Monday, July 31, 2023

Women rule

"Take a look around you boy, it's bound to scare you, boy
And you tell me
Over and over and over again, my friend
How you don't believe
We're on the eve of destruction."

          PF Sloan, "Eve of Destruction." 1965

Will "female culture" save humanity from self-destruction? Today's Guest Post argues that feminine consciousness and sensibility is where one finds the "egalitarianism, cooperation, and collaboration" necessary for our species to survive. Men being men will drive us to extinction.

I have watched female candidates up close during three presidential cycles. It is not evident to me that Hillary Clinton, Carly Fiorina, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, or Kamala Harris bring a different sensibility to the public square than do men. My sense is that voters want a warrior/protector in their president, so female candidates, navigating expectations and misogyny, give off an alpha male vibe. Jane Collins argues that we need nurturers instead.  

Jane Collins is a college classmate and therefore she came of age into second wave feminism that allowed women to be "like men," entering the professions and taking positions of social, economic, and political power. Collins listened to her own drummer. She has been a full-time mother, mostly living under the poverty line; an organizer, advocate, and writer on poverty issues; an administrator at Harvard; a grant writer for social justice and environmental organizations; and a gardener. She has just celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary and is the proud grandmother of three.

Guest Post by Jane Collins

Let’s deal in oversimplifications for this argument. Imagine an extremist Christian man and an extremist Muslim man talking about their beliefs in a living room somewhere. Their discussion grows more and more heated, and, depending on the men’s temperaments, might even come to blows.

Meanwhile, their wives are in the kitchen, fixing tea and a snack. Are they discussing religion? Most likely not. They’re talking about men, maybe even about the challenges of living with true believers. The men in the living room are fussing. The women are laughing. The real difference in this (terribly stereotyped) scenario, I respectfully submit, is not between the Muslim couple and the Christian couple, but between the men and the women.

Any time you try to talk about culture you are forced to generalize. If you constantly qualify your projections by acknowledging the wide spectrum of behavior in any one culture, you can’t reach any conclusions at all besides the fact that people are strange, which holds true everywhere. When it comes to human behavior, there are more exceptions than rules.

In general, though, there are two cultures in conflict in the world today. One is dominant, but unstable. The guardians of this culture tend to be “alpha males,” that is, men with a need to be on top of their worlds, who are aggressive, self-centered, ambitious, and willing to resort to violence. This culture has encouraged certain kinds of material progress but results in constant struggle and increasing divides between haves and have-nots.

The other culture is submissive but stable. This culture is maintained and propagated mostly by women. It is other-centered, conciliatory, patient, and prevents or tamps down violence wherever possible. This culture keeps the human world going, for without it, the dominant culture would tear everything apart.

I’m going to call the dominant culture male, though it includes many biological females. I’ll call the complementary culture female, though it includes many biological males. There is no question about which culture is uppermost today. Anywhere you find hierarchy, whether in a capitalist, nominally communist, or oligarchic society, the male culture rules. Wherever you find egalitarianism, cooperation, and collaboration, the female culture is in charge.

Not every society in history has been ruled by alpha males. Sophisticated justice systems; decisions by councils of elders; inclusive mores that provide for and protect society’s outliers; peaceful agrarian societies: all of these indicate the primary influences of women’s culture.

On the other hand, violence; the heedless destruction of human and other natural resources; the oppression of the lower classes: all these are sure signs that the male culture is running the show.

Clearly women’s culture evolved around the need to protect children from men’s aggression. If some sector of society did not propagate the values of caregiving, altruism, and sharing, that society would not survive two generations.

In a world of many languages, where communication was difficult, male culture evolved to settle disputes through physical violence. It would be up to the males whether a tribe’s territory expanded or contracted. The more territory, the more access to game, water, and fuel, the better the tribe’s chances of survival. If you see the world as belonging to “us” or “them”, you want the biggest, baddest guys on your side.

Our world today hangs in the balance in more ways than one. Scientists tell us that our behavior over the next decade or so will determine whether global climate change continues at a pace likely to doom our (and most other) species, or whether it will moderate to a manageable level. Nuclear proliferation proceeds at a rate where unstable regimes and non-state actors have access to weapons that could render the planet uninhabitable except by cockroaches and rats. Water pollution and over-use is at the point of making entire countries vulnerable to death by disease or famine.

