Monday, July 22, 2019

Democratic Leadership, Courage, ACORN, The Squad, Al Franken

There has been (you may know) a reevaluation of Al Franken from the estimable Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. Franken, you probably know, was pressured out of the Senate by the Senate Democrats despite there being clear evidence both from the published image files themselves as well as the history of Leeann Tweeden that the charges were at best distorted.

But this is not about Franken. I went on to consider the bipartisan defunding of ACORN, the low-income voter registration group, based entirely on forged video evidence from conservative activists. And then I went on to consider the treatment of “The Squad” – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., who Trump told to return to where they came from. It took effort to get the House Democratic leadership to support them, despite Trump’s outrageous racist remarks.

When there are attacks on liberal Democrats, the Democratic Congressional leadership can be depended on to fold. Democrats of vision, courage, and ability are discouraged and, often, forced out. The result has been Congressional Democratic Caucuses filled with people who are at best very cautious and at worst weak and cowardly. And now that we need bold action from Congress, there is now almost no-one in the Congressional Democratic Caucuses to undertake it.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Pelosi Opened the Gates to Trump

"I think [Ocasio-Cortez] is being very disrespectful to somebody who's been there a long timeI deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot and we go back and forth and it’s fine, but I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful to her. And you know what, I don’t think that Nancy can let that go on." – Friday, July 12, Bloomberg

AOC tweeted, "Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today. ’s life is in danger. For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress. We must speak out. 'First they came...'

Then, on Sunday, July 14, he tweets "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." – The Hill

Shaun King (The Intercept) tweets:
It’s 1:43AM here in NYC and I’ve been studying white supremacist message boards for 4+ hours tonight. THEY ARE BUZZING WITH EXCITEMENT over the openly bigoted attacks from Trump against 4 women of color today. I literally have not seen them this excited since Charlottesville.
As AOC says, their lives are in danger.

That was a foolish move on the part of Speaker Pelosi. May it energize young voters.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Pelosi Widens the Split in the House Democratic Caucus or, We're So Scrod

The official House Democrats account is using @AOC’s words about Pelosi and targeting her chief of staff? I’ve never seen anything like this. – Yashar Ali on Twitter

This reminds me of how LBJ broke Humphrey, back in the 1950s. LBJ arranged a series of legislative defeats for Humphrey and, over time, Humphrey just folded. What AOC will do, under relentless attack from the leader of the House Democratic caucus, I do not know. I don't think she will fold. But, if this continues, this will break the caucus, and quite possibly keep young voters and people of color home in the 2020 elections, leading to Democratic losses.

If Trump Wins in 2020…

If we don't defeat the Republicans in 2020, taking at least the Presidency, Trump and the Republicans will:
  • Militarize the Southern border. In this case, it is likely the southern border of the USA will be turned into a killing field.
  • Seat more radical-right judges, and perhaps more rapists, on the Federal bench.
  • Go to war, perhaps in Iran.
The destruction of US institutions will continue and we will see more grossly unqualified people appointed to senior government positions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Two and a Half Parties: Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party's Dilemma

Why don’t the House Democrats impeach Donald Trump? Why didn’t they oppose the blank check supplemental appropriations bill (S.811, H.R.2157) for Homeland Security and its concentration camps? Why aren’t the Democrats doing, well, anything?

We know about the appropriations bill, because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told us. “Because the Problem Solvers Caucus said, ‘We have enough votes to kill the House amendments.’ And they held. These 40 members led by Representative Gottheimer that worked with Republicans to say we’re going to pass the McConnell bill and so they handed over the Democratic Party.” (Link.)

There’s a lot of blaming of the Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. I think this is misdirected, and this is why:

Over time, as the Republicans have become more fascist, the Democratic right has become the refuge for conservatives who are not full-on fascists. The United States now has two-and-a-half parties: the Republican Party, which is fascist, the right of the Democratic Party, which is conservative, and the left of the Democratic Party, which is liberal and sometimes socialist. As I wrote nearly 10 years ago, the two wings of the Democratic Party exist in an uneasy alliance. Pelosi is having difficulty holding her coalition together. Should the Democrats initiate impeachment proceedings, the Problem Solvers Caucus would likely prevent the House from actually impeaching Trump, and then where would the party be? In this light, Pelosi’s blast directed at the four Democratic Representatives who voted against the supplemental funding bill becomes understandable; she is frustrated that she cannot maintain discipline within her caucus.

I am frustrated, too. I understand that inaction and working to defeat Trump in the next election seems to best thing which can be managed. I doubt any other Democratic Speaker could do better than Pelosi at reconciling the Party’s two wings in the House. At the same time, Democratic voters want to see bold action from the Party, and inaction appears as cowardice. Can a course to victory be charted?

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Dementia, President Trump, and History

The other day, Twitter commentator Tom Joseph (@TomJChicago) remarked Trump was demented and that this was being covered up by his medical examiners. @duty2warn, a group of psychological professionals, has make similar remarks but instead adds that Trump will never submit to a proper examination. Let us, for the purpose of argument grant the possibility that Trump is demented.

If so, then various Trump officials, as well as foreign heads of state, are taking advantage of this. It seems likely enough; Trump’s pronouncements on Putin and Kim Jong-Un do not seem the thoughts of a sensible person, and there is precedent for this in Ronald Reagan, who had memory lapses and public bouts of confusion. It is hard to be sure; dementia hides itself. In early stages the victim has good days and bad and remains competent at activities they are already skilled at, even though they will be bewildered and lost when they leave their area of competence.

If this is so, part of the reason Trump relies on family, and especially his daughter Ivanka, is likely that they have been covering for him for years, and so Ivanka putting herself forward at inappropriate times (most recently at the 2019 G-20 meeting) is a matter of her trying to cover for her father, similar to the way Nancy Reagan covered for her husband Ronald.

Now I turn to history. King George III was said to be mad, with fits of mania, as early as the 1770s. Diagnosing a historical figure is difficult at best; physicians of King George’s period did not have a modern concept of illness, so that their diagnoses do not translate well into modern terms, and not only does mental illness often hide itself, but King George’s courtiers, friends, and family had excellent reasons to conceal his difficulties. Again, let us grant the likelihood. It is fairly high, with a modern study of his letters showing symptoms.

It seems likely, then, that the king’s mental illness contributed to the grievances of the founders of the United States. It is all rather mythic. The mental illness of a ruler contributed to the foundation of the United States and now the mental illness of a ruler may end the United States.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Democratic Party, Splitting in Two

“And then all of the sudden, maybe an hour later or whatever, they call the vote, and the vote is for the Senate bill with no amendments. It caught the entire caucus blindsided. And there were literally members that were like: “What’s in this bill? I don’t know what’s in this bill.” […] Because the Problem Solvers Caucus, they said, we have enough votes to kill the House amendments. And they basically held. It was like these 40 members led by Representative Gottheimer that worked with Republicans to say we’re going to pass the McConnell bill. And so they effectively handed over the Democratic Party.” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, quoted in Mother Jones,

“Bipartisan” from Democrats means collaboration with fascists. Do not forget this.