Friday, July 19, 2019

July 19, 2019--"Spare Me the Revolution"

Tom Friedman is not my favorite columnist. For example, to me he can be a little giddy when it comes to extolling the wonders of globalization.  

But earlier this week he wrote a meaningful op ed, most of which I have included below. It is the best piece I've read about how Democrats are inadvertently conspiring to lose the election to Donald Trump.

It will likely make you angry but it also provides a plausible roadmap for how to win--

I’m struck at how many people have come up to me recently and said, “Trump’s going to get re-elected, isn’t he?” And in each case, when I drilled down to ask why, I bumped into the Democratic presidential debates in June. I think a lot of Americans were shocked by some of the things they heard there. I was.

I was shocked that so many candidates in the party whose nominee I was planning to support want to get rid of the private health insurance covering some 250 million Americans and have “Medicare for all” instead. I think we should strengthen Obamacare and eventually add a public option.

I was shocked that so many were ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country. I think people should have to ring the doorbell before they enter my house or my country.

I was shocked at all those hands raised in support of providing comprehensive health coverage to undocumented immigrants. I think promises we’ve made to our fellow Americans should take priority, like to veterans in need of better health care.

And I was shocked by how feeble was front-runner Joe Biden’s response to the attack from Kamala Harris — and to the more extreme ideas promoted by those to his left.

So, I wasn’t surprised to hear so many people expressing fear that the racist, divisive, climate-change-denying, woman-abusing jerk who is our president was going to get re-elected, and was even seeing his poll numbers rise.

Dear Democrats: This is not complicated! Just nominate a decent, sane person, one committed to reunifying the country and creating more good jobs, a person who can gain the support of the independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women who abandoned Donald Trump in the midterms and thus swung the House of Representatives to the Democrats and could do the same for the presidency. And that candidate can win!

But please, spare me the revolution! It can wait. Win the presidency, hold the House and narrow the spread in the Senate, and a lot of good things still can be accomplished. “No,” you say, “the left wants a revolution now!” O.K., I’ll give the left a revolution now: four more years of Donald Trump.

That will be a revolution.

Four years of Trump feeling validated in all the crazy stuff he’s done and said. Four years of Trump unburdened by the need to run for re-election and able to amplify his racism, make Ivanka secretary of state, appoint even more crackpots to his cabinet and likely get to name two right-wing Supreme Court justices under the age of 40.

Yes sir, that will be a revolution!

It will be an overthrow of all the norms, values, rules and institutions that we cherish, that made us who we are and that have united us in this common project called the United States of America.

If the fear of that doesn’t motivate the Democratic Party’s base, then shame on those people. Not all elections are equal. Some elections are a vote for great changes — like the Great Society. Others are a vote to save the country. This election is the latter.

That doesn’t mean a Democratic candidate should stand for nothing, just keep it simple: Focus on building national unity and good jobs.

I say national unity because many Americans are terrified and troubled by how bitterly divided, and therefore paralyzed, the country has become. There is an opening for a unifier.

And I say good jobs because when the wealth of the top 1 percent equals that of the bottom 90 percent, we do have to redivide the pie. I favor raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to subsidize universal pre-K education and to reduce the burden of student loans. Let’s give kids a head start and college grads a fresh start.

But I’m disturbed that so few of the Democratic candidates don’t also talk about growing the pie, let alone celebrating American entrepreneurs and risk-takers. Where do they think jobs come from?

The winning message is to double down on redividing the pie in ways that give everyone an opportunity for a slice while also growing the pie sustainably.

Trump is growing the pie by cannibalizing the future. He is creating a growth spurt by building up enormous financial and carbon debts that our kids will pay for.

Democrats should focus on how we create sustainable wealth and good jobs, which is the American public-private partnership model: Government enriches the soil and entrepreneurs grow the companies.

It has always been what’s made us rich, and we’ve drifted away from it: investing in quality education and basic scientific research; promulgating the right laws and regulations to incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness and monopolies that can cripple free markets; encouraging legal immigration of both high-energy and high-I.Q. foreigners; and building the world’s best enabling infrastructure — ports, roads, bandwidth and basic social safety nets.

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Thursday, July 18, 2019

July 18, 2019--Wither Kamala Harris?

It began so auspiciously. Kamala Harris's campaign for the Democratic nomination. 

20,000 turned out in Oakland for her announcement ceremony. Millions in cash and pledges poured in with promises of more to come. Hollywood gazillionaires have deep pockets.

