Survivor Politics: Kamala Harris’ Ambush of Joe Biden

The way to the White House for the herd of Democrat contenders goes through Joe Biden and Kamala Harris showed she knows that in the so-called debate Thursday.  I say “so called” because these shows bear more resemblance to the TV show Survivor than to a debate.  There is no time for any real debate, only for zingers.  The whole point is to survive to the next round which means others must be weakened while you impress.

Congressman Eric Swalwell is a good example of a loser in that his zingers fell flat, so the minimal support he has drummed up so far is destined to become minimaler.

In contrast Harris was impressive throwing Biden for a loop.  Several articles noted much planning went into this, including one generated by the LA Times.  But Harris also was a bit lucky.  When the race issue came up and a moderator tried to reign her in, she made clear as the only black person on the stage she was not going to be shut up, and she wasn’t.  She played that race card masterfully.

This gave her the chance to focus on statements Biden made back in the 1970’s opposing some forms of busing – it’s complicated but Harris made it simple, Biden was anti-busing and that was bad……..   And – surprise, surprise – nobody knew the value of busing better than she, one who actually was bused and obviously benefited from it.  Another trump card well played.

While the show was still going on her staff were tweeting pictures of her, the little black girl who already looked determined.  Soon they were selling T-shirts with the picture, too.  Frankly I thought that was all too cute by half, so blatantly showing how well they planned this hit job.  And what a hit job it was.  But I hear her campaign pulled in two million dollars after the show, and the polls figure to show a nice bump up, so she was the winner all right.

And Biden needs to regroup.  After the debate he bemoaned being mischaracterized and wished he would have been able to talk about the future.  The downside of having such an impressive resume with 40 years in politics, is there is plenty to pick at as Kamala Harris illustrated last Thursday in her time travel back to the 70s.

Biden is in a tough spot.  Being defensive is a bad look, but with so many other candidates attacking him, it is hard to avoid that response and point to the future.

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P. S. –  While what I wrote above may look like a hit job on Ms. Harris, it is actually complimentary.  Part of her campaign is as former prosecutor she will be the one to prosecute Donald Trump.  It was risky to attack popular front runner good old Joe, but  the attack was well planned and well performed and it worked.  She showed a combination of skills suggesting she could take on bully boy Trump if given the chance.

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Believing in America on the 4th of July

July 4 is normally a joyous weekend celebrating the birth of our nation.  I realize thoughts of barbecues and the beach usually grab more of our attention than thoughts of our political origins, but we have a president who shows no respect for American political institutions, or even what I believe to be the best of our American character, so July 4 takes on a more serious demeanor this year.

Donald Trump distains the press and tends to appeal to our worse instincts, such as the tendency to blame others for our problems, especially others who look different than ourselves or practice a different religion or are of certain nationalities.

The way Trump drums up hysteria is somewhat akin to what happened to the Japanese Americans, over 100,000 of whom were interned as threats after Pearl Harbor despite virtually no evidence.   Showing a better side of the American character was the small town of Gallup, N. M, where the town’s sheriff said, “They are citizens here, and we are not going to round them up.”

This linked story in the LA Times is about Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura, who was a Japanese American teenager in Gallup at the time and would later earn a Medal of Honor in the Korean war.

While much of America was falling prey to hysteria, this little town did us proud.   There is little that Donald Trump advocates in tweets or through his mouth pieces that make me proud to be an American.  He keeps touting “America First” and I hear a little boy crying “me, me, me.”

Trump keeps pretending he is making America great again, while what he is actually doing is placing a pall over our institutions and what’s left of our common sense of reality.  When I think of Trump world I envision Gotham City.

The story is fairly long, but you can skim much of it.  I like best the early part about Miyamura’s childhood in Gallup.

HAPPY FOURTH!

NEWS FLASH: Trump Confirms Obama was born in the U. S. A.

Seduced into watching what was billed as a major statement by Donald Trump on the birther issue, I soon realized this was a photo op for Trump’s new hotel in Washington, the site of the event.  Also, it was a presidential promo provided by testimony from various former military – medal of honor winners, generals and admirals – in support of the Donald’s presidential candidacy.  There should have been a “Paid Advertisement” notice at the bottom of the screen.  Except the advertising was free.

