Politics postsThursday August 27, 2015
If You Google 'Trump Mussolini'...
...on Google images, these are the first two photos you see:
And they're not together. These are separate images from separate sites. You don't even have to work to make the comparison. Hell, Trump looks more like Mussolini than Mussolini does.
I get the feeling that as the election season progresses, and if Trump's rhetoric stays at the same inflammatory level while his polls stay at the same high level—that he gets ahead by selling to us the worst in ourselves—you'll be seeing this comparison made more and more. Because #ItCantHappenHere.
- Jay Bookman in the AJC, telling the GOP, which doesn't want Trump as its candidate, that it's basically a case of the chickens coming home to roost.
- Evan Osnos with a great, great profile on Trump in The New Yorker, as well as a look at where some of his support is coming from. To quote Dylan: Wowee, pretty scary. I hope to write more on Osnos' piece later. Please give it a read.
Donald Trump: Making America grate again.
Michael Medved on that 2012 Romney Landslide
I'm reading Michael Medved's “Hollywood vs. America” (don't ask) and it's a slog at times, particularly when he gets to television in the early 1990s. I'm reading it mostly for the movie stuff, for the “What Liberal Hollywood?” stuff, but his critique of TV is so dated. Half the shows he mentions I've never heard of, and about 40% (including his bete noir “Married with Children”) I never watched. Essentially he's complaining about all the stuff that deserved a quick and deep burial, but he gave them a longer life. They live through him now.
So I searched for a more recent critique from the man.
That's how I found the e-book “The Odds Against Obama,” which was published in August 2012. Here's an Amazon customer review from Sept. 2012 that 26 of 32 people found helpful:
If you are tired of hearing constantly from virtually every media source that it is an almost foregone conclusion that Obama takes the election in November, you need to read this ebook. Medved, one of the most fair-minded conservatives in the political arena, deconstructs that facade brick-by-brick until there is nothing left standing.
As Medved outlines, general sentiment, logic, and Obama's record of failure (which is outlined very well in the awesome quick read 2012 Election: The 106 BEST Reasons NOT to Vote for Obama) make his re-election a very dicey proposition. The author boils it down to a coin toss, with the result hinging on one question: Will enough people believe Obama CAN be beaten? Reading this book makes a Romney win seem not only possible, but likely, with the potential for a landslide of 300+ electoral votes. While many factors may be lined up against Mitt (the media and entertainment world portrayal of him, the general angst of certain parts of the populace aimed at “the rich”, etc), Obama faces even more hurdles. Economic data and projections are just part of the President's problem.
I found this review helpful, too. It made me feel good all over.
Why Megyn Kelly Won the First GOP Debate
Why was Kelly the winner? Because she asked the tough questions:
- “Mr. Trump ... Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who will likely be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”
- “Governor Walker, you've consistently said that you want to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. ... Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?”
- “Senator Rubio, you favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. ... If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life just because it begins violently, through no fault of the baby?”
- “Governor Bush ... To the families of those who died in that war who say they liberated and deposed a ruthless dictator, how do you look at them now and say that your brothers war was a mistake?”
- “The subject of gay marriage and religious liberty. Governor Kasich, if you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?”
- “Mr. Trump ... When did you actually become a Republican?”
Afterwards I believe only Trump complained about the tough questions. Then he took to Twitter to bitch about it. Like a loser. I like people who who don't have to tweet misogynistic things when a woman holds them accountable.
To me, there's an obvious reason she did all this. She, and I assume Roger Ailes, are trying to prevent “Republican math” from hurting the party in 2016 as it did in 2012. She and Ailes are trying to toughen everybody up for the battle ahead. It's a warning shot across all those Republican bows: We will not be drinking our own Kool-Aid while deciding which king to make. The FOX narrative is fun, they're saying, but you have to do well outside our studios, too. And it's cold out there.
This is also a warning to Dems, by the way, whether they see it or not. Most are not. Most are joking.
