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Why is Evan McMullin morally equating Democrats with Republicans?

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“Right-wing populists demonize minorities. Left-wing populists demonize the wealthy. Neither offer real solutions for the American people.”

That’s from McMullin’s Twitter feed last Saturday.

What did he mean and why did he say it?

I have consistently argued that it’s wrong to equate the Left and the Right in moral terms, because that implies that both sides are equally moral (or immoral, as the case may be). The fact is that the Right, as we currently see it in America, is immoral, because it has chosen to collude with an abomination, Donald J. Trump. This theory that both sides are to blame for the nation’s ills is reprehensible; I hear it a lot in Oakland, where so many young people are saying “A pox on both their houses.” They are wrong, wrong, wrong.

And so is McMullin. One part of his statement is true: the Right does demonize minorities: Blacks, Browns, LGBTQ, Muslims, immigrants and whoever else is on Trump’s shit list on any given day. The other part of his statement is a lie: the Left does not demonize the wealthy.

What the Left wants is to raise taxes on the wealthy, both through marginal rates, through the estate tax, and perhaps through a luxury tax. That is only right and fair. It is not demonization! The lives of billionaires and the lives of the 99% can’t even be compared. It’s obscene to see the uber-wealthy accumulate more and more mansions, race horses, paintings, antiques, yachts, jet planes, jewelry and couture clothing, while so many people in America struggle to pay for food or medicine. And yet we have a Republican Party that consistently lowers taxes on the uber-rich; and we know that their trickle-down argument has been proven to be totally bogus.

So what’s up with McMullin? A little background. First, remember that McMullin ran for President in 2016, calling himself “a conservative alternative candidate” to Trump. In the event, he didn’t do very well: of the three minor candidates (Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and McMullin), he got the fewest votes: Only 728,830 compared to Johnson’s 4,488,931 and Stein’s 1,457,050. Despite the magnitude of his defeat, McMullin did well in Utah, where he took 21% of the vote to finish third behind Hillary and Trump. The Utah victory was noteworthy in that Mormons in that state (McMullin is a Mormon) abandoned the Republican Party they had previously supported in every presidential election since LBJ’s 1964 landslide. Trump did take Utah in 2016, but McMullin’s vote total, added to Hillary Clinton’s, dwarfed Trump’s total.

That made McMullin (as it also made Johnson and Stein) a spoiler, throwing the election to Trump—a foregone conclusion to anyone who had the eyes to see.

McMullin said some pretty fierce anti-Trump things during the campaign, so why is he now equating the Trump movement with the Democratic Party? The answer is, because he’s a rightwing conservative, further to the Right even than Trump. Here’s McMullin on the issues:

Abortion: Ardently anti-choice. He would defund Planned Parenthood and end all subsidies to mothers obtaining abortions.

LGBTQ: He is fiercely anti-same sex marriage or granting civil rights to the LGBTQ community. (Mormons, it’s important to remember, are one of the Christian sects most opposed to gay rights.)

Marijuana: McMullin is opposed to the legalization of pot.

Energy: Yes on offshore drilling and fracking. No on subsidies to wind farms.

Gun control: A firm “second amendment” fan, McMullin opposes any further forms of control.

Minimum wage: McMullin is against raising it.

Hillary Clinton: McMullin continues the Trumpian smear, calling her “a corrupt career politician.”

Social Security and Medicare: McMullin calls them “runaway entitlement spending” and would slash them.

Taxes: He is opposed to raising taxes on the rich. He is in favor of further lowering taxes on corporations.

This rightwing stance on taxes, combined with his other extremist positions, lays behind him equating Trump-Republicanism with the platform of the Democratic Party. We should realize two things: (1) McMullin’s only chance at a national political future is to defame both parties, and (2) his real base is the same as Trump’s: white, Christian, male, angry and resentful. The only reason he did so well in Utah was because he’s a Mormon and the Mormons, for all their glaring bigotry in other areas, are profoundly bothered by Trump’s amorality.

