Thursday, June 14, 2018

Follow The Leader

Based on the returns from the various primaries around the country on Tuesday, the Republicans seem to be lining up behind Trumpism and setting themselves up for reckoning in November.

“It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it?” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters Wednesday morning. “It’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cultlike situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of — purportedly — of the same party.”

Mr. Corker — who is leaving the Senate when his term is up next January — is one of the few Republicans who have stood up to Trump; easy to do when you don’t have to run for re-election.  But the rest of them are all heading for Jonestown.

Not that I’m in the habit of giving advice to people I’d like to see removed from both office and polite society, but when a party re-forms itself to comply with the vagaries and vulgarities of one man — and in doing do blithely abandons its core principles such as fiscal responsibility, family values, freedom (not that they having been breathtakingly hypocritical about all of them before) — they’re setting themselves up for a real turkey shoot.  History — both here and abroad — is littered with the bleached bones of parties and movements that have aligned themselves behind a personality, and there have always been body counts of the innocent to go along with them.  Political parties may unite behind the nominee or a candidate, but they don’t make their platform all about him.  And there has always been a core of loyal, even cordial, opposition within the party to keep a balance and provide a home for the voters who may not have gotten their candidate of choice but still believe in the values that made them join in the first place.  What seems to be the motivating factor behind this cult isn’t a unity of ideas but fear of a tweetstorm from the Dear Leader.

I’m not a great prognosticator of election outcomes, but if the last couple of midterms are any indication, the Republicans are in for a bit of a shock.  Kellyanne Conway, the Wormtongue of this administration, noted the other night that Trump’s approval level rivals that of Barack Obama’s in 2010.  And remember how well the Democrats did in the midterms then?

Friday, June 1, 2018

Words Have Consequences, Part 2

I’m not going to defend Samantha Bee for the word she used, but I knew the moment I heard about it that there would be a backlash, particularly an “AHA!” from the Trumpers who defended Roseanne Barr for her racism.  Of course there would be demands that TBS fire Ms. Bee because one bad word is exactly the same as a long history of loopy racism and conspiracy theories, which it is most assuredly not.

Ms. Bee immediately apologized without blaming prescription drugs, as did the network.  But she handed the Trumpers an excuse to indulge in their favorite game of Both Sides Do It.  Forget the fact that the “c” word was emblazoned on t-shirts at Trump rallies; forget the fact that it’s been bandied about by Trump supporters like Ted Nugent and Trump’s inner circle and Trump himself.  None of that matters to the Fox News viewers who will carry on about how mean the liberals are to poor Ivanka and what flaming hypocrites they are too.  And they should know about hypocrisy because they live it night and day.

Plus there’s the added bonus of getting all amped up about language, which distracts us from the fact that more people died in Puerto Rico from a hurricane than were killed on 9/11 and they’re still waiting for complete power restoration.  It’s so much easier to talk about your personal outrage than do something about nearly 5,000 American citizens dead on an island.

As Steve M notes, “I’m not saying, ‘Liberals, censor yourselves.’ I’m saying, ‘Liberals, don’t give the bastards an opening.'”

Thursday, May 31, 2018

It’s Not About You

Via the Washington Post:

Trump, who has personally congratulated Barr on the initial success of “Roseanne,” finally weighed in on the rapidly unfolding controversy Wednesday. Trump questioned why the head of ABC parent company Disney had called Valerie Jarrett — the target of Barr’s racist comments — to apologize, when he hadn’t received similar treatment.

“Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that ‘ABC does not tolerate comments like those’ made by Roseanne Barr,” Trump tweeted. “Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn’t get the call?”

The sign of a truly immature and undeveloped personality is that no matter what the situation — in this case a racist getting her due comeuppance — it always comes down to “Hey, but what about ME?”  He was even able to take a solemn occasion such as Memorial Day and make it all about him.  (By the way, saying “Happy Memorial Day!” is like saying “Happy Good Friday!” or “Happy Yom Kippur!”  It’s supposed to be a day of reflection, not celebration.)

But if Trump really wants to bring up how being president makes you a target of HORRIBLE statements, perhaps he ought to look in the mirror at the things he’s said or tweeted over the years about his predecessor, starting with the whole birtherism number and going on to the “spying” on him during the campaign.  Or perhaps he’s forgotten the entire chorus of banshee calls from the right-wing nutsery about the Clintons and the Obamas.

