Month: August 2018

The Permanent Campaign Rolls On

The DIY canonization of John McCain originated in Phoenix and will end in Washington, DC. McCain methodically planned this week-long funerary. John McCain took  his funeral on the road to great effect,  launching his campaign for the Mid-Terms, with several guest stars on the bill.

McCain wanted his funeral to be a bipartisan celebration of his life, and it has lived up to its billing. It’s fair to ask what motivated it. 

While it is true that he crossed the aisle from time to time, he voted with his Republican caucus 87% of the time. That’s slightly less than the average senator.  He voted against his caucus in certain congresses and for certain issues.   

McCsin’s casket has drawn a crowd

For example, he was more of a maverick during 43’s first term, deviating over the administration’s infatuation with torture, than he was during the Obama years. He voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2009. But then in 2017, he rose from his sickbed to cast the deciding vote against its repeal. He opposed the bill because his GOP colleagues rammed it through the Senate without a single hearing.

McCain on the campaign trail

McCain was never a champion of civil liberties. A Goldwater Republican, he was critical of Trump’s attack on the Gold Star parents of a slain Muslim soldier  Yet, he has branded  journalists as the enemy of the people”and also supported the Citizens United decision allowing as free speech anonymous and unlimited political contributions.  After all-nighter patriotism and libertarianism are strange bedfellows.

A master of contradiction

If the Maverick’s positions are incongruous it’s because there is no unified theory for his his voting record. He liked to cross the aisle, especially when there was a strong headwind. 

McCain’s life is being celebrated as a model of the civility that used to mark the relationship among Senators.   George W. Bush and Barack Obama, two people of significantly different views and who defeated McCain, will deliver addresses to the crowd.   At the Washington road production of The Funeral, McCain wanted to show that a Republican and Democrat can share a podium without staging  a smack down. They also can reject party line voting and find middle ground. That’s what this centrist nation needs. This is McCsin’s point. 

It takes a healthy ego to run for President. It takes even more than it does for planning one’s send-off.  A large ego can be tolerated when it is engaged in service of the better angels of our nature.  McCain believed that the grandiose rights were justified—and necessary. 

Give McCain this much: His final public act is unabashed. It’s a timely reminder to Congress and the citizenry to put country ahead of party by voting to put the brakes on the advancing dark age.

Race is the Place

Some folks can’t win for losing. These days I’m shedding a tear for the rifle industry.  Smith & Wesson, Remington and the other long-gun mongers have seen AR-15 sales drop by nearly 50% since their Manichaean Candidate barged into office.

You have to wonder how that’s possible. The NRA, their lobbying arm, stuffed $30 million into Trump’s tiny hands, not to mention the tasty treats served up to their congressional lap dogs. 

The lawmakers have turned a blind eye to the horrors of Parkland, the slaughter in Las Vegas and the tragedy at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. They’ve resisted all but the most minimal methods of keeping a wall —that’s right, I said it— between dangerous weapons and dangerous minds. 

One would think that the killings would raise fears among  people, sending them to the gun shows for a quick restocking. Just the opposite has happened. The mass shootings have not terrified gun owners, while schools remain on red alert. 

The spokesmen for the owners attribute it to a fall-off in the fear factor.  We’ll know for sure if Andrew Gillum, the African-American Democrat, wins the Florida governorship in November. 

Gillum and Ron DeSantis, his Republican opponent, wasted no time diving into the mud.  After his primary victory, DeSantis set off a firestorm with the following statement:

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state.  That is not going to work. That’s not going to be good for Florida.”

Gillum seized upon the word, “monkey,” as dog-whistle racism. DeSantis refused to apologize, saying that his statement had nothing to do with race.

Monkey?  DeSantis could have used many other words, more accurate and less inflammatory: mess up, screw up, foul up, louse up, as a few examples.   How did DeSantis, clearly no dummy, happen to land on a word that was not even in context?

If we assume that DeSantis is not a racist, then the word must have bubbled up in his brain for some less obvious reason.  If he said it unconsciously with no bad intent, then it is a function of white privilege. People who miss  the racist undertones in a comment are accused of exemplifying white privilege. If DeSantis is tone-deaf in his choice of the word, “monkey,” so that he was not even aware of the pejorative meaning, then he is insensitive “because he doesn’t know better.”

Gillum justifiably called DeSantis out on his poor choice of words, but his argument would have been more convincing if it hadn’t been so broadly stated.

In the age of Trump, it’s all about the tribe.

Ding Dong, the Witch Hunt is Dead!

Future Ex-President Donald J. Trump reeled from a double blow yesterday. Paul Manafort, his bargain-basement campaign manager, was convicted of eight counts of fraud. At almost the same time, Michael Cohen, his fixer, pled guilty to tax fraud and making illegal campaign contributions — to Stormy Daniels, a five-tool player in the porn industry, and Kathy McDougal, a Playboy veteran. Both women were paid by Cohen not to reveal their hook-ups with FEPOTUS.  Even worse, Cohen testified that a candidate for federal office had directed him to do it.

Trump was livid. Now he’d never get his cut of Manafort’s loan proceeds or the lobbying money collected by Cohen. Nothing makes him madder than his Capos making money without paying him his cut. He spent the flight time on Air Force drafting a doctor’s note for DonaldJr and plotting his revenge.

