Friday, December 8, 2017

Robert Kuttner (American Prospect) on Al Franken

Kuttner, as usual, is right on target here. The Dems have been out-flanked again. Here's what he says:

As I wrote yesterday, Democrats made a huge mistake of both principle and tactics by throwing former Senator Al Franken under the bus. They hoped that ousting Franken would create a dramatic contrast with the Republicans’ indulgence of Roy Moore.

But Moore continues to deny that he did anything wrong. Who thinks the ouster of Franken will change one vote in the actual Alabama Senate race?

It would have been much fairer, as well as smarter politics, to allow the ethics investigation to play out, and insist that similar scrutiny be applied to both Moore and to the sexual predator-in-chief who sits in the Oval Office. As David Axelrod recently noted in a tweet, “Strange principle is emerging. If you admit misconduct, you resign. But if you deny it, however compelling or voluminous the testimony against you, you continue in office—or onto office—with impunity.”

The move to force Franken to resign is also hailed as an embrace of zero-tolerance. “I think when we start having to talk about the differences between sexual assault and sexual harassment and unwanted groping you are having the wrong conversation,” Gillibrand said Wednesday at a conference. “You need to draw a line in the sand and say none of it is OK. None of it is acceptable.”

This strikes me as dangerous nonsense. Just as there is a difference between armed robbery and shoplifting, there is a difference between rape and an unwanted pat on the butt. All are illegal or improper, but Roy Moore’s alleged child abuse and Franken’s bouts of misdemeanor misconduct are not in the same moral universe. Plus—whatever happened to due process?

This season marks the beginning of a long overdue reckoning of male sexual harassment and abuse of women. It doesn’t mark the end of shades of gray, or innocent until proven guilty. Right now, Republican stonewallers and sexual predators are having a good laugh at the Democrats’ expense. ~ ROBERT KUTTNER

(See: The American Prospect.)

Monday, December 4, 2017

3 Riddles

Question: What does a politician have to do to lose the white evangelical vote?

Answer: Act like Jesus. 

Question: Is there any level of hypocrisy and lack of sympathy for their fellows that Republicans won't sink to?

Answer: No.

Question: Do Republicans serve any function other than to transfer wealth from the non-rich to the rich?

Answer: None that anyone these days can effectively detect.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What Trump is not

There's been a lot of talk recently that Trump is emerging as an "independent"; I don't think that this word is correct with a capital "I" since he does not have an official position within any Independent Party, nor does he hew to a truly independent way of thinking. He doesn't hew to any way of thinking actually since he doesn't think in the usual sense of mulling over facts and coming to some sort of reasoned conclusion. He is firmly in what shrinks call the "Concrete Operational Stage", as in: "This is pleasant sounding (feeling, tasting) and I like it, so I'll call it good (The Best! The Biggest!) and I'll do it." Those who think that he is "independent" because he is independent of the two political parties should review his appointments and executive orders: they are all parts of the Republican Wet Dream (RWD); i.e. they are anti-labor and pro-wealth and Big-Business; they are anti-environmental and pro-racism and pro-sexism. You name a Republican fantasy and he has stroked it.

So why is the press suddenly coming out with nonsense about his independence? Simply because he has decided to blame his failure to enact many of his campaign promises on the Republican leadership: Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. In Trump's brain-of-a-pre-adolescent  you have to win and be liked and push people around, and he hasn't been able to do as much of that as he would like. In fact, aside from some petulant words, the only thing he has actually done that isn't part of the RMP (Rich Man's Party) agenda is to agree with Chuck Schumer to extend the dept ceiling for 3 months instead of the 18 months that Ryan and McConnell want.

(The reason that they want the 18 months is that they don't want pesky arguments against a government shutdown to extend to midterm election time. Government shut-downs are not popular with most people who look -- with good reason -- to their government to help them by providing for "the common good" as our Constitution demands.)

In short, Trump is still the ignorant, selfish, childish and vicious (remember DACA?) blowhard who embodies the heart and mind of the modern RMP, especially its more "conservative" (conserving what? The Confederacy?) wing.

Looking for someone independent of the Republican Party? You'll have to find a Democrat or, even better, a Bernie Sanders follower.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Why are they so cruel?