It looks like McMullin is gearing up for another run in 2020. He’s pretending to be a moderate centrist who can pull both sides together: “There is an urgent need to find common ground and seek sensible compromise between factions to counter the dangerous wave of political polarization currently washing over the nation,” he tweeted.  

Don’t believe it! Evan McMullin is a rightwing religious extremist who would impose his reactionary views on America. Any journalist  covering him should hit him hard on the issues I outlined above and demand to know why he’s so out-of-step with the American people.


Behind the scenes in the Trump bureaucracy

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY

Internal Memorandum

From: Deputy Secretary of the Treasury [DepSecTrea]

To: Director, Secret Service Division [DSSD]

From now on, Secret Service Division (SSD) personnel are prohibited from smuggling women into wherever POTUS is inhabiting. This includes porn stars, ho’s and strippers.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

POTUS will be very unhappy. SSD has smuggled women into him for two years and he expects process to continue.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Too risky. Journalists are suspicious, snooping around. Cannot damage reputation SSD/DOT to satisfy sexual lusts of POTUS.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

If you supply us with names of suspicious journalists, we can take care of them.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Details.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Accidents happen.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

On advice of DOT General Counsel, cannot comply.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Accidents happen to General Counsels too.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

You miss the point. It is wrong to assist POTUS in his adultery.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

So what do I tell POTUS?

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Nothing. Just stop doing it. He may not notice.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Not likely. He had us smuggle in 9 women in last 2 weeks.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Is it possible to bring him SSD women instead of outsiders?

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Negatory on that. SSD women not his type. He likes tall skanky blondes. SSD women mostly swarthy Lesbians.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

How about boys?

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

POTUS shows no interest in same sex.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

DOT General Counsel suggests meet with CIA Director of Camouflage. Skanky blondes can be made to look like Pence.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

What if skanky blonde Pence and real VPOTUS are in same place same time?

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Awkward. Might try “separated at birth” scenario.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Could work. But POTUS might not like having sex with Pence lookalike.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

No, you idiot, camouflage would be removed once skank is with POTUS.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Apologies.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

No problem.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Just got word from POTUS at Mar-a-Lago. He wants a skank tonight.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

How do you usually find them?

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

We have Directory. The boys call it the Skanklopedia. Five hundred blonde skanks in all 50 States, plus three dozen foreign countries.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Problem! CIA Director of Camouflage on vacation this week.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

I explained to POTUS Secret Service unable to help him this week. Very angry! Insists Service is sabotaging him. Threatens budget. Says Service “enemy of the people.”

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Not good! Bringing in WH Chief of Staff Mulvaney.

INTERNAL MEMORANDUM

Office of the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury

From: DepSecTrea

To: WHCOS Mulvaney

Dear Mick, we have a little problem over here with the Secret Service. POTUS as you know expects Service to smuggle women into him. But for variety of reasons Service no longer able to perform that service. POTUS angry, threatening. Intervention?

From: WHCOS Mulvaney

To: DepSecTrea

Not possible. POTUS not in mood to compromise. Afraid Service on own. Destroy this communication.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Back to Square One. Idea: How about Ann Coulter? She’s tall skanky blonde, right? Press would not be suspicious if she met with him.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Not sure POTUS sexually attracted Coulter. Once heard him call her “ugly donkey.”

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Makeup? Victoria’s Secret underwear? You know, sex her up. My wife can help.

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

With all due respect your wife, not sure anything can make Coulter sexy. But we can try.

[24 hours later]

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

How did it go?

From: DSSD

To: DepSecTrea

Not good. POTUS furious. Says she wouldn’t pee. Says he’s hornier than ever and might start foreign war.

From: DepSecTrea

To: DSSD

Uh oh. Maybe bring in Secy of State?

INTERNAL MEMORANDUM

Office of the Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury

From: DepSecTrea

To: Deputy Secretary of State [DepSoS]

Milt, POTUS is threatening to start war unless Secret Service provides him with ho’s, which we at DOT are reluctant to do.

