Monday, August 31, 2020

Something to Know - 31 August

I'm up in Big Bear, with a view from our airbnb chalet of the lake and the ski area.  Right now, the only sound is that of the wind as it slices through pine needles.  I am hampered by not having the capabilities of an iMac, but this iPad is the acceptable alternative.  Not sure what this is going to look like after I hit the send key.  Act surprised if it works.

August 30, 2020

Sent from Gmail Mobile

Sunday, August 30, 2020


We're off on a family retreat near Big Bear Lake.  We may be out of internet range - don't know yet.  Will be back on Friday.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know - 30 August

I ran across this email (from a Pomona College alum), that points out that systemic racism is indeed everywhere, as this incident in Marin County, just north of San Francisco shows.  How we evolve into a more inclusive, tolerant, and peaceful society is a long hard journey ahead.   HCR spins out the tale of the GeeOpie denial theme - did nothing wrong, doing nothing but right, and disenfranchising voters; what a great campaign strategy.

A long read. This is from a black shop owner in the very white town of Tiburon.  The police were called by a white neighbor because this couple was organizing a new shipment of clothing late at night in their own store. Only when a white neighbor steps in, does it de-escalate.  (Link to video-bottom of the post)
I have contacted the local paper - Marin Independent Journal and asked that they run a story about this latest display of racism in a very white and privileged county.
Here is the email for the Tiburon Chief of Police, Michael Cronin  This is his phone number 415-789-2807
Please let him know your feelings about his officers' behavior.
"We have been proving ourselves . . .  Last night we had a not so good exchange with Tiburon police at our place of work.

YEMA is the only black owned clothing store in Tiburon, California so many people in our community know who we are.

Some days we have to work late. Yesterday was one of those days.

We received new inventory during the day so we went back to our store, on Main street Tiburon California, to work late. One of our business friend was visiting us from washing DC so he came with us. This is around 1AM.

FYI, a popular restaurant close to us was still open and I could see their employees working late.

We are inside the store minding our business, All store lights are on and you can see us from outside because we have high windows all around the store.

Our store alarm did not go off, no one called the police, everything was peaceful.

Then we see Tiburon police car patrolling. We saw him drive around the block like 3 times. At one point he stopped across our store for a good minute. Then finally, the cop decided to come knock on our store door.

FYI, we didn't realize that when he was circling the block he was calling for back up.

I opened the door for him then he proceeded to tell me his purpose for knocking on our door was to check what we were doing at the store that late. And he wanted us to prove who we are. His tone not very like-able.

I expressed to him that there was no crime going on and we were going about our business. Then he insisted that he wanted us to prove who we are and to explain what we were doing at the store that late. I, kindly, explained that we didn't have to prove anything and asked for a supervisor.

That's when we knew he had already called for back up. Supervisor and another cop - who had his hand on his gun, by the way, showed up almost immediately. The supervisor came charged and did not come to deescalate anything.

The situation started getting out of hand so our friend from DC started recording the exchange (Video below).

I confirmed that I am the business owner but they wanted me to prove it. They refused to leave until I proved it. Everything I was saying fell on deaf ears.

Turns out, a white neighbor living next door woke up and came out to listen to this exchange. After a while, he shouted from his rooftop, "hey, that's his store". He yelled to them I was the business owner.

The cops did not utter a single word after our white neighbor said that. They left immediately without a word. Without saying anything. Except the first cop who knocked on our door. He still wanted me to prove that I was the business owner.


This is not the first time we've been stopped without a probable cause by Tiburon police.

7 months ago When I went to apply for a business license at Tiburon city hall, I parked my car at our local post office. I came back after a few minutes, dropped the mail in the car and started walking toward Tiburon city hall. On realizing I forgot my business application forms, i walked back to my car to grab the documents. When I finished my errands with city hall, I walked back, got in the car and when I attempted to drive off, more than 5 cop cars were surrounding me. Apparently, they got called by someone because I was "TOUCHING" people's cars. So I had to explain why i touched my car and I had to prove my car belonged to me.

I have been stopped for taking a walk to my house. I had to prove my house street and number and I had to prove that I live in Tiburon.

Hawi has been stopped more than 5 times, without probable cause, by the same cop, and she's had to prove that she deserves to live in Tiburon.

We know who we are and we love what we do. We have been proving how thankful we are to be alive, in good health and proving how grateful we are to live in the U.S.

We have been proving our gratitude working hard as black business owners.