Roseanne can blame it on the Ambien (which is a bullshit excuse), but in the case of Trump, it’s just the fact he’s never gotten past the level of kindergarten schoolyard behavior.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sit Anywhere You Like

One of the upshots of Starbucks’ consciousness-raising over who gets to sit in their coffee houses without drawing the attention of the constabulary is that they will make it their official policy that you don’t actually have to buy something to earn a place to sit there.

That’s good to know; I’ve been doing it for years (although I usually do buy something; after all, those blueberry scones are pretty good), and the local Starbucks was my go-to place for WiFi last September after Hurricane Irma, free or otherwise.  Now I won’t have that tickling feeling of guilt when I stop in and boot up without buying a scone or a tall plain cuppajoe.

But that’s upsetting to some conservatives.  Megyn Kelly, for instance.

“They’re allowing anyone to stay and use the bathroom even if they don’t buy anything, which has a lot of Starbucks’ customers saying, ‘Really?’” Kelly remarked on her Today Show program. “Because now the Starbucks are going to get overwhelmed with people and is it really just a public space or is it not?”

“For the paying customers who go in with their kids, do you really want to deal with a mass of homeless people or whoever is in there — could be drug addicted, you don’t know when you’re there with your kids paying for the services of the place.”

For those of you who are numb to dog whistles, what she’s really saying is that Starbucks is now the equivalent of the Port Authority bus terminal and their bathrooms are open to just anyone, not just rich white people paying five bucks for a latte.  Oh, how we’ve all caved to political correctness and now she has to sit next to someone who is undeserving of being in her presence.

Or maybe she’d rather see what I saw yesterday morning when I got to the office before dawn.  It’s located in downtown Miami and there are a number of homeless people who spend the night in sheltered areas until the building opens.  As I approached the entrance, I saw a man standing outside on the wheelchair ramp where he’d spent the night.  From his stance and the fact that I’m a man who knows what a certain stance means, I knew he was taking a leak against the side of our building.  As I got near the door, he tried to mop it up with the newspapers he’d just used as his bed.  I didn’t say anything to him, but I did inform the security guard who was arriving of what I’d seen so they could get someone to hose the ramp down.  I didn’t call the cops, and if the man had asked, I’m pretty sure the guard would have let him in to use the rest room on the first floor instead of peeing on the ramp.

I’ve often said it would be nice if there was a Starbucks in the neighborhood, and there’s another reason now; to show a little bit of kindness and accommodation to people who don’t have multi-million dollar contracts to sneer at others on TV.

Words Have Consequences

Rather than add to the bonfire of outrage over Roseanne Barr and the fact that ABC knew full well what they were getting and were probably ready for her Twitterpation (they were not caught off-guard; they had the press release and the firing orders in draft when they signed the contracts last year), I will simply remind us all that “freedom of speech” doesn’t mean you get off scot-free for saying something hideous.

It should be noted, however, that if every celebrity that tweeted racist and conspiracy shit were fired in three hours and banished from the public stage with such expeditious dispatch as ABC showed Ms. Barr, Trump would have never made it past his descent on his golden escalator in 2015.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

That Old Time Religion

It’s been almost forty years since Jerry Falwell and like-minded ministers saw gold in them thar GOP rubes and hitched their hallelujah wagons to the idea of becoming the busybodies of the nation and make a shitload of money while doing it.  It appeals to both their prurient instincts and their love of money, and it was all tax-free.  Yip-yah!

Now they’ve merged their holier-than-thou lust to the epitome of the conman in Trump who represents the id of these so-called pastors of the Lord: sex and power.  The number of preachers who have been caught with their hands on someone else’s wife or put a rent boy on their American Express has become so numerous that it borders on cliche, and the way they’ve raided the collection basket to feather their 16,000 sq ft “manses” raises the level of tacky to giddy heights. So of course they admire and excuse the excesses of Trump and support his political agenda.  He’s their idol.

It’s reaching the second generation.  Jerry Falwell, Jr. picked up his late daddy’s con with Liberty University, a diploma mill of hatred, bigotry, and superstition, and of course he’s a supporter of Trump. He had him speak to the rapturous crowds (and made attendance mandatory just in case someone had a fit of free will) and backs him on everything from hating the transgenders to booting out the Dreamers because, as we all know, Jesus hated Mexicans.

