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The Other Shoe

Recently, John McCain suggested that Republicans would block anyone Hillary Clinton attempts to appoint to the Supreme Court. Almost immediately afterward, he tried to deny that’s what he had said. But I just knew that some Republican politician would take up McCain’s idea. You know, someone a bit crazier than McCain.

So it was hardly a surprise when Ted Cruz started suggesting that having eight members of the Supreme Court would be just fine. You know, until some far-away day when a Republican (like himself) would be elected president.

What happened to the Republican assertion that we should let the voters speak and defer to the next elected president. I guess that promise only held until it became obvious that they were about to lose.

Indeed, Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is threatening all kinds of other abuses of power will be committed by the Republicans if Clinton wins. Like blocking all of her nominees (not just Supreme Court justices), and lots more investigations of Clinton (like they did for Benghazi and emailgate). Yup, the Party of No and the Do-Nothing Congress will live on.

If the Republicans do this, then I think it is only fair that the Democrats pull a few tricks. Electoral-Vote explains:

Needless to say, after pleading with the Senate to do its job for a few months, Clinton’s patience might run out. There are things she could do on her own to get some things decided, however. For example, suppose she issued an executive order saying that no undocumented immigrant who has been in the country for at last 5 years, has no criminal record, and who has paid federal income taxes will be deported, nor will any members of that person’s family. The Republicans would immediately sue her. She could probably successfully argue that the case should be heard in D.C. and the resulting appeal should be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. There are currently 11 active judges on the D.C. Circuit Court, of whom Merrick Garland is the Chief Judge. One of the judges was appointed by George H.W. Bush, three were appointed by Bill Clinton, three were appointed by George W. Bush, and four were appointed by Barack Obama, giving Democratic appointees a 7 to 4 majority. If they decided this case (or any other case about executive orders) in favor of the President, the Republicans would appeal to the Supreme Court, which would likely split 4 to 4, leaving the D.C. Court ruling as binding.

Needless to say, running a country by executive order would be a dangerous precedent, but what is the alternative if the Republicans keep their pledge to bring our government to a screaming halt?

The Republicans not only appear to be in a death spiral, but they are intent on taking our country down with them at all costs.


Religious Wrong

Matt Wuerker
© Matt Wuerker

The George W Bush administration courted the religious right, but then pretty much ignored them. At the time I concluded that Dubya was playing the religious right for fools.

But watching how the “religious” right fell in line behind Trump is changing my opinion. Just look at Trump. Can you imagine anyone less religious? When was the last time he even attended a church?

He may be the least religious person imaginable. He breaks the ten commandments for breakfast, and then brags about enjoying the seven deadly sins after lunch. Graven images? check (of himself of course). Stealing? check (from his subcontractors). Adultery and coveting his neighbor’s wife? check and check. Bearing false witness? only when his mouth is moving. Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride sound like Trump’s tweeted version of his resume. Trump spent the 1990s throwing large parties featuring cocaine, older men, young girls (as young as 14 and 15), and “sex, a lot of sex”.

It seems like it is the leaders of the religious right — people like Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell Jr., Tony Perkins, and Pat Robertson — who have been playing their followers for fools all along.

Even conservatives have noticed this. Conservative site Townhall has an interesting article titled “How the Religious Right Embraced Donald Trump and Lost its Moral Authority“.

Townhall points out the obvious hypocrisy of Ralph Reed, who during Bill Clinton’s impeachment declared that “we will not rest until we have leaders of good moral character”. Reed now chairs Trumps religious advisory board, and dismissed the tape of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women as not an “important concern”.

And Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, who endorsed Trump saying “Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught”. Even Donald Trump wouldn’t believe that.

In 2011 a poll asked white evangelicals if they agree that immoral politicians can still fulfill their duties. Only 30% said yes. But the same question was asked last month of the same people, and 72% said yes.

Hopefully, the rampant hypocrisy of the religious right will bring about their own demise. Already a civil war has broken out between supporters of Trump and the growing contingent of “Never Trump” religious leaders, as evangelical voters are starting to ignore their leaders and reconsider their support for Trump.

