Saturday, August 27, 2016

Clinton's masterful speech pinning Trump's racist appeals and dog-whistle allusions squarely on him

Hillary Clinton gave a speech on Wednesday in Reno, Nevada that may long be remembered as the one that cemented the win for her.   It was about Donald Trump's racist and xenophobic statements and appeals, those dog whistles that are heard by what has come to be called the Alt-Right.

That term refers to "alternate right," which the Wall Street Journal describes as a loosely organized movement that "rejects mainstream conservatism, promotes nationalism and views immigration and multiculturalism as threats to white identity."   It includes those who are part of white supremacist and nativist groups.  Trump has now brought the former head of Breitbart News, Stephen Bannon, in as CEO of his campaign.   Bannon has described Breitbart News as "a platform for the Alt-Right."

"In doing this, Clinton was speaking to moderate Republicans who are horrified by some of the things Trumps says but are still trying to rationalize voting for him.  His recent strategy of softening his positions on immigrants, as well as his awkward appeal for black voters, is really an attempt to hold on to those same, moderate, white Republicans by trying to show them that he is not racist or anti-immigrant.

However good Kellyanne Conway is with message and campaign planning, she has pretty poor material to work with in Donald Trump.  It's just not working.   And Hillary Clinton's speech may just have driven the spike through the heart of Trump's attempt to get back those moderate Republicans.   Campaign professionals and liberal pundits are calling Clinton's speech a brilliant strategy.   What she did, essentially, was to quote his own words and actions and to force him to own them -- or else deny them and the people he's been appealing to. 

Here's what Fox news host Shep Smith said about it:  "That was an extraordinary moment. . . .  [Clinton] just tagged her Republican rival as a racist, fearmongering conspiracy theorist who is tempermentally unfit to be president of the United States. The problem with any attempt to rebut her is that in this case she used Donald Trump's own words, was historically accurate on his policies, on all reviewed points."  Here are some highlights:

-- "From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.  He's taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over one of American's two major political parties."

-- "Trump's lack of knowledge or experience or solutions would be bad enough.   But what he's doing here is more sinister.   Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters.   It's a disturbing preview of what kind of President he'd be."

-- "Now I know there are some people who like to give him a second chance.  They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself -- that there's a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere. . . .  But the hard truth is, there's no other Donald Trump.   This is it."

"Maya Angelou once said:  'When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.'   Well, throughout his career and this campaign, Donald Trump has shown us exactly who he is.   We should believe him."
Clinton then reviewed Trump's own history of racial discrimination, including a major lawsuit from the Department of Justice for refusing to rent apartments to black people, his being fined by state officials for racist hiring practices in his casinos -- and his being the ringleader of the "birtherism" which Clinton called "a sustained effort to delegitimize America's first black president."

She continued with other examples of Trump's own bigotry, including saying that a federal judge was incapable of doing his job solely because of his Mexican heritage -- which Paul Ryan described as "the textbook definition of a racist comment."  Back to quotes from Clinton's speech:
-- "His latest paranoid fever dream is about my health.   All I can say is, Donald, dream on.   This is what happens when you treat the National Enquirer like Gospel. . . .  It's what happens when you listen to the radio host Alex Jones, who . . . said the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre were child actors and no one was actually killed there.  Trump didn't challenge those lies.   He went on Jones' show and said:  'Your reputation is amazing.  I will not let you down.'"

-- "This man wants to be President of the United States. . . .  In times of crisis, our country depends on steady leadership . . . . clear thinking. . . and calm judgment . . .  The last thing we need in the Situation Room is a loose cannon who can't tell the difference between fact and fiction, and who buys so easily into racially-tinged rumors."

-- "And don't be distracted by his latest attempts to muddy the waters.   He may have some new people putting words in his mouth. . . but we know where he stands."

-- "Don't worry, some will say, as President, Trump will be surrounded by smart advisers who will rein in his worst impulses.   So when a tweet gets under his skin and he wants to retaliate with a cruise missile, maybe cooler heads will be there to convince him not to. . . Maybe. . . ."

-- "But look at who he's put in charge of his campaign. . . .  Stephen Bannon, the head of a right-wing website called . . . . [who] shortly after the Charleston massacre [ran this headline] . . .  'Hoist It High and Proud:  The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage', when Democrats and Republicans alike were doing everything they could to heal racial divides.  Breitbart tried to enflame them further.   Just imagine -- Donald Trump reading that and thinking:  'this is what I need more of in my campaign.'"

