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Why would a black man be a Republican?

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This guy Shermichael Singleton was on a T.V. news show over the weekend, attacking Democrats and defending Trump’s “witch hunt” bullshit. You could almost visualize him memorizing the Trump/Fox “News” talking points: impeachment will backfire on Democrats! Nancy Pelosi really didn’t want this but her “radical left wing” pushed her into it! What the Congress should really be investigating is Hillary Clinton’s emails!

Amazing, no? This is what I’d expect from some white nationalist hack at Breitbart, or the neo-nazi-in-chief at Fox, Sean Hannity.

But Shermichael Singleton is a black man.

How does a black man—one with self-respect or the slightest notion of history—join the Republican Party and go on national T.V. to defend the most criminal president in history—a man who himself is clearly a racist, and who instigates the worst racist elements in America? Surely Singleton has to know that vast numbers of Trump’s base would love to lynch him. Surely he knows how uncomfortable he would be if he were in one of their gulags—say, rural northern Alabama, or a West Texas oil town—and tried to order a cup of coffee. He’d be met with hostile stares, sneers, or worse.

Of course, he might pre-empt an attack by wearing a MAGA hat. But he’d still be damned uncomfortable, and as he considered the possibility of getting attacked, he’d have to remind himself that his potential attackers, to a man and to a woman, are Trump Republicans. So how does Shermichael Singleton explain himself to himself?

My hunch: he’s all about pure political ambition. It showed in his smirks as he spewed his propaganda. The Republican Party, he figures, needs black people like him—craves black people, would do almost anything to get black people—even pay them money. Especially if the black person is good-looking and articulate, which Shermichael Singleton just happens to be.

So who is Shermichael Singleton?

To begin with, he’s young: 28 years old. He’s a “Republican political consultant,” in the words of this website, but the weird thing is that he was fired from his job as Deputy Chief of Staff at HUD (where his boss was another black Republican, Ben Carson). Fired? By Whom? None other than [trumpet blare] Trump himself.

Why? Because one month before the 2016 election, Singleton slammed Trump in an op-ed piece. “Trump has taken us to a new moral low,” he wrote, calling his rise as the Republican candidate for president “a hostile takeover” and warning that “the moral fiber of the Republican Party is at stake.”

No wonder Trump fired him. What I can’t understand is why Shermichael Singleton remains a Republican, out there spewing rightwing propaganda, if he actually realizes what happened to his party. If he’s a moderate, as he claims to be, then he has to realize that his Republican Party no longer exists; it has become the party of Trump—of white nationalism, of ignorance, of pathology.

And yet he apparently believes that his party can be restored to some semblance of mental health. It cannot. When you look at Shermichael’s resumé, you can’t help but be impressed. He’s clearly not mentally ill (as are so many Republicans, including Trump). I can only conclude that Shermichael is looking at the main chance: the opportunity to rise, perhaps rapidly, in the world of political entrepreneurialism. He realizes that, as an ambitious black man, he could only go so far as a pundit, consultant and T.V. commentator in the Democratic Party, which is stuffed with ambitious, young black wannabes.

But the Republican Party! Ah, that’s El Dorado for Shermichael. So little competition to be one of the official blacks in the GOP! And Shermichael parlayed that opportunity to the max. He’s now a paid consultant at CNN and advertises his services as a political consultant for “high-profile clients and political candidates”; included in his talents is being a Republican opposition researcher, which is to say he specializes in digging up dirt on Democrats.

In the end, few will care about Shermichael Singleton, and in fact I wish him well. I hope he makes a lot of money and has a nice, big house in Georgetown. But it’s important to see him, and the few other black men and women who continue to be Republican operatives, as what they are: not operating out of genuine political belief, but as career opportunists.


Trump fights back, with lies and threats

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“You know what else they say about my people? The polls, they say I have the most loyal people. Did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s like incredible.”

That was a bragging Trump, campaigning in Iowa back on Jan. 23, 2016. He said, in essence, that he could commit a violent felony—first-degree murder—in full public view, with witnesses all around him, and his supporters wouldn’t give a damn. They’d let him off the hook.

Well, what we’ve been seeing with UkraineGate is the Constitutional equivalent of a serial murderer. Trump has committed numerous acts of illegality and blatant unConstitutionality, in full public view, in the presence of multiple witnesses, of whom not a single one of his supporters has been willing to step forward and say, “He did it.”