I mean, what is a religious voter to do when faced with “a thrice-married, epically greedy, congenitally dishonest serial adulterer who exalts the rich while heaping scorn upon the vulnerable.” And who is clearly playing the religious right for rubes.

I’ll just be happy if we get back to the old days when religious leaders kept out of politics most of the time.


The Verdict?

A powerful political ad created by Joss Whedon for Save the Day:


How Democracy Dies

Retired Supreme Court justice David Souter, back in 2012, reminds us of the biggest danger to democracy. His words are prescient given our current election.

This clip starts near the end of his talk, but the whole talk is very interesting.


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Oct. 11, 2016]

“Trump is still under fire for the lewd and offensive tape that was released last week which he referred to as ‘locker-room talk’. Well now pro athletes are speaking out against this, saying that’s not how they speak in the locker room. While Tim Tebow said, ‘I don’t even like to say ‘Billy Bush!'” – Jimmy Fallon

“A new national poll found that Democrats now have a significant lead over Republicans in the congressional races. Republicans said, ‘And there’s only one man to blame for this,’ and Donald Trump said, ‘Exactly: Billy Bush.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Donald Trump lashed out at a number of Republicans on Twitter today, the ones who have been distancing themselves from him. He called Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a weak and ineffective leader. He called John McCain foul-mouthed. He also tweeted, ‘It so is nice the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.’ This is how he’s been behaving with shackles ON?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Donald Trump tweeted earlier today, quote, ‘It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to.’ What shackles are you talking about? The only thing that ever shackled you was the 140-character limit on Twitter.” – Seth Meyers

“A number of cable news outlets called it a tweet storm. During this terrible tweet storm I think we should take a moment to acknowledge Donald Trump’s thumbs because those chubby little baby carrots have been working so very hard lately, they’re worn down to the nubs and I applaud them for doing so much work.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“And NOW you’re going to fight for America? Hey buddy, you’re not Rosa Parks. You know how I know? People LIKED what Rosa Parks said on the bus. Huge difference.” – Seth Meyers

“The Cleveland Indians yesterday completed their sweep of the Boston Red Sox and will move on in the ALCS. ‘I hate the Indians,’ said Donald Trump, who wasn’t talking about baseball.” – Seth Meyers

“Happy 41st wedding anniversary to Bill and Hillary Clinton! Yep, they celebrated with a quiet dinner. A really, REALLY quiet dinner. ‘Did you say something?’ ‘No.’ ‘Good.'” – Jimmy Fallon

“Hillary Clinton campaigned in Florida today with Al Gore. You’re making Al Gore go back to Florida? That’s so cruel. That’s like making Joe Frazier go back to Manila.” – Seth Meyers

“In a new MTV documentary with Macklemore, Obama says that when he was a teen he drank and did drugs, adding, ‘I pretty much tried whatever was out there.’ When asked what made him stop, Obama said, ‘Stop?'” – Jimmy Fallon


Trump is Definitely Cracked

Mother Jones came across something that (at least to me) not-so-neatly sums up Donald Trump. The occasion was the 2009 death of Jett Travolta, the 16-year-old son of John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, who died of a seizure while on vacation with his parents.

Trump decided to offer his condolences. His first mistake was publishing it on the website of Trump University (which, mercifully is now defunct in a flurry of fraud). His second mistake was publishing it just four days after the tragic death. But the biggest mistake is what Trump wrote. Here’s the first paragraph:

I have always respected people who were loyal and faithful — which brings to mind Kelly Preston. A long time ago, before I was married, I met Kelly Preston at a club and worked like hell to try and pick her up. She was beautiful, personable, and definitely had allure. At the time I had no idea she was married to John Travolta. In any event, my track record on this subject has always been outstanding, but Kelly wouldn’t give me the time of day. She was very nice, very elegant, but I didn’t have a chance with her, and that was that.

Yes, Donald Trump takes the occasion of the tragic death of a child and makes it into an opportunity to reminisce about how he once tried to pick up the dead child’s mother. And because he is Trump, he even throws in some bragging about his track record.