Not to be outdone by that Jerry-come-lately, though, we have Franklin Graham, the scion of the late Billy Graham who pioneered the path to fame by deigning to talk to presidents.  Now Mr. Graham is going around the country and rallying the foolish and the weak to the Trumpian cause because blatant hypocrisy is all the rage now and there’s always a collection basket at the door.  He’s even marching into the lion’s den of them all, California.

PASADENA, Calif. — Franklin Graham stood in a packed locker room at the Rose Bowl, surrounded by fellow evangelists, pastors, and his top Los Angeles donors. It was two weeks before the California primary, and Mr. Graham was urging them to take a stand against their state’s “blue wall.”

The blue wall of California, Mr. Graham told the gathering, represents secular values that have taken root on the country’s west coast.

“Progressive?” he went on, “That’s just another word for godless.” Now is the time for churches to “suck it up” and vote.

According to the article from the New York Times, Graham is finding big crowds and a lot of money in his hate speech about people who aren’t like Us.  He knows that people are looking for an excuse to justify the blaming of their self-wrought misfortunes on others and ratify the idea that a level playing field is biased against them.  Like a lot of charlatans, he’s very good at finding a problem and blaming it on someone else without offering any sort of solution other than prayer and a plea for more money.  He knows it works, too; it always has.

The exploitation of tribalism is as much a part of human nature as self-pity and flatulence.  It’s the root of nations and religion; we’re Us, they’re the Others, and because we have our self-doubts, they must always be seen as oppressors just waiting to pounce.  Here in this noble experiment of America, we tried to appeal to our better angels, striving for unity of purpose over identity by giving it a new one: a nation of laws, not tribes.  It has always been an uphill struggle; the massacre of the natives under the guise of Manifest Destiny, Reconstruction, the civil rights struggle, the Red Scare, the Cold War, the Sixties, the Southern Strategy, terrorism, and Trumpism have tested the simple concept that yes, we were serious about the idea that all of us are created equal and that we are all entitled to equal protection under the law.

In the case of Mr. Graham and his followers, he is seeking to exploit the fear and loathing that is inherent in the radical idea we should have learned in kindergarten: that it is meet, right, and our bounden duty to share our toys with others and help those who don’t have the same gifts granted by nature or God or whatever it is that gets you through the night.  The notion that Jesus, who, according to the mythology that they claim they hold dear, came along to lift up the least among us would endorse this hatred and Otherism wrapped in the flag and biblical verse should make even the most pious Christian blush with shame.

We have never made it through the nights of fear and loathing without lingering scars and a degree of PTSD, nor have we made it through good times and advancement without backlash from those who thought the status quo was just fine.  Roughly translated it comes out as “I want my country back.”  The problem with that is that it was never “my” country to begin with.  It is Ours.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Reading

“Mustang Means Freedom”  — James B. Stewart on why Ford decided to keep building the icon.

1965 Ford Mustang*

When Ford Motor all but eliminated passenger cars from its North American lineup earlier this month to concentrate on trucks and S.U.V.s, it turned the page on a long and storied history of now-defunct but once red-hot nameplates: the Model T, the Model A, the Galaxie, the Fairlane, the Thunderbird and the Falcon, to name several.

There was one conspicuous survivor: the Mustang.

“Get rid of the Mustang?” asked James D. Farley Jr., Ford’s president of global markets, when I asked him this week how the Mustang had survived. “The Mustang is like Rocky: It survived the 1970s fuel crisis, the glam 1980s, the move to S.U.V.s. It’s made it through every round of cuts.”

For me, the Mustang’s reprieve came as welcome news: I took my driver’s test in my mother’s 1967 turquoise Mustang notchback. On the rare occasions I was allowed to drive it, it conferred instant status and triggered unabashed envy among my high school classmates.

Wall Street probably would have been just as happy to see the Mustang go the way of the Fusion, Taurus and Fiesta, current models that Ford said it would phase out and which Mr. Farley dismissed as “commodity silhouettes.” (Ford says it will continue to make passenger vehicles, but they just won’t be in the shape of today’s sedan. The Focus, for example, will survive, but as a crossover S.U.V.)

That’s because in its last earnings report, Ford revealed for the first time that a relatively small number of products, including the hugely popular F-150 pickup truck series, accounted for 150 percent of its earnings before interest and taxes, with profit margins in the midteens. Another group was barely profitable. By contrast, Ford said its “low performing” products lost money, with negative margins of more than 10 percent.