The gratuitous cruelty of the modern Republican Party leaves one asking: Why? Where did this come from? In an essay written more than a decade ago, when "compassionate conservatism" was the phrase that marked (for Bush II) a coverup of this cruelty, George Manbiot wrote in The Guardian an interesting essay tracing this ideology back to the Puritans of the 17th century.

You can find his article HERE.

As my daughter, an historian, points out, puritan thought was also wedded with neo-conservative ideology to produce the modern American Republican Party. Chicago School economists and other apologists for Big Money had maintained academically that the accumulation of wealth was the only measure of success in a capitalist society, and, in fact, gave the only meaning to virtue and value and worth therein. Thus, so-called economic "computations" proved that "greed is good" (in the immortal words of Gordon Gekko, and endorsed by Ronald Reagan).  So, "cold calculation" and economic theory were combined with puritan theology to give us the RMP ( = "Rich Man's Party", formerly the GOP). In summary, wealth was the only analytic measure of value and success, and this was ratified by the Will of God. Neat package, and so far quite politically successful here and abroad.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

More on "An Important Story in Kansas"

Well, you heard it first here (see June 11) blog: the Kansas legislature overrode Gov. Sam Brownback's veto of their tax increase. Since my blog, several other papers and magazines have picked up the story, most recently The American Prospect.

Of course, we're not hearing anything about it from the Democrats, who are applauding themselves for slowing the Republican replacement of Obamacare by TrumpCare. This is, indeed, an important development, but it is wise to remember that the Republicans are the least self-reflective group on earth, and that most of the small but significant subgroup of them who oppose TrumpCare are doing so for the worst reason: TrumpCare is not mean enough. Any normal human would realize that TrumpCare is, in the words of Chuck Schumer, "rotten to the core", reflecting contempt the health and intelligence of fellow humans. I'm glad that Susan Collins is worried about the effects of TrumpCare on her constituents, but come on Sen. Collins, that's a very mild response to a bill that takes away health care from people across the country (not just in Maine) so that rich people can have a tax break.

One final thing: I keep seeing letters in papers urging a greater "comity" in political discussions, especially of health care. The writers of these letters bemoan the references to TrumpCare as "an attack" and "an attempted murder." Well look, if Republicans make it impossible for low-income people to get the affordable healthcare they can now obtain, and some of these people get very sick but can't afford treatment, and then they die, how else would you describe Republican culpability? If a person were to be blindfolded and set down in the middle of a busy highway at night, wouldn't you describe that as "attempted murder"?

(I know the specious argument: You can always go to the emergency room. Yes, you can, if you are already spitting up blood -- when it's probably too late. That's why it's called an "emergency" room, not a "preventative medicine" room. In any case, large groups of doctors have already publicly stated that elimination of affordable health care will lead to deaths, so we can go with that expert opinion.)

In a related situation: suppose a pharmaceutical company lies about the habit-forming properties of its drugs; then users get hooked, then they die of overdoses when they try to feed their habits. Do the pharmaceutical companies have liability/culpability? Courts have already ruled yes on that.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

An important story in Kansas

While the papers have been filled with ex-FBI director Comey's testimony, there was a very interesting development that didn't get much play. The Kansas legislature overrode governor Sam Brownback's veto of a tax increase it had recently passed. You can read the story here: NY Times and here: Kansas City Star  (and other places as well).

There are several points that are important. First of all, Brownback is a pure and unapologetic exponent of the Republican gospel that tax cuts are always good and that, in fact, they actually pay for themselves by stimulating employment and business expansion. Among actual economists this is generally considered nonsense and is termed Voodoo Economics (along with its "trickle-down" twin). Whenever they can, Republicans try to install tax cuts and, in Trumpian fashion, proclaim that they are "vindicated" by the results. The fact is, there is no actual example showing their claim for tax cuts to be true. The last few Republican presidents (the Bushes) tried cutting taxes and in both cases they either had to backtrack (Bush Sr. and Reagan BTW) or their effort produced disaster (Bush Jr.)  

Yet, in spite of repeated failures, the tax cut dogma remains very much alive since it has the backing of the wealthy classes who think they don't need the government services that the taxes cut pay for. They are happy not to have to pay for roads (they have private jets, and go first-class everywhere) or job-training or health insurance subsidies etc. All the Republicans have to do is make sure that the actual failures of the "theory" stay hidden.

