Bob Schwartz

Tag: Republican Party

Logical Proof that Putin is President of the United States (and leader of the Republican Party)

Logic, even playful logic, is not particularly popular with Trump and many of his supporters. It has been tossed on the trash heap, along with truth, selflessness, courage, patriotism and sanity.

Logic can be helpful in critical times like these. Using what might be called the Transitive Property of Dominance, we find:

Trump is President of the United States.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is President of the United States.

and:

Trump is leader of the Republican Party.
Putin dominates Trump.
Therefore Putin is leader of the Republican Party.

This has many uses. Most importantly, when you see a Republican official, or see a Republican candidate on a ballot, unless you are absolutely sure he or she is an active opponent of this dominance (not just rhetorical objection), you can assume that for all practical purposes you are looking at Putin.

The logic may not be formally pure. But the point is essential and inescapable.

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Frankenstein: The Republican Creature

“The Creature showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil; he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I know where this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable himself that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.”
Frankenstein

I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet, when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powers of eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes on the lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindled within me. “Wretch!” I said. “It is well that you come here to whine over the desolation that you have made. You throw a torch into a pile of buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and lament the fall.”
Frankenstein

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s monumental work of modern literature. The characters and story have been fashioned into hundreds of forms, some truer to the original than others. One basic element is inescapable: the story of a skilled technician trying to create something new, only to discover that the Creature is ultimately destructive of much that is cherished and good.

That is where the Republican Party finds itself with Trump. Admittedly, Trump has more fans than Victor Frankenstein’s Creature ever did, but is similarly an uncontrollable force of twisted nature.

In the final chapter of Frankenstein, Captain Walton concludes the narrative letters that chronicle his passenger Victor Frankenstein’s relating the tale of the Creature he created:

You have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and do you not feel your blood congeal with horror, like that which even now curdles mine?…

Sometimes I endeavoured to gain from Frankenstein the particulars of his creature’s formation, but on this point he was impenetrable. “Are you mad, my friend?” said he. “Or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Peace, peace! Learn my miseries and do not seek to increase your own.”…

“Oh! My friend, if you had known me as I once was, you would not recognize me in this state of degradation. Despondency rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me on, until I fell, never, never again to rise.”…

“If I were engaged in any high undertaking or design, fraught with extensive utility to my fellow creatures, then could I live to fulfil it. But such is not my destiny; I must pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence; then my lot on earth will be fulfilled and I may die.”…

“He [the Creature] showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil; he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I know where this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable himself that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.”…

I entered the cabin where lay the remains of my ill-fated and admirable friend. Over him hung a form which I cannot find words to describe — gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions. As he hung over the coffin, his face was concealed by long locks of ragged hair; but one vast hand was extended, in colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy. When he heard the sound of my approach, he ceased to utter exclamations of grief and horror and sprung towards the window. Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face, of such loathsome yet appalling hideousness….

I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet, when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powers of eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes on the lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindled within me. “Wretch!” I said. “It is well that you come here to whine over the desolation that you have made. You throw a torch into a pile of buildings, and when they are consumed, you sit among the ruins and lament the fall.”

The Albatross: REPUBLICAN President Trump

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks       
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross   
About my neck was hung.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Barring extraordinary intervening events such as impeachment (which may not happen), Donald Trump will be president for the next four years. For those unhappy with that prospect, one obvious strategy is to limit his power/damage by reducing the number of Republicans in Congress and elsewhere.

As complex tactics are devised to achieve that end, here is a magic incantation—an albatross—that can help:

REPUBLICAN President Trump

Yes, it is that simple. Three words. It was only months ago that many Republicans were distancing themselves from candidate Trump—trying to hold onto their integrity, dignity, principles and sanity. Once he won, it was understandable that they stood by him, given the power that comes with the office. A lot of Republican dreams could come true with a Republican president, even if it is Trump.

Now Republicans are wondering about the consequences of being attached to the wackiest and least popular president in modern history—maybe ever (after only two months in office!). Not even distancing is going to work, since Trump showed during the campaign that he would attack anyone at any time, regardless of party. Those attacks carry a lot more weight now that he is actually the president.

Even if Republicans try to delicately distance themselves, it should be made as difficult as possible. And the best way to assure that is to identify Trump regularly as REPUBLICAN President Trump. Not President Trump. REPUBLICAN President Trump. REPUBLICAN President Trump.

Let’s see Republicans shake that albatross.

Republicans Need the Eggs

A great classic joke, told by Woody Allen in Annie Hall:

“It reminds me of that old joke—you know, a guy walks into a psychiatrist’s office and says, hey doc, my brother’s crazy! He thinks he’s a chicken. Then the doc says, why don’t you turn him in? Then the guy says, I would but I need the eggs.”