Not one Republican in the House of Representatives. Not one Republican in the Senate. Not one Republican in the executive branch of government. Not one member of Trump’s Republican Cabinet. Trump committed his diplomatic felonies, assassinating, not people, but norms and Constitutional laws, and he hasn’t lost a single Republican voter.

Yes, “it’s like incredible.”

Then Trump had the nerve to come out right after yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing to lambaste Democrats for investigating his behavior. “No healthcare, no gun control, no infrastructure,” he screamed. “Democrats don’t want any of that. All they want is to harass me.”

Such a lie! Everybody in the universe knows that Democrats stand for healthcare, for gun control, for infrastructure. The Democratic House has passed bill after bill about all those things, and more—but Moscow Mitch refuses to even take them up in his Senate. No floor debate. No committee hearings. “I won’t take up any Democrat legislation in the Senate,” he fulminates, “unless I know what the president will sign.”

Well, of course, Moscow Mitch doesn’t know what Trump will sign because Trump isn’t interested in signing any legislation. He just wants his stooge, McConnell, to stall, stall, stall, so that he can blame Democrats for Congressional inaction. That’s the way things work in Trump Land: do nothing, oppose everything, and blame Democrats for not getting anything done—and continue to break the law and cover up your crimes. This is the case Democrats should, and will, make to the American people. Don’t blame us for this do-nothing Senate. Blame Moscow Mitch and his boss, Trump—who now is outrightly threatening to execute the whistleblower, when and if he or she is identified.

I think the American people get it: the danger and psychosis of this president and his co-conspirators: Giuliani, Pompeo, Pence, McConnell and the others. Once upon a time we indicted, convicted and jailed the co-conspirators of a criminal president: Watergate. We can do it again.

Have a great weekend. Stay safe.


The Acting Director of National Intelligence is a political hack

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Watching the Acting DNI, Maguire, testify this morning was painful.

It turns out that the man who runs the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States of America is just another squirming, mealy-mouthed bureaucrat. Afraid of saying anything that could get him in trouble with his bosses, he dodged and weaved, hiding behind words, trying his best not to say anything at all.

Two of his favorite words were “urgent” and “prudent.”

He determined, he testified under oath, that he did not think the whistleblower’s complaint rose to the level of “urgent.”

Consider: at stake, in the whistleblower’s complaint, was Who will be the next President of the United States. At stake, too, was the integrity of the current President of the United States, who stands credibly accused of blackmailing a foreign leader in order to boost his (POTUS’s) re-election chances by smearing his [possible] opponent.

Not “urgent”??? Seriously?

Then there’s “prudent.” Maguire valued being “prudent,” according to his testimony, more than he valued following the law. The law says that the DNI shall hand over whistleblower complaints to the relevant Congressional committees. But Maguire thought it would be “prudent” to first check in with his executive bosses in the White House, to assure him that was okay. 

The law does not say that the DNI shall turn over whistleblower complaints to Congress provided that the White House first gives him permission. The law doesn’t say that at all. Yet Maguire thought it would be “prudent” to ask the White House if it was okay for him to do his job, as mandated by law.

That is the action of a timid, befuddled, frightened bureaucrat. You can almost hear his inner thinking: Uh oh, shitstorm. I better ask the White House if it’s okay for me to tell the Congress about the whistleblower. I don’t want to get fired; I don’t want to get into trouble; I want to return to fulltime government work when this Acting DNI gig is up.

This is the man who runs the U.S. intelligence apparatus? A sniveling, worried office worker? He’s more like someone out of a Dilbert cartoon. Maguire is a typical career bureaucrat: all his life, he’s received orders from above, which he then relayed below, trying to straddle fences without alienating anyone. (If you’ve worked in a large organization, as I have, you might have some empathy with him.) No great moral decisions were required, no deeds of courage, no bravery. Maguire may well have been brave on many occasions when he was a Navy SEAL; but once he entered government politics, he discovered the “prudence” of not rocking the boat.