That's where the developments in Kansas are important. Brownback, along with a conservative Republican legislature pushed through tax cuts that led to draconian cutbacks in services at all levels in the state. Health and education and infrastructure programs were gutten for years. The people in Kansas found themselves living in a feudal-like economy, and made their displeasure known to their (conservative) representatives. But Brownback was firm in his embrace of Republican orthodoxy. However, there is one thing that Republicans like less than giving up their economic religion and that is being voted out of office. When they passed a budget authorizing a billion or so in tax increases to keep essentials of civilization working in Kansas, and governor Brownback vetoed them, they finally rebelled and recognized that Brownback was simply wrong and was destroying the state: they overrode his veto.

What about Democrats? Good question. They had a lot to say locally in Kansas, but very little in other states and in the national media. They were too busy not preparing for the 2018 elections, by attacking Trump and not fielding viable local candidates. They could have made a great video showing yet another proof that Republicans are living in a bubble, and that even conservative voters in Kansas were refuting  Republican myths. The override in red Kansas was not by elite liberals as Republicans would like to claim.

So far, nothing from the Democrats. What will happen, of course, is that Republicans will bury the story and claim, later, that their tax cut romance has been "vindicated" once again  (the way Trump declared that Comey's testimory vindicated him). Later references to the Kansas override by responsible media and Democrats will be referred to as fake news or partisan slant. Thus, once again, Democrats will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

DEMOCRATS: Wake up!  You need a skillful and agressive "ministry of propaganda" which will exploit Republican mistakes in a timely way to set the agenda and frame the issues.  We don't need amateurs whose hearts are in the right place, but the kind public relations experts who can generate contempt for Republicans and faith in Democrats.

Forget about Trump for a while and figure out how to win elections.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Do Tax Cuts Work?" and "The Parasite Tax"

During the 2012 presidential campaign, the NY Times ran a column by David Leonhardt analyzing whether tax cuts did, in fact, "grow the economy": Here is that discussion.

Peter deFazio is running for congress in Oregon. Part of his progressive platform is the institution of a tax on Wall Street speculation -- also called a "Tobin" Tax. I discussed this at some length in a blog from November 2010; read it here at The Parasite Tax. Basically, this is a (very tiny) sales tax on stock transactions. For most investors -- even most professional investors -- this is insignificant (maybe 1/4% on sales and purchases of securities. However, for computerized speculators who often trades thousands of shares a second, it amounts to real money. These people are not promoting capitalism by investing in companies based on sound business principles; rather, they speculate on second-to-second virtually statistical fluctuations of a stock's price.  They serve no social or economic purpose, and do what they do solely to make money for themselves. They are social and economic parasites -- hence the name of the tax. When you or I buy a washing machine we pay, in many states, a sales tax -- often 5% or more; these parasites pay nothing on the purchase or sale of stocks. How is that fair?

It isn't, so it's not a bad idea to sign Peter deFazio's petition and maybe even send him some money (let's keep the left-coast blue); here's the URL: Make Wall Street Pay

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We have a special counsel

In a very pleasant development, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein  named Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI (under Bush II) as special counsel to investigate, basically, the various actions of the current President. I believe that Mueller is a man of integrity and will not engage in a coverup. 

As I understand it, Rosenstein appointed Mueller, then waited enough time before telling the President so that Trump could do nothing (where "nothing", of course, would be the firing of Rosenstein). Very cute. By this time I would assume that Trump is very unhappy.

Each day brings more bad news for Trump, and I'd have to say that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. And, by the way, my prediction, reiterated yesterday that the Republicans in Congress would do nothing to cross Trump has, so far, been upheld. Even John McCain, while comparing the situation of "Watergate", did not move for a special counsel or special prosecutor.

Let me say again that my main beef with Trump is not that he loves Russian dictators and oligarchs, or that he routinely lies. Presidents have embraced dictators before and, of course, have lied through their teeth continually. No, the problem is that Trump has embraced and advanced policies that are heartless and cruel. He (like the Republicans) have targeted the most vulnerable people here and abroad. He is happy to break up families for no compelling reason, and to cut lifelines that supply vital food, shelter and medicine. The Trump-Republican axis exists for one purpose only: to transfer wealth from the non-wealthy to the rich. They will do or say anything, no matter how illogical or outrageous, in order to obtain and retain power to effect this transference. 

