Friday, July 26, 2019

July 26, 2019
Donald Trump’s combination of ignorance and authoritarianism is well known, but he apparently felt the need recently to emphasize it by displaying his acquaintance with, and interpretation of, the Constitution.  On June 16, with his focus on the impropriety of the report that supposedly exonerated him, he mumbled this: “. . . look, Article II. I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller. . . . He wasn't fired. Okay? Number one, very importantly. But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him.”[45]
On July 12, again fretting about the Mueller report, he claimed to have uncovered the forgotten Article II of the Constitution: “And how do you obstruct when there’s no crime? Also, take a look at one other thing.  It’s a thing called Article II.  Nobody ever mentions Article II.  It gives me all of these rights at a level that nobody has ever seen before. We don’t even talk about Article II.” [46]
Speaking to a conservative teen group on July 23, babbling once more about the  investigation, and apparently referring to his alleged ability to shut it down, he asserted: “I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president. But I don’t even talk about that because they did a report and there was no obstruction.”[47]  He doesn’t talk about that, having just talked about it, again. 
Assuming that Trump ever read Article II, or had it read to him, or had it put on flash cards, he wouldn’t have found any such grant of monarchical authority, but no doubt he would have been drawn to Section 2, which provides that “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States . . .” and gives him “Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States . . .”  Threaten war; pardon loyalists who get caught: such a deal.
However, Article II also contains that pesky Section 4: “The President . . . shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  Arrogating all power to himself would qualify; he’s saved on that count only by ineptness, indecision and some measure of control by aides.  Obstruction of justice is another ground and he continues to practice that by interfering with testimony before Congress. 
Trump virtually is begging to be impeached.  Some think this is not, as it seems, authoritarian stupidity, but a ploy to turn voters against the Democrats, to ensure re-election.  Does Trump sound like a clever plotter?  Hardly, but he may not need to be.  His followers have been fiercely loyal no matter how repulsive he is; Democrats, instead of confronting the menace, fight among themselves.  Once again, Yeats’ famous phrase applies:         
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. . . ;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst  
Are full of passionate intensity.






Friday, July 19, 2019

July 19, 2019

Was Trump’s serial outburst against four minority women a calculated political ploy or just the Donald in typical form?  His history of racist comments suggests the latter.  However, there has been a good deal of speculation that his comments were designed to achieve two ends: fire up his bigoted base and force Democrats to defend “the Squad,” thereby identifying the Party with its extreme wing.   Although I incline to the view that Trump isn’t intelligent enough or disciplined enough to devise and carry out a political plan, he has advisors, and their re-election strategy seems to be based on holding the states that he won in 2016; Trump’s campaign appearances have focused on those states.  Planning for another minority win, depending again on the undemocratic electoral college, nailing down that vote through an appeal to prejudice is pathetic, but then . . . .
Following that plan, Trump, at a rally in North Carolina Wednesday, went on at length about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s actual or imagined statements, with the obvious intent of turning the crowd against her.  Taking their cue from his tweets about Omar and her colleagues, (“you can’t leave fast enough”), and his anti-Hillary slogan (“lock her up”), they chanted — spontaneously? — “send her back!”
However, some Republican members of Congress denounced the chant, and the advisors may be having second thoughts.  At a news conference on Thursday, Trump claimed that he was “not happy” with the chant, and that he had cut it off by “speaking very quickly.”  In fact, as video shows, he was silent for twelve seconds while the chant continued, exhibiting no disapproval, then went on talking about Omar.  Later he tossed out “Pocahontas” just to show how much he disapproves of racial politics.
During the 1984 campaign, some of President Reagan’s advisors thought he had been too carefully managed, and advocated letting Reagan be Reagan.  Trump’s allies may decide that a similar strategy won’t work for as ugly a character as he is.  However, they may not have a choice.  On Friday, Trump returned to form.  The crowd at the rally, presumably including the chanters, are “incredible patriots.”  As to Omar, “She’s lucky to be where she is, let me tell you. And the things that she has said are a disgrace to our country.”  He’s no longer unhappy about the chant: “No, you know what I’m unhappy with — the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country. I’m unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can say anti-Semitic things.”[44]  Trump will be Trump.


