Blazing Saddles in Alabama

Bart, the black sheriff in the bigoted town shows up to ask, “Hey, where are the white women at?” He spoke of the fictional Rock Ridge but that’s the question for elections, nationwide, including Alabama.

In nearly all times and locals, women make up the majority of voters (more of them and they vote at a higher rate than men). They determine the results.

For yesterday’s voting, many speculated whether Alabama women could vote for a credibly accused predator of young and underage girls Roy Moore. The answer seems to be, unfortunately, that many of the white women could and did. (Chart from WaPo article. Fair use claimed here.)

Granted, they voted at much higher rates for credibly accused predator of women  and girls Donald Trump. Yet it remains surprising and alarming that any women could vote for Moore, regardless of their point on the political spectrum.

There’s much bluster and portent among lefties about how this bodes well for ’18 and ’20 elections. A deeply red state chose its first Dem Senator in 27 years. Let’s reserve judgment. Let’s first consider that Moore is a morally bankrupt, totally dishonest and dishonorable pol who has been unable to obey the federal and state constitution and perform his duties in any position. How likely is it that red states will arrogantly run such terrible candidates for Dems to beat?

We’d like to think white women in the main would join progressives in this MeToo time. They have the power and could easily use it for good of the nation, their states and women in particular.

 

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Pile on the Shame

[Quick note of apology. I haven’t been commenting. The rest of the world has. So there.]

Al Franken…MeToo…sex monsters (almost entirely men in power). Just maybe a major flip has occurred. We’ll agree on that when self-identified conservatives/Republicans and then Europeans get with the program.

Meanwhile, I’ll note that I was one of the many who feared bandwagon joiners would muddle the vast good with false accusations. Instead, I find the bad so far comes in the form of schadenfreude. For some abused or harassed women, Dems and lefties taking the blame for their crassness and crimes, and then the GOP supporting the likes of the despicable Donald Trump and Roy Moore types is not enough. They want to inflict maximum damage and disgrace.

How much is too much?

I found myself in dolor about of my recurring raps about convicted criminals. I’ve long held and written about serving your time and clearing the blackboard. Those who want to perpetually punish convicts by not letting the vote and keeping them from getting jobs are just awful people who seem to lack an understanding of humanitarian and religious values.

Regardless, this came to mind again when one of Sen. Al Franken’s maybe victims, Stephanie Kemplin, made the talk-show circuit saying his apology and pending loss of Senate seat (and likely permanently ruined career, political and otherwise) were nowhere near enough to satisfy her.

She holds convincingly that she remembers his cupping one of her breasts (through multiple layers) at a photo-op. She is particularly irritated that he claims not to recall that and thus has not abjectly apologized.

In the unlikely case that Franken is not guilty of this exact charge. we cam pretty much be sure he has been a real ass around women and mildly sexually transgressed repeatedly. So we can then turn to ask whether is loss of face, loss of positions, and much dimmed future is adequate punishment. At least one accuser holds that it is not.

Walks of shame

I am bad on TV and watch little. However, I did not pass on any Game of Thrones episodes. The current news and opinion brings me back to Queen Cersei Lannister’s parade of shame, during which she walked naked through the capital as citizens chanted, “Shame!” and “Guilty!” while pelting her with spit, feces and garbage.

Clearly in her case and time and place, too much was not enough.

That I dread for the MeToo movement. We have plenty to atone for as a society and male gender. Not knowing when to modulate or stop won’t advance the movement.

I thought back to decades ago and one of the sermons I preached at the Arlington Street Church. It was on resilience. I spoke of the different reactions we have to the sundry misfortunes that are thrust or fall upon us. How in my volunteering at veterans hospitals in high school I’d met WWI vets still shell shocked (now PTST) and others missing limbs still incapacitated from wars long years later. Other vets made it their duties and hallmarks to forge on to careers, marriages, parenting and more in the same circumstances.

After the sermon, a couple of women and one man who never really recovered from sex crimes said how much they were insulted and how they felt disrespected. Many others told similar tales of their own survivals that those of relatives and friends. One elderly woman I had been in a UU sexuality course with pulled me aside with the definitive comment. I knew she had been raped and had to heal from the traumas; she said it was important to discuss how we deal with such; she said it was important to tell the personal story, but “don’t make a career out of it.”

Amen.

 

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Down the Trump Funnel

Of course, I’ve avoided commenting on Russia scandals and twitches. Blowhards as well as sages have analyzed and discussed these beyond death.

