been easy for them. At the least, "privilege" is tone-deaf framing in the manner that "defund the police" has proven to be.

That phrase has been used as rationale to stymie efforts at criminal justice reform. The term "privilege" also is off-putting, as well as neglectful of the impact of economic, or socio-economic, class. That may endanger the attempt to close the chasm between white and black America by programs and policies uplifting the black underclass.

If in fact there has been significant effort. Much has changed since the heady days of summer 2020, when the black lives matter movement awakened Jimmy Kimmel and many others to the notions of "white privilege" and police brutality toward blacks. However, the term "privilege," similar to the phrase "defund the police," is widely alienating. While little criminal justice reform has ensued from those protests, neither has been done to curb actual racial segregation and discrimination. It's almost as if that was never part of the agenda.



Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The Publicity Hound And Her Apologists


Though justifiably bold in criticizing three female senators, Will Bunch could have offered them an award for naivete.


This foolish letter was signed by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). It is short, so you won't  have to go to the link:

The Times has published four separate pieces analyzing the style and dress of our colleague Senator Kyrsten Sinema. We cannot imagine The Times printing similar pieces on the fashion choices of any of our male colleagues.

As Senator Sinema recently said about the commentary on her fashion: “I wear what I want because I like it. It’s not a news story, and it’s no one’s business.” We couldn’t agree more.

Senator Sinema is a serious, hardworking member of the Senate who contributes a great deal to the policy deliberations before us. Your repeated focus on how she dresses, rather than what she says and does, is demeaning, sexist and inappropriate.

Senator Sinema has deliberately and intentionally made it the business of others by ostentatiously drawing attention to her fashion sense, as she has ostentatiously drawn attention to herself in other ways. Who can forget, as Slate's Christina Cauterucci noted last April, when the smug, "drama-seeking celebrity"

spent her Sunday sipping sangria in a pink newsboy cap and a ring that says “Fuck Off.” The Arizona Democrat got someone to take a photo of her, ring proudly displayed in the foreground. Then, she posted the image to her Instagram stories.

Sinema’s outfit, which also included oversized fuchsia glasses and gigantic earrings containing a charm of what appears to be a skull and butterfly, is right in line with her sartorial M.O. The former Congresswoman and first-term senator has long been the flashiest dresser in the Capitol, and during the pandemic, her wardrobe has gotten even weirder.* She’s worn several highlighter-hued wigs on the Senate floor to hide her grown-out dye job as she stayed home from the salon. (According to her spokesperson, the wigs were a reminder to constituents to practice COVID-19 precautions.) In February, she wore a pink sweater emblazoned with the phrase “Dangerous Creature,” a nod to a line from one of romance novelist Lisa Kleypas’ books: “A well-read woman is a dangerous creature.”

And if those are simply a matter of (atrocious) style, but not so when Sinema voted against including a minimum wage mandate in a pandemic relief bill by making "aspectacle of it, popping her hip and giving an exaggerated thumbs-down to the vote counters."


 

Now she (along with Joe Manchin and 50 GOP senators) adamantly opposes any rule changes which will make voting rights legislation possible. However, that didn't deter her from posting this after the death of John Lewis:

 


 

That's how she rolls. Born in 1976, she's probably disappointed she missed out on the "hey, look at me" generation. But she may make up for lost time because she's contemplating a run for the presidency. If she does, she would start with a boatload of cash, a cum laude in hypocrisy, and a summa cum laude degree in self-promotion.  



 


Monday, January 17, 2022

East To Russia


Former Republican who followed on-line extreme right-wing groups and "how these groups were organizing, preparing for, threatening and intending to engage in violence" warns:

I would not have believed the following quote were it not from a prominent historian


"What is extraordinarily important is this- who will count the vote" is awfully close to "Sometimes the vote counter is more important than the candidate." Even "to get a lot tougher and smarter" bears a relationship to "and how." 

There is a little controversy over whether Stalin actually uttered these words. But they have been attributed to him, and it's quite plausible that Trump would have learned of them.