And the big announcement?  That was Trump providing one more example of how easily he manipulates our media into promoting himself.  I felt like I was watching a matador trifling with a bull before skewering it.   (The media is the bull, just to be clear).

I realize how crazy it sounds that I would be drawn to what turns out to be a free political advertisement for Trump by the question of Obama’s birthplace, but in recent days the issue has been reborn because of statements by spokesmen in his campaign that Trump finally does accept Obama’s American birth.  However, when asked Donald Trump had refused to confirm that belief.   So, I admit it, I was curious.

And the major statement?   After puffing himself up for a half hour as a great builder and a great patriot, implying such a combination would make a great president, he finally got to the issue of Obama’s birth.  And this was the statement viewers had been waiting for:  “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

That was it, though he prefaced it with blaming Hillary Clinton for initiating the birther issue in her primary race with Obama (actually, it appears some of her supporters did that, but her campaign never embraced it) and then Trump ended with something about let’s get back to making America great again.

The media having made such a big issue of this announcement will act as if it still has great importance and peck away with more questions regarding Trump’s (supposed) change of mind (I never believed he believed it, just a marvelously effective manipulative tool for him).

But Trump will ignore them, as frankly he should.   It was always a ridiculous issue that was allowed to flourish because the media failed to pin him down on any facts he purportedly had found, while the Republican party was happy to remain mum on the issue figuring that anything that was anti-Obama was O.K. with them.

The birther issue has been a miraculous triumph of B. S. over reality. Trump has ridden that horse a long way… to death so to speak.  This was an opportune time to change horses, and so he did.   The press should stop beating the dead horse by dwelling on silly things like whether Trump should apologize to whomever, and move on to one of the many issues that actually merit consideration.  They lost their chance to be relevant on this issue many months ago.

Frankly, the skill in which Trump has handled this birther vehicle of self-promotion is enough for me to fantasize what he might do as president, but then I remind myself that self-promotion is his genius.  It is unclear to me what else he is really good at.   That genius has served him well in the real estate game and the presidential race, but the role of president is not primarily based on self-promotion.

As president one must actually do things as opposed to promising to do things.  Trump’s promises are endless, but the only thing I am convinced he can do is promote himself, like the little wizzard hiding behind the big screen pretending to be the Great Oz.

The Black White Divide: Sadness and Hope in Dallas

The recent shooting deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota by white police in extremely questionable circumstances and then the vengeance killings of five white policemen and the injury to several others in Dallas Thursday attests, despite steady progress over the past 50 years, our ongoing failure to surpass our long standing racial divide.

While cable chatter is brimming with coverage of these issues and speculation about what could and should be done the plain truth is whatever positive changes can be made regarding this divide will be small and incremental and satisfying to no one in the short run.  That’s the way it has been and will be, but there is still hope.

We are continuing to pay the price of the Faustian pact that underlies the birth of our United States, that to come together as a nation back in the 1700s required that slavery be tolerated.  There would be no United States had the founders not allowed for it, because the Southern states would have rebelled, as they later did.  Most of the founders saw slavery as something that would evolve out of existence, or should I say that was their hope.

It took a civil war to decide the issue, but the results were far from perfect and we continue to try to get it right in imperfect ways.

It boils down to blacks being treated differently by police than whites.  Festering anger in black communities is because of that or the perception of that.  Numerous studies support the assertion that blacks are treated more often with excessive force than whites.  We could consider higher arrest and conviction rates, too, but that gets too complicated for this short post.

At an individual level it is the norm for black parents to have “the talk” with their children, emphasizing the danger of not acting carefully and politely if stopped by the police.  For you fellow whites out there, “the talk” for us more likely means the one about the birds and the bees.

I try to imagine the movement towards bridging the divide between blacks and whites and the most concrete results seem likely to stem from developing better relationships between the police of any given city and their black and Latino minority populations, what is called “community policing.”  I know you have heard it all before, many times as it has been mouthed by many over the years and progress has been uneven and slow.

However, it is heartening that this Dallas police department is arguably the best in the nation in terms of community policing and, according to Police Chief David Brown, the best department in the country overall.  In a press conference this morning he listed various impressive statistics  including a 60% decline over the last six years in excessive-force complaints.