I don't know what Mueller and his investigation will come up with, but I deeply hope that Trump will be disgraced and made to pay for his self-centeredness and cruelty.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Oh no: another load for the Republicans to swallow from their leader

As I pointed out in the last blog, Trump and the Republican party have a symbiotic relationship which allows Trump to do outrageous things and still have Republican support.  Is this support unlimited. Here's a test.

The Washington Post reports that, at the recent meeting between Trump and  Russian Ambassador Kislyak  and  Foreign Minister Lavrov, Trump disclosed highly classified information (on the Islamic State, it seems) supplied by the intelligence service of a close ally. You can read the WaPo report HERE (strongly recommended). I'm pretty sure that this report will make John McCain go ballistic. But: will the general Republican party, especially its leadership, just let it go? It's a toughie for a party that has no principles other than throwing money at rich people. Once they commit to saying Trump is unsuitable to be president, they open the door to all sorts of second-guessing and retribution at the polls. If Trump is a traitor, where does that leave those who kiss up to him?

Stay tuned while this story hits the fan, tonight and tomorrow. My prediction is that Mitch McConnell will adapt just fine to this latest Trump outrage.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Another view on impeaching Trump

The conservative writer Erick Erickson has what I believe is a realistic take on liberal dreams of a Trump impeachment: It isn't very likely, and explicit talk and predictions of it happening will probably lead to disappointment for the liberals. You can read his column in the New York Times HERE.

It should be noted that Erickson has opposed Donald Trump since the Republican primaries -- on the grounds that Trump is such a terrible person (which everyone who's paying attention must surely know by now) that his presidency would do severe damage to both the Republican Party and to the conservative movement (not at all identical with "conservativsm" as has become quite clear to everyone who's paying attention). You can read Erickson's opinions HERE.

While Trump's lack of any principles or knowledge or any intelligence beyond a bullying animal cunning makes it likely that he has committed impeachable actions, the Republicans' lack of any principles, except the need to transfer money from the non-rich to the rich, makes it likely that they will stick by Trump to the bitter end. So, unless the Democrats win both houses of Congress by comfortable margins, and/or investigations produce undeniable "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", Trump is here to stay at least until the next presidential election. This is, sadly, the reality of the situation.

On the other hand, unlike Erickson, I don't think it is all that unlikely that investigations will show strong evidence of money laundering by Trump and his businesses, as well as collusion with Russians to influence the last election. Even the Wall Street Journal writers are taking this possibility quite seriously. That's what movement conservatives such as Erickson are nervous about.

Looking just a little ahead, I also don't think it's unlikely that the Democrats will regain control of the House, and thereby the ability to stop the anti-people program of the Republicans in its tracks. The Dems have an invigorated liberal base, lots of folks from centrists leftward eager to send them money, and lots of decent folks who simply want to stop the indecencies that have characterized the Trump/Republican regime. Of course, to be fair, Democrats have the kind of tin ear and ineptitude and over-confidence that enable them to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in any given election. 

As I read tweets from Trump, and quotes from the Republican leadership and Chuck Schumer, and as I let the confident analyses of Rachel Maddow and MSNBC wash over me, I can't help but feel that this is a storm whose outcome is beyond my or any outsider's abilities to predict or powers to affect. We don't know what the FBI knows or will know, nor who will be hired or fired (or worse). Next week will be more ... stuff.

Who cursed us to live in these "interesting times"?

Friday, May 12, 2017

A diseased party and its President

 As readers of this blog know, I believe that the modern Republican Party has as its overarching goal the transfer of money from the non-rich to the rich. Their claims that they are for balanced budgets, more jobs, strong defense, affordable health care etc. etc. are all lies, since they have acted time and time again in ways that are antithetical to these claims. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy will balloon budget deficits; cutting medical research and renewable energy programs and job training will kill jobs and create no new ones, while saving coal will kill people and do nothing for a moribund industry; their defense posture is irrational: more aircraft carriers to fight an inflated terrorist threat is absurd, while cozying up to dictators like Putin, the Saudi royals and Duterte will hardly make us more secure; "affordable" health care for them means phony insurance that covers nothing of importance (maternity, preexisting conditions, etc.). Trump and the Republicans are betraying the very people they are cynically claiming to represent -- and this includes the religious right, who seem to swallow the absurd thesis that god is acting through The Donald.