-- "The de facto merger between Breitbart and the Trump Campaign represents a landmark achievement of the 'Alt-Right.'   A fringe element has effectively taken over the Republican Party. . . .  On David Duke's radio show the other day, the mood was jubiliant.  'We appear to have taken over the Republican Party,' one white supremacist said."

-- "This is part of a broader story -- the rising tide of hardline, right-wing nationalism around the world.   Just yesterday, one of Britain's most prominent right-wing leaders, Nigel Farage, who stoked anti-immigrant sentiments to win the referendum on leaving the European Union, campaigned with Donald Trump in Mississippi."

-- "The godfather of this global brand of extreme nationalism is Russian President Vladimir Putin.  In fact, Farage has appeared regularly on Russian propaganda programs.   Now he's standing on the same stage as the Republican nominee.   Trump himself heaps praise on Putin and embraces pro-Russian policies.   He talks casually of abandoning our NATO allies, recognizing Russian's annexation of Crimea, and of giving the Kremlin a free hand in Eastern Europe more generally.   American presidents from Truman to Reagan have rejected that kind of approach Trump is taking on Russia.   We should too."
-- "All of this adds up to something we've never seen before.   Of course there's always been a paranoid fringe in our politics, steeped in racial resentment.   But it's never had the nominee of a major party stoking it, encouraging it, and giving it a national megaphone.  Until now."

-- "No one should have any illusions about what's really going on here.   The names may have changed. . . . Racists now call themselves racialists.   White supremacists now call themselves 'white nationalists.'   The paranoid fringe now calls itself' 'alt-right.'   But the hate burns just as bright.  And now Trump is trying to rebrand himself as well.   Don't be fooled."

-- "We know who Trump is.   A few words on a teleprompter won't change that.   He says he wants to 'make American great again,' but his real message remains 'Make American hate again.'"

-- "This isn't just about one election.  It's about who we are as a nation.   It's about the kind of example we want to set for our children and grandchildren.  Next time you watch Donald Trump rant on television, think about all the kids listening across the country.   They hear a lot more than we think.  Parents and teachers are already worried about what they're calling the 'Trump Effect.'   Bullying and harassment are on the rise in our schools, especially targeting students of color, Muslims, and immigrants."

-- "This is a moment of reckoning for every Republican dismayed that the Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Trump. . . .  Twenty years ago, when Bob Dole accepted the Republican nomination, he pointed to the exits and told any racists in the Party to get out.  The week after 9/11, George W. Bush went to a mosque and declared for everyone to hear that Muslims 'love America just as much as I do.' . . . We need that kind of leadership again."

-- "I promise you this:  with your help, I will be a President for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.   For those who vote for me and those who don't.   For all Americans.   Because I believe we are stronger together."
The speech was incredible, as the Fox host acknowledged, because it was so fact-based.   There was not a single accusation or demeaning characterization that was not backed up by his own words or action.   I just want to add one word about her presentation.   This was not only the best speech but also the best delivery she has ever done.   She has learned to control her voice:   it was modulated lower, she spoke more conversationally and more directly to people.   She was confident and, yes, I'll say it:   she was presidential.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Letter to editor will be published

Just got an email from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saying that they will publish the letter that I wrote to them (see ShrinkRap 8/24) in response to a writer who repeated previously debunked misinformation about the Clinton Foundation.    It will appear in the AJC on Monday, August 29.

This is especially gratifying, because I am thoughly dismayed at the failure of journalists to combat the distortions and lies that are allowed to be broadcast.  In this case, they had published a letter to the editor, full of debunked Republican talking points, without also printing the truth.


I never thought I would feel sorry for Ann Coulter . . . . until Donald Trump threw her under the bus.

photo copied from @RosieGray;  no attibution given 
The launch party for Ann Coulter's new book was all planned.  Copies of In Trump We Trust were stacked on the table, waiting to be purchased by fans and signed by the author, who has been a loud and a sometimes outrageous supporter of The Donald's presidential bid.   I haven't read the book, but the subtitle suggests the tone:  "E Pluribus Awesome."

The only problem is that Donald Trump's political campaign is a day-to-day madhouse, and book publishing is a slow process.   What Donald Trump says today may be very different from what he said yesterday.  So by the time Coulter's "In Trump We Trust" made it to that signing table, Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, had different ideas about the position he needed to take on immigration -- the issue that had made Ms. Coulter quiver.