How ironic is that?  That the shooter would take his anger out on the very department that seems to have been doing its utmost to reach out to people like him.  He murdered  police officers who were helping to keep peaceful protestors safe.

The best thing I can envision coming out of this tragedy is for other cities to pay closer attention to the Dallas form of policing because it clearly has worked, despite the exception of this apparently demented shooter whose life goal came down to killing as many whites as possible.  That could happen anywhere.

Unfortunately, the shooter developed his hatred apparently unaffected by the wise words of Martin Luther King:  “That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind.”

In sharp contrast Police Chief David Brown looks like he can see clearly.   Perhaps he and the citizens of Dallas can help the rest of us see better.


P. S. – A recent article by Radley Balko in the Washington Post describes Brown’s work in Dallas.  Balko praises the work overall but fears unrest will prompt authoritarian reactions rather than reformist ones.   I can only hope he is wrong about that.

Focus On Trump’s Bigotry Misses the Point

The fact that Donald Trump makes racist, misogynistic or Islamic-phobic comments  doesn’t get to the heart of what makes him both unfit to be president while still sufficiently attractive to win a race against Hillary Clinton, who has plenty of detractors of her own.

While devout liberals find those criticisms satisfying, they obscure the fact that many Americans who don’t fit those pejorative labels are backing Trump and more might go that way depending upon what happens over the next few months.  While a recent survey of polls show Hillary up by about 5.5% on Trump nationwide, he is up on her by 5% when it comes to the question of who people trust to keep us safe.

Shocking ISIS successes (or a plunge in the economy) might tip a number of Americans in favor of the guy who talks tough and does whatever it takes to win.  They extrapolate that because he has been a winner in business, in entertainment and so far in politics, he will be a “winner” as president.  What they fail to grasp is that he has one outstanding quality that has accounted for much of his success:  his exceptional ability to promote himself.

Being the American president is arguably the toughest job in the world requiring a host of skills that go beyond self-promotion.  Still, the more people feel anxious about our present circumstances the more attractive Trump’s decisive, tough guy persona could become, despite his shortcomings.

But back to those bigotry charges.  I would say a large majority of his supporters are not racist or misogynist and don’t see him that way.  Prejudiced like we all are, but there is not something basically wrong with them as implied by the application of an “ist” (racist, sexist, etc.), the liberal way of labeling one a secular sinner and a well spring of the anti-P. C. sentiments that Trump regularly cashes in on.

Separate out those rationally challenged beings I call the birther bunch, and Trump supporters come in all sorts of mental shapes and sizes.  I have a young rising executive family member who dislikes Hillary so much, he is reluctantly siding with Trump, but would have voted for Bernie had he won the Democratic candidacy.  A friend who is a patient of a neurosurgeon was aghast at learning her doctor backs Trump.

Many of these supporters see Trump just beating the old pols at their own lying game.  All those outrageous things he says are just to get attention, lots of free media coverage, and he certainly has, or to weaken his opponents, which he did so well in the primary.

The more I examine Trump fan reaction the more I see how each picks and choses the information about him that they want to believe, like ordering a burger at Burger King.   They disregard many things he says just as ploys to get an advantage.  Or making an initial offer, a starting point for negotiation, just as he has always done in making deals.

Ben Carson is a case in point.  Despite being trashed by Trump in the campaign, Carson has come to back the Donald.  Carson exemplifies the Trump supporters’ tendency to let Trump slide in a lot of what he says because they believe he will be a “winner as president”.

While Carson is not happy about some Trump statements, he does not feel down deep Trump is a racist.   He got to know the man personally since his own campaign disappeared and sees two Donald Trumps, the private one absent of the bombast of the public persona, a guy surprisingly “cerebral and a good listener.”

A guy apparently Carson can believe in, at least when compared with the Republican version of Satan, Hillary Clinton.