44. chant-trump-criticizes-media-for-its-coverage-of-his-rally/2019/07/19/9c094c16-aa12-11e9-9214-246e594de5d5_story.html?_view=prod&utm_term=.a1d82f49a693&wpisrc=nl_most&wpmm=1

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

July 16, 2019
Donald Trump faced a Democratic Party in disarray. One of the fractures was between Speaker Pelosi and four leftist minority women, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar. Very stable genius that he is, Trump attacked those women in a manner so offensive that Pelosi and the rest of the Party rallied around, achieving — at least temporarily — the unity they had disdained. On July 14 he tweeted (beginning at 5:27 AM):
So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how.... is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!
After an outcry, rather than defusing the situation, he doubled down on his insults, but claimed that many people agree with him, thus sending a message to the bigoted base to rally around. Among his outbursts was an accusation that the four are pro-terrorist.
Would Republicans finally decide that too much is too much? Here’s Lindsey Graham: “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel, they hate our own country . . .” Communists? Lindsey, Lindsey, at least find a contemporary insult. (Trump also listed hatred of Israel among their sins). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was less out of date but equally wedded to cliché: defending Trump from charges of racism, he pronounced that the Leader’s dispute with the women was “about ideology. It’s about socialism versus freedom.” Four brave Republicans did vote for a House resolution which “strongly condemns Donald Trump’s racist comments.”
Those comments have persuaded one House Democrat to file articles of impeachment. This episode is the wrong focus for that move, but the House leadership and many members have been so cautious that it may never have happened otherwise. It will be interesting to see whether the impeachment issue will return the Democrats to their normal position of dithering, bickering ineffectualness.
Let’s hope that some segment of the base expresses reservations about Trump’s success in making America great again — perhaps on the effects of tariffs— something that will, however slightly, imply that he isn’t a visionary leader, bruising his tender ego. If he were to respond in characteristic fashion, he might drive enough away to make 2020 a happy time.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

July 11, 2019

The California legislature has passed a bill, expected to be signed by the governor, which is intended to impose a stricter standard for the justifiable use of deadly force by police. Although the bill is not as strong as one of its sponsors claims,[40] any step toward better control is welcome. There have been too many shootings, many fatal, by police officers.[41] A disproportionate number of those victims have been black. [42]

Any number of factors may be at work in producing the number of fatal shootings; here are my non-expert thoughts: The statistics make clear that racial bias is a significant element. Training may be another, if it makes shooting the default reaction. Militarization of police departments contributes to the problem; too many situations involve heavily armed forces and confusion. Fear is a factor, in turn probably driven in part by the glut of guns, leading cops to assume everyone is armed and dangerous.

Data on non-fatal shootings by police are hard to come by, but it is likely that there are many such incidents and that racial distribution is similar to that for fatal encounters.[43]

Police have a difficult, inherently dangerous, necessary role, and blanket condemnation is neither fair nor useful, but there have been too many instances of bad behavior to ignore or explain away. Rooting out reactionary attitudes, including racism, would be a great step forward, and addressing the problem of too many guns would serve both the police and the rest of us, but what are the odds in the age of Trump?

40. 5cf02f23e4b0e346ce7b0bc8
41. Nearly 1000 fatal shootings per year:
42. racial-disparities

Friday, July 5, 2019

July 5, 2019
Elected officials of the Democratic Party are striving to validate the first part of Will Rogers’ dictum:  Democrats never agree on anything, that's why they're Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they'd be Republicans."  (The lockstep-behind-Trump GOP demonstrates the other part).
The Dems began, after winning the House last fall, not by agreeing on a strategy but arguing about whether Nancy Pelosi should be replaced as  speaker.  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rather than displaying the caution appropriate to one who is new to her role, postured like a party leader, abetted by breathless media coverage.  She announced a plan to challenge some of her colleagues at the next primary; doctrinal purity over party solidarity.  As Rogers also said, "I'm not a member of any organized political party. . . . I'm a Democrat."
There has been consensus in the House on some issues, but surprising discord regarding  a formal impeachment inquiry, which would focus attention on Trump’s incompetence, dishonesty and venality.  (Here Ocasio-Cortez has the right idea). 
The fact that it is idiotic to start the presidential election season this early may be a factor in driving the Democratic candidates into a hyper-competitive, mutually destructive mode. Sen. Kamala Harris may have thought that her angry, self-righteous attack on Joe Biden would be a clever tactic, and would make her the darling of the left, but its primary effect was to help Trump.  The media aided in both regards by declaring her performance powerful.
The candidates have other, less ego-driven problems.  Many back Sen. Sanders’  Medicare for all plan, but his and their support seems unexamined.  Problems include ignoring cost and glossing over, or waffling on, the elimination of private insurance, including employer-provided plans.  That would seem to ensure opposition not only by a powerful business lobby, but by many employees and those who suspect that supplemental insurance always will be needed.  
Republicans’reactionary policies and political immorality must be opposed and defeated, but Democratic disunity will not accomplish that. Democrats must follow a progressive agenda on, for example, economic inequality, but an unthinking lurch to the left lessens the chances of ridding us of Trump and McConnell.
Posts © 2011-2012 by Gerald G. Day