From: DepSoS

To: DepSecTrea

Did he say which country he wants to start a war with?

From: DepSecTrea

To: DepSoS

He did not.

From: DepSoS

To: DepSecTrea

Well, it would be a helluva lot easier if you just complied with his wishes. Last thing we need now is another war.

From: DepSecTrea

To: Secretary, Department of the Treasury

Sir: I respectfully resign from the office of Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It has been a pleasure to serve you and our great President Trump.

NEW YORK TIMES

Front page, the next day

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Commits Suicide

Wife says he was “increasingly distraught” by demands of job


Trump Republicans just can’t be civil

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Speaker Pelosi gave the loveliest acceptance speech yesterday. It was filled with love, hope, and genuine reaching across the aisle to achieve true bipartisanship with her Republican colleagues.

And yet, as soon as the swearing-in was over, MSNBC interviewed Republican congressman Buddy Carter (R-GA) to ask his reaction to Pelosi’s speech. Did he respond in a reciprocal spirit of friendship? No. “I just hope Speaker Pelosi doesn’t go back to Hawaii” was his snarky, entirely needless and inappropriate barb.

He referred, of course, to the fact that Nancy Pelosi and her family went to Hawaii for a few days of vacation while the Congress was out of session. What could possibly be objectionable about that, especially since the current president, whom Carter worships, spends more time playing golf than any president in history?

Yet Rep. Carter just couldn’t help himself. Does the House Republican leadership give them these talking points? Did Kevin McCarthy instruct Carter that, if he were interviewed about Pelosi, to begin with a snarky jab?

Carter is a standard-issue rightwinger. He’s strongly pro-NRA, anti-abortion, and in favor of repealing Obamacare. He thinks “the Supreme Court got it wrong” when it legalized same-sex marriage.

And, like his president, Trump, he’s in favor of “The Wall” and blames Democrats for not funding it.

You’d think that, on Day One of the new Democratic-controlled House, after Pelosi’s gracious speech—during which she was surrounded on the podium by children, Republican and Democratic alike—these Republicans would wait for a day or so before attacking.

But that’s not the Republican way. Rep. Carter, in fact, gave the nation a preview of what to expect from Republicans in the 116th Congress. More of the same old crap: Gay-bashing. Covering up Trump’s crimes and misdemeanors. Lies about “violent gangs” flooding across the southern border. Vengeful, empty threats about ending Obamacare and taking health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans.  Continued attacks against our allies overseas. More deaths by gunfire in America because the NRA won’t permit sensible gun control. And more insults, innuendos and smears of Democrats.

As for the current standoff about the wall, I’ve been emailing my California Congressional representatives—Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris—a simple message: NOT ONE RED CENT! So I was pleased when Pelosi gave Samantha Guthrie, on NBC, a one-word answer when Guthrie asked if Democrats would vote to fund the wall, even a little bit. “No,” Madame Speaker said.

That’s the only language Trump understands. He’s going to be hearing “No” a lot from the House of Representatives. He’s also going to be watching a lot of investigations on his television set. He’d better stock up on the Adderall.

Happy New Year to all of you! And thanks for reading my blog.


Pelosi’s Big Day! And my early take on 2020

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This is the day we’ve been waiting for, when Trump is held to account. Here’s the gavel, Speaker Pelosi!

Under her leadership, these five Democratic House chairs are going to be the heroes of 2019:

Jerry Nadler, Judiciary Committee

Adam Schiff, Intelligence Committee

Elijah Cummings, Oversight Committee

Richard Neal, Ways and Means Committee

Maxine Waters, Financial Services Committee

The first three, Nadler, Schiff and Cummings, have been real attack dogs over the last two years, increasingly critical of Trump as he breaks laws and violates American values. Neal has been largely silent; representing south-central Massachusetts, a working-class district, he’s stayed off the MSNBC/CNN talk shows. But he’s the one tasked with unearthing Trump’s tax returns. As for Maxine Waters, well! Trump loathes her as much as she loathes him. He called her “a low IQ person,” which is in line with his usual smears of women and people of color. She, for her part, hasn’t hesitated to express extreme umbrage in every interview; her ever-sharp tongue is a good match to Trump’s insults. How fitting that a person whom Trump has disparaged—a black woman–now will get to sit in judgment of him!

