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Category Archives: Political Theatre

Trump in Flames…

My friend Aaron Elstein at Crain’s has a fun piece on the further unraveling of professional asshole Donald Trump.

Macy’s has become the latest corporate giant to part ways with Donald Trump.

The retailer said Wednesday that it would stop selling the Donald Trump line of menswear on its shelves since 2004, saying it was “disappointed and distressed” by  the presidential candidate’s recent remarks about Mexican immigrants.

The New York-based retailer’s move comes two days after NBCUniversal said it would no longer broadcast the Miss USA or other beauty pageants owned by Mr. Trump. Four days earlier, Spanish-language network Univision bid Mr. Trump adios.

In just one speech, Trump managed to alienate Hispanics and do serious damage to his own financial interests. Let’s agree that he should not even be near the White House for a tour.
 
Serious candidates or at least mentally stable adults would have had a sit-down with leaders of the Hispanic community where he made amends and tried to move on from this. Instead Trump just doubles down. I can’t immediately think of a declared presidential candidate who torched his path to the White House so quickly and completely: New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Florida… I could probably beat him in those states now.
 
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Posted by on July 1, 2015 in Political Theatre

 

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The Clown Car Gets More Crowded…

Chris Christie is now the fourteenth declared candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.

“I think the biggest problem with so many people is getting attention, and I’ve never had any problem getting attention,” the New Jersey Republican said in an exclusive interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. “So I think I’ll do okay.”

The interview was in a diner, which I guess is consistent with Christie’s goal of “connecting” with “real” people. Are any candidates actually trying to connect with “imaginary” people? They are not the most reliable voting bloc.

I can only assume no one has told Christie he can’t win. Or does anyone bother with these discussions anymore? Running for president these days is like having your own photography business. Everyone with access to an iPhone and the Internet is doing it. Unfortunately, most of the candidates are hopelessly out of focus.

If Christie were running in 2012 at the height of his national popularity and Obama was his Democratic challenger, his situation would be different. However, the general consensus — even among the voters who like the guy — is that Christie can be “rude” or “belligerent.” He even famously explained that he “wasn’t a bully,” which reminded me of Richard Nixon’s insistence that he wasn’t a crook. Do you really want to run the hothead against a likely female candidate? Politics is perception, and I can imagine Christie looking like an ass after every debate with Hillary Clinton.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Political Theatre

 

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Meanwhile, in crazy town…

Texas attorney general Ken Paxton announced today that “county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage.”

Paxton called the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage “lawless,” and said “I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.”

My wife and I picked up registration tags for our car last week. Fortunately, the lady who waited on us wasn’t Amish.

Look, Mr. Paxton, you can disagree with a Supreme Court ruling. You can even call it immoral or unconscionable, as we now refer to Dred Scott (oh, and if you compare the marriage equality ruling to Dred Scott, which stated that the black man had “no rights the white man is bound to respect,” then you are a racist buffoon). However, what you can’t do is call it “lawless.” Please check a dictionary. You went to law school, for the love of Madonna! First years learn that laws are not inherently moral but are simply “the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.”

Also, if you were that concerned about “standing in defense” of the rights of Texas citizens, you could just hire more clerks who don’t have an issue with same-sex marriage or even those who do but actually follow the law as their jobs require. I don’t like guns, so I don’t work for a gun manufacturer.

In 2009, a Louisiana justice of the peace refused to issue a marriage licence to an interracial couple. Even Bobby Jindal, who likes gays about as much as sensible people like him, called for his resignation.

“This is a clear violation of constitutional rights and federal and state law. … Disciplinary action should be taken immediately — including the revoking of his license,” the Republican governor said.

That was just 42 years after Loving vs. Virginia, but it’d be awfully efficient if we just skipped this obnoxious “standing in front of the courthouse opposing desegregation” step in the process.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Political Theatre

 

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Fables of Huckabee…

Fables of Huckabee…

Mike Huckabee and other religious conservatives claim their resistance to marriage equality is similar to Martin Luther King’s non-violent resistance to American apartheid. But if you actually look at history, Huckabee’s actions are more in tune with another former governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, who in 1957 defied a Supreme Court decision desegrating public schools and ordered the state national guard to prevent black kids from attending Little Rock Central High School.

Faubus’s own words should sound familar: 

Those who would integrate our schools at any price are still among us. They have seized upon the present situation to promote and foment concern and discontent, because of the temporary closing of the schools. They have spread wild rumors and attempted to organize demonstrations. These are the same people and the same forces who have all along been opposed to the majority will of the people of Little Rock and Arkansas.

Last year, I stated during the September crisis that I was not elected Governor of Arkansas to surrender all our rights as citizens to an all-powerful federal autocracy…. It is my responsibility, and it is my purpose and determination, to defend the constitutional rights of the people of Arkansas to the full extent of my ability.…

Some people dread, shrink from, and grow weary of the struggle in which we are now engaged. I grow weary, also, but is there any choice? Once integration is effected totally and completely, will the peace and harmony you desire be attained? If we are to judge by the results elsewhere, anywhere, once total, or near total integration is effected, the peace, the quiet, the harmony, the pride in our schools, and even the good relations that existed heretofore between the races here, will be gone forever….

