Category Archives: Trump 2016

Chopsticks

Yesterday I completed my 67th orbit of the Sun. We took our grandsons to hunt down a suitable Christmas tree outside of town along the Homestead Road. We found one that was unable to elude our hand saw. Its a very pretty and prickly blue spruce. Ornaments will have to be put on with gloves.

Other than the last post from six days ago I’ve ignored the blog even while watching hallucinogenic headlines flash by my face every time I look at New York Times in my cell phone. I’ve spent my time decorating for Christmas and putting jigsaw puzzles together. Why should I post about the lotus eaters in Alabama who are telling Judge Moore that they “do believe in fairies,” they “do believe in fairies”? Which reminds me of a more uplifting fable told to me at church two Sunday’s ago as though it was true.

You can read it here. It turns out not to be true. Its about the famed pianist Paderewski sitting at the side of a small child in the concert hall to support him as a haughty crowd harasses the child. The virtuoso gives the audience a well deserved reproof. If there is anything I can take from the story’s fiction it is this: Even if the story is not true – it should be.

Then there is the story of 2016 which has bled into 2017 and is about to leak over into 2018. It is all too true and of course that means “fake.”

I just heard NPR interviewing a woman who began talking about the dismemberment of babies as she was challenged on the candidacy of Judge Roy Moore.

Penny Young Nance is the President of Concern Women for America. I was busy writing this so I missed most of her interview during which she challenged the interviewer as much as he challenged her. If I have to choose my truth I’ll stick with Paderewski playing chopsticks in preference to abortion TRUMPING sexual predation. For my news I’ll stick with the New York Tabloids:

The PBS Vietnam Series gets me thinking

I watched all the Stanley Karnow episodes in the 1990’s about Vietnam but I think Kevin Burns will bring a little more nuance at a time when it can be digested by the folks who weren’t born and didn’t live through the war. I agree with Burns that our actions during this war divided America. However, I also believe that the entire Civil Rights Era was an equal partner in this division having predated it by 200 years.

My eight loyal readers know that I put a disproportionate blame on the GOP for all our woes. That war became a sort of substitute for Civil Rights because it simply became impossible to be an avowed racist after Martin Luther King. But being a patriot – that was different. Many folks could use “America First” or “Better Red than Dead” or the “Domino Theory” in place of race baiting to hang their political hats on. Ditto the Pro-life movement. For years northerners thumbed their noses at “racist” southerners, never mind their own urban red lining and segregation, and “saving babies” gave southern Baptist types the same sense of moral superiority to throw back at northern baby killing sophisticates.

Over time the GOP, which had beat the Democrats up over catering to special interests – blacks, latinos, women’s libbers and unions, became their own assortment of special interests, patriots, pro-lifers, pro-NRA, and “small government” (code for don’t make us integrate.)

In time the GOP got so virulent about removing RINO’s like me that they perfected “primarying” by which they defeated “liberal” Republican office holders and purged a formerly pro-civil rights party of moderates. Of course, the Democrats did something similar if less rigorously.

As much as I bemoan the “demagogue” Trump I can see his allure to folks who feel neglected and I can even see that the promise of turning politics on its head might just improve our politics. His base has not yet rebelled when he’s worked out deals with Democrats. In an odd way his manner and his supporter’s devotion are acting as a rebuke to Republican stuffed shirts……the same folks who went along with the purge of liberal Republicans like me because it kept working to keep the Congress in their hands.

All those moderate Republican Presidential candidates Trump whipped for the nomination……they were the same folks who stood by as the Republican Party got more white, more angry and more self righteous. They were also the great exponents of free trade which blue collar converts to Republicanism are so fed up with.

But back to Burns and Vietnam.

I hope his ten part series can put some of the ghosts of that era to rest. My story during that Era can be summed up this way:

My family raised me to revere my Grandfather who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was both for staying out of foreign wars, which he blamed on Democrats, and for supporting our troops no matter how stupid the war was once we were stuck in one.

