Donald Trumpet

I’ve been immersed in reading the history of Benito Mussolini and the rise of fascism this summer and I have to say, the content, the declamatory reach and the wide hearing his views got come from the same chord Donito Trumpet is playing now.

For example, “Mexicans of being responsible for “tremendous infectious disease … pouring across the border”.

As with Mussolini, facts don’t matter.  If caught out, repeat louder. Someone who sounds that sure of himself is surely right

Many are mocking.  In fact, David Letterman came out of retirement to do so.  He said Trump’s presidential race made him regret he had retired.

David Letterman’s Top Trump Ten

But should they (we) be mocking?  At least one analyst says “stop laughing.”

… writing Trump off is dangerous. The billionaire may play the buffoon, but he is an important one — one whom Americans appear to adore. A USA Today-Suffolk University poll released Tuesday shows him leading all Republican presidential hopefuls. And while establishment candidates in both parties might want to ignore him, or express a milder version of his anti-immigration opinions, an enormous number of voters clearly like his views.

WaPo William Frey

And, from the middle of the road, Newsweek, comes an opinion piece that actually links Trumpet’s name with fascism.  Sitting through a long speech, Jeffrey Tucker writes:

I’ve never before witnessed such a brazen display of nativistic jingoism, along with a complete disregard for economic reality. It was an awesome experience, a perfect repudiation of all good sense and intellectual sobriety.

Yes, he is against the establishment, against existing conventions. It also serves as an important reminder: As bad as the status quo is, things could be worse. Trump is dedicated to taking us there.

… Since World War II, the ideology he represents has usually lived in dark corners, and we don’t even have a name for it anymore. The right name, the correct name, the historically accurate name, is fascism. I don’t use that word as an insult only. It is accurate.

Though hardly anyone talks about it today, we really should. It is still real. It exists. It is distinct. It is not going away. Trump has tapped into it, absorbing unto his own political ambitions every conceivable resentment (race, class, sex, religion, economic) and promising a new order of things under his mighty hand.

I myself, would not use the word fascism in relation to what Trump represents; in fact it is wrong to refer to Hitler’s nazism as fascism — different animals of the same species.  I suggest, as a native moniker, Trumpetism.  But Tucker and Frey are on to something.  Mockery may be a weapon to be used but it should be used without believing he is simply a fool.  A fool with millions of adherents is a danger to us all.


Scott Walker, the Quieter Trump

From Bloomberg News, Margaret Carlson spots fraternal twins, Donald Trump and Scott Walker.


“On the surface, you couldn’t ask for two more different candidates than the real-estate mogul and the preacher’s son.

Trump is, well, Trump. Walker, on the other hand, is genial, affable and low-key. As a teenager, he filled in for his father delivering the Sunday sermons and flipped hamburgers at McDonald’s. He quit college, as he explained it to his parents, to make sure there was money to send his younger brother. Democrats who worked with him over the years admit how pleasant he is.

This is where the contrast between Walker and Trump ends and the similarities begin. In his political life, Walker has tried to bring about the America that Trump says we need. He did so first as an assemblyman (calling for a harsh “truth in sentencing” law, prison privatization, and voter-ID laws) and then as Milwaukee county executive (making cuts to spending on parks and public transit, and focusing on making life better in the suburbs rather than helping those in the city). By the time he left that post, Milwaukee had the second-highest black poverty rate in the U.S. and an unemployment rate almost four times higher for blacks than for whites.

He was elected governor with high turnout among his white base. His first act was to bust the public unions and give businesses a tax break.”

More Bunko-Steerers in the Health Care Fight

“The television ad sponsored by the advocacy arm of the National Federation of Independent Business featured a small-business owner in Arkansas, frustrated at what he said are the higher bills he has seen since the Obama administration’s health care plan went into effect — and pointing blame at Senator Mark Pryor, a Democrat considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents facing re-election this fall.

“But the largest chunk of the money donated to the nonprofit group’s advocacy came not from small-business owners, but rather from health insurance companies trying to repeal a health care tax, the most recently available federal tax records show.