However, I note that the indictment of three of his minions today was a welcome movement (a political laxative as it is). Moreover, his and his spox’ claims of no-collusion and nothing-to-do-with-the-orange-guy are remarkable.

That remark is that Trump has been reduced to the defensive at best. From I’m innocent and look at Hillary, he now squeezes into the chute of really-I-don’t-know-these-guys and whatever-they-did-has-nothing-to-do-with-me.

This is beyond risible. l

He now claims innocence by distance of time and reporting order. These are not legal nor moral defenses.

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Let’s Avoid a Deal!

POTUS Trump is beyond unclothed. His life lie is that he cuts great deals (just look at his ghosted book). Truth be told he has neither the wit nor the ability to cut a deal with anyone.

Consider the current legislative agenda — raise debt ceiling, fix DACA, drive tax reform, and more. So far, since inauguration, his tack is steering toward avoidance. He has repeatedly said Congress failed (as in repealing the ACA), and throws the burden of proposing, fleshing out and passing fixes to problems.

Were he not so ignorant and dull-witted, he’d know that Presidents in his lifetime, well, cut deals. Rather than saying, “Hey, Congress, fix this!,” they proposed rough and sometimes detailed legislation to start the stew. Then they cut deals (that idea and word again) with key legislators. They had it happen. They did deals.

This bozo is not in the same circus.

Update: #45 might get a deal lesson. He aligned with Congressional Dems on debt ceiling and hurricane relief. Of course, this fits the definition of irony in showing he can finally cut a deal, but only with the nominal opposite party.

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Trump’s Cleverness Ruse

Pro Tip: If you are about to say or write something oh so clever, don’t. Delete or erase or forget it. Everyone else will see through it and no one will think you are at all clever.

Alas, POTUS Donald Trump seems too dull-witted to understand his limits. We saw that from the moment he began campaigning. It plunged to a new nadir in the past several days after the Charlottesville white-supremacy riot and murder.

For three days, he alternately whined and brayed. What he did not say until forced to today was what even the bigots in white hoods or red caps spoke freely about to all who’d listen — those dressed up to role play neo-Nazi or camo-soldier were there to insult and physically assault blacks, Jews, Muslims and others.

Instead, he fell back on his weasel words, saying “all sides: and from “many sides” were to blame. How the white-supremacy rioters had any equivalence in the counter protester group befuddled all except for Donny-jo. The bigots with brass knuckles, helmets, cudgels and pepper spray were not the same as protesters chanting for them to stop the hate.

Americans as well as the whole world was watching. What they saw was an indisputable riot by hatemongers, hatemongers who had come padded and armed for violence.

Let us note that miraculously none of those wearing side arms or long guns in this open-carry state murdered anyone by bullet. The irony here is that many protesters would have had clear self-defense arguments had they been armed and protected themselves. Small favors here.

So the candidate who boasted repeatedly that he had “the best words” again does not. He thought his false equivalence of blaming the victims as well as the attackers would fly. He’d say he condemned violence…while continuing to pander to his far-right supporters.

That was not lost on racist supporters like David Duke and the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer. Several expressed delight that he did not call them out.

So this President believes he is just so clever that he can pull out a word trick here and there, and all will be overwhelmed by his cleverness. The public and press are overwhelmed, but by his cowardice and amorality.

Again, if you think you’re being clever, you almost certainly are not. That goes all the way to the Oval Office.

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Trump’s Artless Deals

When the puerile have power, they make others suffer, even die. We see two man-child heads of state — Donald Trump here and Kim Jong-un in the DPRK — playing brat with taunts and nuclear weapons.

Donny-jo always needs and demands attention. His totally unnecessary brinkmanship gets him that this time. We could spend a day viewing and listening to the many demanding he let real deal makers negotiate this, like here.

At this crux, let us state plainly that Trump is an absolutely terrible negotiator. His résumé fantasy from the ghosted The Art of the Deal entry is his biggest lie. His almost countless failures (personal as well as business life, bankruptcies, divorces and breach-of-contract suits against him and his entities) show him to be untrustworthy as well as a terrible deal maker.

Looking at his negotiation history, I see his real talent is in using dishonorable and vicious attorneys. Time and again when a deal sours, when a company flatlines, his side of the c0ntract pays him first and often only. Generally his business partners get stuck with losses and debt while the Trump side skates.

That speaks to his lawyers’ cleverness and his investors’ naivete. You trusted Trump? You believed him when he said, “Believe me!”? Ha!

Since he became POTUS, he has had to deal in public. It isn’t pretty or reassuring. He cannot get deals done at all, not even with his own Republican Congress. His bluster has not produced legislation or policy implementation. He fires officials and appointees rather than being able to cut a deal.