There really is, in terms of outcome, very little difference between Trump and the RMP ( = Rich Man's Party, formerly the GOP). The latter needs Trump to retain power in order to enact its Rich Man's agenda, and Trump needs the Republicans to keep him away from impeachment while he shores up his "brand" domestically and overseas.

In case you might think that these very severe judgements are simply my ranting, click on  Krugman to read what an economics nobelist has to say in the N. Y. Times, or click on Richard North Patterson  to read what a best-selling author has to say in the Boston Globe.

At this point I believe America vs. Trump/RMP will end in either (a) Triumph for America: a massive repudiation in the polls beginning in 2018; (b) Tragedy: Trump/RMP will get away with it and our Democracy will be dealt a possibly mortal blow or (c) Farce: Trump will either quit or be impeached or both, leaving us with Pence and the RMP largely intact to continue transferring wealth to the already-wealthy.

For the near term we can expect more and bigger and less convincing lies, attempts to strip away our environmental and workplace protection, attempts to strip away our national parks and monuments, attempts to strip away our constitutional protections, a lowering of our defenses against unsympathetic (to say the least) states such as Saudi Arabia and Putin's Russia. Until we get (if we do) a special prosecutor, the best we can hope for is that the current Trump "drama" will keep the Republican Congress preoccupied  enough so that the damage it can do, and wants to do, will be put off.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Why Republicans (and conservatives in general) are so cruel to the poor?

Here is a great article from Salon which articulates perfectly my contempt for Paul Ryan and other conservatives who are gratuitously cruel and bullying to those less fortunate. (I do not include Trump here because he is beneath contempt.)

Read it here.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Trump has signed

Since Trump became president he has signed many executive orders as well as a handful of bills passed by the Republican Congress. In spite of all the talk about populism, not one of these orders or bills actually benefits any large class of the American public except the wealthy corporate interests. Some of these items include:

1. Suppressing details on workers' rights violations

2. Appointing of a "regulations reform" officer

3. Removing regulations protecting streams from pollution due to mining

4. Relaxing disclosure requirements in extraction industry reports

5. Easing "fiduciary duty" regulations (Consumer Financial Protection Agency)

6. Studying punishing "sanctuary cities" by withholding federal funds

7. Resuming construction of Keystone and other pipelines

8. Raising threshholds for compensation in corporate malpractice suits

9. Facilitating the hiding of workplace injuries

10. Overturning Internet privacy order (FCC)

11. Liberalizing leasing guidelines for coal extraction

You can find the entire list of executive orders and bills that Trump has signed (as of today) HERE, compiled by

The Republicans have also introduced a bill to -- of course -- eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (established by Congress and Richard Nixon). Meanwhile, Trump has ordered the EPA to revise the Clean Water Act and to relax regulations protecting children (and others) from the harmful effects of lead. 

Which of Trumps non-wealthy constituencies are these measures designed to help? Answer: none.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Brutality and Hypocrisy of Republicans

The Republicans, for the past half century, have been preaching the doctrine of small government, low federal taxes, personal responsibility and states' rights. They have also thrown in large dollops of  religiosity -- pretty much exclusively of the Christian persuasion. It is instructive to see how this has played out in the months since they have controlled the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and (nearly) the Supreme Court (currently at 4 - 4 since Scalia's death).

Small government has been a myth. By small government they pretend to mean small but effective programs to help actual people in their daily lives; what they actually mean is cutting all programs that actually help people in their daily lives. What they don't mean is  cutting the size of government programs which subsidize large corporations (esp. the fossil fuel industry) and the military. This is clearer than ever in Trump's "budget" which sees cuts in almost every federal program to "promote the general welfare" (as the preamble to our Constitution, quaintly puts it), and increases in nearly every military program. The latter increases (proposed by Republicans for decades now) include many programs that the Pentagon has not asked for and has, often, opposedas unneeded and wasteful. In effect these are the military programs which benefit military contractors and the political fortunes of politicians in the states in which they do business. The money is not primarily for the benefit or safety of our troops or our general "defense posture", since a lot of it wasn't even requested by the actual military for these purposes. For example, the navy will get new aircraft carriers to help in its fight against ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the big naval powers (not).

