Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Marc Short & The White House Frat Boy Style: Going all Bernie Sandinista

Marc Short, Trump's White House Director of legislative affairs, was on the PBS News Hour tonight smirking like Martin Shkreli.

The PBS News Hour is hosted now by a set of journalists who seem to live every moment in terror that something they may say or show on air might damage the delicate sensibilities of any viewer out there in TV land, as if their imagined audience is a vast community of pre pubescent children who have been raised by nuns.

Today it was not Judy Woodruff doing the interview with Short, for which Mad Dog was grateful.  Woodruff is a lovely person, but she is just so solicitous and her voice often drops into a deep pond of empathy, where the frogs apologize to the lily pads for disturbing their quietude. The interviewer today was reasonably persistent asking about the objections which have been raised to the nomination of a CIA official to be head of the agency, a woman who had tacitly approved of water boarding and other methods of torture. The interviewer asked:  "We understand your point: she did not break the law, but of the agency head, is it not fair to ask about a person whose defense is, 'I was just following orders?' Is she not required, as head, to have a moral compass?"

That got Short's dander up and that's where he spread his full frat boy wings and launched into a condemnation of the Democrat Party--Trump and company, every Republican from Mitch McConnell on down insist on referring not to the Democratic Party but to the DemocRAT party--and Short said, "Well, it's only that Bernie Sandinista party of the left wing Democrat party that thinks that way!"
White House strategist 

Mad Dog was listening on radio, but he could just see that smirk on Short's face, unleashing that "Bernie Sandinista" thing.

It just sounded so pernicious and ultra left wingy.

Who were  the Sandinistas, anyway?  Professor Google instructs it was the revolutionary party which fought and ultimately overthrew the murderous Somosa family which terrorized Nicaragua for years. And yes, the Sandinistas were socialists, which makes Bernie Sandinista sound doubly treacherous and funny.

You could just see Marc sitting with his feet up on his desk at the White House trying "Bernie Sandinista" on his co workers, holding his UVA mug, and grinning like he'd just pulled Bernie's pants down in front of a carload of sorority pledges. 
Oh, I just DESTROYED that sucker, Marc was saying. I'm so ridiculously sick. Nobody can touch me. High fives!

Who do we have, as Democrats who can smack this playground bully upside the head and stomp a foot on his neck until he cries for mercy?
Chris Pappas?
Maura Sullivan?

Mindi Messmer?

Don't think so.
One more Bronze Star than Marc Short

Maybe somebody who has actually had a shot fired at him in anger--a real actual shot, as in a bullet, something Marc Short  never experienced swilling beer on the frat house porch down in Charlottesvile. Short, Heel Spurs, these are the phony tough guys. We got the real article now, on the Democratic side.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

O'Rourke for Congress,McEachern for Senate, Lincoln Soldati for President

Here's the way I'd arrange things if I were running the DNC.
Fire Down Below 

Every weekend a rally somewhere in New Hampshire, big venues, big arenas. 
Pack 'em in, lines stretching around the block. Manchester, Nashua, Salem, Portsmouth, Hampton, Rochester, Dover, Durham. You name it. We are there.

These are big rallies, connected to a NACAR event one weekend, a Woodstock reunion the next. Whatever brings 'em in.
Give the Granite State bread and circus on an ongoing basis. 

Get Terence O'Rourke out there to stoke the crowd up; bring on McEachern to charm them, and then bring the hammer down with Lincoln Soldati.
President Soldati

All of them are currently running for Congress, but you couldn't tell from this road show. 
They all say, hey, the important thing is we get a Democrat in there to keep this country from going to Hell in a handbasket.
We got to get the House, the Senate and the Presidency.
Then we pass a law which does not require a Constitutional amendment: Add justices to the Supreme Court, two a Presidential term. Or, if we take O'Rourke's formula, just add 6 new justices. Bye, Bye Scalia's court. No more ruling by the dead. A new day in America. Sunrise finally after the long dark tempest of the soul. 

Senator McEachern 

In 2018 we elect O'Rourke to Congress.
In 2020 we elect Soldati President. "It's time for another Lincoln in the White House."
In 2022 we replace Maggie Hassan in the U.S. Senate with Deaglan McEachern.
So, is this what it's all about?

Now, if I could just get Tom Perez on the phone.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Do Ideas Matter More than Money In Politics?