Whether our species survives these crises depends upon another balance: the balance between male and female culture. Male culture has ruled, nearly planet-wide, for centuries, cementing its hold though tyrannies and then through the spread of capitalism, which values and rewards selfishness, aggression, and greed. But the destruction that attends these values is catching up with us. More and more people realize that we could very well do ourselves in if we continue on our current path.

The cultural values historically nurtured by women have begun to strengthen in ways unimaginable a century ago. Women’s liberation has barely begun, but its effects are threatening male dominance in every society. Some ancient techniques (violence against women and LGBTQ people, veiling, double standards on sexual experience) and some new ones (high heels, sexualization of younger and younger women, co-optation of women leaders) work against women’s rise, but the trend continues. Women have gotten the idea that they should participate fully in public life, and they are insisting on their right to do so. What has given this idea such strength and persistence?

I believe that deep in our collective unconscious, we know that women’s culture must assume dominance if humanity is to survive. We must stop hurting one another and start taking care of one another; we must stop wasting resources, and learn to conserve; we must clean up the messes we have made; we must stop rewarding greed, and place more value on sharing. Only women’s culture carries the tools and techniques to bring about these changes.

This necessary revolution, which seems so radical, would actually require only a shift in the balance of cultures. We just have to listen more closely to what Jung called the anima, the feminine side of our consciousness. The center in us that corresponds to female culture - the center of nurturing, caring, sustaining values and behaviors - must gain our respect, as it is the key to our species’ survival.

The movement toward women’s liberation arises from the deepest place in ourselves: the part that wants to live, and wants our children to live. Right now, many of the stories we tell ourselves stem from our fear that survival is not possible. Even though every one of us contains the seeds of a new world, we despair of the possibility that they will grow and thrive.

When we choose our leaders, we should ask ourselves which culture they embody. We need more representatives of female culture to set public policy, whatever their gender. We need more women in positions of power, not because women are that different from men, but because they have been the custodians of the set of values around which our species must reform its behavior.

Those women laughing in the kitchen do not need to come into the living room and argue with the men. No: it’s the men who need to come into the kitchen, drink the tea, eat the cookies, and learn to laugh with the women.

 Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Easy Sunday: "Who ARE those guys?"

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ask: "Who ARE those guys?"

The video link is to a funny 25-second clip from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch and Sundance are on the run, but they cannot shake the posse.

Trump leads the GOP nomination fight, but there are people in pursuit of him. Some are likely unfamiliar. Below are the names, faces, and very brief bio of candidates who appeared at the Iowa Lincoln Day Dinner multi-candidate event on Friday evening. The photos are from the  Des Moines Register's coverage of the event.

Vivek Ramaswami

Young multimillionaire. Revolution, not reform. End the deep state. Abolish the FBI, IRS, ATF, CDC, and Department of Education. Pardon Trump on day one.

Larry Elder

Talk show host. Black uplift by self help. Colorblind society.

Ryan Binkley

Texas pastor. Calls for spiritual revival and expanding the GOP.

Francis Suarez

Miami mayor. Law and order, Miami success. Calls himself a problem solver.

William Hurd

Former U.S. Rep. from Texas. Old-style, pre-Trump Republican. Voted for impeaching Trump. Said Trump is running for president to "stay out of prison" and got boos.

Mike Pence

Former Vice President. Traditional Christian conservative. Ban abortion nationally. Did not throw out electoral votes on Jan. 6. Gets boos from Republican crowds.

Doug Burgum

North Dakota governor. Software multimillionaire. Grow U.S. energy. Small town values. Signed strong anti-abortion and anti-trans laws.

Perry Johnson

75-year-old Michigan businessman. Abolish FBI. Pardon Trump. Impeach Biden.

Tim Scott

South Carolina U.S. Senator. Traditional GOP conservative. Doesn't oppose Trump. America is land of opportunity and not racist, saying he is proof.

Ron DeSantis

Florida Governor. Pivots from questions about Trump guilt to attacks on the various prosecutions of Trump. Anti-woke, anti-abortion, anti-trans. Takes on Disney and Bud Light beer. 

Asa Hutchinson

Former governor of Arkansas. Traditional Christian conservative. Condemns Trump's crimes.

Nikki Haley

Governor of South Carolina, former UN ambassador. Supports Ukraine. Questions competence of politicians over age 75 including Biden, Trump, and McConnell. U.S. is land of opportunity. Silent on Trump's crimes.

Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Apology, for Hunter Biden

"I'm sorry, so sorry
That I was such a fool
I didn't know
Love could be so cruel
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Uh, oh
Oh, yes."

         "I'm Sorry." Brenda Lee's breakout hit, age 15, 1960

An expert on apologies tells Hunter Biden the next steps for getting on with his life: Do the "full-Swaggart."

Ashland resident Edwin Battistella wrote the book on apologies. In Thursday's post I had urged Hunter Biden to apologize, to go to prison, and to become a reformer condemning nepotism and influence-peddling in public life. Become known for having changed, not for being a privileged person getting away with bad behavior. Do it for your father, do it for the country, do it for yourself, I urged.

Battistella suggests how to do the apology part of all that. He is the expert.

Oxford University Press

Battistella is a Professor Emeritus in Linguistics at Southern Oregon University. Edwin Battistella is the author of Sorry about that: the Language of Public Apology and Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels: Insulting the President, from Washington to Trump. He is the go-to authority when the national news media needs someone to comment on an error or humiliation requiring a public apology.


Guest Post by Edwin Battistella

Like Peter, I am so very tired of Hunter Biden. He’s the gift that keep on giving to the far-right. As Frank Bruni put it in the New York Times “The intensity of many House Republicans’ fixation on Hunter Biden is deranged and journalists would be wrong to chronicle every breathless inch of their descent down that rabbit hole.”

He’s a sideshow, but one that allows criticism of Trump – and his family – to be answered with “But what about Hunter.” (see, Clinton, Hilary, “But her emails”).

And Hunter makes a bad image, kind of like Kevin Nealon playing a mid-level Mafioso in a dark suit and hang-dog expression. If there was a Biden crime family (there’s not), Hunter would be in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.

And Peter is right. Hunter should do some jail time and he should apologize. His lawyers probably won’t let him do either thing. But if he does apologize he should do it right: he should do the "full-Swaggart."

That term the refers to old-time televangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s apology when he was photographed with a prostitute at a New Orleans motel. From his pulpit Swaggart asked forgiveness from his wife, from his family, from his church and congregation, from his fellow evangelists and his audience, and from God too.

Hunter doesn’t have a TV pulpit, but after he takes his punishment he should spell out all the people that his actions have harmed. He should do it in writing, as an open letter perhaps, giving specifics about the harm his actions and his weaknesses have done. He should apologize to his family, including his barely acknowledged daughter Navy, for his personal behavior, to his father for being a liability through his personal choices and business decisions, and to the government and the American people for allowing himself to become a distraction from the business of the administration. And he should talk about his choices for the future, making a commitment to be a better person.

He should put the whole thing in writing and then he should shut up and serve some time. With luck he’ll come out a better and more sympathetic person. And perhaps he can serve as a role model for some others who may be facing charges.

Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Friday, July 28, 2023

Familiarity breeds attachment

"To know, know, know him 
is to love, love, love him 
Just to see him smile, 
makes my life worthwhile."
    Phil Spector, "To Know him is to Love him," 1958

College classmate Peter Lemieux writes a data-rich analysis of politics in his website Politics by the Numbers --
It is written "for the numerically inclined." He charts, graphs, and analyzes relationships in national politics. 
Lemieux with cat Zoe

He wrote me and fellow classmates, saying that he noted and graphed a very strong relationship between how well a politician is known by the public and how much he or she is liked.  Apparently -- usually -- we warm up to politicians as we get to know them. 

Four years ago I wrote about the strong relationship between a candidate's "name recognition" and favorability toward that candidate. In that case I was looking at the Democrats. I ran the same analysis for this year's Republican contenders.
Direct link to the graphic

Peter Lemieux puts into words what we are seeing here. People who dare cross Trump become outcasts:

The line represents the best-fit regression for all candidates except Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and Mike Pence. Now it's Christie in the DeBlasio role, but echoes of "Hang Mike Pence" can be seen in his low rating as well. Those three are seen by most Republican voters as anti-Trumpers."

Four years ago DeBlazio was the outlier, being well known but not well liked. The close fit of most candidates along the line of being known suggests that presidential candidates are good at selling themselves. We may say we "hate politicians," but that is in the abstract. 

I get occasional comments from Republican readers observing that this blog "has a fixation on Trump" and that I exaggerate his influence on the Republican Party. I wish that were so. Alas, it is not. The GOP is Trump's party. There is one way to be disliked, and that is to be known by Republican voters for defying Trump.