Every year, we have been proving ourselves by building the YEMA brand and by using the proceeds to give scholarships to orphaned kids for the last four years.

We have been proving who we are by providing more than 20,000+ meals, food supplies and hygiene supplies to street kids and deserving families since Covid-19 shut down started.

We have been proving ourselves by proving sanitary pads for girls who need them every month.

We have been proving ourselves by creating beautiful high end clothing that people love.

We have been proving ourselves by volunteering our time and energy to mentor and teach kids in Tiburon about Africa and the importance of interconnectedness.

So we do not need to prove why we need to exist. We do not need to prove to police that we deserve to be at OUR clothing store way past business hours. We do not need to prove that we deserve to hustle like everyone else.

We just want to live and do our part in making the world a better place. We just want to be good joyful humans. After all, our brand's tagline is GOOD JOYFUL HUMAN.

When these things occur, they are always traumatic to me and always affects my psyche. As good joyful humans, let's talk about what it means to be a black business owner working late in an affluent neighborhood and the constant proving that comes with that."

posted by YEMA
10 Main Street
Tiburon, CA 94920


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Something to Know - 28 August

The party that defied the Hatch Act is over now.   The horribly worried old white guys, with maskless faces, and MAGish tin horn caps, will now venture forth in the exercise of voter suppression to hold on as best they can.  I can honestly say that I did not watch any of the production.   That does not mean that some of it did not come through to me.   It's like when you are awakened from a deep sleep, and you smell a skunk.   You are not actually out in the yard crawling with the skunk, but enough comes through the pores of homes to make you aware that some black and white mammal is not happy.  So, buckle up and be prepared for the rain of fear and chaos, for that is all that the GOP can run on; they have failed everywhere else.    David Brooks is here for your gloom recap, and Professor Heather Cox Richardson puts together a nice package that focuses on repurposing America after the deluge: 

Trump and the Politics of 'Mean World'

A four-day showing of apocalypse now.

David Brooks


Opinion Columnist

Donald Trump Jr. delivers a pre-recorded speech to the Republican National Convention on Monday.
(you really need the proper genes to be as repulsive as this guy.  He had to settle for hair
on his face, since his father owns the patent on the exclusive double-back comb-over)

I've been thinking about the two families we've encountered over the past two weeks. The Biden family is emotionally open, rendered vulnerable by tragedy and driven by a powerful desire to connect. The Trump family is emotionally closed, isolated by enmity and driven by a powerful desire to dominate.
Occasionally this week one of the female members of the Trump family would struggle to stick her head above the muck of her family's values and display some humanity. But Donald, Don Jr. and Eric showed no such impulse.
Trump family values are mean world values. Mean world syndrome was a concept conceived in the 1970s by the communications professor George Gerbner. His idea was that people who see relentless violence on television begin to perceive the world as being more dangerous than it really is.
By the 1990s it was no longer violent programing that drove mean world culture, but reality television. That's an entire industry designed to give the impression that human beings are inherently manipulative, selfish and petty. If you grow up watching those programs, or starring in them, naturally you believe that other people are fundamentally untrustworthy.

These days mean world culture is everywhere. It's a siege mentality. Menace is everywhere. We're on the brink of the cataclysm. This week's Republican convention was a four-day cavalcade of the mean world alarmism.
Mean world thrives on fear and perpetuates itself by exaggerating fear. Its rhetorical ploy is catastrophizing and its tone is apocalyptic. The Democrats are not just wrong, many speakers asserted this week, they are "subverting our republic," abolishing the suburbs, destroying Western civilization and establishing a Castro-style communist dictatorship. The Democrats, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida said, want to "disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door."

The St. Louis couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey are the team mascots of mean world. They see Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their mansion and decide they're in the middle of a race war. They come out waving their guns.
Mean world transforms people. When Kimberly Guilfoyle appeared on the Charlie Rose Show in 2004 with her husband at the time, Gavin Newsom, now the governor of California, she seemed eminently normal and kind. But now she's playing by mean world rules and at the G.O.P. convention she seemed like a bellowing lunatic.
The implicit argument of the Republican convention was that Joe Biden is too old, or soft, or compassionate to survive in mean world. He'll cower before rising crime rates. He'll get pushed around by the hard left. He'll get swallowed in the maelstrom. "You won't be safe in Joe Biden's America," is how Mike Pence put it.