Consigliere Rudy Giuliani explained again that he couldn’t grant a pardon conditioned on Manafort or Cohen paying him. FEPOTUS thought the payments could be treated as contributions to the 2020 re-election campaign.  A bead of sweat ran along the Consigliere’s temple and down along his jaw line. He was planning to discuss 2020 another day.

“Yes, Mr. President, campaign contributions.” But his client was no longer listening. He was on the phone with Sean Hannity.  Giuliani backed out of the cabin.

“Not my emails, Sean! Hillary’s e-mails. Why are they ignoring them? That’s where the crime is. Sean, say it again and again. Keep saying it till everyone believes you.  And no collusion! This has nothing to do with Russia,” he said and dropped the call.

He mashed the IM to his private secretary.  “Get Melania back from whatever shithole country she’s in. I need her here to step up her cyber-bullying (sic) campaign.”

The phones were quiet now. An uneaten taco bowl and Diet Coke lay on the table. Don’t believe anything from the fake news, he thought, prepping for the West Virginia rally soon to start. Good chance they didn’t know about the verdict or the plea. No reason to tell them.

There was a knock on the cabin door. “Daddy?” Ivanka opened it and stepped in. “I have today’s report. Is this a good time?” He motioned her to take a seat.

“We’ve had a few cancellations at the DC hotel. The Saudis asked for a rain check on the State Visit,” FEPOTUS nodded, “and the foreign minister said that you could drop the interest payment off next week. He knows you’re busy.”

Ivanka continued.  “Miss Slovenia and her freeloader parents won’t be back for at least a week.”  CNN just aired that she would be gone for an indefinite period of time.  Trump, watery-eyed, looked up. “She didn’t book a return flight,” said Ivanka.

“There’s a great turn-out expected tonight,” she continued. “CBS Charleston is running a segment about the EPA being disbanded.”

“How’d you make out on moving the Ivanka inventory?” he asked.

“Indonesia didn’t want it, even below cost.  I have a call in to Big Lots.” FEPOTUS nodded, lost in thought.

Ivanka lingered, staring awkwardly at her father. He hadn’t touched his dinner and wasn’t watching Fox News, which always relaxed him. He’d even canceled his tanning session. She noticed that grey roots were poking through his orange bouffant.

“Daddy, if it’s ok with you, Jared and I are taking the kids to Six Flags on Friday. We won’t be in Bedminster this weekend.”  He shrugged, his big suit bobbing up and down.

“I thought you had my back,” he said to Ivanka, who avoided eye contact.

“You do, Daddy. It’s just that Jared’s been waiting to hear back from Six Flags, and it looks like they may have something for him in sales.”

“So, it’s not for the kids,” he said.

“Not entirely,” she admitted.  The intercom beeped.

“Senior adviser for you, Mr. President.”  Ivanka leaned over and kissed her father on his mottled cheek, then left the room.

“Hello, Mr. President,” said the adviser.

“Hello, Mr. President,” Trump said.  “I know it’s been a tough day.”  There was a long silence. “Isn’t it sad what they did to Paulie?”

“Manafort was stupid,” said Putin.  “He was desperate and did not eliminate  his weaknesses.”

“You know, he has another trial coming up,” offered Trump.

“I’ve been in touch with my liaison to the prosecutor.  They are going to try to make a deal now.  The point has been made.”

“How did you hear that before me?”

“I have a friend at Justice,” responded Putin.  “Donald, the reason I called is that I think we need to make a change.”

“You’re firing me?”

“No, but I believe it is better for you to resign and leave the party apparatchiks in place.  It is getting so bad that they may have to impeach you to save themselves.”

“This is some covfefe,” said Trump.

“That’s not a word!” said Putin.

“But you used it.”

“No, Donald.  I said kerfuffle.  But back to square one.  We will need to call in the loans because it does not appear that you will fulfill your term.”

“Vlad, you know I can’t pay it.  Revenues are down in all of our locations.  Today, the Saudis canceled a huge booking at the DC Hotel.  I need time.”

“You don’t have time, Donald.  We have to exercise the Helsinki Accord.”

That’s impossible right now. I don’t have Congress behind me.  It won’t go through.”

We will take care of Congress.  Just sign over Alaska and Hawaii, and we’ll call it even.”


“I never said Hawaii.  I can’t throw in Hawaii.  That’s our Pacific command.  Even you can’t get the caucus behind it.  Besides, I’ve optioned some property in that old leper colony – which island is that?”

“Molokai…funny, I mix it up with Guam.  What I can do, instead of Hawaii, I can release Puerto Rico.  You’ll have to bid with the Chinese over it, but think of what wonderful dachas you could build there.  It’s a perfect escape from the Russian winters.”  Trump paused.  “Puerto Rico is the hidden jewel in the crown.  Fantastic beaches.  A great rain forest for secret ops training.  The people are terrific. They love me. ”

“Puerto Rico is too messy, too much to do.  How about Oregon?”

“I told you the lower forty-eight were off limits. Besides, the West Coast is too socialist for Russian tastes.”

“Alright, Donald.  We will accept Alaska and Puerto Rico.  We will need to close the deal quickly.”

“I’ll get Miller started on the papers.”

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