Trump’s Veteran Hypocrisy

It’s actually quite amazing the times we’re living in when someone who has been a controversial, narcissistic, thrice married, bankrupt, tabloid attention grabbing greedhead for decades is this close to an actual bona fide presidential candidate.

Of America.

Skip Congress, skip Senate. Skip any sort of elected office or appointed public service gig, go directly to the White House to satisfy the most public self-love fetish we’ve ever seen.

If in “Back to the Future” in the 80’s they had predicted Donald Trump would be president in 2016 the gag would be so ridiculously improbable that it would be comical – like the Cubs ever winning a World Series.  Ha!

But here we are living in a gag where a man who has been considered an asshole since the last time a completely unthinkable dick became president, is making a run. At least Reagan had the balls to be a governor first, he did the honest work of ruining a state before having the temerity to ask for votes to send an entire country down the chute.

Trump’s supporters, and the pundits who try to explain them, would have you believe it’s a time for assholes. I will agree, that for some people it’s always time for an asshole. Just like it’s 5:00 o’clock somewhere is a great excuse for alcoholics to have a cocktail, there’s always groups of low information humans roaming the Earth, ready to casually anoint somebody with no qualifications except the requisite lack of humility enough to believe that they, above all else, should be running things.

But really, Trump? That’s a heavy lift. That gravity seems to have been waived for his delusional anointers, at least temporarily, is amazing enough. But the sheer weight of Trump’s head, as well as his long biography of douchedom will crash the gaseous Trump blimp before it reaches Pennsylvania Avenue.

On this Guy Fieri-like episode we’re rolling out to find Donald Trump’s Hypocrisies, Inconsistencies and Lies.  First stop we note that no matter what Trump says about supporting veterans now, he has a history of NIMBYism regarding them outside his buildings.

Donald Trump Wanted Vets Kicked Off Fifth Avenue

Never mind that for more than a decade Trump sought to deprive veterans in need of their meager livelihood because he found them unsightly nuisances who should not be allowed anywhere near his gleaming headquarters on Fifth Avenue.

The Trump who now extols veterans spent years clamoring for New York City’s politicians to take action and ban even those street vendors with special disabled veteran’s licenses from the environs of Trump Tower.

As was reported in the New York Daily News, Trump wrote in a letter to the New York State Assembly back in 1991, “While disabled veterans should be given every opportunity to earn a living, is it fair to do so to the detriment of the city as a whole or its tax paying citizens and businesses?”

He went on, “Do we allow Fifth Avenue, one of the world’s finest and most luxurious shopping districts, to be turned into an outdoor flea market, clogging and seriously downgrading the area?”

He was still at it in 2004, when he wrote a letter to Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“Whether they are veterans or not, they [the vendors] should not be allowed to sell on this most important and prestigious shopping street,” Trump declared.

He warned, “The image of New York City will suffer… I hope you can stop this very deplorable situation before it is too late.”

The veterans he’s been fighting against for decades on the streets of NY have some less than fawning words for Trump.

“Despicable,” he said. “He never served. And not his kids.”

“If he gets elected, I’ll die,” she said simply.


The stories behind his numerous efforts to disregard real veterans who work near his buildings or struggling Americans who lived in his properties or poor people in other countries who just happens to live where he wants to build something, are legion.

Join us next time on Hypocrisies, Inconsistencies and Lies as we uncover the worst stories from the incredible career of professional asshole Donald Trump.



Do We Still Hate Susan B. Komen?

If not, we can hate on the Wounded Warrior Project.  Using only 60% of donations on veteran’s needs is not good.  Especially if the other 30% is going to $500 a night hotel rooms and $7000 business class flights.

It has spent millions a year on travel, dinners, hotels and conferences that often seemed more lavish than appropriate, more than four dozen current and former employees said in interviews. Former workers recounted buying business-class seats and regularly jetting around the country for minor meetings, or staying in $500-per-night hotel rooms.

I mean, if it was to help a wounded veterans spirit by getting him/her a hooker to snort cocaine off of, I suppose you could make a case.  Sure, that’s more of a Wall Street master of the universe thing than legitimate occupational therapy.  But as a patriot I will stand second to none in my support for veterans being able to snort coke off a hooker’s ass.





Why Democrats Are Doomed… Or Not

It’s all in one article in the Times today.  For House Democrats, Support for Obama Agenda Came at a Cost. Yes, Dems lost a lot of seats in 2010 and 2014 and it’s because they supported Obama, or so the article starts of stating. But oddly enough, there’s not one interview with a Democrat that says that.

