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Time to call a fascist a fascist

I’ve written before (some might say ad nauseam) about the inability of the Democrats to push a consistent message; the ability of the right to label themselves in palatable ways (they’re “pro-life”!); and the willingness or helplessness of a compliant press to go along with their labeling.

We’re seeing that in spades so far as the fascists among us are concerned. They have branded themselves “white nationalists” and a compliant press had gone along. I was struck by this article (hardly an outlier) in the Boston Globe, in which the phrase is used repeatedly to describe people who are undoubtedly fascists. After all, they proudly displayed Nazi and fascist symbols in the banners they carried, though in the linked article we learn only that “Confederate flags and other banners” made an appearance. As with the concession of the term “pro-life” to a political movement that is anti-abortion and anti-people, the use of the term “white nationalists” concedes too much to these fascists. It obscures their racism and for many Americans (I just read somewhere that 25% of Americans think the sun goes around the earth) the term “nationalist” probably sounds patriotic.

It may be asking too much for the press to call a fascist a fascist, but they should at least come up with a term of their own, rather than going with the term the fascists want them to use. How about “avowed racists” or something of that sort? As for the Democrats, they should be avoiding the terms “alt-right” and “white nationalist” and call a fascist a fascist. Fox won’t like it, but we should be way past the point where anyone cares what the people on Fox say about Democrats. (I’m assuming by now they’ve arrived at a way to blame yesterday’s carnage on Obama.) In fact, the Democrats should simply be calling Fox the propagandists that they are. One of the reasons the press is so subservient to Republicans these days is that for years the Republicans (and they’re still doing it) labeled them the “liberal media”. It was mildly true at one point (facts do have a well known liberal bias), but nowadays they bend over so far backwards that the opposite is true. So it worked, and it might work for the Democrats if they only made some noise about it.

On Second Thought

I was reading this post at Hullabaloo about the oft debunked claim (which nonethless never dies) that businessmen make good politicians, and I said to myself: “I’ve written about this at one point”. So, I looked for it, and found it here.

Re-reading your old stuff can sometimes be embarrassing, but sometimes it can be pretty satisfying. You read along and say, “Wow, this makes sense, and I turned out to be right”. In this case, I was right, mostly, and feeling pretty good about the old post, until, sadly, I got to the final paragraph:

Fortunately, while we citizens, like the pundits, hold politicians in contempt, as a result of which they’ve become contemptible, we have not followed the pundits when it comes to believing that business experience is good training for politics. If we did, Donald Trump might be president right now, and, perish the thought, Linda McMahon would be a United States Senator.

Well, at least Linda McMahon isn’t our Senator, and after all, most of us did vote for the other candidate.

Bigots lament: Google unfair to bigots

There are times when one searches for just the right analogy to put something in just the right perspective, but the search is in vain. So it is with me as I struggle for just the right set of words to describe the fellow who circulated a memo among his fellow Google employees explaining that the company should not be seeking a diverse mix of employees, because women and minorities just can’t measure up to white men. This is the part that has me racking my brain in vain:

The document’s author also wrote that employees with conservative political beliefs are discriminated against at Google and lamented about how “leftist” ideology is harmful. They argue that the company should have a more “open” culture where their viewpoint would be welcomed. The document said that improving racial and gender diversity is less important than making sure conservatives feel comfortable expressing themselves at work.

via Motherboard

The poor bigot is upset because he’s not made to feel welcome. He simply can’t understand why women wouldn’t welcome his view that they should not be welcomed at Google. Somewhere, there’s someone who can come up with the perfect analogy to encapsulate the absurdity of that position, but alas, I am not that person.

Somewhat off point, I recommend the Motherboard blog to which I’ve linked. Interesting tech news leavened with a consistent left wing perspective.

Just a thought

Jeff Flake, the other hypocritical Senator from Arizona, has “written” a book in which he strenuously criticizes Trump. Yet, as Crooks and Liars reports, he is very reluctant to say the same things on television that are in the book. The writer at Crooks and Liars speculates that Flake doesn’t want to be recorded saying the stuff that’s in the book, as those recordings might be used against him.

That’s possible. But there’s an alternative, more likely explanation. Flake probably hasn’t read the book.

Tony, we hardly knew ye

This is quite depressing. See the title of this post? I googled the phrase, “we hardly knew ye”, just to make sure I had it right, and what do I find but that lots of other people have already come up with it.

The fact is, I’m sitting here on a porch overlooking Lake Pauline in Ludlow, Vermont, and I’m a bit behind the times, as I’ve been away from my computer for hours at a time, vacationing. Or is it vacating? There we were, having lunch in Londonderry, when one of our phones lit up, and we got the news flash. No sooner had the Mooch been hired, then he threatened to fire everyone else, after which he himself was fired. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and by that I mean that if it happened to anyone else, except maybe Trump, it would be happening to a nicer guy.

