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.


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

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.

San Diego Voting Tuesday

San Diego, my home town in the tumultuous years of 1968-1969, and of close cousins their whole growing up years, always gets more than my passing glance when it’s in the news.  Today it’s about the elections on Tuesday to put a fully elected mayor in, to replace the temporary one, Todd Gloria, who replaced the serial harasser Filner last summer.

The candidates are big-business backed city councilor Kevin Faulconer and David Alvarez, also a city councilor, who counts labor unions among his backers. After  Filner, the first Democrat  mayor in decades, stepped down to deal with the torrent of accusations about his unwanted sexual demonstrativeness, his voters seemed in disarray. Hope had been high that he would be an antidote to the corruption and budgetary malfeasance San Diego had suffered under for years, earning it the nickname of Enron-By-The-Sea.

His behavior and leaving office were a double punch to the gut of his voters who at first seemed in disarray.  They seem to have recovered quickly with Alvarez as the standard bearer.  The vote count on Tuesday is expected to be close.

The NY Times, characterizing the race as one of sharp ideological divides, gives a good backgrounder, though for the life of me I don’t understand how ideology is a good characterization of what is going on.  There are almost twenty years of history to indicate the past effects of the policies Faulkner says he will continue to pursue.  There are thousands of people whose pensions were gutted during past Republican mayors who naturally, would prefer a leader who takes their loss, and the abrogated contracts and promises, seriously.

As usual, the winner will be decided not entirely on the merits of his ideas or actions but by the variable winds of voter enthusiasm, understanding of policy-to-pocketbook linkages and, unfortunately, fealty to myths, beliefs and ethnicity.

Whoever wins, perhaps the conversation will have been begun –using the minimum wage increases proposed by Alvarez as proxy–  over how any society determines what is needed for its citizens to produce enough in their working years to keep them alive and in dignity during the years they cannot work.

If, at the most abstract, one must earn enough in half a life to provide for a full life, how is that to be done?  If no surplus is created during the working, or is raked off by others, how is life to be secured for the years of no-work?   If during the working years, pensions can not be created, if the hope for living after the working years depends on the vagaries of a stock market — which can be sent soaring or falling by conditions in Brazil or Greece– do we have the basics of sound economies, and therefore livelihoods, even in place? It’s an enormous question which is never properly dealt with.

Tuesday’s San Diego election won’t answer the question but perhaps it will be formulated a bit more clearly and spoken more loudly.

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.

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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Giffords Stand-in Wins Full Term in AZ

From the AP

Democrat Ron Barber has won a full term representing Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District, squeaking out a win over Republican Martha McSally and giving Democrats a sweep of the state’s three competitive races for U.S. House seats.

Voters decisively picked Barber to fill out the remainder of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords term in a special election in June, but last week’s election was for a full term and was so tight it took until Saturday before a winner was clear. Barber and McSally each held leads since election night, with a difference of only a few dozen votes at times, before Barber steadily began pulling ahead.

By late Friday, Barber had a 1,402-vote margin with more than 285,000 votes cast in the race. Only about 15,000 provisional ballots remain to be counted in Pima County, although not all are in the 2nd District. An Associated Press analysis determined Barber’s lead could not be overcome.

A triple Yippie!

Dan Lungren Gone But Not Admitting It

A friend sent this clip on with these comments:

I’ve lived long enough to see this happen!  I first actively supported Bill Durston, a Vietnam vet; emergency room doctor; and past President of the Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility in this mission. He was a brave warrior to chip away at Lungren’s base.  I am thrilled it has finally happened.  Congrats to Ami Bera.

Physician ousts GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in Calif.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Republican Rep. Dan Lungren lost his re-election bid to Democratic challenger Ami Bera on Thursday in one of California’s most hotly contested congressional contests, but the congressman refused to concede.

Voters from the Sacramento suburbs ousted the veteran lawmaker in the race for the state’s newly redrawn 7th Congressional District. This was the second attempt for Bera, a 45-year-old physician who failed to unseat Lungren two years ago.

Bera was defeating Lungren by nearly 5,700 votes, or 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent, with about 38,000 provisional and vote-by-mail ballots outstanding in Sacramento County. The 7th Congressional District covers part of the county. The Associated Press made the call Thursday.


These Guys

Thanks Louie Ludwig