The only remaining hope for North Korea is that smarter people, better negotiators will force their way in and cut real deals. Lord knows Trump cannot and will not.

Surely those around him can find a way to to let him pretend he “won” and he “made a great deal.” After all isn’t that level of fantasy all he needs to muddle along happily in his elevated playground?

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Elephants Across the Chasm

Like so many instant, distant blatherers, I have had little to add to the discourse lately. Now I note that this morning’s defeat of the most recent Affordable Care Act repeal was a parting cloud that shines a sliver of light.

The cruel and crazy GOP efforts since January had an underlying theme. Both houses of Congress joined with POTUS Trump in spitting screams. “We can do this ourselves. We don’t need any Democrats. We won’t even talk to Democrats. FU!”

Sadly enough, that was almost true. It was also even more toxic sputum. Amusingly enough, Congressional Democrats remain as they have been willing to work with their vile GOP counterparts. There is still one party that cares about little d democracy, process, civility, as well as the commonweal.

There were a few Republican mumbles about maybe doing something with Democrats if all came to naught. This morning some more of them have sighed and admitted it may be time to recognize the existence (and by implication the power) of Dems.

Truth be told

Most Dems were not and are not happy with the A.C.A. and consider it only a solid first step down the path. Quite a few lefties, including this one, want single-payer, the universal health care that works so well in the rest of the industrialized world. We have to live with inefficient, overpriced health policies that keep our levels of health low and our life expectancy under that of the rest of the gang.

Even as GOP types in President Obama’s second term swore they would never let Dems improve the A.C.A. or pass anything meaningful at all, Democrats continued to plead with them to work toward finishing the health legislation.

Since Truman days, the Dems’ best gambit with Republicans has been to let the latter take partial or even full credit. That’s not the way GOP legislators have acted for decades.

Yet in this moment, I suspect this will lubricate the process again. The GOP can save a bit of face by crafting A.C.A. improvements, then proclaiming nothing would have happened without them. Forget that mirror is equally true; just give the little guys their out.

I still want to see a single-payer system, a real overhaul of our bloated and parasitic health care system. The A.C.A. was a start, but only that.

The shift will be from arrogant and obnoxious to merely condescending. That can work. The Dems never slammed and bolted the door.

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Capitalism Made Me Do It

#45, Donald Trump the Elder is again weeping onto his gold cufflinks. This wee melodrama concerns his (and his daughter Ivanka’s) foreign sourcing. In the midst of his ironically misnamed Made In America Week, the House of Trump source their booze, clothes and tchotchkes typically via Chinese or Pakistani sweatshops.

He, honestly truly, pulled out the basest of disingenuities — he and his daughter are forced, forced they tell us, to use the suppliers who offer the lowest prices. That’s the evil corollary of one of the big lies of fantasy capitalism. That is, the only duty of managers is to maximize profit. Anything else is an abrogation of duty of shareholders, a failure.

Well, kiddies. That’s hooey.

First, if capitalism was its perfect version, if supply-and-demand worked as promised, there would be some justification for such amorality. Alas, we live in a nation of oligopoly and monopoly and government protection of and intervention for corporations.

Businesses in general do not respond to the ideal market forces in timely fashion. They really can’t claim they must do this or that when they have real reasons and choices. Nothing demands they be brutal and vicious to make a profit, much less that maximum short-term profit is the only goal.

Pic Note: Public domain image of a 1913 Ford assembly plant.

Let’s think about a serious capitalist, a certain Henry Ford. He loved his money and made a lot of it. Yet he was much, much smarter than #45.

For example, Unlike textile magnates, railroad builders and mine owners, he took a broad view as well as a narrow one (yes, Ford was savvy enough to look short and long simultaneously).

He pioneered the assembly line, but was not a vampire or monster about it. He paid more than other manufacturing owners…and for good reason. As he put it, he wanted his workers to earn enough to buy the cars they made. And they did, which made him even richer than if he had underpaid and overworked them.

Today, this Trump character claims that because he got a transfer undergraduate degree from a good business school and that he didn’t totally blow his multi-million dollar inheritance, he is the epitome of a capitalist. He also claims that he’ll make America great again while hiring American and buying American.

The latter set is total jive. His companies source overseas from the cheapest, from steel to finished goods to contractors. He seems to get the maximum-profit sliver of capitalism. He misses the broad view that Ford understood well.

So, consider whether any of the Trumps or any business owner at all made a slightly smaller profit margin, while helping their workers, industry, state and nation grow and prosper. The mindless subset of self-proclaimed capitalist may scream that the shareholders would never allow that and would force them out.

Of course in Donald and Ivanka’s cases, that won’t happen. They don’t lead public corporations. Even if they did though, the optics and PR of (pause to allow the Ann Coulter types of retch) the gentle altruism of helping the nation and workers would surely hold the day. The greediest of shareholders might switch their investment to a more parasitic company. Meanwhile, we see that socially responsible companies do quite well, thank you very much, and have no problem attracting cash.

Capitalism has its uses, but hiding behind it simply to exploit does not serve anyone in the supply chain or in this case the nation. I fear #45 does not have the brain power to see the issues, much less to lead the nation in solving them.

 

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Inevitable GOP Grudge

About that cliché of elephants never forgetting, U.S. Republicans truly do not, ever. It happened with Nixon and we are still bearing the aftereffects. It’s about to happen again with Trump.

When Pres. Richard Nixon slithered out of the White House in disgrace, that was a not-to-be-forgotten humiliation, for the party more than for Tricky Dick.  That POTUS hopped about between amoral, immoral and criminal. He snuck away before the Senate could impeach him, and then his VP-becoming-President Gerald Ford pardoned him, so he never faced criminal trials and certainty of prison.

Years later, Nixon was re-imaged as a statesman. In fairness, as terrible as he was domestically and as much as he disdained democracy, our laws and the Constitution, he had foreign-policy credentials — much stronger than any Democratic President since FDR.

In those ways of escaping impeachment, get-out-of-jail-free cards, and rehabilitation, he fared much better than he deserved. Nonetheless, the GOP has never forgotten his disgraced exit.

I have no doubt that is why they so eagerly pursued Bill Clinton’s impeachment, constantly threatened Barack Obama with various legal actions, and did beyond their best to smear and bring bogus charges against Hillary Clinton. They don’t, can’t, won’t forget.

So here we are coming around the flee or take-it bend with Donald Trump. As has been the norm with post-WWII GOP Presidents, his appointees and staff are resigning or facing various charges. That won’t stop.

As it all closes in on this young presidency for an old man/boy, at some point he is likely to realize he’s cooked and facing either absconding or impeachment. I have predicted here that he is most likely to play his usual drama queen, quitting while saying the mean old media and Congress won’t let him do wonderful things and save the nation.

While it is possible he might stick it out and take impeachment, I don’t think that would give him the deniability he so often uses.

When he is forced from office one way or another, the GOP also will not forget. Already, they bait-and-switch with Dem miscreants. Of course Bill Clinton accepted fellatio in the White House, former Rep. Anthony Weiner is a pathetic sexter, and a handful of other Dems have run afoul of laws or social norms. They can’t or won’t consider the huge number of their party who are proven crooks, adulterers and worse. It’s key to pretend here.

The point is when Trump stomps away, that will be the real beginning of the newest GOP feud and grudge fest. They will live and act primarily to pay back Dems for anything that happened with their guys, regardless of how many Republicans joined in calling out and punishing Trump and his minions.

Personal responsibility is not a Republican hallmark.

Of course, for the nation, the big pity is that we have much to accomplish to fix problems and to advance us economically, socially and politically. When Republican office holders are as stupid, malicious and counterproductive as they were with Obama, much less gets done.

Still, let’s get on with it. Dump Trump, and accept that the GOP will play at revenge instead of cleaning their own house. As a group, they just don’t have a culture of advancing the nation.

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Oh-oh-I-was-so-scared defense

Excuse me, boys and girls, how do we stop this horrifying carnival ride? Just today, a jury acquitted a murderous police officer of a cold-blooded slaying. Stopping black motorist Philando Castile for an alleged damaged tail light, Jeronimo Yanez claimed he feared for his life, even though Castile was passively obeying and told him he had a licensed gun.

Not only is the norm for murders by LEOs, it parallels exactly those atavistic states with stand-your-ground laws.

Basically, the first clown who whips out a gun and shoots to kill gets a free pass. Oh, oh, I felt threatened. The jury says, “You did the right thing.”

Like hell.

Whether it’s a cop or a citizen at home or a plain folk guy who imagines himself a vigilante, No it isn’t OK.

In particular, if you are a police officer, you have been trained at length on defusing interactions and on, well, being brave. If ordinary interactions in your job make you want to pee your trousers and compel you to murder citizens, you need to lose your badge and likely go to jail.

Go a pair — balls or tits, depending. Do not kill someone on a whim and claim irrational, emotional fear.

 

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