But the timing couldn't have been worse.   On the very day of the book launch partyTrump gave a speech in which he took most of it back.   See, he wouldn't really round up and forcefully deport all those 11 million illegal immigrants, just the criminal ones.   And, oh no, he wouldn't separate families;   they stay together.  And, well, maybe after all they deserve a pathway to a legal status.   Not amnesty, of course.   And they will have to pay back-taxes;   lots of taxes.  But, hey, we've got to adopt a softergentler tone, if we hope to get any of those white, educated women voters back, you know?

Ann Coulter doesn't do softer and gentler.    And there she was . . . at her party . . . with all those books to sell about putting your trust in Trump, the Awesome.    It was pretty sad.  Because here's what she had written in that just-published book:
"There's nothing Trump can do that won't be forgiven . . . except change his immigration policies."
Oops.  Kind of a party downer, you know?   On the very same day.

But then, look on the bright side.   Maybe tomorrow he will get his inner-meanness back and deport all those illegals.  Who knows?


Thursday, August 25, 2016

USA's women athletes stun at the Rio Olympics

Team USA won the most medals -- 121 -- at the Rio Olympics, way ahead of China with 70 and Great Britain with 67.   And 46 of those 121 were gold.

A total of 61 -- slightly more than half -- of those USA medals were won by our women athletes;  and women won an even bigger portion of the USA gold medals, 27 of our 46.   Brava !!!


What dark secrets are in Trump's tax returns?

Fred Goldberg, who was IRS commissioner during the Republican administrations of both Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, says there is no valid reason for Donald Trump not to release at least the first two pages and Schedule A of his tax returns.

Hillary Clinton has done that (and more) for the last 10 years.   From that we learned that in 2015 she and Bill made $10.6 million, gave $1 million to charity, and paid $3.6 million in federal taxes for an effective rate of 34%.

Even that limited information would tell us a lot about Trump that is important to know about a president:  where his money comes from;   to whom, and for how much, is he indebted;  what charities (if any) he gives to and how much.  Goldberg says every major candidate for decades has done that -- except Trump.   This, among other reasons, is why he will be voting for Hillary Clinton.

Goldberg explains further that Trump could and should do this for the past 20 years.  It "would shed some light on all his wild financial and charity claims on the campaign trail."

So why are you refusing, Donald?   And stop insulting us with that phony excuse about being audited.    Are you afraid of a fact-check on your blithe boasts, now that we're leery of trusting any word that comes out of your mouth?  They don't audit you every year just because you're rich;  it's because you have a reputation for manipulating every system you can, and avoiding paying every penny you can -- to whomever and whenever you possibly can -- and that shamelessly includes stiffing small business owners (painters, contractors on your construction projects) who did work for you and you then refuse to pay the full agreed-on amount.   In fact, you've bragged about it, repeatedly, in so many words.  So that makes you a pretty good suspect for tax . . . shall we say . . . irregularities?

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN) has introduced a bill in the US senate requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns.   His concern, he told Chris Hayes last night on MBNBC, is that Trump may be heavily involved financially with Russian oligarchs.  That's the dark secret he thinks Trump may be hiding.   We already know that he owes a lot of money to the Bank of China.

OK.   I'm taking non-money bets on why Trump won't release his tax returns.   Here are my picks, in order of probability.    What do you think?

1.  He has paid little or no taxes, which will make him look bad.
2.  He's not nearly as rich as he claims.
3.  He gives almost nothing to charities, despite his boasts.
4.  He is deeply in debt to Russian and other foreign lenders, raising serious concerns of blackmail effecting our nation, if he should become president.
5.  The media will pick it apart, even if there's nothing illegal.
6.  Just because . . .  you can't tell Donald Trump what to do.
7.  Others ???


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Take heart, folks. There's only 77 more days of slogging through this fetid swamp

About those emails . . . Hillary's very ill, doesn't have the stamina . . . . Hillary Clinton wants to destroy the second amendment . . . . Clinton Foundation is a cesspool of corruption . . . . crooked Hillary lies  . . . .  what are they hiding about her health? . . . . she should be in jail . . . . or shot by a firing squad . . . . more lies and innuendos that I won't stoop to repeat here . . . .  