So the worm has turned. I don’t know if Trump will run for re-election in 2020 because, honestly, we don’t know if he’ll still be in office. He might quit, especially if Mueller—armed with a vast armada of proof of his lies and crimes, including the pee tape—makes a deal with him: in exchange for not prosecuting him or his family or the Trump Organization, Trump resigns and promises never to engage in elective office again. He might be impeached, although as we all know, conviction in this Republican-dominated Senate is a near impossibility. With his high blood pressure, he might even drop dead of a heart attack or stroke.

And, with an eye toward 2020, I look to primary season, already unfolding, with a certain unease. I sense another internecine battle within the Democratic Party between the far left (Sanders, Warren) and the more moderate center, what might be called the Hillary wing. This split cost us the election in 2016; Sanders, especially, persuaded enough Democrats to abandon the ticket to hand the presidency over to Trump. Although he’ll never acknowledge his role, he was indeed The Spoiler.

In my judgment, Sanders and Warren ought not to run. Both are out of step with mainstream America, and even with the Democratic Party; both are unelectable. Warren in particular rubs people the wrong way. Whether or not that’s her fault is beside the point; she’s not likeable, and likeability plays a huge role in a politician’s success. Sanders is likeable—he’s got the Uncle Bernie persona. But he’s tainted by that Spoiler role he played two years ago, and a lot of Hillary supporters (including me) will never forgive him.

Beto is looking good, isn’t he? Handsome, charming, athletic, poised, a great speaker, inspirational, a family man, and he has a proven track record of fund-raising. That’s on the plus side. But is he the new JFK or Barack Obama? Democrats, it’s said, fall in love; Republicans fall in line. We’re all in love with Beto now, but, as I’ve pointed out before, the DNC had better do an outstanding job researching every second of his life, because if there’s a single skeleton in the closet—sexual, financial, plagiarism, anything at all for Republicans to seize on—he’s toast. The lesson of Tom Eagleton ought to haunt Democrats.

I’m looking also at Sherrod Brown. I’m not big on Kamala Harris—not yet, anyway. Maybe next time around. Amy Klobuchar is an interesting choice. She checks a lot of boxes: Woman. Important swing state. Great personality. Not too liberal for those suburbanites, but liberal enough for most Democrats. And, this one is out of right field: Gavin Newsom. Not for the top spot, but for veep. By summer, 2020, he will have been Governor of California for 1-1/2 years, and will have established a national profile. But in the end, I keep coming back to one name: Joe Biden. He’s got pretty much everything: the track record, the chops, a certain telegenic quality despite his age, a winning personality, the best smile in politics, a solid liberal track record over the decades. Moreover, there’s nothing lurking in the closet: Biden’s been vetted more than all the others put together. He’s got a good tongue, too—any crap Trump (or any other Republican) throws at him, he’ll turn around, jiu-jitsu style, right back in the thrower’s face, and he’ll do it flashing those pearly whites. Biden’s negative, if you can call it that, is his age: he’ll be just short of 78 on Election Day 2020. But if he’s healthy, he could do it—especially if he picks the right veep.

And who might that be?

Biden-Beto: The B&B Boys. The pro and the rookie. Classic combo. Plus Beto puts Texas into play.

Biden-Newsom: Risky, and might be too coastal. But Newsom would attract immense attention, and the environmentalists love him (so do the gays, but they’ll vote Democratic anyway).

Biden-Klobuchar: Nice. The sweet spot. Mixes up the genders, plus gets the heartland to balance out Biden’s eastern cred.