Then there was The Debate. She took frontrunner Joe Biden down in a preemptive strike by attacking him face-to-face on the most vaunted part of his legacy--his record of support for civil rights. 

Harris knew that Biden's core constituents are African Americans, especially African-American women, and unless she could attract some to support her candidacy it was doomed. So she went after him. Almost calling him a racist by saying she didn't think he was a racist. She just let that hang in the air. And it seemed to work.

For a week after the debate things were looking good for her. No matter that she slammed Biden for his position on court-ordered school bussing, which though designed to reduce segregation all evidence shows was a disaster for blacks as well as whites. Schools were no more integrated and neighborhoods were shredded by White Flight though some individuals such as bussed second-grader Kamala, by her account, benefited.

Harris's poll numbers rose five to 10 points while Biden's plummeted by similar amounts.

But then something seemingly surprising happened--her campaign appeared to stall. She began to slip in the polls and contributions to her campaign went from flow to trickle. 

And on Monday of this week an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed Harris slipping to fourth place in head-to-head competition with Trump, trailing still frontrunner Biden (who led Trump by nine points) by eight points, trailing second-place Sanders by six points, and third place Warren by five.

Well within the margin of error, unlike the other three who did well in the poll, Harris led Trump by just one percentage point.

None of this is good news for Harris.

What happened?

I suspect over time underlying race and gender issues are coming into fuller play.

Too many Democratic voters were turned off by the overly-aggressive way in which Harris raked Biden over the coals. She was perceived to be more angry than assertive. It was too much a beatdown than a disagreement about ideas and policies. And too many women as well as men, white as well as black, think of this as you will, felt she was acting in an emasculating manner. Instead of confronting his political history she was attacking his manhood.

Biden came away from the confrontation looking like a punished child.

As I did, on YouTube replay the confrontation to see if she crossed some of these tripwire lines. 

We should probably be beyond these kinds of reactions in our public discourse. But sadly we aren't and it may be costing Kamala Harris a potential path to the nomination. We are not yet that enlightened to be OK with a black women taking down a 70-plus year-old white man. We still have a long way to go.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019--Sick Days

We arrived in NYC and immediately both caught nasty colds. Wheezing, sneezing, and especially coughing. So I haven't been doing any writing. I hope to tomorrow, Tuesday, and if I do will have something to post on Wednesday about Kamala Harris--"Wither Kamala Harris?"

Friday, July 12, 2019

July 12, 2019--AOC & Company

It is no secret that Nancy Pelosi is having more than a spat with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

They are fighting for the very soul of the Democratic Party: Speaker Pelosi is concerned about two things: retaining the Democratic majority in the House and defeating Trump in 2020.

AOC and her colleagues believe it is time to pass the leadership torch to a new generation of the Democratic base, largely women and people of color; Pelosi, as she thinks about the big political picture, believes it is about the center holding so that the Democrats can be a party that is broadly inclusive and therefore they must be careful not to overreach in their policy agenda.

I confess, as I obsess about deposing Trump, to being closer to the Pelosi point of view, acknowledging this may be as much generational thinking as we are both old!

My friend Dan La Noue also thinks about these sweeping realities and again, in part for generational reasons (he is young), is also thinking big but in ways quite different than Pelosi.

Here is a sample of his thinking taken from his response to my recent White Male Privilege blog--

Dan wrote--

A lot of great insights in the WMP posting. But I disagree with the characterization of AOC and company. Nancy Pelosi wasn't pushing for a Green Deal, nor was she willing to speak so bluntly and truthfully about the horrors of the dentention camps on the border. AOC and her friends did that, and they've reframed the debate about these critical issues in way that captures much-needed attention. Conservatives are brilliant about pushing the Overton Window to get people to think about things differently, and these new Dems are taking a page out of their book and putting it to good use. Gutless politicking isn't going to defeat Trump and/or mobilize voters. That's how Hillary bricked a layup election.

I responded--

To me until after Election Day it's all about defeating Trump. In my view, though I am attracted to some of their policy positions, the AOC Four politically are only helping Trump. 

Dan responded--

Remember when the GOP claimed Obama, a mild-mannered center-left guy, was a blood-gargling Kenyan islamo-socialist? My point is that Trump and company will demonize Democrats no matter what. So if you're a Democrat, why not be bold and say/do things that actually give your side something to vote for? This is why I don't worry about AOC and Co. the way some others do. And frankly, I think deep down the Right's hatred of them has more to do with race than any one policy they propose. Call me crazy.