So, from an economic standpoint, the cuts to social programs seem to be more than balanced by increases to the military (contractors). However, the balance in taxes will be radically changed. The wealthy will be asked to pay far less (in terms of their income) and the less wealthy will pay the same or slightly less, but lose services on both the federal and state levels. Interestingly, this is exactly the opposite of the dynamic in most European states, where everyone pays fairly high taxes -- so the taxes are fundamentally regressive -- but the extensive services tend to be aimed at the lower income people which thus re-balances the economic issues: the non-rich may pay the same percentage taxes, but they receive more services that they need. See my discussion of Consumption Taxes, in particular, the case of Denmark and its Value Added Tax (VAT).

So the issue of smaller (federal) government is, for the Republicans, simply transferring wealth from the middle and lower middle class (in the form of programs and taxes) to the wealthy (big tax cuts). This is the usual reverse Robin Hood gambit that Republicans love.

The "moral" issue of personal responsibility is another double standard for the Republicans. Individuals who work several jobs to support their families are the victims of Republican "claw backs": removal of job safety protections, daycare and maternity/paternity supplements, equal pay laws and cuts in funds for schools, playgrounds and parks. Meanwhile, wealthy corporations and individuals are rewarded with laxer environmental laws, looser regulations on business cheating, elimination of rent controls and anti-usury laws (on credit cards that they issue). Republicans don't like anti-discrimination laws of any kind either, whether based on ethnicity, language, sexual orientation (even of young children), age, or religion (unless it's Christianity). They hate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Why? It's too much trouble and expense and it's too "bleeding heart" and "politically correct". The unfortunate fact is that Republicans are incapable of feeling sympathy for anyone other than their immediate family and (select) neighbors: they are basically selfish and unimaginative. Republicans are (mostly) avowed Christians, yet the entire New Testament is antithetical to their idea of how to treat their fellow humans. (This is not lost on most Christian clerics, but their criticisms are simply ignored by the Republican establishment, which is only interested in red meat for anti-abortionists who vote Republican. The latter, in the words of Barney Frank, seem to think that "life begins at conception and ends at birth.")

The Republican hypocrisy on the size of the federal government and states' rights is especially outrageous. They want, in the words of Grover Norquist, to reduce the federal government to a size where it can be "drowned in a bathtub". When asked about the services that the national government (run by our elected representatives) provides, they quickly start talking about the states and states' rights. This is intended to imply that the federal services would be provided more effectively and fairly by the states. However, the  Republicans who run for state offices -- Governors, say -- also run on reducing the size of the (state) government. When elected they proceed to cut state services as well, often with absolutely disastrous effect (see this Chicago Tribune article on what the "conservatives" have done to Kansas). Since the services that government, on any level, provides are not generally the services -- except police and fire -- that the wealthy or their corporations use,  this small-government policy is dishonest and a very real form of class warfare. 

In short, it's nearly impossible to find an example of any Republican, at any level of government, who is trying to help anyone but the rich and powerful. That's their nature and philosophy as people and that's the nature of the Republican party. Maybe because they have become so arrogant and so blatantly vicious with the election of Donald Trump, their true nature will now become clearer to the American People. The recent revolt against the Republican Trump/Ryan "American Health Care Act" is an indication that this realization seems to be happening. As Trump's anti-people budget plans become more widely publicized most people will finally see how mean and small the Republicans truly are and how ignorant and incompetent their big, blustering, bully of a president actually is.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Fighting Trump by fighting the RMP

Sunday, February 19, 2017

More on RMP = Rich Man's Party

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Charles Blow at the Times

I sent the following letter to Charles Blow, columnist at the N. Y. Times.

Dear Mr. Blow,

Thank you for your relentless and right-on voice against Trump and his enabling Republicans. Here are some further comments.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Quote of the week

After losing the Appeals Court decision 3 - 0, Trump said (Tweeted): "See you in court, the security of our nation is at stake."

Washington state had challenged Trump's executive order; its  Gov. Jay Inslee replied to Trump: "We already saw you in court, you lost."