“The largely hidden role of the for-profit health insurers highlights the increasingly confusing world of campaign finance, as nonprofit groups like theNational Federation of Independent Business and its Voice of Free Enterprise program can keep their donor lists secret, and then present their carefully crafted message, financed in large part by big business, as if it is coming from, perhaps, a more sympathetic voice.

NY Times

The Last Liberal President

During a discussion on HuffPost Live, Noam Chomsky weighed in on the minimum wage debate, blaming neo-liberals for keeping talk of wage increases off the table until now.

“It’s a shame that it’s taken so long to even be a discussion,” Chomsky said. “As for support, we may recall the last major program for helping families at the level of survival was under Richard Nixon. In many respects Nixon was the last liberal president.”

Obama signed an executive order a few weeks ago raising the minimum wage of federal contractors to $10.10 an hour. The president hoped that his move would encourage more businesses to raise their hourly wages as well.

But even the new $10 hourly rate is less than what minimum pay would be if adjusted for inflation. In fact, a 2012 study suggested that wages should have increased to $21.72 an hour, keeping inflation in mind.

“In fact it’s a simple economic problem, it’s cutting back economic growth,” Chomsky said. “It means that ordinary people can barely consume, which of course cuts back economic growth.”

Non Troglodyte Republican Wins Mayors Race in San Diego

Following up on earlier post about the San Diego mayoral election:

Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer defeated Democratic Councilman David Alvarez, 54.5% to 45.5%, to become the city’s next mayor, according to unofficial results tallied by the county registrar of voters.

The tally includes all absentee votes and votes from all 582 precincts. Unofficial turnout for the special election was 37%.  LA Times

A couple of things worth mentioning:  Faulkner is not one of your troglodyte  Republicans, enraged by human behavior not his own.  According to some of the commentors in the LA Times link (above), he supports marriage equality, is well thought of by the LGBT community, has marched in Gay Pride parades and supports reproductive rights.  Secondly, the turn out was 37% — not what it would have been in a full election year.  This doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have won had participation been fuller, but discouragement in the ranks of the opposition must have taken its toll.  Thirdly, the most recent scandal, and the more salacious — Democrat Bob Filner’s persistent pushiness with women— is more remembered than the previous scandal — GOP fiscal malfeasance and corruption.

The important question now is, how Faulkner’s plans to renege on pension contracts, and to job out city services to low bidders will affect the city and its citizens.  If streets can be kept clean at lower cost, and if the lower wages to accomplish that do not drive down city tax collection, throw more onto welfare or homeless rolls, folks will be happy.  If on the other hand such private contracts devolve to cronyism, shoddy services and increased income inequality, second thoughts will surface.

DOJ to Push Back on Texas Voter ID Laws

In a welcome show of political courage, Attorney General Eric Holder announced in a speech before the National Urban League that the Department of Justice would try to stop Texas from implementing voter ID laws which, following the recent Supreme Court Ruling gutting section 4 of the Voting Rights act, had again become possible.

“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Mr. Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”

As GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said on a Pennsylvania Cable Network earlier this week, the party “cut Obama by 5 percent” in 2012 and “probably Voter ID had helped a bit in that.”

Cambodia Opposition Leader Returns

To those of us who have kept our eyes on Cambodia since the baleful days of the 1974-79 civil war and genocide, every small sign of growing out of its macabre past is a sign of hope. Even Prime Minister Hun Sen’s long control of the country through dynamic political manipulation and gleeful self acquisition has been better than what preceded it.  Cambodian’s, when asked about his government, give a wry shrug of the shoulders: yes, he’s not so good, but then again, he’s not killing us. [Though Amnesty International in 1997 protested the summary executions of his opponents.]

Cambodia RainsySo, the return of a major opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, from four years of French exile after fleeing a conviction of racial incitement (anti-Vietnamese), is big news indeed — and not just to onlookers.  Cambodians have been lining up in droves to see and hear the rousing words of a man who has been involved in opposition politics since 1992.

