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Number of posts: 91
Email address: email
By Andy Schmookler:
rule of the thug
As America enters the Age of Trump, it is important to recognize that what’s happening is not just about Trump, and not just about America. Forces kindred to Trump have lately been ascendant around the world.
We see different manifestations of this same ascendant force that has borne Trump into the presidency in Putin’s Russia, in Erdogan’s Turkey, in Britain’s Brexit movement, in right-wing ethno-nationalist parties across Europe (France, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, etc.), in Netanyahu’s Israel, and in Duterte’s Philippines.
a monstrous force
If Donald Trump wins next Tuesday – God forbid! – then it goes without saying that American politics are in for a time of profound ugliness.
But it is becoming increasingly clear that even if Donald Trump is defeated, a time of ugliness lies ahead. That forecast now goes well beyond the issue of Trump’s telegraphing of a refusal to accept the outcome. The ugliness may well begin with that violation of the American norms …
A pattern in support for Donald Trump has repeated itself twice in recent months. In early August, Trump’s continued questioning of the ability of a judge to do his job because of his Mexican heritage, combined with his days-long attacks on a Gold Star family that had publicly criticized him, led a number of Trump voters to withdraw their support. Then …
just for attention
This ugly presidential campaign will soon be over, but ugliness threatens to continue beyond Election Day. Donald Trump, who threatened that if he wins he will seek to jail his opponent, has been inciting his followers with accusations that, if he loses, it’s because of a conspiracy.
Win or lose, Mr. Trump threatens the foundations of American democracy. Polls indicate that Trump probably will lose…
what kind of person?
“Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.” – Winston Churchill
No one who feels allegiance to a political party wants to have to choose between party and principle. But sometimes history compels people to make that choice.
That is how a large group of prominent people, who describe themselves as “members of the Republican national security community,” see their situation in this year’s presidential election.
perception v. reality
A letter in the most recent AARP Magazine got me thinking. The previous issue of the magazine had a piece titled “Leading Ladies,” featuring several older actresses – Sharon Stone, Jane Fonda, and Alfre Woodard – who have done well despite Hollywood’s long-standing ageism.
The letter-writer, describing himself as a Vietnam-era veteran, felt insulted by the inclusion of Jane Fonda, whom he remembers bitterly “as the traitor ‘Hanoi Jane.'”
Everybody has reasons not to want to believe what scientists are saying about climate change.
For starters, who wants to believe that we humans are facing our greatest challenge ever? Life is hard enough, just meeting the challenges of taking care of our families.
And most of us resist change. It’s so much easier to just keep on doing what we’re doing.
And who wants to accept the troubling news that our children and grandchildren will be hurt unless we act responsibly in the face of the unwelcome truth.
a cry from the heart
We’d likely have less controversy over the slogan, “Black Live Matter,” if we had more of a shared understanding of the relevant American reality.
Sometimes a single clue reveals something big about that reality. There’s the clue, for example, that we white people have heard about in recent times in the wake of headlined shootings of unarmed black men. It’s “the talk” that many black parents give to their children, especially their sons.
Madame Secretary, you have said that as president, you’ll “break the gridlock in Washington.” You have also said that you are good at reaching “across the aisle” to get things done.
But although President Obama also reached across the aisle, the Republicans — rather than work in Congress — rather than work with him — never budged from their determination to obstruct everything he proposed. And it didn’t matter what were the specifics of his proposal, The Republicans chose to obstruct across-the-board in order to make him fail.
feckless and reckless
I’ve always been politically liberal, because – like my parents, who came of age during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt – I believe that government has a vital role to play in making our society what it should be. But at the same time, I’ve always had respect for conservatives because I believed them to be the people who put an appropriate emphasis on “character” and – again, like my parents – I believe the character of a person is what matters most.
no free pass allowed
Yesterday, President Obama said this:
“I think what’s been interesting is the repeated denunciations of his statements by leading Republicans,” he said in a press conference. “The question I think they have to ask themselves is, if you are repeatedly having to say in very strong terms that what he has said is unacceptable, why are you still endorsing him? What does this say about your party …
our collective narcissism
Let me first try to make sure I’m not misunderstood. I am not saying that I wish the Democrats had done anything different at the convention. As many observed, the Democrats were smart to occupy the upbeat, patriotic, American-exceptionalist, morning-in-America space that Trump’s GOP abandoned with its fear-mongering dark picture of the state of the nation. Those chants of “U.S.A! U.S.A.!” may help some Republicans and Independents, unhappy with Trump…
line that floored me
It is not President Obama’s way to deliver a blow in the ring of the sort that puts an opponent down for the count. (“When they go low, we go high.”) But last night he said something – delivering so unexpectedly powerful a blow – that made me leap from my seat.