To remind readers about the abbreviations:

Candidates along the trend line:
TRU is Donald Trump
DES is Ron DeSantis
SCT is Tim Scott
HLY is Nikki Haley
RAM is Vivek Ramaswami
ELD is Larry Elder
BUR is Doug Burgum
HRD is William Hurd
JHN is Perry Johnson
LAF is Steve Laffey

Candidates below the trend line:
PEN is Mike Pence
CHR is Chris Christie
HUT is Asa Hutchison

Lemieux's chart is based on data from polling by Monmouth University.

Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Hunter Biden plea deal blows up. Good. Start over.

Advice for Hunter Biden: 

Go to prison. 

Quit being a spoiled, privileged child. 

For better or worse, Hunter is a Biden. He has been blessed by it, cursed by it, profited from it, and is now being tormented because of it. Republicans have a way to change the subject from their own conspicuous miscreant by diverting attention to the Democrats' conspicuous miscreant. We watch the corrosion to our democracy caused by Republicans as they attempt to justify, excuse, and invent pretense legalisms to minimize Trump's abuse of the power of the presidency. I watch Democrats attempt to justify, excuse and minimize Hunter Biden's abuse of the power of nepotism. 

I am sick of it. I am not alone here. There is widespread frustration with two-tiered justice, two-tiered college admissions, two-tiered affirmative action, two-tiered policing, two-tiered everything. America feels like boarding an airplane.  People see others getting an advantage, a privilege, and they resent not getting it, too. White Republicans think Blacks get massive preferences. Blacks and White progressives think Whites live in a culture so steeped in preferences they are blind to it. Everyone resents the privilege of stock trading by Members of Congress. The $80,000 a month Hunter Biden got to be on Burisma's board while he was fighting addictions was probably legal, but it looks bad. Very bad. How can Democrats point to Jared Kushner's Saudi deal when they have Hunter Biden to contend with?

Let me just address Hunter here, me to him:

Hunter, your plea deal blew up in your face. Prosecutors were willing to give you the typical good-deal treatment that other privileged White guys with superb lawyers get.  Maybe you even got a better prospective deal -- but maybe not. After all, you did pay back the taxes and we mostly do not imprison late filers, and the gun charge they got you under is probably unconstitutional. You could fight that. The irony of you fighting for the 2nd Amendment right of an drug-impaired man to buy guns, perhaps all the way to the gun-rights-loving Supreme Court, when your father supports stricter gun laws, is exactly the sort of cross current that makes prosecutors open to plea deals. So you got your deal. But then, since you are a Biden, Republicans made a fuss that the deal would excuse you from other crimes and they want to hound you about those. So maybe the whole deal wasn't properly disclosed, making it an abuse of privilege. Fox News ran news stories with the words "SWEETHEART DEAL" on the screen repeatedly yesterday. With everyone on the lookout for privilege, the judge said "no." This time being a Biden hurt you.

Hunter, you have an opportunity here. Hit bottom. Confess that you have been a screwup and want to change. Become a reform advocate. Say you want to drain the swamp of nepotism and two-tiered everything. Say that privilege and advantage for children of politicians is bad for America and poison for the children who supposedly benefit. Use yourself as the poster child. 

Reject the plea deal. Insist you want the same deal every other American would get, no more, no less. They won't send you to a prison hellhole and it won't be for very long. It will be a minimum security prison for tax cheats, embezzlers, and frauds -- people like you.

Be selfless for a change. Take one for your father. You have done crimes. Do the time.  Set an example.

Oh. One other thing. Arrange with the mother of your daughter, Navy, that you acknowledge your daughter. It is shameful not to acknowledge her, and shameful to have resisted supporting her. This isn't for your benefit, nor for your father's. It is for the little girl. She deserves to be able to sit on her grandfather's knee and be held and hugged and know that she belongs. That can be done out of the media eye and without a lot of talk, but it is part of your redemption and her birthright. She has a father and grandfather. Fix this.


[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Creative Destruction

"What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from
         T. S. Eliot, 1942

The idea of "creative destruction" is that new ideas, new technologies, new institutions supplant what came before by destroying them.
 The automobile creatively destroyed the horse and buggy. It is an optimistic thought. Maybe, as the Beatles sang in my youth, things are getting better, better all the time.

