erik lundegaard

Politics posts

Tuesday March 21, 2017

Rich to Trump Voters: 'Drop Dead'

Frank Rich's New York Magazine piece, “No Sympathy for the Hillbilly: Democrats need to stop trying to feel everyone's pain, and hold on to their own anger,” is like a breath of fresh air amid the post-Trump Democratic hand-wringing. What can I say? I'm sick of stupid people ruining the world. They mock empathy, think government is the problem, belly up to corporations, buy the bullshit hucksterism of people like Reagan and Trump. Done. See ya, don't want to be ya. Just telling it like it is. 

Rich is probably better, sharper, when attacking the Dems: 

While the right is expert at channeling darker emotions like anger into ruthless political action, the Democrats' default inclination is still to feel everyone's pain, hang their hats on hope, and enter the fray in a softened state of unilateral disarmament. “Stronger Together,” the Clinton-campaign slogan, sounded more like an invitation to join a food co-op than a call to arms. After the debacle of 2016, might the time have at last come for Democrats to weaponize their anger instead of swallowing it? Instead of studying how to talk to “real people,” might they start talking like real people?

But the closer is a killer:

So hold the empathy and hold on to the anger. If Trump delivers on his promises to the “poorly educated” despite all indications to the contrary, then good for them. Once again, all the Trump naysayers will be proved wrong. But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America's steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe, like Hochschild's new friends in Louisiana's oil country, they'll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.

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Posted at 06:36 AM on Mar 21, 2017 in category Politics
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Monday March 20, 2017

Instead of Feet to the Fire, NPR's Steve Inskeep Gives Sen. Orrin Hatch a Footrub

I'd like it if NPR's “Morning Edition” made me want to throw the radio across the room a little less often. 

This was an exchange this morning between NPR's Steve Inskeep and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) about the hearings for SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch:

INSKEEP: You know that Democrats were very unhappy that President Obama made a Supreme Court nomination last year and Republicans declined to give him a hearing. We have heard, of course, the Republican explanation that it was an election year. But I wonder if I can get you to speak to people who've heard those arguments and just think there has been an injustice here. Why should a Democrat who feels that way give a fair hearing to Neil Gorsuch and not block Senate confirmation?

HATCH: Well, first of all, from the whole history of the country, almost everybody has indicated there should not be a confirmation of a judge during a presidential election year. Joe Biden made that point. You know, this is not unusual. 

“Almost everybody,” Senator? “From the whole history of the country”? “This is not unusual”?

The sad thing isn't that Hatch made this bogus claim again; it's that Steve Inskeep, who's had more than a year to research the matter, didn't ask a proper follow-up. He hasn't done the due diligence for his job that I did on my own on the day Justice Scalia died and the GOP first trotted out this argument. 

Basic facts:

  • In our history, 15 SCOTUS justices have been nominated and approved during election years or during post-election lame-duck periods; most of these (8) occurred during the 19th century.
  • The last justice to be nominated and approved during an election year was Frank Murphy, an FDR pick in January 1940.
  • The last justice nominated but not approved during an election year was then-sitting justice Abe Fortas, whose name LBJ put forth for chief justice upon the retirement of Earl Warren in June 1968. The GOP fillibustered him during a weeklong debate, but he got a vote. What didn't happen back in 1968? No Republican (or Dixiecrat) claimed that presidents shouldn't fill SCOTUS seats during an election year. That was an argument that wasn't made, despite Hatch's assertion today.
  • The last justice to be approved during an election year was Justice Anthony Kennedy in Feb. 1988, whose name was put forth in Nov. 1987.

If it hasn't happened since it's because, well, it hasn't happened. No SCOTUS seat has opened during an election year. Until 2016. And then the GOP, and the press, behaved with a kind of massive collective irresponsibility. 

And it's still going on, Daniel. This was Inskeep's follow-up to Hatch:

INSKEEP: But can you give Democrats who interpret the history differently a reason that they should move forward? Is there a reason it is important for the country that they should look past whatever they believe was wrong in the past?

Good god. Democrats who interpret the history differently? As opposed to, you know, history. Facts. As opposed to Sen. Hatch lying to us again about that history. And once again, thanks to Steve Inskeep, getting away with it. 