Donald Trump reportedly kept "My New Order," a compilation of speeches of Adolph Hitler, by his bed.  If the former President is a student of those of the German president, it would be unsurprising were he to become somewhat of a student of the Russian premier's speeches.  It's a natural progression, regression, or lateral move.

The exact tactics Trump plans to employ are yet to be discerned. His inspiration is less of a mystery.

 


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Destructive



It's only mid-January and we already have a finalist, by way of Arizona, for hypocrite of the year:

 

Ideally, this would be a bipartisan effort, but we can’t severely damage democracy to maintain a kind of “false peace.”

Kyrsten Sinema made a show of honoring the memory of John Lewis in this photo posted shortly after the congressman died. She now is actively trying to kill legislation- which she claims to support- by opposing all efforts to modify Senate rules to allow passage with 50/51 votes. One of the two bills, which have passed the House of Representatives, is literally called the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

The peace which Sinema superficially appears to be pursuing is a false one. In his commentary (video below). Lawrence O'Donnell noted

When Kyrsten Sinema ran for the United States Senate, she did not say that she would bring all of her legislative and policy goals in the United States Senate to the Republican leader of the Senate and try to get Republican approval of her agenda. That's not what she told Arizona voters but that is her position now. Republicans have to approve everything Kyrsten Sinema wants to do or she won't even try to do it.



Unless she is remarkably naive, Sinema is pursuing an unobtainable peace. When the Arizona Democrat met via Zoom with black civil rights leaders on Wednesday

She said she understood where they were coming from, and supports the voting rights bills, but believes that a filibuster carveout would be bad for the country, and that Republicans could well use it to hold a simple-majority vote to undo whatever voting legislation Democrats passed.

The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and if Republicans retake the Senate in November, the filibuster will be dead as soon as Mitch McConnell takes the gavel as Speaker.  As Norman Ornstein notes

Some Democrats are reluctant to change the filibuster because they worry what Republicans would do under the new rules if they regained the majority. “We have more to lose than gain by ending the filibuster,” Sinema argued in her Post piece. Manchin, also writing in The Post, said: “If the filibuster is eliminated or budget reconciliation becomes the norm, a new and dangerous precedent will be set to pass sweeping, partisan legislation that changes the direction of our nation every time there is a change in political control. The consequences will be profound — our nation may never see stable governing again.”

The implication is that if Democrats grit their teeth and keep the filibuster as is, Republicans will exercise the same restraint when they recapture the majority. But recent history offers no evidence that the GOP would be constrained by tradition. During the Obama presidency, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), then chairman of the Judiciary Committee, insisted on keeping in place the “blue slip” tradition, which lets senators decide the fate of lower-court judges nominated from their states. But early in the Trump presidency, when a Democrat used the tradition to block a nominee from his state, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s new chairman, abandoned it.

Then there is the Supreme Court. McConnell quickly changed the filibuster rule to enable majority action on Trump’s Supreme Court nominees. Then, after refusing to hold a hearing on Barack Obama’s nominee 11 months before the 2016 presidential election, saying tradition demanded that the victor of the election choose a new justice, he abandoned that norm and held a vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett eight days before the 2020 election.

Sinema's argument: Republicans unfairly block voting rights legislation which would help the country and, by God, I will help them do it. Her motive may be one or many. Powerful interests, especially the pharmaceutical industry, which lavish campaign contributions can take of her if she leaves (voluntarily or involuntarily) the Senate. Speculation has arisen that she wants to run, whether as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, for President in 2024. And she clearly is someone who craves the spotlight.

Kyrsten Sinema may have to mount a candidacy for President in 2024 or beyond so that the effort becomes part of the first paragraph of her obituary. Otherwise, assuming she does not change course on voting rights, it will be dominated (as it should in either case) by the damage she has decided to bestow upon American democracy.   

 


Friday, January 14, 2022

Just The Facts, Ma'am


Speaking at the USA Capitol on January 6 about an insurrection mounted to overthrow results of the election in which he was elected President, Joe Biden stated

While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principle of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else. They seem no longer to want to be the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes.