Sadly, Maguire found himself, for the first time in his career, in a position where he was morally required to put country and law ahead of career and “prudence.” Maguire weighed the balance, and decided in favor of career and “prudence.” He had the opportunity this morning, in front of that committee, to redeem himself—to declare in favor of country and law. But that would have jeopardized his future government career. So he wouldn’t. Indeed, Maguire wouldn’t even say whether or not Trump gave him orders about his testimony. He hid behind that old chestnut, “executive privilege,” which is the White House equivalent of taking the Fifth. Maguire couldn’t even bring himself to disagree with Trump’s characterization of the whistleblower as a “political hack.”

If Maguire wants to know what a “political hack” is, all he has to do is look in the mirror.


IMPEACHMENT!

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Trump and his Republicans want to make this a fight. Good. Let’s fight. We’re going to win.

There are a few salient facts to keep in mind.

  1. What is the essence of UkraineGate? The President of the United States enticed a foreign government to illegally meddle in a U.S. election.
  2. This is the second time this has happened. “Russia, if you’re listening” was the first—thereby continuing a clear pattern of solicitation bordering on treason.
  3. Trump and his associates—Barr and the Acting DNI, Maguire—broke the law by preventing the whistleblower from going to Congress.
  4. UkraineGate is far from Trump’s only crime. He has repeatedly and flagrantly violated the Emoluments Clause. He attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation at least ten times, according to the Mueller Report. He abused his power by trying to get Mueller fired. He has broken the law by refusing to turn over his taxes to Congress, which is entitled to see them. He has broken campaign finance and other tax laws by clandestine hush payments to his former mistresses. He has repeatedly lied, or caused his agents to lie, to Congress, to the media, and to the American people.

Have I forgotten anything? Probably. The point is, Trump and his Republicans keep forwarding the myth that Impeachment will redound to their benefit, and against the interests of Democrats. This is untrue. The comparison or analogy with Clinton is not apt. For one thing, Clinton was enormously popular at the onset of Republican attempts to impeach him, whereas Trump’s popularity is in the tank. For another, the “crime” Republicans charged Clinton with was based on a consenting sexual affair; and the American people refused to depose a President just because he cheated on his wife; and they especially were revolted by a prurient Miss Grundy of a prosecutor, Kenneth Starr, who reminded them of all the dirty old men they didn’t like. Trump’s crimes by contrast are massive and widespread, covering a multitude of areas, any one of which justifies removal from office. And he’s still in office! Which means he’s still capable of committing even stupider crimes going forward. And he probably will, given what we know of his impulsiveness, arrogance, disregard for the law, and, yes, his stupidity.

So let the truth come out. Trump can’t stop it. To paraphrase Churchill’s immortal words: “Let the process keep rolling along; let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, to broader lands and better days.” It is rolling full-steam now. Tomorrow, when Maguire either admits he broke the law or—more likely, on orders from Trump—continues to stonewall before Congress, the process will increase in energy. Possibly by Friday, when the whistleblower testifies in Congress, the onrush will become a tsunami.

And all the while, the House investigations continue. They will gather their evidence, funneling relevant information to the Impeachment managers, who will build the case to an American public already primed to believe in the criminality of their President—moreover, a public already inclined to view Trump as a lying, adulterous asshole.

And what of the diehard Trump lovers? They’re not going to take this sitting down. Check out Breitbart (but put on your haz-mat suit before you go there). The anger, the outrage leak from every page like raw sewage. So far, as yet, the neo-fascists there have nothing concrete with which to defend their Fuhrer; all they can do is quote his tweets. High up on today’s feed is a photograph of Maxine Waters, always a favorite Negro for Breitbart’s racists to hate on. The comments under her photo range from racist inuendoes about her family to such delightful nuggets as this:

The funeral director that did her makeup needs to go back to school to revisit makeup application for the dearly deceased….”

And, of course, there’s the standard crap about the Clintons and Obamas (“investigate them! Jail them!”).

Well, that’s the Basket of Deplorables for you. Too bad we can’t just snap our fingers and make them go away, or wake up and realize it’s all been a nightmare. It’s all ticking down to Election 2020. We successfully launched #BlueWave2018 and I firmly believe we’ll successfully launch #BlueWave2020. Not to sound too vengeful, but when the new, Democratic Congress and a new Democratic President take office on Jan. 21, 2021 (with, let’s pray, Ruth Bader Ginsburg still on the SCOTUS), we’re going to indict a lot of bastards, from Nunes and McConnell to Barr; we may even impeach Kavanaugh; and as for Trump himself, he’s going to have to lawyer up, but this time on his own dime, not ours.