Biden-Booker: Longshot, and it would be an all-East Coast ticket. But African-Americans are Democrats’ most loyal constituency, and they deserve representation. Plus, Booker is trusted by the left.

Biden-Sherrod Brown: Like Klobuchar, Brown brings an important swing, heartland state, Ohio. He’s super-telegenic, smart and able to defend himself against the Republican smear machine. And he’s progressive enough for the Sanders-Warren wing.

Of course, whomever the Democratic nominee is, I will support her or him with all my heart.

So there you have it: My early take on 2020.


Trump is about to enter his post-halcyon period

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“After Mussolini’s advent to power his qualities—mental agility, shrewdness, ruthless opportunism, and histrionic and rhetorical talent—kept him afloat in a flabby world, in which for a time he was not subjected to much competition, and people were prepared to accept him at his own valuation. But during this halcyon period his defects were rotting the fabric he had created and, when he came to be severely tested, his jealousy, lack of courage, vanity, egotism, ignorance, and superficiality led him into policies which were the logical consequence of his own errors and inexorably plunged his country into servitude and disaster.”

I revert to the Mussolini analogy again, as I did yesterday, because the comparisons are just too precise. The above description, by Ivone Kirkpatrick in Mussolini: A Study in Power, could almost without change be used for Trump. His “halcyon period” is these first two years; his qualities (such as they are) have “kept him afloat,” although Trump has had much more trouble with internal critics than did Mussolini, who was able to establish a dictatorship quickly. As for those “severe tests,” they’re already coming at him—and will soon become infinitely more severe.

I’m struck by Kirkpatrick’s use of the term “flabby world.” By it, he means that in the early period of Mussolini’s rise to power, no authoritative group within Italy (the Church and Papacy, the monarchy, the military) was able to identify his obvious flaws, largely because they did not wish to perceive them. And in the wider European community, the Great Powers (France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia) likewise failed to appreciate the threat Mussolini posed to them; although the French came closest, they chose not to oppose him.

What is the “flabby world” within which Trump has so far stayed afloat? Clearly, it is the Republican Party. Corrupt, contradictory, mired in scandal, it consistently elevates politicians of weak intellect, who place personal gain ahead of service to country. You need look no further than (for instance) the House Freedom Caucus or the Republicans in the U.S. Senate: a collection of non-entities of dubious mental prowess, driven by religious belief, afraid of crossing their boss, prone to making catastrophic decisions, or non-decisions, as in the case of climate change.

But now, with the dawn of 2019 and a Democratic House of Representatives, Trump enters his post-halcyon era. Everybody, including him, knows it will be ugly. Trump tweets, in his New Year’s message, that this will be “A FANTASTIC YEAR” [the caps are his], but he knows that it will not be. It will in fact be a year of disastrous turns for him, of crimes proven, of more lies and more incalculable damage to America, and one moreover of extreme danger to his family. What he calls (humorously, given the “Obama Derangement Syndrome” of 2009-2017) “TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME” is just getting started. No one is about to “CALM DOWN”; perhaps that is Trump’s way of telling himself to take a deep breath amidst the turmoil closing in on him.

Someone on Breitbart tried to insult me (an impossible task, since I don’t take their nonsense personally) by writing that I’ve let Trump into my head, which, in their opinion, is proof of his historical greatness. Trump certainly is the most dominating president of my lifetime, in the sense that every news cycle begins and ends with him, and his name is on every lip. But—also from Kirkpatrick, speaking of Mussolini—“Surely…he is likely to enjoy fame, but…he can lay no claim to real greatness.” Trump is immensely famous. But his fame is based on his callousness, vulgarity and divisiveness. These are not qualities destined to burnish his name in the history books alongside those of truly great presidents. We do not, in fact, quite know how history will treat him, because in the long span of American politics there has never been anyone quite like him. Yet I’m confident that a special place in the annals will be reserved for him, a place of vileness, regret and shame.


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