Why do I keep reading and getting so worked up by all this election garbage?  Well, because I really do agree with Edmund Burke:
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
So I'm going to keep plugging away.   I think I can make it for another 77 days.   Here's a small attempt.   In yesterday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a letter to the editor:

"Clintons' donations self-serving"
"I see in the Clinton's 2015 tax return that they gave a $1 million charitable contribution.  On the surface, that sounds generous and benevelant.   However, when one looks deeper at their contributions, 96 percent went to their own Clinton Foundation in which it is reported that only 10 percent of the Foundation's spending is for real charitable work.   The other 90 percent pays for the Clintons' and their entourage luxury travel, hotels and meals while they are supposedly out gallivanting around fund-raising, back-slapping, campaigning, etc.  What phony generosity -- at the tax payers expense. --  P.D. Gossage, Johns Creek

Here's the letter that I wrote to the editor in response.   My rate of getting letters published in the AJC is about one in five;  but I thought it's worth a shot.   We'll see.

"To the Editor:
"A writer incorrectly states that "only 10 percent of the [Clinton] Foundation's spending is for real charity work" and that the rest goes for their luxury travel, fund-raising, campaigning, etc. ("Clintons' donations self-serving," Aug. 23).

"This false claim was made during the Republican primary campaign and has been thoroughly debunked by and by CharityWatch, an independent philanthropy watchdog group, which puts the charitable-use figure at 89 percent, not 10.

"This misunderstanding began from the fact that, unlike many charitable foundations that pass on donated funds as grants to other charities, the Clinton Foundation uses most of its donations for hands-on projects with its own staff working in partnership with like-minded groups throughout the world.   The smaller number represented pass-on grants;  the 89 percent is the total portion of contributions to the Foundation that actually are used to carry out charitable projects to improve global health, economic opportunity, the effects of climate change, and equal opportunity for women and girls worldwide.

"It's unfortunate that, in the heat of political battles, the sensational gotcha point is preferred to the truth supplied by fact checkers, even when conservative news organizations like NewsMax have reported this correction."
-- Ralph Roughton


I am dismayed that the AJC allows such thoroughly debunked, distorted political talking points to be published without an editor's note to correct the facts.   The facts are easily available online.    I understand that letters to editors are expressions of opinion . . . and free speech.   But wouldn't an editor's note stating the facts have still preserved the letter writer's rights?   I don't think they have to rebut opinions.   But when damaging misstatements are published as if they are fact, doesn't a serious newspaper have some obligation to the truth?   If not, then why don't we just all sink to the bottom and get our news from tabloid papers at the grocery store checkout?   That's about the level of some of the garbage coming out of the anti-Clinton crowd.

But take heart, folks.   Latest polls show Clinton winning all the battleground states -- and even tied with Trump in Georgia and Missouri !!!   But it's going to get really ugly before its over.   Trump's only hope it to discredit her, and his trash-talkers have no limits and no shame.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Some lighter fare

A few puns

1.  Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

2.  The midget fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

3.  A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, 'I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.'

4.  I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

5.  A person sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.  No pun in ten did.


[This was printed in the newspaper as a true story; maybe it was.]
Super Granny:  A True Story

An elderly lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle.

She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at them at the top of her voice, "I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car you scum bags!"

The four men didn't wait for a second invitation but got out and ran like mad, whereupon the lady, somewhat shaken, proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and get into the driver's seat.

She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried and then it dawned on her why. A few minutes later she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into her car and drove to the police station. The sergeant to whom she told the story nearly tore himself in two with laughter and pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale white males were reporting a carjacking by a mad elderly woman described as white, less than 5' tall, glasses, and curly white hair carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The GOP's 60 year journey to the inevitable Trump

I found this article by "Kindler," who is a regular contributor to Daily Kos, to be very helpful in understanding the historical evolution of the Republican party that has led to the nomination of Donald Trump.   It appeared on the DailyKos web site on August 15, 2016.   It's extra long, but you can get the gist of his argument by reading down to my inserted comment, then skipping down to the end about Trump;  the rest traces the phenomenon from Joe McCarthy, through Nixon, to the present Tea Party and Trump.
*     *     *     *     *
"How the GOP's Double Life Blew Up in Its Face"
"For 60 years now, the Republican party has managed to hold together an unlikely coalition of the business elite with angry, xenophobic, racist lower- to middle-class white voters.  The GOP has maintained the veneer of a normal, respectable political party while plumbing the depths of hatred, crassly manipulating public opinion and spreading outrageous conspiracy theories. . . .

