Tag: Conservatives

The Kegger Plays His Trump Card

Yesterday’s meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee predictably satisfied the expectations of political junkies, #metoo activists and garden-variety voyeurs. The crowd also experienced the rare surprise of the cool and collected Brett Kavanaugh putting on his angry Trump face for the galleries and the folks at home. Trump’s Justice in utero wasn’t going to go out without a Trumpian rant.

Kegger spent several days in White House captivity, mastering the Trump playbook. He roared about the Democrats’ chicanery, lamented that his days of teaching and coaching girls’ sports may be over, and raged that the coveted prize, a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court was being pulled out of his hands. He didn’t use the words “rigged” or “witch hunt,” and he wept and cursed his fate. Otherwise, it was unvarnished Trump-speak. Trump’s hand was up the Kegger’s back, moving his lips and waving his arms.

The Republican senators had hired Rachel Mitchell, an able and experienced sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to question accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in their stead. Mitchell took each majority members’ five-minute segment in the Ford questioning, and she was scheduled to do the same with the Kegger. However, chairman Grassley and his bloc, fortified by the nominee’s new-found belligerence, decided to take back the microphone.

First up, Lindsey Graham (R-NC) lay the groundwork for the rest of the afternoon. Turning away from the judge, he fixed his pole axe on his Democratic colleagues.

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy!”

His target was his friend, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who bore the brunt of accusations that she held back Ford’s accusation until after Kavanaugh’s first hearing finished.
At long last, the combatants dismissed Ford and Kavanaugh, the proxies for the war between the statesmen. The Repubs were in high dudgeon over the Dems’ treatment of Kavanaugh, and the Dems were tacitly taking their revenge for their rivals’ dismissal of Merrick Garland in 2016 – and for a bagful of other indignities and slights.

The public got to see what kind of shit show we’ve enabled in the halls of government. Blame everybody — we’ve demanded winner-take-all politics, and now we have it. The Democrats led by former Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) set this in motion by eliminating the filibuster in connection with judicial appointments below the Supreme Court level This reduced the vote to a simple majority. When Mitch McConnell (R-TN) extended the rule to Supreme Court confirmation, the nuclear option, the stage was set for extreme appointees who did not require bipartisan support.

In 2016 Merrick Garland was put forward by Barack Obama, a centrist judge who previously had garnered the approval of both parties. He did this to dare the Republican house to gamble on the outcome of the presidential election.  McConnell, in complete control of the Senate, refused even to consider his nomination, rolling the dice that, if Clinton had won, he could always activate Garland’s nomination. With Trump in the White House and a Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell has been rolling sevens, judicially speaking. The Democrats, outmaneuvered, lament lifting the filibuster in the first place.

Dick Durbin (D-IL) had predicted in January that ending the filibuster would be the “end of the Senate,” as we know it. Yesterday, he lamented that his prediction had come true.

“It’s interesting, a Republican senator this morning in the gym raised the same question with me. And I said, ‘I think we’re learning our lesson here.’ That eliminating the filibuster on the Supreme Court at least, and maybe the other federal positions, has really created a much more political process. It is better for us to move toward with something that is bipartisan and try to find more moderate people to serve on our federal judiciary.”

Good luck with that. It’s a great aspiration but no one in this Senate presently will lead the institution out of its quagmire. So much needs to be unwound to return to lower-case d democracy in our politics. The Senate and House must reclaim their preeminent places in our government, and the imperial presidency, begun long before Trump, must be contained. These changes require the Supreme Court to recognize congressional primacy, and Brett Kavanaugh won’t let that happen — unless his puppeteer loses the White House.

Texas Two-Step: DFW Morning News Endorses Clinton

Texas View of U.S.Texas is the hub of American Conservatism, and Dallas-Ft. Worth is its epicenter. Today the Dallas-Ft. Worth Morning News endorsed Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, for President. The endorsement comes one day after the News announced that it could not endorse Donald Trump, the Republican nominee.

Man Bites Dog

Clinton is the first Democrat to get the Morning News endorsement since the 1930’s!   However, the board determined that Clinton was the only “serious” candidate.The editorial board does not love the former Secretary of State but does respect her. Naturally, the endorsement comes with reservations.

“In Clinton’s eight years in the U.S. Senate, she displayed reach and influence in foreign affairs. Though conservatives like to paint her as nakedly partisan, on Capitol Hill she gained respect from Republicans for working across the aisle: Two-thirds of her bills had GOP co-sponsors and included common ground with some of Congress’ most conservative lawmakers.”

No Trump Bid

Trump was rejected as “hostile to conservatism He plays on fear — exploiting base instincts of xenophobia, racism and misogyny — to bring out the worst in all of us, rather than the best. His serial shifts on fundamental issues reveal an astounding absence of preparedness. And his improvisational insults and midnight tweets exhibit a dangerous lack of judgment and impulse control..”

Trump’s dismissal one day earlier sounded the alarm that the GOP candidate was a Republican in Name Only.

“We have no interest in a Republican nominee for whom all principles are negotiable, nor in a Republican Party that is willing to trade away principle for pursuit of electoral victory.

“Trump doesn’t reflect Republican ideals of the past; we are certain he shouldn’t reflect the GOP of the future.”

