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Vulgarity-Laced Language, Paul Harvey, And Our Sensibilities

July 27, 2017

This morning James and I listened to Frank Sinatra on the stereo as we concluded some restoration and painting inside our home from yesterday’s nine-hour visit from an electrician, who added recess lighting and a fan in our kitchen.    James refashioned the walls and a portion of the ceiling, paint was added following the mesh creation as Frank’s big orchestra sound filled the house.   Sunshine outside was waiting for us, the coffee pot was peculating.  All seemed right with the world.

Once showered and outside, as James brought me another cup of coffee, he announced what simply I could not conceive happening.  In a vulgarity-laced telephone call with a New Yorker writer newly hired communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, railed against Chief-Of-Staff Reince Priebus and presidential adviser Stephen Bannon.  After James told me what had been said in the recorded interview I simply sat stunned.

There was no way this could be possible.  There was no way that anyone willingly and purposefully acted this way as a top White House employee.  Even in the times we now are forced to live with Donald Trump in the Oval Office–even now–this could not be real.

At age 55 I am still grounded in a certain professional set of standards when it comes to the way reporters, politicians, or media personalities communicate.  I was raised on radio and newspapers until I turned a teenager.  We had no television in those years.  In my early adult years I was a radio broadcaster and news reporter.  Later I worked with a state assemblyman for a decade where part of my duties were to write press releases and work with the media.   In every aspect of my work life there was a standard to live by.

All my life I have never forgot the professional standards of those like, Paul Harvey, one of my radio heroes based on his ability to enunciate words, who wore a tie for his radio broadcasts.  He knew the way he looked and acted in a radio studio would come across over the airwaves.  And it did.

I have written many times about the lowering of standards on the radio airwaves, and with news publications like Newsweek, and just last week, The Economist.  In both of the latter cases the use of the ‘F’ word has truly angered me.  I find it unacceptable to use in a professional setting.  It is vulgar, low-brow, and shows a great deal about what a person lacks in his/her bringing up.

I am fine if some who read this think I am just not ‘contemporary’ enough to understand that this foul word is now in vogue.   To them I say, no.  Simply NO!

No one will ever find me bending to the lowest common denominator.   I did not do it with those who wanted me to smoke pot when I was young, and I surely will not sell out to those who wish to downgrade our language.  I have too many memories of the countless hours of broadcasters and public servants who knew how to use their skills and talents for lifting up people and not embarrassing themselves and their listeners.

Tonight I would hope we might rise above politics on this one.  We can–and should strongly debate health care, taxes, and climate change.  But when it comes to the type of vulgarity that came from the White House–the most important office in the world–we all need to be as one and denounce it.

We would not act that way at the family dinner table, the work place, church, or even the grocery store line.  We might want to think as Paul Harvey did.  If we show self-respect it will reflect to others.  It seems like an easy lesson, but clearly not all have learned it.

Could “Skinny Bill” Become Law?

July 27, 2017

There is no way that a number of Republican Senators are going to vote for the “skinny bill” if there is a chance that the measure could actually become law.  The reason is that it is dreadful and so very damaging for the American citizen.

As Republican senators seek assurances that the bill they are being asked to vote on won’t become law, the House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy of California, may have sent shivers down a spine or two in the upper chamber with this announcement.

“While last votes are currently scheduled to take place tomorrow, Members are advised that — pending Senate action on health care — the House schedule is subject to change. All Members should remain flexible in their travel plans over the next few days. Further information regarding potential additional items will be relayed as soon as possible.”

That doesn’t sound like a man preparing for lengthy House-Senate negotiations on a comprehensive health care bill. So maybe the “skinny repeal” could become law after all?

@SenJohnMcCain on House just passing the skinny repeal bill: “I’m very worried about it and I would be worried about the product.”  

Will Senator John McCain’s Final Acts Be Those Of Leadership For The Ages?