Even the humor website Cracked was gobsmacked. This is (part of) what they wrote:

Alright, do you see what you did there? Instead of telling Kelly you grieve for the loss of her little boy, you mentioned the time you tried to fuck her. This is what most ethicists would call “unspeakably shameful” and most psychiatrists would call “psychopathic.” When us regulars write our condolence letters, we tend to leave out stories about once trying super hard to fuck the mother of the recently departed.

Most people don’t need to be told this, but it’s actually almost never OK to brag about your powers of seduction in a letter about a dead kid. No matter how much you want people to know how much of that sweet poontang you get, the mother and father typically don’t want to hear about it four days after their son’s death.

Donald Trump may be the first major candidate to run for president who could start World War III completely unintentionally, just by saying something really stupid and insulting.


Double Standard

If anyone actually believes that sexism is not a factor in our current election, Nicholas Kristof has an article for you.

All you have to do is try to imagine if the tables were turned:

  • Imagine that Hillary Clinton had had five children by three husbands.
  • That she thought it was ok to refer to her daughter Chelsea as a “piece of ass“.
  • Imagine Clinton on a radio show, talking about oral sex in a hot tub.
  • Or rating men based on their body parts.
  • Or showing up in (soft-core) porn videos.
  • Or boasting during a debate that there is nothing wrong with her vagina.
  • Or gave an interview with her husband to People magazine and when Bill stepped away to change clothes, Hillary took the interviewer to a room and stuck her tongue down their throat.
  • Imagine that Clinton claimed “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
  • Or boasting about grabbing men’s crotches and getting away with it.
  • Or bragged about attempts to commit adultery.
  • Or reportedly fired someone because they resisted her seduction efforts.
  • Imagine that Clinton had declared bankruptcy six times.
  • And had a long record of stiffing contractors.
  • Or imagine Clinton denounced international trade while personally manufacturing shirts in Bangladesh, ties in China, suits in Mexico, and stemware in Slovenia.

Kristof’s list is significantly longer, but you get the point. Trump may be the living embodiment of “the big lie“. Someone so unbelievably unsavory and disgusting that people have trouble believing the truth about him.


The Upside Down World of Trump TV

Ruben Bolling
© Ruben Bolling

It does seem like we are living in two different worlds. The only question is, which one is real?


Foreign Influence

Did you doubt for a moment that Donald Trump’s political campaign was being either influenced or even controlled by foreigners?

The Telegraph (a conservative UK newspaper) sent undercover reporters to meet with Trump’s Super PAC, “Great America PAC”. The reporters posed as representatives of a (fictitious) Chinese donor, who wanted to donate $2 million to support Trump.

The SuperPAC was happy to accept the money, which is a violation of US laws prohibiting political donations from foreigners. They even suggested ways to launder the money through a third party to hide its origin. Seriously.

In addition, the representative of the SuperPAC assured the undercover reporters that their support would be “remembered” and would obtain “influence” if Trump became president. In other words, pay to play.

Trump has repeatedly labeled Super PACs a “disaster” that have “total control of the candidates”. He has also criticized Hillary Clinton for using them. Incidentally, the same undercover reporters tried to donate to Clinton’s Super PAC, but were ignored.

And of course, Trump has disparaged the Chinese and said they are destroying our country.

So, isn’t this an impeachable offense?


Fact Checking Trump

A fascinating article written by the DC correspondent for a Canadian newspaper. On a lark, he spent a month counting how many lies were told by Donald Trump each day.

His point was that while there was fact checking going on for individual statements made by Trump, the missing story was the sheer number of lies coming out of his mouth on a daily basis. His conclusion:

Every politician sometimes gets things wrong about complicated issues, sometimes practices evasive dishonesty. Trump gets things wrong all the time, pointlessly, about almost everything, and almost never corrects himself. Even if he’s not intentionally lying, he’s habitually erring. At very least, it suggests a serial carelessness with facts and a serial resistance to conceding error. Both traits seem relevant to the discussion of who should be commander-in-chief.

The other fascinating thing is the anger that has been thrown at him for fact checking Trump.