I then said--

Not so crazy! You make a good case. But I still fear that AOC's Squad (as they refer to themselves), if they become the face of the Democratic Party, no matter how that happens, will help Trump get reelected. If that occurs than all the inspiring policies in the world will go for nought.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

July 11, 2019--Relocating

We've been busy preparing to relocate for 10 days and had a small car emergency so I will not have anything to post until Thursday.

Then I will share how a smart young friend administered a really well done critique of how about I am viewing the upcoming presidential election.

Hint--he thinks I've got it pretty much all wrong.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

July 10, 2019--White Male Privilege

Continuing to ponder the gender implications of the large vote Trump received in 2016 from white women, Guest Blogger Sharon wrote--

One of the questions I keep hearing is should Dems try to get Obama/Trump voters back or go full out Progressive to motivate more new voters.

As much as I hate many aspects of data mining and micro-targeting, it would probably help if the Dems knew more about these and other more reasonable Trump voters and those Dems that didn’t vote in 2016.

With that said, I suspect the real challenge isn’t what candidates say or how they say it but who they are. There just might not be anyone with a wide enough appeal. I cringed when Bill Maher said the only one who could beat Trump for sure is Oprah. But I fear he may be right.

It’s a tiny sample but when a friend from the Midwest had brunch with a friend from New York, he asked him why he and friends voted for Trump. His reaction was people knew him. For me that was a dis-qualifier. But with so many people not paying attention, this may be the key. 

As for more civilized discourse, an acquaintance assisting at the polls on Democratic primary day last month said a woman drove into the church parking lot screaming at her about representing “the party of death” and how she’d never vote for a Democrat. I thought this might just be a disturbed individual. Then I  googled our moderate businessman Senator and former Governor Mark Warner.  The first entry is an ad to defeat him in 2020 because he sides with the “party of death.” Interesting new branding. Not encouraging. 
I wrote--

The most recent ways the Dems are shooting themselves in the foot is to give so much attention to AOC and three (three!) of her colleagues. This gang of four is the gift that keeps on giving to the GOP now that they have someone even better than Nancy Pelosi to demonologize. How self-defeating can we be.

And then Jill Davenport wrote--

I was just this minute reading your blog about women and I believe you’re exactly right. And Bill Clinton was exactly right when he spoke about white men dying of broken hearts.  

There’s another reason as well, and this affects both genders . . . the white male privilege is on shaky ground, and so is the privilege thereby extended to their female counterparts.  They are terribly fearful of the most awful thing that they can imagine . . . being outnumbered by people of color who by nature they believe should be shining shoes in airports.  

Having a black man for president was an unspeakable affront to the proper order as they see it and they thus feel it needs to be restored.  

Obama brought out the latent and carefully hidden racism which came forth like a toxic flood when T-name took over "my" White House.  All of it is, of course, the result of just fear. 

I thought--

Jill's new idea about how for many conservative women male privilege is extended to them is something important to ponder. For me it helps explain why so many white women voted for Trump and how important it is for progressives to understand this in order to find ways to prevail.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

July 9, 2019--Trump's American History 101

In case you missed it, or perhaps decided to torture yourself by tuning into Trump's July 4th speech surrounded by tanks at the Lincoln Memorial, or perhaps you thought you were hallucinating when you heard him talking about our Revolutionary War airports, let me at least disabuse you of the latter--he did make mention of such airports and so you weren't having a delusional episode.

He in fact said: "Our [Revolutionary] army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets red glare, it had nothing but victory."

Oblivious, he mashed up the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Wright Brothers' first flight nearly a century later.

When Trump learned he had flunked History 101, as usual he blamed the mishap on something other than himself--it was raining and, he said, that knocked out the teleprompter.

To quote him, "I guess the rain knocked it out, but I knew the speech very well. So I was able to do it without a prompter."

About why you may have tuned in, you're on your own, as I confess I am.

But since you may have watched as I did, did you catch the performance of the "Marine Corps Hymn"?

In the background you could see Trump mouthing some of the words. Since I'm good at lipreading I can share with you what he was singing--

From the balls at Mar-a-Lago
To the shops at Tiffany's

I fight the New York Times

On the newsstand and TV

Who cares about rights and freedom
Or our democracy
As long as I don't have to serve
As a United States Marine

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