Well, whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans who support the rule of law, and not the rule of a single man, I will always seek to work together with them to find shared solutions where possible. Because when we have a shared belief in democracy, then anything is possible – anything.

They no longer want to be the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes represents extreme generosity toward the party of Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Steve Bannon. A few days later, emphasizing the right to vote currently anathema to the Republican Party, Biden applauded "the courageous officials — Democrats, Republicans — who did their duty and upheld the law by certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election." This was the response of former U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii:

 

In Gabbard's defense, the President did note "last year alone, 19 states not proposed but enacted 34 laws attacking voting rights.  There were nearly 400 additional bills Republican members of state legislatures tried to pass" He did point out out "the Vice President and I have supported voting rights bills since day one of this administration.  But each and every time, Senate Republicans have blocked the way.  Republicans oppose even debating the issue." And he did recall  "what the defeated former president said to the highest-ranking election official — a Republican — in this state?  He said, quote, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

 This is the unfettered truth, spoken while he tried to ferret out their better angels. recalling

In 2006, the Voting Rights Act passed 390 to 33 in the House of Representatives and 98 to 0 in the Senate with votes from 16 current sitting Republicans in this United States Senate.  Sixteen of them voted to extend it....

And I make it with an appeal to my Republican colleagues, to those Republicans who believe in the rule of law: Restore the bipartisan tradition of voting rights.

The people who restored it, who abided by it in the past were Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush.  They all supported the Voting Rights Act.

Don’t let the Republican Party morph into something else.  Restore the institution of the Senate the way it was designed to be.

The people who restored it, who abided by it in the past were Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush.  They all supported the Voting Rights Act. That's hardly the stuff of hyper-partisanship, and Joe Biden didn't call these- or any Republicans- "traitors" or "racists."  He did call them enemies of democracy, but only because they are. 

If there is anything the President said which was inaccurate, Tulsi Gabbard should inform us. She won't, because she can't.


 


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Show


Alert the FBI. Someone has kidnapped the invariably progressive and realistic Robert Reich and is tweeting from his account.


President Biden is still afraid of the reaction from the "defeated president" if he dare to utter the name "Donald Trump." But he continually called Republicans when in Georgia he remarked

The Vice President and I have supported voting rights bills since day one of this administration.  But each and every time, Senate Republicans have blocked the way.  Republicans oppose even debating the issue.  You hear me?...

Not a single Republican has displayed the courage to stand up to a defeated president to protect America’s right to vote.  Not one.  Not one....

The filibuster is not used by Republicans to bring the Senate together but to pull it further apart.

Maybe there is nothing to lose by trying to court Republicans, although it's unlikely to bear fruit. Susan Collins' photo-op in Selma for the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and Mitt Romney's vote to convict Donald Trump in one of two impeachment trials should give no encouragement.

Susan Collins marched in Selma to demonstrate her "disappointment" because she's always "concerned," though rarely enough to deviate from the Trump Party line.  And Mitt Romney marched in a Black Lives Matter protest so he can be seen at a time when anyone who is anyone was on the black lives matter train (now, not so much).  There is little to show for that concern while Romney remains dead set against reforming the filibuster.



"You will recognize them by their fruits," Jesus Christ reportedly warned.  Mitt Romney and, especially, Susan Collins put on an act. They're there for the photo-ops and the quotes of little substance. (Lisa Murkowski is more low-key.) But they are, like 48 of their GOP colleagues, aware that their party will gain a majority, and power in Congress and the White House, only if individuals are discouraged from voting. 




Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Tweet Of The Day- Strategic Bunk


This tweet from Sunday says a lot about Kevin McCarthy, and as much about his Party.

 

In June, John A. Tures of the Ohio Capital Journal recalled

As of October of 2012, there were more than seven Congressional probes of the Benghazi attack, mostly led by Republicans.  These included (1) the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, (2) The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, (3) the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, (4) The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, (5) The House Committee on the Judiciary, (6) The House Committee on Armed Services, and (7) The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. There’s also (8) The House Select Committee on Benghazi. This list does not account for non-Congressional investigations of the terror attack. 