This is the Republicans' strongest argument, especially if murder rates continue to soar and if Portland and Kenosha-style mayhem becomes commonplace this fall. Democrats have foolishly allowed themselves to be portrayed as the enemies of policing. There's a lot of fear floating around America right now, available to be exploited by someone.
But let's also be clear about what the real threats are. In many ways this election is about two rival versions of threat perception. It will be won by whichever party more persuasively identifies what we should fear.
Yes, there have been disgraceful scenes of far left physical and verbal brutality, which get magnified on Twitter. The far bigger threat, however, is that we have a president too busy fighting a culture war to respond to a pandemic and an economic crisis, or even to perform basic governance. What part of 180,000 coronavirus dead does Donald Trump not understand?

The larger threat is that we're caught in a polarization cascade. Mean world fanatics — on the left and right — are playing a mutually beneficial game. Trumpian chaos justifies and magnifies the woke mobs on the left. Woke mobs magnify and justify Trumpian authoritarianism on the right.

The upshot of the mean world war is the obliteration of normal politics, the hollowing out of the center and the degradation of public morality. Under the cover of this souped-up, screw-or-be-screwed mentality, norms are eviscerated, truth is massacred, bigotry is justified and politics turns into a struggle to culturally obliterate the other side.
Joe Biden is going to have to take on this widespread anxiety about personal safety by insisting that the real source of danger is Trump's chaotic incompetence and that Trump's mean world extremism is corrosive to the social order. When the social order dissolves, people suffer.

Biden could point out that disorder from left and right will only accelerate so long as Trump is in the White House. He could make clear that compassion is not weakness, that the toughest thing is to stand in a hailstorm of hatred and insist on kindness and consideration.
In a civilized society law and order is not established with a bullying jackboot. Law and order is established through the calm, regular enforcement of decency, so people across society behave like stable, honorable human beings.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Campaign Ad Must See


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know - 27 August

There is no lack of doom and gloom out there.   Kind of depressing when you think that there are some similarities to the 1968 election, when Nixon ran against Humphrey on the "Law and Order" theme; Nixon won.   However, there are many new issues surrounding this campaign, and hopefully people are paying attention.   

'I Fear That We Are Witnessing the End of American Democracy'

The frank racism of the contemporary Republican agenda is on display at the R.N.C.

Thomas B. Edsall


Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

The center-right political coalition in America — the Republican Party as it stands today — can be described as holding two overarching goals: First, deregulation and reductions in corporate and other tax liabilities — each clearly stated on the White House website — and second, but packing a bigger punch, the preservation of the status quo by stemming the erosion of the privileged status of white Christian America.
For those who want confirmation of Republican accomplishments along economic lines, the Brookings Institution has provided a helpful deregulatory tracker. And The Times has published a thorough examination of Trump's achievements in cutting taxes for the rich — not only the "big, beautiful" tax bill of 2017, but also this year's "Tax-Break Bonanza Inside the Economic Rescue Package."
The most important issue driving Trump's ascendance, however, has not been the economy but race.

Last week, I argued that for Democrats the importance of ethnicity and race has grown, not diminished, since the mid-1960s. The same thing is true for Republicans — and many of the least obvious, or least comprehensible, aspects of Republican political strategy have to do with the party's desire to cloak or veil the frank racism of the contemporary Republican agenda.
Robert P. Jones, the founder and C.E.O. of the Public Religion Research Institute, in his  book, "The End of White Christian America," described the situation this way:
America's still segregated modern life is marked by three realities: First, geographic segregation has meant that — although places like Ferguson and Baltimore may seem like extreme examples — most white Americans continue to live in locales that insulate them from the obstacles facing many majority-black communities. Second, this legacy, compounded by social self-segregation, has led to a stark result: the overwhelming majority of white Americans don't have a single close relationship with a person who isn't white. Third, there are virtually no American institutions positioned to resolve these problems. Social segregation persists in virtually all major American institutions.
Firm allegiance to the conservative agenda has become crucial to the ability of Trump and the Republican Party to sustain the loyalty of an overwhelmingly white coalition that experiences itself as besieged and under the threat of losing power. The time when a major political party could articulate a nakedly racist agenda is long past, although Trump comes as close as possible.

Patricia McCloskey, who with her husband Mark was charged with "unlawful use of a weapon" after they wielded guns when Black Lives Matter protesters walked by their St. Louis home, played a crucial role setting the stage for the entire convention. Patricia McCloskey told viewers: "What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods around our country," before adding, "Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats' America."