"Trump and his hateful minions did not suddenly descend from outer space to invade America in 2015.  Rather, they have been purposely and assiduously cultivated by conservative elites since the 1950s.  Indeed, the conservative base is the armies of voters that the GOP base has been training and empowering for decades.

"In other words, what we are seeing in the Republican party today in not truly a war of two opposing factions but the spectacle of the faction that has long been used by the other finally claiming the driver’s seat.  Election after election, Republicans have stirred up their masses with all kinds of absurd propaganda in order to get them to vote for policies that overwhelmingly favor corporations and the wealthy.  This time, the nativists want to put their man in the White House to make sure they don’t get fooled again. 

"That said, it’s important to realize that their actual agenda is only marginally different from the corporatists, as the conservative noise machine has done such a fantastic job getting poorer whites to accept and internalize the agenda of the 1%. The nativists still dutifully believe that climate change is a hoax, just as Exxon-Mobil and the Koch Brothers taught them; they still support tax cuts tilted to the super-rich and deregulation to let corporations continue to rip them off and poison their air and water.

"Indeed, it’s pretty clear that if Trump were sanestable and savvy, the GOP would back him unequivocally rather than in the reluctant and awkward way they are doing now.

"If we do not push the media, academics and others to tell the real story of the GOP, you can guarantee they will once again be allowed to play their double game two or four years from now.  Rather than letting them blame whatever happens in the 2016 election solely on Trumpwe need to do our part to make everyone understand how the Republican party purposely built the politics of hatefear and ignorance – before it rightly blew up in their faces.

"Today’s Republican party is built on nativist, hateful mass movements from the Red Scare of the ‘50s to the Massive Resistance of the ‘60s to the Moral Majority of the ‘80s and the Tea Party of the ‘00s.  Trumpism is just the latest such incarnation – just the only one that (so far) refuses to be co-opted or controlled."
*     *     *     *     *
That's the gist of the argument -- (1) that their party has manipulated the working-class faction of their coalition to support the policies of the elites;  (2) that Trump is just the latest iteration of that process, except that this time the lower faction has taken control;  and (3) this pattern must be exposed so that they don't get away with blaming their loss on Trump, only to continue the pattern.    So, if this interests you enough to read on, Kindler fills in the details of how this has evolved since the 1950s -- beginning with the GOP's indulgence of Joe McCarthy and his Communist witch hunt.   Kindler continues:
*     *     *     *     *

"From McCarthy to Trump"

"The Awkward Marriage of Eisenhower and McCarthy

"The lineage from Senator Joe McCarthy to Donald Trump is shockingly direct . . . .  Much like Trump today, McCarthy latched onto popular fears and exacerbated them for political advantage.  His claims that the Federal government was infiltrated by countless Communist spies attracted enormous media attention while giving the nativist masses of the time scapegoats on which to focus their ire. 

"If McCarthy was the ugly, embarrassing face of the GOP in the 1950s, it had a much more prominent, distinguished face in President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  While there is no question that Ike thought little of McCarthy, he refused to publicly rebuke him.

"Eisenhower’s stated reason was that the president should not stoop to the level of the mudslingers.  But this set an unfortunate Republican party precedent of failing to stand up to its worst elements – while the party has steadily reaped the political benefits of the mob fervor whipped up by those elements.

"In fact, while McCarthy’s career flamed out quickly – from his rise in 1950 to his censure in 1954 and early death in 1957 – the spirit of the Red Scare lived on in his party for many years to come.  Just look at the man Eisenhower chose to be his VP . . . .

"Nixon and the Harnessing of White Rage

"Joe McCarthy was neither the only nor the first Republican politician to shamelessly use anti-communism as a political weapon.  Before McCarthy’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) – which a young California Congressman named Richard M. Nixon skillfully leveraged to use to advance his career. . . . 

