Not Even Close To Normal

I realize I’m repeating myself in some ways in this post, but I think it’s worth it in the long-term if we remind ourselves that progressives need to speak within a unifying narrative.

These are not normal times in our country. The authoritarian President Donald Trump expresses clear signs of untreated mental illness, including narcissism, and he is a pathological liar. As Hillary Clinton correctly pointed out a while back, “ . . . he is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief.”

Can and should progressives unite to define their protest against Trump and his Republican supporters under the broader framework in the above paragraph? Right now various factions opposed to Trump continue to fragment the message with pleas for money or signatures on petitions for their own special causes or concerns. The progressive response to the new president and his actions has been almost as myriad and erratic as Trump’s tweets. The daily grind of the news cycle makes progressives lose focus as we righteously but maybe not so strategically jump from one outrage to the next.

I believe we’re very much losing the information war. What’s making it through the clutter are the senseless tweets of a person, who is mentally ill. Do you hear about what Trump tweeted today? The world awaits in breathless anticipation to that refrain. I believe Trump has us where he wants us right now. He has a captive audience.

Meanwhile, there are important developments surrounding the Trump administration that truly matter that get lost or forgotten in the daily clutter. We still don’t know enough about the investigation into how the government of Russia most likely influenced our presidential election to get Trump elected in the first place. Note this recent post in Mother Jones, which was followed by this report in The Washington Post.

No one has the one right answer to Trump. What I know is that I’ve been writing liberal political commentary for a long time, and I’m on a lot of email lists. I’ve been bombarded by progressive organizations and progressive media outlets asking me for money or to sign petitions. But how much money should we donate and how many petitions opposing each of Trump’s nominees and appointments do we need to sign until we suddenly figure out that each one is going to be confirmed despite our efforts?

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


Nothing Bold About It

The Oklahoman calls it a “bold plan,” but Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address, which offered up a mixture of proposed tax cuts and hikes, left out any real solution to the state’s bleak financial situation or how any of her proposals might make it through our right-wing legislature.

The proposed tax cuts—no more sales taxes on groceries and ending the corporation tax—which by current calculations would leave the state with a budget shortfall of even more than the estimated $868 million depending when they take effect. She also wants to raise the cigarette tax and the fuel tax, the latter hike dedicated to road and bridge work, but she needs to get those hikes through a recalcitrant Republican-dominated legislature and an angry Democratic minority, who probably won’t and shouldn’t play her game.

All tax hikes take a three-fourths majority for approval, which even The Oklahoman concedes will need Democratic Party support because the party they politically support, the Republican Party, has broken Oklahoma through unwise tax cuts and breaks in recent years that have primarily benefited the wealthy.

Somehow, out of this fiscal mess, teachers will get raises, according to Fallin’s so-called bold plan.

In her prepared remarks, Fallin said, “Let’s act on a permanent pay raise for our public school teachers. It is what the public and families want. The pay raise may need to be phased in and it may be targeted, but it must be done.”

Yet voters overwhelming voted down a proposal to give teacher raises in the Nov. 8 election. Also, the key words in the above statement are “phased in” and “targeted,” both qualified by the word “may.”

Where does the money even come from to raise teacher salaries and what about state workers outside of education? Well, Fallin also argued for expanding the sales tax base:

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)


The Intellectual Liar: NY Times Ross Douthat

I’ve been supportive of the new commitment to “truth” by The New York Times even after it helped Hillary Clinton lose the presidential election because of its breathless and untruthful reporting of her personal web server, but now that it let columnist Ross Douthat blame liberals for the rise of the pathological liar President Donald Trump I’m not so sure.

Columnists, such as Paul Krugman and Charles Blow, are writing outstanding and truthful commentary in The Times. The newspaper is calling out Trump’s lies in headlines. But why even run Krugman’s and Blow’s columns if it’s all going to be undercut with the inane, borderline fascist drivel of Douthat? Why not be consistent in the resistance to Trump? Douthat is obviously part of the conservative deployment to normalize Trump, and these are not normal times.

It’s the same old and now unethical journalist equivocation of “here is this argument and here is this other argument” but one side—the Trump side—is neofascism or just plain fascism or a growing authoritarian government, which Douthat blames liberals for because, well, we don’t have the right narrative or story. It’s our fault. That’s a complete lie, and Douthat knows it, or maybe he thinks he’s a great writer and thinker and everyone in huge numbers reads what he writes and he’s so wonderful, brilliant. He’s so great, huge, the very best.

So here’s one narrative, Ross: The mainstream media, like The New York Times, didn’t report the truth for years and years about the rise of fascism in this country because they couldn’t comprehend it, and it was also complicit with it through its corporate model. The Corporation seeks profits. That’s why it exists. Exaggerated headlines and stories about Hillary Clinton’s personal server make money just like Douthat’s blatant lies about the lack of a liberal story that would have supposedly save the day for democracy.

Here’s the column, which, I do concede, is written in language at a decent enough intellectual level that I’m sure Trump couldn’t even get through it. That’s not sarcasm.

My main argument against the post is that Douthat omits all the ominous warnings about what’s happening under the Trump presidency just so far in the last two weeks, ranging from all the president’s and his surrogates’ pathological, compulsive lying to decisions that will destroy the economic foundation of the middle class to signs that new wars, perhaps a major world war, are on the horizon.

(Click "Read more" to continue reading.)