McCloskey provided a variation on a theme Trump has repeatedly pounded home on Twitter. Staying within the bounds of coded racial language — barely — Trump warns the "suburban housewives of America" that Joe Biden's support of affordable housing "will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!" Matt Gaetz, a Republican Congressman from Florida, echoed Trump on a future with Biden in the White House: "It's a horror film really. They'll disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door."

In a series of studies published from 2014 to 2018, Maureen A. Craig and Jennifer A. Richeson, professors of psychology at N.Y.U. and Yale, demonstrate how whites, faced with the prospect of becoming a minority, have embraced the Republican Party for institutional protection of their imperiled status.
In their 2014 paper, "On the Precipice of a 'Majority-Minority' America: Perceived Status Threat From the Racial Demographic Shift Affects White Americans' Political Ideology," Craig and Richeson took a national sample of whites who said they were unaffiliated with either political party and broke them into two groups.
One group was asked "if they had heard that California had become a majority-minority state," thus making the issue of white minority status salient, and the other was asked "if they had heard that Hispanics had become roughly equal in number to Blacks nationally," with no reference to the status of whites.

At the end of the survey, participants were asked whether they leaned toward either party. Those who had been informed about the minority status of whites in California said they leaned to the Republican Party by a margin of 45-35. Those who had not been informed of whites' minority status leaned to the Democratic Party 40.5 to 24.3.
In a subsequent 2018 paper, "Racial and Political Dynamics of an Approaching 'Majority-Minority' United States," Craig and Richeson, joined by Julian Rucker, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Yale, reported that "whites for whom the impending racial demographic changes of the nation are salient" endorsed more conservative positions on a variety of policy issues and reported "greater support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump."
According to Joshua Greene, a professor of psychology at Harvard and the author of "Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them," Trump is expert at sending "signals that are music to the ears of his base," signals that ineradicably affirm his membership in the populist right wing of the Republican Party.
Greene argued in an email that when
Trump says that a judge of Mexican ancestry can't do his job, or attacks women for their physical appearance, or makes fun of a disabled reporter, or says that there are good people on both sides of a violent neo-Nazi rally, or that Haiti is a "shithole." or that the "Second Amendment People" can maybe do something about Hillary Clinton, Trump is very deliberately and publicly excommunicating himself from the company of liberals, even moderate ones.
In Greene's view, Trump offers a case study in the deployment of "costly signals."

How does it work? Greene writes:
Making oneself irredeemably unacceptable to the other tribe is equivalent to permanently binding oneself to one's own. These comments are like gang tattoos. And in Trump's case, it's tattoos all over his neck and face.
At the same time, Trump's "costly signals" make his reliability as a protector of white privilege clear.
John Tooby, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Santa Barbara, described the signaling phenomenon in a 2017 Edge talk as an outgrowth of what he calls a "coalitional instinct."
"To earn membership in a group," Tooby says, "you must send signals that clearly indicate that you differentially support it, compared to rival groups."
This, Tooby notes, encourages extremism: "Practical and functional truths are generally useless as differential signals, because any honest person might say them regardless of coalitional loyalty." Far more effective are "unusual, exaggerated beliefs," including "alarmism, conspiracies or hyperbolic comparisons."
The success of Trump's strategy will have long term consequences for the Republican Party, in Greene's view:
Trump won over the base by publicly sacrificing his broader respectability. Back in 2016, the other Republican primary candidates looked ahead at the general election and thought this was a losing strategy. But Trump pulled it off, perhaps because he didn't really care about winning. But now he owns the party. No Republican can get elected without the Republican base, and the Republican base trusts Trump and only Trump, thanks to his costly signals.
What Trump understood from the start was that the Republican Party is now the home of white evangelical Christians and the residents of rural, small town America who see their privilege — what they experience as their values and culture — under assault from a rising coalition of minorities, feminists, well-educated liberals and veterans of the sexual revolution.

"In the context of increased social diversity," Alexandra Filindra, a political scientist at the University of Illinois-Chicago, writes in a 2018 paper, "portions of the public are willing to support calls for an exclusionary moral community of virtue at the expense of norms and institutions of democracy."