"In 1948, Nixon made headlines . . . . [and] built on his reputation from that case [against Whittaker Chambers] to run for the U.S. Senate in 1950 against Democrat Helen Gahagan Douglas – by attacking her as a Communist “Pink Lady”. [As her biographer] Sally Denton, put it:
In a carefully orchestrated whispering campaign of smear, fear, and innuendo that would go down in American history as the dirtiest ever . . . Nixon exploited America’s xenophobic suspicions and reflexive chauvinism with devastating consequences.
"If this again is sounding familiar, note that Nixon’s campaign manager, Murray Chotiner, taught his dirty tricks techniques via “GOP Schools” to countless Republican operatives – including Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

"In 1950, the beloved General Eisenhower chose the untested Senator Nixon to be his vice-presidential running mate . . . .  Thus did the double life of the Republican party first besmirch the White House.

"Nixon, who grew up poor, was a master at stirring up the resentments of working class whites . . . incorporating the racist white backlash against LBJ’s Civil Rights Act into the Republican party via the infamous 'Southern strategy.'

"Nixon hired an advertising executive, H. R. Haldeman to be his Chief of Staff and learned how to use the new tool of television to help appeal to what he called “the Silent Majority” – thanks in part to the media coaching of young aide named Roger Ailes.

"Nixon’s skillful exploitation of the resentments of the common man blew up in the GOP’s face as his cynical dealings and dirty tricks were exposed with the twin disasters of Watergate and Vietnam. But the crooked alumni of Nixon’s school of dirty tricks went on to incorporate his crooked innovations into the political operations of the Republican party for years to come – including not just Ailes but such guttersnipes as Roger Stone. 

"Reagan and the Mainstreaming of the GOP’s Double Life

"While many of Nixon’s domestic policies were actually quite liberal by current Republican standards (e.g., founding the EPA and proposing a national health insurance policy), his successors figured out how to use his tricks of  manipulating the masses to more effectively support . . . corporate America and the wealthy.

". . . . Reagan made the double life of the Republican party a non-issue by making even the most outrageous right-wing policies sound mainstream.   Whether scapegoating “welfare mothers,” firing striking air traffic controllers en masse, trying to shut down agencies from the EPA to HUD, or invading little countries like Grenada, he still came across as a gee-whiz nice guy with our best interests at heart.  This even as he was employing some of the most despicable dirty tricksters in American politics to polish that image in the eyes of Nixon’s Silent Majority – Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, etc.

"It was during this period that Christian fundamentalists became such an important part of the Republican base. Televangelists brought another powerful style of communication and persuasion into the GOP, one that made the party even more effective at preaching to the masses.  The obscene contradictions offamily valuesand conservative policies favoring the wealthye.g., supply side economicswere all smoothed over by Reagan’s soothing voice.

Many in the media and elsewhere were taken in, leaving such blatant dog whistles as Reagan speaking on “state’s rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi – a few miles from where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964 – during his 1980 campaign mostly glossed over.  Reagan was, in short, the kind of charming, distinguished guy who could get away with that shocking double life.

"Bush I vs. Gingrich: the GOP Chooses the Dark Side

"Following Reagan’s presidency, his vice president George H.W. Bush promised a 'kindler, gentler' approach.  That did not include the manner in which he made it to the White House – for which he employed the same old dirty tricks crowd, Lee Atwater in particular, stooping as low as the outrageous, racist Willy Horton commercial tying his opponent Mike Dukakis to a paroled murderer.

"Beyond those political skeletons in his closet, the famously preppy Bush I had one of the stronger claims to outward respectability among postwar Republican leaders.  He had a long resume, appointed some praiseworthy department heads (Jack Kemp, Bill Reilly, Colin Powell, etc.), signed the Americans with Disabilities Act and a major expansion of the Clean Air Act, and wisely stopped the Persian Gulf War after its primary objective was accomplished.

"Yet to a conservative political establishment and rank-and-file increasingly responding to the angry voices of Rush Limbaugh and other talk radio hosts, he failed to toss [them] the red meat they had grown to expect.   After Bush abandoned his 'no new taxes' pledge in a balanced budget plan with the Democrats, conservatives turned on him, in a foreshadowing of the Republican base’s rejection of the GOP establishment in 2016.

"Indeed, I consider this the pivotal moment leading up to today’s downfall of the GOP – a sort of coup within the ranks led by one Newt Gingrich.  As House Republican Whip in 1990, Gingrich killed Bush's budget deal – and helped sink Bush’s chances in the 1992 election against Bill Clinton. 