Based on that headline you’d think they would have gotten some Blue Dog who lost their cushy, phony baloney, gold encrusted House gig to say it was his support for avoiding an economic depression that hurt him.

Some Democrats hold Mr. Obama responsible for that, saying their party’s lawmakers took the blame for the president’s aggressive and often unpopular agenda to revive the economy and adopt sweeping health care legislation during his first two years in office.

Ah, some Democrats say what?  Hm, whoooooo?  The ones who voted for saving the economy and expanding healthcare and then ran away from it and got creamed by Tea Party wackos?  Or the ones who voted against it and got creamed by Tea Party wackos anyway? Option A or Option B?

Nobody who vociferously defended doing the right thing lost. Which the article goes on to show.  If you’re going to blame Obama for the decline of the Dems in the House from 2009s 257 to the present 188, you can but not for his over aggressive agenda. For this:

“The main Democrat nationally, and the only one who could be heard, was silent on the huge structural issues that more and more Americans were facing,” said Stanley Greenberg, a veteran Democratic pollster who blames Mr. Obama for Democratic House losses in 2010 and 2014. “His silence on those things left the voters without much motivation to vote.”

And that I agree with.  What you can blame on Obama is his lack of effort to make sure that the people who voted for change in 2008 and 2012 got to the polls in 2010 and 2014. Maybe there was no way to stop the wave, but if there was a way, it was on the shoulders of the popularly elected President to make the full-throated, loud and clear appeal that all the change was going to stop dead if Democrats didn’t come out to keep the House and Senate. That you can pin on Obama. And I do.

You can’t blame him for not listening to the Republicans that would have let the banks and auto-industry fail and would never vote to provide economic stimulus even while 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs.

In a lunchtime speech here, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told the Democratic lawmakers he believed that they could win back the House if they drew a sharper contrast with Republicans.

“I think we can win; I think the House we can win,” Mr. Biden said. “I think we have to focus — and we didn’t do it enough the last time in my view. The best way to win is to run on what we have done and what we stand for, and run on what more we are trying to do, making clear what we think we have to do to finish the agenda and then contrast that to what they are for and what they oppose.”

Exactly. Be loud and proud for responsible governing and a progressive agenda. It’s worth a try, no?



And What Hillary Gets Right

Once again Pierce is there on the hustings in Iowa and reports on Hillary’s mention of the proposed Johnson Controls tax Inversion (read: avoidance) scheme.

Hillary:  “Johnson Controls begged the administration and the government to bail out the auto industry,” she said. “And now, in the last few days, Johnson Controls has decided to pretend to sell itself to a company in Europe just to avoid paying taxes. They call this an IN-version. I’d call it a PER-version. “

Indeed, let’s hear Republicans defend a company that got bailed out with U.S. tax dollars in 2008 twisting itself into a legal pretzel to avoid paying taxes. It’s always time for “corporations are people my friends.”  Because we’re such a conservative country that the average folk appreciate solid corporate governance – while our infrastructure collapses around our feet.  Not fucking likely!



What the WaPo Gets Wrong About Sanders

What Pierce says.  1. What haven’t they gotten wrong?  2. It’s not about the details of healthcare system upgrades that aren’t going to pass a GOP House, it’s about leading. It’s about aspiration.

… there is no indication from recent history that President Hillary Rodham Clinton will be treated any differently than either President Bernie Sanders or the guy who has the job at the moment….

Why only Sanders is held to this Procrustean standard of aspirational politics is an interesting question…. Because of the way our politics is conducted these days, and because of the unprecedented use of the institutional choke-points in Washington, every presidential campaign is necessarily aspirational. The idea that this is a phenomenon unique to the Sanders campaign is an indication of a very large thumb on the scale.

The WaPo editorial page is the prime piece of opinion real estate that gives succor to the righties and centrists that want to dismiss progressives and claim this a center-right nation.  It was where David Broder acted as the original Village bergomeister, protecting the cocktail parties of official D.C. from dirty fucking hippies for decades.

Sanders wasted no time in piercing that inflated sense of centrist smugness that the WaPo wears like Buffalo Bill wore dead girls skins.

“Getting back to the Washington Post, check out where all the geniuses on the editorial page were with regard to the invasion of Iraq,” Sanders added.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Not Knowing History

“History is written by the victors” – Walter Benjamin

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

It’s maybe the biggest problem we have related to racism – Americans not knowing what they don’t know about our own history. Which can leave them susceptible to believing they know something that is just flat out wrong. In regards to the history of race relations in America, the brutality of the slavery period and Reconstruction, an alternative history has been promulgated for much of the intervening 150 years, and not just in the South.