Here's the hypothesis:  The reason Donald Trump won the White House and the reason the Republicans swept into power in both houses of Congress was not because they had the upper 1% and all the money but because they had the ideas. They have been the party of ideas--terrible ideas, granted, but ideas nonetheless which appealed to enough people who voted.

See What Sticks

Reading "Dark Money" and a variety of other tomes and sources about the Right, the Koch brothers, Fox News the most striking thing, to Mad Dog at least, is how they invest in ideas, in think tanks, in people who will air their ideas and refine them. 

Right Wing Intellect
Comics do this sort of thing: Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, air "new material" out on small audiences in basement brick-walled night clubs before they take their routines to nation wide audiences. 

Rush Limbaugh, every day, runs various tropes by audiences and, in some way, gets feedback on what of all that stuff he has thrown against the wall, sticks.
Thunder from the Left: The Man with Ideas

Democrats do not do this. They do not assume, as many Neo Nazis and Freedom Forum and Tea Party types assume, that what they are putting out is offensive, or possibly even wrong. Democrats speak from deep conviction; their gospel is received Truth, and they have the self righteous posture which conveys that.

Republicans, at least some, know their bile is offensive, is wrong in the eyes of others and they work on it and refine it. 
Showed Something: The Man is a Pro

New Hampshire Dems held a very useful and well orchestrated forum in Portsmouth last Wednesday. It is a seminar which should be studied by all the local Democratic party groups throughout the state, because it did get at the thinking of at least some of the candidates. Well, actually, what it got at was how well they could present the tropes. To examine real thinking, you have to allow for hard questions. 

It did not do this more than superficially, but it was a start.

Ray Buckley and Co. did not want to allow control of the event to slip from their hands, so they did not allow questions directly from the audience of 150, but they required questions be written down on cards, which they then selected and edited.
Deaglan McEarchern

What Mad Dog would like to see now is a more bare knuckles, slashing approach to the thinking of these candidates.  For example, candidates were asked if they supported a woman's right to choose and Deaglan McEachern, who got the original question said, "Yes, 100%." Every other Democrat echoed his words.

But Mad Dog has asked McEachern the following question, in another setting, "So, you Democrats always say that this abortion question is about the right of a woman to control her own body without anyone else interfering. But what about the baby who is coming down the birth canal and you have a doctor there with a scalpel to meet it's head? Are we now talking only about a woman's right to control what happens to her body? Is there not another body, another person now to consider? Suppose I say life begins at conception? It is not a choice, it's a life."

There is an effective answer to that, but McEachern had not worked it out. He asked Mad Dog for Mad Dog's answer and hearing it, he smiled and said, "Ask me that question again sometime. I think I'll have a better answer for you."
Is this Race Over? If Maura has no ideas, does it matter?

In the setting of the forum at Portsmouth, he did not have the time to get into the deeper answer. Nor did any of the others, but they will have to do this when they debate Republicans.

But maybe, none of this matters. Maybe all that matters is who has the most money. That's who will become the nominee. 

Sad to say, that nominee may then go down to defeat by a Republican who has more ideas, better answers.
Looks Like Hillary: All the Money, Playing it Safe

Hillary Clinton outspent Trump in many of those Rust Belt counties, in some places 9 to one, and yet he won those counties. 

We had better ask ourselves, as Democrats, why?

 Looking at that bar graph, to Mad Dog's eye at least, there is an almost perfect inverse correlation between the height of the graph, the size of the money and the quality of ideas held by the candidate. Terrence O'Rourke, who has more ideas, better thought out, has barely enough money to register; Maura has a ton of money; not so much in ideas.

Are we headed down that same old path as Democrats? Rushing to the person who draws in all the big bucks and shoving aside the guy who has the big ideas?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Russians Hacked Rust Belt Vote Conduits: Stole Election

Indisputable evidence that Russians under the directive of President Vladimir Putin hacked into key voting data conduits which conveyed election voting totals from local voting machines in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida has been uncovered by the National Security Agency working with agents from the FBI and CIA in a coordinated task force.

The Russian approach did not require hacking individual voting machines but targeted the pathways from local hubs which collected data from polling stations and conveyed them to more central loci where vote counts from counties were fed on election night to provide the voting totals used by the national networks reporting on the election results through the night of November 8.

The tactic was crafted to minimize the actual number of computers and servers hacked and is called "Hub Diversion" in reference to the hubs used by American airlines to maximize efficiency of their air traffic routes.  Traffic routed through these computerized "hubs" centralizes and speeds collection of vote tallies so results can be available to television audiences waiting for the news of the election outcomes.