"As soon as the Republicans became Gingrich’s party, their fate was set.  His strategy of almost never compromising – and in fact, doing everything possible to block a Democratic president from achieving anything – remains Republican doctrine.  And while it has helped Republicans gain the loyalty of its increasingly angry and cynical base, . . . this has proven the ultimate example of Pyrrhic victory

"In the process of applying Gingrich’s strategy, Republicans have prevented the United States from dealing with countless issues from immigration to the environment to criminal justice reform.  Today their party finally is feeling the pain of its failure to deliver anything but more extreme, misplaced anger to their base.

"[They did it by] . . . . employing the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck to rile up the Republican base to fight cultural wars against 'liberal elites' while disregarding their own economic interests. . . . this sort of scorched earth approach is, by its very nature, unsustainableHatred and anger cannot feed, clothe or house anyone – unless they are taken to the most horrific extremes of ethnic cleansing, where the means of existence are stolen from other groups in the most barbaric manner.

"And that brings us to Trump. 


"The GOP has been heading toward moral and ideological bankruptcy for quite some time now.  With the Tea Party driving the Republican clown car into a brick wall over the past decade, it is hard to see how the party could have avoided turning to a leader like Trump.  Every incentive in the American conservative universe has been for the party and its representatives to be less rational and reasonable, not more so.  The idea that any leader could rise up out of this swamp and lead the party in any sort of constructive direction is absurd.

". . . .  If you feed your people a diet of conspiracy theories and idiotic, illogical talking points every day, don't expect them to make thoughtful, reasonable decisions.  People convinced through years of brainwashing that their president is a Muslim plant and that all the world's scientists are in a conspiracy against them will elect a Trump, not a Churchill.  Could anyone expect otherwise?

"The bottom line, then, is that, once the dust from the 2016 election settles, we must not allow the GOP and the media to peddle the same snake oil about today's Republicans being just another mainstream party.   No, this party has allowed itself to rot down to its core, and pretending otherwise will only continue to severely damage a country that cannot tolerate its problems being blocked by blind, inchoate white rage anymore.

"Trump is just a symptom, and a predictable one, of the cynical, destructive  misinformation and ideology . . . the GOP has promoted . . . for six decades now.   This is why Trump losing will not by iteself solve all of the GOP's or the nation's issues.  To be sure, if he is beaten in a big enough landslide to send a resounding message, it will help.

"But it’s time to demand that the media stop looking the other way as the likes of Fox News, Republican leaders, the NRA, etc. fill people’s heads with more and more hateful nonsense.  Trump is a sign of where this approach inevitably leads. We, and the media, must expose the ugliness of the Republicans' double life every single day until they are forced to leave it behind and once again become the mainstream party they’ve so long claimed to be."
*     *     *     *     *
Bravo, Kindler, whoever you be.    Of course, there are critical things to be said about the Democratic Party as well.    But the scale of deceit and deliberate manipulation of its own voting public are not even on the same graph.    Exaggerating and hyperbole are part of political discourse.   Outright lying, refusing to consider established facts, gratuitous smearing of opponents, and deliberate misinforming and manipulating your own voters -- all that is of a different order, and the Republicans are the masters of it.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Manafort's consulting firm under FBI investigation

CNN is reporting that the FBI is investigating the consulting firm of Paul Manafort (until Friday, the chair of Donald Trump's political campaign).  They are looking into "whether US companies and the financial system were used to aid alleged corruption by the party of former president Viktor Yanukovych" of the Ukraine."

Paul Manafort himself has not been the focus of the investigation, according to officials, although the probe is ongoing and they are not ruling anything out   Allegations are that Yanukovych led a corrupt regime as Ukraine's president, before he was overthrown by a people's revolution and fled to Russia in 2014.

Manafort was an adviser to Yanukovych from 2004 to 2010, helping him remake his public image that arguably resulted in his election victory in 2010.    This was in spite of the fact that the United States government opposed Yanukovych because of his ties to Putin, and despite an appeal from the U.S. ambassador telling Manafort that he was undermining the interests of the United States.  Yanukovich reportedly now resides in Russia under the protection of Vladimir Putin.

Other reports, not confirmed to my knowledge, have alleged that Manafort and associate Rick Gates continued to advise the political party that supported Yanukovych as recently as late 2015.

So Manacort definitely was in the pro-Russian/pro-Putin axis -- and may still have ties.   He has also worked for at least two Russian oligarchs.  See yesterday's post concerning Manafort and the Trump campaign.    Trump has either a naive or a subserversive tilt toward Putin -- and that's just one more reason he should not be president of the U.S.