Morning News’ Message

Why the Texas Two-Step? The Morning News published two separate pieces to send a clear signal to its constituents. It denounced Trump as unworthy politically because he does not espouse traditional Republican or conservative values and lacks the integrity to stand by principled positions. Don’t vote for Trump, it cautioned.  But otherwise, Vote Republican!

It endorsed Clinton, because the nation needs a capable, serious person to occupy the Oval Office. Conservatives were encouraged to vote for Clinton for her ability to execute the job, not for her policies.

The unstated message, which is sure to follow, is that Republican/Conservative down-ballot candidates will be endorsed and should have their readers’ support. Furthermore, a vote for Clinton should not be read as a sign of reconciliation over policy differences.

A New Day Dawning?

The most encouraging part of the endorsement can be read as an undertaking to set aside personal attacks toward Clinton and instead to address the nation’s business on the merits.

We reject the politics of personal destruction. Clinton has made mistakes and displayed bad judgment, but her errors are plainly in a different universe than her opponent’s.

If Clinton prevails, which seems more likely with Dallas’ endorsement, the first test of a new cooperative spirit will take place before she takes office.  The Senate Republicans can create political good will and do the right thing for its constituents by confirming Merrick Garland, even if they hold their majority in the Senate.

This Week in Press the Nation — in Review

Part I – Talking Heads

    Sonny, my Dachshund, was surprised during our Sunday morning walk. I bought three newspapers. He had not seen that much paper pulp since he was a puppy.  I was girding myself for the morning political shows on the eve of the Republican National Convention. Devoted as I am to blogging about our nation, I am duty-bound at least to keep the TV on.  If it really gets bad, I can turn off the sound, as I do for the Yankees games.  In truth, both the television shows and the newspapers are necessary. TV gives you the Whats and newspapers (and books — Shh!) give you the Whys.

     The talk shows are for talking points. For example, on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” the eponymous host tossed out a question, such as, “Do you think Mike Pence, the GOP VP pick, will help capture the women’s vote, in view of his opposition to Planned Parenthood?”  The guest, Reince Priebus, RNC National Chairman, responded with a pre-set statement he judged to be in the nearest vicinity to the topic, such as “Seventy percent of Americans are against federal funding for abortion.” And so on.  After the show returned from a commercial break, the round-table convened. The round-table consists of political operatives from the two major parties – no reason to ask anyone else, right? They continued flinging non sequiturs in a heated manner. It’s probably the worst fifteen minutes in television, and I am including The Kardashians in my calculation.
     The shows also give political camps the chance to send up trial balloons, back away from discredited positions and in many cases do both at once.  For example, Paul Manafort, de facto Trump Campaign Manager, walked back his man’s infamous ban on all Muslims to a more selective approach. Manafort called this repudiation “a deeper articulation” of Trump’s position. Of course, there’s always time for shredding the outgoing administration, Manafort stating for example that crime in black communities has been worse under Obama’s failed leadership.  There is also the humanizing of the candidates, in this year’s election a critical issue for both parties. Thus, Priebus and Manafort offered an “if only you knew him the way I do” pitch for Trump not being the foul-mouthed, hateful bully he plays on television.  I’m thankful that Idi Amin is not running.
     By far the most revealing comments took place in a Face the Nation roundtable, which fielded representatives of the Wall Street Journal, the Federalist and the American Conservative Union, three right-wing organizations.  This group appeared to be a yawner but instead they threw off sparks and heat. In fact, their differences got straight to the heart of the Republican crisis. Ben Domenech, editor of the Federalist, spoke for old guard conservatives, who have rejected Trump as a race-baiting, exclusionary, anti-free trade R.I.N.O;  for the camp that considers Pence inconsequential in light of Trump’s non-ideological positions.  “The party has traded statesmanship for xenophobia,” and “the party is coming to Cleveland to die,” Domenech said.  Matt Schlapp, the ACU Chairman and an enthusiastic Pence backer, smacked back, characterizing him as the kind of Washington elitist the Trump voters have rejected.  Schlapp refused to believe that Trump voters are racist. Host John Dickerson asked Kim Strassel, the WSJ writer, to mediate these positions.  Her call for party unity was a familiar refrain in the party’s melodrama.  Big Tent Republican outlets, like the Wall Street Journal, have chosen not to choose in order to maintain the size of their audiences.
     Here’s the thing:  People who brand themselves Conservative are in open disagreement and are fighting for control, if not the soul, of the party. Domenech’s and Schlapp’s positions are irreconcilable. Trump is dismissive of the patrician Conservatism Domenech represents. Domenech opposes Trump, and Schlapp, perhaps warily, embraces him.  Glenn Beck, who weighed in during a Meet the Press segment, stood closer to Domenech but cast a pox on the Party of Lincoln.  He said that he is not voting for Trump; maybe he’ll vote for the Green Party. He added almost tearfully that Republicans who back Trump publicly but disown him privately are inauthentic in his book.  Scary when Glenn Beck Starts Making Sense.
      TV left these disagreements unexplained.  I needed some self-flagellating intellectual to hold forth on how things got this way and how he despairs of the party recovering its Soul.  I picked up the Times Week in Review and began to read.

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