Maybe even the news, where Craigslist destroyed the classified ad business and big tech took most of the revenue from news creators. There are green shoots amid the wasteland of journalism. My post Monday is an example. An independent journalist gets revenue covering the Fox News beat, where bad journalism gets revenue by becoming a reliable source of "comfort food" masking as news. My local newspaper died and took a TV news department down with it, but innovative mostly on-line new newspapers sprung up in its absence, and the remaining two local TV news stations expanded. 

And young people emerge, the subject of today's observation by Jack Mullen. He grew up in Medford, worked in newspapers in the Bay Area, and now lives in Washington, D.C. His interests include politics and sports.

Guest Post by Jack Mullen   


                                        Democracy dies in darkness
I shudder to think that, in 2025, all three branches of our government could exist under a strong executive thumb. A compliant Congress and a weak Supreme Court may render our system of checks and balances useless. If that were to happen, the last recourse under our constitutional democracy would lie in the Fourth Estate. Is the Fourth Estate up to the task as it was in the early 1970’s?
Thanks to Bob Woodward’s and Carl Bernstein’s reporting, Congress and the courts had the evidence to spring into action. Nixon’s “if the President does it, it is not illegal” philosophy ran into Senator Sam Ervin and Judge John Sirica. After Senators from his own party told Nixon he could either resign or be impeached, he chose to resign. Ultimately, the authority of the other two branches of government prevailed over the executive branch.

Should the 2025 legislative and judicial branches be called to action due to unlawful executive overreach, will they perform the same public service that they did in 1973-74? If not, what about the Fourth Estate?

The Fourth Estate is floundering. The demise of the Medford Mail Tribune is not unusual. Local papers across the country are shutting down. The award-winning Eugene Register Guard is a shell of its former self. Large metropolitan papers aren’t exempt from large staff layoffs.

Recent events tell us that hope might exist in college newspapers. Campus newspapers need not worry about decreasing profits, hedge fund takeovers, or being bullied by owners and overlords who want news shaped a certain way.

When a freshman reporter can bring down a school president, or when reporters at a Big Ten school can bring down a football coach, then some hope exists in the role of the Fourth Estate.

Stanford freshman Theo Baker wrote a series of articles that raised concerns about research data manipulation and scientific impropriety by Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. An alarmed Board of Trustees appointed five high level scientists to look into the allegations. They found enough irregularities that Marc-Tessier-Lavigne decided to resign as Stanford president, effective August 31.

Halfway across the country, the Northwestern University student newspaper exposed a sordid hazing scandal in the Wildcat football program. Former University of Oregon President Michael Schill, now Northwestern’s president, took note, reviewed the players’ allegations, then fired the popular football coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

Schill’s firing of Fitzgerald set off a chain of events. Football, baseball, even women’s softball athletes are now coming forward filing charges against a bevy of school officials and coaches over the mistreatment of student athletes. Dr. Schill may wish he had stayed in Eugene.

The Stanford and Northwestern papers are part of a continuing history of student newspapers taking truth to power.

As a freshman at the University of Oregon in 1966, I recall Oregon Daily Emerald editor Annette Buchanan writing an article in which she interviewed seven students who admitted smoking marijuana. Lane County District Attorney William Frye brought charges against Buchanan for failing to name the seven students. Buchanan stood her ground; she would not finger the seven students. Ms. Buchanan was fined $300. She appealed to the State Supreme Court in Salem. She lost. By then, her case was gaining national attention.

The Washington Post, impressed by her unwavering stance, published an editorial during the time of the Broadway revival of the musical “No, No, Nanette,” with the headline “Yes, Yes, Annette.” The 1973 Oregon Media Shield Law is credited to Annette Buchanan.

Perhaps the state of our democracy won’t descend to the point where our last vestige of hope may lie within the Fourth Estate. If it does, the $64,000 question is if it will be enough to keep the world’s longest running democracy functioning? The current Israeli crisis forewarns us what may lie ahead for us.


[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Double Down on being bad

Advice for Ron DeSantis. Say: 

 "Trump broke laws? I don't care. I'll pardon him anyway. Let the Democrats seethe."

He needs to read the room of the GOP primary voters. They don't care if Trump is a crook.

