The Voice Of Reason — From A Republican

Of late, I’ve taken to doing something I had not done, but should have, before – reading opinion pieces by conservative writers.  Not all of them, of course, for some I find to be simply too odious to read more than a paragraph, but those conservative writers who take a more moderate stance, who aren’t so far to the right as to be moronic, have something to say and I want to listen.  I want to understand what makes them tick, why they think as they do.  Yesterday, I came across an opinion essay in the New York Times by Stuart Stevens, a long-time Republican political consultant.  Mr. Stevens joined the Lincoln Project earlier this year. This essay resonates, it helps explain some things, maybe answer some questions we’ve been asking, and I think it is worth sharing here.  I hope you’ll take a minute to read Mr. Stevens’ words.


I Hope This Is Not Another Lie About the Republican Party

But it might be lost forever.

stuart-stevensBy Stuart Stevens

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, commissioned an internal party study to examine why the party had won the popular vote only once since 1988.

The results of that so-called autopsy were fairly obvious: The party needed to appeal to more people of color, reach out to younger voters, become more welcoming to women. Those conclusions were presented as not only a political necessity but also a moral mandate if the Republican Party were to be a governing party in a rapidly changing America.

Then Donald Trump emerged and the party threw all those conclusions out the window with an almost audible sigh of relief: Thank God we can win without pretending we really care about this stuff. That reaction was sadly predictable.

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

I saw the warning signs but ignored them and chose to believe what I wanted to believe: The party wasn’t just a white grievance party; there was still a big tent; the others guys were worse. Many of us in the party saw this dark side and told ourselves it was a recessive gene. We were wrong. It turned out to be the dominant gene.

What is most telling is that the Republican Party actively embraced, supported, defended and now enthusiastically identifies with a man who eagerly exploits the nation’s racial tensions. In our system, political parties should serve a circuit breaker function. The Republican Party never pulled the switch.

Racism is the original sin of the modern Republican Party. While many Republicans today like to mourn the absence of an intellectual voice like William Buckley, it is often overlooked that Mr. Buckley began his career as a racist defending segregation.

In the Richard Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips wrote a re-election campaign memo headed “Dividing the Democrats” in which they outlined what would come to be known as the Southern Strategy. It assumes there is little Republicans can do to attract Black Americans and details a two-pronged strategy: Utilize Black support of Democrats to alienate white voters while trying to decrease that support by sowing dissension within the Democratic Party.

That strategy has worked so well that it was copied by the Russians in their 2016 efforts to help elect Mr. Trump.

In the 2000 George W. Bush campaign, on which I worked, we acknowledged the failures of Republicans to attract significant nonwhite support. When Mr. Bush called himself a “compassionate conservative,” some on the right attacked him, calling it an admission that conservatism had not been compassionate. That was true; it had not been. Many of us believed we could steer the party to that “kinder, gentler” place his father described. We were wrong.

Reading Mr. Bush’s 2000 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention now is like stumbling across a document from a lost civilization, with its calls for humility, service and compassion. That message couldn’t attract 20 percent in a Republican presidential primary today. If there really was a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, we lost.

There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

How did this happen? How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. What others and I thought were bedrock values turned out to be mere marketing slogans easily replaced. I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market.

Mr. Trump has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of failure, he has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines of the Republican Party. A party rooted in decency and values does not embrace the anger that Mr. Trump peddles as patriotism.

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

This election should signal a day of reckoning for the party and all who claim it as a political identity. Will it? I’ve given up hope that there are any lines of decency or normalcy that once crossed would move Republican leaders to act as if they took their oath of office more seriously than their allegiance to party. Only fear will motivate the party to change — the cold fear only defeat can bring.

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.

Da Snippets Dey Be Snarky …

I remember the last day I was able to read the news without having to either take ibuprofen or check my blood pressure … it was June 15th, 2015.  The day before Donald Trump pompously rode down the elevator and announced that he was running for president of the United States.  The next day, I laughed.  I’m not laughing now.


A budget written by Abbot & Costello?

