The President Battles On.

 Remember Michael Moore’s great movie – Where’s Roger? – about the collapse of Flint? The 1989 movie, which made Michael Moore famous, covered what happened to the city of Flint, MI after GM closed a big assembly plant and their CEO, Roger Smith, refused to discuss the company’s decision with Moore or anyone else.

Now we seem to be entering a similar phase in the goings-on within the White House and the virtual disappearance of Donald Trump.  With the exception of a silent walk past the Tomb and the Eternal Flame in Arlington, Trump hasn’t made a single, public appearance in the last – ready? – nine days!

So Trump continues to tweet. So what? There happens to be a team in his office that works his Twitter feed, including posting videos and writing text. I notice that the header photo is from a rally that was held ten days ago, and the tweets are largely retweets from the latest nonsense from Sean Hannity, as if anyone’s watching him.

Here is a President who has gone from being the most powerful media presence in the history of American politics to a media presence who all of a sudden doesn’t exist. But what does exist is the corona virus, and at least three people who were at the shindig had subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.

But don’t worry. Trump isn’t done planning super-spreader events. He’s got one coming up this weekend which is being billed as the ‘Million MAGA March,’ which will fill the capitol with an army of supporters who still believe in Trump. And which groups are going to bring what Kayleigh McEnany said yesterday would be a ‘big crowd?

Among other patriotic groups assembling in front of the White House will be the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters and the Proud Boys, all of whom have been promoting Trump’s alt-right bullshit and racism even before there was a Donald Trump.

The best announcement came from the Oath Keepers, who claim they will send some ‘battle-hardened’ veterans to the demonstration to protect the crowd from left-wing terrorists and thugs. The picture above is what these battle-hardened veterans look like today. All I can say is that if the schmucks who are allegedly planning this event want anyone to show up, they better have plenty of pizza around for the patriots to eat.

Going forward, Trump has two big problems, neither of which is there really any way to solve. Problem number one is that his campaign is broke, ditto the RNC. This may be the reason why not one, but two law firms have decided to not go forward representing Trump in his battle over the election results. Who’s now representing the President in Pennsylvania? A divorce attorney [thanks Paula] with absolutely no experience in election or public law.

Oh I forgot. Trump’s new lawyer has been working on a PhD in Public Administration at West Chester State University since 2018. She ‘anticipates’ completing her dissertation in 2022.

Problem number two, and this is the bigger problem, is that every day, drip, drip, drip, another Republican announces that he’s sick and tired of all Trump’s post-election nonsense and wants this crap to end. The latest pronouncement came from a GOP Congressman in Illinois, Adam Kinzinger, who referred to Trump’s recent tweets about election fraud as ‘insane.’

I continue to hope that Trump refuses to concede, because I really want his rock-ribbed supporters to end up as nothing more than the guys who show up at Oath Keeper meetings, eat their pizza, drink their beer, and go home. I can’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate Trump’s four years in office than asking him to inspire the patriotism and love of country that the Oath Keepers represent.

And let’s not forget the Proud Boys, whose chief acolyte happens to be Roger Stone.

Is This A Real Political Campaign?

              It was Karl Marx who said, “History repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.” As far as I’m concerned, this year’s election certainly proves Marx to have been correct. 

              Let’s go back to 1988. George H. W. Bush runs against Mike Dukakis, the latter starting off with a huge lead. Bush is a nice guy but he’s no Ronald Reagan, even though that’s who he pretends to be.

              So what does Bush do?  He demonizes the opposition by running an entire campaign around a decision by Dukakis to grant a furlough to a lifetime felon named Willie Horton who left the penitentiary in Massachusetts and celebrated his release by committing armed robbery, kidnapping and rape.

              The Bush campaign began running an ad which had Bush saying he supported the death penalty followed by a picture of Willie Horton and a voice-over which said that the bad guy was released from jail because of a furlough program devised by then-Governor Dukakis who also had refused to sign a death penalty bill.

              Bush’s numbers began climbing from being 17 points behind in August to a victory in which he got 53% of the popular votes and carried 40 states. You can read a good column about this race written by Adam Nagourney in The (failing) New York Times.

              The 1988 Presidential campaign is considered the first national election campaign that was basically won by using attack ads. Which is exactly what Trump did in 2016 against Hillary. His entire campaign was just a series of personal swipes against her, including but not limited to the so-called ‘corruption’ of her husband’s foundation, the emails, the death of Vince Foster and everything else.

              Trump also got some last-minute help from James Comey, whose announcement about more emails re-invigorated the issue that dogged her entire campaign.

              Clinton spent the entire campaign reading from various briefing books that contained voluminous research on all sorts of policy things. Nobody cared at all. The 2016 campaign was devoid of even the slightest bit of debate about policies, it was simply a question of who could make more noise.

