Republican Flip-Flop: Now No Experience is a Great Asset

Andy Borowitz at the New Yorker nails it again:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Republicans, who mercilessly mocked Barack Obama’s lack of government experience before he became President, now favor Presidential candidates with no experience whatsoever, the head of the Republican National Committee has confirmed.


Telling Who a Man is by Who His Friends Are

Heard Evan Osnos of the New Yorker being interviewed the other day.  Made my stomach do a turn or two.  Here’s the article about which he was being interviewed.  Set aside some time to read it.

On June 28th, twelve days after Trump’s announcement, the Daily Stormer, America’s most popular neo-Nazi news site, endorsed him for President: “Trump is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” The Daily Stormer urged white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

Titled The Fearful and the Frustrated, Osnos is writing about an ominous wave coalescing around Trump.  It was just such a wave in Italy and Germany, of the fearful and the frustrated, that was harnessed to incomprehensible evil.

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.”

Barney Frank

Gary Wills is sorry he wasn’t able to vote for Barney Frank as the first gay president. So should we all. Here’s a snip from Wills’ look at Frank’s new book.

“Frank fears some forms of “big government”—especially our monstrous financing of exotic weaponry, occupying forces around the world, and the wars we start rapidly and end (if at all) after guaranteeing our own defeat. But he knows that the same people who hand out huge contracts for this overkill capacity are calling for “small government” when its services could help the poor, or disabled, or ordinary citizens.

They base their claim that government does not work not on the part that really does not work, the defense that we make too big to control, but on service to our own citizens. They are following the “starve the beast” strategy of men like David Stockman and Grover Norquist—declare that programs cannot work, deregulate them as not worthy of correction, underfund them, and then, when they do not work, declare the first presumption vindicated.

Frank was horrified when Bill Clinton said, in effect, that the starvers were right but that he would starve government moderately. After the president in 1996 declared, “The era of big government is over,” Frank says he wanted to ask, “What country are you describing?” And he asked Clinton’s staff, “Did I sleep through the big-government years?” “

Read all

Alberta, Canada: Pigs Do Fly

“The New Democratic Party (NDP) ended the Progressive Conservatives’ (PC) 44-year rule of the province.

“Political observers were stunned by the result, with one commentator saying: “Pigs do fly”.

“Alberta’s Premier Jim Prentice, a former member of Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet, said he was stepping down from political life.


Rachel Notley, the new Premier-designate for Alberta, promised “during the campaign, … to withdraw provincial support for the Keystone XL project, raise corporate taxes and also potentially to raise royalties on a regional oil industry already reeling from the collapse in world prices.”

“Ordinary Canadians were reeling from the sheer magnitude of the shift in Alberta, which has placed the country’s most notoriously conservative province, taken for granted as an impregnable redneck kingdom, in the hands of its most progressive regional government. To explain the phenomenon, Toronto-based writer Doug Saunders asked his American Twitter followers to imagine socialist presidential candidate Bernie Saunders “becoming Texas governor by a big majority”.

The Guardian

Now if the US democrats can get a hold of the Notley New Democratic Party play-book and tear up whatever led to the Conservative rout in England, our own 2016 would be looking a lot better.

Pizza Lovers — Watch Out!

Paul Krugman opens the eyes of the hungry today. Who would have known that there is an enormous Pizza Lobby, and it gives enormously to Republicans?


A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. And pizza partisanship tells you a lot about what is happening to American politics as a whole.

… some parts of the food industry have responded to pressure from government agencies and food activists by trying to offer healthier options, but the pizza sector has chosen instead to take a stand for the right to add extra cheese.

The rhetoric of this fight is familiar. The pizza lobby portrays itself as the defender of personal choice and personal responsibility. It’s up to the consumer, so the argument goes, to decide what he or she wants to eat, and we don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do.

… At one level, there is a clear correlation between lifestyles and partisan orientation: heavier states tend to vote Republican, and the G.O.P. lean is especially pronounced in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call the “diabetes belt” of counties, mostly in the South, that suffer most from that particular health problem. Not coincidentally, officials from that region have led the pushback against efforts to make school lunches healthier.

Libertarian Flim Flam

Paul Krugman is on to the “Libertarian Moment” being proclaimed in some quarters.

Is libertarian economics at all realistic?

The answer is no. And the reason can be summed up in one word: phosphorus.

As you’ve probably heard, the City of Toledo recently warned its residents not to drink the water. Why? Contamination from toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, largely caused by the runoff of phosphorus from farms.

When I read about that, it rang a bell. Last week many Republican heavy hitters spoke at a conference sponsored by the blog Red State — and I remembered an antigovernment rant a few years back from Erick Erickson, the blog’s founder. Mr. Erickson suggested that oppressive government regulation had reached the point where citizens might want to “march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp.” And the source of his rage? A ban on phosphates in dishwasher detergent. After all, why would government officials want to do such a thing?

And in his on-line blog he reminds us of the cloth from which Paul Ryan is cut:

Brad DeLong reminds us of the original Ryan budget plan — or actually “plan”, as I’ll explain — and emphasizes its dire warnings about a looming debt crisis that wasn’t. But pointing out that the debt panic was unjustified only gets at part of what was wrong with that Ryan budget (and all his subsequent proposals). For the fact is that it wasn’t a proposal made in good faith.


And, as to the idea that there is a libertarian tide rising, floating the boat of one Rand Paul, Ed Kilgore offers a corrective over at Talking Points Memo.

…to the extent there is something that can be called a “libertarian moment” in the Republican Party and the conservative movement, it owes less to the work of the Cato Institute than to a force genuine libertarians clutching their copies of Atlas Shrugged are typically horrified by: the Christian Right. In the emerging ideological enterprise of “constitutional conservatism,” theocrats are the senior partners, just as they have largely been in the Tea Party Movement, even though libertarians often get more attention.

And here, Kilgore offers a short summary of the above.

An Old Admonition Needed for New Times

"Forget the private and worry about the public"


We saw this in the Rector’s Palace — the seat of government– for Renaissance Dubrovnik, Croatia.

We need it carved in stone over every public office in the land.

Toxic Contributions Foul Democracy’s Air

The photo of Paris, below, gripped by a week-long smog could as well be of the air of Democracy in the United States.  In one more report of hidden financial corruption, but an especially damning one, Nicholas Confessore at the NY Times, shines a light through the smog in Utah.

It is the nightmare scenario for those who worry that the modern campaign finance system has opened up new frontiers of political corruption: A candidate colludes with wealthy corporate backers and promises to defend their interests if elected. The companies spend heavily to elect the candidate, but hide the money by funneling it through a nonprofit group. And the main purpose of the nonprofit appears to be getting the candidate elected.

But according to investigators, exactly such a plan is unfolding in an extraordinary case in Utah, a state with a cozy political establishment, where business holds great sway and there are no limits on campaign donations.

Public records, affidavits and a special legislative report released last week offer a strikingly candid view inside the world of political nonprofits, where big money sluices into campaigns behind a veil of secrecy. The proliferation of such groups — and what campaign watchdogs say is their widespread, illegal use to hide donations — are at the heart of new rules now being drafted by the Internal Revenue Service to rein in election spending by nonprofit “social welfare” groups, which unlike traditional political action committees do not have to disclose their donors.