As a college student in the 1970’s I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions that this dual policy required. I was embarrassed for not being a part of the war as I objected to it. But the WW II generation fixed it so that future wars, like Vietnam, would be fought by poor kids while college students were exempted. Even then I saw that as grossly unfair while I was going to college with a draft number of 41, low enough to insure I’d go into the service if I quit college.

And what a hideous war it was making America complicit in evil doings that turned the stomach and the mind. Thus it always is with war. As Robert E. Lee said: “It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.”

If America can survive Donald Trump without succumbing to his call of “America First” maybe he will succeed in answering the hopes of his most ardent supporters to break out of the gridlock that has made our politics so lamentable in recent years. He may do it by killing the “Party of Lincoln.” That is, if the Republicans themselves haven’t already accomplished it.

DACA

How much has America spent educating 800,000 children illegally brought into the United States by their parents as infants and toddlers? If its anything like what we pay to educate kids in Duluth its a lot. Multiply $10,000 per year, times 12 years of public school, times 800,000 and you get $96 billion dollars thrown into the Rio Grande.

Forget the humanitarian issues of punishing the innocent. Forget the windfall for Mexico for our nation to send this incredible investment back to them. Cold hard finances all by themselves offers a compelling case to keep these children who will constitute an important economic resource for the US in future years.

Trump roared during the campaign that he would toss them all out. He seems to be reconsidering right now. But it was an Obama executive order that brought these 800,000 out of hiding and into his cross hairs. This dream is a nightmare.

Pickle relish and ketchup on my Deep State, Please?

Mother nature woke me at 4AM. The “Deep State” prevented me from going back into a deep sleep. Before I launch into my thoughts about national paranoia I’ll start with local paranoia.

I often mentioned the slogan I jokingly suggest should be our school board’s operating principle: “Just because you’re paranoid DOESN’T mean that someone isn’t out to get you!”

Just this morning I sent out an email containing this sentiment:

“The only antidote I know for this paranoia is sunshine. Put things out in the open where you can see them and you can shrug them off. If you can’t see them they become like that poisonous creature hiding in a tree stump in the Star trek movie about the castoffs marooned on a dying plant. They had to put their hands in the stump and risk a painful death.”

The “Deep State” strikes me as an invention of the real “Deep State.” The so called Deep State is not the bureaucrats and press foisting socialized medicine on a hardy, uncorrupted people. It’s the folks who don’t want to pay for socialized medicine or other civic obligations like pollution control.

The chief obstacle to getting this accomplished is our Constitution which guarantees a free press the much hated irritant of the power hungry except when they themselves use it. In Russia or China the author of “Dark Money”, Jane Mayer, would have been shot or disappeared by now. In America her biggest worry would be disinterest not death.

Before the School Board campaign and researching China got in the way I managed to get about half way through the book. It details the remnants of the John Birch Society which have rekindled into a much more potent semi-secret cabal led by the deep pockets of two of the Koch brothers. Their tentacles are everywhere – Congress, the Federal Courts, all state legislatures through ALEC, reapportionment, voter suppression, freedom to work laws, campaign finance, undermining of Federal regulation, the Trump Administration, the Tea Party and Fox News. You can’t fault Charles Koch for not putting his money where his heart is – corporate supremacy through regulatory inaction. You might argue that most of the billions he’s spent on this re engineering the American polity came from putting the public at risk by skimping on public spiritedness.

My take on the Republicans hysterics about a liberal Deep State is to think of it as Fake mongering. It has all the resonance of the grade school taunt: “I know you are but what am I?”

Maybe the real problem is overpopulation and its unruly offspring disappointed expectations of the young but the Free Press is under assault all over the world – Russia, Turkey, China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and now the United States. Our all-too-real President lies daily about “Fake News” until its obvious truth emerges. Then his lackey’s call it a “nothing burger.”

I’ll take my nothing burger with plenty of ketchup and pickle relish, thank you.

American Conservativism – From innovators to imitators to idiots.

I highly recommend a thoughtful NYT column about the Republican Party’s devolution from William F. Buckley, a man I worked very hard to understand fifty years ago when he was a conservative Sisyfus climbing America’s liberal mountain, to the “idiot” Sean Hannity. Buckley’s vocabulary was intentionally intimidating. For example, I still remember looking up the meaning of the word “avuncular” from one of his columns. That was back when I kept a pocket sized notepad chock full of fifty-cent words that were new to me.

Looking back on Buckley its hard not to appreciate a man who wrote this appraisal of our current President almost twenty years ago – the text taken from the NYT column:

“In March 2000, he trained his sights on ‘the narcissist’ and ‘demagogue’ Donald Trump. ‘When he looks at a glass, he is mesmerized By its reflection,’ he wrote in a prophetic short essay in Cigar Aficionado. ‘The resistance to corrupting demagogy’ he warned, ‘should take first priority’ for Americans.”

Blessed is Donald Trump

From Andrew Sullivan on our Presidents visit to Rome:

He loves the exercise of domination, where Christianity practices subservience. He thrills to the use of force, while Jesus preached nonviolence, even in the face of overwhelming coercion. He is tribal, where Jesus was resolutely universal. He is a serial fantasist, whereas Jesus came to reveal the Truth. He is proud, where Jesus was humble. He lives off the attention of the crowd, whereas Jesus fled the throngs that followed him. He is unimaginably wealthy, while Jesus preached the virtue of extreme poverty. He despises the weak, whom Jesus always sided with. He lies to gain an advantage, while Jesus told the truth and was executed for it. He loathes the “other,” when Jesus’ radical embrace of the outsider lay at the heart of his teaching. He campaigns on fear, which Jesus repeatedly told us to abandon. He clings to his privileged bubble, while Jesus walked the streets, with nothing to his name. His only true loyalty is to his family, while Jesus abandoned his. He believes in torture, while Jesus endured it silently. He sees women as objects of possession and abuse, while Jesus — at odds with his time and place — saw women as fully equal, indeed as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. He is in love with power, while Jesus — possessed of greater power, his followers believe, than any other human being — chose to surrender all of it. If Trump were to issue his own set of beatitudes, they would have to be something like this:

Blessed are the winners: for theirs is the kingdom of Earth.

Blessed are the healthy: for they will pay lower premiums.

Blessed are the rich: for they will inherit what’s left of the earth, tax-free.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for oil and coal: for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciless: for they are so, so strong.

Blessed are the liars: for they will get away with it.

Blessed are the war-makers: for they will be called very, very smart.

Blessed are those who support you regardless: for theirs is the Electoral College.

Blessed are you when others revile you and investigate you and utter all kinds of fake news about you. Rejoice and be glad, for the failing press is dying.

Condescension in politics

I’ve mentioned to others that Hillary Clinton’s “deporables” comment was a catastrophic mistake.

The great irony of the Trump election is that blue collar workers who once voted in a mighty Democratic bloc now vote for the Republicans who are trying to tamp down Social Security, National Health Insurance and a dozen other protections that make the Koch Brothers think America is becoming socialist.

I was a Republican and a socialism supporter for years when my Mr. Russ, my high school social studies teacher told me in 1968 that America has a mixed economy – a little socialism and little free enterprise.

Back to the “deplorables.”

Here’s an important NY Times think piece that explains what Democrats must do, and do fast, before the Republicans use their former voters to cement in the Koch ideal.

And here in Duluth I’ve seen plenty of condescension from Red Plan supporters who ignored the uneven financial burden it placed on poorer voters who shouldered an unfair share of our shiny new schools. Many local elitists can’t wait to get rid of Art Johnston who keeps reminding them of the bone-headed financial planning that went into the plan which has hollowed out the teachers we need to teach our children.

Many of them stood on the sidelines cheering as he was called a racist, a bully, with a conflict of interest. All lies by my reckoning and made by folks some of whom were everything that they accused Art of being.

I don’t particularly want to conflate national politics with local politics but if the shoe fits…………..

The Kushy life

A New York Times editorial about a slum lord and his tenant and those awful “community organizers” like Barack Obama. A sample:

Community organizers could have helped Kushner tenants like Kamiia Warren of suburban Baltimore, who was sued for moving out of her apartment without giving two month’s notice despite having done so. Mr. Kushner’s company won an almost $5,000 judgment anyway, and garnished her wages as a home health worker, and her bank account.

“No news” for me isn’t “good news” although I was hoping it would be

I’ve reading the news since waking this Saturday while also listening to NPR’s Saturday new program. Before the November election I had anticipated being able to ratchet back my fifty year old preoccupation with the news so as to spend more time researching and writing some books. But something happened on the way to the Library’s Foyer. Donald Trump!

I was worried all last year that his infantile demagoguery would get the best of America’s voters since our political system is so broken. And yet, I kept putting my faith in the prognosticators who had little doubt that Hillary Clinton would win. With my fingers crossed that she might put an end to a thirty-year RINO purging juggernaut I hoped that I could tune out the news in 2017. No such luck. Now it occupies even more of my attention especially with my new subscription to the New York Times – the best source on Donald Trump’s history imaginable. I’m even staying up past my bedtime to watch Late night television hosts skewer the Trumpsters although this doesn’t guarantee me a full night’s sleep.

And so, its been three hours of news on what should have been a sleepy Saturday morning. In two-and-a-half hours I will be interviewed by a DFL screening committee to see if I can muster their recommendation that I be considered endorsement as a DFL School Board candidate at the June 3rd convention. The first question on their 14 item questionnaire is: “why are you seeking the DFL endorsement?” My answer: “I wish to serve my fourth term on the Duluth School Board as a Democrat.”

My eight loyal readers can guess that there is a very long post hiding behind that short reply but newbies to this blog aren’t going to get it here. Its buried in posts in categories like “Republican Dogma,” “My GOP Defection,” “Lincoln,” “God’s Own Party,”
Crime and Punishment,” “Civil Rights” and many others on the list to this post’s right.

The School Board is a non-partisan office and I’ve never been a fan of politicizing it but today it seems useful for me to dive into the blender. I already have plenty of experience with a frog puree.

There are two stories from today’s reading I’d like to recommend. The first is Denfeld Graduate, Judge Mark Munger’s reminiscence about the Duluth Schools written in response to a recommendation that we saddle Denfeld students with a blue collar curriculum.

The second come’s from the NY Times, The Collapse of American Identity, which had this arresting illustration:

I highly recommend reading some of the 1200 replies to this op ed.

Lifehouse CHUMS and their alter egocentrics

I gave up trying to fall back asleep at 3 and padded downstairs to read the third chapter of Dark Money. The first two chapters gave me the background of the 800 pound gorillas of the big money movement to turn us back to the Middle Ages. They covered the Kochs and Richard Mellon Scaife. The third covered both the Olin Foundation and Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation. This book is reminding me of forty years worth of sporadic reports and tying them into a comprehensible bow. I certainly believed there was something behind Hillary Clinton’s “vast right wing conspiracy” and this book lifts the veil. The “conspiracy” is all perfectly legal or at least legalish and court rulings like Citizens’s United have vastly if I dare use that adverb, enhanced the power of the big spenders.

I dimly recalled a news story about about some rich guy, (it was Richard Mellon Scaife) putting up a sign in his neighborhood announcing the loss of his dog and wife and offering a reward for the dog. But now I know more about this bonvivant. His rich and conservative Grandfather, Andrew Mellon, was the Secretary of the Treasury for all three Republican Presidents of the 1920’s. He also was a prolific tax cheat and his grandson took up his motto, “Give tax breaks to large corporations, so that money can trickle down to the general public, in the form of extra jobs.”

This philosophy makes for an interesting contrast to last night’s fundraiser for Life House which takes care of discarded young people. Scaife and his silky ilk generally decry coddling the weak putting a much higher premium on protecting the assets of America’s aristocrats. The hundred’s of million Scaife donated to “charity” largely went to maintain his and other rich folks wealth not to the needy.

Claudia and I sat down with some of the people she has been working with at the CHUM homeless Center. Spending the last few months checking people in has been eye opening for her. Seeing someone released from a hospital near death’s door looking for a place to sleep on the floor has a way of impressing itself on the imagination. A young couple sitting next to us volunteer at Life House as I did three years ago. We were a jolly crowd. Our speaker Famous Dave of Rib fame gave a rousing talk and I learned he was half Choctaw, a much larger percentage of that tribe’s heritage than my grandson has but enough for me to some kinship with the Rib Master.

I suspect the billionaires club would consider the Rib magnate an exception to their rule. Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation financed the infamous 1994 book the “Bell Curve” which posited that blacks were intellectually inferior to white folk. Indians probably didn’t fare much better in the analysis.

There is no end to the unpleasantness emanating from Milwaukee. Its not just my old nemesis Johnson Controls, its Governor Tommy Thompson’s call to make poor people work for their welfare while Republicans happily outsourced decent factory jobs overseas. (Bill “Triangulation” Clinton latched onto both of these planks for his Presidency.) Its also the Milwaukee County Executive, Scott Walker, union buster extraordinaire and Koch Brother favorite. Its also a dreamscape for Secretary of Education Besty DeVos’s world of public education vouchers. I wonder where Billionaires fit on the Bell curve?

Famous Dave, who is a generous contributor to the needy, showed us pictures of his vast and messy library. He told us he reads for hours every day and gives his faithful reading credit for the half-billion-a-year enterprise he built off of a $10,000 business loan. That’s quite a contrast with our current President who can barely squeak through a teleprompter but then again, Trump inherited his start in life. I’m afraid Trump gives billionaires a bad name but the Koch’s are stoked. It was reported today that they are following up their $800 million investment in the 2016 election with a $300 million push to pass Trump’s tax decreases on the wealthy and ending the estate tax before Trump’s impeachment after which the GOP might be hard pressed to help the filthy rich.

Comey, Pump priming, impeachment

Yesterday I spent a couple hours writing and editing my thoughts on Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. It added little to the debate so I never uploaded it and just deleted it. I suspect Trump only upped the ante and shook more of his supporters confidence. I also suspect that the most likely effect will be to force the FBI to double down on its investigation.

The President keeps handing out more ammunition to critics like me and, worse for him, late night comics. Its like like getting candy bars at Halloween and Comey’s firing was like five pound box of Russel Stover’s chocolates.

I woke up early this morning and couldn’t sleep so I got up and read the prologue to Jane Mayer’s highly praised book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. What came as a surprise to me was the about face of the Koch Brothers (the sixth and seventh riches billionaires in the World) who heaped abuse on Trump a year ago when he was swatting traditional GOP candidates aside like flies. These days they have supplied half of their allies, subalterns and lobbyists to the Trump Administration. Trump called these brothers part of the “swamp” back when he was going to clean it up. Its one rich swamp.

Like The Tammany political hack, George Washington Plunkitt, He didn’t. Worse, he doesn’t realize its meant to prime a depression not full employment economy. I doubt that the John Birch spawned Koch’s care much about anything other than dismantling the government with Trump’s eager help. God knows they hated Obamacare. Its not a good time to be Trump voting coal miner with black lung.

Evan Osnos the Author of the book Age of Ambition, about the new China, wrote an excellent and somewhat skeptical appraisal of the chances for Trump’s impeachment for the New Yorker. That was four days ago before the Comey decision.

and like college campuses perhaps newspapers should be free from offensive politics

The Duluth News Tribune devoted almost an entire page to a dozen letters critical of a Steve Lindstrom cartoon that I thought was clever if a bit too easy. It showed the Dwarf “Doc” looking out of his mine at Dwarf “Dopey” who was drinking from mine waste dribbling out of the mine’s entrance. The caption explained that this is how Dopey got that way.

Many of the writers would have had the Tribune pull the cartoon like the disinvite of Coulter from UC Berkeley.

Here’s the first critical letter.

That the cartoon generated such a heated response was both a testament to Steve Lindstrom’s simple idea and perhaps to today’s Blue collar resentments.

I have not yet taken the time to read up on whether the mineral investors can be counted on to protect those of us who live downstream from their mine’s sulfides. Having a Donald Trump as our President only aggravates my concern. In the meantime, I welcome the skepticism cartoonist Lindstrom has aimed at the project just as I welcome the eruption late night humor directed at the Oval Office.