Using Ford’s disclosures, Morgan Stanley automotive analyst Adam Jonas extrapolated that the low performing businesses accounted for 40 percent of Ford’s revenue yet sharply reduced the company’s earnings. Ford didn’t say which models fall into the category, but Mr. Jonas included North American passenger cars and Lincoln models. (So far, at least, Ford hasn’t altered its Lincoln lineup, which includes several passenger sedans.)

Mr. Jonas applauded Ford’s decision to drop most of its passenger cars, assuming the company actually follows through on it. “If a disproportionate effort is going into products that don’t make money and consumers don’t want, then what are they doing?” he asked.

Ford doesn’t break out financial results by model, but Mr. Jonas believes the Mustang is modestly profitable. The base hardtop starts at $25,845, but popular options can quickly drive up the cost. The convertible starts at $31,345. The most popular model, the Mustang GT fastback, can easily top $40,000, and the 526-horsepower Shelby GT350 starts at more than $57,000. A racing version of the Mustang Cobra can hit six figures.

“I can’t think of another car where some models sell for four times the base price,“ Mr. Farley said. “We sell a lot of Mustangs that are $70,000.”

The Mustang has continued to sell well. Ford said it sold nearly 126,000 last year in 146 countries and that it was the world’s best-selling sports car. (By contrast, the Toyota Corolla, the world’s best-selling passenger sedan, sold nearly a million cars.)

But the Mustang’s survival isn’t really about numbers. “Five years from now, whether Ford decided to keep the Mustang or not isn’t going to be a material factor,” Mr. Jonas said. “It’s more of an emotional thing. They’re trying to preserve the sexuality of motoring the way it used to be known.”

From the day it was introduced 54 years ago, Mustang was positioned as a stylish, affordable and practical alternative to expensive European sports cars. In various tests, the Mustang GT still compares favorably to the Porsche 911, which starts at over $90,000.

So iconic is the Mustang that it has been commemorated with a Postal Service stamp — twice. The latest one, in 2013, depicts a blue 1967 model bisected by two white stripes.

Mustangs have appeared in countless movies and television shows, becoming an indelible image of American culture. In “Goldfinger,” James Bond ran a white 1965 Mustang convertible with red interior off the road.

Steve McQueen drove a dark green 1968 fastback in “Bullitt,” in which Mustang emerged as a classic “muscle” car. This year Ford is selling a 475-horsepower Bullitt anniversary edition, complete with, in a nod to the original, a cue ball on the stick shift. The Bullitt limited edition sells for $47,495. (The first one off the assembly line sold at a charity auction earlier this year for $300,000.)

A souped-up 1967 Mustang fastback stars in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.” But Mustangs aren’t all about high testosterone. A 1966 convertible is featured in “The Princess Diaries,” and Ford said 27 percent of Mustang buyers are women.

William Clay Ford Jr., Ford’s executive chairman and the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, is a Mustang fanatic, with 20 versions in his personal collection. Mr. Ford showed up at the company’s annual Mustang birthday party last month in a navy blue 1968 Mustang Shelby 500 convertible with a white top.

“I put it in the same category as the Corvette,” said Eric Minoff, an automotive specialist at Bonhams auction house in New York. The Mustang “is a cultural icon,” he added. “Even people who don’t know anything about cars recognize a Mustang.”

Next week, Bonhams is auctioning several vintage Mustangs previously owned by Carroll Shelby, the racecar driver and automotive entrepreneur who developed high-performance Shelby Mustangs in collaboration with Ford starting in the 1960s. A 1968 Mustang GT 350 and a 1969 GT 500 are each estimated to fetch $80,000 to $100,000 at the June 3 auction.

I found a turquoise 1967 Mustang notchback that looked identical to my mother’s car listed on the Hemmings vintage car site for $37,900.

Those are surprisingly high prices considering how many Mustangs were made. “After the car first came out, there was a saying that hot cakes are selling like Mustangs,” Mr. Minoff said. “They’re not exactly rare. But no matter how common they are, they’re very attractive cars, and with the V-8 engine and rear-wheel drive, they’re very sporty and fun to drive. The fastback editions, especially with all the options, command quite a premium.”

