Skip to content

James Traficant And Donald Trump

March 21, 2017

I have not thought about James Traficant for a very long time.  And I am OK with that.  He was an embarrassment to my party and not aligned with my views on a host of policy matters.  But as recently noted the antics of the Ohio Democrat sadly link with those of the current populist, Donald Trump, who aroused white nationalists.

In the U.S., the most interesting recent example was the Ohio congressman James Traficant, who served nine terms, from 1985 to 2002. The heart of Traficant’s district was Youngstown, once known as Steeltown, U.S.A. His supporters had a lot in common with the white working-class voters who helped elect Trump, and Traficant himself was in many ways a Trump precursor. He was a populist and a fierce opponent of free trade; he even used the slogan “America First.” He was a media hound, whose outlandish behavior and stream-of-consciousness rants made him a TV favorite. He was vulgar: he talked about kicking people in the crotch and called the I.R.S. “political prostitutes” (later apologizing to “hookers” for the insult). 

Traficant was also crooked. Before running for Congress, while working as a sheriff, he was indicted on racketeering charges for taking bribes from the Mob. Traficant mounted his own defense in court and beat the rap, despite a signed confession and tapes on which he talked openly about taking money. In 2002, while still in Congress, he was convicted of bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion. Nevertheless, he won reëlection term after term, by margins of as much as sixty per cent. (It took expulsion by Congress to end his career.) Voters understood that Traficant was not a saint, but they saw him as one of their own. They believed he was looking out for their interests, and they liked his refusal to conform to the standards of the Washington élite. All those things mattered far more than whether he was getting a little money on the side.

For all Those Haters Of Immigrants

March 21, 2017

Could the hate be due to the fact of how successful immigrants are in this nation?

Google’s co-founder Mr Brin was born in Moscow, CEO of Google Mr Pichai in Tamil Nadu and Satya Nadella, the head of Microsoft, in Hyderabad. The biological father of the late Steve Jobs was a Syrian who moved to America, a journey that if Donald Trump has his way as of this week would be impossible. Half of all the American startups that are worth more than $1bn were founded by migrants. Many of the engineers at tech firms were born abroad, too. In Cupertino, a posh suburb in Silicon Valley, half the population is foreign-born.

Millennials Too Self-Absorbed to Vote

March 21, 2017

How things change.  When I was a teenager I followed the news and yearned for the first time to cast a ballot.  I have not missed a single election since age 18.  Today the statistics about twenty- somethings show something much different.  And very troubling.

Though Israeli politics is atypical—steeped in questions of war, peace, religious identity and the relationship with Palestinians—the voting behaviour of its young is nevertheless all of a pattern with the rest of the rich world. In Britain and Poland less than half of under-25s voted in their country’s most recent general election. Two-thirds of Swiss millennials stayed at home on election day in 2015, as did four-fifths of American ones in the congressional election in 2014. Although turnout has been declining across the rich world, it has fallen fastest among the young. According to Martin Wattenberg of the University of California, Irvine, the gap in turnout between young and old in many places resembles the racial gap in the American South in the early 1960s, when state governments routinely suppressed the black vote.

Millennials are not the first young generation to be accused of shirking their civic duty. And they are more interested in ideas and causes than they are given credit for. They are better educated than past generations, more likely to go on a protest or to become vegetarian, and less keen on drugs and alcohol. But they have lost many of the habits that inclined their parents to vote.

In Britain only three in five of under-25s watch the news on television, compared with nine in ten of over-55s. Young people are also less likely to read newspapers, or listen to the news on the radio. Each year around a third of British 19-year-olds move house; the average American moves four times between 18 and 30. People who have children and own a home feel more attached to their communities and more concerned about how they are run. But youngsters are settling down later than their parents did.

The biggest shift, however, is not in circumstances but in attitudes. Millennials do not see voting as a duty, and therefore do not feel morally obliged to do it, says Rob Ford of Manchester University. Rather, they regard it as the duty of politicians to woo them. They see parties not as movements deserving of loyalty, but as brands they can choose between or ignore. Millennials are accustomed to tailoring their world to their preferences, customising the music they listen to and the news they consume. A system that demands they vote for an all-or-nothing bundle of election promises looks uninviting by comparison. Although the number of young Americans espousing classic liberal causes is growing, only a quarter of 18- to 33-year-olds describe themselves as “Democrats”. Half say they are independent, compared with just a third of those aged 69 and over, according to the Pew Research Centre.

Donald Trump Lied To Nation, Undermined Credibility, Rebuked By FBI, Is National Ass-Hat

March 20, 2017

This morning was one of those weekdays when must-see events unfolded for people at home in front of the television, drivers listening on Sirius radio, or office workers paying attention via tablets.  What happened this morning was simply unprecedented. .

FBI Director James Comey delivered an implicit rebuke to Donald Trump, telling the House Intelligence Committee that he had “no information” to support claims by Trump that he was wiretapped on the orders of predecessor President Barack Obama.

Most dramatic was the news that, yes, the US government is undertaking a counterintelligence investigation of the presidential election. Investigators are not simply looking into whether Russia interfered with the election — by now that is a fact confirmed by 17 of the country’s intelligence agencies. Now the FBI is looking into who from Trump’s campaign might have helped the Russians. This might include Trump himself.  Seriously.  That is where we are in this nation tonight.