July 27, 2017

UPDATEWhen push came to shove and it came time for 16 million Americans to lose their health care, Senator McCain took a stand to protect them and voted no against repeal. I know McCain has done things we have disagreed with in the past. But in this act of courage in protecting Americans. I think we can all agree on just saying this simple thing. “Thank you for your service Senator McCain. You helped to protect those who can’t protect themselves with this vote.”

There is a great deal of goodwill that goes from this nation to the needs of Senator John McCain as he fights the most aggressive and unforgiving brain cancer that one can have.  The end is not in doubt, the only thing that is not known is how the last acts of a long-time politician will play out.  With the health care votes that will impact tens of millions of Americans being worked on in the Senate, and the fact that McCain has the best medical care that can be obtained in the land, and who will have a vote on everyone else of less means, translates into a test of moral and political leadership.

With that in mind comes this excellent read from The New Yorker.

Walking home from that appointment, I checked my phone and saw on Twitter that Senator John McCain was returning to Washington from Arizona, where he has been recovering from surgery. McCain made the journey to participate in the Senate vote on whether to proceed with debate on legislation that, if passed by the Republican majority and signed into law, would repeal the Affordable Care Act and leave twenty-three million Americans—or sixteen million, or thirty-two million, depending upon who’s doing the forecasting—with no insurance, no safety net, and the prospect of pure terror. McCain’s surgery revealed a glioblastoma, an aggressively malignant brain tumor. On three previous occasions, he has had non-life-threatening malignant melanomas surgically removed. Senator McCain has lived a life as extraordinary as any American, a well-known tale of survival, heroism, and accomplishment—and, at times, of dubious decisions inconsistent with acts of valor. (Vice-President who?) Foremost, his has been a life of public service. Whatever the course of his illness—even with treatment, the average survival for glioblastoma is fourteen months—I’m confident he has medical-care providers at least as superb as my own. Though he is a very wealthy man, as a member of Congress his bills have been paid by taxpayers.

Contrary to logic and morality, the gaslighting of America by President Trump, his coterie of handlers and enablers, and the cynical leadership of the Republican Party is, in many respects, succeeding. Each new day brings fresh reporting about the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, as well as the determination by Trump to derail that investigation. Simultaneously, the work of tenacious and courageous journalists digging rigorously for facts is daily slandered as “fake news.”

The accumulation of endless, self-serving but also often self-subverting, easily refuted mendacity by the erstwhile leader of the free world—the gaslighting—has caused me to question my own sanity. Can this really be happening—to this country, in this century, this repudiation of our cherished beliefs in what “America” stands for and is capable (and incapable) of? Do we actually have a President who, as members of his own party plot legislation that could deprive twenty-three million citizens of health-care coverage, has immersed himself in the legislative process approximately as much as any other citizen who follows the story on Fox News, or who phones the office occasionally while waiting for the foursome in front to putt out on the sixteenth green of a beautiful you-will-not-believe-how-beautiful-really-really-wonderful-for-the-American-people golf course?

One wonders how and why voting against McConnell’s process and proposal is a difficult call for McCain. It should be the simplest of choices, a capstone to the life of a good but at times contradictory man who, presented with an ultimate dilemma, simply draws upon his enormous reserves of courage.

When the news broke of McCain’s return to Washington, one week after brain surgery, James Fallows wrote in The Atlantic about another senator who, in eerily parallel circumstances, cast a fateful vote that contributed to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Fallows was asking, in effect, “Might Senator McCain’s devastating medical prognosis become doubly tragic?” Then he gently offered advice on how to avert such a legacy.

In June, 1964, Senator Clair Engle, a Democrat from California, occupying a seat that previously had been held by Republicans for more than sixty years, died in office—of a brain tumor. Only weeks earlier, he had appeared in the Senate, partially paralyzed, too ill to stand or speak, and waved his hand—indicating a vote in favor of a cloture motion that ended a filibuster by Southern senators, led by Strom Thurmond, who were irresolutely determined that there would be no Civil Rights Act, now or ever.

Fallows wrote, “Clair Engle, although he could not stand, wanted to take a stand, and did. And if he is remembered, this will be the reason why. . . . [His] most bravely memorable moment as a legislator was his last, when he voted: Yes.”