Mr. Farley described the Mustang as a “mind-set” vehicle. “When we ask people around the world what they think of Ford, they say Mustang,” he said. “Mustang means freedom. It means taking a road trip in a convertible down the West Coast. That’s what people all over the world imagine America to be. Why would we ever give that up?”

*I’ve had three: a 1965 2+2 like the one in the photo, a 1995 GT convertible, and my current one, a 2007 convertible.

Leonard Pitts, Jr. on being reasonable with Trumpers.

We’re going to try something different today. Rather than pontificate yet again upon the motives of Donald Trump’s supporters, I’ll let a few of them explain themselves in their own words.

Here, then, is “Robert” with a comparative analysis of the 44th and 45th presidents:

“President Trump has accomplished more positive things for this nation in less than two years than the last three have accomplished in twenty plus years. After the past eight years of a Muslim Marxist in the White House this nation could not survive another demwit in the White House. … Could you please list one thing the demwit party has done for the black people in America other than hand out government freeies for their continued votes?”

And here’s “Gary’s” take on demographic change:

“[America] has a constitution which guarantees equal rights for all and yet people like you hungar for change that puts people like me in the back of the bus. You seem egar to know what it would be like to be in the driver’s seat. You need look no further than Zimbabwe and South Africa. When people like you started driving the bus, the wheels came off. That’s what terrifies people like me.”

This column is presented as a service for those progressive readers who are struggling with something I said in this space. Namely, that I see no point in trying to reason with Trump voters. I first wrote that over a month ago, and I am still hearing how “disappointed” they are at my refusal to reach out. So I thought it might be valuable to hear from the people I’ve failed to reach out to.

I’m sure some of you think those emails were cherry-picked to highlight the intolerance of Trump voters. They weren’t. They are, in fact, a representative sampling from a single day in May, culled by my assistant, Judi.

It’s still an article of faith for many that the Trump phenomenon was born out of fiscal insecurity, the primal scream of working people left behind by a changing economy. But I don’t think I’ve ever, not once, seen an email from a Trump supporter who explained himself in terms of the factory or the coal mine shutting down.

I have, however, heard from hundreds like “Matthew,” who worries about “immigrants” and “Gerald,” who thinks people of color have an “alliance” against him. Such people validate the verdict of a growing body of scholarship that says, in the words of a new study by University of Kansas professors David N. Smith and Eric Hanley, “The decisive reason that white, male, older and less educated voters were disproportionately pro-Trump is that they shared his prejudices and wanted domineering, aggressive leaders …”

Look, I get it. That’s a hard pill for those progressives who have kin or friends among Trump supporters. We love who we love, even when they — or we — are small, unkind or disappointing. That’s what family is about. We love who we love, and let no one make you feel compelled to apologize for that.

But at the same time, let us be clear-eyed and tough-minded in assessing what’s happened to our country — and why. How else can we salvage it from the likes of “A Trumper” who says Trump was needed to “get things back in order” after the “terrible job” done by President Obama?

He wrote: “We’re sick of paying welfare to so many of your brothers who don’t know what work and integrity mean. I hope you keep writing these articles and reminding my White Christian brothers that we did the right thing and we need to re elect Trump.”

I have two words for those progressives who think it’s possible to “reason” with that:

You first.

Doonesbury — One by one.

Friday, May 25, 2018

It’s Good It Didn’t Happen

The way things were going for the North Korea summit before Trump sent his petulant I-don’t-wanna-play-in-your-yard letter to Kim, it was lining up to be a disaster on the scale of the Hindenburg meets New Coke.  We’d already gotten China and Japan nervous, and then sent out Bolton and Pence to basically threaten North Korea with comparisons to the regime change in Libya.  Trump would have come out of Singapore looking more like the blundering vulgarian that we already know he is, except this time he’s done it on a global scale with real lives — several million in one blow — at stake.

And the Swedish Academy can breathe a sigh knowing that they won’t have to worry about pussy-grabbing in Oslo in December.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Capture The Flag

The NFL owners have caved to right-wing political correctness:

Eight months after President Trump called the players “sons of bitches” for caring about silly things such as police brutality, the NFL revised its anthem policy Wednesday afternoon. Eight months after several owners locked arms with their players and denounced the president’s tactless verbal assault, the league coated the new guidelines in compromise — players and teams now can opt not to be on the field during the “Star-Spangled Banner” — but the policy also clarifies and strengthens punishment if members of a team choose to protest while on the field for the patriotic display.