Contrary to our idealistic normative assumptions, citizens do not have a principled or ideologically constrained approach to democracy any more than they have a principled approach to governance and policy.
Instead, most citizens are
prone to understand democracy through the lens of group memberships. When the social position of cherished groups is perceived as threatened, and when trusted in-group elites use narratives of group threat and out-group dehumanization to justify anti-democratic actions, group members become more vulnerable to authoritarian leaders and parties that promise protection or restoration of the group's status but at the cost of institutional democracy.
Political polarization plays a crucial role here.
As Jennifer McCoy and Murat Somer, political scientists at Georgia State and KoƧ University, write in their 2019 paper, "Toward a Theory of Pernicious Polarization and How It Harms Democracies":

Growing affective polarization and negative partisanship contribute to a growing perception among citizens that the opposing party and its policies pose a threat to the nation or an individual's way of life. Most dangerously for democracy, these perceptions of threat open the door to undemocratic behavior by an incumbent and his/her supporters to stay in power, or by opponents to remove the incumbent from power.
The cumulative effect, McCoy and Somer continue, "is a deterioration in the quality of democracy, leading to backsliding, illiberalism, and in some cases reversion to autocracy."
Milan W. Svolik, a political scientist at Yale, in his 2017 paper "When Polarization Trumps Civic Virtue: Partisan Conflict and the Subversion of Democracy by Incumbents," makes the case that polarization weakens the ability of moderate, centrist voters to serve as a check on extreme political behavior.
"In the classics of democratization research," Svolik writes, "the public's disapproval is assumed to serve as a check on incumbents' temptations to subvert democracy."
In polarized societies, however, "this check fails" because the strength of partisan loyalty, for many voters,
makes it costly for them to punish an incumbent by voting for a challenger. Incumbents exploit this lack of credible punishment by manipulating the democratic process in their favor. A mass of centrist voters provides precisely the kind of credible deterrent against manipulation that polarized societies lack.

Matthew Graham, who is also a political scientist at Yale, writing with Svolik, published a study this year showing that when voters are forced to make a choice between partisan loyalty and standing on principle, only small percentages of either party's electorates stood on principle. The vast majority chose partisan loyalty, with little or no difference between Republicans and Democrats.

In an email, Svolik raised the next logical question: "If supporters of both parties oppose/tolerate authoritarianism at similar levels, how come it is the Republican Party that is primarily associated with authoritarian tendencies today?" In reply to his own question," Svolik writes, "The quick answer is Trump." But
The deeper answer is that the opportunities to subvert the democratic process for partisan gain have become asymmetrical. Because of the biases inherent in political geography and demographic partisan patterns, the two most easily implementable means of gaining an unfair electoral advantage — gerrymandering and voter identification laws — only offer opportunities for unfair play to Republicans.

Trump, in Svolik's view, has presented
his supporters with a stark choice between his conservative accomplishments (immigration, judicial appointments, tax cuts) while portraying the Democrats as the extreme left (something he did successfully with Hillary Clinton, and why I believe he often brings up Portland, AOC, and Sanders). By doing so, Trump is effectively raising the price his supporters must pay for putting democratic principles above their partisan interests.
Other political scientists and psychologists argue that there are differences between Republicans and Democrats that are deeper.
Hyun Hannah Nam, a political scientist at Stony Brook University argues in an email that "there is some evidence that Republicans and Democrats respond differently to information that violates their political beliefs or allegiances — that is, cognitive dissonance in the political domain."

A 2013 paper, '' 'Not for All the Tea in China!' Political Ideology and the Avoidance of Dissonance-Arousing Situations," which Nam wrote with John Jost and Jay Van Bavel, both professors of psychology at N.Y.U., provided data from an experiment in which
supporters of Republican presidents and supporters of Democratic presidents were either asked or instructed to argue that a president from the opposing party was a better president than a president from their own party.
Nam and her colleagues
found that 28 percent of Obama supporters willingly engaged with the task of writing an essay favoring Bush over Obama, whereas no Bush supporters were willing to argue that Obama was a better president than Bush.

This suggests, Nam continued in her email,
that there may be something special about Republicans when it comes to an unwillingness to criticize their own leaders or to praise the opposition's leaders. Although this research preceded the Trump era, it could be that Trump supporters may now similarly double down on their expressed loyalty to Trump, in spite of various moral and ideological violations exhibited by Trump — or even because of them through processes of rationalization.
In her email, Nam added,
It appears that a neural structure that guides our perception of salient threats and understanding of social group hierarchy also underlies political preferences and behaviors to keep society as it is. If voter suppression efforts are perceived as helping to maintain the existing power structures, then it is possible that our neurobiological predispositions support the legitimation of such endeavors to protect the status quo.
The emergence of a right-populist, authoritarian-inclined Republican Party coincides with the advent of a bifurcated Democratic Party led, in large part, by a well-educated, urban, globally engaged multicultural elite allied with a growing minority electorate.