What happens when you realize that you’ve been played?

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The Brits and we Americans have many things in common: a shared language and democratic institutions. And we now have something else: both countries were hoodwinked by ridiculous, incompetent leaders, and both peoples are now seeing just how badly they were tricked.

In Britain’s case, of course, this refers to the disastrous Prime Ministry of Boris Johnson. Although he’s been in office just a few months, his reign has been the most catastrophic in modern history, and he is likely to be the shortest-ruling PM ever. He rose to notoriety with inflammatory rhetoric that was, frankly, unlinked to facts: he took advantage of the fear and rage of some Brits with foreigners. England has long considered herself separate from Europe, “This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself…This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,” as Shakespeare’s Richard II said. Largely Caucasian, Great Britain, like most of Europe, has seen a massive influx of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia—and it’s rubbing some Englishmen the wrong way. Their resentment got Johnson elected.

If that recipe sounds familiar, it’s because it happened here, too, with Trump getting elected because too many white people in the Midwest, South and Inter-mountain region fear and hate people of color. Trump and Johnson are the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of western politics—and it’s made even weirder by the fact that they both have bizarre, ugly orange comb-overs on the tops of their heads.

Johnson seems likely to be toppled from power any day or week now, with Labor poised to take its place. The British people have seen through his utter unfitness for office: he drove the drumbeat for Brexit with no plan, no conception of how to actually accomplish it; he simply took a wrecking ball to existing British foreign policy. Donald J. Trump has done exactly the same thing. With his “America First” nonsense, he’s alienated virtually all of our traditional allies, and he has certainly hurt the cause of democracy and ruined (let us hope temporarily) America’s reputation as a shining city on a hill.

(While I’m on the subject, another right wing leader, albeit one who doesn’t have orange hair, also is about to be toppled from power, and for many of the same reasons: Bibi Netayahu’s era of stoking hatred of the Palestinian people seems to be ticking into oblivion.)

Here in the States, Trump is on thin ice. This Ukraine business might be the tipping point. Yes, I know we’ve been here many, many times. I’ve postulated other tipping points in the past. But somehow this feels different. It’s easy to understand: Trump bribes a foreign leader to help him take down one of his political opponents, Biden.

Setting aside all of Trump’s other crimes and misdemeanors, how do we explain to the American people that UkraineGate is worth impeachment? After all, it’s apparently not strictly illegal. Knowledgeable people say it was unprecedented, but Trump was elected to be a disrupter. So, again, how do Democrats justify bringing impeachment charges against him for UkraineGate?

Unfortunately, not easily. Since it’s not illegal, it’s not a crime. This gets us into “misdemeanor” territory. And here is where Democrats must focus their efforts. They have to explain the concept of harmful wrongdoing to the American people. A misdemeanor is “the act of misbehaving” (Webster’s Dictionary); its root is the Latin “minare,” to drive cattle, but by the time that term migrated into Old European languages it came to mean bad behavior, especially in a leader, that degrades (demeans) both the actor and what he represents.

This is a mouthful, to be sure, but skillful politicians like FDR have been able to explain complicated concepts through simple analogies (Roosevelt’s “length of garden hose” is a perfect example). Americans “get” the concept of misbehavior, especially the misbehavior of children. (Think about the Trump baby balloon.) Every parent can cite instances of kids behaving badly; and bad behavior must be punished. It’s easy to cite Trump’s bad behavior—not just UkraineGate but everything else. So cite it: list it:  remind people how troubling it is. And then say he has to be punished.

Americans will be sympathetic to that argument. They might still wonder if impeachment, rather than defeating Trump in 2020, is the right or wrong course; but they will support the notion of punishment; I firmly believe that. I furthermore firmly believe that they can be persuaded that impeachment NOW is better than defeating him LATER by this simple argument: He’s out of control and will get worse if he remains in power. We need to depose him NOW. That was the whole point of FDR’s “garden hose” analogy: the fire is burning the house NOW. We don’t have time to call the firemen. If we’re going to save the house, we have to act NOW.

Well, something like that is the argument I’d use. As I write this, Pelosi is supposed to be speaking later on the topic of impeachment. I don’t know what she’ll say, but I hope she reads my blog.


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