Ron DeSantis has the immediate task of winning the GOP nomination. Yesterday's post on Jason Aldean's music video notes the mood of energized and engaged GOP voters. They have doubled down on belligerence. Trump doesn't offer policy so much as tribal validation. Their tribe is under attack, as they see it, and they want a ruthless fighter, unbound by Mr. Nice Guy rules. Meanwhile DeSantis is trying to finesse the Trump crime problem by changing the subject. That is probably good enough to keep from angering the 50+% of die-hard Trump supporters in the party, but it isn't good enough to win the nomination. Let's look again at the question that is central to how GOP rivals handle Trump's lawbreaking. Jake Tapper asked it:

If Jack Smith has evidence of criminality, should Donald Trump be held accountable?

The honorable, law-abiding, patriotic answer would be to say: This is a country of laws and we swore an oath to uphold the law. Of course Trump should be held to account. 

Republican voters don't want to hear that. Trump offered them a taste of swashbuckling rule-breaking and they like it. GOP elected officials go along. They don't want process or rule of law. They want a result: Winning, in a battle against the evil Democrat-allied enemies of legitimate Americans like themselves. Democrats are so evil, so dangerous, that rules don't apply. Anything goes. Anything. DeSantis' answer was a mere pivot. Like Trump, he attacked the justice system. That makes him me-too, second best, and weak. 

DeSantis' best choice would be to double down. Again, read the room and address the reality that GOP voters know full well Trump broke laws. Trump is bad. Be more bad. The reality of Trump's crimes has drifted into the information silo. In the back of their minds, GOP voters know he sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll. They heard the Access Hollywood tape. They know it is the kind of thing Trump did or does. They don't care. GOP voters know full well Trump cheats on his taxes, stiffs vendors, and calls it smart. They don't care. GOP voters know full well he took documents from the White House, hid them at his homes, and lied to the FBI about it. They hear him brag that he did so. They don't care. They know full well he bullied election officials, got people to sign fake elector ballots, that he tried to get state legislatures to declare him the victor, and that he roused up a crowd to frighten Pence and Congress into overthrowing the 2020 election. They don't care. In fact, they are happy he did it. Victory would have been his if Pence had come through.

DeSantis has one big advantage over Trump. DeSantis isn't under indictment. He doesn't have Trump's political complications. A majority of Americans already know they dislike Trump, and strategic GOP voters realize that Democrats want the beatableTrump to be the face of the GOP. Trump acts punch drunk. He is no longer the best messenger of Trump-ism.  A majority of Americans don't know enough about DeSantis to dislike him. My advice to DeSantis is to go all in. Be as cynical as the GOP voters.  Say loudly and clearly that Trump broke laws. Say you don't care, and that you will pardon Trump in your first hour in office. Say what you do care about is stuffing it to those liberal, woke, nitpicking, communist prosecutors and fake-news-viewing Democrats who hate Trump. Say that Trump is just trying to bring sanity back to America and his heart was in the right place. 

This is cynical. Saying you don't care if Trump is a crook is bad for America. But Trump sold the idea that rules and laws are meant to be broken, and a huge number of GOP voters bought it. That is your market -- the lawless authoritarian populist voter. Republican voters don't want rectitude. Liz Cheney's defeat taught us that. So do Pence's poll numbers. To win the nomination, DeSantis needs to out-Trump Trump. 

In the general election campaign, say pardoning Trump is an effort to heal the nation. A lot of moderate voters want that. Then stop talking policy and talk only about how young you are and how old Biden is. It might work. It might not. But it has a better chance of working than what he is doing now. 

[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Monday, July 24, 2023

So uncomfortable. So VERY uncomfortable.

I watch a little Fox News. 
It is important to know what Republican partisans are watching.

Juliet Jeske watches a lot of Fox News.
She says she watches Fox so others won't need to She presents what she knows in a Substack blog and a podcast. 

Let me make two points, then show a bit of her work.

One. Viewers of Fox News learn almost nothing about Trump having done anything illegal. They hear that prosecutors are persecuting a completely innocent man, timing their indictments strategically to cover up real news stories, like new revelations from Hunter's laptop. Fox viewers don't hear that a jury awarded $5 million to a woman Trump sexually assaulted, which the judge termed "rape." Fox News viewers don't learn that Trump possessed and hid souvenir documents, some top secret, and was given multiple requests to return them, that he spurned those offers, and then hid them and lied to the government about hiding them, and blabbed about the secret documents to visitors to Mir-a-Lago. What they hear about the "document case" is that thug FBI agents invaded his home from out of nowhere, for no reason, and found golf shirts, and that he is being indicted for that out of malice and a weaponized justice system. Fox viewers do know something happened on January 6, probably instigated by Nancy Pelosi or the Democratic moles in the FBI, and that Democrats are somehow conspiring to claim Trump had anything improper to do with it.