They’ve accused me of being controlled by the CIA. They’ve accused me of having a sexual attraction to Clinton’s “colostomy bag.” (Fact check: what is even happening, man.) I’ve been told to “get a life” and, more confusingly, to “get a job.” And, at times, I’ve gained some more insight into the mind of Trump’s unshakable loyalists.


It Isn’t just about Elections

Bernie Sanders makes an excellent point. Politics isn’t just about who you elect. People have to be willing to fight for what they believe in all the time, not just once every four or eight years.

One of the things that distresses me is that often liberals and progressives fight hard to win an election and then sit back and blame everything that goes wrong on the person they elected.

I have to admit that Republicans have learned this lesson better than Democrats. They fight at the state level, they fight for school boards. They get involved at all levels. Of course, some of this is because they typically have a huge money advantage, especially since the Citizens United decision. But Dems have a huge advantage in people.

Gays figured this out and totally turned around the fight for gay rights. They didn’t have to elect a majority of gay politicians to do this, they just had to change a majority of people’s attitude toward gays.

Progressives need to get involved at all levels of government and outside of government. If we do, we can achieve anything.

You want single-payer health care? We can do it. You want higher education that doesn’t bankrupt people? You just have to fight for it. Get involved.


Late Night Political Humor

[Jokes from Oct. 10, 2016]

“Last night was the presidential town hall debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and the audience was made up of undecided voters — or as they’re also known, the worst people to be in line behind at Baskin-Robbins.” – Jimmy Fallon

“I was looking forward to the presidential debate last night; 67 million people watched Donald Versus Hillary 2. Rarely is a sequel better than the original but this definitely was.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“A man in the audience asked Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to say one positive thing that they respect about each other. At this point, both candidates claimed their microphone was broken.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Anyone who expected Donald Trump to reel it in was way off the mark. He was on fire. He promised that if he was president he’d throw Hillary in jail. He called her the devil — not A devil, THE devil. Which I think might have been his way of coming on to her.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“During last night’s debate, Hillary Clinton accused Donald Trump of being hateful and racist — before adding, ‘Oh my God, he’s right behind me, isn’t he?'” – Seth Meyers

“Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said this morning that ‘Last night’s debate was a good night for democracy.’ But I think what she really meant was, ‘Good night, democracy.'” – Seth Meyers

“A lot of post-debate analysis registered surprise that with all that was going on with Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton didn’t definitively win the debate. The truth is you don’t win a debate like that. You survive it. You board up the windows and you get in the basement. You curl up in a ball until it blows over. It’s like a tornado.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Trump later tried to downplay the comments, saying it was just locker-room banter. People didn’t know what was crazier, his excuse or the idea that Trump’s ever been to a gym.” – Jimmy Fallon

“What a great time to be in Washington. The Nationals won yesterday. The Redskins won yesterday. And the Orange-skin lost.” – Seth Meyers

“The Washington Post on Friday leaked the behind-the-scenes 2005 video of Donald Trump chatting with Billy Bush on the ‘Access Hollywood’ bus. Trump was caught on tape telling Billy about the time he tried to have sex with ‘Entertainment Tonight’ reporter Nancy O’Dell. He says he took her furniture shopping. By the way, I want some follow-up, I want to know if that happened, and if it did, what did he buy her? A sizable item? A hutch or a dinette set? Are we talking ottoman?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“So, of course, people were outraged. Trump apologized, Billy Bush got suspended from his job. Poor Jeb Bush. Billy Bush is his cousin; he has to be thinking, ‘Why in the hell didn’t he release this tape a year ago?'” – Jimmy Kimmel

“After a video surfaced of Donald Trump and Billy Bush making lewd sexual comments about women, NBC announced Bush would be suspended from the ‘Today’ show indefinitely. Bush could not be grabbed for comment.” – Seth Meyers

“Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera said this weekend that he has additional embarrassing tapes of Donald Trump. And if Geraldo thinks they’re embarrassing, you know it’s bad.” – Seth Meyers