Local NGO Licadho (Cambodian League for the Promotion of Defense of Human Rights) estimated about 100,000 people turned out and had shut down the main road to the airport as Rainsy and his entourage boarded a convoy of black four-wheel-drives and began the arduous task of inching their way into the city.

His return marked the end of a near four-year exile, self-imposed after the courts sentenced him to an 11-year jail term in absentia for crimes that included the uprooting of markers defining the Vietnamese border which he said were illegally placed on Cambodian soil. He maintains the charges were politically motivated.

Rainsy was clearly overwhelmed by the reception, telling The Diplomat it was difficult for him to speak amid the deafening cheers and chants of the crowd while being mobbed by well-wishers.

Cambodians of all ages and walks of life braved the heat and paraded through the streets in what was by far the biggest day of campaigning for the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). The Diplomat

There is little doubt that Sun Hen will retain control in the imminent elections.  Among many other things, his party controls almost all public media, rescinding a ban on foreign press coverage of the elections only after vigorous protests.

Even so, for the young, seeing  more normalized campaigning, the discussion of opposing points of view, behaving more like societies they have seen around the world, will have a healing and strengthening effect.  Our two young guides, of several months ago, educated and enthusiastic, though restrained, will surely find hope in what Rainsy is stirring, almost no matter the immediate outcome.



GOP: How to Win When Losing

Sam Wang, a professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton looks at a curious set of facts:

HAVING the first modern democracy comes with bugs. Normally we would expect more seats in Congress to go to the political party that receives more votes, but the last election confounded expectations. Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. This is only the second such reversal since World War II.

And this was no accident, no lucky summation of individual state voting district re-drawings.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group dedicated to electing state officeholders, recently issued a progress report on Redmap, its multiyear plan to influence redistricting. The$30 million strategy consists of two steps for tilting the playing field: take over state legislatures before the decennial Census, then redraw state and Congressional districts to lock in partisan advantages. The plan was highly successful.

Voting Fraud Claims? Nonsense says former Florida GOP Chairman

Why Florida changed its voting rules…

In an in­ter­view with the Palm Beach Post pub­lished on Sun­day, the for­mer chair­man of the Flori­da Re­pub­li­can par­ty said voter sup­pres­sion was the sole rea­son for the change to the elec­tion rules. Jim Greer, the par­ty chair­man in from 2006 to 2010, said he went to sev­eral meet­ings dur­ing which Re­pub­li­can of­fi­cials dis­cussed the dam­age that ear­ly vot­ing – which brought an un­prec­e­dented num­ber of black vot­ers to the polls in 2008 – had done to the par­ty.

“The Re­pub­li­can Par­ty, the strate­gists, the con­sul­tants, they firm­ly be­lieve that ear­ly vot­ing is bad for Re­pub­li­can Par­ty can­di­dates,” Mr. Greer said. “It’s done for one rea­son and one rea­son on­ly.”

He made it clear the stat­ed rea­son for the change, to re­duce voter fraud, was non­sense.

“They nev­er came in to see me and tell me we had a fraud is­sue,” he told the Post. “It’s all a mar­ket­ing ploy.”

Working for Obama in North Carolina and Ohio

A dear friend packed up her belongings, left her home and husband in Portland, OR to go help the Obama campaign in North Carolina a few weeks back.  I thought offering her letter, sent to friends, to others might brighten the light of possibility, next time the call is sounded.  And see two more following Carol’s.

Thank you for your notes and encouragement throughout my weeks in North Carolina… I was too exhausted to answer coherently. Three weeks was not long, but I did jump in with both feet for 15-16 hours per day 7 days a week.

The Obama campaign continued to have great groundwork, and a terrific team, almost entirely volunteers. I have been impressed working with each Obama campaign, at the knowledge, passion, and people skills of the young men and women in leadership roles.  This is clearly what made the difference in Ohio and Florida among other states.  My experience with MoveOn in 2004 was similar too.  Bright, smart, skilled young people working to change things.

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