Huckabee and others might try to run from their own history and hide in the shadow of better men like MLK, but the odiousness of their beliefs will forever anchor them in the past.

Charles Mingus recorded a song in “tribute” to Faubus — an “all-American heel.” And today, I listen to it in “tibute” to Huckabee.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Political Theatre

 

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Leave it to Mississippi…

There have been many unhinged responses to the Supreme Court’s decision today overturning same-sex marriage bans, and this is one of them:

Gov. Phil Bryant said Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage “usurps” states’ long-held rights to self governance and he’s studying the state’s “options.”

“Gov. Bryant will continue to do all that he can to protect and defend the religious freedoms of Mississippi,” spokeswoman Nicole Webb said.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves decried the ruling as “overreach of the federal government” that has expanded under the Obama Administration from the executive to the judicial branches.

This sounds familiar to the passionate resistance white Southern conservatives had to desegregation. That’s to be expected. It’s like Taylor Swift covering Dancing in the Dark — regrettable but no lasting damage was done. It’s not like the Mississippi government plans to do anything crazy.

State House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said he’s still studying the ruling, but that one option might be for Mississippi to get out of the marriage business altogether.

“One of the options that other states have looked at is removing the state marriage license requirement,” Gipson said. “We will be researching what options there are. I personally can see pros and cons to that. I don’t know if it would be better to have no marriage certificate sponsored by the state or not. But it’s an option out there to be considered

If Gipson is already considering the option of “(getting) out of the marriage business altogether,” then it’s possible that the ruling has stumped even his keen legal mind. It’s like the lawyer for a restaurant studying the list of health care violations and suggesting, “Screw it, just start selling typewriters.”

On Friday, Gipson said: “What the Supreme Court’s decision does not and cannot change is the firmly held conviction of faith of myself and most Mississippians. We still believe that marriage is defined by God as the union of one man and one woman. As Bible-believing Christians, we will not change or alter our religious convictions to suit the whims of the court or the culture.”

I don’t think this is a “whim” of the court. I know Gipson is still “studying the ruling,” but it really is more in depth than determining where to go for lunch. There are legal opinions and everything.

Jennifer Riley-Collins, director of the Mississippi ACLU, said she hopes “that Mississippi’s officials will embrace everyone and will not attempt to set up barriers to this momentous decision.”

“I pray that the state of Mississippi is on the right side of history this time,” Riley-Collins said. “Aren’t we tired of being last?”

Good luck with that, ma’am.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Political Theatre

 

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Impeaching like it’s 1999

Jonathan Capehart rallies Democrats with the fear that a GOP-controlled House and Senate will impeach and remove President Obama from office.

Writing about Rep. Eric Cantor’s  (R-Va.) stunning primary defeat last week, I warned Democrats that the House majority leader’s loss was as much a wake-up call for them as it was for the GOP. Well, now I want to warn them about a very real possibility: President Obama will be impeached if the Democrats lose control of the U.S. Senate.

It’s a noble get-out-the vote effort, but is it a rational consideration? I suppose when considering the current state of the GOP, it’s rational to bet on their collective irrationality. In the forty years since President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment, we no longer discuss the procedure on legal grounds of any sort but basically whether there are enough votes for a party to overturn the results of an election. At least with President Clinton, there was a lengthy independent counsel investigation and a corresponding official report that beat 50 Shades of Grey to the erotica punch.

So, the Republicans need an actual crime or at least a stained dress. Would they proceed without one? Who knows with these guys. The House has become a telenovela — we don’t even expect reasonable behaviors and predictable motivations. I do disagree with Capehart’s math regarding the Senate. Even if it flips to the GOP, they won’t have two-thirds of the vote to remove the president from office.

Actually, impeachment is a two-step process that starts in the House. All it takes is a simple majority of that chamber to approve a single article of impeachment against the president for “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Once that happens, a president is forever branded as having been impeached. President Andrew Johnson (1868) and President Bill Clinton (1998) share that distinction.

I doubt the average high school student or even Game of Thrones-watching adult remembers Clinton was impeached or even who Andrew Johnson is (no, not the guy on the $20). The impeachment “brand” was so devastating to the Clinton brand that allowed his wife to successfully run for the Senate in 2000. And Bill Clinton is more an active public figure than his successor. He’s hardly hiding away in the shadows.

No, I think the true question is whether the GOP wants to do Obama the favor of impeaching him. Or maybe they just think that’s what you do to two-term Democratic presidents.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Political Theatre

 

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“Man up?” Really?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who one presumes has speech writers, suggests that Edward Snowden should “man up.”

“The bottom line is this is a man who has betrayed his country, who is sitting in Russia, an authoritarian country where he has taken refuge. He should man up and come back to the United States. If he has a complaint about what’s wrong with American surveillance, come back here and stand in our system of justice and make his case,” Mr Kerry said in an interview on CBS This Morning

There is nothing inherently noble or brave about having one Y chromosome and two testicles.

I doubt Kerry would have suggested that Snowden act like a “good white man” and return to the U.S., so can we please leave “man up” in the sexist dustbin?

 

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