Franchises can be fined an undisclosed amount for any demonstrations. Clubs have the right to develop their own rules, too. And Commissioner Roger Goodell now has the power to “impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

That’s Jerry Brewer writing in the Washington Post, but he pretty much speaks my mind: this gang of mostly old white men, who are more interested in counting their money than representing a sport that is already losing fans thanks to the literally skull-crushing traumas that are taking out their players before they turn 40, are showing their true patriotism by relegating free speech by a group of largely minority players to the locker room.  Of course they have the right to protest — or show whatever sentiment is represented by kneeling — as long as no one else sees it.

The NFL owners are either afraid of Trump or they think like him; their only compromise position allows them to keep everything while looking — to them — as if they actually care when they really don’t.  And what’s even more cynically ironic is that this controversy was created not by one quarterback taking a knee but by those who chose to interpret it to fit their own agenda.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Rock On

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) thinks that sea level rise is caused not by global warming but by rocks.

He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

“Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said.

Um…

Take Your Time

The Mueller investigation has been going on for a year.  That may seem like a long time, but this handy chart from TPM puts it in perspective.

Every investigation is different, but just looking at the numbers, the Trump/Russia probe has barely begun.

(And I don’t remember any Republicans calling for Ken Starr to “wrap it up.”  As far as they’re concerned, it’s still going on; they just know there’s still some dirt to be had on Bill and Hillary and that airstrip in Arkansas.)

What I think is telling is that the learning curve on these types of investigations is so obvious.  In every case illustrated above, the perps thought they could get away with whatever it was that they were doing and that this time for sure they’d bamboozle both the investigators and the public.  It never works, and someone — usually a mid-level minion — ends up in jail.  (Interesting to note that in all of the investigations, at some point someone involved in the case was able to wangle their way into a presidential pardon.)

So take your time, Mr. Mueller.  Compared to Whitewater, you’ve got another seven years ahead of you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Gun For Hire

Naming Oliver North as the president of the NRA is basically like naming Keith Richards as the head of Pfizer.

Charlie Pierce:

The jokes, they write themselves. A trade association for the arms industry now will be headed by the most famous arms-trafficker in American history. An organization that wears patriotism as though it were the masque of the Red Death will be headed by a guy who sold missiles to one of the world’s leading sponsors of terrorism. An organization that claims to represent the best in American values will now be headed by a guy who sold out a beloved conservative icon so he could keep his felonious hindquarters out of jail, and who was roundly condemned by that icon’s iconic wife.

If it wasn’t for George H.W. Bush, he’d be making gravel at Leavenworth and telling his fellow inmates that selling missiles to Iran was just what America needed.

Now you know why I spend my off-hours writing fiction.  I’m doing my level best not to find a reason to drink again.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

They Both Have To Go

Getting Trump out of office is an admirable goal, but if he goes, the rules say that Mike Pence would take over, and in many ways, he’s a lot worse.  He at least has rock-steady and immutable right-wing views and would do his come-to-Jesus best to implement them.

A case could be made that by defending the administration and supporting like-minded felons such as the flaming racist Joe Arpaio, Pence is an accessory and abettor to Trump’s actions before and after assuming office.

In Pence, Trump has found an obedient deputy whose willingness to suffer indignity and humiliation at the pleasure of the president appears boundless. When Trump comes under fire for describing white nationalists as “very fine people,” Pence is there to assure the world that he is actually a man of great decency. When Trump needs someone to fly across the country to an NFL game so he can walk out in protest of national-anthem kneelers, Pence heads for Air Force Two.

Meanwhile, Pence’s presence in the White House has been a boon for the religious right. Evangelical leaders across the country point to his record on abortion and religious freedom and liken him to a prophet restoring conservative Christianity to its rightful place at the center of American life. “Mike Pence is the 24-karat-gold model of what we want in an evangelical politician,” Richard Land, the president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary and one of Trump’s faith advisers, told me. “I don’t know anyone who’s more consistent in bringing his evangelical-Christian worldview to public policy.”