Ta-Nehisi Coates noted something Hillary Clinton said last night in the CNN town hall that reflects an unfortunate, but all too common misunderstanding of that Civil War and Reconstruction period.

Hillary Clinton Goes Back to the Dunning School

Clinton, whether she knows it or not, is retelling a racist—though popular—version of American history which held sway in this country until relatively recently.  Sometimes going under the handle of “The Dunning School,” and other times going under the “Lost Cause” label, the basic idea is that Reconstruction was a mistake brought about by vengeful Northern radicals. The result was a savage and corrupt government which in turn left former Confederates, as Clinton puts, it “discouraged and defiant.”

The truth in short was that after the war was over there was a broad understanding that the newly freed would need a lot of help to be integrated into society. It was also just as understood that the vanquished powers that be in the South that prosecuted the war were the last people you wanted to allow back into government.  The overwhelming attitude in the South was to return immediately back to the state of affairs pre-war, as if it hadn’t happened at all.  If blacks couldn’t be legally held as slaves, they could be de facto slaves by law.

For a short time the federal government undertook to protect the freed and allow them to have a voice in the newly constituted state governments, keeping Jim Crow at bay for a time. But such interest in the North was quite short lived before the hated Northern radicals (the successors to the even more hated abolitionists) had their voices sidelined by louder voices that were content to have relations between the states get back to normal and, of course, let the newly freed sink or swim.  At which point Jim Crow became the law and all that remained of the ideals of the war was the Southern victimhood and propaganda.

It’s not a small point to say that the idea that “it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving” if Lincoln had survived or that Reconstruction was some unfortunate “instead” of something, are extremely misinformed, if common, views of history.  It’s disappointing to hear from a Yale educated presidential candidate. More disappointing even than Bernie Sanders’ dismissal of the idea of reparations.

These are options for a party of amnesiacs, for people whose politics are premised on forgetting. This is not a brief for staying home, because such a thing doesn’t actually exist. In the American system of government, refusing to vote for the less-than-ideal is a vote for something much worse. Even when you don’t choose, you choose. But you can choose with your skepticism fully intact. You can choose in full awareness of the insufficiency of your options, without elevating those who would have us forget into prophets. You can choose and still push, demanding more. It really isn’t too much to say, if you’re going to govern a country, you should know its history.

To fix the gaps in the memory hole, I can’t recommend strongly enough two books:

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist


Reconstruction Updated Edition: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 by Eric Foner

Update:  I think I was remiss in not mentioning the final, and not proverbial nail in Reconstruction’s coffin, which was the violence, intimidation and brutality of the Klan in its determination to cleanse the post-war South of any African American influence on Southern society. Without Northern troops in the South to act as any counterweight, gangs of white militants, with the support of the general population, ruled the countryside creating a reign of terror that effectively ended whatever vestiges of Reconstruction still existed by 1875.  They murdered blacks who dared to try to vote (no less hold office), and whites who dared support them, including Northern carpetbaggers who had moved down there to seek fortune in the rebuilding.  The reality was that the Confederate Army never really disbanded after the war, they just melted into the population for a bit and then traded their gray uniforms for the sheets and hoods.

Damaged Goods Christie Keeps Damaging

Christie held the moral high ground, returning to NJ and making TV appearances all day long pooh poohing any idea that this blizzard was anything like Sandy, even as coastal towns had seawater running down the streets instead of plows (which is pissing off town mayors). He was able to deftly deflate the callow and stupid Marco Rubio when he made a really stupid joke:

Marco Rubio made a tasteless joke on Saturday, and Chris Christie is calling him out for it. At a town hall meeting, Rubio said Winter Storm Jonas was “one of the best things to happen to the republic in quite a while,” as it prevented the federal government from issuing new regulations. It was a remarkably insensitive comment, given the 25 people who’ve died in the storm, and Christie rightly criticized Rubio for the joke.

“[It] shows a real immaturity from Senator Rubio to be joking as families were freezing in the cold, losing power, and some of them losing their loved ones,” Christie said in an interview on CNN.

And then yesterday, back on the trail of tears in New Hampshire, Christie gave that moral high ground back and threw in a bridge as well…

“Do you want me to go down there with a mop?” Christie asked an attendee at a town hall in Hooksett, New Hampshire, according to ABC News. The questioner said she went to school in New Jersey and had friends who told her about the flooding.

They can’t help themselves.



They Don’t Make ’em Like That Anymore… Thankfully

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will take a break every now and then from testing new cars and do an old fashioned throw down between a modern car and an oldie to illustrate the many leaps forward in automobile design.  If you think those older heavier cars were safer? Um, not a chance.