The Poynter Institute’s Politfact found this of Hillary Clinton’s view of the findings: “As for her comment that there was no overt wrongdoing, just room for improvement, that’s a rosy assessment. But it is also largely accurate.”

Don't make me say it, but the investigation into Hillary Clinton was bunk.

Greater attention should have been paid when in September 2015 U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California admitted

Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would’ve known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.

If GOP hypocrisy cannot be overestimated, as Bardella accurately suggests, neither can its radicalism.  The Ohio journalist Tures noted also

U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., rushed to insist that these hearings unbiased, but the damage by McCarthy was done. It was a major reason why McCarthy was pushed aside as a replacement for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, by Republicans who selected Paul Ryan instead.

Similarly, at the time of McCarthy's statement, veteran syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne wrote

Bill and Hillary Clinton have been lucky over the years in having a cast of characters arrayed against them who always overplayed their hand. McCarthy, who kept a poker table in his Sacramento house during his days in the California legislature, went all in a bit too early.

That turned out to be wishful thinking as McCarthy's remark has not appeared to hurt the Republican Party at all. Instead, Mrs. Clinton almost unbelievably lost an election she was heavily favored to win.  And McCarthy, pushed aside for Paul Ryan to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives, since has become the leader of House Republicans.

The poker player whom E.J. Dionne described seems to be playing the long game.  While a few Republicans concede that Joe Biden fairly won in 2020, McCarthy attacked formation of the 1/6 commission, never has explicitly conceded the legitimacy of the election, and continues to blast out his radical partisanship.

Bardella exposes the hypocrisy of the Minority Leader. But Republicans are favored to take over the House of Representatives after November's elections, Kevin McCarthy is determined to become Speaker, and the Californian appears to know what it takes to rewarded by the anti-democracy party.

 


Sunday, January 09, 2022


In the video to which Matt Stoller has linked, centrist Democrat and veteran syndicated columnist Jennifer Rubin, delighted at President Joe Biden's speech of January 6, remarks

But I would like to see him do much more of what he did last week. I think it was very effective. It was incredibly reassuring for Democrats, who have kind of bemoaned the fact that he really hasn't taken on Trump and I think you'll see Democrats' approval of him go up when he does this and we're going to see him again next week (or the upcoming week)....

This is how he won the presidency, fighting for the soul of democracy and when he does it, you can just feel him getting that Irish up, as they say, and become feisty and I think that's the face he has to show to the American people.

It would matter whether Democrats approve of Biden today if the election were next Tuesday, January 12.  However, it is not, and approval of a Democratic president is insufficient at any time unless there is enthusiasm for him.  Democrats must not only approve, but be energized to vote for one of their own.

That's obviously missing now and, much less obviously, still will be missing for a president who is afraid to call a Trump a Trump.  It's understandable that Rubin wouldn't recognize this because, when talking to Velshi, Rubin maintained also

If the economy is not better and covid is still raging, the Democrats are in deep trouble. But frankly, I'm not sure the President, who is going to be setting the tone for the election, can do a whole lot about either one of those. The economy is kind of baked in....



Clearly, if at that time the economy is viewed as negatively by the public and the media as it is now and Covid-19 is still raging, congressional Democrats are not in "deep trouble" but will be routed. If the economy is pre-determined, Rubin should be able to tell us what it will look like in 9-10 months.

The President has less control over the economy than most people believe but is not baked in. If Democrats  they are powerless, voters have little reason to trust them with power.

Democrats tend to be averse to exercising power and no amount of shouting by the incumbent President about the "former President" can cover that up. Though they won the White House largely because the incumbent president seemed powerless- or unwilling- to end the pandemic, a Democratic president allegedly can exert little influence over it; ditto, the economy.

And so that same President seems "feisty"- or as Biden probably would prefer it- "tough" when he criticizes an ex-President for leading a coup  but avoids uttering his name. It's a little defensive, a little defeatist, and will impress only those who don't need to be further impressed.




Not Him, Them

It was only a matter of time : Former President Donald Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election a...