It’s no great shock to find that the evangelical right wing is a massively hypocritical collection of political opportunists who are as adept at fleecing the foolish and the weak of their money as they are at updating their Grindr profiles and paying for their mistresses’ abortions.  To them Trump is a useful idiot; they can explain away his flagrant lack of morality with the wave of a hand in the same way they blessed Newt Gingrich — the road company version of Trump — and the same way they came down on Bill Clinton.

But Pence is one of their own, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the right-wing nutsery had it in their heads all along to get Trump elected and Pence as his second so they could bide their time and let him self-destruct so Pence could step in and begin to implement their real agenda.

So Pence has to go along with Trump.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Former GOP Rep Convicted

Ah, justice.

Steve Stockman, a Republican former congressman from Texas, has been convicted of defrauding two conservative mega-donors and funneling their $1.25 million into personal and campaign expenses as part of what prosecutors have described as a “white collar crime spree.”

A jury in federal court in Houston ruled Thursday afternoon that Stockman is guilty of all but one of the 24 felonies he was charged with last March. After about 16 hours of deliberations over three days, the 12-person panel only declined to convict on one of four counts of wire fraud.

Stockman will appeal the verdict, his defense team said.

This may become a pattern.  One could only hope.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Civil Discourse

From the Washington Post:

A conservative commentator at a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned television station in St. Louis has resigned after a statement he made threatening to sexually assault David Hogg drew harsh criticism and sparked the beginnings of an advertiser boycott.

Jamie Allman, who hosts a nightly news show on KDNL, a Sinclair-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, as well as a morning FM radio show, wrote on Twitter that he was “hanging out getting ready,” to sexually assault David Hogg with “a hot poker.”

“Busy working. Preparing,” read the March 26 tweet, which is too vulgar to print here in full. An image of it was published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the remark began to draw more scrutiny in recent days.

Advertisers, including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, St. Louis health center Palm Health, and local real estate office the Gellman Team, announced they would stop advertising on Allman’s shows, spurred on by activists who took to social media to highlight the commentator’s remarks, as well as Democratic state lawmaker Stacey Newman and others.

“We have accepted Mr. Allman’s resignation, and his show has been canceled,” said Ronn Torossian, chief executive of the PR firm 5W, who is acting as a Sinclair spokesman, said in response to questions sent to the media company by The Washington Post.

So Allman’s defenders will claim his First Amendment right to free speech is being violated the same way he wanted to violate David Hogg, to which rational people will reply that the Constitution doesn’t protect you from being fired for being a cretin.  And a perv.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Republicans Talking Impeachment

Don’t get your hopes up; it’s not like it sounds.

As Republican leaders scramble to stave off a Democratic wave or at least mitigate their party’s losses in November, a strategy is emerging on the right for how to energize conservatives and drive a wedge between the anti-Trump left and moderate voters: warn that Democrats will immediately move to impeach President Trump if they capture the House.

What began last year as blaring political hyperbole on the right — the stuff of bold-lettered direct mail fund-raising pitches from little-known groups warning of a looming American “coup” — is now steadily drifting into the main currents of the 2018 message for Republicans.

So far I haven’t heard of any Democrats planning on bringing it up in the mid-terms, and it’s slightly ironic that the Republicans think it’s such a drastic measure when it wasn’t that long ago that they rallied their troops around impeaching Bill Clinton.  (How’d that work out?)

It’s also common practice for the GOP to go completely batshit when it comes to fund-raising appeals; they’re still working off Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, and raising the spectre of Trump in the dock in the Senate is a sure-fire way to shake down the base.  But it may become problematic when they try to get support and votes from those who don’t watch Fox News or get their millinery from Reynolds Wrap.  I’m not so sure they won’t drive a lot of voters into the arms of the Democrats with “Vote Republican or Trump Will Be Impeached!”

Friday, April 6, 2018

Short Takes

Oklahoma teachers continue their march to the state capital.

Pruitt under pressure: EPA chief’s problems keep growing.

Yeah right: Trump says he was unaware of payment to Stormy Daniels.

Cyclist fired for flipping off Trump sues her former employer.

New Russia sanctions go after oligarchs.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Today In Double Standards

Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server when she was Secretary of State to basically innocuous purposes and the nutsery chanted “Lock her up!”

Scott Pruitt, now head of the EPA, used a private e-mail server when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma for official business (and lied about it when questioned by Congress) and now it looks like he was doing some shady business with political donors.  He also hires cronies and pays them huge salaries.  He has the full support of the nutsery.