It was dramatic and riveting as Comey also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a clear preference for whom he wanted to see as the next US President — and it was not Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump, the national ass-hat then used his media operation at the White House to launch a political offensive even as the hearing continued.   It was something that not even Aaron Sorkin could have dreamed up.  Press spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump would not apologize to Obama for the wiretapping accusations, adding that questions remain about possible surveillance.  It all simply underscores the fact Trump is not only divorced from a number of wives but also from reality.

In the hearing that gripped the nation Comey publicly confirmed for the first time that his agency is investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.   Not just Russian interference or political coordination but collusion.  That was a major statement that rattled the Trump White House–though there is no way they did not already know it.  But the mere public statement sent bowels quaking at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

That the Republicans Party, once seen as the party of law and order, has now in just a couple of months of Trump in the White House become connected to sinister moves to destabilize our democracy with Russian assistance is nothing short of stunning.

The undereducated provincial angry white men who created this national embarrassment with their votes are likely not able to comprehend what they did to our country.  Those who do understand history, civics, law–in other words those ‘elitists’ who dare read and think–will never forgive the bastards.

Today was a sad and despicable entry into our national story.  And it never need to have happened.  That is what pisses smart people off more than anything else.

Following Tony Robinson Family Pay-Out Alder Skidmore Wisely Wants Madison To Weigh Future Settlements

March 19, 2017

From my conversations in Madison I find two trains of thought being discussed in relation to the record $3.35 million settlement over a lawsuit brought by the family of Tony Robinson, a man shot and killed by a Madison police officer.

The first and overriding expression I hear is that the award seemed truly surprising given what the facts involved, and that the family did not take their case to a courtroom for trial.  The amount of money paid was stunning for many citizens of this city to consider.

The second point of view I hear repeated again and again is how the legal representatives for the family, following the settlement, have aired their theories of what happened with press type briefings.  I am not a lawyer but I know what John Grishman would do about 150 pages into his case.  There would be a jury trial hearing about the evils of society.  But that is not how the Robinson family has handled their case.

All this makes for a very credible foundation for Madison alderperson Paul Skidmore with his proposal that the council and mayor decide whether to settle future lawsuits against the city or its employees.

I get the fact there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room when this type of topic is broached.  Namely the proposal may not find support over concern the city could lose its insurer.

What has created a lot of real heat and angst among the Madison Police Department, and the many who support them in this city, is that settlement between the Robinson family and the city’s insurer was made over the strong objections of the police officer who was involved in this case.  For background the city — which had been dismissed as a defendant in the case — was not involved in the settlement and had no ability to influence the court or the parties in the settlement.

And that is the part Skidmore and concerned citizens would like to further examine.  In the proposal that will weave its way through the committee corridors at city hall Skidmore’s idea says what has transpired “leaves the plaintiffs free to disparage the city of Madison and its employee without recourse to sworn testimony, cross examination, or the independent judgment of a disinterested judge.”

The summation of what is proposed makes sense to me and I suspect the rank-and-file voters of this city.

Decisions involving lawsuits brought by or against the city are properly the responsibility of its elected officials, not agents of an insurance company, and removing elected officials from decisions in such matters frustrates the accountability citizens expect from them.  

I get the fact there are large matters that need to be orchestrated for this proposal to mesh with the needs of an insurer for the city.   But I have to believe that there are people of good faith and sound judgment from each side of the matter who will be able to design a workable way forward so that this city need not again be forced to throw one of our professional employees ‘under the bus’ to make a fast settlement.

Skidmore should be applauded for listening to the people of this city.  He and I may not talk to the same people. But if he is hearing from his perspective the same thing I hear from my perspective means there is a  real message being sent from the people.  As such it might be wise for the entire city council to listen to the citizenry, too.

Welcome Back George Will!

March 19, 2017

I was very pleased to have George Will back on Meet The Press.   I truly admire Will for his grasp of policy and politicss.  I absolutely love how he talks, his word choice, his use of grammar and his ability to argue a point.  He is one of my favorite conservatives.  I usually always learn something from his appearances on news shows.  That is why I thrilled at the news from host Chuck Todd.

Syndicated columnist, George Will, he’s making his 52nd appearance on Meet the Press, but it’s his first since 1981. Where’ve you been? You know, I don’t know, have you been on some other show that I never, don’t think about?


Long Live Rock-And-Roll With Chuck Berry

March 19, 2017

There is a feel in your gut that comes with the guitar licks that takes one back in an instant to the first time Chuck Berry was heard.  It need not be when Berry was first aired on the radio or making his introduction to America.  That sense of musical freedom Berry captured in his music can happen for any kid in any decade.   Yesterday Berry died at the age of 90.  But nothing ever really ends.  The music continues.

“Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ‘n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday. He was 90. The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed his death on its Facebook page. Mr. Berry died at his home near Wentzville, Mo., about 45 miles west of St. Louis. The department said it responded to a medical emergency and he was declared dead after lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.

“While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven,’ he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.””Chuck Berry, who with his indelible guitar licks, brash self-confidence and memorable songs about cars, girls and wild dance parties did as much as anyone to define rock ‘n’ roll’s potential and attitude in its early years, died on Saturday. He was 90. The St. Charles County Police Department in Missouri confirmed his death on its Facebook page. Mr. Berry died at his home near Wentzville, Mo., about 45 miles west of St. Louis. The department said it responded to a medical emergency and he was declared dead after lifesaving measures were unsuccessful.”

%d bloggers like this: