Archive for National

Lessons Unlearned, POTUS Version

A certain Donny Jo Trump, the incidental POTUS learns not. He returns to the dry well, ever expecting water.

Most recently, as one example, the federal appeals court in Richmond told him to take a hike. His clearly religion-based proposed travel ban has lost throughout the country, as unconstitutional, a clear violation of our First Amendment. Yet, Donny goes back again and again, pausing only to decry the unfairness (to him personally) of this or that court.

Alas. our titular President proves repeatedly that is both grossly ignorant and stupid. How embarrassing for us as a nation… He neither understands how our government or laws work nor human obligations to others.

We can only conclude:

  • He never took nor got civics as taught to the Boomers
  • He does not understand such basic concepts as separation of powers among governmental branches
  • He’s an inherited-wealth mama’s boy, who whines when he doesn’t get his way all the time

I have both patriotism, again as taught to Boomers, and ego in play here. I want my POTUS to be bright, compassionate, and, well American. He is none of those.

The old lad has survived to 70 without the basics of Americanism. Worst of all, he stupidly runs into the same walls. No, you don’t get your way because you inherited wealth. No, you don’t get a pass on the Constitution because your mother loved you. No, trying the same inane executive order does not suddenly make it legal when one court after another slaps you down.

Just too dumb.

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Old and Current U.S. Enemies

 

Our Congress is chockablock with Boomers. Alas, as one myself, I had anticipated and hoped that my folk would be smarter and more moral, a.k.a. more American, than the WWII crowd that thrust us into stupid, unnecessary wars, and whistled mindless tunes as federal and state governments took away the rights of millions.

Sure hasn’t happened. Boomer bozos like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were as bad as their parents’ generation.

A surprising constant has been the ever-shifting them in the us vs. them theater. Frankly, the WWI and WWII folk were more simpleminded and thus kept the enemies clearer. We grew up with the commies under the beds (fantastical and irrational) and vestiges of the Yellow Peril (horde of Asians imagined to be massing for invasion, the racist trope).

What could be simpler than ID’ing Soviets and various Asians as the other, each and all intent on destroying our noble and glorious nation? Surely our lives were superior to those of the other, nefarious groups eager to take our stuff and snuff out our lives.

Somehow Boomers’ parents and grandparents could overlook the likes of:

  • Jailing large numbers of Japanese-Americans and small groups of Italian- and German-Americans in concentration (euphemistically internment) camps
  • Draconian voting laws and shameful economic and educational policies for African Americans
  • Endless and meaningless wars in Asia, Africa and even parts of Europe

Having spent much of my young childhood as a bit player in the Occupation Army in Japan, I had a different view of the alleged Yellow Peril. A few native Japanese chums did have their own baggage, slandering Koreans and Chinese folk, but I came to learn that likely was from long-standing nationalistic and perceived racial vestiges.  For some, awareness of military behavior in those countries surely brought deflective criticism.

Binary Simplicity

Boomers did have a now surprisingly binary upbringing. Not only did we inherit the culture of pre-War movies, but we got the new world of TV and of course literature. There were black hats and white hats, villains and heroes, Allies and Axis armies — us vs. them. Many too bought into puerile lit that munged that binary culture with politics, specifically the likes of Ayn Rand’s addlepated novels. She was best at welding oppressive sexuality to economic theory.

Ah, but it was so clean and easy. You could know who the good and the bad guys were…and what behaviors and words showed you were in the former group.

In contrast, nuance is hard. For example, we really can’t plant Thomas Jefferson entirely at one end of the moral spectrum.  How comforting it must be to live as a religious fundamentalist or political camp-follower. Check your brain at the door and you can always know you are a good guy.

The few current dictators, like Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin at least simplify diplomacy in their realms. If Donald Trump had the powers he imagines, free of judicial oversight and with a totally compliant Congress, he could quickly turn our nation into a villain state as well.

I think I can well do without the racist Yellow-Peril and other simpleminded excuses to fear and hate.

 

 

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Whither the Tiny-Tent Party?

The next several election cycles will be fascinating. Hillary looks like a cinch to win on Nov. 8. Then what?