Fallows acknowledged McCain’s foibles and inconsistencies, most notoriously his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, in 2008, thereby “steering American politics down the path that led to Donald Trump.” In an ironic echo of Trump’s disgraceful appeals to African-American voters during the election, Fallows wrote, “What does John McCain have to lose, by doing what he knows is the right thing?” And then, a more severe warning, if McCain votes for a final repeal bill, “he will deserve all the opprobrium that follows.”

And The Mature Ones Strike Back At Donald Trump

July 27, 2017

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday said the U.S. military will not make any changes to its transgender policy until President Donald Trump clarifies what he meant in a series of surprise tweets on Wednesday that appeared to reverse the year-old decision under President Barack Obama to allow their service.

In other words there will be “no modifications” to the military’s transgender policy as a result of Trump’s tweets.  Marine Gen. Joe Dunford wrote in the message to the chiefs of the services and senior enlisted leaders that the military will continue to “treat all of our personnel with respect.”

“I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement on the transgender policy by the President,” Dunford wrote in the message, a copy of which was provided to POLITICO. “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect. As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions,” he continued.


Where Is Fox News?

July 26, 2017

The 2017 News and Documentary Emmy nominations are out, and PBS has racked up the most selections, with 48, including 12 for Frontline.

CBS followed with 43, including a program-topping 30 nominationss for 60 Minutes. ABC ran third with 19 nominations, led by Nightline‘s eight, and HBO is next with 18, 11 of which are for its documentaries. CNN (16) and Univision (11) are the only other nets in double digits.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, All In With Chris Hayes, The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell and ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos, were all nominated in the “Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis” category, with the Chris Hayes program getting two nominations.

Hmm…who is not mentioned for any news programming?    Oh, the one who does not report the news but instead is an arm of the Republican Party.

Do You Favor Courts Shutting Down Media Outlets?

July 26, 2017

Well of course you do not.  Rational readers show up here at Caffeinated Politics.

But a new Economist/YouGov poll finds that Republicans favor having courts “shut down media outlets” for “biased or inaccurate” stories by a 45% to 20% margin, with 35% unsure.

I have never held back my view that the educational standards in our nation are too low, and far too many of my fellow citizens are simply–well, simpletons.  I have had this view in years where Democrats held the White House and clearly now with Donald Trump residing there.   My low regard for much of the nation, over the decades, when it comes to education is not a politically driven feeling as much as one where it is just very apparent, time and again, that there are many under-educated people around us.

How would a citizen with any dose of history or civics not have a clue as to why the question posed above is highly dangerous and very undemocratic?  Or is this just the next logical step in the GOP’s transition from conservatism to the National Front?

Look at the numbers for the various subgroups and you might need something stronger than my cup of coffee–(today is Peruvian).  Among 25 demographics measured, not a single one has a majority opposed to the idea of court-ordered shutterings of certain media. The groups most strongly opposed are Clinton voters and “other” voters last fall at just 42 percent apiece. Overall, a plurality of 43 percent of the population “hasn’t heard enough” to form an opinion yet about whether the state should be allowed to target news outlets for closure

There is simply no way to make this up.  But it does strongly reinforce my views that this nation is made up of simply put–under-educated people.  Who may get, finally, what they deserve for the slovenly way they handle this republic.

Conservative Senators Disagree With Trump On Transgender Ban

July 26, 2017

Republican Senator Richard Shelby responded to Donald Trump’s new transgender policy. He said ‘I think everybody should be able to serve.'”

Senator Ernst from Iowa says, “Americans who are qualified and can meet the standards to serve in the military should be afforded that opportunity.”

Senator McCain, “No reason to force service members who are able to fight, to leave military, regardless of their gender identity’.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) pushed back against President Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from serving in the military, the Denver Post reports.

Said Buck: “America needs a military comprised of patriots willing to sacrifice for this country. Any American who is physically and emotionally qualified should be allowed to serve.”

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