Also, when somebody says they want to buy a safe car, really, today, you can’t go too far wrong. Whether a car gets a 5 or a 3 in a certain crash test, it’s all gravy next to what our parents drove us around in 50 years ago, without seat belts on.

By the way crumple zones would be a good name for a band. Somebody get on that.

Why Bernie’s (Maybe) Winning

… despite the media and pundit antipathy to Sanders’ viability.

Some of my own thoughts that have been meanderin’ around the noodle for a bit. And down the screen a bit some thoughts from Corey Robin of Crooked Timber blog.

I heard someone on TV say this morning that the best 2008 analogy is that Bernie is running as Obama’s 2008 campaign with the bold language of hope and change while Hillary is running as his actual presidency, stressing compromise and accommodation, softening expectations and settling for half a loaf if you can get it.  (Which reflects the not inconsistent reality of the Obama presidency that many Democrats supported him, support him still but are nonetheless disappointed that he took too long to fight back against his haters or use more of a bully pulpit in 2010 and 2014).

I think that sounds right and the problem with this is not with Bernie, it’s with Hillary – why is her campaign throwing cold water on big goals? How are you going to inspire people like that? Why run the policy equivalent of a prevent defense?

Is the plan to beat Bernie and then adopt his agenda? Because that is what people want – the safeness of Hillary with Sanders’ policies. And that defines both Hillary’s problem and the real choice between them.  As Sanders spokesperson Tad Devine laid out last week, the philosophy behind the Sanders campaign is to inspire and expand – inspire people who don’t normally get involved in electoral politics and expand the electorate. This was the Obama plan. It’s virtually always the plan when presidents win. Although it can go two ways: you can inspire people to come out to vote for you, or inspire (scare) the crap out of enough people that they vote against your opponent.  Or do both like in the Johnson landslide of 1964 or the Nixon reelection in 1972. But only the former strategy of inspiring a positive vote has the power to bring  people along down ballot.  A campaign that hopes to coast to a victory against an extremist foe, but only offers a limited vision of government has less of a chance to inspire and expand in order to create that wave of change.  (Unless you buy into the anti-Sanders “socialism” argument, Robin and I discuss later).

Let’s be clear about the general election – whomever the Democrats nominate will have almost unprecedented opportunity to campaign negatively against whomever the Republicans nominate.  Hillary’s negatives or Bernie’s negatives do not come anywhere near the negatives the potential GOP noms have.  So let’s just completely do away with any regurgitation of GOP talk about how nominating Bernie would be their dream.  It may be, but they are delusional and it won’t work for them.  The ads against Trump and Cruz that make them look unpresidential at best, but downright Palinesque at worst, write themselves.  So to have so many “establishment” Democrats shit on a Bernie nomination at this point is truly disappointing.

To look at why Bernie is forcing these Hillary errors I turn to Corey Robin of Crooked Timber blog. Bile, Bullshit and Bernie: 17 comments about a dismal campaign. Go read the whole thing, but here are a few salient points.

  1. Corey refers to the Clintonite dismissal of Sanders’ policy prescriptions as really an attack on classic Democratic values.

Raising taxes to pay for popular social programs: that used to be the bread and butter of the Democratic Party liberalism. Now it’s socialism. And that—now it’s socialism—used to be the bread and butter of Republican Party revanchism. Now it’s Democratic Party liberalism.

It’s quite troubling for some Democrats to hear that what we’ve advocated as a party since FDR is now considered Socialism not just by Republicans but also now by Democrats. But then again, that was Bill’s triangulation wasn’t it? That’s how Bill frustrated Newt and gang in the 90s, by running to the right, co-opting ideas as comfortable to Ronald Reagan as a jar of jelly beans. Ideas that even Bill has recognized as a mistake that helped set the world economy on fire (in a bad way) in 2008.  My greatest hope for Hillary was that she saw the failures of her husband’s presidency in deregulation, welfare reform, DOMA, etc. and run away, far away from that strategy. But now Hillary is running on a rhetorical return to the hated centrism of the late and not lamented Democratic Leadership Council. Who wants that? Um, nobody.

6. Sanders harps famously on all the Wall Street money that Clinton has taken and asks the simple question, if we all agree that we have to re-regulate Wall Street, how do we entrust that to someone taking their money? Well, the issue is not limited to that. While her campaign was working hard to denigrate Sanders’ position on Black Lives Matter, Clinton was taking money from people with ties to the private prison industry.

Post-script: In October, Clinton was forced to stop working with these clowns from the prison industrial complex. And return all the money.