Trump’s latest budget was “unveiled” yesterday.  If Congress passes this one, then I shall recommend psychiatric evaluations for every one of them!  Surely, he doesn’t honestly believe he can get this one through!  It must have been written by a team of comedians.  A few of the key points:

  • Expands the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations
  • Cuts Medicaid by $700 billion over the next 10 years
  • Cuts food stamps
  • Cuts farm subsidies
  • Cuts student loan programs
  • Cuts EPA funding by 27%
  • Cuts Social Security disability benefits and Medicare provider payments
  • Cuts foreign aid by 21%
  • Increases military spending
  • Increases NASA funding for ridiculous “space force” program by 12%
  • Allocates $2 billion for his wasteful, useless, hateful “border wall”

Notice a pattern here?  If it helps the 1% at the top of the wealth scale, he increases it, if it helps the 99% of us who don’t live in mansions and jet set all over the world, he cuts ‘n guts it.  Plain and simple.  Nancy Pelosi should do to this budget exactly what she did to his State of the Union speech.


Punishment for doing the right thing?  Only in the GOP …

More and more these days, I’m concluding that there is an intrinsic cruelty in some republicans.  I offer up as evidence the fact that Mitt Romney, the one lone republican who found the guts to vote to convict Trump of the impeachment charge of abuse of power that was more than proven, has been subjected to terrible treatment by those in his own party.  He has received condemnation, that there have even been calls for him to be expelled from the republican party!  WHOA, republicans!!!  The man did his job, he followed his conscience, he acted in the best interest of this nation, and you want his head on a pike???mitt-romneyThe latest, though, is just beyond ridiculous.  Matt Schlapp, chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference, has “formally uninvited” Mitt to the Conservative Political Action Conference to be held the last four days of this month.

“We won’t credential him as a conservative. I suppose if he wants to come as a nonconservative and debate an issue with us, maybe in the future we would have him come. This year, I would actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.”

Wow … the man is being punished and threatened by his own party for doing his job, for being the only one with even half a conscience, for believing he actually owes something to the people of this nation in exchange for his salary.  See what I mean about some republicans?  They are just not very nice people.


And continuing along the theme that some republicans are not very nice …

Montana State Representative Rodney Garcia has a rather unique interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

Rodney-Garcia“So actually in the Constitution of the United States [if] they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot. They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, Afghanistan, all those. What did we do? I agree with my Constitution. That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.”

So, where did this guy get his education?  It’s true that the U.S. is not a pure democracy, but until recently was a democratic republic, not a “republic constitution”.  And as for his premise that the Constitution gives people like himself the right to shoot a person who is a socialist … well, I won’t even dignify that with a response.

I did some digging, because I really wanted to know where he went to school … Podunk University?  I didn’t find that out, but I did dig up something interesting.  He admits to having been convicted “years ago” on a domestic violence charge.  And … last year he attacked Children’s Protective Services (CPS) …

“CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children. Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”

He went on to say that caseworkers should be fined $1,000 per day for every child they “steal” and should be put in jail.  Then he continued, admitting that CPS had visited his own home when his children were young, investigating a complaint.  And, he further accused Planned Parenthood of “chopping up babies and selling their body parts.”

Now … needless to say, this man’s mental capacity is severely diminished, but what is equally disturbing is that … the people of his district elected this dolt!  The Montana Republican Party has called for his resignation, to which he replied …

“They can ask me to step down, but, no, I don’t think so. I’m going to run for the Senate and I’m going to win. People are going to have to eat their words.  I’m getting my head so big from people saying, ‘Thank you, Rodney, for bringing this up.’ If people don’t want me in the Senate they can say: ‘Well, I’m not going to vote for ya.’ That’s their prerogative.  The only way I would give my resignation is if God asked me to.”

People of Montana … please, vote this joker out, and then see if you can’t have him committed for psychiatric evaluation!


cheaters

This Speaks Volumes …

Last night I came across this editorial from the Editorial Board at the Orlando Sentinel.  It speaks for itself …

Orlando-Sentinel.jpgOur Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial

By ORLANDO SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD

| ORLANDO SENTINEL |

JUN 18, 2019 | 5:30 AM

Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.

Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).

According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office.

Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

Trump insults political opponents and national heroes alike with middle-school taunts. He demonstrates no capacity for empathy or remorse. He misuses his office to punish opponents, as when he recently called for a boycott of AT&T to get even with his least favorite media outlet, CNN. He tears down institutions, once airily suggesting the U.S. should try having a leader for life as China now allows. He seems incapable of learning a lesson, telling an ABC interviewer last week — just two months after Robert Mueller’s report on election interference was released — that he would accept dirt on an opponent from Russia or China.

Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

This nation must never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the president of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community.

Such a betrayal by a U.S. president would have been the unforgivable political sin in normal times.

As if that’s not enough, Trump declares his love for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, a genuine villain who starves and enslaves his people and executes his enemies with antiaircraft guns and flamethrowers.

But he wrote the president a “beautiful letter.” Flattery will get you everywhere with this president, and that’s dangerous.

Domestically, the president’s signature issue — immigration — has moved in fits and starts. Happily, he abandoned pursuing an outright — and unconstitutional — ban on Muslims entering the U.S., opting instead to restrict travel for people from a handful of nations, most of them majority Muslim.

He’s tried separating families, sending troops to the border and declaring a national emergency. For all of that, illegal border crossings are, as the president himself calls it, at crisis levels.

He blames House Democrats because casting blame is Trump’s forte. But Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for two full years. That seemed like an ideal time to fix what the president believes ails our immigration laws.

Even with Democrats now controlling the House, where is Trump’s much-touted deal-making mojo, an attribute he campaigned on?

“But the economy!”

Yes, the market has done well since Trump’s election.

The S&P 500 was up about 21% between Trump’s inauguration and May 31 of his third year in office. Under President Obama, it was up about 56% in that same period.

Unemployment is headed down, as it was during seven straight years under Obama.

Wages are up, and that’s a welcome change. But GDP increases so far are no better than some periods under Obama. Deficit spending under Obama was far too high, in part because of the stimulus needed to dig out of the Great Recession. Under Trump, it’s still headed in the wrong direction, once again pushing $1 trillion even though the economy is healthy.

Trump seems to care nothing about the deficit and the national debt, which once breathed life into the Tea Party.

Through all of this, Trump’s base remains loyal. Sadly, the truest words Trump might ever have spoken was when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters.

This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush.

As recently as 2012 we recommended Republican Mitt Romney because of what seemed at the time to be Obama’s failure to adequately manage the nation’s finances.

If — however unlikely — a Republican like Romney, now a senator from Utah, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich successfully primaried the president, we would eagerly give them a look. Same if an independent candidate mounted a legitimate campaign.

We’d even consider backing Trump if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or — about as likely — changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).

The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that.

We can do better. We have to do better.


The comments ran about 2-1 in agreement with the Sentinel, praising its high standards and integrity in taking this stand.  I think it speaks volumes when a newspaper that has consistently endorsed republican candidates for more than half a century refuses to endorse this republican incumbent, Donald Trump.

Petraeus for Secretary of State??? Tell Me This Is A Bad Joke!

A number of people, including Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are being considered for Hillary Clinton’s old job, Secretary of State.  One of these people happens to be Former General David Petraeus.  Now, there is extreme irony here … perhaps more than anything that has come before during this train wreck of a campaign/election.  Remember how we have been hearing for more than a year that Ms. Clinton should be prosecuted and sent to prison for her poor judgement in using her private email server?  Yes, we have heard this on a daily basis for nearly a year-and-a-half now.  Well, here is the irony … David Petraeus did far worse, did so with intent, and for personal gain.  And now Trump is considering him for Secretary of State!

broadwellI have not written of the Petraeus scandal before because it is sad when a man gets confused and tries to think with the wrong body part.  However, in light of the fact that he could well play a very important role in next year’s administration, I think we need to refresh our memories.  Former four-star general Petraeus, who became Director of the CIA in 2011, carried on an extra-marital affair with one Paula Broadwell, who had been retained to write Petraeus’ biography some years before.  Long story short, Petraeus gave his mistress, Broadwell, access to eight notebooks with top-secret and code information. She had made copies of over 300 documents marked “secret.” When confronted by the FBI in 2012, Petraeus lied and denied, until evidence mounted and it was no longer deniable.