              So what Marx said about history first repeating itself as tragedy is a good way to understand what happened in 2016. We ended up with a President who not only didn’t get a majority of the popular vote, but received the lowest number of electoral votes since the 1960 election which produced the ill-fated Presidency of JFK.  

              What did Trump do after he started lying about the size of his inaugural crowd? He spent the next three years holding more than 90 mega-campaign rallies until the virus shut down his road show back in March. And at every rally he went on and on about how he was leading a growing ‘movement’ to bring America ‘back again.’

              Here’s a guy who, thanks to Ross Perot, gets elected with the smallest percentage of popular votes since Clinton’s first campaign in 1992. And he’s leading this big, new political movement? Covid or no Covid, Trump was a sitting duck.

              What do you do when you really can’t get past the fact that not only did the pandemic occur on your watch but it’s getting worse every day? You do what George Bush did back in 1988 – you demonize the other side.

              This time history’s repeating itself not with tragedy but with farce. And the reason this campaign’s a farce is what I heard both Trump and Rush Limbaugh say yesterday, namely, that Joe is a ‘tool’ of the ‘international Communist movement.’ Is there anyone alive except me who even remembers when there was a Communist movement anywhere at all?

              We’ve known the importance of social distancing to control pandemics since Boccaccio wrote The Decameron in 1348. But when the President of the United States wraps an entire campaign narrative around the idea that we don’t need to do anything about the pandemic because we’ve already ‘turned the corner’ without a vaccine, we’re not engaged in a political campaign.

              We’re engaged in a farce.

              VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN!

The Strange Case Of Luther Strange: Another Gun Nut Wants Your Vote.

Last week a special election in Montana featured television ads by the Democratic candidate, Rob Quist, who aimed his ‘old’ rifle at a television screen playing an attack ad run by his opponent, then pulled the trigger and the tv ad went away. This creative work of genius was put together by the Quist campaign to counter advertisements run by his Republican opponent, slugger Greg Gianforte, which accused Quist of being anti-gun.

quistI wrote a column about this ad which I found to be stupid, offensive and beyond the pale. I likened it to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page which showed target cross-hairs over the names and locations of various Democratic office-holders and candidates, one of whom happened to be Gabby the same week she was shot. I don’t care if the Democratic Party (and I’m a proud, yellow-dog Democrat, by the way) needs every Congressional seat it can get, you don’t use gun violence or an appeal to gun violence to muster up votes. You don’t do it.  As in don’t do it, okay?

Because here’s what happens when you do it. The virus spreads. And now we have another political jack-off who happens in this case to be a Republican, and he’s doing the same thing in his campaign as well. I’m talking about Luther Strange from Alabama, who was appointed on February 9 to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacated Senate seat. Given the news out of Washington yesterday that Sessions appears to have forgotten several other meetings he had with his Russian buddies during the Trump campaign, maybe it would have been better to leave his Senate vacant for a couple of months so that Session could honorably resign from the Cabinet, citing the need to return home and represent Alabama in the Senate again. But the bottom line is that there’s going to be a primary in August for a special election in the Fall, so ol’ Luther has started running campaign ads promoting himself as – guess what? – a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment because he’s been endorsed by the NRA.

You can view this ad on Luther’s Facebook page, which shows him shooting a pistol with a silencer in a shooting range at a bunch of targets that are supposed to represent various schemes of the Obama Administration which Luther fought against and won. I found this ad interesting for two reasons: first, Senator Strange doesn’t bother to wear hearing protection, even though a silencer doesn’t provide total protection for your hearing but Luther after all, is a real man; second, he states that he “fought the Obama administration’s unconstitutional infringement on our gun rights all the way to the Supreme Court,” when in fact he did no such thing. Even the NRA’s endorsement doesn’t list him as ever having participated in any legal action which ever went to the Supreme Court.

The use of guns as a vehicle to symbolize any political narrative whatsoever is dangerous and wrong.  Because it transforms a gun into something which it is – a mechanical device that propels a piece of lead into something at which the gun is being aimed – into something which it isn’t – a metaphor for disagreeing with a statement or position that you don’t like.  And the single most upsetting thing about those Klan campaign rallies over which Trump is still presiding as a way of avoiding any real work (or discussions with lawyers about impending indictments) is his constant appeals to violence both in terms of language and physical acts.

I can certainly understand why my friends at Fairfax would be exulting when they see such political ads. After all, the one group which above all says that there’s no connection between guns and violence is the same group that endorsed good ol’ boy Luther Strange to help him retain his newly-occupied Senate seat. Which is exactly the reason that such advertising is offensive and should be condemned. Because there’s no place for appeals to violence in a country which (I hope) is still governed by laws.