“After hearing Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence canceled a campaign event in New Jersey today. Even worse, he forgot to tell Chris Christie.” – Seth Meyers

“One of the fascinating things that happened on Friday was, before the Billy Bush tape was released, all the news was about Hurricane Matthew. I thought Hurricane Matthew was going to come to California and get us, there was so much news.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“The minute that tape came out, Hurricane Matthew just disappeared from television. The only channel that continued their round-the-clock coverage of the hurricane was Fox News because they didn’t want to talk about the Trump tape. Even the Weather Channel was like, ‘To hell with this, let’s go with the Trump tape!'” – Jimmy Kimmel

“More than 1 million people lost power in their homes. The only person mentioning disaster on a national level was Donald Trump.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“With the election just a month away, it seems like everyone’s encouraging people to vote. In fact, I saw that last week, some politicians in Arizona took part in a voter registration event at a strip club. The politicians said the hardest part was pretending they had never met the strippers before.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Facebook has a new ‘secret conversations mode’ that lets you automatically set messages to delete — or as Hillary put it, ‘Like’.” – Jimmy Fallon


The Third Debate on SNL

Did you recognize Tom Hanks playing Chris Wallace? Hanks did almost as good a job as Wallace did.

I know you may be tired of hearing about the debates (let alone the third one) but this was actually pretty funny.


Jeff Stahler
© Jeff Stahler


Gerrymandering Explained

Stephen Nass
© Stephen Nass

The Washington Post has a very concise and easy-to-understand explanation of gerrymandering. The article has additional information, but the image above makes most of the big points.


Trump Book Reports

It started innocently enough with a single tweet. A St. Louis mayoral candidate tweeted that Donald Trump was so unprepared for the debate that he sounded like a book report written by someone who hadn’t read the book.

Antonio French

And then suddenly, the hashtag #TrumpBookReport was trending on Twitter. A few examples:

“Juliet. Such a nasty woman. She made Romeo kill himself. And believe me he could have done better. Look at her.”

There was much ado, believe me. So much ado. Many people are saying how much ado there was. And about what? Nothing!

Hamlet was weak, so weak. He couldn’t make up his mind. I can, believe me. I’ve made up my mind very much better than him.

Lady Macbeth. Nasty woman. Blood coming out of her wherever.

No, I don’t think Sophie should have had a choice. Nasty woman.

Those poor heights. They were wuthering. Wuthering so bad. Bigly wuthering. I’ll make them great again.

Nowhere does it say that anything actually happened between Lolita and Humbert, it was just boy talk.

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, in 10 years I’ll be dating you.

“I tell you: if I had written this book, there’d’ve been way more than two cities. I’d’ve had four, five cities at least.”

The bridges, nobody builds a bridge like me. I’ll build one and make Madison County pay for it

Mein Kampf. Tough on immigration. Tough on bankers. Tough on enemies. Make Germany Great Again. Great leader. My hero!

“Last. He was last. So sad. He was last, Okay? A disaster. If I was a Mohican I would have come in first. Believe me.”

Red Badge of Courage, I always wanted one of those. I’ll just take one from a veteran, it’s much easier.

NOBODY, I mean NOBODY, has more pride than me. And NOBODY has more prejudice. I have so much pride. And so much prejudice.

Look, I don’t know Voldemort. He said nice things about me. If we got along with the Death Eaters, wouldn’t be so bad.

Les Miserables, of course they are miserable, the inner city is a mess folks, believe me. People stealing bread everywhere.

“Pinocchio? He’s no puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet.”

Daisy was a 6, okay? Just a very nasty woman. Gatsby is a good friend of mine. Sad!

It was the worst of times and the worst of times, OK? The worst. A disaster.

“When District 12 sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending Katniss Everdeen. What a nasty woman.”

This Dorian Gray guy. Nice guy, terrible portrait. Not like mine. Mine is bigly. Yuge.

Dracula — tremendous guy. Wanted a woman. Bit a woman. Didn’t have to “ask for permission.” What man does that?

“This New Testament is for losers. Jesus was crucified. I like saviors who weren’t crucified, okay? Like myself.”