FBI Director James Comey, when asked if Trump’s statement that Petraeus got in trouble for ‘a lot less’ than what Hillary Clinton did was true, responded:  “No, it’s the reverse.”  He went on to say …

“In that [Petraeus’] case, you had vast quantities of highly classified information, including special sensitive compartmented information. That’s the reference to code words. [A] vast quantity of it, not only shared with someone without authority to have it, but we found it in a search warrant hidden under the insulation in his attic, and then he lied to us about it during the investigation. So you have obstruction of justice, you have intentional misconduct and a vast quantity of information. He admitted he knew that was the wrong thing to do. That is a perfect illustration of the kind of cases that get prosecuted. In my mind, it illustrates importantly the distinction to this [Clinton] case.”

Even at that, Petraeus was charged only a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials. He was given a two-year probationary period and a fine of $100,000. Petraeus tendered his resignation from the CIA as of November, 2012.  And now, a mere four years later, he is being considered for what is arguably the most important cabinet position in the United States.  Good Grief, Donald Trump!!!  The man thinks his brain is in his nether regions, as you yourself do, and you want him to be your chief foreign affairs advisor??? Oh, but wait … I guess he does have experience in affairs!

Jokes aside, this is a very serious issue. According to the U.S. government website, the duties of Secretary of State are as follows:

  • Serves as the President’s principal adviser on U.S. foreign policy;
  • Conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs;
  • Grants and issues passports to American citizens and exequaturs to foreign consuls in the United States;
  • Advises the President on the appointment of U.S. ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and other diplomatic representatives;
  • Advises the President regarding the acceptance, recall, and dismissal of the representatives of foreign governments;
  • Personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies;
  • Negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements;
  • Ensures the protection of the U.S. Government to American citizens, property, and interests in foreign countries;
  • Supervises the administration of U.S. immigration laws abroad;
  • Provides information to American citizens regarding the political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian conditions in foreign countries;
  • Informs the Congress and American citizens on the conduct of U.S. foreign relations;
  • Promotes beneficial economic intercourse between the United States and other countries;
  • Administers the Department of State;
  • Supervises the Foreign Service of the United States.

As Secretary of State, Mr. Petraeus would have access to highly classified information, with which he has already proven he cannot be trusted.  He would be our liaison between the president and heads of state in other nations.  He would need to be respectable and respectful.  He would need to be capable of thought processes that take place within the organ inside his head, not his …

romneyTrump is considering others for this position also, and while I never thought I would say it, Mitt Romney, though lacking the experience and qualifications for the position, might well be the lesser of all evils.  David Petraeus definitely is not. Fortunately, cabinet positions, like Supreme Court Justices, must be confirmed by the Senate, and I cannot imagine any likelihood that the Senate would confirm Petraeus.  But then … I’ve been wrong before.

sad puppy

Idiot of the Week – Robert Jeffress

Idiot of the Week medal

I was not actually planning to do an Idiot of the Week this week.  Between election news/views, sporadic rants, and preparing the Idiot of the Year columns, I’ve been busy enough without having to deal with everyday, run-of-the-mill idiots.  But then, Pastor Robert Jeffress popped onto my radar … not just once, but a couple of times, and I finally concluded that the only way to banish him would be to give him the honour of this award.  I always feel a little bit bad about awarding this honour to religious people, but it seems that lately they are the most outspoken idiots and … well, an idiot is an idiot, no matter his career or life’s calling.

Mr. Jeffress came onto my radar when I saw this headline:

Pastor Attacks Christians Who Won’t Vote Trump

jeffress-1In fact, I saw it a number of times, so finally I felt compelled to investigate.  In so doing, I found that this is only the latest in a long string of idiocy.