From what I’ve read, the Trump defenders in the media, who were heralding the appointment over the last few days, are not going to have to do back flips and tell everyone what a smart move it was to get rid of him.

I think it’s probably the case that all over the country people with brains have been wrestling with this question: is it better for the chaos to continue? On the one hand, it keeps them from getting anything done. On the other hand, you’ve got a guy so unhinged that he could lash out in unpredictable ways, and he’s got that button so close.

Well, as I said, I’m on vacation, so I’m going to pretend that all this isn’t happening. This, by the way, is the view from the house we’re renting. We’ve been on this lake before, but this house has the advantage of being pretty far from the main road, and at times it gets preternaturally quiet, except for the cries of the loons and the quacks of the ducks.

Still No Maverick

I’ve seen a bit of the media reaction to McCain’s vote. Once again, they fall all over themselves praising the guy, with nary a word (or maybe one word) about the fact that it was two women senators, neither one of whom is usually a Profile in Courage, who led the way on the Republican side, not to mention that for once the Democrats stuck together on something. I’m not sure what motivated McCain, but I like the theory I’ve read elsewhere that it was sweet revenge against Trump, who allowed, as you might recall, that McCain was no hero to him. In any event, he did leave the corral for a bit, and we must give him the small amount of credit to which he’s entitled. He’s not as big a coward as the many Republican Senators who did what they were told, and voted to give Paul Ryan and his “Freedom Caucus” carte blanche to write the final bill.

Speaking of the media, I thought I had heard everything on the both sides front, but this takes the cake: Brian Williams wants to know “when do the Democrats get off the bench and have to own part of this process?”

Umm. That is a ridiculous question, even if you put aside the fact that the Republicans chose to put the Democrats on “the bench”. But within the beltway, it’s an article of faith that both sides are equally to blame for everything.

Yes Virginia, John McCain is a hypocrite

If I had any qualms (which I didn’t), about dumping on McCain a few days ago, the events of today would surely have eased my conscience.

It’s bad enough that he left his taxpayer funded sickbed in order to make sure other people never leave theirs, but the icing on the cake was the brazen display of hypocrisy in which he chose to engage. First, there’s this, straight from the hypocrites mouth:

Our responsibilities are important, vitally important to the continued success of our republic. Our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all. The most revered members of this institution accepted the necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America’s problems and defend her from her adversaries. That principle mind-set and the service of our predecessors who possessed it come to mind when I hear the senate referred to as the world’s greatest deliberative body. I’m not sure we can claim that distinction with a straight face today.

via Daily Kos

It reads like an all out assault on the process that he left a sick bed to enable, and for which he cast the deciding vote. He doesn’t even bother to give a principled reason why it was necessary for him to discard Senate rules and traditions to pass a law (to the extent there’s even a proposal out there) supported by a whopping 12% of the American people. And of course he’ll never explain why he should get gold plated free health care while 22 million lose their bare bones plans.

But no McCain hypocrisy would be complete without a “both sides do it” lie that the media can loudly second:

And then he lied. He said that they should step back and hold hearings, report a bill out of committees with “contributions from both sides. “Something that my dear friends on the other side of the aisle didn’t allow to happen years ago.” That’s a flat-out lie. There were hearings. There were committee meetings. There were one-on-one bipartisan meetings. There were more than 100 Republican amendments included—like the one that provides for how senators get their health coverage

The man has been coddled by the press for 17 years, and he’s grown used to being able to spout lies and bullshit while retaining his “maverick” image that was never deserved in the first place. Even the diarist at Kos buys into it somewhat, for the post is titled: Spare us the lectures, Sen. McCain, and vote your principles instead. McCain has no principles, just like the rest of his ilk on the Republican side of the aisle. Right now he’s saying that he won’t vote for the bill “as it is today”, but there is no bill to speak of, so that’s just another way for him to say that when the shit hits the fan, he’ll step up and turn the fan’s speed to high.

Hang in there, Jeff

Life is funny. If, a year ago, you had told me that someday Jefferson Beauregard Sessions would be attorney general; that he’d be under pressure to resign, but that I wouldn’t want him to resign, I’d have questioned your sanity.

Yet here we are. Trump’s new golden boy has allowed as if it sure does look like Trump wants Jeff to resign, so that he can make a recess appointment of a new AG to fire Robert Mueller. And here I am, hoping that Jeff doesn’t resign.

Look at it this way. A Sessions successor is unlikely to lighten up on Jeff’s racist agenda, but he is pretty much certain to do Trump’s bidding on the obstruction of justice front. If you’re Jeff Sessions, you might not enjoy being publicly humiliated, but you might cherish the opportunity to obstruct your tormentor’s obstruction of justice, even if you may be in the investigatory cross hairs yourself.

Anyway, hang in there Jeff. You’re a disgusting, loathsome, despicable specimen, but hey… the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Indictable

This is interesting. Over the last several weeks I’ve read a number of articles in which the writer asserted rather blandly that a president was immune from criminal prosecution. There is usually no caveat, even to the extent of noting that perhaps a president could be prosecuted once he or she had left office. One would never know that no court has ever ruled on the issue. The linked article notes that not only did the execrable Kenneth Starr reach a different conclusion, but the far more honorable Leon Jaworski did as well.

I think it is fair to say that if a president cannot be indicted, neither can he or she be simply arrested and charged with a crime, since the two acts are functionally equivalent.

So, lets do a little imagining. Imagine you had a president who was a bit mentally ill. This president happens to be of a member of a party that controls both houses of Congress, and that party happens to be in the hands of corrupt party hacks who feel this mentally ill president is a useful idiot that is convenient for them to achieve their political objectives, which for the sake of argument we will say are, generally speaking, enacting laws that transfer the nation’s wealth from the mass of people to the rich. Let us imagine that nothing this president could do would impel this corrupt political party to consider impeachment or the invocation of the 25th Amendment.

Now let us imagine that this president takes it into his head to go to 5th Avenue and shoot and kill random people on the street. Now, he would no doubt expect his base to continue to love him, and they no doubt would, as would the folks at Fox and Friends, but the rest of us, not to mention the family and friends of the victims, might feel differently. According to the “president is immune from prosecution” theory, this imaginary president could continue to kill random people throughout his term, with the sole remedy being the possibility that he could be brought to justice after the end of his term.

Let us assume further that after an imaginary president is inaugurated, evidence surfaces that he or she committed a string of illegal acts prior to that inauguration, including illegal acts in furtherance of a conspiracy by and with a foreign government to tamper with the electoral process. According to the “president is immune from prosecution” theory, that president became immune from prosecution the minute he or she took an oath swearing to defend the constitution he or she had so recently attempted to destroy.

There are plenty of legal concepts available to the courts to protect the president’s legitimate interest in being able to carry out his or her duties without improper interference from the courts. I don’t think there’d be any argument against the position that the president should be immune from criminal prosecution for action taken within the scope of his or her duties. If, for instance, he ordered a military attack on a civilian population, he couldn’t be brought up before a US court on charges of war crimes, though he could be impeached for the same act if Congress saw fit. On the other hand, if he or she chose not to pay income taxes duly owed to the federal government, there is no earthly reason why he or she should not face the same court system to which the rest of us would be consigned if we committed the same offense. A president’s obligation to pay taxes is simply outside the scope of his or her official duties.

In the present case, Trump’s crimes all predate the day of his inauguration, though the coverup has continued. He can argue that colluding with a foreign government and then covering it up comes within the scope of his duties, but that would be a stretch that even the present Supreme Court might not be willing to make, and even if they were willing to go there for acts taken prior to the inauguration, his pre-inauguration acts cannot be retroactively assigned to his presidential duties.

Given the present Supreme Court, it is entirely possible that we might get a blanket immunity ruling, limited, of course, as was Bush v Gore, to the present circumstances so that a future Democratic president could still face criminal prosecution, but I doubt the court would go there, since they have the equally useful idiot Pence waiting in the wings.

Some historical revisionism

There are certain memes that become embedded in our national conversation, despite the fact that they are in no way fact based. Being of an age when I get to be a curmudgeon, I feel I have the right to protest. Consider this:

Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee known for his independent streak over more than three decades representing Arizona in the Senate, has brain cancer, his office disclosed Wednesday night in a statement from the Mayo Clinic.

via The New York Times (Emphasis added)

Let’s see now. Three decades would bring us back to 1987. But we didn’t find out about John McCain’s “independent streak” until he ran for president in 2000 and announced to the world that he was a “maverick”. The press fell in love with him because he sometimes said some stuff that sounded mavericky (i.e., reasonable), for a Republican. He’s been on television almost every Sunday since then. But while he sometimes says things that run against the Republican grain, a funny thing tends to happen when it comes time to vote. He runs with the herd. It would be interesting to ask any of the reporters that are so enamored of the man to name one actually important issue in which he has strayed. (I’m sticking with the maverick metaphor as long as I can) When the pressure’s on, Mitch McCowboy has no trouble roping him in. Consider health care, in which he hasn’t strayed from the corral at all, except to assert that the Republican plan is dead, but not by his hand.

I realize he’s ill, and he may, by leaving the corral at this point, and in no way due to any independent streak, be doing the greatest public service of his political career . But remember that’s because he’s one less vote they can count on to screw the people of America.