I see the GOP cracking open their infamous, unused autopsy from the last POTUS loss. Their only shot at regaining the White House and making the big-tent fantasy real will be there. On the Dem side, Congressional Republicans are already promising to obstruct Clinton at every turn and even try mightily to impeach her for imagined and disproven sins. So Democrats as a party and as pols will have to:

  • Copy the 2010/11 GOP strategy of controlling state legislatures and thus redistricting and thus House makeup
  • Rally the public who are sick to death of obstructionism to first goad their Reps into cooperation and second to defeat those up for election in the next two cycles

Dems have hard tasks, but at least theirs won’t require mental, emotional,cultural shifts as with the GOP.

Let’s play the game along with Republicans. They lost the POTUS yet again in 2012 and followed that with the promies and (dare we say) hope of the Growth & Opportunity Project (G.O.P.). That jocularly named autopsy detailed the failures, forecast the demographic trends, and mandated what they needed to do to fill up a big tent of women, African Americans, Latinos, and, well, Democrats.

The lameness of pary head Reince Priebus and ticket head Donald Trimp seem the antithesis of the autopsy findings. Assuming the obvious Hillary Clinton victory in two weeks, do Republicans:

  • Accept that they can only get the voted of poorly educated white men?
  • Cling to being “the party of Lincoln” even though the modern bastardization couldn’t be farther from his ideals?
  • Try to live with a splintered and split personality of far right extremists, bigots and other anachronisms?
  • Do another deep dive and this time really try to follow the analysis findings?

They really have become an asylum or other institution of dysfunctional quasi-adults.

For the Democrats, if they can’t geet control of at least the Senate (thus installing judges and preventing the Tea Party pledge of impeachment and other vengeance against Clinton, then what? Ideally, they could get control of most legislatures in the 32 states that let their local lawmakers do the Census Year redistricting. Republicans were brilliant and ruthless in gerrymandering. What is the Dem strategy?

icon for podpress  Tiny-Tent Party [24:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Donnie Points and Whimpers

For consistency, note that I called out GOP would-be POTUS Donald trump as a mommy’s boy in June. He’s still at it.

Granted, Sen. Elizabeth Warren politically popularized “the sysetm is rigged” several years ago. Then realizing her weakness with progressive sorts in her campaign against Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton wore the RIGGED button figuratively at speeches.

Now the delicious irony is amoral Dem turned pseudo-Republican Trump overuses the term to tedium. The election is rigged. mass media and pols, even GOP officials, conspire against him in a fixed election.

Another bit of humor is that Sanders a tiny bit, and both the Clintons and Warren and her hubby Bruce have done very well financially. They don’t rob from ordinary folk, but they can’t claim to be even anywhere in the middle-class.

The key difference here is that Trump’s claims:

  • Are strictly about himself and not the commonweal
  • His are without evidence and patently false

Let’s discuss whether he has any case at all.I love that Okie Warren’s word repeatably comes from the fake donkey’s mouth.

Let’s also touch on how the pathetic 35% to 45% who’d torch democracy for anti-woman, anti-lefty emotional voting will deal with the now-destined defeat. Some threaten rebellion, even assassination. The rotting husk of the Republican party chooses lizard-brain reactions right now. Can they come to democracy and the commonweal?

icon for podpress  Rigged [18:38m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Smell No Scat, Trump Believers

Sure, we can find it easy to disdain Donald Trump. He is often obnoxious and antisocial. He lies incessantly and cheats non-stop. He claims to be a great businessman, but leaves a wide wake of bankruptcies and other failures, “winning” only because of sneaky contracts that guarantee him income when partners and suppliers eat the losses.

Yet, and  a huge yet, maybe 40% or more of Americans who say they’ll vote in November are willing to go for him. While 40% to 49% for the candidate of one of the two major parties is common, Trump’s case is odd. The stench that should surround him with his history does not for his fans, who seem neither to see nor smell the scat.

Rereading a sociological classic, the main reason for that popped out. Eric Hoffer described Trump followers accurately and in detail in The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. I looked up from the book to catch coverage of the Republican convention. The speakers and audience were dominated with irrational, emotional, even rabid chants and exclamations to jail or hang Hillary Clinton. The extra-judicial, even lynch mob fervor was it.