  • While a pastor in Wichita Falls in 1998, Jeffress took umbrage with two children’s books, ”Heather Has Two Mommies” and ”Daddy’s Roommate,” in the library, about children with gay or lesbian parents. A church member checked them out, then took them to Mr. Jeffress, who paid for them rather than returning them. Once the story of his actions was published, the library received multiple copies of the books as donations.  Interestingly, his ploy had the opposite effect of that which he intended, as demand for the books soared thereafter!
  • In a 2010 sermon, Jeffers said, “The deep, dark, dirty secret of Islam: It is a religion that promotes pedophilia – sex with children. This so-called prophet Muhammad raped a 9-year-old girl – had sex with her.”
  • “Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult.” Despite this, Jeffress eventually did support Romney in the 2012 election, primarily because he hates President Obama, presumably more than he hates the ‘cult of Mormonism’.
  • In 2008, Jeffress stated, “What they [homosexuals] do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.”
  • In December 2010, Jeffress established a “Naughty and Nice List” in which businesses are identified based on whether or not they openly celebrated Christmas: “I wanted to do something positive to encourage businesses to acknowledge Christmas and not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday.”
  • jeffress-2Also in 2010, Jeffress referred to Roman Catholicism as a “Satanic” result of “Babylonian mystery religion”, and said, “Mormonism is wrong, it is a heresy from the pit of Hell; Judaism, you can’t be saved being a Jew, you know who said that by the way, the three greatest Jews in the New Testament, Peter, Paul, and Jesus Christ, they all said Judaism won’t do it, it’s faith in Jesus Christ.” Can we say, “my way or the highway”?
  • Two days before the 2012 presidential election between President Obama and Mitt Romney, Jeffress said, “I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

Now to his latest transgression, his over-the-top support of Donald Trump. In an interview with radio host Rick Wiles, he said:

“To me, this is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It’s a battle between good and evil, righteousness and unrighteousness, light and darkness, and I think it is time for people who say they are conservative Christians to get off the fence and go to the polls and vote their convictions.

And I’ll tell you something else, these so-called Christian leaders who say, “Well, they’re gonna follow their conscience and they cannot, because of moral reasons, vote for Donald Trump.”

Can you please tell me what great moral principle out there would allow Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States and appoint up to five Supreme Court justices?

My gosh, after today’s decision by the Supreme Court on our state’s abortion laws here in Texas, shouldn’t Christians wake up and understand what this election is about? It just blows my mind how weak and namby-pamby some of these Christian leaders are.”

In other appearances over the past three months, he has been quoted as saying:

“It is absolutely foolish to do anything that would allow Hillary Clinton to become the next President of the United States … at least Donald Trump has voiced a belief in a pro-life movement, he has at least talked about religious liberty …”

“I believe any Christian who would sit at home and not vote for the Republican nominee … that person is being motivated by pride rather than principle …”

“… I can tell you from personal experience, if Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, we who are evangelical Christians are going to have a true friend in the White House. God bless Donald Trump!”

Jeffers, by the way, is another member of Trump’s ‘religious advisory board’. Note that he is offended by Islam because he believes (falsely) that it promotes sex with children, yet he supports for president a man who is about to go on trial for the rape of a 13-year-old child.  Oxymoron?  Irony?  Double standard?

The religious leaders like Jeffress, Robertson, Falwell, et al, who are weighing in with their thoughts on this election need to realize one thing:  in voting for a president, senator or representative, we are voting for a person who will make the most viable, intelligent choices regarding the economy, the health and welfare of our citizens, the environment, and our international relations.  We are not voting for a religious leader.  Ours is a secular government, and comments like those made by Mr. Jeffress prove why a secular government is necessary.

Well, Mr. Jeffress, let me be the first to congratulate you on the highly coveted Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  I am sure it will look great on that wall where, I am told, you have displayed the covers of all the books you have written!  Thank you for all the fires of intolerance and bigotry you have fueled over the last two decades!