Polling prior to the voting and exit polls predicted a Clinton victory and retrospective studies of exit polls in key voting precincts suggested Clinton had won Pennsylvania and likely Ohio but the vote tallies did not agree with these data. Comparisons between exit polls and actual vote counts in Wisconsin were not as clear.

Mr. Putin subsequently award three medals to the directors of this cyber attack who are employed by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to:
Yevginy Klebanoff, the medal for "Distinction in Special Operations"

Vasily Primakoff, the medal for "Distinction in Securing Information Security"

Nikita Filonov, the medal for "Distinction in Safeguarding Economic Security."

The NSA report completed on March 6, but President Trump directed the Director of the NSA to "make it go away." The Senate Intelligence Committee has tabled consideration of the report and Paul Ryan denied today that the House Committee on Oversight and Investigations has received a copy of the report, and referred questions from the New York Times to Alex Jones.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post he had no plans to request the report be considered before 2020.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer said this morning, "This would be a matter of grave national concern and we hope we can reach across the aisle to consider this."  Representative Nancy Pelosi responded to a Wall Street Journal question saying, "It makes me very sad. This would be unprecedented."

The National Rifle Association issued a press statement: "If they had attacked the polling places, our members would have been ready to open fire with all the bump stocks and AK-15's at our disposal, which, of course, the Democrats would have tried to prevent."

Rush Limbaugh said this morning, "This is clearly fake news, people. The Russians were too busy listening to tapes of Hillary Clinton having sex with Rachel Madow."

Sean Hannity responded, "This is clearly a diversionary tactic so the press will stop focusing on Hillary Clinton's child porn operation in that Washington, DC pizza pallor, which has never been fully explained."

President Obama reached for comment in Hawaii said, "I can't say I'm surprised, but, you know, I'm so glad to be out here on the beach and I've got way better on my surf board, so really, that's on someone else now."

--Special to the Failing New York Times

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Portsmouth Democratic Forum: And Then There Were Three

Mad Dog got a seat up front at the Portsmouth candidates' forum tonight, mostly to hear Terence O'Rourke, but it was the first opportunity to see all 8 candidates together and to hear them on the issues.

Nobody pursued any questions with follow ups, and the moderator, Ray Buckley, made sure everything remained non confrontational and sweet, which is nothing like what the stage will be like when a Republican is standing on it, but this was Democratic forum and there was no Trump calling anyone "Little Marco."
O'Rourke and friend

O'Rourke did not disappoint:  He said we had to get money out of politics, had to reverse the Supreme Court decision on campaign financing, Citizens United and then told us how: When we get a Democratic majority in the Congress we add 6 new Supreme Court justices, which does not require a Constitutional amendment. He noted the last Chief Justice appointed by a Democrat was appointed by Harry S. Truman and he said we were being ruled by the dead, when it came to the Supreme Court.  He vowed to take no PAC money, a non too veiled knock at Maura Sullivan, sitting three spots away, who is leading everyone in outside money. His answer about having gays serve in the military was surprisingly strong and supportive.  He slammed Trump for waging war on a sovereign state without Congressional authorization and said that alone was an impeachable offense. And he slammed Maggie Hassan for voting to gut the Dodd Frank law protecting us against another bank meltdown and he said we needed another Glass Speigal act to separate commercial from community banking.  He inveighed against endless wars without missions and said the 2nd amendment doesn't guarantee every citizen to a right to a military weapon meant to kill people, but he warned about the traps Democrats fall into when talking about guns.  He said we had a Congress bought and paid for by the billionaires and our tax cut law, just passed, was a outright theft by the rich, passed by a Congress which had legalized bribery.

He was satisfyingly left of Bernie, left of Lenin, forceful, a warrior you could see going toe to toe with Jim Jordan, or any of those Freedom caucus Republican creeps.

The real surprise was Lincoln Soldati, who Mad Dog had not previously heard. He was by far the consummate crowd pleaser.  He began by saying he was the oldest candidate and that he was not running to start a career, but because he thought the country was in real trouble and we had to do something right away. In response to Medicare for all, he held up his own Medicare card and said he'd had all sorts of medical insurance over his life but this was by far the best. It's tried and true and everyone should have it. When Mark Mackenzie said Social Security could be saved by raising the cap on taxable income, Soldati said we should do more than raise the cap--we should eliminate it. (O'Rourke noted the rich get away without paying taxes not just by that cap but by paying only 20% on most of their income from stocks and other non wage sources.) Soldati, of all 8, would be the most reliable vanquisher of any Republican opponent. He would simply eat those Republican twits for lunch.