I’ve seen several mentions of Obama’s having referred to Trump (without naming him) as a “homegrown demagogue.” But if anyone has taken notice of what a devastating and powerful attack that phrase was in its context, I haven’t seen it.
do your job
If there’s one thing people can count on you for, it’s that you will put your party’s interests ahead of the good of the nation. Fortunately, there’s something you can do now to redeem yourself. It won’t be with your second-guessing FBI Director James Comey, who determined that Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco doesn’t warrant bringing charges.
You probably knew there would be no indictment, since most legal authorities had reached that same conclusion. And surely you know that Mr. Comey — appointee of George W. Bush, and contributor to the presidential campaigns of McCain and Romney – has no partisan motive to help the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
recipe for injustice
When I was involved in electoral politics here in Virginia, I was advised by Democratic politicians to stay away from the issue of “right-to-work” laws. Most Virginians favor those laws, I was told. They think that “right-to-work” is a matter of “liberty,” and no one running for office can succeed in explaining to them what these laws are really about.
If that’s wise counsel, it’s a sad commentary on our politics — for it’s doubtful that most of the Virginians who support right-to-work understand how these laws take money out of their pockets.
confession is the first step
NFL football and World War II share certain characteristics that make them, for me, guilty pleasures.
The pleasures come from my lifelong love of good games of strategy and of heroic action.
For these pleasures, no sport seems to me the equal of NFL – largely because of the excellent structure of the game: the series of downs, which can be renewed; the cumulative nature of field position; the balance between offense and defense; the management of the clock; etc.
a civilization-wide challenge
Some commentators have reminded us lately of what originally inspired the nations of Western Europe to move toward unification. The impetus came after two horrific wars, originating in Europe, within the space of thirty years.
In the immediate aftermath of World War II, after tens of millions had been killed and with much of Europe in ruins, some visionary European leaders understood the necessity of weaving the nations of Europe into a more whole order enabling its nations able to live together in peace, and to work together for their common good.
whole woman’s health v. hellerstedt
At year’s end last December, on a radio show in the Shenandoah Valley, I was asked at year’s end for my predictions for the coming year. One prediction I made was that the Court would strike down the Texas abortion law. I thought that the decision might be as much as 6-3 (this was before the death of Scalia), with Chief Justice Roberts joining the majority. My reason was this: whatever a justice might think about abortion, if s/he cares about the authority of the Supreme Court s/he will refuse to accept this Texas law which is clearly an attack on that authority.
not us v. them
The world is a complicated place (even more so than when I worked in American national security circles during the neo-cold war years of the 1980s). Making the right policy decisions is therefore a great challenge.
And the stakes are high – war and peace, life and death – not only for us Americans but, because of the power and leadership role of the United States, for everyone on earth.
Although defeating Donald Trump is one essential goal for this fall’s campaign, that should be seen as one important means toward the ultimate goal, which is to move the nation forward.
There is every reason to believe that the Republicans in Congress would try to do to a new Democratic President what they’ve been doing for more than seven years to the current Democratic President: use their power to obstruct progress on all fronts.
For that reason, a wise Democratic campaign must also minimize Republican power in Congress.
There’s been a change in how I see Donald Trump.
A few months ago, I saw him as an accomplished actor, able to pick what role to play for the occasion– such as to become the dominant figure in the race for the Republican nomination. I believed he had understood how he could tap into the passions simmering in a large part of the Republican base and ride those passions to power.
persuade your supporters
Show us how you’ll campaign, as the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party to take power away from the obstructionist Republicans in Congress, which must be overcome for anything to be accomplished now matter whether it’s you or Hillary who wins the White House.
And let’s hear the speech you’d make to your followers to motivate them to do all they can to make sure that Donald Trump doesn’t become president. You’ve said yourself how vitally important that is. Let’s hear how well you can persuade your supporters to see what you see about the urgency of stopping Trump…
only once every four years
This is not addressed not to those Republicans who think Donald Trump is an appropriate kind of person to be President of the United States. If you like what you see, go ahead and vote for him.
It is addressed rather, to those Republicans who have regarded Mr. Trump unfavorably because they saw him as lacking the character and temperament necessary for our nation’s highest office. (Reports indicated not so long ago that quite a few Republicans felt that way.)