Structurally, the Democratic Party has become the ideal adversary for a Republican Party attempting to define political competition as a contest between "us the people" against "them, the others" — the enemy. The short- and medium-term prognosis for productive political competition is not good.
Joshua Greene, the Harvard psychologist, closed his email with an addendum: "P.S. I think that Biden will probably win and will probably be the next president. But the fact that I can't say more than 'probably' is terrifying to me. I fear that we are witnessing the end of American democracy."

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Andy Borowitz

Hundreds of R.N.C. Attendees 

Test Positive for Delusion

A crowd stands and claps.
CHARLOTTE (The Borowitz Report)—An outbreak hit the 2020 Republican National Convention this week as hundreds of attendees tested positive for delusion.
While public-health experts have yet to determine the extent of the outbreak, the episodes of attendees exhibiting magical thinking bordering on the hallucinatory appear to be widespread.
Davis Logsdon, who studies delusional epidemics at the University of Minnesota's School of Medicine, said that multiple R.N.C. participants professed to see things "that are not actually there," such as a strong economy, a successful coronavirus response, and an immigration policy brimming with kindness.

In another worrying symptom, Logsdon said that attendees who tested positive were unable to see things that were clearly in their line of vision. "One participant on Monday was shouting for more than six minutes despite the presence of a microphone inches away from her," he said.

While scientists tried to get their arms around the extent of the outbreak, containing the spread of delusion at the R.N.C. will be "challenging," Logsdon warned.
"The most successful treatment for delusion is facts, and these patients have built up an immunity to those over the course of many years," he said.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Something to Know - 26 August

I did not watch programming on TV last night - watched the movie bio of Elton John 'Rocketman".   HCR on yesterday:

Grievances on Parade

The Republican Party may not have a platform, but it has a plan.

Jamelle Bouie


Opinion Columnist

  • Aug. 25, 2020

Republicans chose not to produce a platform for their convention, no statement of values or declaration of principle. Instead, the party has approved a resolution to "enthusiastically support" President Trump's "America-first agenda," whatever that may be. And while the White House has produced a bullet-point outline of its second-term agenda, this week's convention itself has little content planned other than cultural grievance and worshipful praise for the president. As one veteran congressional aide told Politico, the only thing Republicans believe now is "Owning the libs and pissing off the media."

It's easy, observing all of this, to say that the Republican Party has fallen fully into a cult of personality around Trump and his family, a shocking number of whom have featured speaking roles at the convention. It's also easy to say the party has no ideas or plans for the future. But that would be a mistake. For the Republican Party, the situation now isn't too different from what it was in 2016. Trump lacked a serious agenda then just as he lacks one now. Rather than bring a new program to bear on the party, he has made the equivalent of a trade: total support for his personal and political concerns in exchange for almost total pursuit of conservative ideological interests.

The last three and a half years have only shown the wisdom of this pact. Republican indifference to the president's corruption, criminality (yet another former campaign adviser was arrested last week) and prejudice — which freed him to profit from the office and turn the bureaucracy into an instrument of his will — has been rewarded with deregulation, cuts to the social safety net and the installation in the federal judiciary of a large new cohort of reliably conservative judges.

In which case, why fix what isn't broken? If there's no platform for the Republican National Convention, if the party has agreed to simply support the president's second-term agenda, it is because the basic arrangement between Trump and the Republican Party is still intact. Should he win a second term, we'll see more of the same: an administration that pursues as much of the party's agenda — redistribution to the wealthy, deep reductions in the state's ability to solve problems for the general welfare — as possible, and a Republican Party that looks the other way as Trump turns the federal government into a patronage machine for himself, his family and his allies.

It is noteworthy that under Trump the Republican Party has abandoned the rhetoric of limited government and natural rights. But this has less to do with the party's agenda than it does its public image. Gone is the militarism and evangelical piety of George W. Bush's Republican Party or the libertarian-inflected outrage of the Tea Party. Instead, predictably, we have the Fox News aesthetics of a president who rose to political power via the cable news channel and who exists in a codependent relationship with the network. He relies on its coverage for ideas, messaging and even personnel, and Fox, in turn, tailors its coverage and commentary to his preferences. It is not for nothing that when Fox breaks with Trump, it's a story.