The Republicans Didn’t Get the trump Thing. Now They Don’t Get the Alt-Right Thing.

Bannon

Whether some people like it or not, the future of the Republic is in the hands of the Republicans. They dominate the states, and for the moment they dominate the federal government. Are they up to the task?

The Republican Party didn’t see trump coming. He didn’t look, talk or act like a conventional mainstream politician, candidate or President. He didn’t look, talk or act like a Republican. They could find no way of responding. He got the Republican nomination and the presidency.

Now the so-called alt-right comes along, which doesn’t look, talk or act like a conventional political movement, Republican or otherwise. Not only do the Republicans not know how to respond, but a leading figure of the movement is one whispered-in-the-ear directive away from the President.

Comparisons to movements like the Tea Party or the Liberty Caucus are dangerously silly. This is not a matter of degree or differences in positions. This is something else.

If the trump phenomenon is the example, the Republicans will do all kinds of things and make all kinds of noises to distance themselves from the alt-right and try to push it away from the party, just as they did with trump. It didn’t work then. And it won’t work now.

Republicans, right now the Republic is in your care and at your tender mercies. Let’s hope you get it very, very soon—and figure out what to do about it.

Republicans Wake Up to Find Themselves Married to Trump

trump-maples-wedding

The Washington Post reports:

Two closely-watched Republican lawmakers are calling on their colleagues to maintain aggressive congressional oversight of the Trump administration next year even though the new president hails from the same party controlling Capitol Hill.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who have large national followings and grander political ambitions, agreed that House and Senate committees must keep close tabs on Donald Trump’s new government starting next year — not because they want to stick it to a man that neither originally endorsed for president, but because doing so would help rebalance power between the three branches of government.

During the campaign, Trump was like a rich and wacky member of the Republican family—a crazy uncle you could distance yourself from, but who was after all a member of the family, and you did want to make sure that he left you something in his will. This led to many Republicans doing some fancy dancing.

But Trump is very much alive, and the Republican Party woke up to find itself married to him. So while Republican Senators like Cotton and Gowdy say they will “maintain aggressive oversight” because they want a proper balance of power, that isn’t it. Married to Trump, they know that if he screws up, come the next election—or sooner—they will get the blame and take the hit. Trump may now be head of the household, but his new family is going to try to make sure he doesn’t burn down the house. Because they know he just loves to play with fire.

The Democrats Need Boldness Not Gamesmanship

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the elder Democratic leadership in Congress were able to fend off an insurgency and keep their jobs. It was explained that they deserved to maintain their roles, even if they are beholden to the old ways, because they are all veteran insiders who know how the game is played.

Knowing how the game is played has value, but not nearly as much value electorally as being bold. Being passionate. Convincing people that you believe in something so wholeheartedly that nothing, not even keeping your job, is more important. The evidence mounts that Democrats have ignored this, don’t believe it or can’t do it.

When Barry Goldwater was nominated for President by the Republicans in 1964, the party establishment rent its garments in despair at his supposed extremism, and felt vindicated by his colossal loss in the election. But within 20 years he was the intellectual soul of the party, and within 50 years—right now—even though Republicans speak with reverence about Ronald Reagan, the one they really owe their dominance to is Goldwater. They are the political heirs to his boldness.

In an alternate universe, the Democrats nominated Bernie Sanders, who proceeded to lose, maybe not as badly as Goldwater did, but possibly badly. Yet immediately after the election, an entire generation of young Democrats gets genuinely fired up, remaking the party as a vehicle of sweeping progress, of resistance to the worst and change for the best. Within a few years, Republicans have a fight on their hands, and within a few more years the tide turns—not just in Congress, not just in the presidency, but in the governorships and state legislatures, where the Democrats are also currently a minority. This happens not because President Trump or the Republicans are so bad, but because the Democrats are so bold, charismatic, appealing and inspiring.

Genius, power and magic. That’s the Democratic ticket.

Making America Crazy Again: How to Survive and Thrive After the Election

make-america-crazy-again

You don’t want to hear this, but things may get crazier after the election.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will be the least liked, least trusted President to ever take office. All the assumptions and suppositions about how the Clintons’ good intentions have been mixed with and compromised by expedient centrism, ambition, greed, secrecy and overall ugliness have been confirmed.

Progressives who tried an insurgency within the Democratic Party will learn that if they have a place at the table, it will be set with modest meals, if not mere crumbs.