And then there was Deaglan McEachern. He continued to emphasize the importance of not getting so caught up in trying to get everyone a college education we forget that the trades and crafts--electricians, plumbers, carpenters--are the route to the middle class and beyond and these jobs will never be taken over by robots, which is how most of the blue collar jobs will be lost over the coming decades.  He was seated next to Soldati and it was like watching a young Jack Kennedy sitting next to Tip O'Neill. One is the present power, and one is the power to come. 

If anyone came away with new converts out of this exercise, it was likely O'Rourke, who managed to distinguish himself from the others by simply being more insistent on uncompromising liberal positions. Mad Dog's heart was with O'Rourke. But in terms of the reality of politics, O'Rourke is way behind in money raising and does not have a political base, and Soldati, a former mayor of Sommersworth has that. 

McEachern has something else. Call it polish, call it charisma.  It's that ineffable quality Kennedy had, that simply draws people to him. 

Fact is, we'd be blessed by any of the three.  But oh what fun we'd have if it were O'Rourke. He mentioned Paul Wellstone, the Wisconsin Liberal as an inspiration and he is right out of that mold. He'd give Louie Gohmert, Jim Jordan, and all those Freedom Caucus pricks fits. 

Why I Love the President

My friends are mostly liberals. Well, not just mostly. Completely.

When somebody I thought was a friend betrays a MAGA streak, they are no longer my friend.
President Wah-Wah

But I have to admit, I really love the President. 
He is the most entertaining President in my lifetime.

I used to have to wait all week for "All in the Family," but now I can just open Twitter every day and there he is.
Original Wah Wah

Everyone loved Archie Bunker, and here we have life imitating art--we got the American public having put Archie in the White House, and it's been great.


Every morning he is doing his inner Archie, complaining about this unfair world, doing him--and all of us--wrong.

The MS-13 Mexican rapists are flooding across the border and our laws won't allow us to lock them up!  Jerry Brown is shielding them in an act of outright revolution in California! So unfair!

And Stormy, who was, after all, Obama's girl, is in bed with Comey, sending all those FBI agents to destroy lawyer/criminal confidentiality! So UNFAIR! 

And we bomb the Sh*****t out of ISIS in Syria after they unleash a chemical attack on babies and nobody thanks President Wah,Wah, because the press is composed of the worst people in the world. 
Republicans get the girls

Very dishonest. They all loved that nasty woman, Crooked Hillary and they won't rest until they undo the will of the people who elected President Wah, Wah, with some sort of impeachment. The worst investigation in the history of the world investigating the best President in the history of the world. 
I don't understand why he hasn't fired Mueller, who is the worst special prosecutor in the history of the world. So biased. 
And don't get me started on that woman judge who is presiding over the FBI break in of his lawyer's office. She is so biased. She's a woman and she knows President Wah-Wah would grab her Pus****sy  so she's being unfair. 
So unfair. 
The worst judge in the history of the world--except maybe for that Hispanic judge from Indiana. 
This judge has it in for President Wah-Wah because he says he wants to put his hand in her Pus***sy, well, not her specifically but he does that to all beautiful women, and this judge was, briefly, a Playboy bunny, but that was before she was made a judge. 
But she was known for being beautiful. Even the Senator who nominated her as a judge mentioned how beautiful she was, but he said not to let that influence anyone.
She' s not an active Bunny now. But she is very pretty and that makes her so biased against President Wah-Wah because she has undoubtedly heard Pres Wah Wah talking about how he just can't resist putting his hands up into beautiful women. So she is biased. Just so unfair!
Judge Kimba Wood

That stuff about the Playboy bunny. True. You can't make this stuff up. And now she's all up in Trump's case.
Judge Wood, before becoming a Judge

Well, Gloria Steinem was a Playboy bunny and she doesn't like Trump either. Not one bit. So you can see the pattern. Bunnies hate Trump. So unfair!!!
Fox reality
I'm not really worried about impeachment.
Bill Clinton won after they tried to impeach him. People could see right through it, even though he had sex with Stormy when she was still underaged! They re-elected him just like they'll re-elect President Wah,wah!
There's hope

Twitter is wonderful. It allows me to hear directly from President Wah-Wah every morning without the dishonest, terrible, no good, very bad press getting in the way. 