You can see the Fox Newsification of the Republicans in their choice of speakers for this year's convention. Whereas the 2012 convention saw speeches from a wide range of Republican lawmakers and officials, Trump's event is a glorified cable news panel, with appearances from figures like Charlie Kirk — the pugilistic founder of Turning Point USA, an activist group for young conservatives, who let the convention know that "Trump is the bodyguard of Western civilization" — and Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a couple filmed pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis.
We will see more of this over the next few days, as subsequent speakers include frequent Fox News guests like Rudy Giuliani, Franklin Graham, Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, and of course, the president's children, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump. (Donald Trump Jr. spoke on Monday: "Joe Biden," he said, channeling Fox, "is basically the Loch Ness Monster of the swamp"). There will be traditional Republican lawmakers in speaking roles, like Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, but they aren't part of the core message.

It is not news that the Republican Party has a stagnant governing agenda cobbled together from the long-discredited dogmas and shibboleths of the conservative movement. "The current iteration of the G.O.P. is indifferent to the substance of government," Steve Benen, a political writer and producer for The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, writes in "The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics":
It is disdainful of expertise and analysis. It is hostile toward evidence and arithmetic. It is tethered to few, if any, meaningful policy preferences. It does not know, and does not care, about how competing proposals should be crafted, scrutinized or implemented.
What is news is the extent to which the Republican Party has embraced the trappings of its leader, which is to say, the trappings of a right-wing cable news network: a nonstop parade of conspiracy, demagogy and grievance, in service to a cult of personality, all for the sake of a politics of plunder, theft and extraction.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Looking for Relief?

Does the GOP campaign of putting lipstick on Piggie Trump nauseate you?  Well, things could be worse.   This could be a wayward meteor from VP puntz's space force.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Something to Know - 25 August

Operation fact check was in full operation, so I see, on the GeeOpie convention last night.  I did not watch; I have a terrible gastric upset stomach, so I had a Mylanta cocktail, and read this article instead:

I know that it turns you off that you have to click the link, and then take the time to read, but I assure you that it is worthwhile.  It basically asks the question about what the Republican Party stands for, and what it means to be a Republican.   The familiar face of pollster Frank Luntz can be imagined as he says that he "really has no idea what the GOP stands for".   There is no agenda, and as his now-famous sister is quoted as saying..."he has no principles or ethics".   The convention is nothing more than an affirmation in following the Cult of Trump; and that's it.   Read it, you will be better for it.  After I finished reading it, I searched out and donated $25 to the Lincoln Project.  Now, I am going to search out and donate to the Biden-Harris campaign.   HCR sums up the rest of yesterday's events:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy appeared before the House of Representatives today to explain recent changes to the United States Postal Service. Those changes—removal of sorting machines and postboxes, and an end to overtime hours, for example—have drastically slowed mail delivery. Undelivered mail has piled up in USPS facilities, and there is real concern that the USPS will not be able to handle the volume of mail expected when large numbers of voters begin to return their mail-in ballots for the November election.

DeJoy seemed incensed that he had to answer to Congress; he rolled his eyes, laughed derisively at questions, and talked over the representatives. He claimed that he did not order the changes that have caused the back-ups, but could not say who had. He also insisted that he was not trying to sabotage the election, but refused to replace the missing machines, saying they were not needed. He committed to delivering ballots in time, despite warnings from the USPS that it is not sure it can handle the expected avalanche of ballots. Under questioning from Katie Porter (D-CA), a law professor who has won a reputation as a thorough questioner, DeJoy confessed he did not know how much most postage costs, nor how many Americans voted by mail in the last election.

Maine Senator Angus King, an Independent, tweeted: "The Postmaster General's appearances before Congress have betrayed his lack of knowledge about the USPS, and shown his indifference towards the challenges Americans are facing as a result of his policies. Inexcusable."

Congressional questioning of Robert M. Duncan, the chair of the USPS's Board of Governors, confirmed a story that appeared last week in the New York Times saying that DeJoy was not on the list of 53 names a search firm provided the board as candidates for the Postmaster General position. DeJoy was apparently inserted into the process by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, suggesting political pressure over a traditionally nonpartisan office.

Former president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell, Jr., has resigned from his position after a former pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, went public about a sexual arrangement he had with Falwell and his wife for six years, in which Granda and Becki Falwell had sex while Jerry Falwell watched. Yesterday, the Washington Examiner published a story in which Falwell claimed that he and his wife were being blackmailed because Becki had had an affair, and the fallout from the affair had driven Falwell into depression.

This is a major political story because Falwell Jr., the son of the Reverend Jerry Falwell Sr., is an important figure in the evangelical community, and his sudden and unexpected endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016 brought evangelicals to the thrice-married and unreligious long-shot candidate, rather than to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who expected Falwell's support. Falwell, who is a lawyer and real estate developer rather than a minister, said he was endorsing Trump out of respect for his business experience.