I talk a bit of how Trump transcended candidacy with mass movement. His people to a large extent are as Hoffer had it willing to subsume their thoughts and lives to a larger collective. They feel they are not in control of their lives and are convinced the existing power structure won’t fix that.

icon for podpress  Smell No Scat [15:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Kill the Filibuster Podcast

We can hardly wait for the new Congress, specifically the more liberal and sensible Senate with several new Progressive Dems. In particular, MA’s Elizabeth Warren, WI’s Tammy Baldwin (both Dem) and ME’s Angus King (an independent who’ll caucus Dem) don’t want a stagnant body dragged along by the House. Warren and King have already said they are gunning to reform the filibuster.

Listen in as we bring in a little background and get excited about the possibilities for moving both bills and appointments along.

We figure GOP Senators are chastened by the last election. We also figure that if they actually have to stand and talk, not just threaten to do so, they will be shamed at their reasoning and motivation. This would be, in Martha Stewart speak, a good thing.

icon for podpress  Kill or Maim the Filibuster [30:16m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Goosing the Lame Duck Podcast

Still stunned Republicans in Congress must also be hearing their leaders bluster about how the POTUS and his Dems had better do whatever they say. Huh?

We kicked around what was possible in this lame-duck Congress and short-term 2013. Listen in below as we hit the fiscal cliff (totally manufactured brinkmanship), immigration reform (and GOP efforts to get just a little Latino voter love), and more. The fiscal slope is a better term and Congress has months to concoct a fix, although House Republicans could stop this foolishness immediately by passing the Senate-approved bill extending middle-class tax cuts.

We think aloud about the kind of blame the right will take if they fool around too much, too long and too obviously.

We ended up comparing MA Dems’ rethinking after the Sen. Scott Brown victory three years ago and our amazement that the national Republicans can not thrown themselves into the kind of restructuring that served Dems so well here.

icon for podpress  Goosing the Lame Duck [30:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Joy, Not Despair, 2012

Without gloating, or with only a little, we held forth on yesterday’s elections.

Even the almost invariably optimistic Ryan did not see most Republicans rethinking their obstructionism. Mike predicted a deal on the auto-sequester at year’s end, only because that would be political suicide for Congressional Republicans in both houses if they didn’t show a bit of wit.

We talked about the role new Sen. Elizabeth Warren might play, the likelihood of Sen. John Kerry moving to Secretary of State, and other impacts of left-leaning victories in Congress. Mike started with a joyous recap of the four marriage-equality state-level victories.

Both of us were disappointed but not surprised at the vitriolic and graceless post-elections comments from GOP candidates and winger media types. That likely foreshadows their uncooperative futures, willing to hurt all of us for their political shading.

Listen in as we predict what might happen with the re-upped Obama and maybe even filibuster reform.

icon for podpress  Joy or Despair 2012 [35:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Election 2012 Showdown Podcast

Double guests, double insights today. Mat Helman of ProgressMass and Jason Stephany of MassUniting joined us to talk the races for POTUS and US Senate from MA.

There’s no secret that all four of us favor Elizabeth Warren over Scott Brown and Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Helman and Stephany got down into details about why their and their organizations were working for them.

As background, you might also check out ProgressMass’ PDF file on Brown’s rhetoric v. record here.

Listen in as Stephany rips into the myth of Brown’s alleged independence and bipartisanship. Helman goes into depth about how Brown gets away with portraying himself as the concerned middle-of-the-road guy while voting for winger agenda on every important issue. It’s a PR primer.

We deal a bit with Brown running from a fourth and final debate and the effects of Hurricane Sandy on next week’s vote. Click below to listen.

icon for podpress  Election 2012 Showdown [33:54m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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View a Week Out

Maybe Mitt Romney could use another four years to prep, but everyone else seems ready for the elections to be done. We bring in two guests to talk to the races for POTUS and the US Senate from MA. Mat Helman from ProgressMass and Jason Stephany of MassUniting give us their views — and predictions — on both. We remain flabergasted that either race could be at all close, but they sure as heck seem to be.

If you can join us live, click here Tuesday, 10/30, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward the show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead, and on our iTunes page.

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