Sanders never had to return a dime. Because he never took a dime.

and furthermore the defense industry defense of Clinton…

8. When the Clinton campaign released a letter signed by 10 foreign policy experts and Clinton supporters to denounce Sanders as “misguided” on Iran, the media was only too happy to report what the experts said about Sanders, but failed to discuss how many of them had troubling ties to the military contracting establishment, exactly half of them.

Wash Post: The pro-Clinton letter is signed by (Wendy) Sherman, the former undersecretary of state for political affairs; Jeremy B. Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and Pentagon; former White House adviser Rand Beers; former counterterrorism adviser Daniel Benjamin; former undersecretary of state Nicholas Burns; former assistant secretary of defense Derek Chollet; former undersecretary of defense Kathleen Hicks, former undersecretary of defense James N. Miller; and former deputy national security advisers Julianne Smith and retired Lt. Gen. Donald Kerrick.

From the Intercept:

  • Former Assistant Defense Secretary Derek Chollet, former Pentagon and CIA Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, and former Deputy National Security Adviser Julianne Smith are now employed by the consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, a firm we profiled last year. Beacon Global Strategies’ staff advises both Clinton and Republican candidates for president, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The firm makes money by providing advice to a clientele that is primarily military contractors. Beacon Global Strategies, however, has refused to disclose the identity of its clients.

  • Former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns is a senior counselor at the Cohen Group, a consulting firm founded by former Defense Secretary William Cohen. The firm “assists aerospace and defense firms on policy, business development, and transactions,” including deals in the U.S., Turkey, Israel, and the Middle East.

  • Former Undersecretary of Defense Jim Miller is an advisory boardmember to Endgame Systems, a start-up that has been called the “Blackwater of Hacking.” Miller is also on the board of BEI Precision Systems & Space, a military contractor.

Once again, the connections are troubling, but the lack of reporting on the connections may be most troubling.  It would be hard to run a campaign today without some potential conflicts of interest in the brain trust, but like with Wall Street, or private prisons, these connections should at least be reported.

9. The media reports Clinton’s campaign as the worthy successor to Obama, having hired many of Obama’s campaign professionals, a juggernaut of organization. But

Even though the Clinton team has sought to convey that it has built a national operation, the campaign has invested much of its resources in the Feb. 1 caucuses in Iowa, hoping that a victory there could marginalize Mr. Sanders and set Mrs. Clinton on the path to the nomination. As much as 90 percent of the campaign’s resources are now split between Iowa and the Brooklyn headquarters, according to an estimate provided by a person with direct knowledge of the spending. The campaign denied that figure. The campaign boasted last June, when Mrs. Clinton held her kickoff event on Roosevelt Island in New York, that it had at least one paid staff member in all 50 states. But the effort did not last, and the staff members were soon let go or reassigned….For all its institutional advantages, the Clinton campaign lags behind the Sanders operation in deploying paid staff members: For example, Mr. Sanders has campaign workers installed in all 11 of the states that vote on Super Tuesday. Mrs. Clinton does not.

and even Bill has expressed questions about the campaign.

Bill Clinton, according to a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation, has been phoning campaign manager Robby Mook almost daily to express concerns about the campaign’s organization in the March voting states, which includes delegate bonanzas in Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Texas.

10. The Socialism argument is very old school and won’t work.

Little noticed in this week’s Des Moines Register-Bloomberg Politics Iowa poll was this finding: a remarkable 43 percent of likely Democratic caucus participants describe themselves as socialists, including 58 percent of Sanders’s supporters and about a third of Clinton’s.

You know what electorate it would work on?  The Reagan Democrats of 1980, who are largely now dead or Republicans (if you can tell the difference). It makes my skin crawl every time the fossilized remains of Chris Matthews mentions this 35 year old demographic as if they still matter. Take it from me, voting is really spotty at long term care facilities.

The core goals of the Democratic Party will only be achieved by engaging young people, minorities, etc.  not those old white people whose car radios only have presets for Rush Limbaugh and oldies music that Trump is courting.  Nobody who would vote for a Democrat, any Democrat, anywhere, will be swayed by the knee jerk repetition of the word socialist in 2016. Could Sanders lose Alabama by more than Hillary would, sure. Maybe. But given that he had 7,000 people at a rally in Birmingham last week, there’s also the possibility that, also just maybe, he would bring the progressives out of their hidey holes in purple states.   I’m willing to be that this is the more profitable strategy than the idea that we should keep our heads down, keep our policy proposals inoffensive and count on the GOP self-destructing.

Fifty-six percent of those Democratic primary voters questioned said they felt positive about socialism as a governing philosophy, versus 29 percent who took a negative view.

I’ll stop there, but Robin has a lot of interesting things to say.