Now, of course, that picture looks different. There were apparently photos that reflected the Falwell-Granda arrangement in some fashion, and Michael Cohen, Trump's fixer, in 2015 was involved in making them go away and so got his hands on them. He also brokered Falwell's endorsement of Trump. How exactly all that transpired is unclear, but it seems likely that Falwell's endorsement was related to his desire to make sure the story of his unusual marital arrangement did not become public. As Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo put it: "Trump Owned Jerry and Jerry Knew It."

Today was the first day of the Republican National Convention. The Republicans attacked the Democratic National Convention as negative and dark, and promised that they would share an optimistic, uplifting vision of America. Instead, the Republicans presented a dark fantasy vision of a hellscape where Democrats want to turn America into a war zone. In a fascinating echo of the Republican Party of the late nineteenth century, when party leaders tried to overcome voters' dislike by claiming that the Democrats were anarchists and socialists who would destroy the nation, today's Republicans said that the election is a choice between "church, work and school" and "rioting, looting and vandalism." The intersection of race and gender with this vision today was striking, as the delegates nominating Trump were noticeably white, older, and male, in contrast to the diversity of the Democratic delegates last week.

As expected because of the short timeline, the convention has been disorganized with much lower production values than the DNC, but it nonetheless set out to convince Americans that, as Trump said, "We've accomplished more during the first three and a half years of this administration than any president in the history of our country." As soon as delegates on video had officially nominated him, he surprised everyone by taking the stage for a largely unscripted speech that hit his usual points: the Democrats want to take way guns, religion, and U.S. energy production.

Most significant to the speech, though, was Trump's repeated insistence that the Democrats are rigging the election, and that if they win, the results will not be legitimate. When the crowd cheered "four more years," he urged attendees instead to cheer for "twelve more years." This refrain has become so commonplace it can no longer be dismissed as the joke he initially claimed it was. He seems to be setting up his followers to refuse to accept a defeat at the polls.

Tonight's program was designed to try to repair the political damage caused by the administration's poor response to the coronavirus, which has already claimed at least 177,000 lives in the U.S. and infected almost 6 million people. The U.S. has 4% of the world's population and we have suffered 25% of its deaths, but Trump tried to spin his response to the coronavirus as a great success. To the degree there were problems he was willing to admit, he blamed them on "ill-prepared" governors. In a taped segment tonight with Trump chatting with nurses and front-line workers—a human side of him we rarely see—Trump accepted their praise for his great leadership.

This was the sort of gaslighting we've come to expect from this administration. Even as he spoke, reality undercut his message. In the segment, no one was masked, and he defended the unproven treatments for the virus hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma. Today, scientists—including one who worked on the study the FDA leadership cited yesterday in Trump's press conference—said they had no idea where Trump got the statistic that convalescent plasma had reduced deaths by 35%. They have called on the FDA to correct the statement.

Tonight's highest profile speakers were Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Donald Trump Jr. Scott attacked Biden's record on race and offered an optimistic vision of America. A Black man, Scott said that Biden's negative picture of racial justice in America was overblown and that his own story proved wrong the idea that African Americans operate under systemic racism that hampers their success. His grandfather, who was forced out of school in the third grade to work in the cotton fields, saw his grandson elected to Congress.

Don Jr., and his girlfriend Kim Guilfoyle also spoke, and their speeches were more problematic. Both sought to rile up the base, but they tipped beyond normal behavior. Don's appearance, especially, led to speculation that he was high, and "Cocaine" began trending on Twitter.

This was an excellent start for a convention designed to feed Trump's base but not an auspicious start for a convention designed to appeal to undecided voters. As notable for who is speaking at the convention is who is not. Few leading Republicans are showing up, and most incumbents running in this cycle are keeping their distance, recognizing that Trump is a drag on their campaigns.

Today more than two dozen Republican former members of Congress endorsed Biden. The former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, Miles Taylor, and Elizabeth Neumann, another former senior DHS official, today announced they are organizing the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR) to pull together current and former administration officials who oppose Trump. They claim to have at least two current senior officials on board.

Former chair of the RNC Michael Steele joined the anti-Trump Lincoln Project today. "Today is the day where things should matter and you need to take stock of what matters to you -- and the kind of leader you want to lead in these moments. And for me, it ain't him," Steele said.





Trump's speech: Rupar:



I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.