As for the racist statements, I think Carson would say “it’s all politics.”   He seems to have reluctantly come to this sad, cynical conclusion from watching Trump’s success in the primary.  The lesson learned was all politicians are liars, so whatever you say as a politician doesn’t matter as long as it helps you win.   At the announcement of Carson endorsing Trump, the latter admitted as much by saying the reason he became so nasty with Carson was because he saw him rising in the polls.  That’s a sign of Trump respect, a compliment Trump-Style

Now that Carson is a supporter, Trump says wonderful things about the man, just as he has said about Ted Cruz, the former “lying Ted.”  If you’re with Trump he doesn’t care if you are black, or a woman or have a Mexican heritage or whatever.  You just have to be capable and loyal in his eyes.   Just ask Omarosa, a female, black former apprentice on his TV show often a part of his rallies.

On the other hand,  if you are against Trump he’ll  defame you, or sue you or whatever, until you submit.

Donald Trump is a ruthless liar who would have found a line of attack on Mother Teresa had she ever gotten in his way.  For those Survivor fans, Trump is a rendition of Jonny Fairplay,(real name Jon Dalton) a contestant who faked the death of his grandmother as a way of gaining sympathy from the other contestants who disliked him.

Like Fairplay, Trump is willing to fake anything and defame anyone to come out on top.  It is that aspect of the man that makes him particularly unfit to be the President of the United States.


 

Judge Curiel: Trump Truthiness Counter Attacks the Liberal Media

I’m not eager to post again so soon, but I have a matter with a timely nature to talk about.   With the “liberal media,” which apparently includes the Wall Street Journal these days, raking Trump over the coals for his comments on the Mexican-American judge at his University trial, the Trump team is fighting back like the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge.

Trump has been so successful in the campaign with his counter attacks that I want to knock out some of his forces right away, especially after just watching one of his female surrogates, who reminded me of a Stepford wive with her unwavering gaze, sound very convincing on TV tying Curiel to the purportedly violence prone “La Raza,” whatever that is.

As the Trumpeters so often do, they have woven together various facts, often twisted in the process, and created a separate reality that makes Trump appear the victim of a biased judge and the liberal media rather than the instigator.   Apparently social media abounds with their truthy message right now, which is what has prompted me to write.

Here is their lowest, least truthful line of attack.  Judge Curiel is a member of La Raza, which is a terrorist organization who supports illegal immigration and has helped foment riots at Trump speeches.   Actually, Judge Curiel is a member of La Raza Lawyers Association, separate from the National Council of La Raza which,while open to criticism for tactics and positions, is not the evil bunch portrayed by Trump and his surrogates.  As Lisa Navarette, a spokeswoman responded to Trump team attacks:  “We’re sitting around arguing the minutiae of banking regulation, not running around in hoods.” 

Maybe not that innocent, I only have a general idea, but whatever it is it is not the La Raza Lawyer’s Association of which Judge Curiel is a member.

Well, Trump would argue, both organizations have La Raza (the race) in their names and that suggests they hate non-Hispanics.  Neverette points out that there are “thousands” of Latino organizations with La Raza in their names “La Raza as a nod to our common heritage.”

The same way, I would say, the conservative Heritage Foundation is a nod to our common heritage, not a nod to white supremacy.

So, here we have Trump doubling down on another overall lie, promulgated throughout social media and me wondering will he be able to put this one across like he has so many others?   Surely, those strong Trump supporters will swallow this fabrication hook “lie” and sinker.

I can only hope those whose minds are not yet made up can see Trump for what he is, a recent rendition of the fairy tale The Emperor has No Clothes.


P. S. – I’m sure most of you know I am indebted to Stephen Colbert for his creation of “truthiness” as a way of looking at and portraying truth without regard to factual evidence, logic or the like.   Also, if you want to know more about the NCLA and Trump’s illegitimate tying it to Judge Curiel, here’s a link.

Donald Trump Might be Even More Popular than Polls Show

Recent findings by a research group called Morning Consult suggest that as well as Trump does in the polls, he might actually be even more popular than that.  This “group” has found that a number of people who back him, usually college educated, are embarrassed to admit it, so they mislead pollsters.

My favorite columnist, Kathleen Parker, reflected on these findings and, as usual, has written a column that is both witty and insightful, shedding light on the Trump phenonmenon in her own unique way.

“Morning Consult’s revelations got me thinking and, by Jove, I think I’ve got it: Donald Trump is White Man’s last stand.”

This link to that editorial is my Christmas gift to you.