They do know about Hunter Biden's laptop. By rights they think it should have been the most important news story of 2020, bigger than Covid, bigger than the election. Yet somehow, they hear, Biden's minions convinced Trump's government to treat the laptop as suspicious in origin, so the government managed to keep the laptop story from getting the play it deserved. They know Hunter Biden is or was a drug addict and that he flagrantly used his relation to Joe Biden to get sweetheart jobs. They knew his laptop computer contained sex photos. They know that people accuse Biden family members of taking bribes and getting payoffs. They know that Republicans are on the hunt for the goods on the "Biden crime family" and that the shocking truth will be revealed sometime. They know that the economy under Biden is in a tailspin, bad and getting worse on every metric, and that everyone is miserable. They know that cities with Democratic mayors are hellholes of crime, carjackings, drugs, and murder, done often by people with dark skin. They know Trump secured the border but Biden ruined everything. They know that the U.S. is a weak laughingstock on the world stage, which allows Ukraine, Russia, and China to take advantage of us. They know that regular-looking patriotic people having breakfast in diners in Iowa and New Hampshire scorn Biden and love Trump. They know that Biden is physically weak and senile, incapable of dressing himself, much less serving as president.

Two. Almost nothing leaks in from outside this news bubble from "fake news" sources, either direct reports from the White House or other primary sources, or via reports from traditional media. Fox is a sealed container. 

It is for that reason that this sixty second clip from Fox News is both amusing and instructive. A Fox & Friends host, the usually reliably on-message Steve Doocy, creates an excruciating moment for his co-hosts. He opened the door a crack to the outside. It was as if he was farting uncontrollably or in some other way embarrassing himself and the network. Watch:
Downcast eyes. Stiff jaws. Blank faces. Endure this. Get through this.

I am grateful to Juliet Jeske for finding and sharing this moment from Fox. Hers is one of about fifteen sources of news that I both subscribe to and pay for. A few of those are on-line versions of printed journals, i.e. NYTimes, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Esquire, The New Yorker, the regional Oregonlive, and the local Rogue Valley Times. I also subscribe and pay for about a dozen independent journalists who write and have podcasts. They are entrepreneurs, able to carry out their work because people subscribe and pay them, usually voluntarily. Substack is a vehicle for letting them write, distribute, and get paid for their reports. 

This blog is free and always will be. I prefer to keep the blog completely non-commercial. (I retired from being a financial advisor and did OK.) But some journalists can afford to do their work only if they get paid somehow. Instead of working for a newspaper or magazine, they are entrepreneurs on their own. They provide a service and I want them to succeed.

[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Easy Sunday: "Try that in a Small Town"

A music video is making the rounds.

Jason Aldean is famous, but I had never heard of him. We are in the same country, but in different cultures. 

I suppose that is my point.

The song is "Try that in a Small Town." It intersperses scenes of crime and demonstrations in urban settings, with lyrics about the rough justice meted out in small towns.

The song starts:
Sucker punch somebody on a sidewalkCarjack an old lady at a red lightPull a gun on the owner of a liquor storeYa think it's cool, well, act a fool if ya like
Cuss out a cop, spit in his faceStomp on the flag and light it upYeah, ya think you're tough
The song isn't anti-violence. It is us vs. them. Because small towns are:
Full of good ol' boys, raised up rightIf you're looking for a fightTry that in a small townTry that in a small town
Try that in a small townSee how far ya make it down the roadAround here, we take care of our ownYou cross that line, it won't take longFor you to find out, I recommend you don'tTry that in a small town

The video drew controversy. The setting is the courthouse in Columbia, Tennessee where a Black teenager was attacked by a mob and lynched in 1927. The film uses stock footage from around the world. It drew criticism for its choice of setting and for glorifying violence. He is presenting a dare. The song includes the line 

Got a gun that my granddad gave meThey say one day they're gonna round up

Aldean says cancel culture is out to get him. Fox News gives him air time. He says the song celebrates small town, take-care-of-each-other values. Aldean's wife, Brittany, has a clothing line imprinted with texts including "Conspiracy Theorist," "Trump,"  "Burn it down," and "Don't tread on our kids." They are spokespeople in the culture war. They had been invisible to me until this song emerged from the country music circuits into mainstream news. That country silo is huge, but I am not in it so I don't see it.