Republicans will be gleeful at the prospect of obstructing everything and unwinding anything, without much of a plan of their own. Their glee is misplaced, since there is no Republican Party left, not one recognizable as such. Instead, it is merely the shaky platform for another set of would-be Presidents to start jockeying for position as the candidate in 2020.

And then of course there’s Donald Trump, whose hat should have first read Make The GOP Crazy, then Make The Election Crazy, and finally Make America Crazy Again. He is good at each of these. There is no doubt, whatever form his public pathology takes, he will help make 2017 a year we will not forget, just as 2016 is an election we will not forget, no matter how we try.

And so, some suggestions for getting on with our lives, not just surviving, but thriving, after the election.

  1. Religion, spirituality, philosophy, or something like them. Principled views of reality and the world can be very helpful. There is nothing inherently wrong with making stuff up as we go along. Except that when the wind blows, which it does pretty much all the time, and sometimes with hurricane force, we might want to have something to keep us steady.
  1. Media diet. When I see the ad for that cheeseburger with six strips of crisp bacon on top, something in me wants one. Except I don’t eat cheeseburgers any more, don’t eat bacon anymore, and if I did, I don’t think it would be in that particular configuration, since I plan to live a long and healthy life. The news media, even the supposedly respectable ones, are mostly offering us the equivalent of 1-pound burgers with an entire package of bacon on top, hour after hour. If you don’t want to be crazy unhealthy, please watch what you eat.
  1. Learning. You don’t have to learn about anything or anyone. You can learn exactly as much as you need to get on with your life and through the day. If you do choose to be interested in something, including public affairs, do try to learn and discern. We have spent the past year in a storm of misinformation and disinformation, lies and nonsense. That is not going to stop after the election. In fact, it could get worse, hard as that is to believe.
  1. Silence.

The Political Opera Isn’t Over Until the Fat Cats Sing

Fat Cat Singing

If you were wondering whether the Trump soap opera/nightmare would end sometime before the actual vote, it is now official.

Cut Ties to Donald Trump, Big Donors Urge R.N.C. reports the New York Times:

Several of the Republican Party’s most generous donors called on the Republican National Committee on Thursday to disavow Donald J. Trump, saying that allegations by multiple women that Mr. Trump had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances toward them threatened to inflict lasting damage on the party’s image.

To an elite group of Republican contributors who have donated millions of dollars to the party’s candidates and committees in recent years, the cascade of revelations related to Mr. Trump’s sexual conduct is grounds for the committee to cut ties with the party’s beleaguered standard-bearer, finally and fully….

Bruce Kovner, a New York investor and philanthropist who with his wife has given $2.7 million to Republicans over the same period [since the 2012 election], was just as blunt. “He is a dangerous demagogue completely unsuited to the responsibilities of a United States president,” Mr. Kovner wrote in an email, referring to Mr. Trump.

It is indeed unfortunate that money speaks so much louder and more forcefully than the voice of ordinary people in current, post-Citizens United America. But if at this moment, this helps us to move on, even just a little, from this bizarre political hell we seem to be stuck in, I’ll take it. When the fat cats sing, the parties listen. And this particular song should be music to our ears.

Political Expediency and Conscience

Marcellus and Butch - Pulp Fiction

Now the night of the election, you may fell a slight sting, that’s conscience messin’ wit ya. Screw conscience! Conscience only hurts, it never helps.
Loosely adapted from Pulp Fiction

Political pragmatism is a messy business, especially when it looks like pure expediency. That goes for candidates who are not trusted or liked, and for supporters and enablers who overlook obvious shortcomings and transgressions for the sake of some higher goal. (For Democrats and Republicans who think this is only about the other, think again.)

The best movie moment about expediency comes from Pulp Fiction. Those who know this great movie may know the scene. Those who haven’t seen it should, for entertainment and for Tarantino’s willingness to take on interesting moral and ethical questions. Be advised that the movie is rough, as is the language in this scene.

Boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) is bribing aging boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) to take a dive:

MARSELLUS WALLACE:

I think you’re gonna find ­ when all this shit is over and done ­ I think you’re gonna find yourself one smilin’ motherfucker. Thing is Butch, right now you got ability. But painful as it may be, ability don’t last. Now that’s a hard motherfuckin’ fact of life, but it’s a fact of life your ass is gonna hafta git realistic about. This business is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers who thought their ass aged like wine. Besides, even if you went all the way, what would you be? Feather-weight champion of the world. Who gives a shit? I doubt you can even get a credit card based on that.

Now the night of the fight, you may fell a slight sting, that’s pride fuckin’ wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit. ‘Cause a year from now, when you’re kickin’ it in the Caribbean you’re gonna say, “Marsellus Wallace was right.”