It's really fun to watch. I look forward to Twitter, every day!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Are American Soldiers Heroes?

"Get jailed, jump bail,
Join the Army if you fail"
--Subterranean Homesick Blues/Bob Dylan

"We went to war; America went to the mall."
--American Army ditty

At the end of the Band of Brothers episode "The Last Patrol," David Webster voice overs a paragraph about how the end of the Second World War was in sight and while American soldiers were still dying in towns like Haguena on the German border, back in America night clubs and casino's were packed and you couldn't get a hotel room at most resorts. Even in that war, when the entire population was mobilized or at risk for mobilization only a small number of men were actually at the tip of the spear, on the front lines. "Nobody back home would ever know what those men sacrificed," Webster says.

So, in modern times, as long as America fights its wars abroad, there will likely be a disconnect between the price paid by a small number of warriors and that paid by the civilian population.

The refrain "they fight to keep us free," is a little shopworn, even after 9/11. After all, no terrorist attack has ever actually threatened our freedom, unless you count the freedom to hop a jet to Florida during the winter. They fight to keep us safe might be more like it, but it's not at all clear any of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Niger or Syria have done that.

America went to the "volunteer" army, to "professionalize" military service after Vietnam, mostly because politicians realized if you drafted boys out of families and sent them into harm's way more or less against their will, you'd better be able to sell that to their parents, and truth is, we haven't had a war since where you could sell the idea to Congress, much less to parents.

So, who does "volunteer?" Are our armed forces comprised of young men and women who are motivated by love of country, eager to defend our freedoms or are they simply young people who have looked around at the available options and concluded the best deal for them, economically, financially, socially is to join the military?

"Hillbilly Elegy" details the dysfunctional Appalachian family and communities from which J.D. Vance fled to the Army. One of the most pathetic scenes in the book is at Chili's restaurant, where Vance, returning home on leave, has enough money to buy his grandparents and sibling dinner. It was the proudest moment in his life. He felt like a man.

Not everyone in the Army was from as desperate circumstances as J.D. Vance. Pat Tillman was a millionaire professional football player who joined the Army after 9/11 and then died in a firefight in Afghanistan, shot by mistake by his own compatriots, killed by friendly fire.

There are likely many reasons young people join:  some are from military families; some are disaffected by school; some dream of becoming heroes.

But they can all claim that most socially acceptable motive of all: Patriotism.

Whatever that may be. 

The armed forces have marketed service with huge flags unfurled at ball fields, action ads on TV, smart uniforms, support of TV shows and movies.  And at the end of every big scene is the line about how we are about to die for freedom and country.

I have never served in combat, so I cannot know, but I suspect if combat shares anything with the service I have seen in the emergency rooms and wards, when you are there, you have no grand illusions of valor. You are just trying to survive and you are trying to not embarrass yourself and you are trying to use your training to get a specific job done.

The fact is, our volunteer Army is a mercenary army. You may not like that word, "mercenary" with it's connotation of motivation devoid of ethics, based on money alone. A prostitute is mercenary. A wife loves her husband, but also benefits financially (if she's lucky.) Human motivation is seldom uni-dimensional. But the fact remains, as President Trump told the wife of a soldier killed in Niger, "He knew what he was signing up for," that was one of truest things President Heel Spurs ever said. 
For Trump, everything thing is financial, a negotiation for the best deal. These soldiers--they are just trying to get the best deal they can. Let's not muddy the waters with "patriotism."  Patriotism is for suckers.

Of course, there are people and times when you can't avoid patriotism. There is that wonderful scene in "Gone With the Wind," in which the most cynical and realistic character in the story, Rhett Butler, sees the old men and young boys who are marching out of Atlanta with rifles slung over their shoulders and he jumps down from the wagon and hands the reins to Scarlett O'Hara and she is outraged, "You can't just leave us to go fight some war!" And Butler tells her he knows it's ridiculous, but sometimes you just have to do something which is not in your own best interest.

We haven't had that sort of choice when it comes to military service in this country since the war against Hitler.

And there is a wonderful sequence in "Full Metal Jacket" where a camera crew interviews Marines on the way to  the fight for Hue, in Vietnam, and the reporter asks Animal Mother, the BAR man (who carries a very big gun) if he is fighting for freedom. "Freedom?" Animal Mother laughs. "You think I'd kill someone for freedom?"