Here's Amy Davidson's take on the debate. Here's an interesting sidenote: How a portion of Bush's answer disappeared from the official FOX-News transcript.
Four-hundred and 58 days until election day.
ADDENDUM: Make that 457 but the last one was a doozy for Trump. He doubled-down on stupidity with his “blood” comment about Kelly. Singlehandedly, he's making Kelly the most popular woman in America.
Does a Change of Heart Change the Status Quo? Thoughts on Atticus, Gladwell and Dickens
A good read in the wake of the Atticus Finch revelations in “To Set a Watchman” is Malcolm Gladwell's 2009 article, “The Courthouse Ring,” about progressive moderates like Big Jim Folsom, a two-term governor of Alabama in the early 1950s, and how such moderates vanished from the stage in the strident aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Gladwell suggests that Atticus Finch was similar to Folsom in that he didn't want to change the system; he just wanted to change people's hearts.
“He's not Thurgood Marshall looking for racial salvation through the law,” Gladwell writes. “He's Jim Folsom, looking for racial salvation through hearts and minds.”
Gladwell's reading of the pro-jurisprudence Atticus of “Mockingbird,” in other words, anticipates the anti-Brown Atticus of “Watchman.”
All well and good. But I don't know how much I agree with Gladwell's criticism of moderates in general. He extrapolates beyond Atticus and Folsom, and brings in George Orwell's classic criticism of Charles Dickens. Orwell suggested that Dickens disapproved of “Dickensian” conditions without suggesting (or even desiring?) a change in the status quo. It's really one of the classic arguments of the left: Is the problem corrupt men or a corrupt system? And if you change the hearts of corrupt men, can that change the heart of a corrupt system?
Here's the quote I disagree with:
[Dickens] believed in the power of changing hearts, and that's what you believe in, Orwell says, if you “do not wish to endanger the status quo.”
I think that goes too far. Ten years ago, the issue of gay marriage was such a boon to the far right that the GOP put gay-marriage bans on state ballots to get out the vote for major elections; to get out their kind of people. And it worked. Folks in Oregon and Michigan and Georgia and Ohio voted to ban gay marriage. Ten years later? The opposite. From 2005 to 2015, there was a 20-percentage-point progressive shift in how Americans felt about gay marriage. Why? I would suggest that enough gay people came out to enough people who loved them that those people had a change of heart. And that change of heart changed the status quo. And that's why we are where we are.
But the above discussion also points out the danger we're in post-Obergefell. Progressives won that battle, just as, generations earlier, they won the battles over Brown, and Loving, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Progressives won all of those battles but they lost the war to Nixon, and then Reagan, as the politics of resentment trumped the politics of inclusion. Social progress couldn't be turned back but economic progress could. As a result, in my lifetime, we've had social progress (Brown, et al.) but economic regress (a movement toward oligarchy). And if that happened again now? After Obergefell? I doubt the middle class could take it.
Melting Guns into Crosses
In the aftermath of the murders of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C. this week, and the various Confederate flag/gun control debates that have followed, I've been reading an excellent New Yorker profile by Connie Bruck on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a cool, insider technocrat, doing battle with both the CIA and (sadly) the White House over the efficacy and morality of torture in our post-9/11 world. In the midst of that, we get this background:
In 1992, she ran for the Senate against an incumbent Republican, John Seymour. In their biggest debate, her political consultant Bill Carrick recalled, Seymour charged that Feinstein, a strong advocate of gun control, had owned a handgun. “Dianne explained that at one point the ['70s left-wing guerilla group] New World Liberation Front had planted a bomb in a flower box outside her daughter Katherine's bedroom window,” Carrick said. “And, yes, she had gotten a gun. But, she said, after a while she realized it would do no good. She launched a citywide campaign, urging San Franciscans to turn in their guns. And she concluded, 'The Pope was coming to town. So we melted down all these guns we'd collected and gave them to him, in the form of a cross.' ” Feinstein won easily.
Would that South Carolina had similar leaders.