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Posted at 12:55 PM on Mar 20, 2017 in category Politics
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Sunday March 19, 2017

Norman Mailer Died in 2007 But Every Year He Gets Smarter

My epitaph for him, back when I shamefully contributed to The Huffington Post. That second graf ain't bad. 

Another HuffPost piece, in which, in 2008, I see demons in John McCain that came to fruition, in an outlandshishly loutish fashion, in our current president. 

Posted at 10:26 AM on Mar 19, 2017 in category Politics
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Thursday March 09, 2017

A Few Quotes on the GOP Health Care Plan

This is what Rep.Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA, as if there were any doubt), the grandson of Bobby, and the grand nephew of John and Ted, had to say:

“I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill 'an act of mercy.' With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture...The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”

The editorial cartoonists haven't been kinder:

My favorite comment so far came yesterday via Twitter in the following exchange:

Person A: I've yet to read a single positive analysis of the House's Obamacare bill.
Person B: Try going 2 a conservative source? Open up your reading habits 2 include those with whom u would naturally dismiss.
Person A: I'm the editor of National Review online.

As Casey Stengel said, “And you can look it up!”

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Posted at 05:02 PM on Mar 09, 2017 in category Politics
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Thursday February 23, 2017


The following was published last week by long-time Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass under the headline “Whatever happened to liberal Democrats, anyway?” It was syndicated on the usual right-wing sites as well as more mainstream media like The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The bold-faced annotations are mine.

Whatever happened to liberal Democrats, with their concerns about civil liberties and government surveillance of American citizens? Out protesting Donald Trump's anti-refugee/immigration executive order, I guess.

Liberals once hated the CIA. And they loved the Russians. You can look it up. Where do you look that up? It's not really a thing that can be looked up, can it? Liberals are more diverse than you make them. The world is more complicated than you make it. 

Their liberal friends in Hollywood made movie after movie about the dangers of The Deep State and its awesome surveillance powers. One of the best was “Three Days of the Condor,” with liberal icon Robert Redford fighting the malevolent CIA boss John Houseman, who longed for the “clarity” of world war. That's ... just wrong. First, Houseman's character was talking about 10 years after the Great War, adding “Before we knew enough to number them,” which is more a critique of world wars than a longing for one. And the clarity he missed was for a simpler world in which we knew we were on the right side. We all longed for that clarity in the 1970s. You could say that such longing led to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, who tried to fit such clarity onto a more complex world.  

Years later, Edward Snowden became the liberal demigod and WikiLeaks their winged chariot of truth. Another overstatement, and never true for me. Some leftists still feel that way about Snowden.

Liberals fretted about the powers of the intelligence community being used on citizens for political reasons. Don't we all?

So what happened to the ideals of these liberal Democrats? Donald Trump was elected president, that's what. You're fucking kidding. 

And now you can clearly see the change in them as Trump's now-former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has become feast for the crows. You're fucking kidding. 

Flynn deserves his punishment. Make no mistake about that. He reportedly lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his phone conversations with a Russian ambassador that included discussion of the Obama administration's sanctions against Russia. As a former general officer, as a former Defense Intelligence Agency boss, Flynn understands the chain of command. There is no lying to a superior officer. That's the lesson you pull out of this? We have evidence of possible collusion between an incoming administration and a hostile foreign power, and you're concerned about chain of command?

Kass goes on. It's not worth detailing the rest of the overstatements and misreadings because they can be flicked aside with the following rejoinder: Circumstances matter. Also this: Where was Kass during the debate of the USA Patriot Act, which allows the type of wiretapping that caught Flynn? Also this: The hyprocrisy belongs to the GOP, who spent decades winning elections by claiming to be more patriotic than thou and are now turning a blind eye to an obscenely cozy relationship between the current Republican administration and the foreign power that helped elect them.

Let me repeat that: Between the current Republican administration and the foreign power that helped elect them. 

That's serious shit, but it's completely bypassed by Kass. Then again, he can't even recall “Three Days of the Condor” correctly.  

I don't know Kass, so I asked Chicago-area friends about him. I got this:

He's a joke. Basically a phony “regular guy” “man of the people” who isn't funny or clever or insightful but thinks he is. He's a pathetic Royko imitator with none of the talent or intelligence.

And this:

He's a troll. Shame the trib gives him a platform

And this:

He's a meatball that can type.

I miss greater clarity from The Chicago Tribune

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Posted at 08:28 AM on Feb 23, 2017 in category Politics
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