If we really had an activist national Democratic party, they would be playing this up in national ads, especially the "you lost" part. They are still sitting on their hands though. Probably waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, when things have moved on, at which point they will, as before, do nothing. It's a good thing we citizens don't depend on the national Dems for very much: all they do is ask for contributions, which they'll save until... uh... until...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

There is no opposition party.

Several weeks ago there was one of the largest protest marches ever in (a) Washington, (b) Los Angeles, (c) Boston,  (d) San Francisco, and ... dozens of other cities who never had marches this large. Since that time, cities, universities churches etc. have joined in opposing Trump's illegal immigration orders by declaring themselves immigrant-friendly "sanctuaries", ready to resist these executive orders by all legal means. The entertainment industry and the software industry have publicly excoriated Trump and his minions. Everywhere pledges of resistance have sprung up.

Well, everywhere except in the national Democratic Party. We've seen and heard nothing from them official except promises to stop Trump's cabinet picks -- empty promises so far. We all know -- in spite of hoping-against-hope -- that the national Democrats (I'll call them Dems for short) will eventually cave, as they always manage to do. They'll tell us they're united against Trump -- except for a "threatened" Dem here and there (Heidi Heitkamp in N.D., Joe Manchin W.V): just enough to break their resistance. They're afraid that if they use the filibuster on Gorsuch that it will simply make the Republicans angry enough to eliminate it. So they won't use it since it will just prevent them from using it. Wow: those are fighting words.

OK, maybe they're really up against it. What they might do is, for example, help the rest of us who are marching and setting up Sanctuaries. But no: they're simply asking us to send them more money for their "future" campaigns. I hear from the DSCC nearly everyday -- sometimes twice a day. We've been doing the work, being militant, supporting the ACLU and Planned Parenthood etc, and they want us to send them more money. 

Are the Dems creating and using national TV ads attacking and ridiculing Trump and Bannon and Gorsuch the way the Republicans and the Tea Party have been attacking us for decades ("leftists", "commies", "big government",  "crooked Hillary")? They should use the money we send them for something. Where is the propaganda machine that we need now, to prepare for the elections less than 2 years away. Are they vetting new candidates? Are they framing the issues: Trump's a con man, Bannon's a neo-Nazi, Trump's draining the swamps and using the sediment he digs up to stock his cabinet? We know that the Dems are old and serious and uncreative, but couldn't they at least hire some younger, witty and creative people from Saturday Night Live? What do they do with our money? The only exciting candidate they have produced, Bernie Sanders, should be on paid political spots right now. But no. The Dems are going to wait until just before the next elections so that they can be sucker punched in state assemblies which do the redistricting, and in the gerrymandered congressional districts. The Democratic base has energized itself with a lot of local work and activity since Trump took office, but the national Democrats have not done anything except send an occasional speaker to our rallies and ask for more money to stiffen their (meh) resistance.

We need the equivalent of a Tea Party, maybe, to prod lazy Dems in primaries. Heitkamp and Manchin don't do us any good except to sap our energy: they lose by not fighting and yet we are told we have to protect them. Look, if it walks like a Blue Dog and talks like a Blue Dog, then it is a Blue Dog (Democrat). It's better to fight and lose than not fight and still lose.

We have a chance at doing some real damage to the Republicans next election -- 2018. For a change we have the press somewhat on our side (after it's been insulted by the Trumpists every day), we have outrage and anger and energy on our side. The courts have been doing yeoman duty recently. Maybe need some help organizing and bringing forth determined leaders. Above all , we need a propaganda machine to frame and ridicule the Trumpists and the whole unprincipled Republican Party. We just won the popular vote by a large margin in a national election, and lost the key electoral states by a narrow margin. If we are unified and continue our anger and outrage, and don't have Clintons to drag us down, we can play lots of powerful cards and maybe hobble the Trumpists by some meaningful victories in (less than) 2 years.

Oh, and one more thing. Let's stop calling the Republicans the "GOP"; there's nothing "Grand" about that party anymore. Let's rebrand them: They are the Party for The Rich (PTR) or maybe the  RMP (Rich Man's Party: looks like Trump and rump). 

Listen up, national Dems: We want some value for the money we send you. We don't want a "close loss": we want a victory.