I would like to ask those Republicans: Given what you saw about your party’s nominee, can you now vote for him?
take it to scotus
The Republicans are getting away with their disgraceful strategy of blocking the whole constitutional process for filling a Supreme Court vacancy. All signs show that although roughly two-thirds of voters do not think this stonewalling is right, the issue is simply disappearing from view and thus is falling off the radar as an electoral factor.
Something should be done, and it can.
doing ignoble things
Which party do you think of when you hear the phrase, “defender of the Constitution”? I would wager that members of both parties would immediately think of the Republican Party, because they are the ones who most loudly proclaim their deep allegiance to our founding document.
Yet in recent years, the leaders of the GOP have engaged in an assault on our constitutional system in ways unprecedented in American history…
important first step
The rise of Donald Trump means that the American political system, already sick, could be degraded still further. But – if Trump does become the Republican nominee for president, which looks probable – this danger also presents an opportunity to restore the health of American politics to levels not seen in years.
But seizing that opportunity will take more than defeating Trump because the political pathologies that he represents – such as a Republican base ready to support a proto-fascist candidate…
Dear Senator Sanders,
You’ve done the nation a great service in calling attention to the way Big Money is rigging our politics and our economy. But in focusing so much of your fire at “the billionaire class” and “giant corporations,” you are not waging the battle as effectively as you should. You are a political leader and your battles are in the political arena against political adversaries. Although you rightly oppose the dominance of “the billionaire class,” it is not that class that you need to defeat — not that class that you can directly fight — but rather their political servants.
not just about you
Your recent squabble — with one questioning whether the other is “qualified to be president” — highlights how you two have not been giving us the kind of campaign that would best serve not just the Democratic Party but the nation.
The differences between you may be important. But way less important than that whichever of you gets the nomination wins in November. Two extraordinary aspects of our national circumstance oblige you to allow that priority to dictate how you conduct your campaigns.
governing by fiat
An op/ed column in Saturday’s Washington Post, by an attorney named , proposes a most interesting idea. The essence of the idea is suggested by the title, “Obama can appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court if the Senate does nothing.”
The essence of the argument is contained in this passage:
It is altogether proper to view a decision by the Senate not to act as a waiver of its right to provide advice and consent…
supreme court nomination
I just got an email from Marc Ash, editor of the progressive news site, Reader Supported News. The title gives a clue about how exasperated Ash is at President Obama’s pick for his Supreme Court nominee.
In the piece, he describes how Garland was someone that Senator Orrin Hatch, conservative from Utah, had suggested would be a good pick. And then Ash writes: “Battle? Ideological confrontation? Reshaping of the Court? Forget it – Garland is a safe pick for America’s ruling class. Obama punted. Hatch defeated him without a fight.”
Donald Trump has been called a “buffoon.” That’s a mistake. “Buffoon” implies foolish, stupid. But Donald Trump possesses a kind of genius: He’s a genius at getting attention for himself.
One might say that the quest for attention – more than “making deals” — has been the driving force in Trump’s life. And for decades, he has succeeded in getting considerable public attention. But it is only in recent months that he’s demonstrated how extraordinary is his ability to seize – and hold – the spotlight.
strife over cooperation
Why have our politics become so dysfunctional? The answer is really not so hard to find. Our founders knew the nation would always have its divisions — of interests, values, opinions. The hope in framing the Constitution was that we’d nonetheless find ways to move the nation forward by negotiating compromises.
The question “How can we fight to increase our power?” would always be there, they understood, but the question “How can we cooperate to serve the good of the nation?” was supposed to have greater weight.
It is now 60 years that I’ve been following American politics closely. Long enough to get surprised when the way things have always been change dramatically into something never seen before.
I have been surprised, for example, to see people who regard themselves as “conservative” readily support leaders who break well-established American precedent. Aren’t conservatives the people who recognize that traditions are there for a reason – that you respect established norms, not just trample on them?
the greed system
When I was a kid, growing up in the 1950s, I loved the religious spectaculars one could see at the movie theaters – films like The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. I’ve never found it easy to believe that there is a God who intervenes in human affairs to punish the wicked and reward the good. But I loved entering that world in these enthralling works of the imagination.
I loved watching how God sent Moses to Egypt to tell Pharaoh to let his enslaved people go…
Democratic voters have a choice between two candidates. Which candidate is the better choice depends on what you think is possible for us to achieve.
If you think we are stuck with the power system we have — in which moneyed interests take over the American democracy and get to call more and more of the shots, and where politicians can be rewarded rather than punished for betraying the American people — Secretary Clinton is an admirable choice…