To get a feel for the emotion and politics of this song, invest the three minutes to listen to it. Or some of it. The real meaning, for the purposes of a political blog like this one, is that the song expresses the sense of estrangement from urban America. It creates a caricature, a straw man. But amidst this carnage, to use Trump's word from his inauguration, small towns are fighting back. It is our country.

This song resonates with many Americans. Trump's belligerence and crudeness is not a bug. It is a feature. 

[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]

Saturday, July 22, 2023

False promise, false hope

There was a moment, after the 2nd impeachment vote, when I thought things might work out OK.

I was wrong.

That moment was Mitch McConnell's speech on the floor of the senate. McConnell said that Trump was wrong. That he lost the election. That he incited an insurrection. That this was shameful and inexcusable.

Then he gave false hope. He said there were other, better ways to bring Trump to justice and to heal our democracy than to impeach a man who was already out of office. McConnell said there was the law, and Trump would be investigated and judged.

Impeachment was never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Never meant to be the final forum for American justice. Impeachment conviction and removal are a specific intra-governmental safety valve. It is not the criminal justice system where individual accountability is the paramount goal. . . . President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office as an ordinary citizen. 

If only. 

Most Republican officeholders are attempting to duck the fact a jury found Trump guilty of raping a woman and defaming her. That he took public documents, kept them, showed them off, hid them, and lied to the government about doing so. That he orchestrated a plan of alternate electors and intimidation in an attempt to overthrow the 2020 election to stay in office. The response of the GOP is almost universal. They are attacking the justice system, saying it has no right to investigate Trump. That it has no right to search his home and find exactly what the search warrant said it would find. That it has no right to indict and try him for crimes. This stance is taken by die-hard Trump loyalists -- no surprise. But it is also taken by Republicans running against Trump to become the the 2024 GOP nominee.

We have a new norm in GOP politics. Back the party, not the blue. Stand by your man, not stand by the law. 

As the 2nd place candidate in polls behind Trump, Ron DeSantis would appear to be the person with the most to gain from Trump's being held to the account McConnell predicted. TV journalist Jake Tapper asked DeSantis, “If Jack Smith has evidence of criminality, should Donald Trump be held accountable?”

DeSantis response attacked the Justice Department and the investigations. 

And so you have a situation where the Department of Justice, FBI had been weaponized against people they don’t like, and the number one example that happened to be against Donald Trump with the Russia collusion. That was not a legitimate investigation; that was being done to try to drive Trump out of office. And so what I’ve said, as president, my job is to restore a single standard of justice to end weaponization of these agencies. We’re going to have a new FBI director on day one; we’re going to have big changes at the Department of Justice.

House Republicans spent hours accusing the FBI of targeting conservatives. The head of the FBI is Trump's own appointment. He responded to House Republican attacks with: 

The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background.

Christopher Wray is a Republican with a long history of significant political contributions to conservative Republican candidates.  

McConnell is no longer saying aloud that justice must be done. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who had condemned the insurrection in its immediate aftermath, saw that Republican voters still loved Trump, so he re-pledged loyalty to him, not to a justice system that would hold Trump to account.

America will face some very controversial court decisions in the coming months. We will need a justice system with credibility. We may have demonstrations -- riots even -- outside courthouses. Trump is calling for them. We might have 11-1 holdout jurors. We might have OJ Simpson-type verdicts. Whatever the judicial outcomes, there will be unhappy people. This would have been a good time for the Supreme Court to have the highest credibility as a symbol of integrity and impartiality, but the opposite is the case. Chief Justice Roberts cannot control his members' tastes for the good life of hospitality and gifts from billionaire friends.

The one body in American political system who could re-establish respect for law, not party, in this circumstance of Trump being investigated and tried would be senior Republicans. They could urge caution, restraint, respect for the process. Fifty years ago it required Goldwater to tell Nixon he needed to leave office. Goldwater's disapproval showed this was about rules, not politics. We need multiple Goldwaters, acting as a group. We don't have them. Trump created a mass movement of public support. It will require a mass movement of public revulsion to abandon him.

America lost an opportunity in the second impeachment vote. Republicans had the chance to turn the page, but they did not.

[Note: To get daily delivery of this blog to your email go to: and subscribe. The blog is free and always will be.]